版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Japan's security lies with peaceful region]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533091.htm In spite of their yet-to-be-resolved differences over how such issues as cost sharing should be handled, both United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated their respective government's commitment to the now 60-year-old Japan-US security treaty.

In contrast with his famous June statement that the treaty was "unfair" and needed changes, Trump now sees it as "essential" to further strengthen and deepen the security alliance with Japan.

Abe, on his part, pledged to make the alliance "even more robust".

With this in mind, his government intends to pursue a closer security alliance with the US in more than the traditional sense. The Japanese leader made no secret of his ambition to also dramatically expand its scope, to both outer space and cyberspace.

The Japanese Space Domain Mission Unit, which is expected to begin operation as part of the country's Air Self-Defense Force in April, for instance, marks a move toward the Abe administration's goal of drastically bolstering the capabilities and system of the Japan Self-Defense Forces in order to "secure superiority".

The unit is Tokyo's reply to Washington's recent inauguration of the US Space Command, with which Abe said it will cooperate.

Extending their traditional partnership to the new frontiers of outer space and cyberspace certainly will inject fresh energy into the security alliance, which both enables and entails closer coordination and collaboration. But it is quite another matter whether it can deliver the security benefits Tokyo seeks.

The idea of expanding the Japan-US security alliance derives at least partly from worries about what Tokyo and Washington deem as security challenges and threats-the improving defense capabilities of such non-allies as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia, even China.

But what would really give Japan a stronger sense of security at the end of the day: more powerful military capabilities and a stronger security alliance, or a less confrontational regional security environment?

Abe's recent show of willingness to engage the DPRK by talking with its top leader Kim Jong-un without the preconditions he once requested, and ongoing attempts at thawing ties with Beijing indicate he has the answer already. But his clinging to the security umbrella of the US shows he lacks confidence that best-case scenario can be realized.

The idea to upgrade and tighten what to neighboring countries is a legacy of the Cold War and a hallmark of confrontation, however, is in no way conducive to Abe's aspiration for a cost-effective approach to improving his country's security environment.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New credit record system focuses on basics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533136.htm China's central bank launched a new system on Sunday to better disclose the credit records of both individuals and enterprises, which will provide more details of a person's credit status in a better format, including co-borrowing and loan repayment records.

It has become increasingly obvious that losing credit makes it difficult for a person to do many things, which means personal credit information is playing an increasingly important role in society. But personal credit records have raised some issues that should not impact the credit records.

In personal credit records, for instance, there has emerged a tendency of "pan-moralization". For example, if a person does not pay property tax or jumps the red light, he or she should get a bad credit record, which would have an impact on his/her application for a bank loan. But credit records should not be used to peek into individuals' private lives.

It should be used only to check whether a person has kept his or her word and repaid the money he/she borrowed on time.

The central bank's new credit system is an improvement on the old mechanism. For instance, it widens the scope of "personal guarantee" for enterprises, co-borrowing by couples, and the default amount, if any, in two years.

In so doing, the new system aims to include long-term liabilities and contingent liabilities of individuals into their personal credit records to fully reflect their credit status. This will make the past practice of "taking a new loan to repay an old loan" or "fake divorce" unworkable.

The new system also shifts the focus from many "pan-moralization" records and makes the "main business" of the credit recording system clear.

Despite heated discussions on whether people's overdue payment for necessary services such as electricity and water charges should be included in their personal credit records, such information, along with violation of traffic rules by individuals, has not been included in the new system.

Credit tracking should not be like super-policing used to evaluate whether a person is perfect. A person should not be labeled a "credit violator" only because of a temporary credit stain, and should be given time for "information repair". Credit information is becoming more and more important, but we still need to make credit records more targeted and free them from "pan-moralization".

- THEPAPER.CN

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[BRI aims for high-quality development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533128.htm China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative as a public good in 2013 to facilitate common development. In 2018, based on the experiences it had gathered till then, China called for high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative. And at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019, it urged all participants to optimize the means for the initiative's development.

The initiative has made great progress in areas such as inclusive cooperation, transparency, expansion, fight against corruption, and green development, which President Xi Jinping stressed were necessary for the high-quality development of Belt and Road projects.

Under the principle of "extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits", China is promoting inclusive cooperation as countries even in Western Europe and Latin America have joined the initiative, with some agreeing to work with China in third-party markets.

By the end of October 2019, China had signed 197 Belt and Road cooperation documents with 137 countries and 30 international organizations. Chinese leaders' visits to foreign countries have played an important role in promoting Belt and Road cooperation. Xi's visit to Italy resulted in Italy becoming the first G7 member state to sign a memorandum of understanding with China on the initiative, with other European countries such as France and the United Kingdom signing third-party market cooperation agreements with China. As for Central and South Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and Nepal, they have expanded Belt and Road cooperation with China.

At the 22nd ASEAN-China (10+1) leaders' meeting in Bangkok in November 2019, Premier Li Keqiang oversaw the signing of an agreement by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on pragmatic cooperation to dovetail the Belt and Road Initiative with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. The agreement has injected new vitality into China-ASEAN cooperation.

Forums and expos to facilitate the further opening-up of China's economy have also been instrumental in promoting Belt and Road cooperation. For example, deals worth $64 billion were signed at the second Belt and Road forum. Also, the 18 free trade pilot zones in China, six of which were launched last year, and the two China International Import Expos have helped boost global trade.

And Ministry of Commerce data show Chinese enterprises' non-financial direct investment in 56 Belt and Road countries between January and November last year reached $12.78 billion, with China upgrading its trade agreements with ASEAN, Pakistan and New Zealand.

The number of economies agreeing to partnerships with China under the Authorized Economic Operator framework has grown, and China's customs will work with its counterparts in other economies according to the Belt and Road arrangement, which will help Chinese enterprises in their "going global" strategy.

Besides, China and other Belt and Road countries want their cooperation projects to be transparent, so they are establishing mechanisms to fight corruption. At the second Belt and Road forum in April 2019, China released the "Beijing Initiative for Clean Silk Road". By then, it had already signed 55 extradition treaties and 64 judicial assistance treaties with 77 countries, including some Belt and Road countries. Also, a pilot anti-corruption mechanism has been set up for the China-Laos Economic Corridor.

Based on bilateral and multilateral agreements on combating corruption, Belt and Road countries will continue to coordinate their policies and deepen cooperation to crack down on corruption.

Belt and Road countries have been deepening cooperation on green development, too. In this regard, the second Belt and Road forum played a significant role, as it witnessed the launch of several mechanisms and Xi urged the participating countries to jointly construct the initiative so as to realize the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

More than 130 government bodies, enterprises, think tanks and international organizations have signed the "Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road", which was launched at the forum and is aimed at achieving low-carbon and sustainable development. The forum also saw the launch of a big data service platform to facilitate shared green development under the Belt and Road framework, which will allow countries to exchange environmental information and, if need be, coordinate their environmental policies.

All this shows the Belt and Road Initiative is moving toward high-quality, inclusive, sustainable and risk-resistant development which will benefit more countries and people.

The author is an associate researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy and the Research Center of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Transparency and cooperation are crucial to contain new coronavirus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533125.htm On Tuesday, Chinese health authorities confirmed the sixth death from the coronavirus which shares genetic similarities with the one responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome, and revealed that 15 medical workers in Wuhan had been infected, with one in a critical condition. The number of people known to be infected continues to rise with new cases still being reported.

With the head of the Chinese government expert team saying on Monday that human-to-human transmission has been confirmed and the Spring Festival travel rush under way, in which hundreds of millions of people will be crisscrossing the country and traveling overseas for the holiday, it is widely expected that more cases, and even deaths, will be reported in the days to come.

While the handling of the new SARS-like virus by local health officials in Wuhan, Hubei province, when it was first discovered last month, will come under scrutiny, that the virus was identified as a novel strain in just two weeks shows the marked progress the country has made in its ability to manage an epidemic compared with 17 years ago.

The new coronavirus has already been classified in the same category as the SARS outbreak, meaning compulsory isolation for those diagnosed with the disease and the potential to implement quarantine measures on travel, which shows that the authorities are prepared and resolved to safeguard people's health.

The World Health Organization has so far given a thumbs-up to Chinese efforts. It said earlier this month that it was "reassured of the quality of the ongoing investigations and the response measures implemented in Wuhan, as well as the commitment to share information regularly".

And this commitment was reinforced by President Xi Jinping on Monday, when he stressed that information on the epidemic should be released in a timely manner and international cooperation strengthened.

The coronavirus has so far spread to three other Asian countries, which indicates the urgency for medical scientists all over the world to work together against the common threat to human health.

Epidemics know no borders and a local disease could easily morph into a global crisis, which is why the WHO is holding an emergency committee meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to declare an international public health emergency.

The speed of response is testimony to improved global preparedness for such epidemics. Now concerted efforts based on the experience accumulated by Chinese health experts and their foreign counterparts during the joint fights against such epidemics as SARS, swine flu and avian flu are needed to win the fight against the latest health hazard.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Curb plastic use, reduce waste to save planet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533112.htm The express delivery service is booming, adding to the vitality of consumption. Yet less than 5 percent of the cardboard boxes used in express delivery services are reused and nearly all plastic packaging ends up in landfills or somehow finds its way to the seas.

These results of a survey conducted last year, covering 37 universities and residential communities, as well as four e-commerce companies in 18 provinces or cities from July to September, show the magnitude of the environmental costs of the booming express delivery business in the country.

Take for example the Singles Day (Nov 11) shopping gala last year. The Tmall e-commerce site alone received 1.3 billion orders in a single day, up 30 percent year-on-year, generating an estimated 26 billion cartons.

Many environmentally conscious buyers have complained that retailers tend to pack goods in unnecessarily large cartons or plastic bags to prevent them from being damaged. One such buyer in Kunming, Yunnan province, said that she bought a pan and a little spoon at a store on Taobao but to her surprise they were delivered in separate cartons. Was there a need to wrap the little spoon in a separate box? Wasn't it an unnecessary generation of garbage?

In 2018, the delivery packaging services generated 13 million tons of carbon emissions, which would take 710 million trees to neutralize. And if strict eco-friendly policies are not enacted and enforced, emissions will more than quadruple in the next five years.

Delivery packaging materials are generally of two types, paper and plastic, with paper-made boxes making up 44 percent of all packaging and plastic bags 34 percent. The rest comprises foam boxes, woven bags and other materials.

The express delivery sector has grown on average 41.5 percent a year in the past three decades with a corresponding increase in the amount of packaging waste.

That about 1.4 billion yuan ($200 million) was spent in 2018 to incinerate or bury delivery packaging waste should give us a fair idea about the type of environmental problem we are facing. Worse, the figure could increase by more than three times in the next five years if recycling rates remain the same.

Greenpeace East Asia, Break Free from Plastic China and All-China Environmental Federation jointly released a report on Nov 11 on the characteristics and management of express delivery packaging waste in China, which said the express delivery service has grown at an average of 50 percent a year between 2012 and 2016, although its growth has slowed since 2017. Still, 50.7 billion pieces of goods were delivered in 2018 despite the growth declining to 26.6 percent.

Although express delivery companies have made efforts to improve the situation by taking measures to reduce packaging waste, they failed to realize their expectations, for instance, for the Singles Day shopping extravaganza last year.

Reports said 97 percent of the delivery companies have started using digital waybills, and thinner packaging tapes, with some leading e-commerce platforms such as JD and Suning using "recycling" boxes. Yet the use of such boxes has been far below expectations.

Also, to reduce waste, courier companies such as Cainiao, Yunda and Sto came together during the Nov 11 shopping gala and set up facilities where consumers could leave cartons for recycling. But the arrangement didn't yield the desired results because many people had not heard of them.

True, modern life is unthinkable without plastics. But the environmental and therefore human cost plastic is extracting on the planet could lead the world toward disaster. For instance, the global production of plastic trash is estimated to hit 13 billion tons in 2050, double that of 2015.

After being used for a short time, 12 minutes on average for each of the 5 trillion single-use plastic bags consumed each year, most of the plastic products are dumped. And frighteningly enough, these plastic products break into granules and enter the food chains of animals and, as research shows, ultimately consumed by humans.

The report calls for more mandatory policies to prompt market players to reduce packaging materials and increase the rates of recycling and reuse, as well as establishing a green certification system for the industry.

China released a document on Sunday to curb plastic pollution, as the global production of plastic products has increased from 400 tons 50 years ago to 70 million tons in about half a century, yet only 20-30 million tons of these plastics are recycled.

Laws and rules are necessary. But more importantly, express delivery businesses, government authorities and the public have to make greater efforts to reduce the usage of single-use plastics, including those used by delivery companies, to curb plastic pollution and address the overall garbage problem, in order to save the planet.

The authors are writers with China Daily.

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Economic zone's downgrade good economics, let market step in now]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533123.htm Last week, the Ministry of Commerce ranked all 219 national-level economic development zones on the basis of their performances in 2019.

Notably, the Jiuquan economic development zone in Gansu province, which was upgraded from provincial to national level in 2013, was among the last five, and also the only zone to rank among the last five for two years in a row.

Soon after, the ministry downgraded the Jiuquan economic development zone to provincial level, which means it will no longer enjoy supportive industrial and financial policies the central government frames for the national economic development zones, or receive any funding from the central government.

This is the first time a national-level economic development zone has been removed from the list since it was established 35 years ago, initially as an experiment to pilot reform and opening-up policies.

However, delisting the Jiuquan zone is a welcome move. It shows the central authorities have woken up to the need to address some institutional problems with development zones. Otherwise, such zones could degenerate into parasites feeding off the government.

Some self-evident shortcomings in the development zones, such as high resource consumption, waste of land, lax management efficiency and homogeneous competition-which does not affect the Gansu economic development zone alone-have underlined the need to reform the development zone model itself.

To some extent, the model has fulfilled its historical mission. As a document on reform issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, last June indicated, the thousands of economic development zones ranging from county-to national-levels, if not scrapped, must be streamlined in accordance with their profitability and sustainability.

Governments at various levels should pull their hands back from the spoiled children, and let the market play a decisive role in allocating resources while encouraging them to engage in diversified competition.

Or, many of them will continue to develop as tumors in the economy.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Punish man who attacked medical staff]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533122.htm On Monday, as reported by local police, a man attacked three medical staff and a bystander at Chaoyang Hospital with a kitchen knife. The suspect has been detained. Although the condition of the three medics is not critical, one cannot overlook the damage the attacker could have caused.

Reports said one of the three medics, Tao Yong, is a senior ophthalmologist and has injuries on his hand, which if serious can make it difficult for him to even pick up a lancet again, which would be a loss to the medical profession as well as to patients. The same holds true for his two colleagues.

An attack on doctors, nurses or other hospital staff should be considered an attack on the medical system. Many blame such attacks on the "doctor-patient conflict".But anyone who attacks a doctor, or any other person, deserves to be punished. The knife attack at Chaoyang Hospital has harmed not only the doctor but also all the patients who would need the doctor's services in the future. That best explains why an attack against a doctor is akin to an attack on the entire medical system.

Sun Wenbin, who killed a doctor at the Civil Aviation General Hospital on Dec 24, 2019, was sentenced to death on Jan 16.

We hope the person who attacked the three medical staff at Chaoyang Hospital will also receive exemplary punishment to deter potential assailants, as we cannot afford to lose one more doctor.

 

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Art of phase one deal is in making it work]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533113.htm China and the United States signed the phase one trade deal on Jan 15 after reaching a consensus on nine areas including intellectual property rights protection, technology transfer, agricultural and energy products, financial services, exchange rate, trade balance, and bilateral evaluation and dispute settlement arrangement. Yet the truce did not come easy, as it took the two sides 18 months and back-and-forth negotiations to agree a deal.

Given the two countries' interests, in particular China's capabilities, the agreement will promote cooperation and mutual benefit.

The agreement on the IPR issue will serve the interest of both countries, as the deal includes extending patent to subjects such as trade secrets and drugs, and cracking down on piracy and counterfeits on e-commerce platforms. And stricter IPR protection will encourage more foreign high-tech enterprises to invest in China, creating an innovation-friendly atmosphere and boosting innovation in the country.

The agreement, by being held on an equal footing and accepted by both sides, is conducive to bringing China-US economic and trade relations back to the development track and injecting confidence into the world economy, which has been facing downward pressure for sometime now.

But only if both sides fulfill their respective responsibilities can the deal yield the desired results. For instance, both Chinese and US companies should strictly follow market principles on technology transfer, and neither government must allow individuals or companies to distort competition or violate IPR rules. Also, in case a company enters into a joint venture with another company, neither can force the other to transfer technology or assume that the joint venture automatically gives it administrative license or market access.

The deal also demands transparency and equity in administration and supervision to keep confidential technical information from being undermined by the other side. As such, Chinese enterprises venturing into the US market can expect to get fairer treatment.

The agreement on agricultural products, too, reflects equity. China agreed to purchase about $40 billion worth of US agricultural products a year for two years, raising Chinese farmers' concern that the deal would have a negative impact on their livelihood. But the fact that the US, in return, has agreed to import Chinese poultry and fruits including pears and jujubes, and previously recognized China's regulatory system on catfish should ease the farm sector's concerns, as farmers on both sides will get wider access to each other's markets.

In fact, as the total grain imports of 20 million tons a year will account for just 3.4 percent of China's annual consumption, they won't have much impact on the domestic agricultural market and production. And since bilateral trade is market-oriented, the final sale of US farm products in China would depend on their safety and quality rather than on Beijing's commitment.

Some people are also worried about the consequences of China further opening-up its financial market, saying it could undermine the country's financial security.

But since the phase one deal says the two sides should provide each other with fair, effective, and nondiscriminatory market access for banking, securities, insurance and electronic payment, the opening up of the financial market is expected to facilitate deeper cooperation. Also, despite further opening up the financial market, China will not ease supervision.

It is indeed heartening to see the two sides agreeing to use multilateral systems and rules to determine currency manipulation, one of the main causes of the Sino-US trade dispute, because it will restrain the US from arbitrarily accusing any country, including China, of being a currency manipulator.

Besides, mutual respect for each other's monetary policy will help the two sides to resolve their differences based on international monetary system and financial market rules.

The deal also eases worries that the US would lead China into an agreement similar to the Plaza Accord-an accord signed by the US, France, Germany, Britain and Japan in 1985 to depreciate the dollar in relation to the Japanese yen and the German Deutsche mark by intervening in currency markets.

Based on 2017 figures, China has committed to import an additional $200 billion worth of US goods in the next two years, which will help satisfy Chinese consumers' increasing demand for quality and affordable goods and services. And although the additional imports may intensify competition among domestic companies in the short term, they will help make high-end industries' operations more efficient and expedite their upgrading.

Besides, additional imports by China could prompt the US to remove some Chinese companies from the "Entity List". As for the bilateral evaluation and dispute resolution arrangement, it is an innovative way of settling trade disputes, different from the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement mechanism.

The agreement also changes the US' self-proclaimed role as a global judge. According to the basic rights guaranteed under the WTO framework, the deal grants the two parties equal rights to resume talks on trade, especially on the US' restrictions on export of high-tech products to China. It is hoped therefore that the deal will empower China to also start talks with the US on nondiscriminatory treatment.

By agreeing to meet each other halfway for win-win cooperation, the two sides have cleared the path for the phase two negotiations and put Sino-US trade ties back on the right track. But since signing of the phase one deal solves just some of the disputes, it is critical to hold a constructive attitude and prepare to meet the challenges until the phase two deal is finalized.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Canada should end extradition travesty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533124.htm The start of the hearing in a Vancouver courtroom on Monday to decide whether Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will be extradited to the United States has only served to prove how politically motivated the case is.

The US alleges Meng violated US sanctions against Teheran. But since Canada did not have sanctions against Iran at the time Canadian officials authorized commencement of the extradition in December 2018 by detaining Meng while she was transiting at Vancouver airport, Canada had no legal grounds to put a Chinese citizen under arrest simply because the US demanded it do so.

Let alone the fact that neither Chinese citizens, nor Chinese companies, are obliged to abide by Washington's unilateral sanctions on Teheran, which lack the authorization of the United Nations, and are devoid of international legal binding force.

As China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said, the US and Canada abused their bilateral extradition treaty to arbitrarily take compulsory measures against a Chinese citizen without cause.

Canada as a sovereign state had no legal obligation to act as the US' pawn to carry out the latter's long-arm jurisdiction. That it impulsively did the US' bidding unavoidably implicated Canada in the then high tide of the trade row between the world's two largest economies.

Although the US president claimed that he might intervene in Meng's case if it helped secure a trade deal with China-clearly exposing the political nature of the case-Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wishful appeal to his US counterpart to include the release of two Canadians detained by China on suspicion of endangering national security in the latter's trade talks with China has revealed the bitter fact that his government has been hung out to dry by the US, which expects its northern neighbor to do its bidding without reward.

The signing of the phase one deal earlier this month between China and the US should have awakened Canada to its passive role in this unsavory episode, and the shrinking value to the US of its loyalty in the Meng case.

What with appeals, it could take years for the final decision to be made on whether Meng is to be extradited or not. Yet Canada retains the power to act on its own volition and immediately put an end to the shenanigans of the US, by sending Meng home.

In other words, Canada, which has considered itself a victim of the geopolitical and economic competition between the US and China, has always held the initiative to free itself from its self-made dilemma, and also help to ease all three pairs of bilateral relations among the three.

It should do the right thing and exercise that initiative.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Faulty ETC system takes its toll on Ministry of Transport]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533004.htm The Ministry of Transport's news conference in Beijing on Friday has not helped clear the air about the reliability of the electronic toll collection system that some local transport departments are reportedly enforcing on drivers.

The system was introduced to "improve tolling efficiency". But on Friday the ministry admitted and apologized for some "systemic problems", including the inability of some sensors to read the ETC cards, which are lengthening the lines of vehicles at the toll stations.

Worse, quite a few drivers have been overcharged. The ETC system linked to their bank accounts deducts the toll without informing them for days, even weeks, through short text messages.

The ministry said it has sent technicians to the toll stations where most of the complaints have come from to fix the problems, but made no mention of how the overcharged consumers would get refund.

In other words, the ETC system is not foolproof, even though the number of vehicles that have installed it surged from 76.56 million to 180 million in 2019. The loopholes in the system have taken a toll on traffic management and the credibility of the authorities.

Some people suspect the ETC project, given the huge amount of fund involved and its introduction without thorough research and trials, could involve corruption and dereliction of duty.

Some lawyers even suspect the ministry has violated several laws.

Evidently, the ministry did not properly test the system before thrusting it on drivers, causing them great inconvenience and loss of time and money while increasing the logistics costs.

So just apologizing for the problems is not enough. Supervisory and disciplinary watchdogs must probe into what could have been an avoidable problem, and the ministry must do all it can to fix the ETC system and refund the overcharged drivers.

Besides, until the ETC system starts functioning properly, the ministry would do well to reopen the manual toll stations that have been shut down to make way for the new system.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Violence still mars Hong Kong's luster]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533059.htm On Sunday afternoon, violence returned to Hong Kong's central district as a police-approved gathering in Chater Garden, Central, soon descended into mayhem as some of the masked, black-clad rally participants attacked police officers trying to disperse the crowd. Since June last year, such unsavory scenes have become common in the special administrative region on the weekends.

The Hong Kong police had approved Sunday's rally, but not a march that the organizers had planned, and the police ordered an end to the rally hours before the preapproved finishing time after the violence erupted.

The police are entrusted with the mission to protect and serve, and no civilized society would tolerate such blatant violence against police officers, yet there are those who harbor ill-will toward China, who are only too happy to condemn the police for what they claim is the use of excessive force and praise the rioters for their actions which are destroying Hong Kong's reputation for being one of the safest cities in the world.

And it is not just the city's image that is being marred by the violence, the months of unrest have taken their toll on the economy of the Asian financial hub, especially its tourist and retail sectors. The Hong Kong Tourism Board said on Wednesday that the number of visits to Hong Kong in 2019 witnessed a year-on-year drop of 14.2 percent.

Which of course is having a knock-on effect on people's livelihoods. One Hong Kong newspaper reported last week that 60 small and medium-sized shops planned to close after the Spring Festival's shopping season, which would mean the loss of at least 1,000 jobs.

Hong Kong's image as a vibrant world city was attained through the hard work of generations of Hong Kong residents, whose efforts are being undone and torn apart by the blinkered arrogance of those who offer nothing but violence, prejudice and self-appointed privilege as their vision for Hong Kong's future.

Those who hold Hong Kong dear and truly care for what it rightfully is are not deceived by the brainwashed bravado of those willing to sell Hong Kong's birthright to Washington's agenda out of vainglorious delusions that their actions are somehow noblesse oblige.

Luo Huining, head of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, who reiterated last week the central government's stance that ending violence and chaos, and restoring social order remain the most pressing tasks for the Hong Kong administration, rightfully said that those who cherish Hong Kong will treasure it.

What happened on Sunday shows those radical elements in Hong Kong who still count on the tricks of using violence to advance their manipulated and manipulative agenda do not treasure this pearl of the orient.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Global security under shadow of US' bellicose foreign policy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533044.htm The year 2019 was perhaps the worst for regional and global security in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War. Thanks to its "America first" policy, the United States has added to the instability in the world order. The liberal world order, in fact, has deteriorated due to the US pulling out of several multilateral agreements and organizations, and most importantly, resorting to unilateralism to trigger the trade war.

Since 2018, the US has been resorting to unilateralism and trade protectionism. From mid-2018 to 2019, Washington raised tariffs on Chinese products six times, leading to 12 rounds of negotiations with Beijing, and added 130 Chinese companies and research organizations to the "Entity List" (which "identifies entities believed to be involved, in activities contrary" to the US' national security or foreign policy interests), in an attempt to curb China's technology cooperation and trade with other economies.

But fortunately, the signing of the phase one trade deal has eased the China-US confrontation on that front. So the two sides should grasp the opportunity provided by the deal to move forward in the right direction and inject confidence into the global economy.

By naming China as a rival, the US ordered a range of investigations against Chinese investment, imposed sanctions on Chinese academics and high-tech companies and even threatened to deny Huawei access to the markets of its allies and security partners. The escalating trade disputes between the two largest economies of the world over the past year and a half reflected a paradigm shift in China-US relations, prompting many to say the world may be witnessing the beginning of another Cold War.

As such, the signing of the phase one deal doesn't necessarily pave the way for smooth negotiations in the future, given that the two sides are expected to discuss much thornier issues to reach a phase two deal.

Besides trade, the "Indo-Pacific strategy" of the US is another factor that may hinder regional stability. East Asia has been peaceful and stable since the 1980s thanks to the regional economies' deepening economic cooperation. But by pressing ahead with its "Indo-Pacific 2.0" strategy on the pretext of safeguarding the US' national interests and security, the Pentagon has undermined multilateral economic mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region as well as turned regional geopolitics upside down.

While China and ASEAN member states were working to finalize the Code of Conduct to resolve the South China Sea issues, the US tried to turn the region into a battlefield by violating China's maritime boundaries in the name of exercising "freedom of navigation".

Even US-Russia relations took a turn for the worse last year with the US withdrawing from the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which threatens to spark a nuclear arms race. Worse, Washington has built the Space Command in violation of the global consensus to not militarize outer space.

US-Iran relations have become more volatile after the White House ordered the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan 3, forcing Iran to all but abandon the 2015 nuclear deal, which in turn increased the risk of a military confrontation in the Persian Gulf and Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Moreover, the three meetings between the top leaders of the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea didn't bear any fruit as Washington refused to agree to any compromise formula with Pyongyang. To put it simply, the US refused to lift even part of its sanctions despite Pyongyang halting its nuclear program and focusing on economic development.

As a result, the DPRK has blamed the US for the deadlock in the bilateral talks and said it would shift its focus to military development to strengthen its national security. Forcing the DPRK to abandon its nuclear program without giving it any security guarantee and economic incentives will not lead to any solution. So the tensions on the Korea Peninsular are not likely to end.

These factors do not bode well for the world order in 2020. Hopefully, the US will realize, sooner than later, that global instability will not serve its interests, and refrain from pushing forward its selfish and divisive trade and political agenda. The international community desperately wants to return to the liberal world order and expects the main players to sincerely follow international rules and uphold global institutions to work together to improve global governance.

The author is the executive director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies and dean of the Institute of International Relations of Nanjing University. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fraud programmer deserves punishment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533005.htm No, not in the name Hua Mulan. How can anybody, leave alone a researcher, misuse the name of legendary Chinese heroine Mulan.

Some reports on Jan 15 talked about a new programming language, Mulan, being independently developed by a Chinese programmer called Liu Lei, which, he claimed, could be used to connect electronic devices, from mobile phones to televisions, and allow them to "communicate with each other", promoting the internet of things.

Reports that followed called Mulan a breakthrough in modern computer science, equating it with C++ and Python.

However, Mulan's glory was short-lived. On Jan 17, Liu issued an apology online, admitting that he "exaggerated" the abilities of Mulan, which is just good enough to teach elementary school students basic coding. He also admitted that it was developed on the open-source compiler of common programming language Python.

On Sunday, the Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, listed Liu's mistakes and announced his suspension pending an investigation. But the fact that Liu used lies to promote the program is clear and therefore should be penalized.

Such academic frauds could hurt the future of China's scientific research. Had Liu's fraud not been discovered, the authorities might have been misled into believing he had really developed a new programming language and given him funding support.

Also, the credit and reputation of Chinese scientists would have suffered. Although it was Liu who is at fault, the institute he works for, or even CAS, has to shoulder part of the blame. If Liu goes unpunished, foreign research agencies will lose faith in other Chinese scientists, assuming they all helped cover up Liu's mistakes.

That's why Liu deserves exemplary punishment to make it clear that hard work is the only way to success in science and technology research.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Authorities must put people's health first in resolute fight against coronavirus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533022.htm President Xi Jinping said on Monday that the relevant departments must put people's health first, after it was revealed that there had been a sharp increase in the number of people infected with a new strain of coronavirus. His words should prompt the mobilization of all available resources to prevent a repeat of the SARS(severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003.

His remarks came after health authorities on Monday confirmed many new cases of the virus and a third death from the outbreak, bringing the total number of reported cases to 224. That the new cases include people outside Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, where the virus was first detected last month, marks the spread of the virus to other parts of the country. And outside the Chinese mainland, there have been confirmed cases in countries such as Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

To be fair, medical workers have done a good job by identifying the novel virus in such a short period of time. Yet in hindsight, Wuhan local health commission officials might have been hasty in considering human-to-human transmission unlikely, citing a lack of clear evidence when the first cases emerged, which were traced to a local seafood market believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

Since then, there have been reports about patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus who had no exposure to the market. In response to the latest development, Li Gang, director and chief physician of the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday said "possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out", though he insisted "the risk of continuous human-to-human transmission is low".

Yet such remarks offer little reassurance given that after the SARS virus first infected humans, it mutated into a more virulent strain. And the stark reality the country is facing is a wider spread of the virus fueled by the Spring Festival travel rush that will see hundreds of millions of people traveling nationwide or overseas during the holidays.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday that the pneumonia outbreak is still "preventable and controllable", and undoubtedly lessons were learned from the SARS epidemic. Yet the fact that the source of the virus has still not been identified and that its transmission path has not been completely mapped calls for urgent and more effective detection and quarantine measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.

The health authorities can never be too cautious when dealing with public health hazards, especially when fighting a completely new strain of deadly virus. While measures such as beefing up monitoring and disinfection efforts, and conducting temperature detection at airports and train stations, as Wuhan has already taken, are indispensible, it is also important to keep the public fully informed.

This is a lesson learned during the SARS outbreak at a very high cost in human lives. The country should not have to learn that lesson all over again.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Bans on plastic have to be enforced]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533021.htm Although modern life would be unrecognizable without plastics, the dark side of the convenience they bring must not be ignored. It is estimated that the global production of plastics will hit nearly 1 billion tons by 2050, double that of 2015. And after being used for a short time-to be precise, 12 minutes on average for each of the 5 trillion single-used plastic bags consumed each year-most of the plastic products will be dumped and persist in nature for years before breaking into granules and entering the food chains.

That's why the document on curbing plastic pollution that China issued on Sunday is a welcome one.

According to the document, the country will ban imports of plastic waste, as well as the production and sales of single-use foam plastic tableware and plastic swabs by the end of this year. For daily chemicals containing plastic microbeads, production will be banned this year, while sales must stop by 2022.

But the fact that the document is the latest in a series of similar documents issued by China, dating back to 2007 points to the fact that previous efforts to curb the use of plastic have not realized their purpose.

Because of the lack of supervision particularly in the vast countryside, the production and sale of banned plastic products, such as thin plastic bags and agricultural films, have largely remained undisturbed.

The rapid growth of the fast delivery industry in China, a proud testimony to the rise of new economy in the country thanks to the popularization of e-commerce, has also stoked the production and consumption of plastic packing materials-the number of express packages rose from 20 billion in 2015 to 63.54 billion last year, with the huge number of take-away food deliveries excluded.

The annual output of plastic products in China has rocketed in the past half century from around 400 tons to about 70 million tons, about 15 percent of the global total, and only 20-30 percent of its plastic consumption is recycled, with the rest buried in landfills or finding its way to the sea.

As the largest producer and consumer of plastics, China is obliged to breathe life into its documents that are made to check the fast increase of plastic waste.

These documents, rather than being issued as particular ones in their field, must be incorporated into the making and implementing of comprehensive industrial and social development policies, so that an effective mechanism can be established that engages all relevant parties in the common battle against plastic pollution.

Otherwise, one man's pride will continue to be the shame of the other.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Globalization adds variety to dinner table]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533007.htm Spring Festival is no longer only about the world's largest annual human migration, comprising 3 billion trips this year, it is also about Alaskan king crabs and coalfish, Bostonian lobsters, Norwegian salmon, Chilean cherries and Parma ham from Italy making their way to the dinner tables in China.

This massive flow of people and food serves a common purpose: to celebrate the Lunar New Year, China's most important festival, which falls on Jan 25 this year. As consumption upgrading gains momentum in China, more seafood, fruits and other specialties from all over the world are being shipped across oceans and continents to the country to add to the increasing variety on the dinner tables of Chinese people during the holiday season.

Drastic increase in food imports

According to the latest data from JD Daojia, the on-demand retail platform of Dada Group, consumers spent 2.3 times more on imported foods during the first round of Spring Festival shopping from Dec 28 to Jan 5 compared with the same period last season.

In fact, China became the world's largest buyer of imported foods in 2017, when the total cost of importing foods from more than 170 countries and regions exceeded $60 billion, according to official data. The figure can only be higher this year, as imported food items are no longer the exclusive preserve of residents in first-and second-tier cities. With the rise in the disposable income of people in the third-to fifth-tier cities, Belgian beer, Thai rice and New Zealand milk and milk products have all become part of a long list of affordable options for consumers in lower-tier cities.

Yet as Chinese consumers line up to buy Canada Goose and Moose Knuckles this winter, shoppers in New York City's Upper East Side are trying on Chinese down jacket brand Orolay. And as Chinese children immerse themselves in Lego bricks and cosplaying Elsa, a cartoon character in Disney's animated blockbuster Frozen, foreign kids are playing Chinese-made ukulele and wearing Chinese sports brand Li-Ning products. Which shows globalization is being powered by the growing demand of people across the world for quality clothing, food and other commodities, reflecting their desire for a better life.

New business models emerging in China

Online influencer economy, pet economy, silver hair economy and mother-child economy are some of the business models thriving in China. Even foreign experts and companies have been lured by the Chinese market to become key opinion leaders and content creators for social networking and e-commerce platforms. And, by helping meet Chinese consumers' demands, they are pocketing handsome profits.

To gauge the robustness of consumption in China, just take a look at the daily sales numbers of luxury stores in the country. For example, in November, Beijing's landmark shopping mall SKP recorded more than 1 billion yuan ($145.3 million) in sales on the day it offered its anniversary discount.

Besides, a few days ago, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc, unveiled his plan to make Tesla's second electric car Model Y in China after the US company had just delivered its first batch of 10 Chinese-made Model 3 sedans to customers at its Shanghai plant. Tesla will also establish a China design center, Musk said, to design car models for the world. That the CEO of a top global company is looking to China to boost his business shows the huge opportunities the Chinese market offers.

Consumption to account for 60 percent of growth

China's per capita GDP exceeded $10,000 in 2019, according to official statistics. China is set to become the world's largest consumer market this year, as total retail sales of consumer goods in 2019 is expected to reach 41.1 trillion yuan, up 8 percent year-on-year, and the contribution of consumption to economic growth could exceed 60 percent.

As Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said, China's consumer market still has huge potential. Apart from its large market size, China also offers a sound base for foreign investment due to its comprehensive industrial chain. Plus, China is promoting innovation on a large scale, with the internet combined with information technology, artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies set to unleash more potential.

Besides, China's digital economy has expanded at a frenetic pace, with the country substituting the waning demographic dividend with growing digital dividend, said Chen Yubo, Party chief of the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University and director of the Center for Internet Development and Governance of the school.

Foreign firms gaining larger share of market

Multinational companies are reaping high profits and getting a larger share of China's growing market thanks to the Chinese consumers' increasing purchasing power. For example, the revenue share of Apple, Intel, GM and Qualcomm in the Chinese market accounted for 19, 24, 42 and 65 percent respectively in 2017, according to Ministry of Commerce data.

And according to Xu Gao, chief economist with Bank of China International Ltd, further intensification of income distribution reform would lead to rising individual income and consumption upgrading.

The journey from Canton Fair to China International Import Expo reflects the transition of the Chinese economy from the "world's factory" to high-end products' manufacturer, and from quantitative economic growth to innovation-driven high-quality development.

Chinese consumers' growing purchasing power shows China is no longer just a manufacturing powerhouse, it is also a huge global market. It also reflects the results of China's broader economic restructuring push. Without going abroad, Chinese people can now enjoy Japanese Wagyu beef, French wines and Spanish ham, as well as avail of the services offered by leading global companies.

Which is in line with what President Xi Jinping said: Only when the world is good, China is good. Only when China is good can the world get better.

The authors are writers with China Daily.

 

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Crisis in Libya a proxy war between big powers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533042.htm On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he will send troops to Libya, which reminds of what happened nine years ago when NATO forces led by Britain and France bombed the country, leading to the downfall of the Muammar Gadhafi regime.

However, is there enough global concern about the livelihoods of Libyans caught in the endless political struggles and military conflicts in the war-torn North African country? And do the developments in Libya have anything to do with Turkey?

Gadhafi's death in 2011 was followed by chaos in Libya, with hundreds of ethnic and other groups engaging in a protracted civil war while ordinary Libyan people were killed, wounded or uprooted from their homes and forced to lead a miserable life. As is often the case with Western powers, even in Libya they are responsible for destruction, and not construction, and have now turned a blind eye to the country's humanitarian crisis.

By the first half of 2014, two major warring factions were left in Libya-the east-based army led by the pro-Gadhafi Khalifa Haftar and a United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord, an interim government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Since April 2019, Sarraj's troops in Tripoli have been under attack by Haftar's forces. In September, Erdogan announced that his government had received a request for military assistance from the GNA.On Jan 2, the Turkish parliament approved a bill authorizing the government to send troops to Libya.

Different countries in the Middle East are on different sides of the two warring factions in Libya. While Turkey and Qatar back the GNA, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates support the pro-Gadhafi forces. That explains why the two warring sides have continued to fight each other for so long even though Libya's economy has all but collapsed.

Behind Erdogan's decision to intervene militarily in Libya is his "great power dream" to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire led by Turkey. Huge oil interests might be a major factor for other parties' interest in the Libyan crisis.

Driven by such geopolitical, selfish interests, the civil war in Libya has clearly become a proxy war between big powers now.

-XIAKEDAO, A WECHAT ACCOUNT OWNED BY PEOPLE'S DAILY OVERSEAS EDITION

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Travel becomes a new Spring Festival trend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532826.htm More and more Chinese are choosing to travel, exploring new places and experiencing new thrills, instead of visiting relatives and friends during Spring Festival. Call it a new trend if you will.

Ministry of Culture and Tourism data show the total number of domestic tourists during the Spring Festival Golden Week holiday in 2019 reached 415 million, up 7.6 percent year-on-year. Based on this figure, several online tourist agencies have forecast that around 450 million people could spend Spring Festival traveling this year.

The rise in the number of tourists during Spring Festival can be mainly attributed to China's rapid economic growth and people's rising disposable income. China's per capita GDP increased from $856 in 2000 to more than $10,000 in 2019, allowing people to spend more on travel and sightseeing.

Yet rapid economic development and rising individual income alone cannot change the traditional Chinese custom of enjoying the Spring Festival Eve dinner with family and friends. The new trend of "going out to see the world" during the Spring Festival holiday reflects the change in many Chinese people's outlook in the new era thanks partly to urbanization and modernization.

Tourism has become a popular form of leisure activity for an increasing number of people, especially the youth. According to data from fliggy.com, a major online platform providing tourism services, the number of people going on tours during Spring Festival has increased for three consecutive years, with 55 percent of such tourists belonging to the post-1990 generation. Which means youths are leading this new trend.

Given the rapid pace of urbanization and large-scale population migration in China, perhaps Chinese people's idea of home has started acquiring a new meaning. No doubt, people still value the family reunion on Spring Festival, but instead of traveling back to their hometowns for the reunion, more and more people have started to believe "home" is where all the family members are.

In fact, a recent report by Ctrip.com, another major online tourism platform, said that, thanks to the growing tourism trend, about 54 percent of the tourists using Ctrip's service during Spring Festival are expected to choose family trips.

It seems a rising number of people are eschewing the traditional custom of enjoying a dinner with members, especially elderly members, of the family on the eve of Spring Festival to spend the time traveling. Again according to Ctrip.com, this spring festival more than 30 percent of the tourists booking on the platform chose to start their trip before the Lunar New Year's Eve.

Some social factors, too, have contributed to the new trend of people choosing to travel during Spring Festival. Family and friend reunions during the festival are not only a source of immense joy but also a cause of emotional and economic stress. Conversations and gossips are part of the elaborate dinner with family and friends during Spring Festival, yet the common subjects of gossip at the dinner table are a headache for many Chinese people, especially those who guard their privacy and have become accustomed to a modern lifestyle.

A majority of single men and women, and couples without kids have to face uncomfortable questions from their elders during Spring Festival dinners, as traditionally parents and family elders have considered the festival the best time to urge youths to get married or start a family.

Moreover, the money given to children of relatives and friends as Lunar New Year gift could become an economic burden for many people, especially in rural areas. Maybe many of those traveling during Spring Festival have chosen to do so to avoid the "uncomfortable" atmosphere of traditional Spring Festival gatherings.

It is understandable that an increasing number of people are going on tours during Spring Festival to avoid the embarrassment of facing uneasy questions from the elderly. But there is no denying that family reunion is the core of Spring Festival, a fact that cannot be changed no matter whether one goes on a tour to avoid "uncomfortable" questions at the family reunion or skips the family dinner on some other pretexts.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-20 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Year of Rat is also Year of Kangaroo and Koala]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532867.htm As we step into 2020, we also step into a new 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The year 2020, according to the lunar calendar, is the year of shu. In English, it is simply the Year of the Rat (or Mouse).

But how did the humble little mouse get to lead the pack of the animals despite the presence of powerful animals such as the tiger and the dragon in the Chinese zodiac. One theory is that the mouse is the most versatile among all animals. A mouse can swim, run and climb. It does not fly, but it can climb to the top of the roof. In 2020, Japan will host the Summer Olympic Games. If there were an Olympic Games for animals, a mouse could be the triathlon winner.

Mice and rats can feed themselves even during a famine due to their agility and mobility afforded by their versatility. China used to be a subsistence economy in which many accorded the top priority to food. Until recently, people greeted each other with the question,"Have you eaten rice?" This greeting seems to an outsider to be an invasion of privacy, but shows the genuine care a person has for a fellow human.

While the world is seeing China as an increasingly affluent country, there are still many Chinese who live in poverty. For them, New Year resolutions probably do not include special diets to lose weight.

As we start a new year, let us pay attention to the invisible masses of people who deserve the security of food, clothing and shelter. A country's strength comes from the way its leaders and citizens care for the poor. Hence, the fight against poverty should continue to be relevant even in the new decade.

The mouse may be the first animal in the Chinese zodiac as well as clever and intelligent (think of Tom and Jerry). But as a translator, I sometimes find the English terms mouse and rat reductive equivalents of the Chinese character of shu. The word shu is used in Chinese phrases for a wide range of rodents, including not only rats and mice, but also squirrels (called pine mice when translated back from their Chinese name), possums (carrying mice), hamsters (barn mice), chinchillas (chestnut mice), chipmunks (mixed-colored chestnut mice), and even kangaroos (mice with pouches). Given this huge diversity, it isn't considered inauspicious to be born in the year of shu: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 or 2020. So if you are going to have child in 2020, consider yourself lucky. This is also the year of the chinchilla and Mickey Mouse.

The year 2020 should also be the year of the kangaroo (and the koala), as the world watches with pain and anguish the bushfires raging across Australia. These wildfires have not only claimed many human lives and displaced thousands of people, but also killed millions of animals including kangaroos (and koalas). If humans are responsible for triggering the fires, they should also have the responsibility to come together to combat the disaster and minimize the risks for the future of the Earth.

With the passing of a decade, it seems even the vision of a globalized community is drifting away. Yet despite the rise of isolationism in many parts of the world, the world remains intricately connected. As the bushes in Australia continue to burn, killing people, kangaroos, koalas and other animals, people elsewhere should also feel the effect of the wildfires and take action to prevent such fires elsewhere in the world.

As for shu, I also find it associated with the computer mouse, a liberating gadget. Let us also celebrate the ingenuity of the inventors and technologists who invented the computer mouse.

As we start the Year of the Rat, I wish you health and prosperity. I also hope that people across the world are kind to others and work to build a better world. Happy New Year!

The author is a US-based instructional designer, literary translator and columnist writing on cross-cultural issues. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-20 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Concerted climate actions imperative]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532866.htm On Saturday, the local authorities asked the residents on French Island of Australia to evacuate because of the wildfires.

For the koala, a unique species of Oceania, it is news that is worse than bad. Scientists estimate the total number of koalas in the wild to be around 80,000, but by early January there had already been over 20,000, or one-fourth of the total, killed in the Australian wildfires.

French Island has long been considered one of the last castles of the species because the koalas there are healthier than on the rest of the continent. Researchers and animal protection organizations often use koalas from French Island to breed groups in the rest of Australia, but now those on French Island also face grave challenges.

Koala are only one of the unique species of Oceania that face the threat of their numbers being decimated by the wildfires. On Kangaroo Island, which features the animal after which it is named, fires have burned 48 percent of the bush, and the black cockatoo, a kind of parrot which faces extinction, takes Kangaroo Island as its last residence and is under grave threat.

Besides the wildfires, Australia faces new challenges from nature. According to reports, a heavy storm hit Queensland and caused floods that threaten the survival of animals there. Worse, some photos taken by residents in New South Wales show that the rain there was as black as ink, possibly caused by the heavy smoke of the bushfires.

The bushfires and extreme weather events in Australia are threatening biodiversity there more seriously than we can imagine.

It is the El Nino effect that caused the extreme dryness in Australia in 2019, and the general tendency for rising temperatures made it extremely hot in the year. In such dryness and hot temperature, it is easier for bushfires to ignite, and it is difficult for firefighters, limited in hands, to put them out.

Australia might be a first victim due to its location and geographic features, but it will not be the last. Unless all the major countries in this world join hands, it would be difficult to prevent similar disasters from happening elsewhere.

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[US-Iran row makes oil market volatile]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532827.htm One of the fallouts of the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Baghdad on Jan 3 is the wildly fluctuating international oil prices. Both the Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate, two most widely used crude pricing benchmarks, increased about 3 percent on Jan 6. Oil prices surged again with the two benchmarks rising more than 4 percent after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at US military bases in Al-Assad and Irbil in Iraq on Jan 7.

However, oil prices dropped on Jan 8 when Washington and Teheran retracted from their belligerent stand and the situation appeared to cool down somewhat. With the growth in China's demand for oil decelerating and no new growth points emerging, the fundamentals of global oil demand and supply remain stable.

Sitting on 60 percent of the world's total oil reserves and accounting for nearly one-third of global supply, the Middle East is a heavyweight in the international oil market. Although the United States and Iran have stepped back from their bellicose stance, the risk of a confrontation cannot be fully ruled out. Combined with that, the geopolitical games being played by different parties in the region will continue to influence oil prices at least in the short term.

China gets nearly 43 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, especially through the Persian Gulf. Therefore, the volatile situation in the region poses a big risk to China's oil imports. Needless to say, China's oil imports and energy security would be greatly undermined if the situation in the Middle East worsens.

For instance, a direct military conflict between the US and Iran could lead to a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz through which most of China's oil imports from the Middle East pass. Also, the new round of sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, and Turkey's military intervention in Libya and the instability in Iraq all add to the geopolitical risks in the region, causing uncertainties in the oil market.

China imported 462 million tons of oil (about 3.3 billion barrels) in 2018. An increase of every one dollar in oil price will cost China 23 billion yuan ($3.34 billion) more each year. And scholars have forecast an increase of 0.19 percentage point in China's consumer price index with every 10 percent increase in the price of oil. If oil price rises sharply, China will suffer from more serious inflation, with the consequences being far-reaching.

The US' efforts to strengthen its energy security, which is a major factor for its conflict with Iran, has also contributed to the increasing instability in the Middle East. The US could become a net exporter of natural gas and its oil imports will fall below 30 percent by 2035 if it achieves basic energy security, the International Energy Agency has said, while China would depend on foreign trade to meet 80 percent of its oil demand. Given the effects of US' energy production and consumption on the global market, its self-sufficiency in energy would have a massive impact on global oil supply, energy prices and geopolitics.

Traditional wisdom says the security of one country's oil and gas import depends on the stability of the place of origin and the safety of transportation corridors.

So how will the US' self-sufficiency in energy have an impact on China? The US could further deviate from its basic strategy of maintaining stability and deal heavier blows to Iran, a major oil exporter to China.

Besides, China's excessive and seemingly rising dependence on the Strait of Hormuz for its oil imports could leave it at risk as the US gradually distances itself from the waterway on way to becoming self-sufficient in energy. Therefore, China should take precautions and work out ways to prevent becoming a victim of the turbulence in the Middle East.

China is the biggest oil importer in the world, and its oil security is key to its energy security, especially because the addition of 25 million vehicles to its traffic fleet every year will make it more dependent on oil imports to meet the rising domestic demand for oil.

New energy vehicles cannot replace gasoline-powered cars in the short term nor could they reduce the traffic jams in the cities even though their development is conducive to reducing smog. Yet improving the urban mass transit system and increasing the use of electricity could help reduce oil consumption and toxic gas emissions.

As such, apart from increasing its strategic oil reserve and diversifying its oil imports, China should also try to reduce the use of oil in its energy mix.

The author is dean of China Institute for Energy Studies of Xiamen University. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-20 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2020 a big year for China's space program]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532842.htm According to the latest official data, China's planned space launches for 2020 might exceed 40. In 2019, the number was 34, which was already the most in the world.

2020 will definitely be a year of significance for China's space program. Since the launch of Dongfanghong-1, China's first satellite, on April 24, 1970, China spent 26 years completing its first 40 space launches. The next 40 launches took place in less than 10 years, which shows great acceleration of China's space program.

With 40 launches planned for this year anybody can see that China's space program has made progress.

By the end of 2019, China's total number of space launches had exceeded 300. China has thus joined the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia as a proud member of the Top 3 in terms of its space achievements.

During the Cold War, the total number of space launches in one year often exceeded 100, with the peak being more than 150, as the major powers pursued the development of space technologies. After the end of the Cold War, the number fell. Now, with more attention being paid to space technology again, the total number of launches every year has been rising for the past years, and might exceed the peak of the Cold War era in 2020.

If all plans come true, the total number of orbital launches in 2020 might exceed their peak during the Cold War, of which China's planned launches account for a high percentage. With space technology coming to the fore again, China is making a greater contribution than ever before.

More important, China's planned spacecraft launches in 2020 cover many important areas. Chang'e-5 lunar explorer will conduct the first lunar sample return mission for the first time since 1976. China's Mars explorer will orbit, land and rove on Mars.

And China's next-generation crewed spacecraft will make its maiden flight, which will play a key role in the future crewed space missions.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Tsai Ing-wen responsible for travel suspension]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532830.htm There are less than two weeks to go before end of the month, when all travel permits mainland authorities issued for Taiwan-bound individual tourists expire. This once important source of tourism revenues for Taiwan will then "make zero".

Which is sad for both mainland residents wanting to visit the island of the country which they have been taught to love since childhood in a more personal, independent manner, as well as the otherwise booming tourism industry in Taiwan.

Since Beijing began to issue individual residents in selected cities-the number of which grew from three to 47 over the years-permits for travel to Taiwan in 2011 under then Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou under what was defined as a "pilot project", independent trips have become increasingly popular among mainland visitors, particularly young and affluent tourists.

In 2018, for instance, the island saw nearly 2.7 million visits by mainland residents, nearly half of them by individual travelers.

The general assumption is suspending individual travels means an over-50-percent cut in mainland visitors. That is expected to result in a 0.2-percentage-points dent in the island's gross domestic product, which might see half of hotel and homestay businesses collapse. No wonder local media warn of a "king-sized cold front" for travel, sightseeing and tertiary service operators on the island.

Beijing's decision to suspend such permits was published on July 31 last year and took effect the next day. It was a response to consecutive provocations by Tsai-from her stops in the United States en route to Latin American "allies" to her vocal support for the riots in Hong Kong, to her campaign against alleged "red infiltration" from the mainland.

Beijing has blamed the suspension on the Democratic Progressive Party and Tsai's continuous hostility toward the mainland, which it said has "seriously undermined the foundation and conditions for the pilot projects of individual mainland residents' visits to Taiwan".

And Tsai's remarks following her reelection on Jan 11, in which she doubled down on her secessionist stance, promise there will be no thaw during her second term in office, rather that cross-Straits relations will instead become even uglier.

Cross-Straits exchanges have been an obvious hostage to the vicissitudes in political ties between Beijing and Taipei. If the current "deep freeze" in official relations persists, almost inevitably what happened to individual travel will expand and spill over.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[No need to overly worry as latest Wuhan flu cases not new infections]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532828.htm On Saturday, the number of people known to be infected with the new Wuhan coronavirus had increased by 17 and reached 62, of which two had died.

Many people are naturally worried about the outbreak, with some media outlets even saying that the situation may get worse. People should remain alert, but there is no reason to panic.

First, the increase of 17 does not mean 17 new infections. According to reports, they all contracted the virus before Jan 13, and their infections have just been confirmed.

In other words, local hospitals have improved their ability to detect the virus and confirmed some cases, although the infection occurred earlier. There have been no new cases reported in the past several days.

Second, the second person who died was a 69-year-old man who suffered from tuberculosis in his early years, meaning his physical condition to fight against lung diseases might not be as strong as others. It is wrong to exaggerate the threat of the new virus and call it "fatal" because of that.

Therefore, it is unnecessary for the public to worry too much about the new virus in Wuhan. Those who were found infected in other countries were from or had visited Wuhan, such as one in Japan, two in Thailand and one in the Republic of Korea.

However, it is necessary to stay alert. The Spring Festival rush has already begun, which means large numbers of people are congregating in public places such as train stations and airports, as well as the enclosed spaces of trains, planes and buses.

It is advisable for people to use common sense and take protective measures in these crowded public venues, such as wearing masks when traveling, washing hands more frequently and getting enough rest before every trip.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Huawei claims of US fail to convince]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532844.htm Simply by speaking the plain truth and saying that he is "against taking a product off the market just because there is a possibility that something might happen", German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer provided some headline news for the US media.

That is because the product he was referring to in his remarks in a Saturday interview with a local media outlet was Huawei and the development of his country's 5G network.

That his remarks should prove so newsworthy in the United States lays bare how sensitive the topic is, and how much pressure Washington has sought to impose upon its ally to ban the Chinese company.

While insisting that Germany must be protected against espionage and sabotage, Seehofer highlights that the US claims against Huawei are unsubstantiated and estimated that shutting out Chinese providers could delay building Germany's 5G network by five to 10 years.

It is not yet known if US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell will rebuke the top security official of Germany as he did German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier in November, when the latter contrasted the US' spying on Germans, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, to the US' unfounded warnings that Huawei represents a national security threat.

But one thing is for sure, the rationality reflected by Seehofer's claims will only spur the US administration to continue to demonize Huawei in the country.

However, being unable to substantiate its charge with any concrete evidence, or offer any feasible alternative options-no US companies can replace Huawei-the US' lobbying holds little water.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who reportedly uses a Huawei phone himself, also criticized the US for not giving him a plan B while trying to coerce his government to ban Huawei, a long-time partner of the United Kingdom.

Which means if the US cannot satisfy the European countries' urgent needs to upgrade their network-which is not only about faster entertainment software, but also more efficient research, industries and governance-its allies will have no choice but to continuously add insult to the US' perceived injuries.

Grenell said Altmaier's claims were "an insult to the thousands of American troops who helped ensure Germany's security, and the millions of Americans committed to a strong Western alliance".

Highlighting that emotional blackmail appears to be Washington's ploy of choice now, Grenell's indignation was echoed by Robert O'Brien, national security adviser to the White House, who noted that the US was "a country that sacrificed a lot of blood and wealth during the Cold War to protect Germany".

All three major German telecom operators have been closely cooperating with Huawei, as have those in many other European countries. Even if some European politicians are willing to stand on the shaky moral high ground claimed by the US, the market and industries, with the local telecom operators as representatives, will not, particularly when the "protection" the US is touting comes at the cost of other countries' development and their dignity.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Economic statistics show stable performance, better quality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532756.htm The country's official economic data for last year, which were released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday, show China remains the fastest-growing major economy in the world and the largest contributor to global economic growth, contributing about one-third of annual world growth.

But with its overall economic scale being nearly 100 trillion yuan ($14.6 trillion), the paramount focus for the country now is no longer the rate at which the economy expands, but the quality of its growth.

China's economy expanded by 6.1 percent last year, meeting expectations and the country's pre-set growth target despite unfavorable external conditions.

Although the growth rate was down from the 6.6 percent registered in 2018 and the lowest since 1990, considering the external headwinds and the fact that the world's second-largest economy has streamed ahead for about 40 years with an average annual rate of nearly 10 percent, it is only natural that it should now be slowing.

Especially because the country's efforts to restructure its economy-from growth driven by investment and exports to more sustainable growth driven by domestic demand and innovation-are still ongoing and also dragging on the pace of expansion.

But despite all these decelerating factors, there are signs that the government's policy measures have now stabilized the economy. In the fourth quarter, at least, GDP growth did not continue to slide, coming in at 6 percent year-on-year, the same as the previous quarter. And indicators such as the growth of industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment rebounded in November and December.

With China and the United States having inked a deal that takes the heat out of their trade dispute-which will also perk up the world economy-there are reasons to expect the Chinese economy will perform more robustly in the months ahead. Particularly, as the government has kept enough policy tools in hand to deliver on the promise to realize the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year.

Yet for pessimists, the Chinese economy is always facing catastrophic risks and a potential hard landing. While optimists ignore the challenges and focus exclusively on the bright side. Neither view is rational, as the reality is, the economy does face risks but, if properly handled, its growth prospects are undoubtedly promising.

As Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said at the news conference to release the data on Friday, the overall performance of the national economy has been stable and the quality of development has been improving, with major targets being met.

For instance, with its industrial production efficiency and its corporate-debt-to-asset ratio improving, the country's economic restructuring is evidently making solid progress, which lays the groundwork for more sustainable growth in the coming years. And as the country continues to increase investment in research and development, its high-tech industries will help unleash more of the country's growth potential.

Meanwhile, China will maintain a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy in 2020 and roll out support measures necessary to cope with downward pressure and maintain economic stability.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Building a corridor of mutual benefit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532761.htm With President Xi Jinping paying a two-day visit to Myanmar, which concluded on Saturday, the focus of China-Myanmar cooperation is on jointly building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road framework.

As a relatively less developed country with per capita GDP of less than $1,500, Myanmar's current priority is to find ways to boost its economy. Yet given the lack of proper stimulus, it is not an easy task for countries such as Myanmar to accelerate economic growth.

However, Myanmar can get the needed stimulus, as well as create the strategic opportunities to expedite its economic growth by jointly building the CMEC with China. In fact, Myanmar's economy can register leapfrog growth if it can successfully co-build the CMEC.

Better infrastructure for faster growth

First, to accelerate economic growth, Myanmar has to build more power plants and improve its transportation infrastructure. Especially, the shortage of electricity in Myanmar is seriously hindering its industrial development. I once traveled by bus from Mandalay to Muse in Myanmar, and it took me about two days to cover the mountainous stretch of about 400 kilometers, as roads were in very poor condition.

The first step toward building the CMEC is to build the China-Myanmar expressway and railway-a railway that extends from Kunming to Ruili in Yunnan province, across the border to Mandalay, and then west to Kyaukpyu in Rakhine state and southeast to Yangon. This will establish Myanmar's fundamental railway structure, which can later be extended to cover the entire country.

The China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project connecting western Myanmar and Yunnan, which was built by China between 2013 and 2017, has not only become a source of new income and employment for Myanmar people, but also eased the demand for energy along the route. As such, the two countries are likely to deepen cooperation on energy under the CMEC framework, especially to strengthen Myanmar's power generation sector.

Need to improve transport facilities

Second, the CMEC will promote Myanmar's trade. Myanmar's export to neighboring countries has been restricted due to poor transportation facilities. Which means the country needs to urgently improve its transport infrastructure in order to reduce transportation costs and increase the export of products such as rice and fruits to China.

Third, the CMEC will help propel the development of Myanmar's industry including the manufacturing sector, especially in the Mandalay Industrial Zone, New Yangon City, and the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone.

And fourth, the improvement of transport infrastructure and building of more power plants will help Myanmar tap its full tourism potential, which could play an increasingly important role in facilitating Myanmar's economic takeoff.

More important, as the CMEC is likely to attract more foreign capital, it will inject added vitality into Myanmar's economy.

CMEC will also benefit China

China, too, will benefit from the CMEC-in particular, the economic corridor will ensure energy security by opening a new energy transportation channel; and help establish a new pattern of further opening up the Chinese economy in the new era, by facilitating the economic integration of China, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Thankfully, a top-level design for the CMEC's construction is already in place. President Xi and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi reached a consensus on building the CMEC under the Belt and Road framework at the end of 2017. And in September 2018, the two sides signed the memorandum of understanding on building the CMEC and established the CMEC joint committee, which held its first meeting in the same year and the second in 2019, indicating that a working mechanism for the CMEC, too, has been established.

Also, a number of institutional arrangements have been made. For example, the arrangements for the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone are basically in place, with the central bank of Myanmar approving the yuan as the official settlement currency. Which will facilitate investment in CMEC projects.

Work on cross-border railway progressing well

Besides, a number of major projects are progressing smoothly. Among them, the upgrading of the domestic section of the China-Myanmar Railway-from Kunming to Dali-has been completed, and the new section from Dali to Ruili is under construction. On the other side of the border, work on the Muse-to-Mandalay section is on in full swing, the first construction phase of the Kyaukpyu Deep Sea Port has begun, and the New Yangon City project is progressing well.

In addition, the energy pipeline and substation expansion projects in Yangon have been completed, industrial links strengthened, and cross-border trade has gained momentum. And there is enough reason to believe that on the conclusion of what appears to be a fruitful visit of President Xi to Myanmar, the construction of the CMEC will gather added pace.

Yet three CMEC development issues require special attention. To begin with, the two sides need to reach a deeper and wider consensus on actively propelling the CMEC's development.

Need to clear doubts of Myanmar people

I once organized a meeting in Mandalay with key members of the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and found that they were generally ambivalent about certain issues.

For example, they wished to attract more Chinese investment but were worried that the Chinese investors might grab a larger share of their market. To address their concern, the two countries should welcome investment from each other and take measures to strengthen their partnership with the goal of realizing mutual benefit and win-win results.

Also, related projects have to be expeditiously implemented so they yield early gains. The CMEC is a huge project with a long development cycle requiring huge investments. Therefore, both sides need to take steps to support long-term projects, so as to promote sustainable development.

Furthermore, there is a need to build cooperation in third-party markets.

The United States and countries in Europe (especially the United Kingdom) and Asia, such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and a number of ASEAN member states have been investing in Myanmar, building the foundation for third-party market cooperation. China and Myanmar should actively invite such countries to join the CMEC development platform, help build the corridor and reap mutual benefits through fair cooperation.

CAI MENG/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi visit to write a new chapter in China-Myanmar relations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532766.htm That President Xi Jinping has chosen Myanmar as the destination of his first state visit in 2020 demonstrates the importance China attaches to the Southeast Asian country, with which it shares a historical and cultural bond. It is this bond President Xi highlighted in a signed article published in Myanmar media outlets on Thursday. And it is this bond he vowed to use to write a new chapter in the paukphaw (fraternal) friendship between the two peoples that dates back to the 4th century BC.

Yet bilateral relations are also about agreements that reflect amicable neighborhood diplomacy and the determination to build a friendly regional environment conducive to mutually beneficial trade and co-development.

In line with this philosophy, the two sides are expected to sign agreements on several projects during Xi's two-day visit to Myanmar, opening up new channels for win-win cooperation and breathing new life into some projects that have come to a halt.

As Myanmar's biggest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment, China has always ensured that bilateral projects facilitate Myanmar's development. In fact, Myanmar's active involvement in Belt and Road projects, including the vital China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, is helping improve its people's livelihoods. In particular, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines, which run from western Myanmar to Southwest China's Yunnan province, have been generating income and employment for Myanmar people since they started operations in 2017.

The Belt and Road projects, from industrial parks and power plants to transportation facilities and public goods, if successfully completed, will bring tangible benefits to both sides, creating jobs and facilitating growth for Myanmar, and shortening landlocked Yunnan's distance to the sea, thereby diversifying China's energy and trade routes.

The fact that Xi will meet with all the major stakeholders in Myanmar, ranging from Myanmar President U Win Myint to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to top legislators reflects the mutual political trust China and Myanmar share. Little wonder the two sides have made their bilateral ties a model for other countries to follow.

Given that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were jointly proposed by China, Myanmar and India in 1954, which has become part of international relations, China-Myanmar ties are expected to chart a new course for mutually beneficial partnerships, helping the two countries build a community with a shared future.

And judging from the warm welcome Xi received in Nay Pyi Taw, capital of Myanmar, on Friday, the pauk-phaw friendship between the two sides looks set to write a new chapter in bilateral relations.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Opportunities and challenges of 1.4 billion people]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532781.htm 'Too many or too old" has long been an issue of debate among Chinese demographers. But the answer to the question, according to official statistics released on Friday, may be both.

The government officially announced on Friday that the population on the Chinese mainland crossed 1.4 billion, temporarily laying to rest speculation that India might surpass China as the world's most populous country. However, being the country with the largest population comes with its own issues.

Good news came at the same time that China's GDP reached nearly 100 trillion yuan ($14.6 trillion) in 2019, with per capita GDP at $10,276. For years Chinese demographers have been addressing the challenge of "China not being rich yet with its population already aging". Amid all this, the news that China's economy is moving toward the 100 trillion yuan mark brings a sigh of relief.

But that doesn't mean China can rest assured that it can meet its daunting population challenges. China's population is not only the largest in the world but also has a very unbalanced structure.

The World Health Organization issued an alert on the dramatically rising pace of aging populations across the world. France had almost 150 years to adapt to the rise in aging population from 10 percent to 20 percent of the total, whereas China has to adapt to the change in slightly more than 20 years.

The figures released on Friday don't draw a clear picture on China's aging population in 2019. But by the end of 2018, the number of people above 60 had reached 249 million, more than 17 percent of the total population. And a country with more than 10 percent of its population above 60 is labeled as an aging society. The number of Chinese people above 60 is widely expected to increase to 255 million in 2020.

It's high time for the most populous country to race against the fast pace of aging, from making up for the shortfall in pension funds to improving its healthcare system and expanding nursing care services.

To meet the challenge of aging population, China first eased its population policy in 2013. And since Jan 1, 2016, it has implemented a policy allowing all couples to have a second child. But the huge costs of raising a child, including high housing prices and big expenditure on education, prevent many couples from having a second child.

In 2019, there were 14.65 million newborns, with the population increasing 4.67 million year-on-year. The decline in new births means China's population may reach its peak of just below 1.5 billion even before 2030, Cui Shuyi, a demographer, said.

Days ago, Liang Jianzhang, founder of China's largest online travel agency Ctrip.com and a Peking University professor, sparked controversy by saying on a talk show that China's population will continue to decline and even reduce to zilch in a thousand years if birth rates remain at the current low level.

Such a hypothesis may grab eyeballs but doesn't hold water. People's willingness to have children fluctuates with the times based on the economy, policy, culture and other factors, which play complicated roles. And as China's birth rates have seen rapid changes in the past decades, how can the rates remain at the same level for hundreds of years?

However, Liang did draw attention to the urgent population challenge in an exaggerated way. In Northeast China, the population witnessed negative growth, aggravating the already grave aging population problem. Liaoning province, for instance, has witnessed negative population growth since 2011, despite the nationwide two-child policy.

People can never be too old to learn about China's aging challenge. The country has to strike the right balance between population growth and development. It needs to maintain an optimal population size without putting too heavy a burden on its natural resources, while taking measures to ease households' burden in order to encourage births and provide more public services to take care of the aged.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Phase one deal brings a sigh of relief]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532607.htm Editor's Note: China and the United States signed the phase one deal in Washington on Wednesday after one and half years of trade talks. The deal is expected to inject confidence into both economies, as well as the global economy. Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

Reassuring agreement for both economies

The signing of the phase one deal will reduce the uncertainties surrounding the China-US trade dispute which have dented investors' confidence and discouraged investment.

Due to the China-US trade war, some enterprises have taken precautionary measures by shifting their production units from China to other places, Southeast Asian countries in particular, to avoid the high tariffs the US has imposed on Chinese products, while some have rushed to export their products before the imposition of more tariffs as threatened by the US. The tit-for-tat between China and the US has not only upset the market but also proved to be a drag on the global economy.

That the two countries inked a deal on such tricky issues as intellectual property rights protection, market access, technological transfer and import of more US agricultural products by China is indeed a major positive development.

Yet the phase two trade negotiations are unlikely to be smooth, because the competition between the two countries' distinct development models, instead of the trade imbalance or so-called unfair trade practices, may dominate the talks.

The phase one deal seems mutually beneficial and, at least in the short term, will enable both China and the US to meet some of their goals. The phase one deal is also likely to create a relatively stable external environment for China, which will exert positive influence on the Chinese economy in the long run.

Given that Washington seems more eager than Beijing to sign the phase two deal, it should consider scrapping the tariff it has already imposed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, not least because the tariffs have also had a negative impact on the US economy, with American consumers and companies having to bear the brunt.

So, while the second phase negotiations progresses, China should intensify institutional reform and continue to further open up the economy, as well as assess the risks and take measures to minimize them. Only by further strengthening its economy and boosting its comprehensive national power can China become more resilient to external challenges.

Pessimism over future Sino-US ties not justified

That China and the US have signed the phase one deal shows they can manage, if not altogether settle, their differences through negotiations based on equality and mutual respect. But we should not expect too much from the deal, as it was relatively easy for both sides to fruitfully conclude the phase one talks. By contrast, the issues likely to be discussed at the phase two negotiations would be much more difficult.

Judging by the White House's actions in the recent past, it could slap more tariffs on Chinese goods if the phase two negotiations don't proceed smoothly. Some of the thornier issues to be discussed at the phase two talks include so-called unfair subsidies for Chinese State-owned enterprises, wider market access for foreign capital and further opening up of China's financial market.

But even if China-US trade relations stumble, it is almost impossible to detach the two economies because they have become inseparable from the global industrial and value chains. And trade ties will remain the ballast of China-US relations. As such, Sino-US trade relations should be carried forward along with the reform of the World Trade Organization.

The new rules set for the WTO reform would guide the development of bilateral trade while the China-US trade dispute and the ways to manage it would provide examples for the rule-making process of the WTO.

There are concerns that bilateral ties could suffer in the year of US presidential election. But it was in the election year of 2000 that the Bill Clinton administration pushed the Congress to extend the Permanent Normal Trade Relations to China. The next year China joined the WTO. Therefore, China-bashing will not be a good card for US presidential candidates to play.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY
]]> 2020-01-17 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Phase one deal is a winner for China, US and the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532656.htm Hosting a high-profile giving of thanks to both the Chinese negotiators and his own team involved in the tougher-than-expected negotiations that led to the signing of the long-awaited phase one trade deal, the US president, while seeking to gain some credit for his administration also highlighted how important the deal is.

The significance of the 96-page deal is multifold. It has halted the protracted trade war, serving to stabilize global expectations; and it provides a blueprint for deepening cooperation and improving the two sides' respective business environments for the other's companies.

That there are settlement mechanisms for possible disputes set out for almost every part of the pact highlights their shared desire to make it work. And along with such aspects of the deal itself, the negotiations can serve as a valuable reference for other trade pacts.

The signing of the deal occasioned sighs of relief but exuberance was tempered by the pragmatic acceptance that a trade deal seeking to iron out some stark differences between the two is a compromise vulnerable to factors beyond the deal itself.

Highlighting the broader context in which the deal was finalized, the US leader admitted that it was like a piece in a game of chess or part of a mosaic.

And, with the text of the deal now being closely scrutinized down to every punctuation mark, there are people on both sides who feel their own country has been taken advantage of by the other side.

But it is an idle debate to argue which side won and which side lost. At the current stage, the fact that it is acceptable to both sides is the most significant thing as it means both sides are winners, as is the world economy.

