Thursday, August 31, 2006

What's New In China

Hong Kong Journalist Jailed for Espionage
Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist working for Singapore based Straits Times, was sentenced to jail for five years by a Beijing court on Thursday. He was indicted with espionage, providing China’s national secrets to Taiwanese government, Xinhua reported. The Hong Kong Journalists Association was not convinced by the verdict, saying that the Chinese law’s definition of “national secrets” is vague and could easily capture citizens and journalists, Asia Times reported.

Earlier, Zhao Yan, a researcher for the New York Times’ Beijing Bureau was sentenced three years in jail on the same charge.

Chinese People are Changing Reading Habits
For the first time since 1999, less than 50% lettered Chinese population actually read books, a survey result publicized on Wednesday showed. At the same time, more people read magazines and the Internet. In the past six years, people gaining online reading habit has been increasing by 40% annually, Xinhua reported. In terms of books, the survey indicated that Chinese people love to read fictions most, and above all, martial arts fictions.

Chinese Women Feeling Happy and Expecting Better Life
Over 45% surveyed women said they have happy marriages, and less than 2% described their marriages as miserable, according to a newly published report. The survey also demonstrated optimism among Chinese women, with nearly 70% of those surveyed said they expect better life in next three years, and those with better education appeared to be more confident about future life. Meanwhile, nearly all the surveyed women said they are concerned about food safety, and over 90% of them admitted pressure from work.

The survey was conducted in eight major cities, mostly among working woman between 20 and 70 years old.

----by Josie Liu

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What's New in China

Migrant Workers Allowed to Sue Employers with IOU
China’s Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that migrant workers who didn’t receive due salaries could claim the payment at a court with the IOU (I owe you) bill issued to them by their employers, Xinhua reported.

Prior to this announcement, Chinese courts did not accept lawsuit merely based on such a document. Instead, migrant workers were referred to arbitration, which took longer time and had weaker enforcement and many times yield no results. It has been a long-existing and rampant problem that many employers often grant an IOU note instead of cash to migrant workers on pay day. From time to time, unpaid migrant workers got so desperate that they staged suicide threat in public places or street demonstration trying to get their money.

Walmart in Beijing Established its First Labor Union
The world retail giant saw one of its stores in China’s capital establish its first labor union on Tuesday, with more than 70 participating employees. Beijing government’s official website said that so far there are three Walmart stores in Beijing, with more than 1460 employees.

Since landing in China a decade ago, Walmart has been one of few foreign companies in China that does not and perhaps would not have labor union, until very recently. In July, a Walmart store in Fujian Province established the retail chain’s very first labor union in China.

High Profile Legislator Denounced Direct Election of Local Officials
Mr. Sheng Huaren, vice chairman of the standing committee of National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s national legislation body, said it is against the law to allow people cast votes directly to elect their township chiefs, Xinhua reported. Several places explored such election in previous years, in an attempt to expand local democracy.

So far, Chinese citizens, particularly rural residents, only have the opportunity to vote for village leaders directly. Other government officials, from township chief all the way up to the president, are chosen by local or national people’s congress. Chinese citizens aging 18 or older have the right to elect people’s congress representatives at basic levels, and most of the time, people don’t really know who they are voting for because candidates rarely campaign.

----by Josie Liu

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's New in China

Chinese Communist Party to Require Officials to Report “Personal Affairs”
President Hu Jintao participated in a meeting on Tuesday discussing a regulation regarding party officials’ reporting to supervisors on their personal affairs, Xinhua reported. The meeting pointed out that such a regulation would play an important role in keeping party officials from corruption, and stressed on efficient enforcement of the regulation. Implementing such a regulation is yet another anti-corruption effort by the party’s central committee in recent years.

Shanghai Karaoke Clubs Discussing Intellectual Property Right Charges
In their meeting on Monday, many Karaoke club owners expressed doubts of the practicability of lavishing such fees and called for a public hearing on this issue. For a long time, Chinese people have entertained themselves by singing artists' songs without paying for music intellectual property right, but this is about to change. The national administration of intellectual property rights has issued a draft regulation dealing with IP right charges in Karaoke business and is asking for feedbacks from the public, China Business News reported.

----by Josie Liu

Monday, August 28, 2006

What's New in China

New Education Law to Take Effect
A new law addressing China’s compulsory education system (grade one to nine) will take effect starting September 1, Xinhua reported. The new law is a revision of an old compulsory education law that has been in place for the past 20 years. The new edition focuses on striking for a balance of education between rural and urban areas, as well as the fast developing east and the backward west of China. To make sure children in impoverished western rural areas can afford school, the new law provides them with free education through the ninth grade.

Several High-profile Government Officials Sacked on Wrongdoings
In the latest anti-corruption wake, several high-rank government officials have been removed from offices and put under investigation, including the chief prosecutor of Tianjin and three state legislators. Li Baojin, the chief prosecutor, is under investigation for “economic problems,” Xinhua reported. Two municipal officials in Shanghai are also being investigated for misappropriation of nearly US$420 million social security fond. In addition, a Sichuan delegate to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature body, was expelled from the congress for his deliberate thwart of investigation of his drunk driving accident, which killed one people, Channel News Asia reported.

Bankers the Major Bribery Receivers
Bank executives and staff have become the main forces among commercial bribery recievers, Gong Jie, a China Banking Regulatory Commission official said in Beijing recently. Banking institutions possess 70 percent of money resources in China, which makes them the major target of bribery in exchange for bank loans, Mr. Gong said. So far this year, more than 60 bribery cases occurring with financial institutions have been revealed, involving more than 4.6 million yuan (US$570,000), China News reported.

Group Dating Welcomed in Big Cities
About 10,000 singles turned out in a group dating event held in Shanghai recently. Same events were also welcomed in other major cities like Beijing. Such gathering provides busy single young professionals the opportunity to meet with people outside their offices, and hopefully, generate some romance. A government branch called the Women Association usually holds the date, according to BBC.

Trade Deficit in China’s Book Imports
China is now importing much more print publications from overseas than exporting, Yu Yongzhan, deputy director of China’s national publication administration told a forum in Beijing on Monday. He dispelled “misunderstandings” that China imposed many limitations on foreign publications, claiming that China spent more than US$150 million every year importing books, newspapers and periodicals, while earning US$20 million for its own publication exports. Mr. Yu also said that the imports are increasing every year, China News reported.

----by Josie Liu