The China Story Dossier is a frequently updated archive of texts, links, news summaries and miscellanea connected to the China Story.

Xi at the helm – PLA generals vow support for Xi’s directives on military development

20140418105205d1d73_550

On April 18, 17 senior PLA leaders, including Zhang Jianping, PLA Airforce deputy commander and Chen Fuen, PLA Second Artillery Corps deputy commander, published articles on PLA Daily, in which the generals expressed support for Xi Jinping’s directives related to China’s national defence and military power development. These articles come after February, when PLA Publishing House published a collection called Selection of Xi Jinping’s Significant Statements on National Defense and Military Development 习近平关于国防和军队建设重要论述选编. The book had henceforth been issued to senior PLA officers – regiment leaders and above, who are supposed to study Xi’s thoughts thoroughly. Although the original copy of the book can’t be found on the Internet, judging from the articles, the emphasis is laid on aspects including strengthening Party’s control of the military, zero-tolerance on corruption, cultivating a “problem-solving mentality” 问题意识 and increasing combat-readiness.

PLA Daily深入学习贯彻习主席关于国防和军队建设重要论述 在新的起点上推进强军兴军伟大实践

SOE “hospitality fees” disappear from many annual reports; “other fees” increase

Hospitality fees and annual report (Source: Xinhuanet.com)

 Source: Xinhuanet.com

“Hospitality fees,” which have ignited considerable discussion in the past few years, have disappeared from the annual reports of many listed state-owned enterprises (SOEs). So far, of the 251 SOEs that have released their annual reports for 2013, only 156 (62% of the total) have released details on their “hospitality fees”. However, such data was released by 168 companies in 2012, hence 12 SOEs concealed this information in 2013.

Xinhua reports that, according to insiders, concealed “hospitality fees” might have been categorized as “other fees”. For example, the “hospitality fees” of 837 million yuan reported by China Railway Construction Corporation in 2012 (the highest “hospitality fees” reported on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges in 2012), dropped to zero in the company’s 2013 annual report. “Other fees”, on the other hand, increased to 322.6 million yuan from 224 million yuan in 2012, a 44% increase.

According to an individual in the accounting industry, media reporting on high “hospitality fees” is the reason why many companies now choose to conceal this data.

Links and sources
Xinhuanet.com: 部分国企招待费由数亿元归零 “其他”费用暴增

15 years of Tencent’s popular QQ messaging app

Chengshi Kuaibao Apr 16The City Express newspaper, published in Tianjin, today ran a piece looking back at 15 years of the popular Tencent messaging app QQ, and included an expansive infographic on use of the app as well.

The newspaper recounts tales of young men who recount how they first met female friends on QQ, maintained an ongoing connection, and eventually married them. Other users tell of how QQ helped them to maintain connections with former student friends over the years.

The piece includes statistics on the use of QQ in China, apparently based on data provided by QQ itself. For example, the following are the eight most popular activities that QQ is used for in China:

  1. Text chatting
  2. Scanning friends’ pages
  3. Playing games
  4. Audio chatting
  5.  Video chatting
  6. Reading of QQ pages
  7. Sharing documents
  8. Reading news

The newspaper also notes that the number of people simultaneously using QQ increased from 100 million in 2010 to 200 million in 2014. (more…)

Oil leak and cover-up in Lanzhou water scare

Lanzhou's water test site (Source: People Online)

Lanzhou’s water test site (Source: People Online)

On April 11, the Lanzhou government revealed that Veolia Water, a French joint venture company that supplies water to the city, had measured benzene levels of 78 micrograms per liter, far higher than the national limit of 10 μg/L, in one of the city’s supply pipelines. The city government set an investigation team to work and cautioned residents not to drink tap water for the next 24 hours.

At a press conference on April 13, Zheng Zhiqiang 郑志强, deputy head of the investigation team, blamed the problem on two underground oil leaks, one in 1987 and a second in 2002.

Apart from questions about the cause of the contamination, Lanzhou residents are also upset at the delay in notifying the public of the problem. The initial timetable of the incident put Veolia’s discovery of the problem in the afternoon of April 10, but on April 13, Zheng Zhiqiang said that Veolia’s water line tests on April 2 already showed benzine levels above the national limit, at 10.66 and 13 μg/L. The company then discovered seriously elevated levels at 3pm on April 10 and filed its report late that night; the government learned about the problem at 7am April 11 and informed the public at noon.

