China celebrates 65th anniversary

 

Chinese leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan,

Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attend the reception held by the State Council to

celebrate the 65th founding anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of

China, in Beijing, on September 30, 2014.   Photo by Pang Xinglei

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech on behalf of the Communist Party of

China Central Committee and the State Council at the reception celebrating the 65th

founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, in Beijing, on September 30,

2014.   Photo by Pang Xinglei

 

 

 

China celebrates

65th anniversary

 

By Hou Lijun and Li Zhihui

 

President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday of September 30 China will continue to give priority to development, adhere to reform and innovation and stay committed to the path of peaceful development.

Xi made the remarks when addressing a reception marking the 65th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Xi called for enhanced unity within the Communist Party of China (CPC), adding that the CPC should reinforce cooperation with other parties and maintain the bond with the people.

“We must stand firmly with the people,” Xi said. “We will always proceed from and aim at realizing, safeguarding and developing the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.”

He called for enhanced confidence in the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics as well as in the theory and system regarding the path.

The Communist Party of China is key to the country’s success, Xi said.

“We must never waver in our faith and must never separate ourselves from the people,” he said. “All problems that affect the Party’s creativity, cohesiveness and effectiveness must be addressed, all illnesses that harm the Party’s advanced nature and purity completely cured and all tumors grown on the healthy organism of the Party removed.”

He also stressed modesty and cautiousness as China will remain at the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come.

“A nation may thrive in adversity but perish in ease,” he said. “We cannot afford to be complacent at any time. This is certainly true for both the Party and the country, including the leadership and the people.”

He called on the Chinese people to cultivate and practice the core socialist values, build the will of the nation around its shared ideals and unleash Chinese strength through Chinese spirit.

“Sixty-five years is but a fleeting moment in the history of human development. Yet in this short space of 65 years, the Chinese people have made spectacular and Earth-shaking changes,” said Xi.

Over the 65 years, China has transitioned from new democracy to socialism. It has blazed and broadened the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, translating socialism into a successful path and institutional system, said Xi.

Over the 65 years, China has made historic progress in raising social productivity and overall national strength, and the Chinese people have experienced a historic leap forward from poverty to having adequate food and clothing and to a life of moderate prosperity, he said.

Over the 65 years, China has followed an independent foreign policy of peace. It has upheld justice, stood alongside developing countries and led by example in maintaining world peace and promoting common development, he said.

“Our road ahead is long and arduous, and we must be fully prepared for the great struggle that has many new historical features,” he said, adding that the Chinese people are sure to prevail over all hardships and difficulties and take China into an even more glorious future.

On behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, Xi paid tribute to Chinese people of all ethnic groups, all the CPC members, all officers and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army and the armed police, and all members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation.

Xi also extended greetings to compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan as well as Chinese nationals residing abroad, and expressed thanks to friendly countries and foreign friends who had supported and assisted New China in its development.

About 3,000 people from China and abroad attended the reception at the Great Hall of the People.

 

 

 

 

CPC to convene key meeting on rule of law Oct. 20-23

 

 

CPC to convene key meeting

on rule of law Oct. 20-23

 

By Wang Cong, Guo Likun and Zuo Yuanfeng

 

A key Chinese political meeting that looks set to discuss rule of law has been scheduled for October 20-23 in Beijing.

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee set the date for the fourth plenary session of the CPC 18th central committee during a meeting chaired by General Secretary Xi Jinping on Tuesday of September 30.

This will be the first time a plenary session of the CPC Central Committee has taken rule of law as its central theme, earlier reports said.

Rule of law was a key topic at Tuesday’s political bureau meeting.

According to a statement released after the meeting, rule of law is “a must” if the country wants to build a prosperous society in an all-rounded way, rejuvenate the nation, comprehensively deepen reform, and improve socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Party’s governance capability.

The statement emphasized that rule of law should be advanced under the CPC leadership and in line with socialism with Chinese characteristics.

A complete legal system, featuring efficient enforcement, close supervision and forceful guarantee, must be put into place, it said.

The central leadership called for efforts to promote the rule of law, governing by law and administration by law simultaneously, so as to ensure scientific legislation, strict enforcement, judicial justice and promote modern governance.

During Tuesday’s meeting, political bureau members listened to a report about opinions solicited on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on major issues concerning comprehensively advancing the rule of law. The draft decision will be submitted for review at the fourth plenary session.

