Congress Wraps Up

People’s deputies representing the diversity of China take commemorative photos in front of the Great Hall of the People during the March 14 closing of the Third Session of the 10th National People’s Congress in Beijing.

The top legislature unanimously adopted the Anti-Secession Law at the meeting. Lawmakers also approved the reports on government work, China’s economic and social development plan and central and local budgets and elected President Hu Jintao as the chairman of the Central Military Commission to succeed Jiang Zemin, who announced his intention to retire last September.

VALUABLE TRAINING A girl in Xiji County of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region receives free training that will prepare her for employment in the city.

Harmony Equals Opportunity for All

China has dedicated itself to encouraging social harmony, but it is alarming to note that this might prove to be an uphill struggle. At present, not everyone is satisfied with the implementation of various rights of citizens that are prescribed by law. Discrimination against migrant workers and various other social injustices still exist. The first step toward addressing these issues is to guarantee the legitimate rights of every Chinese citizen.

Everybody should have his or her personal dignity protected by law. No one is to be subjected to unreasonable discrimination. In a harmonious society, everyone should be given equal opportunity for personal advancement. When formulating laws and public polices, the needs and aspirations of all social groups should be taken into account. More importantly, laws and policies should be implemented in an impartial manner. The social barriers that hinder the development of certain disadvantaged groups should also be eliminated.

Those who are in a favorable social position should not be too hasty in asserting themselves. They must be aware that their unrestrained quest for rights can only exacerbate social conflict, which could prove detrimental to their interests in the long term.

The Beijing News

A Conscience for Conservation

China’s economic development has moved and continues to move at rapid speed, exerting heavy pressure on the country’s energy and other natural resources. Because China has set its goals on quadrupling its 2000 GDP by 2020, it has to work hard to build a conservation-minded society that will work toward reducing energy consumption and enhancing energy efficiency.

A conservation-minded society is characterized by an energy-efficient national economy and the economical consumption of goods. In construction, for example, while the quality and safety of projects are key, their impact on their surrounding environment should also be taken into consideration. The need to save energy and resources is a high priority. Leading government officials are expected to set examples for their countrymen by working efficiently and avoiding extravagance in their daily lives. This awareness for conservation should also be instilled in the younger generation, who must be reminded of China’s energy shortage. Further, conservation is for everyone and people from all walks of life should be committed to it.

People’s Daily Overseas Edition

China’s Environmental Woes

It is alarming that drinking water that meets national hygiene standards is not readily available to over 360 million rural dwellers. This is according to Chen Yingxu, an environmental protection expert and member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He cited the figure in an appeal for government action.

China recently stepped up its efforts in environmental protection, but rural areas have, regretfully, been neglected in those efforts. Industries notorious for being heavy polluters have been relocated to the countryside. Such measures, whilst improving conditions in the cities, spell bad news for the rural environment. There is a pressing need to reverse this trend. Suggestions to tackle the country’s environmental problems include establishing ecological impact assessment mechanisms in rural areas in a bid to stop the reckless transfer of pollution from the cities to the countryside. In addition, more funds should be allocated for the restoration of the damaged ecological system in the rural areas.

Equal importance has to be placed on protecting both the urban and rural environments. Everyone is entitled to clean air and water, no matter where they live.

Workers’ Daily

Inequities in China’s Education

It would not be incorrect to say that education is a social equalizer. However, despite the efforts China has made to improve the education sector, many still do not have equal access to a good education.

The government is not investing as much as it had initially planned in education. Moreover, resources are not distributed fairly. Schools in rural areas, in particular, are usually underfunded and not well equipped. University admission policies that are unfair to candidates from rural areas have only worsened the situation.

The education authorities have pledged to put this problem at the top of their agenda. Some “rescue” measures include extending loans to needy university students and waiving school fees for students from impoverished families in China’s hinterland. But, this is far from enough. A nationwide effort is needed to address the problem of educational inequity.

People’s Daily

HUMAN TEST A volunteer receives an AIDS vaccine injection in Nanning, Guangxi. The girl, who will undergo a 180-day observation, was recruited publicly along with seven others. Officials estimate that there are at least 840,000 people living with AIDS in China.

HK Election The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will work to clear any hurdles in the lead-up to the chief executive by-election in July according to the region’s Basic Law.

Acting HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen made the remarks at a special meeting of the Legislative Council on March 15.

He also pledged that the HKSAR Government would maintain the policy continuity to guarantee law and order, social stability and smooth market operation.

Tsang assumed the current post after former HKSAR Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa resigned on March 10. Tung was elected vice chairman of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at the top advisory body’s annual session this month.

Dalai Lama Stance The Central Government’s attitude toward the Dalai Lama remains unchanged despite the his statement on March 10 that the way forward for the Tibetan people is to “remain within China,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao.

Liu urged the Dalai Lama to treat his comments “comprehensively and objectively” if he wants to improve relations with the Central Government.

“The Dalai Lama should genuinely renounce the stand of ‘Tibet independence’ and stop all kinds of separatist activities,” the spokesman added. He also called on the Dalai Lama to openly declare and acknowledge that Tibet is an inseparable part of China, that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.

