June 2019

Xi calls for greater efforts to win battle against poverty on time

President Xi Jinping inspects Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality on April 15, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

CHONGQING – President Xi Jinping has called for greater efforts to win the battle against poverty on time and realize the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects as scheduled.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the statement during an inspection tour to Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality from Monday to Wednesday.

Disciplinary, supervisory authorities punish 10 provincial-level officials in Q1

BEIJING — A total of 10 provincial or ministerial-level officials have been punished by discipline inspection and supervisory authorities in China in the first quarter, China’s top anti-graft authority said Thursday.

The Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission said in a statement that over this period the discipline inspection and supervisory authorities nationwide have received 752,000 tip-offs.

A total of 364,000 items of evidence of violations have been handled, and the authorities have decided to investigate 138,000 cases.

A total of 117,000 people, including 10 provincial or ministerial-level officials as well as lower level officials and those work in enterprises and rural organizations, have been punished for violations, the statement said.

Ex-senior political adviser in Hebei sentenced for taking bribes

A file photo of Ai Wenli. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ai Wenli, a former senior political adviser in Hebei province, was sentenced to eight years in jail on Thursday for accepting bribes in Jiangsu province.

He was also fined 3 million yuan ($44.7 million). His properties obtained through illegal means will be seized and handed over to state treasury, according to a statement by Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court.

Ai was found to have abused his power from 2005 to 2013, while he served in various posts including the mayor and Party chief of Chengde, Hebei province; mayor of Shijiazhuang, Hebei; and head of the publicity department of the Hebei Committee of the Communist Party of China.

In exchange for bribes, he offered preferential treatment to organizations and individuals in the matters of enterprise restructuring, project development and job promotions, the court said.

He had illegally accepted properties equivalent to 64.78 million yuan either directly or from other connections from 2006 to 2014.

The court said that Ai had used his position and status to seek profits from others, accept illegal properties of extremely large amounts and indulged in bribery.

In view of the fact that Ai had surrendered himself to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervisory Commission before being officially charged and had taken the initiative to turn over the illegal gains, the court considered his actions as deeds of merit.

The court said Ai was the first suspect who surrendered himself with the illegal gains to CCDI since the national supervision law took effect in 2017. Therefore the graft watchdog suggested a lenient punishment.

China voices opposition to 5G restrictions

A customer waits to buy a smartphone at a Huawei store in Beijing. [Photo/Agencies]

China on Thursday voiced its opposition to unreasonable restrictions on Chinese 5G suppliers, urging Australia to obey global trade rules.

China called for Australia at the World Trade Organization to fulfill its obligations in line with the international organization’s rules.

Last August Australia banned Huawei from supplying equipment for a 5G mobile network, citing national security risks.

Gao Feng, Ministry of Commerce spokesman, said WTO members should not enforce discriminatory or unreasonable restrictions on Chinese products and suppliers.

As for 5G technologies, country-specific and discriminatory measures will not make anyone safe, but will disrupt the global industrial chain and hinder technological advances, Gao said at a news briefing.

Cybersecurity is a global challenge and requires international cooperation, Gao said.

Chinese vice premier meets Japanese delegation

BEIJING — Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua here on Thursday met with a delegation led by Yohei Kono, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade.

The two sides exchanged views on expanding economic and trade cooperation, and strengthening communication and exchanges between local governments and organizations for international trade promotion.

China works on water with Kazakhstan

The completion of a joint project of China and Kazakhstan to renovate a water diversion sluice on the Sumbe River was celebrated on Wednesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Two shared boundary projects mark their long cooperative relationship

Two water projects on boundary rivers between China and Kazakhstan are expected to bring benefits to people on both sides, the Ministry of Water Resources said.

The recent completion of one of them – a joint project to renovate a water diversion sluice on the Sumbe River – was celebrated on Wednesday. The other, which kicked off on Thursday, aims to build a mudslide-blocking dam on the Horgos River farther north.

The project on the Sumbe, a 61-kilometer boundary river, will facilitate water diversion to Kazakhstan, the ministry said. The river flows south from Kazakhstan, then turns southwest, forming a boundary with China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

In 2008 the two countries jointly built a water diversion sluice on the boundary section of the Sumbe River for agricultural irrigation. After a sedimentation problem developed on the Kazakhstan side, Kazakhstan proposed renovating the facility.

