Apple violated good faith principle by slowing down devices: consumer association

Apple’s software updates that limit the performance of older iPhones violate the principle of good faith, China Consumer Association (CCA) told on Jan. 3.

The tech giant has infringed upon users’ rights of information, choice, and fair trade, the organization noted.

According to Chen Jian, director of CCA’s legal and theoretical research department, consumers have the right to be informed about products and services, and the choice of whether to update their phones should be left to them.

He said Apple should have informed consumers of the battery performance issue before purchase. If not, the manufacturer should be responsible for the losses, he added.

In the statement of explanation issued by Apple on December 28, 2017, the company apologized to its users, promising a $29 battery replacement that will immediately return an iPhone 6 or later to its original performance. According to Apple, the service normally cost $79.

However, Chen said that the firm should give an integrated solution instead of a temporary discount of battery replacement. He suggested that Apple shoulder the responsibility and cover the cost of iPhone battery replacement.

China’s economic growth in 2018 at 6.7 percent: institutions

Economic institutions predicted that China’s economy will remain stable in 2018 with growth rate at around 6.7 percent, Xinhua-run Economic Information Daily reported on Jan 3.

Chinese economists forecast that the economic growth for 2017 is 6.8 percent, and the same growth rate will be maintained in 2018, according to a survey carried out by the Institute of Industrial Economics (IIE) under Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

The CASS released a blue book on the Chinese economy, predicting that economic growth in 2018 to come at 6.7 percent, the same figure as predicted by the Institute for Advanced Research of Shanghai University of Finance And Economics.

While stabilizing growth, the country will pay more attention to improving quality and efficiency, according to a report recently released by the Institute of International Finance under Bank of China.

The IIE’s survey found that in 2017, Chinese economists were more confident about the future growth of foreign trade than before, with 45 percent of the surveyed economists believing that exports in the last three months of 2017 would rise year on year.

Zhu Baoliang, chief economist at the State Information Center, believes that while achievements have been made in the supply-side structural reform, overcapacity remains a problem in traditional industries.

Experts say that the Chinese economy has transformed from high-speed growth to high-quality development. The country’s economy is now experiencing a difficult period of changing development model, improving structure, and changing growth drivers.

They warned that tasks related to structural contradictions of the economy, financial risks, and economic delivery still must be solved.

Chinese watchdogs to regulate bitcoin mining by controlling electricity supply

Chinese industry authorities have ordered local governments to gradually reduce the scale of bitcoin production, by first controlling the power supply to bitcoin mines, The reported on Jan. 4, citing unique sources.

Local governments were also asked to report their work on a regular basis to the Internet Financial Risk Special Rectification Work Leadership Team Office, the country’s online financial risk regulator.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has reportedly asked local governments to control electricity supply to bitcoin mines as a first step to scale down bitcoin mining.

In mid-November 2017, the online financial risk regulator held a special meeting to discuss ways to close down some bitcoin mines, The Paper reported.

In the same month, an affiliated electricity company of the State Grid in Sichuan released a notice, asking all its power stations to stop powering bitcoin production. Those stations had allegedly put residential electricity supply after bitcoin mines, the company pointed out.

The move was aimed at reasonably guiding bitcoin miners to stop their businesses, since all bitcoin exchange platforms have been shutdown in an earlier nationwide campaign, said staff with the regulators.

The general trend is to gradually regulate and reduce the scale of bitcoin mines, and to shut down non-standard ones, said a source familiar with the central bank, clarifying rumors that all the mines will be shutdown, China reported.

Beijing court to hear case on top media watchdog’s gay rule

A Beijing court on Wednesday accepted a case requiring China’s top media regulator to justify the listing of homosexual relations as “abnormal.”

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court accepted the case on Wednesday and is expected to decide within six months, Tang Xiangqian, lawyer of the plaintiff Fan Chunlin, told the Global Times.

Fan, 30, is demanding that China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) clarify the legal or policy basis of the regulation, which lists principles for online content providers.

The regulation bans service providers from releasing programs that “present abnormal sexual relations or behavior,” such as incest, homosexual relations, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Any online program containing such content should be removed before being made available online, as such are pornographic and vulgar content, the regulation states.

The regulation was released in June 2017 by the China Netcasting Service Association, a non-government organization administered by SAPPRFT. The association has more than 600 members, including news websites of the Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily, as well as major online video platforms such as iQiyi, and Youku.

Fan also requested the SAPPRFT in June 2017 to disclose the legal basis of the regulation, but was told by SAPPRFT that the request does not belong to the scope of information disclosure.

Though the chances of winning are small, the move is expected to raise people’s awareness of gay people and promote acceptance of the group, Tang said.

The Chinese mainland has around 70 million people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, and a survey of nearly 30,000 LGBT Chinese by the UN Development Program last year found that more than half of them were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, South China Morning Post reported in June 2017.

Source: Global Times

Alipay changing payment behaviors in Shanghai: consumer habits report

The latest figures from Alipay have found that 8/10 payments in Shanghai were conducted through users’ smartphones in the past year, People’s Daily reported on Jan 2.

