China News - Summer 2014

From the British Press

Chinese tourists

Chinese now account for nearly 10% of all international tourists with 97.3 million outward-bound journeys from China last year, of which about a half were for leisure. Chinese tourists spend the most in total ($129 billion in 2013) followed by Americans ($86 billion). More than 80% of Chinese tourists say that shopping is vital to their plans compared to 56% of Middle Eastern tourists and 48% of Russians. Chinese tourism is expected to grow and in fact only 5% of Chinese own passports at present. Many who travel go to Hong Kong or Macau, but increasing affluence takes them further afield and allows them to take longer holidays. Next year, Chinese tourists are expected to buy more luxury goods than all other countries combined and by the year 2020, the number of Chinese tourists is expected to be double the present total. Because Britain is outside the Schengen area, it gets only one ninth of the number who go to France.

In 2013 without a pre-arranged visa, Chinese citizens could visit 44 other countries, Taiwanese could visit 130, Americans and Britons over 170. In 2010, the European Tour Operators Association found that a quarter of Chinese who had hoped to visit Europe had abandoned their plans because of visa delays. America has started to interview Chinese visa-applicants on line and allows them to pick their visas at any of 900 bank branches rather than the American embassy. Visa waiver places, like the Maldives are booming - nearly a third of their 1.1 million tourists last year were Chinese, which was a 45% increase over the previous year. A boom in Chinese honeymoons helped.

Schipol airport has direct flights to seven Chinese cities and hands out presents in the arrivals hall around Chinese New Year. It has a free translations app to point Chinese tourists to the luxury shops, all of which accept Chinese currency and Union Pay (China’s main credit card). In Paris, Printemps has a dedicated entrance for Chinese tour groups whilst Harrods in London has 100 Union Pay terminals and both stores have Mandarin speaking staff and maps and websites in Chinese. Hotels are offering Chinese TV channels, menus with pictures and Chinese breakfast (congee). Such details are seen as signs of respect, Chinese do not want to be treated as ‘second-class’. (From The Economist 19-25/4/14)

Chinese cities to meet pollution standards

China has vowed that 60% of its cities will meet its pollution standards by 2020. The State Council made the pledge on Sunday as part of a plan to increase urban population. Smog may be killing 2.1 million people a year. Last year, China promised to cut the pollution released by industry by almost a third by 2017 and to spend $283 billion cleaning up Beijing and the surrounding area. The recommended limit for pollution is 20 microgram per cubic metre but Beijing’s is often above 100 mg/cu m. (From New Scientist 22/3/14)

London to be centre for yuan trading

The Bank of England has signed a memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Bank of China over renminbi clearing and settlement in London. The move further strengthens London’s position as the Western centre of renminbi trading and supports global trade and investment. A clearing bank will be designated in London in due course. From The Telegraph 1/4/14)

Chinese first investment guide is for Britain

Britain became the focus of a Chinese government guide to investing overseas. It was written under the aegis of the National Development and Reform Commission and will be distributed all over China. The guide outlines the basics of investing in the UK, highlights 20 successful case studies and suggests Chinese companies might want to look at the UK’s manufacturing sector, infrastructure, biosciences, digital sector and professional services. In the past four years, Chinese companies have poured billions into the UK. Dalian Wanda has bought Sunseeker yachts and pledged to build twin skyscrapers in London, Bright Foods bought Weetabix and the entrepreneur Xu Weiping intends to redevelop the Royal Albert Dock in London.

