China News - Autumn 2012

Leeds City hosts Chinese Olympic teams

Eight Chinese Olympic teams comprising 250 athletes, coaches and support staff stayed in Leeds for between seven to 14 days to adjust to British conditions before going to the Olympic Village in London. They enjoyed the hospitality and were very satisfied with the facilities, including food, accommodation and security control.

This is the first time that Chinese teams have done this and is a lesson they have learnt from other Olympic teams. In the past, the Chinese athletes would travel straight to the Olympic villages, but this arrangement has been made because it was thought that the differences between Britain and China in terms of time zones, weather and food could affect athletes' performances.

The Chinese Olympic Committee and Leeds City Council signed an agreement a year ago in August 2011. The Chinese chose Leeds because the city's climate is similar to that of London and the cities are not too far apart - only two and a half hours by train. In addition Leeds has had a sister-city arrangement with Hangzhou for the past 23 years. The athletes staying in Leeds represent China in table tennis, taekwondo, fencing, swimming, track and field, boxing, canoeing and women's field hockey. (From Chinawatch (China Daily) 24/7/12)

Weak Euro lures Chinese to the West

Chinese students and tourists are getting more for their money in the Eurozone due to the weak euro. Chinese students are seeing significant reductions in living and tuition fees in France and other European countries. Difficulties in excelling in the Chinese national college entrance exams and doubts over the quality of college education on the Chinese mainland are the main cause for the increasing numbers of young Chinese going abroad to study. The number going abroad to study has increased every year since 2008 by more than 20% and in 2011, the number reached 350,000.

European travel agents are seeing a decrease in European travellers in countries such as Greece and there is a tightening of wallets across Europe, but some travel agents report that the shrinkage in European travellers is being offset by the fast-growing numbers of incoming Chinese tourists. They expect the rising value of the yuan against the euro to boost the spending power of the Chinese. The director of the German National Tourist office in Beijing believes the favourable exchange rate will further increase the already growing interest in Europe and especially boost travel to Germany. There was an increase of 20.8% in the first three months of this year compared to 2011. The number of overnight stays by Chinese travellers to Germany over the last five years has increased significantly from 950,000 in 2007 to 1.32 million in 2011. In addition the demands of Chinese tourists are changing with a rising affluent class in China; they want good quality and better services. (From Chinawatch (China Daily 24/7/12)

US apologises for Chinese Exclusion Act

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Congressional leaders hailed it as an 'historic' moment for the Chinese American Community. Haipei Shue, the President of the National Council of Chinese Americans said it was a 'great day' for Chinese Americans. At the turn of the 20th century, there were over 100,000 people of Chinese descent living in the US. They worked as cheap labour and did dangerous work such as laying rail-road track. (From China Daily 19/6/12)

From the British Press

China's gymnast training

Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low became the first Western photographers to enter China's National Gymnastics Centre one December morning in 2009. What they photographed over several weeks are portraits of people who do the impossible every day as a matter of course. For example, teenage boys and men do handstands for up to 20 minutes with weights strapped to them. A photograph shows a gymnast exercising with weights attached to him wearing a 'bin-liner top' to make him sweat even more. Another shows a girl being stretched by her trainer who sits on her and pushes her legs beyond her head as she lies face down. Anderson thinks many people who don't know about gymnastics will cry, 'Child torture'. However Anderson, points out that her face is totally calm and she is in no pain. He adds, 'The problem is that the West would like to see the Chinese sports machine as heartless and brutal and ruthless. But we saw nothing that was remotely wrong. It's not cruel; it's just incredibly focussed'. (From The Times Magazine 28/7/12, report by Ben Machell)

China purchase of AMC may 'rewrite the Hollywood script'

Dalian Wanda Group Co. has taken over the US group AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6 billion. This is the biggest Chinese acquisition of any US company. The chairman of Dalian said that his company had no plans to promote Chinese films in the US, but Tong Gang director of the Chinese State Film Bureau, announced that 'to go international' was the long-held goal of Chinese movies.

The Chinese box office is on track to equal or exceed that of the US by 2021. Last year 954 multiplex cinemas were built in China and the expansion shows no sign of slowing. Only 34 foreign films are allowed to be screened in China each year and there are tough censorship laws and a restriction on the percentage that the studios can recoup. But for the right film, the rewards can be huge – the 3D re-release of Titanic took $110 million on the first day in Chinese cinemas last month. There are leading Hollywood actors currently appearing in Chinese or Chinese-backed films. These include, Christian Bale in 'Flowers of War' (about the Nanjing Massacre), Kevin Spacey in 'Inseparable', and Keanu Reeves in 'Man of Tai Chi'.

