China largest holder of US Treasuries

Source: US Department of the Treasury Graphic: GT

The Chinese mainland has again become the largest foreign holder of US Treasury securities, pushing Japan down to second place, according to data revealed by the US Department of the Treasury on Tuesday.

Experts told the Global Times on Wednesday that the situation is a result of improved capital flows and expectations of the yuan strengthening against the US dollar. They added that China might further pump up its holdings of US Treasuries if these trends persist.

The US Treasury data showed that in June, China bought $44.3 billion US Treasury securities, bringing its total holdings of US bonds, notes and bills to about $1.15 trillion in total.

The Chinese mainland has been increasing its holdings of US Treasuries for six consecutive months.

Japan, which replaced China as the US’ biggest Treasury securities holder last October, sold about $20 billion of Treasuries in June. Its current holdings of US Treasuries amount to about $1.09 trillion.

The US Treasury data also showed that Hong Kong is currently the ninth biggest holder of US Treasuries, with its holdings reaching approximately $203 billion.

Buying in dollars

Zhou Yu, director of the Research Center of International Finance at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that China’s rising holdings of US Treasuries shows that the People’s Bank of China (PBC), China’s central bank, has been buying foreign currencies.

The PBC invests foreign currencies in overseas assets instead of depositing them in banks and buying US Treasuries is the most common investment channel for central banks around the world, Zhou added.

E Zhihuan, chief economist at Bank of China (Hong Kong), also told the Global Times on Wednesday that China’s recent moves to increase its holdings of US Treasuries is in line with the continuous rise of foreign reserves.

China’s foreign exchange reserves rose to $3.08 trillion in July after increasing for six straight months.

Zhou said that the PBC buys US dollars to help curb any depreciating trend in the yuan, as it can then sell dollars if the yuan is depreciating too much. The yuan has surged by about 4 percent in 2017, data from the PBC showed.

“Buying dollars is a good sign, given that the yuan had been bogged down in a depreciation cycle in recent years. But in the longer term, holding too much foreign currency reserves is not such a good thing as the yield from US Treasuries is not very high compared with other investment channels like stocks,” Zhou said.

E said that the rising yuan is a result of China’s economic data in 2017, which has been generally better than market expectations, and this has restored people’s confidence in the yuan.

“If China’s foreign reserves and the yuan’s exchange rate can remain stable, the Chinese government still has room to buy more US Treasuries in the future,” E noted.

Tan Yaling, head of the Beijing-based China Forex Investment Research Institute, said that China’s holdings of US Treasuries will be “periodical” subject to factors such as China’s internal economic structural adjustments and government policy.

Valuable asset

Tan said US Treasuries are still the best overseas asset channel for the PBC.

“US Treasuries have a stable interest rate between 2 and 5 percent. They are also safe, supported by the strong US economy and the prestigious US dollar. Liquidity of US Treasuries is also high, making this quite a flexible investment method,” Tan told the Global Times on Wednesday. The US had total GDP of $18.57 trillion in 2016.

Zhou also noted that individuals can invest foreign currencies in assets with greater yields as well as risks, but for central banks the liquidity and safety of their investment are more important.

He also noted that a weaker US dollar might cause the US Treasuries to shrink in value. “But we don’t need to worry about that now since the US government is raising interest rates.”

Source: Global Times

China rolls out first rhinoceros get-close project

(Chinanews.com/Tao Ping)

China’s first project to enable members of the public familiarize with rhinoceroses was recently launched in the Pu’er Sun-River National Park, southwestern China’s Yunnan province, China News reported on August 15.

The project was launched after seven African white rhinoceroses were introduced in the park in March 2013. The last wild rhinoceros in the area went extinct in 1933. Now, tourists can get close to the rhinoceroses and learn about their habits in a special interaction area in the park.

(Chinanews.com/Tao Ping)

In addition, the second Pu’er Sun-River Rhinoceros Culture Festival will be held in the park on August 19 to strengthen awareness on the need to protect the animals when the park celebrates the 10th birthday of a rhinoceros.

U.S. trade probe againt China short-sighted: expert

(Chinanews.com/Li Jinlei)

A Chinese expert says the U.S. is short-sighted if it is willing to damage bilateral economic and trade relations with China, as U.S. President Donald Trump authorized the U.S. Trade Representative to launch an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices, China News reported on Aug. 15.

