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News from China
Silver lining in China's lackluster economic data
15th March 2016

Downward pressure on China's economy may remain, but indicators are starting to show the economy stabilizing and the effects of supportive measures are beginning to be felt.

Mixed economic data for the first two months was released on Saturday. Industrial output grew below expectation, house sales improved and a fixed-asset investment picked up. These are good signs in an economy which has been slowed to allow for restructuring while overcapacity is slashed.
 
"January and February activity data were mixed, but showed signs of growth stabilization and even a quicker recovery than expected in some pockets of the economy," said Julia Wang, an HSBC economist.
 
Wang's research note described the recovery in the property market as the "most positive sign." Sales of residential property jumped 28 percent in terms of floor space, and 43.6 percent in revenue terms, which compares very favorably with last year's gains of 6.9 percent and 14.4 percent in the same period. Property investment grew 3 percent year on year in the first two months, compared with a 2.1-percent decrease in December.
 
"Property investment appeared to have bottomed out, while infrastructure investment grew at a robust pace," said Wang.
 
She expects urbanization policy to play a key role in destocking in third and fourth tier cities, maintaining the recovery in housing investment.
Shen Jianguang, chief economist of Mizuho Securities, attributed the rebound in property market mainly to the cuts in transaction taxes and interest rates.
 
Growth of fixed-asset investment as a whole, which picked up very slightly to 10.2 percent in the first two months, also showed "tentative signs" of stabilization.
 
"Given strong commitment to a more expansionary fiscal policy and a large backlog of approved projects, we expect infrastructure investment to remain a key growth driver in 2016," said Wang of HSBC.
 
However, industrial production and retail sales data came in weaker than expected, with the former posting the lowest monthly growth since November of 2008, but behind the relatively weak data is some encouraging news.
 
Source: Xinhua
Chinese yuan weakens to 6.4913 against USD Monday
14th March 2016

The central parity rate of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, weakened 8 basis points to 6.4913 against the U.S. dollar on Monday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System.

In China's spot foreign exchange market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 2 percent from the central parity rate each trading day.
 
The central parity rate of the yuan against the U.S. dollar is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each business day.
Source: Xinhua
China sets to win uphill battle against poverty
12th March 2016

Few of the over 55 million people living in China's underdeveloped rural areas have any idea of how the ongoing "two sessions" will soon change their lives for the better.

According to the government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang last Saturday, the central government will increase its poverty alleviation budget by 43.4 percent this year, lifting at least 10 million people out of poverty by the year end.
 
Last year, 14.4 million rural residents left poverty behind. Li Jinggao, 63, from eastern Jiangsu Province was one of them.
 
His wife has suffered from ill-health for years, his son has learning difficulties, and he, himself, was too old to work in a factory. The whole family depended on government aid.
 
Three years ago, the local government loaned him three ewes. Under his care, they bore seven to eight lambs every year.
 
The family returned the original ewes in 2015, and they have survived on the offspring ever since.
 
The story was shared with legislators from across China, sitting together in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, as an example of a successful poverty alleviation initiative.
 
The central government aims to lift 55 million rural people out of poverty in the coming five years, in order to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020.
 
The leadership have promised "not to leave a single family" behind.
 
In November, 22 heads of provinces, autonomous regions and cities from central and western China signed a "responsibility agreement" with the central government, agreeing to be evaluated.
 
Legislators attending the two sessions have also voiced their commitment to the campaign.
 
"The remaining 55 million are the poorest and most difficult group," said Fan Xiaojian, member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
 
Fan is leading a State Council panel on poverty alleviation.
 
China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the past four decades. A total of 95.5 million rural people overcame poverty from 2011 to 2014, according to official data.
 
However, a slower economy, decreasing natural resources, environmental degradation and "repoverty" (the return to poverty) have put pressure on achieving the target, Fan said.
 
Economist Li Yining shared a different story during the parliamentary session. He said some black goats were donated to poor farmers but they were slaughtered for food.
 
"Instead of 'just giving' we should make training a priority," Li said.
 
The draft of the 13th Five-Year Plan, which marks priorities for national development from 2016 to 2020, proposes support for poor villages to develop their own featured products and services.
 
In the draft, e-commerce was highlighted as a key tool to enable villagers to sell their wares; photovoltaic technology to boost infrastructure construction; and rural tourism to attract more visitors.
 
"Multiple measures concerning migration, training, education, environmental protection and subsistence security have been implemented," Fan said. "I believe the scheduled poverty reduction goals will be achieved by 2020."
 
Source: Xinhua
Human rights should not be politicized: Chinese diplomat
11th March 2016

 Chinese diplomat Fu Cong stressed here on Thursday the need to depoliticize the human rights forum so as to safeguard the Human Rights Council's (HRC) integrity.

 
"We must maintain the credibility and authority of the international human rights mechanism and reverse the current trend to politicize human rights," he said following the release of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's annual report.
 
"We should also insist on making national governments as the main driving force to mainstream human rights issues," Fu added, while urging the High Commissioner to refrain from making subjective comments which are not backed by factual evidence.
 
"China is a country governed by law. Fighting crime by law is our judicial sovereignty. Nobody is above the law," said Fu, who is the deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland.
 
The diplomat called out rampant prison abuse in the United Staets, especially in the Guantanamo facility, while deploring widespread gun violence and deep-rooted racism prevalent in the country.
 
Fu also called out large-scale eavesdropping carried out by U.S. authorities, drone attacks killing innocent civilians and the conduct of U.S. troops on foreign soil.
 
Referring to the issue of "comfort women" during WWII, Fu said: "We advise the United States and Japan to deeply reflect on themselves rather than interfere in the internal affairs of other states in the pretext of human rights."
 
The remarks were made during an interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on his annual report, part of the 31st HRC session which ends on March 24.
Source: Xinhua

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