Oh, Christmas! Let’s have some fun!

 

 

 

BEIJING

Oh, Christmas!

Let’s have some fun!

 

By Liu Lu, Wang Jian, Wang Di, Yu Li, Cao Ting and Liu Mingyang

 

Although a majority of Chinese people do not have a Christmas break, the country’s youth have been increasingly getting into the holiday spirit.

Different from family reunions that often mark the celebration in the west, Chinese observe the day by getting together with friends, shopping, giving gifts and romance.

 

SANTA CLAUS COMING INTO TOWN

 

On Wednesday of December 24, 7-year-old Guo Xunyu’s primary school teacher is throwing a party to celebrate the western holiday. The children will sing songs, eat snacks and play games with her classmates at primary school.

“It is a wonderful time for our kids to sit around, as well as for us parents to communicate,” said Gao Yajie, one of the parents who helped arrange the activity. “After all, the children are too busy with their daily school work.”

In a community in north Beijing, 26 male volunteers will dress up as “Santa Claus” to deliver gifts to about 260 homes.

According to Meng Jin, an organizer of the activity, the 26 Santa Clauses plan to knock at the door to surprise kids with their presents.

“We aim to leave a wonderful childhood memory for children in our community and Christmas eve is just the right time when the festive atmosphere is everywhere,” she said.

“Many families have registered to get a present for their child, we are recruiting more Santa Clauses for the eve,” she added.

 

CELEBRATION AROUND THE COUNTRY

 

In a remote village at an altitude of 3,000 meters on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest China, a Tibetan woman, Tsering Amon, is busy rehearsing a dance performance for a show on Christmas eve.

Knowledge about the western holiday spread to the Tibetan village through children who learnt about it in school and people who work in big cities. Now, more people in the small village enjoy the jubilant atmosphere when the eve falls.

“Since Christmas celebrations began in 2009, people in the neighborhood have enjoyed it very much. This year, the celebration will last about two hours, including singing, dancing and mini-dramas,” said Tsering Amon.

“We have bought costumes, Christmas hats, masks and presents such as apples for the seniors and pencils and erasers for the children,” she said.

On Christmas, people will send blessings via cellphone, wishing friends and family “merry Christmas,” “good luck,” and “wish you health.”

Last month, construction began on a Santa Park in Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

Scheduled to open in 2016, it is jointly built by both China and Finland and will become the first authentic Finnish Santa Park in Asia.

The park, covering about 10,000 square meters, will include scores of entertainment events related with Christmas with a total investment of nearly 200 million yuan (32.7 million U.S. dollars).

Paula Parvianien, deputy head of the Embassy of Finland in Beijing, said that the Santa Park will be a platform for Sino-Finnish culture exchange, and help promote the cultural and economic cooperations between the two countries.

Across the Taiwan Strait, various activities will also be held on the island, including live-shows and carnivals, and local churches will be filled with people to sing anthems and exchange presents.

 

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

 

The commercial importance of Christmas in China is obviously increasing.

Walking into a restaurant or shopping mall during the holiday season, Christmas decorations are often be spotted and christmas carols heard. Many businesses have their staff dress up in Santa hats and put on a more chipper attitude.

Near Sanlitun and Worker’s Stadium in Beijing, a nightlife hotspot for both locals and foreigners, restaurants and night clubs host special events on Christmas Eve.

Zhang Hong, a staff in a law firm in Beijing, has scheduled to meet three friends to see a cross talk on Christmas Eve.

“We celebrate Christmas as it is a chance to hang out,” said Zhang. “We make reservations beforehand, as it will be people everywhere when the day comes.”

 

 

 

 

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A French-Chinese or A Chinese French?

 

 

 

Photo taken in 2010 shows Joel Bellasan delivering a speech at the 10th International

Conference on Chinese Language Teaching held in Shenyang, northeast China’s Liaoning

Province.‍

 

 

A French-Chinese

   or   

A Chinese-French?

 

By Liu Xin  |  CHINA FEATURES

 

 

Bellassen takes a photo at the west gate of Peking University in 1974.

 

A pair of worn, black shoes has accompanied Joel Bellassen all over the world.

Sitting at the window in a hostel at Beijing International Studies University, the 64 year-old Frenchman said he doesn’t recognize where he is, although he has been to 24 provinces and autonomous regions during his 200-plus trips to China and speaks Mandarin like a native. “It’s easy to find skyscrapers in almost any large city in this country,” he said. “But it’s hard to distinguish one from another.”

Bellassen is General Inspector of Chinese Language at France’s Ministry of National Education. He traveled to Beijing this time on an academic tour and to give a speech on the theme “Current difficulties of teaching Chinese as a foreign language.”

He always has the Xinhua Dictionary and a Contemporary Chinese Dictionary in his bag. His favorite Chinese story is “Kong Yiji,” written by Lu Xun.

“I love the ending of the story. Kong Yiji may have been dead,” Bellassen said. He is obsessed with this kind of uncertainty.

Bellassen has been fascinated by Chinese for 45 years. In 1969, he chose Chinese as his major at the Universite Paris 8. “I was interested in Chinese ideographs and had a burning curiosity about this remote, mysterious, Eastern country.”

In 1973 the two countries restored cultural exchange programs, which had been halted by China’s Cultural Revolution. This gave him a chance to take his first China journey with 29 other college students.