In the meantime, Isabel Davis, senior executive for the BSI Film Fund, (which invests in British film), said yesterday that she was looking at a number of possible projects with Chinese subject matter that were well positioned to attract Chinese investment.(From The Times 22/5/12)

UK retailers request visa streamlining

Business leaders are to submit a proposal to the UK Border Agency which will boost the number of Chinese visitors to Britain and give the economy a shot in the arm. Their 'one-stop shop' plan to streamline visa applications is designed to cut the amount of red tape involved in processing Chinese applications. The objective is to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to the UK, whilst maintaining strict entry requirements. Business groups are keen to attract more Chinese because they spend more money than other travellers.

Most Chinese tourists visit the UK as part of a wider tour of Europe where they obtain a single visa to visit 26 European countries in the Schengen area. However, they must apply for a separate visa to come to Britain and because the visa application process is so complicated, most apply for only one visa and opt for the one which allows them to visit 26 countries. Under the new proposed plan, Chinese visitors would be able to apply for the two visas at the same time and at the same office and officials would sort out the details.

The business groups include representatives from Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street and Walpole and a group of luxury brands including the Lanesborough, Savoy and Brown's Hotels, Theo Fennell and Links of London jewellers, Sotheby's and Christie's.

The group hopes to overcome the resistance of Home Office officials who want to keep the restrictions in place as they are concerned about Chinese criminals and asylum seekers coming to Britain. (From The Sunday Times 19/8/12)

Another 200 million to flock to cities in China

'The Blue Book of Cities in China' released by the Chinese Academy of Social Science?s Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies has outlined the huge challenges facing China as mass migration continues at breakneck speed. It is estimated that £5 trillion will be needed over the next 20 years as another 200 million people arrive in the cities.

Combined with the 200-300 million migrant workers who have already taken up partial residence in the cities, the authorities need to devise ways of successfully 'urbanising' up to 500 million people .

In 1949 nearly 90% of the Chinese population lived in the countryside, but by 1982 it had fallen to about 75% with 25% in cities. At the present time, 30 years later, about 690 million live in cities and 656 million still in rural areas. It is anticipated, that within the next 20 years the urban population will reach 75% of the total as rural people migrate in search of better jobs and living conditions. (From The Daily Telegraph 16/8/12)

China buys into North Sea oil

The Chinese state-controlled group CNOOC agreed a $15.1 billion (£9.7 billion) offer to buy Canada's Nexen, which is the second-biggest oil producer in the UK North Sea. In a separate deal China's Sinopec spent $1.5 billion on a 49% stake in the UK unit of Canada's Talisman Energy. The two deals apparently represent more than 8% of the UK's entire oil and gas production. CNOOC will need approval from Nexen's shareholders and also the Canadian Government. Nexen's oil and gas production is equivalent to 114,000 barrels per day, whilst Talisman Energy averaged 71,000 barrels per day. (From The Daily Telegraph 24/7/12)

China's first spacewoman

China's first spacewoman blasted off yesterday after passing 58 gruelling tests. She is Liu Yang, a 33-year-old major who along with two other astronauts were sent into space, live on state television, to dock with an orbiting space station. The three were seen waving in their cabin moments before blast off.

The astronaut's training was run by the Chinese military and included extreme physical and psychological resilience tests, in the so-called '58 ladders' that they must 'climb' to qualify - and there are no concessions for women. Some of the tests would be unacceptable in the West, for example, being dumped in subzero temperatures wearing only thin clothing for 48 hours with little to eat or having to overcome dizziness and G-forces in a centrifuge and then being made to sleep hanging by straps for five nights. Mental sharpness is honed by attending 50 specialist classes in higher mathematics, systems engineering, electronics, psychology and English. They must also have a strong political grounding in Chinese national identity and unswerving loyalty to the Communist Party of China, of which all three astronauts are members.