In the Presidential Memorandum, Trump authorized Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, to determine whether China’s relevant laws, policies, or practices harm U.S. intellectual property rights (IPR), innovation, or technological development.

On the same day, Lighthizer issued a statement saying that he would conduct a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of U.S. industry.

The investigation is to be launched on the basis of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which was designed to eliminate unfair foreign trade practices that adversely affect U.S. trade and investment in both goods and services.

China’s Ministry of Commerce noted in a statement that Section 301 has been opposed by many countries for its unilateralism, and the U.S. should strictly adhere to commitments and should not become the destroyer of multilateral rules.

The statement said that China will not sit idle but take necessary measures to safeguard China’s legitimate rights if the U.S. takes actions that impair trade relations, disregards the facts and disrespects multilateral trade rules.

Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told China News that the U.S. probe reflected the unilateralism of the America First policy, which is short-sighted and would harm bilateral economic and trade relations, as well as the rights of enterprises of both countries.

Bai said the probe would have a negative impact on Chinese companies, but many American businesses would suffer from Chinese retaliation. In addition, any protectionist measures the U.S. takes would take time to implement, giving China plenty of time to offset the actions.

The research fellow suggests China strengthen talks with the U.S. and, if necessary, try to gain support from the WTO to protect its legitimate rights, adding that relevant enterprises should respond to suits if involved in cases.

Meanwhile, experts stress that the U.S. should not overlook the fact that China has improved IP laws, achievements which have been recognized both domestically and internationally.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying also noted that China has been striving to build an innovation-driven society to promote industrial upgrading in recent years.

The spokesperson urged the U.S. to respect China’s achievements of indigenous innovation, saying that the number of patent applications in China has accounted for 38 percent of the world’s total, topping the world list and 1.9 times the number of the U.S., and China’s investment in research and development has occupied 17.6 percent of the global investment by 2016, close to that of America.

Beijing cops say getting victims of subway harassment to testify is challenging

The Wolf Hunting Group, a special Beijing police squad formed to crack down on sexual harassment on the city’s subways, has caught 40 suspects and detained 28 since the group being established in June.

However, the group has found it hard to secure convictions as persuading victims to testify is challenging.

“Chinese society has a tradition of criticizing victims. It is essential for society to encourage victims to speak out,” Luo Ruixue, a member of the Women Awakening Network, a women’s rights group, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The smell of perverts

“Do you know why we seized you?”

“Because I touched a girl’s thigh on the subway.”

A suspect was detained by the Wolf Hunting Group of Sihui Police Station on August 11, The Beijing News reported.

Founded on June 16, the squad has caught 40 people suspected of sexual assault on subway and detained 28.

“We must act in order to provide a safe ride and give passengers the secure feeling that they should have in public,” Wang Yongchao, vice director of Sihui Police Station, told the press.

“Perverts look no different to normal people in general, but their eyes are different. Their eyes usually glance around and they are alert and diffident,” said Liu Xiao (pseudonym), a member of the Wolf Hunting Group.

Liu has been tracking down sexual assaulters for 10 years and says he can recognize them by their “smell.”

Each morning, Liu and his colleagues dress in plain clothes and patrol subway platforms.

“We solve every case we can and catch any pervert we see. In the long term, we hope to build up a reputation,” said Wang Cang (pseudonym), a group member.

According to the Beijing News report, lots of women have told their stories of being sexually harassed on Beijing’s public transport systems.

Lack of evidence

However, since there is rarely a lot of evidence, it has been difficult to put offenders behind bars.

Officers say that the biggest barrier is the reluctance of victims to cooperate with police investigations.

Wang said that some victims say things like “I’m busy, please do not bother me anymore. You are violating my personal freedom.”

Liu said that after he catches molesters on the subway, more than 80 percent of victims refuse to provide evidence, which means the suspects have to be freed.

According to the group’s members, harassers share their experience of assaulting women and alert each other to avoid the police. They also have social media groups in which they share themselves experiences and videos of their harassing women, news website thepaper.cn reported.

Unequal genders

“Many of the victims are afraid of being criticized or facing revenge, so they dare not speak out at the time or call the police when harassment happens,” Luo said.

A man cut a woman’s throat with a knife on a bus in Beijing’s suburban Tongzhou district in July after the woman said he was harassed by the man and took a picture of him, China National Radio reported.

