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News from China
China clarifies new five-year plan at key forum
22nd March 2016
 Chinese policymakers illustrated how to carry out the newly released 13th Five-Year Plan, showing confidence on sustained growth in the next five years at a forum.
 
The two-day China Development Forum, which ended here on Monday, was an annual event initiated by the Development Research Center of the State Council, a government think tank, in 2000.
 
It was eye-catching this year as 2016 is the start of the plan, having attracted not only officials, academics and entrepreneurs, but also heads of international organizations such as IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and leaders of heavyweight companies such as Facebook.
 
Source: Xinhua
Police officer shot dead while on patrol in Yunnan
21st March 2016

 AN armed police officer in southwest China’s Yunnan Province was shot dead earlier this month while on patrol.

No one has been apprehended, but police said they think the killing was drug related.

Yang Jungang, chief of the border patrol team of Jiangcheng County, which borders Vietnam and Laos, was shot dead on March 7 while on patrol in the rural Kangping Township.

While making their rounds in the Kangping Township, Yang and his colleagues spotted three men acting suspiciously. When the officers approached them, the three fled the scene on foot.

At the same time, a fourth, unseen, person began firing at the police. Yang was shot in the chest and abdomen. The four suspects have yet to be identified and are still on the run.

Yang survived a shooting last July while working undercover trying to infiltrate a gang of drugs traffickers, according to his college Mao Zhiguo.

“He got lucky that time, but this time he wasn’t prepared for it,” he said.

The rapid rise in gun crime, especially related to drugs cases, has meant police officers are becoming increasingly at risk.

In the past five years, “at least” six officers have died, while 95 others have been injured, according to the Border Patrol Brigade of the Yunnan police.

Last year, the brigade tackled about 2,000 drug cases, detained 2,000 suspects and seized 9 tons of narcotics.

“At least” 13 drug crimes involved the use of guns, said Li Yong, its chief of staff.

“Suspects often react violently, using weapons like knives and guns, putting lives in danger,” he said.

The brigade is exploring new way to keep its officers safe, he said.

Yunnan has some of the highest drug-related crime in China due to it being a local production base and its proximity to the opium-growing region of neighboring countries.

Source: Shanghai Daily,March 21,2016
China's home prices continue to rise
18th March 2016

China's housing market continued to warm in February, with more than half of surveyed major cities reporting month-on-month rises in new home prices.

Of the 70 large and medium-sized cities surveyed in February, new home prices climbed month on month in 47, up from 38 the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday.

Meanwhile, 15 reported month-on-month price declines, down from 24 in January, according to NBS data.

On a yearly basis, 32 cities posted new-home price increases and 37 reported falls, compared with 25 and 45 in January.

New-home prices soared 57.8 percent year on year in the southern city of Shenzhen, the sharpest increase last month among all major cities, followed by Shanghai and Beijing, where prices surged 25.1 percent and 14.2 percent year on year. Northeastern city of Dandong registered the steepest price decline, dropping by 3.9 percent.

Prices for existing homes also warmed up last month, with 34 cities reporting higher month-on-month prices and 28 reporting lower prices.

China's property market started to recover in the second half of 2015 after cooling for more than a year, boosted by government support measures, including interest rate cuts and lower deposit requirements.

Last month, taxes on some property transactions were slashed and further reductions to the minimum downpayments for first- and second-time home buyers were announced.

Source: Xinhua
Food delivery start-up faces fines, investigation following expose
17th March 2016

Online food delivery service ele.me is facing fines and an investigation by Shanghai's food and drug watchdog following a state media expose on Tuesday showing unlicensed vendors have been selling food through its mobile app.

The Shanghai-based online food delivery start-up was among a group of companies named and shamed on state broadcaster CCTV's annual World Consumer Rights Day program.

The Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday that it launched a probe into the start-up in November over suspicions that it allowed unqualified food vendors to operate via the app.

The watchdog issued a fine of 120,000 yuan (around 18,408 U.S. dollars) and announced a new investigation into the problems revealed in Tuesday's expose.

The report revealed ele.me's lax efforts in screening vendors seeking to sell food via the app. Ele.me's failure to ensure sellers have proper certifications and licenses has created potential health hazards for consumers.

China's new food safety law, effective since October, requires online food sales and delivery platforms to register vendors under their real names and review their qualifications.

Some vendors on ele.me that advertise themselves as clean, modern restaurants are in fact nothing more than small, dingy kitchens without proper food licenses.

Although e-commerce is one of the few bright spots in China's slowing economy, online services are coming under increasing scrutiny from media and regulators as existing regulatory frameworks have proved less than effective in supervising new business activities.

Regulators have urged online retail services to exercise due diligence in reviewing vendor eligibility and operating standards.

Online sales accounted for more than 12 percent of total retail sales in China last year and are expected to grab an even bigger slice as e-commerce grows.

Ele.me counts major Chinese Internet firms among its backers. In December, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba invested 1.25 billion U.S. dollars into ele.me for a 27.7-percent stake, making it the start-up's biggest shareholder.

In addition to exposing sloppy kitchens, CCTV also revealed that ele.me's market specialist in north China's Hebei Province knowingly assisted an undercover reporter, posing as an unlicensed food vendor, in setting up shop on the platform.

Following the expose, local watchdogs raided some of the unlicensed restaurants operating on ele.me, according to local media reports.

Ele.me also said on Tuesday night that it has removed all unlicensed food businesses involved in the expose and will review the qualifications of all vendors on its platform.

Nearly 500,000 restaurants and vendors have signed up on ele.me's online platform to offer food delivery to 40 million users in more than 300 Chinese cities.

A survey conducted by the Shanghai Consumer Council late last year found that substandard service is a shared problem among leading online food delivery services.
 

Source: Xinhua

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