China Digest

President hopes talks on peninsula succeed

China looks forward to the success of the top leaders’ meeting and bilateral dialogue between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, President Xi Jinping said.

Beijing hopes substantial progress will be made toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and normalizing their relations, Xi said when meeting on March 12 with Chung Eui-yong, special envoy and top national security adviser for Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in.

Chung visited Pyongyang and Washington and announced in the US capital on March 8 that US President Donald Trump would meet DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.

China appreciates Moon’s dispatching Chung to China to provide a briefing on Chung’s visits to the DPRK and the US and his effort to promote DPRK-US dialogue, Xi said.

Chung, who leads the National Security Office of the Blue House, said positive changes have taken place in the peninsula’s situation and China has played an important, navigating role.

Xi hails re-election of German chancellor

President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message on March 14 to Angela Merkel on her re-election as German chancellor, vowing joint efforts toward greater progress in bilateral ties.

Merkel was re-elected chancellor by parliament on March 14 for her fourth term of leading Europe’s largest economy.

The two nations achieved lasting development in relations through joint efforts since the China-Germany All-round Strategic Partnership was established in 2014, Xi said.

Common interests and mutually beneficial cooperation have deepened, and the two have had close cooperation such as on global governance, economic globalization and multilateralism, Xi said.

Xi said he attaches great importance to development of China-Germany ties and is willing to work with Merkel to cement and improve China-Germany strategic mutual trust, and take the bilateral ties to a higher ground.

Netizens mourn death of Stephen Hawking

Millions of Chinese mourned the death on March 14 of globally admired British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, 76, for his indomitable spirit and insightful probing of cosmic mysteries.

Netizens flooded Hawking’s official Weibo account to bid farewell after the news broke in China around noon. They left more than 50,000 new comments in five hours under his last update, when he lauded young pop star Wang Junkai in November for caring about life beyond Earth.

“Cherish the memory of Mr Hawking. You forever belong to the stars and universe, and your teachings will forever be in my heart,” Wang wrote, ending his sentence with a candle emoji.

News of Hawking’s death quickly became the top-trending topic on Weibo and search engine Baidu. More than 380 million reads and 236,000 comments were generated on Weibo in the first five hours after the announcement.

Trafficking of organs condemned at Vatican

 For the second year, a Chinese delegate took part in a two-day conference in Vatican City aimed at preventing organ trafficking. The conference ended on March 13.

Participants at the yearly Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, which was held at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, included officials, experts and advocates from around the world.

Summit speakers included Wang Haibo, a Chinese medical expert representing Huang Jiefu, a former vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee. Wang reiterated China’s stance on strict measures against organ trafficking.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations and other organizations condemn organ trafficking, as well as human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.

Beijing to work with

new US chief diplomat

Beijing said on March 14 it hopes the reshuffling of chief US diplomats will not affect the development of relations and important areas of cooperation.

United States President Donald Trump fired Rex Tillerson on March 13, saying his replacement would be CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The nominee is awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a daily news conference that Tillerson remained in close contact with China as secretary of state, and China appreciates his efforts to promote the development of Sino-US ties.

He said China also hopes to work with the new US secretary of state to continue the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, adding that China hopes to continue cooperating with the US on important international and regional issues.

Jan-Feb growth beats market expectations

China’s economic growth beat market expectations in the first two months, an indication that the world’s second largest economy is expanding steadily and can achieve its preset growth target of about 6.5 percent, analysts said.

Industrial output posted steady growth in the first two months of this year, up 7.2 percent year-on-year, 1 percentage point higher than in December and 0.9 percentage point higher than a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on March 14.

Fixed-asset investment growth was 7.9 percent in January and February combined, 0.7 percentage point higher than the whole of 2017, but 1 percentage point lower than a year ago, NBS data showed.

Retail sales increased by 9.7 percent year-on-year in the same period, 0.3 percentage point higher than in December, and 0.2 percentage point higher than the same period of last year, the NBS said.

J-20 stealth fighter to see more improvements

China will continue to improve and upgrade its cutting-edge J-20 stealth fighter jet, giving it more capabilities than merely penetrating an enemy’s air defense networks, according to its chief designer.

