• Sino-U.S. investment treaty sees major progress
By Zhang Yi and Zhang Jian
China and the United States are finalizing text checks on a bilateral investment treaty and will formally exchange negative lists at the beginning of next year, China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said on Tuesday of December 16.
The BIT negotiations are considered the most important issue in the two nation’s economic relationship.
Zhu underlined that the two countries sought a transparent investment treaty that was free of discrimination.
China and the United States both wish to complete negotiations within Obama’s term, Zhu said at an economic forum in Beijing
Talks on the treaty began in 2008 as both countries sought to increase mutual investment, which only accounted for a tiny share of their overseas investment.
Last year, bilateral trade volume increased to 520 billion U.S. dollars, and outstanding two-way investment rose to 100 billion dollars.
At last month’s summit, the world’s two biggest economies agreed to accelerate the bilateral investment treaty negotiations with the aim of achieving agreements on the treaty’s core issues and major provisions by the end of the year.
Both countries agreed more resources were needed in the negotiation process to cement a comprehensive high-standard bilateral investment treaty, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The treaty is expected to cement the foundation of China-U.S. economic ties and significantly benefit global trade, Zhu said.
At the forum, the vice finance minister also said China had noticed an American think tank’s proposal of a Sino-U.S. free trade area, adding that China was open to suggestions that could benefit global economic integration and promote world economic growth.
• China FDI inflows jump 22.2 pct in November
By Cheng Jing and Wang Youling
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Chinese mainland jumped 22.2 percent in November from a year earlier, settling at 10.36 billion U.S. dollars, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Tuesday of December 16.
Growth quickened from a 1.3-percent rise in October and 1.9 percent in September, as investments into the country’s service industry continue rising steadily.
For the first 11 months, the FDI, which excludes investment in the financial sector, stood at 106.24 billion U.S. dollars, up 0.7 percent from the same period last year, the ministry said.
Around 55.1 percent of the FDI went into the country’s service sector during the Jan.-Nov. period. FDI into the manufacturing sector moved down 13.3 percent to 35.93 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 33.8 percent of the total.
Investments from the Republic of Korea and Britain saw fast growth, up 22.9 percent and 28 percent respectively. In contrast, investment from Japan plunged 39.7 percent, followed by a 23.6-percent drop from the ASEAN nations and 22.2-percent slump from the United States.
Tuesday’s data also showed China’s outbound direct investment by non-financial firms moved down 26.1 percent to 7.92 billion U.S. dollars in November, bringing the total volume in the first 11 months to 89.8 billion U.S. dollars.
MOC spokesman Shen Danyang said the ministry expects the scale of inbound and outbound investments to be “relatively close” this year.
The stronger-than-expected FDI data came as the world’s second largest economy is still facing relatively big downward pressures.
Dragged down by a housing slowdown, softening domestic demand and unsteady export, China’s growth slid to a low not seen since the 2008/2009 global financial crisis in the third quarter.
In the first three quarters, China’s gross domestic output expanded by 7.4 percent.
To support the faltering growth, the central bank last month decided to lower the one-year benchmark lending rate by 40 basis points and the one-year deposit rate by 25 basis points, the first interest rate cuts in more than two years.
The move gave a big boost to the stock market, but with China’s deflation risk on the rise, analysts are expecting further easing to invigorate the economy.
Also on Tuesday, the HSBC released the flash manufacturing PMI that showed China’s manufacturing activity dropped to a seven-month low in December, which the HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin said would warrant further monetary easing in the coming months.
• China’s foreign aid features livelihoods
By Zhu Shaobin, Wang Youling and Yu Jiaxin
Poverty reduction and the improvement of the livelihoods of people in developing countries has been the main feature of China’s assistance to other nations, Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said on Tuesday of December 16.
Nearly 80 percent of China’s foreign aid between 2010 and 2012 went to areas including poverty reduction, education, hygiene, sports, culture, transportation as well as infrastructure, Shen said at a regular monthly news conference held by the ministry.