For the deal is not only tangibly beneficial for both economies, it also brings certainty to the world economy. At a time when things had the potential to go distinctly pear-shaped, the signing of the deal is worth more than a few congratulatory words.

The deal marks the crucial switch from escalating confrontation to cooperation. It provides a foundation on which the two sides can build momentum for constructive interaction. It also gives a much needed shot in the arm to the global economy. It's worth celebrating.

The two sides have shown that they can produce the goods when they manage their differences and engage with one another on an equal footing and with mutual respect. They now need to carry forward that can-do spirit.

]]>
2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[UK should reject US demand to ban Huawei from 5G network]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532647.htm The US administration is truly exceptional when it comes to coercive foreign policy that threatens other countries' sovereign decision-making. Senior US officials have made multiple trips to Europe to tell US allies to exclude Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei from their 5G networks, or face severe consequences such as the US not sharing intelligence with them.

When such a strategy failed to achieve the desired results, the US administration sent another team to the United Kingdom this week, led by deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, in a last-ditch bid to intimidate a key member of the "Five Eyes" weeks before it makes a final decision on the UK's 5G network.

The US seems to believe that countries such as the UK are incapable of making their own informed decisions. Which is an insult to these countries.

The desperate move this week was made at a bad time for the US. Andrew Parker, the MI5 chief, told The Financial Times that he has "no reason to think" that the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would suffer if the UK adopted Huawei's 5G technology. The UK's intelligence agencies have long argued that any risks from Huawei can be managed.

In an interview with BBC on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson challenged the reports in which US officials claimed that it "would be madness" for the UK to use Huawei 5G technology. He said "the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology… we want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. If people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us, 'what is the alternative?'"

There is a wide consensus among European mobile phone and service companies that Huawei's 5G technology and equipment are the cheapest and the most advanced. Former British digital minister Margot James had also said that it would be possible to reduce the security risks associated with Huawei to an "acceptable level". She indicated that Johnson knows how important improving connectivity is and will put the UK's interest first instead of only appeasing the US.

Huawei has worked with its European partners to mitigate security risks. It launched a cybersecurity center in Banbury in southern England in 2010, and pledged $2 billion in 2018 to fix security holes in its products. In May last year, Huawei opened its cybersecurity transparency center in Brussels as a platform to communicate and collaborate with European players on digital age development and security.

Major European countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have so far refused to impose a blanket ban on Huawei.

However, a partial ban to exclude Huawei from "core" parts is nothing but kowtowing to the US' coercive tactics. A report in The Guardian on Sunday said that some senior UK ministers have been heavily lobbied by their US counterparts.

The UK may be a close US ally, but US-UK relations appear to have deteriorated fast. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said days ago that the UK must be prepared to fight wars without US as its key ally.

The US delegation was said to give the UK a dossier of Huawei security risks. Which reminded people of the moment when former US secretary of state Colin Power held a model vial of anthrax at the United Nations in 2003 to dupe countries, including the UK, into helping the US launch the disastrous Iraq War.

US accusations against Huawei are based purely on speculation, not solid facts. The UK and other countries should totally reject such fear-mongering, so they can roll out their 5G strategies as soon as possible to the great benefit of their people.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

 

Chen Weihua

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Health authorities must stay on alert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532645.htm The new coronavirus responsible for the mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, has been identified and officially named. There has been no solid evidence of human-to-human transmission, and although epidemic control authorities have conceded it can't be excluded, the probability appears low.

In Wuhan, the apparent source of the largely unknown disease, no new case of infection has been reported since Jan 3. The World Health Organization has advised against any travel or trade restrictions in connection with it.

And, as the WHO and many international observers have pointed out, Chinese authorities have demonstrated impressive transparency, responsiveness, efficiency and capability in dealing with the public health emergency, in sharp contrast with the 2002-03 SARS crisis, when the initial cover-up, poor preparedness for such an epidemic and lax management resulted in the outbreak spreading to 26 countries, infecting thousands and killing nearly 800.

But the latest two confirmed cases of infection, one in Thailand, the other in Japan, are a timely reminder that vigilance must be maintained. The patient in Thailand is a tourist from Wuhan. The one in Japan fell ill after a trip to Wuhan.

While most of the earlier infections in Wuhan reportedly had to do with a now closed seafood market which also dealt in wild animals, it is unclear how these latest two became infected.

Since, as the WHO stated, the "source, modes of transmission, extent of infection" remain unknown, it is urgent to determine how they contracted the virus. That these two cases presented themselves after the authorities in Wuhan said they had carried out exhaustive screening of possible contacts makes this especially critical. Particularly, as this most populous nation on Earth braces for the peak travel season.

For next Friday's Lunar New Year's Eve family reunions alone, hundreds of millions of people will be on the move, packing trains, planes and buses. Plus those wanting to take advantage of the precious week-long leave to unwind by traveling.

To what extent should people using the crowded public transport system in places other than Wuhan be concerned?

Although the likelihood of person-to-person transmission is deemed low, and the public transportation authorities have made preparations for medical emergencies, public health authorities must keep abreast of the state of affairs and make informed decisions.

For example, should the current precautionary measures recommended for individuals in Wuhan, such as avoiding crowded public places and using masks in such venues, be prescribed nationwide?

At present, those who develop a cough or fever after visiting Wuhan are urged to wear a surgical mask and to quickly see a doctor.

Although it will be a holiday, the health authorities must remain alert to reports of any new cases, and be prepared to take appropriate action.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi's visit to take ties with Myanmar to new level]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532617.htm President Xi Jinping's two-day state visit to Myanmar from Friday, his first foreign trip in 2020, will deepen bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation. His visit to Myanmar has acquired added importance as 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

At a meeting with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on April 24, 2019, President Xi reiterated that the two countries have built a profound paukphaw (fraternal) friendship. Xi's visit to Myanmar will therefore play an important role in helping the two countries build a community with a shared future.

Myanmar established diplomatic relations with China in 1950, a year after the founding of the People's Republic of China, building bilateral relations based on mutual respect and trust. In the 1950s, Myanmar, China and India together proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which has become a part of international relations. In the 1960s, China and Myanmar set an example of how to resolve border issues left behind by history.

In 2009, Xi visited Myanmar as China's vice-president. Two years later, China and Myanmar established a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

In recent years, China-Myanmar cooperation has deepened thanks partly to geographical factors including the fact that they share a 2,200-kilometer-long border and have a long history of people-to-people exchanges.

Attaching great importance to bilateral relations, China and Myanmar have maintained regular and close high-level communication, which helped them to build mutual trust and promote economic cooperation. In 2018, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly build the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. In December of the same year, Myanmar set up the Belt and Road guiding committee with Suu Kyi as chairperson to improve coordination between Myanmar's central government and provincial governments on Belt and Road projects.

Myanmar's strong support to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is a major reason for deepening China-Myanmar cooperation on Belt and Road projects, which in turn has promoted closer cooperation between China and other ASEAN member states.

Xi's visit will also strengthen China-Myanmar high-level communication that would help the two sides work out a blueprint for co-development and jointly building a community with a shared future, thus elevating China-Myanmar relations to a new level.

For the well-being of people of both countries, China and Myanmar, during Xi's visit, will discuss how to improve connectivity by jointly developing Belt and Road projects and building the CMEC. Also, work is likely to be expedited on several ongoing infrastructure projects including the China-Myanmar economic cooperation zone, cross-border railway, cross-border roads, and facilitation of customs clearance.

The two countries also have huge potential to boost trade and investment. China is Myanmar's biggest trading partner and largest source of foreign capital. According to data from China's Ministry of Commerce, from January to September 2019, the China-Myanmar trade volume was $13.54 billion, up by 17.9 percent year-on-year. Yet given the instability in some areas of Myanmar, and the complex compensation rules for demolitions of structures, relocation of communities and environmental protection, Chinese enterprises operating in Myanmar need to optimize their investment and functioning.

People-to-people exchanges between China and Myanmar have grown considerably, with China becoming the largest source of foreign tourists for Myanmar thanks to the more than 150 direct flights per week between the two countries. And the increasing number of Chinese tourists to Myanmar is generating a lot of tourism revenue and creating local jobs for Myanmar.

Also, Chinese civil aid and funding to Myanmar have increased. For instance, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation now provides funds for the education of Myanmar children, Chinese vocational schools are helping train Myanmar students and Chinese experts are working with their Myanmar counterparts to repair the quake-damaged Bagan Pagodas.

And, once complete, the CMEC can boost economic development in areas along the route, particularly those in the less-developed regions of western and northern Myanmar.

During his visit, Xi will also attend the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations and other events including the opening ceremony of the China-Myanmar Culture and Tourism Year in 2020.

Thanks to the joint efforts of China and Myanmar and their solid foundation of cooperation and coordination, bilateral relations will enter a new era of deepening mutual trust, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, which will greatly contribute to regional development and prosperity.

The author is an expert on Myanmar issues. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Palace Museum dinner food for thought]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532643.htm The Palace Museum canceled its Spring Festival dinner service on Thursday, triggering discussions on social media networks. There were heated online discussions last week, too, when the Palace Museum first announced the dinner plan.

According to the plan, dinner at the Palace Museum restaurant would have cost 6,688 yuan ($970.6) for a table of 10, the menu being preset. Many said the dinner was too expensive given the average monthly income of Beijing residents in the first half of 2019 was only about 5,643 yuan.

Others feared damage to the 600-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the restaurant is on the premises. The debates were so intense that "Spring Festival Eve Dinner" began trending on networking sites.

The Palace Museum did not say why it canceled the dinner, but it is anybody's guess that the authorities do not want to be at the center of a public opinion storm. The dinner has been canceled and the debates may go on for some time, but we should not judge who is right and who wrong.

The case raises the issue of commercial activities at cultural sites. Some argue that cultural relics should be protected exactly the way they are. That sounds good, but is it practical? Structures such as the Palace Museum should be open to the public so people get to learn more about history.

Besides, cultural relic protection costs money. Maintenance of old structures, repairing damaged parts and cleaning and polishing of furniture involve labor and material costs. Taxpayers' money can be used for the purpose, but that would involve a long and complicated legal procedure.

So those in charge of maintaining cultural sites should be allowed to run some business to raise funds to meet the costs. As long as the businesses do not cause damage to the sites, it might be a good idea to try the model.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Law and order foundations of HK economy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532624.htm Speaking on Wednesday, Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region called on the whole community to cherish their home and end the chaos that has pushed the SAR economy into recession.

Highlighting that it is the months of violence and vandalism in the SAR that is the underlying cause of its economic woes, the Hong Kong Tourism Board reported on Wednesday that the total number of tourist arrivals in the city plummeted by almost 40 percent in the second half of 2019 compared with the same period the year before.

The lack of patrons has seen a growing number of shops and restaurants shuttered, with the business closures resulting in rising unemployment and the consequent financial woes for those who have lost their jobs.

In response to the complaints of the business community about the deteriorating business environment and persistent uncertainties in both the local and global economies, the SAR government has announced four rounds of relief and stimulus measures in five months. Worth billions of dollars they are aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as needy residents, survive the current crunch. Hong Kong is well-known for maintaining abundant financial reserves for "rainy days" like these.

But while this helping hand will be welcome to those who it supports through the difficult times, it should be kept in mind that the best way to end the economic downturn is to ensure all growth engines run as smoothly as possible. And the best way to ensure they do that is to restore calm and order in the SAR. No matter how resilient the Hong Kong economy is, it is not impervious to the blows being deliberately inflicted on it.

The relief and stimulus measures rolled out by the government will help the economy and residents weather the storm. But the economy won't fully recover until the social unrest stops and public order is restored. Upholding the rule of law is the essential foundation for realizing residents' aspirations for a brighter future.

The priority for the SAR government remains ending the violence and restoring public order, without which there is no hope of Hong Kong's economy rebounding.

From the small fishing village in South China to the international metropolis it is today, the development of Hong Kong has been linked to that of the Chinese mainland.

While the central government's decision to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area provides the means for Hong Kong to break through the development bottlenecks it faces now and consolidate and expand its advantages, without a harmonious and stable environment it will be unable to make the most of the fresh opportunity that has been presented to it.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Cities offer more low-paying jobs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532622.htm With 13.52 million new urban jobs created in 2019 and the registered urban unemployment rate being 3.62 percent at the end of last year, China's employment situation is stable, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security officials said at a recent news conference.

The ministry also published a list of 10 most-wanted jobs: marketing personnel, cashiers, waiters, security guards, cleaners, merchandise salespersons, domestic maids, lathe operators, welders, and loading and unloading porters. Although these jobs don't require high-level special skills, they are the most wanted because the low wages they offer prompt people employed in such sectors to seek higher-paying jobs and thus create new vacancies.

In recent years, unable to afford the high cost of living in first-tier cities, many migrant laborers have chosen to return to their hometowns, increasing the demand for workers ready to take up low-wage jobs.

Given the rising aging population and the inability of many migrant laborers to get urban hukou (household registration), it is becoming increasingly difficult for the service sector in first-and second-tier cities to meet its labor demands by hiring the available workers. Job opportunities exist in cities but offer low pay, which is not enough to take care of the rising living costs, such as housing prices and rents.

In developed countries, the average pay for blue-collar jobs is usually not vastly different from the overall average salary; in fact, in some industries the average pay for blue-collar workers is more than that for some white-collar workers. However in China, the gap in pay between the two is wide and continues to widen.

The demand for low-paying jobs and the availability of workers is an important problem the government must address. It should frame policies that can make it easier for migrant laborers to get urban hukou. In the short term, it can strengthen vocational training and employment services, but in the long run, it has to solve the structural problems in the job market.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Abuse of power for economist to publish son's essay in his journal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532644.htm Some media reports recently exposed a scholar for writing a lengthy eulogy on his teacher in the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, a prestigious academic publication whose chief editor incidentally was the teacher himself. Now, a similar scandal has come to light: an economist published dozens of essays and poems written by his son in the financial journal, Chinese Banker, of which he is editor-in-chief, since his son was just 10 years old in 2006 till three years ago.

In 2014, Wang Songqi, a former deputy director of the Institute of Finance Research, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, even wrote and published an essay, "Dad's Words", in the journal to promote his son's newly published book.

The Chinese Banker promotes reform and development in China's financial industry. Some readers rightly complained that it was wrong for Wang to publish a child's essay in an academic journal. But Wang insisted there was nothing inappropriate about publishing his son's essays in the "cultural and leisure" section given his "son's excellent literary talent". In fact, he continued to publish his son's essays until 2017.

What Wang has done shows how arrogant those abusing power can be. There can be no justification ever for publishing a 10-year-old's essays in an influential financial journal, or for promoting his son's book using the journal as a tool.

This scandal and the one in which the scholar published an essay extolling "the greatness of his teacher and the beauty of the teacher's wife" expose the extent to which academic power can be abused. Which is a new kind of academic corruption. These scholars used academic journals as a channel to achieve their personal goals, and their acts have damaged the academic environment, for which they should be dealt with seriously.

Ironically, academic circles indulge in such behavior for years before they are exposed, which indicates there are loopholes in the supervision mechanism that power abusers can exploit. These loopholes need to be plugged and supervision strengthened.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Art of phase one trade deal is making sure it works]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532424.htm There have been a few twists and turns along the way, but China and the United States finally called a halt to their trade war on Wednesday, demonstrating that as long as they abide by the principles of equality and mutual respect, they can engage with one another amicably and productively.

With the signing of the deal, it is now to be hoped that the detente leads to lasting peace.

The two negotiating teams have worked diligently to make the deal happen, and it is undoubtedly a major and welcome achievement; as shown by the general euphoria that greeted the news that the two sides were to put pen to paper.

However, that elation was quickly tempered by suspicions that it would not take much to banjax the deal, and the sobering realization that if that happened, it would not only stymie the next phase of negotiations, it would also have the two sides facing off again with tariffs drawn.

They have tried to guard against this possibility, by devoting a considerable part of the text of the deal to its enforcement and a mechanism to resolve any disputes that may arise over what has been agreed.

Hopefully, this foresight, which stands as testimony to the two sides' willingness to accommodate each other's concerns, will ensure the deal can withstand any tests of over time.

For, if well carried out, the deal will be favorably consequential for both countries, as it will let them tap the complementarity of their economies. The upgrading of industry and consumption demand in China will provide the US with a huge market for not only its industrial, agricultural and energy products, but also its services.

And in line with its efforts to deepen reform to improve its business environment and further open its doors, China has pledged to strengthen its intellectual property rights protection and to open-up its financial sector, which accompanied by the guarantee of strengthened supervision will attract more US companies and capital.

There are still differences to be resolved, but the phase one deal marks a small, but positive step toward realizing the breadth and depth that Sino-US trade and economic cooperation could reach.

The two sides should build on this achievement by carrying forward the constructive momentum in their negotiations to come.

China's stance is consistent and explicit: It is committed to cooperating with the US, and does not seek confrontation. That explains why, while firmly safeguarding its own development interests, it has engaged in the trade talks in good faith, with a willingness to realize win-win outcomes.

It will continue to act on that stance to strive together with the US for their common interests and the global good.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[No shaking Taiwan from the motherland]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532476.htm Unless done so deliberately, it is impossible to misconstrue the meaning of the remarks by Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, at a news conference on Wednesday: "It is easier to shake mountains than to shake the one-China principle."

For Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen, Ma's remark expressing the Chinese mainland's resolution to safeguard its territorial integrity and oppose "Taiwan independence", should serve as a clear warning that she should not regard the landslide victory she won in the island's regional leadership elections over the weekend as giving her carte blanche to act on her mistaken belief that the island is an independent country.

Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party resorted to dirty tricks, including cheating, repression and intimidation to help secure their election victory, and they are deliberately distorting the result as if it truly reflects the opinion on the island.

And it is reasonable to ask whether those voters who endorsed Tsai and the DPP want cross-Straits relations to become a head-on conflict. Rather than assuming that she has support to continue on her damaging course of refusing to accept that the island is part of one China, Tsai should focus on developing the island's economy and improving its people's livelihoods.

Yet, judging from her persistent penchant for provocative moves in support of her political agenda in the past few years, those who hope Tsai will be able to carefully walk the tightrope between Beijing and Washington and improve their compatriots' livelihoods will be disappointed in the end, as all she wants to do is to push her pro-independence agenda at whatever cost, including the wellbeing of Taiwan residents.

Even those supporting her secessionist pipe dream cannot deny how much the island's economic development hinges on the mainland. Yet all that Tsai did in her first term was to block normal cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. The so-called anti-infiltration law, passed at the end of last year, being the most recent example.

Tsai should know her re-election does not change the basic pattern of cross-Straits relations. She should also listen to the rising calls from Taiwan compatriots for improving cross-Straits relations and expanding exchanges.

Statistics show despite Tsai and her administration's efforts to limit cross-Straits exchanges, the number of personnel exchanges was maintained at 9 million, indicating the strong desire of both sides for exchanges and cooperation. Clearly, differing political systems are not an obstacle to warm cross-Straits relations nor does the fact of their existence change the status of Taiwan as a part of one China.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fight against corruption will not stop]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532475.htm A total of 674 prepaid consumption cards were found in the house of Feng Xinzhu, former vice-governor of Shaanxi province-not something he could afford at his salary. The anti-corruption team investigating the case said he had taken bribes worth 70 million yuan ($10.1 million), even formed a WeChat group called "Happy Team" with two people who bribed him.

In May 2019, Feng was sentenced to 15 years in jail for corruption, and he is one of many corrupt officials featured in a recent CCTV documentary.

Wang Xiaoguang, former vice-governor of Guizhou province, "borrowed" money from an enterprise to establish a listed company. Anti-corruption officials found 4,000 bottles of expensive Moutai liquor from his house, even as he tried to empty them into the drain to destroy evidence.

And Lai Xiaomin, former head of China Huarong, a financial agency, had hoarded 200 million yuan in banknotes at home.

Yet some corrupt officials have been daring enough to take bribes despite the anti-corruption agencies intensifying their vigil. For them, the lure of the lucre is greater than the fear of imprisonment.

Those officials who take bribes from businesspeople have to favor the bribe-givers, which is an infringement on the rights and interests of law-abiding citizens, especially taxpayers.

Behind the 200 million yuan found at Lai's home could be an illegal investment scheme worth billions of yuan. Feng had redirected more than 10 million yuan each from the poverty-alleviation fund to the companies that gave him bribes. Which means many impoverished residents couldn't get the due benefits of the poverty-alleviation work.

These cases help us better understand the guiding spirit of the fourth plenum of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which concluded on Wednesday.

Feng, Lai and Wang might never get to watch the CCTV documentary featuring them, but there are many other officials who can, and they would do well to not indulge in corruption. The fight against corruption will not stop. And it should not.

 - Zhang Zhouxiang, China Daily

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Reform to help China weather any debt crisis]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532474.htm According to a recent Institute of International Finance report, the global debt-to-GDP ratio hit an all-time high of 322 percent in the third quarter of 2019-rising nearly $10 trillion year-on-year to $252.6 trillion.

Global debt is likely to rise further in 2020, spurred by low interest rates worldwide and easy financial conditions. The rising debt-to-GDP ratio poses a bigger challenge to economies, especially emerging economies, which face debt servicing and refinancing problems.

The accumulation of debt by some economies to fuel economic growth led to three major financial crises-the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s, the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s and the 2008 global financial crisis. To sustain economic growth in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, developed economies adopted long-term quantitative easing policies, and the liquidity they released flowed into other economies raising the debt level of the latter and unleashing a global debt wave which increased the risk of a global debt crisis.

A recent World Bank report warned that most developing countries are debt-driven and, ironically, need more debt to sustain their growth. There is an inherent contradiction in the debt-driven growth model: to ensure economic growth, a country has to increase its debt, which increases risks and could ignite a debt crisis.

China, too, accumulated a lot of debt after 2008, but in recent years the Chinese government has taken measures to rein in debt growth by channeling new debt into the most efficient sectors. Such a policy will not only minimize risks but also facilitate high-quality growth. And unlike developed economies, China can create new growth drivers through structural reform rather than risk another bout of monetary stimulus.

China is also one of the few countries to implement structural reforms and take measures to guard against financial risks. Local governments and the market have chosen a new development path that does not rely on monetary easing, while making greater efforts to strengthen competitiveness through high-quality economic development. Which would help China to deal with a global debt crisis in the future.

21ST CENTURY BUSINESS HERALD

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Space oddities? They are all around us]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532425.htm What with one thing and another it seems that 2020 has started rather badly, carrying on where 2019 left off in fact. Nowadays, of course, there is a tendency to blame the alien whenever things start to look at all crummy. The newcomer, not meeting the criteria for belonging, is, ipso facto, a ne'er-do-well, both ill-favored and ill-omened.

Having made a long and risky journey to another land in the hope of being rewarded with a more palatable future, incomers to established settlements are instead viewed as interlopers and greeted with hostility. Marked out by their appearance. They become easy prey for the ringmastered emotions of desperate and dangerous circuses.

As if one's birth planet is a matter of choice.

Being carbon-based refugees from a self-desolated planet does not mean that when pricked we do not bleed.

Yet the notion that we might not be welcome in other worlds, not least because of our casual contempt for the evolutionary heroics of the biodiversity that acts as our own life support system, seems to be of no concern to those who eye the heavens as a natural extension of our journey out of the trees.

They envision Goldilocks planets, terraformed if necessary, where everything will be just to their liking.

But any X-percenters hoping their DNA-dopplegangers will be able to escape to a more hospitable planet may be in for a rude awakening.

Even if their hosts are welcoming of a species with such biocidal tendencies in their midst-and that's assuming they don't have the same proclivity themselves-there is also the fact there are just not that many habitable planets around.

The results of a study by the University of California released in June last year suggest that planets in most regions of the habitable zone, the area around a star where a planet could have liquid water, while fine for single-celled microbes would be unable to support ecosystems like those on Earth because they would have too much carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.

For more complex life-forms like ourselves, the Goldilocks zone shrinks significantly, dramatically reducing the number of plausible exoplanets on which carbon-based aliens and ourselves might meet.

And of course that also shrinks the probability of alien life-forms existing that we might be able to communicate with in some way. Even with the best will in the world, it is going to be hard work holding a conversation with some protozoans.

Nonetheless, that hasn't dimmed our ardor for contact and some interstellar chat, regardless of the possibility that we might end up regretting drawing attention to ourselves.

Fresh help in the hunt for extraterrestrial life was provided on Saturday when the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, cradled in a natural basin in China's Guizhou province, officially began operations. Exploring the universe at radio frequencies, the largest single dish radio telescope on planet Earth will be listening for potential broadcasts from extraterrestrials.

But is there really anyone or anything else in our solar system or beyond broadcasting their whereabouts? Can they hold a tune? And do we really want to find out?

Perhaps. Probably. It is hard to shake the suspicion that even if we do find other complex life-forms elsewhere in the universe, it's not going to alter some people's conviction that they are the paramount representatives of the most, perhaps only, intelligent species throughout all time and space.

Yet even on Earth, where the Goldilocks zone is here and now, life is infinitely stranger than we could imagine. We would not have dared conceive of even the most commonplace organisms around us. So our extraterrestrial neighbors, if there are any, could be very different indeed, and, if they have any sense at all, it is doubtful that they will look on homo sapiens as favorably as we do ourselves.

 

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Better service can boost 'ice and snow tourism']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532441.htm Editor's Note: China has been witnessing a boom in "ice and snow tourism". Two experts share their views on the emerging tourism sector with China Daily's Wang Kan. Excerpts follow:

Winter Games a catalyst for rising winter tourism

As an emerging tourism sector, "ice and snow tourism" is full of potential. In 2018 and 2019, the ice and snow tourism sector recorded 224 million trips, with its revenue reaching about 386 billion yuan ($55.99 billion). And, according to a recent report, the sector is expected to continue its fast development in 2020 and beyond.

Currently, China's ice and snow tourism involves mainly skiing, ice-skating, and ice and snow sculptures. China's vast northern and northeastern region is endowed with immense natural resources and advantages, making it ideal for developing ice and snow tourism, by providing high-quality services for winter tourists and upgrading its tourist facilities and products. Also, by combining folk customs, art performances, sports, cultural heritages and other tangible and intangible products with ice and snow tourism, some areas can promote local economic development in an all-round way.

Ice and snow tourism also can popularize winter sports, which in turn would boost the sales of winter sports equipment and necessitate the construction of more stadiums.

Thanks to government stimulus and encouragement, ice and snow tourism has seen remarkable development in recent years. First, China is on its way to realizing the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and its per capita GDP has crossed $10,000, and as a result, more and more Chinese people are going on holidays.

Second, with many seeking adventure tourism, ice and snow tourism has become an obvious choice for an increasing number of people. Also, the fact that Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games has made people more enthusiastic about winter sports.

Regions other than northern and northeastern China can also develop winter tourism and promote winter sports by using different strategies and marketing means. For example, they should decide whether they want to promote winter sports, ice and snow amusement parks, or cultural themes based on the geographical location and tourist-handling capacity of a place. But they should not take measures that could damage the environment.

And in order to boost ice and snow tourism, local tourism agencies should offer better quality service. In this regard, they can learn from the practices of their European and North American counterparts.

Tourism helping improve urban public facilities

Balanced development of ice and snow tourism is of great importance to environmental and ecological protection. Thanks to reasonable and orderly arrangements, ice and snow tourism has brought immense economic and social benefits to people in many areas.

In particular, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, and Zhangjiakou city in Hebei, due to their rich ice and snow resources, have the right conditions to develop winter tourism. In fact, ice and snow tourism accounts for 40-50 percent, even more, of the revenue of some cities such as Harbin in Heilongjiang.

In addition, ice and snow tourism can help improve a city's public facilities. For instance, cities attracting winter tourists would be prompted to improve their transportation network and other public service facilities.

Different factors are responsible for the rapid development of ice and snow tourism. For example, supply-side structural reform and the measures taken by governments at all levels to encourage more people to play and follow winter sports in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics have injected new energy into the winter tourism sector. As to the demand side, people from southern cities, especially Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, make up a large percentage of ice and snow tourists.

The fast growth of the ice and snow tourism sector has given the government a big opportunity to develop it into a pillar industry.

Moreover, ice and snow tourism is also helping revive Northeast China's industrial belt, as well as prompting northeastern cities to improve their business environment and public infrastructure, in order to draw more winter tourists.

Therefore, China should use top-level design to establish a modern industrial system and demonstration zones for ice and snow tourism, which would enable different provinces and regions to enhance their innovation capability in the winter tourism sector.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

Ma Congling, a researcher at National Academy of Economic Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

 

 

Han Yuanjun, a researcher with China Tourism Academy

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[UK not biting on aspersions cast on Huawei]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532440.htm British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was just speaking common sense on Tuesday when he talked about a possible future for China's telecommunications equipment giant Huawei in the United Kingdom, which is now planning to build its next-generation wireless networks.

"The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology," he said in an interview with the BBC. "Now, if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what's the alternative, right?"

The remarks sounded like a polite rebuke of the US administration which has been putting immense pressure on the British government to ban Huawei from its 5G network on the unsubstantiated claim that the Chinese company poses a national security threat.

US officials have repeatedly warned they will stop intelligence sharing with any countries that use Huawei technologies. And earlier this week US national security and telecom officials met with their British counterparts in London in the latest attempt to dissuade them from using Huawei equipment.

The overbearing manner Washington is assuming in trying to intervene in another country's internal issue is nothing short of an insult. It is a sovereign country's own right to decide what's best for its national security and technological future.

So far two UK parliamentary committees have concluded there are no technical reasons to ban the use of Huawei equipment in the UK's 5G networks.

In a letter to the government, member of Parliament Norman Lamb said a ban on Huawei "would not constitute a proportionate response to the potential security threat posed by foreign suppliers".

"Banning Huawei would also reduce market competition, giving network operators less leverage on equipment vendors to demand high security standards," he wrote in July last year after the UK Science and Technology Committee, of which he is chair, concluded a public evidence session in which it interviewed security officials and telecommunications executives about Huawei's operations in the UK.

Andrew Parker, the head of the domestic Security Service MI5, told The Financial Times this month that he had "no reason" to believe intelligence sharing with the US would be harmed by the UK allowing Huawei to provide equipment for its 5G network, which suggests the US is casting aspersions on Huawei for reasons other than the national security.

The UK is standing at a crossroad that will decide whether it can establish itself as a 5G leader in Europe by embracing the best technology.

It should make its decision based upon the facts, rather than give in to the external pressure and constant fearmongering of the US, which seeks only to dent China's technology edge worldwide, no matter how disgracefully.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Launch of satellite phones signal for new high-tech era]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532439.htm With China's first self-developed satellite mobile communications system, Tiantong System, offering commercial services from Friday, major telecommunications service provider China Telecom has started marketing China's first indigenously built satellite phone, Tiantong satellite phone.

Satellite phones function like mobile phones, the only difference being they bank on signals from a communications satellite, not from a satellite ground station as in the case of mobile phones. Which gives satellite phones a unique advantage in areas where there are no satellite ground stations or existing ones have become dysfunctional.

Independent of telecommunications ground stations, satellite phones are increasingly being used the world over, especially for emergency communication during rescue operations in the aftermath of natural or other disasters.

When a major earthquake left all ground communication systems damaged at Wenchuan in Sichuan province in May 2008, disaster relief and rescue operations personnel had to depend on foreign satellite systems, underlining the need for China to develop its own satellite communications system, especially to deal with emergencies.

The launch of the Tiantong-1 satellite in 2016 made China's own satellite mobile communications system possible. All the satellite, chips and terminals in the Tiantong system have been developed and made in China.

The Tiantong System's reach extends across China's land and sea area. Which means, apart from rescue and relief personnel, fishermen can also avail of its services. The Tiantong System not only ends the country's dependency on foreign satellite and guarantees domestic users' communication security, but also starts a new era for China's self-made satellite mobile communications system.

The launch of the Tiantong System and first self-made satellite phone shows the rapid progress China has made in the field of advanced technology as well as its spirit of innovation, which is key to building comprehensive national strength in the new era. China is gradually evolving from being the "world's factory" to an important global high-tech and R&D center.

The country's remarkable achievement in high-tech will not only benefit domestic users but also people in the rest of the world. In the future, the Tiantong System will offer services to global users, especially in countries along the Belt and Road routes.

 - Wang Yiqing, China Daily

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China can lead global green trade drive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532442.htm As we approach the Year of the Rat and begin a new 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, three profound challenges face the world: how to build a more stable and efficient trading system, tackle climate change, and protect biodiversity.

China has a pivotal role to play in all three. As the world's second-largest economy, China's evolving trade relations, especially with the United States, have huge global economic implications. As one of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters, China's actions will be carefully monitored as countries are scheduled to meet in Glasgow, Scotland, in November for the next major international climate conference. And as host of the most important international conference on biodiversity in decades, China is expected to make concrete commitments to move this agenda forward. What may be less apparent is that the three challenges are interlinked.

One bold response to all three is for China to make its supply chains more environmentally and socially sustainable, especially for agricultural commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil and timber.

Why is this important?

Global demand for these commodities, often sourced from tropical countries, is surging as population and affluence increase. This is causing significant forest loss and degradation: roughly 40 percent of tropical deforestation over the past decade is a result of expansion in agriculture. This loss of forest cover, along with the impact of other agriculture production and land use, in turn, contributes about 23 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions.

A stable climate is not the only casualty. One million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history, according to a 2019 UN report. The climate and Earth's living web of nature are the planet's "operating systems", and their disruption poses massive threats to human well-being and development.

Sustainable production of commodities depends on the ecosystem services that a healthy environment provides, including soil formation and retention, water quantity and quality, and natural pest controls. Deforestation can disrupt these vital processes and impede production. So it is in China's interest to invest in commodity supply chains that are stable and sustainable over the long run, and China's government agencies and businesses are currently considering how to move in this direction.

Why China?

Nearly two years ago, China integrated the concepts of "ecological civilization" and "a community of shared future for mankind" into its Constitution. It can now bring these concepts to life by focusing on its supply chains. As the world's largest importer of soybean, timber and beef, China's motivation to shift decisively toward greening its supply chains is both economic and political.

First, the economic argument. Consumer preferences in China and around the world are rapidly changing toward more sustainable commodities. Many governments are adopting more stringent environmental standards for imports of commodities.

Businesses and investors are also embracing sustainability criteria, recognizing that conducting business as usual is not in their self-interest. For example, the New York Declaration on Forests and the Tropical Forest Alliance bring together national and subnational governments, multinational companies, indigenous community groups and non-governmental organizations with the aim to halt deforestation.

The Consumer Goods Forum, an international business group with some 400 members, has resolved to achieve net-zero deforestation.

This creates a risk for countries and companies not able to respond nimbly to these changing policies and attitudes, while offering an exciting market opportunity for those able to demonstrate that their procurement or production of commodities is green.

Timber is a case in point. In 2008, the US amended its laws to ban the trade of illegally sourced wood, while in the last decade, the European Union, Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea have adopted similar legislation. China can get ahead of this wave by ensuring the timber and other commodities it procures are legal and thus promote its economic interests.

Second, the political argument. At a time when the international community is looking for leadership, greening value chains could generate significant political dividends for China. This stance can help position China positively in support of global environment and development agreements, including around the sustainable development goals, climate change, and biodiversity. The reputational upside for China to move in this direction should not be underestimated.

China is in a position to make a meaningful difference on these issues, advancing its own interests while at the same time promoting the concept of an ecological civilization globally.

There are steps China can take relatively easily including adjusting policy and legal measures to incentivize greener supply chains; integrating green criteria into trade, investment and finance; and using its growing development assistance portfolio to assist countries producing these commodities in achieving their own greening objectives. China's economic power means that steps to green its value chains will encourage other countries to do the same.

In 2020, China has several opportunities to demonstrate its growing global leadership on pressing environmental challenges. This is going to be a big year for China and the world. It demands big ideas from all of us.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[It's time charity industry is regulated]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532340.htm Wu Huayan, a 24-year-old malnourished woman from Guizhou province, who was in the news last year when it was reported that she was just 135 centimeters tall and weighed only 21.5 kilograms, died on Monday.

Her mother died when she was just four and her father when she was 18, leaving her with a younger brother. The family was so poor that Wu saved every penny in college. Reports said her common meals were rice, salt and pepper.

Donations began pouring in after the publication of the news in October 2019. But by then it was too late. She was too malnourished to undergo a life-saving surgery for a heart condition caused by malnutrition.

Wu's case underlines the importance of the ongoing poverty-alleviation drive and prompts us to donate with missionary zeal to root out poverty. It also highlights the need to regulate the functioning of the charity sector.

As soon as Wu's case was reported, a charity team called 9958 started seeking donations for her on more than one platform. But reports say the charity did not properly communicate with Wu and she got to know about the donation much later.

Yet 9958 was not alone in mishandling Wu's case. An account called "Listen to news", which sought donations for Wu on shortvideo sharing app Douyin, claimed to have received 450,000 yuan ($65,301) in donations. But Wu and her family said they never got the money.

Besides, the account is reported to have falsely claimed that Wu had got no help at all before the reports were published when actually she had. Wu herself had said that her teacher and her college helped her a lot.

Wu's death should serve as a wake-up call that the charity sector is strictly regulated and ensure that every donated penny reaches people who need it. After all, not all donors are super rich and if they see their money go to waste, they might refuse to donate the next time.

- Zhang Zhouxiang, China Daily

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Research appraisal system needs reform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532389.htm Editor's Note: A so-called research paper published in the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, a prestigious science and technology journal, in 2013 has sparked a huge controversy almost seven years after it came to light on Saturday. The author used it to eulogize his tutor, who happened to be the journal's chief editor, and the tutor's wife. Two experts share their views on how to improve the quality of papers published in science and technology journals with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

No place for inane papers in academic journals

Many already doubted the quality of some articles published by academic journals, and the revelation of the 2013 article has given credence to those doubts. Relatively unknown authors have complained of the difficulty in getting their works published, as journals accord importance to the reputation, not the research quality, of the authors. Some journals even demand that authors pay to get their works published; in fact, the money prospective authors pay is the main source of their income.

Basically, these problems are connected to the academic evaluation system, which gives too much importance to a research paper depending on whether, and where, it is published, instead of ascertaining its true quality.

In practice, the journals may ask other authors to cite each other's essay to increase the frequency of being quoted, which, for instance, could get them included in the index of core journals.

For journals that specialize in special areas, their status can hardly be challenged, and the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology is one such publication, not least because it focuses on special subjects such as ice, snow, frozen earth and cryosphere.

The editorial board of the journal scrapped the paper and ordered an investigation into all the published articles by the author. But to uphold academic credibility and regain public trust, it also needs to address public concerns, including how can the article be approved and can the journal still be trusted.

The journal was listed among the top 100 scientific and technological journals in 2015 despite questions being raised on the publication of the paper in 2013. This, in turn, raises a question on the appraisal standard of the index and the academic merits of research papers published in the journal.

Only an appraisal system that values original research can ensure second-rate papers do not find a place in academic journals. Perhaps using peer review to assess the quality of a paper will promote original research as it will ensure genuine research is recognized by the academic world even if it has not been published or published in a relatively unknown journal. Plus, deeper reform of the scientific and technological management and appraisal system could help improve the academic appraisal system.

Research ecology must be improved

Although China is the leading country in terms of patents and scientific papers, some of which are groundbreaking, the overall quality of these patents and papers needs to be improved, because these papers are not widely cited, and most patents just stay on paper, never to be translated into products. China is a developing country trying to become a science and technology powerhouse, which partly explains the gap between it and some advanced countries in the field of science and technology.

The journal case shows there are loopholes in China's academic appraisal system, even though it is extremely difficult to assess the quality of a scientific research paper. A paper, even without being cited by other authors, can still be groundbreaking and have immense potential for being translated into products in, say, 20 or 30 years, as scientific research itself carries a lot of uncertainties and risks.

But the shortage of precise scientific evaluation methods could prevent researchers from improving the quality of their work.

As for translating scientific research into real products, the government has introduced a series of policies, including offering incentives such as stocks, to encourage scientific researchers to use their research results to develop innovative products. As such, researchers, research institutes, manufacturers and universities should all work together to improve the scientific and research ecology and boost the innovation chain to facilitate more high-quality research.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi's visit will chart new course for ties with Myanmar]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532388.htm As traditional friendly neighbors, China and Myanmar are already engaged in mutually beneficial trade and economic relations, and President Xi Jinping's two-day visit to Myanmar from Friday will deepen this engagement and further promote cooperation between the two sides.

Thanks to the vitality of bilateral trade, win-win cooperation between China and Myanmar has been progressing well. Since Myanmar is rich in natural resources and urgently needs infrastructure facilities, Chinese investment has grown rapidly in Myanmar, making China the largest trading partner and the biggest source of investment for Myanmar. By the end of November, 415 Chinese enterprises had earned approval for investing in Myanmar, up from 280 in 2018.

The fact that Chinese enterprises have huge experience and expertise in fields such as agriculture, industry, infrastructure, transportation and power generation will help them meet Myanmar's development needs, and create opportunities for cooperation and investment. In fact, from January to September 2019, Chinese companies signed new projects worth $4.77 billion in Myanmar, an increase of 238 percent year-on-year.

Besides, an oil and gas pipeline from the port of Kyaukpyu in western Myanmar to China's southwestern province of Yunnan, which started operations in 2013, had contributed about $500 million in direct economic revenue to Myanmar by the end of November 2019.

China is also the main foreign market for Myanmar's agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits and rice, and given the popularity of Myanmar rice in China, the Chinese government has raised its import quota from 100,000 tons to 400,000 tons a year.

Yet bilateral agricultural trade was far from smooth in 2019. For example, Myanmar's export of pineapples and sugar to China suffered due to problems such as product quality. Myanmar also halted the export of rare earths to China in late December, seeking "rectification" of mining operations, which affected bilateral relations.

The problems having an impact on cooperation underline the importance of holding regular communication on the basis of mutual respect in order to remove misgivings, preempt misunderstandings and resolve outstanding issues. In this context, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and the economic corridor connecting Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar are larger trade and economic arrangements that will promote China-Myanmar cooperation.

At the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019, Myanmar signed cooperation documents with China in various fields, including green development and the CMEC. The two sides also inked a memorandum of understanding outlining a five-year collaboration in trade and economy. And the under-construction railway linking Yunnan province in China with Mandalay in Myanmar, along with the new Yangon industrial city and the Kyaukpyu special economic zone, form the supporting frameworks for the CMEC.

China is also trying to broker an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on their border and related issues. Especially, China has made increasing efforts to persuade Myanmar and Bangladesh to settle their bilateral issues, so both countries can focus on their respective economic development.

Both China and Myanmar attach great importance to their comprehensive strategic partnership. And Xi's visit will help expand communication and strengthen bilateral relations between China and Myanmar, and enable them reap the fruits of win-win cooperation.

The author is an associate researcher in Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Quality, not scale, highlight of trade data]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532387.htm China's trade in goods hit 31.54 trillion yuan ($4.59 trillion) last year, up 3.4 percent year-on-year, of which 2.92 trillion yuan was surplus, expanding 25.4 percent, the General Administration of Customs announced on Tuesday.

That will probably help China retain its status as the world's largest trader in goods, in light of data till October provided by the World Trade Organization.

Given the country is still endeavoring to optimize its growth model and economic structure, and the worsening trade frictions with the US last year, this is a remarkable, hard-earned result, both in terms of its size and the rate of expansion-it was the fastest growth rate among all the major trading economies-highlighting once again the resilience of the Chinese economy.

It is noteworthy that the increase in trade last year was marked by steady quarterly growth-from 7.03 trillion yuan in the first quarter to 7.68 trillion yuan in the second, 8.26 trillion yuan in the third and 8.59 trillion yuan in the fourth-which means the policies tailor-made to stabilize trade growth have realized their objectives.

The other milestone change is that private enterprises in China have for the first time in history surpassed foreign-funded ventures as the largest contributor to the country's foreign trade last year.

Statistics shows the export-import generated by private enterprises accounted for 42.7 percent of the total, up 11.4 percent year-on-year, compared with the 39.9 percent involving foreign-funded companies. Which means a series of efforts aimed at boosting the growth of the private sector by improving the business environment and lowering the tax and fee burden have paid off.

Meanwhile, the country's achievements in upgrading its industry are reflected in mechanical and electrical products accounting for 58.4 percent of the total exports, with growth registered at 4.4 percent year-on-year.

Except for its trade with the United States, which dipped by 10.7 percent for obvious reasons, its trade with all major partners has grown to various degrees-up 8 percent for its largest trade partner, the European Union, 14.1 percent for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which overtook the US to become China's second-largest trade partner last year-and its trade growth with the countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes, and African and Latin American countries have picked up by 10.8 percent, 6.8 percent and 8 percent respectively, demonstrating the great trade potential of the emerging market economies and developing countries.

With its huge market size and domestic demand, its complete industrial system and diversified trade structure, as well as its many trade partners, China has the necessary ballast to stay true to its charted course this year.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[What my younger self never expected]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532361.htm As one advances in age, one tends to mark each new year by reflecting on the broader developments that have run in parallel with one's own lifetime. For my part, I usually focus on the surprises (both positive and negative): things I would have been considered unlikely or even unimaginable in my younger years.

I was born during World War II and grew up in Canada with a general awareness of at least some aspects of the larger world, not least the Cold War. Black-and-white television allowed us to witness the destructive power of nuclear weapons from our living rooms. I and many other children had watched Our Friend the Atom in the television series Walt Disney's Disneyland, but we nonetheless would lie awake at night listening to passing planes, hoping they were not bearing the instruments of our annihilation.

In the event, the nukes were kept in their silos, owing to the deterrent effect of "mutually assured destruction" and the effective leadership shown during close calls like the Cuban missile crisis. Eventually, the Cold War ended, and everyone below 30 has spent his or her entire life in a world without it. To most of them, American economic and military primacy probably seems as ordinary and permanent as the Cold War did to baby boomers. But now we are on the verge of another anxiety-inducing shift in power relations.

Under-development not a permanent condition

In the early postwar years, developing countries-many newly independent following the dismantling of colonial empires-had only just begun a long, complex journey that would transform the world and the lives of billions over the coming decades. Though that journey is not yet finished, few expected many of these countries to achieve the prosperity they have. The terminology used back then-"backward" and "Third World"-betrayed a belief that under-development was a semipermanent condition.

That's why I see the emergence of the developing world as the most significant unanticipated occurrence in my lifetime. Developing countries' slow but persistent convergence to the developed world has fundamentally altered the international order.

Seven decades ago, the developed world accounted for most of the world's income but only 15 percent of its population. Now, billions of people have been lifted out of poverty and are wealthier, healthier, and have more opportunities. Future historians may well remember this period as humankind's greatest exercise in inclusiveness to date. Yet not so long ago, almost no one saw it coming.

Bigger role for developing nations in global governance

This unanticipated mega-trend has unforeseen corollaries. For starters, the global economy today is perhaps four to five times larger than what those anticipating little or no development among the bottom 85 percent would have expected. As a result, developing countries that previously wielded negligible economic power will now play a larger role in global governance, and that transition in the balance of power will be bumpy.

But this significant growth is a major reason why sustainability has become an existential issue. Despite commitments made to reduce our environmental footprint, we are currently losing the battle against climate change. Globally, we should be reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 7.5 percent per year. Yet emissions continue to rise, and are currently about 2.5 times above what is needed to avert a climate crisis. We are approaching potential tipping points at which irreversible accelerating changes in climate dynamics and living conditions could occur.

The 20th century, like the 19th, was an era of stunning technological change. Brilliant advances came to feel ordinary and unsurprising. But for those of us who grew up with printed books and libraries, and for the many millions who didn't have that privilege, it is breathtaking to consider that one can now stand almost anywhere on Earth and access nearly the entire corpus of human knowledge, services, markets, and more. The ability to collapse distance and time is a major reason why digital technology (properly deployed) can vastly improve the inclusiveness and functioning of all societies.

Diminished contact with immediate surroundings

Of course, my earlier self also would not have anticipated that walking along city streets would mean bumping into people who are staring down at a small screen, or that couples sharing a meal in a restaurant would be doing the same thing. One wonders if the gift of connection to people and information at vast distances will be purchased at the price of diminished contact with one's immediate surroundings.

Finally, the second major surprise in my lifetime probably shouldn't have been one, considering what younger social scientists have found in recent years. Yet many in my generation failed to foresee the rise of inequality in income, wealth and opportunity across a wide range of developed and even some emerging economies.

During the first 30-40 years after World War II, the trend ran in the opposite direction: labor income as a fraction of total income was growing, measured income inequality was declining, and a broad-based middle class was emerging. Owing to these positive developments, many were lulled into thinking that modern advanced economies can run on autopilot.

And yet economists knew that market capitalism does not automatically self-correct for adverse distributional trends (both secular and transitional), especially extreme ones. Public policies and government services and investments have a critical role to play. But in many places, these have been either non-existent or insufficient. The result has been a durable pattern of unequal opportunity that is contributing to the polarization of many societies. This deepening divide has a negative spillover effect on politics, governance, and policymaking, and now appears to be hampering our ability to address major issues, including the sustainability challenge.

There are other items that few could have foreseen: negative interest rates come to mind, as does the discovery of DNA(at least for us non-scientists). I don't imagine the future will be any less surprising than the past. The unthinkable will continue to happen, and we will marvel at some new things while adapting as best we can to others.

The author, a winner of Nobel Prize for economics, is a professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[By dropping undeserved designation, US opens door to more fruitful discussions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532368.htm In a goodwill gesture before the signing of the "phase one" trade deal between China and the United States, scheduled to take place in Washington on Wednesday, the US Treasury Department announced on Monday that it no longer considers China to be a currency manipulator. This comes five months after it designated the country as such at the height of trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The latest move, welcome as it is, is not a favor done to China by the US, though, because China should not have been slapped with the discriminatory label to begin with.

The country is committed to keeping the yuan's exchange rate basically stable, at what the People's Bank of China, the central bank, calls "a reasonable and balanced level", and it has never resorted to competitive devaluation to gain an edge when conducting trade activities with any other country, nor used its currency as a tool in the trade dispute.

Actually, rather than being undervalued as the US claimed, the Chinese currency has substantially increased in value against the US dollar since 2005, and remained one of the strongest among the G20 currencies in relation to the dollar.

The International Monetary Fund stated in a report in August 2019 that the yuan's valuation was largely in line with China's economic fundamentals.

Even based on criteria unilaterally set by the US in 2015 for it to label a country as a currency manipulator, China only meets one of them-a large trade surplus with the US. And that, as trade experts have said, is largely the result of globalization, with China and the US playing different roles in the international value chain, among some other factors such as the US ban on high-tech exports to China.

Yet it is never too late to come to its senses. The 18-month trade conflict between China and the US proves that the maximum pressure approach of the US, whether on the tariff front or the currency front, will not serve either side any good.

There have been reports that China and the US have agreed to resume their long stalled semi-annual talks aimed at resolving their disputes. Bilateral relations have been seriously marred by tit-for-tat trade blows after the first round of what the US administration renamed the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue was held in July 2017.

Hopefully, the dropping of the currency manipulator label, as well as the preliminary trade agreement, will mark a new beginning for their relationship.

Consultations based on the principle of equality and mutual respect are the only way forward for the two countries to solve their disputes.

It is encouraging that the two countries now seem to be doing that.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Foresight, accountability can forestall sinkholes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532367.htm According to initial information released by the local authorities, six people are dead, 10 missing, and 16 injured after a huge sinkhole engulfed a bus and pedestrians on Monday evening near a hospital on a busy street in Xining, Qinghai province.

Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing. So is an investigation into the cause of the tragedy.

While hoping for the safe rescue of those who are missing, we urge urban public utilities authorities across the country to check the conditions of the underground infrastructure in their cities, and take necessary precautions as required to limit the chances of such tragedies occurring as much as possible.

Too many have already taken place. And nobody has any idea how many more are on their way.

Just last month, a road section above a subway building site in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, caved in, killing three people. In late August in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, also above a subway construction site, a road collapse and subsequent gas leak forced the emergency evacuation of almost 800 homes.

Since New Year's Day alone, we have had reports of road sinkholes in Zhengzhou in Henan province, Suzhou in Jiangsu province, Xiamen in Fujian province, and Guiyang in Guizhou province. Although fortunately there were no casualties reported in these incidences.

According to experts, although some sinkholes are attributable to natural causes, such as underground water and soil erosion, most are the result of the poor design, maintenance, or aging of underground infrastructure for public utilities, or due to improper construction operations.

Flawed construction work for subways, excessive underground earth excavation for construction, as well as broken underground water and/or sewage pipes are the most common causes of road collapse in the country.

Yet amazingly, little has been done or even said about the possible human factor behind those causes. Given such incidents' obvious links to various public utility projects underground, they certainly are not natural disasters, no matter how difficult it is to ascertain who is responsible for what, and to what extent.

As long as human error is involved, corresponding probes should focus on finding out the underlying human causes, so as to help prevent future tragedies. It is unacceptable that innocent lives are lost in such a manner and it is taken for granted.

As urbanization continues, it will require the use of more land and the expansion of underground facilities and more construction.

Town planners, design engineers and construction supervisors need to be aware that underground work, especially any redirecting large amounts of water, has the potential to result in a sinkhole and take every foreseeable precaution to prevent one.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[AI face-recognition technology helps reunite lost families]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532366.htm Domestic internet giant Baidu recently announced that its public welfare Baidu Artificial Intelligence People Searching program successfully reunited more than 10,000 lost people with their families over the past three years, which is a good example of how technology benefits people.

Baidu launched this project using its artificial intelligence (AI) face-recognition technology.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and nongovernmental organizations, Baidu's system matches the photographs provided by help seekers with those in the population database to achieve highly efficient search results.

After going through 200 million face-training sample photos, Baidu's AI-based face-recognition technology has achieved a recognition accuracy rate of as high as 99.7 percent. It also supports across-age image comparisons, thus helping parents find their lost children after several years on the basis of their childhood photos.

Many parents whose children were lost at a young age have only their childhood photographs, making the search difficult as features change once a child grows up. But many such lost people have been reunited with their families as AI's face-recognition technology can match an adult with his/her childhood photograph.

Baidu said it will further improve its program by deepening cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Affairs to cover all the 2,068 grassroots rescue centers, and expand the program to help more people.

This innovative new technology realizes the true goal of technological progress: to make people's lives better. Applying AI technology for public welfare not only helps people in need, but also improves efficiency and saves costs. It is also a good way for enterprises to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility and contribute to society. It is hoped that more high-tech companies will innovatively apply their technologies to help the public.

- Wang Yiqing, China Daily

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Focus on high-quality development of SOEs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532379.htm The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council recently convened a meeting of local assets supervision and administration commissions and asked them to expedite reform, strengthen supervision of State-owned assets and boost high-quality development of State-owned enterprises.

The meeting resolved to realize the goals set by the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee, which decided to explore various forms of public ownership and improve the distribution mechanism of the State sector, develop a mixed-ownership economy, enhance the State sector's competitiveness and innovation capability, and reduce financial risks, in order to optimize and increase State capital.

The meeting of the heads of central SOEs convened earlier had emphasized the importance of improving the performance assessment indicators such as net profit, total profit, assets-liability ratio, profit margin, and research and development input to stimulate high-quality development of the SOEs and help them play a bigger role in technological innovation.

In 2020, SOE reform should focus on infusing Chinese characteristics into the modern enterprise system, improving their market-oriented operations, promoting mixed ownership reform, and setting up a unified regulatory and supervisory mechanism for State-owned assets supervision.

Full implementation of the market access negative list will help China strengthen competitive policies, review fair competition practices, advance the construction of the factor market system, and promote efficient and fair distribution of factors of production. There is also a need to strengthen the mechanism to assess the SOEs' return rate, so as to ensure the return rate of State-owned capital is at least equal to the average market rate of return by, for example, eliminating various subsidies and preferences given to SOEs.

SOE reform is necessary to further open up the economy. Also, regulators should create a more relaxed environment for SOE reform, by adopting more market-oriented means to optimize the distribution of State capital.

Marketization is the key to invigorate SOEs and only in a market-oriented environment can SOEs help form a modern enterprise system and realize high-quality development.

- 21st Century Business Herald

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Promotion of 'good Samaritan law' good for healthy social environment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532206.htm The Shenyang Intermediate People's Court recently ruled that a well-meaning drugstore owner was not liable for accidentally breaking a senior citizen's ribs while giving her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The case is important as it demonstrates how a "good Samaritan law" can protect first aid givers. Not surprisingly, netizens have hailed the verdict.

On Sept 7, 2017, a 70-year-old woman surnamed Qi fainted at a drugstore in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province. Since he couldn't feel the woman's pulse, drugstore owner Sun Xiaobo, who holds a medical license, gave her CPR before an ambulance arrived.

The timely action saved Qi's life but left her with 12 broken ribs for which she sued Sun, seeking damages for her medical expenses.

It is not uncommon to see rib fractures during CPR, as vigorous cardiac compression is required to help a patient regain his/her heartbeat.

Technically, the drugstore owner did nothing wrong; according to the first aid principle, the focus should be on saving the life of a patient.

The lawsuit against Sun made many assume that the old adage, no good deeds go unpunished, holds true. No wonder many people hesitate to help those in trouble for fear of landing in trouble in the process.

Fortunately, the court ruling has helped allay such fears. After consulting medical experts, the court ruled that the drugstore owner's efforts were not in violation of medical rules and he bears no liability. The ruling promotes the healthy social atmosphere of helping people in need.

The case also shows the positive social effects of the Chinese version of a "good Samaritan law".

Article 184 of the general principles of the Civil Law, approved by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on March 15, 2017, stipulates that rescuers bear no civil liability if they cause damage to those being rescued because of their voluntary emergency rescue actions.

This exemption encourages people to extend a helping hand to others during an emergency, and is conducive to promoting social justice and creating a healthy social environment.

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Anti-corruption work compass for staying true to charted course]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532252.htm Having lifted nearly one-fifth of the world's population out of poverty in less than five decades, the Communist Party of China is now on the cusp of realizing its goal to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects in 2020, a year before the 100th anniversary of its founding.

But although achievable economically, how rigorous the institutional construction of its anti-corruption system is will also have a direct bearing on the quality of that achievement.

Presiding over the fourth plenum of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in Beijing on Monday, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, stressed the importance of the fight against corruption down to the micro-level to guarantee people's demands for a better life are met.

The tone-setting plenum of the top anti-corruption body of the CPC is worthy of attention, as it has signaled how far and how deep the ongoing construction of the anti-graft system will reach this year to help the Party enhance its governance capabilities and ensure its policies for this important year are well implemented.

Recognizing corruption to be the greatest threat to realizing the first of its two centenary goals, and the thing that people resent the most, the Party's leadership has demonstrated its resolve and tenacity to win the anti-corruption fight, particularly since 2012.

Despite this, the fight against corruption remains grave and complex. From January to November last year, the CCDI investigated about 555,000 corruption-related cases. In all, about 485,000 officials were disciplined, among them 42 senior officials directly managed by the CPC Central Committee, and around 19,000 received prison sentences.

It can be expected, therefore, that the system will be further enhanced this year so it is better able to address both the symptoms and root causes of corruption.

As Xi says, the fight against corruption is never ending, and with the country's rapid development and fast-changing society, the anti-corruption system must be continually improved.

So, a comprehensive mechanism will be put in place that imposes tight constraints to prevent interest groups from emerging within the Party and which maintains a tough stance for long-term deterrence, punishing those who offer bribes as well as those who take them.

With such a system in place to make sure that officials are honest, government is clean, and political affairs are handled with integrity, the fight against corruption will be able to bid farewell to the case-by-case campaign.

The meeting marked the next step forward for the Party in its efforts to forge an institutional cage to ensure officials at all levels don't dare to, are unable to and have no desire to commit acts of corruption. Anti-corruption is a tug-of-war that the Party's leadership is determined to win.

 

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Taiwan poll can't change reunification trend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532239.htm Editor's Note: Tsai Ing-wen has been re-elected as the leader of Taiwan for the next four years. How will the result affect cross-Straits relations? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Without 1992 Consensus, Tsai can't improve island economy

In the run-up to the election in Taiwan, candidates chose different cards to play-for example, people's livelihoods versus "political sovereignty". To secure a second term, Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party played the "independence" card against the call for reunification, and used the "US card" to seek Washington's endorsement for their dirty game.

On the other hand, Kuomintang's Han Kuo-yu focused on an agenda to strengthen security and promote prosperity of the island. Almost all Han's supporters criticized Tsai's poor governance and failure on the economic and social development fronts.

Although Han lost the election, several facts need to be understood.

First, Tsai created a political atmosphere of confrontation with the Chinese mainland to secure votes. Because of the political machinations of Tsai and the DPP, especially their efforts to sever ties with the motherland, Taiwan residents, many youths in particular, have a poor sense of national identity as Chinese. In fact, the DPP reaped the fruits of hatching political plots to intimidate pro-reunification voices.

Besides, many Taiwan residents failed to realize that the rising tension across the Straits was one of the main reasons for the island's poor economic performance.

Second, some external factors helped Tsai. The mainland announced five proposals for peaceful reunification including democratic consultation based on the principle of "one country, two systems" on Jan 2, 2019. In June, violent protests broke out in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region against a proposed amendment to the extradition law. The Taiwan authorities used the violent Hong Kong protests to spread false propaganda on the island that "one country, two systems" doesn't work. By doing so, the Tsai authorities managed to shift people's attention from their poor economic performance to political issues such as "security threat" to garner more votes.

Third, many DPP-controlled Taiwan media outlets kept spreading canards against Han while keeping silent on Tsai-related scandals.

Fourth, the Kuomintang was not a united house. Terry Gou, Foxconn founder and chairman, quit the party after failing to win Kuomintang's primary polls for the island's leadership election. And Wu Den-yih, Kuomintang chairman, didn't offer full support to Han. The divided Kuomintang should reflect on its failures.

Fifth, Han's fear of being criticized for "being close to the mainland" landed him in the trap set by the DPP. As a result, he could not explain to Taiwan residents that closer relations with the mainland would strengthen Taiwan's security and improve their livelihoods.

These complicated factors paved the way for Tsai's re-election. Looking to the future, however, the Taiwan authorities need to realize that, no matter what tricks they played to win the election, they can't truly guarantee Taiwan compatriots' wellbeing and prosperity without recognizing the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China.

Island authorities must stop making provocative moves

The island election has revealed some undercurrents. For one, the United States' meddling in the election was clearly evident. The US Congress passed a torrent of acts on Taiwan to boost Tsai's chances of winning the election.

The Tsai authorities manipulated the election using the mainland as a target throughout the campaign, and aroused hatred toward Beijing among the youths by hyping up the Hong Kong demonstrations as a "failure" of "one country, two systems".

The election result is also the outcome of the Tsai administration's vicious "de-Sinicization" campaign. By distorting facts in textbooks and trying to sever cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges with the mainland, the DPP managed to brainwash many young voters and draw them away from the Kuomintang, which upholds the 1992 Consensus.

More important, Tsai's speech after being re-elected is a blatant violation of the one-China principle's bottom line. Tsai should refrain from taking more radical actions in pursuit of "Taiwan independence" during her second term, as what she has already done is provocative enough for Beijing.

She should bear in mind that despite being a pawn in the US' hand, if she pushes forward her agenda of "formal independence", she will not serve the interests of Washington or the DPP. For the people on both sides of the Straits, it should be made clear that reunification is inevitable. The mainland has always sought peaceful reunification, but that is not the only way to achieve the ultimate goal of national reunification.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Tang Yonghong, deputy director of Taiwan Research Center, Xiamen University
Zhu Songling, a professor at the institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University
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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Extreme pressure' of US root cause of chaos in the Middle East]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532220.htm On Saturday Iran admitted that it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian Airlines plane on Wednesday. Indeed, the downing of UIA Flight 752 is a tragedy, but it is an offshoot of the heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. Hopefully, the deaths of 176 people will prompt all parties in the Middle East to exercise utmost restraint and help restore order in the region.

The tragedy shows how an escalating crisis can inflict great harm on ordinary people, even lead to a big tragedy. It also shows the loopholes in the Iranian military's security mechanism, and reveals a big gap between the military and technological prowess of the only superpower and a regional power. But it also demonstrates US hegemony, which it uses to assassinate another country's official, Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in this case, in a third country, Iraq.

Soleimani's killing on Jan 3 is an apt example of the US putting "extreme pressure" on a country to force it to accept its demands, no matter how unreasonable they may be.

A country assassinating an official of another country in a third country's territory is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter and the basic principles of international law. By killing Soleimani, the US has not only contravened international human rights treaties because it constitutes extrajudicial execution, but also infringed the sovereignty of Iraq. No wonder the Iraqi parliament voted on Jan 5 demanding the withdrawal of all US forces from the country.

Mired in a vicious circle of retaliatory actions and soaring regional tensions, the Middle East seems to be moving toward a serious security crisis. Although neither Iran nor the US nor the rest of the world wants a war, the changed situation in the Middle East could see terrorist groups making a comeback in the region.

By pulling out of the multilateral Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing, even intensifying, the sanctions on Iran, Washington re-ignited hostilities with Teheran. And by killing Soleimani, Washington ensured the Iran nuclear deal was all but dead because Teheran said on Jan 5 that it would no longer abide the restrictions imposed by the deal on its nuclear program. Which means Iran will not limit its uranium enrichment level and could even develop nuclear weapons ignoring nuclear non-proliferation norms.

The chaos in the Middle East is very likely to have an impact on the security of Europe that has paid close attention to the situation in the region and made great efforts to ensure Iran plays by the rules of the nuclear deal so that regional stability is maintained. In particular, Germany has urged that more concerted efforts be made to prevent the US action from sparking an all-out confrontation between Washington and Teheran.

The US is using the Middle East as a testing ground for its geopolitical game in total disregard to the interests of the region's countries and the global consequences of its actions. That the US hasn't learned any lessons from the Iraq War that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, left many more homeless and turned hundreds of thousands of others into refuges is evident from its actions.

The US' failure to restore peace in Iraq shows that it does not understand the ground realities in the Middle East. Through the more than 16 years since it invaded Iraq on trumped-up charges that Saddam Hussein possessed "weapons of mass destruction", it has only tried to impose American-style democracy on Iraq to fulfill its own narrow interests.

Ironically, the US still believes it is the only savior of the Middle East, without realizing that it is its hubris that has turned the region into a powder keg which could ignite any moment. As long as it keeps daydreaming that it has magical powers that can solve all of the Middle East's problems, the US will only worsen the situation in the region.

Iranian military may have mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian Airlines plane, but it was the US that created the volatile situation that led to the tragedy.

The author is an associate researcher at the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Denying trouble stirrer entry to HK reasonable]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532237.htm It was justifiable and reasonable for Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, to be denied entry to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Sunday when the priority of the HKSAR is to bring an end to the chaos, which is now in its seventh month.

It is the chaos caused by the rioters, characterized by violence and vandalism, that has dealt a heavy blow to human rights in the SAR, despite the rioters claiming what they are doing is fighting for freedom and democracy.

Roth said in a post on his Twitter account that the authorities had blocked his entry to Hong Kong, which he said illustrated the worsening problem in the city.

But the human rights situation in the city is worsening because of the violence and vandalism of the protesters. Their attacks against innocent residents and their vandalism of public transport infrastructure and public facilities have seriously infringed upon the human rights of other Hong Kong residents.

Roth was wrong when he said: "This disappointing action is yet another sign that Beijing is tightening its oppressive grip on Hong Kong and further restricting the limited freedom Hong Kong people enjoy under 'one country, two systems'."

It is the violence encouraged by the double standard about human rights being upheld by people such as Roth that has emboldened the rioters to restrict the freedom of those Hong Kong residents who want to go about their normal lives. No matter how violent the protests are and to what extent the rioters trample on the rights of others, their actions are justifiable to Roth and others in the West as long as the perpetrators claim to be opposing "Beijing's oppression" and fighting for freedom and democracy.

Because the rioting is happening in a Chinese city they try to blur the definitions of freedom and anarchy.

In their minds' eye, the difference between freedom and anarchy is crystal clear when it comes to violent demonstrations in their own countries. They know violent protests have nothing to do with human rights, and only infringe upon the human rights of others.

But for some such as Roth, the definitions of freedom and anarchy can be blurred when it comes to the violent demonstrations in Hong Kong. The same methods used by Western police when used by the Hong Kong police are labeled police brutality. Their arguments could not be more perjured.

Given the prejudicial intent of Roth's visit, is there any reason the Hong Kong Immigration Department should grant him entry to the region?

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Belt and Road boosting Myanmar development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532221.htm Myanmar is a fulcrum of the Belt and Road Initiative and an important corridor between China and Southeast and South Asia. As a traditional friendly neighbor, Myanmar has established a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. Apart from participating in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Myanmar was among the first 21 countries to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Also, China is Myanmar's biggest source of foreign investment.

Since 2013, China and Myanmar together have made remarkable achievements in taking forward the Belt and Road Initiative.

First, the two countries have not only maintained frequent high-level mutual visits but also improved their cooperation mechanism, and thus strengthened mutual political trust. In April 2015, President Xi Jinping met with U Thein Sein, then president of Myanmar, on the sidelines of the Asian-African Summit that was held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. In October of the same year, Xi met with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the 8th BRICS Summit in India. He also met with Suu Kyi three times at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing between May 2017 and April 2019.

With the strengthening of bilateral relations and mutual political trust, and the smooth advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative, the two sides have launched new cooperation initiatives. To push forward the Belt and Road projects, China and Myanmar have established a series of bilateral cooperative mechanisms, such as the China-Myanmar Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation Committee and China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Joint Committee, as well as some bilateral cooperation platforms such as China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Forum.

In December 2018, Myanmar announced the establishment of the Belt and Road guiding committee with Suu Kyi as chairperson, in order to improve coordination between Myanmar's central government and different provincial governments on Belt and Road projects. Needless to say, such China-Myanmar cooperation mechanisms have boosted the development of Belt and Road projects.

Second, the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor has entered the fast track. The corridor starts from China's Yunnan province in the north, passes through Mandalay in Myanmar and extends to Yangon new city and the Kyaukpyu special economic zone.

On Dec 1, 2017, Xi and Suu Kyi reached an important agreement-to jointly build the CMEC under the Belt and Road framework. And after the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on Sept 9, 2018, to jointly build the corridor, its construction work was put on the fast track.

On Sept 11, 2018, the CMEC Joint Committee held its first meeting in Beijing and agreed to set up special working groups in 12 key fields: development planning; production capacity and investment; transportation; energy; agriculture; border economic cooperation zone; a "Digital Silk Road"; ecological environment; tourism; finance; information; and local cooperation.

The two sides have also agreed to synergize their development plans through the joint committee's cooperation mechanisms and promote practical cooperation in various fields. The two countries have already launched a large number of major cooperation projects, including the Yangon industrial new city, Kyaukpyu special economic zone and the China-Myanmar railway, which form the supporting framework for the CMEC.

Third, China attaches great importance to enhancing understanding between the Chinese and Myanmar peoples, so as to ensure the smooth progress of the Belt and Road projects. To help Myanmar people better understand China, the Chinese government has employed media outlets, think tanks and social organizations to organize people-to-people exchanges between Myanmar and China, increased elite scholarships for Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries and executed poverty alleviation projects in Myanmar. In fact, people-to-people exchanges have played a vital role in deepening China-Myanmar relations.

Moreover, Chinese enterprises operating in Myanmar attach great importance to corporate social responsibility, respect the local culture, history and customs while taking environmental protection measures, hiring local people, and building schools, roads and bridges.

The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Myanmar. The leaders of the two countries will take this opportunity to uphold the principle of "consultation, joint construction and sharing" and use environmentally friendly means to build the CMEC, promote the implementation of a number of major projects including those in ports, industrial parks, transportation infrastructure, medical care, agriculture, energy and digital economy, in order to promote the rapid yet sustainable development of Myanmar's economy.

The author is an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Journals no place for personal essays]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532238.htm "My teacher, an academician for 20 years, has made fruitful progress that elicits envy. His wife is so elegant and has a character so mild that her existence grants us a feeling of beauty." Reads like a student's memoir? Well, believe it or not, the sentences appeared in an article in the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology in 2013.

The report further read: "This essay discusses the greatness of my teacher and the beauty of his wife, the basis for construction of a path applicable universally."

These sentences were not in the credit section, but in the summary and the general text. The entire 30-page report was devoted to it. The issue became a hot topic for discussion after snapshots of the report were posted online on Saturday.

Many researchers and graduate students registered their discontent, and not without reason. Academic journals are important platforms for researchers to share their knowledge. They should only be used to publish essays that offer readers some food for thought. To devote more than 30 pages of an "essay" to something that has no academic value is surely a waste of resources.

Besides, academic journals have a bearing on an academic's career. The number of essays a lecturer publishes decides whether he or she can be promoted as associate professor and then professor. Sometimes, postgraduate students are required to publish at least one essay for graduation.

The "teacher" in the above essay is Chen Guodong, who was chief editor of the journal. Not being worth of any academic value apart, the whole essay reeks of vested interests.

On Sunday, the media department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which publishes the journal, admitted that the essay "lacks academic value" and had been junked. Also, an investigation has been ordered to determine whether vested interest was behind its publication. Chen resigned as the editor of the journal, and his resignation was promptly accepted.

Whatever the result of the investigation, it is hoped the case sends a warning to all academics to focus on sharpening their minds and improving their research quality, which in turn can help promote the country's development.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[For a philosophical China-US coexistence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532115.htm China and the United States are expected to sign a phase-one trade deal in a few days, which will ease trade tensions as well as take the bilateral trade negotiations forward.

That the deal, despite its positive overtones, has invited some criticisms both in the US and China, shows that it, although having a certain balance, cannot satisfy everyone. The two sides have reached a necessary compromise.