Liu Yang married a fellow air force officer in 2004 and they were planning to have a child in 2009, but she delayed this as she built her career. Her mother-in-law has said that when the Shenzhou-9 mission is over, she will have a baby as soon as possible. An expert at China's astronaut training centre commented that having a woman astronaut is of great political significance. Shenzhou-9's task is to rendezvous and dock with the space station Tiangong-1 (heavenly palace). The Shenzhou missions are paving the way for a manned moon flight after 2020 and trips to Mars. (From The Sunday Times 17/6/12)

Next year China is expected to finish building its new launch site on Hainan Island, the 'Hawaii' of China. It is said to be modelled on the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and will have facilities for thousands of tourists who want to observe future space launches. (From Newsweek 2&9/7/12)

Top Chinese pupils to be fostered in UK

Middle-class Chinese are paying for their children to be fostered by British families and attend top day schools in an official scheme to help high-flyers assimilate Western culture and society. The first batch of 15 from Hebei province (which surrounds Beijing) will arrive on Tyneside in September next year and will pay annual fees of about £15,000 to join the sixth forms of three successful schools in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The organisers believe if the pupils eventually want to work for international companies, they have to see how British society works and they can do this by living with British families and live in British neighbourhoods. Local services are looking for 50 foster families to look after 100 pupils. The Chinese pupils are expected to have to pay school fees of £15,000 instead of the normal £ 10,000 because of extra administration costs.

The Chinese are keen to absorb teaching methods that involve more discussion and less rote learning. The Hebei agent, Eddy Tang, says that the pupils do not need to be rich, because 'we are in the second or third generation of the one-child policy so many children have two parents and four grandparents to support them financially. In the UK people value home, cars and holidays, but in China people are willing to live in simple accommodation to help their children get on because they are their future pensions'. (From The Sunday Times 8/7/12)

Murder of British businessman

Neil Heywood, the British businessman found dead in Chongqing, was murdered after becoming incapably drunk. He 'should bear a certain responsibility' for the events that led to his death, a Chinese court was told yesterday. The Hefei Intermediate People's Court also heard that Ms Gu Kailai had been driven to murder after Mr Heywood threatened the safety of her son Bo Guagua. Effectively confessing her guilt, Ms Gu did not contest the accusation that she administered the fatal dose of poison that killed Heywood.

The crisis has sent shockwaves through China's Communist Party (Ms Gu is wife of Bo Xilai, until recently Party Secretary of Chongqing) as it prepares for the next generation change of top leaders. The Washington Post quoted one person as saying that Heywood was upset by a failed property deal which could have earned him £100 million. He sent an e-mail to Bo Guagua (Ms Gu's son) demanding 10% (£13 million) of the promised returns, 'or you will be destroyed.' The younger Bo showed a copy of this e-mail to his mother and it was shown in court.

The court was told how Heywood drank tea and alcohol which caused him to vomit and he called for water. At this point, poison was brought by Mr Zhang, a Bo family aid and it was fed into Heywood's mouth by Ms Gu. The court was also told that at this time, Ms Gu had a 'weaker than normal ability to control herself' – a suggestion echoing earlier reports that she suffered from mental instability.

The court has yet to set a date for sentencing, but lawyers thought that neither Ms Gu nor her accomplice would face the death penalty. Two British diplomats were in court during the six-hours long proceedings which were held in Anhui province, far from the Bo family spheres of influence. (From The Times 10/8/12)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings

Cambridge was ranked fifth in the Top Ten university rankings issued by Jiao Tong. Oxford, the only other UK university in the Top Ten was tenth. The assessment is based on academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel prizes and other accolades and the number of papers published in journals. All of the others in the top flight were American: Harvard, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the first three places. University College, London was 21st, Imperial College 24th, Manchester came 40th and Edinburgh 51st.

Tokyo was the top Asian university and five Chinese universities moved into the Top 500 for the first time. Overall this means that with Hong Kong and Taiwan, China has 42 universities in the Top 500 rankings. Britain has 38 universities in these rankings, but Wendy Platt, of the Russell Group, which represents Britain's top universities, said that all league tables have their limitations and students should look beyond them. These rankings and others like them show that the UK universities are punching above their weight. (From The Times 15/8/12)

Chinese delegation to study British decline

A delegation of businessmen from the Chinese private sector arrived in Britain today. They are members of the China Entrepreneurs Club, which was founded six years ago and is said to be responsible for 7% of China's GDP. The delegation is led by Liu Chuanzhi, the founder of Lenovo, the Chinese computer firm which is likely to soon overtake Hewlett Packard as the world's largest manufacturer of laptops.