He said China took recipient nations’ development strategies into consideration and prioritized suggestions from the countries themselves.
“China’s decision on foreign aid projects adheres to strict standards,” Shen said, refuting recent reports that China’s foreign aid projects were disproportionately in favor of leaders’ home towns in recipient countries.
Shen added that China’s foreign aid projects were open and transparent, with relevant data updated annually on the commerce and finance ministries websites. Meanwhile, aid projects are also open to public scrutiny in recipient nations.
• ADB loans 450 mln USD to boost gas in China
By Zhang Xu, Gao Li and Han Jie
China Gas signed a loan agreement on Tuesday of December 16 with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for 450 million U.S. dollars, to finance natural gas use in transportation.
Aiming to cut the polluting effects of vehicles and ships, the loan will help China Gas establish 600 compressed natural gas stations and 200 liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations along major highways with 20 LNG stations for inland water transport.
“More use of new energy is the key to protecting the environment,” China Gas’s chairman Zhou Si said. “If natural gas replaces diesel, China will cause much less pollution.”
China has the world’s largest inland water network with huge potential for transportation development using green energy.
ADB support will help diversify China’s energy mix, with the country’s per capita natural gas consumption at a low level in world terms.
The ADB expects the loan to attract further private capital for natural gas development.
• Samsung’s smartphone share drops on rising Chinese rivals
By Yoo Seungki
Global smartphone market share of Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest maker of the smart device, dropped in the third quarter on rising Chinese rivals, including Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo, an industry data showed on Tuesday of December 16.
Samsung’s global smartphone sales were 73.21 million in the third quarter, making up 24.4 percent of the total, according to market tracker Gartner.
The South Korean company maintained the No.1 position, but its market share was down 7.7 percentage points from a year earlier.
The decline in Samsung’s market share came as Chinese manufacturers increased their shares. Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo posted a global market share of 5.3 percent, 5.2 percent and 5 percent each, ranking third to fifth in the global smartphone market.
The combined share of the three Chinese companies was 15.5 percent in the third quarter, up 4.1 percentage points from a year earlier.
Among the three Chinese makers, Xiaomi was outstanding. The company’s third-quarter smartphone sales were 15.77 million, quadrupling a 3.62 million smartphone sale in the third quarter of 2013.
The No.2 maker Apple sold 38.19 million smartphones during the quarter, up about 8 million from a year earlier. The iPhone maker’ s global market share was 12.7 percent.
• China high-tech manufacturing firms see fast growth
By Han Qiao and Wang Xi
China saw high-technology manufacturing companies surge from 2008 to 2013, a signal of progress in economic structure adjustment, official data showed on Tuesday of December 16.
There were 26,894 large high-tech manufacturing companies by the end of last year, accounting for 7.8 percent of all large manufacturing companies, up 1.3 percentage points from 2008.
They realized a profit of 723.37 billion yuan (118.23 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, up 165.5 percent from 2008, according to results of the third national economic census published by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The profit growth was 11.5 percentage points higher than the average manufacturing industry rate.
A total of 12.94 million people were employed in the high-tech manufacturing sector at the end of 2013, up 36.9 percent from 2008, the census showed.
They account for 15.1 percent of all employees in the manufacturing sector, 2.9 percentage points higher than 2008.
Expenditure on research and development by high-tech manufacturing firms stood at 203.43 billion yuan in 2013, rising 178.2 percent from 2008. The growth rate was 8.7 percentage points higher than the industry average.
Large high-tech manufacturing companies refer to those with annual revenue of 20 million yuan or more from their main business operations.
China’s manufacturing industry is the largest in the world, and the country has been working to upgrade the traditional industries, develop new and high-tech industries and raise product competitiveness.
• China to continue internal inspections on state-owned enterprises
By Fu Shuangqi
China’s graft authorities on Tuesday of December 16 pledged to step up regular internal inspections on state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Hao Mingjin, vice minister of supervision, told an online press conference, to expect more internal inspections at SOEs.