However, British officials believe that these investments represent only a fraction of the potential as China tries to diversify some of its $4 trillion (£2.4 trillion) of foreign exchange reserves. A first secretary at the economics department in the British Embassy in Beijing believes that in the UK, a company does not look to the government for help, but in China companies do ask the government for advice. (From The Daily Telegraph 25/3/14)

Landmark corporate bond default in China

Chinese investors were given a wake-up call as China witnessed its first corporate bond default in recent history. Solar panel maker Shanghai Chaori Solar failed to meet an interest payment of 89.8 million yuan (£8.8 million) due yesterday. The default is a landmark because in the past companies have always been bailed out by soft loans from state-owned banks. (From The Independent 8/3/14)

‘Unavoidable’ defaults

Li Keqiang, Chinese Premier, has warned of ‘serious challenges’ including ‘unavoidable’ bond defaults. This came as figures showed the lowest growth in production (8.6% rise) in five years and a reduction in growth of consumer spending since 2009 (a rise of 11.8%). China’s GDP grew 7.7% last year, unchanged from the year before, which was the lowest since 1999. Mr Li has targeted a growth of 7.5% this year, but warned that it will not be easy. China must ensure steady growth, ensure employment, avert inflation and defuse risks. (From The Telegraph 14/3/14)

China link for Manchester airport

Manchester airport is planning to become the ‘hub of the north’ with a direct flight to Hong Kong, making it be the only airport outside London to have a direct link to China. At present 200,000 passengers a year have to travel to China via other European cities. However, the Cathay Pacific flight due to start in December and run four times a week will be the first of many new long-haul routes from Manchester which could include mainland China and New York. The chief executive of Manchester airport, Charlie Cornish, said that the immediate priority will be to secure a direct link to Beijing and that he has a team out in China talking to airlines in Shanghai, Beijing and Wuhan. He is fairly hopeful of securing a direct route to mainland China in the next 12 months. In 2011, Manchester airport signed a sister agreement with the owners of Beijing airport, which prompted speculation that a new route would be introduced.

This is all part of the £800 million expansion project to turn Manchester into an ‘Airport City’ to rival other European travel hubs such as Amsterdam (Schiphol) and Paris (Charles de Gaulle). (From The Telegraph 10/4/14)

China to own House of Fraser?

A Chinese tycoon is in advanced talks to take over the House of Fraser. Sanpower, a Nanjing-based conglomerate run by Yuan Tafei has tabled a bid that values the departmental stores at more than £450 million. Yafei’s empire owns more than 100 businesses in mainland China including shopping centres. The two sides have been in secret discussions for several months following a protracted search for investors led by House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy. The retailer has had a series of failed takeovers which have included Mike Ashley and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. It is understood that McCarthy accepted Sanpower’s offer last week and it has been presented to other major shareholders for approval.

Sanpower was founded 20 years ago and is believed to employ 30,000 people with assets worth nearly £5 billion. It is understood that Yuan plans to inject £70million to £80million to revamp the stores and to improve the website. New stores could be opened in China, existing ones could have their names changed to the House of Fraser. (From The Sunday Times 30/3/14)

Peruvian copper mine sold to Chinese

Glencore Xstrata has sealed a $5.85 billion (£3.5 billion) deal to sell its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru to a consortium led by MMG, a subsidiary of Minmetals, a state-owned Chinese metals trader. The consortium will pay in cash and the FTSE company will use the proceeds to cut debt and said it would return any surplus to shareholders. Glencore had to sell the mine as a condition of its tie-up with Xsastra last year. Authorities were concerned about Glencore’s grip on the copper market. China is a natural buyer for Las Bambas because it is is the world’s leading metals consumer. (From The Telegaph14/4/14)

Simpler Schengen

The European Commission is seeking to speed up and simplify the Schengen visa application process for legitimate tourists and business people from countries such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia to visit countries of the 26 nation Schengen agreement area. The commission believes the plans, which include reducing the maximum amount of time to process a visa from 15 days to 10 and simplifying the application form, could encourage an increase of up to 60% in visits to Schengen nations from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa and Ukraine. This could deliver a 130 billion euro (£108 billion) boost over five years and generate an extra 1.3 million jobs in tourism and related industries.

