The Sinocism China Newsletter For 01.30.13

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Smog, Fraud and Diplomacy, my newest China Insider column, looks at the recent air pollution surge, Caterpillar’s China hairball and the latest in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute:

When faced with a true crisis, the Chinese Communist Party usually acts resolutely, but there is no quick fix for the environmental problems that have been building for decades…

Last week’s column discussed Caterpillar’s huge write-down of its acquisition of 2012 ERA Mining Machinery after discovering “multiyear, coordinated accounting misconduct.” Emory Williams, the former chairman of ERA, issued a statement on Monday in which he declared he was “shocked” that there was fraud at his former company…

Caterpillar appears to have bought itself a large Chinese hairball, one that will keep many lawyers busy for a long time…

There is now some talk of a possible summit but that may be too hopeful as neither side has given any indication it thinks the other even has any grounds for a dispute.

To add one last comment to the Bo Xilai trial false alarm discussed Tuesday, Jerome Cohen, an expert on Chinese law, told the New York Times that:

he had tried to warn off those who believed the trial was imminent, but he also said that he understood why so many got caught up in the wild-goose chase to distant Guiyang.

“It does show the understandably huge mistrust of the Chinese legal system by experienced reporters and their willingness to believe that, in the biggest political case since the trial of the Gang of Four, the government would openly violate its declared legal procedures before the world,” Professor Cohen said.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

Xi strikes strident tone on foreign policy – FT.com - China will never compromise on what it considers its “core interests” and “legitimate rights”, its new leader Xi Jinping has said in his first published speech on foreign policy since taking over as leader of the ruling Communist party in November. Addressing the party’s elite 25-member Politburo, he struck a noticeably more strident tone than his predecessor Hu Jintao, insisting that China would “stick to the road of peaceful development but never give up our legitimate rights and never sacrifice our national core interests”.

人民日报-习近平在中共中央政治局第三次集体学习时强调 更好统筹国内国际两个大局 夯实走和平发展道路的基础 - Xi on foreign affairs at Politburo study session, page 1 of today’s People’s Daily (Xi vows peaceful development while not waiving legitimate rights – Xinhua |)// 习近平强调,我们要坚持走和平发展道路,但决不能放弃我们的正当权益,决不能牺牲国家核心利益。任何外国不要指望我们会拿自己的核心利益做交易,不要指望我们会吞下损害我国主权、安全、发展利益的苦果。中国走和平发展道路,其他国家也都要走和平发展道路,只有各国都走和平发展道路,各国才能共同发展,国与国才能和平相处。我们要广泛深入宣传我国坚持走和平发展道路的战略思想,引导国际社会正确认识和对待我国的发展,中国发展绝不以牺牲别国利益为代价,我们绝不做损人利己、以邻为壑的事情,将坚定不移做和平发展的实践者、共同发展的推动者、多边贸易体制的维护者、全球经济治理的参与者。

人民日报-走和平发展道路是战略抉择 - Zhong Sheng follows on XI Jinping’s foreign policy comments// 中国坚持走和平发展道路,决不能放弃自己的正当权益,决不能牺牲国家核心利益。在国际舞台上,迅速崛起的中国已经扮演,并将在相当长的一段时间内继续扮演越来越重要的角色。坚定走和平发展道路的同时,中国也需要提醒一些人:国际格局的调整,适应时代潮流的国际秩序的形成,从来都是国际关系行为主体,特别是大国互动的结果。打破对抗冲突的陈旧历史逻辑,责任不只在中国。

人民日报-反腐倡廉关系党和国家生死存亡 钟纪岩 - page 2 people’s daily by zhong jiyan on how the party and state’s survival is at stake in the corruption crackdown…remember the PD’s audience..not average Chinese but Party Members. if they have not gotten the message to clean up their acts, at least while this campaign is still in full swing, then they are not very bright, and/or just incorrigible…as of this writing this piece is the most read on the PD’s web site//腐败是社会毒瘤,是影响经济社会发展、国家长治久安的致命风险。腐败的实质是以权谋私。腐败严重破坏公平竞争的市场秩序,影响市场配置资源基础性作用的有效发挥,干扰社会主义市场经济的正常运行;严重违背社会主义民主政治原则,阻碍依法治国进程,损害党和政府的威信和形象,降低国家政权机关的公信力;严重背离社会主义核心价值,损害社会主义道德,滋长腐朽落后思想,助长不良社会风气;严重损害社会公平正义,干扰社会管理,侵害人民权益,引发甚至激化社会矛盾,影响社会和谐稳定。如果不坚决防范和惩治腐败,任凭腐败现象滋生蔓延,最终将导致经济衰退、政治动荡、文化颓废、社会混乱,全面建成小康社会的奋斗目标将无法实现,中华民族伟大复兴的“中国梦”也会落空。