The meeting also reviewed the CPC’s “mass line” campaign, launched in June last year to improve ties between CPC officials and the general public by cleaning up bad working practices. According to the meeting, the campaign may just be ending, but the CPC is eager for yet more improvements.

“The campaign has reached its goals… but Party organizations at all levels must not let up on the drive to improve working practices and should continue to deal with the problems exposed by the campaign,” said a statement released Tuesday after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Empty speeches, interminable meetings, lavish banquets and entertainment at VIP clubs were all targets of the campaign. Focused on officials at or above county level, Party members examined their own conduct, laid their problems bare, analyzed the causes and made plans to set things right.

“With strict standards, measures and discipline, the campaign helped officials solve their own problems. It had a significant effect and won people’s full support, as well as positive comments from both inside and outside the Party,” the statement said.

Party members have learnt to think for themselves and make decisions from the people’s perspective. Many Party figures began sincere relationships with ordinary folk by speaking honestly and being real friends to the people.

According to the political bureau statement, “a batch of prominent issues” that were closely related to people’s interests and harmed the Party’s grassroots foundations have been solved. Grassroots Party officials and organizations have improved their work capacity and sharpened their awareness of rules.

The statement called for continued action on misbehavior and a long-term mechanism to limit the power of officials, making self-improvement a routine part of an official’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

• CPC discipline campaign ends, but work goes on

By Zuo Yuanfeng

A campaign put a check on misbehavior by party officials may just be ending, but the Communist Party of China (CPC) is eager for yet more improvements.

The “mass-line” campaign began in June last year to improve the flagging relationship between CPC officials and the general public, by cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

“The campaign has reached its goals… but Party organizations at all levels must not let up on the drive to improve working practices and should continue to deal with the problems exposed by the campaign,” said a statement released Tuesday after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Empty speeches, interminable meetings, lavish banquets and entertainment at VIP clubs were all targets of the campaign. Focused on officials at or above county level, Party members examined their own conduct, laid their problems bare, analyzed the causes and made plans to set things right.

“With strict standards, measures and discipline, the campaign helped officials solve their own problems. It had significant effect and won people’s full support as well as positive comments from both inside and outside the Party,” the statement said.

Party members have learnt to think for themselves and make decisions from the people’s perspective. Many began sincere relationships by speaking honestly and being real friends with the people.

According to the statement, “a batch of prominent issues” that were closely related to people’s interests and harmed the Party’s grassroots foundations have been solved. Party officials and organizations at the grassroots level have improved their work capacity and sharpened their awareness of rules.

The statement called for continued action on misbehavior and a long-term mechanism to limit the power of officials, making self-improvement a routine part of an official’s day.

 

 

 

China lowers down payment requirement for second homes

 

 

China lowers down payment

requirement for second homes

 

By Zhu Shaobin

 

Chinese home buyers will face lower down payments on second homes as banks and regulators look to boost the sagging property market.

Chinese citizens who wish to buy a second home will enjoy the same 30 percent down payment required of first-time home buyers if they have fully repaid their mortgage loans, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, and the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a joint-announcement on Tuesday of September 30.

Prior to the announcement, second home buyers were required to place at least 60 percent down payment.

The easing of down payments for second homes marks a turning point in the nation’s restrictive home purchasing policies.

Several years ago, sky-rocketing home prices forced the government to roll out restrictive measures, such as requiring higher down payments and increasing the lending rate for second home purchases, as well as banning the purchase of a third home.

Tuesday’s announcement did not specify when the new rule will take effect, but some cities, including Fuzhou, Hangzhou, and Nanjing have already started launching such measures.

The PBOC and the CBRC also said they will require their branches in local regions to outline supportive home loan measures based on local government requirements.

The nation’s four big state-owned banks, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank, have all issued statements indicating stronger home loan support for both first home and second home buyers.

According to the announcement, first home buyers will have access to a maximum 30 percent discount on home loan rates offered by banks, while the minimum down payment remains at 30 percent.

In cities that have scrapped the ban for the purchase of a third home or those without such restrictive measure in place, for people in possession of at least two homes, without mortgage loans, and wishing to buy more, banks are free in deciding upon the down payment requirement as well as the loan rates based on borrowers’ debt repayment capabilities and credit, according to the announcement.

A total of 46 Chinese cities had imposed bans on the purchase of a third home in efforts to curb speculation. Currently, only the five cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Sanya still keep the ban.