The press conference was streamed on the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s (CCDI) website.
Since 2013, the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) central authorities have dispatched inspectors to ministries, provincial governments, SOEs and public institutions.
Six SOEs have so far undergone inspections and, in the latest round, another three — China State Shipbuilding Corporation, China Unicom and Sinopec — will come under scrutiny.
Serious corruption issues remain in SOEs, including abuse of power and bribery, Hao said.
Chief executives at state-owned enterprises have been identified as “high-risk” positions and, should it be proved they are embroiled in graft, it is highly likely their subordinates are also involved, creating a graft gang, he said.
Many corrupt executives have abused their power to facilitate private companies run by their relatives and some of their illegal decisions have led to serious state losses.
Corruption has become much more subtle, with those involved using “legal covers” to hide any untoward activity, he said.
Hao attributed corruption to the loose management and discipline of Party organs in the SOEs these senior executives, who are mostly Party members, work for.
“An SOE executive should not consider the company his or her own business nor regard himself or herself a private business person,” he said.
• Small businesses account for 95.6 pct of Chinese firms
By Shi Hao and Tu Guoxi
China had 7.85 million small and micro-sized enterprises in the secondary and tertiary sectors as of the end of 2013, accounting for 95.6 percent of enterprises in the two sectors, official data showed on Tuesday of December 16.
Small businesses provided 147.3 million jobs, accounting for 50.4 percent of the total in the two sectors, according to results of the 3rd National Economic Census published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Such firms held 29.6 percent of total assets, said the NBS.
Industrial enterprises with no more than 30 million yuan (4.9 million U.S. dollars) in assets and no more than 100 employees are classified as small and micro-sized firms.
For other sectors, companies with no more than 10 million yuan in assets and no more than 80 employees fall into this category.
China has rolled out a string of favorable measures for small businesses, including easy market entry, tax breaks and reduced red tape, to support their development.
• China announces major holiday dates for 2015
By Zhu Shaobin
The State Council, China’s cabinet, announced major holiday dates for 2015 on Tuesday of December 16.
New Year’s Day: Jan. 1 – Jan. 3, with Jan. 4 (Sunday) as a working day.
Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year): Feb. 18 – Feb. 24. Feb.15 (Sunday) and Feb. 28 (Saturday) are working days.
Qingming (Tomb-Sweeping Day): April 5 – April 6.
Workers Day: May 1 – May 3.
Duanwu (Dragon Boat Festival): June 20 – June 22
Mid-Autumn Festival: Sept. 27
National Day: Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, with Oct. 10 (Saturday) as a working day.
The State Council urged all departments to make preparations for people’s safety during holiday periods.
• Chinese New Year’s Eve resumed as holiday
By Li Zhihui
Chinese people will be able to start their week of New Year celebrations — Spring Festival — from lunar New Year’s Eve again, a date excluded from the holiday last year.
New Year’s Eve has been an official holiday since 2007, but was designated a working day in 2014, precipitating a firestorm of complaint from people who did not have enough time to travel home to celebrate the year’s most important holiday with their families.
Most Chinese families stay up late on the eve of the Spring Festival, watching the annual TV gala and carousing with friends and neighbors. Millions of migrant workers head for their hometowns to be reunited with their loved ones.
Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 19, 2015 and the week-long holiday starts officially on Feb. 18, according to the State Council General Office.
Other important national holidays including New Year’s Day, Tomb-Sweeping Day, International Workers Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Day and National Day, were also confirmed today.
• China to improve media feed on key policies
By Li Zhihui
China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO) plans to hold regular media briefings on key policies to address public concern, a senior official said on Tuesday of December 16.
From January, the SCIO will hold weekly briefings on important decisions by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council as well as economic and social policies, said Cai Mingzhao, director of the SCIO.
Cai urged the voices of Party and government departments to be more helpful to the media in terms of information and interviews.