British companies fear that the proposed improvements to Schengen could widen the gap even further by driving even more business to competitors in the Schengen area. Already, according to the UK China Visa Alliance, a coalition of tourism companies and retailers, say that nine out of ten Chinese visitors to Europe apply for only one visa and the overwhelming majority opt for a Schengen visa. The Chinese are high-spending and whilst the UK claims to be open for business, it makes it very hard and expensive for the Chinese to do business here and it is costing the UK jobs and potential growth. (From The Telegraph 3/4/14)

Alibaba to float on Western stock exchange

Alibaba is a Chinese group of various online shopping sites. Its origins go back to Jack Ma, a Chinese English teacher, when he was visiting a friend in Seattle in 1995. He said he found no Chinese beer and when he searched for China on some search engines, they displayed, ‘No China, no data’. He created a retail web service from the front room of his apartment in Hangzhou in 1999 and has progressed from then. In 2013 Alibaba’s businesses generated £4.7 billion, which was a 62% increase on the year before.

Last week, Alibaba filed documents for an initial public offering - it could be the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange and could raise as much as £12 billion (Facebook raised £9 billion). Alibaba revealed that 230 million people spent almost £250 billion on its websites last year, which is more than Amazon and eBay combined.

Alibaba is a whole series of on-line shopping services including the original Alibaba. There is Taobao (which means ‘digging for treasure’), which is a cross between Amazon and eBay and lists more than 800 million products at any one time. Tmall allows shoppers to buy directly from brands whilst Aliply is a Chinese version of Paypal. The Alibaba group also has an investment portfolio including stakes in the micro-blogging site Weibo and video clip service Youku Tudou - the Chinese Twitter and YouTube respectively.

Jack Ma owns a 9% stake in the company, while Yahoo! owns a quarter. In an e-mail to staff last week, Ma said that going public was only a ‘pit stop’ on the way to something even bigger. (From Metro 13/5/14

Chinese car maker invests in green vehicles

The Chinese car giant Geely has taken over the Coventry head-quartered Emerald, developer of light-weight hybrid electric vans, as part of a £120 million expansion into green vehicles. Geely plans to expand its range of low-emission vehicles, including taxis. Last year, Geely bought the black cab maker Manganese Bronze for £11 million. No price was disclosed for the Emerald deal. Emerald has bases in Essex and the US has about 25 staff which will be retained. The company was founded in 2009 specifically to develop lightweight electric vans. Geely is a £2.4 billion turnover giant and the Emerald chief executive has said that the buyout will secure the company’s long term future. Emerald was owned by management and the clean power systems company Intelligent Energy. Emerald’s small van demonstrator runs on conventional fuel and batteries, allowing huge savings on costs and emissions. It has a range of more than 400 miles. (From The Sunday Times 2/314)

China, the US and fracking

The US and China have agreed an unprecedented partnership on fracking to accelerate the energy revolution. Under the terms of the deal, agreed after Joe Biden, the US Vice President visited Asia, America will share its expertise to help ‘sound and rapid’ development of Chinese exploration for shale gas. America’s shale gas has already started to alter global dynamics profoundly but the next chapter could prove to be the most spectacular, creating the conditions for co-operation between two superpowers which would challenge Russian and Middle Eastern domination of energy markets - and offer at least a short-term gain in the battle to respond to climate change. Fracking is not new - the first experiments using high pressure water jets to open up stubborn layers of sedimentary rock began in the 1940s. (From The Times 19/12/13)

China and Russia agree $400 billion gas deal

Under the terms of one of the world’s biggest energy pacts ever, China National Petroleum Corp has committed to buy up to 38 billion cu metres per year of gas from Russia’s Gazprom starting in 2018. This represents a sixth of Russia’s current exports of gas. A new pipeline linking Siberia’s gas fields to China’s main coastal cities will be built as part of the agreement and Russia plans to invest $55 billion in exploration and pipeline construction. (From The Daily Telegraph 22/5/14)

Wallpaper for China

Family wall paper business Graham & Brown has built a £3 million export business in China over the last three years. This lucrative market is now a priority for the 67 year-old firm. The chief executive, Andrew Graham said that China is a modern country, not an emerging market. He has been to 10 Chinese airports that dwarf Heathrow. At present only 3% of the business is in China but this will change after the launch of the firm’s dedicated Chinese e-commerce business, which is led by a Chinese manager in Shanghai. Graham added that it is important to have a Chinese national involved. (From The Daily Telegraph 18/4/14)

TCM to be available on the NHS?

