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Shanghai Daily Nation
Updated: 8 hours 47 min ago

Nod for revised farmers’ cooperatives law

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 08:01
China’s top legislature has adopted a revision to the Law on Farmers’ Specialized Cooperatives.The revision was adopted at the six-day bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which opened on Wednesday.One of the most prominent changes to the law is that farmers no longer have to engage in the same kind of agricultural production to form a specialized cooperative, according to Zhang Fugui, head of the law office of the agricultural committee of the NPC Standing Committee.The revised law says that such cooperatives can be formed by agricultural producers and those who provide or utilize services in agricultural production and management.“Such limits have been canceled, which expanded the range of the adjustments to the law,” Zhang said.Another major feature of the revision lies in the provision that grants the country’s farmers’ specialized cooperatives equal legal status with other market entities, which for Shen Yueyue, vice chairwoman of the standing committee, “addresses the major problems in the implementation of the law.”Members of cooperatives now have the right to invest non-monetary assets that can be evaluated and transferred, such as their land management rights and forest rights in enterprises, according to the revision.A few specific provisions to support the cooperatives have been added to the revision, including that electricity used during preliminary processing of products will be charged according to agricultural production price standards, which are lower than the price for industrial production.The revision received a round of commendations from the lawmakers at the session.“It fits the reality of our countryside and meets the needs of our reform and development,” said Eligen Imibakhi, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, who believes the revision will help regulate the organization and conduct of the cooperatives.Urgent need of farmers“It also helps the cooperatives become a platform where smaller farmers are linked with the development of agriculture,” he continued.Ji Bingxuan, another vice chairman of the standing committee, highlighted the necessity and urgency of the revision.“It’s not only the requirement of the situation and agricultural development, but also the urgent need of the farmers,” he noted.The draft revision was revealed at the NPC Standing Committee’s bi-monthly session in June, when it received a first reading.Since the law took effect in 2007, allowing farmers to pool resources, it has played an important role in increasing rural incomes, promoting new agricultural management systems and boosting modern agriculture. “The law indeed revitalized the countryside, where farmers volunteer to form such cooperatives,” said Yang Zhen, member of the NPC Standing Committee.“It’s a protective umbrella for the farmers, whose rights and incomes are ensured,” Jiao Wenyu, deputy to the NPC, recalled the days when farmers struggled to sell their products and went to work in urban areas, before choosing to return and start up specialized cooperatives.The revised law will take effect in July next year.Lawmakers at the session on Wednesday also approved a decision to extend a pilot program allowing farmers in selected areas to mortgage their land use rights and housing property rights. Previously set to expire end of this year, the pilot program will run for one more year until December 31, 2018, and is slated to further improve rural financial services and raise farmers’ incomes.

Expedition’s Atlantic leg concludes

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
China’s Xiangyanghong 01 berths at Port of Punta Arenas in Chile on Tuesday, completing the Atlantic leg of its expedition. Xiangyanghong 01 began its journey around the world on August 28 on China’s first maritime research integrating oceanic and polar research.

Party to discuss amendment of constitution

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
THE Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee yesterday decided to discuss a proposal about amending part of China’s Constitution at the second plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee next month. President Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting yesterday, which also listened to a work report from the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and discussed the Party’s anti-graft work in 2018. The CCDI will hold its second plenary session from January 11 to 13, 2018. The campaign to ensure full and strict governance over the Party and curb corruption shall not stop, according to a statement issued after the meeting. The CCDI should take the responsibility to supervise Party members, implement discipline and hold violators responsible under the guidelines of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, according to the statement. While safeguarding the authority of CPC Constitution and regulations, the CCDI should carefully check the implementation of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and decisions made by the Party. Stressing the importance of political discipline and regulations, the statement said discipline inspection agencies will focus on Party members who are disloyal and dishonest to the Party, who comply in public but oppose in private, who disobey the Party’s political guidelines and compromise the political environment. Stressing the significance of the campaign against undesirable work styles, the statement said that the priority is to curb red tape and privileges among senior officials. To consolidate the progress of the anti-graft campaign, the CCDI will push forward reform of the supervision system and fight corruption at the lower ranks, the statement said. Officials who did not stop their misconduct after the Party’s 18th National Congress in late 2012, those who the public have strongly complained about, and senior officials who are likely to be promoted will be placed under strict scrutiny. Those who develop personal networks and foster interest groups within the Party will face severe punishment, the statement said.

