China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Friday said it had taken “reciprocal” measures on US diplomats in the country.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference that the Chinese side issued a note to the US Embassy in China on Wednesday, informing it of reciprocal measures going into immediate effect.

Hua made the remarks when asked to respond to reports that China had taken countermeasures in response to the previous restrictions imposed on Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States.

In October, the United States ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department in advance of any official meetings with US diplomats, local or municipal officials and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

Asked to confirm reports that US diplomats in China are required to notify the Foreign Ministry five working says in advance of meetings with local officials, Hua said, the countermeasures “are reciprocal to the US State Department’s restrictive measures against Chinese diplomatic and consular officials.”

“We once again urge the US side to correct its mistake, withdraw the decision and provide support and convenience for Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States as they fulfill their official duties,” she said.

Hua said China has always supported diplomatic and consular personnel from other countries, including the United States, in carrying out normal official duties according to law.

“We will take appropriate measures in response to US actions,” she said.

China: CPC leadership deliberates upon 2020 economic work, anti-corruption

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

CPC leadership deliberates upon 2020 economic work, anti-corruption

Xinhua

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee held a meeting Friday to analyze the economic work for 2020 and make plans for improving conduct and building integrity within the CPC as well as fighting corruption.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting.

China: Jing’an lights up the holiday

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Jing’an lights up the holiday

Li Qian
Jing'an lights up the holiday

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A 25-meter Christmas tree has been erected in the square of the HKRI Taikoo Hui retail mall.

Jing'an lights up the holiday

Ti Gong

A “wishing ball” can be dropped by visitors to fall down twisting channels at the HKRI Taikoo Hui retail mall.

Merry and bright wintertime attractions and bustling pop-up markets are creating a lively, festival atmosphere in downtown Jing’an District.

A 25-meter Christmas tree in the square at the HKRI Taikoo Hui retail mall has become a popular place for young people to take holiday photographs.

The tree creates a romantic ambiance with twinkling fairy lights.

The mall’s second and third floors have been decorated like a fairy-tale place where little animals, including a cute blue mouse as next year is the Year of the Mouse in the Chinese lunar calendar, help Santa Claus prepare and distribute gifts. Visitors can make a wish and throw a “wishing ball” from the third floor to drop down to a “wishing box” on the second floor.

Wang Yan, deputy director of Jing’an Commerce Commission, said the event creates a fairytale world full of love on the Nanjing Road W.

A German-style Christmas fair is being held in The New Factories in the Jiangning Road sub-district, radiating warmth despite the chilly weather.

The Christkindlmarkt, which will run through December 15, featured stalls decorated as log cabins. A variety of traditional German delicacies, including baked apples, ginger cookies and grilled sausages, are on offer. The fair also has exquisite handicrafts, such as wooden Christmas trees and other holiday decorations, for sale. Santa Claus will grace visitors with his presence at weekends.

The New Factories, a creative industry park transformed from old factory workshops, is a popular destination. Nearly a third of its occupants are foreign companies.

Jing'an lights up the holiday

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Visitors take photographs of the holiday decorations at the HKRI Taikoo Hui retail mall.

China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

Xinhua

China will take robust and multi-pronged measures to ensure that employment remains stable. The government will scale up support for flexible employment, boost job opportunities for people with disabilities, and tackle the stubborn issue of wage arrears affecting migrant workers with legal means.

A host of steps was decided upon at the State Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics last month showed that 11.93 million new urban jobs were created in first ten months this year, meeting the yearly target of 11 million ahead of schedule. The surveyed urban unemployment rate in October at the national level was 5.1 percent, down 0.1 percentage points over the previous month.

“We will face even greater risks and challenges next year. We must give higher priority to keeping employment stable as this is the key in ensuring that our economy does not slide out of the proper range,” Li said.

It was emphasized at the Wednesday’s meeting that local governments must fully appreciate the significance of stable employment. They are required to introduce more measures that support job creation, and promptly repeal unwarranted regulations that hinder flexible employment. More efforts will be made to catalyze business start-ups and innovation. The terms of guaranteed loans to micro and small start-ups will be eased. Jobs for the public good will be expanded in areas of weakness related to people’s lives.

The government will intensify support to businesses to keep their payrolls stable. The current policies of lowering the premiums of unemployment insurance and workplace injury compensation insurance, partial reimbursement of unemployment insurance contributions for employers who keep their payrolls, and subsidies for in-job vocational training will continue for another year.

“Employment is essential to people’s well-being. It is the wellspring of wealth and the foundation for social stability,” Li said. “Nothing big would go wrong next year if we could keep employment stable.”

