MonitorsPublished on Aug 09, 2016
China Weekly Report | Volume VI; Issue 27

< style="color: #0069a6;">POLITICS AND SOCIETY

< style="color: #163449;">Big changes planned for 'aristocratic' Communist Youth League

China’s Communist Youth League, once a powerful force within the party, will overhaul its leadership and management structures, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for the elite organisation to improve its role in politics. It is believed the overhaul of a key organisation before a crucial party congress will pave the way for Xi to further consolidate his power. The league used to be a cradle for promising party stars, counting former president Hu Jintao and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang among its veterans. But the Xi administration appears to have put at least some of its influence in check by sidelining the so-called league faction. The scrutiny was partly triggered by the downfall of Hu’s former chief of staff and league veteran, Ling Jihua, who was jailed for life for graft, among other charges. Entitled “Proposal on the Reform of Youth League’s Central Committee”, the document said the changes were aimed at implementing instructions given by Xi on the organisation’s work. Source: South China Morning Post, August 5, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Two more of China’s former commanders taken away for corruption investigation

Two retired commanders of the People’s Liberation Army have been taken away for possible “violations of party discipline”, a euphemism for corruption, sources familiar with the military say, in a sign of an ongoing power shake-up in the PLA under President Xi Jinping. General Li Jinai, former director of the general political department in charge of senior personnel changes, and General Liao Xilong, former head of the general logistics department responsible for supplies and support services, were both taken away during a meeting for retired senior cadres in July, according to a source close to the military. Another military source, based in Beijing, confirmed that Li, 74, and Liao, 76, were taken away by PLA disciplinary officers.It was not clear whether the two men were under investigation or if they were helping with inquiries against other top military officers. Source: South China Morning Post, August 5, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">700 officials punished by green teams

Up to 700 officials in eight provinces and autonomous regions have been punished by central government inspectors in an unprecedentedly tough move to strengthen the nation's environmental supervision. The inspectors have exposed about 4000 offenses including cases of dereliction of duty since they were commissioned in mid-July. The first areas covered by the inspections are Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Henan and Yunnan provinces, and the Inner Mongolia, Guangxi Zhuang and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions. The inspections still have two weeks to run. Environmental experts have been quick to praise the central government's swift and tough action in dealing with local officials responsible for illegal pollution discharges. One of the eight provincial regions where tough punishment was handed out was Guangxi, which punished 112 officials. Among them, 37 at city and county level were found to have been responsible for pollution caused by illegal quarrying at a nationally known scenic area on the Lijiang River in Guilin. Source: China Daily, August 4, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">FOREIGN AFFAIRS

< style="color: #163449;">Seoul’s tilt towards Tokyo could lead to worst-case scenario for Beijing

China is finding itself falling into a strategic nightmare with the first sign of a Washington-Tokyo­-Seoul military alliance at its ­doorstep after South Korea hinted it would share missile intelligence with Japan, analysts say. South Korea’s Ministry of ­Defence only said it could share with Japan the information on North Korean missiles gathered via a US-supplied ­anti-missile system. But that is a dangerous step in the eyes of ­Beijing, as it could knit Tokyo and Seoul closer in military cooperation down the road. Both Japan and South Korea are military allies of the United States, but Seoul is always reluctant to engage in bilateral military cooperation with Tokyo because of territorial disputes and wartime atrocities suffered by Koreans. However, Seoul’s stance changed on Thursday. In his regular press conference, the South Korean defence ministry spokesman said information sharing with Japan would be possible, citing a memorandum signed in 2014 by the US, South Korea and Japan regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported. Source: South China Morning Post, August 5, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">MOD slams Japan white paper

China restated its warning to Japan and some countries outside the South China Sea of interfering in the disputed waters and destabilising the region, after the Japanese government approved a defense white paper on August 3. On the South China Sea issue, Japan tried its best to complicate the situation by driving a wedge between China and countries involved in the dispute for its own gain, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said. Japan devoted 30 pages of the 480-page document on China's national defense and normal and legal maritime activities in the East and South China seas, the Xinhua News Agency reported on August 3. The document said China's reclamation on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea is threatening regional security, and Japan is seriously concerned about it, China News Service reported. Source: Global Times, August 3, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">China indirectly confirms meeting with Taliban

China said on August 3 that it maintains contact with all parties related to the Afghan peace talks, confirming, though indirectly, the visit of a Taliban delegation to Beijing last month. Analysts said the visit came at a delicate time after a former Taliban leader was killed in a US drone strike a few months ago, as China is interested in learning the new leader's political stance to help facilitate the peace talks. In a faxed statement to the Global Times, China's foreign ministry said the country has always supported the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" political reconciliation process and supports the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban so the country can restore stability as soon as possible.  A delegation led by Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar, visited Beijing from July 18-22, Reuters reported. Source: Global Times, August 3, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">ECONOMY