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has suggested that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be available on the National Heath Service where there was good evidence that it would be beneficial. He added that taxpayers’ money should never be spent if there was not good evidence. He said that on frequent visits to China (his wife is Chinese), he learnt that it is important to follow the scientific evidence.

Chinese traditional medicine can involve herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage. NHS Choices states the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends acupuncture as a treatment only for lower back pain. It adds that the recommendation is based on scientific evidence. American researchers recently said that a poppy plant used for centuries in Chinese medicine may offer a remedy for chronic pain. They found that Corydalis contains a powerful pain-relieving compound in its roots, although further toxicity tests were required.

Health warnings were made last year over concerns that some may contain dangerously high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic and some may contain derivatives from endangered species. Caution should be exercised when using unlicensed Chinese medicines obtained over the internet and especially when children were involved. (From The Telegraph 3/4/14)

From the Chinese Press

Xi Jinping visits Europe

During March, China’s president visited four European countries: the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium. He also visited the headquarters of the EU and UNESCO. In his eleven day trip, he attended 84 events - around eleven per day and signed 120 co-operation agreements.

His visit to France coincided with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France and he referred to France as a ‘special friend.’ During his visit to Germany, Angela Merkel said that Germany is willing to act as the engine of the EU-China relationship and relations between the two countries were upgraded to a new level. In Amsterdam, China and the Netherlands vowed to establish an ‘open, pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation.’ A similar declaration was made in Brussels for Belgium and China.

President Xi visited the Ghent plant of the Volvo Car Company now owned by Geely of China. This operation and the 14% stake Dongfeng now holds in PSA Peugeot Citroen embodies the encouraging momentum of Chinese auto companies ‘going global’ by close cooperation with European companies. In the aviation sector China and Europe are cooperating in the latest A320 Airbus. Collaborative investment in research and development between China and Germany is being discussed, including that on nuclear power. Cooperation in finance is being developed; China is to list the Paris Financial Market as a trading zone for its Eurozone investments and where the EU invests in China.

As well as the overall strengthening of economic ties, financial cooperation and the establishment of free-trade agreements when the conditions are ripe, the parties agreed to explore China’s proposal for a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’.

Cultural and educational agreements were also discussed. At the UNESCO headquarters, Xi said that civilizations are diverse, yet equal and inclusive. There are no grounds for a ‘clash of civilizations’ but exchange and learning between different peoples helps understanding, strengthens friendship and thus protects peace, stability and world prosperity. China is taking the road of peaceful development and will not follow in the footsteps of big powers that sought hegemony.

Xi reiterated that the Chinese Dream is a dream of peace and happiness and hopes that Europe and the rest of the world might properly view and understand China. China and France have decided to establish a high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism and China and the EU have agreed to implement a China-EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

There is to be a Chinese cultural centre in Brussels and the Netherlands and the first ‘China Library’ at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. People-to-people exchanges have increased and in addition there are more and more Confucius Institutes (now 115) and Confucius Classrooms (now 147) in the EU. The total number of Chinese students in the EU and EU students in China reached about 300,000. More than 2.38 million Chinese visited the EU and 3.17 million people from the EU visited China. (From China Today May 2014)

Landmark visit of KMT chair to Beijing

Lien Chan, the Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan, paid a landmark visit to Beijing, where he met Xi Jinping on 18 February. It was an unofficial visit, but he was accompanied by his wife Lien Fang-yu and a delegation on this four day visit. This was the 15th time Lien has been to the mainland since February 2005. (From Beijing Review 27/214)