Provincial officials slammed for environment ‘lies’

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
CHINA has criticized officials in the eastern province of Shandong for deceiving authorities to evade capacity cuts in the polluting coal, steel, aluminium and chemical sectors, and slammed another province for lying about closing golf courses. In a statement released late on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Shandong’s Binzhou City, China’s aluminium smelter hub, used fake certificates and false data to win approval for 2.4 million tons of new aluminium capacity in 2014. The environmental watchdog also said Rizhao Steel in Shandong continued to run a mill with 5.94 million tons of capacity after it had been due to shut in 2015. The ministry said all the issues with Binzhou and Rizhao had been resolved by the end of October, but did not give details. The sharply-worded statement came after the central government dispatched inspectors to Shandong, Jilin, Zhejiang, Hainan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang in August and September. A total of 40,706 incidents of environmental damage were uncovered. The singling out of companies in a specific province will serve as a warning to officials of the potential consequences of not falling into line with China’s mandated capacity cuts. Xinhua News Agency said the northeastern province of Jilin had lied about closing golf courses it was supposed to shut as part of a crackdown on illegal golf courses announced in 2011. The province had continued to tell the central government it had closed the golf courses when in fact it had not, Xinhua reported, citing the inspectors. The government has targeted golf courses to protect farmland and save water resources, and also because they are seen as popular venues for shady deals by corrupt officials. President Xi Jinping said in October that fighting pollution was one of China’s key tasks through 2020. China has vowed to reduce air pollution across 28 northern cities this winter. In Shandong, more than 10,000 companies were fined a total of 100 million yuan (US$15.3 million) by inspectors in August-September, the environment ministry said. A total of 1,268 officials in the province had been held accountable for cases of environmental damage, the ministry said. Shandong ranked 18th among 31 provinces and regions in China’s first “green development” index released on Tuesday, which listed regional governments that promote environmentally friendly development. Local officials in Shandong lack awareness of environmental issues, according to the ministry statement. Apart from shuttering polluting factories, China also plans to roll out nationwide by 2020 a system that forces polluters to repair damage to the environment or pay compensation.

Developing strong, modern transport network a priority

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
CHINA has outlined its vision of a strong, modern transport network. Developing transport in China is part of the goals mentioned in a key report delivered at the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress in October, putting it high on the government agenda. “A transport-strong nation that we are trying to build should have a world-leading transport system, satisfy the demand of its people, and support socialist modernization,” Ministry of Transport spokesperson Wu Chungeng said. “To realize the goal, China should lead the world in terms of transport quality and efficiency, technological innovation, industry governance, and international influence,” he said. Wu emphasized many key aspects of China’s transport vision, including the importance of the environment, personal safety and being people-focused. He said the country wanted to build a modern logistics system with “warehouses on the move,” effectively improving efficiency with what he called “zero inventory.” China’s transport industry has seen rapid development, with 1.28-million-km of rural roads built or renovated in the last five years, and over 99 percent of townships and over 98 percent of villages now connected by asphalt or cement roads. Total road mileage has increased by 534,000km, railways in operation grew by 27,000km, and over 7 billion trips have been made on high-speed railways from 2012 to 2017. “By building a global transport supply chain that connects the urban and rural areas in the country and links China with the world, the transportation industry can play an important role in China’s goal to realize socialist modernization,” Wu said. China is already a world leader in technologies such as high-speed railways. Besides an increasingly intricate domestic high-speed railway network, China is also helping other countries with transport infrastructure construction. Chinese companies are carrying out more than 20 railway projects overseas, with a total investment of 100 billion yuan (about US$15 billion), China’s railway authorities said in November. The corporate burden has been reduced significantly in China, with the country cutting logistics costs by more than 88 billion yuan in 2017, through measures such as the removal of a number of road tolls and the introduction of streamlined traffic services. According to Zhang Dawei, a transport ministry official, China plans to cut more logistics costs in 2018 through measures including streamlining charges at ports. Next year, China plans to build 5,000km of expressways, build and renovate about 200,000km of rural roads and increase inland waterways by over 600km.