Space Study Expanded A top astronomer said that China would install several large telescopes to further scientific observation of the heavens.

According to Ai Guoxiang, head of the National Astronomical Observatories, China plans to produce a telescope with the world’s highest spectrum acquiring rate for use near its Beijing base.

The telescope will be open to foreign countries and will have the capacity to survey 4,000 celestial bodies when it is completed.

Ai also revealed that the country plans to build the world’s largest radio telescope in Guizhou Province to receive electric waves from space and install a large telescope in Yunnan Province in a bid to improve its astrophysics research.

China is also expected to launch its first space solar telescope into orbit in 2008 to study solar physical frontiers.

Satellite Hijacked A satellite company based in Hong Kong has accused computer hackers associated with the Falun Gong organization of hijacking a satellite and disrupting services.

A statement released by Asia Satellite Telecommunications Corp. (AsiaSat) said that Falun Gong promotional broadcasts were aired at 9 p.m. on March 14 with the use the company’s 3S satellite. The company was forced to shut down TV broadcasts to some Chinese mainland provinces.

The deliberate attack seriously violated international telecommunications treaties, contravened international regulations and was in breach of the normal conduct of satellite operations, said AsiaSat.

Falun Gong, a cult, was banned in China in 1999.

Top Ship Maker China aims to turn itself into the world’s largest shipbuilding nation and will build more ships in the years ahead to meet a growing demand for vessels in the international market, said He Rongguang, President of Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industrial Co. Ltd.

China has ranked as the world’s third largest shipbuilding nation for years and is “very likely” to top the list in the near future if it can maintain current growth momentum, He asserted.

TRIPLE OIL AGREEMENT Oil and energy officials from China, Viet Nam and the Philippines sign a landmark agreement in Manila this month to cooperate in oil exploration in the South China Sea.

Shipping Merger The State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission under the State Council recently announced the merger of the Foreign Cargo Shipping Corp. with the China Ocean Shipping Corp. (Group), with the former becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the latter.

The recent move has reduced the number of state-owned enterprises in China to 177 in total.

Only some 80 to 100 state-owned enterprises will be retained under the reorganization plans of the government. Those companies will mainly be in sectors of strategic importance to the national economy, such as energy, metallurgy, automotives and heavy industry as well as commerce and trade.

Fake Crop Chemicals The government will intensify crackdown on counterfeit crop chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, according to Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin.

In 2004, China seized 9.9 million kg of inferior pesticide, 15.8 million kg of inferior seeds and 79,000 tons of inferior fertilizer. The seizures helped farmers retain 1.6 billion yuan ($190 million) in losses, according to statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Early this month, Premier Wen Jiabao said rural concerns about counterfeit crop chemicals would be a main focus of the Central Government’s work in the agricultural sector this year.

Bus Firm’s EU Access King Long Bus, based in Xiamen of Fujian, has become China’s first automaker to be granted permission to enter the European market by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), Britain’s transportation authority.

With VCA certification King Long can now compete with buses and coaches manufactured in the EU.

According to Xu Xiangdong, Vice President of King Long United Automotive Industry Co. Ltd., the company will complete its two-phase expansion plan by the end of 2006, which will involve 460 million yuan ($55.7 million) in investment. Upon completion, King Long will be able to manufacture 13,000 vehicles annually.

Low Pollution Economy China is committed to combating climate change in the coming decades and will work on building an economy with low carbon emissions, said a senior official.

According to Liu Jiang, Vice Minister of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese Government for years has been supporting the development of new and renewable energy sources such as biogas, solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy.

Liu made the remarks at an international conference in London this month on climate change and ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Energy and environment ministers from 20 countries with big domestic energy needs participated in the discussion.

In another development, China has adopted the Law on Renewable Energy this February.

Extending Reach Beijing-based Wangfujing Department Store, China’s leading retailer, is speeding up expansion by opening more outlets around the country and merging with other brands.

The company will open another six to seven stores this year in inland cities like Guiyang in Guizhou, Urumqi in Xinjiang and Xi’an in Shaanxi, announced Liu Bing, Vice President of Beijing Wangfujing Department Store (Group) Co. Ltd.

Wangfujing is expanding to compete with foreign brands that have entered the Chinese market since the country fully opened the retail sector at the end of last year, Li said.

Currently, Wangfujing has five stores in Beijing and 10 more in other Chinese cities.

Retail ID System China has begun building a system that will identify counterfeit retail products in department stores, according to the China General Chamber of Commerce.

Terminals will be installed inside department stores where consumers can check information about retail products to find out if they are counterfeit.

Manufacturers can apply to join the system free of charge by registering detailed information about their products. The system is part of the government’s efforts to safeguard consumers’ rights and crack down on counterfeiting of name brands, officials say.

HARMONY ILLUSTRATED Hundreds of Shanghai residents help out with a mural depicting their interpretation of a harmonious society. BIG APPLE ORCHESTRA The China Philharmonic Orchestra gives a performance at the Lincoln Center in New York during its world tour.
SCHOOL YARD FUN A British teacher plays a game with her students in a school for children of migrant rural workers in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. AIKIDO TAKE DOWN Students of the Chinese People’s Public Security University learn the art of aikido at the beginning of a new semester.