The SCIO held a total of 87 news conferences and briefings this year, the most in its history.
Central government departments held more than 1,000 news conferences and briefings, he said.
As of November this year, overseas media organizations had made 540,000 reports about China, he said.
• China’s banks make risk control top priority
By Zhang Zhengfu and Liu Zheng
A majority of Chinese bankers see risk control as their top priority, according to a survey by the China Banking Association (CBA), released on Tuesday of December 16.
As growth slows, the banking sector has a better understanding of the need to prevent financial risk, according to the “Chinese Bankers Survey Report 2014”.
Among the 1,100 bank executives surveyed, 65.5 percent saw “boosting risk control capability” as the top priority in their strategies, compared to 42.4 percent in 2011.
Ba Shusong, deputy head of the financial research institute at the State Council development research center, believes that risk awareness and risk management capabilities of China’s bankers have increased significantly.
Risks stemming from the property market and elimination of overcapacity have caught the most attention, Ba said.
Adjusting the business structure, promoting unique businesses, making innovative financial products, and boosting capital management are also priorities, according to the survey.
• China’s second IPR court opens in Guangzhou
By Cheng Lu, Mao Yizhu, Lai Yuchen, Xu Ming and Xiong Lin
China’s second intellectual property rights (IPR) court opened in the southern city of Guangzhou on Tuesday of December 16.
The court will hear civil and administrative lawsuits regarding patents, new plant varieties and technological knowledge.
It will hear IPR cases from all over Guangdong Province except for Shenzhen City, so the whole province will follow the same standard, said Xu Chunjian, deputy head of the provincial higher people’s court.
IPR cases in Guangdong accounted for 29.68 percent of the country’s total in 2013, an increase from 20.55 percent in 2009, said Xu.
“It is imperative that an IPR court be established in the province,” he added.
The court has selected 10 of its 30 judges, each having handled on average at least 600 IPR cases.
“The selection process was fair and transparent. I feel proud of being chosen,” said Gong Qitian.
In addition, it is China’s first court to treat all judges as equal, said Zhou Ling, an official with the provincial higher people’s court.
The Supreme People’s Court proposal, which was approved in August by China’s top legislature, advised that three special courts for IPR cases be set up.
The first IPR court was set up in Beijing in early November. It has accepted 221 cases in one month alone and heard its first case on Tuesday. About 63 percent of the cases are administrative lawsuits regarding brands.
A similar court in Shanghai is slated to be opened by the end of this year.
Chinese courts hear about 110,000 IPR cases annually and this is expected to increase.
• Rare panda triplets named
By Huang Guobao and Wang Ruoyao
A Chinese zoo announced names for the world’s only surviving giant panda triplets on Monday of December 15, choosing from over one million names proposed by the cubs’ fans across the world.
The female cub of the trio, born on July 29, was named “Meng Meng,” translated as “cute,” and the two males were named “Shuai Shuai” and “Ku Ku,” meaning “handsome” and “cool” respectively, according to the Chime Long Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province.
“Criteria for the selection included names that are easily remembered by kids and convey our best wishes to the cubs,” said Dong Guixin, general manager of the zoo. He added the names were chosen based on the pandas’ gender and personality.
In late August, the zoo launched an online campaign to solicit names for the triplets. From the proposed names, the zoo came up with a short list of 100 and then invited a panel of animal experts, representatives from all walks of life and children to decide on the final names.
The triplets born at Chime Long are the fourth set of panda triplets ever recorded. But in all previous instances, at least one of the triplets died from physical defects or being underweight.
• China tightens codeine control over addiction concerns
By Zuo Yuanfeng
China’s drug watchdog has ordered a severe crackdown on the illegal sale of cough syrup that contains codeine, a potentially addictive prescription drug.
“Pharmaceutical companies and drug retailers must be stripped of their licenses if found to have illegally sold cough syrup containing codeine, and they will be banned from future trading,” according to a statement jointly released on Tuesday of December 16 by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and the Public Security Ministry.