CPC takes control of armed police

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
CHINA’S armed police will be under the command of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Central Military Commission from January 1, 2018, the CPC Central Committee announced yesterday. The armed police will be a division under the CMC only and will no longer be listed under the State Council. Coordination mechanisms will be established among the central and local authorities and the armed police. The Party urged governments at all levels, the People’s Liberation Army and armed police to ensure a smooth transfer.

One-stop boundary control approved

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
CHINA’S top legislature yesterday adopted a decision to apply a one-stop boundary control cooperation arrangement in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In the decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the top legislature confirmed that the cooperation arrangement, signed by Guangdong Province and Hong Kong on November 18, complied with the Constitution of China and the Basic Law of HKSAR. The decision said that Hong Kong should ensure implementation of the cooperation arrangement through legislation. Under the arrangement, a port will be established at the railway station in West Kowloon in Hong Kong, which is part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. The mainland and Hong Kong will respectively carry out exit and entry supervision at the port, including immigration inspection, customs clearance, and inspection and quarantine measures for people crossing the border, as well as their belongings. The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is scheduled to open in the third quarter of next year. “Any revision to the arrangement after the port is put into use should be approved by the State Council and submitted to the NPC Standing Committee to put on record,” according to the decision. The cooperation arrangement marked the first in a three-step process by the two sides. The second step is for the NPC Standing Committee to deliberate and approve the arrangement, after which the two sides can begin the local legislative process to implement the arrangement.

Pay Hangzhou metro fare by mobile

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
Passengers in Hangzhou no longer need a ticket to take the subway. They can just swipe their smartphones, making Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, the first city in China to realize mobile payments on its subway.Starting from 5pm yesterday, users of Alipay, a mobile payment app, will get a QR code on their phones, which they can use to enter the electric gates at all 72 subway stations in the city. The price will be deducted from their Alipay account after they swipe to exit the subway.Similar services have also been opened by UnionPay. With its quick pass installed in smartphones, passengers can also take the subway without a ticket.A new subway line was set to open at 5pm yesterday.Since August, passengers have been able to pay with their mobiles to collect tickets at subway stations, and around 50 percent of passengers now choose mobile payment.

Naked carp thrives in largest salt lake

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
China’s largest inland salt lake contained around 80,000 tonnes of naked carp in 2017, 30 times the number in 2002, according to local authorities yesterday.“Qinghai Lake has seen a 14-percent annual growth of naked carp stock this year,” said Wang Hai, head of the fishing bureau of Qinghai Province.Owing to over-fishing and environmental deterioration, the population of naked carp sharply declined in the 1960s and 1970s.In order to protect the species and restore the Qinghai Lake environment, the province banned naked carp fishing at the lake in 2001, following a series of temporary prohibitions from the 1980s onward.More than 94 million artificially-bred fry have been released into the lake since 2002 to preserve the rare species. There has also been a crackdown on the illegal fishing, selling and processing of the fish.The naked carp is endemic to Qinghai Lake, which is classified as endangered and on the China Species Red List.The fish are critical not only to the existence of local bird species, but to the whole ecological balance of the highland lake.