In 2012, the countries agreed to undertake the project to help Kazakhstan solve the problem, while leaving water diversion on the Chinese side unaffected. The project started in December 2017.

Tian Xuebin, vice-minister of water resources, said at the ceremony celebrating its completion on Wednesday that China-Kazakhstan relations have become a model for relations between neighboring countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, and the two countries have been carrying out pragmatic cooperation in the joint use and protection of boundary rivers under the China-Kazakhstan Joint Committee on Trans-Boundary River Utilization and Protection, which was established in 2001.

“This project … embodies shared concepts of political mutual trust, reciprocity and cooperation,” he said.

Yerlan Nysanbayev, Kazakhstan’s vice-minister of agriculture, said the project is “another land-mark achievement” of cooperation concerning border rivers between the two countries, following the first China-Kazakhstan water diversion project on the Horgos River, which was completed in 2013 and irrigates more than 30,000 hectares of farmland.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, China shares a border of about 1,700 kilometers with Kazakhstan, including 567 kilometers demarcated by rivers.

On Thursday, a groundbreaking ceremony for a mudslide-blocking dam on the Horgos River was held in Kazakhstan. It is expected to be capable of blocking about 9.8 million cubic meters of mud.

The Horgos, a boundary river, is 148 kilometers long. It is fed by 62 alpine rivers in surrounding areas. Of those, 21 are in China, 39 in Kazakhstan and two feed shared boundary rivers, according to the ministry.

Tian, the vice-minister, said that overflowing alpine glacial lakes could threaten the lives and property of people along the river, and the dam will help eliminate these risks.

“It is an important project that will benefit people from both countries. In the future, further cooperation on water resources will be carried out under the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Tian said engineers from both sides should optimize their designs, and that builders should concentrate more on the project’s quality and safety to make the mudslide barrier dam an internationally advanced project and a new highlight of China-Kazakhstan cross-border cooperation.

Ex-senior official gets 8 years for bribery

A file photo of Ai Wenli. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ai Wenli, a former senior political adviser in Hebei province, was sentenced by a court in Jiangsu province to eight years in jail on Thursday for accepting bribes.

He was also fined 3 million yuan($447,000). Property he obtained through bribery will be seized and handed over to the State treasury, according to a statement by the Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court.

Ai was found to have abused his power from 2005 to 2013, while serving in various posts, including mayor and Party chief of Chengde, Hebei province; mayor of Shijiazhuang, Hebei; and head of the publicity department of the Hebei Committee of the Communist Party of China.

In exchange for bribes, he offered preferential treatment to organizations and individuals in the matters of enterprise restructuring, project development, the court said.

He illegally accepted properties equivalent to 64.78 million yuan either directly or through connections from 2006 to 2014.

The court said it believed that Ai had used his position and status to seek profits from others, to accept illegal property in extremely large amounts and committed bribery.

In view of the fact that Ai surrendered himself to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervisory Commission before being officially charged and had taken the initiative to turn over the illegal gains, the court said it would be lenient, as suggested by the CCDI.

The court said Ai was the first suspect who surrendered himself with illegal gains to the CCDI since the national supervision law took effect in 2017.

China mulls tightening regulation over drug production, sale

[Photo/IC]

BEIJING, April 21 — China is considering tightening regulation over the production and sale of drugs in revisions made to an amendment of the Drug Administration Law.

The measures were made public as the draft revisions are under review at the ongoing session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

The draft requires individuals and entities who have become medicine marketing authorization holders (MAHs) to be responsible for the drugs’ clinical and non-clinical trials, manufacturing, selling, and the analysis, report, and response of adverse reactions.

The MAHs should sign agreements with manufacturers, sellers, transporters, and keepers of the drugs to make sure they are capable of maintaining the quality of drugs and managing risks, the draft says.

“The draft makes it clear that MAHs must be responsible for the full ‘life-cycle’ of drugs,” said Tang Minhao, head of the Shanghai Association of Food And Drug Safety. “The MAHs will become the primary target of drug supervision.”