Also, China has a tradition of blaming victims, which still occurs in the media and on the Internet, said Luo.

If a victim speaks out or a bystander offers a helping hand, they could find themselves at the center of the case and have their actions discussed by others, but no one wants this, a Beijing subway passenger surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“As the genders are not truly equal, the weak ones (usually the females) are not allowed to mention their experience, otherwise it would cause them trouble in maintaining the patriarchal society,” Luo noted.

However, according to the Women Awakening Network, speaking out might actually be safer for the victims.

“Detention is serious, but more important is the presence of the police that could deter perverts and encourage victims to fight for their own rights,” Luo said.

A positive sign is that society and the police are paying more attention to sexual harassment in the public, and posters have been put up in the subway as well to encourage victims to speak out, Luo said.

Source: Global Times

More countries shun Dalai Lama as China’s economic impact grows

The weeks of tension that followed Botswana’s approval of a visit from the Dalai Lama, despite Chinese objections, came to an unexpected end last Friday.

On August 11, four days before the trip was scheduled to begin, the Dalai Lama’s official website said the Tibetan political exile had to cancel his trip due to health reasons.

The sudden cancellation sparked an avalanche of speculation, with some guessing that Chinese government pressure had been the actual cause of the cancellation.

Believing that Tibetan issues are a matter of internal Chinese affairs, China has long taken a tough stance toward countries that invite the Dalai Lama or approve his visits.

Experts say no matter what the real reason for the sudden change of plans, as time goes on it will be increasingly difficult for the Dalai Lama to travel internationally as his political influence is on the wane.

Sudden cancellation

The Dalai Lama had been expected to visit Botswana’s capital Gaborone from August 15 to 20 to address a human rights conference and meet the country’s president despite China’s objections, Reuters reported.

The trip would have been his first visit to Africa, after he was repeatedly denied a visa to South Africa in the past.

However, on August 11, the Dalai Lama’s official website posted a notice, saying he had cancelled his trip due to health reasons. “[H]is 82-year-old body was telling him to rest,” the notice read.

The notice also said that the Dalai Lama found that carrying out his activities has left him unusually tired, and his physicians have “also advised him to avoid undertaking long journeys for the next few weeks.”

However, he is still scheduled to visit Europe from September 10 to 25 to attend a series of events including public talks and conferences, according to the website, and there has been no indication that these events will be cancelled or postponed due to his “exhaustion.”

Many have speculated that China’s objections and warnings toward Botswana were the deciding factor. Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center, said, “I don’t know the actual circumstances, but I would say it’s very probable that Botswana is taking into account its relations with China. After all, compared with China, the Dalai Lama is trivial.”

Wang Xiaobin, another scholar with the China Tibetology Research Center, says that the post on the Dalai Lama’s website may have been a face-saving move. “Health conditions may have been an excuse that the Dalai Lama used to give himself an out,” he told the Global Times.

China and Botswana signed a trade agreement in 1986 to facilitate bilateral trade. According to China’s foreign ministry, in 2016, the total trade volume between China and Botswana was $271 million. By the end of 2016, Chinese manufacturers had signed labor contracts totaling $9.91 million in Botswana. China has also been offering medical aid to the country.

Different approach?

China uses tough measures against countries which allow the Dalai Lama to visit, including temporarily cutting off trade or aid, in addition to talks through diplomatic channels.

Last November, after Mongolia approved the Dalai Lama’s visit to the country, China launched a series of sanction-like countermeasures, including indefinitely postponing two inter-governmental meetings at which Chinese loans to Mongolia were to have been discussed.

Bilateral relations between China and Mongolia stalled until December, after Mongolia, a country with a long Buddhist tradition, made a public apology saying it deeply regretted allowing the Dalai Lama to visit, and promised not to invite him again.

But China seems to have taken a different approach toward Botswana. Although China’s foreign ministry repeatedly warned the country, on July 24, more than a week after the visit was officially announced, China finalized a one-million dollar flood relief donation to Botswana to counter the effects of cyclone Dineo which hit the country in February, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The signing ceremony, in Gaborone, was attended by the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zhao Yanbo and the country’s minister of finance and economic development, Kenneth Matambo.

“It is worth noting that whether China is poor or rich, whether Botswana is poor or rich, China never stopped its assistance to its Batswana friends,” Zhao said at the signing ceremony, according to website of the Chinese embassy in Botswana.