“It was like going to the moon,” Bellassen recalled. “My grandmother tried to persuade me to stay in Paris because China was comparatively underdeveloped.”

“But I did not change my decision,” he said. “Who would give up an opportunity to go to the moon just because of the harsh conditions?”

Despite restored cultural exchanges, 1973 was still during China’s Cultural Revolution. “I visited all of my classmates after we finished our exchange program in China,” he said. Though many Chinese people at the time thought foreigners were coming to China for political reasons, Bellassen said neither he nor his classmates took part in political movements before, during, or after their China stay.

“We came to China in a politically sensitive period, but we studied here mainly out of curiosity,” he said.

Arriving in China after a 22-hour flight, Bellassen caught his first sight of Beijing. A few people were riding bicycles late at night, he recalled. A portrait of Chairman Mao hung on the airport’s terminal building.

 

Bellassen lives with local people at a People’s Commune on the outskirts of Beijing

in the 1970s. 

 

In the 1970s, Chinese people were still curious about foreigners. “One day I went to Wangfujing, Beijing’s commercial district, to buy a pair of shoes,” he said. He attracted hundreds of people’s attention in the street. “But even my close Chinese friends turned away from me, which really made me puzzled,” Bellassen said.

In order to understand China and the Cultural Revolution, Bellassen and his French classmates applied for permission to travel to rural communes and factories and work there, but they could not get permits because they were foreign.

When it came to his second academic year in 1974, he was given a chance to go to Sijiqing People’s commune in Beijing’s western suburbs and live with local farmers and workers.

“At first, I could not bear the breakfast of cornmeal porridge,” he said. “In the first few weeks, I only ate meat three times.” Eventually though, he changed. “The ordinary cornmeal porridge made me forget about baguettes and cheese and I came to know the authentic life in China.”

Even now living in Paris, he still prefers Chinese breakfast.

“My Chinese improved beyond my expectations when I was staying with those local people. After two years of study in China, Bellassen went back to France in 1975. He took part-time jobs teaching Chinese in primary schools, middle schools, and college in Paris.

Since finishing his Ph.D. dissertation on Chinese philosophical life, he has been involved in Chinese education and cultural diffusion.

Bellassen admires current foreign students studying Chinese. He said it is much more convenient for them to learn due to modern multi-media materials.

In spring of 2014, more than 37,000 senior high school students in France chose Chinese as one of their subjects for college entrance exams, he said. “Half of them have been studying Chinese since middle school.”

People from the two countries still have misunderstandings about each other, despite the fact that China and France have had diplomatic ties for 50 years. Many Chinese people cannot tell the different between French cuisine and Italian food. Bellassen said, “There are still a lot of French people who think that Japanese kimonos originate in China.”

“China and Europe may be geographically distant,” he said, “but globalization has shortened and will continue to shorten the distance between China and the Western world in cultural awareness.”

In the Chinese expert’s point of view, China and France share some similarities: centuries-old history, splendid culture, and their people’s yearning for a comfortable lifestyle.

Though he admits that living conditions and availability of foreign products have improved in China, Bellassen is not pleased by China’s fast pace of change.

“The heavier air pollution and newly built, strange buildings mean that my second hometown, Beijing, has lost its unique city character,” he said.

“Besides Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City, Beijing’s soul is the quadrangle of the Siheyuan, the city wall and gates,” he said.

Bellassen knows the government has applied practical measures to protect historical sites to restore their original appearance. “It is a remarkable step,” he said. “But I have no idea whether it’s a little bit late.”

“Foreigners started to learn about China in the days of Marco Polo,” he said, and throughout his career, Bellassen has helped people in France learn about China’s culture and history.

 

 

Bellassen takes time to be with a peasant’s child during his stay at a People’s Commune

on the outskirts of Beijing in 1975.

 

 

* Source  |  http://www.icrosschina.com/

 

 

 

 

 

China, Egypt elevate bilateral ties to comprehensive strategic partnership

 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left of front row) holds a welcoming ceremony for visiting

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (right of front row) before their talks in Beijing

on December 23, 2014.   Photo by Liu Weibing

 

 

China, Egypt elevate bilateral ties

to comprehensive strategic partnership

 

By Liu Hua and Yang Yijun

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Sisi in Beijing on Tuesday of December 23, deciding to elevate the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

“This is an important milestone,” Xi said during the talks.

The establishment of the partnership will strongly boost cooperation between the two countries in several areas.

In a joint statement signed by Xi and Sisi on establishing the partnership, the two presidents pledged to boost political, economic, military, cultural and technological cooperation along with cooperation on regional and international affairs.

China pays great attention to the situation in Egypt and firmly supports the Egyptians’ pursuit for a development path suitable for their own national conditions, Xi told the Egyptian leader.

Xi said he believes the Egyptian government and people are wise and able enough to handle all problems and achieve stability and development in the country.

Hailing the traditional friendship between the two countries, Sisi expressed his gratitude for China’s support and assistance, especially for understanding the Egyptian people’s request for change in recent years.

The two leaders also pledged to cooperate on the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives.

China stands ready to combine the initiatives with Egypt’s plan for development and boost cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, new energy, aviation, finance and other sectors, said the Chinese president.