According to the announcement, migrants in the country will also have access to home loans from banks if they plan to settle down in a certain regions, on condition that they meet specific requirements of different regions.

Financial institutions will be encouraged to issue mortgage-backed securities and long-term specialized financial bonds to raise the capital that will facilitate home loans granting to both first-time home buyers and those who wish to buy bigger homes in order to improve their lifestyles, according to the announcement.

The new rule is believed to shore up a sluggish real estate market that had extended a cooling trend in August as more cities reported month-on-month price drops. Government data showed out of 70 major Chinese cities, new homes in 68 saw month-on-month price declines in August, compared with 64 in July.

Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang, saw new home prices drop the most of the 70 cities surveyed, down by 2.1 percent from July. New home prices in Beijing and Shanghai dropped by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent month on month, respectively, the data showed.

 

 

 

 

 

iPhone 6 gets network access license in China

 

 

 

iPhone 6 gets network

access license in China

 

By Zhang Zhengfu

 

 

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Tuesday of September 30 that it has granted a network access license to Apple Inc.’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 6.

The license approval came after four models of the iPhone 6 passed 3C (China Compulsory Certification) certification, a mandatory certification system to inspect and approve various products to be sold in China, and won approval from the State Radio Regulation earlier this month.

The network access license together with the two other regulatory approvals means that the iPhone 6 can be sold in China.

The MIIT said in a statement that it made the decision to issue the license after getting reassurance from Apple that three background service programs, which reportedly had risks of personal privacy leaks, are only diagnostic tools that won’t be used maliciously.

In a document submitted to the ministry, Apple said that the company won’t be allowed to “interfere with” any personal information without clients’ approval, and it has already taken measures in its ios8 system to make it even more difficult for anybody to use the tools maliciously.

Apple also said it will improve security and privacy protection for its clients. The company said it has never and will never set up so-called “back doors” in any of its products or services in cooperation with any government organ of any country.

The MIIT said it pays great attention to protecting mobile phone users’ personal information and will strengthen security management of mobile phones, according to the statement.

The ministry will also enhance network access security review as well as supervision and inspection of products that are already licensed, saying any violation of regulations on personal information protection will be investigated and punished.

 

 

 

 

 

New iPhones available on Chinese mainland from Oct. 17

By Zhong Qun and Guo Yujing

Apple’s latest smartphones the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available on the Chinese mainland from Oct. 17, with pre-orders starting on Oct. 10, the company announced on Tuesday.

Consumers will be able to buy the models from Apple’s online store, its retail stores and the company’s authorized resellers.

With support for 4G technologies TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, the new products will allow customers access to 4G/LTE networks from the mainland’s three major carriers — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.

Both models come in gold, silver or gray. The iPhone 6 has a suggested retail price of 5,288 yuan (861 U.S. dollars) for the 16GB model, 6,088 yuan for the 64GB model and 6,888 yuan for the 128GB model, while the iPhone 6 Plus is priced at 6,088 yuan, 6,888 yuan and 7,788 yuan for the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions respectively.

The new iPhones have been an instant hit, with over 10 million sold within three days of their debut on September 19.

 

 

 

U.S. strikes target IS fighters at key gas facility in Syria

 

DAMASCUS

U.S. strikes target IS fighters

at key gas facility in Syria

 

By Hummam Sheikh Ali

 

The U.S.-led anti-terror coalition targeted a position of the Islamic State (IS) militant group at a key gas production facility in Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zour on Sunday night of September 28, the oppositional Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory said the U.S. strikes hit the entrance of the Konico factory, which is the biggest gas production facility in Syria that has recently been under the terrorist group’s control.

The factory, located in the town of Khasham in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour, feeds the Jandar electricity generating station in the central province of Homs, which in turn feeds other electricity stations across the war-torn country, the Observatory said.

The UK-based watchdog group, which relies on a network of activists on ground, said the IS had turned parts of the gas facility into a detention center, adding that Sunday’s strike injured a number of IS militants.

The IS, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the levant, has captured the majority of oil and gas filed in eastern Syria. The United States has recently targeted IS positions in several Syrian cities as part of Washington’s fresh war on terror.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. military and its Arab allies debuted airstrikes against IS positions in Syria’s northern province of al- Raqqa and the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. Activists said tens of radical rebels have been killed since the first day of airstrikes, including leaders of the radical militant groups.

