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News from China
Ease the homework pressure and let kids be kids?
1st November 2019

 A new rule being mulled in China to allow schoolchildren to go to bed by 10pm, even if they haven’t finished their homework, has prompted heated debate about the country’s education system.

East China’s Zhejiang Province has published a draft guideline proposing students go to bed at a decent hour — with parents’ approval — even if they still have unfinished schoolwork to do.
The time mooted is 9pm for primary school students and 10pm for middle school students.
The 33-point action plan, published on Monday on the website of Zhejiang’s education department, also advises parents to “refrain from competing with others,” suggests boosting counseling support for students and forbids extra tutoring over weekends and school vacations.
The proposal has touched a nerve in China, with some parents concerned that reducing the homework burden will put children at a disadvantage when preparing for the highly competitive college entrance exam.
The country’s education system revolves around the “gaokao,” the main route to Chinese universities. “It’s better not to take exams,” wrote one on the Twitter-like social media platform Weibo. “Cancel all the entrance examinations. Protect the children. Never let the children get a little tired.”
“I oppose this. It will result in the children lacking a sense of responsibility from early age,” wrote another.
The People’s Daily, weighed in, saying that it was “unquestionable that very few parents want their children to bear excessive homework” but that “excellent academic performance is necessary for the gaokao, as well as the fiercely competitive workplace.”
Other provinces are also considering similar rules to help reduce the burden on students, who often face long school days, high pressure and a raft of after-school classes and training.
But many supported the proposal, which called for schools, after-school training institutions, parents and education authorities to help reduce the workload placed on children.
“Let children be children and be happy,” wrote one on Weibo
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 1, 2019
Washington expects to sign Phase One trade deal with Beijing in November
31st October 2019

 The United States still expects to finalize with China the text of the Phase One trade deal in November, White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley said Wednesday.

US officials have repeatedly said that Washington hopes to sign the Phase One deal with Beijing on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum scheduled for November in Chile.
After Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced earlier Wednesday that his country will no longer host the APEC forum, Gidley said in a statement, "We look forward to finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same timeframe," though the potential location for the forum has not been decided so far.
According to a statement released Thursday by China's Ministry of Commerce, Chinese and US economic and trade teams have maintained close contact and are making smooth progress on the negotiations.
The two sides will continue to advance consultations as planned, and the Chinese and US chief trade negotiators will hold a phone conversation again on Friday, said the statement.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 31, 2019
China to issue guideline to improve business environment for foreign investors
30th October 2019

 China will roll out a guideline to better use foreign investment with a focus on safeguarding the national treatment of foreign-funded enterprises.

The guideline, which was adopted in principle at an executive meeting of the State Council held on October 16, puts forward 20 policies in four aspects to create a more "fair, transparent and predictable" business environment for foreign-invested enterprises, said Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen Tuesday.
For a start, in deepening opening-up, China will continue to reduce the negative list for foreign investment access in the national and pilot free trade zones, and comprehensively eliminate restrictions that are not on the negative list.
China will accelerate the opening-up of the financial sector and optimize the foreign investment policies for automobiles, Wang said.
Second, in promoting investment, China will optimize the scientific and technological innovation services for foreign-invested enterprises and improve the construction of pilot free trade zones.
Third, in deepening reform to facilitate investment, China will lower the cost of cross-border capital use, make it easier for foreigners to work in China, and optimize the approval process for the use of land for foreign-funded projects.
Fourth, in protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors, China will fully implement the foreign investment law, establish and improve institutions for accepting complaints.
The country will also strengthen the standardization of the implementation of regulatory policies and make the formulation of regulatory documents more transparent, he said.
China will give full play to the role of judicial protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), improve the IPR protection mechanism, support both domestic and foreign enterprises in their fair participation in standardization, and ensure their equal participation in government procurement, Wang said.
Fair government procurement system
The guideline requires that all local governments and departments shall not discriminate against foreign-funded enterprises in aspects like the release of government procurement information, and shall not restrict the ownership form, organizational form, equity structure or investor country, as well as product or service brands of suppliers.
The Chinese government has been committed to establishing a level playing field in the government procurement system, said Wang Shaoshuang, an official with the Ministry of Finance.
If foreign-funded enterprises are not treated equally, they may raise complaints with the procurer, and if the procurer fails to give a reply within the time limit, or if the supplier is dissatisfied with the reply, he or she may lodge a complaint with the financial department at the same level, said the MOF official.
To maintain a level playing field in the market, foreign-funded enterprises that do not participate in the government procurement can also report to the MOF if they find unfair practices, he said.
Better IPR protection
The guideline demands the improvement of mechanisms for rapid and coordinated IPR protection and joint disciplinary action against credit, the improvement of the IPR protection mechanism for e-commerce, and the establishment of a comprehensive and diversified resolution mechanism for intellectual property disputes.
China has strengthened its IPR protection with unprecedented intensity in recent years, said Zhang Zhicheng, an official with the National Intellectual Property Administration.
For example, to deter firms from infringing upon IPR, China has been working to improve the system of punitive damages for infringement, Zhang said.
Meanwhile, China has raised the efficiency of its approval process for trademark patents. At present, the average approval cycle for invention patents is just under two years, and the time of approval for trademark registration averages less than five months, Zhang said.
Source: Shanghai Daily,October 30, 2019
Tax, fee cuts lift public sector firms
29th October 2019

 China’s tax cuts and fee reductions have boosted the performance of public firms while continuously injecting impetus, a report from China Securities Journal said on Monday.

Companies in traditional cyclical industries such as power and nonferrous metals, manufacturing and consumer sectors saw more benefits from the cuts, said the report.
For example, the Yunnan Aluminium Co Ltd, a leading enterprise in the aluminum business, expected its net profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company for the first three quarters to hike 163.25 percent to 291 million yuan (US$41.1 million).
Underpinned by a raft of tax and fee cuts, the company has seized the opportunity from the stabilized domestic and international aluminum markets to up the production and sales and effectively lowered the purchasing costs of bulk raw materials including the alumina and petroleum coke, the report said.
“The boons for public firms brought about by tax and fee reductions are universal,” said Fu Lichun, a senior analyst from Northeast Securities.
The tax and fee cuts can improve the profit margin of listed firms on the one hand while expanding the demand on the other as consumers’ tax burdens are lessened, Fu said.
Specifically, listed firms in the consumer industry will share more dividends partly because its demand side is more sensitive to tax and fee rollback and traditional cyclical companies will directly benefit from lower costs, according to Fu.
In addition, the tax breaks have also promoted listed firms’ R&D investment, transformation and upgrade and structural adjustment, the report said.
“With our tax burdens eased, we can strengthen our investment in R&D and productivity, which are of great significance to the company’s sustainability,” said Lu Kunzhong, the secretary of the board of Wuhan Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies Co Ltd.
The company’s R&D investment in the first six months of this year reached 45.21 million yuan, up more than 10 million yuan from the same period last year, according to its semiannual report.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 29, 2019

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