Black poplar set to be gone from Dongting Lake conservation area

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
December 31 is the deadline for a type of poplar tree to disappear from a conservation area at Dongting Lake, the second-largest freshwater lake in China.Populus nigra, or the black poplar, is not native to the zone along the Yangtze in Hunan Province. The trees were brought here in recent decades to provide timber for paper mills.The latest group of environmental protection inspectors sent by the central government ordered a cleanup of the trees by the year end. More than 3 million trees have been chopped down, said the Hunan provincial bureau of environmental protection.Logger Chen Guangyao can cut down about 800 trees in a single day. “Years ago, I planted trees on this very land myself. Now my boss asks me to cut them down. The trees are said to have hurt the environment,” Chen said.The trees are bundled up and carried away by boats, barges, tractors and trucks.Dongting Lake has been called “the kidney of the Yangtze River.” It was among the first areas to be included in an international convention on wetlands.The struggle between conservationists and exploiters has been going on for years at Dongting Lake. The poplars — tall, strong and fast-growing — first appeared at Dongting in the 1980s.“That was the first time I saw the poplars. In flood season, other trees die, but not these trees. They seem to be stronger than most other local trees found near the lake,” said Chen.Starting in 2000, many paper-making factories opened and a poplar cultivation craze followed. The trees could be found at almost every corner of Dongting lake.The trees were ecological assassins of the wetland as they hardened the soil and encroached upon bird and fish habitats. Logging operations used pesticides to keep the trees growing, but the pesticides led the soil to deteriorate, said Hu Yuanli, a senior official with the local people’s political consultative conference.“There was a time when almost no grass grew under the trees, and no birds perched on the trees. Great harm has been done,” Hu said.Despite opposition from experts, some local governments helped logging companies plant trees in an attempt to turn them into a constant source of profits, Hu said.Besides poplars, Dongting witnessed several waves of agriculture and aquaculture, which put the environment in great jeopardy, he added.Over the years, environmental protection kept losing ground to economic profit chasers, said Mei Biqiu, director general of the West Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve.However, with strong supervision from the central government, environmental protection is becoming the priority, he said.In July, the Hunan provincial government was criticized by environmental inspectors for its failing efforts to clean up the lake. The provincial government resolved to take action.Fish, pearl farms and sand mines have been dismantled and cleaned up around the lake. The populus nigra will disappear from the core area of Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve by year end.“Such rapid tree-felling is impressive. Dongting Lake will be restored to its original beauty,” said Wan Xianjun, director of wetland management in Yuanjiang City.China is home to about 53.6 million hectares of wetlands, or 4 percent of the world’s total.

Shenzhen hosts labs of 6 Nobel laureates

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 08:01
With the establishment of the Shenzhen Geim Graphene Research Center in early December, the southern Chinese city is now home to the laboratories of six Nobel laureates.Thanks to favorable policy and an industrial environment, a fair market mechanism and abundant talent, an increasing number of global scientists, Nobel Prize winners in particular, have chosen Shenzhen to bring their academic ideas to life.The city has world-class research centers and labs named after and led by Nobel laureates such as Robert H. Grubbs, Shuji Nakamura and Barry Marshall, all pioneers in global science and technology trends in energy, materials, optics and medicine.“China is one of the most active countries in the research and application of graphene, and Shenzhen is the most innovative and dynamic place in China. Here, the whole innovation environment and industry development trend make me more willing to participate,” said Andre Geim, winner of 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.As the thinnest, hardest material with the best thermal and electrical conductivity known so far, graphene is revolutionzing the manufacturing of semiconductors, PV, lithium batteries, supercapacitors and electronic displays.As more countries become involved in the graphene industry, Geim is betting the future on Shenzhen, shifting his work focus here by personally directing research, industrialization and talent at the lab.Four decades ago, few could imagine that this tiny fishing enclave would become a hub for tens of thousands of startups and some of China’s most successful tech companies.In Shenzhen an average of 48 patents are created every day, and one in every 63 people here owns a tech company, according to the Shenzhen intellectual property office in 2016.Shenzhen is absorbing new ideas and cutting-edge technology, with many top professionals working in the city.In 2013, the city rolled out a plan to earmark 1 billion yuan (US$152 million) every year from 2014 to 2020 to support high-tech industry.In 2017, Shenzhen vowed to build 10 Nobel labs to make new breakthroughs in chemistry, medicine, photo-electricity, graphene, the micro-nano field, robotics and 5G.Hosting over 1,600 scientific laboratories, Shenzhen is an incubator for turning dreams into reality.