Concerns center mainly on the prospects of a "phase-two deal" and smooth progress of the trade talks. In fact, the decisive factor is not negotiating skills or having bargaining chips but how China and the US respond to the significant differences between their economic and political systems and ideologies, which are more complicated than those between the US and the Soviet Union.

Since the global financial crisis, Western analysts have used multiple labels to describe China's political and economic systems. They have even said China's "state capitalism" poses a challenge to the "Washington Consensus".

After 2017, the West's characterization of China's political and economic systems turned even more negative. For example, Peter Navarro, trade adviser to the US president, accused China of intellectual property theft, often using the rhetoric that China is "basically trying to steal the future of Japan, the US and Europe". But the fact is that since China joined the World Trade Organization, its annual IPR licensing fees have exceeded the global average. In 2000, it paid $1.3 billion in IPR licensing fees, which increased to $35.6 billion by 2018-an average annual growth rate of 20 percent compared with the average global growth rate of 9.5 percent.

In addition, on the issue of industrial subsidies, the US has resorted to double standard. In the US, subsidies for industries such as advanced manufacturing and agriculture are huge. Amazon, for example, received at least $613 million in local government subsidies between 2005 and 2014. And from 2010 to 2016, the US administration invested more than $100 billion in basic research in biomedicine.

Ironically, while the US is asking the Chinese government to reduce its "intervention" in industry, it is learning from China how to use the government to promote innovation, and developing artificial intelligence (AI) by adopting a holistic government approach.

In May 2018, the US administration hosted the Artificial Intelligence for American Industry Summit, emphasizing government coordination in combining the strengths of industry and academia to maintain US leadership in AI. In February 2019, the US announced the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, which is actually an executive order that requires the federal government to increase investment in the AI industry.

The White House has also formed a "Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence", which comprises officials from government agencies including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. And the Pentagon has established a "Joint Artificial Intelligence Center" to strengthen the partnership between the US military and Silicon Valley tech giants.

Of course, China has been taking measures to strike the right balance between the roles of the government and the market in the economy. Stephen Roach, a senior researcher at Yale University, said that although China's difficult economic transition is continuing, its reforms have achieved a lot in the past few years. People should pay attention to "next" China, he said, as the US administration's obsession with antiquated perceptions of China isn't helping to solve the problem.

If the US expects the Sino-US trade talks to yield unrealistic results in its favor, it will only be disappointed. And if the US continues to be hostile to the Chinese systems, the pace of China's reform and opening-up may slow, increasing the pressure on reform officials. In fact, the trade war triggered by the US has greatly hurt the interests of Chinese enterprises such as Huawei, which could prompt them to ask the government to set up trade barriers to protect national economic interests. This will not be good for any country.

Whether it likes it or not, Washington has to accept the fact that China will not follow the US economic development model. The US can no longer force China to accept its demands now that it is the world's second-largest economy.

That China and the US have reached a phase-one deal shows they are trying to find a way to ensure their economic systems co-exist peacefully. Which is crucial for the continuation of the Sino-US trade talks.

Of course, competition between the two sides is inevitable, but it should be based on rules that are acceptable to both, and should not cause losses to other economies.

In short, it's wrong to look at the Chinese and US systems as an irreconcilable barrier and unwise to judge China's development model from a static perspective. There is a route beyond the binary of "deep integration" or "decoupling". As China's Ambassador to the United Nations Cui Tiankai said, the resilience of Sino-US relations lies in their ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties.

The author is research fellow at Charhar Institute.Source: Chinausfocus.com The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fight against graft should be intensified]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532157.htm Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and in accordance with the rule of law, China's discipline inspection and supervision work made some remarkable achievements in 2019.

Last year, the central discipline inspection and supervision team conducted two rounds of regular re-inspections and one round of special re-inspections on poverty alleviation work, covering 108 Party organizations of local governments and units, more than half of all Party organizations the inspection work was supposed to cover as required by the 19th CPC Central Committee. The inspection work extended to villages and communities, too, with higher-level inspection authorities covering 11,000 towns and townships, 59,000 departments, enterprises and institutions, and 225,000 village-level Party organizations.

The discipline inspection and supervision organs at all levels intensified their efforts to enforce discipline, bringing the fight against formalism and bureaucratism into the fold of political supervision and making it a primary task of rectifying the "four winds" of formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.

From January to November 2019, discipline inspection and supervision organs nationwide investigated 62,800 cases involving formalism and bureaucratism, punishing 91,300 Party members. They also dealt with 51,100 cases related to violation of the eight-point provisions of the CPC Central Committee, meting out punishments to 71,800 Party members and officials, of whom 51,200 were given disciplinary and administrative punishments.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and other agencies made solid progress last year in the campaign to address prominent problems related to infringement on people's interests. From January to November, discipline inspection and supervision officials investigated and dealt with 70,800 cases of corruption and misconduct related to poverty alleviation work, and punished 99,000 people.

Since the launch of the campaign, discipline inspection and supervision organs across the country have investigated 47,200 corruption cases related to officials offering "protection umbrella" to mafia-style groups, punishing 54,500 Party members and officials, and handing over 6,393 people to judicial authorities for further investigation.

Adhering to the principle of "no restricted zones, full coverage and zero tolerance" and using such multiple methods as "containment, high pressure and long-term deterrence", discipline inspection and supervision organs investigated both bribetaking and bribe-giving cases last year. From January to November, they filed 555,000 cases for investigation, punished 485,000 people for violating Party and administrative discipline, and transferred to procuratorial organs 19,000 people for suspected crimes.

Also, a total of 1,841 fugitives, including 816 Party members and State employees, were brought back from abroad and 4.091 billion yuan ($144.1 million) recovered from them last year. And of the 100 fugitives on Interpol Red Notice, 60 were arrested.

Besides, comprehensive measures were taken to promote discipline inspection and supervision system reform as part of the efforts to improve its legal as well as overall standard. But despite these achievements, we should keep in mind that the fight against corruption is still serious and complex, and comprehensive and strict governance of the Party remains a long and arduous task.

Given that the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee laid out a strategic plan for upholding and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and promoting modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity, and set new requirements for strengthening the comprehensive governance of the Party, the discipline inspection and supervision organs at all levels should take measures to reinforce political supervision, and intensify oversight of poverty alleviation work, in order to facilitate the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Greater efforts need to be made to eliminate corruption and address the prominent problems that prompt people to engage in corrupt activities. We need to continue catching the "tigers" (high-ranking corrupt officials) and swatting the "flies" (lower-level corrupt officials) at home, and pursuing fugitives overseas and recovering stolen assets from abroad to win the fight against corruption.

Furthermore, comprehensive measures should be taken to reform the discipline inspection and supervision system, in a bid to strengthen the institutional mechanism, improve the oversight system of the Party and the State, strengthen supervision over the use of power, and further translate institutional advantages into effective governance.

The author is vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Discipline Inspection and Supervision.The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Move to improve children's physical health]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532154.htm Editor's note: Provincial authorities in Yunnan have raised the total score of physical education (PE) from 50 to 100 points for the senior high school entrance examination (zhongkao) from the new semester starting September 2020. Two experts share their views on the unprecedented move with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

PE must not become additional burden

This is the first time that any province or region has given PE and the three major subjects-the Chinese language, mathematics and English-equal importance in zhongkao. Yunnan's bold reform move will prompt schools and parents to give more importance to students playing sports and doing physical exercise, and therefore improve the fitness level of students in primary and middle, and junior high schools.

The move is apparently in response to reports saying the physical fitness level of schoolchildren is falling, especially a report in 2017 which said many sports records in Northeast China have not been broken for years with some standing for 40 years. Also, a spot-check on the physical health of elementary and secondary school students in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in 2016 showed that only 2.6 percent of them were in excellent physical health. Worse, 16.2 percent of the students failed the physical health test, and nearly half of them had myopia.

The main reason why schools and parents alike ignore students' physical education is the exam-oriented education system. Given the traditional thinking that the harder you study the better scores you earn in exams and the more successful you are in life, PE has been largely marginalized in schools.

The exam-oriented education system and safety concerns have forced many primary and middle schools to keep students indoors even during recess. In fact, although the Ministry of Education has said elementary and secondary school students should exercise for at least one hour a day, many schools don't follow the rule.

So by including PE in zhongkao, educators in Yunnan are trying to make sure the lure of earning high scores will prompt more and more students to do more physical exercise.

But measures should be taken to ensure PE, too, doesn't become part of the exam-oriented education system-for instance, schools should not be allowed to increase PE classes for a short time before zhongkao while ignoring them for the rest of the semester.

PE points have been increased to raise students' interest in and capability to play sports so they can be physically fit and lead a healthy life, not to force them to lead a more regimented life.

Keep college entrance exam free of such a plan

Given the relatively low physical fitness levels of primary and middle school students, allotting higher scores to PE in zhongkao may be an effective way of getting students to do more physical exercise.

But since excellence in sports largely depends on a person's physical traits, students who are short or relatively weak may never be able to compete with their taller and more athletically built counterparts.

Therefore, the education authorities should take care to avoid setting the same criteria for all students in PE tests. Perhaps all students who measure up to a certain standard should be given full marks.

The inclusion of PE in the senior high school entrance exam may help students to acquire academic knowledge as well as to stay physical fit. Yet an extra subject could further increase their burden.

However, since this is the first time any province or region has raised the PE score to 100 in zhongkao, we have to wait to see the results. Due to the exam-oriented education system, Chinese students spend most of their energy and time in studying, and get little or no time to do physical exercise, which is the basic reason for their poor fitness levels. So it is necessary to diversify the evaluation criteria for zhongkao.

Yet PE should not be included in the college entrance exam, as it would put students under greater stress without necessarily improving their physical fitness. Perhaps like the US, an outstanding athlete could enjoy some advantages over other students in China too when it comes to seeking admission to a college but it is unnecessary to make it a compulsory subject in the college entrance exam.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US should reflect on its Iran policy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532153.htm Iran's armed forces admitted on Saturday that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 passenger plane that crashed on Wednesday near Teheran, killing all 176 people onboard, was shot down by mistake when Iranian air defenses were on high alert for a response from the United States to its missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

The tragic event is clear evidence that anything can happen when tensions are running high, as they were between the US and Iran after the US airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, which prompted the Iranian missile attacks. The highly combustible atmosphere could easily lead to a misjudgment or a misstep, which could have devastating consequences.

Such tit-for-tat retaliations, although normal for the two long-time adversaries, has become a vicious and upwardly spiraling circle, which needs to be carefully managed if the exchanges are to be kept in hand.

From its unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal to the blatant killing of the Iranian general on Iraqi soil, the US has stubbornly and persistently escalated tensions and sought to exert extreme pressure on Iran.

There were sighs of relief after the United States and Iran both toned down their war rhetoric last week after the US killing of Soleimani and Iran's missile response. Yet, this is no time for complacency as the US enmity toward Iran still hangs like the sword of Damocles over the Islamic republic.

Showing that it is not willing to ease the pressure on Iran, Washington announced on Friday that it was imposing fresh sanctions targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement in the retaliatory strikes.

The world is no stranger to what lengths the US is willing to go to topple any government it dislikes. From Iraq, Syria to Iran, Washington has one after another turned its attention to regime change.

Yet, even as the world's sole superpower, the US cannot escape the shock waves from its actions and policies in the Middle East. The rising anti-US sentiment in the region offers fresh evidence of this.

It is high time the US seriously reflected upon its Middle East policy. It should try and escape the delusion that its miseries are worse than they ought to be because of what Iran is doing. It is its own approach that is the main destabilizer of the region and the root cause of the current volatility in the region. Instead of ratcheting up the pressure on Teheran, Washington should change course and engage in dialogue for the sake of peace and stability.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tesla the catfish for Chinese electric car makers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532135.htm While many are applauding Tesla's fast localization in China, including its CEO Elon Musk, who broke into an impromptu dance last week during a ceremony to mark the finishing of the phase one project of its gigafactory in Shanghai, Chinese electric car manufacturers might be forgiven for not sharing that mood.

If the retail price of the Tesla model 3 is lowered to about 250,000 yuan ($36,139) as reported, the impact on Chinese electric car makers could be fatal.

That many Chinese carmakers wholeheartedly embrace the coming of the electric car era is not only because of huge potential of the Chinese market, but also that they have accepted that they cannot win the competition with foreign brands in the automobile sector after trying to for decades.

Now they have to face up to the price competition stemming directly from a localized Tesla, which has come faster than they expected, partially thanks to the "Shanghai speed" with which the Shanghai authorities have helped the US car giant to materialize its vision into reality.

The coming of Tesla has been much faster than Chinese automakers expected. They now have no choice but to improve their designs, technology and brand building as soon as possible to compete with Tesla.

It is a concern that the coming of Tesla might prompt some of them to resort instead to low-price competition so as to focus on the leftovers of Tesla.

If so, their previous input will be wasted, and the electric car industry in China might repeat the same fate of the automobile industry as before.

Chinese enterprises should not forget that it will take another few years for the output of Tesla in China to increase dramatically, during which the huge demands of the Chinese market will continuously be there awaiting the best domestically designed and developed electric cars.

Also, they should be confident that the Chinese market is large enough to support more than one Tesla. And as long as they accurately find their market niche and engage in diversified competition with the foreign brands, while always focusing on research and development, they still have the opportunities to succeed.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Time to say goodbye to oil and telecom monopolies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532138.htm The Ministry of Natural Resources revealed in a news conference on Thursday that China will completely open up its oil and gas prospecting and exploitation market to private and foreign companies.

According to the ministry, all enterprises registered in China with net assets of no less than 300 million yuan ($43.37 million) are qualified to enter the market.

Which means the upstream energy market monopoly of State-owned enterprises will soon come to an end. The reform will have a farreaching influence on not only the energy industry but also the other market sectors.

That it has only taken about three weeks for the government departments to transform the central authorities' opinions into workable policies on allowing private companies to enter the fields of oil and gas exploration and exploitation has demonstrated China' resolve to push the envelope of the widely anticipated reform.

This will be conducive to optimizing the allocation of resources in the market.

If the reform is carried out as desired, with more companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production, the price of oil and gas in China will be more responsive to reflect the supply-demand relations in the market.

As the national economy is entering a new efficiency-oriented development era, it calls for corresponding reforms in the upstream of many industries and markets, such as the energy and telecommunications sectors, to make them meet the needs of the transformation and restructuring of the economy.

It is believed that the opening-up of the telecommunications sector will follow soon.

These reforms will inevitably spur relevant State-owned enterprises to change from monopoly giants to competitors.

Yet, how far and how deep the competitions between them and the newcomers will reach depend on how determined the central authorities are to end the monopolies and treat all participants in the market with equal treatment to allow fair competition.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tsai and Washington cannot change the reality that Taiwan is part of China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532137.htm Having secured another four years as the leader of Taiwan on Saturday, it is an opportunity for Tsai Ing-wen to recalibrate her approach to cross-Straits relations for the benefit of the island and its residents.

By dialing down the confrontational approach she has taken toward Beijing, she could not only ease the cross-Straits tensions, which have been rapidly worsening over the past couple of years, but also prevent the island being recklessly used by Washington as a pawn in its games.

It was the landslide defeat for her Democratic Progressive Party in the mid-term local elections on the island in late 2018 that prompted Tsai to resort to more desperate measures to reverse the situation.

Thus in the second half of her first term with her controvertible stance hitting the island's economy, Tsai became even more purposeful in displaying her secessionist colors in order to curry favor with the US. She eventually tapped into the upheaval instigated by the US in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in order to demonize the "one country, two systems" framework, which Beijing has also proposed for the island.

The climax of Tsai's efforts to create a pro-secessionist atmosphere on the island came at the end of last year, when the DPP forced through the island's so-called Anti-Infiltration Law to legalize its power to not only identify and label "infiltrators", but also punish them. Which is nothing but a scheme to enshroud the island in a McCarthy-style witch hunt to its own advantage.

The Tsai administration turned to such tactics in order to cover up its inability to address the economic and livelihood problems on the island, which it has so far left unattended.

Unfortunately, her words and actions after the election suggest that rather than reflecting on the damage her first term in office has done to cross-Straits relations, Tsai will double down on that approach. Meeting with William Brent Christensen, a US diplomat who is director of the American Institute in Taiwan, on Sunday, she praised the US administration for its support and expressed her hope she would be able to strengthen her ties with the US administration.

Although she also professes to want dialogue with Beijing, she intentionally omitted the fact that it can only happen under the one-China principle established by the 1992 Consensus. Seemingly extending the olive branch to Beijing while buttoning her lips up on this suggests that she intends to continue with her truculent ways and has no qualms about dissembling.

But having grabbed onto the coattails of the US' maximum pressure strategy against the Chinese mainland as her political lifeline, she should now let go. Continuing to push for separatism will only aggravate confrontation with the mainland. She should be aware that Beijing means what it says when it asserts it will never allow any pro-independence forces to separate Taiwan from China under any name or in any form.

And whether she accepts it or not, Tsai is trying to futilely hold back time. She cannot reverse the ever-deepening cross-Straits integration or the fact that Taiwan's reunification with the motherland is an unstoppable historical trend.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[ETC mess needs sorting quickly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532136.htm It has been nearly a year since the transportation department started to promote the use of electronic toll collection, painting a rosy picture of its use throughout the country.

It was claimed that ETC would speed up traffic through tollgates, and its wide adoption would reduce the operating costs for toll stations, with the savings being passed on to drivers in the form of lower toll fees.

With all the related departments having made everything ready for its use, ETC's rollout was highly anticipated.

Unfortunately, the reality has failed to live up to the billing.

Since the New Year, nearly all toll stations nationwide have only one toll lane available for drivers wanting to pay by cash, with all the rest being ETC lanes. But instead of it being easier and quicker to pass through the tollgates, drivers are complaining about it being slower and more costly as they claim they have been overcharged. Some truck drivers have complained their payments have been hiked by 40 percent. Some have even complained that they have been charged differently each time for the same sections of expressway.

The Ministry of Transportation has responded to the deluge of complaints by saying that some ETC systems are experiencing teething troubles and need to be further adjusted, and that the ETC charge is more precise than before, so it is possible that drivers can be charged more than they paid before the same section of expressways. The ministry even said that trucks are being charged in a different way and so empty lorries will be charged more than they used to pay.

However, drivers do not buy these explanations, and the nationwide mess the introduction of ETC tollgates has created suggests that the ministry has done a very bad job in making necessary preparations for the new system and in adjusting charges reasonably.

There were ETC tollgates already and it should not be difficult to have more such gates, and there should be no technical and technological problems. It is not convincing to claim that the new ETC system has technical problems. Even if drivers are charged more precisely than they were before, that precision should mean drivers are not overcharged. It is ridiculous for toll stations to charge a different amount of money for drivers to use the same section of expressway on different occasions.

The Ministry of Transportation needs to conduct fact-finding missions to find out whether some local toll stations are making illegal gains by taking advantage of this opportunity. Investigations should also be conducted to find out if there has been any rent-seeking in ETC installation projects, which may have resulted in low quality ETC tollgates.

The ministry will not win back people's trust if it cannot solve these problems. If it has enough concern for people's interest, it should spare no efforts to address the ETC mess as soon as possible.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Australian forest fires man-made disaster]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532139.htm The forest fires in Australia that have been raging for more than four months, show no signs of ebbing. So far 26 people have died and it is thought that about 500 million animals have been killed across an area of 6 million hectares, 1.5 times the size of Switzerland.

And the smoke poses threats to humans and animals far beyond that area, with the air-borne pollutants having spread across the Pacific Ocean, taking their toll on South America.

The persistent windy, dry and hot weather, which should be classified as an extreme weather event attributable to global warming, has unleashed this monster. And the negligence of local residents, who have casually thrown smoldering cigarette ends in forests, or failed to abide by the strict ban on fires, have finally driven the monster wild. Not to mention those who have been found intentionally starting fires in the woods. It has been reported that since November 2019, in New South Wales, the state most affected by the fires, the authorities have issued warnings or prosecutions to 183 people for some 200 fire-related crimes, some of them arson.

The shortage of local firefighters compared with the vast fires means they might be capable of putting out fires in towns, but cannot tackle the large-scale forest fires that started in different spots, which are far from each other almost at the same time. After golden opportunities are lost, the only thing they can do is to evacuate the areas that are in the way of the fires' expansion, while praying for rain.

The fires seem to be both a natural disaster and man-made calamity. But if extreme weather is counted as being the result of human activities as well, the fires can be seen as purely a man-made disaster.

If people cannot rein in global warming, and if countries lack the ability to subdue fire monsters, such large-scale forest fires will continuously force humans to pay for the comforts they have drawn from their so-called modernity along with their shortsightedness.

SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[For US government, bad excuse is better than none]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532055.htm The US administration appears to have taken to heart the rather dubious maxim that it is a good thing in life never to apologize, seemingly having decided that the sounder advice that one should never say or do anything one needs to say sorry for is somehow un-American and therefore not to its liking.

But to conclude from this that it has a clear conscience would be to do it an injustice; not least, because that would imply it has one. Instead, what it has for whatever it does is something much better-justifications.

Washington is never short of a reason for doing something. Nor is it one to be daunted by the challenge of coming up with one. No matter how egregious its behavior or how implausible the excuse, or how bad the light it puts itself in trying to make something so porous hold water, it will argue all day and every day that it can do no wrong, no matter what the evidence might be to the contrary.

In this endeavor, despite it oftentimes being up to its neck in water, there is never any faltering. For the US administration is quite happy to keep carrying water in a sieve, as it has learned from experience that the known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns will, at some point in their accumulation, be enough to support its claim that it is the injured party. At least to the extent that others will pat it on the back and be willing to play along with it.

But this is the great peril of our times, for although circumstances have changed, the mindset of Washington has not. It has rightly been said that fascination of hunting as a sport depends almost wholly on which end of the gun you are, and the same might be said of Washington's approach to problem-solving and its scattergun effects. For the tacit vindication for all its actions, even the fabrications of casus belli, is its conviction that might makes right.

Unfortunately this conviction is not accompanied by prescience. The US administration, like most people, cannot look at the seeds of time and say which grain will grow, and which will not. So, more often than not, it ends up adding insult to injury and injury to insult.

While it is undoubtedly more appealing to become wiser from the misfortunes of others rather than one's own, that is no excuse for the tribulations the US administration so casually inflicts upon others.

It is to be hoped that sooner rather than later the US administration will mend its ways, and show at the least some civility to those with whom it does not see eye to eye. It should heed the caution that of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of all are: It might have been. What's true of romances, also holds true for friendships, as well as the amicable relations between countries.

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2020-01-12 09:09:51
<![CDATA[A wildfire warning the world cannot ignore]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532062.htm Australia is no stranger to wildfires. As a country, it is familiar with wildfires, wildfire management and the importance of wildfires in soil regeneration. Especially, Australia's indigenous people have known the importance of fire management and wildfires' contributions to ecosystems for hundreds of years. Yet 2019-20 is proving to be a nightmare for Australia, devastating in more ways than one could imagine. Simply put, the fires raging across Australia are unprecedented in ferocity, scale and level of destruction.

Authorities have been repeatedly appealing to residents in large areas of Victoria state to leave their homes, raising the "threat" level throughout southeastern Australia a couple of days ago, as they feared at least two major fires could merge. The fires have already swallowed an estimated 5 percent of Victoria.

Every state in Australia is facing a fire crisis, with New South Wales and Victoria being the worst hit. The total area burned is close to 8 million hectares, almost 10 times the area consumed by the Amazon fires in 2019.

The first major fires started in September 2019, that is, before the onset of spring, with the situation taking a turn for the worse at the beginning of November. And despite thousands of firefighters, including many from foreign countries, battling the fires, experts say they are unlikely to be controlled any time soon. Which means more destruction.

This is just to give a rough idea of the scale of the crisis in Australia, and the level of devastation the fires have caused. We have no idea yet of the overall consequences which, by all accounts, could be unprecedented.

Some of the consequences are already evident, though. The bushfires have already claimed 26 lives. Millions of animals, birds, reptiles and insects have died. The cuddly koalas could become an endangered species, and Kangaroo Island, a safe haven for kangaroos, is under threat. Smoke from the fires has made air quality hazardous in many parts of Australia. Respiration-related illnesses, as reported by hospitals, have increased by 25 percent.

A Jan 1 image of Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand showed the snowy mountaintops bathed in caramel brown thanks to the dust and ash from the Australian fires, although the distance between the glacier and the fires is more than that between Beijing and Hong Kong.

And a Japanese weather satellite has captured some striking images of the smoke plumes forming off the southeastern coast of Australia, which show the development of huge pyrocumulus clouds, a kind of smoke cloud seen during wildfires which can generate problematic weather, including lightning storms.

Indeed, Australia is facing a national crisis. But as US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party said on Jan 2, "What is happening in Australia today will become increasingly common around the world if we do not aggressively combat climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels. The future of the planet is at stake. We must act."

True, climate change cannot start a wildfire, or any fire for that matter. But the effects of climate change can exacerbate bushfires.

And even though the link between wildfires-and frequent droughts alternated by heavy downpours, cloudbursts and floods; increasing high-intensity cyclones; melting icebergs and glaciers; and extreme winters and hotter summers-and climate change has become a dirty game between big businesses and climate change-skeptic politicians on the one side and climate scientists and environmental activists on the other, there is no denying the connection between rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and changing weather patterns.

Perhaps the fact that Australia experienced its hottest year on record last year, with the temperature rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above the average according to a Bureau of Meteorology report, explains why the country is facing its worst wildfire crisis.

There is a tragic connection between wildfires raging across millions of acres and rising GHG emissions. Wildfires release carbon dioxide, a GHG, into the atmosphere. And although CO2 makes up only a small percentage of the total gases in the atmosphere, it has a remarkable quality of trapping heat. Australia's wildfires are estimated to have already released 350 million metric tons of CO2, which experts say need at least a century to be absorbed.

As Steve Pyne, an emeritus professor at Arizona State University, said, the Australian wildfires are a harbinger of things to come.

Don't ignore their warning.

But will the world act now, or will it keep bickering over the reality that climate change is while continuing its business as usual? That is something only world leaders and big business can answer.

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2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Onus on Washington to defuse tensions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532054.htm Despite both the United States and Iran downplaying the hostilities after a US drone attack killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan 3 and Iran fired several missiles at two US military bases in Iraq on Tuesday, tensions in the Middle East remain very high.

The West, the US in particular, had been accusing Iran of carrying out nuclear research not only for civil, peaceful use but also to fulfill its military ambitions. Iran not only denied the charges but also signed the nuclear deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the European Union in 2015, allowing International Atomic Energy Agency officials to inspect its nuclear facilities and agreeing to not enrich uranium beyond a limit in exchange for easing of US and international sanctions. Subsequently, international nuclear inspectors confirmed that Teheran had been abiding by the promises it made in the nuclear deal.

Yet the US not only pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but also re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Which heightened US-Iran tensions, leading to the present situation.

As part of international law, inter-country rivalry should not lead to the targeted killing of a rival's leader. But the US claims that as part of its "war on terror", especially "warranted pre-emption" strategy, it is justified in killing Soleimani. Yet the US has not given any evidence that necessitated such an action.

Iran responded by firing several missiles at the US bases in Al-Assad and Irbil. And although the US has said no one was killed in the missile attacks, it is still assessing the damage. With the US and Iran locked in confrontation, there is general pessimism over the situation and fear that it could worsen.

Although Washington has played down the missile attacks, one cannot completely rule out a US counterstrike. Some US congressmen have already said that Iran's missile attacks are a call to war. In fact, earlier the US president said he had already selected 52 sites in Iran as targets. And if, in case, the US does launch a counterstrike, Iran is likely to respond again, raising the tensions even higher.

Yet neither Iran nor the US wants a war. Basically, the US administration is not interested in being mired in too many regional crises. Despite its disengagement policy, however, the US administration cannot accept the killing of Americans. The attack on a US base in Iraq late last year that led to the killing of an American civilian contractor might have prompted the White House to target Soleimani. The US believes that Soleimani was responsible for the killing of the American contractor.

The US expected Iran to respond in some way or the other to the drone attack that killed Soleimani. Perhaps it also expected the Iranian response to be "proportional". Which suggests the US is displaying its cutting-edge military technology while showing it is prepared to deal with the domestic and international criticism against its "targeted pre-emption".

Soleimani was one of Iran's ace military commanders, so his death is a huge blow to Iran's national and strategic interests. Coupled with this fact, the rising sea of anti-US protests across Iran prompted Teheran to respond to Soleimani's death. And it chose Al-Assad, the biggest US Air Force base in Iraq, and Irbil, a smaller US base that focuses on intelligence operation, as targets.

The Al-Assad base is huge, so it will take many missiles to cause substantial damage. Despite Iran firing about 10 missiles on the Al-Assad base, the actual damage appears to be limited. But this could also suggest Iran's military response was "measured and proportionate"-and more importantly, that it has "concluded" its response, meaning Iran does not want a war.

Although there is a world of difference between the US and Iran in terms of military power, the Iranian leaders have to respond to any US provocation. If the US' early report of zero casualties at the Al-Assad and Irbil bases is true, it would give the White House a good reason not to take any further action.

The world is keeping a close watch on Iran's nuclear program after Soleimani's death. Since the US has already withdrawn from the nuclear deal and, after Soleimani's killing, Iran said it would no longer abide by the restrictions the 2015 deal imposed on its nuclear program, regional and global concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions have risen again.

As China has high stakes in the Middle East, instability and uncertainty in the region, especially the Persian Gulf, would threaten its interests. China has urged the US to use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Iran, while asking all other relevant parties to exercise maximum self-restraint so that the situation does not spiral out of control. We hope better sense prevails on Washington and Teheran, and they do not make any move that would escalate the already high tensions.

]]> 2020-01-11 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Signing of Sino-US trade deal will be confidence booster for global growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531936.htm With China's Commerce Ministry confirming that Vice-Premier Liu He will lead a delegation to Washington next week to sign the gestated trade deal with the United States, there is optimism that the trade tensions between the world's two largest economies will now be less acute.

Details of the deal have not yet been forthcoming, but no matter how far China and the US have come to reach where they are now, the signing of the agreement, though limited in scope compared with the broad range of issues they are discussing, demonstrates that divergences can be narrowed and an understanding reached if they conduct their discussions on an equal footing and with mutual respect.

This in itself is an encouraging sign. And a welcome pick-me-up for the global economy, which is in acute need of a restorative tonic.

Commenting on the deal, which is expected to be signed at the White House on Jan 15, Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, speaking in New York on Wednesday, expressed confidence that it will prove to be beneficial for China, the US and the rest of the world, especially since the international environment remains highly complex and fluid.

It is fair to say that global growth prospects are still dominated by downward pressures.

In its 2020 Global Economic Prospects issued on Wednesday, the World Bank trimmed its global growth forecasts slightly for 2019 and 2020 despite taking into account the cooling of Sino-US trade frictions.

Cutting 0.2 percentage points off its growth forecast for both years, it said that 2019 marked the weakest economic expansion since the global financial crisis a decade ago, and 2020, while likely to witness a slight improvement, remained vulnerable to uncertainties over trade and geopolitical tensions.

Although its forecast of 2.5 percent growth for 2020 is a slight acceleration from the predicted 2.4 percent of 2019, that mainly stems from the anticipated growth recovery of the emerging market economies.

The report expects China's growth to be 5.9 percent, and with resilient monetary and fiscal frameworks, robust supervisory and regulatory regimes, and transparent debt management, along with coordinated structural reforms aimed at improving the business environment, the rule of law and productivity, the Chinese economy can continue to defy the headwinds of trade and geopolitical tensions.

If the soon to be signed deal between China and the US heralds smoother negotiations to come, it will mark the formation of a more conducive environment for China to be a driver of the world economy.

The two sides should take signing the deal as putting the seal on their joint commitment to carry forward the spirit of modus vivendi in their future negotiations.

Doing so would ensure that no matter how protracted their bargaining may be, the trade talks can be conducted in an atmosphere conducive to accommodation and progress.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Direct finance push for optimum effect]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531978.htm China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission recently released a document urging banking and insurance companies to play an important role in optimizing the country's financial structure.

It also said that the proportion of direct financing will be increased and multiple channels used to convert household savings into long-term funds in the capital market. China's direct financing proportion has been relatively low, and social financing relies heavily on banks.

This over-reliance on banks creates financial risks for the entire financial system. At present, direct financing accounts for 15 percent of social financing in China, with equity financing accounting for only about 5 percent. This structural problem should be corrected by developing direct financing.

However, public focus seems to be on "promoting effective conversion of household savings into long-term funds in the capital market through multiple channels", as many believe it is equivalent to investing in stocks.

But the capital market comprises stocks, government bonds, as well as corporate bonds.

Also, to convert their savings into long-term funds in the capital market, individuals do not necessarily have to invest in stocks. They can channel their savings into annuities, financial products and trust funds in the capital market.

Thanks to China's rapid economic development, residents' wealth has grown rapidly since 2000, but the lion's share of that wealth has gone into buying homes or investing in stocks.

This housing-focused investment behavior has given rise to asset bubbles and brought consequences for the macroeconomy. When real estate investment turns cold, household savings need new investment channels.

Over the past 30 years, the stock market has failed to help the majority of investors increase their wealth. A volatile stock market has also affected its financing operations.

Chinese people need safe and sustainable long-term investment channels. Therefore, it is necessary to vigorously develop investment institutions and give residents the choice of long-term investment through channels such as annuities, financial products and trust funds.

This can help expand direct financing and give people more choices to tap international financial services, which will make the domestic financial institutions more competitive.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Words of de-escalation call for actions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531970.htm In the wake of the United States airstrike that killed prominent Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and Iran's pledge to take revenge, there were worries that what would ensue would be a spiral of escalation.

Indeed, had an angry Teheran chosen to retaliate disproportionately, the scenario would have been dramatically different.

What would have followed a retaliatory attack from Iran that claimed a conspicuous loss of US lives would almost inevitably have invited a new round of counterattacks, considering the US commander in chief's embarrassing, tricky position at home.

No matter how unwilling he might be to plunge his country into another unpopular, unprepared, costly, and unpredictable war in the Middle East, he would have had to respond toughly regardless.

Fortunately, things have not gone down that dangerous path.

Iran did avenge Soleimani's death. In what supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called a "slap on the face" for the US, dozens of missiles were fired at military bases hosting US troops.

But no casualties or major damage to assets have been reported. And, more importantly, just as the US president announced there was no intention to start a war, immediately after the attacks, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif declared the strikes "concluded" Teheran's response to the killing of Soleimani.

Both countries' envoys to the United Nations defended their respective attack on the other as self-defense citing Article 51 of the UN Charter, and both appear to be standing down more or less, showing full awareness of the undesirability of an escalation.

The Iranian UN ambassador stated his country's "measured and proportionate military response ... does not seek escalation or war".

His US counterpart went one step further, saying the US stands "ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran".

Acknowledging the restraint on Teheran's part, the US president has even suggested the two countries could work together for a new nuclear deal and cooperate to deal with jihadists.

What he has proposed may be too bold and unrealistic at this point in time given the recent missile exchange.

But since both parties share the desire to prevent an escalation and find the current state of affairs undesirable, it should not be beyond the realms of possibility since both are in the mood for finding a way out of the deadlock.

For its own and its allies' long-term interests, Washington should honor its words and engage in discussions with Teheran to find political solutions to the host of pressing regional issues. Teheran would also benefit from greater flexibility in dealing with Washington.

While the two countries seem to be downplaying the tension, risks remain, and these will continue to be a fizzling fuse unless the two countries act on their words to avoid war.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Transparency can check spread of virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531968.htm That there has been no panic about the dozens of pneumonia cases in and around the country, primarily in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, where the number of cases had risen to 59 on Friday, can be attributed to lessons having been learned from the SARS epidemic about the importance of transparency.

The World Health Organization was informed on New Year's Eve that a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology had been detected in Wuhan.

Preliminary information from the Chinese investigation team, including the occupation, location and symptom profile of the people affected, pointed to a coronavirus as the possible pathogen responsible.

Now, after gene sequencing of the virus from one sample, a preliminary determination has been made by the investigation team that a new human coronavirus is indeed the cause of the infections.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe diseases, such as the common cold, and others more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not.

According to Xu Jianguo, the Chinese expert who led the team evaluating the pathogen test results, the coronavirus is a novel one that can cause severe illness in some patients but not one that is readily transmitted from person to person.

Further research will need to be conducted to better understand the new coronavirus, yet as a statement from Dr Gauden Galea, WHO representative to China, notes, "Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China's increased capacity to manage new outbreaks."

But even though the virus does not pass readily between people, precautionary measures are more than necessary to narrow down the possibility of the new virus causing an epidemic. Especially since Spring Festival is just around the corner, and millions of people will be traveling round the country and elsewhere for family reunions and vacations.

China has strong public health capacities and the necessary resources to respond and manage respiratory disease outbreaks, but any new developments need to be reported by the authorities in a timely manner, so that effective action can be taken and the public can be informed if they need to take any precautionary and preventive measures.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has carried out active case finding, and retrospective investigations have been completed, and close contacts of those hospitalized have been identified and are under medical observation.

If any new cases of the kind are found in other cities, the authorities should report them immediately, and carry out the same actions. So long as the authorities are transparent about any infections, proper preventive measures can be taken to prevent an epidemic.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[AI too entitled to copyright]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531945.htm Artificial intelligence has long been reported as being able to compose poems and write articles like humans. So, is AI's "literary" output protected by the copyright law?

A court in Nanshan district of Shenzhen ruled that a report written by Tencent's AI program, Dreamwriter, enjoys copyright, and a website, "Home of online loans", which posted the whole article online, has violated the law.

Some media reports called it "the first domestic case involving AI's copyright". But this is not wholly correct. According to the ruling, the article in question was the fruit of intelligent labor put in by a writing team at Tencent, with AI used more like a tool.

Even then the case is no less significant in China's judicial history. After all the judgment recognizes the essential role AI could play in creating literary content and will hopefully encourage more developers to accelerate research and development to create AI that can write reports, and even encourage more media outlets to use AI to write articles for them.

AI technology is being tapped in a big way. On March 9, Xinhua News Agency employed its first AI broadcaster, which could imitate human lip movement on screen while accurately reading out news reports.

Before that, Xinhua had installed an AI-run "media brain" that could sort news reports, submit them to different channels, monitor the whole process and collect feedback. In so doing, it employed technologies like big data, cloud computing, AI and the internet of things. In a nutshell, there is nothing a reporter or an editor can do that AI cannot.

While a majority of media outlets follow this trend, others have made use of the loopholes in the law, as currently there is no legal provision specifically protecting AI's copyright.

That's why the court ruling is rather important. It will deter certain media outlets that hoped to make use of such loopholes to copy content. Every copyright should be protected, be it owned by a human being or AI.

]]> 2020-01-10 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Development can and should be faster]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531950.htm In November, I pointed out that, since the global financial crisis, China has allowed annual GDP growth to fall gradually from more than 10 percent to nearly 6 percent. While a decline was appropriate, I wrote, it is time to stem the slowdown with expansionary monetary and fiscal policies. Unexpectedly, my view sparked a heated debate among influential Chinese economists.

Many have rejected my proposal, offering a long list of justifications for their disagreement. For starters, they argue, China has tried to use fiscal and monetary expansion to stimulate growth before, with limited success. And with the Chinese economy having reached a "new normal" of slower growth, owing to long-term structural factors such as population aging, there is little reason to believe that this time it would yield better results. Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies might even make matters worse for China, because they could hamper supply-side structural reforms, such as by propping up inefficient "zombie companies".

At best, my critics contend, monetary and fiscal stimulus would deplete China's policy space, which isn't exactly robust to begin with. Because China's supply of broad money (M2) is already very high relative to its GDP, expansionary monetary policy would lead not to higher investment and consumption, but to inflation, asset bubbles, and heightened financial risk.

On the fiscal front, my critics say, local governments may have accumulated large "hidden debts"-totaling more than 40 trillion yuan ($5.89 trillion), by some estimates-which drastically raise the risks of fiscal expansion. Moreover, they insist, there is little room left for infrastructure investment.

These arguments are not entirely unfounded. Actually, I held similar views in the past. But after watching the economy slowing down quarter after quarter over the past 10 years, I feel strongly that Chinese economists should reassess their orthodox approach to macroeconomic management.

Consider the "new normal" claim. No informed observer would argue that China can recapture double-digit growth any time soon. But it is not at all clear that long-term structural factors have pushed China's growth potential below 6 percent. There are no data showing the effects of, say, population aging on growth. In fact, estimates of China's potential growth have proved highly unreliable, due to methodological and statistical problems.

I did not argue a particular growth rate that China should target, because I simply don't know. My point was that China's government should intervene to prevent growth from slowing further. And I stand by it.

Whatever the economy's potential, evidence indicates that China is performing below it. Over the last decade, China's core consumer price index has hovered around 2 percent. Its producer price index was negative for 54 consecutive months beginning in March 2012, and it turned negative again last July. Such persistently low inflation, together with considerable excess capacity, implies that there is room for more growth.

But is there room for expansionary fiscal and monetary policy? My critics are right that China's fiscal position is worse than official statistics indicate. What they fail to recognize is that it is still much stronger than that of most developed economies, and even of China itself in the late 1990s, when contingent liabilities, according to the World Bank, reached 74-107 percent of GDP.

At that time, China pursued expansionary fiscal policy, and, thanks partly to that effort, grew its way to a stronger fiscal position. China could achieve something similar today, especially given the high demand for Chinese government bonds-by the public, commercial banks, and other financial institutions-which would keep debt-financing costs low.

The inflationary risks China faces are also overstated. As Japan has showed, a high M2-to-GDP ratio does not necessarily imply high inflation, especially if, as in China today, it is the result of high savings (held largely in non-inflationary savings accounts) and underdeveloped capital markets. Actually, China has plenty of room to lower benchmark interest rates-a move that could complement fiscal expansion and ease the financial burden on business.

There is one area where my critics are altogether wrong: China still has a tremendous need for infrastructure investment. Beyond the obvious benefits of modern public infrastructure, such investment, when financed through public spending and bond issuance, would crowd in private investment, which has been declining steadily in recent years.

Finally, far from impeding structural reform, monetary and fiscal expansion, by stimulating GDP growth, would facilitate it. Fortunately, there are signs that China's leaders may pursue such a policy in 2020, though the pace and potency of their plans remain to be seen. China's leaders have the power to kick-start a virtuous cycle of growth and development in the coming year.

The author, a former president of the China Society of World Economics and director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, served on the Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China from 2004 to 2006.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[It is time for Washington to change course]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531949.htm The epic World War I movie 1917, which won Golden Globe's Best Motion Picture this week, tells the story of two young British soldiers on an impossible mission to deliver a message deep in enemy territory to stop 1,600 fellow soldiers from walking into a deadly trap.

For many people, especially Europeans, World War I, triggered by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on June 28, 1914, is still hard to comprehend and forget given the deaths of 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians.

So when the United States carried out the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Jan 3 near Baghdad International Airport, it left many worried that history might repeat itself.

On Wednesday, Iranian forces fired at least a dozen missiles at military bases housing US troops in Iraq, but which, according to Washington, caused no casualties. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Teheran took and concluded "proportionate measures" in self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. He said Iran does not seek escalation or war, but will defend itself against any aggression. And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the ultimate revenge would be to end US presence in the region.

It came as a huge relief when US President Donald Trump said later on Wednesday that the US would not respond militarily to Iran's latest missile attacks, especially because earlier he had threatened disproportionate retaliation against any Iranian attacks, including destroying Iran's cultural heritage sites.

The standing down on both sides is indeed welcome despite the huge challenges ahead for the two countries to defuse their still heightened tensions.

In his speech, the US president slandered Soleimani at length in a bid to justify the US killing. He also said the Islamic State terrorist group is a natural enemy of Iran, adding "the destruction of ISIS is good for Iran and we should work together on this and other shared priorities".

However, the US president and other senior US officials, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would never want to mention that Soleimani was a hero leading the fight against the IS group, which Washington too was fighting against till it was "defeated" in Syrian and Iraq.

Without providing evidence about the so-called "imminent threat" posed by Soleimani to the US, the US has violated international law and the UN Charter. And it has surely violated Iraq's sovereignty, twice in a week. Iraqi Parliament voted on Sunday to expel US troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi reiterated the call on Tuesday for US troops to leave his country.

In response, the US president threatened Iraq with sanctions. He also demanded Iraq to pay for the US military bases, without mentioning that the huge economic and human loss caused to Iraq since the US invasion in 2003 is hard to calculate. The US leader has blamed the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, for the growing tension between the US and Iran. But many US foreign policy and non-proliferation experts agree that the US' withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 is the real cause of the problem.

Many Europeans these days can't hide their contempt for the US leader, not least because of the US' withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement, and other multilateral agreements and organizations. They are also critical of the US' killing of Soleimani. Josep Borrel, the EU foreign policy chief, was quoted by Politico as saying that "wherever you look there's complete disagreement between the (United) States and Europe. It's a divorce in values".

The US president has threatened new sanctions on Iran despite the fact that US sanctions have long proved to be a failure except in impoverishing the Iranian people, including women and children.

It's time the US changed its behavior and failed policy toward not just Iran, but many other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-10 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Sports industry could boost overall growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531948.htm The sports industry has the potential to grow at even faster pace and therefore bolster China's overall growth, according to a survey report published in December. The report said the sports industry generated about 1 trillion yuan ($144.1 billion) and 1.3 trillion yuan in added value in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

So it would be fair to say that related industries will benefit from the thriving sports industry, especially the gym sector.

A substantial part of the population playing sports is a pre-requisite and significant driving force for consumption growth in the fitness and leisure sectors. Therefore, the consumption in the fitness sector is a good indicator of the whole sports industry's growth.

McKinsey's annual Chinese consumer survey, which covered 5,400 consumers across 44 cities from May to July 2019, showed that consumer spending increased drastically in 2019. For example, during the Double 11(Nov 11) shopping gala, the total sales volume of all online platforms reached 410 billion yuan. The survey also showed that the number of households with annual disposable income of 140,000-300,000 yuan in third-and fourth-tier cities increased by a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent from 2010 to 2018, compared with 23 percent in first-and second-tier cities.

It also showed that young shoppers today have strong purchasing capacity. Despite comprising just about 25 percent of the total shoppers, youths contributed nearly 60 percent to consumption spending growth in 2018. And on the list of the top 25 commodities whose sales grew by more than 5 percent, sneakers, sportswear and sports drinks occupied the 9th, 10th and 14th spots.

The constant growth of consumption in the sports sector can be attributed to several factors.

First, the rising per capita GDP, which reached about $10,000, has facilitated the consumption in the sports sector.

Second, the social transformation brought about China's fast economic growth over the past four decades has enhanced people's sense of health and well-being. As such, an increasing number of people are spending more money and time to stay physically fit and thus boosting the sports and fitness sector.

Moreover, governments at different-levels have introduced differential and targeted policies to promote sports and the sports industry. Thanks to such policies, people today have a wider choice in terms of leading a healthy lifestyle, including hitting the gym.

And third, more and more youths with consumption capacity in second-and third-tier cities have gradually become the main drivers of consumption by choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle.

No wonder gyms have mushroomed across the country, including gym chains, community gyms and gym clubs. As a new type of service providers, gyms also offer customized services to customers in the form of, say, personal trainers, while exploring innovative ways to attract more clients.

As the McKinsey survey report said, gyms can upgrade the level of their services by, say, setting up bars and areas for leisure activities for customers who pay extra charges. Take the Lululemon Athletica, an athletic apparel retailer, for example. It has introduced gym-cum-yoga services, combining conventional physical exercises with intensive yoga practice. And Nike is allowing customers to personalize and design their own Nike merchandise, from shoes to clothing and accessories, through online services as well as physical NIKEiD studios.

And although the number of gyms in China still lags behind that in the United States, the growth rate of gyms in the country is the highest in the world. As there is huge potential to be tapped in the fitness field, there is every reason for the fitness industry to keep expanding and offering even more sophisticated services, while further improving its service quality, and thus boosting the growth of the overall sports industry.

The government's policies, too, will promote the growth of the sports industry, which will help build a healthy and sound leisure and fitness service system nationwide. If the sports industry continues to meet the different demands of consumers, it can grow at a faster pace.

And, hopefully, the further growth of the sports industry will produce more world champions in China.

The author is an expert on Olympic studies. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-10 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Maternity and paternity leave reform could raise birthrate]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531967.htm The Shanghai Municipal Women's Federation has come up with a proposal that could encourage couples to have two kids. It has suggested to the Shanghai municipal people's congress and people's political consultative conference to extend the existing 138-day maternity leave to half a year and urge fathers of newborns to take at least 30 days of paternity leave.

After the 2015 family planning policy reform allowing all couples to have two children, Shanghai's fertility rate saw a brief rise before declining sharply. A worried federation conducted a survey to find out the reasons. On interviewing families, federation officials zeroed in on three reasons couples didn't want to have two children-heavy economic strain, difficulty in raising children, and discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers in the job market.

More than 43.8 percent of the respondents said they don't want to have a second child because their families were short of hands to raise children. In particular, women said raising children took up a lot of their time and thus affected their career prospects.

This phenomenon is not unique to Shanghai. The story is much the same across China thanks to the rising aging population and a declining newborn population. Even after the family planning policy reform, not too many couples are willing to have two children.

Thanks to social progress and women's ever-increasing education levels, more and more women are focusing on their careers and therefore are reluctant to have a second child. This may be a sign of gender equality but the equality does not extend to homes. The major responsibility for household work and raising a child is still shouldered by women. As such, many women don't want to have a second child, with some not wanting even one child.

The Shanghai Municipal Women's Federation's proposal is a positive one and can help stem the declining fertility rate. Providing women longer leave to take care of their newborns and requiring men to participate in the process could reduce the burden on new mothers and help increase the birthrate.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Only strict quality control can save shoe company's reputation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531791.htm The recent quality supervision inspection conducted by the State Administration for Market Regulation revealed that children's shoes made by the famous national brand, Warrior Shoes Company, contained a toxic component, phthalic acid ester (PAE), which can trigger sexual precocity, or early onset of puberty in children. Expectedly, the report triggered a public debate. In fact, it became a hot topic of discussion on Weibo.

PAE can enter the human body through skin contact and interfere with the endocrine system to trigger sexual precocity.

The shoe company responded, saying the PAE came from some raw materials they had purchased and that they had already stopped selling the shoes that contained the toxic material. The company has promised to improve its quality management system and enhance supervision of product quality.

That a hazardous substance has been found in children's shoes is a serious matter, as it has the potential to seriously undermine the brand's reputation.

Warrior Shoes Company, which was established in 1927, remains a reputable brand. Because of its high-quality and trendy products that changed the concept of footwear in China in the 1980s, Warrior became a popular brand and, in recent years, has even been called "the pride of Chinese brands".

Reports say Warrior sold more than 50 million pairs of shoes in 2018, and its sales volume on e-commerce platform Tmall exceeded 200 million yuan ($28.8 million).

But the presence of PAE in its shoes has exposed the loopholes in its quality control system. As its sales grew exponentially, the company began outsourcing its manufacturing and adopted the franchise-dealer business model. But quality control is one area it could still look into.

For any product, the most important thing is quality and safety, which should be the top concern for manufacturers. A quality scandal can easily destroy a brand's reputation. Many people buy Warrior shoes because they have grown up with its products. The company should strengthen its quality management to protect not just consumers' rights and interests but also its reputation.

—WANG YIQING, CHINA DAILY

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Should single women be allowed to freeze eggs?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531841.htm Editor's Note: An unmarried woman's lawsuit against Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Capital Medical University for refusing to freeze her eggs, the first case of its kind in China, entered trial recently. Two experts share their views on the significance of the case with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Neither encourage not prohibit practice

The dispute between 31-year-old Xu Zaozao and the hospital centers on the right of a single woman to freeze her eggs.

Traditionally, only married women enjoy reproductive rights and the human assisted reproductive technology regulation issued in 2003 says, "it is forbidden to proceed with human-assisted reproductive technology on single women".

But the social development brought about by China's fastpaced economic growth has raised women's economic and social status. As a result, women's views on social issues are changing accordingly and a growing number of women are getting married and giving birth at a later age.

And since women's fertility declines with advancing age, it is reasonable for single women to freeze their eggs in order to preserve their reproductive potential. But the assisted reproductive technology regulation allows only married women of childbearing age to avail of human-assisted reproductive technology services and only after providing evidence that they are either infertile or undergoing medical treatment that could impair their fertility.

Nevertheless, judging by the legal provisions of the National People's Congress and NPC Standing Committee, there is nothing to suggest that single women are barred from having their eggs frozen. Therefore, the assisted reproductive technology regulation, as an administrative department's rule, should not be used to deny reproductive rights to single women. As such, the decision of the hospital to not freeze Xu's eggs may be against the spirit of the law.

Unlike the past when most women sought egg freezing services because they were battling some serious disease, a growing number of single women seeking the service today are like Xu.

The regulation needs to be changed to make it compatible with the social demands of the times, and legislation could ensure single women are not denied the right to reproduction.

Egg freezing can be a choice for single women. Yet as risks still exist in the procedure, it should neither be encouraged nor prohibited.

Regulations needed to keep pace with the times

According to the human assisted reproductive technology regulation of 2003, as well as traditional family norms and social ethics, single women cannot freeze their eggs. But times have changed and so should regulations.

Egg freezing became a topic of national debate after actress and film director Xu Jinglei traveled to the United States to avail of the egg freezing services. Given the growing number of single women in China and their growing awareness and rights, combined with the developing reproductive technology, disputes have arisen on whether single women are entitled to reproductive rights.

The bar on single women from seeking assisted reproductive technology services has forced some women to spend tens of thousands of dollars to avail of the service overseas. So the authorities have to take some legal and medical measures to ensure single women's reproductive rights are protected.

Egg freezing can help single women to "stop the clock" on the aging of their eggs so they can be used later. It also allows a single woman to build her career or lead the lifestyle she wants to, and choose to become a mother when, say, she finds the right partner. It can also help single women suffering from cancer or other diseases to give birth after completing their treatment.

The authorities could take all these factors into consideration and lift the ban on single women seeking assisted reproductive technology services. They also need to work out related regulations such as making it mandatory for medical institutions to fully inform single women of the possible risks of freezing eggs, and detailing how to store and dispose of frozen eggs.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

Wang Yue, a professor of medical ethics at the School of Medical Humanities, Peking University

 

 

Zhang Li, a professor at the Civil and Commercial Law School, Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More opening-up at 'Shanghai speed']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531840.htm That it has taken only 358 days for Tesla's Gigafactory in Shanghai to deliver its first Model 3 electric car to a local buyer after the ground breaking ceremony for its 157,000-square-meter phase-one plant speaks volumes of the efficiency with which China can help foreign enterprises translate their visions into reality.

The Shanghai plant can manufacture 150,000 cars a year now, plus accessories, and the automaker's localization in the world's largest car market can help bring down the production costs by about 10 to 15 percent. But it is not only the company and Chinese consumers that will reap the benefits, Shanghai's tax coffers and the whole industrial chain in the Yangtze River Delta region will also benefit.

It is the country's unswerving efforts to better its business environment that has helped finalize the materialization of the blueprint for the win-win cooperation, driving home its commitment to facilitating trade and investment. While rising protectionism seeks to obstruct foreign investment and trade in some developed economies, the "Shanghai speed" at which the Tesla project is now up and running is of global significance, as it has provided the world with an opportunity to see how welcoming China is of foreign investment.

China's more than 40 years of fast economic growth and social development have been accompanied by its active integration into the global value chain, during which foreign investors, including more than 490 of the world's top 500 corporations, have spent about $2.1 trillion founding more than 900,000 ventures in it.

To meet the people's needs for better lives-China's per capita GDP reached $10,000 last year, the threshold for a middle-income economy-and to boost its industrial upgrading and economic restructuring, the country will continue with its endeavors to attract foreign companies.

Its business environment quality ranking in the Doing Business report of the World Bank rose from the 78th in 2017 to the 31st last year. And since the new Foreign Investment Law took effect on Jan 1, its business environment seems set to dock with that of the world, and bear more predictability, transparency and rule-of-law in intellectual property rights protection. Any resistance it encounters in the confrontation with protectionism and unilateralism will only strengthen its resolve to advance reform and opening-up.

Tesla is not only accelerating the world's transition to a new-look future of electric cars; it is also in the vanguard of a new era for foreign companies in China. In 1984, a little more than five years after the launch of reform and opening-up, the German company Volkswagen established China's first automobile joint venture in Shanghai. Thirty-six years later, Tesla is the first foreign automobile company to operate in China without a Chinese partner.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Another step toward a fair market environment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531839.htm The State Administration for Market Regulation recently published the Anti-Monopoly Law amendment draft to solicit public opinion. That means the law that has been in force for 11 years will be amended.

Many local governments in China, obsessed with such economic indexes as "growth rate", "economic scale" and "profit", have focused more on some industrial policies to ensure economic growth while doing enough to build a fair market environment.

To facilitate high-quality development, the country must allow the market to play a decisive role in the allocation of resources, while taking steps to ensure fair competition. To this end, the country is trying to establish a set of rules that mirrors the international trade and investment rules system.

And by further opening up the economy and creating a fair competition environment, China must promote innovation-driven high-quality development.

In 2016, the State Council, China's Cabinet, called for the establishment of a fair competition review system for various industrial and investment policies. The idea was to check the introduction of policies and measures that exclude or limit competition, and to gradually revise or abolish regulations and practices that impede fair competition.

The enforcement of the Anti-Monopoly Law in 2008 and the growing use of the internet for business drastically changed the market environment.

And the existing legal clauses have become somewhat obsolete given the changes that have taken place. Also, the discriminatory nature of ownership access has become increasingly unacceptable to the market, underscoring the need for further opening up the economy to break the industrial monopoly. With the full implementation of the negative list system for market access, the government has gradually revised or abolished the regulations that come in the way of a national unified market and fair competition, thus laying the foundation for a comprehensive revision of the Anti-Monopoly Law.

The draft amended to the Anti-Monopoly Law imposes penalties on illegal activities or unfair competition online. Since a market system that promotes fair competition is key to ensuring high-quality products, the country must enact a scientific law and promote its strict enforcement to establish an open and fair market environment.

 - 21ST CENTURY BUSINESS HERALD

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tech decoupling will not keep US first]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531794.htm The Consumer Electronics Show, which has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies worldwide for decades, used to be a magnet for Chinese high-tech giants seeking to build their brands and forge global partnerships-so much so that many have joked that CES stands for the China Electronics Show.

But with Washington having launched a technology cold war against China, the presence of Chinese high-tech companies at this year's show in Las Vegas is notably reduced.

In 2018, before Washington started turning the screws on China's tech companies, they accounted for one-third of those participating in the world's biggest consumer technology trade fair. Last year, the number of Chinese companies accounted for more than one in four. But during this year's event, running from Tuesday to Friday, only a little over 1,000 of the 4,500 companies present at the show come from China, with many of the big names such as Alibaba and Tencent absent.

Many Chinese companies have stayed away because they are on Washington's trade restricting "entity list" with the justification being they are contributing to what US officials claim are violations of human rights in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region or because they have been identified by the US as a national security risk. Others reportedly decided not to attend because the US adopted a stricter visa policy toward them.

Fears that the US is seeking to strangle China's high-tech progress would appear to have been corroborated by a Eurasia Group report released on Monday on top risks for 2020 that bemoans a decoupling in the technology sphere between China and the US, which it dubbed as "the single most impactful development for globalization since the collapse of the Soviet Union".

But erecting barriers to technology will not derail Chinese tech companies from their fast track of growth, it will only propel them to invest more in research and development so as to remain competitive on the innovation front.

China is no longer just an assembler of electronic devices. It now plays an indispensable role in the international technology supply chain. The increasing interdependence between high-tech companies as a result of globalization means a technology cold war between China and the US will not only be detrimental to the research and development collaborations that technological progress now relies on, it will also hurt the US economy. For example, in terms of US companies losing royalties and intellectual property-related revenue as well as business in the huge Chinese market.

Rather than decoupling, nations should work together to reshape the future of global technology that serves the good of all.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Economy could bottom out this year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531808.htm How well will China's economy perform in 2020? The popular view appears to be that real GDP growth will continue its downward trend, sliding below 6 percent. Contrary to the popular view that China's growth will slow further, we (at Deutsche Bank) think the Chinese economy will likely bottom out in 2020, and GDP growth will pick up modestly from the second quarter of this year.

We see three main drivers for an economic recovery in 2020.

Growth may turn positive

First, export growth will likely turn positive again thanks to a stabilizing global economy, and a halt to further increases or even possible rollback of US tariffs. We expect China's exports to bottom out in the next few months, and improve gradually throughout 2020 to about 5 percent growth by the end of the year.

Global demand appears to be bottoming, and it may show modest improvement in 2020. The global manufacturing purchasing managers' index, historically a good leading indicator for China's exports, has rebounded over the past few months, exceeding 50 in November 2019.

Into 2020, sentiment appears to be forming a bottom on a global scale. In the United States, recession risks have reduced noticeably, growth is expected to bottom out by the end of 2020. In Europe, manufacturing data are beginning to bottom, particularly in Germany, and the risk of a disruptive no-deal Brexit has diminished. Japan's GDP growth is also expected to improve in 2020 after the consumption tax hike in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Domestic demand is main economic driver

Second, consumer spending will likely increase, especially on durable goods such as vehicles and cell phones. The China-US trade war, despite often occupying news headlines, is only a secondary factor in China's slowdown; the main driver of the Chinese economy is domestic demand, including consumption and investment.

The 5G network, which is planned to be introduced to most cities in 2020, will provide further incentives for consumers to upgrade their smartphones. If the 5G rollout follows similar patterns as 3G and 4G, 5G smartphone sales will likely accelerate in mid-2020 and reach a peak around 2022.

Overall car ownership is still low in China, with the exception of a few megacities. Car ownership per 1,000 people in China is only about 150 passenger cars, equivalent to Japan's level in 1975. China's car ownership will likely continue to rise rapidly. Aside from this long-term trend, a new replacement cycle, too, is on the horizon.

Consumption spending likely to increase

Our key non-consensus assumption is a cyclical recovery of consumption spending. After the housing boom in 2016-18, Chinese households faced a higher debt service burden and tighter liquidity constraints, which prompted them to reduce spending, especially on durable goods.

We are starting to observe signs of improvement in household liquidity. Mortgage interest rates, after rising sharply in 2017-18, declined in 2019, and growth of household liquid assets started to recover. Also, household surveys indicate a pickup in urban household spending growth of late, which in turn suggests the gap between household income and spending could be closing.

Third, fiscal expansion and monetary easing will likely support the economy through infrastructure investment and higher credit growth. The prospects for manufacturing investment this year will crucially depend on the Sino-US trade war and producer price developments. If, as we expect, trade tensions ease after the signing of the phase-one deal and exports start to recover, it will be good news for manufacturing investment.

Infrastructure investment is on track for a good start in 2020. The government has redoubled its policy efforts for infrastructure investment this year, and we expect infrastructure investment, after an initial surge in the first half of this year, to gradually moderate in the second half. For the whole of 2020, we see infrastructure investment growth at 6-7 percent compared with 4-5 percent in 2019.

Fiscal policy may focus on spending

With policy likely to remain supportive in 2020, we expect the augmented fiscal deficit to increase by another 1 percent of GDP. After a major round of tax cuts, fiscal policy will likely focus more on spending in 2020, including infrastructure investment and employment/social benefits. The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, will likely expedite the use of lending facilities to support credit to the real economy, while constraining the use of required reserve ratio and medium-term lending facility rate cuts.

This mix of growth and policy outlook will be overall positive news for the Chinese currency. We forecast the yuan will appreciate to 6.7 per US dollar by the end of this year, because we believe the market overestimated the impact of the Sino-US trade war on China and overreacted. China's external flows have not deteriorated: trade and current account surpluses have increased, FDI inflows have continued, and portfolio inflows have surged, and we expect these trends to continue in 2020.

This outlook is not without risks, though. A near-term obstacle is the consumer/producer price divergence. If the gap persists between high consumer price index inflation and producer price index deflation, it will be difficult for policymakers to support growth and maintain price stability at the same time. Persistent tensions in Sino-US relations also weigh on the growth outlook. A non-negligible risk is that the US could scale up export controls and restrictions on China's technology companies.

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[World would pay very high price if Middle East powder keg ignites]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531807.htm As it said it would, Iran has struck back. In response to the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week, Iran fired a series of ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops on Wednesday. While the US president tweeted "all is well" after the strikes, Iran claimed that"80 American terrorists" had been killed, leaving people wondering if Washington will take further action.

It is to be hoped that whatever the outcome of Iran's missile strikes were, Washington will heed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's tweet after the strikes that "Iran is not seeking escalation or war", which should be interpreted as a clear signal that Iran will not take any further action if the US does not retaliate.

Further darkening the pall of gloom surrounding the already highly volatile situation, a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Teheran's main airport, killing all onboard.

At present, it is unrealistic to think that the years of hostility between Washington and Teheran will suddenly have ended with both having vented their antipathy toward the other with their latest exchange of missile strikes.

But the Iraq War should serve as a reminder to the US that even though its military power might be enough to seemingly prevail-encouraging it to repeat its impetuous "shock and awe" military adventurism-not everything can be resolved through force. While it has not been the one to bear the brunt of the consequences, the US policy in the Middle East, backed and emboldened by its overwhelming military superiority, has proved to be an unmitigated disaster for the region and beyond. It was the messy outcome of the Iraq War that prompted the US president to campaign on a platform of "bringing our boys home"-alive and not in body bags-during the last election.

Judging from the responses from both sides after Wednesday's strikes, it seems both Washington and Teheran know they need to keep a lid on their quarrel. As long-standing players in the Middle East, they are both aware of how complex the geopolitics is in the region and the price to be paid for igniting the powder keg there.

No matter who is to blame for pushing the two countries near the brink of war, and no matter how deep their enmity goes, they should not let it get out of hand.

The latest escalation of tension may help Iranian leaders ease some anti-government sentiment at home and unite Iranians further under the anti-American banner. For Trump, it may help divert attention from his upcoming impeachment trial.

Hence, both sides should settle for what has been done is done. Although, as long-term rivals, they both no doubt know the bottom line of each other better than others, history shows that it is all too easy to unwittingly unleash the monsters of war when countries start playing with fire.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[A wake-up call from Down Under]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531806.htm Australia is enduring the worst bushfires in history.

The fires that started in September have left 25 people dead, more than 1,000 homeless, and destroyed over 500 houses. It has also killed 480 million birds, reptiles and mammals, including 20,000 koalas, a protected species in Australia, according to a biodiversity expert.

The bushfires have been raging for more than four months now, but some people said on Twitter that bushfires tormented Australia all through 2019 and are still raging on.

It is important to find out what sparked the fires so measures can be taken to prevent them in the future. While there could be many causes, the main causes, according to the World Meteorological Organization, were dry weather and high temperatures.

The weather in Australia was extremely dry in 2019, particularly in November, which many experts say was "the driest of all the 120 Novembers since 1900".

According to available data, the average rainfall in Australia in 2019 was 277.63 millimeters, even lower than the 314.46 mm of 1902, considered "the driest year of the 20th century".

High temperatures, too, aggravated the situation. On Dec 19, the average temperature across Australia was 41.9 degrees Celsius, unbearable for humans and animals alike.

Such high temperatures can easily trigger fires in grasslands and forested areas. And the lower humidity level helped the fire to spread in a big way.

Scratch the surface further and one finds the other usual suspect-climate change. Australia, located in the Western Pacific, is one of the biggest victims of climate change, manifested in the dryness triggered by El Nino events. Consequently, its vast inland hardly gets much rain.

What's happening in Australia should send a warning to all countries. Dry weathers that trigger bushfires could affect one and all.

Experts warn that in 2020 the weather in Australia could be worse. And similar conditions could afflict other countries too. It's time people prepared for bigger disasters.

— ZHANG ZHOUXIANG, CHINA DAILY

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tough road ahead for Johnson in year of Brexit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531826.htm The United Kingdom is scheduled to formally leave the European Union on Jan 31. But can it complete the Brexit process in the next 23 days?

The general election on Dec 12 returned the Conservative Party to power with a clear majority in the Parliament. But the favorable election result alone is not enough for the Tories to ensure a smooth Brexit before the Jan 31 deadline expires.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a hard-line Brexiteer, has tried all means to get his Brexit plan passed in the Parliament. Before the general election, he even forced the suspension of Parliament, and expelled members who disagreed with him from the Conservative Party to get his Brexit plan through the House of Commons.

Although a new Brexit deal was reached on Oct 17, the British Parliament vetoed Johnson's Brexit timetable, forcing him to ask the EU to yet again extend the Brexit deadline. The EU obliged and extended the deadline to Jan 31, and the British Parliament agreed to Johnson's request to hold election.

The Brexit process has gone through a complicated path for the past three and a half years. As a matter of fact, it seems the UK has not prepared well for the withdrawal from the EU. In particular, after the referendum on Brexit in 2016, the contradiction between the "remaining" and "leaving" camps has further intensified, and even divisions within the Tories over Brexit have arisen.

So will the Brexit puzzle be solved after more than three years at the end of this month? After the election, the Conservative members of Parliament voiced support for Johnson's withdrawal proposal. Since an overwhelming majority of Tories in Parliament want Britain to exit the EU on schedule, the opposition of some individual Tory members to Johnson's plan will have little impact on the end result. And the fact that the Brexit deal has undergone a second reading in the Parliament indicates that the Brexit process can be completed on schedule.

But a more thorny issue lies ahead for Johnson: how to hammer out a deal on post-Brexit UK-EU trade relations that is acceptable to both Britain and the EU, and can be endorsed by the British Parliament. In particular, the grave disagreements between Britain and the EU on trade relations are the main factor that will decide whether it will be a hard or soft Brexit. Given the huge trade interests of both sides, it is obvious that Johnson wants to maintain good trade relations, marked by zero tariff and zero quota, with the EU.

However, the EU has maintained a tough stance on the issue. For example, French President Emmanuel Macron said that if Britain wants to maintain close trade relations with the EU, it has to conform to EU rules and standards, especially on labor and the environment.

Striking a reasonable deal with the EU within a short time is a tough challenge that Johnson faces. And since the Parliament approved the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill on Dec 20, which contains the provisions of non-extension of the transition period, there is a strong possibility that it would be a no-deal Brexit. Which means the UK is back to where it started on the Brexit process.

It is true that the Tories have won the election, but Britain's future relations with the EU is still uncertain and will continue to roil British politics, which could widen the political divide if UK-EU relations are not properly handled. The Tory government will probably face a slew of other tricky problems including Scottish independence and Northern Ireland "backstop" issues following Brexit.

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Green growth will yield desired results]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531435.htm Recurring meteorological disasters keep reminding us of the devastating effects of climate change, which are too grim to be overlooked.

Since the effects of climate change don't differentiate among countries based on their ideological differences, social norms or economic systems, countries need to work together to reach a consensus on a framework of action, including international treaties, policy initiatives and periodic targets, to fight climate change.

But unfortunately, the global coordination and governance framework for initiatives to fight climate change are teetering on the brink. From Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009 to Paris in 2015 and Madrid in 2019, the annual climate change conferences have raised hopes only to end in disappointment.

Striking the right balance between developing countries' right to development and developed countries' right to high-quality life seems to be a mutually exclusive endeavor. The developed and developing countries have to drastically narrow their differences on the issue in order to contribute to a common, greater cause.

However, meaningful actions to combat climate change are always easier said than done, as even agreeing to a clear definition of the diverse effects of climate change remain a difficult task. Indeed, when taking specific climate mitigation initiatives such as participating in carbon trading, or seeking carbon capture and storage, it is difficult to define actions complicated as they are by pricing, technological development and national interests.

Yet the distribution of climate burden among countries is not merely a trade-off but a shared responsibility based on rules.

Seemingly, the color green has become the most expensive and difficult to sustain. Yet as a journalist from China, one of the world's fastest growing economies and largest emitters, I seek ways to not only make our planet livable but also greener and more sustainable.

The first task is to make sense of environmentally friendly social and economic development. If the "green task" is about exchanging the dream of higher living standards for a healthier environment, sustainability of economic growth becomes a big question mark, especially for developing countries. I wish green projects would generate higher financial returns in the long run.

Contrary to popular belief, empirical studies show eco-friendly development is more sustainable in the long run. It is important to emphasize that a green economy first produces green value, in real economic terms, to generate monetary returns, and only then does it occupy a moral high ground.

It is also important to stress the significance of green finance. In today's world, a real economy cannot be isolated from the virtual economy. Finance, though virtual in a way, not only acts as a catalyst to economic development, but also has become an integral part of social development. Without complex financial systems, a green economy cannot thrive.

Fortunately, the financial markets' mechanisms that boost general economic growth also promote green industrial growth. For instance, in the waste-to-energy sector, the initial public offerings have provided the much-needed financing for related industries. Private equity firms are also involved in continuous financing and corporate restructuring activities to realize the value embedded in different green industries. Obviously, the technology-and capital-intensive nature of a green economy requires a sound arrangement from industrial and financial perspectives. Virtual is real in this sense.

Moreover, green finance is not a one-off activity, but an ongoing process. Take China for example. It has not only made solid progress in terms of environmental protection, but also made green development one of its five strategic missions.

China is a signatory to various international accords on climate change, including the Paris Agreement, and has been taking measures to ensure its industrial and financial sectors, and infrastructure projects are conducive to green development. It has also issued green bonds and elevated green project finance to a whole new level, while guaranteeing that its green finance initiatives are market-oriented and rules-based.

And, green development will yield the desired results, just as green finance does.

The author is director of the Economic News Department of China News Service.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Free respite care service a boon for aging society, should be extended]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531488.htm THE GOVERNMENT IS purchasing respite care service to help families take care of disabled elders and/or elders living with dementia in parts of Beijing. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

Fengtai district in Beijing recently rolled out the second phase of its pilot respite care program to provide temporary care service to 1,000 disabled elderly people and/or senior citizens living with dementia, a move that families of the elderly have welcomed.