Facebook looks more like WeChat every day - spouse now with us on vacation, been using wechat to run her cake business back in Beijing..just an amazing service, but for the data protection concerns…// If you weren’t paying close attention you might not have noticed, but this is definitely happening: Facebook is getting more like China’s WeChat with every passing day. Yesterday, Facebook quietly updated its iOS and Android apps to let users send audio messages of up to 60 seconds in length from smartphones.

In China, Politically Connected Firms Have Higher Worker Death Rates – Businessweek - The robustness of the link they found was striking: Connected Chinese companies averaged five times as many fatalities as similar unconnected companies. What’s more, the arrival or departure of a highly connected executive was marked by, on average, the death rate per 10,000 workers rising by 10 or falling by 6.4, respectively, in the following year. In a research summary published in the January/February 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review, they dubbed it “the unsafe side of Chinese crony capitalism.” “A fivefold difference I personally find to be stunning,” says Fisman. “I would have expected maybe a 10 percent bump, not 500 percent—this is a case where the fact of a connection is not as surprising as the magnitude of it.”

China averts local government defaults – FT.com - Chinese banks have rolled over at least three-quarters of all loans to local governments that were due to mature by the end of 2012, an indication of the immense challenge facing China in working down its debt load.Local governments borrowed heavily from banks to fuel China’s stimulus programme during the global financial crisis and are now struggling to generate the revenue to pay them back, a shortfall that could cast a shadow over Chinese economic growth.

Issue 605 28-01-2011 – Economic Observer Online  - summarized translation of EEO story on the ERA deal,  Caterpillar’s China hairball// One person who took part in the initial negotiations to acquire Siwei told the EO that he believed that someone working for Caterpillar’s acquisition team accepted bribes from Siwei, noting that “it happend inside a high-end entertainment center in Zhengzhou”.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

China Rural-Income Gains Aid Shift Toward Consumption – Bloomberg - Rural per-capita net income advanced 10.7 percent, compared with 9.6 percent for urban dwellers, partly on the rise in migrant laborers and their wages, the National Bureau of Statistics said Jan. 18. Rural residents’ income from benefits payments rose 21.9 percent, almost double the urban pace, as the government boosted its budget for health-care handouts

Shanghai Composite Enters Bull Market on Economic Growth – Bloomberg - The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) climbed 0.5 percent to 2,358.98 at the close, extending its advance since Dec. 3 to 20 percent, a threshold signaling a bull market to some investors. The CSI 300 Index advanced 0.9 percent to 2,675.87 and is up 27 percent since Dec. 3.

Heard on the Street: Caterpillar Tracks a Wayward China Path – WSJ.com- A cursory look through ERA’s accounts during the due-diligence process must have thrown up red flags. The target appeared headed for a working-capital crisis. Customers owed more than a year’s worth of revenue, as accounts receivable jumped 37% between 2010 and 2011. That outpaced sales growth of just 10%. The value of inventory not yet shifted out to customers increased 234%. At the same time, ERA’s operations were burning cash. As China’s economy slowed, the situation worsened. ERA’s own directors loaned money to the business—usually a governance alarm bell—to keep a lid on expensive financing costs. And in March last year, ERA warned it would miss a profit target because of rising raw material and financing costs and a ballooning allowance for bad debts.

China’s Sany Tries to Gain Traction in the U.S. – WSJ.com- So far, Sany has little to show for that investment. The company’s U.S. market share remains minuscule. Only a few hundred Sany excavators have been sold in the American market so far, company officials say. On a recent morning here, a few workers were puttering around on the gleaming concrete floor in the warehouse; the 18 bright red upholstered chairs lined up neatly in the three-story atrium were empty. Even so, Sany officials say they aim to turn their company into the world’s biggest maker of construction equipment, eclipsing the current leader, Caterpillar, and No. 2, Komatsu Ltd. 6301.TO +1.27% of Japan. Caterpillar and Komatsu declined to comment on Sany’s ambition.

