News Meeting on 1 June 2007
Keywords: anti-corruption, stock price, food price, environment, social unrest, media censorship
- China’s former drug agency chief Zheng Xiaoyu, was sentenced to dealth – the first death penality imposed on a senior minister in 7 years. He was found guilty of taking 6.49 million yuan in bribes and dereliction of duty. Southcn.com pointed out that few corruption cases had resulted in death sentences in recent years. It said officials who took more bribes than Zheng were given only suspended death sentences which were usually commuted to life sentences later. Foreign governments especially the US have pressured China after a series of drug and food scares including tainted ingredients in pet foods and toothpaste.
- Each person entering the mainland from next month will only be allowed to bring in up to 10 books, newspapers and magazines, and a maximum of 20 digital discs under new customs restrictions, Xinhua said. Duty will be imposed on any items over the specified limits, and on all items if a person enters with more than 50 printed articles or more than 100 discs. Mailed goods will be subject to the same regulations. Specific bans will apply to material supporting Taiwanese independence, denouncing the CCP or the central government, provoking national conflicts, promoting cults or destabilising society and content that is pornographic, demeaning of others or disrespectful of social ethics.
- According to Mingpao, the following the 9th party meeting in Shanghai, the new team of leaders were appointed. Xi jinping the party secretary and Han Zheng the deputy party secretary were elected.
- Mainland stock markets had their biggest falls in 3 months after the government unexpectedly tripled the stamp duty paid on the share trades – its most decisive action yet to cool months of frenzied speculation that has sent the bourses to record highs.
- Premier Wen Jiabao has warned of the danger of rising food prices on the mainland, saying further rises could spark social unrest. He visited a pig farm and wet market in the western province of Shaanxi and urged officials not to lower their guard on the issue. The rising price of pork and other food items has become a national concern and dominated media coverage.
- Chinese citizens alarmed about pollution won a rare victory when a city froze a chemical project after angry citizens joined hands through a flood of mobile phone text messages. Xiamen announced it was halting construction of a plant to make paraxylene, a petrochemical that goes into polyster and fabrics.
- The head of the world’s leading body on climate change appealed to Hong Kong to take action based on scientific evidence presented in the United Nations’ assessment reports. 4 global environmental groups will share a US$100 million donation by HSBC to fight climate change. HSBC officials said the donation would assist Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai and other regions to respond to the climate change challenge.
- More riots have broken out in the Guangxi over local authorities’ rigid enforcement of the one-child policy, residents of the south-western region said. Similar riots took place in nearby Bobai county 2 weeks ago, when thousands of people stormed a local office, smashing furniture and destroying vehicles.
- The country’s top trade union body said yesterday that by 2012, all the companies in China will be expected to have established a system of collective negotiation and collective contracts. I was firmly committed to helping workers in all companies to fight for decent wages and was particularly concerned with small private enterprises, many of which do not have trade unions or modern working systems. At present, 49% of workers have collective contracts with their employers.
- Officials in Yongzhou, Hunan Province, forced unmarried women to have pregnancy checks and made the tests compulsory for any female seeking a share of community land-sale revenues and voting rights, villagers said. Wang Yanli 29 a resident of Wutong in the city’s Lengshuitan district said local committee party secretary Peng Chunsheng and his subordinates ruled in 1999 that all unmarried women had to have check-ups to determine if they had ever been pregnant, and if they had, the women should be expelled from the community.
- Groupe Danone said that Chinese officials had seized about 118 tons of its Evian mineral water on the ground that it breached local safety rules. China’s government applies a bacteria standard ‘different from that set by the WHO,’ Danone said in its statement. ‘We need to reassure consumers that the microbial flora existing in our products is totally safe.’ Danone joins the KFC chain and retailers like Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart Stores among international consumer goods companies to have fallen afoul of Chinese health regulators in the past 2 years.
- The People’s Liberation Army soldier who has been confirmed as having contacted the H5N1 bird flu strain was serving in Fujian province, according to the WHO’s Beijing office.
- Chinese state media criticized an annual Pentagon report on Beijing’s defense plans as misleading and insulting and said China had to pursue military modernization to avoid falling further behind the United States. The report said new Chinese missile units could be used for crises not involving Taiwan while advances in the air force would allow extended air operations over the South China Sea. ‘The report even more insultingly says that China out of concern for energy needs has been enhancing ties with countries that violate human rights, support international terrorism and engage in nuclear proliferation,’ the People’s Daily commentary stated. ‘The 2007 annual report again seeks to mislead international opinion by using erroneous claims.’
- Vice-Premier Wu Yi called the 2nd Strategic Economic Dialogue a complete success while US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson singled out agreements on financial services, energy and the environment and cvil aviation as positive evidence of tangible results. There was no accord on the appreciation of the yuan, although the People’s Bank of China did increase the trading band for the currency earlier. In a letter addressed to the Chinese team, the Ways and Means Committee said Beijing was flouting world trade rules by manipulating the value of the yuan to boost exports and distorting trade with subsidies.
Hong Kong/ Macau
- The author and publisher of a book on political protests in Asia, whose cover depicts a key moment in the Tiananmen Square incident, have accused a Hong Kong company of self-censorship by backing out of its agreement to print the work. The book’s author is barriste rand human rights activist Paul Harris.
- Critics are warning of worsening censorship despite the growth of the Macau media market and are urging the government to stop meddling with press freedom. Their anger was fuelled by the government’s handling of Chief Executive Edmund Ho remarks on the Labour Day rally, when a police officer fired 5 warning shots in the air during a demonstration. Only a government-owned television station was allowed to film Mr Ho’s meeting with local journalists on May 4, and government information officials supervised the editing of the footage before it was released to other media.