Taking care of elderly people who are disabled or living with dementia is a 24x7 job that often leaves family members exhausted.

Thanks to respite care, a service that is paid for by the government, senior citizens can go to a nursing home where they can get all-round care. Alternatively, nursing staff can be sent to such people's homes. This way the caregiver in the family can take rest for four days a month.

Fengtai district launched the respite care pilot program in November 2018. In the 13 months since, the program has greatly helped the senior citizens and their families. The service is expected to be extended to the entire city.

With China facing a rising aging population problem, how to provide support for the elderly is a major concern.

Traditionally, families have been taking care of the elderly. And since life expectancy in China has increased in recent decades, in quite a few families the caregivers themselves are senior citizens.

According to a 2018 Tianjin Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau report, 86.1 percent of the disabled elderly people in Tianjin are taken care of by their spouses, children or relatives, and the average age of the caregivers is 59.

Respite care service is a boon to such families, as it helps caregivers to take care of themselves. And with the joint efforts of the government, society and families, the program should be promoted nationwide.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Iron out the other side of internet finance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531476.htm Editor's note: At its 2020 work conference, the central bank called for continuous efforts to rectify financial risks online. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

The development of internet finance in recent years shows that financial technology is a double-edged sword. It does make payments a breeze, but it also greatly increases financial risks, posing a huge challenge to the country's financial security.

With the emergence of new fintech services, China must ensure that financial institutions fulfill their main obligation, to serve the real economy, and guard against becoming an exclusive channel to fund the virtual economy.

Preventing or removing major financial risks remains China's priority in its quest to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. Over the past year, China made key progress in this regard, effectively curbing the macro leverage ratio, dealing with the threat of shadow banking, and reducing internet finance risks.

While internet finance has made payment much more convenient and social operation more efficient, its rapid growth has given rise to some problems, not least because some institutions lack legal and risk awareness and are not adept at protecting consumers' rights. The fact that some related industries lag behind in the field of innovation has also created certain problems. There have been frequent cases of illegal fund-raising, pyramid selling and other frauds under the guise of financial innovation. In the absence of strong regulation over internet finance, loan sharks have targeted students, sometimes even endangering their lives.

The authorities must tighten supervision on internet finance and prevent illegal financial activities online. In other words, internet finance should not be "beaten to death" just because it involves risks, and innovation should not give rise to swindling.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Move to end HK's educational bias welcome]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531469.htm Although many people might have missed the news given the media's focus on the more sensational headlines and eye-catching images of the latest rioting in the city, Friday provided a snippet of information that could be a positive development for Hong Kong's future stability.

With 17 votes in favor, 11 votes against and no abstentions, the seemingly mundane news that the Legislative Council Panel on Education has approved the proposal to establish a committee to study, evaluate and supervise the teaching of general education and the influence of the teaching materials used for the subject is a welcome, if belated, move to assess the influence of what children in Hong Kong learn about Today's Hong Kong and Modern China. These are two of the six topics covered by the course, which is a compulsory part of the education for 6-to 18-year-olds in the special administrative region.

The passing of the proposal is a remarkable breakthrough in itself, given the overwhelming resistance to the many previous efforts in this direction. It indicates that the lasting turmoil in the city has convinced some lawmakers to change their minds. Presumably, they have finally awakened to the fact that strengthening oversight of what young people in the SAR learn can prevent them being led astray.

It is no secret that most of the general education textbooks and classes, which have been outside the supervision of the Hong Kong Education Bureau since the course was launched in 2009, depict the SAR and central governments in a negative light. Or that they portray the United States and United Kingdom as being the epitome of the modern state.

No wonder so many of those detained by the Hong Kong Police since the unrest started in June last year, mostly for violence, illegal gathering and debasement of the national flags, are students.

The excuses they have given to the courts when applying for release on bail, which range from not wanting to change their traveling plans to preparing for exams, have laid bare the failure of their general education, which instead of cultivating them to be responsible, law-abiding citizens has only served to turn them into callow lawbreakers.

If the committee can really fulfill its desired duties, it has the potential to prevent the anti-government forces from adulterating the textbooks and teachings, particularly in the controversial general education.

But considering the anti-government forces are still universal in organs and bodies such as the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority-which is independent of the education bureau but decides which parts of the textbooks are tested-and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, the committee represents only the very first step to put Hong Kong's education back on the right track.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China and US should avoid a 'cool war']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531436.htm In recent years, fears of a "new cold war" between the United States and China have been rising. But the tensions between the two powers can be better described as a "cool war", characterized not by old-fashioned spheres of interest, proxy wars, and the threat of "mutually assured destruction", but by an unprecedented combination of wide-ranging competition and deep interconnection.

Even without the threat of nuclear annihilation that marked the Cold War, a "lose-lose" outcome is likely in this "cool war", not least because, in a scenario where either the US or China begins to gain an advantage over the other, the loser could well act rashly to bring the other down with it. But a win-lose or even win-win outcome is also possible. Whatever happens, the effects will reverberate globally.

'Cool war' dynamics

The ongoing Sino-US trade war, which the US initiated in the summer of 2018, offers a straightforward example of "cool-war" dynamics. Whereas the Soviet Union was a closed economy, China has, over four decades of "reform and opening-up", established itself as one of the world's top three global supply-chain hubs, along with the US and Germany.

Given the deep interconnectedness of the US and Chinese economies-both with each other and the rest of the world-everybody wins if the trade war ends. That is why the recent "phase-one" trade deal is good news.

But the next step remains far from certain. If the "phase-one" deal falters and the conflict continues to escalate, the US and China could move to sever direct ties. Given the difficulty of untangling global supply chains, however, the US and China would remain indirectly linked. So, while the world economy would be reshaped, and everyone would suffer from the added cost of increased trade frictions, the formation of entirely separate, competing trading systems is unlikely.

Competition not limited to trade

Unfortunately, trade may not be the only area where all-out strategic competition is in the cards. The US and China increasingly seem to be embracing a Cold War-style zero-sum approach to national security, which threatens to bring about a wide-ranging and extremely wasteful bilateral contest over everything from defense and innovation to finance and ideology.

Like the Cold War arms race, such competition would lead to what American ecologist Garrett Hardin called the "tragedy of commons": people overuse the resources that are available to them, without accounting for the negative effects for society (including themselves). The resources the US and China would channel toward their all-encompassing competition-and those that other countries would also have to spend to adjust to this new strategic environment-would dwarf the value created through international trade and investment.

For example, in technology, the Sino-American competition would lead to two separate innovation ecosystems, each with different standards and core technologies. This would drastically increase the costs of research and development and deepen the risks of damaging systemic disruptions-a costly step backward after decades of globalization.

Global peace, stability could be undermined

Such fragmentation would also gut global governance. Already strained multilateral institutions-the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, to name three of the more vulnerable-would cease to function in any meaningful way, undermining peace and stability worldwide. Other bulwarks of the global economy, such as payments systems, would similarly break down.

To avoid this outcome, the US and China must take steps to build trust, strengthen cooperation, and improve policy discipline. This does not mean they have to agree on everything. Rather, in line with the Chinese proverb "no friendship can be built without fights", they must express their disagreements clearly and respectfully, and assert their respective red lines honestly.

For example, the US would need to agree not to challenge China on its basic growth model, its political system, or the underlying ideology. This would mean limiting the "whole-of-government" approach to relations that US Vice-President Mike Pence advocated-and accused China of employing-in 2018. Strategic competition is inevitable, but not just any tool or topic is fair game. Fortunately, there are signs that US trade negotiators, at least, recognize China's ideological red lines.

This is not to say that China has no concessions to make-or that it is not willing to make them. In line with US demands, and its own long-term structural-reform objectives, China is committed to continuing to open up its economy and financial system. The Chinese government's aggressive development of dynamic urban clusters, such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong Macao Greater Bay Area, supports this effort, as do its measures to improve sustainability, reduce corruption, streamline bureaucracy and address inequality.

China willing to cooperate

China has also demonstrated its willingness to cooperate on supplying global public goods by participating in multilateral frameworks and agreements such as the 2015 Paris climate accord (from which the US has withdrawn). China has also used its wealth to invest in innovation and support development far beyond its borders.

The "cool war" threatens to undermine these efforts, because facing the US at the negotiating table requires China to strengthen its own position above all. Which means ensuring that disruptions caused by US measures aimed at making short-term gains do not present a long-term systemic threat to China, even as they hurt the global economy as a whole.

A Sino-US "cool war" would be far less cut and dried than the Cold War. Minimizing the fallout will require both sides to recognize that, in an interconnected world, efforts to strengthen their respective position become self-defeating when they undermine global stability and dynamism. The trade war has thrown this lesson into sharp relief. Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that it has been learned by the US.

Andrew Sheng is a distinguished fellow of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance. And Xiao Geng, president of the Hong Kong Institution for International Finance, is a professor at and director of the Research Institute of Maritime Silk-Road at Peking University HSBC Business School.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-07 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Washington's tech paranoia has not abated]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531447.htm It is no secret that the United States has been trying to tighten its noose on Chinese technology enterprises, as evidenced by the tough sanctions being imposed on Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei and many other high-tech companies.

Some politicians in the US have seen China's rising technological prowess in recent years as a threat to US national security, and fear it will challenge US dominance of the most important technologies of tomorrow, ranging from silicon chips, artificial intelligence to the internet of things.

Given the prevailing Cold War mentality that has fueled this China tech-threat paranoia, it is no surprise that Washington has once again imposed new technology restrictions targeting the country.

Under a new rule that took effect on Monday, companies that export certain types of geospatial imagery software from the US must apply for a license to send it overseas except when it is being shipped to Canada. The new rules mean US technology companies producing AI software to analyze satellite imagery will face new restrictions on exporting their products to China and elsewhere. This is the result of the US Congress passing a law in 2018 that updated national security-related export controls to protect "emerging and foundational" technology that could end up in the hands of foreign powers such as China.

China has been fast catching up with the US in this field as such algorithms can analyze satellite images of crops, trade patterns and the effects of climate change. The country has vowed to reach "world-leading levels" in AI technology and to reduce its "external dependence" for key technologies and equipment. By the end of last year, China had 3,341 AI companies, second in number only to the US, according to the 2019 China New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Report. China also led in AI research paper publications from 2013 to 2018, with 74,408 papers published, followed by the US with 51,766.

Yet despite the US intention to blunt China's edge in AI, how effective the restrictions will be in that endeavor remains to be seen. Experience suggests that the US will not be able to maintain its lead in AI simply through commerce restrictions. Rather it is the investment in research and development that will be the decisive factor.

That notwithstanding, it is noteworthy that the latest hostile move by the US comes shortly before the expected signing of the so-called phase one trade agreement between the two countries, which is reportedly scheduled for the middle of this month.

By increasing the pressure it is putting on China on the technology front, the US action has unnecessarily brought new uncertainties to the already volatile trade relations. Such a confrontational stance may not bode well for the next phase of trade negotiations that are to follow.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US military adventurism shows it has not learned lessons of the past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531438.htm Two developments are especially salient after the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by the United States in a drone attack near Baghdad airport on Friday. These are Iran's decision, announced on Sunday, to no longer abide by the restrictions on its nuclear program that it agreed to in 2015, and the call by Iraq's Parliament for the expulsion of all US troops from the country.

Iran said in a statement that its nuclear program "no longer faces any limitation in the operational field" including its capacity for enriching uranium, which was a key part of the terms of the nuclear accord aimed at preventing it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

However, Teheran should not take the blame for trashing the nuclear deal. After all, it is the US that has repeatedly ignored the facts that international inspection proves Iran has always abided by the deal and instead mounted extreme pressure on the Islamic republic since its withdrawal.

It is to be hoped that the US is not trying to force Iran to quit the nuclear deal with the intention of using it as an excuse to target its nuclear facilities.

Iran has shown restraint to the execution of Soleimani so far. It knows its retaliation may well fall into Washington's hands by triggering more hostile actions, especially with the US leader saying he had a list of 52 targets across the Islamic republic, including important cultural sites that would be hit in the event of any retaliation. With that in mind, Teheran holding to its commitment to the nuclear deal would make Washington lose more ground in the stand-off, both morally and legally. The US leader has already been heavily censured for his threat to target cultural sites and warned it would constitute a war crime.

Meanwhile, although the Iraqi Parliament's resolution is nonbinding, it highlights the increasingly strained relations between Washington and Baghdad, and it has ignited more criticism in the US about the continuing US military presence in the Middle East country and its failure to foster a pro-US government in Iraq.

The US should take a step back from the escalating confrontation with Iran and consider the wider ramifications of its actions.

The US president has faced harsh criticism both at home and around the world for authorizing such an impulsive and dangerous act, which has raised concerns about an aberrant commander-in-chief ignoring established protocols and international legal norms to curry favor with his support base ahead of the election.

As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said, the US drone strike violated the basic norms of international relations and the US' abuse of power has aggravated regional tensions and turbulence. He has urged the US to seek solutions via dialogue.

Hopefully, the US administration will heed his advice, as there is no telling what harm it might do if it continues to go rogue.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Transparency prevents panic in virus case]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531437.htm LOCAL OFFICIALS IN WUHAN, capital of Hubei province, where some people were quarantined last week after being diagnosed with pneumonia, have ruled out the possibility of the disease being severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) or bird flu. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

After the pneumonia cases were first reported on Dec 31, people immediately began asking if SARS, which broke out in China and large parts of Asia in 2002-03, was back. Instead of giving an immediate answer, the authorities in Wuhan conducted a thorough study before ruling it out on Sunday.

So, why the sudden increase in pneumonia cases? The authorities were honest enough to say they still don't know. They also did not hide the fact that the number of those infected had risen to 59, from 27 on Wednesday and 44 on Friday.

The local authorities' honesty has inspired confidence. A glance through social media networks shows there is no hint of panic among residents; tourist flow to Wuhan has not been hit either.

The pneumonia cases in Wuhan are a good example of how transparency in governance prevents rumors from spreading and people from panicking. Only when people are well informed about what is happening around them will they ignore rumors and feel confident in the government.

Absence of panic will prevent mass migration from places that purportedly face medical emergencies and help the government to effectively control the spread of any disease.

As for the pneumonia cases, the fact that the authorities have ruled out SARS and MERS does not mean we become complacent. Until the virus is identified, we won't know how to deal with it. But with everybody's joint efforts, we should be able to control it soon.

]]> 2020-01-07 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Separatists undermine well-being of Taiwan compatriots]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531448.htm Thanks to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's provocative moves since Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, cross-Straits relations have been deteriorating. In fact, cross-Straits ties have reached the freezing point.

The island is due to elect its next leader on Saturday, and the future of cross-Straits relations will largely depend on the result. If the ruling party in Taiwan upholds the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, the frozen relationship between the Chinese mainland and the island will thaw, leading to cooperation and co-development, because cross-Straits ties rest on the Taiwan ruling party accepting the "one China" principle.

The DPP, through its moves, has hindered cross-Straits exchanges, promoted its "de-Sinicization" agenda, created hatred among compatriots across the Straits, and intimidated Taiwan residents into severing ties with the motherland. And given the fact that the DPP prefers to act as a pawn in Washington's game to contain Beijing, it could heighten tensions across the Straits in order to make political gains, as it has no achievements but poor economic performance and shrinking international space to boast.

Due to decades of cross-Straits trade, economic and people-to-people exchanges, the mainland and Taiwan are interdependent and have already become a community of shared future, and any forced separation of the two sides would undermine the well-being and security of Taiwan compatriots.

Perhaps residents in south-central Taiwan have suffered the most due to the Tsai administration's poor governance. No wonder the DPP suffered a crushing defeat in the local elections in late 2018. Worse, the Tsai administration's wrong cross-Straits policies would further cripple the island's economy, with middle-and lower-income people being the worst victims.

When Kuomintang leader Ma Ying-jeou was in office from 2008 to 2016, the mainland and Taiwan reached a series of cross-Straits agreements on trade and other areas, including the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, under which the tariff cuts were aimed at benefiting the island's businesses.

If the Taiwan authorities do not honor the trade pact in 2020, which seems imminent given their provocative cross-Straits policy, many of the islands' businesses will see their profit shrink, which in turn would deal a blow to Taiwan's economy because the fate of ECFA would be uncertain 10 years after it came into effect.

Apart from its opposition to the trade pact six years ago, the DPP has been slandering the mainland, claiming the pact should be suspended because, if ratified, it would give the mainland political leverage to unilaterally change the status quo of cross-Straits ties.

Although facts show the trade pact with the mainland has benefited the island, the pro-independence DPP has been campaigning against the mainland.

If cross-Straits relations don't improve, Taiwan residents and businesses that have benefited from exchanges across the Straits will face much more pressure.

Taiwan's tourism industry has already witnessed a slump due to a sharp drop in the number of mainland visitors. Subsidies from the Taiwan authorities could sustain the tourism industry for some time and even earn them some votes in Saturday's election, but that is no solution to the industry's long-term problems, mainly due a drastic decline in the number of mainland visitors.

More important, the Tsai administration cannot expect to revive the island's economy and improve the livelihoods of Taiwan residents who are dependent on the tourism industry by continuing to subsidize it forever.

The author is a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University. The views don't reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US 'poison pill' clause harmful to free trade]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531284.htm Since there is no sign of a breakthrough in the World Trade Organization negotiations on multilateral trade rules, signing free trade agreements (FTAs) seems to be a feasible option for most WTO member economies to promote trade liberalization.

Regional trade agreements have played an important role in facilitating multilateral trade rules and strengthening the multilateral trade system. No wonder many regional trade agreements have been signed in recent years.

However, a regional FTA should conform to multilateral trade rules. According to the provisions of Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the precursor to the WTO), "the purpose of a customs union or a free trade area should be to facilitate trade between constituent territories and not to raise barriers to trade of other contracting parties with such territories". Which means the signatories to an FTA should not impose higher tariffs on or raise trade barriers against non-signatory countries, and not make any moves that harm the trade of other states.

Yet some regional FTAs endorsed by some WTO member economies have violated this rule. If not checked, such infringements will give rise to trade barriers and discrimination against non-signatories to regional FTAs, dealing a serious blow to the multilateral trade system.

The trade deal signed between the US and Japan, which took effect on Wednesday, and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement violate WTO rules. The US has signed the two trade agreements not only to promote its "America first" policy, but also to extract the maximum benefits from the agreements and ultimately abandon the multilateral trade system.

The US government re-negotiated the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada and threatened to withdraw from the WTO. In fact, by stalling the appointment of new members to the Appellate Body, the US has already rendered the WTO's dispute settlement system dysfunctional since Dec 11.

The total trade volume under the USMCA may be $1.2 trillion, but it has many gray areas, including the absence of most-favored-nation treatment and discriminatory exclusionary clauses. For example, the agreement stipulates that 75 percent of a vehicle's component parts and 70 percent of the steel and aluminum used in it should be sourced from the "original area". Which are not so subtle conditions to keep the car manufacturers from Japan, China and the European Union away from the North American market.

The USMCA also has a "poison pill" clause, which says it is mandatory for a signatory country to notify the other signatories three months before settling an FTA with a "non-market" economy. The signatory country also has to submit the FTA document to the other signatories at least 30 days in advance so they can evaluate whether it would have a negative impact on the new North American trade deal.

So if Canada and Mexico want to sign an FTA with a so-called non-market economy, they have to submit the agreement to the US for review.

The discriminatory rules in the USMCA, including those on "original area" and tariff concessions on goods trade, deal a big blow to the international division of labor, and its exclusionary clauses could become the breeding ground for regional protectionism. Also, by strengthening regional trade protection, the USMCA will eliminate non-regional players from the region. Besides, the US has been harping on the concept of so-called market and non-market economies because it wants its domestic laws to override international laws.

The signing of such regional trade deals by the US is not conducive to the long-term development of Sino-US trade ties. True, the "phase-one" deal China and the US recently reached in their trade talks has eased bilateral tensions, but if the US continues to resort to protectionism, it could render the deal less effective.

Moreover, the US could use the USMCA as the basis for finalizing new trade deals with other economies, and the extension of the US' restrictive clauses could again intensify the China-US trade disputes. In fact, the exclusionary clauses could be aimed at thwarting China's attempts to sign FTAs with economies such as Canada and Mexico. Which means that despite being in trade talks with China, the US' strategy is still to check China's development, and to expand its network of allies.

The author is director of the Research Institute of World Economics, Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Stricter IPR protection sign of fair competition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531327.htm That a company in Shenzhen was ordered to pay a total of 6 million yuan ($860,000) in compensation to MGM Holdings for infringement of the latter's trademark and unfair competition last week indicates that China means what it says about the protection of intellectual property rights.

MGM Holdings filed two lawsuits against Shenzhen MGM Films Company in South China's Guangdong province for unfair competition and trademark infringement, as the Chinese company was using the name MGM and its lion logo and had even authorized more than 30 theaters across the country to operate under the brand name and logo. The Shenzhen company was ordered to pay 3 million yuan in compensation in each of the two cases, the maximum under Chinese law.

There have been similar cases recently in which Chinese enterprises were ordered to pay the maximum amount of compensation to foreign companies whose trademarks they were ruled to have infringed upon.

Foreign companies can be confident that China means what it says when it comes to the protection of intellectual property rights as it is earnestly striving to improve its business environment, as evidenced by the law on foreign investment which came into effect on Jan 1.

Rather than a matter of being in whose interest, an improved business environment is a matter of whether companies, both domestic and foreign, are able to compete on a fair and level playing field. That is not just important for foreign companies but also for their Chinese counterparts.

It was understandable for local governments to tilt their policies in favor of domestic companies in the 1980s and 1990s when Chinese businesses were not strong enough to compete with their foreign counterparts. But it is indeed necessary today for the law to create a business environment in which both foreign and domestic companies can compete in a fair manner.

Chinese companies are no longer toddlers and it is unfair to provide them with care they are not entitled to. Unnecessary protection will only spoil them.

For the upgrading of China's manufacturing industry, for the country's economy to shift from a quantitative one to a qualitative one and for its innovation to be lifted to a higher level, China needs to ensure that its business environment promotes fair and equal competition.

Only with such a business environment, will those companies with stronger competitiveness thrive, while those that do not have enough vision for long-term development or lack competitiveness are eliminated. Only with fair competition for all businesses both foreign and domestic, will the country's economy develop in a healthy and inclusive manner.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Beijing, Jakarta must strengthen dialogue for mutual benefit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531325.htm Responding to Jakarta's objection to the presence of Chinese fishing boats in the waters off the coast of Indonesia's Natuna Islands, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated that given China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, its fishermen are entitled to fish in the nearby waters of the South China Sea. Geng also said it is important for both sides to manage their differences and maintain regional peace.

China has been making sincere efforts to resolve the South China Sea disputes with some of neighbors. But certain countries from outside the region have been trying to foment trouble by exploiting the South China Sea disputes. Indonesia shouldn't fall in their trap.

As large developing countries, China and Indonesia should deepen cooperation to realize their respective national dreams. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, now in his second five-year term, once proposed a "centennial dream": to make Indonesia a developed country and the world's fifth-largest economy by the 100th anniversary of its independence in 2045.

Since Indonesia's "centennial dream" and China's "two centennial goals", and the direction of their development are similar, the two countries should use their comprehensive strategic partnership to fulfill their respective goals, and strengthen bilateral relations.

Like the Chinese government, the Indonesian government, too, is committed to promoting economic and social development. After being elected president of Indonesia, Widodo adopted a pragmatic approach to promote development. He has been building industrial parks and attracting large amounts of foreign investment to improve its infrastructure. As a result, Indonesia's development during Widodo's first term was generally smooth.

Data show that from 2015 to 2018, the Indonesian economy grew at a steady pace-4.88 percent, 5.03 percent, 5.07 percent and 5.17 percent respectively. In 2018, Indonesia had the third-highest growth rate among G20 countries. Indonesia's development, including "Made in Indonesia 4.0", remains a priority for Widodo in his second term too. The "Made in Indonesia 4.0" program is aimed at developing the country's high-tech industry to sharpen Indonesia's competitive edge.

Focusing on how to promote development, China and Indonesia have, to a large extent, strengthened their comprehensive strategic partnership in recent years, laying a solid foundation for realizing their respective national dreams. On the political front, China and Indonesia have deepened mutual trust, while establishing a top-level mechanism to strengthen defense and security ties.

Sino-Indonesian economic and trade relations have kept growing in scale with China being Indonesia's largest export destination and source of imports, and the third-largest source of direct investment. The Sino-Indonesian trade volume increased from $63.3 billion in 2017 to $72.48 billion in 2018, up 23.7 percent year-on-year. And the consensus between the two countries' leaders to expand people-to-people exchanges is playing a vital role in boosting their cultural ties.

However, it is still difficult to synergize the "centennial dreams" of the two countries due to certain problems. First, the trade and investment imbalance continues to plague relations between China and Indonesia, as well as between China and some other Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia had a trade deficit of $18.22 billion with China in 2018, up 40.6 percent year-on-year.

Second, Chinese enterprises still face some functional and technical difficulties in setting up factories in Indonesia, including in land acquisition and shortage of work visas.

Third, cultural differences, especially religious difference, remain a thorny issue.

China and Indonesia face an increasingly complex competition from other regional powers due to the fast-changing global situation, especially the volatile security landscape, and the readjustment of the international division of labor. Therefore, the two countries need to strengthen their strategic dialogue and synergize their development policies to jointly adapt to the major changes in the regional and global environments, and promote common development.

The author is a senior research fellow at the China Chahar Institute and deputy dean of the College of ASEAN Studies, Guangxi University for Nationalities. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[A fruitful 2019 to a promising 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531323.htm The year 2019 was an extraordinary one for both China and the United Kingdom. Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and continued to make progress in the new era along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. And the UK achieved important breakthroughs in Brexit and worked to build a "global Britain". The year also marked the 65th anniversary of China-UK diplomatic relations at the chargé d'affaires level. Our relationship grew steadily, which can be summarized in four C's.

The first C stands for communication between China and the UK at a higher level.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent messages congratulating China on the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. Premier Li Keqiang sent a congratulatory message to Johnson after the general election returned him to 10 Downing Street. In April 2019, Philip Hammond, then UK chancellor of the exchequer, attended the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as the special representative of the British prime minister. And Mark Sedwill, Cabinet secretary and national security adviser led a delegation of permanent under-secretaries from more than 10 departments of the UK government to visit China.

Hu Chunhua, Chinese vice-premier, visited the UK and hosted the 10th China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue, where 69 outcomes were reached. And Chen Zhu, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and Gao Yunlong, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, visited the UK separately.

The second C stands for cooperation, which saw sustained expansion in the past year.

In the first 10 months of 2019, China-UK trade in goods reached $71.14 billion, increasing by about 8 percent year-on-year. Britain resumed beef exports to China. Thirty British companies attended the second China International Import Expo. The 15th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Conference, which was held in London for the first time, served as a new platform for cooperation. And the Shanghai-London Stock Connect was launched in June, the first-ever link between the Chinese capital market and a foreign market.

London saw the opening of new branches by Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and China CITIC Bank. The British capital is also the world's second-largest offshore clearing center and the largest offshore trading center for the Chinese currency, with China Construction Bank, the yuan clearing bank in London, achieving a total clearing volume of more than 40 trillion yuan ($7.4 trillion). Also, China and the UK signed an agreement on cooperation in third markets, which opened a new channel for China-UK cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.

The third C stands for closer cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the UK.

There has been steady progress in the implementation of the China-UK Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation. Close to 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Britain. Across the UK, 30 Confucius Institutes and 161 Confucius classrooms have enrolled more than 190,000 students, and more than 1.7 million people have attended the various cultural events at the Confucius Institutes, and over 600 British schools are offering Chinese language courses.

A British government program known as "Generation UK" has enabled more than 10,000 British students to visit China for studies. Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and China National Peking Opera Company gave successful performances in the UK. And China-related events such as Festival of Spring, Happy Spring Festival and "China Lates" at the Science Museum were extremely popular.

Exchanges and cooperation at the subnational level have also seen much expansion, evidenced by the increasing number of trade, cultural and tourism road shows in Britain by Chinese provinces and cities including Guizhou, Liaoning and Hunan provinces, and the city of Shenzhen. Every week, 168 flights operate between the two countries, facilitating exchanges of close to 2 million person-times a year. And China has become an important source of overseas tourists visiting the UK.

The fourth C stands for coordination on global issues.

China and the UK have stepped up coordination and communication under the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations, the G20 and the World Trade Organization. We have reached a consensus on opposing protectionism and unilateralism, and on supporting free trade and multilateralism, and joined hands to address global challenges such as climate change and bio-diversity depletion.

The year 2020 has special significance for China, for the UK and for China-UK relations. In 2020, China will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, which is our first centenary goal. It will then focus on realizing the second centenary goal of building a strong, modern socialist country in all aspects. The UK will have left the European Union and embarked on a new journey of building a "global Britain".

The year 2020 also marks the fifth anniversary of the China-UK "Golden Era". The China-UK relationship is standing at a new starting point and faces new opportunities for development. In 2020, I have three hopes for China-UK relations.

First, I hope China-UK relations will advance with steadier steps.

China and the UK should enhance strategic communication, deepen political mutual trust, see each other as partners rather than rivals, and view each other's development as opportunities rather than threats. I hope our two countries will respect and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, refrain from interfering in each other's internal affairs and handle differences appropriately, so as to keep our relationship on the right track.

Second, I hope China-UK relations will deliver more tangible outcomes.

Both deeper reform and further opening-up in China, and Brexit in the UK will create huge opportunities, which our two countries should seize with both hands. We should foster a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for the companies of our two countries, which will in turn encourage deeper business cooperation across the board. In particular, we could expand cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, in order to make the pie of our common interests bigger and deliver more tangible benefits to the peoples of our two countries.

And third, I hope China-UK relations will take one step further.

Our two countries should follow the trend of our times by holding high the banners of multilateralism and free trade, and by championing cultural diversity and encouraging exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations. As key global players, China and the UK should take up historical responsibilities, work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make new contributions to world peace and development.

Scottish author and government reformer Samuel Smiles said: "Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us."

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Steady and sound development of the China-UK relationship will serve the common interests of both countries and will be conducive to world prosperity and progress. With the strategic vision, political wisdom and innovative spirit needed, China and the UK will cast the shadow of burden behind them, and embrace a better future for bilateral relations in 2020.

The author is Chinese ambassador to the UK. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-06 00:00:00 <![CDATA[ETC hiccups put damper on New Year spirit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531285.htm Editor's note: In the first few days of the new year, there have been problems with the expressway electronic toll collection system. According to reports, ETC card recognition problems have caused some toll stations to become congested and drivers to be overcharged. People's Daily comments:

For the more than 100 million ETC users, these problems may not happen often, but when they do they will affect the mood of those who encounter them.

According to reports, one driver complained that the ETC system charged him over 150,000 yuan ($21,536) while the correct fee should have been 800 yuan. He should be able to get his money back, but there might be long procedures that he must go through.

It is a good move to popularize the use of ETC and turn the toll stations at provincial borders into automatic ones. However, there should be contingency plans in place to deal with such problems. For example, there should be enough maintenance staff available so that if there is a problem, it can be quickly fixed. And truck drivers should have been better informed about changes to the toll charges.

The Ministry of Transport has already required that each toll station must have at least one lane available so that those drivers not paying electronically can pay by cash. And it has recently instructed all regions to make reasonable adjustments according to the proportion of traffic volume to ensure a smooth flow of vehicles through the toll stations.

The ministry has also organized a technical team to solve the problems; and it has clarified emergency measures for situations such as any serious backlogs at the toll stations and abnormal vehicle charge amounts. Spring Festival is coming soon and people will be heading home for family reunions, a reliable ETC system is needed to prevent possible jams at highway toll stations and ensure a happy start to the holidays for drivers.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Talks to ease tensions urgent after killing of Iranian general]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531288.htm Following United States President Donald Trump's threat on Tuesday of Iran having to pay "a very big price" for Teheran-backed militia forces storming the US embassy in Baghdad, a US drone strike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Thursday near Baghdad airport.

The US president sought to further intimidate Teheran on Saturday by saying that his country has targeted 52 Iranian sites and would strike "very fast and very hard" should Teheran carry out its vow to avenge Soleimani's death.

For the current occupant of the White House, that is it.

In White House national security advisor Robert O'Brien's words, they consider the matter "resolved".

As if the longstanding standoff between their country and the Islamic republic could be, and has been, resolved in such a crudely simplistic manner. And that there would not be any consequences to be faced.

In saying that he had taken out an enemy-that in his words should have been eliminated many years back but his predecessors were too weak and never had the guts to do so-the US leader may be able to boost his populist appeal as a man of resolve, a man of his word, a reliable protector of US interests.

Yet the protests in dozens of US cities, as well as those in Iran and Iraq, reveal both the fear and prospects of ugly consequences to come.

In his phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, the Iranian foreign minister urged Beijing to help prevent tensions in the region from escalating.

That is remarkable restraint under the current circumstances, but in no way means Teheran will meekly swallow what the US has dished up.

Although Iran has taken the matter to the United Nations, condemning the killing as "state terrorism", "a criminal act" and "gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law", Iran's UN ambassador said the response for a military action is a military action.

Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA official and expert on Iraq and Iran, described the killing as "a tactical move directed at Iran without a wider regional strategy".

Many observers believe Trump has unnecessarily escalated tensions and served Teheran's agenda to drive the US out of Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has already condemned the attack as "an outrageous breach to Iraqi sovereignty" and said the Iraqi parliament will reconsider the US presence in Iraq.

China's foreign minister has condemned the abuse of force in international relations, and said that military adventurism is unacceptable.

If the proposal that the US should use its power, its wealth and its influence to bring the regional powers to the table to resolve conflicts sounds less than pleasant to the US president's ears coming from Beijing, perhaps the fact that it is also the same advice being offered by Pollock and others on his own side will give him pause for thought.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Yellow'-only economy divorced from reality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531287.htm That the anti-government forces in Hong Kong have classified businesses, mainly restaurants and clothes shops, as being yellow, blue or green, and marked them on maps on an app they have launched shows that they are willing to sacrifice other people's livelihoods for their own aggrandizement.

Under the noble excuse of "fighting for the future of Hong Kong", by calling on Hong Kong residents to endorse the businesses identified as yellow, which are those they believe support them, to be careful of the green they consider neutral, and boycott the blue that they regard as foes, they are willing to make the future extremely bleak for some.

Their trick is intended to coerce business owners to take their side by raising the possibility of customers being driven away or even violent retribution should they choose not to display their support.

It does not take too much knowledge in economics to discern the childish absurdity of the economic circle they tout in a city where 80 percent of fresh water, 100 percent of natural gas, 25 percent of electricity and most foods are from the Chinese mainland.

Not to mention that among the "yellow" shops, most are foreign-funded, and they are fed up with the chaos that has plunged the city into the first economic recession in a decade-it is estimated that the city's economy contracted 1.3 percent last year.

In fact, no businesses are immune from the rioters' violence, which has led to a dramatic decline in the number of visitors to the SAR.

However, despite their violent trashing of the city because they have taken umbrage at those who have not given them the deference they think they deserve for their hypocritical megaphoning of values they so eagerly deny others, the city has continued to demonstrate its appeal as there has been no major outflow of capital. Global businesses are obviously confident that the SAR government will be able to restore order and stability.

That is likely to be sooner forthcoming now that the central government has extended greater support to the SAR government with the appointment on Sunday of former Shanxi Party chief Luo Huining as the head of the liaison office in Hong Kong. Luo is the first provincial Party chief to assume the post, highlighting that the liaison office has greater importance in the central government's work and more efforts are to be made to promote Hong Kong's role in national development plan for the Pearl River Delta.

It is the extent to which Hong Kong will be integrated into the economic globalization through the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development strategy customized for the region that will determine the city's future, not the "economic circle" hawked by Hong Kong's "yellow" memed me-me generation.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Let's ensure Yangtze fish survive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531286.htm ON FRIDAY, an academic paper released by the River Fisheries Research Institute declared that the Chinese paddlefish was extinct. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Endemic to the Yangtze River, the fish were considered to be the largest freshwater fish in existence, as they could grow to 7 meters in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms. It was one of the few ancient fish surviving from the Mesozoic Cretaceous period 140 million years ago, the majority of its counterparts having died out in the great extinctions that followed.

According to the paper, the fish probably went extinct between 2005 and 2010. That matches media reports, which show that the last sighting of a Chinese paddlefish was in 2003. The last sighting of a juvenile specimen was in 1995.

Needless to say, the extinction of the species means heavy losses to the biodiversity of nature, as well as to the genetic pool because it is difficult to find "relatives" that carry similar genes with it. And since it was at the top of the food pyramid in the Yangtze River, its extinction might affect the whole food chain underneath.

Although the Chinese paddlefish died out 10 to 15 years ago rather than today, the extinction of the species should arouse our attention, we cannot afford to let any more species follow it into extinction.

China has strengthened its conservation efforts over the past decade, and hopefully those efforts and people's greater awareness of the need to protect species will prevent a repeat of the tragedy of the Chinese paddlefish in the future.

Of course, animals need months even years to cultivate the next generation, while seeds need years even decades to grow into a mature tree. Although we cannot bring back the species that have already gone extinct, we can save those species such as the Chinese and Yangtze sturgeons, both endemic to the Yangtze basin, that are critically endangered.

On Wednesday, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced a 10-year fishing ban along key areas of the Yangtze River to protect biodiversity in the country's longest waterway.

Starting this year, the ban will be observed across 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze River basin. The ban needs to be strictly enforced to protect the remaining biodiversity of the Yangtze River.

]]> 2020-01-06 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Service outsourcing can accelerate China's rise up in global value chain]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531308.htm THE STATE COUNCIL, China's Cabinet, held its first executive meeting of the year on Friday, at which measures were proposed to promote the transformation and upgrading of the service industry and accelerate the outsourcing of services. Zhengnengliang, a WeChat account that specializes in policy analysis, comments:

The meeting proposed to use information technology to promote "services plus" and accelerate capacity building for outsourced services.

Service outsourcing is at the forefront of the development of a modern market economy. It means that enterprises will outsource certain links or processes in their production and management processes to specialist companies, thereby reducing costs, improving efficiency and giving full play to their respective advantages.

R&D, accounting, law, marketing, even maintenance can all be outsourced. Thanks to the fast development of the internet, it is now quite convenient for enterprises to find a company to provide the services they require.

Service outsourcing also helps raise the quality of the service sector. For a long time, Made in China has been supporting the stable growth of China's economy. However, Chinese manufacturing enterprises are at the low end of the global industrial chain and they do not get so much added value from the whole process.

With the prosperity of the service sector, there can be Services in China later, which can help Chinese enterprises claim a higher place in the global value chain.

As early as 2009, the State Council issued a list of exemplary cities in terms of service outsourcing, and there are now 31 cities on the list. Since 2014, the State Council has been constantly updating a guideline list on key service outsourcing sub-sectors, with further support to key sectors such as information technology and knowledge.

From their past evaluations, it can be seen that there is still an imbalance among different regions, with some of them having too simplified structures. The meeting has raised new guiding principles for service outsourcing.

That in turn requires regulatory departments to adopt new thinking. It is advisable for them to take a cautious attitude and allow service outsourcing industries to have their own space.

It is also advisable for various levels of government departments to outsource services, too, and help service companies to grow by purchasing their services. Especially in fields such as care for the aged, preschool education, and medical services, it is better to let enterprises and other social organizations grow.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fair treatment for foreign investments]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531137.htm The Foreign Investment Law, which took effect on Wednesday, marks another important step forward in the country's efforts to establish a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment that treats enterprises of all ownership equally.

As a comprehensive and fundamental set of legal standards for foreign investment activities, the new law provides unified provisions for the entry, promotion, protection and management of foreign investments.

It has been long in the making, but its implementation will put an end to the phenomenon of "letting firms in but not letting them do business" and address the concerns about forced technology transfers.

Rather than showing China's reluctance to embrace foreign players, the seemingly long time it has taken to enshrine what are now conventional rights and practices in developed countries in Chinese law reflects the prudent and progressive approach the country has taken to open up its markets and industries, and dock its institutional framework with the world.

Despite the pressures cast from outside on its so-called self-centered dealing with foreign enterprises, the country has maintained considerable strategic composure in adhering to the step-by-step route of opening-up and sought to strike a balance among different needs and interests.

In so doing, China has developed and the Chinese market has evolved to be the world's largest and fastest growing, creating great opportunities for foreign companies.

By the end of 2018, an accumulative total of 960,000 joint ventures had been founded accounting for $2.1 trillion of foreign capital, making China the largest actual user of foreign fund among developing countries for 27 consecutive years since 1992 according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

With China now advancing a new round of opening-up, it is expanding its market access to foreign investment by cutting its negative lists and putting more focus on establishing a law-based business environment that will ensure a more transparent and predictable environment to attract more foreign investment.

The law will regulate government behavior, and the authorities will also strengthen communication and coordination with foreign businesses to better protect their interests.

Fair competition is at the heart of a market economy, and impartial regulation is the safeguard for fair competition. The new law and accompanying regulations for its implementation mean the government will focus on establishing a law-based business environment that ensures that both domestic and foreign companies can thrive.

By creating a more open, transparent and fair business environment for foreign investments and better protecting their intellectual property, the law will give foreign companies greater confidence about investing in China and a greater sense of gain from doing so.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Tribute to a 600-year-old history book]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531136.htm THE YEAR 2020 MARKS THE 600TH ANNIVERSARY of the Palace Museum, which served as a palace for the Ming and Qing dynasty rulers. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang takes us through a brief tour of its 600-year history:

In 1406, Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), ordered the construction of a royal palace in Beijing, his new capital. Fourteen years later, the palace was ready.

After Pu Yi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), abdicated in 1912 and moved out of the palace in 1925, the palace was opened to the public and came to be called the Palace Museum (Forbidden City).

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Palace Museum underwent repairs. Each brick of the museum, spread across 720,000 square meters, thus echoes the history of 600 years. Even a blink-and-you-miss red tile on the roof has been witness to major events.

The Palace Museum is like a history book, replete with both sweet and bitter pages. Every invasion left its indelible mark on it. In 1860, Beijing was occupied by the Anglo-French expeditionary army; in 1900, it was again occupied by the joint forces of eight imperialist countries.

The Palace Museum's biggest dome came crashing down in 1937, when it was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. During the eight years it was occupied, there is historical evidence to show the Japanese army pillaged more than a ton of copper items from the palace to make bullets and cannons.

In the civil war that followed, Beijing was liberated, sparing the Palace Museum further damage.

Today, the Palace Museum is one of the busiest museums, and displays more than 1.8 million antiques, and receives some 17 million visitors every year.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Hong Kong's New Year resolution must be to put an end to violence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531108.htm The violence on New Year's Day in Hong Kong sent a worrying signal that some radicals and rioters are still intent on taking the city's stability and prosperity hostage.

In an apparent preview of what the masked mob have in store for the special administrative region in 2020, they made a big scene on the international financial hub's main island on New Year's Day, clashing violently with police and vandalizing public facilities, shops, banks and even the outer wall of the High Court.

About 400 people were arrested for offenses including unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons after the rioters went on the rampage and attacked the police with gasoline bombs and bricks.

Since June, Hong Kong has witnessed frequent riots which have plunged the city into its most serious political and economic crisis for years.

The opposition camp's claim that the violence serves the pursuit of greater democracy does not hold water as it is both exclusive and subversive.

Not only are the radicals and rioters seeking to shake the foundations of governance in the SAR, they are also seeking a society made only in their image.

Since the district council elections last month, opposition district councilors have frequently appeared on the scene when any violence erupts, indulging the smash and burn of the blackshirts and smearing, even obstructing, the law enforcement efforts of the police. At least 17 opposition district councilors have reportedly been arrested for various crimes such as participating in illegal assembly or being involved in the street violence.

The months of unrest and chaos are taking their toll on the SAR. Its flagging economy, shuttered businesses and fears for personal safety are what the radical elements in Hong Kong have bestowed on their fellow residents in the name of democracy.

At no point have they offered any proposals to improve the SAR's fortunes and promote the wellbeing of local residents.

All they offer is violent affirmation of a self-created identity as privileged others and hypocritical rhetoric about the erosion of liberties when it is they that are denying to others the liberties that they claim to be upholding.

Over six months of escalating violence all the rioters have offered for the betterment of their hometown is brute force and ignorance, which as they have so readily demonstrated is a recipe for chaos.

To avoid Hong Kong enduring the pitiless routine of the rioters' self-indulgence in the year ahead, the SAR government must resolutely clamp down on their violence and bring every unlawful protester to book.

Hong Kong residents should also firmly rally around the SAR government and police, and join hands with them to safeguard their hometown.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Court ruling will go a long way in protecting ecology]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531106.htm THREE ROCK CLIMBERS, who intentionally damaged a rock on Python Peak in the Sanqing mountain scenic area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jiangxi province, were ordered by a court to pay 6 million yuan ($861,373) for the ecological damage they caused. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

The ruling in the case was passed by the Intermediate People's Court of Shangrao in Jiangxi province, which also sentenced one of the rock climbers to one year in prison and another to a six-month probation for hammering 26 pitons into a rock on Python Peak.

The court ruling has been applauded by the public.

Located in the Mount Sanqing National Park, which is home to many animals and plants, and a famous Taoist sacred mountain, Python Peak is the world's highest natural python-shaped peak.

The damage the rock climbers inflicted on the mountain is irreparable, because it could affect the relic's structure and stability.

The Criminal Law states that those who intentionally destroy or damage historical sites will be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined.

But despite the media exposing some cases of people intentionally destroying cultural relics at historical sites, few offenders had been punished.

Which led many to believe that there's no price to be paid for damaging cultural relics.

So the Shangrao court ruling is a welcome change. That the offenders have been asked to issue a public apology shows that offenders will also be named and shamed.

And the amount of compensation the court has ordered the offenders to pay will deter potential offenders from damaging relics, and to better protect the environment and ecology.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[New Securities Law follows market rules]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531104.htm Editor's note: China's top legislature recently passed the revised version of the Securities Law, which takes effect on March 1. This is the second comprehensive amendment to the law since it came into force in 1999. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

The law was first revised in 2005, and work on the second amendment began in 2013. The amendment tones down the "privileges" in the Securities Law.

The existing law allows the top securities regulator, not market investors, to decide which "good" companies would be included on the registration list, which could lead to corruption.

The amended law, on the other hand, will treat the registration system as a cornerstone of a fair market, cancel the issuance examination committee and authorize the State Council, China's Cabinet, to promulgate stipulations on the specific scope of the securities issuance registration system.

The amended law shows China is determined to operate its securities market based on market rules and adhere to the "disclosure philosophy" established by the 1933 Securities Act of the United States. In the past, China's top regulator also emphasized the centrality of the information disclosure regulation, but the old securities issuance model failed to make investors believe "sunshine is the best preservative and street lamp the best police".

The amended law will also set the legal basis for China to expand the pilot registration-based system for initial public offerings in the A-share market and better implement the de-listing system in the securities market.

There have been increasing calls for the regulator to intensify the de-listing regulation to weed out underperforming companies, but under the existing issuance approval system, it is hard for the authorities to do so, as the companies are not listed based on market rules. With the enforcement of the amended Securities Law, this system is expected to change.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Xi rallies nation for a great cause]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531086.htm Editor's Note: In his New Year's address, President Xi Jinping summarized China's main achievements in 2019. Seven experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Wang Yiqing, Liu Jianna, Yao Yuxin and Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

The new fight will be against relative poverty

President Xi said that about 340 impoverished counties and more than 10 million people were lifted out of poverty in 2019, and China is expected to secure a decisive victory in eliminating absolute poverty in 2020. Which shows China is on its way to eliminating absolute poverty in 2020.

China's successful anti-poverty campaign is no doubt significant for the global fight against poverty. Yet, after eliminating abject poverty, China will focus on eradicating relative poverty and improving Chinese people's living standards. It will also take into consideration factors other than income in setting the "poverty line" and adopting a multi-pronged approach to end poverty.

Besides, China will transform the hyper-normal war against poverty into routine institutional arrangements, following which a series of measures such as strengthening of the social security net would be required to tackle the next daunting challenge.

Still, the authorities need to improve coordination between rural and urban areas in poverty-alleviation work to intensify the fight against poverty in cities by, for example, fixing an "urban poverty line". Indeed, China has to do a lot more to build on the success of the poverty-alleviation work and realize common prosperity.

It should ensure that the positive results are sustainable. For instance, it should take measures to prevent people lifted out of poverty from slipping back into poverty. In addition, a permanent and effective poverty-alleviation mechanism should be established to help poor people to increase their incomes.

More efficient tech investment

Xi cited a number of technological breakthroughs China made in 2019, including the landing of the lunar probe Chang'e 4 on the far side of the moon, the launching of Long March 5 Y3 rocket, and the commercial application of 5G technology. These achievements can be attributed to China's persistent efforts to build an innovation-driven economy based on scientific and technological research.

Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which upholds innovation-led development, China has boosted investment in technological innovation since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017 and made some significant progress in the area.

For decades, China lagged behind such high-tech powers as the United States and Japan. But now it is catching up with them, even leading the development of certain advanced technologies including 5G and big data. Looking ahead, the commercial application of 5G can further improve people's lives in 2020.

For sure, it will take time for some technologies to be applied commercially, while some scientific innovations may not yield the desired results given that all innovations come with unknown risks. But that does not mean we should reduce investment in scientific and technological research. The need is to take measures to ensure the investment is used efficiently, and all parties including research institutes, enterprises and the government collaborate to maximize the results.

BRI will boost co-development

The development of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative gathered pace in 2019. In April, China hosted the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which produced 283 results and a consensus on high-quality development.

Sixteen countries and international organizations signed Belt and Road cooperation documents in 2019, taking the total number of such documents to 199. More than 18,000 trains joined the China-Europe freight service that connects 110 cities on the Eurasian continent, and 409 new air routes were opened between countries along the Belt and Road routes.

The year 2019 also witnessed the progress of policy, infrastructure and funds connectivity, as well as people-to-people exchanges among the Belt and Road economies.

A new Belt and Road phase begins in 2020, in which deeper cooperation among and concrete efforts of economies will help propel high-quality development, and promote global cooperation on building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Foreign trade and opening-up in focus

Xi said reform and opening-up have continuously generated vigor for further development, and stressed that in 2019, "China continued to open its arms wide to embrace the world". To boost foreign trade, China set up another batch of pilot free trade zones, expanded the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and hosted the second China International Import Expo.

The newly added Lingang Special Area to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone is part of China's policy to further open up the economy and strengthen the country's competitiveness in the global market. And the plan to establish six new free trade zones in the country shows FTZs will exercise more decision-making powers in terms of trade and investment liberalization, as well as administrative matters.

Besides, the second China International Import Expo demonstrated the country's resolve to fight trade protectionism, and safeguard free trade and economic globalization, so as to inject new vitality into the country's economy, and build a more open world economy.

All these measures indicate China's economy is strong enough to cope with the unexpected challenges that may arise during the further opening-up process, and Beijing is set to play an even bigger role in the global economy in the future.

'One country, two systems' ideal for HK governance

Compared with the previous year's speech, Xi this time dedicated more time to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. By reiterating what the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee said in October, Xi made it clear that "one country, two systems" is critical to the national governance system.

Given the months-long riots sparked by the now-shelved extradition amendment bill, Xi's address indicated that China might invest more energy in perfecting "one country, two systems" in 2020.

First, the SAR needs to accelerate legislation on national security as required by Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong. But since the situation in Hong Kong is not conducive to promoting such legislation now, the SAR government should first restore social order in the city and thwart any efforts by external forces to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs.

Second, the SAR government also needs to strengthen its governance capacity and communication skills, while the central government should guide and supervise the SAR government to do a better job of governance, as prescribed in the Basic Law.

And third, to prevent outside forces from interfering in Hong Kong's affairs in the future, it is necessary to prepare countermeasures against external forces including the US and "pro-independence forces" in Taiwan that have been fueling the unrest in the SAR.

There is no point blaming "one country, two systems" for Hong Kong's ills, because despite certain problems in its implementation in Hong Kong, the governance mechanism has yielded remarkable results in the Macao Special Administrative Region.

Tax cut to benefit individual taxpayers

China cut taxes and fees by more than 2 trillion yuan ($287.22 billion) in 2019, and raised the individual income tax threshold. The large-scale tax cut promoted economic stability and raised the expectations of the market, thus laying a solid foundation for higher-quality development in 2020.

For example, the massive tax cut eased the burden of enterprises by reducing their cost of industrial upgrading. The raising of the personal income tax threshold has increased individual taxpayers disposable income, which in turn has boosted consumption. The higher personal income tax threshold also played a role in expanding the middle-income group and narrowing the income gap.

That some local governments are facing financial strains means 2020 could not see another massive tax reduction, and it's more important to fully implement the current policy of tax cut.

Plus, to strike the right balance between income and expenditure, local governments have to increase their fiscal revenues while preventing expenditure from increasing.

Apart from boosting economic growth in order to increase income, the local governments would do good to optimize the allocation of resources, activate idle assets and explore new growth engines. They should also reduce administrative expenditure by working out a more efficient spending structure.

Diplomacy bears rich fruits

With Solomon Islands and Kiribati being added to the list in 2019, China now has diplomatic relations with 180 countries. Which shows China's policy of nonalignment, peaceful development and inclusive partnership is ideal for deepening bilateral ties and boosting co-development.

In fact, China further strengthened its open and inclusive development policy in 2019.

One of the most important diplomatic achievements of China in 2019 was the "phase-one" trade deal with the United States, and so was the conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Which, after it is signed this year, could boost regional trade, and thus promote multilateralism and economic globalization.

Still, the China-US trade talks will remain in the spotlight in 2020, with China becoming a favorite topic for the candidates campaigning for the US presidential election.

China's diplomacy yielded other results as well, such as the successful hosting of a series of regional and global conferences and expos, while Chinese leaders' visits to neighboring countries such as Russia, India and Vietnam helped deepen bilateral relations.

As for the Belt and Road Initiative, China took measures to ensure it continues to promote co-development with Central Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, which earned it more global acknowledgement.

And despite multilateral cooperation suffering a blow in 2019, China will continue to take active part in global governance in order to promote free trade and globalization. It will also increase its contributions to global development through Belt and Road projects and urge all parties to help build a community with a shared future for mankind.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

Wei Houkai, director of Rural Development Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

 

 

Huang Qunhui, director of the Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

 

 

Liang Haoguang, executive director of the China Academy of Belt and Road Initiative and a professor at Beijing International Studies University

 

 

Peng Bo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation

 

 

Zhang Jian, a researcher on Hong Kong and Macao studies of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

 

 

Liu Shangxi, head of Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences

 

 

Song Wei, a researcher at the National Academy of Development and Strategy and a professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-05 14:37:13
<![CDATA[India not led astray by US 5G ploy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531083.htm India doesn't need unsolicited external advice on what it should do to serve its best interests. The country can rely on its own reason and judgment-rather than the unsubstantiated claims of others-when making decisions concerning what is and isn't a national security threat.

Which explains why New Delhi announced earlier this week that it would allow Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei to take part in trials for the rollout of services for the next generation mobile networks in the huge Indian market despite the tar-and-feathering of the company by the United States.

"5G trials will be done with all vendors and operators," India's electronics and information minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.

For India, Washington's claim that Huawei poses a serious national security threat is just too far-fetched, given the lack of any supportive evidence. And to ease New Delhi's espionage fear, Huawei has agreed to sign a "no backdoor policy" agreement with the Indian government, which allows the latter to ban the company from operating in the country if it is involved in any security breach.

India has been a long-time user of Huawei's equipment-in cell sites and other network infrastructure-and it certainly knows Huawei products provide value for money. According to Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel-one of the largest telecom operators in India that is involved in 5G trials-Huawei's 3G and 4G equipment have been superior to that of other vendors. In his words-"They are clearly leading edge."

And Huawei's excellent track record means there is certainly no need for India to shun its 5G equipment. Not to mention that excluding a major competitor in a nascent market tends to lead only to inferior technology and services being offered at much higher prices.

India has always been late in embracing the latest technology. After missing the 3G and 4G bus, the country cannot afford to miss the 5G bus as well by jumping on Washington's anti-Huawei bandwagon.

Huawei is the only company in the world that makes 5G handsets, 5G base stations, 5G optical fiber, and 5G core network hardware and software, and by giving it a fair trial, India will remain within catching range of countries such as the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea that have already started 5G trials and even commercial roll-out.

Time will prove that India has made a wise decision by paying no heed to Washington's scare stories and choosing to judge the facts for itself.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Social responsibility is business of business]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531254.htm The introduction of the Company Law in 2006 prompted Chinese companies to pay greater attention to corporate social responsibility, especially when it is related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Corporate social responsibility was further strengthened when the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges issued guidelines for companies to disclose their CSR performance, with large companies such as CNPC, Sinopec and the State Grid publishing their CSR reports. In fact, between 2006 and 2009, Chinese companies issued nearly 1,600 such reports.

Despite that, only a limited number of companies issued CSR reports because it was not mandatory to do so. More important, no penalties were imposed on the companies not issuing such reports. Also, there were wide variations in the quality of the published CSR reports and the frequencies of their publication. In addition, many of the companies targeted by the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges did not publish such reports, while many not obliged to do so issued them voluntarily.

ESG issues influenced by domestic factors

Both domestic and international factors have influenced companies to prepare their environmental, social and governance reports. Domestically, President Xi Jinping's emphasis on building an ecological civilization with Chinese characteristics was the main factor affecting the publication of such reports. The concept, first articulated in 2012, has received increasing importance over the years. As a result, despite economic growth remaining a national priority, it now has to be achieved without causing social and environmental damage.

But before that, many provincial governments continued to prioritize GDP growth over ESG considerations, which contributed to continued large investments in heavily polluting industries. For many provincial governments, genuine considerations of ESG requirements were an unnecessary distraction which contributed to lowering of their GDP growth rates. It seemed the central government's increasing focus on ESG issues was incompatible with many provincial governments' goal of achieving a high economic growth at any cost.

Local officials protected polluters in the past

Pan Yue, vice-minister of environmental protection from 2008 to 2015, has noted that many provincial governments openly protected their biggest corporate polluters. A retrospective analysis shows those companies whose chief executives were deputies to the National People's Congress or members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference generally published reasonably good CSR reports.

Increasing requirements of China's main trading partners on ESG issues, too, had a profound impact on Chinese businesses. For example, in 2003, the European Union issued two legislative directives that prompted many Chinese companies to improve their ESG performances, especially if they had business dealings with or in EU countries.

The two directives-one on electrical and electronic equipment waste, and the other on reduction of hazardous substances-mandated that any enterprise operating in or exporting products to EU countries must meet the directives' requirements. They also required supply chain activities in China to comply with the requirements. The net result has been that Chinese suppliers are meeting the ESG requirements of the EU, irrespective of whether or not their products are exported to EU countries.

Another impetus to improve ESG practices came from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Those Chinese mainland companies listed on the Honk Kong Stock Exchange were obliged to meet higher levels of ESG disclosures compared with those listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges. In 2018, the HKSE's guidelines for reporting on ESG issues entered its second phase, making it obligatory for companies to disclose their key ESG performance indicators. As a direct result of the stricter ESG requirements of the HKSE, the reporting of all mainland companies listed on the HKSE have been of a better quality.

Corporate philanthropy after Wenchuan quake

The Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province on May 12, 2008, had a profound impact on the CSR landscape. The earthquake-which killed 69,181 people, left 18,498 people missing and 374,171 injured, and destroyed more than 15 million homes, leaving 10 million people homeless-contributed to an outpouring of public appeal for companies to come to the aid of the victims. The result: companies contributed an estimated $1.5 billion for relief and rehabilitation of the quake victims.

The earthquake added philanthropy to CSR in China. Such was the impact of the Wenchuan earthquake that after a less-devastating quake in Sichuan in 2013, multinational companies such as Samsung and Apple contributed 60 million yuan ($8.61 million) and 50 million yuan respectively to the relief fund. Which showed businesses have an important role to play in disaster relief operations.

Another important factor contributing to the strengthening of ESG considerations is China's rapidly growing middle-income group. Members of this group are better educated, and more aware of global norms and developments compared with the earlier generations. They seek a better quality of life, safer products, improved services, and a cleaner and healthier environment. Therefore, they have become vociferous critics of irresponsible companies.

This, too, has compelled companies to improve their ESG practices. Add to that the fact the Chinese government has vowed to severely punish the errant companies by imposing significantly higher fines on them, even jailing their senior officials, and you will realize why Chinese companies have become more ESG-conscious.

Good progress on ESG front

China is a newcomer to CSR reporting compared with many Western countries. The Chinese public, in general, may not be very concerned about the companies' CSR performance. Perhaps that's why many Chinese companies still do not publish CSR reports of reasonably good quality.

A recent study indicates that between Jan 1 and Oct 31, 2018, companies released 1,676 CSR reports, up 8.5 percent year-onyear. However, despite the increase in the number of reports, the percentage of "good-quality" reports has declined.

Another interesting fact is that the listed companies that issue such reports are mostly State-owned. These companies often accord priority to national political issues such as poverty alleviation, pollution control and climate change. For example, in 2004, a major government priority was planting of billions of trees. So, many companies decided to focus on tree planting as part of their CSR practice.

Chinese companies are not forced to follow any political priorities, yet they do it voluntarily. But then the government has been encouraging companies to include social and environmental values in corporate activities in recent years. This is because companies can promote societal development by adopting enlightened policies, making strategic investments and holding regular dialogue with governments and the public, which would allow them to better understand and appreciate the requirements, expectations and aspirations of both the government and the public.

China's understating of companies' ESG requirements has undergone a sea change in the past decade. It is almost as dramatic as China's economic transformation. And the advances Chinese companies have made in ESG practices are likely to be even more dramatic in the next decade.

Asit K. Biswas is a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Glasgow and chairman of Water Management International Pte Ltd, Singapore. And Cecilia Tortajada is a senior research fellow at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2020-01-04 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Are there enough reasons to worry about automation?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531253.htm From the Luddite movement in the early 19th century to the writings of prominent economists such as John Maynard Keynes and Wassily Leontief generations later, the prospect of automation has always raised serious concerns about jobs. Keynes and Leontief doubted there would be enough jobs left for workers to do. Today, facing an onrushing wave of digital automation, many share their unease.

The impact of today's digital technologies on the labor market raises three questions. Will there be enough jobs for workers to do? Where will these jobs be? And will the compensation be high enough to avoid an increase in poverty and inequality?

Technological unemployment

The answer to the first question is unequivocal. Historical evidence shows that labor-replacing technological innovation does not lead to long-term changes in employment and unemployment rates in industrial countries. Keynes talked about "technological unemployment", and there is no doubt that in the 1920s and the subsequent Great Depression, one of the biggest causes of unemployment in Britain was the decline of coal and other industries in the face of competition from Germany and the US. Workers' skills and geographic location ruled out quickly redeploying them elsewhere in the economy. But that transitional episode eventually passed.

Fear of technological unemployment persists because it is rooted in uncertainty about new job creation. New machines' capabilities enable us to identify the jobs at risk, but not the jobs yet to emerge. We have to guess by comparing the capabilities of workers and machines, which often tilt the balance in favor of estimates of net job loss.

But we have abundant evidence of human ingenuity in creating new jobs. When Keynes wrote, the service sector in Britain and the US employed about 40 percent of workers. Employment sectors such as health and care and the broader travel and hospitality industries were relatively very small. Today each of those sectors employs more people than manufacturing. As former US president John F. Kennedy put it: "(I)f men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work."

The challenge of new technologies

The challenge all new technologies pose is not that they create too few jobs, but rather that too few workers have the skills to fill them. Just as some jobs benefit from new technologies while others become obsolete, so, too, some skills become more valuable, while others are substitutable.

The automobile boosted the value of engineering skills and decreased the value of horse-breeding skills. Horse breeders had to learn new skills to maintain their incomes. A good sectoral transition for them would have been to the auto production or maintenance sectors. The sectoral bias of new technologies is a challenge that workers take on and eventually master, but not without objections, at least initially.

The jobs threatened in the early stages of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) were routine or relied on processing data. Moving big boxes in warehouses, or loading agricultural produce onto trucks, was easily mechanized. Data-processing jobs could be carried out by AI software; a search engine and a few key words could easily replace a paralegal who searches court records for relevant precedents.

These properties led to the polarization of employment, challenging workers to shift to jobs that were either complimentary to the new technologies, such as computer programming or robotics, or to jobs that could not be programmed, such as management consultancy or nursing care. These jobs were either more skilled and better paid than the routine jobs, or less skilled with lower pay, leading to the hollowing of the middle of the income distribution. In more recent times, improvements in AI render non-routine jobs vulnerable as well.

Flexible labor markets can better adapt to change

The sectoral employment transition is easier where the education system teaches a broad range of skills, rather than encouraging specialization from an early age, and where flexible labor markets have good retraining facilities. Access to finance also is essential in facilitating the transition, enabling startups in the new economy to hire some of the displaced workers.

At the Luohan Academy in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, we investigated the availability of finance through the digital platforms Alibaba and Ant Financial, which use the information in their big data sets in place of collateral to evaluate loan applications. We found that the platform economy makes credit accessible to many more people than the traditional banks can reach.

The third question, about inequality, is more difficult to address. Economics is good at providing unambiguous answers to questions about the efficiency of labor markets. The question of inequality, by contrast, is partly about political choices. The sectoral bias of new technologies means that inequality typically increases when they become available. Those who succeed in taking advantage of them receive rewards above the rest of the workforce.

Lower-skill workers' wages should be raised

The key question, however, should not be whether some people become very rich, but whether the wages of lower-skill people are sufficiently high to avoid poverty. This depends partly on company policy, as competition may not work to raise wages when companies grow very large in their local area. Companies in the digital era have a choice: They can use technology to substitute capital for labor and keep wages low, or use technology for the good of their workers with a view to longer-term profits. In the latter case, workers' well-being benefits more from the new technologies, not necessarily only through higher wages but also through better working and living conditions.

If the new technologies increase economic inequality, but do not increase poverty, some societies may decide not to do anything about it. Aversion to inequality is higher in European countries than in the United States, for example, and a variety of redistributive programs are in place to reduce it. With sufficient support, policies to offset rising inequality are not difficult to devise. The Scandinavian countries have long relied on high taxes to finance extensive social support programs.

Whatever society's attitude to inequality, the outcome to be avoided is poverty (or near-poverty) wages. A mandatory minimum wage or tax inducement to employers to raise low wages may be necessary. The point of technological innovation, after all, is not to give people reason to resist it.

The author is a winner of Nobel Prize for economics and Regius professor of Economics at the London School of Economics.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

CAI MENG/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-04 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US attacks violate Iraq's sovereignty, threaten peace in Middle East]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531084.htm The US airstrikes on Iraq on Sunday that killed 25 people of the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia blatantly violated Iraq's sovereignty and raised tensions in the volatile Middle East region. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who was informed by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper only a few hours ahead of the strikes, condemned the attacks. When he asked the United States to call off the bombing, the latter simply ignored him.

Besides defying international laws, the airstrikes have contradicted what the US president claimed in the United Nations in September 2017-that sovereignty should be the guiding principle of affairs between nations. It has proven to be a sheer lie.

The US said the airstrikes were in response to the rocket attack that killed a US contractor last week. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed the US "has acted quickly, prudently, and decisively". The reality is that the US did act quickly but imprudently. The US airstrikes were also grossly disproportionate given the death of 25 Iraqis, not to mention the estimated 2.4 million Iraqis killed since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

On Tuesday, angry Iraqis protested outside the US embassy in Baghdad. They broke into the compound, throwing gasoline bombs and smashing windows, while US forces fired tear gas at the crowd.

Kata'ib Hezbollah had fought the US invading forces after 2003. But since 2014, the group, part of the Iraqi paramilitary forces, has been fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq.

The US has blamed Iran for the embassy siege. In a tweet on Tuesday, the US president said Iran "will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat". Esper ordered the deployment of 750 US troops to the Middle East. And some reports suggest that the US might tighten economic sanctions on Iran.

Existing US sanctions are already hurting the Iranian economy. In fact, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that renewed US sanctions have cost Iran $200 billion in foreign exchange income and investment, referring to the sanctions re-imposed after the US withdrew from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal in mid-2018.

In its late October report, Human Rights Watch said the US sanctions posed a serious threat to Iranians' right to health and access to essential medicines. Like Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran has not surrendered to the US' maximum pressure.

Britain, France and Germany, three of the six signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, have opposed the renewed US sanctions. They have also devised the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges mechanism to help European companies bypass the US sanctions.

In late November, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden said they are in the process of becoming shareholders of the instrument.

The growing tension between the US and Iran comes at a difficult time. DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday blamed the US for a lack of action in contrast to the measures the DPRK has taken to build confidence, including halting nuclear tests and shutting down a nuclear test facility. Kim said: "There is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer" and "the world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future."

The US has made no move to ease sanctions on the DPRK since the first summit between the leaders of the two countries in Singapore in June 2018. The US president is incapable of making such a decision given the divisive nature of US domestic politics. Perhaps the US' withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has had a negative impact on the DPRK.

After all, who can really trust a superpower that relies excessively on its military and economic might to coerce and bully other countries into submission instead of resorting to diplomacy to resolve issues?

Chen Weihua

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Hong Kong's New Year resolution must be to put an end to violence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531100.htm The violence on New Year's Day in Hong Kong sent a worrying signal that some radicals and rioters are still intent on taking the city's stability and prosperity hostage.

In an apparent preview of what the masked mob have in store for the special administrative region in 2020, they made a big scene on the international financial hub's main island on New Year's Day, clashing violently with police and vandalizing public facilities, shops, banks and even the outer wall of the High Court.

About 400 people were arrested for offenses including unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons after the rioters went on the rampage and attacked the police with gasoline bombs and bricks.

Since June, Hong Kong has witnessed frequent riots which have plunged the city into its most serious political and economic crisis for years.

The opposition camp's claim that the violence serves the pursuit of greater democracy does not hold water as it is both exclusive and subversive.

Not only are the radicals and rioters seeking to shake the foundations of governance in the SAR, they are also seeking a society made only in their image.

Since the district council elections last month, opposition district councilors have frequently appeared on the scene when any violence erupts, indulging the smash and burn of the blackshirts and smearing, even obstructing, the law enforcement efforts of the police. At least 17 opposition district councilors have reportedly been arrested for various crimes such as participating in illegal assembly or being involved in the street violence.

The months of unrest and chaos are taking their toll on the SAR. Its flagging economy, shuttered businesses and fears for personal safety are what the radical elements in Hong Kong have bestowed on their fellow residents in the name of democracy.

At no point have they offered any proposals to improve the SAR's fortunes and promote the wellbeing of local residents.

All they offer is violent affirmation of a self-created identity as privileged others and hypocritical rhetoric about the erosion of liberties when it is they that are denying to others the liberties that they claim to be upholding.

Over six months of escalating violence all the rioters have offered for the betterment of their hometown is brute force and ignorance, which as they have so readily demonstrated is a recipe for chaos.

To avoid Hong Kong enduring the pitiless routine of the rioters' self-indulgence in the year ahead, the SAR government must resolutely clamp down on their violence and bring every unlawful protester to book.

Hong Kong residents should also firmly rally around the SAR government and police, and join hands with them to safeguard their hometown.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[New Securities Law follows market rules]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531107.htm Editor's note: China's top legislature recently passed the revised version of the Securities Law, which takes effect on March 1. This is the second comprehensive amendment to the law since it came into force in 1999. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

The law was first revised in 2005, and work on the second amendment began in 2013. The amendment tones down the "privileges" in the Securities Law.

The existing law allows the top securities regulator, not market investors, to decide which "good" companies would be included on the registration list, which could lead to corruption.

The amended law, on the other hand, will treat the registration system as a cornerstone of a fair market, cancel the issuance examination committee and authorize the State Council, China's Cabinet, to promulgate stipulations on the specific scope of the securities issuance registration system.

The amended law shows China is determined to operate its securities market based on market rules and adhere to the "disclosure philosophy" established by the 1933 Securities Act of the United States. In the past, China's top regulator also emphasized the centrality of the information disclosure regulation, but the old securities issuance model failed to make investors believe "sunshine is the best preservative and street lamp the best police".

The amended law will also set the legal basis for China to expand the pilot registration-based system for initial public offerings in the A-share market and better implement the de-listing system in the securities market.

There have been increasing calls for the regulator to intensify the de-listing regulation to weed out underperforming companies, but under the existing issuance approval system, it is hard for the authorities to do so, as the companies are not listed based on market rules. With the enforcement of the amended Securities Law, this system is expected to change.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[US paying price for Middle East policy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530966.htm Even with the violent assault on the United States embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, for which he threatened Teheran with a "very big price" to pay, and even as the Pentagon acted swiftly to reinforce deployment in the region, US President Donald Trump indicated that the US will exercise restraint.

The US president said he wants peace as much as the Iranians do, and doesn't see a war with Iran happening.

While such restraint certainly is laudable and conducive to cooling things down a bit, it doesn't suffice for meaningful headway to be made in unraveling the present impasse in the region.

Tuesday's storming of the embassy compound no doubt marks "increased threat levels against US personnel and facilities," as US Defense Secretary Mark Esper observed. But deploying more troops alone can't address the troubles in Washington's face.

Unless the real lesson is learned and taken to heart, unless Washington gives more thought to non-military options, and engages local players in a more constructive manner, there is little chance it will easily emerge from being mired in the Middle East.

Even though an outright war between the US and Iran may be ruled out for now, what is widely seen as proxy wars between the two parties may drag on, weakening both and worsening security conditions throughout the region.

The Tuesday attack in itself is an example of the complicated and thorny nature of the troubles at Washington's hand.