Mainland to allow overseas citizens in stock market – Xinhua | English.news.cn- The mainland’s securities regulatory body announced Tuesday that it is considering to allow citizens of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao to invest directly in the mainland’s stock market with the renminbi. Tong Daochi, an official of the mainland’s securities regulatory commission, confirmed the proposal at a press conference after the unprecedented meeting of the cross-strait financial supervisory platform for securities and futures. Such investors should live and work in the Chinese mainland, added Tong.

国开行:2013年将有50%以上新增贷款投向城镇化-财经网 - 50%+ of China Development Banks’ 2013 loans will be toward towards urbanization// 面对新一轮城镇化建设浪潮,“2013年国家开发银行将有50%以上的新增贷款投向城镇化及配套建设,为实体经济发展提供有效的融资支持。”

尚德信任危机:五年退税近百亿遭质疑_财经频道_一财网 - Suntech about to be under investigation for massive tax rebate fraud?// 除了媒体报道无锡市国税局定性尚德“诈捐”漏税556.7万元以外,有知情人士亦向本报透露,尚德过去5年得到的近100亿元出口退税,也遭到同业质疑。

Singapore Fee Stings Wealthy House Buyers—Except Americans – WSJ.com - This month, the government boosted to 15% from 10% the fee added to the purchase price of residential property bought by many foreign nationals, including the Chinese, who were the second-largest group of foreign buyers last year. In contrast, U.S. buyers don’t have to pay the surcharge, thanks to a bilateral trade accord with Singapore.

China’s Last Soft Landing? by Stephen S. Roach – Project Syndicate - if even Roach is wavering…//The Chinese economy has come through two major global crises in the past four years. On the surface, its resilience has been impressive – the first to recover, as Chinese leaders always want to remind the rest of the world. But, beneath the surface, an unbalanced, unstable, uncoordinated, and unsustainable economy risks losing its capacity for resilience. Without rebalancing and reforms, the days of the automatic Chinese soft landing may be over. CommentsI have been an optimist about China for 15 years. I still am. But the clock is ticking. Wen Jiabao’s critique six years ago was a powerful diagnosis of the Old China’s flaws that pointed to the Next China’s hopes and dreams. It remains a blueprint that China’s new leadership cannot ignore. Time is no longer on China’s side. It must act now.

Chinese banks cautioned over financial products risks – Xinhua | English.news.cn- A senior Chinese banking regulator on Tuesday warned of risks in banks’ wealth-management products, a popular financial product in China, as a frenzy to snatch depositors has led to non-standard operations. Some lenders have failed to disclose sufficient information on the products to their clients, and some are weak in risk management, Wang Yanxiu, head of the novel products department under the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said at a conference.

China aluminium production figures – Here we go again | Black China Blog- The “official” production data, whether you take it from the National Bureau of Statistics or from China’s Nonferrous Industry Association, is quite simply wrong.   w-r-o-n-g.   It should come as no surprise, as most other data published by the bureaucracy in China is also wrong. The NBS has said that China produced 19.8 million tonnes in 2012.   And that is the number you see in many trade publications, analysts’ reports and so on.   But officials in Beijing refuse to recognise any production which comes from plants which do not enjoy endorsement from their counterparts in other ministries.   Take the Wei Qiao group of smelters in Shandong province.   They have upward of 2 million tonnes of capacity between them.   But they were built without NDRC approval.   Hence output from these plants is not included in the official number.   It is the same with some other smaller plants, though none come close to the size of Wei Qiao

 

POLITICS AND LAW

China Communists to Control Size of Party Amid Corruption Fight – Bloomberg Some party members are “corrupt and degenerate,” members of the ruling Politburo said, affecting the party’s “vigor and vitality,” according to the Xinhua report. The party had 82 million members as of last year.  The statement comes as part of a crackdown on corruption following Xi’s elevation to party general secretary in November that has netted officials including Li Chuncheng, a deputy party secretary in Sichuan province removed on suspicion of discipline violations. Chinese leaders have said corruption and official malfeasance risk weakening the party’s grip on power.

