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Local focus shifting away from GDP

Amid China’s transition toward higher-quality development, local provinces are taking the initiative to “squeeze water” from economic indicators, which experts described as a bold move that could actually help boost regional growth.

At the beginning of 2018, two Chinese provinces admitted to having previously falsified economic data, and said they would have to revise down their 2016 GDP figures.

North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said on January 3 that some of its lower-level government bodies had inflated their 2016 income by a total of 53 billion yuan ($8.17 billion) and industrial output by 290 billion yuan, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

And Binhai New Area, a State-level development zone in North China’s Tianjin, trimmed its GDP figure for 2016 by 33.5 percent. The area had previously claimed that its GDP surpassed 1 trillion yuan in 2016, which would have been a rise of 10.8 percent on a yearly basis, media reports said on Friday.

The two joined Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, the first province to admit in January 2017 that some local fiscal and economic figures between 2011 and 2014 had been falsified.

Also, a total of 10 cities and counties in four provinces, including Southwest China’s Yunnan, Central China’s Hunan, Northeast China’s Jilin and Southwest China’s Chongqing, inflated government revenues by about 1.55 billion yuan in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest data from the National Audit Office.

This shows that “local governments are shifting their focus from speed of growth to quality, and they want to find out the real situation of regional economic development,” said Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics.

Niu Li, director of the Macroeconomic Research Office at the State Information Center, agreed, saying that it is meaningless for local governments to overstate GDP data as China is now seeking high-quality growth. “Genuine economic data can really help boost regional development,” Niu said.

Focus on quality

Cong noted that some local officials have inflated economic figures to make their own political performance seem more impressive.

But such behavior has the effect of adding pressure to regional economic development in the future, as well as concealing some potential risks, experts said.

“Data falsification also shows that Chinese provinces face various difficulties during their structural upgrading and transformation from traditional sectors to emerging industries,” Cong said.

Compared with other areas, provinces in northern China, including Liaoning and Inner Mongolia, have experienced slow economic growth in recent years due to an outflow of capital and talent, Liu said.

According to the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the country’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development.

Local governments are expected to comply with the new development model, and to aim at factors like environmental protection instead of just GDP, experts said.

In August 2014, East China’s Fujian Province canceled the GDP-based performance assessment mechanism in 34 cities and counties while focusing more on the growth of the agriculture sector and ecological protection, local news site reported.

South China’s Hainan Province also announced at the end of 2017 that it would abolish the GDP-based evaluation system in 12 cities and counties, according to media reports.

Unified calculation system

The different GDP calculation systems have also affected economic figures, Liu said.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on October 31, 2017 that China will apply a unified GDP calculation system in 2019 to replace the current system in which national GDP and regional data is calculated separately by the NBS and regional offices.

Li Xiaochao, deputy head of the NBS, said that the government is working to unify accounting systems at national and regional levels, which will narrow the gap between national and regional GDP data.

A unified GDP calculation system will help improve the understanding of the regional economy, as well as boosting the central government’s statistical credibility, according to experts.

Cong forecast that China’s GDP for 2017 would be between 6.7 percent and 6.9 percent and that the growth rate will be around 6.5 percent in 2018.

China’s GDP expanded by 6.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2017 and the figure for the whole year is set to be unveiled on Thursday.

Source: Global Times


China’s ice-snow sports industry to hit $155 billion by 2025: white paper

The scale of China’s ice-snow industry is expected to hit 1 trillion yuan ($155.4 billion) by 2025, according to a white paper released by Tencent Sports and other institutions, China News reported on Jan. 15.

The scale is equivalent to one fifth of China’s sports industry, the white paper says.

According to the white paper, the number of ice rinks and skiing venues in China will increase from 200 and 500 in 2015 to 650 and 800 in 2022, respectively.

In addition, the number of China’s ice-and-snow towns featuring rose to 26 in 2017 from only 8 in 2015, and is projected to reach 40 in 2020.

Statistics also show that northern China occupies 72 percent of the country’s skiing venue resources, and the average person spent nearly 6,000 yuan on ice-snow sports.