The embassy breach was carried out by members of Hashd Shaabi, an umbrella group formed by Iraq's paramilitary Kata'ib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups, allegedly Iran-backed, who lost 25 comrades in US airstrikes on Sunday in Iraq and Syria.

Those strikes-the largest of their kind in recent years-were allegedly in retaliation for recent attacks on US targets in Iraq, which Washington blamed on Iran as the orchestrator, although the latter denied the charge.

While the strikes also invited angry responses from Iran and Syria, it is the response from Baghdad which makes things worse. Calling them "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty, the Iraqi government said it would reconsider relations with the US-led coalition.

As some US observers have pointed out, the strikes turned some of the Iraqi anger away from Iran toward the US, which will in turn undermine US influence as well as its position in dealing with Teheran.

If Iran does have a role here, the outrage seen on Tuesday again showed the US president's "maximum pressure" tactic is not working. Instead, it is simply creating more problems than it solves.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Anti-infiltration bill is tool to ensure Tsai's reelection]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531015.htm It should be no surprise that the anti-infiltration bill was passed in Taiwan's legislature on Wednesday since it is dominated by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

It should also be no surprise that it has been passed ahead of the island's election on Jan 11.

And it should come as no surprise should the bill have a chilling effect on the island's ties with the Chinese mainland.

The DPP said the legislation is aimed at combating efforts by Beijing to influence politics and the democratic process on the island, claiming that it will prevent illegal campaign contributions, the staging of political events, the spread of misinformation and other acts that could affect Taiwan's elections or the work of the government.

By doing so the DPP can kill two birds with one stone: using the bill as a tool to suppress the election campaigns of opposition parties such as the Kuomintang, People First Party and New Party; and closing the door on exchanges across the Taiwan Straits.

That being the case, how can the bill be providing greater guarantees for Taiwan's democracy, as Tsai claims?

Under the new legislation, anyone who receives funding, instructions or donations from "external forces" to mobilize public rallies, for election campaign activities, or lobbies government officials or lawmakers, or disrupts the social order could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to NT$10 million ($334,000).

With exchanges across the Straits having expanded to the extent they have now, it is too easy to claim exchanges are infiltration.

With no clear descriptions about its terms such as funding, donations and even instructions, there is enough reason to believe that the bill will likely be a basket, in which the ruling DPP can put whatever things it wants.

As a result, such worries hold water that a "white terror" could be created by the bill and those who get investment from the mainland could be jailed and so would be those who have close exchanges with the mainland.

As such, relations across the Straits will be seriously affected or even ruined since the island leader Tsai Ing-wen said in explicit terms on Wednesday that the island will not accept the "one country, two systems" political formula.

So this bill can also be understood as being part and parcel of Tsai's strategy to further sabotage ties across the Straits, which she believes will increase her chances of being reelected.

But one thing she should never forget is the fact that the further she and her DPP go on the road to secession from the mainland, the more likely it is that the mainland will take back the island by force.

When such a scenario turns out to be next to reality, she and her DPP will be deserted by the people on the island.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Prompt action arrests spread of virus, panic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531014.htm TWENTY-SEVEN PEOPLE DIAGNOSED with viral pneumonia have been quarantined in Wuhan, Hubei province. And those who had come in close contact with them are being kept under observation. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Any mention of the word "pneumonia" could trigger panic, as it brings back memories of the SARS(severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic that hit China and large parts of Asia in 2002-03.

Therefore, after a pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, people immediately started asking: "Is SARS back?"

No one can give a definite answer to that. People's Daily quoted medical experts as saying there is no empirical evidence to prove the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan is SARS. Nor did the local health authorities mention SARS in their news release.

But we can be sure about one thing-even if it is an epidemic, it can be controlled. Unlike in 2002-03, China now has a comprehensive emergency response mechanism in place.

Even in Wuhan, within 24 hours the local authorities identified the people who had been infected, where the epidemic originated, and who should be kept under observation. By Wednesday, the local market regulatory bureau had shut down a wholesale seafood market, believed to be the source of the virus.

The same sense of urgency was evident in Beijing in November when two people were diagnosed with plague. Within 24 hours, measures were taken to prevent the disease from spreading.

So every time an epidemic breaks out, the government can prevent people panicking by releasing timely information. In Wuhan, the local authorities were updating their micro blog accounts every few minutes, reflecting utmost transparency. And the more transparency there is, the less room for rumors and therefore panic to spread.

Let us hope the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan is controlled soon.

 

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tragedy sounds alarm on care for aged]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531013.htm A precious life was lost on Christmas Eve. Yang Wen, a female doctor in Beijing's Civil Aviation General Hospital, was stabbed in the neck by a man named Sun Wenbin, exposing the vulnerability of doctors who dedicate their lives to saving others.

Sun, 55, is the son of a 95-year-old female patient who has been bedridden since suffering a stroke for years and lately slipped into a coma. Four days after the brutal attack, China passed a new law aimed at preventing violence against medical practitioners.

That such brutal attacks should be strongly condemned and the perpetrator brought to justice goes without saying. But the public also needs to think about some deep-rooted social challenges caused by the rising aging population as reflected in the bloody attack.

The elderly woman had been in the emergency ward for nearly 20 days because she couldn't be moved to a normal ward for want of a bed. Which meant the healthcare insurance system might not cover a large part of her medical bill. Sun's family said that was one of the reasons Sun and his family got into conflicts with the hospital. And unfortunately, the doctor became a victim of that conflict.

For years people have been complaining about how difficult it is to get a bed allotted in a hospital, especially in a major hospital. And the growing aging population is increasing the burden on the healthcare insurance system by consuming an increasing share of medical resources.

By the end of 2018, the number of people aged above 60 had reached 249 million, more than 17 percent of the total population. The figure is expected to increase to 255 million in 2020. Since a country with more than 10 percent of its population above 60 is termed an aging society, the seriousness of China's problem should be lost on no one.

The World Health Organization has issued an alert on the dramatically rising pace of aging population across the world. France had almost 150 years to adapt to the rise in aging population from 10 percent to 20 percent of the total, whereas China has to adapt to the change in slightly more than 20 years.

Some official statistics will help gauge the magnitude of China's aging population problem. In 2018, only 9.7 percent of the total working population needed hospitalization compared with 42.1 percent of the retirees. In 2018, the total income of the national medical insurance fund was about 2.13 trillion yuan ($305.90 billion) while the total expenditure was 1.78 trillion yuan. To strike a balance between the income and expenditure of the medical insurance fund, hospitals are assigned different medical insurance quotas. The hospitals are also evaluated on the basis of how frequently they assign a bed to a new patient.

Maybe that's why many hospitals are reluctant to allot a bed to a time-and fund-consuming patient who has a slim hope of recovery, because by allotting a bed to such a patient for a long duration, especially toward the end of the year, hospitals could lose part of their allotted medical insurance quota.

If Sun had been conscientious, he should have been grateful to the hospital and doctors for keeping his mother in the emergency ward instead of venting his anger on the innocent doctor.

Take the case of an 89-year-old woman in Guangzhou. She was forced to shift from one hospital to another in December after suffering a stroke and had to spend her last 44 days in four hospitals. The case indicates how urgently the authorities need to improve the healthcare system to deal with the rising aging population problem.

The aged women in Beijing and Guangzhou are just two of the 44 million aged people who are disabled or partly disabled after suffering a stroke or heart attack, or due to other medical conditions. In fact, Beijing Normal University's sociology department has said that the number of such partly disabled aged people will be between 68.52 million and 75.9 million in 2020, while that of totally disabled aged people will be between 5.99 million and 6.74 million.

The healthcare system and other elderly-care mechanisms are far from prepared to deal with the looming aging population challenge.

According to the China National Committee on Aging, in 2020 China will have 29 million people aged above 80. And the WHO has forecast that by 2050 China will have about 125 million people aged above 80. Also, in 2050 at least 100 million of the 480 million people aged above 60 will be partly or totally disabled due to various health conditions.

So apart from increasing investment in quality hospitals, the authorities should also build more public nursing facilities to ease the pressure on hospitals, provide more community services to support aged residents, and use technology to lower the cost of medical and elderly care.

The year 2019 ended on a bloody note for the healthcare and eldercare systems because of the stabbing incident, which shows that not only do our doctors and nurses need protection, but also that the eldercare system needs improvement. So let us take a solemn pledge that from 2020 we will respect and better protect medical practitioners, and do more to take better care for the elderly.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[The dream of eradicating absolute poverty to be realized]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530976.htm When China pledged that it would lift all Chinese people out of absolute poverty by 2020, many doubted whether it would be able to realize the goal because, to the uninitiated, it was a task unachievable. Today, China is on the verge of realizing that goal.

China has already lifted out of poverty close to 800 million people-more than the total population of Latin America or the European Union-since the launch of reform and opening-up.

As President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's address:"2020 will be a year of milestone significance. We will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realize the first centenary goal. 2020 will also be a year of decisive victory for the elimination of poverty."

That China's transformation has been driven by its political commitment and effective policy measures has been recognized by such international organizations as the United Nations, especially the UN Development Programme. The efforts of governments at all levels, from provinces and municipalities to counties and villages, to eradicate poverty have allowed the implementation of pilot projects to address local problems on the ground through a targeted poverty alleviation program and achieve unprecedented results.

No wonder the share of China's population living in absolute poverty dropped from 97.5 percent in 1978 to just 1.7 percent in 2019, while its per capita income increased 20-fold during the same period. In fact, China is the only country to have risen from the low to high category on the UNDP's human development index.

This fact found echo in President Xi's speech. "In 2019, we sweated and we toiled as we pressed ahead with concrete efforts for achievements. Thanks to our steady pursuit of high-quality development, China's GDP is expected to edge close to 100 trillion yuan (14.36 trillion) with the per capita figure reaching the level of $10,000."

China's success in fighting poverty can also be attributed to the leadership's resolve and the adequate allocation of financial and human resources to poverty-alleviation programs, as well as massive investments in infrastructure to connect remote, impoverished areas to the rest of the country, which have provided people with better access to services and markets and helped them improve their incomes and lives.

In 2019 alone, China allocated 126 billion yuan to poverty reduction programs. And since 2017, it has dispatched about 775,000 civil servants to impoverished villages to support local officials in implementing specific poverty-alleviating measures at the household level while monitoring and reviewing the progress at every step.

Besides, China's people-centric approach to reducing poverty aligns with the global vision of leaving no one behind enshrined in the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals-to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet.

Yet China has to meet some challenges on its way to building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. For instance, between 2000 and 2018, the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the Chinese population grew at just half the rate of the wealthiest 1 percent. And climate change is likely to widen this inequality, because the poor are most vulnerable to its effects. Slower economic growth and a fast aging population could make the problem even more serious, especially because it is becoming increasingly challenging for the country's shrinking workforce to support growth and social security.

China has to realize that poverty has many dimensions-indeed, poverty is a multifaceted problem-to overcome complex and interconnected challenges in 2020 and beyond. As such, the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) should focus on reducing relative poverty and narrowing the wealth gap between rural and urban areas, as well as within cities and between generations and genders.

But as Xi said: "The bugle has sounded. United as one, we shall work harder. The greater the difficulties, the further we advance, strengthening our weak links even more and laying a more solid foundation to win the hard battle against poverty with determination, to lift all impoverished rural residents and counties out of poverty by current standards as scheduled."

And this should inspire other countries-perhaps to take a leaf out of China's "how-to-reduce-poverty" book-to intensify their fight against poverty in order to build a more equitable and balanced world for the betterment of the entire humankind.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

 

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Populism could spark crisis in 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530984.htm Predicting the next crisis-financial or economic-is a fool's game. Yes, every crisis has its hero who correctly warned of what was about to come. And, by definition, the hero was ignored (hence the crisis). But the record of modern forecasting contains a note of caution: those who correctly predict a crisis rarely get it right again.

The best that economists can do is to assess vulnerability. Looking at imbalances in the real economy or financial markets gives a sense of the potential consequences of a major shock. It doesn't take much to spark corrections in vulnerable economies and markets. But a garden-variety correction is far different from a crisis. The severity of the shock and the degree of vulnerability matter: big shocks to highly vulnerable systems are a recipe for crisis.

In this vein, the source of vulnerability that I worry about the most is the overextended state of central banks' balance sheets. My concern stems from three reasons.

Many central banks' balance sheet stretched

First, central banks' balance sheets are undeniably stretched. Assets of major central banks-the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan-collectively stood at $14.5 trillion in November 2019, which is down only slightly from the peak of about $15 trillion in early 2018 and more than 3.5 times the pre-global financial crisis level of $4 trillion. A similar conclusion comes from scaling assets by the size of their respective economies: Japan leads the way at 102 percent of nominal GDP, followed by the ECB at 39 percent, and the Fed at a mere 17 percent.

Second, the expansion of central banks' balance sheets is essentially a failed policy experiment. Yes, it was successful in putting a floor under collapsing markets over a decade ago, in the depths of the global financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. But it failed to achieve traction in sparking vigorous economic recovery.

Central banks believed that what worked during the crisis would work equally well during the recovery. That didn't happen. The combined nominal GDP of the United States, eurozone and Japan increased by $5.3 trillion from 2008 to 2018, or just more than half their central banks' combined balance sheet expansion of $10 trillion during the same period. The remaining $4.7 trillion is the functional equivalent of a massive liquidity injection that has been propping up asset markets over most of the post-crisis era.

Fed leads the way in upping the ante

Third, steeped in denial, central banks are once again upping the ante on balance sheet expansion as a means to stimulate flagging economic recoveries. The Fed's late 2018 pivot led the way, first reversing the planned normalization of its benchmark policy rate and then allowing its balance sheet to grow again (allegedly for reserve management purposes) following steady reductions from mid-2017 through August 2019.

Asset purchases remain at elevated levels for the Bank of Japan as a critical element of the "Abenomics" reflation campaign. And the recently installed ECB president, Christine Lagarde, the world's newest central banker, was quick to go on the record stressing that European monetary authorities will "turn (over) each and every stone"-which presumably includes the balance sheet.

So why is all this problematic? After all, in a low-inflation era, inflation-targeting central banks seemingly have nothing to fear about continuing to err on the side of extraordinary monetary accommodation, whether conventional (near zero-bound benchmark policy rates) or unconventional (balance-sheet expansion). The problem lies, in part, with the price-stability mandate itself-a longstanding, but now inappropriate, anchor for monetary policy. The mandate is woefully out of sync with chronically below-target inflation and growing risks to financial stability.

Weak real economies exacerbating problem

The potential instability of the US equity market is a case in point. According to the widely cited metrics of Robert Shiller, winner of Nobel Prize for economics, equity prices relative to cyclically adjusted long-term earnings currently are 53 percent above their post-1950 average and 21 percent above the post-crisis average since March 2009. Barring a major re-acceleration of economic and earnings growth or a new round of Fed balance sheet expansion, further sharp increases in US equity markets are unlikely. Conversely, another idiosyncratic shock-or a surprising re-acceleration of inflation and a related hike in interest rates-would raise the distinct possibility of a sharp correction in an overvalued US equity market.

The problem also lies in weak real economies that are far too close to their stall speed. The International Monetary Fund recently lowered its estimate for world GDP growth in 2019 to 3 percent-midway between the 40-year trend of 3.5 percent and the 2.5 percent threshold commonly associated with global recession. As 2019 has come to an end, real GDP growth in the US is tracking below 2 percent, and the 2020 growth forecast for both the eurozone and Japan is less than 1 percent.

In other words, the major developed economies are not only flirting with overvalued financial markets and still relying on a failed monetary-policy strategy, but also lack a growth cushion just when they may need it most.

Modi's 'Hindu agenda' worst form of populism

In such a vulnerable world, it would not take much to spark the crisis of 2020. Notwithstanding the risks of playing the fool's game, three "Ps" are at the top of my list of concerns: protectionism, populism and political dysfunction. An enduring tilt toward protectionism is particularly troubling, especially since the China-US trade war is yet to be resolved. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Hindu nation" crusade in that country could well be the most disturbing development in a global swing toward populism. And the great US impeachment saga takes Washington's political dysfunction further into uncharted territory.

Quite possibly, the spark will be something else-or maybe there won't be any shock at all. But the diagnosis of vulnerability needs to be taken seriously, especially because it can be validated from three perspectives-real economies, financial asset prices, and misguided monetary policy. Throw a shock into that mix and the crisis of 2020 will quickly be at hand.

The writer, a faculty member at Yale University and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, is the author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

SHI YU/CHINA DALY

 

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Washington reaps rewards of its bad faith]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530983.htm For any stakeholders in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the latest seven-hour speech delivered by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea top leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Tuesday contains signals that no side can afford to ignore.

After enduring sanctions for more than a decade, this is arguably the first time that the DPRK's top leader has acknowledged their effect, saying that the country "urgently needs an external environment favorable for economic construction".

The warnings Kim has issued this time-for example, to own new strategic weapons-should only be heard against this backdrop.

Although no parties should doubt its ability to deliver them, it should be understood that rather than fresh menace from Pyongyang, this stems not from its desire for new additions to its arsenal but from its desire to raise awareness of its pressing economic needs.

As Kim has vowed to divert attention to economic construction and make it a central task after wrapping up four visits to China in 10 months last year, were it not for some life-threatening difficulties caused by sanctions upon its national economic development, he would never have risked the world's condemnation, not to mention the possibility of providing the US with a new excuse to step up the sanctions.

With tens of big and small joint militarily drills being staged, which the US leader has promised to stop, the US' inaction in effect means that Washington is intent on continuously exerting external pressure on the DPRK's security while seeking to create internal tensions within the DPRK due to a faltering economy.

So after the US simply chose to ignore the year-end deadline Pyongyang had set for the restarting of their denuclearization negotiations, the DPRK has finally realized that the US is not going to hold true to its commitments.

The world should need no further evidence to realize that Pyongyang's "preemptive and crucial measures" to stop nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and dismantle its nuclear testing grounds have been exploited for three media-circus meetings, rather than any substantial actions by the US.

The realization that the US is not talking in good faith has spurred Pyongyang to make the difficult decision to resort to the self-inflicting arms building route again, which is actually contradictory to its economy-centered strategy.

Although the door for dialogue has not been closed, by declaring that the "scope and depth of bolstering our deterrent will be properly coordinated depending on the US' future attitude", Kim means that Pyongyang might only be willing to discuss arms control for the time being, rather than denuclearization, a worrying step backward for the denuclearization endeavors. This should be regarded as the US reaping what it has sown.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Reform the way forward for economy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530982.htm Editor's note: With the economy further slowing in 2019, the market is closely watching China's economic trend. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

The economy faced downward pressure in the past two years because China stopped using credit expansion to stimulate the economy.

Although China's growth model is not linked to monetary expansion any more, the country has vigorously promoted supply-side structural reform to eliminate low-efficiency industries.

This has increased the downward pressure on the economy, but it also has helped China avoid a hard landing and improved the market environment, which in turn promote sustainable and healthy development.

As a large economy in transition, China must combine long-term and immediate goals while being prepared to deal with short-term problems.

In 2020, the country should speed up the establishment of a market clearing system and eliminate zombie enterprises, debt default and liquidation, and other thorny issues. Eliminating zombie enterprises could increase debt default cases, but it is necessary to strengthen the rule of law and avoid excessive government intervention when tackling debt default.

Also, China should continue to reduce financing costs for the real estate sector, expedite the financial sector's supply-side reform and further optimize money supply. And it should not use monetary policy as a means to stimulate economic growth, and solve the structural problems through reform.

The country should continue to build a long-term management and regulation mechanism to stabilize land and housing prices. Despite various regulations and several years of adjustments, housing prices remain high. As such, China should take measures to control housing prices.

From a middle-and long-term perspective, China is in a favorable position for further development, so it should continue to advance planned reform measures to achieve further success.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Now streaming, local officials evolve with the changing times]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531001.htm A DEPUTY COUNTY CHIEF IN Shandong province imitates a live streaming celebrity to promote and sell local agricultural products online, an innovation in local governance. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

 

Wang Shuai, deputy chief of Shanghe county in Jinan, Shandong province, turns into a live streaming salesman to promote agricultural and other products online. His imitation of "best live streaming salesman" Li Jiaqi's style and tone while going about his business went viral on the internet recently.

A young man born after 1980, Wang holds a doctoral degree and is in charge of the county's commercial and trade work. He actively uses online e-commerce channels to promote local products. After observing Li Jiaqi's persuasive hosting skills, he began imitating him to sell the local products.

But behind Wang's innovative experiment are his colleagues at Shanghe county. Wang said he had no prior experience in live streaming. Shanghe county has piloted live streaming as a way to sell local products after seeing the positive impact of this new e-commerce channel.

According to Wang, total online sales of the county's agricultural and other products from January to November 2019 touched 540 million yuan ($77.5 million), a 13 percent growth year-on-year. Live streaming alone helped promote more than 10 million yuan in sales in the past years.

Internet has drastically changed traditional business models, and can help boost rural economies while benefiting local residents. The efforts made by local authorities to promote local specialties through e-commerce channels shows how officials on the ground are evolving with the times and transforming government functions to better serve local development. This is a positive example of improving local governance capacity.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[People-to-people diplomacy key to tell China's story]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530806.htm As part of China's diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges have played an important role in establishing and deepening bilateral relations with other countries. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the country's leadership launched people-to-people diplomacy, which helped ease the diplomatic blockade imposed by the West on China, strengthen ties with people of and promote mutual trust with other countries, and win international support.

As an important component of China's overall diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy has played a vital role in consolidating public support and laying a foundation for the development of state-to-state relations.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in late 2012, under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China's people-to-people diplomacy has seen further development by expanding and deepening exchanges with other countries' politicians, parliamentary groups, think tanks and media organizations.

China's track-two diplomacy, using bilateral and multilateral platforms, has increased the international community's understanding of and recognition for China's socio-economic system, and thus enhanced mutual understanding and trust between China and the rest of the world.

Over the past 70 years, people-to-people diplomacy has increasingly become an important channel for China to stabilize and deepen relations with other countries, strengthen people-to-people bond, promote cooperation and conduct dialogue on bilateral and multilateral levels, facilitating China's reform, opening-up and economic development, and strengthening its diplomacy.

People-to-people diplomacy is an important outcome of the CPC's efforts to lead the Chinese people in exploring new diplomatic theories and practices. China has established and strengthened win-win cooperation with other countries using official diplomacy. On the other hand, it has also strengthened people-to-people diplomacy, by deepening people-to-people communication and exchanges with other countries.

China is now in its best period of development. In the face of profound changes, and unprecedented opportunities and challenges, there is a need to give full play to people-to-people diplomacy in order to deepen China's relationships with other countries and promote international cooperation.

First, people-to-people diplomacy should be used to enhance other countries' support for China's efforts to build a new type of international relations. As President Xi Jinping said, nongovernmental diplomacy should make pioneering and innovative efforts to conduct friendly people-to-people exchanges in various fields through multiple channels and at various levels. China should also make full use of its flexible, diversified, and wide-ranging people-to-people diplomacy to mobilize and unite all forces to enhance mutual communication and understanding, deepen mutual trust, and consolidate friendship with other countries.

Second, people-to-people diplomacy should defend and promote China's national interests. China is committed to following the path of peaceful development, and safeguarding its national sovereignty, security and development interests. So its people's diplomacy should be aimed at safeguarding not only China's national interests but also public interests.

Also, in the course of promoting people-to-people diplomacy, China should make full use of its unique strengths and resources, find innovative ways and means to safeguard national interests, and develop the expertise needed to defeat the forces that undermine its national interests.

Third, people-to-people diplomacy should be used to promote China's national image. Traditional Chinese culture, and economic development, and the enterprising course of reform and opening-up have all helped China make achievements rarely seen in the world. People-to-people diplomacy should use these as valuable resources to disseminate China's message in a language understandable and acceptable to foreign friends, so the world can better understand China. And by so doing, people-to-people diplomacy can present China's image as a responsible major country, and enhance China's international status and influence.

And fourth, it is imperative that people-to-people diplomacy play a role in multilateral forums to promote China's proposals to address regional and global issues while fostering the idea that China's development and prosperity-and the Chinese Dream of realizing national rejuvenation-is in the interest of the people across the world. With a global and long-term strategic vision and the goal of better serving the Chinese people as well as those in the rest the world, China's people-to-people diplomacy should work to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

 

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Calm key to prosperous New Year for HK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530861.htm For more than six months, Hong Kong has been mired in political crisis as riotous protesters have repeatedly wreaked havoc in the city with their violent antics, which have dealt heavy blows to the special administrative region's economy and people's livelihoods. With the New Year just around the corner, whether Hong Kong will restore peace and order and set itself on the road to recovery is a question that many people are asking.

Remarks from Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chief secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, over the weekend offer a sober perspective, and some hope.

While warning of tough tests and challenges in 2020 in a blog post, Cheung also wrote that "Hong Kong has a deep foundation and competitive system. If it can grasp opportunities, stop the violence and restore social order as soon as possible, it can surely be back on the right track for rebirth."

Official forecasts show Hong Kong's GDP was down 2.9 percent year-on-year, the biggest contraction in a decade. But as Cheung has rightly pointed out, Hong Kong still has a lot of unique advantages. Not to mention that the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area also presents new opportunities for Hong Kong to take advantage of.

The increasing support being extended to the SAR government and the police by Hong Kong residents may help to bring an end to the social disruptions and promote the restoring of order as Hong Kong society is showing a strong desire to emerge from the chaos.

Yet, judging from protesters' violence before and even after Christmas in various shopping districts and the fact that more protests planned for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in an attempt to disrupt festivities and shopping in the Asian financial hub, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring calm back to the city.

Vigorous law enforcement is the key for Hong Kong to bring an end to the rioting. Both the SAR government and the police need to firmly demonstrate their resolve to end the violence by bringing all rioters to justice.

The future of Hong Kong lies in the hands of Hong Kong people. We believe the majority of Hong Kong people want an end to violence and a return to order and stability.

It is hoped the goodwill of this majority will prevail in Hong Kong in 2020 so that the city can enjoy its much-needed rebirth at an early date.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Picture news]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530843.htm  

Hao Yanpeng

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Improvement in China-Japan ties to promote common good]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530839.htm The improvement in Sino-Japanese relations, marked by increasing country-to-country exchanges, is one of the highlights of 2019. In fact, mutual trust between China and Japan is increasing despite their different political outlooks.

At his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before the recent eighth China-Japan-Republic of Korea leaders' meeting, President Xi Jinping said Beijing and Tokyo need to advance bilateral ties to a higher level for the benefit of the two peoples. Abe, on his part, said Japan attaches great importance to Xi's visit to Japan, scheduled for the spring of 2020, and will further promote cooperation with China in the fields of trade, tourism, culture and sports.

The fact that Sino-Japanese relations were warming up was evident much before the recent tripartite meeting-when Abe conveyed his best wishes to the Chinese people on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Feb 2019 and the Tokyo Tower was bathed in red light for the first time for Spring Festival.

Besides, Vice-President Wang Qishan attended the new Japanese Emperor Naruhito's coronation ceremony in October, which demonstrated the two countries' sincerity to improve relationship.

As Xi has stressed, China and Japan share more and more common interests and concerns, and should continue to make joint efforts to improve bilateral ties so as to meet the requirements of the new era and promote world peace and stability.

Economic cooperation between the two countries has also improved. A special train of China-Europe Railway Express carried goods-such as liquid crystal display panels, cameras and auto parts worth more than $17 million-produced by Japanese enterprises operating in China in December 2018.

The arrangement was elevated to a higher level in 2019, and a batch of goods from Yokohama that arrived at Xiamen port in Fujian province was transported to Duisburg in Germany through the China-Europe Railway Express in April. Major Japanese logistics companies including Nisshin Logistics Co, NYK Logistics and Sagawa Express Co have also started providing logistics services through China's railways, setting an example for other Japanese enterprises to make use of the Belt and Road Initiative to improve their connection with the European market.

Moreover, during his visit to Japan in May 2018, Premier Li Keqiang reached a consensus with Abe on third-market cooperation. China and Japan have also signed a memorandum on business cooperation in third countries, and during Abe's visit to China in October 2018, the two sides started 52 programs. And by the end of April 2019, positive progress had been made in more than 20 of those programs.

Also, Japan Bank for International Cooperation has supported China's investment as well as participated in infrastructure and other projects along the Belt and Road routes in Central Asia.

The two sides are also cooperating on regional and global economic issues. For example, the 15 members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, except India, recently concluded the negotiations on the text of an agreement, which is expected to be signed in 2020. This is one of the most important achievements of Sino-Japanese economic diplomacy.

China and Japan have made huge progress in people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation, too. Japan held the "China Festival in 2019", which concluded in November. Mutual visits reached 12 million person-times in 2018 thanks to the more than 1,400 direct flights between the two countries. And the figures are expected to increase in 2019.

Overall, China-Japan relations greatly improved in 2019 in areas such as high-level exchanges, mutual trust, economic cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Which have laid a solid foundation for deepening Sino-Japanese cooperation, and President Xi's visit to Japan, scheduled for early 2020, is expected to further boost bilateral relations and strengthen mutual trust.

 

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[For better global governance and growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530807.htm While trade disputes, rising populism and global economic uncertainties caused turbulence in many parts of the world in 2019, China continued to make efforts to stabilize the global economy and promote multilateralism and free trade. To this end, President Xi Jinping visited many countries and regions to attend global and regional meetings and forums while China hosted several conferences and expos, which saw the active participation of many economies and international organizations.

Xi's overseas visits helped China strengthen pragmatic cooperation with many countries and regions, starting from Europe, where China reached a consensus on protecting multilateralism and deepening bilateral cooperation with Italy, Monaco and France. Beijing and Rome also signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. China is set to deepen cooperation with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Nepal, too, under the Belt and Road framework.

Xi's visits to neighboring countries also deepened mutual political trust while strengthening strategic coordination in the field of communication, which could help China safeguard its national security and further stabilize the regional situation.

The president's visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in June not only reinforced the partnership between Beijing and Pyongyang but also demonstrated China's determination to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Xi's meeting with leaders of many countries and regions, including the United States, Russia, France, India, Brazil and South Africa, helped deepen coordination at multiple levels to maintain peace across the world, boost global economic growth, safeguard regional and global security and promote fair global governance.

Xi's overseas visits helped increase mutual understanding between China and other economies, including those in the Mediterranean, South Asia and Latin America. At his meetings with foreign leaders and while attending international conferences, Xi emphasized that China is committed to safeguarding globalization, promoting multilateralism and win-win cooperation, and opposing unilateralism and protectionism. He also made it clear that China will continue to take active part in global governance.

To boost the global economy, China will strive to synchronize the Belt and Road Initiative with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and improve the use of the South-South cooperation assistance fund and China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund, in order to create more development opportunities for developing countries.

Furthermore, China has agreed to advance high-quality development in tandem with the other BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa), triggering a new round of industrial revolution featuring biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

To reform the global governance system and make it fairer and more representative in these fast-changing times, China needs to make intensified efforts to promote global collaboration in the fields of economy, security and environmental protection.

In accordance with the theme of peace and development, Xi has proposed establishing a new type of major-country relationship and building a community with a shared future for mankind. The reflections of a community with a shared future could be earlier seen even in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China-Africa relations and China-Latin America relations, but Xi has given it a distinctive shape and character marked by openness and inclusiveness, innovation-driven development, better connectivity, and mutually beneficial cooperation.

As Xi has said, China's stances and proposals have helped the international community better understand the country, and promoted interactions between China and other countries, which in turn have helped to defuse tensions across the world. And, as expected, increased peaceful interactions will create more opportunities for co-development.

Moreover, China is taking measures to further open up its economy to not only promote its own development but also fulfill its obligations as a responsible power, and continue to make special contributions to the world economy and global governance.

 

 

 

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US should ease sanctions on DPRK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530825.htm As the Christmas season has passed and 2019 draws to a close, those who were worried about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's ominous threat of a "Christmas gift" for the United States might be heaving a sigh of relief.

Yet there is still the year-end deadline the DPRK's top leader set for Washington on denuclearization talks.

Hopefully, despite the tough words and actions-the DPRK carried out two "important tests" at a satellite launching ground earlier this month, and the US has recently sent more surveillance aircraft to the peninsula-both sides will remain restrained and not do anything that might blow the chance for a diplomatic solution.

As White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said on Sunday, "channels of communication" between the two countries are still open. More important, the DPRK has so far restrained itself from lifting a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, which is considered a red line it must not cross if any denuclearization hope is to survive.

Which may give cause for optimism that it was DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un applying pressure on Washington when he called for his military and diplomats to prepare unspecified "offensive measures" to protect the country's security and sovereignty during a key meeting on Sunday. Especially, as his proclaimed focus on the country's economy may also serve as a proof that the possibility of a return to the old path of nuclear adventurism is slim.

Kim "stressed the need to reasonably straighten the country's economic work system and order" while seeking a "decisive" increase in agricultural production and improving science, education and public health standards, according to the state news agency KCNA. Attaining these goals would be out of the question if a nuclear confrontation re-emerges.

But that does not mean Washington should continue to press ahead with all the sanctions and pressure it is already applying against Pyongyang without making any substantial moves to address the latter's existential concerns.

The US may insist the DPRK is not doing enough in denuclearization, but there remains a discrepancy in understanding about how that process should unfold. The hard-handed method adopted by the US has only deepened distrust, and compounded the DPRK's fears that it will get nothing in return for abandoning nuclear capability.

Thus to solve the stalemate, China and Russia proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution earlier this month that would lift some sanctions so as to restart the stalled denuclearization talks.

The US should consider giving the proposal a chance. After all, keeping the peace momentum on the Korean Peninsula going caters to its interests as well.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Unified accounting for quality GDP data]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530824.htm Editor's note: According to the National Bureau of Statistics, a unified method is ready and will be used to calculate the gross domestic product of different regions in 2019. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

This reform will significantly improve the quality of statistical data which will in turn promote the country's development.

The tiered GDP accounting system being followed now was introduced in 1985. Under it, the NBS calculated national GDP and provincial-level departments calculated GDP in their regions.

As China's economy has grown to become the world's second largest, its economic data are now of great consequence to the international market.

But the quality of data is sometimes suspect given that the provincial GDP is sometimes exaggerated.

When China enters a stage of high-quality development, if its data do not objectively reflect the scale, structure and speed of the economy both at the national and provincial level, it will be difficult to correctly analyze the macroeconomic situation.

Unless backed by high-quality data, it will be difficult to ensure the country's high-quality economic development.

The exaggeration of local GDP is to a large extent the result of the GDP-centered performance assessment mechanism.

To produce better-looking GDP figures, local officials used to sometimes intervene in the GDP calculation work. Sometimes even market players overstate or understate performance data for their own benefits.

It is for these reasons that the authorities have advanced a unified national economic data accounting system.

According to a reform program worked out in June 2017, the NBS will oversee local GDP calculation work. Also, those violating the process will be held accountable.

Given that scientific collection of statistical data can serve high-quality development, the country should vigorously develop the data sector in this era of big data.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Flowers of public sympathy for doctor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530809.htm A WEEK AFTER YANG WEN, a doctor at the Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing, died after being attacked by a patient's son, the hospital has received a large number of bouquets and bottles of milk tea from people. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

 

After last Tuesday's bloody attack, many social media users have been ranting online, even calling bystanders at the scene of crime "cold-blooded" or "coward" for not trying to stop the attacker, who was armed with a knife.

But the bouquets laid at the hospital's emergency ward to mourn the doctor's death are proof that the majority of people have their heart at the right place. Every flower is like a message of condolence for the doctor and a note of condemnation for the attacker.

There was a time when after a doctor was attacked, certain media outlets would share tragic stories about the attackers, helping them win the "sympathy" of the public, many of whom would then be convinced the attack was in reaction to questionable treatment at the hands of the doctor.

But the deluge of bouquets and notes from the public this time is proof of a consensus emerging: Whatever the excuse, no one has the right to attack a doctor or a nurse. The "aggrieved" can register their complaints through proper channels, including legal ones. Under no condition should one wield a knife or a stick, be it against doctors, nurses or any member of society.

The flowers also erase the "coward" slur hurled by social media users on the "bystanders".

The public has rightly condemned the attacker, Sun Wenbin, but mere condemnation is not enough. The accused has been arrested and one hopes he receives the punishment he deserve so as to prevent similar attacks.

 

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[High-speed train to boost Winter Games preparations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530808.htm THE BEIJING-ZHANGJIAKOU HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY, which started operations on Monday, will not only provide excellent transportation service for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games but also boost the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

 

China's first intelligent high-speed railway linking Beijing with Zhangjiakou started operations exactly 110 years after the country's first independently built railway linked the two cities.

On Monday, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed train crossed a milestone in automated railway development, running at 350 kilometers per hour. The 174-kilometer high-speed railway track links Beijing with Zhangjiakou, both host cities of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The major transportation project for the Winter Games will reduce travel time between the two cities from more than three hours to just 47 minutes. By providing such rapid and convenient hi-tech transportation for the athletes and spectators during the Games, the railway will showcase China's remarkable achievements in railway construction to the world.

The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway is an important part of the railway network linking Beijing with Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province. Its operation, apart from improving China's overall railway network, is of great significance to the integrative development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Hebei, especially its northwestern area, lags far behind Beijing and Tianjin in terms of economic development. Zhangjiakou and its surrounding areas have potential for tourism and agriculture industry development that can be expedited by the high-speed railway, as it will reduce the transportation cost and time.

Incorporating Hebei's northwestern area into the "one hour transportation circle" around the capital will help extend Beijing's economic drive to the northwestern Hebei.

Apart from helping promote tourism and leisure industries there, the reduced transportation time will also boost the construction of the Winter Olympics-related industry in Zhangjiakou and surrounding areas.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[World should beware Washington pushing it into tech Cold War]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530826.htm Although European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen did not name Huawei in her interview with the media on Friday, everyone is assuming that the unreliable 5G equipment provider she referred to was the Chinese company.

It is a shame that some of the allegations spouted by some US politicians to demonize Huawei and the Chinese government have conveniently found their way into the remarks of the new chief of the executive body of the European Union.

It is also a pity that more than 30 years after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, a multinational corporation that has established leadership advantages in the latest generation of telecom technology is still subject to such baseless suspicions that gain sustenance from the exploitation of ideological differences.

Indeed, it is always necessary for the administrative authorities to prioritize data safety, given the threats of the know-how gap between technology companies and the public. But that kind of vigilance, when it is materialized into workable access rules and supervisory mechanisms, must be based on professionalism and should be applied to all bidders alike, not on political bias that singles out a particular party.

If it is founded on suppositions, not facts, the vigilance will incur debts on other fronts, including the authority's credibility.

In saying that, it is not yet known whether Leyen has wholeheartedly bought the unwarranted fears about Huawei that Washington has been painstakingly peddling, or if she is seeking to ease some internal pressure within the commission.

But there are concerns that Leyen's baseless skepticism is part of a worrisome trend that the body she chairs is being carried away by Washington's low schemes to strangle Huawei-which include the political abduction of the company's chief financial officer.

Given its broad common interests with China and the bright prospects for cooperation between them, the European Union has no reason to jump into the same boat with the US in the latter's attempt to contain Huawei, which will not only slow down the EU's entry into the 5G era, but also cast a shadow over Sino-EU relations.

The commission should bear in mind that some of its members have never ceased cooperation with the company in the upgrading of their telecom networks and have never encountered any security concerns.

In light of the US administration's routine eavesdropping on its own citizens and other nationals, including some EU leaders, and some US information companies' so-so records in leaking users' data, it is interesting that no US companies vying to take part in the EU's new telecom network construction have been singled out as a threat.

If as Leyen urges, the political system of the countries where the suppliers of the technology and products are from must be considered on security grounds, rather than the technology and products themselves, economic globalization will slip into a technology Cold War that will leave no parties unscathed.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Can the world order catch up with the world?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530692.htm The world turned a corner in 2019. The problem is that the world order didn't turn with it. This disconnect could have disastrous consequences. The biggest global change has been the start of the "Asian century".

Today, Asia is home to three of the world's top four economic powers (in purchasing power parity terms): China, India and Japan. The region's combined GDP exceeds that of the United States and of the European Union.

The US is no longer even the most globalized power; that title now goes to China. Already a larger trading partner to more countries than the US, China is signing more free trade agreements as well, including potentially the largest in history, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The US, by contrast, has abandoned or is abandoning FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has kept alive without the US with a new name: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. And the US' share of global trade continues to shrink.

The world order has not kept pace with these shifting economic dynamics. On the contrary, the US dollar remains the predominant currency for settling international trade. The US and the EU retain control of the two leading global economic organizations: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. And the United Nations Security Council-the only body that can issue binding decisions for the UN's 193 member states-is dominated by just a few, largely declining powers.

In theory, the easiest of these incongruities to address should be the inadequate influence of emerging powers such as China in the IMF and the World Bank. After all, the US and Europe have already acknowledged-including in the 2006 and 2007 G20 communiqués-that "the selection of senior management of the IMF and World Bank should be based on merit", ensuring "broad representation of all member countries".

Yet the anachronistic "gentlemen's agreement" that has kept an American at the head of the World Bank and a European leading the IMF has proved stubbornly resilient. In 2007, Dominique Strauss-Kahn became IMF managing director, succeeded by another French citizen, Christine Lagarde, in 2011.

Six years later, Lagarde declared that the IMF could be based in Beijing by 2027, if growth trends continue and are reflected in the IMF's voting structure. After all, she noted, the IMF's bylaws call for the institution's head office to be located in the largest member economy.

Yet when Lagarde resigned from her post this year to become president of the European Central Bank, it was another European who took her place: Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva. Likewise, the World Bank presidency passed from Robert Zoellick to Jim Yong Kim in 2012, and then to David Malpass this year. Future historians will marvel at the imprudence of the old powers' shameless refusal to share control of global institutions.

And yet the IMF and the World Bank are not the only institutions that need reform. The UN Security Council, too, needs to be reformed. If the Security Council's composition is not updated, the body could lose its credibility and moral authority.

To avert such an outcome, perhaps the Security Council could adopt a 7-7-7 formula. The first seven countries/economies would be permanent members, each representing a different region. The second seven would be semi-permanent members, a rotating selection of 28 countries, based on population and GNP. The remaining 160 countries would rotate into the remaining seven seats.

The most difficult incongruity to resolve will be that between the US' declining leadership and its currency's role as the leading international reserve currency. Today, more than 40 percent of cross-border payments and 90 percent of foreign exchange trading is settled in US dollars. This reflects decades of trust: the US had deep markets, strong institutions-including efficient courts and an independent central bank-and it did not use the dollar as a tool to advance its own interests.

But, since 2017, the US administration has been aggressively undermining the international community's trust in the dollar. The White House has pressured the US Federal Reserve to lower interest rates in order to deliver short-term economic growth. In fact, the White House has weaponized the dollar, labeling China a "currency manipulator" and instructing the US Treasury to put more countries-including close Asian and European allies-under surveillance.

The US administration's actions have raised the hackles not only of traditional adversaries (Russia leads a new de-dollarization trend), but also of key allies. Jean-Claude Juncker, the former European Commission president, has pledged that the euro would become an "active instrument" of EU sovereignty. It is also telling that France, Germany, and the United Kingdom-in collaboration with China and Russia-have created the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges to bypass US sanctions on Iran.

But, in a sense, the US administration has done the world a favor by making undeniable what was already obvious. If world leaders do not start addressing the contradictions plaguing the world order soon, the likely result is crisis-and even more dangerous contradictions.

The writer, a professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is the author of Has the West Lost It?

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[US democracy only for the rich]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530751.htm Editor's note: The China Society for Human Rights Studies published an article on Thursday titled "Money Politics Exposes the Hypocrisy of American Democracy". The following are some excerpts:

The United States has long prided itself on being a "beacon" of democracy, asserting that all Americans enjoy the rights to participate in public affairs, to vote, and to supervise the government. But the reality is that the US is bitterly divided politically and deeply divided socially, and large numbers of Americans are excluded from the political process. Money politics is the main reason for this. Money politics deprives American people of their democratic rights, suppresses the expression of the real wishes of voters and produces political inequality.

I. Money permeates American politics

Elections are meant to express the will of the electorate, set policy direction and select qualified leaders. But money politics distorts public opinion, making elections a show just for the rich. Fundraising is an entry requirement for candidates at all levels of elections. Between 2000 and 2012, the amount spent by the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates increased rapidly from $700 million in 2004 to $1 billion in 2008 and $2 billion in 2012. The 2016 elections in the US, including presidential and congressional elections, cost a total of $6.6 billion, the most expensive political elections in the US history. The cost of midterm elections has also been rising very fast. The four mid-term elections between 2002 and 2014 cost $2.18 billion, $2.85 billion, $3.63 billion and $3.84 billion respectively, and the cost further skyrocketed to $5.2 billion in 2018. In the 2018 midterm elections, the average cost of winning a Senate seat was $19.4 million, and the average cost of winning a House of Representatives seat was more than $1.5 million. The high cost greatly raises the threshold for running for a seat, ruling out the possibility for the vast majority of people. Only a few with the ability to raise large amounts of campaign funds can participate in the political races. This has certainly created a breeding ground for rich people and interest groups to cash in on candidates.

In addition to publicly registered election funds, large amounts of secret funds and "dark money" are also injected into American election campaigns. The NBC reported in 2018 that the US Treasury Department announced it would no longer require most nonprofit agencies to report the sources of their donations, significantly reducing the transparency of election funding. The amount of "dark money" in the 2010 mid-term elections was $16 million, and it had increased to $53 million in 2014. In 2018, the "dark money" spent by outside groups other than candidates ballooned to $98 million. More than 40 percent of the TV ads aired by outside groups to influence congressional elections were funded by secret donors.

II. Money politics is the inevitable outcome of American capitalism

The US has devised an elaborate political system and electoral system that screens candidates and voters to ensure that those who satisfy the rich are elected. While the wealthy can use campaign finance to select qualified political agents to become candidates and win elections, lacking money it is hard for representatives of the poor to become candidates. Under this system, the rich participate in politics through elections to guarantee their economic interests, while political figures get involved in elections with the help of money. In order to maintain their dominant positions in the allocation of national public resources, the rich have a strong incentive to actively get involved in politics, seeking spokesmen at all levels of government. The activities of interest groups vividly illustrate the connotations of money politics. The first amendment to the US Constitution is the supreme legal basis for the legitimate existence and activities of interest groups. The unique US political system, such as the separation of federal and state powers, and the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, provides a wide scope for interest groups to exert pressure on all levels of government and influence American politics. Interest groups have been deeply embedded in Congress and the judicial system, as well as political parties and government.

Lobbying is an important tool of money politics. As a unique political phenomenon, lobbying corruption is a chronic disease inherent in the American political system. According to several US laws, interest groups are allowed to be formed to compete to influence congressional legislation and government decisions. Interest groups hire lobbyists to lobby members of Congress and their aides to influence the enactment and amendment of bills, and pursue their own interests. Over the past more than 40 years, the American lobbying industry has grown at an explosive rate. In 1971, there were only 175 registered lobbyists in the US, but the figure increased to 2,500 in 1981 and 13,700 in 2009. That means there are more than two dozen lobbyists surrounding each member of the Senate and House of Representatives. According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 2,000 lobbying firms in Washington and interest groups' spending on lobbyists has soared from $1.44 billion in 1998 to $3.33 billion in 2011, a 131 percent increase over the past 14 years.

In the late 19th century, money politics in the US became a "pork-barrel" system, through which the winning party usually allocated official positions to those who contributed to the election, mainly the party's main figures and campaign funders. The "pork-barrel" system resulted in the spread of political corruption and low administrative efficiency. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the US has tried to impose some restrictions on political donations, but failed.

III. Consequences of money politics

Money politics deprives ordinary American people of their political rights. The US often boasts of its "one-man, one-vote" democracy, but the voting rights of low-income Americans are severely restricted. According to US News& World Report, from 2010 to 2015, 21 US states passed laws restricting voting rights, and 14 states implemented measures restricting the exercise of voting rights in the 2016 presidential election. These laws and measures have mainly prevented the poor from registering to vote. Newsweek reported on Nov 21, 2017, that hundreds of thousands of Americans were denied the right to vote because of poverty. Nine US states have passed legislation denying the right to vote to anyone who fails to pay attorney fees or court fines. In Alabama alone, more than 100,000 people, or about 3 percent of the state's electorate, have been removed from the voter list. That has led to lower voter turnout in US elections. In the 2014 mid-term election, the average voter turnout in the US was just 37 percent, the lowest since the 1940s.

Meanwhile, government positions are reserved for the rich and the upper class. According to American political practice, the candidate who wins the presidential election usually awards some government positions to those who have made contributions to the election victory. Every president appoints a number of donors as ambassadors. After the 2000 presidential election, a third of the new posts in the US government went to friends, relatives and donors of the victorious candidate. Of the 556"super fund-raisers" who supported the winning president in the 2008 presidential election, a third were given cabinet posts or became advisers, and nearly 80 percent of those who raised more than $500,000 were given key positions.

Money politics overtly channels interests to the rich. One consequence of political donations is that a few rich people have more influence than the vast majority of American people, causing the government to make policies that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. The rich capture politicians with campaign contributions, making them legislate on their behalf.

It is known to all that the Republican administration that took office in 2017 was a government that represents the rich. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by the US Congress in 2017 is not a universal tax cut, but a tax cut for the rich and big businesses and a tax increase for the poor. On the one hand, the rate at which wealthy families pay income tax was slashed from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, a decline of 4.6 percentage points; on the other hand, the poorest families have seen their income tax rates rise from 10 percent to 12 percent. The act has caused the poorest families to suffer while the richest families have gained greatly. A Gallup poll at the end of 2017 showed that 56 percent of Americans opposed the tax reform bill, compared with 29 percent who supported it.

Money politics makes it harder to solve pressing political and social problems. In the US, the proliferation of guns and gun violence is a major political and social problem that has troubled society for many years. In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the US. This figure includes gun murders, misuse and gun suicides. Most of these casualties could have been avoided if guns had been strictly controlled. But anti-gun control interest groups have successfully disrupted gun control efforts by intervening in elections and lobbying. These interest groups make substantial political contributions to US presidential and congressional elections, donating $113 million through the Political Action Committee between 2010 and 2018 alone. Because of the huge amount of funds they have provided, anti-gun control interest groups in the US have achieved a great success.

The US has long touted itself as a "role model" for democracy and human rights that should be emulated by the whole world. But the pervasive, deep-rooted money politics has laid bare its lie once and for all.

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LUO JIE/CHINA DAILY

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Five struggles that could shape the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530749.htm Five ongoing struggles in this rocky year of 2019, which is about to end, could determine the future direction of the world.

The first is the struggle between nationalism and global governance. Whenever the world order tilts toward nationalism, globalization will suffer setbacks, and political and economic turbulence will increase. Yet there are no signs that nationalism, supported by variant forms of populism, even racism, is receding in the world. As such, the rule-based multilateral system faces a threat, not least because the United States has pulled out of the multilateral Iran nuclear deal and Paris Agreement, abandoned the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, paralyzed the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system, and weakened global and regional institutions.

Next year, the world would be focused on Brexit and the US presidential election to gauge the nationalist sentiment and a possible shift in the world order. But since developing countries seek to establish a fair and representative global governance system, they will try to resolve the security, trade, investment, finance, and technology issues by working together at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

The second struggle is for economic priority. Due to the severe side effects of the measures taken to cope with the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis, the accumulative distribution gap has widened to an unprecedented level, with state finance being at the center of this storm. US politicians have offered to solve the problem by, for instance, increasing taxes on the rich, granting universal basic income, breaking monopolistic technology companies, and providing universal healthcare. And while Brazil has passed new laws to reform its pension system, France faces protests against its attempt to do so.

So, more research into the effective use of resources in education, healthcare, infrastructure, poverty relief and national defense must be conducted to find the best way to use state finance as a facilitator of inclusive growth.

The third struggle is between cutting-edge technology and security. The development of 5G technology, artificial intelligence and robotics potentially pose a threat to national security, individual privacy, and job security. However, global responses to these challenges have been fragmented, contradictory and ineffective.

Without China and the US working together to set standards and boundaries for the use of technology, the world faces the unwelcome prospect of mutually exclusive technology blocs. The lack of progress in digital technology governance will worsen the security dilemma and ultimately suffocate innovation. That is why Huawei has made the "no backdoor" pledge, and European Union member states and countries such as Canada are leading the charge to make rules to ensure safety, transparency, and accountability in the use of advanced technology.

Moreover, since digital technology will account for one-fourth of global GDP, a huge number of workers across countries will need job retraining, especially because the mismatch in the job markets is already serious.

The fourth struggle is environmental. Time magazine's person of the year Greta Thunberg may be controversial, but the increasing frequency of climate calamities is real and alarming. That this year's UN climate change conference in Madrid accomplished little has only added to the urgency of the task.

The last struggle is between truth and misinformation. The flow of information is crucial for the proper functioning of any government, society or economy. But the distortion of information is polarizing societies and antagonizing states.

On one level, the rise of social media has widened the sources of information but also led to manufacturing and sharing of highly biased "news". On another level, new media have created a "gray zone" for information warfare between states. Domestic and international political disputes are increasingly taking the form of fake news in which truth is distorted to fulfill personal, party or state interests.

Given the level and speed of at which misinformation spreads, policymakers are forced to make instinctive decisions because they don't have enough time to make rational and calculated decisions. Nowadays, things can easily escalate, be resolved or forgotten depending on the new tools and skills politicians and states can use. Yet the best way to address this problem remains good education for citizens based on independent and critical thinking.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Zero tolerance to violence against doctors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530712.htm We feel speechless with rage at the cruelty and brutality of a man who hacked a doctor to death on Dec 24 in a hospital in Beijing simply because he suspected that the doctor prescribed the wrong medicine for his 95-year-old mother.

When many try to establish a connection between the case and the undesirable relationship between medical workers and patients, it is indeed necessary to make it clear that this case has nothing to do with this relationship. It is a criminal case, in which the murderer's distorted understanding of how his 95-year-old bed-ridden mother should be treated has driven him to extremes.

Some have claimed that a law on the promotion of the medical system and healthcare, which was adopted by the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Saturday, will extend protection to medical workers, and the law is indeed necessary for the protection of the lawful rights and interests of medical workers. But it is too naïve to claim the law will effectively protect medical workers from being verbally and physically abused simply because the law stipulates that no individuals or organizations are allowed to put medical workers' personal safety in harm's way and violate their personal dignity.

When some are talking about how security measures should be strengthened to protect doctors or nurses from being physically attacked, we would say that it is too costly to hire bodyguards for doctors. How many security guards are enough? And even with many security guards, such extreme cases of violence will not necessarily be averted.

It is indeed necessary for medical workers to brainstorm on such extreme incidences and work out some specific ways to identify those patients or their relatives who may possibly vent their dissatisfaction with medical workers in an extreme manner. If such people could be identified in advance, relevant departments could intervene to preempt any serious altercation.

Of course, a desirable environment should be established for the development of a harmonious relationship between medical workers and patients.

Among other things, it is necessary to prevent the spreading of malicious rumors on social media about how some medical workers are exploiting patients by prescribing them expensive medicines or making them receive unnecessary medical checks. Such rumors erode the trust between medical workers and patients, and contribute to the deterioration of relations between the two parties.

In addition, education is necessary for people to have correct knowledge and understanding about health and death so that the majority of people will come to realize that it is a fact of life that some diseases are incurable. Then they will come to know that medical workers should be held in reverence as long as they have done their best to contribute to the health of their patients and strived their utmost to save lives.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Success of Long March 5 significant for world's peaceful use of space]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530737.htm For the scientists and technicians directly involved in the process and the public alike, the successful launch of Long March 5, the country's strongest, most technologically sophisticated carrier rocket to date, was more than just a reason for a sigh of relief.

Just like it is being heralded by mainstream media at home, this came in the first place as a precious confidence booster.

After all, the space industry has been one of the few domestic industries that boasts a proud history of continuous, relatively independent and impressively fruitful progress for the past decades.

The success of the Friday night launch was a timely addition to that proud record, and a fresh footnote for the tenacity and vitality it has demonstrated through internal political and economic vicissitudes and external constraints. That was especially true after the July 2017 failure of its second launch.

What we have all witnessed on Friday was the start of the next chapter in that glorious legend contributed collectively by the countless scientific and technological workers in the space industry. Something that carries very special weight at a time when Chinese high-technology industries face threats of outside suppression.

The space industry's stories of success, along with its difficult fumbling in moments of darkness, are a fitting reply to the rising doubts about indigenous research and development.

To many, the Long March 5 was precisely that answer-"we can do it".

The Long March 5's real, more substantial significance, however, lies in the fact that it represents technological breakthroughs that may usher in a brand-new stage in China's space explorations.

Prior to it, the most capable Chinese carrier rocket, the Long March 2-F, could only deliver a payload of 8.6 tons to a low-Earth orbit, an obvious constraint to many of the country's ambitious next-step space activities. The new rocket has more than doubled that capacity, allowing for more daring missions into deep space.

The Long March 5's future missions reportedly include enabling China's fifth and most sophisticated lunar expedition, as well as placing parts of the country's manned space station into orbit.

Almost equally impressive on Friday was the Shijian 20 experimental satellite the rocket carried. It is not only the largest and heaviest homemade satellite, but it is based on a new-generation satellite platform that is expected to be one of the country's core satellite platforms for the next two decades.

The space industry's present success is decades of persistent down-to-earth efforts paying off. It should serve as a constant reminder of the fundamental significance of indigenous research and development.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xinjiang smears built on shaky grounds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530735.htm According to The Grayzone, an independent news website, the popular claims that China has detained millions of Uygur Muslims are largely based on two studies that were backed by the United States, applied problematic methodologies and involved a leading far-right fundamentalist Christian who believes he is "led by God" on a "mission" against China.

Although the findings of the investigative report of the website have not yet been verified, and neither the US nor the think tanks involved have responded, the view that US politicians with an ideological distaste for China feel no qualms about building charges upon "highly dubious studies" for their own ends is given credence by the fact that even Peter Navarro, a senior trade advisor to the White House, uses an imaginary expert he calls "Ron Vara" to support his hawkish views on China.

The Grayzone points out the claim that China has detained millions of ethnic Uygurs in its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is repeated as fact with "little scrutiny" applied. It concludes that "while this extraordinary claim is treated as unassailable in the West", and was used to promote the "Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act" passed by the US House of Representatives earlier this month, it is, in fact, based on "a serious deficiency of data".

In this case, the distortions of the counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang are being exploited by secessionists and extremists. They and the US politicians who are eager to drive a wedge between Xinjiang and the rest of China are scratching each other's backs.

Those who really care about the well-being of Uygurs would not turn a blind eye to the fact that Xinjiang boasts a high safety level and economic growth today and the Uygur population has expanded about six times in 70 years, nearly twice the rate of growth of the national population, and their average income has increased 200 times.

Instead those using Xinjiang as means to put pressure on Beijing are leaving no stones unturned in their attempts to roil the region's hard-earned tranquility and stability.

And not to put too fine a point on it, it is the collusion between the West and the extremist and secessionist forces in Xinjiang that has forced China to continuously innovate its policies to combat extremism, secessionism and terrorism in the region, and devise ways to prevent the Uygurs, particularly those living in the remote and isolated places, who are poorly educated, from being brainwashed into becoming "holy warriors".

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Violent protests a warning to the world to put its act together]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530748.htm Countries such as Chile, Iran and France have been facing violent social protests, which have caused political turbulence, social disorder and undermined people's livelihoods, and even led to global repercussions, posing a serious risk to the international community.

The protests have not arisen out of nowhere. Due to slowing global growth and uncertainties over world trade, many economies in Latin America, the Middle East, even in the West are struggling to maintain reasonable growth. And the widening wealth gap, increasing corruption, rising prices and other political and socioeconomic maladies in those economies are fueling the social and political unrest.

An increase of 30 peso (4 US cents) on subway tickets in Santiago, capital of Chile, in early October led to massive protests and rioting, which forced Chile to cancel the APEC meeting scheduled to be held there.

Almost all countries, be they in the West or East, North or South, have faced social unrest. In the Middle East, countries highly dependent on oil such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are drowned in public protests as oil alone can no longer sustain their economies and provide people employment, education and healthcare.

In Latin America, the wealth gap has further widened, and governments cannot meet the needs of the people. Which have led to socioeconomic crises in many Latin American countries, opening the way for foreign intervention, with the United States always ready to seize such opportunities.

In this age of information and economic globalization, violent street protests are highly contagious. Anti-government forces in one country can be influenced by violent protesters in another country and launch similar destructive movements.

For instance, protesters in Catalonia distributed a "guideline" to action-copying the tactics used by rioters in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region-which teaches fellow demonstrators how to protect themselves against water cannons and tear gas, send and receive encrypted messages on their mobile phones, and lay siege to and damage airports, subways and other vital communication links. Masked rioters in Catalonia, copying the actions of the rioters in Hong Kong, have set public facilities on fire and attacked police officers. Compared with large-scale protests in the past such as Occupy Wall Street in the US and the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East, violent protests today have become more contagious and organized. They spread like an epidemic.

The outbreak of radical protests worldwide can be attributed to the use of social media and instant messaging. Exacerbating the problem are the outdated social media management and control methods of governments. Young protesters gather rapidly, commit violence selectively and pull out quickly using social media apps. They believe that by damaging public facilities and attacking police officers, they can attract widespread attention.

The US' inaction on and indifference to some serious global issues are also to blame for the radicalization of protests worldwide. The US' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has undermined the West's fight against climate change, which is one of the reasons for the violent protests. The US has also resorted to double standard on violent protests, and instigated the social unrest and "color revolution" in certain places.

If the violent protesters come under the influence of terrorists and extremists, they can create a socio-political crisis worldwide. So the international community needs to work together and make concerted efforts to appropriately deal with the rioters and restore the social order.

The author is a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Opposition to 996 reflects workers' rising sense of rights]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530646.htm The term"996" has entered three lists of China's top 10 buzzwords for 2019, which is not surprising given the controversy it has created. The figure 996 refers to a working schedule, according to which employees have to work from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week without receiving any overtime pay. This working schedule started in the internet industry and gradually spread to other sectors, and ultimately entered the public domain.

There is little doubt that the 996 system is untenable; it violates China's Labor Law, which stipulates that the working schedule should not exceed eight hours a day or 44 hours a week, and that overtime should not exceed three hours a day and 36 hours a month, and that too with the workers' consent. And more importantly, if employees agree to work overtime, employers have to pay them more than the normal rate for per hour of work.

A society that promotes an illegal practice such as 996 cannot be considered healthy. That's why it is disturbing to hear some leading entrepreneurs voicing support for, even justifying the implementation of such an anti-labor practice. The verbal tricks that these entrepreneurs adopt are in reality a surreptitious and unscrupulous attempt to replace the legal working schedule with the 996 system, and force the workers to work overtime without extra pay.

Any entrepreneur who strives to achieve higher goals is worthy of praise. But if the entrepreneur chooses an illegal path such as the 996 system to achieve those goals, he/she should be pulled up for breaking the law.

To fulfill their own interests, some entrepreneurs appear ready to even violate workers' rights and the Labor Law. Worse, some enterprises that want to lay off workers but are unwilling to pay them rightful compensation use the 996 system as a tool to force employees to voluntarily resign due to unbearable work pressure, which seriously undermines the employees' legal rights and interests.

As the rule of law in China strengthens, young workers have become more conscious about safeguarding their legal rights and interests compared with their predecessors. For instance, on March 27, a program titled "996.ICU" produced by Chinese IT professionals was posted on global software platform GitHub exposing some internet companies' illegal practices, and gave a call to boycott the 996 system which, apart from violating the Labor Law, also damages employees' health.

The program evoked widespread public discussion, leading to the exposure of many tragedies in workplaces such as sudden deaths of workers due to overwork.

Those enterprises forcing their employees to work overtime without pay should abide by the law and stop the unhealthy practice. They should know that the 996 system will not solve their productivity and other problems, and help their enterprises to develop faster and earn them more profits. Instead, it will undermine workers' creativity and productivity, and give their companies a bad name.

As the country changes its economic model from quantitative growth to innovation-driven higher-level, sustainable development, the enterprises should abandon the untenable growth model based on the 996 system and aim for sustainable and qualitative development.

That 996 has become a buzzword shows that workers, rather society as a whole, have become increasingly aware about social equality and legal rights of individuals. If the 996 system is a social disease, public opinion is playing a vital role in curing it, so as to build healthier employer-employee relations.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

 

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2019-12-29 12:12:02
<![CDATA[Governance key to national security]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530668.htm The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee in October highlighted the importance of modernizing the national governance system and governance capacity. In fact, regional and global challenges have also made it necessary to strengthen the national governance system and governance capacity.

The rapidly changing global situation poses new challenges to national security. With some major countries hankering for more power, non-state actors such as international organizations, multinational companies, civil society, religious groups and power brokers have become increasingly active in global affairs.

On the security front, mainly non-traditional and quite often cross-border issues such as the flow of refugees from crisis-hit areas together with the rapid development of social media networks, pose the main challenge.

The refugee crisis many European Union member states face today can be attributed to the prolonged political, religious and humanitarian crises plaguing the Middle East. The chaotic socio-political situation and the mishandling of the refugee issue in and beyond the Middle East have also created new challenges for China, including the threat of terrorists and separatists in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The Catalonian separatists' protest in Spain, riding on the "Hong Kong protesters' wave", as an article in The Wall Street Journal said, is another example of the repercussion of such a crisis. The difference ironically lies in the contrasting stances the West has taken on the protests in Hong Kong and Catalonia. Some Western politicians and media outlets supported the rioters in Hong Kong, claiming they were fighting for "freedom and democracy". By contrast, the protests in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia have attracted neither as extensive media coverage as Hong Kong nor support from Western politicians.

Given the double standard practiced by some Western politicians and media, China has no choice but to strengthen its security mechanism by improving its national governance system and governance capacity.

Moreover, the ongoing disputes between China and the United States also demand that Beijing review its national security situation in a more holistic manner. Washington has been repeatedly alleging, for example, through its National Security Strategy report and senior officials' comments, that China poses a threat to not only US leadership but also America's national security and prosperity.

Strategic competition and confrontation with China, therefore, has become a new form of "political correctness" in the US. So China has no choice but to take the US allegations as a warning to strengthen its security mechanism, which faces "multilayered challenges" at both the national and external levels.

China advocates a security concept that comprises integration, cooperation and sustainability, and has no place for Cold War mentality and zero-sum game. But given the rapidly changing global situation, China needs to address the multilayered challenges facing national security on a priority basis.

First, national security cannot be separated from economic development. The conflicts and wars in the Middle East and their repercussions across borders, for example, show that poverty and lack of development are the main causes of regional instability and crisis.

Second, prevention and better governance (including strengthening the national security mechanism) are very important. It is in this regard that the communiqué of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee emphasized that the people should be made more aware about national security.

Third, national security issues must be addressed using both domestic and international laws. The rioters in Hong Kong have abused their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. In this regard, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that "the rights being dealt with" shall be subject to law and restrictions "necessary to protect national security, public order, or the rights and freedoms of others".

This means those violating the provisions of the UDHR should be held accountable, which can be done only by strengthening the national governance system and governance capacity.

Jin Kai is an associate professor at the Institute of International Studies,Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences and a visiting fellow at the Grandview Institution. And Tian Shichen is vicepresident of and a senior research fellow at the Grandview Institution. The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

CAI MENG/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-28 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Close encounters of an African with real China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530677.htm It is a factory of factories. Located in Qingdao, Shandong province, it is owned by Du Wenli and produces equipment and machinery needed to set up factories. Du has a set of four buildings, one the size of a football field. In one of the buildings, there are rows and rows of new machinery, but with only two people working.

Used to seeing hundreds of people on factory floors, I ask Du whether it's the day off for most of his employees. He gives me a puzzling look. This is everyone. How come? Because almost every process here is automated.

I count only about 12 people on the factory floor full of machines and equipment ready to be shipped out.

'Factory of factories'

This is a new China, the "world's factory of factories". The shift from basic to advanced manufacturing is a natural economic progression, but it is happening much faster in China than in any other country. The Chinese leadership believes artificial intelligence (AI) will shape the future of global security and commerce, and therefore has decided to lead the AI sector. In fact, since 2017, China has been leading in investment and research output in AI. It was also the world leader in filing AI patents last year, which speaks volumes of its efforts to better protect intellectual property rights.

And Du's factory reflects both the opportunities (optimal industrial productivity) and perils (rethinking the value and reshaping human labor) offered by AI in the new era.

After taking a tour of the factory, Du and I talk about the future of manufacturing and the challenges in selling and servicing machinery around the world. Du's main expertise is rubber-and tire-making machinery. He has sold his machines to Yemen, Egypt, Bangladesh and Cote d'Ivoire.

What about Tanzania? He tells me something I already know-that Tanzanians import all types of tires. And Du's machinery can make almost all the tire brands Tanzania imports.

Fast development of technology

A short drive later, we arrive at a busy, noisy factory. The storage halls are full of tires of different types and sizes. About 10 million tires were shipped to Nigeria last year from this town alone.

We move to the factory floor. I ask a silly question: Are these your machines too? Du gets animated, leaps on to one of the machines and points to his company logo on it. The machines, I get to know, were built about seven years ago. They are no longer made today because technology is improving so fast that a "new generation" of machines emerges every few years.

Such factories have been driving the manufacturing boom in China, which accounts for more than 32 percent of the world's industrial output. Almost all the popular goods-from Christmas decorations to election campaign materials-sold in Africa's markets and streets come from these factories. But with people such as Du making newer, cleaner and AI-driven machinery, and Chinese people's income levels increasing, such factories seem to be disappearing.

In China, almost every business, Du's included, has to survive fierce competition. Therefore, exploring business overseas comes naturally to Chinese businesses. Du wants to take advantage of the government's initiatives, especially the Belt and Road Initiative, to chart the waters beyond the shores of Qingdao. Businesses such as Du's may be small cogs in the giant Belt and Road wheel, but it is these small cogs that are putting the China Inc stamp across the world map.

From Qingdao, I decide to visit rural China-to a place where there are no airports or high-speed train links-to get a sense of real China. I choose to travel to Yuncheng county, about 500 kilometers west of Qingdao, and visit a traditional Chinese martial arts (kung fu) school and understand the philosophy behind it.

I arrive at Yuncheng late in the evening. Yet I am welcomed enthusiastically by a group of people at the martial arts school, led by a young man who speaks impeccable English. I later learn that he has earned his MBA degree from a US university. He is part of about 400,000 Chinese youths who return home every year after completing their education abroad, especially in the United States and Europe.

We are ushered into a traditional Chinese house and guided straight to the dining room. During dinner, as we discuss kung fu, its history and philosophy, and its disciplining effect on the practitioner, an elderly man bursts into the dining room. Everyone at the table stands up out of respect.

He is Fan Qingbin, father of the young MBA. And he is the kung fu master who runs the school with about 4,000 students-all living on the campus and receiving primary and secondary education with focus on martial arts. Fan not only commands respect but is also charismatic. We get along very well, but it is difficult to follow everything Fan says not only because he speaks rapidly without pausing for translation, but also because my translator is too engrossed listening to his "monologue" to bother translating it for me in detail.

Source of strength and progress

The next day, Fan organizes a martial arts show for me. With the discipline of the performers on full display, I realize why kung fu practitioners excel in almost all aspects of life. The same hard work, perseverance, self-control, wisdom, humility and responsibility that are needed to become a kung fu master have gone into making China the second-largest economy in the world. Also, China is the largest source of imports for 65 countries, and has realized basic industrialization in just 40 years while other countries needed a century or more to achieve that.

It is here that Africa comes in. Almost every major economy has its own plan for Africa. Perhaps Africa can do better by having its own plan for China. It could start by focusing on fields such as agriculture and tourism. For instance, in 2017, China imported $110 billion worth of farm products from across the world, of which only $2.7 billion were from Africa with 23 percent of that being just tobacco from Zimbabwe. And of the 150 million Chinese who traveled abroad in 2018, less than 1 million visited Africa. Surely, African countries can take measures to improve these figures.

As my journey in the country comes to an end, I have realized that to better understand China, I need to add to my existing knowledge about the country.

I met many people during my visit to China but chose to tell the stories of Du and Fan probably because of the deep connection I made with them. And, sometimes, human connections are what we need to remain humble, and resolutely increase our understanding of societies so that we can engage in the common pursuit of a shared destiny.

The author is a politician from Tanzania. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-28 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pompeo's bluster will only backfire]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530571.htm Perhaps he was overeager to impress his Canadian counterpart with his good-heartedness to help, or just completely ignorant about how diplomacy actually works, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's demand that China release two detained Canadians is at best presumptuous, worse manipulative.

For Beijing, Pompeo's remarks are an insult, because they suggest not only that China is a country with "arbitrary enforcement" of laws, where legal justice and procedures can be easily twisted at will for political gain, but also that the country will be frightened into submission when faced with highhandedness of the world's sole superpower.

During a phone call with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Monday, Pompeo stressed that his country is sticking with Canada in fighting what he called China's "coercive detentions of Canadian citizens".

"The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada," he said, according to a statement from the US State Department.

The two Canadians in the spotlight are former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor-both were detained in December 2018 by the Chinese government on "suspicion of engaging in activities that endanger national security".

While the detentions came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant, Beijing has denied any links between the two incidents, insisting that China is a country with rule of law and will crack down on criminal acts that severely undermine its national security. Pompeo is being too wishful and naïve if he really believes his words would have any bearing on how Beijing makes its judicial system function, or even handles its bilateral relations with Canada.

Sino-Canadian relations are experiencing their lowest point in decades after Ottawa arrested Meng at the request of the US a year ago. While both the US and Canada have tried hard to establish the case as a good example of Ottawa standing up for the rule of law, aided by a system of justice independent of political interference, people with any basic geopolitical knowledge are aware that the charges against Meng are politically motivated. The US president once even said in an interview that he "would certainly intervene" in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with China.