Syria responded to the U.S.-led attack by announcing that it was informed ahead of the attacks, adding that the administration of President Bashar al-Assad stood by any international effort to eradicate the “terrorist groups” from the country.

 

 

 

 

BEIRUT

Syrian crisis rattles

fragile Lebanon, army on alert

By Salah Takieddine

 

Lebanon is confronting one of its toughest challenges in recent years, as Islamist militants from the war in Syria cross the border to battle the Lebanese army in the eastern border town of Arsal, threatening to rupture Lebanon’s already fragile political situation.

Attacks against the army have been escalating rapidly since early August, after Lebanese authorities arrested Imad Jomaa, a leader of al-Nusra Front group, a Syrian rebel group linked to al- Qaida. Gunmen from the armed group and others from the Islamic State (IS) militant group launched a series of attacks targeting army posts on the outskirts of Arsal and infiltrated the town in retaliation.

The rebels stunned the Lebanese army by capturing more than 35 soldiers and security personnel after five days of heavy clashes. After the attacks the rebels withdrew to Syria again, taking their hostages with them.

The army “is confronting the most serious situation in its history,” a security source told Xinhua. “(The army) has never witnessed a prior case of kidnapping any of its soldiers”

The security source, who spoke to Xinhua on condition of anonymity, said that the Lebanese army “is working on closing the political and security gaps so to prevent the situation in Arsal from spreading to other Lebanese areas.”

The army will also “enforce strict controls on the Lebanese- Syrian borders and the aerial and sea ports of entry,” he added.

The rebels are demanding that the Lebanese government release their group members who were arrested by Lebanese government in exchange for the kidnapped soldiers. They also demand that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant Islamist group that has been fighting in Syria alongside Syrian government forces, withdraws its troops from Syria.

The groups have executed some of the abducted soldiers and threatened to execute the rest. Al-Nusra Front has already killed one of the captured, while the IS beheaded two others, publishing audio and video tapes of the abducted soldiers.

Some analysts say the Islamist militant groups have publicized these execution footages to incite the already boiling sectarian division among the Lebanese. They blamed the current situation in Arsal on the policies of the Lebanese government and the involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian war.

In response, the Lebanese army has called on Qatar and Turkey to help rescue the captured soldiers and security personnel, and it has received advanced weaponry and ammunition from the United States to combat rebels hiding in the mountains lying between Syria and Lebanon.

The army has also sent reinforcements to its key positions and closed all the routes leading to and from Arsal in an effort to cut off essential supplies to the Islamist groups. They have also raided some Syrian refugee camps in Arsal, arresting tens of people who were suspected of participating in assaults against the army. Officials have also allegedly confiscated a large quantity of arms and ammunition from the refugee camps.

“All the security agencies are on high alert and in an unprecedented state of coordination backed by the government comprised of most of the political forces in Lebanon,” the security source told Xinhua.

Some analysts fear that the development of the Arsal events could lead to domestic strife that will threaten Lebanon’s central government, which has already been paralyzed by a political deadlock that has left the presidency vacant since May, when former President Michel Suleiman’s tenure ended.

Officials also worry that the presence of Islamist militant groups could expand to other parts of Lebanon, saying the country’ s 1.2 million Syrian refugees might be hosting “dormant cells” of other Sunni militant groups that are sympathetic with the rebel groups fighting the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees in Lebanon complain that they cannot get access to basic services and face deteriorating health and sanitary conditions, as they are suffering an atmosphere of hardship and hostility from some of their neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese government holds reception for foreign experts

 

Liu Yunshan (center), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of

the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the Secretariat

of the CPC Central Committee, attends a reception for foreign experts on the eve of the

65th founding anniversary of new China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,

on September 28, 2014.   Photo by Rao Aimin


Liu Yunshan (left), attends a reception for foreign experts on the eve of the 65th

founding anniversary of new China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,

on Septembr 28, 2014.   Photo by Rao Aimin

 

 

 

Chinese government holds

reception for foreign experts

 

By Liu Dongkai

 

China will work harder to attract overseas talent, especially high-caliber innovators.

On the eve of the 65th founding anniversary of new China, the Chinese government held a reception for foreign experts in the Great Hall of the People, addressed by Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Liu conveyed appreciation and greetings from President Xi Jinping and the government to all foreign experts and international friends for their support for reform and development. Among some 1,800 attendants were foreign experts in the fields of technology, economics, management, culture and education.