< style="color: #163449;">China's manufacturing PMI slightly down in July

China's manufacturing sector posted a slight drop in July due to the flood season and weak demand, according to official data. The purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 49.9 in July, slightly lower than June's 50, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 reflects contraction. NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe said floods that hit much of the country disrupted manufacturing activities and transportation. In addition, slowing market demand and weak investment sentiment in the private sector contributed to the contraction in the manufacturing sector, he added. Source: Xinhua, August 1, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Chinese O2O giant sets up e-commerce training college

Chinese online-to-offline (O2O) giant Meituan & Dazhongdianping has announced it will set up a college to train e-commerce personnel. The college, named Internet Plus University (IPU), is the first of its kind in the e-commerce sector to focus on developing business models, technology and skills to promote China's "Internet Plus" strategy. It will integrate the company's training departments to establish several schools to train internal staff and business partners on upgrading e-commerce, the company announced Saturday evening (30 July). Formed by the merger of group-buying platform and review service in October 2015, Meituan & Dazhongdianping offers a range of O2O services, from food delivery to movie tickets. China's online retail volume reached 2.24 trillion yuan (335.3 billion U.S.dollars) in the first half of 2016, up 28.2 percent year on year, data of the National Bureau of Statistics showed. Source: Xinhua, July 31, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Sino-Thai railway project set to start as soon as September despite delays

Both China and Thailand have agreed that construction of the first section of the Sino-Thai railway should begin in September, media reported on July 29 after initial worries on the project. Despite financial differences, both countries agreed at a meeting on Thursday (July 28) that the construction of the first 3.5-kilometer section should begin in September, the Bangkok Post reported. The section is expected to connect the Klang Dong and Pang Asok areas in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district, according to the report. The 12th meeting of the committee was held in Bangkok to discuss the price, design, purchase, contracting issue and finance cooperation on the railway. The past meetings had produced a broad consensus between the two sides. Wang Xiaotao, deputy head of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), also attended the meeting. Source: Global Times, July 30, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

< style="color: #163449;">China to expand astronauts’ exchange

China will expand international exchange in the training of astronauts in a bid to push it closer to becoming a space power, an official said July 27. Li Xinke of the Astronaut Center of China made the remarks while briefing an international training mission for astronauts. Chinese astronaut Ye Guangfu participated in the mission. Ye is the first Chinese to receives CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills) training, an advanced training course for astronauts, organised by the European Space Agency (ESA).The training took place in the Sa Grutta underground caves, Sardinia, Italy. Prospective astronauts from Japan, Russia, Spain and the United States also took part in the training. "In the future, China will strengthen international communication in astronaut training while also relying on our own efforts," Li said. It is not clear whether further Chinese astronauts will be selected for CAVES training, added Li. Source: Xinhua, July 27, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">China's lunar probe confirms no water on the moon

The latest data collected by China's first lunar probe Chang'e 3 has confirmed speculation that there is no water on the moon, China Central Television (CCTV)reported on Sunday. Chang'e 3's optical telescope has discovered that no water exists in an ancient lunar "sea" known as Mare Imbrium ("the Sea of Rains"). When Apollo astronauts walked the lunar surface in 1969 and brought back rock samples, they found none of the water-bearing minerals common on Earth. According to, an internet news portal providing the latest news on science, over the past 10 years, however, several developments had reinvigorated the discussion. In particular, new analyses of volcanic gasses in the sample had inferred the presence of water in the moon's interior. Meanwhile, several new lunar missions were launched. The ones using neutron spectroscopy to search for water came up with mixed conclusions, but those using infrared spectroscopy seemed to reach unambiguous identification of water on the lunar surface. Source: China Daily, August 1, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">China's first home-made supercapacitor tram unveiled

China's first independently designed supercapacitor tram rolled off the production line in Central China's Hunan province Monday. The tram uses supercapacitor energy storage to operate without external wires and can be fully charged during a 30-second stop and run for 3 to 5 kilometers, according to Engineer-in-Chief Suo Jianguo with Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co under CRRC Corporation Ltd, the country's largest rolling-stock maker. The tram can carry up to 380 passengers and travel at 70 kilometers per hour. It also uses a low-floor design, making boarding easy for children, pregnant women and the elderly. "This is the first time all the technology, even the spare parts, are independently provided by China," according to Suo. The tram runs on clean energy and can reuse 85 percent of the energy regenerated from braking. Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co, based in Zhuzhou, Hunan province, developed the first light rail train using supercapacitor energy storage technology in August 2012. Source: China Daily, August 2, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ma Chao, Hong Kong independence' a mirage, China Daily, July 30, 2016 Gina Anne Tam, Tongue-Tied in Hong Kong, Foreign Affairs, August 3, 2016 Steen Erlanger, British Decision on Nuclear Plant Angers China and France, New York Times, August 1, 2016 Wang Yanfei, Supply-side reform 'key' to economyPeople’s Daily, July 30, 2016 New closing auction for stock market a fine balancing actSouth China Morning Post, August 1, 2016 Innovation becomes coveted city tag in China, Xinhua, July 29, 2016 

< style="color: #0069a6;">Contributors:

  • Sreeparna Banerjee
  • Pratnashree Basu
  • Ambalika Guha
  • Swagata Saha
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