If Pompeo really wanted to help Canada repair its ruptured ties with China, he would have kept his mouth shut and let the two countries find a way to resolve their differences in ways acceptable to both. The overbearing manner he has adopted will only backfire.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Tsai's seasonal gift nothing more than her usual anti-mainland chicanery]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530572.htm After failing to get a law approved in October that would target so-called proxies of the Communist Party of China, the "anti-infiltration bill" that Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen is trying to press the island's legislature to pass by Dec 31, although it does not openly single out the Chinese mainland, is undoubtedly another scheme hatched by her Democratic Progressive Party for its secessionist ends.

The coarsely-composed bill consists of 12 short articles, which probably intentionally and vaguely targets "external hostile forces" and "sources of infiltration" for punishment by unspecified law enforcers.

The law to be is therefore intended as a foolproof means for the administrative authority, the Tsai administration for the time being, to abuse its power as a wholesaler of writs to any parties it labels as infiltrators or their accomplices on security grounds.

If the bill, as ill as it is, is endorsed as a law, all individuals and parties engaging in normal exchanges across the Straits will technically become suspected targets of its enforcement.

Which means not only the 5 million Taiwan tourists traveling to the mainland each year, and the more than 1 million Taiwan businesspeople and students who work or study on the mainland, plus their families and friends, but also those who have contacts with the mainland can be arbitrarily put in the crosshairs of the Tsai administration, making it easy for it to silence opponents.

That explains why the bill has invited strong opposition from all sectors of Taiwan society, which are well aware that anything serving the hardcore secessionists will automatically do a disservice to the broad interests of the island.

That Tsai is intent on pushing through the bill in such a hurry, in defiance of the public opposition, shows she knows that if the last window of opportunity before the island's leadership election in January is missed, the DPP might never have another chance to introduce such a bill, and with the law in place, the DPP will be able to further stir up populism to help it garner more support.

If the cross-Straits exchanges continue to deepen and expand again, it will only be a matter of time before Tsai and her like-minded forces have to admit to the disappearing of any social foundation on which to build their cause.

In fact, even if it manages to push the bill into law, if the Tsai administration dares to take advantage of it to blockade interactions across the Straits, it will only worsen cross-Straits ties and accelerate the abandoning of the DPP and its cause by the Taiwan people.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[EU and China have much to gain from cooperation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530551.htm On a recent drive back to Brussels after covering the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, I made a detour to Verdun, a small French city. It was a bloody battlefield where more than half a million German and French soldiers died and many more were injured in 1916 during World War I.

I have seen several World War I fields of battle during my first year in Europe. It's hard to imagine that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, triggered a war that killed 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians.

The European Union is a great project because, among other things, it makes such hostilities among member states much less likely. It is fantastic to travel within the Schengen area because there is no passport control. National borders seem to have almost disappeared.

The EU is entering a critical moment with the impending Brexit, rising populism and migration, not to mention global challenges such as climate change, unilateralism, protectionism and nuclear proliferation.

With a new leadership just taking office, the EU has a unique role to play in tackling global challenges, given that its traditional ally, the United States, is on the opposite side of many of these issues.

Unlike the US, however, China is increasingly aligning with the EU in upholding multilateralism, safeguarding international rules and norms, abiding by the Paris Agreement and Iran nuclear deal, and opposing trade wars, to name just a few.

True, there are differences between China and the EU, but they are nothing new. Both sides have managed them relatively well and continued to expand their cooperation in almost every field in the last four decades, including holding human rights dialogue, which entered its 37th round this year.

That the EU is China's largest trade partner and China is the EU's second-largest trade partner is a strong testimony to their cooperation. And European companies, such as Airbus, Volkswagen, Siemens and Nestle, have booming businesses in China.

But the China-EU relationship goes way beyond trade and investment. The number of Chinese tourists to Europe and Chinese students pursuing graduate studies in European universities is expected to grow rapidly. Also, there are already 600 flights per week between China and EU cities.

China has learned a great deal from Europe over the past four decades in science, technology, management, education and governance. And learning from Europe and the rest of the world will continue to benefit China's modernization drive.

However, just like many outstanding issues between EU member states in Eastern and Western Europe, some differences between China and the EU will likely persist for some time. Both sides should have patience, and use dialogue and consultation to narrow, if not resolve, those differences. Being obsessed with and continuing to exaggerate the differences would mean wasting the huge opportunities for win-win cooperation that is beneficial for both Chinese and Europeans.

Concluding a bilateral comprehensive investment agreement in 2020, as pledged by leaders of both sides, will inject fresh momentum into the relationship. In Brussels 10 days ago, Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed that the negotiation on a bilateral free trade agreement start immediately, a goodwill gesture that the EU should respond positively to.

The EU is expecting more market access to China. For the same reason, China expects the EU's foreign investment screening and other regulatory regimes to not discriminate against Chinese investors and companies such as Huawei.

The last thing the EU needs in dealing with China is adopting zero-sum policies and taking a confrontational stance that hawks in Washington have exhibited while also trying to influence the EU's decision-making. And the EU knows deeper cooperation with China has mutually beneficial outcomes.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

 

 

 

Chen Weihua

 

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Cooling-off proposal in divorce cases should be conditional]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530566.htm THE SO-CALLED COOLING-OFF PERIOD BEFORE A DIVORCE may not be applicable to all situations. Conditions should be included in the draft civil code to avoid undermining citizens' legal rights and interests. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

The draft civil code proposes a 30-day cooling-off period. During this period, either party can withdraw the divorce application from the marriage registration office.

The proposed regulation has triggered widespread public criticism.

Some people said it would hamper citizens' freedom in a marriage and increase unnecessary costs on both citizens as well as the authorities.

More importantly, this regulation could seriously undermine the rights, interests and even security of the parties concerned in a divorce application, since some extreme situations do not lend themselves to the so-called cooling-off period before divorce.

During the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress' review of the draft civil code on Dec 24, NPC Standing Committee deputy Li Yuefeng pointed out there should be a distinguishing mechanism before applying the so-called cooling off period in a divorce case, because it would be inappropriate in cases involving bigamy, domestic violence or desertion.

The intention behind the new regulation is to curb divorces on impulse and maintain stability in society, given the ever-increasing divorce rates in China.

But as a basic regulation that greatly impacts every citizen, lawmakers should consider pros and cons, in order to maximize its positive influence on society while avoiding violation of an individual's legal rights.

Divorce is a significant decision that can drastically impact an individual's life. One cannot groundlessly assume all divorce applications are impulsive decisions. That's why not all divorce applications should be eligible for the so-called cooling-off period.

For instance, if there's domestic violence or one of the parties indulges in gambling, a cooling-off period, which remarkably delays the divorce process, could cause serious psychological, physical and/or economical damage to the affected party.

Lawmakers should think twice about the applicable situations of cooling-off period before divorce to eliminate its negative influence.

And people should also think about the meaning of marriage calmly before getting married, and be responsible for their own decision.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[The shortsightedness about myopia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530567.htm A LATEST SURVEY has found that 34 percent of grade 1 pupils in Beijing have myopia, a condition that a professional ophthalmologist said was "irreversible". China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Myopia is a condition in which the axis of the eyeball gets lengthened from improper reading or other habits involving the eye.

The eye is a highly delicate organ linked to blood vessels, nerves and small muscles. And there is no technology to mend deformed eyeball. Even a laser surgery, which grants nearsighted people normal, clear sights, does it by mending the cornea; the eyeball is not touched.

In a nutshell, technology is still far from "curing" or "reversing" myopia. But surprisingly, few in China knew about this and there was a discussion on the topic to create awareness about it on social networks on Wednesday.

Which shows a lack of basic scientific knowledge among the public.

Some basic truths about our bodies should be common knowledge but in reality it is not so, myopia being a glaring example.

Ignorance about basic truths related to myopia has two major side effects. In the absence of basic knowledge, many people don't know how to deal with it.

For example, it should be common knowledge that the only way to correct myopic vision is to wear glasses, but many people still do eye exercises in the hope of curing myopia.

The reality is that eye exercises can only help the eye muscles relax, but can do nothing to reverse myopia.

Second, certain illegal companies make use of such lack of awareness to dupe people.

Many people spend money on expensive products such as magnet therapy bed, duped into believing that it can cure almost every disease, while in reality, all the bed does is just helping people relax, without curing anything.

Had people gained more scientific knowledge, they could have saved their money and resources and channeled their energies toward preventing diseases in the correct way. It is time to take the first step by disseminating more knowledge among the people.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Residents must protect HK against US deceit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530569.htm Preparing to travel home to South Africa for Christmas is an unnerving experience for many reasons. But surprisingly, Cathay Pacific is now the most affordable airline to use on a student's budget.

Yet we know Cathay ticket prices are low compared with other airlines because travelers, for some time, have been avoiding Hong Kong not least because the airport was closed for one whole day in August, leaving many passengers stranded. Even more worrying is the thought of having to spend a night in the city in case the connecting flight from Beijing is delayed. Staying the night in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, once a looked-forward to experience in what was then a peaceful city, would mean venturing into an environment considered unsafe these days.

But many may ask why someone from an African country would feel afraid in Hong Kong. It is precisely because I come from an African country that I am afraid, afraid for myself, afraid for the people of Hong Kong and the city's future. Like most developing countries in the world, we in South Africa have seen the direct interference by the West, especially by the United States, in our domestic affairs.

From Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chile and Nicaragua to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to give just a few examples, the US has intervened in the internal affairs of a long list of countries. Its modus operandi has been similar: acquire allies among the locals, fund them, cause mayhem, intervene through force if need be and leave a trail of destruction.

What is happening in Hong Kong today has happened in so many other places across the globe. Some Hong Kong residents believe they have allies in the US and the West, but they couldn't be more wrong. All the US and many other Western countries care about is their own interests. The US' support for some in Hong Kong is not aimed at promoting democracy, as it claims; it is simply to weaken the SAR's economy and it seems to be succeeding in its efforts.

A recent report in The New York Times, for instance, said that during the Golden Week National Day holiday alone, the occupancy rate in Hong Kong hotels dropped from 90 percent last year to just above 60 percent this year. Sales in the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui have fallen by 90 percent, while overall retail sales have dipped by a quarter. And all this is largely because the majority of tourists coming from the Chinese mainland, nearly two-thirds of the total, have stayed away from the SAR.

Many Western politicians and media outlets have claimed the violent demonstrators are fighting for democracy. But contrary to their claim, democracy has never been under threat in the more than 22 years since Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland. Had that been the case, so many opposition candidates would not have won in the recent District Council elections.

One cannot break the law, cause chaos and mayhem and still be called "pro-democracy". Respect for rule of law is what makes a person democratic. Yet Western media outlets didn't hesitate before labeling the rioters and marauding university students "pro-democracy".

South Africa is said to have one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, because it guarantees socio-economic rights to each and every individual. Yet the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights can do little to improve the lives of nearly half the country's population that lives in poverty. The sooner Hong Kong residents realize the importance of safeguarding their economy, built after generations of hard work the sooner will Hong Kong regain its economic vibrancy.

But if Hong Kong residents continue to ignore the needs of their economy and society, the city could lose its advantages as an international financial, logistics and freight hub, and might be overtaken by cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

More important, when the real socioeconomic consequences of the protests finally become clear, Hong Kong residents will find that they can only turn to compatriots on the mainland for help, because US vested interest groups only know how to stoke trouble, cause destruction and stand and watch.

The author, a South African national, is a PhD candidate in international relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[HK's priority remains restoring order]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530550.htm Christmas should have been a season of goodwill in Hong Kong as people usually choose to spend the holiday with families or their loved ones in a peaceful and festive atmosphere. Yet both Christmas Eve and the Christmas Day were marred by violence as the black-clad rioters sought to disrupt residents' lives again.

On Christmas Eve, violence returned to the streets of Hong Kong as large groups of masked black-shirted rioters assaulted police officers and passers-by, vandalizing shops and restaurants in various popular shopping districts. And the mob violence and vandalism continued on Christmas Day as the rioters thronged shopping malls again.

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her indignation at the behavior of the rioters on Christmas Eve, saying many people as well as tourists coming to Hong Kong were disappointed that their festive celebrations had been ruined by "a group of reckless and selfish rioters".

"Such illegal acts have not only dampened the festive mood but also adversely affected local businesses," she said in a Facebook post.

Indeed, many Hong Kong residents have looked elsewhere for some festive cheer. In a reversal of the usual trend, there was a surge in the number of people heading to neighboring Shenzhen on Christmas Day.

It seems that since the demonstrations broke out in June, hardly a holiday or weekend has passed in the SAR without some kind of violent disturbance. But unlike the picture being painted by many Western media outlets, which seek to portray the majority of Hong Kong residents backing the rioters, the city is being held hostage by a minority of reckless and selfish rioters, mostly young people.

Contrary to Western media reports of overwhelming condemnation for the police for what they claim is the use of excessive force, there was a 70 percent increase in the number of applicants to be auxiliary police officers from June to November.

Some of the young masked blackshirts in Hong Kong have obviously lost their sense of direction: They are ruining both the prosperity and the future of their own homeland by staging mob violence again and again.

In pursuit of the hollow and, despite their claims to the contrary, valueless political agenda they are trying to advance in Hong Kong, they are exposing the ugliest face of street politics which denies democracy and freedom of speech to those who do not agree with their views.

Disapproval for some social values does not compose the boundary of freedom of speech. In contrast, the boundary they are seeking to establish by means of violent intimidation is an attack on freedom and democracy.

What happened in the past two days is a clear reminder that putting an end to the violence and chaos, and restoring social order is still the most important task for the SAR.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Trade conflict may not intensify again]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530607.htm A year and a half since the start of the China-US trade war and after months of negotiations, the two sides have finally reached an agreement on a phase-one trade deal, which is expected to be signed next month.

There are at least two popular views on the future of China-US trade and economic relations. The first is that China-US trade conflicts will ease from here for mutual benefit. And the other is that the phase-one deal is only a temporary ceasefire in the Sino-US trade war, and a new round of trade war will intensify to full-scale confrontation after the US presidential election in November 2020.

Both views are biased and lack understanding of the essence of the China-US trade war and related factors. To understand and predict the direction of the Sino-US trade war, it is necessary to analyze its causes. The immediate cause of the trade war was the misgivings and panic that China's rise created in the United States and other Western economies.

According to some projections, while China's economic growth over the past two decades has been two to three times higher than that of the US, the Chinese economy is expected to surpass the US economy by 2030, even 2025.

Historically, existing powers have always tried to check the rise of emerging powers. But this time, unlike the rise of Spain, Britain or the US, the rising power is a "non-Western" country with an economic system different from the West. Although private enterprises have grown and market economy has taken shape in China after four decades of reform and opening-up, in many Western economists' eyes, many Chinese enterprises still have a strong "government gene".

So long as China's economy was relatively small and closed, the West lived with China's different system. However, this tolerance apparently exhausted when Chinese companies-and large amounts of Chinese goods-started "going global" and competing with Western high-tech companies.

The West has strict definitions and regulations for fair competition. In Western markets, any enterprise found to have market power, or special advantage from vertical domination or government subsidy would be denied market access or excluded from the market. That's the logic of US resistance to Chinese products: if large amounts of Chinese goods or Chinese enterprises enter the market for competition, the resistance will be inevitable. This kind of defense comes not only from the upper echelons but also multiple levels of market participants. The differences between Chinese and US systems determine that the China-US trade war is unlikely to ease in the short term. In other words, the economic and trade conflict between China and the US will continue to a considerable extent at various levels.

But will the China-US trade conflict intensify again? It's possible, but not likely. Washington, which was waging a trade war, is becoming increasingly aware that the calculations about the Chinese economy overtaking the US economy in the short term are unreliable. China's economy has begun to shift from a period of high growth to a period of sustainable, higher-level development, which is evident in its growth rates-14.23 percent in 2007, 10.62 percent in 2010, 7.29 percent in 2014, 6.6 percent in 2018 and 6 percent in the third quarter of 2019.

Furthermore, since it may have to resume its deleverage policies to avoid financial risks, China's economic growth could slow down further in the next three to five years. On the other hand, the US economy continues to expand even after a decade of growth, breaking the pattern of five-year growth periods in the business cycle. And its unemployment rate has remained below 4 percent in recent years with low inflation.

Since 1950, the US has experienced periods of low inflation and low unemployment, but never as long as it does now. And the fact that the US now boasts full employment means it is using all available labor resources to drive its growth.

China is right in defining its status as the largest developing country. The calculation that China will overtake the US on the economic front is premised on old statistics of the US boom cycle and the average of China's high growth period. It's time to review and revise these empirical data. With these revisions, China may fail to catch up with the US for a longer period of time-a scenario that could weaken the West's defensive mind.

As China's reform deepens and the US becomes more resilient to different systems, the Chinese economy will need a longer period to overtake the US economy, which would provide enough time to develop a compatible model for the two countries to coexist peacefully. As such, there is not much legitimacy in the argument that the China-US trade war will intensify.

The author is a professor of economics at the University of Maryland. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Growing benefits of automation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530605.htm Editor's note: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently said the overall mechanization rate of the cultivation and harvesting process has exceeded 70 percent, achieving the goal of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) a year in advance. Mechanization has mostly been realized in the production of wheat, rice and corn. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

According to a recent Wuhan University report, machines and robots will replace nearly 5 percent of workers in China in the next five years. The percentage of businesses using robots has risen from about 12 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2017.

Mechanization freeing people is a socioeconomic development reality. Free from heavy and hard work, it will let them enjoy the benefits of science and technology.

In rural areas, such mechanization will help usher in urbanization. Overall, mechanization of agriculture has kept pace with urbanization.

A recent Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report said China's urbanization rate exceeded 60 percent in 2019, which, judging by international standards, means China has transformed from a rural to an urban society. What the country needs now is to build more smart cities.

Although it remains to be seen whether smart cities can help absorb the huge influx of people from rural areas, one thing is clear, big cities have to first address such challenges as food safety, traffic congestion, and water and energy shortages.

The gradual replacement of humans by robots will also help China cope with the declining birthrate. With a dwindling working-age population, many jobs can be taken over by robots. Robots can also care for the elderly.

However, attention should be paid to the ethical dilemma of using robots and the possible harm they could cause to society as a whole.

For example, what should be done if robots harm people? We should be prepared to address such problems.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Tsai's seasonal gift nothing more than her usual anti-mainland chicanery]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530575.htm After failing to get a law approved in October that would target so-called proxies of the Communist Party of China, the "anti-infiltration bill" that Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen is trying to press the island's legislature to pass by Dec 31, although it does not openly single out the Chinese mainland, is undoubtedly another scheme hatched by her Democratic Progressive Party for its secessionist ends.

The coarsely-composed bill consists of 12 short articles, which probably intentionally and vaguely targets "external hostile forces" and "sources of infiltration" for punishment by unspecified law enforcers.

The law to be is therefore intended as a foolproof means for the administrative authority, the Tsai administration for the time being, to abuse its power as a wholesaler of writs to any parties it labels as infiltrators or their accomplices on security grounds.

If the bill, as ill as it is, is endorsed as a law, all individuals and parties engaging in normal exchanges across the Straits will technically become suspected targets of its enforcement.

Which means not only the 5 million Taiwan tourists traveling to the mainland each year, and the more than 1 million Taiwan businesspeople and students who work or study on the mainland, plus their families and friends, but also those who have contacts with the mainland can be arbitrarily put in the crosshairs of the Tsai administration, making it easy for it to silence opponents.

That explains why the bill has invited strong opposition from all sectors of Taiwan society, which are well aware that anything serving the hardcore secessionists will automatically do a disservice to the broad interests of the island.

That Tsai is intent on pushing through the bill in such a hurry, in defiance of the public opposition, shows she knows that if the last window of opportunity before the island's leadership election in January is missed, the DPP might never have another chance to introduce such a bill, and with the law in place, the DPP will be able to further stir up populism to help it garner more support.

If the cross-Straits exchanges continue to deepen and expand again, it will only be a matter of time before Tsai and her like-minded forces have to admit to the disappearing of any social foundation on which to build their cause.

In fact, even if it manages to push the bill into law, if the Tsai administration dares to take advantage of it to blockade interactions across the Straits, it will only worsen cross-Straits ties and accelerate the abandoning of the DPP and its cause by the Taiwan people.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Pompeo's bluster will only backfire]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530574.htm Perhaps he was overeager to impress his Canadian counterpart with his good-heartedness to help, or just completely ignorant about how diplomacy actually works, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's demand that China release two detained Canadians is at best presumptuous, worse manipulative.

For Beijing, Pompeo's remarks are an insult, because they suggest not only that China is a country with "arbitrary enforcement" of laws, where legal justice and procedures can be easily twisted at will for political gain, but also that the country will be frightened into submission when faced with highhandedness of the world's sole superpower.

During a phone call with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Monday, Pompeo stressed that his country is sticking with Canada in fighting what he called China's "coercive detentions of Canadian citizens".

"The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada," he said, according to a statement from the US State Department.

The two Canadians in the spotlight are former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor-both were detained in December 2018 by the Chinese government on "suspicion of engaging in activities that endanger national security".

While the detentions came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant, Beijing has denied any links between the two incidents, insisting that China is a country with rule of law and will crack down on criminal acts that severely undermine its national security. Pompeo is being too wishful and naïve if he really believes his words would have any bearing on how Beijing makes its judicial system function, or even handles its bilateral relations with Canada.

Sino-Canadian relations are experiencing their lowest point in decades after Ottawa arrested Meng at the request of the US a year ago. While both the US and Canada have tried hard to establish the case as a good example of Ottawa standing up for the rule of law, aided by a system of justice independent of political interference, people with any basic geopolitical knowledge are aware that the charges against Meng are politically motivated. The US president once even said in an interview that he "would certainly intervene" in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with China.

If Pompeo really wanted to help Canada repair its ruptured ties with China, he would have kept his mouth shut and let the two countries find a way to resolve their differences in ways acceptable to both. The overbearing manner he has adopted will only backfire.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA['Silent Night' demands ring hollow despite persistent protester chorus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530367.htm Although it is not yet known what the "bloody Christmas Day" promised by some radical demonstrators in Hong Kong will be, one thing is certain, the "Silent Night" anti-government gatherings in the city on Christmas Eve were anything but calm.

As darkness fell on Tuesday, the protests once again turned ugly. In shopping malls, where the demonstrators claimed they hoped to spread the message that they are fighting for "freedom" and "the city's future" to the shopping crowds, the message they delivered was once again simply vandalism and violence.

But thanks to the quick response of the police, the flames of violence in various spots were swiftly extinguished. This is the first unrest the special administrative region has experienced after several weeks of relative calm, and also the first provocation the anti-government forces have staged since the Chinese leader reiterated China's resolve to resist foreign interference in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland on Friday.

There is no sign of the protesters renouncing violence and they remain steadfast in their adherence to the so-called five demands. But the sporadic unrest this time indicates that after raging in the city for more than six months, the protests have become merely a pastime for some of the city's youths. As evidenced by some of the supplementary demands they have made in addition to the five, such as their chants for the airport to turn on the air-conditioning during their occupation in summer, and that they be left to lie in bed rather than block roads as planned one winter morning because it was too cold, 16 C to be precise.

Credit for the persistence of the rioters-comfortable temperatures permitting-should go to the backstage foreign forces, who have taken advantage of the protests against proposed amendments to the SAR's extradition bill to trigger an explosion of hormonal self-importance that the Western media are happy to misportray as political activism.

Ironically, enshrouding their actions in claims they are in noble pursuit of freedom, democracy and human rights, the protesters have sought to quell any dissenting voices through violent intimidation. Those daring to question their actions or the validity of their "five demands" are identified as enemies of the people, and face immediate threats to their safety. In this way the brainchild of a few is supposedly the issue of all.

Despite the protesters' claims to the contrary, it is not the principle of "one country, two systems" that should be held accountable for the difficulties Hong Kong faces, but the fact that the principle has not been well-implemented in Hong Kong. Its education has been particularly lacking in this regard.

Although low-intensity violence might continue into next year, those holding high the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack will become increasingly lonely as more residents give them the cold shoulder perceiving their intention to pawn the city's future for their own indulgence.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[HK must secure status as a global financial center to sustain growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530368.htm Despite rising global economic uncertainties, the recent Central Economic Work Conference said that thanks to its sound economy and sustainable growth, the Chinese mainland will continue to support Hong Kong's economic development. The CEWC also urged the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to take measures to consolidate its status as an international financial center.

The mainland, the conference said, will accord priority to "economic stability" in 2020, and take steps to ensure reasonable growth in terms of both quality and quantity. Which means even against the backdrop of global economic uncertainties, the mainland will maintain steady growth and, thanks to its nearly 1.4 billion population and huge demand, continue to be the largest and most reliable source of support for Hong Kong's development.

According to the CEWC, the central government will expedite its regional development plan, give full play to the comparative advantages of different regions, advance the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, accelerate financial system reform and improve the basic system of its capital market. This also indicates the direction of the SAR's development and the sort of changes it should make in its development policies next year.

The construction of the Greater Bay Area will not only pave the way for a new round of reform and opening-up leading to higher-level development, but also promote national rejuvenation. Therefore, the integration of the Greater Bay Area, especially the integration of some cities in Guangdong province neighboring Hong Kong, has become one of the important goals to achieve.

In the Greater Bay Area construction, if Hong Kong uses its advantages in international finance and scientific and technological research to the optimum level, and boosts its manufacturing capacity, it can get aboard the country's "high-speed" development train. Which in turn will help Hong Kong's economic transformation and enable it to offset the losses it suffered due to the months-long violent demonstrations.

In particular, in the field of life science, the SAR can leverage the mainland's medical market and the booming industrial development to attract more mainland enterprises to enlist on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and thus consolidate its status as the world's second-largest capital-raising center for life science stocks.

By doing so, Hong Kong will attract bigger global institutional investors to invest in the SAR, prompting more foreign analysts to study its life science stocks. Which will attract still more potential overseas life science enterprises to list in Hong Kong, and will help promote the sustainable development of Hong Kong's new economic ecosystem and facilitate its economic transformation.

The CEWC also said the mainland will accelerate the financial system reform and improve the basic system of its capital market next year, which, together with the intensified efforts of some mainland cities neighboring the Hong Kong SAR to develop regional financial markets, financial services and products, will spur the SAR's development.

As one of the world's three major financial centers, Hong Kong should take advantage of the mainland's efforts to reform its financial system and improve the basic system of its capital market to seize new opportunities and fortify its status as a global financial hub and the launching pad for mainland financial companies and investors "going global".

Given the accelerated efforts being made by its neighboring cities on the mainland to promote its financial industry, Hong Kong should meet the challenges and make continuous efforts to give full play to its systemic advantages and highly efficient market.

Hong Kong has all that it needs to strengthen its asset management, insurance and other financial services, attract more capital and enterprises, especially international capital and enterprises, to consolidate its status as one of the world's top financial centers and thus promote its economic development in the new era.

The author is dean of the Hainan University Belt and Road Research Institute. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Not just first-aid equipment, people should be given first-aid skills too]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530370.htm A LEGISLATIVE PROCESS is on to ensure public places are equipped with first-aid equipment. But the public should also be trained to administer first-aid. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

The draft of the Basic Medical Treatment and Health Promotion Law has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for its fourth review and it suggests that public places be equipped with necessary first-aid equipment.

The need for such first-aid facilities has gained currency and captured public imagination after actor Gao Yixiang died of a sudden cardiac arrest during the shooting of a game TV show last month.

A first-aid equipment called automated external defibrillator (AED) is crucial for saving the life of a patient suffering from a sudden acute myocardial infarction. But in China the availability of such equipment in public places is far from adequate.

According to a report, 394 AEDs exist for every 100,000 residents in Japan and 317 for every 100,000 residents in the United States. The figure is just 0.2 when it comes to the Chinese mainland.

Regulations to equip public places with first-aid equipment are conducive to help those who suffer from a sudden ailment and to safeguard people's health. Such people-oriented social progress has won widespread public praise.

But ensuring that a good law is implemented properly is just as important. First-aid equipment like an AED is very expensive, and who should pay for it is a question that needs to be addressed first. The authorities should clarify how they can ensure availability of first-aid equipment at all public places, and make periodical plans to fulfill it step by step.

What should also be improved is the public's consciousness and skills in administering first aid. Most people don't know how to administer first aid.

The most they can do during an emergency is to call 120. In such circumstances the golden rescue period is of little use even if first-aid equipment is readily available.

The authorities should therefore popularize first aid knowledge and encourage medical staff and people to receive first-aid training and actively participate in administering first-aid at a public place as the law stipulates, and the ordinary citizens should also acquire and master first-aid administering skills to help people in need.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Save those who try to save others]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530372.htm FAMILY MEMBERS OF a patient assaulted Yang Wen, a female doctor at the General Hospital of CAAC in Beijing on Tuesday, seriously injuring her in the neck. Early on Wednesday, Yang succumbed to her injuries. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

What took place at the hospital was not an isolated case. In 2018, there had been at least 29 such attacks on doctors or nurses and some deaths too. The figure is much less for 2019, but the brutality of the latest case shows we cannot breathe easy, because the death of even a single doctor means no doctor is safe.

When a doctor is killed, it also puts many other lives, including those of patients who were looking up to the doctor to cure them, at risk. And it could even damage the trust that exists between patients and doctors. Fearing possible consequences, doctors might not want to take risks when treating critical patients.

One wonders what kind of mentality makes one attack doctors. After all, doctors and patients should be like comrades in arms on a battlefield, fighting a common enemy called disease. But in reality we often see patients or their family members vent their anger on doctors who were, often, just trying to save the patients' lives.

The provocation could vary from case to case but if we analyze carefully we would notice that in most cases the patients had fatal diseases and their relatives expected the doctors to save him/her. And on being told that the doctors could not do much, they became desperate and vented their anger on the doctors.

It was loss of hope that prompted patients or their families to lose control. This is more often the case when the patients spend a lot of money and energy to reach hospitals in order to consult doctors. They then peg too much hope on the doctors.

Had there been a counseling mechanism for patients, some of the cases of assaults on doctors might have been prevented. It is advisable that hospitals arrange for more professionals to counsel patients suffering from critical diseases.

That is not to say that there can be any excuse for those who assault doctors. Violence is violence and anybody who assaults a doctor should be punished. On Wednesday, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association strongly condemned the violence, mourned Yang's death and called for joint efforts to protect doctors and nurses.

It is time society echoed that call.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Rural accident victim gets bigger compensation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530346.htm Editor's note: A court in Yongxing county in Hunan province recently ruled that a rural inhabitant who was badly injured in a road accident can get 70,000 yuan ($10,024) as disability compensation, more than the 20,000 yuan that was being given under the earlier standard. Beijing News comments:

This is not the first time a "same life has the same price" principle has been followed. In recent years, a unified compensation standard for personal injuries has been piloted in Anhui, Shaanxi, Henan and some other provinces. Which means the principle of "different prices for the same life" may soon become a thing of the past.

The earlier "different prices for the same life" formula was the outcome of a Supreme People's Court ruling in 2004 on the applicable law in personal injury cases. According to the interpretation, the compensation for casualties was decided based on per capita disposable income of urban residents or per capita net income of rural residents. And the income was decided on the basis of hukou, or household registration, of the victims.

The reason for this differential compensation criterion was due to the differences between urban and rural areas, and it was appropriate for the judiciary to take the different deduced incomes between rural and urban residents into consideration when deciding compensation.

The judicial interpretation was also based on the deep-rooted urban-rural divide in Chinese society. But the roots of this rural-urban divide got eroded thanks to the large-scale suspension of hukou, especially the removal in 2014 of the difference between agricultural and non-agricultural hukou.

Compensation, or "life price" as it is called, is a kind of psychological solace or material compensation given to victim or his or her relatives. Therefore, at the legal or systemic level, the country should not classify it into different grades. The calculation of such compensation on the basis of urban or rural identity is a kind of prejudice.

The country has adopted a unified compensation standard for different people, such as the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Consumers, and the National Compensation Law. So, it is high time that a unified compensation practice is adopted nationwide, and not just implemented on a trial basis.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Neighbors need to walk their talk]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530387.htm If the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka was a tentative move toward improving the strained China-Japan relationship, the latter's just-concluded visit to China to attend the China-Japan-Republic of Korea leaders' meeting, ahead of which he again met with Xi, indicates greater shared interest in reorienting the two countries' sometimes volatile ties.

China would have loved to get further engagement from Japan on the Belt and Road Initiative, and greater cooperation on technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence. It would also have been a huge plus for Japan had the discussions yielded specific outcomes.

But it seems that we will have to wait until the Chinese leader's planned visit to Japan, scheduled for April, for that kind of bumper harvest. Not just because both parties will want to deliver something that is at once both symbolic and substantial from that meeting, but the political atmosphere has always been a critical factor outweighing any immediate gains in this particular relationship.

Judging from his talks with both President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, Abe's visit was indeed more about course-setting, if not path-finding.

Xi and Abe agreed in Osaka to build China-Japan relations in accordance with the needs of the new era. They have apparently achieved broader and deeper consensus on how bilateral ties should be approached.

"To plan for and manage China-Japan relations in the new era, we first need to ascertain strategic consensus," Xi told Abe during their Monday meeting in Beijing. Approaching bilateral ties from a global perspective, based on mutual respect and aimed at win-win outcomes should be a "common strategic guidance" and "foundation" for the kind of relations they envision together, according to Xi.

Abe, during an interview with China Global Television Network prior to his China visit, also emphasized the need to "ascertain strategic consensus, maintain a correct direction, and promote relations between the two countries to always keep proceeding on a correct track".

Both Xi and Abe portrayed the present global context of bilateral ties as "changes not seen in 100 years", both highlighted the significance of a "correct track" for bilateral ties, both stressed the two countries' responsibilities for the region and world, and both pledged to "properly handle significant, sensitive issues".

Such unusual convergence in their rhetoric shows the two countries' leaders have found greater common ground at the strategic level. Which boils down to the two parties seeing each other as partners rather than threats, and seeking to turn competition into coordination.

All the vows, though, must face the test of the lingering historical and territorial disputes, which require political wisdom from both sides to address.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[US high-tech export ban self-defeating]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530330.htm Editor's Note: The US Commerce Department is finalizing a set of rules, according to media reports, to limit exports of sophisticated technology including quantum computing and 3D printing to China. What will be the impact of these rules on China? Will they lead to a "technology cold war"? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

 

China should strengthen key technology sectors

If the export of sophisticated technology threatens the national or industrial security of the exporting country, such a ban would make sense. But the fact is that, a lack of a clear set of standards on violation of national, industrial or cyber security has given countries a rather large room to devise protectionist trade policies. Worse, such bans run counter to the basic principles of free trade.

Most US and Chinese enterprises hope to integrate with and help develop the global industrial chain despite the United States administration's efforts to do just the opposite.

And the fact that the White House has sought to politicize economic issues essentially means it is harming US companies' interests.

In the short to medium term, Chinese enterprises could suffer due to the US' policy to limit high-tech exports. But in the long run, Chinese companies would be driven to develop core technologies and promote technological innovation to offset the US policy's impact.

But despite the White House openly resorting to protectionism, especially to thwart China's technological progress, it would be a wild stretch of imagination to expect a "technology cold war" between the two sides.

Many Chinese people believe the country should further open up its economy in the face of the US' non-cooperation or intensify research and development to replace US technologies with its own. But that is no answer to how China should manage the current situation.

The answer lies in gaining irreplaceable advantages in major links of key industries, rather than setting up an industrial chain independent of the US. For instance, Japan's integrated circuit industry suffered a huge blow in the 1990s, but the US could not disintegrate itself from Japan's supply chain because Japan made the most sophisticated integrated circuit materials and equipment in the world.

As such, China should attach greater importance to industries related to national and industrial security, people's livelihoods and vital interests including information and communications technology and medical apparatus and instruments.

Jia Bei, a research fellow on industrial economics

If implemented, new rules will harm US companies

That the US is finalizing rules to curb high-tech exports exposes its Cold War mentality. Not being content with urging a number of countries to take measures to restrict China's rise, for example, through the Wassenaar Arrangement, the US is preparing to introduce specific bans directly aimed at China. Such bans, however, do not conform to global economic rules and, equally importantly, would not contribute to US enterprises' well-being.

How can the US continue to play the leading role in the field of technology if it deliberately severs ties with a major power? Also, such rules would prompt China to more actively promote innovation to develop high-tech products in order to lessen its dependence on the US and other Western economies for sophisticated technology.

And if China loses its development momentum for a lack of high-tech products, it would mean reduced mutually beneficial cooperation with and fewer development opportunities for the US. Either way the US stands to lose.

Thanks to the development of high-end manufacturing and consumption, and industrial upgrading, China presents a number of business opportunities that the US could lose due to its self-defeating policies.

To those who believe that only cooperation can benefit both sides, suffice it to say the US doesn't want to cooperate with China and, instead, has been threatening to impose higher tariffs on Chinese products and impose export and/or import bans. Which runs contrary to the spirit of cooperation on an equal footing and for mutual benefits.

As for now, China should focus on innovation and making technological breakthroughs while continuing to seek cooperation with the US on an equal footing.

Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute under the China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

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2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Christmas card note a seasonal farce]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530366.htm Nothing is more damaging to a country's international image than human rights abuses. And any story that contains elements juicy enough to satisfy some people's wild imagination about the dark sides of an "authoritarian police state"-an opaque prison system, forced labor and human rights violations-is bound to be a big sensation that grabs international news headlines.

Which is why the latest attempt to smear China has garnered so much media coverage in countries that cannot wait to point an accusing finger at what they view as an evil empire.

Despite it lacking all the basic elements of a good news story, namely accuracy, objectivity and fairness, a report by The Sunday Times that a 6-year-old girl had found a note in a Christmas card she bought in a store of the British supermarket giant Tesco that reads "We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will" has been taken at face value.

The Chinese response has been quick. The Foreign Ministry spokesman has dismissed the whole story as "a farce" because, as he said, Shanghai's Qingpu prison "does not have this issue of foreign prisoners being forced to work". And Tesco's Chinese supplier, Zhejiang Yunguang Printing Factory, has also rejected the forced labor allegation as "completely fabricated". Judgment has already been passed even before a trial starts. Tesco immediately suspended the Chinese supplier before launching an investigation, even though its spokesperson said the supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken its rule banning the use of prison labor.

Anyone with the basic ability to reason and judge can tell how shaky the allegations are. If just a few lines jotted on a Christmas card are effective to unveil a big secrecy about foreigners behind the bars of Chinese prisons, then all those foreign consulates stationed in China must be failing in their duties. Aren't they supposed to ensure convicted citizens of their home countries get fair treatment and are afforded the rights guaranteed under Chinese law where forced labor is forbidden? Or does that mean all the international treaties China has signed with foreign countries on judicial assistance are being trashed by law-defying Chinese officials without even being noticed by their foreign counterparts?

Given that the note was directed to Peter Humphrey, the writer of The Sunday Times story, a big question mark hangs over the neutrality of the story. The Briton, a former journalist and corporate fraud investigator, served two years for trafficking personal data in the same prison as mentioned in the card.

But that question mark has been readily ignored by those with an axe to grind against China.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Reverse travel phenomenon a welcome trend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530386.htm Spring Festival travel rush refers to the 40-day travel peak when people in big cities travel to their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with their families and travel back to the cities to rejoin work. During the travel rush airports, railway and bus stations, and highways are chock-a-block.

Yet of late some people working in cities have not been traveling to their hometowns for Spring Festival. Instead, they call their parents and/or children from their villages and towns to join them in the cities during Lunar New Year. The journeys such parents and children make in the opposite direction during Spring Festival is called the reverse Spring Festival travel rush.

Actually, reverse Spring Festival travel rush is not a recent phenomenon; it was first noticed soon after the launch of reform and opening-up in the late 1970s. But this year, it attracted the attention of governments, the railways, transport companies and other sections of society. In fact, in the recently issued opinions on managing the 2020 Spring Festival travel rush, central government departments including the National Development and Reform Commission have encouraged the reverse Spring Festival travel rush, by suggesting relevant authorities offer discounts on ticket prices, to reduce the pressure on the transportation system.

Given China's aging population, and fast-paced urbanization and industrialization, the reverse travel phenomenon would have a significant impact on the transport system.

In general, the reverse travel phenomenon can be attributed to urbanization, development of the transportation network and diversification of Spring Festival celebrations.

First, thanks to urbanization, a large number of people in small towns, villages and smaller cities have relocated to metropolises that have good public and recreational facilities, and better living conditions and development opportunities. And since the disposable income of urban residents in China is now 39,251 yuan ($5,612), according to National Bureau of Statistics data for 2018, a certain percentage of those people can now afford to call their parents and/or children to the big cities to celebrate Lunar New Year, or even stay for a longer time.

Second, the development of the transportation system, too, has contributed to the trend of reverse Spring Festival travel rush. For example, by the end of last year, the length of China's high-speed railway had increased to 29,000 kilometers-and is expected to reach 35,000 km in 2020.

Besides, China has 235 civil aviation airports with a passenger throughput of 1.27 billion. China has also greatly developed its highways. But it is the rapid development of high-speed railway that has made travel faster, safer, and more affordable and convenient.

As mentioned above, the reverse travel phenomenon can also be attributed to diversification of Spring Festival celebrations. With their living standards continuing to improve, people have devised unconventional ways to enjoy their holidays, traveling abroad or within the country, and advancing or postponing Lunar New Year celebrations to avoid the peak travel rush. Also, more and more elderly people are choosing to celebrate Spring Festival with their children or kin in big cities, and thus promoting the reverse travel trend.

On a more fundamental level, the reverse travel phenomenon suggests urban culture and lifestyle are replacing rural culture and lifestyle. But since people will continue to flock to the cities to work or study, the traditional Spring Festival travel rush will continue to be the dominant trend, but the reverse travel phenomenon will increase too.

To promote the reverse Spring Festival travel rush, the government should encourage young people to live in large and medium-sized cities by, for instance, offering the favorable house purchase policies. The China State Railway Group, on its part, should offer discounts on train fares to those traveling in the opposite direction during Spring Festival. And publicity should be strengthened to inform potential passengers about the benefits of traveling in the opposite direction during the Spring Festival travel rush.

The author is a professor of transport economics at the School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Trilateral talks to enhance regional synergy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530178.htm Editor's Note: Leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea held a trilateral meeting on economic cooperation and regional security in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Tuesday, which attracted wide attention given the recent developments in their bilateral ties. Two experts share their views on the significance of the meeting with China Daily's Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

China, Japan, ROK should protect multilateralism

China, Japan and the ROK have decided to strengthen regional coordination to overcome the effects of the global economic slowdown, and growing unilateralism and protectionism, and curb regional security risks, particularly rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

But despite the three countries together accounting for one-fifth of global gross domestic product and having complementary economic structures, the negotiations for the proposed China-Japan-ROK free trade agreement have been prolonged because of the security alliance Japan and the ROK have with the United States, disagreements on trade standards, and concerns over "imbalanced bilateral benefits". In fact, by the end of last month, they had held 16 rounds of negotiations.

Stable bilateral relations are a prerequisite for an FTA. The fact that China and Japan, and China and the ROK have improved bilateral ties shows they are determined to promote free trade and economic globalization. And after Japan eased the curbs on export of semiconductor parts to the ROK on Friday, Japan-ROK relations, too, are likely to improve since reaching a low owing to the historical disputes between the two sides.

Since multilateral meetings have acted as buffer zones for Tokyo-Seoul talks after bilateral disputes intensified, the tripartite meeting in Chengdu, to a certain extent, will improve Japan-ROK ties and bring the FTA negotiations back to the normal track.

The need for a larger markets has prompted the three countries to attach more importance to a "3+ X" (China-Japan-ROK plus a fourth party) mechanism. With the participation of a fourth party, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan and the ROK can add new vigor to regional cooperation. A fourth party can also help the three countries to better coordinate their competitive trade elements.

Also, the three countries are pushing for signing of the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership next year, which means Japan is no longer mulling withdrawing from the RCEP following India.

Instead, Japan is expected to persuade India to rejoin the regional trade mechanism.

Which augurs well for regional economic integration and stability.

Ongoing talks bring a fresh start to three-way cooperation

Discussions on a China-Japan-ROK cooperation mechanism started 20 years ago. But the fact that Japan and the ROK have a security alliance with the US and share the US' wariness over a rising China, as well as the recent Tokyo-Seoul disputes have affected the smooth flow of tripartite talks.

Although it is impossible for any meeting to achieve a breakthrough overnight, the fact that the three sides have been exploring ways to establish a trilateral cooperation mechanism and promote multilateralism is in itself a precious outcome.

The US' unilateral and protectionist measures are threatening to distort the global industrial and value chains, and therefore have prompted China, Japan and the ROK to establish a tripartite cooperation mechanism in order to safeguard multilateralism and promote free trade, and build a fair global governance mechanism.

Seoul seems especially eager to promote the trilateral talks so it can tide over the effects of a sluggish domestic economy, its trade frictions with Japan, and the huge cost of stationing US troops on ROK soil.

Economic cooperation, political trust and security cooperation are important factors for maintaining stable relations among China, Japan and the ROK, with economic cooperation being the key, because it can help promote mutual political trust and security cooperation.

Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul have to strengthen cooperation also to cope with security risks on the Korean Peninsula. Japan and the ROK may not necessarily support the joint proposal of China and Russia that the UN Security Council partly lift the sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to break the deadlock in the US-DPRK talks. But they most probably will mediate between Washington and Pyongyang once tensions on the peninsula escalate.

And since bilateral talks in the denuclearization issue can hit a roadblock if either party is unhappy, China, Japan and the ROK should make joint efforts to revive the Six-Party Talks and take the peninsula peace process forward and ultimately resolve the peninsula nuclear issue.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

Yue Li, executive director of the Center for Northeast Asian Studies and a senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution, a public policy think tank

Ba Dianjun, head of the Institute of International Politics at and deputy director of Northeast Asia Research Center, Jilin University

SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Ozil shoots himself in the foot over Xinjiang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530179.htm Mesut Ozil is the poster boy of the moment for critics of Beijing's policies in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is a pity because he has muddied the waters with his own poor grasp of geopolitics and thus made things worse for the people he ostensibly cares about.

It's true that the Arsenal midfielder's Twitter post touches on humanitarian concern for Uygurs in China's northwest region of Xinjiang. But as Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, the German-Turkish soccer player should visit Xinjiang and see for himself.

By wrapping his message in the "flag of East Turkestan", Ozil has scored an own goal, greatly undermining his reputation as a smart, mercurial player. Indeed, his emotional, unconsidered tweet risks damaging the very cause he claims to espouse by putting separatism on a par with social justice.

In today's world, East Turkestan has come to mean a breakaway independent region with the "blue flag" as its standard. This is the flag being waved by Mesut Ozil and other proponents of pan-Turkism that would like to see partly Muslim Xinjiang taken out of China's orbit and united culturally, if not politically, with Turkey.

East Turkestan is a virtual state, alive only in the minds of identity-intoxicated dreamers, mostly in the Uygur diaspora, but that's not to say it's not a provocation. China is within its right to be concerned about the "East Turkestan Liberation Organization" and the "Gray Wolves", both founded in Turkey. And China has produced evidence of the terrorist acts committed by the separatists in Xinjiang.

The United States' position, recently reiterated and made clear by the highly partisan US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is an odd one, especially because the US leads the world in combating Islamist terrorism, real and imagined, and it is still waging war on Islamic nations.

Since Sept 11, 2001, China has been generally supportive of US efforts to root out terrorism wherever the US claims to find it. But US policy is full of double standard. A month after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, I attended a US embassy briefing in Beijing. When I asked the US spokesman why the US continued to support Islamic separatists in China, he said, "it's different".

And that has pretty much been the US line ever since. Anti-Beijing supporters of separatism who lean toward the US are given a free pass. It's a reaffirmation of a consistent flaw in US foreign policy-hypocrisy. One need only consider the brutal US-backed Contras who ravaged Nicaragua to grasp that bitter irony that one man's terrorist is indeed another man's freedom fighter.

Where the former German soccer star Ozil really trips up as a booster for the "Uygur cause" is in his flag-waving support for pan-Turkism. This is a toxic creed in the same way that pan-Germanism is, and Ozil, being a German citizen of Turkish descent, should know better.

In China, the reaction to his invocation of free East Turkistan was predictably fierce. Soccer matches have been yanked off the air, Ozil soccer shirts burned, and Ozil's likeness is getting airbrushed out of video games.

If Ozil cared a little more about democratic politics, he wouldn't have foolishly wrapped his message in the flag of a separatist group that wants to carve a big chunk out of China.

If Ozil knew a little more about Turkish history, the land of his grandparents, he might take pause at the shocking "movement", in which pan-Turkism instigated ethnic cleansing and racial "purifying" that all but wiped from the map the ethnic Armenian neighbors of his Turk ancestors. Armenia longs for the world's condemnation on this massacre which is denied by Turkey.

Finally, he might face the hard-to-stomach reality that today's Kurds did much to defeat the Islamic State group while Turkey played dumb, looking the other way.

He might also take note that the Kurds, using similar reasoning to his, lay claim to large parts of his beloved Turkey, and if they had their way, an independent Kurdistan would be carved out of the Anatolian land.

Ozil is not alone. His one-sided thought process aligns rather well with the US administration's view of the world. To President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a buddy and the Kurds deserve to be betrayed and left dangling. Along with the implicit support of the US, Ozil can look forward to partisan support in journalistic quarters where the anti-China agenda trumps balanced reporting.

The West excoriated the Chinese media for criticizing Ozil without saying clearly why he was being treated as an anathema. But Western accounts have big narrative holes, too. Whether by omission or commission, or just bad editing, the Western media left out Ozil's naked embrace of the incendiary "blue flag" of separatist East Turkestan from most reports on the topic.

If a soccer player had used the platform of fame to advocate secessionism and independence of a US state using the Confederate flag as backdrop, he or she would have deservedly been hit with a red card. But when it comes to China, which has recently become a popular piñata for US politicians looking to smack hard without taking too close a look at the facts, the bashing has already begun.

The author is a media researcher covering Asian politics.The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Single women remain victims of a frozen fertility system]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530194.htm FOR THE FIRST TIME IN CHINA, the case of a single woman's right to freeze her eggs went on trial in Beijing recently. This is a good opportunity for the public to pay attention to single women's reproductive rights and gender equality. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

Xu Zaozao, a 31-year-old single woman, recently sued the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital for refusing to freeze her eggs on the ground that she is not married.

According to the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation issued by the National Health Commission in 2003, assisted reproductive technologies, which include freezing of eggs, are denied to single women because of a family planning policy.

China's population and family planning policies have greatly changed in recent years to cope with changing national population situations and social issues such as low fertility rate and an aging society, but the restrictions imposed on single women's reproductive rights have not been changed accordingly.

According to law, reproductive right is a legal right every citizen enjoys, irrespective of marital status.

Moreover, the existing regulations do not prohibit single men from preserving their sperms in sperm banks. It is therefore unreasonable to make a distinction when it comes to a woman's right to preserve her eggs.

With continuous social development and rising education levels, the age at which women can give birth has been delayed to ensure their self-improvement and enable them to meet their life and career goals.

Freezing of eggs is a modern way to ensure women can become mothers at a later date. This method will also help improve the fertility rate.

It is the legal right of citizens like Xu to safeguard their rights. And it is glad to see her case trigger wide public discussion, as this might go a long way to further protect a single woman's right to fertility and gender equality.

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[US should honor Singapore consensus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530196.htm China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking to Chinese media on Monday, said that the renewed tensions between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are mainly due to Washington failing to address the legitimate and reasonable concerns of Pyongyang and not effectively implementing the consensus reached in Singapore.

China welcomed and supported the summit between DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in June last year, with Wang hailing the meeting as an opportunity for the two countries, which had been antagonistic toward each other for more than half a century, to make history by sitting down together and agreeing to substantive steps to realize the establishment of a peace mechanism for the Korean Peninsula.

With Washington having agreed to make joint efforts with Pyongyang to build a lasting and stable peace regime, it is natural that Wang should express China's disappointment at its failure to honor that agreement since it has resulted in the previously promising dialogue with Pyongyang becoming a war of words in which their words are once again of war.

The two leaders have met each other three times since their first groundbreaking meeting in Singapore. Their second summit in Hanoi collapsed at the start of this year, and although Trump took a historic step into the DPRK, which seemed to suggest the US had something up its sleeve, the interpersonal rapport between them, if not staged, has not translated into mutual trust between the two countries.

The two sides' most recent contact, a painful, yet fruitless, 8.5-hour closed door meeting in Stockholm in early October, prompted different views of its worth-Pyongyang said it broke up, and Washington said it was a good dialogue-showing just how far apart the two sides still are because the US has not made any substantial moves in response to the DPRK's denuclearization steps.

If the US continues to talk of its hopes of a political solution while persisting with sanctions and maintaining its security threat targeting the DPRK, it is doing nothing but backpedaling on the Singapore consensus.

The window of opportunity for productive dialogue is closing as whatever rapport there was between Washington and Pyongyang is rapidly disappearing. So the US should take practical measures to implement the Singapore consensus as soon as possible.

The proposal China and Russia have put forward to the United Nations Security Council for the lifting of some sanctions on the DPRK not only reflects the urgency of Pyongyang's needs, but also that the tensions are already on a hair trigger.

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Civil code milestone for rule of law]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530209.htm For the first time in the history of the People's Republic of China, a complete civil code is expected to be introduced to govern legal disputes other than those involving crimes. This is undoubtedly a milestone in the development of China's rule of law.

The importance of having a complete civil code cannot be overstated. However wealthy a country is or however comprehensive its national strength is, a lack of protection of basic civil rights and private rights of every individual citizen constitutes an Achilles heel for its social foundation.

That explains why the draft of a civil code to be deliberated at a bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee this week is being greeted as a major step forward for the modernization of China's governance.

Importance has been attached to the compiling of the civil code to provide a stable legal framework for resolving disputes since not long after the People's Republic of China was founded. And China has bits of one, such as laws on inheritance, contracts and property. But there are gaps and inconsistencies. The compilation of a unified code was launched four times, in 1954, 1962, 1979 and 2001, but a complete code never came to fruition for various reasons.

To compile a complete civil code that meets the needs of the times is obviously no easy task. As a result, the process that is now coming to fruition has proceeded piecemeal since the middle of the last decade, with the initial step, the general provisions of the civil code, completed and adopted at the fifth session of the 12th NPC in 2017.

Preliminary deliberation of the six other sections on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and torts was done at the fifth session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee in 2018, which marked the second step of the process.

Public opinions were then extensively solicited from people in different walks of life, and suggestions from different government departments were also taken into consideration. Fact-finding missions were also conducted for the fixing of specific articles before the draft civil code was completed.

Now the draft is being deliberated by lawmakers at the bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee being held from Monday to Saturday. Hopefully their deliberations will lead to draft code being delivered to the annual session of the NPC in March. It should then not be far for Chinese people to have recourse to the law to protect their rights in any civil dispute.

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Fudging casualty figures shameful]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530210.htm THIRTEEN PEOPLE WERE KILLED on Dec 4 in an explosion at a firecracker unit in Liuyang, Hunan province, but when reporting to higher authorities, certain local officials and factory managers put the casualty figure at seven. The lie was later exposed by probe teams. On Monday, the Work Safety Committee of the State Council, China's Cabinet, briefed local authorities on the issue. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Why did the officials join hands with factory managers in fudging death figures? To minimize responsibilities.

According to domestic safety regulations, local authorities are responsible for inspecting safety measures in factories that produce dangerous substances such as explosives, and help the latter plug loopholes if any. In the event of an accident in which people are killed, the officials and factory managers should be held accountable.

So, in the above case, some local officials not only failed in their duty to take work safety measures and protect workers' lives, but also attempted to cover up their failure by joining hands with the factory managers to hide the casualty figure.

That is denying the people their rights even after their deaths. Most, if not all, of them were workers who toiled hard to ensure the firecracker unit made profits. And their deaths have much to do with the lack of safety measures at the workplace. But when they died, the officials tried to even deny their existence.

How did the officials and factory managers face the families of the dead? Did they not feel ashamed?

A probe is mandatory after any fatal accident, as it can reveal what caused it and what can be done to prevent a repeat of the same. But when the number of deaths is not reported correctly, it might fail to attract the desired attention.

As a result, the probe may not be carried out with the right amount of seriousness and the problems that caused the deaths might never be found out and dealt with. It will also not be wrong to say that hiding the actual number of deaths might lead to more casualties and deaths in the future.

Thankfully that will not happen in this case, as the actual number of deaths and details of who tried to fudge the casualty figure have emerged. By Monday evening, 10 suspects had been detained, four taken in for further disciplinary probe and three removed from office for grave wrongdoings.

It is time officials across the nation learn a lesson from that.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[New method takes a toll on drivers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530174.htm Editor's Note: Six toll stations on highways linking Tianjin with other cities recently switched to the electronic toll collection system and stopped annual collection of tolls, upsetting drivers who have not enrolled in the ETC program. Guangming Daily comments:

The electronic toll collection system has caused serious traffic congestion at the toll stations, as many vehicles have not enlisted in the ETC program. Some video clips posted on social media showed vehicles making U-turns and leaving the toll stations, while toll station staff guided other vehicles to an area nearby to apply for enrolling in the program. "Without enrolling in the ETC program, you can't get on the highway," many drivers were told.

A Ministry of Transport official said this practice was wrong, stressing that his department has made it clear that at least one manual toll collection lane should be kept open on all highways where the ETC system has been introduced.

In theory, ETC has obvious advantages, as it ensures smooth entry, less congestion, and lower operating costs. It is key to eliminating toll stations on highways and facilitating high-speed travel.

Some developed countries introduced a similar toll collection system in the mid-1980s. But in China, the ETC system has gained prominence in recent years. The authorities are pressing for more than 90 percent of vehicles on highways to use the device by the end of 2019.

It is because of such pressing goals that some regions are insisting that it be mandatory for drivers taking the expressways to enroll in the ETC program.

True, the manual toll collection lanes have longer queues, but the flow of traffic in the ETC lanes is not smooth either, because many drivers are guided to a designated place to enlist in the program and link their ETC card to their credit card or any other payment medium.

Also, the experience of those who already have ETC cards shows that even after switching to the new system it is necessary to make one or several trips before it starts working smoothly.

It is the public's right to choose which system they want to use on the highway. It cannot be forcibly introduced by the administration. Any decision the relevant departments take should ensure that it does not limit the number of options before drivers on highways, even if the intention is to make driving a more convenient experience.

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[A year of big success and promise for film industry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530177.htm The Chinese movies released in 2019 have highlighted some potential growth areas and created new opportunities for the film industry. In fact, after years of rapid growth, a new development model is developing in the Chinese movie industry.

First, ticket sales in Chinese cinemas have been increasing. China's box office is expected to reach 65 billion yuan ($9.27 billion) this year. And despite the "cold winter" in the Chinese film industry, box office collections exceeded the total revenue for last year (60.7 billion yuan) on Dec 13. Which means the number of Chinese moviegoers is growing steadily, and films have become a regular source of entertainment for people in third-, fourth-and fifth-tier cities, even remote areas.

Also, the middle-income group's rising demand for entertainment will boost the Chinese film industry, and youths' intense interest in films will help maintain the robust market. In fact, the tastes of these two groups will largely shape the future of China's movie industry.

Although the film market is not growing as fast as it did a few years ago, it is expected to maintain a stable growth rate. And a stable box office revenue will help the film industry to explore new themes and subjects and present them in more creative ways to the audience.

Second, many made-in-China blockbusters were widely welcomed by the market. These technically sound and well-made films may stimulate more classics, leading to a new wave of high-quality films. Eight of the top 10 moneymakers this year have been domestic films, with Ne Zha, an animated fairytale with modern narrative, leading the pack with box office of 4.97 billion yuan ($710 million). The movie tells the story of a mythological figure Ne Zha with unique powers who is recruited to fight demons and save a community that fears him.

The Wandering Earth, a pioneering and successful sci-fi movie made in China, was released during the Spring Festival and earned 4.65 billion yuan ($650 million) at the box office. And My People, My Country, a patriotic film released to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, became a hit big thanks to word of mouth.

By looking at historic moments such as Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland in 1997, and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games through the eyes of ordinary people, My People, My Country resonates with Chinese people's sense of patriotism. Indeed, the torrent of domestic blockbusters indicates a brighter future for the Chinese film industry and better quality films.

Third, the movies released in 2019 also suggest Chinese film would be more diverse in terms of themes in the future. The Wandering Earth shows Chinese directors, too, can make high-quality sci-fi films. Ne Zha has revived the Chinese animation industry. The Captain, based on the true story of Sichuan Airlines pilot Liu Chuanjian making an emergency landing after the windshield of his aircraft broke on takeoff, was a successful attempt at making a disaster movie full of human elements. And Bugle from Gutian is an apt example of an offbeat yet successful film.

A growing number of young talents are entering the film industry, which is good for the future of Chinese films. Still, the Chinese movie industry faces a variety of challenges. Given the transforming economic development model and the bubbles that have formed in some sectors, especially since some capital has left the film industry due to rising uncertainties over returns, some film companies are finding it difficult to continue operations. Plus, shoddy movies continue to plague the market.

Yet the Chinese film industry in 2019 showed new vitality and prepared the groundwork for even better movies to be made in the future, which in turn will further boost the industry's growth.

The author is a professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Peking University.The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chengdu meeting puts focus on larger regional picture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530175.htm In their leaders' meeting in the Chinese city of Chengdu on Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in adopted a series of documents signaling the three countries' shared intent to strengthen economic integration, including an outlook on trilateral cooperation in the next decade and a list of early harvest projects under the model of "China-Japan-ROK plus X".

Li said the three countries have also agreed to jointly push for the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mega trade pact for the Asia-Pacific region, as scheduled in 2020 and will work together to accelerate the China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

All this will not only pave the way for all-win cooperation among the three countries geared toward the future but also contribute to regional development and help beef up regional and even global confidence in cooperation, free trade and multilateralism.

Being robust locomotives of growth for Asia and the world at large, China, Japan and the ROK, which account for 24 percent of the world economy and boast tightly bound supply chains, have been major trading partners and investors in each other's countries, with the trilateral trade exceeding $720 billion last year.

The three countries' commitment to achieving common development through cooperation and resolving differences through dialogue will lead to fruitful trilateral cooperation and help deepen the economic integration of the region against the threats of protectionism and isolationism.

As active participants in regional cooperation, their pledge to promote inclusive development in the region through the "China-Japan-ROK plus X" model will help expand their collaboration in fourth-or even fifth-party markets, bringing benefits to more economies.

Chengdu also witnessed the first meeting between Abe and Moon in 15 months, sending a clear signal to the outside world that the two countries are now ready to look beyond their skirmishes over trade and focus on the larger picture of regional cooperation.

Given that China, Japan and the ROK are stakeholders in peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, whether the Chengdu meeting would realize a common stance has also drawn much international attention.

The three countries' commitment to dialogue to resolve the nuclear issue on the peninsula will undoubtedly contribute to the desirable momentum of a political settlement of the issue.

Although neighbors, China, Japan and the ROK have different social and political backgrounds, remain entangled in historical and territorial disputes, and their relations are influenced by the relationship between China and the United States.

Yet as long as they continue to deepen mutual trust, properly handle their differences and together face the challenges ahead, there are bright prospects for this trilateral cooperation mechanism as it enters its third decade.

]]> 2019-12-25 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China's proposal can break peninsula deadlock]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530123.htm China and Russia have proposed that the United Nations Security Council ease some of the sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea-such as lifting the ban on exporting statues, seafood and textiles, and withdrawing restrictions on infrastructure projects-to "break the deadlock" in the talks between the US and the DPRK.

Stephen Biegun, US special envoy for the DPRK, just concluded a four-day visit to East Asia during which he visited the Republic of Korea, Japan and China, underscoring the seriousness with which the United States is taking the unfolding "December Crisis" on the Korean Peninsula.

Yet over the past couple of weeks, relations between the US and the DPRK have taken a sharp turn. Immediately after the conclusion of the Washington-Pyongyang talks in Stockholm in October, the DPRK declared them as a failure, saying the US had not come to the negotiating table with a sincere and constructive plan. After that, the DPRK has made a series of high-intensity diplomatic moves against the US.

The DPRK has criticized the US' procrastination tactics, saying it will make a political decision at the end of the year. Besides, DPRK leader Kim Jongun twice climbed up Mount Baekdusan on horseback, signaling the DPRK is trying to seek a new path. The DPRK is also putting "extreme pressure" on the US in a bid to force it to make concessions, but to no avail.

During the NATO summit in the United Kingdom earlier this month, US President Donald Trump made two points about the DPRK's repeated short-range missile tests-that the US has a strong military and is unwilling to use it, but that it would use it if necessary.

Judging by the war of words, US-DPRK relations seem to have returned to where they were two years ago. Trump and Kim Jongun have been working hard to maintain their "personal friendship" which is the most significant legacy of their meeting in Singapore in June last year. But since the personal relations between Kim Jong-un and Trump are no longer the same as they were immediately after the Singapore summit, the situation on the Korean Peninsula could further worsen.

The DPRK wants to break the deadlock in bilateral ties by putting "extreme pressure" on the US. But after the Kim-Trump summit in Singapore, the two sides' diplomatic-level consultations have not been able to achieve a breakthrough-for example, the DPRK taking denuclearization measures in exchange for lifting of some sanctions. After the second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February ended in failure, the Stockholm talks, too, didn't make any progress, dealing another blow to Washington-Pyongyang relations.

The DPRK believes that its denuclearization efforts, such as the freezing of nuclear and longrange missile tests and the razing of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, have not evoked corresponding response from the US. After the summit in Singapore, though, Trump adopted a kind of "strategic patience", different from his predecessor Barack Obama, at the cost of reducing the scale of or canceling US-ROK military exercises, in exchange for the DPRK freezing nuclear and long-range missile tests.

The Trump administration has responded with silence to more than a dozen short-ranged missile tests conducted by the DPRK, saying they do not violate the UN resolutions or the Singapore Joint Statement. The US did not respond to the DPRK's demands to lift some of the sanctions either, leading to a "stalemate" that seemingly favors the US.

After June last year, the situation on the Korean Peninsula changed as all concerned parties hoped to see a political and diplomatic settlement of the nuclear issue thanks to the new momentum of dialogue and consultation.

Peace and stability on the peninsula are in the interest of not only US-DPRK relations, but also the region and the rest of the world.

And the purpose of the draft resolution submitted to the UN by China and Russia is to create the right conditions for fruitful negotiations and consultations between the US and the DPRK and bring together all parties to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue to find a solution, and therefore prevent the "December Crisis" from escalating.

The author is deputy dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Jilin University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Macao's success linked to national development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530124.htm In the 20 years since its reunification with the motherland, Macao has registered remarkable growth and become a vibrant, prosperous and stable modern metropolis by taking advantage of the "one country, two systems" framework, and integrating its development into the overall development of the country. This fact was highlighted by President Xi Jinping in his speech on Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to China.

Macao is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and China's richest city, with its per capita GDP of $82,600(in 2018) being the second-highest in the world. Since the implementation of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), Macao's economy has grown rapidly, its people's livelihoods have improved significantly, and its development has exceeded expectations. Which show the SAR government has made fruitful use of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

In fact, Macao's stability and prosperity can be attributed to the wholehearted support of the central government.

The after effects of the 1997 Asia financial crisis and 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes epidemic brought Macao's economy to a temporary standstill. To ease the pressure on Macao, the central government implemented a series of policy measures, including the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and the opening of "free travel" for residents of some Chinese mainland cities to Macao, which helped the SAR's economy to arrest the downturn, and move toward recovery and then growth.

In the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) and 13th Five-Year Plan, the central government described Macao as a "world center for tourism and leisure" and a "service platform for business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries", giving the SAR a unique position and function in overall national reform, opening-up and economic development in the new era.

In the recent past, the central government has drawn up a development plan to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, making Macao one of the four central cities of the area, and issued 2 billion yuan ($285.44 million) worth of government bonds in Macao to boost the development of Macao's financial market. Such measures, needless to say, have created unprecedented development opportunities for Macao.

In the two decades since its return to China, Macao has tied its future to that of the motherland, overcoming various crises and passing several tests. Which shows patriotism is the cornerstone of Macao's development under the "one country, two systems" framework.

As early as January 2009, Macao's Legislative Council passed a law on safeguarding national security and implemented local legislation on national security based on Article 23 of the Macao Basic Law. Ever since, Macao's economic growth has accelerated, demonstrating that only by firmly safeguarding national security can Macao continue its stable social and economic development.

In addition, the SAR government has strengthened patriotic education in schools and colleges, and the concepts of "love for the motherland and love for Macao" and "one country, two systems" have become the core values of Macao society.

In September 2016, the SAR government implemented its five-year development plan (2016-20), laying out a strategy to coordinate its development with the country's 13th Five-Year Plan, participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, build a platform for business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and integrate itself into the regional cooperation mechanism.

Seizing the opportunity of jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, various entities in Macao have established close economic and trade relations with Portuguese-speaking and ASEAN countries, built extensive contacts with overseas Chinese communities and helped expand the mainland's markets along the Belt and Road routes.

Moreover, one of the priorities of the SAR government has been to upgrade the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. In November 2018, it set up a working committee for coordinating its participation in the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Since the Greater Bay Area plan was announced, Macao, by making use of its unique advantages in the region, has forged an upgraded version of cooperation model with the mainland. And Macao compatriots from all walks of life have actively participated in the Greater Bay Area's construction, expanding the space for Macao's industrial development and voluntarily integrating Macao's development into overall national development.

Macao's exchanges and cooperation with the mainland have gone far beyond the original economic scope in some other important areas as well. And if Macao wants to achieve long-term development, it should further integrate its development into the country's overall development. An important reason for Macao's rapid economic and social development in the past 20 years is its success in seizing the opportunities presented by the country's development and implementing the "one country, two systems" principle.

As a vital node of the Belt and Road Initiative and given its unique advantages, Macao can act as an important window for China to further open up to the outside world. Macao will continue to play an important role in the national strategy so long as it gives full play to its own advantages, and integrates its development into the country's overall development.

The author is a research fellow at the Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and World Affairs, the Communication University of China. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tripartite leaders' meeting can synergize efforts for regional peace and prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530125.htm Expectations are high as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in meet in Chengdu, China, on Tuesday for the eighth leaders' meeting of China, Japan and the ROK.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's respective meetings with the Japanese and ROK leaders on Monday, as well as earlier statements from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, show that Beijing attaches great significance to the trilateral cooperation mechanism, which first emerged on the sidelines of the "10+3", or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and the ROK, meetings in 1999, and hopes the 20th anniversary Chengdu meeting will be a launchpad for an "upgraded edition" of it.

While all the rest of the outcomes remain to be seen, the leaders will reportedly issue a joint statement on the "top-layer design" to guide the three-party relationship in a "new era". Symbolic considerations aside, the meeting offers a precious opportunity for the three countries to compare notes on some of their thorniest immediate concerns, sort out the discords that have marred their relations and coordinate stances on pressing issues such as their long-gestating free trade agreement and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Since it was initiated in 2012, 16 rounds of negotiations have been conducted for the China-Japan-ROK free trade agreement. The conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations has added new impetus to the process, as well as a growing consensus on the need to upgrade trilateral collaboration.

Given the enormous potential of trilateral economic cooperation, all have a lot to gain from maintaining and expanding a platform of joint development endeavors. Though an ultimate FTA may take longer and more in-depth engagement, pragmatic "3+1" endeavors, or the three countries jointly pursuing cooperation with third parties, as they agreed upon last year, would be a realistic and promising option for the moment.

Meanwhile, although the "Christmas gift" the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has promised his US counterpart is yet to be unwrapped, its delivery, born of frustration and disappointment, will certainly further raise the tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

The bitter DPRK-US relationship has never been a matter of concern for just the two parties, it has always been a practical threat to regional security, particularly that of Pyongyang's three next-door neighbors. No matter how one defines their trilateral partnership, defusing the tensions between the DPRK and the US is an outstanding imperative for all three.

Then there comes the Japan-ROK impasse. Whether from the perspective of Japan-ROK relations, or from that of trilateral cooperation, Prime Minister Abe and President Moon should take advantage of the Chengdu event to maneuver a badly needed thaw in the unseemly stalemate that is lose-lose for both.

Yet how far the three countries can go together probably rests on to what extent they are able to sidestep the known stumbling blocks of their disputes over historical and territorial issues as well as manage the outsider interference that will seek to derail any cooperation initiatives the three parties agree on.

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Moves to unleash vitality of private sector]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530070.htm In a major move intended to buoy up the confidence of the private sector, the top leadership released guidelines on Sunday aimed at improving the business environment for private companies.

There is no denying that 2019 has been a bruising year for many Chinese companies, with private companies bearing the brunt of the blows. Not least because of the difficulties they face in securing funding and approval for projects because some officials still harbor a bias against them.

This has made it imperative that the country's top leaders make it unequivocally clear that support for the growth of the private sector is not an expediency to weather the country through economic woes, but a national policy to build sustained prosperity that must be followed through in the future.

The argument that "the private sector has accomplished its historical mission and should leave the stage" is irrational and runs counter to the experience of China's 40 years of reform and opening-up.

As the most dynamic and resilient force driving the country's economic growth, the private sector does not need preferential government treatment, but it does require an environment where the rule of law is enforced, private property ownership is protected, and the market, rather than administrative interference, plays a decisive role in the allocation of resources.

During the past year, procurators have sought to strengthen the legal guarantee for the rights and interests of private enterprises. But it is encouraging that the top leadership has again shown its determination to promote and support the smooth development of the private sector.