The meeting required that the vocational upskilling program be fully implemented and vocational training for essential skills be enhanced. The employment safety net will be strengthened to help the unemployed living in difficulty meet their essential needs. For instance, those who have not found full-time jobs yet are no longer eligible for the allowance of flexible employment insurance will be able to stay on this benefit for another year.

To better leverage the Employment Security Fund for Disabled People to boost their employment, it was decided at the meeting to improve the fund’s collecting methods and incentivize more employers to raise the percentage of disabled people on their payrolls. The job needs of disabled people as well as vocational training and employment services will be prioritized in the use of the fund to help people with disabilities land higher quality jobs.

“We must take multi-pronged steps to keep existing jobs and add new ones, and introduce measures that boost job creation as quickly as possible. This year, thanks to the reform in transforming government functions and our mass entrepreneurship initiative, an average of nearly 20,000 businesses are newly registered every day. This has greatly eased the employment pressure,” Li said.

It was underlined at the meeting that migrant workers have made significant and unique contributions to the country’s development. They should be remunerated in full and on time for their hard work. Legal means are needed to promote the fundamental resolution of the wage arrears these people face.

Those at the Wednesday’s meeting also adopted a new regulation on ensuring wage payments to migrant workers to resolve the problem of wage arrears faced by these people with legal means.

The regulation clearly defines the primary responsibility of employers, the responsibility of local governments and the responsibility of regulatory authorities. It stipulates that wages of migrant workers must be paid in full and on time.

According to the new regulation, no construction will begin and no building permit be issued if the funding requirements of the project are not met. And a blacklist of employers who delay paying up the migrant workers will be set up.

The meeting urged local governments to take the wage arrears in government-invested projects as the top priority. Governments at all levels, state-owned enterprises and government-affiliated institutions must incur no new wage arrears under any reason.

“We must ensure that the essential needs of the unemployed people are met, and fully protect the rights of people with disabilities and migrant workers,” Li urged.

How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

T5557U

How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 – 12:30
Impoverished girl | Photo: REUTERS
Ferid Belhaj
How can the wealthiest nations around the globe continue to help the world’s poorest countries? This is a question that delegates will look to address during a meeting organized by the International Development Association, or IDA, in Stockholm next week.
IDA
The role of IDA, a financial institution and a member of the World Bank Group, is to offer loans, grants and debt relief to poor countries unable to borrow on the terms offered by another arm of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its member states will gather in the Swedish capital on December 12 and 13 to set the agenda for assistance to these countries for the three-year period starting in July 2020. While countries in the Mena region, including Saudi Arabia, had contributed funds to the previous cycle, it is critical that they – and potentially others – sustain and increase their participation in this forum and support a global public good.

Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community

This upcoming replenishment, as it is called, is indeed an opportunity for the region as a whole to make its presence felt. Beginning next year, it will be the epicenter of several global events. Saudi Arabia will host members of the G20, Egypt is the chair of the African Union and the UAE is preparing to host the region’s first World Expo. The World Bank-IMF annual meetings will take place in Marrakech in 2021. While these events are significant in their own right, a substantially higher financial contribution from Mena countries to IDA will demonstrate the region’s capacity to lead on long-term challenges such as poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and climate change.

Since its creation in 1960, IDA has become one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries and the foremost instrument to channel multilateral funding where it is needed the most and in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Over six decades, it has provided almost $400 billion for investments in over 100 countries, its support paving the way towards equality, economic growth, job creation, higher incomes and better living conditions. IDA’s work covers primary education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate improvements, infrastructure, and institutional reforms. More recently, it has intervened to bring hope to people affected by conflict and violence.

Since 2000, it has provided more than $88 billion in financial assistance to Arab and Muslim countries. In the previous replenishment, more than 50 percent of the resources were allocated to 28 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, including Djibouti, Syria, and Yemen.

In Yemen, IDA has played a critical role in providing relief and mitigating the lasting impacts of conflict. It has helped Yemenis fight diseases and famine, helped train nearly 12,000 health personnel and immunize 6.9 million children. Through an emergency program, it has helped ensure around nine million vulnerable Yemenis have access to food and other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll. More than 5.6 million people are registered as refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Lebanon, where many of them live, IDA is helping the country enroll 200,000 children in public schools. In Jordan, IDA assistance is creating 100,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals and Syrian refugees.

Beyond the Mena region, IDA is a development partner for the poorest countries.

International institutions remain important for some of the most lagging regions and communities in the world. Independent assessments have documented the tremendous benefits of IDA’s support for the development of poor countries. Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community.