He also said China and Botswana have been working on the construction of two primary schools funded by Chinese grants and that China will send an expert team to Botswana to explore the feasibility of water transfer projects.

According to Mmegi, a national English-language newspaper in Botswana, Chinese officials have also been holding one-on-one meetings with members of the parliament and traditional leaders this July.

Responding to the Global Times’ question as to whether the cancellation of the trip had anything to do with China’s pressure on Botswana, Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said “The Chinese side values the development of friendly and cooperative relations with Botswana and hopes the relations between the two countries can continue to develop in a positive and steady way.”

Hua also said that China has always been, and remains, firmly opposed to the Dalai Lama visiting any country to engage in activities aimed at splitting China.

Previously, President Ian Khama’s decision to accept the Dalai Lama’s visit to Botswana also received criticism from his own country. Duma Boko, president of the Botswana National Front, the main opposition party in Botswana, accused Khama of being “reckless and amateurish” in his handling of Dalai’s visit.

“[T]he country now totters on the brink of a wholesale severing of ties by the People’s Republic of China … The (current) views represent the whims of the President and his henchmen,” he was quoted as saying by Mmegi.

Waning influence

It has been increasingly difficult for the Dalai Lama to visit foreign countries in recent years, as his international influence has been waning and China has stepped up efforts to prevent his visits.

“As China started to take countermeasures to the countries that accepted his visit, not many countries today truly welcome his visit. He has become a troublemaker to the countries that wish to establish a friendly relationship with China,” Lian said.

Political relations are of huge importance for trade with China. In 2008, after then French President Nicholas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in Poland, China cancelled the 11th annual China-EU summit, resulting in losses to EU trade. In 2011, South Africa refused to give the Dalai Lama a visa, likely due to the fact that China is Africa’s biggest trading partner. Countries including Germany and Norway have all shunned the Dalai Lama in recent years.

A 2013 research paper by Andreas Fuchs of Heidelberg University’s Alfred-Weber-Institute for Economics which looked at global trade statistics from 2002 to 2008, found that a meeting between a head of state and the Dalai Lama lead to a reduction of exports to China by 16.9 percent on average; the Dalai Lama meeting with a government member decreased exports to China by 12.5 percent on average.

“The more powerful China is, the smaller the space for the Dalai Lama is in the international community. Most countries handle their diplomatic policies according to their national interest. If they find out inviting the Dalai Lama infringes on their national interest, they would stop inviting him,” Wang said.

Chinese experts say the Dalai Lama’s international value depends on Western countries’ strategic needs.

From the period between 1973 to 1978, for example, few countries allowed the Dalai Lama to visit because Western countries wanted to win over China at that time. “It was the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was the biggest foe of the US. The US tried to amend its relations with China so that it could isolate the Soviet Union, which was in line with its interest back then,” Wang said.

The golden era for the Dalai Lama occurred in the decade after 1989. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and began to frequently visit foreign countries to meet heads of state and religious leaders.

“With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Dalai Lama became a tool for Western countries against China,” Lian said.

But as China rose to become the second largest economy in the world, that golden era is gone.

Last year, the Dalai Lama visited nearly a dozen countries including the USA, Belgium, France, Slovakia, Latvia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan and Mongolia, invited mostly by universities or private organizations. This year, he is expected to visit several countries in Europe, according to his website.

Source: Global Times

Dunford’s China visit could help prevent conflict: experts

A top US general visited Northeast China on Wednesday in a bid to help mitigate differences and avoid conflict as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to rise.

Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday met with Song Puxuan, commander of the PLA Northern Theater Command in Haicheng, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

During the meeting, Song reaffirmed China’s stance on the denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula and peace and stability in the peninsula, stressing the need for dialogue and negotiations.

Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, met Dunford on Tuesday in Beijing. The two exchanged views on Taiwan, the South China Sea and North Korea, according to press releases from the two countries’ defense departments.

The US military delegation aims to have a closer look into the situation near North Korea by visiting the PLA Northern Theater Command, which is responsible for protecting the safety of Northeast China, Zhao Xiaozhuo, a research fellow at the Academy of Military Science of the People’s Liberation Army, told the Global Times.

However, the remarks from the military theater command on the North Korea issue sends a clear signal to the US that peaceful dialogue is the only effective approach, Zhao said.

