09 Nov 2007

Keywords : media censorship, pollution, environnemental activism, financial opening-up, labour, urban planning, food safety,


  • Paris-based Reporters Without Borders hit out at mainland authorities over their appalling record on press freedom – with 33 journalists in detention, several dozen injured and one killed in various assults by unidentified persons this year. It published a guideline which the Publicity Department was said to have sent to mainland media before last month’s Communist Party Congress in Beijing. In it, authorities explicity order journalists to censor many news items and to censor themselves.
  • Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang apologised to the mother of an imprisoned reporter Shi Tao during testimony at a heated US congressional hearing investigating the company’s role in his jailing. Mr Yang apologised to Yu Lin, the wife of another jailed dissident internet writer Wang Xiaoning who was arrested in 2002.
  • The latest in a blitz of tabloid-style stories about Xi Jinping, the 54-year-old former Shanghai party chief and his superstar wife Peng Liyuan was run on the CCTV website, with a headline that screamed Peng on Happy Family Life. It’s a marked departure for the mainland media where the leadership’s personal lives are usually off limits.


  • Foshan remains the Pearl River Delta’s most polluted city, the latest regional air monitoring report shows. Pollution levels there and in Dongguan and Guangzhou often exceed national air quality standards, the half-year figures show. They show Tsuen Wan in the New Territories had the third-worst record on nitrogen oxides after Foshan and Guangdong with levels exceeding the national standard on 6 days in the first half of the year.
  • A draft law aimed at expanding the power of China’s top environmental watchdog and introducing an impact assessment system has met strong opposition from officials across the mainland. Unlike the existing environment impact assessment, which deals only with specific projects, strategic environmental assessment hopes to consider the combined impact of a cluster of projects in a region at the decision-making level.
  • A mainland court has rejected the appeal of environmentalist Wu Lihong, upholding a three-year jail sentence for extortion and fraud for the famed activist, his wife said. Wu became famous for his efforts to clean up Tai Lake, the site of massive algal bloom which cut off drinking water supply to millions of people earlier this year.


  • The Ministry of Finance announced it would issue special subsidies to the low-income groups and industries hit hard by fuel cost increases, a day after nation’s planning agency increaded oil prices by about 10% and warned of an imminent rise in gas prices.
  • Premier Wen Jiabao has set four conditions for direct investment in HK stocks :

Promulgate a law to regulate outward mainland funds to minimise the shock to domestic stock markets

Look into the possible negative impact on the Hong Kong market

Raise the sense of risk of mainland investors and their understanding of the Hong Kong market

Seek the opinions of related financial regulators including those in Hong Kong

  • The central government has urged mainland funds that invest overseas not to put more than 30% of their money into any market, and is considering imposing an investment ceiling in light of the rising risk of investing in Hong Kong stocks, according a state media report.
  • Premier Wen Jiabao has mounted a rare public defense of his macroeconomic policies which have been criticised both within the Communist Party and overseas. Everybody agrees that China’s economy has been doing pretty well for the past 5 years and actually it’s one bright spot in the global economy said Mr Wen who has been in charge of the economy since 2003. If that the case then to label our macroeconomic controls as toothless contradicts both fact and logic. In August Citigroup chief Asia economist Huang Yiping wrote since the beginning of economic reform, China has been known for its decisiveness in economic policy making. Unfortunately recent experiences appear to suggest that such decisiveness might be gone at least in areas of macroeconomic policy.
  • Shares of Alibaba.com China’s biggest electronic commerce company, nearly tripled in a spectacular opening day of trading. The parent company of Alibaba operates yahoo China and the chinese auction site taobao.com which competes with eBay in China. Alibaba’s blockbuster debut came just a day after PetroChina one of the country’s biggest oil companies, liste dits stock in Shanghai in the world’s biggest offering this year raising nearly $9 billion.



  • A draft regulation on annual paid leave was released for public consultation. Those who had worked for the same employer for less than 10 years would get 5 days of paid leave annually, an allowance that would increase to 10 days after 10 years with the same employer and 15 days after 20 years of employment. This is the first time China has stipulated concrete measures to ensure employees at all kind of businesses get annual paid leave. A popular proposal is to cut two days from the Labour Day break and add public holidays to celebrate traditional occasions, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival or the tomb-sweeping holiday. An academic said that before the Labour Law only said workers were entitled to paid leave but did not mention how much or the punishment for a breach of rights.
  • Telecommunications equipment giant Huawei has persuaded thousands of long-serving employees to resign ahead of a new labour law. Since the end of September, it has shed about 7000 employees with a least 8 years of service by offering voluntary redundancy packages of 20000 to 160000 yuan. Those who resigned could reapply through a competitive application process with little difference in their position or renumeration. Under the new Labour Contract Law due to come into effect on January 1, employees are entitled to permanent contracts if they have worked for a company for more than a decade or if they have completed more than two consecutive fixed contracts. Employees with permanent contracts are harder to dismiss.
  • A new law on urban and rural planning was passed and lawmakers approved amendments to three much-discussed pieces of legislation on conservation, civil procedure and lawyers. The new Urban and Rural Planning Law aims to weed out local government defiance of urban planning in pursuit of image-building projects which often leads to illegal land reclamation and demolition and a waste of resources in building unncessary grand structures. Amendments made to the Energy Conservation Law include making officials’ efforts a performance assessment criterion. Developers are now required to inform consumers of energy conservation measures in the property. Amendments to the Civil Procedures Law the first in 16 years focused on making the application for a retrial easier and the execution of judgements more effective. New amendments to the Lawyer’s Law introduced in 1996 and unchanged since, include permission to set up a one-man legal firms and the guarantee of basic lawyers rights.
  • The Food Safety Law had been passed in principle by the Standing Committee of the State Council and would be submitted to the NPC. It mandated better release of information about food safety issues, higher fines for wayward firm and punishment of officials who act irresponsibly and guaranteed the public’s right to compensation and to sue. Xinhua said.


Foreign Relation

  • China and the US agreed to deepen military exchanges, talk more on nuclear issues and open a defense hotlinie but US concerns over the rapid Chinese military build-up remain. In talks with Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan to kick off his 2-day China trip, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates also sought to persuade Beijing to back tougher economic sactions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
  • Beijing has criticised a public meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Dalai Lama as gross interference in China’s internal affairs.


  • Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian have listed five conditions on using cruise missiles against the mainland, saying the US will have the last say over the island attacking mainland with such weapon. He said the missile would only be used tactically, in self-defence, without the targeting the general public, and with the nod from security authorities. The fifth is to communicate with the US beforehand, seek its opinions and if the US said no problem, the we would use it.
  • The mainland has issued an arrest warrant for a Taiwanese secret agent accused of hacking into hundreds of sensitive government websites. The security department added that it had already discovered overseas agents spying on tens of thousands of major computer systems using Trojan horse programmes, with 42% of attacks coming from Taiwan and 25% from the US

Hong Kong

  • Leading Beijing-friendly polticians rounded on Democractic Party founding chairman Martin Lee for inviting foreign interference in China’s internal affairs. Mr Lee had appealed to the US government to use the Olympics to press for human rights improvements on the mainland.


  • Macau’s biggest corruption trial opened with the court hearing charges that former public works minister Ao Man-long accepted 200 million patacas in bribes in return for approving or fast-tracking the construction of casinos and other major projects.