Multilateral institutions deserve our utmost support because when misfortune strikes countries, the knowledge and financial resources of these institutions can save, protect and nurture lives. They can provide ideas for development strategies and funds for critical infrastructure. To eliminate extreme poverty and shared growth, they are a valuable ally for governments and citizens.

The World Bank Group is grateful for generous financial contributions from the international donor community to IDA. However, I believe that the more fortunate Mena countries can and must enhance their contribution to this agency. Its economic heft presents an opportunity for the region to take on a leadership role in this forum. It is also a wonderful opportunity to help those in need, which is fully in line with the region’s rich history of generosity towards the less fortunate.

Ferid Belhaj is World Bank regional vice president for Mena

China: US act on Hong Kong ‘completely unnecessary’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

US act on Hong Kong ‘completely unnecessary, unjustifiable’: HKSAR chief executive

Xinhua

US act on Hong Kong 'completely unnecessary, unjustifiable': HKSAR chief executive

AFP

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on December 3, 2019.

The Hong Kong-related act recently passed by the US Congress and signed into law by the US president is “completely unnecessary and unjustifiable,” Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.

At a media briefing before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the HKSAR government strongly opposes the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, and regards it as a “very regrettable” move by a foreign legislature and administration to interfere in the Hong Kong affairs through their own legislation.

Stressing that the human rights and freedom of Hong Kong residents are well protected by the HKSAR Basic Law, Lam pointed out “we enjoy a high degree of freedom in many aspects, including freedom of press, freedom of assembly and demonstration, as well as religious freedom.”

Lam noted that the major chambers of commerce here have been strongly opposing the act, adding that the act may even bring harm to US companies, considering that there are more than 1,300 US enterprises that have operation or even regional headquarters in Hong Kong.

As for the suspension of reviewing applications to visit Hong Kong by US military ships and aircraft and the sanctions against some US non-governmental organizations announced by the Chinese central government on Monday, Lam said the central government shall be responsible for the foreign affairs related to the HKSAR, and the HKSAR will cooperate and follow up in accordance.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua
Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

The Heihe section of the east-route natural gas pipeline.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Monday afternoon, as the two heads of state jointly witnessed the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline.

“East-route natural gas pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation and a paradigm of deep convergence of both countries’ interests and win-win cooperation,” Xi told Putin via the video call in Beijing.

He congratulated the launch of the pipeline and expressed appreciation to the construction teams from both countries.

The east-route natural gas pipeline began providing China with Russian natural gas, which is scheduled to reach 5 billion cubic meters in 2020 and increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024, under a 30-year contract signed between the China National Petroleum Corp and Russian gas giant Gazprom in May 2014.

Speaking highly of the arduous efforts Chinese and Russian builders and companies have made in frozen and snow-covered land in the past five years, Xi said they have shown to the world their consummate skills and the fruitful results of China-Russia cooperation.

Xi and Putin witnessed the signing of the pipeline agreements in 2014 in Shanghai.

The launch of the pipeline is not only an important result at the current stage but also a new start for future cooperation, Xi said.

He called on both countries to make the pipeline a safe and green pipeline of development and friendship, ensure the safe operation of the pipeline and boost the sustainable development of the regions along the line.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing to witness the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline, December 2, 2019.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. Xi and Putin announced in June in Moscow to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era.

Stressing that he and Putin agreed to continue putting bilateral ties as a priority of each other’s foreign relations and enhancing strategic coordination and cooperation, Xi called on both countries to redouble their efforts to initiate more key projects like the east-route natural gas pipeline, to boost both countries’ development and better benefit both peoples.

Putin, who made the video call from the Russian city of Sochi, said it is of great historic significance that the east-route natural gas pipeline was launched on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Russia-China diplomatic ties.

The launch has lifted bilateral strategic coordination to a new level, said Putin.

Hailing the five-year toil of construction teams from both countries on the project under extreme weather and the completion on schedule, Putin said Russia will provide 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China in the next 30 years.

This is conducive to the realization of a Russia-China trade volume of 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, Putin said.

Russia stands ready to work with China to ensure the smooth implementation of the landmark strategic project, he said.

During the video call, China and Russia representatives at northeast China’s Heihe station and Russia’s Atamanskaya compressor station and Chayandin gas field reported in turn to the two presidents that they were ready to receive or provide natural gas. Xi and Putin then gave the go-ahead to the teams.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng attended the ceremony in Beijing.

The cross-border gas pipeline has a 3,000-km section in Russia and a 5,111-km stretch in China.

