China spends heavily on government-subsidized housing

Builders work at a property construction site in Huai’an, Jiangsu province. [Photo by Zhou Changguo/For China Daily]

BEIJING – China’s fiscal spending on government-subsidized housing saw a rapid increase in 2018 amid government efforts to curb housing speculation and improve people’s livelihood.

Fiscal expenditures on government-subsidized housing projects totaled 737.2 billion yuan ($107 billion) last year, up 46.4 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Finance said in an online statement.

The funds helped the renovation of 6.26 million shantytown units in urban areas and 1.9 million dilapidated houses in rural areas, and supported the construction of the matching facilities for 300,000 public rental housing, the ministry said.

The ministry vowed to strengthen supervision and management of the funds for government-subsidized housing in 2019, and standardize the financing for shantytown renovation projects.

The country saw stable housing prices last year amid government control policies under the principle of “houses are for living in, not for speculation.”

Downtown Beijing intensifies preservation work

Volunteers talk about the history of Shichahai Lake to tourists on July 11. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Beijing’s downtown area is accelerating the preservation of cultural relics as part of a campaign to better protect and use the city’s cultural heritage, a senior official in the capital said Thursday.

The Beijing Shichahai cultural exhibition center opened to the public on July 11 in order to showcase 3,000 years of the capital’s history and culture.

The center is located in the Guangfu Temple, a Taoist temple dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in 1459, which is regaining its life after residents were moved out and buildings were restored.

Shichahai Lake in downtown Beijing and surrounded by the city’s oldest neighborhoods of traditional courtyards and buildings, including the Guangfu Temple, is a significant Beijing landmark.

Lu Yingchuan, Party chief of Xicheng district in Beijing, where Shichahai is located, said the district will intensify renovation of the old town to improve its quality of life and better protect cultural relics, which aligns with Beijing’s application for World Heritage status in 2035.

Emergency passports issued to families of plane crash victims

Members of the search and rescue mission carry dead bodies at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Twelve family members of the Chinese victims who were killed in Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet have been issued passports, said the National immigration Administration in a statement on Tuesday.

The administration said it immediately launched the emergency response mechanism and verified the identities of the eight Chinese nationals as soon as possible.

It also asked immigration departments in Beijing, Liaoning province and Zhejiang province to assist the victims’ families by providing emergency passport service and convenience in entering and exiting the border.

Xi states firm position on sovereignty

President Xi Jinping meets with United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Xi said China will stick to peaceful development in the process of building a modernized socialist country. LI GANG / XINHUA

China’s attitude on safeguarding national sovereignty and territory integrity is firm and clear, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.

China will not tolerate losing even an inch of homeland that is inherited from ancestors, nor will it claim the land of other nations, Xi said while meeting with the United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

There are wide common interests between China and the US, and at the same time, the two countries also have disagreements, Xi said.

Xi said that China will stick to peaceful development in the process of building a modernized socialist country, and it will not seek expansion or colonization, nor will it bring chaos to the world.

Hailing the China-US relationship as one of the most important bilateral ties in the world, Xi said that the good development of the China-US relationship is not only significant for international peace, stability and prosperity, but also beneficial for the people of both.

China and the US have wide common interests, and the two countries should push the development of bilateral ties with the principles of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, Xi said.

Military exchanges between China and the US have gained momentum in recent years, Xi said, adding that Beijing hopes to keep pushing military exchanges with Washington.

“Your visit has very good timing — I think both our sides were hoping to have this meeting,” Xi told Mattis.

Enhancing military exchanges between China and the US is helpful to clear misunderstandings and avoid misjudgments, Xi said, adding that the two militaries should deepen cooperation and manage disagreements.

Mattis said that the US attaches great importance to developing military relations with China. The two countries should enhance strategic communication, manage disagreements and avoid conflicts, he said.

“This is an important time in the history of China and the United States as we work our relationship forward,” Mattis said, adding that he had “very, very good discussions this morning” with his Chinese military counterpart.

The US assigns the same high degree of importance to the military-to-military relationship as China does, Mattis said.

“It reminds me just how important this is for both our nations,” he said, adding that his visit is aimed at keeping the bilateral relationship going in the right direction.

Mattis extended greetings from US President Donald Trump to Xi, and Xi also asked Mattis to extend his greetings to Trump.

3 killed, 10 injured in east China car accident

NANJING – Three people were killed and another 10 injured in a car accident in east China’s Jiangsu province, according to local police.

The accident happened at about 10:47 am Wednesday in the downtown area of the city of Changzhou, when a black car lost control and veered into the bicycle lane. The car hit electric bicycles, injuring 13 at the site. Three died after medical efforts failed.

The driver, 35-year-old, has been taken into police custody.

Further investigation is underway.

China exposes cases of decadence by officials

BEIJING – The disciplinary arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Tuesday detailed eight cases of violations of the Party’s eight-point decision on improving official conduct.

