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News from China
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
Xinhua Insight: China's steel industry strives to tackle overcapacity
10th March 2016

 When Zhou Jiangtao joined Ansteel Heavy Machinery Co. Ltd, he expected the life of stability and good salary traditionally guaranteed by state-owned companies.

 
So when the company started laying off workers in late 2015, it took a while for the 38-year-old worker to adjust.
 
"Factories were barely rolling because there were very few orders for steel products," Zhou said. "Some of us chose to find new jobs, some just retired in advance."
 
China's steel enterprises are experiencing severe economic stress as factories halt production and workers are laid off.
 
The Purchasing Managers' Index of the steel industry reached 49 in February, the 22nd month it stood below 50, according to the Steel Logistics Professional Committee. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that level signals contraction.
 
Sagging demand has already impacted China's steel industry. The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced earlier last month that crude steel production capacity will be slashed by 100 million tonnes to 150 million tonnes over the next five years.
 
The situation is so severe that the government predicts some 500,000 workers in the industry will be laid off.
 
In Tangshan Songting Iron & Steel Co. Ltd (TSIS), one of the country's biggest steel makers in northern Hebei Province, six huge blast furnaces sit deserted, with only a few workers looking after the quiet factories.
 
The company halted production in November last year, with more than 6,000 workers forced to stay idle. According to the Futures Daily, TSIS reported 474 million yuan (73 million U.S. dollars) in losses in the first nine months of 2015.
 
The company failed to pay 97 million yuan in electric bills, according to an article in the National Business Daily.
 
In Hebei's Tangshan City, the heartland of China's steel production, 14 out of 32 local steel makers reported a debt to assets ratio of at least 70 percent, according to a survey by the Tangshan Steel Association in late 2015, higher than the national average of 69.32 percent.
 
"A lot of steel makers will be wiped out of the market once their capital chains are broken," said Zhang Pin, a researcher with the Tangsong Steel Economic Research Institute.
 
Source: Xinhua
Holiday blamed for lackluster car sales
9th March 2016

 IT was a disappointing February for car sales in China, a slump that has been partly attributed to the Spring Festival falling a week earlier this year.

Deliveries of sedans, sport-utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and minivans fell 3.7 percent last month from a year earlier to 1.37 million units, which were down 41.5 percent from January, the China Passenger Car Association said yesterday.

“The shopping season before the holiday was relatively short for February,” said the association. “The rather volatile stock market, real estate market and currency market at the beginning of the year also impacted car sales.”

Combined sales for January and February were up 8 percent over last year, slightly below expectations, said the association, which predicts that sales will grow 10 percent year on year in March.

Source: Shanghai Daily, March 9. 2015

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