Xi wants Party congress goals carried out

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
PRESIDENT Xi Jinping has stressed full implementation of major tasks set at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Xi made the remarks at a meeting with members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee over the last two days. The priority for all members of the Party‘s Political Bureau is to implement the tasks and realize the goals set at the Party congress, Xi said. ”Words are not enough and actual actions are needed. Holding meetings and handing out papers are not enough while actual implementation is needed,“ he said. Whether or not to fully implement the policies is a major indicator of loyalty and competence of a leading official, he stressed. He urged officials to understand their duty, identify flaws and weaknesses and work out proper solutions. Officials in charge should take responsibility, he said, adding that they should be brave to deal with the hardest issues and be competent enough to solve the most difficult problems. Emphasizing the importance of the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, Xi urged members of the Party’s Political Bureau to regard it as a political benchmark. They should highly identify with, firmly safeguard, willingly obey and closely follow the leadership of CPC Central Committee in terms of ”political stance, direction, principle and path,“ he said. Warning of barriers and risks ahead as well as profound changes in Chinese society and abroad, Xi noted that requirements for Party‘s governance and leadership have changed and leading officials should have a stronger sense of urgency and be ready for “a great struggle with many new contemporary features.” Xi asked the Political Bureau members to be in awe of law and Party discipline and set an example of self-discipline and integrity. They should not reverse the priority of public interest and personal gains nor confuse right and wrong, righteousness and profit, he said, asking them to consolidate their faith and enhance political and moral integrity. Nor should they indulge themselves in affection for family and friends, he said, urging them to discipline their family members and close aides and not to grant them privileges. The Party’s campaign against undesirable work styles, which are intractable and recurrent, will not be stopped, Xi said. ”Misconducts of formalities for formalities“ sake and bureaucratism are at odds with the nature, principles and the fine work styles of the Party, and are the enemies of the Party and the people," Xi said.  

Beijing tops ‘green friendly’ index but locals unsatisfied

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
CHINA published its first “green development” index yesterday, listing regional governments which promote environment friendly development, with Beijing coming out top, though it came second-to-last in a survey of public satisfaction. The nation’s capital was first in the ranking of 31 provinces and regions for 2016, which was published by the National Bureau of Statistics, followed by Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, while Tibet and Xinjiang were the lowest ranked regions. Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing and is home to several cities with some of the worst air pollution in the world, was ranked 20th. “By measuring overall progress on ecological civilization construction over the last year, the annual evaluation guides all regions to push forward green development, and implement ecological civilization construction,” statistics bureau head Ning Jizhe wrote in a note along with the data release. The National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Communist Party’s Organization Department jointly published the data with the statistics bureau. While Beijing was top in the green index, the capital came in 30th out of 31 regions in a separate survey of public satisfaction with the environment published along with the green index data on the statistics bureau website. Tibet came in first in public satisfaction with the environment, followed by the provinces of Guizhou and Hainan. Hebei Province and Tianjin City were at bottom. In explaining the discrepancy, Ning wrote that the two indicators measured different things. The green development index came from “objective evaluation” while the public survey reflected “subjective feeling,” Ning said. The green index was based on 55 statistical parameters and took into account investment in cleaning up the environment and use of resources, and reflected progress on moving towards a better environment. China plans to conduct the evaluation annually, Ning said. The evaluation system will be used to review local government performance on ecological development, and the results will be a key reference in the promotion of officials and punishment for wrongdoing. The green development index system comes amid efforts to push high-quality development and shift away from the practice of pursuing fast economic growth at the expense of the environment. Tackling pollution has been listed as one of “the three tough battles” that China aims to win in the next three years, according to the Central Economic Work Conference that concluded last week. Yang Weimin, deputy head of the office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs, said China did not have the conditions to pursue high-speed growth, due to upgraded consumption, a shrinking labor force, financial risks, as well as resource and environmental constraints. “If China ignores these realities and continues to be obsessed with fast growth rates, the concomitant risks will outweigh GDP growth,” Yang said. The country’s economic development has entered a “new era,” and the basic feature is that the economy has shifted from high-speed growth to high-quality development, according to a statement issued after the annual Central Economic Work Conference. To adapt to the transition, the country will create new indicators, policies, standards, statistical and performance assessment systems, according to the conference. “The evaluation system based on the green development index, which coordinates economic and social development with environmental improvement, meets the requirement for pushing high-quality development,” said chief statistician Sheng Laiyun of the National Statistics Bureau.