Sisi said the Belt and Road Initiatives proposed by Xi have provided an important opportunity for Egypt’s renewal and that the Egyptian side will participate in the initiatives in an active way.

Sisi looked forward to China’s participation in Suez Canal Corridor projects, pledging that Egypt will create favorable conditions to attract Chinese companies’ investment.

In August, President Sisi gave the go-ahead signal for digging a 72-km expansion of the original Suez Canal as a national project to boost the country’s ailing economy, ordering “the New Suez Canal” to be open for maritime navigation in early August 2015.

Sisi also hoped more Chinese tourists will visit Egypt as more Egyptian students study in China.

During the talks, Sisi briefed Xi on his view on the situation in North Africa and West Asia.

Xi said as the situation there is complicated, it is of vital importance to find a solution that reflects regional realities and cover the interests of all sides concerned in a political way and through inclusive dialogue.

In the joint statement signed on Tuesday, the two countries reiterated they will support each other on issues regarding core interests and care for each other’s special concerns.

Egypt emphasized its stance of sticking to the one-China policy and China stressed its position of respecting the Egyptian people’s rights to choose their political system and development policy on their own as well as opposing external forces’ attempt to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs in any name.

China attaches great importance to Egypt’s concern over water security, according to the statement.

In the statement, the two sides upheld that disputes between countries should be addressed through dialogue and negotiations, opposing interference into other countries’ internal affairs with military forces in any name and politicizing issues on human rights.

The two sides pledged to safeguard the United Nations’ key role in addressing international affairs and support reform of the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

The representation of developing countries, especially of African countries, should be strengthened first to rectify injustice that Africa has suffered in history, said the joint statement.

China supports Egypt’s crucial role in resolving the Palestine issue and other major issues in the region as well as the Egyptian initiative on rendering the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Egypt appreciates China’s objective and impartial position and constructive role in the Palestine issue and other major issues in the region, according to the statement.

They pledged to increase coordination and cooperation to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region, according to the statement.

Sisi arrived in Beijing Monday afternoon for a four-day state visit to China at Xi’s invitation.

 

 

 

CAIRO

Egypt, China see huge

chances from enhancement of ties

 

By Mahmoud Fouly

 

As Egypt and China have decided to elevate their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, Egyptian economists see the move is likely to amplify investment opportunities and mutual trade between the two countries.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is currently on a four-day official visit to Beijing, signed on Tuesday a joint statement with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to boost political, economic, military, cultural and technological cooperation along with that on regional and international affairs.

“Egypt provides great investment opportunities to China and it can be a portal for Chinese products into African markets due to the Egyptian strategic geographic location,” Amr Saleh, professor of political economy at Cairo-based Ain Shams University and former World Bank project officer, told Xinhua.

The professor said that relations between Egypt and China should not be restricted to mutual trade “but it is very important to be elevated to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries,” stressing that both Egyptian and Chinese leaders have the political will for the move.

The Egyptian government led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has recently established a special cabinet unit to study fields of cooperation with China, which shows the interest of the Egyptian leadership to boost partnership with the giant Asian country.

“Egypt needs a strategic partner not just a business partner, while China has a desire to create strategic economic alternatives in light of the slowing worldwide economy,” the professor added.

Saleh expects future military cooperation between Egypt and China as a key field of economic partnership between the two strategic partners.

“Cooperation in arms industries, which is worth billions of dollars, represents a good chance for both Egypt and China as it appears to be military while it is economic in the first place,” the professor told Xinhua, noting the industry is one of the main sources of national income for big countries.

Egypt’s economy has been ailing over the past four years due to political turmoil that resulted from the ouster of two heads of state. Sisi’s administration is currently struggling to put economy back on track.

Last August, Sisi gave the go-ahead signal for digging a 72-km expansion of the original Suez Canal as a national project to boost the country’s economy, ordering “the New Suez Canal” to be open for ship navigation in August 2015.

The Egyptian president said that the Chinese companies have great opportunities to invest in the Suez Canal Corridor projects, reassuring to facilitate procedures and provide an ideal atmosphere for foreign investors in Egypt.

“Chinese companies have vast opportunities to work in logistic projects related to the Suez Canal Corridor after the new waterway is completed, such as platform building, container making, ship maintenance and repair, fuel provision, etc,” said Hamdy Abdel-Azim, economics professor at Cairo-based Sadat Academy and member of Economy and Legislation Association.

He echoed Saleh’s view that there could also be future military cooperation between Egypt and China in weapon spare parts and development.

A few days before leaving Cairo, Sisi told Chinese official media including Xinhua that Egypt supports Xi’s initiative on building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Sisi said Egypt can be a key player in implementing this initiative due to its strategic location as portal for Africa and the Arab world.

“The Silk Road used to be a well-known historical trade route and if revived it will increase the trade volume passing through it,” the economic expert said, adding that Egypt needs to develop its basic infrastructure and services to attract foreign investors in general and Chinese ones in particular.

Abdel-Azim told Xinhua that the intended Silk Road symbolizes a key of future common trade between Egypt and China and a communication bridge between Asian and African countries.

Sisi has recently said that Egypt is establishing a huge road network of 3,400 km within one year as part of its efforts to facilitate investment environment to reassure foreign investors.

Trade volume between Egypt and China exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars for the first time in 2013, more than 80 percent of which is represented in Chinese exports.