“In recent years, some pharmaceutical companies and drug retailers have been found to have sold such products in large quantities. [As a result] abuse of this substance is worsening,” the statement said, adding that addiction and death from abuse of codeine had caused “severe social harm”.
While the CFDA failed to disclose specific cases, the statement did list two pharmaceutical companies in central China’s Hubei Province as being among those to have had their licenses revoked.
Vowing to cooperate with the police in “resolutely putting an end to the abuse issue”, the CFDA said it had also boosted supervision and control on manufacturing, distribution and purchase.
• Ancient stone Buddha statues found in SW China
By Li Qianwei and Cheng Lu
More than 80 stone Buddha statues and statue fragments were unearthed in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, archaeologists said on Tuesday of December 16.
The red sandstone statues were found in a 500-square meter plot near the ancient walls in Qingyang District, Chengdu, the provincial capital, according to the Institute of Archaeology in Chengdu.
Dating estimates have put ages of the finds to be from around the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589) to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the peak of China’s stone Buddha statue art, said Yi Li from the institute.
This discovery will contribute to research on religious art in China. The statues have been sent to be restored.
In addition, porcelain, pottery, building material and coins were also found during the excavation.
• Chinese automakers recall vehicles over faulty airbags
By Jiang Xufeng and Xu Qingsong
Several automakers, including two of Honda’s joint ventures with Chinese partners, announced plans on Tuesday of December 16 to recall vehicles over faulty airbags.
The recall filed by GAC-Honda, the joint venture between Honda and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC), will start on February 1, 2015. It affects 16,505 Fit Saloon cars manufactured between Oct. 30, 2002 and Dec. 30, 2003, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.
The airbags on the passenger side of the affected vehicles are defective and may cause danger, said the administration, China’s top quality watchdog.
Another recall, filed by Dongfeng-Honda, starts on Feb. 28, 2015 and affects 26,128 Elysion MPVs manufactured between June 4, 2012 and June 17, 2014 due to defective airbags on the driver’s side, said the administration.
GAC-Honda also announced a recall of 527,136 Accord cars manufactured between May 17, 2002 and Dec. 25, 2007 because of defective airbags on the driver’s side.
Dongfeng Motor Corporation announced a recall of 2,848 A60 sedans manufactured between Feb. 27, 2014 and June 5, 2014 over defective airbag control units starting on Tuesday.
• Xinjiang’s high-speed rail receives 167,000 passengers in one month
By Sun Xiaozheng and Yu Tao
The first high-speed rail link in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region celebrates one month of operations on Tuesday of December 16, having carried 167,000 passengers.
The daily passenger flow reached 5,600. Visitors to Turpan by rail, went up 30 to 50 percent on year, said Chen Shuguo, director of the tourism bureau of Turpan.
The 530-km line became operational on Nov.16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours.
With a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, the line is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.
• China rat trader on trial
By Wang Yuan and Li Baojie
A Chinese mutual fund manager stood trial on Tuesday of December 16 in Shanghai for rat trading stocks to a value of 109 million yuan (17.6 million U.S. dollars).
Wei Libo was charged at Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court with making 2.73 million yuan from rat trading in 2009 when he was a fund manager with Soochow Asset Management Co., Ltd.
Rat trading is the use of personal accounts by fund managers to buy shares before the share price is affected by intervention from the fund the trader manages.
Wei bought stocks in 19 companies before the mutual fund he managed also bought them and then cashed in on the price differences.
Wei admitted to the offences and expressed remorse.
He fled to Malaysia in October last year, two days after the Chinese stock exchange regulator began investigating his trades. He turned himself in to Chinese police in April this year.
The court is to announce a verdict on a later date.
• Vice mayor under investigation in north China
By Lü Qiuping and Qi Leijie
A vice mayor in Chengde, north China’s Hebei Province, has been added to a list of least nine other officials in the city under investigation for discipline and law violations, the disciplinary watchdog said on Tuesday of December 16.
