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China Digest
2018-03-05,

Beijing 2022 learns from Pyeongchang

Benefiting from hands-on involvement in its neighbor’s best practices running a winter Olympiad, Beijing has taken over the stage as it prepares to present its own version of the Winter Olympics.

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics concluded following 18 days of action on Feb 25. But the expertise in planning and operations sent to Beijing from the Republic of Korea (ROK) is just beginning. Beijing will stage the gala event in 2022 with co-host city Zhangjiakou, North China’s Hebei province.

Organizers from Beijing are bringing and sending home piles of notes, documents, video footage and extensive know-how about Pyeongchang’s operation gained through the Olympic Games Knowledge Management system to facilitate their own delivery of the 2022 Games.

The observer program of the knowledge-sharing system enabled 147 staff members from Beijing to tour different venues and closely observe the practices of their ROK counterparts. 

Supporting CPC leadership essential

The top task of deepening institutional reform of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the country is to enhance the Party’s leadership in all areas and ensure its leadership becomes stronger, said a statement released after a key meeting concluded on Feb 28.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered an important speech at the Third Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which was held in Beijing from Feb 26-28. The session was attended by 202 members and 171 alternative members of the Central Committee.

The leading officials listened to and discussed the report delivered by Xi on authorization of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

The CPC Central Committee’s decision to deepen institutional reform and the resulting plan was also reviewed and adopted. Parts of the plan will be submitted to the National People’s Congress (NPC) for further review in accordance with legal procedures.

The NPC, China’s top legislature, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body, started their annual gatherings, collectively known as the two sessions, on March 3 and March 5.

Construction starts on Beijing-Xiongan rail 

Construction began on Feb 28 for an intercity railway between Beijing and the Xiongan New Area in neighboring Hebei province, marking the beginning of major infrastructure construction in the eastern area.

The rail line, which will stretch about 92 kilometers, is the first major transportation project involving Xiongan since its establishment in April, according to the contractor, Beijing-Shenyang Railway Passenger Transport Beijing-Hebei Co.

The railway will cut the travel time between the capital and Xiongan by more than 60 percent to about 30 minutes when it begins operations by the end of 2020.

With an investment of 33.53 billion yuan ($5.3 billion), the rail line will have five stops from the southern Daxing district in Beijing, via Langfang in Hebei, to the Xiongan New Area.

US doesn’t seek trade war: Treasury chief

Washington wants to reduce its trade deficit with China by raising US exports rather than seeking a confrontation, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a group of US governors who were in Washington on Feb 27 to discuss foreign investment.

“Our objective is not to get into a trade war. This is an important relationship. It’s a complex relationship, and it’s a big market,” he said.

Six governors traveled to Washington to discuss their experiences with foreign companies in their states, and four of them talked about Chinese investment specifically.

“I do trade missions on a regular basis to China, to Asia and to Europe,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has led seven trade missions to China. “It is not about transactions. Good trade is about win-win. It’s not about win-lose.”

Communist Manifesto hailed as ‘lightning’

China marked the 170th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto on Feb 22.

The document has been hailed as the guiding political document for the communist movement. With its publication by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in February 1848, Marxism emerged “as if lightning cut through dark sky”, an article published by Xinhua News Agency said on Feb 22.

Chinese communists today can still learn a lot from the manifesto and be inspired by it, according to an article published by Study Times, which is run by the CPC Central Committee Party School.

The Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China published a post headlined “Happy Birthday, Communist Manifesto” on its WeChat public account, which was read by more than 100,000 people and liked by thousands.

Capital eases rules on foreign recruiters

Foreign headhunting companies see opportunity and innovation in newly announced policies in Beijing’s recruitment market and say they expect the whole industry will benefit.

Foreign talent agencies can now own up to 70 percent of a joint venture registered in the Chinese capital, up from 49 percent, Chen Bei, a spokeswoman for the city’s Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said on Feb 27.

Also, a requirement has been removed that foreign investors have at least three years of experience in the recruitment industry overseas before entering the Beijing market.

“This is the most open policy in China’s headhunting market and will bring benefits to both foreign investors and Chinese companies that are short on senior talent,” Chen said.