“Egypt needs to develop technologies and improve its products to be qualified for export and make up for the gap between its imports and exports,” the economist said.

He also expected the Chinese investments in Egypt, with maximum 10 percent foreign labors according to the regulations, to help reduce unemployment in the North African country.

Political turmoil over the past few years caused a sharp decline in the tourism industry in Egypt, which brought the country over 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2010 alone.

On Tuesday in Beijing, after signing a joint statement with Xi, Sisi hoped that more Chinese tourists will visit Egypt as more Egyptian students study in China.

 

 

 

 

Xi satisfied with breakthrough of China-Thailand railway cooperation

 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha

in Beijing on December 23, 2014.    Photo by Ding Lin

 

 

Xi satisfied with breakthrough of

China-Thailand railway cooperation

 

By Bai Jie

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday of December 23, expressing his satisfaction on the breakthrough of China-Thailand railway cooperation and urging substantial progress.

In their meeting in the Great Hall of the People, Xi recalled his meeting with Prayuth last month during the APEC meeting in Beijing, saying bilateral cooperation has made new progress during the month, especially the breakthrough on railway cooperation.

“I am satisfied with all this progress,” Xi said.

China and Thailand signed two MoUs on railway cooperation and agricultural trade in Bangkok last Friday during Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit.

The MoU on railway cooperation allows China to invest in two dual-track rail lines in Thailand that will span 734 km and 133 km, connecting northeast Thailand’s Nong Khai province, Bangkok and eastern Rayong province.

The project is estimated to cost 10.6 billion U.S. dollars.

Xi said the frequent meetings and exchanges between leaders of the two countries showed that China and Thailand enjoyed “Jeen Thai Phee Nong Gan”, the Thai phrase for close friendship.

Stressing the 40th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic ties in 2015, Xi called on both countries to hold corresponding celebrations to cement bilateral ties.

The two countries should continue to show mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, Xi said, adding that China will continue to respect and support Thailand’s efforts to realize political stability and economic development, as well as improve people’s living.

Cooperation between China and Thailand always leads among ASEAN countries, Xi said, urging the two sides to earnestly push forward cooperation on areas including railway and agriculture so as to further promote regional connectivity.

He also called on both countries to expand cooperation on culture and people-to-people, education and science.

For his part, Prayuth said the agreement of railway cooperation with China is the best New Year gift to the Thai people.

He also thanked China for importing more Thai farm produce, saying it is conducive to promoting bilateral trade balance.

Prayuth said Thailand is in a period of reform and development and his country is willing to learn from China to develop better bilateral ties.

He also expressed willingness to participate China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative so as to deepen cooperation on areas including railway, telecommunication and tourism.

Prayuth arrived in Beijing on Monday for a two-day visit to China.

 

 

Zhang Dejiang (right), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress

(NPC), meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in Beijing on December 23, 2014.

Photo by Liu Weibing

 

Zhang Dejiang (right), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress

(NPC), meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in Beijing on December 23, 2014.  

Photo by Liu Weibing

 

 

Top Chinese legislator meets Thai PM

By Xiong Zhengyan

 

Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang on Tuesday of December 23 met with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on seeking stronger bilateral ties.

Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, called Thailand China’s close neighbor and said the two countries enjoy relations of “Jeen Thai Phee Nong Gan”(Chinese and Thais are brothers).

China sincerely expects Thailand to keep stability and seek development and the Thai people to live better lives, Zhang said.

As 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic ties, both countries should seize the opportunities, fully implement the agreements reached by leaders, deepen practical cooperation and benefit the two peoples, Zhang said.

On legislative front, Zhang underscored the importance of exchanges and cooperation between the NPC and the Thai National Legislative Assembly.

Zhang called for the two legislatures to maintain exchanges at all levels, increase mutual understanding, create a sound legal environment for pragmatic cooperation and expand the social and public foundation for bilateral friendship so as to boost China-Thailand all-round strategic partnership.

Prayuth reviewed the traditional and solid friendship between the two countries, called on both sides to learn more from each other, implement the cooperation deals and expand the depth and width of cooperation.

Later Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping also met with Prayuth.

Prayuth will conclude his two-day China visit on Tuesday night.

 

 

 

 

FULL TEXT

Joint Press Communique

between China and Thailand

 

By Liu Dongkai

 

Following is the full text of the Joint Press Communique between China and Thailand issued by the governments of the two countries on Tuesday:

Joint Press Communique Between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand

1. At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha of the Kingdom of Thailand paid an official visit to China from 22 to 23 December 2014. During the visit, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha paid a courtesy call on President Xi Jinping and held a bilateral meeting with Premier Li Keqiang as well as met with Chairman Zhang Dejiang of the Standing Committee of the National People’ s Congress.

2. The Chinese leaders kindly requested Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to convey their cordial greetings and best wishes to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of the Kingdom of Thailand. The Thai side expressed deep appreciation for China’ s display of warm sentiments.

3. The Chinese side expressed appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for hosting a successful meeting of the Fifth Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program (GMS) Summit on 19-20 December 2014 in Bangkok. The Thai side expressed appreciation to the Government of the People’ s Republic of China for the support and constructive role in ensuring the fruitful outcome of the meeting. Both sides reaffirmed their cooperation in achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

4. The two sides shared the view that with the growing economic interdependence and evolving regional and international landscape, it serves the fundamental and mutual interests of both Thailand and China to work together to strengthen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with a view to contributing to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and beyond as well as the improvement of the well-being of the peoples of both countries.

5. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the close and growing ties between the two countries. The Leaders of the two countries welcomed the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand in 2015. Both sides agreed to take the opportunity of this auspicious occasion to further strengthen their long-standing friendship, enhance strategic dialogue as well as deepen and expand the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples.

6. China reiterated its understanding of the political situation in Thailand. China expressed support for the efforts by the Royal Thai Government in implementing the Roadmap on national reform, in promoting economic growth and in improving the well-being of the people.

7. The Thai side reiterated its firm adherence to the One-China Policy, and rendered full support for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and China’s peaceful reunification.

8. The Leaders of the two countries applauded the outcome of the Third Meeting of the Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation between the Government of China and Thailand. They reaffirmed their full support to the work of this important mechanism to enhance cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, energy, tourism, rubber industry and information communication and aerospace technology. The two sides agreed to make continuous efforts to promote and facilitate trade and cooperation of agricultural products. The Thai side welcomed the increased Chinese investment in Thailand, especially in greater value-added industries. Both sides look forward to working together to achieve the target of a combined number of tourist arrivals of 5 million between the two countries in 2016.

9. The two sides supported the re-invigorating of the various working groups between Thailand and the local governments of China to promote trade and investment and tourism between both sides.

10. Both sides reaffirmed the common vision for regional growth, prosperity and connectivity. In this regard, both sides welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on the Thailand’ s Railways Infrastructure Development on The Strategic Framework for Development of Thailand’ s Transportation Infrastructure 2015-2022 and the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Agricultural Products Trade between the government of the People’ s Republic of China (PRC) and the government of the Kingdom of Thailand. Both sides shared the view that these two agreements will add a new momentum to the existing close China-Thailand relations and contribute to the long-term progress and development of the region as a whole. The two sides will work on the specific details of the project to bring about its early implementation.

11. The Thai side expressed her support to China’ s initiatives on Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road in the 21st Century. Thailand supported the constructive role of China in promoting regional connectivity through infrastructure development, including the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Both sides attached importance to stepping up efforts in facilitating cross-border transport of goods and passengers between China and Thailand and the region through the main road networks such as the R3, R8 and R12 with a view to promoting trade, investment, tourism and people to people cooperation.

12. Both sides agreed to deepen financial and banking cooperation and to intensify efforts to promote the use of local currency with a view to facilitating bilateral trade and investment by establishing the Renminbi Clearing Banks in Thailand and renewing the existing Bilateral Swap Agreements (BSA).

13. The two sides agreed to share technologies, experiences and best practices in the areas of water resource management, flood prevention and disaster relief, to actively carry out relevant projects, and to explore cooperation in other potential areas of mutual interest.

14. Both sides agreed to further promote scientific and technical cooperation, including enhancing space cooperation, promoting the application of remote sensing, global navigation and other satellite technologies, and engaging actively in negotiations on an inter-governmental space activities cooperation agreement between the two countries.

15. The two sides agreed to convene defense and security dialogue between the Ministries of Defence of both countries, expand cooperation in the fields of joint military exercises, personnel training,defense industry and enhance cooperation in the prevention and the eradication of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational crimes, and continue to promote law enforcement and security cooperation through existing mechanisms within the Mekong River framework.

16. The two sides agreed to continue enhancing cooperation in culture and education, particularly in vocational education. The two sides expressed their readiness to vigorously promote exchanges and cooperation between local governments, and enhance people-to-people exchanges, so as to raise public awareness and support on the relations between China and Thailand.

17. The Thai side viewed that China could significantly contribute to the development of the countries in the region through its contributions to such areas as health, anti- drug trafficking and human trafficking.

18. The Chinese side appreciated the active and constructive role of Thailand, as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to deepening cooperation in various fields and further enhance the ASEAN-China strategic partnership so that it continues to serve as an anchor of peace and stability in the region. Both sides also agreed to work closely on the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, promote practical cooperation and consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) , with a view to arriving at an early conclusion of the COC on the basis of consensus.

19. The Chinese side expressed support for ASEAN’ s centrality in the regional architecture and the two sides agreed to further strengthen coordination and cooperation under the multilateral frameworks such as China-ASEAN, ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), the Asia Pacific and Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the United Nations (UN).

20. The two sides expressed their satisfaction with the fruitful outcome of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’ s official visit to China, and recognised the significance of the visit in setting the future course of the two countries’ bilateral relations. On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked the Government and the people of the People’ s Republic of China for their warm hospitality.

 

 

 

 

 

China’s property registration helps clear market

 

 

 

China’s property

registration

helps clear market

 

By Zhu Shaobin

 

China’s new property registration rules, designed to unify the register and protect owners, could have dramatic effects of the real estate market by bringing more transparency.

New rules covering collective ownership of land, ownership of buildings and forest, contracted land management rights and rights of use, will take effect on March 1, the State Council announced on Monday of December 22. The Ministry of Land and Resources will lead and supervise registration.

Segregated registration by different government departments was inefficient, bringing disorder and risk. The unified system will confirm ownership and reduce overlap between government agencies, said Wei Lihua, a ministry official.