One question they seek to answer is why Britain decline from having a strong computer industry in the 1960s and 1970s. He also wants to explain how the private sector in China is influencing the economy and to ascertain the UK government's real stance on Chinese investment – the act of welcome needs to be backed by actions. He said that a private delegation is different from one of state owned industrialists, because the latter are steeped in officialdom. Private entrepreneurs are 'seasoned fighters' because they have to try harder and it is more difficult for them to get bank loans. (From The Times 23/7/12)

'China business' on Olympics opening day

On the day of the Olympics opening, David Cameron will welcome a team of Chinese business leaders to Downing Street as part of an eight-hour 'China business day'. The day before, Thursday, a conference will be held dedicated to forging trade links with China. It will be attended by Chengyu Fu, the chairman of Sinopec. The government hope that many deals will be struck with the Chinese delegation, who will also be visiting the Olympic Games. (From The Times 24/7/12)

Founding of Sansha City

China founded the city of Sansha yesterday more than 200 miles from the mainland. It is based on Yongxing Dao or Woody Island which is a heart-shaped island barely a mile long. It is China's 658th city as classified by the State Council. The population is mainly fishermen, but there is a hospital, a library and post office. A casino is planned to develop tourism. There is also a military garrison which is responsible for 'national defence, mobilisation and military missions.' From here China expects to administer much of the South China Sea. However, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over parts of the region. (From The Daily Telegraph 25/7/12)

Shanghai ship building rate down

Growth in seaborne imports is set to fall from 12% last year to 8% this year, according to Clarkson's, the shipbroker. Excess capacity means that container ships sit idle in the dock or travel part-empty. Figures show a 6% surfeit of space, an increase from last year's 4%. Industrial analysts believe China's shipbuilding industry is in a state of slow-motion collapse that could last for a decade. Meanwhile the authorities in Shanghai recently stated their ambition to make the city a leading cruise ship destination by 2015, suggesting that the world's largest shipbuilding nation is already looking for new ways to bring international money through the door. (From The Times 9/7/12)

From the Chinese Press

Deutsche Telekom development centre

The Largest telecommunications company in Europe, Deutsche Telekom announced the establishment of its first China-based global development centre on 16 June. It is at Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province and will focus on the development of core technology, including vehicle telematics, cloud computing and air traffic technology. The centre is costing 40 million euros ($52 million) and is expected to employ 1,000 workers by 2014. Deutsche Telecom, the telecom operator in the world has development centres in Brazil and Mexico. (From Beijing Review 28/6/12)

Chinese sports star helps save elephants

Retired basketball star Yao Ming, who made millions of dollars a year playing for the Houston Rockets, made his first trip to Africa as part of the effort to curb the demand for ivory from elephant tusks. A report published last month said that China remained the main destination for large scale ivory consignments. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species believes that the number of elephants killed each year 'is likely to run into the tens of thousands.' Working with the American charity WildAid, Yao has helped persuade officials in Beijing to stop serving shark-fin soup at banquets. (From The Times 16 August 2012)

Match-fixing football bosses jailed

Chinese courts handed long sentences to two former national football chiefs at the end of a three-year crackdown on corruption. Match-fixing had become so wide-spread that entire squads were throwing games to win bets for themselves and crime syndicates. Millions of dollars changed hands on a single match. Nan Yong, the former director of the Chinese Football Association and his predecessor, Xie Yalong were each jailed for 10.5 years for taking bribes worth about 1.4 million yuan (£150,000). They were each fined years 200,000 yuan and the profits made by Nan were seized.

Wei Shaohui, the former national team manager, was also sentenced to 10.5 years for taking bribes and embezzlement. Four players were also prosecuted. They were sentenced for up to six years and fined 500,000 for taking bribes. Match-fixing and corruption have had catastrophic consequences for Chinese football, preventing its progress and causing the gap between Chinese football and international football to widen. Most importantly, it has wasted people's time and money. After poor performances by Chinese teams, soccer fans in China have shifted their interest to the English Premier league and Italy's Serie A. (From The Times 14/6/12)

Healthcare reform

The first stages in a three-year plan for healthcare in the 2009-11 period have been completed on schedule. The three-year plan includes establishment of a basic medical care insurance system, implementation of the basic drug system and improvement of primary-level medical care services. Between 2009 and 2011, the Chinese Government invested 450.6 billion yuan ($70.83 billion) in the country's medical care services. By the end of 2011, over 95% of China's population were covered by basic medical care insurance programmes designed for employees, urban residents and rural residents. The annual government subsidy for urban and rural residents' insurance was increased from 80 yuan ($12.57) per person in 2008 to 200 yuan ($31.43) in 2011 and the sum will be raised to 240 yuan ($37.72) this year.