Ecological violation probes up 102%

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
CHINA addressed more environmental pollution cases in the first 11 months, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. From January to November, China investigated over 35,600 violations of environmental protection laws and regulations, up more than 102 percent year on year, the ministry said. Over 1 billion yuan (about US$153 million) in fines was handed out in 1,046 cases, where violators must pay daily fines until they address their wrongdoings, up more than 43 percent and 31 percent year on year, respectively. More than 2,500 cases were transferred to public security departments, rising by over 46 percent year on year. Environmental authorities have ordered production suspension or production cuts in more than 7,800 cases during the same period, according to the ministry. China held more than 6,400 officials in eight provincial-level regions accountable for environmental damage after inspections by central authorities from August to September. The inspections are part of China’s campaign to fight pollution and environmental damage, as decades of growth have left the country with smog, polluted water and contaminated soil.

Long March-2C launch successful

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
A Long March-2C carrier rocket carrying remote sensing satellites blasts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province at 3:44am yesterday. The satellites have entered its preset orbit and the launch was proclaimed a success. As the third batch of the Yaogan-30 project, the satellites will conduct electromagnetic environmental probes and other experiments. The launch is the 260th mission of the Long March rocket family.

Cultural revival in ancient walled city of Pingyao

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
It is a cold winter’s night. Outside the ancient walled city of Pingyao in northern China, hundreds of people gather to watch an unusual theatrical production.Eight women in traditional costume towel-dry six muscular and freshly-bathed men, when suddenly the women fiercely bite into the men’s arms as they howl in pain.“If you die, the teeth marks will guide your spirits home,” a narrator tells the audience.This was how bodyguards were sent off to protect merchants in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), and the scene has been brought to life by Chinese director Wang Chaoge in her interactive play, “Another Glance at Pingyao.”The play is part of a series of theatrical performances created by domestic directors, often held at UNESCO World Heritage sites, to rediscover history and traditional culture. In many ways the show symbolizes the city’s recent artistic renaissance.The performance focuses on a cultural trope all-too-familiar to Chinese — preserving the family bloodline. But the story, about a bank owner who threw all his wealth into rescuing an employee’s kidnapped son and died with 232 bodyguards in the course, also touches on business culture and character traits the Chinese are proud of.“I was awed by the spirit of integrity and righteousness. I saw many were moved to tears,” said a viewer, in an online forum.“[The play] epitomizes the character of Shanxi merchants,” said another member of the audience, a Pingyao native. “We hold loyalty and fraternity in high esteem.”The play has been a huge success, grossing 100 million yuan (US$15 million) in 2017 alone, with tourists traveling to Pingyao, in Shanxi Province, from far and wide to catch this unique take on Chinese history, culture and belief.The walled city of Pingyao was built to its current form in the 14th century, and was named a world heritage by UNESCO in 1997, as “an exceptionally well-preserved example of traditional Han Chinese city.”The city put itself on the map in the 19th century as China’s financial center. Banks flourished as Shanxi merchants expanded their businesses across the country. “In its heyday, Pingyao hosted 22 bank centers and controlled nearly half of the money in the country,” said Gao Chunping, a researcher with Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences. Bank museum drawToday tourists come in great numbers to the bank museum — an imposing courtyard which houses the remnant of China’s first draft bank, Rishengchang, which was set up in 1823. “People often marveled how the banking forefathers created ultra-safe pin codes playing with Chinese characters,” said Gao Xianhui, a local tour guide. “It was a time we rarely use Arabic numerals. And yet there were very few cases of pin theft fraud.”But Pingyao’s golden days did not last. In the early 20th century, the banks collapsed one after the other, as the Qing imperial government fell and an influx of foreign banks came in equipped with better technology.The city became soon an economic backwater, and until a few years ago, visitors struggled to find ATMs in this former banking hub.But now the city is in the ascendancy once more, littered with souvenir shops, restaurants, museums and theatrical performances like Wang Chaoge’s.