“The system is in accord with the 2007 Property Law, ensures the security of transactions and protect owners,” Wei said.

Information from housing, agriculture, forestry, and maritime authorities will be shared and the State Council has urged all departments to contribute relevant information.

Registration will be electronic or in print and kept permanently. Electronic versions shall be backed up regularly.

The new registration system could pave the way for property tax.

Zhang Dawei, an analyst at Centaline Property, a real estate agency, told Xinhua that some Chinese cities are seeing more luxury apartments for sale as the registration system moves forward. Speculative investment in the property sector might flow into other sectors on expectation of a property tax raising the costs of holding property assets.

As land becomes more scarce, traditional revenue through land sales by local governments will become difficult to sustain. “In such circumstances, a property tax will become inevitable, but only after a unified registration system is in place,” said Hu Jinghui, vice president of China’s major real estate agency 5i5j.com.

“The data collected through the system will allow new taxes, such as a property tax and an inheritance tax,” Hu said.

Registration will, to some extent, help anti-graft efforts. Massive investment in property is often a sign of illegal gains through abuse of power.

“Registration will help us know exactly how many properties are there; how many people own homes and how many do not,” said Li Yang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, but the effect on property prices needs to be watched.

Hu Jinghui believes that many factors affect prices, including supply and demand and credit policies. He sees registration as just one of the indirect, long-term elements influencing prices.

 

 

 

 

Landmark lawsuit victory inspires China’s gay community

 

 

 

Landmark lawsuit victory

inspires China’s gay community

 

By Wang Ruoyao, Yuan Suwen and Mou Xu

 

A Beijing court backed a gay man’s demands for compensation and an open apology from a clinic that tried to “turn him straight”.

The landmark “gay conversion” case has inspired the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

The Haidian District People’s Court on Friday of December 19 ordered the Xinyupiaoxiang Clinic, which performed hypnosis and electric shock treatment on Xiao Zhen, 31, (not his real name), to cover his therapy-related costs of 3,500 yuan (563 U.S. dollars).

The court stated that homosexuality was not a mental disorder and the clinic’s claim that it could “treat homosexuality” was false advertising.

“This victory tells us that we should speak up in the face of unfairness and discrimination, and that the legal system works,” said Nan Feng, who heads a grassroots AIDS/HIV organization in southwest China’s Chongqing City, where the clinic is based.

Nan Feng said the clinic’s director had used entrapment techniques, on a bulletin board set up by the organization, to attract young gay men and subsequently get them to sign up to his clinic for conversion treatment.

Despite homosexuality becoming more socially accepted, especially after it was removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001, many LGBT struggle with family pressure and social stigma.

Therefore, there has been a rise in “homosexuality treatment”, said Hu Zhijun, executive director of PFLAG China, an organization aimed at eliminating the stigma attached to sexual minorities.

Hu said although this one case would not put an end to this lucrative business, it would deter practitioners, promote public understanding of sexual minorities and prevent aversion therapy.

“It can serve as a powerful reference for gay children feeling pressure from their families to undergo such therapy,” Hu said, adding that parents were easily misled by the “curing” aspect of such clinics since they placed more trust in “professionals” than their own children.

 

“TRAUMATIZED”

 

Unlike those who undergoes electric shock treatment in an effort to be straight, Xiao Zhen, who has worked for a Beijing-based gay rights group since 2010, said he did so to make his parents understand that he could not change his sexual orientation.

“I didn’t believe it would work, but my parents insisted. They need a clear answer, so I tries,” he told Xinhua, describing the treatment he had in February as “traumatizing”.

The clinic’s director first hypnotized Xiao Zhen for 20 minutes while preaching on the harms of sexuality. Then Xiao Zhen was asked to imagine homosexual activity while being electrocuted.

“I was unprepared and frightened, so I shouted out. [The doctor] smiled and said my reaction was just what he expected,” Xiao Zhen said.

Xiao Zhen’s experience cost 500 yuan, however, the clinic offers a 30,000-yuan package of five-stage treatments, which includes about 100 electric shocks.

“It was really terrifying. When I recounted the experience in the court in July, my body was shaking, even five months after! Fortunately I’ve recovered and it’s okay to recall the experience now,” he said.

Xiao Zhen secretly recorded his treatment on his cell phone.

“It was the first time I had visited a psychological clinic. I did the recording in case something bad happened,” he explained.

After he returned to Beijing from Chongqing, he learned that many gay men had undergone the same horrific treatment. “They said if they refused, their parents would cut their financial support or disown them.”

Xiao Zhen was the first to take legal action against “gay conversion” therapy, said Hu Zhijun, “the majority [won’t take the issue to court] over privacy concerns. But the younger generation are braver than their older gay peers.”

Gay rights advocates are anticipating further success.

A gay man in Shenzhen City, in south China’s Guangdong Province, is suing a local design company that dismissed him after an online video clip “exposed” his sexual orientation in November.

Billed as the country’s first case involving job discrimination based on sexuality, it was accepted by the city’s Nanshan District People’s Court on Monday.

Discrimination against the gay community remains acute in employment and health care, said Nan Feng.

“Some who revealed their sexual orientation in the workplace said they had no choice but to quit, because they could not bear the behavior of their colleagues toward them,” he said.