People are using their smartphones for shopping and riding shared bikes. And searches for wallets on e-commerce platforms are declining for the first time, statistics show.

Last year, a total of 10.46 million Shanghai Alipay users adopted Ant Forest, an environmental initiative meant to encourage Alipay users to keep track of their low-carbon activities.

By paying for their water, electricity, and natural gas bills online, more than 859,000 real trees have been saved by Ant Financial users in Shanghai, in line with an average reduction of 120,000 tons of carbon and nearly 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

Alipay is now connected with Shanghai’s public service departments, allowing easier payments and handling of civil affairs. The top three most welcomed online services were paying for daily expenditures and social insurance, as well as real-time public transportation inquiry.

Alipay has also made travel easier. It is now connected with tens of thousands of merchants in 36 overseas countries and regions.

The total number of payments in these regions increased nearly three times from a year ago, and Shanghai residents voted Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong as their favorite destinations.

Top 10 international news stories of 2017 selected by People’s Daily

1. Chinese proposals become international consensus

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered important speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the United Nations Geneva Headquarter on January 17 and 18, making a strong voice to promote the rebalance of globalization and the building of a community of shared future for mankind.

China not only formulated a series of creative, leading, and constructive results during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the 9th BRICS Summit, but also raised schemes and plans in multiple areas of global governance.

These all served as a witness of the improved international status and influence of China.

2. US withdraws from multiple international mechanisms in shift toward unilateralism

On January 23, the US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. This was followed by the disavowal of the Paris Agreement, the retreat from UNESCO, and the quit from the Global Compact on Migration. The “America First” policy pursued by the Trump Administration is a reflection of the country’s unilateralism and expanding divergence with the international society on global governance. Such withdrawal not only reflected America’s abandonment of some of its international responsibility, but also injected further uncertainties into the international landscape.

3. Tensions over Korean Peninsula escalate

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tested a ground-to-ground intermediate and long-range missile on February 12, and kept its nuclear and missile tests ever since, despite of opposition from the international community.

The military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea further escalated the tensions over the Korean Peninsula. The two countries kicked off their biggest-ever joint air force exercise on December 4, which set the situation on the peninsula into a vicious circle.

4. European integration faces severe challenges

Officially initiating the “Brexit” process on March 29, the government of the United Kingdom reached initial agreement with the European Union after several rounds of hard negotiations. In addition, during the elections of Netherland, France, Germany, and Austria, the influence of mainstream parties waned after the fight against right-wing populism.

5. Meeting between the presidents of China and the United States

The highly anticipated first meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump took place at Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida from April 6 to 7. Four high-level dialogue mechanisms focusing on diplomacy and security, the economy, law enforcement and cyber security, and social and people-to-people exchanges were established.

The two countries reached multiple agreements on the development of bilateral ties during Trump’s visit to China in November. The stable and healthy development of relations between the two major powers has become a wide aspiration for the international society.

6. Turbulence in the Middle East

In June 2017, a number of Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia cutoff diplomatic relations with Qatar, throwing the future of Gulf Cooperation Council into doubt.

The United States declared its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, triggering continuous opposition.

7. Ease of tensions in the South China Sea

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted a framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea during a ministerial meeting held from October 6 to 8. China and ASEAN countries restored and consolidated the consensus to settle disputes peacefully through dialogue and consultation between countries directly concerned.

8. Global economy gains vitality

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the latest World Economic Outlook on October 10, raising the forecast of the global economy for both 2017 and 2018. According to the report, 75% of the global economies are expected to see accelerated growth in 2017.

An economic report released by the United Nations in December also suggested a roundabout of the world economy in 2017.

IMF predicted a 34.6% contribution to be made by China to the world economic growth in 2017.

9. Successful holding of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

The 19th CPC National Congress was held in Beijing from October 18 to 24. It was a meeting of great importance during a decisive stage in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and at a critical moment as socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era.

10. Defeat of ISIS

Iraqi Prime Minister Hadir Al-Abadi declared military victory over the Islamic State in Iraq on November 21 just hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iranian-backed forces had driven the terror group out of Syria. Russia also declared its intention to withdraw troops from Syria, declaring its counter-terrorism mission accomplished.

However, many countries are still suffering from the spillover effect of the extremist organization, with increased pressure to counter terrorism.

Guangzhou named best Chinese city for international investors

Guangzhou was crowned as the best Chinese city for international investors in 2017, Guangzhou Daily reported on Dec, 29.

The award is based on Dow Jones data, the most authoritative third-party data group in the world, after a study of over 10,000 overseas investors from 17 countries.

Guiyang, Qingdao, Wenzhou, and Xi’an also received the title.

Guangzhou’s favorable investment environment has attracted over 20,000 investors, including 297 fortune global 500 enterprises, from more than 120 countries and regions.

The city is a huge market with substantial opportunities and potential. With a total area of 7,434.4 square kilometers and a permanent resident population of 14 million, it has created a GDP equal to those of Hong Kong and Singapore.

