China News - Spring 2015

From the British Press

Chinese Premier’s report at Davos

Li Keqiang said that China is moving from a period of ‘high-speed’ growth to one of ‘medium-to-high-speed’ as Beijing pushes through reforms that will help it to make the leap from a developing to an advanced economy. China’s growth slowed to 7.4% last year, the lowest for 24 years, as part of a plan to move to a new economic model that would no longer depend on state investment and intervention. He also said that China has no intention to compete for regional supremacy and that everyone should work together to uphold peace and stability.

Mr Li dismissed claims that a loss of momentum in China could damage global growth prospects, emphasising that 13 million jobs had been created in Chinese cities last year, which was more than in 2013. Indeed, growth last year amounted to $800 billion, which was larger than the 10% growth of five years ago. The focus was now on higher-quality growth in the long run, not simply faster growth. China needed to foster entrepreneurship and innovation and move away from traditional mind-sets and embrace innovation and structural reforms. He pledged a raft of reforms, from opening new free trade zones to liberalising the exchange rate, to financial reform, to levelling the playing field with foreign companies, and he outlined a general modernisation of the economy.

Earlier, at Davos, the deputy director of the IMF, Min Zhu, had praised the Chinese government, by saying China is growing slower but better; for the first time, consumption has been bigger than investment. China is trying to move away from a dependence on state and infrastructure investment towards greater consumption. (From The Times 22/1/15)

Asians and Chinese are excellent innovators

Sam Walsh, the chief executive of Rio Tinto Zinc, the world’s second largest mining company, has pointed out that his business was using driverless vehicles in its mining operations years ago before Google. There are 54 driverless trucks, each the size of a two-storey building, in Pilbara, Western Australia. They have driven more than 3.0 million kilometres and he adds that his company would not have arrived at this type of innovation were it not for Asian expertise. He is aware more than many chief executives of how innovation is taking off in China, where more patents connected to mining have been filed than any other country this year - all backed by enormous research and development budgets.

The innovations are not confined to mining, as is clear from a speech by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, UK intellectual property minister at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Skills at a summit on business innovation organised by the Asia House think-tank. The Chinese are the single largest group of patent applications in the world and Chinese businesses have also become far more aggressive at challenging those who infringe their intellectual property rights. For example, seven Chinese rare-earth companies took Hitachi Metals to court in the US, alleging that the Japanese company broke international patent law. (From The Times 15/12/14)

Britain to increase investment in China

British investment in China is to quadruple over the next five years. As Chinese investors continue to buy up British enterprises such as stakes in Heathrow and Manchester Airports, cereal maker Weetabix, Pizza Express and North Sea oil, UK investors are preparing to return the compliment. Foreign direct investment from the UK to China was nearly £6.7 billion last year but this is expected to grow to £26 billion by 2020 as China opens up to foreign capital. Investment opportunity in China is expected to be £1.3 trillion by 2020 - up by 95% on the £667 billion of 2014. Even this investment, however, is dwarfed by capital inflows from Hong Kong, which will account for 63% of all foreign investment by 2020. Singapore, Taiwan, the US, South Korea and Germany will also be significant players, with each contributing between 6% and 3% of total inward investment.

The financial services sector will see the greatest leap in investment, rising from £27.7 billion last year to £143.2 billion by 2020 - an increase of 417%. This is thanks to the lifting of restrictions on trading the renminbi and China’s commitment to financial reform. China’s energy industry is set to attract £19.3 billion - up from £9.8 billion, in the same period. In addition, life sciences, media and entertainment are also identified as growth industries.