The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said exposing the violations sent the signal that enforcement of good conduct will only become stricter, and that authorities have strong resolve and perseverance.

In the exposed cases, some officials concealed dining at the government’s expense, some accepted or requested cash gifts during weddings and other occasions, and others used government funds to pay for overseas travel.

In one case, a municipal meteorological bureau in central Henan province forged receipts to cover dining and hotel costs for a work inspection group led by the provincial meteorological bureau chief. They were treated to three bottles of expensive liquor worth a total of 3,930 yuan ($614) and stayed in hotel rooms that exceeded the budget limit.

In another case, a bank manager in a city in Inner Mongolia autonomous region organized employees to vacation in Sri Lanka and reimbursed 25,532 yuan of their travel bills.

The CCDI said officials involved in all the exposed cases had been punished, serving as a warning and lesson to Party cadres at all levels.

The CCDI stressed perseverance in addressing the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance, and to oppose privilege-seeking attitudes and behaviors.

The CCDI ordered strengthened supervision of official conduct before and during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, pledging zero tolerance for officials who cross the “red line.”

Courts pressure defaulters via their children

A file photo of students on the way to school. [Photo/VCG]

A court in Hengshui, Hebei province, has told expensive private schools not to admit applicants whose parents have failed to comply with court-ordered payments, as part of its effort to solve difficulties in carrying out verdicts.

The judicial advice was delivered to several local schools, including Hengshui No 1 High School and Hengshui Middle School Experimental School, according to a public letter published on Thursday by Taocheng District People’s Court.

“We fully understand your love for your children, but we also call for respect for law and judicial authority,” the letter said. It was addressed to defaulters attempting to send their children to private schools that charge high tuition.

“If you have carried out the verdict, or reached a settlement agreement, please inform the acting judge of the court to avoid being blacklisted and restricted in every field,” the letter added.

Hengshui No 1 High School is among a group of elite schools with high college admission rates in the province. Many students across Hebei and some neighboring provinces have attended the school as the first step toward an ideal university.

The court’s move-which only targets expensive private schools-aims to encourage defaulters to comply with court rulings rather than bar their children from receiving an education. It’s in line with a directive from the Supreme People’s Court in 2015 that said defaulters could be barred from activities that entail high spending, such as buying plane tickets, traveling by high speed train, booking top hotels, buying property and sending children to expensive private schools.

In a document published on the Taocheng district court’s WeChat account, the court asked Hengshui No 1 High School on Tuesday to explicitly state in its admission brochure that students whose parents have failed to comply with a court order are not eligible for enrollment.

The school’s admissions committee was also asked to check the credit records of applicants’ parents and discontinue the schooling of students whose parents were found to have such misconduct.

Similar approaches elsewhere have proved effective. A woman surnamed Wu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, was sued for refusing to repay loans amounting to 500,000 yuan ($75,500) from four banks, according to Guangzhou Daily.

Wu, who had no property in her name, sent her child to a local private school. A court in the city’s Shunde district issued a plea to the school for its assistance.

Knowing that her child’s schooling could be discontinued, Wu soon managed to raise enough money to repay the banks, and the court later recalled the request.

According to the paper, the court released a list of 86 local schools that charge high tuition, along with the names of more than 860 defaulters whose children were enrolled, to press them to follow court rulings.

In October 2013, China’s top court devised an online blacklist to disclose information, including names and identity card numbers, of individuals and legal representatives of companies who have ignored monetary judgments.

A year later, a wider system was set up to urge defaulters to comply with verdicts by imposing restrictions on them.

So far, 11.2 million violations by defaulters have been posted online. By the end of June, the defaulters had been prevented from taking 12.2 million flights and 4.58 million rail journeys. Courts have blocked executives or legal representatives of businesses 280,000 times, according to the top court.

Li calls on Orban to push forward Hungary-Serbia railway

Premier Li Keqiang meets with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 6, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

China would like to work with Hungary to push forward large projects, including the Hungary-Serbia railway, Premier Li Keqiang said when meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Sofia on Friday.

The railway, designed to run 200 kilometers per hour on a length of 350 km, will link the Hungarian capital of Budapest with the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Part of the 184-km Serbian section is now under construction.

Li and Orban are to attend the seventh Leaders’ Meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries on Saturday, along with leaders from 15 other CEE nations.

The premier extended gratitude to the Hungarian government and Orban for their contribution to the successful China-CEEC leaders’ meeting in Budapest last year. Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and exchanges and cooperation should be deepened at all levels, he said.

China and the 16 CEE nations are in similar stages of development and their cooperation is open, transparent and inclusive — which is beneficial for all these countries and European integration, Premier Li added.

Orban said Hungary is willing to make long-term development plans with China to bring bilateral ties to a new level. China-CEEC cooperation will fortify the European Union instead of weakening it, and help the overall development of Europe, he said. Hungary will work with China to boost such cooperation, he added.