Guangzhou’s convenient transportation is another highlight. Shipping and air routes in Guangzhou lead to 400 ports in over 100 countries and regions. By 2016, 130 airlines have been opened in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, transporting 60 million passengers and 1.64 million tons of cargo.

In addition, the favorable environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the livability of the city, were also important.

2018 set to bring more opening

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy, and the year will see more specific measures to promote the new pattern of all-round opening-up, experts said.

“It is clear that industries such as high-end manufacturing and modern services are the sectors where the opening-up is directed, and the services industry will be a key area,” Huo Jianguo, senior CCG research fellow and former director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to the Central Economic Work Conference held in December 2017, the services trade is set to be greatly promoted in the future.

Data from MOFCOM showed that in the first 11 months of 2017, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the services sector climbed to 582.75 billion yuan ($88.08 billion), up 13.5 percent year-on-year and accounting for 72.5 percent of the total FDI. And the high-tech services industry attracted 177.1 billion yuan in FDI, more than double the amount in the same period of 2016.

China will increase the opening-up in services industries including education, culture, healthcare and finance in 2018, Tang Wenhong, head of MOFCOM’s Department of Foreign Investment Administration, told a meeting on December 25 in Beijing.

“Against the backdrop of China’s supply-side reform and the aim of fostering high-quality development, more high-end services need to be introduced in the future,” Chen

Fengying, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

Huo noted that developing the services sector will be significant for sustaining economic growth and encouraging foreign capital flows into China, while also increasing competition and thereby encouraging domestic firms to become stronger.

In the financial services sector, the process of opening-up is progressing gradually. On December 13, 2017, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said it would relax restrictions on foreign shareholding ratios in Chinese banks (apart from private banks), which limited a single overseas investor’s stake to no more than 20 percent.

The CBRC also said it would continue to open up the banking sector by such means as expanding the scale of overseas banks.

This has offered encouragement for foreign-funded banks in China, including Standard Chartered Bank. In an email sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, the UK-based bank said the policy would enable it to “capture opportunities brought by the reform and opening-up.”

Specifics coming

According to the Central Economic Work Conference, China will push for nationwide implementation of a pre-establishment national treatment system as well as a negative list that determines where foreign participation is prohibited or limited.

The central government strengthened efforts to expand the investment scope for foreign capital in 2017, said Tang of MOFCOM.

For example, in a revised industrial guidance catalogue for foreign investment released in June, China cut 30 restrictions, he noted.

Chen said that the negative list is certain to become shorter as the country opens wider to investment from abroad.

Addressing the Fortune Global Forum held in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province in December 2017, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said China was working on a timetable to further open up key industries, including financial services and electric cars.

He also noted that qualified foreign companies registered in China will receive equal treatment in government procurement, setting of standards and projects related to “Made in China 2025,” the government’s blueprint to upgrade the manufacturing sector.

“The timetable is vital for maintaining a good business environment. Besides, with the tone set clearly, workable specifics now need to be rolled out,” Huo said, noting the plans for the high-end manufacturing sector should be further clarified.

Also, opening-up in such services segments as e-commerce, construction design, education and accounting should to be accelerated, as this has already been promised, Huo said.

Related departments are currently working hard on the specifics while implementation is expected to come in the first half of 2018, Huo forecast.

Source: Global Times

China has become world’s fastest growing tobacco consumer market: report

A report has found that China has become the fastest growing tobacco consumption market in the world, though industry authorities have taken measures, such as raising tax on tobacco, to control the trend, Worker’s Daily reported on Jan. 2.

The country substantially lifted tax on cigarettes in 2009 and 2015, respectively, but the high prices were far from enough to cool the demand.

According to statistics, tax on cigarettes in China accounts for 59 percent of the sales price, but it is still less than the global average of 75 percent.

The payment capability of Chinese smokers grew by 85 percent from 2001 to 2016, and even doubled among low-end consumers, according to Zheng Rong, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics.

In addition, the smoking incidence of low-income groups is higher than high-income ones, and rural residents smoke more than urban people, according to Zheng’s report.

The smoking rate of the country’s 200-million-plus floating population is higher than other people.

Hu Angang, a professor with Tsinghua University, said higher incidence of smoking in poverty-stricken areas and poor families is the main cause of poverty reoccurrence due to the treatment of tobacco-related diseases.

Global experience has indicated that raising tax on tobacco can effectively reduce the use of tobacco and cut public health expenditures, Zheng said, calling for higher cigarette prices to reduce smoking among low-income smokers.

With 316 million smokers, China has grown to become the largest tobacco market in the world. Data provided by Hu found that 6.4 million deaths could be attributed to smoking in 2015.

Treatment of tobacco-related diseases caused 53 billion yuan of direct losses and 297 billion yuan of indirect losses for China in 2014, according to statistics. The total of the two accounted for 10.59 percent of that year’s national health expenditures.

In recent years, China has rolled out a strict ban on smoking in more than 20 cities, but the campaign covers less than 10 percent of the whole country, which is far from being effective.

Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tobacco Control Office, said raising the price and tax on tobacco is one way to control smoking.