 

 

 

 

China, Thailand pledge closer relationship

 

 

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left of front row) and visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth

Chan-ocha (right of front row) inspect the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony

before their talks in Beijing on December 22, 2014.   Photo by Ding Lin

 

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) and visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha

(right) inspect the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony before their talks in Beijing

on December 22, 2014.    Photo by Ding Lin

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left of front row) and visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth

Chan-ocha (right of front row) inspect the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony

before their talks in Beijing on December 22, 2014.   Photo by Xie Huanchi

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) and visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attend

a welcoming ceremony before their talks in Beijing on December 22, 2014.   Photo by Ding Lin

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) shakes hands with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth

Chan-ocha before their talks in Beijing on December 22, 2014.   Photo by Xie Huanchi

 

hinese Premier Li Keqiang holds talks with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha

in Beijing on December 22, 2014.   Photo by Xie Huanchi

 

 

China, Thailand

pledge closer relationship

 

By Liu Hua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha here on Monday of December 22 and they pledged to further boost the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

It was the second meeting between Li and Prayut in three days. On Friday, they met in Bangkok and witnessed the signing of agriculture and railway deals. Li was attending the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation.

China will work with Thailand to prepare for the launch of a railway project as soon as possible, Li said on Monday of December 22 when talking to the visiting Thai Prime Minister at the Great Hall of the People.

As 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Thailand, Li said he hopes the two sides will cement their traditional friendship and boost cooperation in pursuit of win-win reciprocity and improve the comprehensive strategic partnership, highlighting the target of increasing bilateral trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.

Li looked forward to more use of the Chinese yuan and the Thai baht in trade and investment settlement, as well as more technology cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The two sides have set a target of increasing travellers to five million between the two countries by 2016.

Li hopes the Thai side will support and facilitate Chinese participation in the exploitation of kalium resources in Thailand.

He stressed that China regards the ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and welcomes the ASEAN push to transform the ten-country bloc into a community.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The 10-country bloc set Dec. 31, 2015 for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community, a region of free flows of goods, services, skilled labor, capital and investment.

Hailing Thailand’s role in promoting the China-ASEAN relationship, Li said China is willing to work together with Thailand regarding the signing of a China-ASEAN treaty for friendly cooperation, the upgrading of the current China-ASEAN free trade zone as well as boosting maritime cooperation.

For his part, Prayut said Thailand is committed to elevating the bilateral relationship and stands ready to implement the deals with China on railway cooperation and farm produce trade, and boost trade, investment and financial cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges to benefit the people of the two countries.

The Thai side welcomes Chinese enterprises to set up factories in Thailand, he said.

Prayut said China plays an important part in promoting peace, stability and development in the region and that Thailand will cooperate closely with China to step up the ASEAN-China ties as well as regional cooperation.

Before the talks, Li held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome the Thai Prime Minister.

After the talks, they witnessed a currency swap deal and three other cooperation documents.

Prayut arrived in Beijing on Monday to make a two-day visit to China.

 

 

 

 

 China, Thailand renew currency swap deal

By Li Zheng and Cheng Jing

The central banks of China and Thailand on Monday of December 22 decided to renew their three-year currency swap deal, worth 70 billion yuan (11.4 billion U.S. dollars), said a statement on the website of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on Renminbi clearing settlement in Bangkok.

The deal is a new step in financial cooperation between the two and will facilitate bilateral trade and investment, the statement said.

The deal was announced after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Thailand for the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation.

 

 

 

 

China’s e-commerce giants eye rural market

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

China’s e-commerce giants

eye rural market

 

By Fang Dong and Tian Jianchuan

 

China’s leading e-commerce giants have stepped up expansion of online retail business in rural areas in hopes of tapping the new territory to offset a saturated urban market.

JD.com Inc., a Nasdaq-listed firm, announced this week they would set up a county-level operating center in south China’s Guangdong Province.

The move followed the e-commerce decision to open a physical shop in a small northern county in Hebei in Nov. to help farmers purchase home appliances via its online shopping store.

Plagued by poor transport and less purchasing power, rural buyers remained mostly untouched by the wave of online shopping that swept across China in recent years.

However, the situation is changing as the burgeoning market in villages has shown great potential and intrigued the country’s major e-commerce businesses.

A report published by a research center under Alibaba Group, China’s largest commerce company, forecast the value of the rural online sales market will grow to 180 billion yuan (29.4 billion U.S dollars) this year and 460 billion yuan in 2016.

Rural buyers on Taobao.com, Alibaba’s online sales website, made up nearly 10 percent of total sales of the site in the first quarter of this year, up from a proportion slightly higher than 7 percent two years ago.

Other e-commerce giants Alibaba and Suning are also striving to grab a lion’s share of the market, and the former has gained one step ahead.

Alibaba has established branches in three counties and planned to invest 10 billion yuan in 3 to 5 years to spread its rural operating centers in a third of China’s total counties and a sixth of rural areas.

An anonymous executive from Alibaba said the group will work hard to develop rural e-commerce to allow farmers to buy urban merchandise easily and transport farm produce to the city faster.

Industrial insiders said rural market will become a new engine to drive e-commerce growth and the competition to dominate the new territory just made the first click of the mouse.