These reports contradict the fear that China’s slowing economic growth could dampen investment; foreign investment fell for the first time last year by 6.7% over the previous year. Over recent years, China has taken steps to facilitate investment and to change investment perceptions and opportunities. The Chinese government identified a range of areas that need foreign investment so that China can meet domestic demand and successfully rebalance its economy towards quality growth. To spur increased foreign direct investment, the Chinese government has promised to speed up the construction of railways and build a multi-tier transport system along the Yangtze River. The provinces that line the river account for 41% of China’s GDP. Last week, Beijing also announced that it would allow foreigners to fully own e-commerce companies in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which was set up in 2013. (From The Daily Telegraph 19/1/15)

US asked to help hunt for fugitives

China has asked the US to help find more than 100 corrupt suspects that are believed to be in America. A US official said that it was not clear whether those on the list were all Chinese nationals. China has vowed to expand a ‘fox hunt’ for corrupt officials beyond its borders but does not have an extradition treaty with the US, which is believed to be the most popular destination for economic fugitives. (From I (Independent) via Reuters 6/12/14)

Chinese to buy Club Med

Fosun International , a conglomerate controlled by the Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang , raised its bid before Christmas to 4.60 euro per share, valuing Club Med at 939 million euro. The other bidder, Bonomi , an Italian company, conceded defeat. This ends an 18-month battle in which the price has been raised several times. Club Med, a French tour operator, is active in 40 countries and serves 1.2 million holiday makers. It is likely that Fosun, whose interests range from insurance to pharmaceuticals, will try to expand Club Med in emerging countries, where a growing middle class is likely to spend more money on leisure. Chinese tourists could eventually account for up to a third of the holiday company’s customers, if it is acquired by Fosun.

Did Guo Guanchang who bought Club Med for 939 million euros believe he overpaid? Some analysts believe a factor was the buying in of expertise and ‘downloading decades’ of institutional memory, as some believe was the case when Dalian Wanda bought the US cinema chain AMC. (From The Times ) (From The Sunday Times 4/1/15 and 6/1/15)

For some cancers, survival rates are higher in China than in the UK

An international report shows some developing countries, including China, Malaysia and Brazil, have higher survival rates than the UK for certain cancers. The data in China was from a population of more than 37 million in rural and urban areas including Beijing, Linzhou, Feicheng, Jinhu and Jintan. Figures derived from net survival rates for patients diagnosed during 2005-9 showed that stomach cancer five-year survival rates in China were 31.3 % compared to 18.5% in the UK. For colon cancer, the figures were 54.6% in China, 53.8 in the UK; for ovarian cancer, the figures were 38.9% in China, 36.4% in the UK; for liver cancer, the figures were 12.5% in China, 9.3 in the UK. The UK had slightly better figures than China for rectum cancer, 56.6% compared to 53.2% in China.

These are only a small selection of results presented in a comprehensive report in The Sunday Times of 4/1/15.

Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists rate the availability of good slippers in hotel bedrooms ahead of combs, nail-clippers and sewing kits. Financial analysts anticipate 200 million overseas Chinese tourists by the year 2020. Domestic tourists may constitute an even higher number as an increasing number of provinces attain GDP rates of $8,000 per capita. This is the level that triggered equivalent tourism explosions in Japan and South Korea. Analysts at Citigroup expect international traffic for Chinese airlines to grow at more than 15% this year as simplified visa application processes in the US, UK, Japan and South Korea begin to take effect.

Chinese names for tourist sites in UK

British tourist chiefs today unveiled the results of an attempt to attract more Chinese tourists to the UK by asking potential visitors to give Chinese names to the UK’s most famous places. They used China’s most popular social media sites, Weibo and We Chat, to ask nearly 300 million people to come up with names for 101 tourist locations or delicacies. Names which were suggested included: ‘A place full of pleasant fragrance’ for Harrogate; ‘Fragrant Liquor Lane' for the Malt Whisky Trail; ‘Boffins’ Boat Race’ for the University Boat Race; ‘A place filled with things to attract yuppies and fashionable ladies’ for Knightsbridge and ‘The Strongman Skirt Party’ for the Highland Games.