Liu said China will improve rules and practices to attract more highly skilled workers from overseas, including protection of intellectual property rights and providing excellent working conditions.

With a need for talent more urgent than ever before, Liu said China will always be ready to learn from other nations. China’s achievements in the past 65 years are the result of not only the hard work by the Chinese people, but also outstanding contributions made by foreign experts. Foreign experts have played an active role in opening up and modernization that the Chinese people will never forget.

Liu hoped that foreign experts would serve as goodwill ambassadors for China and help enhance world’s understanding and friendship toward China.

 

 

 

 

Sharapova puts romance to second place

 

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova attends the 2014 China Open press conference

in Beijing on September 26, 2014.   Photo by Li Wen

 

 

 

Sharapova puts

romance to second place

 

By Wang Chunyan

 

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova reached the second round of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday of September 28, and she decided to put romance to the second place, although her boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov plays here too, facing Fernando Verdasco in the first round.

Sharapova beat Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and thirty minutes. As the runner-up in 2012 China Open, the Russian is touched by the enthusiastic Chinese fans.

“The first thing I notice is how many great fans I have here. They’re following me from practice to the matches, all of them with different signs and pictures. It’s always nice to play in front of them.” Sharapova said.

Her boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov also plays as the fifth seed here, and he will face the first opponent Fernando Verdasco on Monday of September 29.

Dimitrov is satisfied with his performance this year and climbed to the eighth place, the personal highest rank. At the press conference on Saturday the Bulgarian expressed his desire to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing.

When the media asked about their plan in Beijing after the competition, the 27-year-old Sharapova said both of them will focus on the tournament right now instead of going to some attractions in Beijing.

“Right now is not really the time for those attractions or things to see. It’s our workplace and we’re trying to make the most out of it.” She said.

 

 

 

 

Alibaba IPO more discussed in Chinese social media than iPhone 6 launch

 

 

 

 

Alibaba IPO more discussed

in Chinese social media

than iPhone 6 launch

 

By Lin Jianyang

 

The launch of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba in a record-breaking IPO in New York was the most discussed business event this month, more so than the launch of Apple’s iPhone, a study showed.

The two most closely-watched business events this month, Alibaba’s public offering on Sept. 20 overshadowed Apple’s iPhone 6 launch on September 10, a study by CIC and Kantar showed.

Discussions over Alibaba’s success and its founder Jack Ma have dominated the buzz on microblog Sina Weibo.

The number of posts and discussions regarding Alibaba IPO’s was 2.3 times iPhone 6 launch on Sept. 10 at both of their peak volumes, it said.

According to CIC’s Weibo monitoring service, which continuously collected random Weibo posts, the discussions about Alibaba peaked on Sept. 20.

Alibaba shares debuted at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 19 New York time, and the discussion in China continued into Beijing time the next day, mostly focusing on Alibaba’s price surge on debut day.

Half of the Weibo posts captured by CIC system were neutral, 40 percent are positive and the remaining 10 percent are negative.

In April of 2013, Alibaba spent 586 million U.S. dollars buying 18 percent of Sina Weibo. However, this ownership doesn’t seem to have affected people’s discussions on Sina Weibo as most of the Weibo posts were published by ordinary individual users.

According to the auto text mining analysis of the CIC system, 98.74 percent of Alibaba-related Weibo posts were “normal posts,” compared to 1.11 percent of “e-commerce promotions” and 0.15 percent of “online event promotions.”

In terms of volume of specific buzzwords, Ma’s famous quote during his roadshow — “Yesterday, you didn’t want to talk to me (because I was nobody back then). Today, I am so successful that you can’t reach me” — has aroused more discussions than any other Alibaba-related topics.

The second most discussed topic, according to the buzzword volume, was Alibaba’s decision to stop its Hong Kong IPO because the Hong Kong Stock Exchange couldn’t agree to Alibaba’s future “partnership” corporate governance structure.

The third hottest topic was Hong Kong media’s report that Jack Ma will “emigrate to become a Hong Kong citizen by 2015.”

Alibaba’s public relationship team responded quickly by publishing a screenshot of Ma’s clarifying blog post on Alibaba’s social media platform to quench the rumor and prevented negative reports and discussions to pop up.

 

 

 

 

 

Shanghai FTZ pilots reforms for national use

 

Citizens buy frozen food in the Waigaoqiao Direct Imported Goods market in the

Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, east China, on August 13, 2014.