In the past three years, state investment in the construction and improvement of 33,000 primary-level hospitals totalled 63 billion yuan ($9.9 billion). In addition, reform programmes have been launched in more than 2,000 public hospitals across the country. (From Beijing Review 5/7/12)

Prioritising stable growth

A statement released on 31 July after a meeting of the Chinese Political Bureau stated that stable growth and maintaining fiscal and monetary policies to combat turbulent global conditions remained a priority. They pledged to cut taxes and maintain moderate credit growth and will beef up support for key projects and implement policies that will allow private capital to play a bigger role – foreign trade policy will remain consistent. Domestic demand will be expanded to develop the real economy, accelerate reform and improve living standards. At the same time, cooling policies to curb speculative demand and increase supply of smaller apartments and subsidised housing will be firmly implemented. (From Beijing Review 9/8/12)

Earth monitoring project

China is to invest 517 million yuan ($81.25 million) to build a modern national network to monitor movements in the Earth's crust and other Earth sciences in the next four years. The programme will involve more than 3,000 technicians nationwide to build a three-dimensional and dynamic 'geodetic' network with high precision. The national geodetic network aims to build 360 GPS (Global Positioning System) reference stations and a satellite-geodesy control network comprising 4,500 control points. The system will provide timely geodetic information for any point in China's land area. It is expected that it will benefit construction projects, natural disaster relief and mineral resources development. (From Beijing Review 5/7/12)

Recovery of corruption assets

China will strengthen the measures it uses to recover corrupt officials' illicit assets transferred abroad and will demand the countries concerned to freeze the officials' assets and thus cut off their means for living overseas. China has already prevented a large amount of illicit assets from being transferred abroad by cooperating with other countries. There are, however, limits to what can be achieved, but an amendment to the Criminal Procedural Law will take effect on 1 January 2013 which will improve measures to trace illicit money. (From Beijing Review 5/7/12)

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)

The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC was held in Beijing on 19/20 July. Since the establishment of the Forum 12 years ago in 2000, massive trade and economic cooperation has been achieved. The cooperation has contributed significantly to African counties' efforts on poverty alleviation, social development and improving peoples' livelihood. Since the establishment of the FOCAC the African economy has grown rapidly at between four and six per cent overall, making Africa one of the fastest growing places in the world.

The Chinese President Hu Jintao at the opening ceremony said that in the next three years, China pledged to expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa and would provide $20 billion of credit to help African nations to develop infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small to medium sized enterprises. China will train 30,000 persons in various disciplines, offer 18,000 government scholarships, build cultural and vocational skills training facilities and send 1,500 medical personnel to African countries.

Other projects will promote intra-region trade cooperation and promote people-to-people friendship and also sponsor 100 programmes for research exchange and cooperation by Chinese and African academics. In addition China will provide financial support for African Union peace-keeping missions and train more security officials and peacekeepers for the African Union. (From Beijing Review 2/8/12)

China, Japan and South Korea free trade area?

In May, the three prime ministers of China, Japan and South Korea met in Beijing and signed a trilateral investment accord. Groundwork began in 2007 and there have been 13 rounds of negotiations and a number of informal consultations. The accord is the first legal instrument to promote and protect investment amongst the three nations and is regarded as a milestone. The three governments are confident that the 27 items and one additional protocol cover every important aspect that an international investment agreement should have to ensure a transparent and stable investment environment. The accord also lays a solid foundation for the establishment of a free trade area, which will be the subject of talks later this year. (From China Today, July 2012)

Party leadership congresses

Beijing was the last provincial-municipal region to complete its Communist Party (CPC) congress on 3 July 2012. There are 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China and congresses are held every five years. Congresses at township, county and city level are also held at the same intervals. These precede the CPC National Congress which elects the Central Committee and the most senior leaders. The 18th CPC National Congress will be held later this year.

The CPC in 2011 had 82.6 million members – an increase of 2.9% over the preceding year. In 2011, some 21.6 million people applied to join the CPC, of which only 3.16 million were accepted. There are now 19.25 million women party members accounting for 23.3% of the total. Members of ethnic minorities total 5.56 million or 6.7% of the total. There are 2.77 million student party members and 25% of total party membership is under the age of 35 years. The CPC is well-educated, with 38.6% having received education in a junior college or above, and most colleges and universities encourage students to apply for party membership. Of the 404 provincial-level committee members, 74.4% hold master's degrees and 24% have bachelor's degrees. In Tianjin, seven out of the 13 CPC Standing Committee members hold PhD degrees. (From Beijing Review 19/7/12)

Growth through innovation

The Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Integration Technology aspires to spearhead science and technology innovation and the application of new technologies. A project to apply cloud computing technology to the machine tool industry was launched and has been adopted by NASA (of the US), General Motors and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. The technology was developed by the institute jointly with ACL Machinery Group of China. The state-owned institute was founded in 2006 and currently employs more than 1,600 researchers. So far it has successfully spawned 60 companies in new technologies including cloud computing, the Internet of Things, alternative energies and new materials.