Dunford “conveyed America’s readiness to use the full range of military capabilities to defend our allies and the US homeland,” when he met Monday with South Korea’s defense minister Song Young-moo, AFP reported.

US officials said Dunford’s visit aims to create a mechanism for improving communication between the sides, especially on sensitive issues like North Korea, and the two sides signed an agreement committing to that goal, with the details to be discussed during talks in Washington in November, the Associated Press reported.

“The meeting between top officials of the two militaries’ commanding body will have a more direct effect to mitigate crisis and avoid confrontation for the frontline troops when emergency occurs,” Zhao said.

“Although China and the US differ on several issues, and the conflict will remain since the two military powers have different social systems and values, it does not mean they are doomed to fighting and have no chance of further military-to-military ties,” Zhao said.

The two attach great importance to mitigating the crisis and expanding cooperation under their leaders’ pragmatic strategies, and the meeting builds mutual trust and reduces the possibility of miscalculations, he added.

Major concerns

The most pressing concern of both countries is the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, as tensions continue to rise from heated rhetoric from the US and North Korea, Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

“We cannot rule out the possibility of a conflict, and when that occurs, China and the US need to make sure that they will not be involved in direct confrontations,” Jin added.

Experts noted that discussions on Taiwan were also timely and necessary after the US tried to “normalize” its weapons sale to the island and approved a bill authorizing the resumption of reciprocal naval port visits.

In June, the US said it planned to sell the island $1.42 billion in arms, the first such sale under the Trump administration. China said it strongly opposes the deal and lodged representations with the US.

“Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who never used Taiwan to counterbalance China’s influence because of his awareness of China’s bottom line, Trump intends to use Taiwan as leverage, which is very dangerous,” Jin noted.

Experts pointed out that the resumption of port visits in Taiwan, which is the first since the US established diplomatic ties with Chinese mainland, will bring foreseeable confrontation between the two countries.

“The resumption will allow the US the unbridled ability to dock its warships on the island, which is another form of its military presence on the island,” Zhao said.

Source: Global Times

China capable of defeating India: expert

China is more than capable of defeating India in potential military conflict with its advanced weapons and air bases, analysts said on Wednesday.

According to a Reuters report on Wednesday, a source in New Delhi, who had been briefed on the military situation on the border, said soldiers foiled a bid by a group of Chinese troops to enter Indian territory in Ladakh, near Pangong Lake. Some of the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and troops on both sides suffered minor injuries in the melee.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday did not directly answer a question on whether the friction in Ladakh is connected to the Doklam standoff. She reaffirmed China’s position that the withdrawal of the Indian troops in Doklam is the precondition to solving the problem.

“This means that even when India withdraws its troops from the Doklam Plateau, China will not let the matter drop, because withdrawal is just the precondition, not the solution. China will still make India pay for its offensive and provocative behavior even if India withdraws its troops as China requests,” Ye Hailin, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

“We don’t want the upcoming BRICS summit to be disrupted. The BRICS summit should be focused on cooperation between rising economies, not an emergency multilateral meeting for conflict mediation. If India keeps its troops in Chinese territory, China’s foreign and defense ministries are very likely to release an ultimatum before September,” Xu Guangyu, a retired rear admiral and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.

“The ultimatum will clearly tell India and the world that China will give a certain number of days to India to withdraw its troops. After the deadline, if Indian troops still remain within China’s territory, India will be responsible for all the consequences. China has multiple ways of pushing India back to its own soil if India ignores the ultimatum, as a few dozen military personnel and one bulldozer [in Doklam] is a piece of cake for the Chinese military,” Xu said.

China should prepare for the possibility of escalation, because Indian troops will resist, and if there is bloodshed, China needs to be fully prepared for military conflict. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is more than capable of dealing with any escalation, Xu further said.

Military preparation

In general, the quality of Chinese weapons and military personnel is overwhelmingly better than India’s, and though India has purchased some US and Russian-made weapons in recent years, the PLA’s advantage remains the same, said Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force.

Air forces, helicopters, long-range attack weapons and light armored vehicles are very important for combat in mountainous and plateau regions. In the air, China’s J-10C and J-11 fighter jets, H-6K bombers, Z-10 attack helicopters and other types of transport helicopters, no matter the quality or quantity, are all better than India’s, Song said.