The MAH system has been introduced in selected cities and regions for more than four years in a pilot reform.

The draft aims to monitor drug prices and guarantee drug supplies. Government authorities will monitor drug prices and conduct investigation of cost prices when necessary, according to the draft.

China will also encourage research and production of drugs in short supply, and give priority to examining and approving drugs and raw materials which are in short supply.

Relevant authorities under the State Council can interfere in the production, pricing and imports of certain drugs where there is a shortage of supply, the draft says.

The government should strengthen supervision concerning drug shortages while enterprises should also shoulder responsibilities to avoid damages to public health due to shortage of life-saving medicine, said Song Hualin at Nankai University School of Law.

Chinese lawmakers deliberate personality rights section

[Photo/IC]

BEIJING — Chinese lawmakers on Sunday reviewed the draft section of personality rights of the civil code in panel discussions at the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

They were in support of the draft, which is under its second reading, and noted the significance of this personality rights legislation.

Du Yubo, a lawmaker, said the new parts of the draft including strict regulation over clinical trials, human gene or embryo-related studies met the requirement for personality rights protection.

Lawmaker Guo Lei applauded the improvement of provisions on personal information protection and suggested expanding the scope of “personal space” to include virtual online space.

Draft laws for ethical science handed up

A researcher operates a microscope in Suzhou, Jiangsu province on Dec 26, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Proposals would tighten oversight of bioresearch, including clinical trials

China will improve its oversight of human related scientific research and medical tests under draft laws and amendments submitted to China’s top legislature for review on Saturday.

Medical and scientific research related to human genes and embryos might present risks to health or violate ethics, and they must be strictly regulated therefore, said Shen Chunyao, senior legislator of the Constitution and Law Committee of the National People’s Congress.

A new item has been added to the country’s draft civil law, requiring that all medical and scientific research related to human genes and embryos must follow strict rules, laws and regulations, and should not pose a threat to people’s health or violate moral or ethical codes.

The drafts were presented by the NPC’s law committee to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee during a bimonthly session that began on Saturday. In August, the Standing Committee began a preliminary review of all six parts and 1,034 items of the civil code.

Another health related item added to the code addressed human testing for new drugs or treatments. It provides that all activities involving human testing must protect the subject’s health.

These activities include developing new drugs, medical equipment and prevention and treatment methods. They now require approval from an ethics committee, as well as by competent authorities.

The draft amendment to the Drug Administration Law said the nation should encourage the development of new drugs, according to Cong Bin, a forensic expert and a senior legislator on the law committee.

Since clinical trials are a key part of development, a new rule has been added stating that such tests should also follow ethical principles. It also clarified the responsibilities of the ethics review board.

Researchers should also explain the risks of an experiment to test participants and obtain their consent before proceeding.

The draft laws are the latest by Chinese authorities to encourage responsible research practices and increase the effectiveness of the nation’s oversight in scientific research, especially those related to humans.

Experts said the regulations have been long-awaited in the scientific community, and they are curious to see future details and its effects on their research.

Huang Yu, deputy director of the medical genetics department at Peking University, said it used to be difficult to hold violators of research ethics accountable because of a lack of clear legal rules.

“China has worked on similar regulations in the past, but the key is in the fine details and the severity of the punishment,” he said. “Defining the rules and operational mechanisms for the ethics review board is also a very important and specific task.”

In November, He Jiankui, associate professor at Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology, sparked global outrage by claiming to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies.

He also tried to evade supervision by forging ethics inspection papers from a hospital in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, according to preliminary results of an investigation published by local authorities in January.

Since the incident, China tightened rules related to gene editing technologies and urged scientists and research institutions to enhance ethics oversight.

In late January, the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Finance issued a joint document urging the nation’s scientists and institutions to strengthen ethics and establish regulatory committees to ensure that ethical practices are followed in research.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China, the country’s main financial contributor to basic scientific research, issued new rules in December calling on sponsored institutes and projects to optimize their supervision to prevent both ethic and security risks in fields such as information technology and biotechnology.

The foundation said it will withdraw its support for three to five years from anyone who have seriously violated its rules or failed to carry out their duties in accordance with laws and regulations.