Integrating rural and urban pensions

The State Council of China has recently announced plans to unify rural and urban pension systems. This move is seen as a significant step in China’s comprehensive social reforms and a vital move towards establishing a fair social welfare system. The inequality caused by the urban-rural structure is a major obstacle for China in moving forward to a market-orientated economy. The plan will build a fair and sustainable social security system as both rural and urban residents will enjoy equal social security services, including pensions regardless of their residential register. It will help promote domestic consumption because rural people will worry less about their financial future. The central government will provide more financial support for poor areas to alleviate the pension burden of local governments. This new policy aims to facilitate the free flow of people, boost social security, promote consumption and encourage innovation and business start-ups. The unified pension system will deepen reform and will show that central government has targeted institutional hindrances to social fairness. (From Beijing Review 27/2/14)

Air pollution

The 31 provincial-level regions of the Chinese mainland have been set targets to reduce major air pollutants by 5 to 25%. Among provincial level regions, 11 were given goals for reducing PM2.5, including an annual 25% decrease, the highest for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province. The directive also urged the regions to reduce coal consumption and eliminate outdated industrial capacity and tighten management and control of heating boilers, vehicles and dust. Local governments have been ordered to map out detailed plans to ensure the implementation of the various anti-pollution methods and lay down specific goals for each year. The State Council, China’s Cabinet, is planning a system of evaluation for each provincial-level government’s progress, with those failing to reach their goals to be named and shamed. (From Beijing Review 16/1/14)

FTA talks with Australia

On 12 April, China and Australia voiced hopes that negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would reach agreement as quickly as possible. China’s Vice-premier Wang Yang met Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, together with a group of businessmen. The talks began in 2005 and have gone through 19 rounds so far, but if it is signed it would be the first FTA between China and a major developed country. It would give Australia’s agricultural produce easier access to the enormous Chinese market. China is currently Australia’s largest trade partner, whilst Australia is Chinese enterprises’ largest overseas investment destination. Bilateral trade reached $136.4 billion in 2013 which is an increase of 11.5% from the year before. Abbott said that Australia wishes to be a long-term stable provider of energy, resources and food to China. He added that he hopes to see more and more Chinese investment in Australia and he promised to facilitate this. (From Beijing Review 24/4/14)

Finance for Chinese SMEs

China is to improve its support for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) by simplifying how funds are allocated. The Ministry of Finance together with the Ministries of Industry and Information Technology, Science and Technology and Commerce issued a notice that they will improve the efficiency in the way funds are allocated to SMEs. The funds are to help improve technological innovation, financing, services and international cooperation. There will also be more support for innovation in information technology, new energy development, the biomedical industry and modern agriculture. The subsidy for each new innovative project will be no more than 3 million yuan ($487,560) or 40% of the research and development costs. (From Beijing Review 24/4/14)

Corporate defaults in China

A Deutsche Bank research note said on 15 April that Chinese banks have the means to deal with corporate bond and trust defaults. A study by the bank found that listed Chinese banks hold 37% of outstanding debts in China’s corporate bond market and have provided 36% of the funding for the country’s trust sector. This puts 88 billion yuan ($14.14 billion) worth of bank assets at risk, but according to Deutsche Bank, they are well covered by the 819 billion yuan ($132 billion) the banks have set aside to cover bad debts. The bank’s study covered 2,400 corporate bond issuers and 13,000 trust products with a total credit balance of 237 billion yuan ($38 billion). The bank said that only 22 of these 2,400 bond-issuing firms are risky and 65% of them are industries with overcapacity, including the steel, mining, metal and solar sectors.

