Keywords: central leadership, media censorship, energy, finance, anti-monopoly, death penalty, recall system, emergency response, human rights, military spending,
- The Communist Party will start its 17th National Congress in Beijing on October 15, party leaders announced. Sources said the congress would endorse a leadership with MR HU, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-President Zeng Qinghong at its core, and seal the retirement of some members of the Politburo Standing Committee. Wu Guanzheng 69 in charge of party discipline and Luo Gan 72 in charge of law enforcement will stand down having passed retirement age.
- The Ministry of Information Industry said it had approached eight major operators including Google, Baidu, Yahoo, Sina and Sogou, to tell them to delete offensive and banned online content. Internet authorities have been cracking down on online pornography since April. However, the search engine companies were ordered more broadly to remove ‘harmful information’. Shantou Telecom was ordered by authorities to suspend 2000 local servers because some of its clients’ bulletin boards and websites carried banned posts. Forty of the servers were permanently shut down.
- US internet giants Yahoo and Microsoft confirmed that they had signed a code of conduct for their blogging operations on the mainland that committed them to protecting the interests of the state. The pact encourages the internet firms to register the real names, addresses and other personal details of the bloggers and then to keep this information. The firms also committed to delete any illegal or bad messages.
- The National Development and Reform Commission said in a report that the mainland planned to increase the use of renewable energy from the current 8 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010, reaching 15 per cent 10 years later.
- More than 1150 sq km of low-lying land in the Pearl River Delta, including parts of Guangzhou, Foshan and Zhuhai, will be under water by 2050 if global warming continues at its present pace, meteorological officials have warned. If the pace picks up, the scenario could play out 20 years earlier. The report does not mention any impact on Hong Kong, but it includes a map showing areas which could be lost to rising sea levels by 2030 – among them parts of Lamma and Po Toi Island, and land in Clear Water Bay, Kwai Chung and Sai Kung.
- Beijing’s plan to allow individual investors to buy Hong Kong stocks faces further delays, with some top officials reportedly concerned over a possible slump in mainland shares. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe) said on August 20 that mainland residents could invest an unlimited amount in Hong Kong stocks under a pilot scheme at the Bank of China’s branch in Tianjin’s Binhai economic zone.
- A powerful central government agency will be set up to co-ordinate the implementation of the Anti-Monopoly Law which was adopted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. I twill come into effect next August 1. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said it was conerned about the security reviews. It is not clear how such a national security review will be applied, especially given that public interest is not defined in the law. The latest draft also includes a ban on abuse of administrative powers to exclude and restrict competition. The draft needs to be approved by next year’s annual session of the NPC.
- The mainland’s two largest banks disclosed for the first time their exposure to the collapsing US subprime market – a combined US$12.5 billion. Bank of China which holds US$9.64 billion in securities backed by subprime loans, the most of any Asian company, set aside 1.14 billion yuan to cover possible future losses. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China president Yang Kaisheng said the bank had US$1.22 billion in exposure to subprime mortgage securities, or 0.0012 per cent of assets.
Social & Legal
- The number of people sentenced to death by mainland courts last year was the lowest nearly a decade and the trend has continued this year following a key legal reform, the state media said. International rights groups have estimated the mainland executes between 5,000 and 12,000 people a year more than any other country. As the start of the year, the Supreme People’s Court took back its power of final approval on death penalties, relinquished to provincial high courts in the 1980s.
- The mainland officially put in place systems to recall unsafe food and toys. The recall system put in place by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine follow an earlier system set up for defective cars in 2005. The toy recall system required producers to stop making and sellinig toys that were confirmed to have problems even they were made in accordance with mainland laws and standards. The manufacturers would also be required to tell retailers to stop selling the products. The State Council also issued a new regulation on food safety and set up a panel to oversee and improve overall quality.
- The Emergency Response Law and Employment Promotion Law were adopted by NPC Standing Committee. They said the law, which goes into force on January 1, would expand employment and reduce poverty by providing equal opportunities for all citizens, especially aiding disadvantaged groups. The Emergency Response Law which becomes effective November 1 requires governments and their departments to act promptly in co-ordinating responses to emergencies. The law bans the fabrication and spreading of false information on accidents and disasters by organisations or individuals.
- The reform endorsed by the government of the Subei Mongolian Autonomous County (a Gansu county) and supervised by the local social security bureau. The entire rural population of the county or more than 4000 farmers will receive a new household registration paper, or hukou, by the end of the year identical to those held by urban residents. With that document, the farmers will be allowed to participate in urban residents’ social welfare schemes covering education, employment, social security, housing, medical insurance and birth control.
- President Hu Jintao warned Taiwan nto to make any attempt to break away from the mainland, saying Beijing ‘resolutely opposed’ the island’s planned referendum on its UN membership. The warning came just before President Hu’s meeting with US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) leaders’ informal meeting.
- Officials in Sydney, said that Beijing tried to block a meeting over its human rights record coninciding with Mr Hu’s visit. New South Wales state officials said they had rejected the demand. Wu Juntao, jailed by the mainland on charges of manipulating the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and later exiled to the US, will be the keynote speaker at the gathering which coincides with a dinner hosted by New South Wales Premier Morris Lemma welcoming Mr Hu to Sydney.
- Beijing has decided to submit an annual report on its military spending and imports and exports of conventional arms to the United Nations, as part of efforts to dismiss growing international concern over its rapid military build-up, analysts said. According to Antony Wong, president of the International Military Association in Macau, Beijing also hoped that the move would help convince the US and Japan to support is Taiwan policy ahead of the island’s presidential election next year. Western countries have long had doubts over China’s military budget which does not cover a lot of hidden spending, such as the space programme and some technological research.
Hong Kong & Macau
- Pan-democrats are likely to meet soon to draw up a strategy for January’s election of local delegates to the NPC amid mixed feelings about taking part in the contest and conern by Beijing that they might have some success. Greater representation by democrats on the Election Committee – which comprises more than half the the 1300-strong election panel for the January vote – and the abolition of first-round voting are seen as favouring the democrats or at least opening the door to some new faces.
- Chief Executive Donald Tsang and two government departments have been caught up in the embarassing Wikipedia editing storm sweeping the globe. A search using the Wikiscanner program has revealed Mr Tsang’s profile was subjected to extensive favourable editing at the height of his re-election quest from Bank of East Asia offices, where he was running his campaign.
- Macau’s booming casino industry will overtake the gaming revenue of the US State of Nevada as early as next year, says Las Vagas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson. The Venetian opened as the world’s largest casino by floor space and number of tables.