China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

Xinhua
China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

Xinhua

The mouth of the Yangtze River on Shanghai’s Chongming Island.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday jointly issued an outline of the integrated regional development of the Yangtze River Delta.

The document outlined targets, requirements and measures to boost the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta and build a regional cluster of high-quality development.

As one of China’s most economically active, open and innovative regions, the Yangtze River Delta boasts strategic significance in the country’s modernization and further opening-up, which makes its regional integration crucial for leading the country’s high-quality development and building a modern economic system.

The outline, mapping development for a 358,000-square km expanse that encompasses Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Anhui Province and Shanghai Municipality, consists of 12 chapters.

Tasks specified in the outline include establishing a coordinated innovative industry system, enhancing connectivity of infrastructure, strengthening environmental protection, advancing public services and building the Shanghai free trade zone under high standards.

The document detailed development goals to be achieved by 2025 and offered visions into 2035.

By 2025, the Yangtze River Delta is to see substantial development and basically realize integration in the science and innovation industry, infrastructure, environment and public services, said the document.

To fulfill integrated development in the science and innovation sector by 2025, the ratio of the region’s R&D spending to its gross domestic product (GDP) should top 3 percent, while its output of high-tech industries should account for 18 percent of total industrial output.

In the same period, connectivity of infrastructure will be represented by improvements in railway and expressway density and a 5G network coverage of 80 percent.

The outline also laid out environment standards to be met by 2025 in terms of PM2.5 density and energy consumption per unit of GDP.

By 2025, accomplishments in public services should put per capita fiscal expenditure at 21,000 yuan (about 2,987 U.S. dollars) and extend the average life expectancy to 79 years, according to the outline.

The outline also called for a unified market system marked by openness and the free flow of resources.

Looking further into the future, the outline envisioned the Yangtze River Delta as the most influential and robust driving force of the nation’s development by 2035.

China: Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Yang Jian
Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens take part in a walking event on Saturday in Changning District.

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15 km route in Changning District.

Participants set off from Zhongshan Park in early morning and walked along the newly opened waterfront of Suzhou Creek near the East China University of Political Science and Law.

They were then guided to visit the historical Xinhua and Yuyuan roads along with the garden villas and former residences of celebrities on both roads.

The organizer of the micro-tourism event encouraged participants to pose with the historic buildings and scan the QR codes on each of the structures to learn their history and stories.

The route has been well designed to include the newly opened riverside attractions, old-time villas and historic sites related to the history of Shanghai and Communist Party of China, according to the organizer.

Over 20 heritage sites are open to the public in Changning where early CPC members and reformists carried out secret activities. They include an exhibition hall about revolutionary history in Changning on Yuyuan Road, which once served as the editorial department for an early key CPC publication titled Bolshevik.

People can also visit the former residences of missile and space scientist Qian Xuesen (1911-2009), writer, translator and scholar Shi Zhecun (1905-2003) as well as New Zealand-born writer Rewi Alley (1897-1987), who came to Shanghai in 1927 and was later involved in China’s revolution and reconstruction, in the tour.

The 1.5 kilometers of Xinhua Road between Huaihai Road W. and Yan’an Road W., built in 1925, also features a dozen heritage villas and former homes of dignitaries, such as American missionary Gilbert Reid.

A visit to the Columbia Circle compound is recommended to the participants. The site, owned by the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products on Yan’an Road W. near Panyu Road, has been converted into a complex with offices and shopping. Three historical structures — Columbia Country Club, the Navy Club and a villa built for Dr Sun Yat-sen’s son Sun Ke — are being preserved.

The event is part of a 100 km walking event in Shanghai this year. Similar walking activities have been held in other districts and will be organized across the city.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15km route in Changning District.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

Xinhua

The number of visitors to Hong Kong dropped 43.7 percent year on year to 3.31 million in October, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

The decline has been widening since July as tourism took the major brunt of social unrest. In the first 10 months, the number of visitors went down by 4.7 percent from a year ago.

The HKTB attributed the sharper fall in the last month to continued violent incidents and a high base a year ago, when the number of visitors was boosted by the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

In October, visitors from the Chinese mainland, accounting for about 76 percent of the total, slumped 45.9 percent year on year. US and Japanese visitors fell by 38.2 percent and 44.9 percent from a year ago, respectively.

The dropping visitor number has forced major carriers to adjust their strategy.

Hong Kong Airlines said in a statement Friday that it will suspend services to Vancouver, Ho Chi Minh City and Tianjin since February to focus on operating other priority routes under the challenging business environment caused by the ongoing social unrest.