人民日报-铁的纪律 党的团结 —— 三论学习贯彻习近平在十八届中央纪委二次全会讲话- Iron Discipline and Party Unity from page 1 People’s Daily today..nice reference to USSR// 放眼世界,现代政党都是有政治纪律要求的,没有政治上的规矩不成其为政党。一个政党,不严明政治纪律,必然会分崩离析。世界上一些著名的大党老党,曾经显赫一时,活跃于历史舞台,但最终却丢失了政权、丢失了自己,很重要的一个原因就是政治纪律的松散和动摇。身为党员,铁的纪律必须执行,没有什么商量选择,也没有什么讨价还价。党的政治纪律成了摆设,就会形成“一人违纪,众者随之”的“破窗效应”,使党的章程、原则、制度、部署丧失严肃性和权威性。这对于我们这样一个有8200多万名党员、在拥有13亿人口的发展中大国执政的大党来说,就不可能肩负起历史使命。只有切实做到纪律面前人人平等、遵守纪律没有特权、执行纪律没有例外,才能形成全党团结一心、奋发进取的强大力量,我们党才能无往不胜。

整风、反腐和清党 习近平治党挥出三板斧_多维新闻网 - 中共的十七大报告指出:党的建设“必须把党的执政能力建设和先进性建设作为主线。”中共的十八大报告首次把“纯洁性建设”列入党的建设必须要牢牢把握和遵循的主线,指出:党的建设要“牢牢把握加强党的执政能力建设、先进性和纯洁性建设这条主线。”在此次讲话中,习近平再次强调这条主线表明,他在未来十年仍会通过三个方面来推进党建。而习近平能否从其“前辈”中“脱颖而出”,有所超越,其最关键的指标就是能否“说道做到”。当然,这就需要时间来检验。 坊间传闻,在习近平上位前后,习近平的母亲齐心就曾召开家庭会议,已年过八旬的齐老太太号令家人不要给习近平“添麻烦”。据称,就连一向很是高调的习家大姐齐桥桥也收敛了很多。

Xi Jinping calls for curbs on lavish official banquets | South China Morning Post- All government agencies, military units, institutions, state-owned enterprises, non-profit organisations and officials at all levels should set exemplary standards of frugality when holding receptions and put an end to extravagance with public money, China Central Television quoted Xi as saying. Xinhua said Xi was commenting on an internal report it had circulated to senior officials showing that internet users wanted to see an end to wastefulness at officials’ dinner tables.

CHINASCOPE – Study Times: Improving the Government’s Abilities in the Online Community - Study Times, a magazine by the Chinese Communist Party Central Party School, recently published an article that made four suggestions on how to improve the government’s ability to manage the Internet community… The article concluded that the Internet is an opportunity instead of a challenge.

Xi stresses loyalty, stability of armed police – Xinhua | English.news.cn- Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday stressed the stability of the armed police and its absolute loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC). Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and also chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks during an inspection tour of the armed police in Beijing. He urged them to build a strong force with a fine work style.

Survey of China’s 24 most corrupt officials in 2012 | Danwei - In light of this situation, the Crisis Management Research Center at Renmin University (中国人民大学危机管理研究中心) in Beijing earlier in January this year published a report entitled “The Public Image Crisis of Government Officials” (官员形象危机2012报告). As the Yanzhao Evening News (燕赵晚报) from Hebei province today explains in a front page story, the Crisis Management Research Center surveyed 24 cases of corruption that became public knowledge on the Chinese Internet in 2012 so as to divine some trends and patterns in corrupt behavior among government officials in China.

朱瑞峰:7段不雅视频中6段由重庆警方内部线人提供 – 地方联播 – 新华网 -Zhu Ruifeng says 6 of his compromising videotapes of Chongqing officials came from inside Chongqing police department. In the US the police could get a subpoena to compel Zhu to turn over the tapes, no?//

Hunan tycoon discloses attempt to buy seat on provincial congress | South China Morning Post- A billionaire real estate tycoon from Hunan province has come forward to reveal that he paid 320,000 yuan (HK$394,000) in bribes to more than 300 provincial people’s congress deputies in a failed attempt to win a seat on the body. The province’s top anti-graft committee had acknowledged that “parts” of the allegations were true, and an investigation was underway, the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

Shanxi investigates disciplinary official for double hukou | South China Morning Post- Shanxi officials have launched an investigation into a family of public officials after one was found to be in illegal possession of more than one household registration permit, while another owned close to a dozen properties in the country, the Beijing Times reported. Zhang Yan, an official with Yuncheng city’s Commission for Discipline Inspection, was found to have illegally registered household registration permits, or hukou, in both Yuncheng and Beijing, the newspaper had first reported on Thursday.