The president of the institute, Pan Jianping, believes that to convert science and technology into productivity, they must be closely married to production. The institute is regarded as a successful example of commercialising science and technology.

At the 2006 National Science and Technology Conference, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council published their guidelines on enhancing China's indigenous innovation capacity. Innovation was declared a national strategy and government expenditure on science and technology has grown at an average rate of 25.2% from 2006 to 2010, reaching 861 billion yuan ($135 billion), representing 1.83% of GDP. This expenditure is second only to that of the US, but after adjusting for purchasing power parity, China's research and development spending will be approximately equal to that of the US by 2015.

In 2011, China issued 172,000 patents of invention – an increase of 27.4% from the previous year – and third in the world. China also ranked second in terms of the number of published papers and seventh in terms of the number of research papers cited. The innovation-friendly environment in China has also attracted foreign companies. In 1999 there were only 30 research and development centres in China operated by foreign companies compared to more than 3,000 today. (From Beijing Review 19/7/12)

Disability access

China's central government issued a new regulation on 10 July to improve accessibility for disabled people. Parking lots, commercial centres, living quarters, transportation facilities and other public infrastructure facilities must be accessible to disabled people. This regulation was posted on a Central Government website and takes effect from 1 August. It also encourages public venues to offer free services for the less able. Official statistics show that China has 85 million people with some form of disability and last year, the government issues a blueprint for improving their lives. (From Beijing Review 19/7/12)

Shanghai sets up auto R & D harbour

More than 10 international and domestic car companies signed contracts with Shanghai International Automobile City to enter its Auto Research and Development Harbour in May. This first batch of companies includes Italy's car design firm Pininfarina and Canada's KSR International Co as well as China's Shenzhen Hangsheng Electronics Co. Ltd and Chongqing Chaoli Hi-tech Co. Ltd. The Auto R & D Harbour is an investment of 1.5 billion yuan and covers an area of 12.4 hectares and 120 independent R & D buildings will be completed in 18 months. The centre is expected to house 150 medium-sized auto R & D companies. Shanghai International Automobile City combines 15 public R & D platforms, 12 enterprise headquarters and 65 auto research centres employing more than 10,000 research workers. (From China Today, July 2012).

Beijing's rain havoc

The heaviest rain in six decades struck Beijing on 21 July with an average precipitation of 170 mm across the entire city and 225 in the city centre. At least 77 people were killed in rain related occurrences. Official statistics show that about 1.9 million people in 13 of Beijing's 16 districts and counties were affected by the torrential rain. Financial losses are estimated at 11.64 billion yuan ($1.82 billion). A total of 57,000 residents were relocated – including 20,990 in Fangshan alone.

The rains caused serious damage to roads and bridges including 31 cave-ins. Bus and trains services were hit. A total of 85 bus routes were diverted or suspended and 12 subway stations were flooded interrupting the metro service. There were more than 80,000 people stranded at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Although, many new buildings have been built in the capital, the drainage system has not been upgraded and remains of low standard. Some key drains even date back to the Ming Dynasty. The design of road underpasses in Beijing has also been the subject of public complaint. Many of Beijing's 78 underpasses have limited pumping capacity and are capable of draining away water only if the rainfall is less than 30 mm an hour. There are plans to improve underpasses and more powerful pumps will be installed and reconstructed by the end of 2015. However, the poor drainage system in Beijing is not a job that can be completed soon. (From Beijing Review 2/8/12)

Minor planets named after Chinese scientists

Five minor planets have been named after top Chinese scientists with the approval of the International Astronomical Union. Minor planet No. 14081 was named after Sun Jiadong, a pioneer in artificial satellite and deep space exploration technology. No. 175718 was named after Wu Zhengyi, a botanist who has made great achievements in plant taxonomy, floristics and the study of plant resources. No. 18593 was named after Wang Zhongcheng, a renowned expert in micro-neurosurgery. No. 28468 was named after Shi Changxu, a leading scientist in the development of new materials and finally No. 43259 was named after Wang Zhenyi who has developed clinical treatments for leukaemia. (From China Today August 2012)

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