The Shanghai FTZ was launched in September 2013. It allows foreign businesses to

invest in a series of sectors.   Photo by Fang Zhe

Citizens walk into the Waigaoqiao Direct Imported Goods market in the Shanghai

Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, east China, on August 13, 2014.   Photos by Fang Zhe

 

Citizens walk into the Waigaoqiao Direct Imported Goods market in the Shanghai

Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, east China, on August 13, 2014.   Photos by Fang Zhe

Citizens do shopping in the Waigaoqiao Direct Imported Goods market in the Shanghai

Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, east China, on August 13, 2014.  Photo by Fang Zhe

 

 

 

 

Shanghai FTZ

pilots reforms

for national use

 

By Lü Dong, He Xinrong, Yao Yujie and Xu Xiaoqing

A year after the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) was established, reforms piloted in the zone have now been applied elsewhere in the country.

Unlike other economic development zones scattered around China, the Shanghai FTZ does not have much to offer in terms of preferential treatment in taxes and land. Its appeal hinges on broadened access to China’s service sector, financial reforms and streamlined administrative procedures.

A total of 21 pilot measures, affecting areas such as business registration, cross-border financing and investment, and customs clearance, have become formal policies applied elsewhere in the country.

According to Wang Zhan, president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the FTZ is an example of how opening up to foreign companies and capital has led to a bigger push for reforms at home.

“Just like many other nationwide reforms that were first piloted in Shanghai, the FTZ is also a testing ground for bolder policies high on the central government’s agenda for the entire country,” Wang said.

The FTZ has made it easier for both domestic and foreign companies to set up businesses in the zone and shifted more focus to regulatory oversight. More than 12,000 companies have been established in the zone, including 1,677 foreign-funded firms.

“Not everyone has a clear idea of what to do in the zone in the rush to register a company there, but real entrepreneurs know that a free and level playing field matters for a successful venture, not subsidies or preferential treatment,” Wang said.

 

NEGATIVE LIST

 

Foreign companies no longer have to undergo a tedious process of government review and approval of their proposed venture in the free trade zone, as long as their line of business does not appear on a “negative list” of off-limit activities, first published with 196 items when the zone was launched a year ago and shortened to 139 in June.

“The negative list is a move in the right direction. It has broadened foreign companies’ access to China’s service sector,” said Lewis Lu, a partner at accounting firm KPMG’s Shanghai office.

“Foreign companies would love to see the list grow shorter and they’d love to see it updated more frequently.”

 

FINANCIAL REFORM

 

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, issued a guideline late last year articulating a string of policies to make cross-border investment, financing and the global use of the Chinese currency, the renminbi or yuan, easier.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange, the world’s largest physical gold trading platform, opened China’s domestic gold trading market to global investors on Sept. 18, marking the first time offshore investors could participate in the country’s spot gold market.

In June, the Shanghai Head Office of the People’s Bank of China launched the free trade accounting unit, which allows for free flow of capital between the FTZ and offshore under a closely monitored system.

Ten Chinese banks have connected to the system and opened 4,110 free trade accounts for clients. HSBC and Citi bank are also preparing to be incorporated into the system, said Zheng Yang, director of the Shanghai Financial Services Office, during a briefing about the FTZ on Friday.

“The financial reforms already implemented in the Shanghai FTZ have provided a snapshot of what an offshore financial center looks like on the Chinese mainland: funds can flow freely between the zone and offshore but are subject to curbs when flowing through the rest of the country,” said Lin Caiyi, chief economist with the Shanghai-based Guotai Junan Securities.

However, the pace of financial reforms in the FTZ has not lived up to the expectations of many. While the flow of goods has been greatly eased by a more flexible customs clearance system and the lifting of several bans, the flow of capital still faces restrictions.

Zheng indicated on Friday that more measures to enable the free flow of capital, both in the Chinese yuan and other currencies, are in the pipeline.

“We have been monitoring fund flow through these free trade accounts, and they haven’t become a channel for hot money or arbitrage,” Zheng said, adding that the FTZ will conduct a stress test for further opening of the capital account in the zone.

 

BROADER ACCESS FOR FOREIGN FIRMS

 

The FTZ has also made progress in opening more areas in the country’s service sector to foreign companies. The State Council, China’s cabinet, lifted a 13-year ban on sales of gaming consoles in the FTZ, paving the way for Microsoft to launch its Xbox on the Chinese mainland on the FTZ’s one-year anniversary on Monday. Sony is also mulling a joint venture inside the Shanghai FTZ to manufacture and sell its PlayStation in China.