In 2013, Britain received 196,000 Chinese tourists who spent nearly £492 million - an average of £2,508 per person, far more than the overall average of £604. France by comparison had 700,000 Chinese tourists. The main obstacle appears to be visa application rules. Britain is not in the Schengen area, unlike France. The Schengen visa allows Chinese tourists to visit several European counties on a single visa. However, the UK visa rules are in the process of being simplified. Visit Britain, the tourist board for the UK, wants to double the number of Chinese tourists by 2020. (From i, The Independent, 16/2/15)

Nike to supply China’s football team kit

Nike is to replace Adidas as equipment supplier to the Chinese national football team until 2026 under a contract worth 100 million yuan (£10.5 million). China has only qualified for one World Cup tournament, in 2002, but despite this, football remains popular in China. Many Chinese football fans support European teams. Germany is said to be the national team most supported in China. President Xi is believed to be keen to develop Chinese football and several private investors are helping to set up huge football schools there. Nike will have been aware of this. (From The Times 7/1/15)

Number of Chinese MAs nearly same as British MAs

About three quarters of post graduate students studying for masters’ degrees in UK universities are foreign students. Chinese students represent 23% of the total, which is nearly as much as that represented by British students with 26%. The Chinese dominate mathematics and media studies. One critic claimed that the standard of the English language of the Chinese was poor, yet they still were able to graduate and jeopardising education standards. (From Mail-online 12/1/15)

Chinese students flock to UK

Last year, there were more first-year undergraduates from China at UK universities than from the whole of the EU (excluding the UK) according to statistics published yesterday. Students from India declined by 12% and from Pakistan by 7%.

This is possibly due to a clamp down on student visas and recent tough rhetoric on immigration. Chinese first-year undergraduates totalled 58,810 - an increase of 4% on the year before compared to 57,190 from the whole of the EU (excluding the UK). The number of new Chinese students has rocketed by almost 60% since 2009/10. Chinese students and their parents are attracted by the rankings of UK universities.

Ms Biyuan Wang, aged 20 from Yunnan in south-west China, a second-year bioengineering student at Imperial College, says she chose the UK because she can get her degree in three years which is a year shorter than in the US, Hong Kong or mainland China, which saves both time and money. She believes the UK is a perfect combination of the modern and the historic. She wanted to study the new field of bioengineering and Imperial College focuses on engineering and science. Her course is costing £25,500 this year in tuition fees and a further £10,000 for living expenses. (From i (Independent) 16/1/15)

Execution of billionaire gangster

A billionaire famed for his love of luxury cars, casinos and cigars has been executed in Xi Jinping’s war on corruption. Liu Han, 49, a mining tycoon worth at least £4.2 billion, was one of five mafia bosses who received the death penalty for offences including gun running and murder. Liu made his money in construction and went on to become the chairman of the Hanlong Group, a Chengdu-based mining company with interests in Australia, Africa and the US. He owned diamond watches and a fleet of Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Bentleys. He was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to death last May, with a court in Hubei province declaring him a head of ‘a cabal of ferocious gangsters’.

One of his gangs was found to be possession of grenades, guns, shotguns and more than 100 knives. He was arrested with 35 members of his hooligan army and was accused of building property interests by forced evictions and intimidating the poor. He has been linked to Zhou Yongkong, formerly in charge of domestic security in the previous standing committee of the Politburo, who had a budget greater than that of the entire military. Zhou himself is currently under investigation for corruption. (From The Daily Telegraph and The Times 10/2/15)

Fighting corruption in the army

The jade, gold and cash found in the basement of PLA General Xu Caihou’s mansion in Beijing needed more than ten lorries to take it away, according to the Chinese press last October. The high-ranking general was accused of accepting ‘extremely large bribes’ and now faces trial. Xi Jinping has taken his sweeping anti-corruption campaign into the heart of the PLA. In January the PLA revealed that 15 generals and another senior officer were under investigation or awaiting trial. One reason Mr Xi wants to clean up the army is that it is a bulwark of party rule. The soldiers swear allegiance to the party.