In an April 14 article, China National Radio posed the question:

It only filed a report nearly 12 hours after discovering seriously elevated benzine levels, and the public was only notified after nearly 24 hours. Water safety is the concern of more than a million inhabitants of the city. As the sole supplier of water to Lanzhou, were Veolia’s actions in compliance?

National Business Daily quoted experts who suggested that pollutants had likely entered Lanzhou’s water supply through seams its aging cement pipelines. The paper intimated that Veolia had neglected its duty to conduct proper upkeep, possibly by handing over actual operational duties to a subsidiary in which it does not have a controlling stake. 

Links and sources
China National Radio 中国广播网: 兰州水污染应急措施基本解除 疑似延报情节浮出水面 (2014-04-14)
National Business Daily 每日经济新闻: 威立雅的中国“水生意”:高溢价收购拷问系统维护质量 (2014-04-14)
People Online 人民网: 记者首次镜头直击兰州威立雅自来水厂自流沟 (2014-04-12)
People Online 人民网: 
兰州市政府回应自来水发生苯指标超标:未来24小时居民不宜饮用自来水 (2014-04-11)
Veolia Water 威立雅水务中国: Homepage

House prices soar in Baoding amid regional integration rumors

A picture connecting Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding (Source:Soufun.com)

A map of the rumored new regional agglomeration Jing-Jin-Ji showing Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding (Source:Soufun.com)

Due to a recent rumor that the political centre of the new Jing-Jin-Ji regional agglomeration will be established in Baoding, a city in Hebei province, house and share prices in or related to Hebei province have soared recently. It is rumored that Baoding, situated 140 kilometres to the southwest of Beijing, will be the centre of a new Jing-Jin-Ji regional agglomeration, consisting of Beijing (Jing), Tianjin (Jin) and Henan province (Ji).

Property prices in Baoding rose by over 10% during the last week, while the price of some properties rose by as much as 40% from around 5,000 yuan/m² to almost 7,000 yuan/m². During the last 20 trading days, stock prices of the Hebei sector have risen 14%. Stock prices of companies such as Tangshan Port, Langfang Development and Risesun rose by more than 50%, and that of Hebei Baoshuo by a full 80%.

However, so far no official timetable for the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei has been released at the national level. An expert close to the National Development and Reform Commission explained that a “new subsidiary political center is the wrong interpretation, but it’s true that some functions of Beijing will be distributed to certain cities in Hebei.”

Links and sources
Xinhuanet.com: 京津冀一体化概念遭热炒 规划未出股价房价先行
Sohu.com: 地方发改委知情人:保定被定政治副中心是炒作

War and Party heroes honored for Tomb Sweeping Festival in Jiaozuo, Henan

Jiaozuo Wanbao Apr8The newspaper Jiaozuo Evening News from Henan province today has a front page and three-page special section devoted to the Tomb Sweeping Festival that took place during the last three days. The newspaper tells the story of a local Party hero whose life was commemorated on April 4, as well as a group of Korean War veterans that meet every year to honor their fallen comrades.

On April 4, around 30 people of the Cui (崔) clan gathered at the grave of Cui Changyong (崔长永) in Jiaozuo, Henan province, to unveil a memorial to the revolutionary hero. The newspaper tells us that Cui is a famous Party figure in the history of Jiaozuo. He started out working at a local company, and participated in and was a witness of mining strikes and then the liberation of the city by the Communist Party. He passed away in 1982, but the city government in 2012 made the decision to erect a memorial in his honor.

The strike that Cui played a leading role in occurred in 1925 against British overlords in local coal mines. In the mid-1940s Cui played a leading role in Jiaozuo to prepare the city for the Communist take-over, notably assisting with drawing maps of the local area. In the early 1950s Cui made a large donation of his own to assist China’s effort in the Korean War. After many years of Party work, Cui was made director of a power plant. He finally retired in 1965, and died in 1982 at the age of 89.

The newspaper also tells the story of the group of now all 80-plus aged Korean War veterans, all clad in green uniforms, who gathered at a cemetery in Jiaozuo, as they do every year at this time. The 25 veterans lined up and saluted their fallen comrades, and laid flowers on the memorial.