China witnessed the first on-shore corporate default in March when a Shanghai-based solar firm failed to pay 89.8 million yuan ($14.4 million) in interest. Authorities and banks have shown growing reluctance to bail out troubled assets, which analysts say could help correct distortion in risk pricing but could also stoke fear of more defaults to come. Deutsche Bank said that while May and June could see a peak number of bonds and trust products become due, investors could learn that actual defaults are less than they thought and thus regain confidence in Chinese banks. The bank report also said that rising defaults are normal as a way to correct distortions in pricing credit risks and improve the efficiency of capital allocation. (From Beijing Review 24/4/14)

Tax breaks in the PRC

More small businesses in China will enjoy tax breaks as part of the government’s efforts to address the pressure on economic growth. Companies with annual taxable income under 100,000 yuan will have the business income tax halved starting from 1 January until the end of 2016, said a joint statement from the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation released on 8 April. Previously tax breaks applied to businesses with annual taxable income of 60,000 yuan. The move is to promote economic growth and create jobs. By the end of 2013, there were about 11.7 million small and micro companies in China accounting for 76.6% of the total number of firms in China. Taking small family businesses into account, small companies accounted for 94.2% of the total number and created about 150 million jobs. (From Beijing Review 17/4/14)

Anti-Corruption blows

China investigated and punished 829 judges and other court staff for corruption in 2013, up 42.3% year-on-year. These figures were announced by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), China’s highest judicial organ, on 2 March. Of the 829, 157 were transferred to judicial departments for prosecution. The SPC revealed that 683 judges and court staff turned over illegal gains with a value of 3.32 million yuan ($543,000) in 2013. These included cash, securities and payment documents. (From Beijing Review 13/3/14)

Encouraging filial piety

Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province in central China, is exploring the possibility of setting up a system in which those displaying filial piety (respect for parents) will be praised and those who do not will be put on a black list and condemned. The objective will be to promote filial piety in society as a whole. Some other cities in China have similar systems in place and even stipulate that those on the black list will not be able to join the civil service. China is fast becoming an ageing society with more and more old people being left in the countryside because their children have moved to the towns for better jobs. Filial piety brings harmony and happiness to the family as a whole and sets an example for children, who as they themselves age, will hope that their own children will be kind towards them. Families are microcosms of society and harmonious families join together to form a stable and harmonious society. In recent years the government has paid more and more attention to filial piety, such as the issuing of laws that demand children, often go home to look after their old parents. (From Beijing Review 13/3/14)

China ranks first in patents

The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China announced that it had accepted 825,000 patent applications for new inventions in 2013. This is a year-on-year increase of 26.3% and China has ranked first in the world for three consecutive years. The office authorised 208,000 patents last year, which included 144,000 domestic patents, with Beijing, Guangdong and Jiangsu being the top three areas which submitted them. The other leading areas were Zhejiang, Shanghai, Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui, Shaanxi and Hubei. The SIPO also accepted 22,924 international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Of these, 20,897 came from China and 2,027 from abroad. (From China Today April 2014)

Corruption clampdown

China has investigated 10,840 people suspected of bribery, corruption and embezzlement between January and March of this year. A total of 6,759 people were investigated for embezzling more than 100,000 yuan ($16,050) or taking bribes worth more than 50,000 yuan accounting for 82.2% of all cases. Some 661 people involved in corruption cases were officials at county-level or above. Xu Jinhui, Director of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Anti-Corruption Bureau said that the number of corruption cases in the first quarter of this year had risen 24% compared with last year and the number of suspects involved had risen 19.8%.

Xu added that the number of cases involving officials at county-level or above had seen a 46.9% rise in the same period. The number of cases in which bribes exceeded 50,000 yuan or embezzlement reached 100,000 yuan had seen a rise of 26.9%. A nationwide crackdown on corruption was launched at the end of 2012 and is ongoing. (From Beijing Review 22/5/14)

Disposable income in China

A bulletin from the national Bureau of Statistics on China’s economic and social development in 2013 shows that per capita disposable income of Chinese people stood at 18,311 yuan last year, an increase of 10.9% over the preceding year. After deducting price factors, this represents a gain of 8.1% . This is higher than the growth in GDP of 7.7%. (From China Today April 2014)

Job creation successes

China created 4.73 million jobs in the first four months of 2014, slightly more than the number created in the same period last year. At the end of March, the urban unemployment rate stood at 4.08%. This was 0.03% higher than the same period last year. These figures were from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social security. In the first quarter, China’s economic growth dipped to 7.4%, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2012. (From Beijing Review 29/5/14)

