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News from China
Smog prompts more Chinese northern regions to issue "red alert"
23rd December 2015
China's northern Hebei Province and the port city of Tianjin issued their first-ever air pollution red alerts, the most serious level, joining neighboring Beijing in experiencing this most recent bout of choking smog.
China has a four-tier warning system, with red as its most severe level, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Hebei, which is home to six of the ten most polluted Chinese cities in November, issued its first red alert for smog Tuesday noon.
Guo Yingchun, spokesperson of the provincial meteorological department, said all the province's 11 cities will roll out strict measures including limitations on the number of vehicles on the roads.
Actually, four cities in the province, including Baoding, Handan, Langfang and Xingtai, had issued red alerts before the provincial-wide alert.
On Monday night, Tianjin also issued its first red alert for air pollution, which will last from 0:00 a.m. Wednesday to 6:00 a.m.Thursday, according to a government statement.
During the red alert, cars will be allowed on the roads depending on whether their license plate ends in an odd or even number, enterprises and public institutions will adopt flexible working hours and large outdoor activities and construction work will be suspended.
Kindergartens, middle schools and primary schools will also cancel classes on Wednesday. Key polluting industries will cut production as continuous cleaning operations are conducted in the city's downtown areas.
Beijing was hit with severe air pollution on Tuesday, with pollution levels expecting to reach grade six on a six-grade pollution gauging system in the southern part of the city later in the day, according to Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (BMEMC).
"Affected by increased humidity and temperature inversion, the density of PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers used to measure air quality) may exceed 500 micrograms per cubic meter on Tuesday," according to Li Yunting, an environmental expert from BMEMC.
M2.5 stood at 330 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing as of 7:00 p.m Tuesday, data from BMEMC showed.
The capital will lift its second red alert at midnight on Tuesday. It began 7 a.m. Saturday.
The pollution level is predicted to decrease to grade four, still hazardous for health, on Wednesday, and the smog is expected to disperse on Thursday as a cold front arrives, said BMEMC.
Heavy smog has hit the country's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region on three occasions since late November. Low wind speed, high humidity and unfavorable wind conditions are the main causes of the smog, according to Li.
Meanwhile, other parts of north China also witnessed some of the worst smog so far this year from Saturday.
Orange, yellow and blue alerts have been issued in cities in the provinces of Henan, Shandong and Liaoning.
Limited visibility due to heavy fog and smog, the high-speed rail linking Shenyang, capital city of Liaoning, and the coastal city of Dalian cut its speed to 200 kilometers per hour from the usual 300 kilometers per hour, according to Shenyang railway bureau. The PM2.5 level was 248 micrograms per cubic meter in Shenyang as of 7:00 p.m Tuesday.
In addition, 15 highways in Liaoning Province were either completely or partially closed, according to the local transportation department.
Source: Xinhua
China's economy in "new normal" continues to power global growth
22nd December 2015

Against the backdrop of the global struggling for economic recovery and the worsening situation in some emerging markets in 2015, China's economy has remained a strong engine for the world economy.

Though the Chinese economy has changed to a "new normal" of more sound and slower growth, it continues to create development opportunities for the world.
At the G20 summit held in the Turkish resort city of Antalya, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that despite a recent slowdown, China has still contributed 30 percent of world economic growth, which means China is still a major world economic powerhouse.
It is predicted that the world's second largest economy will grow around 7 percent this year, and will continue contributing as high as about one third of the global growth, Xi said.
China's confidence comes from its determination and actions to comprehensively deepen reform, strengthen economic endogenous dynamism and policy guidance to build a "moderately prosperous society" and double its 2010 GDP and per capita income of both urban and rural residents by 2020.
Source: Xinhua
Chinese visitors drive record boost for New Zealand tourism industry
21st December 2015

Chinese tourists drove another record in the number of overseas visitors to New Zealand last month, the government statistics agency said Monday.

Visitor arrivals were up 11 percent year-on-year to 300,500 in November, with the biggest increase from China - up 35 percent to 36,700, according to Statistics New Zealand.
"Visitors arriving from China were mainly holidaymakers," population statistics manager Vina Cullum said.
Visitors arriving from China were the highest-ever for a November month, twice as high as November 2013.
Most Chinese visitors were from Beijing (4,400), Shanghai (4,400) and Guangdong (4,200).
In the year ending November, visitor arrivals reached a record 3.09 million, up 9 percent year-on-year, with Australia contributing 1.32 million, China 344,900, and the United States 240,000.
The government's Tourism New Zealand agency said the tourism industry was heading toward a record southern summer season.
"The last 12 months have delivered our biggest tourism results on record with arrivals and spend both hitting new highs," chief executive Kevin Bowler.
"International tourism is the country's biggest services export and a strong tourism industry is good news for all of New Zealand. It means more jobs, income and economic value for the whole country," he said.
"The growth we are seeing and predicting for the months ahead will provide significant benefit for many communities as tourism visitors and associated spend flows through local economies." 
Source: Xinhua
Anbang to buy US life insurer
10th November 2015

 ANBANG Insurance Group has agreed to buy US annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life for about US$1.57 billion as Chinese insurers seek to expand into the United States.
Privately held Anbang said yesterday that it would pay US$26.80 per share, a premium of 3 percent to the stock’s Friday close.
Financial holding company HRG Group Inc, Fidelity & Guaranty Life’s majority stockholder, has approved the deal, which would make Anbang one of the largest insurers by market share in fixed-indexed annuity products in the US.
The deal is expected to conclude in the second quarter of 2016.
“The deal is too small for anti-trust issues, but there could be regulatory hurdles as the deal will have to be cleared by a number of state regulators in the US,” Sandler O’Neill analyst Paul Newsome said.
“There has been a broad trend of consolidation within the insurance space. It could accelerate this year,” he added.
Anbang and other Chinese insurers including Fosun International Ltd have launched some US$6.1 billion of overseas deals this year as they seek to diversify.
Fosun completed in May the acquisition of the remaining 80 percent interest that it did not already own in Ironshore Inc for US$1.84 billion.

Source: Shanghai Daily

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