Links and sources
Jiaozuo Evening News: 楷模永生天地间 革命家风代代传; 好兄弟,我们看您来了

Xi at the helm – The first lady’s switch from iPhone to domestic Nubia wins cheers

9f217704jw1eexj7l496qj20h30ligmu

A photo showing Peng Liyuan taking snapshots using a domestic-manufacturered phone during a state visit to Europe went viral on the Chinese Internet and won the Chinese first lady abundant applauses. The phone Peng uses is believed to be a Nubia, a brand of smartphone produced by domestic telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE. Last year, Peng was caught in a similar situation using an iPhone, which has been criticised for lack of patriotism and even raised security concerns. Some articles say that the Nubia is experiencing strong sales growth that may be attributable to Peng’s endorsement.

People.com.cn: 彭丽媛用国产手机带来哪些爱国正能量?

Minimum wage raised in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin

A table of regions that adjusted minimum wage in 2014 (Source:李金磊/Chinanews.com)

A table of regions where the minimum wage was adjusted in 2014 (Source:李金磊/Chinanews.com)

On April 1, the monthly minimum wage in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin was increased by a range of  11.4% to 12.3%, and the hourly minimum wage was also increased by 3 yuan. Shanghai has the highest minimum wage nationwide of 1,820 yuan monthly and 17 yuan hourly.

In Beijing and Shanghai, the minimum wage standard is “net income”, which does not include an employee’s pension, unemployment, medical and other social insurance as well as the housing fund.

The minimum wage also went up in Chongqing, Shaanxi, Shenzhen and Shandong this year. Last year, 27 regions in China raised their minimum wage by an average of 17%, compared to an increase of 20.2% in 25 provinces in 2012. According to the government’s 2011-15 Five Year Plan, the minimum wage is expected to be increased by an average of 13% annually.

Links and sources
Chinanews.com: 今年7地区上调最低工资标准 上海1820元全国最高
ReutersChina raises minimum wage in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin: report

 

A tiger in the Three Gorges

Political cartoon: Three Gorges Corporation sinking into bid fraud (via Dahe Daily)

Political cartoon: Three Gorges Corporation sinking into bid fraud (via Dahe Daily)

In a now-deleted post, Henan’s Dahe Daily cited online rumors speculating on the possibility that a “big tiger” was behind recent trouble at the Three Gorges Corporation (TGS).

In February, People Online reported that the Central Inspection Team dispatched to TGS at the end of 2013 had found that nepotism and manipulated bids were widespread problems, and some among the company’s leadership were in illegal possession of multiple homes. On March 24, the Central Organization Department announced that Cao Guangjing 曹广晶 would be stripped of his positions as TGS chairman and party secretary, and Chen Fei 陈飞 would be removed as general manager.

Although the removal of the “two generals” of the TGS was not accompanied by any accusations of wrongdoing on their part, speculation by Internet users harnessed Xi Jinping’s declaration that the anti-corruption campaign would hit both tigers and flies to speculate about the possibility that a “tiger,” a “big tiger,” or an “old tiger” might be implicated in the probe.

People Online 人民网: 中央巡视组:长江三峡集团有领导人员违规占有多套房
Dahe Daily 大河报: 三峡集团两高层同时被免 网友称幕后或有大老虎

Criminal gang lawsuits open in Hubei

Xiandaikuaibao April 1Based on a Xinhua report, the photo on the front pages of many newspapers in China today is of a sullen gang leader standing in court, flanked by two tall law enforcement officers. The gang leader in question is Liu Han 刘汉, who stands accused (along with 37 other defendants) of a number of gang-related crimes (including murder) at a court in Xianning, Hubei province.

Liu Han’s trial opened yesterday, although a total of seven court rooms are currently being used concurrently for all the defendants. The case of the prosecution states that Liu Han, Liu Wei and Sun Xiaodong and their gang has since 1993 been engaged in various crimes, including running gambling arcades and futures trading. In 1997 the three formed a company called Sichuan Dragon Group (四川汉龙(集团)有限公司), which formed part of what became an expanding criminal network.

The gang expanded its criminal activities to include acts of violence and homicide, illegal detention, extortion, illegal trade in firearms, and running an illegal business syndicate. Some of the defendants have admitted guilt, while others have not.

Links and sources
Modern Express 现代快报: 刘汉刘维等36人涉黑案一审开庭