Meanwhile, the FTZ will also host the Chinese mainland’s first wholly foreign-funded hospital, as German healthcare group Artemed has inked a deal to build a hospital in the zone, though details have yet to be disclosed.

“Getting people to open business here is not the ultimate purpose of the Shanghai FTZ. It is all about experimenting new policies that have the potential to be replicated elsewhere in the country,” KPMG’s Lu said.

 

 

 

 

 

•  China opens businesses to foreign firms in Shanghai FTZ 

 

By Fu Shuangqi

 

The Chinese government will lift restrictions on foreign investment for 27 businesses, from green tea to civil airplane engines, in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (Shanghai FTZ).

The Shanghai FTZ will be temporarily exempt from restrictions on foreign investment in businesses like shipping, automobile, civil aviation and infrastructure development, according to a State Council statement published on Sunday of September 28.

A Foreign investors’ stake in a joint venture shipping agency in Shanghai FTZ is allowed to exceed 51 percent, according to the statement. The current national regulation caps it at 49 percent.

Foreign investors are allowed to set up solely-owned firms in Shanghai FTZ for cargo handling and management of container yards. The current regulation only allows Chinese-foreign joint ventures.

A number of restrictive articles in the country’s foreign investment guidance catalog are also adjusted in the Shanghai FTZ.

Solely-owned foreign firms in the Shanghai FTZ will be allowed in sectors that are only open to joint ventures nationwide, such as research and development of facilities for high-speed railways, passenger trains and inter-city rails, designing yachts and luxury liners, as well as development and manufacture of parts of civil airplane engines.

They are also allowed in constructing and managing local railways and ferries as well as bridges and tunnels attached to these projects.

Foreign firms are banned from producing traditional Chinese tea. In Shanghai FTZ they can engage in the business through a joint venture with Chinese firms.

Some 12,000 firms have been established in the Shanghai FTZ since its launch in late September last year.

The 29-square-km zone in the Chinese financial hub has promised free trade, greater financial opening and fewer government controls in business activities.

 

 

 

 

 

•  Foreign firms given more autonomy in Shanghai FTZ

 

By Shi Hao

 

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ), China announced fresh measures on Sunday of September 28 to further liberalize business for foreign companies in the pilot zone.

The State Council, or China’s cabinet, decided to temporarily adjust 27 items in six regulations regarding international shipping, salt, automobile, civil aviation and others.

Foreign firms are allowed to hold bigger stakes in joint ventures and do business in broader fields with lower thresholds in the Shanghai FTZ..

The State Council asked its departments and the Shanghai Municipal Government to make detailed policies in accordance with the adjustments.

 

 

 

 

•  Replicability key to Shanghai FTZ success

 

By Xu Shousong, Bai Xu, Jiang Wei and Ji Ming

 

The success of the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) will be the number of mechanisms which are copied and promoted nationally, said Han Zheng, secretary of the Shanghai branch of the Communist Party of China.

“The FTZ is a testing ground for all of China, not our private plot,” he said, during an interview with Xinhua on Sunday of September 28. “New measures here should be applicable elsewhere.”

Unlike other development zones, Shanghai FTZ does not offer much by way of taxes or land. Its appeal lies on broadened access to the service sector, financial reforms and streamlined administrative procedures.

What is tested here reflects the demands of China to continue opening up and deepening reform. “It is not just for local development,” Han said.

After a year, the FTZ has provided 21 pilot measures, in areas such as business registration, cross-border financing and investment. More than 30 other measures are being assessed..

In retrospect, the highlight should be the negative list, Han said. Foreign companies no longer have to go through tedious government review and approval of a proposed venture in the free trade zone, as long as their line of business does not appear on the negative list of off-limits activities. By June, the list has been shortened from 190 items to 139.

“In the past, we talked about simplifying procedures and tightening management if problems appeared,” said Han. “This was a circle. Now we are exploring how to move forward.”

Now they are considering a “power list” to increase transparency. The scheme would allow two to three years for the FTZ to mature.

“We will take three steps in three years,” he said. “Our achievements shall come in stages and in groups.”

The Shanghai FTZ was launched in September 2013 to test a broad range of economic reforms, especially those in the financial sector, in anticipation of duplication in other parts of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

China marks 2,565 anniversary of Confucius’ birth

 

A memorial ceremony to mark the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius’ birth is held

at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, east China’s Shandong Province, on September 28, 2014.