 

 

 

 

High schools to introduce selective-class teaching

 

 

 

SHANGHAI

High schools to introduce

selective-class teaching

 

By Fang Ning, Wu Zhendong and Gao Nan

 

A number of high schools in east China’s Zhejiang Province and Shanghai will introduce a new program that allows students to have more choice in education as the country pilots reforms aimed at changing exam-centered education.

Last week, China’s Ministry of Education announced a slew of reform measures on the National College Entrance Exam, or the Gaokao, asking universities not to base their judgement of applicants solely on Gaokao scores on three major subjects — math, Chinese and English — but taking consideration of comprehensive assessments on selective classes as well as evaluations on morality standards, physical health, art cultivation and social practices.

Zhejiang and Shanghai were designated as testing grounds for the reforms, which will allow students to select their own courses based on their interests. Starting next year, the first selective classes will begin at several high schools in the two provinces.

Chen Weixin, enrollment administration office teacher of Shanghai Fudan Secondary School, said the school will open six selective classes including politics, history, geography, physics, chemistry and life sciences for senior one students.

The students can make the decision on which three classes they want to choose to have the final scores included in their Gaokao scores at the end of the second senior one semester.

Chen said the new systems also allows academically gifted students to advance to a higher-level class according to their performance.

Shanghai Shibei Secondary School also confirmed they will change their curriculum to align with the Gaokao reform beginning next year.

The school’s principal Chen Jun said they have already opened opportunity classes for gifted students. Next year, the school will further specify curriculum changes involving the new selective classes.

Based on Shanghai’s education reform plan, in 2017 higher learning institutions will have the freedom to enroll students with special academic gifts rather than simply considering the unified exam scores.

Under the new enrollment scheme, colleges may favor a student by taking into consideration the score of one of the student’s three selective classes.

Ye Zhiming, principal of Shanghai University, said the reform gives universities more autonomy in choosing gifted students to study their specialized subjects.

China’s national college entrance exam, though offering fairness in selecting high-score students for the country’s limited higher education resources, has long been scolded for suffocating creativity. With the exam a major part of college enrollment, China’s secondary education has become focused on training students to obtain high scores on the Gaokao.

The selective-class teaching method breaks the traditional fixed class arrangement in Chinese high schools, and encourage students to plan for their academic future from the secondary school education, said Chi Xuewei, principal of the Changchun Experimental Secondary School in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province.

Chi has been closely following the education experiments in Zhejiang and Shanghai.

“Under the current system, students bury themselves in study for 12 years of primary and secondary education, and only start to think what they would do in the future after the Gaokao,” said Chi.

He said the reform will help inspire student potential and encourage in-depth pursuit of their gifted subjects.

China’s first high school student occupational planning center was inaugurated in Changchun earlier this month. The center provides consultation for students, their parents and schools to map out an academic pass for a high school student.

Zhang Yuying, a student with the Changchun Experimental Secondary School, said after the center’s consultation has helped her pinpoint a university based on her dream and academic merits.

 

 

 

 

Ruble devaluation hits Chinese businesses in Russia’s Far East

 

 

 

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia

Ruble devaluation

hits Chinese businesses

in Russia’s Far East

 

By Zhu Yushu

 

A plunge in the value of the ruble has hit Russia’s economy and exerted visible influence on Chinese businesses in the Far East region.

Chinese businessmen in Vladivostok, a Russian port city, told Xinhua that the depreciation of the ruble has pushed up prices of meat, fish, and grain, hurting their businesses.

Liang Xiaowei, a restaurant manager in Vladivostok, said the restaurant is facing the most difficult situation since its opening in 2001.

The restaurant has secured only 38 reservations for New Year celebrations, he said. “We used to have about 200 people celebrating the New Year in our restaurant.”

Liang said the ruble’s devaluation is the main reason for poor business. “I wish the situation would get better soon,” he said.

Ma, another restaurant manager in downtown Vladivostok, said that the prices of meat, vegetables and dressings are going up and his restaurant is getting quiet.

“The ruble exchange rate affects not only Russians, but also the Chinese businessmen living here. We have not raised the prices in our restaurant yet, but it will happen after the New Year,” he said.

Some of the Chinese businessmen trading at the Sportivnaya market, the largest trading area in Vladivostok, have closed their shops due to the devaluation of ruble.

Ran Peng is a salesman for a vegetable store, the only Chinese grocery store that remained open at the Sportivnaya market. He told Xinhua that the Chinese shops there cut off business within a week.

A new Russian market manager has said the rent would be up next year by a third or a half. “That is why they left,” said Ran.

“I want to try and sell the vegetables in stock, and then decide whether to stay or leave,” Ran said.

However, there are still some Chinese who believed the situation would be improved. “I believe in (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and it will get better within six months,” said yet another manager of a Chinese restaurant.

Putin is confident about China-Russia trade and economic cooperation. At an annual end-of-year press conference, he said he believed that Russia-China trade would keep the momentum with volume to reach 90 billion U.S. dollars this year although the world economy is in trouble.

The ruble has lost nearly 50 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar and the euro since March, despite several currency interventions of the Central Bank.

The Russian currency plummeted to historic lows Tuesday, with the euro briefly hitting 100 rubles and the dollar 80 rubles respectively in Moscow trade.