In the 1990s the PLA, apparently with the party’s blessing, became involved with commerce and 20,000 to 30,000 businesses across China, which included hotels, financial services and nightclubs. Many became the seeds of corruption and in 1998, President Jiang Zemin called a halt to most PLA commerce. But the PLA has not been able to rid itself of graft. Wages are not high enough to reduce incentives for corruption. Senior officers receive a pittance compared with the bosses of state-owned enterprises. Mr Xi’s military clout gives him a better chance of success than his predecessors. One of his first jobs after graduation was as a personal secretary to the minister of defence and his father was a guerrilla fighter who was close to Mao Zedong. (From The Economist 14/2/15)

British youngster receives stem cell from Chinese donor

Jiang Yongfeng, a driver in Shanghai registered for stem cell donation was surprised when he had a request from England. A seven-year old boy needed the stem cells to treat his cancer. The boy is of Chinese heritage and is very lucky because although Chinese people make up 20% of the human race, they only account for 4% of people on the global stem cell registry. Stem cell transplants require the donor and receiver to have virtually identical genes, which means they must be of the same ethnic background. Jiang Yongfeng in Shanghai does not know the name of the little boy in England, but said, ‘I hope he can be brave and strong and live a good life.’ (From BBC News, Beijing 19/1/15 via SACU member Francis Moll)

China becoming involved with Afghan peace process?

China’s Foreign Ministry has said that China could play a part in the Afghan peace process. A week after the new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, visited Beijing, a Taliban delegation is understood to have arrived. These events could be ground-breaking as it was the first foreign trip by the new Afghan president and because of China’s long-standing status as an ally of Pakistan. It is believed Mr Ghani hinted at a Chinese role in a TV address. China holds the rights to explore one of the world’s largest copper deposits east of Kabul in Logar province. The Pentagon has estimated that the value of minerals in Afghanistan is of the order of $1 trillion. (From The Times 10/1/15)

From the Chinese Press

Freight train China to Spain

The first freight train to travel from Yiwu (in eastern China, Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai) to Madrid, Spain set off on 18 November 2014. Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale market for small consumer goods. The 13,000 km journey will pass through eight countries, including China and Spain, i.e. Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, and will take 21 days. (From Beijing Review 27/11/14)

Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption

At the conclusion of the 26th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Minister told reporters that the meeting adopted the Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption and established an APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET). Members reaffirmed that they will deny safe havens to those engaged in corruption and cooperate with one another through extradition, legal assistance and the return of ill-gotten gains. They will adopt more flexible approaches to recovering the proceeds of corruption and expedite international cooperation in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of graft. It also states that the ACT-NET is to be developed as an informal network for sharing information and exchanging best practices to assist in the detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption, bribery, money laundering and illicit trade. (From Beijing Review 11/12/14)

Human rights plan

China has been working towards goals set by the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-15), with most quantitative targets being at least half-way achieved in the past two years. In 2013, the disposable income of urban residents grew 7% while per capita income of rural residents grew 9.3%. The rural poor population fell by 16.5 million compared to 2012. Community-level self-governance improved as over 98% of village level party committees are now directly elected.

The interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, the elderly and the disabled have been better protected and cooperation with other countries in the area of human rights has also progressed. The National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-15) promised to address challenges and to work for happiness and dignity for everyone. (From Beijing Review 1/1/15)

Premier Li’s ‘lifestyle’

During the seven-day period (14 to 20 December 2014), Premier Li Keqiang flew 20,000 miles across Asia and Europe, met 22 national leaders and attended 70 international conferences. During 2014, Li’s visits produced a total of $140 billion in business contracts.

Whilst Premier Li has focussed on economic exchanges, President Xi Jinping has attended to strategic matters. The economic activity has sealed business contracts for Chinese firms to build energy, infrastructure and railway projects overseas. (From Beijing Review 1/1/15)

Outbound Direct Investment (ODI) control

The Chinese Government relaxed its grip on ODI as domestic enterprises begin to invest heavily abroad. On 18 November, the State Council released a much shorter list of ODI projects needing government approval to enter the international market. Gu Dawei, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission estimated that around 99% of investment projects included on the previous list are now free from long government procedures and will only need to go through a registration system.