Private companies will receive the same treatment as their State-owned peers in terms of accessing markets and obtaining loans from State-owned banks. And China's market in sectors previously monopolized by State-owned companies, such as oil, telecom and power, will be opened wider to private competitors.

Such moves are imperative given the increasingly indispensable role that the private sector plays-it now contributes to more than 60 percent of China's GDP, over half of its tax revenues, and accounts for more than 80 percent of the urban employment, as well as driving much of China's technological innovation.

But words of assurance alone will not be enough. Policy consistency and enforcement are needed to guarantee a business-friendly environment for private enterprises and ensure the vitality of the private sector is fully unleashed for the good of the national economy.

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Railway moves in to encash travel rush during Spring Festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530073.htm THE REVERSE TRAVEL TREND during Spring Festival is a win-win scenario both for the society and individuals and should be encouraged nationwide. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

 

Several central government departments including the National Development and Reform Commission recently issued a guidance to cushion the Spring Festival travel rush in 2020. It said the State-owned railways will promote preferential ticket prices on unpopular routes to tackle the Spring Festival travel rush.

China witnesses a massive flow of people rushing home for Spring Festival, easily the largest human migration in the world. The rush poses increasing pressure on the transport system, and many people face difficulties getting a ticket back home every year.

Because of rapid urbanization and the difficulties people face in getting a ticket to their hometowns and again back to their workplaces, in recent years, the concept of Spring Festival family reunions has undergone a reverse trend. Therefore, an increasing number of people who live and work in urban areas now invite their parents over instead of visiting their hometowns.

According to online travel service provider Ctrip.com, in 2019, the demand for flight tickets to major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Tianjin increased 40 percent year-on-year during Spring Festival. Also there was a 42 percent year-on-year rise in the number of passengers who were aged above 50.

This reverse rush has lessened the original one-way rush and this is a win-win situation both for society and individuals. This trend will not only ease transportation pressure during the Spring Festival travel season but also save people's time and money.

This is the first time that the government is officially encouraging this trend by providing preferential ticket prices too.

The aviation industry has already noticed this trend and is promoting a win-win reverse travel trend through low flight ticket prices. To promote this win-win trend, more comprehensive public service policies should be launched, such as expanding the preferential ticket system to other means of transport.

Also, some urban scenic spots should encourage migrant workers to stay in the cities and enjoy Spring Festival there.

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hazardous landfills with chemical waste]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530112.htm Editor's note: Three reclamation sites in Yuncheng county, East China's Shandong province, are reportedly dumping construction waste, industrial waste and even chemical waste in landfills in violation of relevant laws and regulations. China Daily reporter Wu Yixue reports:

 

According to a Beijing News report, the enterprises in charge of the reclamation sites, having a total landfill area of more than 100 mu (1,500 hectares), contact waste production enterprises across China through WeChat or other social media forums.

The waste generators are "customers" as they have to pay to get rid of the waste, which is of use to the reclamation authorities. The "customer" pays 2,000 yuan ($285.17) to get rid of a truck of ordinary waste and as high as 50,000 yuan for a truckload of chemical waste. The "customer" also hires trucks to transport the waste or household garbage to the designated reclamation area, where reclamation authorities unload it and dump it in the landfill.

Once covered with soil about two meters deep, the reclaimed land looks like any other land, but hidden a few meters underneath are large volumes of plastic, paper residue, household garbage and even liquid waste of unknown nature. The unloading and filling up takes place under the cover of darkness.

The report said that at least 1,000 truckloads of waste weighing more than 10,000 metric tons was found dumped under one of the three reclamation sites.

According to State regulation, reclamation refers to measures taken to make land damaged by production or construction activities, or natural disasters, available for use again. It usually involves filling up of pits and leveling, but the use of heavy metal pollutants or other toxic substances for the purpose of filling is clearly prohibited.

The State law on the prevention and control of environmental pollution by solid waste has a full article dealing with disposal of hazardous wastes. It stipulates that enterprises engaged in the collection, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes should first apply for an operation license, and the inter-provincial transfer of hazardous wastes has to be approved by the environmental departments in both provinces.

The law says that even general solid waste should not be used as backfilling material for reclamation projects. Reclamation should basically involve soil and vegetation, and the use of no waste should be permitted in principle. If hazardous waste is used, it should be treated like a crime according to environmental laws.

The authorities should immediately take action and launch a probe into the Shandong case, impose severe penalties on the enterprises and individuals involved and, if necessary, bring them to justice.

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Campaign of Xinjiang slurs continues]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530107.htm That so many of the people alleged to be missing in notices posted on social media by Uygur secessionists are simply made up shows how determined the secessionists are to rally public opinion to their cause.

Dozens of others on their "missing" posts are criminal suspects under investigation or convicted criminals sentenced to prison for crimes related to terrorism.

With China implementing effective measures to combat secessionism, extremism and terrorism in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Uygur secessionists and their Western backers are trying their best to undermine China's efforts by portraying them as State oppression of Muslims.

The government's response to their notices detailing the true circumstances of those alleged to be "missing" shows the manipulative and exploitative nature of the campaign aimed at discrediting the government's anti-extremism measures, which includes claims that millions of Uygurs have been herded into internment camps where they are subject to forced disappearance, torture, physical abuse, and prolonged detention without trial.

By seeking to portray the education and training centers the government has established as concentration camps, the Uygur secessionists and their sponsors are showing how low they are willing to stoop to sully the image of the government's initiative to prevent Uygurs from falling prey to extremist ideology.

They fail to mention that there have been no terrorist attacks in the region since the government launched its initiative. Or that thanks to the government's efforts to improve the region's infrastructure and raise people's living standards, for the first time in history, no Uygur people are living in abject poverty.

It is under the instigation of the United States that the Uygur secessionist movement that had fallen silent for a while has suddenly found its voice again. The US government is not only sponsoring, in all sorts of ways, most of the Uygur separatist organizations, but also actively offering a host of public relations services, involving think tanks, media and nongovernmental organizations, to help amplify the secessionists' voices.

All the pressure these external forces are trying to exert on China will only serve to consolidate the country's resolve to boost the region's development and maintain its stability, which has been and will continue to be the best counterstrike against the false accusations leveled against the country.

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[What delayed justice for 21 years?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530088.htm SUN XIAOGUO, a gang leader who was sentenced to death by the Kunming Intermediate People's Court for committing violent crimes including rape in 1998, was set free in 2010 when his sentence got reduced to 20 years in prison. But he continued to commit crimes even after his release. His original death sentence was reimposed on Monday. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

 

The judgment delivered by the Yunnan High People's Court on Monday contained two parts. First, it said it was wrong to change the death penalty given to Sun in 1998 to 20 years in prison. Second, it sentenced Sun to 25 years in prison for continuing to commit crimes even after his release in 2010. The two sentences when read together mean Sun gets the death sentence.

The court said that the original death sentence on Sun in 1998 was correct, which means he deserved death 21 years ago. In other words, justice was done 21 years late.

What caused that delay? What made a criminal who should have received capital punishment 21 years ago survive for so long? What was the force that halted justice for 21 years?

It is corruption.

According to the press release issued by the local courts and anti-corruption agencies, Sun's mother, who was a policewoman, and his stepfather, a local official, had engaged in some dirty dealing that helped Sun get a lighter penalty than he deserved.

As many as 19 local officials were found guilty in the case on Monday. Among them, Sun's mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison and his stepfather to 19 years.

Sun's case underlines the need to root out corruption before striking at criminal gangs. It is these corrupt officials who protect gangsters and even bail them out. Only when corruption is controlled will gangsters be brought to book.

Justice was delivered in this case thanks to an ongoing drive to root out corruption and wipe out criminal gangs. A central inspection group in Yunnan sniffed a rat in the case sometime in April. A month later the case was listed as a major one.

It is difficult to figure out how Sun's mother and stepfather abused power to bail him out, but that's no longer important. It is more important to plug the loopholes and strengthen anti-corruption measures so that there are no repeats like Sun's case.

 

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Diplomacy aimed at promoting global peace and prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530122.htm Improving all-round diplomacy and building a community with a shared future for mankind are crucial for modernization of China's national governance system and governance capacity, as the communiqué of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee, held in October, said.

Since China is the world's second-largest economy and a responsible power, it has not only been diligently working to boost its economic and social development but also sharing more global responsibilities and making concerted efforts to promote globalization and protect the multilateral trading system.

The world is experiencing unprecedented changes and facing both challenges and opportunities. To meet these challenges and cash in on the opportunities, all countries need to think beyond traditional international relations.

The remarkable global changes have been brought about by decentralization resulting from innovation in technology-the driving force of globalization-which in turn is weakening the United States, rather the West as a whole. The emergence of new technology, such as blockchain, the internet of things and artificial intelligence, has had a huge impact on the core as well as the periphery of the modern world order. More important, the technological and digital revolution has helped some non-Western powers to become leaders in quite a few technology fields, dealing a blow to the US.

As China stands out among the emerging economies with its independent and complete industrial system, it has become a main target of US attacks, particularly in 5G technology in which China leads the international field.

The US, unable to digest the fact that China has stolen a march over it in many high-tech fields, is trying to change the current international order to suit its interests, and pushing developing and emerging countries to the periphery.

But globalization is an irreversible trend and the world is no longer locked in a bipolar contest. Also, China is not only opposed to the US' designs but also refuses to build a camp against the US.

No wonder China has been taking measures to make the existing world order more inclusive and representative. In this regard, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and its sincere efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind are ideal for helping build a fair and just world order.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, 137 economies and 30 international organizations had signed 197 Belt and Road cooperation documents with China by the end of October. And as the world's second-largest economy and the largest developing country, China has the potential to connect the industrial and value chains of developed countries and developing countries.

The Chinese concept of civilization of harmony is the idea behind China's proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind in which the fair and inclusive use of innovation will ensure all countries enjoy the fruits of development.

Also, different from the West's policy of distinguishing between individuals, communities and countries, Chinese culture strengthens the common interests of individuals and nations. And China is willing to share with other countries its economic development model and traditional Chinese concepts of self-improvement.

In addition to providing public goods, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China is also committed to modernizing its national governance system and governance capacity with Chinese characteristics, and shouldering more responsibilities to further contribute to world peace, security, prosperity and inclusiveness.

The author is a Jean Monnet Chair Professor at Renmin University of China. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

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2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Canada paying price for its choice]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/23/content_37529928.htm In saying that "the United States must not sign a final and complete (trade) deal with China that does not solve the problem of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians" in an interview with the media on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the arbitrary nature of Meng's detention at the request of the US.

But while he was right to urge Washington to solve the problem of Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei, he was wrong to equate Meng's detention with that of the two Canadians, who have both been detained for suspected espionage.

China's detaining of the two Canadians is unrelated to both Ottawa's political kidnapping of Meng and the Sino-US trade talks. The two are being held for separate crimes endangering national security and their cases are being handled in accordance with the State Security Law.

Providing an update on their situation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Friday that the investigations into the activities of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have now ended and their cases are proceeding to trial.

After claiming to have spent practically every day trying to make China understand they must free the two Canadians, Trudeau should have awakened to the fact that it will be the courts who will decide whether, or to what extent, the evidence collected by the investigators is enough to substantiate the charges, and the handling of the case is immune to any external pressure and interference, including from Ottawa and Washington.

The reason that the Canadian prime minister is suffering an irrepressible urge to link their detentions with that of Meng is no doubt out of a sense of guilt that he has given the nod to Meng being used as a political hostage as part of the US administration's bid to exert "maximum pressure" on China.

Asserting that the Canadian judicial system is "independent" while linking Meng's case to those of Kovrig and Spavor and calling on the US not to sign a trade deal until the two Canadians are released merely serves to highlight the goodneighborly shenanigans behind Meng's detention.

With both Beijing and Washington expressing their optimism that a deal is in the works, Trudeau now feels that the US has left him high and dry and taking the rap for the kidnapping of Meng.

In fact, China has exercised considerable restraint, if not understanding of the young Canadian leader's situation. It has not taken any countermeasures, because it still believes the issue can be settled if Ottawa shakes itself free of Washington's manipulations.

If Trudeau could show as much political wisdom and strength of will as his father, he would not be stuck on the horns of his dilemma.

 

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2019-12-23 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Moderately well-off society goal of next year's rural work]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/23/content_37529944.htm THE TONE-SETTING CENTRAL RURAL WORK CONFERENCE was held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday, outlining the roadmap for the government's work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers in the coming year. Xinhua News Agency comments:

 

In a recent speech, President Xi Jinping spoke of the importance of agricultural and countryside development and the improvement of farmers' sense of well-being. And his speech highlights the focus of work related to agriculture in 2020, which will decide whether the country can successfully realize a moderately prosperous society in all respects next year.

The meeting prioritized the battle against poverty and the need for consistent poverty alleviation efforts to prevent people from slipping back into poverty.

Governments on various levels should try to pool resources, enhance support and take targeted measures to strengthen the weak links in the work on agriculture, rural areas and rural people.

Given the development gap between the rural and urban areas, resources should be used to boost the development of rural infrastructure and water conservation projects, and improve the rural living environment, education, medical services, social security, cultural activities and ecological environment.

As the conference emphasized, efforts must be made to ensure grain production is kept stable and pig farming must be restored as quickly as possible to increase the supply. Modern agricultural facilities and cold chain logistics facilities for the storage and preservation of produce need to be increased.

The conference also highlighted that encouraging skilled workers to return to the countryside to set up businesses would be beneficial to maintain stable employment.

To this end, related departments and local governments must shoulder their responsibilities and sustain farmers' enthusiasm for grain production. And the development of grassroots Communist Party of China organizations must also be improved, so that they can assume their due roles to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is achieved on time.

 

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2019-12-23 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Central govt plans will sustain HK development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/23/content_37529956.htm This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China as well as the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland. Since its return to China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been incorporated in the nation's governance system based on the country's Constitution and the Hong Kong Basic Law.

And Article 12 of the Basic Law says the "Hong Kong SAR shall be a local administrative region of the People's Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People's Government".

In the 22 years since its return to China, Hong Kong has overcome a series of difficulties and challenges, and made great social, economic and cultural achievements thanks to the support of the central government. The extension of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong highspeed railway to Hong Kong and the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge have laid a solid foundation for the SAR's integration into the country's overall development plan.

Besides, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, once complete, will provide an effective institutional guarantee for Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. Besides, the SAR government should seize the development opportunity offered by the Belt and Road Initiative to promote international and regional cooperation and integrative development.

But 2019 has also been unusually chaotic for Hong Kong. Since June radicals have launched violent protests in the SAR, and violence has continued even after the SAR government withdrew the bill to amend the extradition law, which originally triggered the protests.

During the past six months, some demonstrators have disrupted traffic, burned vehicles, occupied university campuses, attacked police officers and government buildings including the Legislative Council building, even set a man opposed to their views on fire. By so doing, they have not only undermined Hong Kong's economy and social order but also the "one-country, two systems".

In addition, foreign forces, led by the United States, have fuelled demonstrations by supporting the radicals, in order to fulfill their own narrow political goals. For instance, on Nov 27, the US administration passed the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act despite the Chinese government's strong objections. That the interference of foreign countries in Hong Kong, and therefore China's internal affairs, have increased uncertainties over the SAR's future goes without saying.

Nevertheless, the violent demonstrators in Hong Kong show the city has much to improve in terms of policymaking and administration. And the central government should reflect on how to orderly promote a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong under the "one country, two systems" framework.

In 2020, curbing violence and restoring the social order should be the top priority for Hong Kong, for which the SAR government has to take more resolute measures to end the mayhem and punish the perpetrators of violence according to law. To restore the social order, the Hong Kong government also has to make efforts next year to narrow the differences between different opinion holders in society.

If the rule of law is the most effective measure for Hong Kong to end the violence and restore the social order, improving Hong Kong residents' livelihoods and promoting their social and economic development, and creating more development opportunities for the city's youngsters are key to easing the social contradictions and bringing closer a divided society.

To achieve that goal, Hong Kong has to explore new orientations, new spaces and a new momentum to sustain a healthy rate of economic development. If Hong Kong can seize the opportunities offered by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and integrates its development with that of the entire country, it could fully play its regional and international role, and use its advantages in the financial, logistics and service sectors to boost mutually beneficial cooperation and propel the sustainable growth of both itself and the rest of the country.

The author is a researcher at the Center for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions of Shenzhen University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-23 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Russia's still major player in global affairs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/23/content_37529914.htm Editor's note: Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual meeting with media from around the world last week, which attracted nearly 1,900 reporters, a record high. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

 

The worldwide interest in the news conference highlights not only Putin's personal influence, but also Russia's important role in the world.

Putin presented his views on Russia's relations with all major players, including the United States, the European Union, China and Japan, as well as other regional hot issues, particularly those in the Middle East and Asia.

Russia seems good at multi-tasking and maximizing its national interests. And it is believed to have been one of the few winners in the Syria crisis, as not only have its political and economic interests expanded, it has also ended the dominant influence of the US in the region.

The news conference signals that Russia, with its independent diplomatic policy and pragmatic handling of complicated issues, aims to be one of the poles in a multipolar world. It seeks opportunities in its game with the US, pursues cooperation in its coexistence with the European Union, aims to expand energy, security and economic relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan and India, and develop cooperation with Africa, the Southeast Asia and Latin America.

And looking eastward, Moscow has enough reasons to step up its economic, trade, energy and strategic cooperation with Beijing, as both Russia and China are important forces to promote a multipolar world, and safeguard global stability.

It should not be forgotten that Russia is still under sanctions of the West, and its need to diversify its economic structure, improve people's livelihoods and upgrade its industries is no less urgent than before.

It is good to see that France and Germany have started reflecting on their Russia policies, partially thanks to the US administration's belief in "America first", which means Russia's relations with the EU might further thaw next year, which will bring more opportunities for Russia.

 

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2019-12-23 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Coercion is the means by which US seeks to govern the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/23/content_37529926.htm How can the United States have no compunction about imposing sanctions on companies building a Russian gas pipeline to Germany? Those countries which will benefit from this gas pipeline are allies of the US and the pipeline known as Nord Stream 2 is being built merely out of economic concerns.

The legislation, which the US leader signed into effect on Friday, provides for sanctions against individuals and companies involved with the vessels laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Although imposing sanctions against companies participating in the building of the nearly $11 billion pipeline will not stop it becoming a reality, as it is near completion, they do serve to expose how presumptuous and unreasonable the US can be.

The US lawmakers are worried that the pipeline, which would likely double the delivery of Russian natural gas to Germany, would give Russia dangerous leverage over the US' European allies and make it even more uneconomical for European allies to purchase liquefied natural gas from the US.

While such concerns may be understandable, they do not constitute a legal foundation for the US to interfere in a normal business deal.

There is no problem for US natural gas suppliers to compete with its Russian counterparts for a share of the European market and elsewhere in the rest of the world.

But its European allies as sovereign states can decide on their own from which countries they purchase the energy they need, and they are obviously going to purchase natural gas from Russia rather than from the US because of the cost savings.

There is no international law or any legal documents between the US and its European allies requiring that a European country as an ally of the US must have permission from the latter before they reach a deal with any third country for the supply of natural gas.

But for US lawmakers, the dominant status of the US as the sole superpower can never be challenged, which is the sole benchmark for them to decide whether to wield the weapon of sanctions.

In other words, the US resorts to extraterritorial sanctions as they reflect the way US lawmakers and the US administration look at the world and the principle by which they believe the world should be governed.

Yet the more the US tries to ride roughshod over other countries, the more isolated it will become from the rest of the world. The US hegemony will prove to be its own undoing.

 

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2019-12-23 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Macao's success lies in diverse economy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529843.htm Two decades after its reunification with the motherland, the Macao Special Administrative Region has become one of the wealthiest places in the world. According to International Monetary Fund data, Macao's per capita GDP was about $120,000 in 2018, the second-highest in the world, with some predicting it may have the highest per capita GDP by next year or the year after next. Macao's per capita GDP is now nearly twice that of Hong Kong and four times that of Guangzhou, one of the wealthiest cities on the mainland.

Macao has seen its economy grow at an explosive pace over the past two decades, with its GDP increasing nearly eightfold. And although the SAR's economic growth slowed down slightly in 2013 and 2014, it has recovered gradually to reach almost its peak.

Since its return to China in 1999, Macao has built a welfare society, as its residents now enjoy a wide range of social welfare benefits, including birth allowance, funeral allowance, marriage allowance and sickness allowance as well as free medical treatment. They also get other benefits such as unemployment benefits, and employers are rewarded for hiring the unemployed.

The 2019 administration report presented by Macao's chief executive states the welfare benefits enjoyed by residents include provident fund and a cash-sharing plan, such as 10,000 patacas ($1,245) for every permanent resident and 6,000 patacas for every non-permanent resident, which very few, if any, places offer.

The welfare benefits for students, too, are generous; for example, all students can apply for allowances such as study allowance when they enter college, and a special allowance to study in Guangdong province. In addition, on retirement Macao residents can avail of pension and a cash-sharing plan worth 73,000 patacas a year, with aged people living a carefree life in the SAR.

Macao is a welfare society in the real sense of the term, and very few societies in the world can be compared with it. And the SAR government can fund such a comprehensive social security program thanks to the wealth of Macao society as a whole.

Also, since its return to China, Macao has been doing an excellent job of integrating with the mainland thanks to the role of patriotic associations and the media. Another important reason for the integration is Macao's demographics. About 40 percent of the SAR's residents were born in Macao after 1980, while about 50 percent were born on the mainland, factors that have contributed a lot to Macao's integration with the mainland.

Since 1999 Macao's higher education has realized leapfrog development. For example, last year Macao had 5,100 high school graduates, 90 percent of whom earned the chance to enter college with more than 1,200 of those enrolling in mainland universities. It is such developments that have promoted Macao's social integration with the mainland.

Macao's higher education sector has also made some remarkable academic achievements. Take the University of Macau for example. It is a relatively small university with the total number of teachers and students being only about 10,000. However, the academic achievements of the university over the past few years are basically the same as that of Sun Yat-Sen University and Wuhan University, both being among the top mainland universities. For a relatively small university like the University of Macau, such an achievement is rather remarkable.

All the achievements of Macao are, to a large extent, related to its huge wealth, which mainly comes from its booming gambling industry. And it is this monopoly of the gambling industry in Macao that could lead to some economic and social consequences that deserve serious attention.

In recent years, the SAR government has been promoting industrial diversification, but the results have not been as good as expected because of Macao's over-reliance on the gambling industry for revenue. Which could become problematic for Macao's economy if the gambling industry encounters troubles.

In economics and political science, "resource curse" refers to a region's huge economic resources that undermine its motivation for reform and innovation. This is something Macao should be particularly wary of.

At a time when industrial profits and government revenues flow in easily, innovation, political reform and balanced social development need particular attention. For example, Macao's almost 100 percent employment rate is the envy of the world. But the almost total employment rate may weaken young people's desire for entrepreneurship and professionalism. Which would make them less competitive in times of crises.

As such, Macao should make greater efforts to diversify its economy in order to avoid setbacks in the future.

The author is director of the Department of Sociology, University of Macau. The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2019-12-22 14:19:23
<![CDATA['One country, two systems' road to a brighter future for Macao]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529842.htm That the "one country, two systems" framework is ideal for governing the Macao Special Administrative Region was evident at the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to China on Friday where outgoing chief executive Chui Sai-on handed over power to his successor Ho Iatseng. By showcasing the adaptability and vitality of "one-country, two systems", the smooth change of guard in Macao also demonstrated China's determination to prevent any foreign powers from interfering in its internal affairs.

In his speech on the occasion, President Xi Jinping crystallized Macao's exemplary development over the past 20 years thanks to "Macao characteristics", the SAR's institutional confidence, and ever-strengthening sense of duty toward and consolidation of the social and political foundation of the "one country, two systems" principle. Which gives an idea about the importance of the principle in integrating Macao's development into the overall development of the country, promoting the rule of law, protecting people's rights, and cultivating national identity by forging social unity.

Xi's four proposals for Macao under a new chief executive is pertinent to not only Macao, but also the rest of the country, particularly the Hong Kong SAR, which has been rocked by anti-government riots since July.

As Xi said, the "one country, two systems" principle must be manifested in policies by keeping abreast of the times in order to modernize the governance system and capacity; innovations, focus on improved governance and foresight should guide the SAR's development to integrate with the overall national development plan including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative; development must be people-centric to ensure it meets their needs and enhances their sense of well-being; and social governance should be inclusive and give full play to the role of patriotism in uniting society.

Extending wholehearted support of the central leadership to both Macao and Hong Kong and hoping the two SARs would pursue innovations in their respective development models, Xi emphasized yet again that China's "resolve to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests is as solid as a rock".

In particular, Hong Kong residents have plenty to learn from Macao's example in this regard. Macao's remarkable growth in the past two decades-its per capita GDP now is the second-highest in the world, and nearly twice that of Hong Kong-clearly shows the "one country, two systems" principle is not only feasible, but also workable. And it has won people's hearts by laying the path for the SARs' brighter future. But for that, the two SARs, especially Hong Kong, have to safeguard their interests as part of the country's overall interests and thwart foreign instigations.

]]> 2019-12-22 14:19:23 <![CDATA[A very good way to tell China's story to the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529830.htm Of late, the Chinese media have turned the spotlight on a woman named Li Ziqi, hailing her for doing an excellent job of "telling China's story to the world". Li seems to have become an unofficial cultural ambassador showcasing China's history and culture.

Li, 29, lives with her grandma in a small village of Mianyang, a remote, mountainous area in Sichuan province. She has been posting videos of her daily life on social media platforms since March 2016 to connect to the world.

Her popularity online can be gauged from these figures: on You-Tube, Li's "channel" has more than 7.61 million subscribers, and the figure is growing daily. On Sina Weibo, one of China's most popular social media platforms, she has more than 21.5 million fans. And each of her 104 YouTube posts has been viewed between 2 million and over 40 million times.

Technically, the fine quality of her cinematographic output is the most eye-catching feature. The stunning scenery of Li's village, her elegant yet confident way of getting jobs done, and the relaxing background music are all appealing to viewers. No wonder many are drawn to her videos which seem like a combination of "Top Chef+ Project Runway + HGTV+ National Geography+ History Channel".

Culturally, what touches the heart of Li's followers is the universal language of love, inner peace, caring for the family and love for nature. Many viewers find inspiration from Li's posts. Others, tired of their technology-driven fast-paced urban life, find solace in her simple and tranquil life.

Ironically, Li has not been as well received at home as overseas. Some critics question whether she alone filmed and edited her early posts. A few even accuse her of showcasing the "backwardness" of China to foreigners, while some contend that her presentation of rural China is surreal and imaginary. And recently, a debate has started on whether or not Li is "exporting" Chinese culture abroad.

But the fact that Li single-handedly produced her early works has been documented and publicized. And she cannot be blamed for having a small crew now that her filming and editing work has increased.

As for "exporting culture", Li has never claimed the responsibility of spreading Chinese culture to the world. What she does instead is merely recording and presenting her lifestyle to make a living.

Moreover, much like "propaganda", "cultural exportation" carries a certain derogatory meaning in the Chinese language. But if the term is taken to mean diffusing a nation's ancient wisdom and cultural products to entertain and inspire others, what is wrong with Li engaging in such activities? After all, people across the world have been partaking in such activities-for instance when watching a Hollywood movie with a can of Coca-Cola in hand.

Li's popularity also makes us reflect on what should be an effective way of "telling China's story" to the world and changing the stereotype image of China depicted in some Western media. Finding "the right stories" might be the first step of good storytelling. The love of life and family, and living in harmony with nature are universal themes transcending cultural barriers and national boundaries. Even a great story needs a good medium and technique to be told well. Taking advantage of modern technology, both public and private actors can portray China's rich culture and rapid growth in various ways.

More important, transparency is necessary to prevent misperceptions about and intended demonization of China by the Western media, since the lack of information could prompt some biased media outlets to fabricate stories and give the wrong picture of China to the world.

The author is an associate professor at China Foreign Affairs University and a Fulbright visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

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2019-12-22 14:19:23
<![CDATA[Partisan fight at play in US impeachment drama]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529815.htm The US House of Representatives adopted two articles on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump. The Democrats have argued that Trump, to strengthen his chances of being re-elected, has abused his power by pressing the government of Ukraine to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden's business deals in Ukraine to thwart the presidential bid of his father and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and obstructing the Congress to investigate this controversial case.

Truly speaking, impeachment is part of US domestic politics. However, since the US is a self-proclaimed "model democracy" and always tries to lecture other countries, the ongoing political drama gives the world a glimpse of the true color of US democracy.

Trump has become the third US president to be impeached, and divided the Congress with the Democrats opposed to him and the Republicans, who control the Senate, vowing to defeat the Democrats' design to have him removed from office.

Ironically, the Democrats' move has raised Trump's public rating to a new high. No wonder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not decided when and if she would send the impeachment articles to the Senate. She knows that it is almost impossible to get the articles passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Why have the Democrats made a move that would divide the American public?

This is more of an ugly political farce leading up to the presidential election. By defending Biden, the Democrats hope to increase his chances of defeating Trump in next year's presidential election. The strategy is to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of investigation by the Congress into the Trump-Ukraine scandal.

However, any such investigation will potentially benefit the incumbent president.

The US president allegedly adopted the most controversial of approaches to seek "favor" from his Ukrainian counterpart, even withholding US arms sale to Ukraine, according to some, until Kiev launched a probe against the Bidens. It is because of this reckless move that he is facing one of the toughest challenges of his presidency.

Between delivering justice to Biden and ensuring Trump does not benefit from the case, the Democrats have started a fierce partisan flight, which shows the characteristics of US democracy.

This may raise a moral question on Trump's presidency, especially when the Democrats are acting to defend the US Constitution, but does not necessarily mean the Democrats will succeed in removing Trump from office.

The world is watching the US pierce itself and divide its public into two distinct political camps in the name of protecting democracy.

The author is a professor at and former executive dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University. The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-22 14:19:23
<![CDATA[People moving from first-to second-tier cities a win-win development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529747.htm POPULATION OUTFLOW from first-tier cities and population inflow into second-tier cities is a positive indicator of balanced and integrated regional development, but the first-tier cities should also be aware of the increasing aging population problem and the need to attract talent. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

First-tier cities, which have traditionally attracted youths thanks to their abundant resources and opportunities, have in recent years shown a reverse trend, from rapid population growth to outflow of population.

According to the recently issued Blue Book of Population in Beijing, the capital's non-resident population declined by 1.84 percent in 2016, 1.63 percent in 2017 and 3.74 percent in 2018.

A report issued by JD Digits Research Institute this year, on China's internal population migration and urbanization in 2018, says the rate of population outflow from the four first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen touched 1.13 percent, 0.95 percent, 1.05 percent and 2.56 percent, respectively.

The population outflow from Beijing and Shanghai has been necessitated by their plan to control their population size and to ensure the coordinated development of the population and better environmental protection for the cities' sustainable development. Shenzhen's population outflow has to do with industrial transfer among cities. For instance, the outflow of information technology professionals from Shenzhen is closely related to the transfer of Huawei's research wing from Shenzhen to Dongguan, Guangdong province.

Where the outflowing population goes on leaving the first-tier cities is also a question of public concern. According to the report, many of the migrating people rebuild their career and lives in surrounding second-tier cities.

Shanghai is the first-preference city for those leaving Beijing. Apart from Shanghai, many former Beijing residents have moved to Tianjin or nearby cities in Hebei province. Similarly, apart from Beijing, many of those leaving Shanghai shifted to second-or third-tier cities in the Yangtze River Delta region such as Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nantong and Hefei. And apart from Beijing, a majority of those leaving Shenzhen and Guangzhou have moved to nearby cities in Guangdong province such as Dongguan, Foshan, Maoming and Huizhou.

Nationwide, there's a trend showing people moving from first-tier to second- or even third-tier cities. Which is an indicator of positive development of China's major city clusters. With the integrative development of major domestic regions such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster, Yangtze River Delta city cluster and Pearl River Delta city cluster, second- and third-tier cities are developing rapidly and attracting more and more talents thanks to the multiple advantages they enjoy such as convenient transport facility, comparatively low housing prices and good living environment.

In a nutshell, the population flow is a win-win result for not only the first-but also the second-and third-tier cities, because it not only reduces the urban problems first-tier cities face, but also promotes the development of entire city clusters.

]]> 2019-12-22 14:19:23 <![CDATA[Space force shows that US is still obsessed with military superiority]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529727.htm After the United States House of Representatives passed it last week, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act received Senate approval on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump has already declared that he will sign it as soon as it goes through the Congress, praising it last week on Twitter for including all of his priorities.

That the NDAA has received overwhelming, bicameral endorsement in a Congress that is severely divided is telling proof that national security is a rare topic that can rally the broadest consensus among the US political elites these days.

They are dramatically divided on various other subjects, from Medicare to taxation to immigration. But they demonstrate unprecedented unanimity on such issues as alleged "threats" from China and Russia.

In spite of objections citing the country's "skyrocketing" national debt, the NDAA increases defense spending by about 2.8 percent, or $20 billion. Behind it is obviously a deep sense of insecurity stemming from the belief that the US is losing its military "over-match".

The record-setting $738 billion defense policy bill is certainly a daunting sum. But the figure in itself doesn't matter that much, even without the increase. Because the US military has always far outspent any other counterpart.

Rather than the numerical increment in defense spending, the 2020 NDAA stands out because it adds a brand-new branch to the world's most powerful military-the US Space Force.

The creation of the new force, the first in six decades, means the US military is officially expanding its war fighting domain.

Defining space as a theater of war is against the international community's longstanding call for international cooperation on the peaceful exploration and use of space, and it inevitably constitutes threats to the security of other countries.

But decision-makers in Washington seem convinced that this is the only way to maintain their country's military superiority over the rest of the world.

This is understandable considering the US' global leadership rests heavily on its unrivaled military prowess. For too long, US strategic thinking has been dominated by the idea that its military must be far ahead of the rest of the world, and capable of simultaneously fighting multiple wars and winning them.

Allowing any other countries, especially non-allies, to catch up is unacceptable.

Inaugurating the Space Force certainly will give the US military added advantages over its perceived rivals, and help cement existing ones in traditional realms.

But it will also trigger a new round of military competition, ushering in a new arms race.

The move to weaponize space-the commonwealth of all humanity-is deeply worrying. The international community should stand as one to oppose the US turning outer space into a potential battlefield and, as China urges, work together to establish a legal framework for outer space arms control.

 

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2019-12-22 14:19:23
<![CDATA[Farewell, but no farewell, Liu]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/22/content_37529726.htm Editor's note: Liu Chuanzhi, founder of the world's largest personal computer maker, Lenovo, stepped down as chairman of Legend Holdings on Wednesday, and Ning Min, the current senior vice-president and chief financial officer, will be the new chairman. Beijing News comments:

 

Liu will serve as honorary chairman, senior adviser and a member of the board's strategy committee, thus contributing in a different way to the company, said a statement Lenovo issued the same day.

In the 1980s, Liu, widely viewed as a godfather-like entrepreneur, used to sell electronic watches and roller skates at a stall outside the Institute of Computer Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and peddled his business dream.

Over the next four decades, the young man who used to ride a bicycle on the streets of Beijing's technological hub of Zhongguancun, went on to build a national brand and the first Chinese tech company to complete the acquisition of a global computer giant.

Over the past 35 years, under Liu's leadership, Lenovo has built a number of listed companies, including Legend Holdings and Lenovo Group, which, together with Lenovo's continuous investment, helped set up the Lenovo business empire.

Liu has always been seen as the "eldest brother" of Chinese entrepreneurs, as generation after generation of entrepreneurs have emerged over the past decades.

But coexisting with the honors are controversies, from the 1994 dispute with Lenovo's chief engineer Ni Guangnan, over Lenovo's business direction and commercial model to endless debates within Lenovo in the ensuing years.

This made Liu, who wanted to retire several times, to bounce back again and again, making great efforts to turn the tide. People have increasingly realized that Liu is irreplaceable, either for Lenovo in transition or for China's business community as a whole.

If we look back at Liu's career as a corporate decision-maker, we will admire his classic viewpoints on management methodology in areas such as team-building, strategy-setting and team-leading. These three factors still decide whether an enterprise can continue to prosper. With his retirement, Liu will pass on these tasks to his successor.

There is always hope in challenges. When economic transformation and upgrading puts enterprises in the vortex of currents, for entrepreneurs, whoever can see farther into the future will lead his or her enterprise to success. What an enterprise needs is not only the experience of older-generation entrepreneurs, but also that of new-generation of entrepreneurs who are bold enough to emancipate minds, take risks and face up to the challenges. Spiritual inheritance seems to be more important than the inheritance of a business empire.

"There is no successful enterprise, there is only an enterprise of the times," as Zhang Ruimin, another representative of Chinese entrepreneurs and president of the Haier Group, put it.

 

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2019-12-22 14:19:23
<![CDATA[Pompeo's smears stick to Washington]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/21/content_37529958.htm Judging from his furious remarks after China voted for a Russia-sponsored United Nations Security Council draft resolution on humanitarian aid to Syria on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really needs to carry out a reality check.

Any objective and impartial observer would conclude that contention over the Russian draft and another competing draft resolution proposed by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait was largely technical. After all, the vote itself was clear evidence that members of the UN Security Council care about the humanitarian issue in Syria and want to extend a helping hand.

Yet as both resolutions failed to be approved by the Security Council, the top US diplomat wrongly pinned the blame on China and Russia, and even went further to say China and Russia have blood on their hands and their actions are "shameful".

Pompeo's alarmist rhetoric is neither based on truth nor on reason. And his country having waged more than many large or small-scale wars in the wake of World War II, Pompeo really is not in a position to criticize others.

There is no need to look back any further than the past two decades to gauge how much suffering the US wars have brought to people in various countries. According to a CNN report last week, more than 38,000 civilians have been killed in the US war in Afghanistan since 2001.

Moderate estimates show the number of civilians killed in the US war in Iraq had exceeded 100,000 by the time of US withdrawal in 2011. As for Syria, statistics show that from August 2014 to May 2019, the international coalition led by the US launched more than 34,500 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, killing over 1,300 civilians.

As such, Pompeo should reflect on which country has blood on its hands and not ignore the blood-stained statistics created by his own country while falsely accusing China and Russia of blocking humanitarian aid to Syria.

China supports the active work of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other international humanitarian agencies. It has also provided Syria with food, medicine, education, training, public services and other assistance through multilateral and bilateral channels.

But China insists the humanitarian operation must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as the recipient country. It is the US that needs to reflect on how much it has done and is doing for the well-being of the Syrian people.

 

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2019-12-21 11:03:42
<![CDATA[What changes after China defeats poverty?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/21/content_37529957.htm With 2020 fast approaching, China is on track to achieve a key goal in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20): to end extreme rural poverty. If successful, this would mark an historic achievement, given how far the country has come and the sheer number of lives changed.

Since 1978, China has lifted more than 750 million people out of poverty, accounting for four-fifths of all people lifted out of extreme poverty globally over the last four decades.

The share of its population living in absolute poverty has dropped from 97.5 percent in 1978, to just 1.7 percent today, according to the national poverty line, while per capita income has increased 20-fold. China is also the only country to have progressed from the low to high category on the United Nations Development Programme's human development index since its introduction in 1990.

China's transformation is the result of continued political commitment and effective policy measures since the launching of reform and opening-up, and the efforts of governments at all levels-from provinces to villages-to eradicate poverty. This allowed the government to selectively conduct pilot projects, addressing local problems on the ground through a targeted poverty alleviation approach-and taking successes to scale.

Poverty reduction work intensified

The allocation of adequate financial and human resources, too, has been essential to China's poverty reduction. Massive investments in infrastructure have connected remote, impoverished regions to the rest of the country, giving people better access to services, markets and other opportunities to build better lives.

In 2019 alone, the central government invested 126 billion yuan ($18 billion) in poverty reduction. Since 2017, about 775,000 civil servants were dispatched to all registered impoverished villages to support local authorities in carrying out a set of specific measures to reduce poverty at the individual household level and monitor progress every step of the way.

China's focus on a people-centered approach that looks at enhancing people's capabilities and opportunities also aligns with the global vision of leaving no one behind, encompassed in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030-to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet.

Many challenges still to overcome

However, despite China's significant progress in poverty reduction, challenges remain. Indeed, according to the UNDP's recently released 2019 Human Development Report, global development efforts are not reaching the most vulnerable, leading to widening inequalities across the world.

In China, between 2000 and 2018, incomes of the bottom 40 percent grew at just half the rate of the wealthiest 1 percent. Climate change will only exacerbate this inequality, as the poor are most vulnerable to its effects. Slower economic growth and a rapidly aging population are also adding increasing strains. China faces demographic headwinds from a shrinking workforce to support growth and social security, including for its growing number of elderly people.

To address this new set of complex and interconnected challenges in 2020 and beyond, it is important to recognize that poverty has many dimensions besides income. China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) should therefore focus on reducing relative poverty, while addressing inequalities between rural and urban areas as well as within cities, and between generations and genders.

High-quality education crucial for workforce

In addition, the same technological revolution that has turned the country into a global innovation hub has also left many with uncertain prospects for their livelihoods, with wide-reaching implications for the future of work and social security systems. Increased access to high-quality education will be essential to prepare people for the jobs of tomorrow, so that artificial intelligence and automation can support, rather than undermine, human development.

As China continues its journey toward a prosperous society, having already reached upper-middle income country status, measures for income poverty should evolve with it to reflect improving living standards and rising costs of living. The World Bank sets the poverty line for lower and upper middle-income countries at $3.20 and $5.50 per day respectively, compared with China's national poverty level of 2,995 yuan per year.

Moving forward, the UNDP stands ready to assist China in devising the policies and systems to support its continued efforts to fight poverty and inequality, while addressing emerging challenges. With China becoming a major source of development financing in other countries, we can also support it in sharing lessons from its targeted approach to poverty reduction with the world, through our global network.

Addressing new challenges to achieve SDGs

As Beijing celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China this year, it has many achievements to look back on, at home and abroad. This year also marks 40 years of the UNDP in China, as a partner in development. And poverty alleviation has been central to our cooperation with China, and we have seen firsthand how far it has come.

Yet this is no time to rest on our laurels. We must move forward with the same resolve, ingenuity, and cooperative spirit of the last 40 years and apply it to the next generation of challenges. With effective collective action, poverty in all its forms can be eliminated, and the SDGs can become a reality for everyone, everywhere.

The author is UNDP resident representative in China.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

 

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2019-12-21 11:03:42
<![CDATA[Local family planning policy must be up to date]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/21/content_37529927.htm THE GOVERNMENT of Guangzhou has removed a clause from its rules on family planning that employees of governments, public institutes, State-owned enterprises and collectively-owned enterprises of township governments must be dismissed if they are found giving birth to more babies than they are allowed to by the family planning policy. Southern Metropolis Daily comments:

 

It is a pity that other local governments still appear apathetic about introducing such a reform that is entailed by the urgent need to boost the population so as to cushion the influences of a fast aging society.

The central government has allowed all couples to have two children since October 2015, which has not brought about a sharp rise of new births. The high costs of raising children and lack of quality public services mean that many couples are unwilling to have another child.

The contradictory behavior between the central and local governments when it comes to the implementation of the still lingering family planning policy-that the central government has exhausted every means to increase new births, while some local governments are punishing the policy violators dogmatically-should have driven home the urgency for the nation's top legislature to press local lawmakers to weed out outdated regulations.

According to the law, local governments can still punish the violators of the family planning policy, for example if a couple give birth to their third child when the first two are healthy, and sometimes the punishment can bankrupt a family or make the couple jobless overnight.

Penetrating through all levels of governments, the family planning system has functioned for nearly four decades. It has resisted being consigned to history, because the fines are a source of revenue for local governments. And this influence is evident in the protracted process of reforming the policy.

At this time, when the birth rate is too low, the practice of severe punishment, expulsion and collection of the social support fee should be ended. In this regard, in the context of the overall adjustment of the national population and family planning policy, the timely amendment of local regulations by Guangzhou is worthy of attention.

 

SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-21 11:03:42
<![CDATA[Governance to meet people's growing need for a better life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/21/content_37529913.htm The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee put special emphasis on the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity, in order to meet the growing need of the Chinese people for a better life and further develop the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.

This major decision, which among other things would strengthen socialism with Chinese characteristics while maintaining its vitality, will help China better manage the core issues.

So how will the national governance system evolve and modernize?

The core characteristic and biggest advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Party, which the Fourth Plenary Session's decision has further strengthened. But the Party's leadership will be strengthened to improve scientific, democratic and law-based governance, rather than for concentration of power.

Scientific governance requires comprehensive decision-making and implementation mechanisms, strong research and investigation as well as scientific appraisal systems, and risk evaluation and management mechanisms for major decisions. Democratic governance refers to the democratic process of the Party's governance system, among which the most important is to uphold democratic centralism, and strengthen communication with the people by seeking their opinions. And law-based governance means the Party's leadership must be based on rule of law, and the Party should manage its and the State's affairs according to the Party's laws and regulations, and the country's Constitution.

The Fourth Plenary Session also emphasized the need to expedite the construction of a comprehensive legal system that guarantees legal supervision, and efficient enforcement of laws and rules, so as to provide the basic institutional guarantee for the modernization of governance capacity.

By laying emphasis on joint advancement of law-based governance, law-based exercise of State power and law-based administration of government, and adoption of a holistic approach to strengthen the rule of law in the country, government and society, and taking a well-conceived approach to the legislation process to ensure laws are strictly enforced, justice is delivered, and everybody follows the law, the Fourth Plenary Session has provided the basis for the implementation and practice of improving law-based governance. The idea is to ensure law-based governance that is reflected in every aspect of social life.

The Fourth Plenary Session also said the system of institutions through which the people run the country and develop socialist democracy should be improved following international and domestic trends.

The fundamental political system of the people's congresses, too, would be improved, and the system of multi-party cooperation and consultation optimized. Also, the patriotic united front in the new era would be expanded, the system of regional autonomy perfected, and the grassroots self-governance system made more efficient.

Furthermore, new technologies including information and communications technologies such as cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain will be continuously employed to improve the national governance system.

Modernizing the national governance system and governance capacity is the common responsibility of the Party, government and society. It is also an important way to guarantee the security of the country, maintain social stability, increase people's happiness, and uphold and improve socialism with Chinese characteristics. But this must be carried out under the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee and after taking immediate and long-term factors into consideration to guarantee the overall improvement of the whole system.

The author is a professor in the Department of Literature and History, Party School of the Central Committee of CPC. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

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2019-12-21 11:03:42
<![CDATA[Death penalty for rape and murder of minors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/20/content_37529707.htm JIANG QIBO, a judge of the Supreme People's Court, said on Wednesday that domestic courts have concluded trials in 4,159 cases involving molestation of children, and they have a zero-tolerance policy in such cases. Those who sexually abuse children and cause irreparable harm will the face death penalty as required by law, he said. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

 

Of all sexual violation crimes, those against children are the most repulsive. In these cases, the victims are weaker and more vulnerable. And the crime leaves permanent scars on the victim's body and soul.

Reports show that some people who have suffered sexual abuse in their childhood get nightmares even when they reach 60 or 70.

That's why the judge's latest statement, showing zero tolerance for perpetrators of such heinous crimes, won great applause from the public on social networking sites.

Anybody guilty of sexually molesting children deserves no pardon and no excuse offered by the convict should hold any water or make the perpetrator eligible for a lighter sentence.

The judge's statement is indication of the court's strong determination to fight vicious crimes and protect children. Its strong determination to punish convicts severely will likely deter potential criminals from committing such crimes.

The huge number of child molestation cases, 4,159, is also indicative of the huge challenges that lie ahead of the judiciary.

In his statement, the judge also cited a case in which the convict received the death penalty for having raped and killed a girl. The strong punishment of a death penalty should deter other potential criminals from committing such crimes.

There are those who will argue that the death penalty is too harsh a punishment for such a crime. That it is inhuman too.

But were the judiciary to pardon such evildoers, it would not deliver justice to the innocent victims of such inhuman crimes. Only a harsh penalty can prevent such vicious crimes from being committed again, apart from also saving precious lives. A strict rule, in such cases, is not a bad thing after all.

 

 

]]> 2019-12-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Trilateral meeting can ensure year ends on a positive note]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/20/content_37529748.htm Premier Li Keqiang will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in in China's southwestern city of Chengdu on Tuesday for the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting.

An important platform for the three countries to coordinate their stances on regional issues, the trilateral meeting will hopefully prove to be a Christmas gift for regional cooperation and security.

Accelerating negotiations for a trilateral free trade deal is expected to top the leaders' agenda.

For the three countries, signing a trilateral FTA would help deepen the integration of their industrial chains and give full play to the complementarity of their industries. But signaling their resolve to sign a trilateral FTA agreement at an early date would also be a significant confidence builder for greater regional integration at a time when India is holding off on joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Given the large number of developing countries in Asia and the acute problem of uneven and inadequate development the region faces, they can also discuss ways that trilateral cooperation can be extended and explored in fields in which the three countries have many successful experiences and know-how to share with other countries.

And given that they account for approximately 20 percent of the world's GDP and 17.5 percent of global trade, promoting trilateral cooperation and harnessing their complementarity would not only be a shot in the arm for greater regional integration but also further consolidate trade liberalization and multilateralism in the face of rising protectionism and unilateralism.

Important regional issues are also expected to feature in the meeting. Given that China, Japan and the ROK are important stakeholders in the peace and stability in Northeast Asia, they can jointly contribute to stabilizing the situation on the Korean Peninsula through communication and coordination.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have flared up of late as nuclear talks between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have stalled after the February summit in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

The US has rejected the DPRK's demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a step-by-step denuclearization, and working-level discussions in Sweden in October broke down in acrimony, with the DPRK calling the talks "sickening".

The recent series of missile tests conducted by the DPRK, although they did not violate the UN Security Council resolution, sent a warning to Washington, and showed Pyongyang's increasing displeasure at Washington maintaining its "old stance and attitude".

Under such circumstances, it is good to learn that China, Japan and the ROK will look to "have a constructive effect on achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula" at next week's meeting.

Despite the stop-start nature of their relations, due to their differing views on territorial and wartime history issues, China, Japan and the ROK have successfully advanced cooperation in a wide range of areas.

By renewing their countries' commitments to strengthening ties and focusing on areas where they can deepen their practical cooperation, the three leaders can show next week that their countries are willing to keep their eyes on the bigger picture.

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2019-12-20 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Proposal to lift sanctions sets stage for US to defuse dangerous situation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529560.htm The looming year-end deadline Pyongyang has set for new proposals from Washington to revive the denuclearization talks and Monday's joint proposal by China and Russia that some sanctions be lifted on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to enhance the livelihoods of the civilian population, perhaps explains Washington's sudden newfound urgency to "maintain international unity" on the issue.

Ironically, as it is Washington that has made no tangible concessions to advance the progress of the detente between the US and the DPRK-much to Pyongyang's annoyance, since it has taken actions to demonstrate its good faith-the US State Department said that the US remains committed to diplomacy, but it "cannot do this alone".

With China and Russia taking the initiative to give fresh impetus to the momentum of denuclearization, and in so doing showing the US stance for what it is-all take, no give-that US special representative for the DPRK, Stephen Biegun, made an impromptu change to his itinerary while in Japan is hopefully a positive sign that Washington is prepared to re-engage with the issue rather than persist with the folly of its complacency.

Biegun, who was scheduled to visit only Seoul and Tokyo, will be in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, and it is to be hoped that he shows that Washington recognizes that rather than trying to pull the rug from under its feet, Beijing and Moscow have acted in good faith to set the stage for a political resolution to the issue at a critical and sensitive moment.

The current situation should not be regarded as just another spike in the timeline of tensions between the US and the DPRK, during which sanctions have never ceased taking their toll on the DPRK's fragile economy. The plight confronting the DPRK now is accumulative, not a temporary difficulty.

In other words, the proposal, the first of its kind Beijing and Moscow have submitted to the UN Security Council, drives home their shared judgment of the seriousness of the situation.

That the negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been showy dramas on the US side rather than attempts to make real breakthroughs, explains why Biegun's wishful invitation in Seoul on Monday that DPRK officials come to meet him, received a cold shoulder. The US' lack of care for the DPRK's core concerns makes the atmosphere now even worse than that before the two sides' painful but fruitless Stockholm dialogue on Oct 5.

If Washington continues to refuse to take concrete actions to show it is genuine in seeking a rapprochement with Pyongyang, the window of opportunity for talks will close.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Furore after project diverts donations meant for girls' education to boys]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529559.htm SPRING BUDS PROJECT, a charity project aimed at imparting education to girls from impoverished households, ran into controversy online after donors found that many of the beneficiaries were boys. Charity organizations should not violate donors's trust, and randomly change the purpose of donation. China Daily's Wang Yiqing comments:

The Spring Buds Project is implemented by the China Children and Teenagers' Fund to help female dropouts from impoverished regions continue their studies, claims the Fund's official website.

In the face of doubts raised by the public about the way the donation was distributed, the fund admitted that 453 out of the 1,267 beneficiaries in its ongoing program are boys, as also 47 out of the 100 beneficiaries in another program.

The fund claimed that a majority of the project's beneficiaries were girls, and the boys who received the donations were all from impoverished families.

But the donors are not happy. They criticized the fund for ignoring their right to know how the funds were actually used and for failing to help girls, the idea that made them pitch in.

The Spring Buds Project was established in 1989, when many girls were unable to receive education because of poverty and poor consciousness about gender equality in society, especially in the rural areas.

According to the fourth national census in 1989, 4.8 million children aged 7 to 14 had dropped out of schools because of poverty, and 83 percent of them were girls.

Many of those who donate to the project want to help girls who are deprived of education because of their families' preference for sons, and poverty. Through this project, donors want to wipe out this inequity between genders, but the way the fund was utilized defeats the purpose.

A basic principle of charity is that a specific donation should be utilized for a specific purpose, as desired by, or indicated to, the donor.

If there are some boys from impoverished families who, too, need help, the fund should inform the donors beforehand, rather than independently divert the funds. Charity organizations should pay great attention to procedural justice and be responsible to the donors.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tsai slandering mainland to gain advantage in election]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529606.htm The election for the next leader of Taiwan on Jan 11 will, to a large extent, determine the political climate on the island and cross-Straits relations in the next four years. Given the trade disputes between China and the United States, and the fact that the Taiwan authorities have willingly become a tool in US hands, the significance of the election cannot be overstated.

With less than a month to go for the election, the contest between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Kuomintang candidates has intensified. The current island leader Tsai Ingwen's performance on the economic, social and political fronts has been poor by any standards-as evident in the stagnant economy, worsening cross-Straits ties and shrinking space for international activities-doesn't bode well for her party. And the DPP's crushing defeat in the local elections last year reflects Taiwan residents' strong discontent with the Tsai administration.

To cover up Tsai's poor governance, the "pro-independence" DPP has been making desperate efforts to shift the focus to the "ideological" confrontation with the Chinese mainland by claiming to uphold "sovereignty" and "national security" of the island.

The DPP is playing the "mainland-meddling-in-polls" card again to lead the Taiwan residents astray and get their votes. First, the Tsai authorities will try to gain popular support by further intensifying cross-Straits tensions. Since the local elections last year, the Tsai administration has been manufacturing fake news accusing the mainland of funding some candidates.

Similarly, by playing the "mainland-meddling" card this time, the Tsai administration is trying to instill in Taiwan residents a sense of fear and hatred toward the mainland, in order to get their support and win the Jan 11 election. Besides, the DPP has claimed that the"26 measures" Beijing has implemented to, among things, accord equal treatment to Taiwan compatriots, are evidence of the mainland meddling in the island's election.

The fact is, that being aware of the political sensitivity of the Taiwan election, Beijing has always kept a distance from it. Still, the Tsai authorities have been alleging that Beijing poses a threat to the island. Which is a lie that has long been exposed.

Second, by manufacturing fake news about Beijing meddling in the island's election, the DPP has been trying to further restrict cross-Straits exchanges. And in the name of "defending Taiwan against the mainland", the Tsai administration has been raising cross-Straits tensions during its election campaign.

The Taiwan administration has introduced and revised a torrent of laws and regulations aimed at further damaging cross-Straits exchanges and is building a "fence against the mainland's infiltration", sparking a wave of protests on the island. Tsai and the DPP have been manufacturing fake news about Beijing interfering in Taiwan election to create favorable conditions to pass an "anti-infiltration law" in the future.

And third, the Tsai administration has been blaming the mainland for all its ills with the aim of helping the US to strengthen its Indo-Pacific strategy to contain Beijing's rise. Since identifying Beijing as its chief strategic rival, Washington has taken many measures to contain it's rise, from launching a trade war to creating trouble in the South China Sea to interfering in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

And in all this, the United States has been using Taiwan, with the not-so-tacit support of the Tsai administration, against the mainland. For instance, without any evidence, the American Institute in Taiwan has claimed that the mainland is influencing Taiwan politics including meddling in the island's election. This prompted the Tsai authorities to initiate a dialogue with the US that led to the two sides launching cybersecurity exercises.

Actually, it is the US that is meddling in the Taiwan election. As the chairman of Taipei Forum Foundation Su Chi said, the US is more deeply involved in Taiwan election as its executive branches, Congress and think tanks have all voiced support for Tsai.

Washington wants Tsai to continue playing the role of a pawn on the geopolitical chessboard of the US to contain Beijing's rise.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[VIPs, super-VIPs, what's next?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529605.htm DOMESTIC TV AND VIDEO WEBSITE iqiyi.com invited so much criticism over its plan allowing VIP members to watch six episodes of a new TV drama in advance by paying an additional 50 yuan ($7.1) that the TV show had to be rolled back. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

If one looks back at the issue, there was nothing earth-shatteringly unfair about iqiyi.com's policy-those who pay more get better services. It is only natural for different kinds of members, VIP or otherwise, to enjoy services to different extents. Why are the people so angry then?

Some argue that customers in China are still not accustomed to the idea of paying for digital content. But the argument is ridiculous given that more and more people have been buying memberships and paying for photos and music protected by copyright.

Then why this discontent?

The true reason lies in information inequality. As the technology is wholly controlled by the company, many people fear that a VIP-ranking system might curb the legal rights of ordinary users, and encourage people to pay more for better services. They fear more and more TV dramas would be turned into "VIP only". Or maybe, some interesting dramas would be labeled "for super VIPs only".

The same happened with Xunlei, a download accelerating software. It was initially available for free, but later introduced VIP membership policies for "faster speed" once it got a stranglehold on the market. Ordinary members now say that the download speed for ordinary users became so slow that everyone had to pay for VIP membership. And once they did that, the downloading speed for VIP members dropped, too, and everybody had to pay more to become SVIP members.

Even Apple has been accused of intentionally slowing down computing speed for old versions of iPhones via its iOS update in order to encourage people to buy new iPhones.

It is these things that ordinary customers dislike. It is fair for those who pay more to get better services, but unfair if that's done at the cost of ordinary users. After all, something "better" for VIP members often means something bad or even worse for ordinary members.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Time to address urban-rural educational divide]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529583.htm Editor's Note: The average age of China's labor force rose from 32.2 in 1985 to 37.8 in 2017, says a report released by the Center for Human Capital and Labor Economics at the Central University of Finance and Economics. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

Human capital is a source of technological innovation and economic growth, an important driver of sustainable economic and social development and an important guarantee to reduce poverty and inequality.

The rising education level of China's labor force over the past years has improved the quality of its human capital, but the urban-rural divide is still serious. Furthermore, China is also facing an ever-growing aging population pressure, with the average age of the labor force as high as 37.8. That means, after entering the stage of high-quality development, China's economy is facing the double challenge of improving both the education level and average age of its labor force.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China had 249 million people aged 60 or above by the end of 2018, accounting for 17.9 percent of the total population, and the number is expected to cross 300 million by 2025, 34.8 percent of the total population, making China one of the world's most aging countries. That the education level of China's labor force cannot meet its innovation-driven development model in the future highlights the need to strengthen the education and training of the labor force to provide high-quality manpower for China's high-quality development.

The report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China said China will increase educational inputs to build an army of knowledge-based, skilled and innovative workers. Given that the current urban-rural educational divide, the country should promote the integrated development of urban-rural compulsory education and attach greater importance to rural compulsory education. As the 19th Party Congress put forward the popularization of high school education, the country should implement the policy as soon as possible. It should also carry out large-scale vocational skill training, improve its vocational education and training system, and deepen the integration of industry and education, and cooperation between schools and enterprises.

To solve the labor shortage problem and improve the quality of labor force, the country should also speed up the integration of migrant workers in the cities they work in, and establish a social safety net that guarantees their basic needs in employment, education, medical care and old-age care to lay a human capital foundation for high-quality development.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Washington's defense of hegemony outdated]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529576.htm The United States has become accustomed to its hegemony in global affairs, and this shapes its way of thinking and acting. Indeed, it puts its hegemony above anything else. And that end justifies any means no matter how debased it may be.

To this end, international laws, rules for free trade and human rights principles are all tools it is willing to use to maintain its status.

That is why Huawei is in its crosshairs. Having developed the most advanced technology and equipment for 5G networks, the Chinese telecommunications giant poses a threat not to national security but to the US' long-established tech supremacy.

But the US government is going too far in its efforts to put Huawei out of business. The State Department has reportedly asked telecom carriers and chipmakers to sign up to a set of principles which would in effect exclude Huawei, and possibly other Chinese companies, from the US market.

It could not be any clearer that the US government has no concern for competition laws and fairness in its attempts to curb the rise of Chinese technology companies, Huawei in particular.

It was reported that a separate proposal by the US Commerce Department would give the commerce secretary the power to block imports of any sensitive technology from a country dubbed a "foreign adversary". Little wonder some business leaders warn that such rules could slow down large swathes of the global technology trade.

And little wonder that US technology companies are concerned that they would have been the targets of a backlash if they had come together to act against a global competitor by following the US administration's request to stop sourcing supplies from some Chinese companies.

The way the US is trying to exclude Huawei from its domestic market and even drive it out of the global market will disrupt the global supply chain and slow down the global trade in technologies. And of course, it will hurt the development of its own technology sector as well.

5G is a product of global high-tech cooperation. The global industrial, supply and value chains are highly intertwined in this area, and it is highly irresponsible of the US administration to deliberately try and cut them, as it is damaging to the rulesbased global order and multilateral economic and scientific cooperation.

The attacks on Huawei and other Chinese technology companies by the US administration are nothing but political protectionism. This is a dangerous trend that the international community should oppose, as not to do so would encourage the US to turn a business issue into a political one or even a security one whenever it feels its preeminent position in technology is being challenged.

National security is a common concern of all countries. Fabricating suspicions about another country's company just because it is the industry leader does a dangerous disservice to cybersecurity which can only be preserved with joint efforts in an open and transparent manner on the basis of trust.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[To know China better, make more efforts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529575.htm China Global Television Network recently released a documentary film on fighting terrorism in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China, which registered close to 200,000 views on YouTube, a US video-sharing platform. Many of the comments accompanying the "likes" are telling.

One viewer, named Jean Ou, posted a comment, saying it can be assumed that news channels such as CNN and BBC, when viewing this documentary, would simply state: "I can't see, I can't see, I can't see!"

Indeed, one big problem which China faces is being misunderstood by the outside world. Still, the foreign media are often to blame for that, as they do a poor and/or prejudiced job of presenting China to the rest of the world. Xinjiang is just one example which shows how the Western media fail, rather refuse, to give a truthful account of China to the global audience.

That's why it's a pity that YouTube has now banned the video.

Here is a more recent example of how most of the Western media outlets function.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country held events throughout the day on Oct 1 in Beijing which were telecast live. But some Western media outlets focused only on specific events while putting special emphasis on their own messages.

The New York Times published a report titled "Tanks, missiles and no pigeons: China to celebrate 70th birthday of the People's Republic". The report highlighted the events only to emphasize the military threat China poses to other countries. The journalist apparently filed the report too soon, because toward the end of the Oct 1 celebrations, China did release 70,000 pigeons.

Many domestic media outlets, however, reported in detail how the pigeons were loaned from pigeon keepers across Beijing, how all of them returned home safely and that each of them was rewarded for participating in the Oct 1 festivities with a commemorative leg band. Such facts are integral to the National Day celebrations and demonstrate the sense of patriotism inherent in every Chinese national.

The military parade was meant to display China's defense capability, but the Western media, thanks to its prejudice, used it to paint an aggressive and menacing picture of China's military. No Western media outlet bothered to even mention that China follows a defensive defense policy, and that capability and intention are two totally different things.

Chinese people take much more pride in the fact that the country's economic achievements in the past four decades have raised their living standards to a relatively high level. And they are proud of the country's military capability, because it can now defend itself against any aggressors. After all, Chinese people have unpleasant memories of colonial and imperial powers inflicting bloody wounds on the country in the 19th century, and Japanese troops committing atrocities in China before and during World War II.

But Western media outlets seem totally disinterested in these facts. Such stereotypical thinking prompts them to arrive at quick conclusions based on their prejudiced views. Some sharp observers have already pointed out that, if the Western media outlets had covered the Oct 1 events live, a biased commentator would have continuously generated all kinds of negativity while the whole country was celebrating National Day. For example, after the 70,000 balloons were released toward the end of the morning events, a Western media commentator would have "pointed out" how the balloons would cause pollution and turn into waste after they burst, not realizing that organizers in China nowadays make sure such balloons are made of eco-friendly, degradable materials.

The events gave some other environmental messages, too. The 24,000 square meters of red carpet used for the event, for example, was made from recycled materials. And more than 400,000 used water bottles were recycled.

Recent years have seen China making big strides in environmental protection and promoting an eco-friendly, "recycling economy". In fact, by 2020, China's recycling business is expected to reach 3 trillion yuan per year ($428.86 billion).

Poor understanding, misperception and prejudice are, of course, common in cross-cultural exchanges and reporting. Political scientist Robert Jervis' cognitive theory is illuminating in this regard. In Perception and Misperception in International Politics, Jervis says people are inclined to see what they anticipate. Cognitive theory is built around the premise that a person's thoughts control his or her actions and personality. As such, people tend to interpret received information according to their thought-frame, and they are attentive only to those messages or views that fit their pre-set frame of mind. That is how biases are formed.

Very few foreign journalists are actually objective when reporting about China, although their job is to disseminate true information. And it is due to this lack of objectivity that they cannot understand Chinese politics and society.

The Oct 1 pageantry highlighted many aspects of China and Chinese society. Yet foreign journalists focused only on the military parade. The moral of the two stories-the Xinjiang documentary and the coverage of National Day celebrations-is that the Western media should make some real efforts to understand China better and see it for what it is, rather than judge it based on its biased views.

SHI YU/CHINA DAILY
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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Common cultural ethos key to Chinese identity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529565.htm If you switch on the mobile phone of a youngster from Macao, you can see it contains similar, if not the same, apps (or their international versions) that their counterparts on the Chinese mainland use. In August, when I took a group of teenagers from the Macao Special Administrative Region on a "tour" of gaming giant Tencent's office, I found many of them had already downloaded King of Glory-one of the most popular mobile games of Tencent-on their phones.

Enthusiastically, the teenagers invited me to team up for a game, saying they had accounts for both the international and domestic versions. Apart from playing the most common online games, some Macao youngsters also watch mainland TV series on domestic video-streaming websites and, like their mainland counterparts, follow mainland stars.

By contrast, most youngsters in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region prefer to download Western apps on their cell phones, and neither play mainland online games nor follow mainland celebrities. Actually, very few Hong Kong teenagers know much about mainland celebrities.

This gives an idea why youths in Macao and Hong Kong think differently about the motherland even two decades after the two regions returned to China under the "one country, two systems" framework. Also, Hong Kong and Macao introduced national education in their school syllabus roughly at the same time-2008. Yet on the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland, the results of the program in the two SARs could not be more different.

The success of national education in Macao is not just about school textbooks, it is also about collective cultural experience in all sectors of society including the entertainment industry. Which means cultural experience plays as important a role as education in building a bond between youths in the SARs and on the mainland. It is impossible to have cultural and identity resonance if people from the SARs and the motherland don't read the same books, don't see the same movies or don't play the same games.

Unlike the past, the mainland has become a leader in many fields of technology-for example, it is a global leader in 5G technology, and leads Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in digital technology. Given its leading position in certain technology fields, the mainland should make greater efforts to produce more cultural products that would give the same cultural experience to compatriots on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

According to the current copyright rules, mainland products such as videos, music and games are unavailable in the two SARs and Taiwan. In fact, some Macao residents have sought my help to watch My People, My Country, a patriotic movie released on the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China.

Popular culture can serve as a communication bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macao with the motherland. So in line with "one country, two systems", the authorities should reform the copyright rules to enable people in the two SARs enjoy the fruits of the mainland's achievements in the digital and cultural industries, which in turn will help build a common cultural landscape.

Moreover, civil society groups can also play a role in promoting cultural exchanges in accordance with "Macao people governing Macao" under the "one country, two systems" framework.

In this regard, the National Conditions Education Association (Macao), founded in 2009, has been doing a good job by organizing knowledge contests about the country once a year for students from primary schools to colleges, and rewarding the winners with tours to the mainland so the youngsters can better understand the motherland's history and geography through firsthand experience, and by traveling through the country and tasting different mainland cuisines.

As such, on the 20th anniversary of its reunification with the motherland, Macao can say it has made many achievements by implementing the national education program.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[India's act puts West's hypocrisy in spotlight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/19/content_37529561.htm Protests have erupted nationwide in India as people express their opposition to a new citizenship law that critics fear could disenfranchise millions of Muslims in the country. Police fired tear gas at protesters in New Delhi on Tuesday, and in the northeastern state of Assam, the epicenter of the demonstrations, at least six people have reportedly died and more than 100 people have been injured in clashes.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, which fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from neighboring countries, aims to rid India of "infiltrators", according to New Delhi. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as being "1,000 percent correct".

But critics of the government said that it could further marginalize the country's 200 million Muslims. They've pointed to the fact that the earlier citizenship list finalized in Assam left off 1.9 million people, a lot of them Muslims, who now, unable to claim citizenship, face possible statelessness, detention camps and even deportation, amid reports that India is building detention centers for the tens of thousands of people who the courts are expected to ultimately determine have entered the country illegally.

The issue has even drawn international attention, with the UN human rights office expressing concerns that the act "would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India's constitution".

Yet surprisingly, there has so far been little, if not no response at all from the self-claimed human rights guardians in the West in regard to what is happening in Assam. The reluctance to even give New Delhi a rap on the wrist over an issue that they would readily be decrying as being against human rights if it was happening elsewhere reveals once again the West's double standard.

Just imagine how fiercely they would have responded if a similar law targeting a specific ethnic or religious group were passed in China. The vocational training centers the government has built in Xinjiang-aimed at teaching ethnic Uygur people Mandarin and job skills as part of the efforts to eliminate terrorism and extremism-have already been subject to vilification by some in the West who label them detention camps and part of China's "repression of Muslims".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday again criticized China for "its gross human rights violations perpetrated against Uygurs and other religious faiths" as he came out in support of Arsenal player Mesut Özil, who last week in social media posts called Uygurs "warriors who resist persecution".

But then, in the eyes of the West, India remains the world's largest democracy and shares the same values with the West. China, on the other hand, is an "undemocratic" country and therefore anything it does is fair target for defamation and denigration.

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2019-12-19 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Violence in Hong Kong is worthless]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529469.htm Speaking at a weekly news briefing on Tuesday, Hong Kong's chief secretary, Matthew Cheung, said he was disappointed with Sunday's rioting after a period of relative calm. All those who wish an end to the violence and a return to social stability in the special administrative region will have felt the same.

After a two-week lull, the police were forced to use tear gas on Sunday night when rioters stormed shopping centers, set fires, blocked roads and smashed traffic lights, igniting worries that their campaign of violence will continue.

The police said on Monday that students accounted for more than half of the people arrested during Sunday's violent incidents.

Worse, three people arrested for testing explosives on Saturday were charged with two offenses including the manufacture of explosives on Monday, showing how perverted and dangerous the thinking of some of the rioters has become.

This was not the first incident involving an improvised explosive device and the Hong Kong police have seized toxic chemicals and explosive materials in multiple places throughout the city in the past few weeks, highlighting that it is not just the odd one or two who have developed bloodlust.

In fact, the rioters in Hong Kong have repeatedly demonstrated how cold-blooded they can be in the vanity of their trumped up cause, having frequently put residents and visitors' lives at risk with both reckless and calculated acts of vandalism targeting public transport. Not to mention their vicious attacks on members of the public who have had the courage to criticize their actions and their relentless persecution of the police.

Those within and without the SAR who are supporting the rioters out of a misguided sense of loyalty to the values the rioters claim to be blazonly upholding should take a long hard look at the callous disregard the rioters are showing to those values in the abandoning of their civil duties.

The violent lawbreaking in Hong Kong seriously tramples on social order and thus the rights of those in Hong Kong who abide by the law. With the central leadership extending its firm support to Hong Kong's chief executive on Monday, another of the protesters' conceits has been given short shrift.

And its reiteration of its unswerving determination to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests, and implement the "one country, two systems" policy and oppose any external forces interfering in Hong Kong's affairs shows that no matter how long the rioters persist with their campaign of violence, it will be to no effect.

Hong Kong has experienced trials and tribulations in the past, each time it has emerged stronger. It will do so this time too, despite the best efforts of those hoping to exploit young people's naivety for their own ends.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Meeting paves way for high-quality development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529471.htm Reviewing the country's economic performance in 2019 and analyzing the economic situations at home and abroad, the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded last week, gave an indication of China's macroeconomic policies and development priorities for 2020.

Despite the challenges brought about by the fast-changing economic situations at home and abroad, the top leadership reached a consensus at the conference that China will prioritize "stability" in order to improve people's livelihoods, promote flexibility in monetary policy, strengthen countercyclical policy regulation, control the pace of financial deleveraging and maintain a healthy financial environment.