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Chinese firm wins A123 despite U.S. tech transfer fears | ReutersCFIUS not anti-China// Last month, Wanxiang’s U.S. unit agreed to pay $257 million for A123′s automotive battery business and related assets in a bankruptcy auction, beating U.S. rival Johnson Controls Inc (JCI.N) of Milwaukee. But the transaction still needed approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government body led by the Treasury secretary. The CFIUS approved the deal on Monday night, according to Wanxiang.

Japan to beef up surveillance over Diaoyu Islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn - The Japanese government decided to establish a special force to enhance maritime surveillance capability in the waters of disputed islands with China, local media reported on Tuesday.

China in Africa: The Real Story: School Construction: World Bank versus China - Over the past six years, the Chinese government has been fulfilling a commitment to build 100 (or so) primary schools across Africa. My (so far minimal) anecdotal research in two countries on this has turned up an interesting phenomenon: at least one school out of the typical three built in a given country has been located in the home town of the country’s leader. The schools are also typically of a much higher, gold-plated standard, something that is a showpiece, but difficult to sustain. Both of these findings support my argument that Chinese aid is all about politics, symbolism, and soft power — and not a simple swap-for-resources, as it has often been portrayed.

Nigeria to China: we want to climb up the value chain | beyondbrics - Last week, the Nigerian Central Bank voiced its discontent about the unfavorable trade balance with China – and made it clear Nigeria was already looking elsewhere for friendship (and maybe more). Over the last decade, China built up a privileged trade and investment relationship with Africa. It invested heavily in infrastructure, and in turn got preferential treatment for acquiring Africa’s raw materials. But ambitious countries like Nigeria seem less and less satisfied with the infrastructure-for-resources arrangement with China.

Opinion: An education exchange would strengthen ties with China – Kurt Campbell – POLITICO.com - By KURT CAMPBELL Last May, when I was in Beijing negotiating with my Chinese counterparts ahead of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Chinese and American government officials interrupted our discussions to introduce a group of students from both countries who had been involved in an educational exchange.“This is very inspirational,” one of my Chinese counterparts told me. “It reminds me of what is possible.”//have to keep hoping and trying

Chinese Vice Premier meets U.S. Representatives’ delegation – Xinhua | English.news.cn- Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan on Tuesday met with a delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rick Larsen, co-chair of U.S.-China Working Group of the U.S. House of Representatives, is heading the delegation, which includes four U.S. Representatives.

Sutton Water Confirms It’s for Sale After Report of Chinese Bid – Bloomberg - The Sunday Times said Jan. 27 that the Beijing Water Authority is poised to buy the Redhill-based utility for 300 million pounds ($472 million). The Chinese company has hired HSBC Holdings Plc to advise on the purchase, the newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

China rated ‘high risk’ on global military corruption index | South China Morning Post- China’s armed forces are battling a major corruption problem, with little political oversight and no whistle-blower mechanism to counter graft, watchdog Transparency International said on Tuesday. China, which has the world’s largest active military, scored as a “high-risk” country on a new global index on defence establishment corruption launched by the Berlin-based organisation at a press conference in Taiwan.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

China’s Ministry of Culture: We’re NOT Considering Lifting the Game Console Ban -TechInAsia– every year or so media get excited about rumors of a lifting of the ban, then…mostly too late now// [Ministry representatives] responded [to questions about the China Daily piece] by saying the Ministry of Culture has certainly never researched canceling the game console sales ban, and saying that this [would not be] a decision that could be made solely by the Ministry of Culture.

Lights, Camera, Pending IPOs for Filmmakers – Caixin - The cameras could be rolling soon for long-anticipated stock listings by the nation’s largest movie producer and foreign flick importer China Film Group, as well as a smaller but ambitious rival, Shanghai Film Group.The state-owned companies’ names were added January 11 to a list of IPO applicants queuing for mandatory reviews by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Each has asked CSRC for permission to trade A shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. China Film plans to raise between 3 billion and 4 billion yuan, according to CSRC documents. Shanghai Film has yet to set financial targets.