Yang Wei, a deputy director of science and technology at Aviation Industry Corp of China and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily in an exclusive interview that designers will develop variants of the radar-evading J-20 and will open research on its successor — a sixth-generation fighter jet.

“We are not complacent about what we have achieved. We will develop the J-20 into a large family and keep strengthening its information-processing and intelligent capacities,” Yang said.

Consumers make more demands on services 

In the latest consumer trend, Chinese shoppers are complaining less about merchandise and more about services.

To mark World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce released a report based on five years of data analysis showing that complaints about tangible goods, while still rising, have been growing at a slower pace since 2013.

As a share of the total, such complaints fell from 64.1 percent to 50.3 percent last year. By contrast, complaints about services have been accelerating, rising from 35.9 percent to 49.7 percent since 2013.

“This indicates that merchandise quality in the country has significantly improved, and consumers are demanding better services,” said Zhou Shiping, the State regulator’s director of consumer rights and interests protection.

Zhou said the total number of complaints logged since 2015 hit a high-water mark in 2017, reflecting growing consumer awareness.

Key satellite system eyes global reach

Leading space contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) will start building the country’s largest satellite constellation this year, with plans to offer communication services to users around the world.

Upon completion, the Hongyan constellation will consist of more than 320 satellites operating in low-Earth orbits, capable of providing phone call service and broadband Internet access to users anywhere on the globe, according to the China Academy of Space Technology, part of CASC.

The major parts in the network — 54 large communication satellites — will be launched before the end of 2023, and then 270 small satellites will be placed in orbits to supplement them. 

Currently, China’s largest satellite network is the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which has nearly 30 active satellites and will have 35 by the end of 2020.

France ‘returns’ relics as digital resources

More than 5,300 pieces of ancient Chinese manuscripts have been “returned” from France in digital form and are available online, according to the National Library of China.

The online resources have been provided by France’s national library, which holds more than 7,000 original copies of the Dunhuang manuscripts.

The documents, which date from the fifth to 11th centuries, were discovered in the Mogao Grottoes in Northwest China’s Gansu province in the early 20th century.

There are more than 50,000 of them, including history, linguistics, art and religious documents. Most of the manuscripts are in Chinese, but some are in other languages such as Khotanese and Hebrew.

Around 16,000 Dunhuang manuscripts are stored at China’s National Library, while the rest are scattered overseas in Russia, Britain, France and Japan.

Xinjiang reported free of terrorist attacks

There were no terrorist attacks in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last year, the region’s chairman said on March 13 as he discussed the regional government’s determination to keep the social situation calm.

“Xinjiang will continue to enforce the comprehensive anti-terrorism measures to keep the region stable,” said Shohrat Zakir, chairman of Xinjiang. He spoke during a plenary session of the Xinjiang delegation to the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature.

A series of new anti-terrorism measures have been introduced since Chen Quanguo was appointed as Party secretary of Xinjiang in August 2016.

Significant results have been achieved in maintaining social stability in Xinjiang, which has always been the front line of China’s battle against terrorism, Chen said earlier in the annual NPC session.

Pace quickens for recall of defective vehicles

More than 47 million defective cars have been recalled on the Chinese mainland in the past five years, following the 2013 adoption of product safety regulations.

The number represents 83 percent of all cars recalled in the past 14 years, according to China’s top quality supervision authority.

More than 56.7 million cars were recalled between 2004 — when China began implementing recalls — and the end of last year, data from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine show.

Last year, a record 20 million cars were recalled, a 77 percent increase over 2016.

The figure makes China second in the world, behind only the United States, in the number of cars recalled annually.

Of the cars recalled last year, those made domestically, including foreign brands, accounted for 91 percent.

More equity of SOEs will go to workers

China will conduct equity diversification at the group level in selected centrally administered State-owned enterprises and advance mixed ownership reform for SOEs in sectors that are fully competitive this year, the head of a top regulator said.

  The government will enhance corporate governance for SOEs under mixed ownership, and carry out explorations on systems of special right stock, Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said at a news conference during the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress.

  Xiao said China will systematically summarize the experiences from programs to pilot the granting of equity stakes to employees in mixed-ownership, State-controlled enterprises, as well as expand the coverage of these pilots and set up long-term incentive and restraint procedures.

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