September 2019

Public housing programs to be available early on

Residents walk across a bridge near a residential area in Anxin county in Xiongan New Area on Wednesday. All housing sales in the new area have been banned.Wang Zhuangfei / China Daily

Housing reforms will be launched in Xiongan New Area to attract talent, and affordable public housing programs will be available in the early phases, according to people familiar with the project.

“The local government needs to find ways that work in the long run to prevent housing prices from soaring to unreasonable levels after the short-term ban ends. High housing costs are a major factor that prevent young, talented people from coming,” said Wu Hequan, deputy director of the State Council’s expert advisory committee on the collaborative development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.

The local government issued an order on April 1 banning all housing sales in the new area.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Thursday that the area will prohibit large-scale development of real estate, putting emphasis on fending off risks in the property sector.

Although plans for future real estate development have yet to be released, the area will be able to borrow from Singapore’s experience in governing public housing. The government there owns the land and rents houses to qualified applicants, Wu said.

The temporary hold on real estate transactions provides a viable environment to try something new that has not been implemented in other places, said Yan Yuejin, a senior researcher at E-House China RD Institute, a Shanghai-based real estate consultancy.

“But public housing is not the best answer to deal with housing problems after construction,” Yan said. “The government may introduce programs allowing tenants to first rent and then purchase, but at low prices.”

Initially covering 100 square kilometers, the area is planned to expand eventually to 2,000 sq km, similar in size to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, according to a circular.

Morgan Stanley Research estimates the total population of Xiongan could reach 5.4 million in 15 years after migrants move in, and the population density is expected to reach 2,720 people per sq km, compared with 3,831 in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area and 5,698 in the Shenzhen economic zone.

Xi urges Guangxi to play bigger role in Belt and Road

NANNING — Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to capitalize on its advantages and play a bigger role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Guangxi should make full use of its geographical location and the potential of coastlines, rivers and border areas to promote opening up, Xi said during a visit to the south China region from Wednesday to Friday.

At Tieshan Port in Guangxi’s Beihai city, Xi learned about trade cooperation between Guangxi and ASEAN countries through ports and economic zones and spoke highly of the port’s prospects.

The president stressed the role of ports in the Maritime Silk Road development, urging sound management and operation of the ports on Beibu Gulf to make bigger contribution to Guangxi’s development and the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative accords with the will of the people, and we should advance opening up and development under the framework, he told workers at the port.

‘Cash for trash’ program raises people’s awareness

Staff weigh trash prior to handing out credit coupons. [Photo by Cao Boyuan/For China Daily]

Every few days Liu Ying carries a bag of vegetable peelings and other kitchen waste to a small office and trades it for credits, rather than disposing of it in a trashcan.

“The people weigh it and then give me credits I can exchange for household items, such as toilet paper and soap,” said the 65-year-old resident of Beijing’s Chaoyang district.

“It’s not trash anymore.”

In a 20-minute period on the morning of April 12, three seniors visited the office to trade their kitchen waste.

“Most of our clients are senior citizens. I think that’s because they have the time to do it,” said Zhou Liping, who has worked at the office for four years.

The “cash for trash” program is one of the most popular initiatives adopted by companies that promote waste-sorting among householders.

“We encourage residents to sort kitchen waste from other household trash by providing special bins for their homes, and then giving them credits so they will continue to bring their waste to us,” said Li Zhen, manager of Beijing Capital Intelligent Environmental Sanitation Development, a leading sustainable-resources company.

Li has been promoting the program in the 1,200-household community since 2012, and now 40 percent of the residents regularly bring their waste to be processed.

Similarly, Aobei Environmental Technology, an environmental company in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, has spent five years building the participation of 200,000 households.

“It took a long time to get the residents to accept our ways and raise their awareness of the importance of sorting trash,” he said.

Mao Da, leader of the Zero Disposal Project, an environmental platform in Beijing, said many cities have promoted trash-sorting for more than 17 years, but progress has been slow. Moreover, many residents have complained that their efforts have been in vain because local governments often mix trash cans together.

The process consumes time and money, and it’s hard to make a profit, he said.

“However, many organizations and individuals are enthusiastic about promoting the program. They make every effort to protect the environment,” he said, adding that the government’s plan to sort trash in 46 cities will boost his company’s operations.

The new action plan requires businesses and government buildings to sort trash in 46 cities by 2020, but it’s not mandatory for residents to so.

Wang Jianchao, the owner of Aobei Environmental Technology, which promotes the cash for trash program, said more local governments are planning to expand sorting and separation among members of the public and have started contacting them.

“Confronted by pollution, a growing number of people have realized the role they can play in environmental protection, and are willing to participate in projects,” he said. “It’s a good time to introduce trash-sorting policies.”

Insurance regulator chief Xiang Junbo under probe

BEIJING – Xiang Junbo, chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), is currently under probe, according to China’s top anti-graft authority.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China said in an online statement Sunday that Xiang was being investigated for suspected serious violation of the Party’s code of conduct.

Xiang is also Party chief of CIRC.

China, Indonesia agree to step up Belt and Road cooperation

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday stressed Indonesia’s special connection with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, calling on the two countries to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

I proposed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for the first time when I delivered a speech in Indonesia in October 2013. The alignment of the proposal with Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum has enriched bilateral ties, Xi said when meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Widodo is in Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday and Monday.

Xi urged China and Indonesia to maintain high-level exchanges to further promote their comprehensive strategic partnership and consolidate political mutual trust.

Both sides should work to deepen pragmatic cooperation, promote infrastructure projects and ensure balanced growth of bilateral trade, he said.