Bigger role sought for victims in plea bargain plan

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
Chinese lawmakers have called for victims to play a greater role in a pilot program of plea bargaining in criminal cases.Though China has included victims as a major party in its criminal litigation system, such as with victim-offender reconciliation, the plea bargaining pilot program failed to do so, according to Mo Wenxiu, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, during a panel discussion on a report about the pilot program’s progress.The report was submitted for deliberation to the top legislature’s ongoing bimonthly session, which ends today.In September 2016, the top legislature approved a two-year pilot program to allow suspects to plead guilty in return for a lesser charge in 18 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.Under the program, suspects and defendants who are willing to confess, agree with prosecutors’ indictments and sentencing proposals, and sign affidavits, will be given mitigated punishments.“The right of the victims could be better safeguarded by ensuring their right of participation during the process, which will let them vent their anger, and will in turn help promote litigation harmony,” Mo said.The report quoted figures from a third-party survey saying that over 97 percent of lawyers and over 94 percent of defendants are satisfied with the pilot program. However, no rate for victims was provided, according to Shen Yueyue, vice chairwoman of the committee. “The law should be fair to both parties. Only when the satisfaction rate of both parties was provided, could the general public be reassured,” she said.The pilot program has improved litigation efficiency, cut social costs and alleviated judicial burdens, said the committee member Bai Zhijian. He also suggested improving regulations to explore the use of the pilot system for juvenile offenders.

Label sues Apple for copyright breach

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
A CHINESE clothing company is suing Apple for copyright infringement of the Apple App Store logo, a court in Beijing said yesterday.Clothing label KON claims the Apple App Store logo closely resembles its own, which the company has been using as a merchandise trademark since 2011 and registered in 2012, according to the Dongcheng District People’s Court in Beijing, which has accepted the lawsuit.KON is demanding compensation of 100,000 yuan (US$15,200), an injunction against infringing devices such as iPhones and iPads, as well as a public apology.Both logos feature a triangular stick design. Apple replaced the old logo, consisting of a pencil, ruler and brush, with the current one on its iOS and MacOS devices this year.KON said that the two logos look practically the same to the untrained eye of an ordinary customer.Launched in 2009, KON is a Beijing-based clothing label that targets young customers.

Oracle bone inscriptions recognized

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 08:01
Chinese oracle bone inscriptions have been included on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, Chinese authorities said yesterday.Oracle bones are pieces of ox scapula or turtle plastron, which were used for divination during the late Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). They bear the earliest significant corpus of ancient Chinese writing and contain important historical information about the Shang.“Chinese characters have had a far-reaching impact on the world, especially for neighboring countries, and made great contributions to world civilization,” said Deputy Minister of Education Du Zhanyuan, also head of the State Language Work Committee.“The inclusion signals that the value of Chinese oracle bone inscriptions has been recognized by the world,” said Du.Oracle bones from ancient China, hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt, cuneiforms from ancient Babylon, and Mayan glyphs from Mesoamerica are among the world’s most famous ancient writing systems, but oracle bones are the only ones that still survive, as they have evolved over time into current Chinese characters.

Party unveils its transparency rules

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 08:01
THE Communist Party of China’s Central Committee yesterday made public a regulation to promote transparency in Party affairs. It is the first CPC regulation on the disclosure of Party affairs. Transparency in Party affairs is “a great measure” in implementing the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC held in October. It will firmly uphold full and strict governance over the Party and improve the Party’s ability to govern and lead, the CPC Central Committee said in a statement. Party organizations are required to disclose affairs concerning the Party leadership and Party building among the CPC members or outside the Party in accordance with the rules, according to the regulation for trial implementation. Party organizations’ implementation of the Party’s basic theory, line, and policy, their leadership over economic and social development, and efforts to strictly govern the Party and strengthen Party building shall be generally made public, along with information about the organizations’ function and structure, it said. However, promoting transparency in Party affairs should not pose a threat to political, economic, military, cultural, social, homeland security and the safety of the people, the regulation warned. The regulation specifies the content that should be released by Party organizations at different levels. Central Party organizations should make public Party theories, lines, principles and policies, decisions and plans of Party and state governance, speeches and instructions by President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and important meetings, activities and appointment and removal of officials by the CPC Central Committee, among others. Local Party organizations should publicize plans on local economic and social development, major reform events, and responses to major emergencies, according to the regulation. Local Party organizations are also asked to reveal how they are fulfilling their responsibility for exercising strict Party self-governance in every respect, as well as major conferences, events and official appointment and removal, it said. Primary-level Party organizations are required to release information about their goals, plans and implementation of major tasks, as well as their political education, general election, and management of regular membership dues, the regulation said. The regulation stipulated that Party organs for discipline inspection should publicize cases involving violations of CPC Central Committee discipline and punishment of officials who severely breach rules and neglect their duties.