People aged 1-17 account for 34.08 percent among all participants in the sports, followed by those aged 18-24 and 25-30.

Russia embraces China’s ways of payment

China’s UnionPay cards will be accepted by 90 percent of point-of-sale terminals and automated teller machines in major cities in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, before the 2018 World Cup, according to Shanghai-based UnionPay International.

Russia’s two supermarket chains have announced that they will adopt Alipay as a way to pay at their stores before the Chinese Spring Festival. Before this, Alipay is already connected with the public transportation systems in Moscow, including buses, subways, and even bikes.

The large number of Chinese tourists in Russia and their strong buying power are reasons why Russian banks and merchants are interested to work with UnionPay and Alipay.

According to Russian tourism association World Without Borders, about 900,000 Chinese tourists took advantage of Russia’s visa-free policy to visit the country in 2017, witnessing a year-on-year growth of 18 percent. During the 2018 World Cup, at least 100,000 Chinese are expected to visit Russia.

The growing number of inbound Chinese tourists is expected to create 33 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) of market value for Russia every year, said an official with Russia’s VTB Bank.

Chinese visitors are creating 9 percent of the total sales volume for a shopping mall in Moscow, and 22 percent of the total turnover of another shopping center in St. Petersburg.

So far, 10 banks in Russia have issued 1.3 million UnionPay cards, in a bid to offer more convenience to Russia users to pay overseas.

UnionPay cards entered the Russian market in 2006, and experienced explosive growth in 2014, around the time that China established a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia. In the following three years, the number of cards issued by UnionPay in Russia increased sharply to two million.

In addition, driven by the Belt and Road construction, financial cooperation between China and Russia has been promoted. The use of modern ways to pay has also satisfied the need to safeguard Russia’s financial safety.

According to statistics, at least 50 Belt and Road countries and regions have issued UnionPay cards.

Chinese authorities taking measures to prevent sexual harassment at universities

China’s Ministry of Education has announced plans to work with related departments to establish a long-term mechanism to prevent sexual harassment at universities and colleges, reported on Monday.

The move came after authorities made a decision to cancel the academic title of “Changjiang Scholar” for Professor Chen Xiaowu at Beihang University. Chen has been accused of sexually harassing seven of his former students.

Students and graduates from over 40 Chinese universities, including Tsinghua University and Peking University, have launched a campaign for the creation of a mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

Zhang Yi, a graduate of Wuhan University, says they have proposed five ways for colleges and universities to better protect their students from potential sexual harassment, which include training for both teachers and students, conducting regular online surveys about sexual harassment, and creating an open channel to report sexual harassment.

Some universities have responded to the suggestions. Peking University said on Jan. 11 that it had noticed the proposals. The school said it issued regulations to discipline the behavior of its staff in 2016, which clearly state that abnormal student-teacher relationships, including sex harassment, would be investigated and punished.

Students from other universities also disclosed that their schools have paid attention to call for the creation of the mechanism soon after the campaign started.

A survey about sex harassment among students and graduates in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in 2016 found that 69.3 percent of the 6,592 respondents had been sexually harassed at school.

Though sex harassment of women is prohibited by law in China, legal responsibilities and conviction and punishment standards are not clearly defined, said a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, who is calling for enhanced sexual harassment prevention and legislation.

Sino-Nepal cross-border optical cable opens

A ceremony was held to mark the opening of the Sino-Nepal cross-border optical cable in Katmandu, capital of Nepal, on Jan. 12, connecting Nepal to the worldwide web through the Chinese cable route.

Nepal’s connection to the internet through the Chinese optical cable will help to improve its internet service. Opening of the optical cable is a milestone in Nepal’s internet infrastructure development, said minister of Nepal’s Information and Communication.

According to global broadband speed test website Ookla, Nepal ranked 89th among 129 countries in the world with an average download speed of 15.02 Mbps in the last quarter of 2017, which is even slower than the global average of 40.71 Mbps.

Before, Nepal had access to the worldwide web only through India.

However, as the Sino-Nepal cross-border optical cable goes into operation, the direct connection to China will boost Nepal’s internet development and offer nation’s internet users more stable connection.