An analysis of the CEWC reports since 2014 shows that, despite China facing growing downward economic pressure and global economic prospects being uncertain, the country's monetary policy in 2020 will remain moderately loose. The wordings of the CEWC reports for both 2014 and 2018 were similar to this year's, and the central bank took steps to increase liquidity in 2015 and 2019. On the other hand, since the CEWC reports from 2015 to 2017 didn't contain such wordings, China adopted a moderately tight monetary policy in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Judging by this, we might witness a trajectory of "declining interest rates" in 2020.

However, this year's CEWC report for the first time proposes "scientific and steady countercyclical adjustment of macro policies", which suggests that, unlike 2014, interest rate cuts in 2020 are unlikely to bring in a flood of liquidity. Although the 2018 CEWC report had also mentioned strengthening countercyclical adjustment, this year's report puts special emphasis on strengthening countercyclical adjustment which, while making monetary policy management more difficult, will reduce market expectations of an excessively loose monetary policy to prevent the formation of new bubbles in the property sector.

This year's CEWC report mentions the task of preventing financial risks as the third of the "three major battles". Instead of "structural deleveraging" as last year, this year's report uses different wording, stressing the priority is to keep "the macro leverage ratio basically stable". This change of wording shows that after addressing the problems of some small banks in 2019, the authorities are even more confident of overcoming risks in the financial sector.

The CEWC report proposes to change the direction of large, medium-sized and small banks, rural credit cooperatives and other financial institutions, emphasizing that large banks should continue to play the role of the "lead goose" in inclusive finance; small and medium-sized banks should mainly serve enterprises, special industries and local residents; and rural credit cooperatives must better serve the agriculture sector, farmers and rural areas.

This reflects the overall planning for the establishment of a financial system in which different types of banks will offer different types of services. Which means the focus of financial work in 2020 will be more on serving the real economy, and therefore enterprises can expect a friendlier financial environment next year.

Also, for the first time, this year's CEWC report highlights the "advantages of the superlarge market and the potential of domestic demand", saying China will tap into the potential of domestic demand, develop core technologies, further open up the economy and take proactive part in global governance.

Over the past 40 years, China has been both a huge labor market and a rich source of resources. But with the development of its economy and increase in its economic aggregate, China no longer enjoys absolute advantage in terms of costs of labor and natural resources, and some of the industries it dominated in the past have gradually shifted to other countries.

No wonder this year's CEWC report accords the most space to high-quality economic development, emphasizing the importance of making scientific and technological achievements, supporting the development of strategic industries, creating a batch of globally competitive advanced manufacturing clusters and extending producer services to the high-end value chain. Which shows the top leadership is determined to further boost the domestic market, and create space for consumption to play its due role in high-quality economic development.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New aircraft carrier sign of progress, not aggression]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529422.htm Although many had predicted that CNS Shandong, the first domestically built aircraft carrier would enter service after it finished its sea trials in October, its commissioning, as China's first combat-ready aircraft carrier, is still striking the heartstrings of some.

Although it remains unknown where its home port will be, that Sanya, the southernmost port overseeing the South China Sea, was host to the commissioning ceremony on Tuesday has signaled that, with the second aircraft carrier in hand, China will have more cards to play in the waters where trouble is continually being stirred up by Western powers.

However, its practical significance should not be exaggerated. Although an upgrade on China's first aircraft carrier CNS Liaoning, the 60,000-ton Shandong, which is easily distinguishable by its old-fashioned ski jump, cannot be regarded as a first-class aircraft carrier by any standard, be it design or technologies. And being conventionally powered its range and combat effectiveness are limited.

Yet despite this, it does have some import. Not least in demonstrating China's resolve to modernize its navy and its ability to quickly build up its learning curve. The ship undoubtedly serves as a link, in terms of engineering, between the Liaoning and the country's future nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that will use electromagnetic equipment to launch aircraft.

As arguably the youngest navy aiming to elbow into the world's first-class navy club, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy-which has developed from being a fleet of sampans and fishing boats on its establishment on April 23, 1949, in the Yangtze River-has become an indispensable force safeguarding the country's sovereignty and core interests, and a strategic support for the country to be transformed into a strong maritime country.

Given the Chinese navy's increasingly active role in participating in humanitarian assistance tasks, international escort missions and global peacekeeping missions, its enhanced capabilities will ensure it is better able to fulfill its missions, help the government better undertake its international responsibilities, and maintain world peace and stability. Even when China has more advanced aircraft carriers, which will only be a matter of time, they will only serve as a deterrent, helping China to better live up to its long-term tenet that all disputes are best settled by political means, not war.

There are those who view China's naval modernization as a threat, but although that modernization is unprecedented in its scale and speed, it is simply attaching long-overdue importance to managing its territorial waters and seeking to safeguard its growing overseas interests. The commissioning of the Shandong does not pose a threat to another country; instead it will help China to properly handle maritime and air situations, and resolutely respond to security threats, infringements and provocations on the sea, and help safeguard maritime peace, stability and order.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Macao, HK should tap Latin America market]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529430.htm The Macao and Hong Kong special administrative regions have maintained fruitful interactions and mutually beneficial cooperation under the "one country, two systems" framework thanks to their highly complementary industries.

Even in the years before Macao's reunification with the motherland in 1999, Macao and Hong Kong were like "twin cities". A number of Macao residents went to Hong Kong to study and work since Hong Kong's economy was booming.

The two cities have always helped each other and cooperated for mutual progress. In the 20 years since its return to China, Macao's economy has developed rapidly and, thanks to the turn in fortune, many Hong Kong residents now work and live in Macao.

The ties between the two SARs have become increasingly stronger. In particular, after the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Macao and Hong Kong have established closer cooperation, which has created more space and made it more convenient for Macao to achieve diversified economic development in the long run.

The next 10 to 20 years will see Macao-Hong Kong cooperation further blossom and yield more mutual benefits. And the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will make the two SARs' achievements long lasting and more significant.

More important, Hong Kong could use Macao's economic development, and integration with the Chinese mainland as an example to work out its future development plan. For instance, Macao residents have a strong sense of identity as Chinese, which has played an important role in connecting Macao's development with, for example, that of Guangdong province, and incorporating Macao into the national and regional development plans, while giving the institutional advantage of "one country, two systems" full play.

Looking ahead, the Macao and Hong Kong SARs could focus on strengthening financial cooperation and joint exploration with Latin American countries.

In fact, according to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan, Macao is expected to develop as an offshore yuan clearing and settlement center for Portuguese-speaking countries. And Hong Kong, the largest offshore yuan center, has a lot of experiences which Macao can learn or draw inspiration from.

The two SARs could even make joint efforts to attract more enterprises from Portuguese-speaking countries to list in Hong Kong and enrich the structure of the listed companies in Hong Kong.

Besides, flush with funds and a big appetite for risks, Macao is an ideal city for developing innovative financial services. As a traditional and mainstream international financial center, Hong Kong has a complete system of investment channels and categories, but it lacks innovative financial products and services. Which make Macao and Hong Kong an ideal pair to jointly explore innovate financial tools and technologies, even innovative financial services including service modes. This will not only facilitate the development of Macao's economy, but also enhance the status of Hong Kong as an international financial center.

Speaking of strengthening cooperation with Latin American markets, Macao has a lot in common with Portuguese-speaking countries due to its history. And based on their cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries, Macao and Hong Kong could progress further and strengthen cooperation with Spanish-speaking countries, too.

Given Hong Kong's experience as an international financial and logistics hub, and Macao's advantage in the Portuguese language, the two SARs can expand their trading, business and financial cooperation with Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking economies and act as powerful offshore yuan centers to boost their economic development, as well as strengthen the mainland's collaboration with Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking economies.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Digital divide will build cold wall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529436.htm The bipartisan "Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019", which passed the United States House of Representatives on Monday, is a fresh attempt by the US to officially, thoroughly elbow Chinese telecommunications leaders Huawei and ZTE out of the US market.

Considering the political atmosphere on Capitol Hill, and Washington's desire for bargaining chips to use in its trade war with China, the probability is high that the act will get Senate approval and presidential endorsement.

Once enacted, the act will mean Huawei and ZTE, as well as their subsidiaries and affiliated entities, will lose their footholds in the US market.

Despite the conspicuous absence of solid evidence supporting the US' insistence on a "security risk" heuristic, and Huawei's steadfast stance of innocence, the act officially defines Chinese 5G telecom leaders as a "national security risk" and outlaws their presence in US networks.

Beijing has vehemently condemned Washington's attempts to suppress Huawei and Chinese 5G leadership.

But the act sends a clear message that Washington is intent on playing whack-a-mole with any Chinese companies that raise their heads as industry leaders. Responding to Beijing's reminder that excluding Huawei would put telecom operators in rural America in dire financial conditions, the act installs a reimbursement program to finance removal and replacement of "suspect equipment".

Besides effectively sweeping Chinese telecom equipment out of the US market, the act will also cause chain reactions whose extent and repercussions remain hard to foretell. While the verbal abuse of Huawei and Chinese 5G technology has brewed conspicuous unease among the US' allies and partners, the impact of the US legislation is aimed at cementing a tech wall.

Most countries may agree with Beijing that all countries are obliged to provide a fair, just and nondiscriminatory business environment. But some allies and partners, those depending on Washington for security guarantees in particular, may have to think twice when pressed to exclude Huawei.

The exclusion Washington zealously seeks in pursuit of its own tech preeminence will end up creating a "technological divide", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi just warned at the 14th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Madrid.

China's opposition against what Wang called a "technology blockade and digital hegemony" has the moral support of many countries. But at this point moral support will not suffice to prevent the impending closing of a technology iron curtain.

Emerging technologies can give new impetus to common development and provide fresh opportunities for all countries, but only if there are non-discriminatory business environments that foster fair competition and research environments that encourage cooperation.

Allowing a technology cold war to come into being serves the interests of no country.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[A problem called zombie enterprises]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529437.htm Editor's Note: The just-concluded Central Economic Work Conference said the country will push for the disposal of zombie enterprises in 2020 and combine the task with the formation of a unified, open, competitive and orderly goods and factor market and the establishment of a sound market exit mechanism. 21st Century Business Herald comments:

As early as the end of 2018, the National Development and Reform Commission and 10 other State departments jointly issued a notice urging local governments at various levels to regularly dispose of the debt-plagued "zombie" enterprises and said the work, in principle, should be done before the end of 2020 as part of the country's goal of supply-side structural reform.

According to a State document on deepening the reform of State-owned enterprises issued in 2015, the reform of SOEs should achieve decisive results in some important areas by 2020. To a large extent, dealing with zombie enterprises remains one of the hardest nuts to crack for SOEs reform.

These enterprises have partially or fully stopped production, have suffered losses for years, are already insolvent, and mainly rely on government subsidies and bank loans to linger on.

And they are mostly SOEs or some large private enterprises, and because of their large size they play a big role in absorbing local employment. Local governments usually offer them fiscal subsidies in the fear that their closures will give rise to large-scale unemployment.

The most fundamental reason for the formation of zombie enterprises is government intervention in the market.

The zombie enterprises are mainly in the steel, coal, power, metallurgy, real estate and oil processing sectors, which have been largely affected by the government's policy regulations.

When the country's economy is weak, the government usually works out some stimulus measures, leading to a huge increase in demand for upstream industries. But when the economy shows signs of overheating, the government suspends subsidies, exposing the zombie enterprises.

These enterprises are the products of market distortion and the improper protection they get from local governments continues to increase the harm they can cause to the economy. Thus their disposal must be free from the interference of local governments.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[To root out sexual harassment by teachers, leave no room for romance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529447.htm THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION HAS RESPONDED TO two recent incidents of college teachers sexually harassing students by saying it has a "zero tolerance" policy toward such teachers. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

Teaching is a noble profession; teachers play a great role in inheriting human civilization. So teachers' professional ethics should be higher than that in many other professions.

Though sexual harassment cases are on the rise in colleges, most students are afraid to report it to higher authorities.

One should take into account the power equation between teachers and students. The harassers tend to threaten the victims with their academic powers. The victims are thus blackmailed into offering sexual favors. They give in to sexual harassment because teachers threaten to not let them pass if they complain to anybody.

Sometimes, when the victims report against the offending teachers, the latter seek refuge under the excuse of "romantic relationship" in a bid to change the nature of the incidents.

Existing regulations on teachers' professional ethics prohibit them from having improper relationships with their students. But the description of "improper relationship" is so vague that the so-called "romantic relationship" excuse always comes to the aid of the wrongdoers.

To say the least, even if the romantic relationship is not "improper", it may give rise to doubts about academic fairness and undermine other students' interests in studies because of perceived or real bias.

That is the reason why in many foreign colleges, teachers have been prohibited from having romantic relationships with their students if a power or interest relationship exists between them.

Education authorities in China should consider issuing more strict regulations on the relationship between students and teachers to create a healthy campus environment and safeguard the students' legitimate rights and interests.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Dust on your treadmill? Go take a walk]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529421.htm ACCORDING TO a freshly released national sport consumption tendency report, about 400 million people regularly participated in sports events in 2019, while 100 million others joined workout clubs or bought sporting equipment but did nothing more. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Which sporting equipment is the best investment proposal? Treadmill, because you will hardly use it after buying it and can label it as "brand-new" on secondhand sale websites even two years later.

This is a popular joke at a time #"100 million people pretend to do sport" is trending on domestic social networks, with many people sharing photos of dust gathering on their "brand-new" unused treadmills or gym membership cards.

But the fact that 400 million people, or 28 percent of the national population, regularly take part in exercises shows how serious the people are about health. And the 100 million people who prepare for some sporting activity but do no more should be encouraged.

Some young people refrain from engaging in sporting activity because they are exhausted after spending hours at work and then commuting back home.

And many equate "sports" with just going to the gym, thanks to the success of commercialism. But look around you. There are elderly people engaging in light exercises, such as square dancing, at parks. It is time the young learn something from their elderly counterparts. One does not need to join a gym for exercises-a half hour's walk in the park is enough.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Whither climate accord and global commitment?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/18/content_37529473.htm Disappointment seems to have become the norm, rather than exception, of the UN Climate Change Conference, and Madrid has been no exception.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said as much when he echoed the mood of many after the conclusion of the conference on Sunday: "I am disappointed with the results of COP25(25th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up."

Indeed, "not give up" has to be the spirit with which we fight climate change. But it seems this spirit is exhibited only by those who want to save the planet and ensure a better future for the next generations, not by those who can actually make this happen.

That the longest-ever climate change conference in history could deliver possibly the lamest outcome, and that too after deleting almost everything the big countries were opposed to from the final draft and deferring probably all vital decisions, including the most important one-framing rules to establish a new carbon market under the Paris climate accord-speaks volumes of the mockery the rich countries have made of the fight against climate change.

Like Guterres, environmental activists and civil society groups, which for long have become major stakeholders in the climate talks, expressed their extreme disappointment mixed with anger at the results of the conference.

And for good reason, many civil society members and environmental activists blamed the United States for the weak outcome. The US withdrew from the Paris accord in June 2017 and will cease to be a delegate to the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC from November 2020. Yet it continued to use the age-old tricks at Madrid to get its way. As ActionAid's global lead on climate change Harjeet Singh said, the US "came here in bad faith, acting only to protect" US companies' interests "and those of the polluting industries that caused climate emergency".

The effects of climate change were evident throughout the world this year, as they have been over the last few years, with increased ferocity. Unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, droughts interspersed with unseasonal downpours and flash floods, devastating superstorms, violent snowstorms, melting glaciers and intense cold waves have been warning the world about what lies in store in the future. But big companies, even governments, instead of heeding this warning, continue business as usual, because that is the best way to make more money. What they tend, rather prefer, to forget is money can help address the problem of climate change, but it itself is not the solution to the problem.

The Madrid meeting was also expected to direct all economies to intensify their climate actions given that recent studies show the world has failed to do enough to prevent climate change from causing greater harm to the world.

Some countries, particularly small island states that are most vulnerable to climate change, demanded that all economies update their climate action plans by next year to reflect the new reality, saying the present sorry state of affairs was the result of developed economies not meeting their targets in the pre-2020 period.

But the final agreement only included a call seeking "the urgency of enhanced ambition" by all economies without any agreement on updating the developed economies' climate action plans by 2020.

Which means the next climate change conference faces the almost impossible task of completing all the unfinished work of the 2019 conference before the transition of the international climate regime from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the 2015 Paris Agreement. But since studies show the international community has to do much more than what the Paris accord mandates, economies have to increase their commitments, which is almost impossible given the present attitude of most of the economies.

The outcome of the conference in Madrid has put the UN system under extreme pressure. With the goal to keep the average global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level, the Madrid conference was scheduled to decide the extent to which the national pledges could be raised. But it failed to do so.

As long as development means continuous expansion of production and consumption, we cannot expect anything to change, because rising consumption doesn't mean ensuring the well-being of the people but pampering to the greed of the haves.

Unless there is a paradigm shift in the definition and execution of economic development, we cannot tackle climate change in the true sense.

And as Guterres warned in Madrid on Thursday, failure to tackle climate change could result in economic disaster, and unrestrained climate change would allow only the "survival of the richest".

The fact that Guterres was forced to say what the rest of the world has known for years shows that we indeed are facing a bleak future.

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2019-12-18 00:00:00
<![CDATA[There are no 'super-nationals' on campus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529275.htm ON FRIDAY, CENTRAL CHINA'S WUHAN UNIVERSITY announced its decision to expel 92 international students for various reasons. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

Some of the students were expelled for having failed to register within the stipulated time, some for being absent from various activities without submitting leave applications and some for failing in their academic courses. Given the circumstances, Wuhan University has done its best to avoid a scenario in which the international students perform poorly in the exams.

Reports say the university had warned the students in question almost a year ago regarding their shortcomings and even tried to contact them. But when its repeated efforts made no difference, they were forced to expel the students.

And the university applied equal yardsticks, irrespective of the influence some of the students have. A female student from Ukraine, who has participated in many TV programs, was expelled because she applied for a PhD program but could not finish her dissertation.

The university has also addressed rumors that Chinese colleges treat international students like "supernationals", leaving domestic students feeling they are treated unfairly. By strictly enforcing the disciplinary measures for the overseas students, the university has shown that it treats all its students equally. The case is also an example of how rules are taken seriously in Chinese universities-all violators face their due penalty irrespective of nationality.

Such strict regulations are also a good move for overseas students who are diligent. Otherwise, even one idle foreign student can give the entire foreign students group a bad name by leaving a bad impression on potential employers.

And such an impression could cast a cloud on the prospects of overseas students who actually work hard. Such strict and fair enforcement of the rules will also ensure that those overseas students who work hard will not have to pay for the indiscipline of others.

 

 

]]> 2019-12-17 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Macao to play vital role in Greater Bay Area]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529277.htm In the two decades since it reunified with the motherland, Macao has undergone drastic changes in terms of fiscal revenue, economic growth, total GDP as well as per capita GDP.

Before Macao returned to China, it saw four consecutive years of negative economic growth. But since its reunification with the motherland, the Macao Special Administrative Region has seen its GDP increase from $6.5 billion in 1999 to $54.54 billion in 2018 and its per capita GDP jump from $15,000 to $83,000. Also, Macao has seen its GDP grow at an average annual rate of 13 percent, with its revenue increasing more than 10 times, and unemployment rate declining to 1.8 percent in 2018.

In 2018 Macao's per capita GDP was the highest in Asia and the third-highest in the world, while its residents' average life expectancy was the second-highest among all economies. More important, Macao is a good example of the success of "one country, two systems".

And as one of the four central cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area plan, Macao not only is expected to play an important role as an engine of growth of the area, but also has got an opportunity to strengthen and diversify its economy.

According to the Greater Bay Area's plan, the SAR is set to develop into a global tourism and leisure center, as well as an economic and trade cooperation platform between the Chinese mainland and Portuguese-speaking countries. So Macao has to give full play to its advantages, including its role as a bridge connecting the mainland with Portuguese-speaking countries, to facilitate the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Macao should also establish a special offshore yuan center, especially to explore business opportunities in Portuguese-speaking countries, and develop as a business-cum-leisure tourism center, an international convention and exhibition hub, and a global dialogue platform.

Macao is regarded by the World Trade organization as one of the most open economies for trade and investment thanks partly to its free port, low tax rate and close connection with Portuguese-speaking countries. With the completion of infrastructure construction in the Greater Bay Area such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the SAR's custom clearance system has become even more efficient. In the future therefore Macao should develop an integrated "business-cum-leisure" industrial chain along with Hong Kong to expedite the construction of the Greater Bay Area business backend market.

Macao's "business-cum-leisure" industrial chain should integrate the advantages of Hong Kong as an international financial center, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao belt as a scientific and technological innovation corridor and the high-end equipment manufacturing industry of the Pearl River Delta region to jointly establish an international derivative industrial circle for the Greater Bay Area.

The Macao SAR should also play its due role in helping integrate its convention and exhibition sector with the Pearl River Delta region's industrial clusters.

As the world's leading casino hub before the rise of Macao, Las Vegas promoted the convention and exhibition sector to achieve diversified industrial development. As a result, the revenue of the exhibition industry has exceeded that of the gaming industry in Las Vegas.

Actually, in recent years, the Macao SAR government has also taken important measures to transform the city into a regional exhibition center. And the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, being one of the most dynamic city clusters in the world, will create huge opportunities for Macao to develop its exhibition sector. Compared with Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region, the convention and exhibition sector in Macao can enjoy the advantage of relatively low operation cost but high internationalization exposure.

Moreover, the SAR should enhance interaction with international organizations to build a platform for China to participate in global governance, by using its free port to advantage in order to attract more global organizations to set up branches in the city, which will further enhance cooperation and communication between China and international organizations.

 

 

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Australia must make sincere efforts to improve ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529278.htm Growing global economic uncertainties have added fuel to the "China infiltrating Australia" and "China threat" fallacies in Australia. Despite these facts, after winning the general election in May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party has made efforts to mend Sino-Australian relations, which have been deteriorating since 2017 because of the Liberal Party hyping up the "China threat" fallacy to garner popular support.

To improve Sino-Australian relations, the Morrison government established the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations replacing the 40-year-old Australia-China Council. Also, China and Australia reached a consensus to repair bilateral ties and protect mutual interests at a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Morrison on the sidelines of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation conference in Thailand on Nov 3.

Still, Sino-Australian relations are likely to suffer setbacks in the future given the Australia-United States security alliance and the US' interference in regional and other countries' internal affairs, the trade frictions between Beijing and Washington, and rising populism in many economies.

Beijing-Canberra relations have already suffered a serious blow this year due to allegations that China was spying on Australia using Chinese students as tools and interfering in Australian politics and elections.

Although the Australian government has not cited any specific target of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization-led anti-espionage operation it launched on Dec 2 and the parliamentary inquiry it started on Dec 5 into potential foreign interference through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WeChat, it is widely believed they are driven by concerns over "Chinese infiltration".

In trying to strike a balance between its close security ally, the US, and one of its biggest trading partners, China, Australia has increased its vigilance against China to a level not seen even in the US. As its limited market and to some extent stagnant economy, Australia is more likely to be worried about its economic dependence on a rising China. That the US-Australia alliance plays a big role in fueling that worry goes without saying.

Moreover, the ethnic bias among many Australians, along with rising numbers of overseas Chinese students and businesspeople, and Chinese-Australians' increasing voice in the country's politics have fueled doubts about China's increasing influence in the region. In fact, some Australian conservative politicians have used the imaginary threat of China and Chinese interference in Australian politics to accumulate popular votes.

All this has had a huge impact on Sino-Australian relations, especially bilateral trade. For example, a report jointly prepared by KPMG and the University of Sydney says that "Chinese investment in Australia declined by 37.6 percent from $10 billion in 2017 to $6.2 billion in 2018" and "the rate of decline has accelerated since 2017".

So, against the backdrop of geopolitics outweighing trade relations, it might be difficult for Canberra to strike the right diplomatic balance between its ties with Washington and Beijing in the near future. If the imbalance increases, it will make Australia less flexible in terms of diplomacy.

If Canberra is sincere about improving relations with China, it should make more concrete efforts in that direction. China, on its part, will continue to work for peaceful development in order to protect mutual interests and produce mutual benefits.

And if Australia does not mix geopolitical and territorial conflicts with bilateral ties, and promotes its comprehensive strategic partnership with China, the two sides can explore common grounds to establish win-win cooperation for mutual benefits.

 

 

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Consumer will remain key to China's rising growth momentum in 2020 too]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529297.htm THE JUST-CONCLUDED CENTRAL Economic Work Conference pointed out that the basic trend of steady and long-term improvement of China's economy has not changed. The resilience and potential of the Chinese economy will help it overcome any risks and challenges ahead. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

 

China should realize that it still is in a critical period of transforming the growth model, optimizing economic structure and transforming growth drivers in the face of mounting downward pressures. Simultaneously, the world economy, too, is undergoing adjustments because of a prolonged slowdown, while sources and risks of global turbulence are on the ascendant.

Not losing focus is essential for China to cope with the complicated situations at home and abroad. China's huge market and potential for great domestic demand will be crucial for maintaining its economic stability and improving people's well-being. In fact, in the first three quarters of 2019, domestic demand proved to be the real ballast for China's economy, contributing as much as 80.3 percent to its economic growth.

The domestic market will remain its biggest strength even in 2020. And as China's economy undergoes a critical period of consumption upgrading, consumption will play a fundamental role in economic development. China's nearly 1.4 billion population and a more than 400 million middle-income group, together with the robust momentum of consumption upgrading, will accelerate the pace of the country's industrial upgrading and become a powerful engine for the economy's steady progress next year.

During the Singles' Day shopping festival this year, Tmall alone raked in 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion), setting a new e-commerce single-day sales record.

To tap the huge potential of domestic demand and further boost consumption, China needs to work hard to strengthen its weak areas. As the Central Economic Work Conference emphasized, the country needs to work toward improving people's livelihoods, promote the steady growth of consumption, increase effective investment and unleash the potential of domestic market demand.

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Europe should pay no heed to tall tales of US]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529276.htm Lawmakers in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition are drafting a bill that requires "untrustworthy" 5G equipment vendors be kicked out from "core as well as peripheral networks". The bill, though short of naming names, is believed to be tailored to exclude the Chinese company Huawei because it defines "untrustworthy" suppliers as the ones at "risk of state influence".

The ambivalence in the wording makes it much easier for the politically motivated lawmakers to readily point fingers at Huawei as a tool of the Chinese government and ban it outright-just give a dog a bad name and hang it. "You don't just need technical certainty-you need the suppliers to be politically trustworthy, too," Norbert Rottgen, an MP from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and one of the initiators of the bill, reportedly said, revealing the ideological underpinnings for the attacks on what they regard as China's technological point man.

Those in Germany who are intent on blocking Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei's access to the country's 5G market have always parroted Washington's claim that the company represents a national security threat. Yet, like Washington, they have not produced any evidence that Huawei, which has supplied equipment to all of Germany's telecom operators for their existing networks, poses a security risk to the country.

Thus the bill, which goes beyond previous calls to ban only Huawei from the more sensitive core network, would set a very bad example of politics taking precedence over business if passed, and would inevitably deal a heavy blow to the economic and trade partnership between China and Germany that has been built on pragmatism over the past four decades despite the political differences between the two countries. Not to mention that banning Huawei would dramatically delay Germany's 5G rollout and make it more costly.

All this notwithstanding, by politicizing the 5G issue, those Washington heeding politicians also risk poisoning their own country's business relations with China.

Responsible leaders from both countries must do their utmost to prevent that worst-case scenario from materializing.

German lawmakers and those in other European countries should bear in mind that China and Europe are partners not rivals, and their relations feature more consensuses than divergences. As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news conference following a meeting with the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the 14th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting, in Madrid on Sunday, there is no historical grievance or geopolitical contradiction between China and Europe, let alone any conflict of fundamental interests.

Europe should not allow Huawei to become a lightning rod just to divert Washington's bullying tendencies.

  2019-12-17 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Waking up to the dangers of pick-up artists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529329.htm Editor's Note: A WeChat account, Langji Qinggan, that promised to make pick-up artists out of men, has been shut down after readers complained to WeChat authorities that it was teaching notorious, emotional manipulation tricks that propagate unhealthy views about love, and instigating crimes, which should be seriously dealt with to safeguard citizens, especially women's rights and interests. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

 

The infamous skills of a pick-up artist that originated in the United States were unknown to the public until very recently. A pick-up artist refers to a man who has acquired the skill of communicating with women, with the intention of making their acquaintance and appearing attractive to them, so as to develop an intimate relationship. But in reality it is a way of teaching men how to brainwash and emotionally manipulate women with the intention of having sex with them. Some men even use the trick to defraud women of their money.

Some training organizations promise to help males "become attractive" to the opposite sex, but what they actually do is to teach them tricks to play with women's emotions, seriously hurt their feelings, endanger their physical and psychological health and even cause some tragedies. Such organizations also target men, particularly those who feel they are not good at communicating with women and want to improve their personal attractiveness and find true love. But after paying a huge amount to receive the training, what they actually learn are tricks that end up destroying a potentially healthy relationship.

The pick-up artists regard women as a target of their love interest and hurt them for their selfish desires. This is against social morals, and spreads very unhealthy views about love. Some pick-up artists training organizations are even suspected of instigating crime. But despite the harm it causes to individuals and society, there are no specific laws to regulate such behavior and it is also difficult for those who have been affected to obtain any evidence against their tormentors to be able to safeguard their rights and interests.

But as more and more female victims of pick-up artists open up about their ordeal on social media, the public and judicial organizations, too, are waking up to the dangers pick-up artists pose.

On May 9, Jiangsu internet police announced it was detaining a violator, surnamed Xu, for five days for training a course which had pornographic content and involved fraud. The police not only shut down his website and WeChat group, but also fined him 50,000 yuan ($7,149.94).

As such training challenges social morals and undermines citizens, particularly women's legal rights and interests, society as a whole should come together to curb the spread of pick-up artists and restore the healthy social environment.

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Unwavering support for Lam in fight against radicals and external forces]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529330.htm Ahead of his meeting with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, in Beijing on Monday, President Xi Jinping said that Hong Kong was enduring the most complex and difficult situation since its return to the motherland.

Expressing his hope that Hong Kong would return to the right path and restore unity, he said the central authorities would continue to extend their unwavering support to the HKSAR government and police in their efforts to uphold the law.

Lam, who is in the national capital on her annual duty visit to brief State leaders about the current economic, social and political situation in the SAR, was praised by Xi for holding fast to the principle of "one country, two systems", and for showing courage and a sense of responsibility during an "extraordinary time" for Hong Kong.

There can be no doubt the challenges facing the city are unprecedented in both scale and ferocity, and that they are being exacerbated by outside forces and the Western media. A study by the independent US media watchdog, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, for example, shows that US news media have routinely glossed over the details of the Hong Kong riots and rarely used negative language when reporting on the violence of the rioters, while consistently doing so when describing the police response.

But there can also be no doubt that what the radical elements and their backers are trying to engineer is a mission impossible. The young people who have chosen to follow their lead may think this is a gamble of a lifetime that is fun and exciting, but they should harbor no illusions that they are playing a dangerous game. The nation is steadfast in its resolve to safeguard the nation's integrity.

For those participating in marches because of livelihood grievances, that Xi highlighted the deep research Lam's government has done to identify the root causes of Hong Kong residents' concerns, indicates the central authorities' confidence that the concrete measures being implemented will effectively respond to their needs.

But the fact that the passenger throughput at Hong Kong airport has fallen to the lowest level since the onset of the financial crisis shows how urgent it is for Hong Kong to put an end to the violence and restore social stability for the resumption of healthy economic activity.

The violence may continue for some time, but Xi's remarks show the central authorities are confident the HKSAR government will prevail in the battle to restore order. And the reason is simple: Lam's government has the full support of the central authorities and the nation as guarantee for Hong Kong's peaceful and prosperous future.

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chinese economy still on right track]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529345.htm The robust growth in China's industrial and retail sectors has defied expectations, with the uptick in industrial activity and spending indicating the effectiveness of government policies aimed at supporting domestic demand.

According to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, the industrial sector grew by 6.2 percent last month, up 1.5 percentage points from October, while the retail sector grew by 8.0 percent, an increase of 0.8 percentage points on the month before.

Given the mounting external uncertainties associated with the trade war with the United States, and the internal challenges arising from the domestic transition to higher quality growth, the positive growth momentum is commendable, and can be credited to the government's resolute efforts to keep the economy on track.

Although the infrastructure and property sectors' growth remained lackluster in November-which would have been taken as a telling sign of the decline of the economy in previous years when investment was one of the most important drivers of growth-this is a result of the government's policy choices and its determination to refrain from resorting to quantitative easing stimulus measures, which would hurt the economy and embolden the governments of various levels to invade the market and create distortions.

True, the traditional year-end consumption spree has inevitably provided a boost for industrial growth and retail sales. Nonetheless, along with other positive signs, including the stable 2.4 percent growth in foreign trade over the past 11 months, the upbeat data demonstrate that the fundamentals of the economy remain healthy and are evolving on the right track in a predictable way.

The annual Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing last week made clear that China will keep its economic policies stable to help achieve its target range for growth and upgrade its industries and consumption.

And with the development of the service industry, including education, childcare, elderly care, healthcare, culture and tourism, to be accelerated next year and people's spending power to be strengthened, domestic consumption will be able to better play its role of underpinning the economy.

At the same time, with China and the United States announcing on Friday they had agreed on the text to a phase one trade deal, which if realized would cool their 17-month trade war and ease the external pressure, the economic situation is expected to be more conducive to governments at all levels to adopt a comprehensive and holistic economic approach and advance the regional development strategies aimed at fostering new driving forces for higher-quality development.

The resilience of the economy and the clearheaded forward-looking helmsmanship demonstrated at last week's top economic work meeting suggest any pessimism about the performance of the Chinese economy next year will once again prove ill-considered.

 

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2019-12-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Further opening-up to protect free trade]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/17/content_37529299.htm This year is crucial to China's higher-level opening-up, symbolized among other things by the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. That China, amid rising trade protectionism, hosted the second China International Import Expo which attracted more than 180 countries, regions and international organizations, and over 3,800 global enterprises shows it is not only committed to further opening up its economy but also increasing imports to meet Chinese people's ever-growing need for a better life and boost global trade.

It also reflects China's shift from being the "world's factory" to becoming the "world's market", which is an important milestone in China's high-quality economic development and higher-level opening-up.

At the second CIIE in Shanghai last month, President Xi Jinping called on all countries to prioritize the common good of humanity and outlined China's future opening-up policies, emphasizing that, "We must all put the common good of humanity first rather than place one's own interest above the common interest of all." Which makes China's trade and policy clear: the country supports the multilateral trading system, and promotes trade liberalization despite rising protectionism in some economies, in order to build an open world economy.

Among the other measures for expanding opening-up, China has released the plan to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guideline in August supporting Shenzhen in building a demonstration pilot zone for socialism with Chinese characteristics with the aim of deepening reform and expanding opening-up, which in turn will facilitate the development of the Greater Bay Area.

Moreover, the annual Central Economic Work Conference last week reviewed China's economic work in 2019 and outlined key tasks for 2020. While stating that the new concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development should be unswervingly put into practice to promote high-quality economic development, the CEWC stressed that, to expand opening-up, market access should be loosened, and pre-establishment national treatment and the negative list fully implemented so as to protect the legitimate interests of foreign companies in China, especially their intellectual property rights.

The conference also called for greater efforts to increase imports and exports, push for a more diversified export market, and cut institutional costs for imports with the aim of promoting free trade and safeguarding the multilateral trading system.

In fact, China has loosened market access to a large extent and has been implementing pre-establishment national treatment and the negative list.

All these policies and measures provide institutional support to China's high-quality economic development.

In terms of further opening-up at the regional level, China has established several pilot free trade zones in Heilongjiang, Hebei, Jiangsu and Yunnan provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and the new Lingang special area in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone with the aim of boosting free and fair trade as part of higher-level opening-up.

China has also launched 12 new opening-up measures in the financial sector this year. It has not only made market access to the banking, securities and insurance sectors easier for foreign investors, but also reduced the requirements for foreign financial companies in terms of asset size, year of registration in China and shareholding ratio. As a result, the world's top three credit card companies and credit rating firms have entered the Chinese market.

Also, the launch of the science and technology innovation board, the pilot program for registration-based IPO system and Shanghai-London Stock Connect has further enhanced the internationalization of China's capital market, which apart from expanding opening-up have also propelled supply-side structural reform in China's financial sector.

Besides, the Foreign Investment Law, which comes into force on Jan 1, is aimed at attracting more foreign investment and better protecting foreign investors' interests, and therefore demonstrates China's commitment to higher-level, all-round opening-up.

China's higher-level opening up is reflected in the drastic improvement in the domestic business environment, too. While last year China ranked 46th among 190 economies in the World Bank's Doing Business Report in terms of business environment, this year it has jumped to the 31st position. And in the Government Work Report issued in March, China announced it would reduce taxes and fees worth 2 trillion yuan ($284.3 billion), and the Ministry of Commerce vowed to launch a series of measures to promote cross-border trade.

As such, these measures and policies will benefit not only China but also neighboring countries as well as the economies along the Belt and Road routes, which in turn will promote China's higher-level, all-round opening-up.

And the fact that, at a time when protectionism is rising in many economies, China is promoting higher-level, all-round opening-up by boosting infrastructure construction, improving connectivity and strengthening policy and legal support demonstrates that it is honoring its promise of promoting domestic reform as well as helping build an open world economy.

 

 

]]> 2019-12-17 00:00:00 <![CDATA[200 million workers cannot afford to wait]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529225.htm ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION, more than 200 million workers are exposed to various types of occupational diseases. Gmw.cn comments:

 

Considering that the total number of workers in China was 776 million in 2018, 200 million workers is almost 25 percent of the total. The situation might be much worse because in reality there are some minor diseases that are not included in the list of occupational diseases.

A key cause of the high percentage of occupational diseases is the lack of professional protection of workers. For the past four decades, China has made tremendous progress in all sectors of the economy. However, the protection of workers has failed to keep pace.

Many employers fail to protect their employees effectively and their health and safety training regimes are lax. And many companies simply do not pay much attention to employees' health and safety in order to get higher profits. Some companies even refuse to sign contracts with their workers or buy occupational diseases insurance for them, which means their employees cannot get any help when diagnosed with an occupational disease.

A proper supervision system is needed. Currently the domestic occupational disease catalogue includes 132 kinds of diseases, divided into 10 categories.

Yet that catalogue is less comprehensive than those of developed countries, and its updating is not fast enough to catch up with the growing number of occupational diseases. In recent years, with the country's economic transformation and upgrading, new materials and new technologies have been widely used, new occupations and labor methods have been continuously produced, and the hazards of occupational diseases have become more diverse and complicated.

Also the 132 kinds of listed occupational diseases often fail to cover their targeted groups. For example, pneumoconiosis is a major industrial disease harming Chinese workers, and the number of people having pneumoconiosis accounts for 90 percent of all reported occupational disease patients. It is time to target this specific disease.

In order to realize that, it is necessary to strengthen the monitoring of enterprises so that they will improve the working conditions for their workers, improve the relevant supervision system as soon as possible to ensure that all workers are included in the occupational disease inspection system, and to speed up the construction of occupational health examination institutions to ensure full coverage of occupational health examinations.

 

 

 

]]> 2019-12-16 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China-CEE cooperation good for EU]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529232.htm On his way to the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Spain, during a visit to Slovenia, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi again defended China's cooperation with Central and Eastern European nations, reiterating its goodwill nature and praising it as a beneficial complement to China-EU relations.

But that may not suffice to alleviate the worries Wang and his entourage are set to encounter at the Asia-Europe event in Madrid. It will take patience and persuasion on their part to convince their EU counterparts of the innocent intentions behind the growing Chinese presence in Europe, particularly its eastern parts.

But as Wang pointed out, China-CEE cooperation, or "17+1", which convenes China, 16 CEE countries and Greece, is not divisive in nature, it is an outcome of mutual needs and voluntary partnership. The EU should rest assured that the China-CEE platform is conducive to its well-being as it narrows the development gaps among its own member states.

Thanks in part to the internal unbalanced development levels and the EU's inability to offer development assistance to its less-developed central and eastern members, China and the CEE countries have found precious opportunities in what each side has to offer the other.

The two sides' economic needs are mutually complementary. Their markets have great potential for each other. And their cooperation may open up a significant gateway linking Asia and Europe. Ideological and geopolitical factors aside, this is an invaluable economic thoroughfare that would benefit the entire Eurasian continent.

Unfortunately it is precisely ideological and geopolitical considerations that are creating obstacles for such an otherwise promising partnership. Neutral as it may be from the perspective of the cross-Atlantic alliance, NATO's latest mention of "challenges" from a rising China is read widely as a sign of North American and Western European suspicion, if not distortion, of China's intentions. And for all the clarifications Beijing has offered, Europeans remain divided over what a growing Chinese presence means to them. While some harbor suspicions about the Chinese government's defense and promotion of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, for instance, Beijing is pushing it as a touchstone of mutual trust. National security, in Beijing's eyes, is but a fig leaf for a plot to contain China.

Chinese investments and relationships in the CEE countries and Greece represent its commitment to long-term engagement with them as key parts of the Belt and Road Initiative. Rather than letting ideological differences breed suspicion, the EU should look at the "17+1" cooperation without prejudice. In doing so, it would appreciate that the cooperation is beneficial to the EU as a whole and helps materialize the EU vision and strategy for connecting Europe with Asia.

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[If 5G is here, can 6G be far behind?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529240.htm The rolling out of 5G services has triggered a wave of competition across the world and, more importantly, triggered a race to develop 6G.

An official Chinese research team on 6G was established last month. And developed economies such as the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea and some European countries have started devising research and development plans for 6G, as the telecommunications sector has always been a hotspot for competition.

5G technology aims to create a comprehensive perceptual sensory system in which information and tools can be easily accessed. On the other hand, 6G will help build a perceptual nervous system integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and wireless cognition, which can give intelligent responses.

Compared with 5G technology, 6G will have lower latency, higher speed and more bandwidth. And this advanced technology will help connect the real world with the virtual digital world. It will also make product design, R&D and experiments significantly more efficient and greatly reduce their costs while making it possible to produce digital products in the physical world through high-tech including 3D printing. Which, along with the seamless connection and intelligent coupling of the physical and digital worlds, will lead to a thorough reconstruction of the division of labor and societal cooperation.

In terms of economic development, 3G fostered e-commerce while 4G boosted e-commerce and mobile payment. 5G infrastructure building and application marked the beginning of Chinese enterprises' intelligent manufacturing and provided the basis for the sector's rapid development. Similarly, wireless cognition technology associated with 6G technology, once it matures, will further boost the development of the digital economy.

In digital economy, intelligence based on big data will become the real impetus for innovation, and 6G networks not only will be highways for transmitting data, but will also much more seamlessly integrate edge and core computing as part of a combined communications/computation infrastructure framework. Which will provide many potential advantages as 6G technology becomes operational, including access to AI capabilities.

Digital economy based on 6G will become the determining factor of a country's competitiveness in the future. And 6G technology with wireless cognition as its major characteristic will become the pivotal, core technology and main driver of the digital economy.

6G is expected to support 1 terabyte per second speeds, an unprecedented level of capacity and latency, which will extend the performance of 5G applications aside from expanding the scope of capabilities in support of increasingly new and innovative applications across the realms of wireless cognition, sensing and imaging.

China remained a passive player in the field of advanced technology before 4G services were rolled out, mainly following the United States and European countries and had not set standards for telecom technology. But by developing 4G technology at the same time as the developed economies, China became a big player in the field and contributed to the rule-making process. That China's 4G network is the most advanced and pervasive in the world has also helped the rapid development of mobile payment in the country.

Starting with 5G, the Chinese telecom industry, thanks to its extensive R&D input, has taken the lead in standardizing and manufacturing 5G telecom equipment. And now that the US and European countries lag behind China in 5G technology development, they want to drag China down using non-competitive means such as restricting the development of Chinese companies such as Huawei, and by launching R&D in 6G before China in order to cash in on the advantage they enjoy in the millimeter wave industrial chain.

The competition in 6G will start with the setting of standards, which will determine the level of R&D needed for the launch of the technology and thus decide the market share of the emerging industry. As far as R&D in 5G technology is concerned, China enjoys two advantages. First, it is a global leader in the telecom sector and has a solid reserve of talents. And second, it has a relatively complete industrial chain that covers R&D, design, manufacturing and application, and is home to leading 5G equipment maker Huawei.

Recent history shows whoever leads the telecom technology sector sets the standards for telecom products and services and plays a bigger role in the industry's future development. And since 6G technology will become the engine of a new round of economic development, the Chinese government, enterprises and research organizations should strengthen cooperation to succeed in the competition to develop 6G.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Seize the new tech frontier for growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529193.htm Rapid technological transformation will be a key feature of economies well into the future. At the national, regional and global levels, frontier technologies are offering promising new opportunities, as well as prompting new policy challenges.

Technological innovation has long boosted economic performance, improved efficiency, and expedited economic globalization, transforming human society in the process. But as the defining issue of our time, the digital revolution demands renewed policy cooperation at all levels of governance. After all, the latest wave of technological change is especially broad, and it is coming fast. It is fundamentally altering how goods, services and ideas are exchanged. And as rapidly declining costs make digital technologies even more affordable and accessible, they will continue to transform people's lives and livelihoods.

And yet there is a danger that these gains will not reach the world's poorest people. An estimated 3 billion people could still not have access to the internet by 2023, and many more will have little or no opportunity to reap the benefits of digital technologies. Which means there should be no delay in addressing the problem of digital exclusion.

Fortunately, the Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development, which I co-chair with Melinda Gates, former Microsoft general manager, has shown developing countries can still harness the new wave of frontier technologies for the benefit of all. Digital technologies have unlocked new routes to prosperity through agriculture, manufacturing, trade in services, the linking of informal and formal sectors, and domestic interconnectivity. Low-and middle-income countries around the world now have the chance to build new industries, deliver better services, and improve peoples' lives.

But digital technologies can also entrench existing forms of exclusion, disrupt livelihoods, and provide new tools for the powerful to abuse and exploit the weak. Developing countries, in particular, are starting from a difficult position, because they are already grappling with the challenges of low human capital, ineffective institutions, and a difficult business environment. Still, policymakers must not allow themselves to be paralyzed in the face of change. Rather than becoming passive observers of the technology revolution, they must take control of their countries' economic futures.

All developing countries and emerging economies should be able to capture at least some of the new opportunities on offer. As the commission has shown, governments have several policy options to achieve more inclusive growth. But technology alone will not guarantee success. Policymakers must also consider local contexts and conditions, so they can create social, political and economic ecosystems in which technology creates jobs and drives inclusive growth.

To compete globally, all countries need to prepare themselves for new and upcoming technologies, by maximizing inclusiveness and guiding markets toward the right types of innovation. Governments should start by realizing the challenge is not just about "digital policy". Rather, it calls for a "whole-of-economy"-indeed, a "most-of-society"-approach. And since inclusion is the key to success, support for marginalized groups will need to be built into the policy process from the outset. To that end, national governments should start planning for digital readiness in four areas: infrastructure, human capital, policy and regulation, and finance. These are the technical pillars of the future economy.

At the same time, regional-level policymakers-particularly in the Asia-Pacific region-need to start building momentum on policy cooperation, which will be necessary for harnessing frontier technologies for the greater good. And at the global level, cross-border issues related to frontier technologies will need to be addressed multilaterally.

That means multilateral organizations themselves should be developing an antenna for identifying new technological and developmental challenges. It is already clear that more must be done to mitigate technological disruptions to employment, boost investment in human capital, and ensure fair taxation in the new digital economy.

We should not underestimate the power of multilateralism. For decades, countries have been coming together in global forums to safeguard public goods and pursue common prosperity. Yet the existing architecture for multilateralism will need to be adapted to reflect the changing needs. To capture the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution, we also will need to strengthen public-private partnerships and make our economies more efficient and flexible. With the world's population projected to reach 10 billion by mid-century, global governance will become even more complex than it is today.

For its part, Indonesia recognizes the need for policies to manage the new digital economy. In addition to addressing the impact of technological disruption and ensuring fair taxation, the key will be to put people at the center of the agenda. Beyond furnishing workers with the right skills, we must create a digital world where all people have a voice, and where those who are not benefiting from change have the support they need.

As is usually the case, the challenge we face is also an opportunity. Digital and frontier technologies have enormous potential to improve government administration and the delivery of public services. It is time for a new kind of conversation, one that involves governments, business leaders, innovators, civil society and citizens alike. For developing countries, the task is clear: we must ride the wave of technological change, rather than wait for it to crash down on us.

The author is finance minister of Indonesia and former chair of the World Bank Group's Development Committee.

Project Syndicate

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

]]> 2019-12-16 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Basic scientific research can boost industrial transformation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529224.htm The new round of scientific and technological revolution has triggered drastic changes in production modes, industrial organizations and structures, and played a significant role in determining global industrial transformation patterns while greatly influencing trade and the international division of labor.

However, due to its sensitivity to external environment, scientific and technological innovation needs a suitable institutional setup to promote development. As such, the scientific and technological system should adapt to the new changes. For that, however, the authorities need to establish better coordination among government departments, and set up a sound innovation governance system to boost scientific and technological development.

In the seven decades since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government has continuously reformed the scientific and technological system and promoted innovation. But to promote comprehensive industrial transformation, the authorities have to further improve the existing scientific and technological system.

China's innovation program faces some problems. For example, there is a lack of coordination among different innovation-promotion organizations, and the market and intellectual property rights protection mechanisms are not foolproof, which is not conducive to promoting comprehensive industrial transformation.

The traditional management system should be compatible with the new industrial revolution. Since the traditional industrial system follows the top-down bureaucratic model, the new industrial revolution is focused more on creativity, equality, collaboration and opening-up, which could be a challenge for the innovation system.

Although the selective industrial policy is beneficial to developing economies trying to catch up with the developed countries, in the new age of industrial transformation, if a country sticks to the traditional policy paradigm, it could stunt the development of emerging technologies and industries. Therefore, it is important for the government to explore a scientific and technological system that could boost China's innovation capacity.

In order to avail of the opportunities offered by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and realize industrial transformation, as well as face the challenge of global competition, the authorities should further reform the scientific and technological system and build a strong innovation governance system.

To begin with, they need to strike the right balance between the government and the market. And to sharpen China's competitive edge, the authorities should allow the market to play a decisive role in resource allocation in order to promote innovation. But when it comes to strategically sensitive sectors, which concern national security and public interests, the authorities should integrate the government's institutional advantages to enhance the country's strategic scientific and technological power.

While strengthening coordination among different government departments and policies, the authorities should also combine science and technology policies with industrial, trade and financial policies to boost innovation. In particular, the government should deregulate emerging industries and create a flexible market environment to encourage enterprises to accelerate innovation.

Besides, the government should optimize research and development activities. By improving basic R&D, it can help researchers to focus more on fundamental scientific research which would facilitate more in-depth research in specific scientific fields. The government should also encourage enterprises to conduct basic research in applied sciences, so that the result of scientific research can be applied to industry and thus boost innovation and the production of innovative products.

The authorities also need to establish a management and evaluation system that will promote the cultivation of talents in the science and technology field, and improve the overall efficiency of the innovation promotion system.

Furthermore, the government needs to boost the innovation capacity of core technology fields, and strengthen innovation cooperation with other countries. As a responsible major power, China should take measures for the globalization of innovation, and contribute Chinese wisdom to international cooperation in innovation.

The author is a researcher at the Institutes of Science and Development, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 

 

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chinese culture shown to the world with love]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529209.htm Editor's note: Li Ziqi, a short video blogger specializing in traditional Chinese cooking and handicrafts, has gained worldwide popularity. Xinhuanet.com comments:

 

Li has about 20 million followers on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, plus 7 million followers on overseas social media networks. Many foreigners say they have got to know traditional Chinese food culture via her channel.

It is the spirit of craftsmanship behind her works that make Li's video clips attractive. She strictly follows the authentic traditional steps and procedures in making traditional Chinese food and handicrafts, such as peach flower wine and silk, and goes to great lengths to ensure her videos are accurate. Sometimes she spends several months producing one of her videos.

Li has been inheriting traditional Chinese culture in a rather creative way. A closer look at her videos will show that they are never with any "analysis" that makes people feel bored. They just show audiences each and every detail of traditional Chinese culture, so that the latter knows how Chinese live their beautiful and elegant lives. It is that universal appeal that makes her works so appealing. Thanks to Li's efforts, many intangible cultural heritages that only existed in memories and written records now appear before our eyes.

Via her short videos, Li presents the image of a beautiful and friendly China.

With the growth of the Chinese economy, people overseas are showing more interest in traditional Chinese culture. Li has shown how to satisfy that interest in a good way, namely showing the best parts of traditional Chinese culture with her heart.

To effectively present the beauty of Chinese culture to the world, we need more Li Ziqi.

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ozil, badmouthing anti-extremism efforts in Xinjiang brings shame on you]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529210.htm MESUT OZIL, a German football player of Turkish origin, stirred up trouble after posting on several social media accounts a "poem" that advocates separatism in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

 

According to the translation of Chinese media outlets, Ozil openly supports jihad in Xinjiang. Let's see what those who he supports have done to this region that's home to people of multiple ethnicities.

Two documentaries released by China Global Television Network about the fight against terrorism in Xinjiang best explain this. Through their lenses, people can see how the terrorists in Xinjiang attack passersby with knives and sticks.

How they teach a 6-year-old to kill with a gun.

How they drove a truck with bombs into groups of people, and then detonated it.

How they stopped cars on a road and killed the people inside one by one.

These attacks are by any definition terrorist attacks, and their perpetrators are enemies to all peace-loving people of this world.

The evil deeds of terrorists in Xinjiang are no secret to the world, and by every standard they should be defined as evil. As early as 2012, the so-called Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, which has planned the majority of the above-mentioned terrorist attacks, was officially recognized by the United Nations as a terrorist group.

Perhaps Ozil has been brainwashed by certain Western media outlets into believing that terrorists harming Xinjiang are "freedom fighters". Perhaps he chooses to side with the terrorists even though he knows the bloody crimes they have committed in Xinjiang.

In the former case, certain Western media outlets should be ashamed of their bad ethical standards, while in the latter case, Ozil himself should be ashamed for supporting the terrorists. Within hours, Ozil received such a backlash from angry Chinese that the person handling his official account had to close the comments.

Perhaps to avoid drowning in the anger of the Chinese people, Arsenal Football Club where Ozil serves quickly issued a statement via micro blog, saying that Ozil's words are purely his own and the club insists it is not involved in politics.

In its latest response, the Chinese Football Association also said that Ozil's words hurt the feelings of the Chinese and are unacceptable.

There is no official penalty for Ozil, but he will likely lose his Chinese fans.

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[All countries must take concrete actions to stop and reverse global warming]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529211.htm The fact that the UN climate change conference, known as COP25, is still yet to finish, two days after its scheduled closing date, shows how hard it is for all countries to look beyond their own immediate interests for a pragmatic action plan to save the world from the fatal threat of extreme weather conditions.

There is no time left for the international community to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the warnings by scientists about the havoc climate change will wreak.

The continuous rise in global temperatures in the past decades, which has resulted in the much higher frequency of extreme weather events around the world, should be enough for the international community to be convinced about how urgent it is for all countries to take immediate action.

The whole world is waiting, hoping that the negotiations in Madrid will deliver a feasible solution, by which all countries, big or small, rich or poor, do whatever they can to cut greenhouse emissions in a concrete manner to implement the Paris agreement to the letter.

However, it is likely that the world will be disappointed again. Whether poor countries will be supported both in funds and technology by developed countries is still a hard nut to crack. What they view as intransigence on the part of some richer nations remains to be overcome. And the call by the European Union and a coalition of developing countries for others to come forward with more ambitious plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will be hard to materialize.

Research published during the talks found that emissions have risen by 4 percent since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, and cuts of more than 7 percent a year will be needed in the next decade to avoid dangerous levels of heating.

Whatever the result of the negotiations from this conference, China will continue to attach importance to whatever it can do to cut carbon emissions. Its annual report on policies and actions to address climate change published by the end of November shows that its carbon dioxide emissions per 10,000 yuan ($1,420) of GDP decreased 45.8 percent since 2005, which is equivalent to a reduction of 5.26 billion tons. It means that China has realized its 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions ahead of schedule.

China has raised the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 14.3 percent, on track to meet its target for 2020. The volume of its forest stock volume rose by 1.7 billion cubic meters, which is more than four times its 2020 target.

With concrete actions, China is demonstrating its determination to fight against climate change.

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hong Kong's youth betrayed by education]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/16/content_37529212.htm Despite the lull in violence on the streets, the Hong Kong police have seized large amounts of dangerous weapons and materials from young rioters and from schools. These include, among other things, improvised explosive devices, modified air rifles, and toxic and corrosive chemicals.

On Friday, a 13-year-old girl who burned a national flag on Sept 21 was ordered to undergo group counseling and put on probation for a year by a Hong Kong court. And on the same day, the police detained five young people, who are suspected of being involved in the death of a 70-year-old street sweeper last month, who died after being hit on the head by a brick.

Statistics show nearly half of the 6,000 or so people detained over the past six months for violence and illegal assemblies are students, and almost 1,000 of them are under 16 years old. Why are so many young people in the special administrative region willing to commit violent acts?

The thousands of bail applications the court has received from detainees have been filled with all sorts of naive reasons why they should be released-ranging from preparing for exams to sticking to personal travel plans, demonstrating that they simply do not realize the seriousness of their deeds, and have no comprehension of the legal consequences.

Their lack of awareness about the law and what constitutes civil behavior is in sharp contrast with the profound knowledge they profess to have of democracy, freedom and human rights. This should shame their teachers. Instead, many teachers have condoned and encouraged the violence.

Before 1997, there were only five so-called patriotic middle schools in Hong Kong, which stressed teaching Chinese culture, language and history. They did not receive government funding and their graduates were not allowed to work for the government.

The situation has not changed much today. Education aimed at promoting national pride is still portrayed as brainwashing, while well-compiled textbooks have fostered a latent anti-Beijing bias that has been unleashed and exploited by the instigators and orchestrators of the violence.

No wonder many compare the city's current education system to a government-funded assembly line churning out generations of angry anti-Beijing youths, for whom critical thinking is synonymous with China-bashing. No wonder many teachers in the city-who are products of the assembly line themselves-feel assured about and boldly endorse their campuses being turned into arsenals and training camps for the rioters.

That more than 30 teachers have been investigated on suspicion of violating professional ethics by the Hong Kong Education Bureau over the past six months represents only a tip of an iceberg.

But one thing all these shapers of young minds have in common is that they will never tell their students that the prerequisite for freedom of expression is critical thinking not assertions of their indoctrination.

 

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2019-12-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Long-talked deal finally set down in black and white]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/14/content_37529138.htm Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, China and the United States agreed on the text of a phase-one trade deal based on the principle of equality and mutual respect.

The agreement will have a positive impact on global trade, investment and the financial market, and marks a constructive step toward resolving the bilateral trade dispute, especially as the US president said "phase-two" talks would start soon.

Earlier reports of a deal were welcomed by the global market, as proved by the rally on Wall Street that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging 220 points, or 0.8 percent, on Thursday, while the yuan jumped to a four-and-a-half-month high against the US dollar and Chinese stocks staged a rally on Friday.

The rally on Wall Street continued on Friday morning (US Eastern Time) after the two sides agreed to negotiate on specific arrangement of signing the phase-one trade deal.

In return for suspending tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports set to kick in on Sunday, Washington wants Beijing to purchase more US farm products, increase US companies' access to the Chinese market and tighten intellectual property rights protection.

Indeed, by withdrawing the impending tariffs and gradually reducing the existing tariffs, the US will help improve overall China-US relations, trade relations in particular. And as expected, a deal will benefit not only China and the US, but also the rest of the world, and stabilize the international market.

By easing the trade war, which has forced the global manufacturing sector into decline, the deal will promote the stable recovery of the global economy.

Beijing has always advocated and practiced principled cooperation, and time and again stressed that only negotiations on an equal level, not tariffs, can resolve the trade dispute. Now that the US, too, has realized this, bilateral and multilateral trade and economic exchanges are expected to get a shot in the arm.

It is good to see positive signs on the other side of the negotiations table, especially since it means the US has at last taken China's requirements-that tariffs be adjusted according to the progress of the talks-seriously.

That the deal also includes the protection of Chinese companies in their dealings with the US is a positive sign that they can solve their differences.

This positive momentum needs to be carried forward, so future negotiations can resolve all the trade disputes between the two sides and end the trade war.

The world expected to see a phase-one deal, not least because it will help halt the costly trade war, and pave the way for the final solution.

]]> 2019-12-14 00:00:00 <![CDATA['I hope Hong Kong can restore peace']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528944.htm Editor's Note: A Hong Kong police officer who was slashed on the neck while on duty on Oct 13 was interviewed by Beijing News on Tuesday. The officer, who has served in the Hong Kong police force for over two decades, is one of the hundreds of police officers who have been injured in the 6 months of unrest. The following are excerpts of the interview:

My veins and a set of nerves were cut, but fortunately no arteries were severed. One of the functions of the severed nerves is to operate the right vocal cord, and although they are now reattached, the right vocal cord is still useless. My family members have always been very supportive of my work, but because of this incident, they are really worried about my safety and they advised me to do paperwork after I return to duty.

The man who slashed my neck has been arrested on suspicion of "intent to murder". He is 18 years old and was studying in a middle school in the New Territories. Police found a suicide note at his home.

I think my injury was only an isolated incident and I don't believe Hong Kong will become more violent in the future. I don't hate the man who injured me, but I don't understand why he did it. I hope everyone can stop violence so that Hong Kong can return to what it was like before. I hope all Hong Kong residents express their concerns in a peaceful and rational manner.

I think there was a lot of freedom to live in Hong Kong before the unrest began, but all this is being taken away. Because of the demonstrations and unrest, our traffic is disrupted and people's freedom has been deprived by the demonstrators. Before the unrest erupted, people could go wherever they wanted, and if there was someone who wanted to open a business, he or she would not be influenced by anyone else regardless of his or her political stance.

It is people's freedom to express their opinions, but it does not mean they have the right to express their concerns using force. As a Hong Kong resident, I don't want to see so much violence in this city. Any kind of violence, no matter what the cause, should not be allowed.

For law enforcement over the past six months, my colleagues have kept restraint, using only tear gas even in the face of demonstrators who threw gasoline bombs, bricks, and sometimes even used bows and arrows. Whether residents support the police or not, the police have to do their job as they are supposed to do.

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[More tariffs not the way to a deal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528946.htm In the long interims between each round of trade talks between China and the United States, although both sides would occasionally signal that the negotiations were still alive, it has often been the case that no news is good news.

But, for better or worse, there will be news this weekend, as the US administration has to decide whether to allow the hike of tariffs on the remaining $160 billion worth of imports from China to kick-in on Sunday. Unless action is taken to halt them, they will automatically come into effect.

The administration has been laying the groundwork for putting them on ice, so at the moment at least, it seems that the phase one deal is still alive. China on its part has been trying to fortify the prospects for its finalization.

That China's imports of US soybeans from September to November are already 13 times that of the same period last year shows Beijing's willingness to keep its side of the proposed bargain.

Yet, considering there is no lack of China hawks like White House trade adviser Peter Navarro among the top brains surrounding the US leader, there is bound to be resistance to any move to stop the tariffs from coming into effect. Navarro is shameless in his efforts to stigmatize China.

To support his fabrications about China he has even gone so far as to create a fictional alter ego called "Ron Vara", an anagram of his last name, to support his unsubstantiated and misinformed China-bashing.

But the two countries have locked their horns in a trade war for more than one and a half years; the US leader should brush aside Navarros' fictions and concentrate on the facts.

If the additional tariffs on all the remaining Chinese imports are activated on Sunday, China will have no choice but to retaliate with its own batch of tariffs on US goods that are due to take effect that day.

US anti-tariff campaign group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland estimates that US consumers and businesses have paid an additional $42 billion from February 2018 to October as a result of the US-initiated trade war. While Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC, an international consulting firm, predicts that with new tariffs 1 percent would be shaved off the US GDP.

The intensified frictions would also scupper the phase one deal, and probably put an end to the trade bargaining.

Halting the impending tariffs, and progressively canceling the existing tariffs in line with progress of the talks, is the way to set the table so the two sides put the ink on a deal.

To replace the former negotiations on a broad deal with more realistic step-by-step talks on phased deals is itself already a hard-won result that has come at a huge cost. If the phase one deal is allowed to die on the vine, all that hard-earned progress will have been for nothing.

What happens during the trade war will determine the future, not the trade war itself.

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Authorities have legal obligation to abide by agreements they sign]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528954.htm THE SUPREME PEOPLE'S COURT has issued a judicial interpretation on dealing with cases involving agreements signed between administrative authorities and citizens, legal persons or other organizations, which stipulates the legal liability that administrative organizations bear. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

This judicial interpretation aims to solve the problem of a government failing to fulfill an agreement. According to the judicial interpretation, administrative authorities will be held legally responsible for breaking the agreements using the excuse of a change of local government leading officials. Any losses suffered by enterprises and investors in the event of an administrative authority breaking an agreement are to be compensated according to law.

According to the Supreme People's Court, the judicial interpretation aims to ensure administrative organizations fulfill their policy promises and carry out any administrative agreements they sign.

The judicial interpretation is expected to solve the difficulty that market players face when there is a dispute with administrative authorities over breach of contract. Local authorities have sometimes failed to fulfill the commitments they made for investment, housing demolition or land acquisition purposes. But it is difficult for the citizens, legal persons or other organizations to safeguard their legal rights and interests when the agreement involves any administrative authorities. Such cases not only undermine market players' rights and interests, they also damage the local market environment. In addition, they have a negative impact on the image of local governments.

The legal environment is a significant part of the business environment. The new judicial interpretation requires administrative organizations to abide by the laws and regulations the same as any other market player has to. Local authorities are urged to make reasonable and long-term policy according to the laws and regulations, which will further promote administrative efficiency in local areas.

Government authorities being held responsible for failing to fulfill agreements is therefore conducive to improving the business environment, promoting responsible governance and enhancing the integrity of local governments.

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Teaching should be done by the book]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528958.htm ON THURSDAY, Peking University announced its decision to fire Feng Renjie, a teacher who was reported by his girlfriend as having sexual relationships with several female students. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

The claims that Feng took advantage of his position to seduce students remind us of another case exposed a few days ago.

On Monday, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics fired its associate professor Qian Fengsheng who is alleged to have molested a female student in his car.

There is at least one lesson to be drawn from the two cases, namely that power of academic staff, such as professors, is power too, and must be regulated.

When it comes to "power", most people associate the word with officials. However, the fact is that professors in colleges have power over the students they teach.

A professor has the power to decide how much work one student has to do in the class and how many points he or she gets in the course. Further, the professor can decide for whom to write a recommendation letter, and whom to introduce to a good intern position.

Both Feng and Qian have already been fired for abusing their power. But the two cases show that the regulations need to be strengthened on the one hand, to deter professors from abusing their power and take advantage of students, and on the other hand to deter students from seeking to gain an advantage by offering sexual favors.

Also, the campuses should open hotlines for students, so the students who feel they have not got justice from university authorities can report what happended to the police.

In certain universities with strict disciplines, some professors, in order to avoid any possible doubt about their reputation, even avoid being in a room alone with a student of the other gender. That might be a little inconvenient, but at least it stops anything untoward happening.

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Stabilizing course set to realize moderately prosperous society]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528959.htm The tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded on Thursday, has shed light on the direction of China's economic policymaking next year and mapped out policies to pursue high-quality development against domestic and external headwinds.

As the conference statement said, the country has achieved the hard-won task of "sustainable and healthy" economic development despite "growing risks and challenges".

But the increasingly turbulent global economic and trade landscape and the downward pressure on the economy mean policymakers face more daunting tasks in the year ahead as they strive to keep economic growth within a reasonable range, create jobs and improve people's livelihoods.

Yet, despite the headwinds it has encountered, China may still achieve GDP growth of more than 6 percent this year, meaning it is set to outperform most, if not all, of the other major economies, a simple fact that speaks volumes about the resilience of the Chinese economy.

Such resilience and the strengths of its governance system mean the country is confident it will be able to achieve its objective of doubling GDP per capita from the 2010 level and fully establish an all-round moderately prosperous society by the end of next year.

The doom-mongers are destined to be disappointed if they continue to predict a hard landing for the Chinese economy, ignoring what China has achieved and the leadership and institutional advantages it has that will ensure the country has a strong foundation for the start of its 14th Five-Year Plan in 2021.

For Chinese policymakers, their priority next year will be "stabilization", as the country is still transforming its development mode and optimizing the economic structure to realize the shift from capital accumulation-led growth to innovation-driven growth. This requires proactive and result-oriented approaches be taken to deepen reform and opening-up.

Some in the West hold the view that China's economic success cannot be sustained and it has already sown the seeds of its imminent collapse.

But over the past four decades, especially during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s and the 2008-09 global financial crisis, Chinese regulators have accumulated rich expertise in macroeconomic regulation and managed to prevent the economy from being derailed by both domestic and external challenges.

Today, the situation may be more complicated than ever. But the long-term upward trajectory of the economy has not changed. China is capable of coping with the many challenges it faces, and holding itself on course to realize its goal of national rejuvenation.

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China's economy to stabilize despite trade war]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528960.htm The US-triggered trade war has hurt China's exports, increased uncertainty and dampened business investment in 2019. We (at UBS Investment Bank) think this negative impact will persist next year even with a likely "phase one" trade deal between China and the United States.

Against such headwinds, we expect the Chinese government to continue easing macro policies to support growth. With a modest fiscal expansion focused on infrastructure spending and slightly easier monetary policy, we see China's growth stabilizing in 2020, with employment and consumption both resilient, and inflation not a lasting concern.

Our base case forecast assumes that the US and China will agree on a "phase one" deal. Even so, most if not all tariff hikes will likely remain and there is a risk of further escalation. US restrictions on technology exports to China, too, are likely to remain, if not tightened further. As a result, we expect China's exports to the US to continue to decline due to higher tariffs, and exports to the rest of the world to weaken because of slower global growth and increasing uncertainty. Declining exports and rising uncertainty, due to the trade war, will also likely keep corporate investment subdued.

Indeed, a UBS Evidence Lab survey of Chinese chief financial officers found that an increasing number of manufacturing companies have cut or plan to cut capital expenditure. We estimate that higher US tariffs and restrictions have had more than 100 basis points drag on China's GDP growth in 2019 and will have at least another 60 basis points drag in 2020.

Under such circumstances, will China announce a stimulus package? Should it?

There has been extensive debate on the subject in China. For us, the answers are clear. Of course, China will implement stimulus policies. Maintaining a "reasonable" growth rate is considered key to maintaining economic and social stability, and it has always been a top priority for the government. In fact, the Chinese government has eased policies since this summer, relaxing restrictions on financing for infrastructure projects, lowering interest rates at the margin, and improving the business environment for private and service sector companies.

Going into 2020, we expect the government to expand broad fiscal deficit by about 0.5 percent of GDP including an increase in new special local government bonds to at least 3 trillion yuan ($430 billion) to help boost infrastructure investment in a bid to ensure a 6-8 percent growth. In addition, we expect a modest monetary easing in 2020, with a 100 basis-point cut in banks reserve requirement ratios and a 10-15 basis-point medium-term lending facility rate cut, which should help the broad total social financing credit growth to reach 11.5 percent.

However, we do not expect a big stimulus package nor see 6 percent growth as a magic number. While the government wants to keep growth from slowing sharply, it also realizes that containing financial system risk and preventing a big property bubble are also important. Given China's already high debt/GDP ratio and housing prices, we believe the government will refrain from enacting a big credit-fueled stimulus package or stimulating the property sector.

And since the US-China trade war seems likely to last longer, Chinese policymakers may also want to keep some policy reserves for the future.

Therefore, we do not think the government will strive to achieve 6 percent growth in 2020 at all costs. If the US makes good its threat to raise tariffs on more Chinese goods on Dec 15 and brings stronger headwinds for the economy, we think the Chinese government can accept a sub-6 percent growth in 2020. But if the US suspends the tariff hike, the expected modest policy easing should get growth close to 6 percent.

Despite the expected slowdown in 2020, we do not foresee a significant drop in China's consumption growth. Ongoing structural transformation, including a gradual move toward services, and more automation in the manufacturing and export sectors, means the negative effects of higher tariffs and weaker exports have had only moderate impact on the labor market. We expect more job losses in 2020 as recent tariffs take a toll on exports and growth, and yet we see China creating more than 10 million urban jobs next year. As a result, unemployment rate might rise only modestly in 2020.

Moreover, given the largely resilient labor market, recent income tax cuts, and the government's initiative to support the service sector and small and medium-sized enterprises, we see consumption slowing only modestly next year. In particular, car sales could stabilize and become less of a drag on the economy, and spending on services including healthcare and tourism may increase more than average.

And facing the increasing deglobalization forces, we expect China to further open up its markets, including the financial market, to attract more foreign investment. We also expect China to deepen reform, including State-owned enterprises reform and hukou (housing registration) reform, enhanced intellectual property rights protection and higher spending on technology, in order to foster innovation in the long run. We also expect the yuan's exchange rate to stay relatively stable, and inflation to decelerate after the Lunar New Year in January.

]]> 2019-12-13 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Growth target to remain an anchor in 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/13/content_37528961.htm The year 2020 marks the closing year of a decade-long endeavor for China, as the country's leadership has pledged to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2020, a year before the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. To achieve that goal, China needs to double real GDP from the 2010 level by next year-and therefore re