Qihoo Drops to 1-Week Low After Saying Apple Cut Its Apps – Bloomberg - Qihoo’s apps were “abruptly removed” from the iTunes store last week for no apparent reason, Qihoo Chief Financial Officer Alex Xu said by e-mail today. Qihoo’s management was also called in to the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau and issued an executive warning that its use of anti-virus software in Internet browsers was considered unfair competition, according to a Jan. 24 posting on the watchdog’s microblog.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Juilliard to Bring New York-Style Teaching to China – NYTimes.com- The talk in Hong Kong this month came on the heels of an announcement in June that Juilliard would build its first overseas branch in China. That venture is part of Juilliard Global, a 2011 initiative for overseas expansion. Several U.S. institutions — most notably Yale and New York University — are in the process of opening Asian campuses. But Juilliard is the first major U.S. performing arts school to take the leap. The idea is to open a facility in Yujiapu, a planned financial district under construction in Tianjin, a city outside Beijing.

Global Times–Zou Shiming’s professional example set to lead boxing revolution in China - In all the excitement over Li Na’s thrilling run to the Australian Open final last week, another sporting development was largely overlooked – and it could prove to be even more significant for Chinese sport. Two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist Zou Shiming has turned professional, signing for US promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank group, and will make his pro debut on April 6 in Macao.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

Beijingers call for Clean Air Act – Xinhua | English.news.cn- Pan Shiyi, a celebrity real estate developer and prolific microblogger with 14 million followers, on Tuesday said he is planning to propose a Clean Air Act to the local legislature and government. Pan, a deputy to the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, started an online poll at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, the results of which will be included in his report to the lawmaking body and the municipal government, he said. Within three hours, more than 25,000 web users, or 99 percent of total respondents, welcomed his proposal on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter.

Beijing office workers wear ‘gas masks’ at their desks as hazardous smog envelops city – Telegraph - In a Beijing city office visited by news agency Agence France-Presse, up to 20 workers wore the protective headgear at their desks, and the cloud of pollution shrouded large swathes of the country for the second consecutive day. State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) showed vehicles using full headlights in mid-morning to light a way through the smog, mainly in the badly affected central province of Henan.

China now burning as much coal as the rest of the world combined-Washington Post- Chinese coal use slipped a bit in 2012 as the country’s economy slowed. And the International Energy Agency expects Chinese coal demand to taper off in the coming years, growing at a slower 3.7 percent annual pace between 2011 and 2016. Other projections suggest that China coal use will peak by 2030, as the nation shifts to cleaner forms of energy. There’s just one catch: India is also growing rapidly and demanding ever more coal. By 2017, the IEA expects India to become the world’s second-largest coal consumer, surpassing the United States.

TCM maker sued again over toxic ingredient — Shanghai Daily - The lawyer, Luo Qiulin, said that he found the toxic ingredient, radix aconiti agrestis, from the English instruction of the medicine Yunnan Baiyao being sold in the United States, news website Caijing.com.cn reported.

Smugglers fined just US$340 over ivory — Shanghai Daily - FOUR Chinese men who pleaded guilty in a Kenyan court to smuggling thousands of dollars worth of ivory were yesterday fined just US$340 each.

人民日报-堵住环评造假,方有环保公信(人民时评) 王社坤 - another People’s Daily comment on faked environmental impact assessments and the damage they do

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

Beijing probes restaurants in ancient temples – Xinhua | English.news.cn- Beijing authorities said on Tuesday they are investigating the legality of two high-class restaurants operating in two ancient temples in the capital. The restaurants are houses in the Zhizhu and Songzhu temples of Beijing’s Dongcheng District. They have a history of 600 years and 300 years, respectively.

Taste for Shark Fin Fades Slightly in China – NYTimes.com- “Shark fin soup is still an obligatory dish at business banquets and weddings,” said Wang Xue, chief coordinator of the survey sponsored by Green Beagle. The survey found that only 17 of 249 luxury hotels in Beijing, Shenzhen and Fuzhou had stopped offering the popular dish. Of those that have dropped shark fin from their menus, most are owned by multinational companies like Sheraton, Marriott International and Shangri-La International Hotel Management of Hong Kong