Photo by Xu Suhui

A memorial ceremony to mark the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius’ birth is held at the

Confucius Temple in Qufu, east China’s Shandong Province, on September 28, 2014.

Photos by Xu Suhui

A ceremony is held to mark the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius’ birth at the Yuelu

Academy in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, on September 28, 2014.

Photo by Li Ga

A ceremony is held to mark the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius’ birth at the Yuelu Academy

in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, on September 28, 2014.

Photos by Li Ga

 

 

 

China marks 2,565 

anniversary of

Confucius’ birth

 

By Zhong Qun and  Liu Baosen

 

Ceremonies were held in a number of Chinese cities on Sunday of September 28 to celebrate the 2565th anniversary of the birth of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.

In Qufu City, hometown of Confucius in east China’s Shandong Province, more than 4,000 people marched toward the Confucius Temple in a grand ceremony on Sunday morning, as government officials, scholars, students and the descendants of Confucius recited the classics of the ancient philosopher.

Elsewhere, some 300 people bowed to the statue of Confucius in Yuelu Academy in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, while in the southwestern Guiyang City, around 300 pupils, dressed in traditional Han clothes, read classics of the educator in the local Confucius School on Sunday.

Confucius (551-479 BC), an educator and philosopher, founded the school of thought Confucianism that deeply influenced later generations. He was also the first Chinese person to set up private schools and enroll students from all walks of life.

He is believed to be born on Sept. 28.

For thousands of years, Confucius has been regarded as a symbol of China’s traditional culture, as well as the country’s intellectuals.

He was deified as a great sage in ancient China, and despised as a regressive pedant during the decade-long Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

After the reform and opening up policy in the late 1970s, respect of traditional Chinese culture has been restored and Confucius Institutes have become a feature of the Chinese culture going global.

Annual commemorations of Confucius started in BC 478, the year after his death.

 

 

 

 

 

CHINA VOICE

Rejecting Confucius Institutes

not helpful to understand China

 

By Liu Tong and Li Huizi

 

Nobody expected the Confucius Institutes (CI) to grow so rapidly when it first opened a campus in Seoul in 2004. Today, it has 465 institutes in 123 countries and regions and another 713 Confucius Classrooms operating in middle and primary schools worldwide.

But criticisms and calls to ban the spread of the institutes haven’t stopped.

Without doubt, CI has its problems, in management style, hiring methods or quality of its teachers. But such problems are inevitable considering its rapid expansion and can be rectified. None have problems so serious to justify the call by some to reject CI completely.

CI has just entered its 10th year. Compared with its counterparts such as Goethe Institute, which was established in 1951 and the British Council, which was founded in 1934, CI is still in its infancy.

Faced with the popularity of the Chinese culture and Chinese language study, the critics chose to ignore the true reasons behind the rapid expansion of CI — it well served people’s needs to learn Chinese language and Chinese culture.

A glimpse into many English-speaking websites shows the scarcity of information many foreign people know about China, a country which only gained the world spotlight in recent years.

It is not uncommon to come across websites with quiz titles asking “How much do you know about China other than the Great Wall and pandas?” In many ways, CI is a bridge to help Chinese people and foreigners know more about each other. It is no more different than the Goethe Institute, the British Council and the French Alliance.

“Confucius Institutes belong to China and the world as well,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a recent speech commemorating Confucius’ birthday.

He urged promotion of civilization among mankind to improve people’s heart-to-heart communication.

“Harmony is the most valuable of all things,” the great Chinese sage Confucius said more than two thousand years ago. In choosing Confucius as the name of an organization promoting the study of Chinese language abroad and international cultural exchange and relations, China wanted it to become a platform that can transcend ideology, social system differences and misunderstanding.

Rather, some people in the West are turning it into a politically-charged tool to defame and smear China’s goodwill to communicate with the outside world.

Recently, the University of Chicago announced it had suspend negotiations to renew its agreement to host a Confucius Institute, meaning Chinese language study in the university would cease soon.

Though the university did not detail the reasons behind the suspension, many believed it was linked to the American Association of University Professors boycott of CI.

By shutting the door of a Confucius Institute, the University of Chicago not only denied students an opportunity to learn Chinese and Chinese culture, but also a channel to reduce misunderstandings.