Tibetan Encyclopaedia

Work has begun on a Tibetan version of the Chinese Encyclopaedia making this the third ethnic minority language edition of China’s comprehensive encyclopaedia. The work is estimated to take five years according to Cedain Zhaxi, head of the Tibetology Studies Institute of the University of Tibet. Translation and publication will be carried out jointly by the university and the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s press and publication authorities. Cedain Zhaxi believes the work will significantly enrich the Tibetan language because hundreds of Chinese terms in philosophy, foreign literature and world geography have no corresponding Tibetan expressions. The Tibetan publication will be distributed amongst schools and libraries in cities, monasteries and rural areas.

In 2009, the second edition of the Chinese Encyclopaedia comprised 32 volumes and 60,000 items. In 2011, China started to translate the encyclopaedia into the Uygur and Kazakh languages. (From Beijing Review 16/1/14)

China’s railways to expand

Railway fixed assets investment will increase to 720 billion yuan ($117.09 billion) in 2014 to meet demand. Forty-nine projects and over 7,000 km of new track will be put into operation this year. This is an upwards adjustment from the original plan of 700 billion yuan and 44 new projects. The central and western areas of China will benefit from 78% of all construction investment. According to a five-year plan running from 2011 to 2015, 230,000 km of new railway lines will be built in central and western regions with an investment of 1.85 trillion yuan ($300 billion). (From Beijing Review 17/4/14)

Beijing overtakes Tokyo in company headquarters

In February this year, Beijing declared that 48 of the headquarters of the world’s top 500 enterprises had their headquarters in Beijing. This surpasses Tokyo which has 47. However, compared to New York, Singapore and Hong Kong, this number is still small and Chinese cities have a long way to go. The attraction of company headquarters to a particular city, demonstrates the development strategy of that city and is an indication of that city’s future. The transnationality index of the transnational companies in China is low, less than 20% compared to up to 60% for advanced countries. The index is calculated as the average total sales and foreign employment to total employment. The innovation ability of China’s companies is low and many central enterprises are dependent on government support. Lack of innovation is considered the biggest obstacle to their future development. (From Beijing Review 17/4/14)

New rules raise the standard of driving in China

Traffic accidents have significantly decreased in China following tighter regulations implemented on 1 January 2013. Accidents caused by new drivers have decreased by 16.3% and the number of people killed has dropped by 14.9%. Reasons are believed to be a tougher driving test, which emphasises safely, new traffic rules which have been publicised more widely and thirdly, penalties which have become heavier. For example, going through a red light would incur three penalty points but this has now been increased to six. A driver with 12 penalty points has to retake the driving test to regain his or her licence. (From Beijing Review 17/4/14)

Tibetan medicine

Tibetan medical services have reached all counties in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Of Tibet’s 74 counties 22 have established Tibetan medicine hospitals while the remainder have set up Tibetan medical treatment departments in county-level hospitals. Tibet has 33 Tibetan medical institutions with 1,364 beds and 1,901 full-time Tibetan medicine doctors. In addition about 40% of village doctors can provide traditional medical care. (From Beijing Review 22/5/14)

Anti-Terror Studies

The People’s Public Security University of China in Beijing will take in 80 students from across the country for its new Anti-terrorism course. The subject set under the Department of Public Security Intelligence will comprise classes on research of terrorist organisations, international cooperation against terrorism, security risk assessment and reconnaissance and evidence collection of cybercrimes. Practical courses are also available to enable students to master tactics and command to fight back against terrorist attacks. (From Beijing Review 22/5/14)

Beijing’s first 24-hour bookstore

Li Ying, a customer at Sanlian Taofen bookshop has announced that she and her husband are going to invite friends to read together at night at this bookshop - Beijing’s first 24-hour bookshop. (From Beijing Review 24/4/14)

SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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