China’s long-range rocket artillery is not only better than India’s, but is the best in the world. The rocket boasts a terminal guidance function, which means it can search for its target before it strikes. Although one rocket costs 700,000 yuan ($104,555), it’s still cheaper than a guided missile, and it has a range of more than 105 kilometers. With this kind of weaponry, the geographic barriers of mountains and plateaus are not an obstacle for the PLA to destroy its enemy, Song said.

India might think that the Chinese air force doesn’t have enough air bases in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but they are seriously mistaken, Xu said. According to open information, China has at least five large airports in Tibet, and the furthest one from Doklam is only 1,000 kilometers away. The combat radius of J-10C and J-11 planes is more than 1,200 kilometers, so the Indian military had better abandon their illusions, he stressed.

In Tibet, civilian airports can also be used for military aircraft.

Many hospitals in different provinces are controlling the use of blood, and according to a reliable anonymous source from a hospital in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, the blood bank has been relocated by the PLA and the local government is organizing a blood drive to replenish supplies.

The same is also true of some other top hospitals in Hubei Province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to multiple sources from these regions.

The stocks of blood were transferred before the Jiuzhaigou earthquake in Sichuan Province on August 8, and they are likely to be transferred to Tibet, the source told the Global Times.

Source: Global Times

 

Brazilian senator proposes to name a day for Chinese migrants

(Photo/thePaper.cn)

Brazilian lawmaker Fausto Pinato submitted a proposal to Brazil’s House of Representatives on Aug. 15, asking to name the day as “Chinese Migrants’ Day.”

He made the remarks at a commemorative activity for Chinese migrants in the meeting hall of House of Representatives.

“The establishment of the day is seen as Brazil’s recognition of overseas Chinese, who have helped to write Brazil’s history and will continue to do so,” the proposal said. According to official record, the first group of Chinese migrants arrived in Brazil on August 15, 1900.

Chinese Ambassador to Brazil Li Jinzhang, an attendee at the activity, expressed hope of pushing forward China-Brazil relations and building a community of shared interests, as well as a community between the two countries.

A senator and a member of the Communist Party of Brazil said the launch of the day reflects the friendship between the two countries and shows that Brazil always stretches its arms to Chinese migrants.

China and Brazil established a diplomatic relationship 43 years ago on Aug. 15.

Coal mining official sacked for failing to investigate deadly accident

(Photo/cnr.cn)

Zhang Ruiqing, a county coal mining administration head in north China’s Shanxi province has been dismissed for being negligent in his handling of a landslide that left at least four people dead and five others missing on August 11, provincial authorities said.

Other people involved in the incident will also be punished. After the accident, Zhang led government officials to the site twice to investigate the online report, but the company told them no one was buried in the landslide.

The local publicity department then announced that there were no casualties. Police also detained a person accused of “fabricating information online”.

The man who was earlier detained for “fabricating information online” on the accident was released after the truth was unmasked.

The head of the coal mine turned himself in to police on August 15.

A special business on Taobao: Chinese couple sells 2,709 cremation urns online in three years

A young couple over the past three years sold 2,709 cremation urns on China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao. They said the business makes them feel like they have experienced death 2,709 times.

During the three years, no one knew their profession except their parents. They made no new friends and avoided contacts with old pals for fear of bringing bad luck to other people. Their only friends were deliverymen who they had to contact every day.

(Photo/iwshang.com)

Yang Sheng, born in 1989 in Jinhua, south China’s Zhejiang province, met Chen Xiaoxiao three years ago when the latter was selecting a cremation urn in his online shop for her mother.

Believing prompt delivery matters much to bereaved families, Yang drove nearly a thousand miles overnight to deliver the urn in Chen’s hometown, a mountainous area in the west of the province.

Chen thought Yang was a reliable person. Thereafter, they fell in love, got married and Chen joined the business. Last year, their online shop posted profits of RMB 150,000 ($22,438).The couple also invested in a cremation urn factory which could earn tens of millions of yuan annually.

(Photo/iwshang.com)

Producing an urn needs nearly 50 days and the labor cost is high. But the couple has opted to reduce profits in order to provide better services to buyers and help more people.

The two said they are not only sellers, but also listeners. Behind each order is a sad buyer. They will listen to their demand, feel their pain and console them. So far, the shop has received 642 good reviews, each having a tear-triggering story. “It is the last order for the dead, so we have to be responsible to them,” they said.