Chinese enterprises have been keen on investing overseas during the last decade with robust mergers and acquisitions in manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, minerals, agriculture and culture. China is currently the world’s third largest investor after the US and Japan. Last year, China’s ODI amounted to nearly 40 times that of 2002. ODI by non-financial Chinese firms rose 17.8% from a year ago in the first 10 months to $81.9 billion. (From Beijing Review 27/11/14)

Tsinghua and Berkeley Universities joint Institute

Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of California, Berkeley have signed an agreement to establish a joint institute in Shenzhen, Guangdong to promote research collaboration and graduate student education. The intention is to integrate their research programmes to address social needs and global challenges said Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the US university. The new institute, Tsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, will be housed on Tsinghua’s Shenzhen campus and is due to open by the end of the year. The initial areas will be nanotechnology and nanomedicine, low-carbon and new energy technologies and data science and next-generation internet. (From China Daily European Weekly 12-18/9/14

New Oxford University China Centre

Rana Mitter, director of the new Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre, believes China should now be seen as a plural noun rather than as a singular noun. He says that China is a whole diversity of different things in terms of culture, identity and direction. He added that asking questions like ‘Is China going to do x, y or z?’ Is wrong because there are so many different Chinas, not just one. The centre opened on 8 September and is named after Hong Kong billionaire, Dickson Poon (owner of the Harvey Nichols store group) who donated £10 million to the 26 million euro fund to build the five floor building (5,500 sq. mt.). It is the largest China centre in Europe and Mitter intends to make clear that China is very much a living place and not some static entity mired in its history.

Mitter said, ‘There is so much nonsense written and spoke about China’s past, in particular by people who don’t necessarily have an understanding of the complexity and richness of the way China has developed over time.’ He thinks there has never been a greater need for a better understanding of China because the available expertise in the field of Sinology lags behind the fast rise of the country.

Mitter believes the way China is studied in the US is different from its study in the UK and Europe. In the US the discipline of political science is dominant and a China expert is a political scientist specializing in China. In Europe, China is looked at as an integrated whole. The future could be in the concept of ‘new Sinology’ as popularised by former Australian premier Kevin Rudd, a Mandarin speaker.

One of Oxford University’s major academic breakthroughs in recent times has been the discovery of the so-called Seldon map which has been in the Bodleian Library since 1659, but has only just been recognised as proof that China was a maritime power as well as a land power during the Ming Dynasty. Students will come from a variety of different disciplines such as history or political science, but one area which Mitter hopes to expand is Chinese law, which at the moment is of great interest.

The new centre will have state-of-the-art language laboratories for the study of Mandarin and will engage with China on a whole series of different levels, some of which will be new. Although North America has a number of distinguished China centres, there is always a feeling that present-day relationship between the US and China, sometimes cooperative, sometimes constrained, affects the approach to learning; Europe can have a different ‘conversation’ with China. The centre will be a permanent home to 60,000 books and a large part of the Bodleian Library’s famous Chinese book collection.

Prince William, at the opening ceremony, said that an understanding of China, the world’s second largest economy has never been more important. (From China Daily European Weekly 12-18/9/14

New airport for Beijing

Construction of Beijing’s new airport began on 26 December 2014. It will cost 79.98 billion yuan ($13.11 billion) and will be situated in the Daxing District which is directly south of the central area. The new airport construction will take five years and is expected to meet rising air travel in the Beijing area including Tianjin and Hebei province. The airport is designed to handle 72 million passengers, two million tons of cargo and mail in 620,000 flights by 2015. The development will ease the burden of Beijing’s existing airport, in the north-east of the city, which was listed as the second busiest in the world by passenger numbers in 2013. (From Beijing Review 8/1/15)

New British consulate for Wuhan

Household consumption amongst Chinese urban dwellers will triple by 2022 according to a China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) report entitled, ‘China’s middle income consumers’. Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the CBBC hailed the report as essential reading for companies in the fashion, retail, automotive, real estate, tourism, education and healthcare sectors. In anticipation, a new Wuhan British Consulate will open later this year. This will be the fourth British consulate; the others are in Chongqing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. (From China Report 1/2/15)

China abolishes rare earth quota

Believed to be in response to WTO requirements, China has announced that it will remove the export quota on rare earths from 2015. This is to reduce government interference in the market place, a requirement of the WTO. China is especially rich in the 17 metals used in the manufacturing and defence industries. Despite the quota system, China has seen an epidemic of illicit rare earth extraction and trading which has had devastated some local ecosystems. (From China Report 1/2/15)

Ebola vaccine testing

Tests on China’s Ebola vaccine began on 25 December 2014 on humans. It was developed by the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences. Since September 2014, the Chinese military had sent 300 medical personnel and specialists to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help control the epidemic. (From Beijing Review 8/1/15)

China-CELAC Forum first meeting

The first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was held in Beijing on 8/9 January 2015. It was co-chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Costa Rican counterpart, Manuel Gonzalez Sanz. Three major documents were processed: the Beijing Declaration, a five-year cooperation plan and the regulations on the China-CELAC forum.