Su Aiguo, also a Standing Committee member of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Chengde City Committee, is suspected of “serious” discipline and law violations, a statement issued by the provincial CPC discipline inspection commission said.
Su, 56, served as vice mayor of Chengde from 2009.
Amid the nationwide campaign to root out corruption, at least nine other officials in Chengde had been put under investigation or penalized this year, including Li Gang, executive vice mayor of the city.
• City official suspended over naughty nightclub pics
By Sun Xiaozheng and Shen Rufa
An official in Fuzhou, capital city of east China’s Fujian Province, has been suspended from office while he is investigated over indecent photos appearing online.
Twenty-six photos of Lin Zonghui — deputy director of housing and real estate bureau of Jin’an District — in a nightclub, appeared online at 1:41 a.m. on Tuesday of December 16.
The district’s disciplinary watchdog has confirmed the authenticity of the photos, and Lin is suspended from his post for further investigation.
• Cross-border drug gang busted in central China
By Han Xiaojing and Li Dan
Police in central China’s Hunan Province have busted a cross-border drug trafficking gang, capturing 3 suspects and confiscating about 2.12 kg of heroin and 571 “magu” pills, a stimulant composed of methamphetamine and caffeine, according to police.
Customs in Changsha, capital city of Hunan Province, and police in Chenzhou City published a statement about the case on Monday of December 15.
According to the statement, in November, Changsha Customs intercepted a parcel filled with heroin that was mailed from the China-Myanmar border trade zone in the southwest city of Ruili to Guiyang County in Chenzhou City.
After a 10-day investigation, the parcel was sent to Guiyang County as planned to lure the gang members, the statement said.
Two suspects were caught while collecting the parcel, and the gang leader, surnamed Zhang, was arrested in a hotel shortly afterward.
• 19 gang members sentenced in south China
By Cheng Lu. Zhang Zhoulai and Huang Haoming
Nineteen members of a mafia-style gang stood trial on Tuesday of December 16 on multiple charges at a court in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Li Zhenfeng, the head of the gang, received the death penalty with two years’ reprieve for intentional homicide, illegal trade in guns and ammunition and operating gambling houses, at Wuzhou Intermediate People’s Court on Tuesday.
In February 2013, the gang, led by Li, plotted revenge on another gang in Tengxian County over conflict of interest. They shot dead one person and injured another two.
The court also ruled Li Zhenfeng and other gang members had bought guns and bullets twice between January and February 2013, and ran gambling houses for a long period of time.
Another 18 gang members have been given suspended death penalties or prison sentences.
• Central China police make 22 drug arrests
By Han Xiaojing and Li Lijing
Chinese police have busted a drug ring operating in several provinces, police of Xuchang city in central China’s Henan Province announced on Tuesday of December 16.
Police arrested 22 suspects, with about 18 kilograms of heroin, more than 2.5 million yuan (403,649 U.S. dollars) in cash and 4 vehicles confiscated.
Police became suspicious after a villager surnamed Zhang in Xuchang’s Xiangcheng county suddenly got rich in 2013. After investigating Zhang, police were led to the drug ring.
Police discovered more than 20 members had been purchasing drugs from southwest Yunnan Province and transporting them to Xiangcheng county. The drugs were distributed across the six provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Hunan, Hebei, Anhui and Henan.
The 22 suspects were seized from August to October. The People’s Procuratorate of Xiangcheng county announced the arrest of the suspects for drug dealing and trafficking offences in December.
• Businesswoman in former railway minister’s case jailed 20 yrs
By Li Baojie and Xu Ming
A Chinese bussinesswoman involved in the corruption case of former railway minister Liu Zhijun was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday of December 16, said a local court in Beijing.
Ding Yuxin, former name known as Ding Shumiao, was convicted of bribery and illegal business operation, said a verdict by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.
Ding also was fined 2.5 billion yuan (404 million U.S. dollars) and confiscated 20 million yuan in personal property.