He identified investment, finance, mining, agriculture and nuclear energy sectors as areas for further cooperation between China and Indonesia, in addition to counter-terrorism, drug control, cyber security and combating transnational crime.

The two countries should also carry out maritime dialogue and cooperation, promote exchanges in tourism, education and cultural sectors, and step up communication and coordination in multilateral organizations, Xi said.

He reaffirmed China’s support for the building of the ASEAN community, adding that China is willing to work with ASEAN countries to seek greater progress in China-ASEAN ties and cooperation in East Asia.

For his part, Widodo said Indonesia believes the Belt and Road Initiative will bring about more cooperation opportunities for Indonesia and China.

Indonesia is willing to work with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, to upgrade bilateral trade and investment, he said.

It will also discuss with China the building of an economic connectivity corridor, and work to deepen cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Indonesia will maintain close communication and coordination with China in international and region affairs and support steady progress in China-ASEAN ties, he added.

A series of cooperation documents was signed after the meeting.

Xi calls for strengthened strategic coordination between China, Kazakhstan

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping said Sunday that China is willing to strengthen strategic coordination and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Kazakhstan.

Xi made the remarks when meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is in Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday and Monday.

Xi proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in Kazakhstan and Indonesia respectively in 2013, which later evolved into the Belt and Road Initiative.

China to further freight train cooperation with Mongolia, Russia

Transportation authorities from China, Mongolia and Russia gathered at a forum in Beijing on Friday to discuss cooperation on freight train transportation.

The forum, organized by the Mongolian embassy in Beijing, focused on the Belt and Road Initiative and the further enhancement of regional economy.

The freight train linking China, Mongolia and Russia will boost trade and regional economy, said Wang Jiayu, an official from the National Railway Administration of China.

China is developing the China Railway Express, also called the Sino-European freight train. The China Railway Express train has three routes: an eastern, central and western route. The central route links Mongolia and Russia and extends to other European countries.

B. Tsogtgerel, Mongolian vice-minister of transportation, said the central path is very important. A total of 167 China Express Railway trains passed Mongolia last year.

The target is to increase it to 400 this year, he said.

Mongolia will continue to provide assistance to make sure the path is smooth, including further cutting time for trains to cross borders and clear customs. Mongolia will also provide more space for freight trains to load and unload goods.

Tsogtgerel said the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, will boost regional economy.

The economic collaboration between China, Mongolia and Russia is an important part of the global economy, he added.

China started the China-Europe freight train service in 2011, and enhanced the service in 2013 under the initiative.

Last year, 1,702 trains departed from China, a 109 percent year-on-year increase, and 572 trains returned to China, up 116 percent year-on-year, according to the China Railway Corp.

Fee for mobile transportation card dropped

A mobile Beijing municipal transportation card on an iPhone. [Photo/IC]

Starting this Friday, travelers who want to use theBeijing municipal transportation cards on their smart phones will no longer need to pay the activation fee.

All users of iPhone 6 and newer models and Apple Watch Series 1 and newer models will be able to create their own mobile Beijing municipal transportation cards free of charge. The cards can be created and accessed through the official smart phone app or users’ Apple Wallet.

With the help of new technologies, such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and QR code scanning, authorities in Beijing aim to build an all-around intelligent public transportation payment system, to make it cheaper and easier for travelers in the city.

For Andriod users, the activation fee was canceled in the beginning of July.

China incentivizes local govts on reforms

BEIJING — Local governments will receive incentives and fiscal support for implementing reforms and policies to support growth, officials announced at a State Council Information Office press conference Friday.

Currently, there are 24 incentive measures, focusing on sectors including capacity cuts, private investment and social welfare.

Li Pumin, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that the central budget will earmark 2 billion yuan ($290 million) to support projects strengthening weak business links and benefiting people’s livelihood.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Land and Resources also introduced incentive measures.

China is cutting overcapacity, reducing inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs and strengthening weak links as part of supply-side structural reform that began in 2015.

In November 2016, the central government told local authorities to implement reforms and policies to support growth and improve people’s livelihoods.

It said positive results have been achieved in economic growth and supply-side structural reforms in 2016, but problems still remain.

Officials should focus on effective implementation of policies, instead of paperwork, the central government added.

Defense Ministry warns against US warship in South China Sea

The Chinese navy deployed two missile frigates on Thursday to expel a US Navy warship sailing close to China’s Nansha Islands without permission, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.

Guide-missile frigates Liuzhou and Luzhou were deployed to identify and warn the USS Dewey that entered waters of China’s Nansha Islands to leave, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said at a regular news conference.

Foreign media reported that the USS Dewey sailed less than 12 nautical miles from the Meiji reef of the Nansha Islands on Thursday morning, the first such practice under the administration of Donald Trump.

China has undisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their surrounding waters, Ren said. We strongly oppose such practice of the US military, which shows off its might, promotes regional militarization and easily causes unexpected air and sea accidents.

He said that China has made solemn representations to the US side over the matter.

Thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is cooling down and showing positive signs of development, Ren said.

But the wrong practice of the US side disrupts the improving situation and goes against the peace and stability of the South China Sea, he added.

Ren said healthy and steady military relations between China and the US are in line with the common interests of two countries, and it needs the concerted efforts of both sides.

We urge the US to take concrete measures to correct the mistake and inject positive energy into the development of bilateral military relations, he said.

Such wrong conduct of the US military will only encourage the Chinese army to further strengthen its capacity building and firmly defend our national sovereignty and security, Ren said.