There were opening remarks from Chinese President, Xi Jinping on the proposed development of the Forum, which it is hoped will deliver early benefits from a new model of South-South cooperation. The objectives are to build a closer relationship with each other which will benefit people from both sides. (From China Today February 2015)

Fastest computer in world is Chinese

Tianhe-2 has retained its position as the fastest computer in the world. It was developed by China’s National University of Defence Technology. It can operate at 33.86 penta-flops per second. Of the top 500 computers in the world, 231 are in the US; in 2013, the number was 265. China has the second highest number of super computers in the word, followed by Japan, Britain, France and Germany. Supercomputers are important for geological prospecting, meteorological research and oil exploration. (From China Today January 2015)

Chinese Prime Minister attends completion of new bridge across the Danube

Li Keqiang and the Serbian Prime Minister attended the completion of a new bridge across the Danube. The 1.5 km-long bridge is the first bridge in Europe to be built by a Chinese company. The Serbian Prime Minister called it a symbol of Serbia-China friendship and thanked China on behalf of the Serbian government and people for the help and support. (From China Today February 2015)

Shanghai abandons GDP targets

China’s largest business hub, Shanghai, has abandoned GDP growth to epitomise the quality and efficiency of its economy, according to mayor Yang Xiong. At a meeting of the municipal legislature, Yang revealed on 25 January that emphasis will focus on innovation to optimise its economic structure. The objective is to make Shanghai an international centre for technological innovation. For 2015, research and development expenditure will exceed 3.6% of the city’s GDP. Aircraft engines, scientific research on the human brain and artificial intelligence will be the main focus. (From Beijing Review 5/2/15)

Officials dismissed for Shanghai deaths at New Year

Eleven officials in Shanghai have been punished for the New Year’s Eve incident in which 36 people were killed and 49 injured. The Party chief of Huangpu District and his deputy plus the district governor and his deputy have all been removed from their jobs. The public security chief and the deputy chief of police were also dismissed. In addition, seven other officials were punished. The Shanghai authorities have apologised and sent condolences to the victims’ families. The deadly stampede happened at 11.35 on New Year’s eve 2014 on the Bund in Shanghai. (From Beijing Review 29/1/15)

Wuxi - canal city in transition

Wuxi on the 1,400 years old Grand Canal and close to Taihu Lake is returning to its status as a garden city after battling industrial pollution in recent years. The city, with 6.5 million inhabitants is 128 kilometres from Shanghai and in 2013 the city’s GDP reached more than $128 billion - about $20,000 per capita, which was the highest in China. It has attracted entrepreneurs, including foreigners, to invest in the area and research and development in 2013 accounted for 2.8% of the city’s GDP. More than 1,800 new enterprises, mostly in new industries, were set up. Amongst them, Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of heavy-duty equipment launched its biggest R & D facility outside of the US.

The Swiss company, Buhler AG, a specialist manufacturer of food processing equipment has also set up an R & D centre in Wuxi. In 2001, several colleges, the majority specialising in light industrial engineering, were merged into what is now Jiangnan University. The Xishan district of Wuxi is a sister city of Oldham in England. In total, Wuxi has 46 sister city relationships in 27 countries on all five continents. (From China Daily 12-18/9/14)

Plagiarising screenwriter punished

Screenwriter and producer Yu Zheng has been ordered by a court to apologise to Taiwan-based novelist Chiung Tao for plagiarising her work. The Beijing court ruled that Yu, along with four TV companies, should pay five million yuan ($800,000) in compensation to Chiung. In her complaint filed in April last year, Chiung claimed that the plot of one of Yu’s TV dramas had been stolen from her novel. Yu is to appeal. This is not the first time that Yu has been involved in a complaint of plagiarism; in 2006 he was accused of copying a Hong Kong drama. He had in fact won the Best Writing award in 2011 at the 16th Asian Television Awards. (From Beijing Review 8/1/15)