Regulator takes control of Anbang Insurance

Chinese regulators took control of Anbang Insurance Group, a private Chinese conglomerate best known for acquiring the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, on Feb 23 as its former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, is being prosecuted for economic crimes.

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the country’s top insurance regulator, said in a statement that Anbang’s business operations have violated regulations and laws, which could “seriously endanger” its solvency. Because of that, the regulator took over the insurer for one year to ensure normal business operations and to safeguard the interests of insurance consumers, the statement said.

A team comprising members of the commission and China’s central bank, as well as banking, securities and foreign-exchange regulators, will manage Anbang’s day-to-day business, the statement said.

Trump praises China’s Peninsula peace efforts

US President Donald Trump praised China on Feb 26 for its role in working toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking to a group of US governors at the White House, Trump said he has great respect for President Xi Jinping.

“I think that President Xi is unique. He’s helping us with North Korea — who, by the way, wants to talk, as of last night — you heard that,” Trump said.

Kim Yong-chol, who headed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegation at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in the Republic of Korea, said on Feb 26 that his country is willing to have talks with the US, and that the door for dialogue between the two countries remains open, according to the ROK’s Yonhap News Agency.

Beijing tops list for improved air quality

Beijing has emerged as the best city in its region for air quality improvements over the past four months — a time when the capital usually suffers its worst air pollution — according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

From October to January, all 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and surrounding areas saw their air quality improve. Beijing topped the list, as its average concentration of PM2.5 decreased by 58.3 percent from the same period year-on-year. PM2.5 refers to inhalable particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less that is linked to health problems.

Shijiazhuang, in North China’s Hebei province, came in second, with a decrease of 52.4 percent.

There are, however, big differences between cities. Jining, in East China’s Shandong province, saw the smallest year-on-year decrease — just 8.4 percent, according to the ministry.

Express deliveries speed to top spot worldwide

Growth during just the past four years has led China to surpass developed economies such as the United States and Japan and rank first globally in the number of express packages delivered last year, the State Post Bureau said on Feb 27.

The bureau, which operates China Post, the national postal service, said 40.06 billion express packages were delivered in 2017, 33 times the number in 2007. That equals an increase of 42 percent annually.

Ma Junsheng, head of the State Post Bureau, said the express delivery industry generated about 500 billion yuan ($79 billion) in revenue last year.

In rural areas alone, more than 10 billion packages were delivered in 2017, Ma said at a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.

Target for 2020: No child left behind

As China steps up its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty through allocating more educational resources to poverty-stricken areas, the goal is for no child in China to be prevented from attending school because of poverty by 2020, the Ministry of Education said on Feb 27.

New educational funds, programs and policies will support places where extreme poverty persists — including the Tibet autonomous region, parts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu — to help markedly elevate educational standards in rural China by 2020, according to a guideline published on the ministry’s official website.

“The country will establish records on each child’s education situation in these areas as the basis for targeted poverty alleviation through financial input and policy support,” the guideline said.

Flu outbreaks could come again in March

A new wave of flu outbreaks may occur in China in March, but it will be not as serious as the one that hit many parts of the country earlier this winter, an official from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Feb 27.

Judging from past experience, smaller peaks of the flu are likely in March, triggered by the change of seasons and heavy population flows after the traditional Chinese New Year holiday, Dong Xiaoping, director of the CDC’s global public health center, said at a news conference.

“However, it is almost certain the next peak will be smaller than the first,” he said.

China was hit by its worst flu epidemic in recent years this winter. More than 273,000 cases were reported in January, including 56 deaths.

New air pollution rules in the works

China is drafting tailored air pollution control measures for 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as part of a national three-year campaign, the top environmental authority said on Feb 27.

A national research center with 1,500 scientists and other experts has been established to study the causes of air pollution and to develop pollution control measures. Meanwhile, 500 researchers have been dispatched to the 28 cities to conduct research and offer guidance for local air pollution-control work, said He Kebin, dean of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University, at a news conference organized by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

He also said a detailed list has been made of air pollution sources at the county level in the 28 cities, and more research will be done before the final tailored measures are drafted.


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