The 820-kilometer-long optical cable was built by China Telecom on the plateau at an average altitude of 4,000 meters in three and a half years, during which the Chinese state-owned enterprise overcame lots of difficulties caused by natural disasters, such as snowstorms, earthquakes, and rainstorms.

Opening of the optical cable will not only reduce network delay between the two countries, but provides support to Nepal’s economic development and brings people of both sides closer to each other, said Yu Hong, Chinese ambassador to Nepal, adding that it is a good example of Belt and Road construction between China and Nepal.

Kazakhstan to export 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China per year

Kazakhstan is to export 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China each year, according to KazTransGas, Kazakhstan’s national operator in the field of gas and gas supply, on Jan. 15, China News reported.

KazTransGas and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) agreed that the former is to increase its export of natural gas to China from 5 billion to 10 billion cubic meters.

KazTransGas disclosed that the both sides regard it necessary to further develop the gas transportation infrastructure, for example, to build new compressor stations and increase the capacity of the existing gas pipeline.

Kayrat Sharipbayev, vice-president of KazTransGas, stressed that Kazakhstan’s gas exports to China has important strategic significance for both countries, and both sides are ready to increase the amount.

The vice-president added that agreements reached by both countries in energy cooperation and docking of Kazakhstan’s economic policy with the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China have made a series of cooperative projects between the two counties possible.

Want to volunteer at the Palace Museum? Keen interest in traditional culture important

Applicants interested in traditional Chinese culture who can pass a series of evaluations can be approved to be volunteers at China’s Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, which has a history of nearly 600 years, Beijing Morning Post reported.

The museum recruited 50 volunteers in 2017, and plans to recruit at least 30 volunteers every year. Applicants must pass a series of evaluations, have deep interest in traditional Chinese culture, and have time to do voluntary work, a director at the museum noted.

The volunteers, made up of various ages and professions, must pass a written examination on Chinese history and be interviewed, attend pre-job training, and make presentations before serving visitors, Wang Qianghui, a volunteer at the museum said, adding that the most difficult thing is to stick to the voluntary work.

Nearly 3,000 volunteers have served 600,000 visitors for 130,000 hours at the museum since the volunteer team was established in December 2004, Shan Jixiang, director of the museum introduced, adding that there were 220 volunteers in 2017, most of whom have done voluntary work for at least 72 hours per year.

In addition, the director disclosed that the museum is also seeking ways to recruit volunteers to help with ancient buildings renovation, cultural relic preservation, consultation, and reception.

Police find almost $10 million stashed inside walls

A video showing a big stack of cash hidden inside the walls of an apartment building was recently widely circulated online. It turned out to be a scene when police cracked a fraud case in Songyuan City, northeastern China’s Jilin province, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.

The police released a statement on Sunday, saying they had discovered and confiscated more than 64 million yuan ($9.9 million) of cash inside the walls.

The money had reportedly been withdrawn by the legal representative of a fertilizer producing company surnamed Wei. Wei had agreed to sell fertilizer to buyers below market value and received their payments. But the company was unable to deliver the products to the buyers on time, police disclosed.

Wei and three other criminal suspects involved in the case were detained. The case is still under investigation.

China’s value of imports, exports to Belt and Road countries rises in 2017

China’s value of imports and exports to Belt and Road countries rose by 17.8 percent in 2017 on a year-on-year basis, said Huang Songping, spokesperson for the General Administration of Customs at a press conference held by China’s State Council Information Office on Jan. 12, CRI Online reported.

China’s value of imports and exports to Belt and Road countries reached 7.37 trillion yuan ($1.14 trillion) in 2017, up 17.8 percent on a year-on-year basis, accounting for 26.5 percent of the country’s total value of imports and exports, said Huang.

The Belt and Road Initiative complies with the requirements of the era and Belt and Road countries’ wishes to accelerate development, which, therefore, will contribute to trade among the en-route countries, Huang noted.

The spokesman also disclosed that China will continue to strengthen cooperation with the en-route countries, optimize services concerning customs supervision, and actively engage in making international trade rules to build an open global economy.