Patent applications and protection

The Chinese patent office accepted about 928,000 applications in 2014, an increase of 103,000. Invention patents accounted for 39.3% compared to 34.7% in the previous year. The Chinese patent office grants patents for three major categories: invention, utility model and design. The Chinese State Intellectual Property Office said that it will step up law enforcement in 2015 and make more effort to protect intellectual property. (From Beijing Review 29/1/15)

Social security payments

Nearly 71 million people (5.3% of China’s 1.3 billion people) received government subsistence allowances in 2014. The number included 52.09 million in rural areas and 18.8 million in towns. The government allocated nearly 154 billion yuan ($24.56 billion) for this purpose last year. The Ministry of Civil Affairs is to establish a system to verify the eligibility of households and deal with those who abuse the fund. (From Being Review 12/2/15)

Fighting Corruption in 2014

Sixty-eight high-ranking and thousands of lower level officials have been investigated during the last year. Some of the cases of the senior officials have been transferred to judicial organs and some are still under investigation. The anti-corruption campaign is also reducing opportunities for corruption and even many investigators themselves, a total of 1,575, have been rooted out.

China has also sought international help to hunt down those who have fled the country. More than 500 fugitive corrupt officials have been brought back to China and more than 3 billion yuan ($483 million) was recovered in 2014. China has signed cooperation deals with the US, Canada and Australia. A total of 71,748 officials were punished in 2014 for violation of the anti-graft laws. The campaign has been nationwide and has also been carried out in 19 ministries, state-owned enterprises and institutions. (From Beijing Review 16/1/15)

Care of seniors’ legislation

Beijing has passed China’s first local legislation on home-care for the elderly, stipulating that children are obliged to support their aged parents. The bill was passed by the Beijing Municipal Peoples’ Congress on 29 January and is scheduled to take effect on 1 May. Under the regulation, children and carers should offer economic and practical support as well as ‘spiritual consolation’ to the elderly. The law also requires government to offer subsidies and old-age service facilities for the elderly with special difficulties, such as low income, disabilities and loss of their only child. The new rule defines the scope of responsibilities for the family and the government. Old-age service facilities, health and medical issues are also covered.

In Beijing about 96% of elderly people rely on home-based care, the other 4% live in nursing institutions. China has about 200 million people over 60 years, old accounting for 14% of the population. By 2050, the figure is likely to be 400 million. Most old people across China prefer home-based care support. (From Beijing Review 12/2/15)

Football schools

China is kicking off a new football initiative by planning to set up 20,000 football special facilities in primary or middle schools by 2017. The Ministry of Education (MOE) will also choose 30 counties to build trial areas for school football to improve the popularity of football and to lay the foundations to identify talented players. The MOE will also promote the construction of physical education courses and facilities to ensure that students have at least one hour for sport each day in school. The move is believed to be a response to the poor performance of China’s national football team in recent years. (From Beijing Review 29/1/15)

Online population increases

China’s netizen population, the largest in the world, reached 648 million at the end of 2014, 16 million more than in June. The Deputy Director of the China Internet Information Centre said that the online economy accounts for 7% of China’s GDP, up from 3.3% in the previous year. Internet retail sales totalled 331 billion yuan ($52.54 billion) in the first 10 months in 2014, up a remarkable 55.6% over 2013. (From Beijing Review 5/2/15)

Sky burial legislation

The Tibet Autonomous Region is to pass a law to better protect sky burials. Regulations will be issued to regulate the process and will cover issues such as management of the site, environmental protection and qualifications of the rituals hosts. Sky burial has drawn some controversy since guides began leading tour groups to view the ceremony. Sky burial is a Tibetan and Mongolian tradition in which bodies are fed to vultures and other predatory birds. It is regarded as an act of generosity and a ritual which allows the soul to ascend to heaven. (From Beijing Review 5/2/15)

SinoFile is compiled by Walter Fung.

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