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Xi pushes poverty alleviation

ZHANGJIAKOU, Hebei Province — President Xi Jinping Tuesday stressed the importance of precision in the battle against poverty, saying that poverty alleviation should focus on targeted people and industries, and use the right tools to produce results.

Xi made the remarks during an inspection tour of the city of Zhangjiakou in northern China’s Hebei Province.

“Fighting poverty is the fundamental task in building an all-round moderately prosperous society,” Xi said.

He called for more efforts to help the poor develop industries that could grow in a sustainable manner, set up sustainable mechanisms for poverty alleviation, and create driving forces for them to achieve prosperity.

Poverty relief is high on China’s 2016-2020 agenda, and the government has vowed to lift everybody out of poverty by 2020. By the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty.

Since the start of the reform and opening-up in 1978, China’s economic boom has helped lift more than 700 million people out of poverty.

“Poverty alleviation is getting more and more difficult as it progresses to the end,” Xi said.

He stressed the importance of making sure every poor family had a program for increasing income and every poor person had their way of casting off poverty.

The president pointed to relocation as an important supplementary approach in fighting poverty and highlighted the role of ecological compensation, which would not only help improve the ecological environment but also boost incomes.

“Making sure children of impoverished families enjoy access to high-quality education is a fundamental solution to poverty,” Xi said.

No snow, but there they go

Enthusiasts try out the new snowless ski slopes at the Olympic Forest Park during a recent test run of the facility. WANG JIE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Beijing at the height of summer is not where you would expect to find a bustling ski resort-until now.

A complex of high, dry ski slopes at the south end of Olympic Forest Park was officially unveiled on Tuesday as part of efforts by the city government to promote the winter sport as a year-round activity.

The resort, built by the park’s management company and Beijing Sinolym Co, opened four courses for entry-to medium-level skiers as a trial on Saturday to a select group of enthusiasts. They were given the chance to experience the fun of skiing in light clothing under Beijing’s summer sun.

Policy digest

Medicine procurement program to be launched

A pilot program for the pooled procurement of pharmaceuticals will be launched in 11 cities as part of measures to cut the prices of key medicines, according to a guideline published on Thursday.

The pilot program will operate in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Tianjin and seven other cities, the guideline issued by the General Office of the State Council said.

The pilot pooled procurement mechanism will enable reductions in drug prices, reduce the cost of business transactions and guide the use of drugs by medical institutions, the guideline said. Procurement will be open to all approved enterprises that can produce drugs on the procurement list in the Chinese mainland.

A coalition will be established among public medical institutions to conduct the pooled procurement. The scope of the pilot program will be expanded after a summary of its efforts, the guideline said.

As part of the program, healthcare security authorities will conduct pooled procurement of drugs based on the amount required by public medical institutions in targeted regions. The total procurement amount will be between 60 and 70 percent of the total amount of drugs required at such institutions.

The guideline also called for efforts to ensure the quality and supply of drugs. A whole-chain quality supervision system will be implemented, covering the production, circulation and use of drugs selected in the procurement. Pharmaceutical companies selected in the procurement will have the quality of their products and supply capacities assessed, and emergency reserves of drugs will also be established.

It also called for medical institutions to settle drug payments on time with producers to reduce the cost of transactions.

A working group will be established by the General Office of the State Council, State Medical Insurance Administration, National Health Commission and State Food and Drug Administration to lead the 12-month pilot program.

Regulation on political and legal affairs

The Communist Party of China Central Committee published a new regulation on its work related to political and legal affairs on Friday.

The regulation, which translates the Party’s long-term successful experience in leading the nation’s political and legal work into institutional achievements, stresses the absolute leadership of the CPC Central Committee over political and legal affairs.

Party committees above county level are also responsible for leadership of political and legal affairs in their regions under the regulation.

It also highlighted the need to support Party’s units related to political and legal affairs in assuming their duties in accordance with the law and to ensure the judicial organs assume their duties independently.

It also called for Party units to safeguard national political security, ensure social stability and promote social equality and justice.

The regulation, which took effect on Jan 13, also made clear the duties and work rules of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee.

Xi: Strengthening CPC leadership in military

President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivers an address at a CMC meeting on Party building in Beijing, on Aug 17-19, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to comprehensively strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Party building in the country’s armed forces to ensure a solid political guarantee for the building of a strong military.

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a CMC meeting on Party building, which was held from Friday to Sunday in Beijing.

Noting that strengthening CPC leadership and Party building in the military is a requisite for advancing the “great new project” of Party building and the building of a strong country with a strong military, Xi said the whole military should comprehensively implement the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress.

No sight, but still on the lookout for love

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of stories about developments in the lives of China’s blind and visually impaired community.

Teng Weimin, former vice-chairman of the China Blind Person’s Association, reads a book in Braille at Beijing’s China Braille Library.Photo By Li Lei / China Daily

Parental concerns are a hurdle for visually impaired people wanting to form relationships.

While living in perpetual darkness cannot stop visually impaired people from reaching out for love, other people’s opinions can. That’s a lesson Liang Jiangbo learned in adolescence.

In 2002, while studying at a middle school for blind and visually impaired children in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the then 16-year-old received a letter in his capacity as class monitor. He opened the letter, which was written in Braille, and discovered that it was from a blind girl in his home province of Anhui, asking about the curriculum and life on campus.

Liang replied in detail, and the two quickly became pen pals and later classmates.

Though the pair never knew what the other looked like, the congeniality and companionship they felt quickly turned into something more than friendship. They arranged to apply together for a prestigious blind high school in Qingdao, Shandong province, and hoped to later study at the same college.

Their intimacy quickly spread around campus and became obvious to Liang’s parents, who were more concerned about the inconvenience that could arise from the union of two blind people than fears that the relationship would affect their studies.

Liang’s parents even went so far as to tell him about the difficulties a blind couple would face when their parents were too old to care for them, and how their children might be bullied for having blind parents who could only offer limited assistance.

Gradually, barriers grew between the pair and they broke up before graduation.

“We were both worried by what other people said, and our relationship was affected,” said Liang, who is now a Braille proofreader with the China Braille Press in Beijing. “I went on to high school in Qingdao and later to Beijing for college, whereas she chose not to, as a sign of severing ties with me.”

Liang is one of a large number of visually impaired people who have been encouraged to downplay the importance of true love and marry partners with better vision. Blind and visually impaired people are categorized as the most vulnerable among disabled people, and are told that they will only make it through life if they marry a sighted person.

Influenced by such opinions, visually impaired city dwellers choose to marry sighted rural residents who want urban hukou – household registration – to make their lives easier. Though some relationships turn out to be good matches, large numbers of these utilitarian unions do not last long, according to experts.

Sleep disorder situation getting worse in China

People enter a deep state of relaxation to release stress while under the guidance of professional hypnotists in Taiyuan, North China’s Shanxi province, March 21, 2018. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Over 300 million Chinese suffer from a sleep disorder, and more than 60% of post-90s suffer from lack of sleep, Chinanews.com reported on Wednesday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 27% of people worldwide are suffering from a sleep disorder. Results of a sleep investigation released by the Chinese Sleep Research Society in 2016 also demonstrates that 38.2% of Chinese adults suffered from insomnia and over 300 million Chinese suffer from a sleep disorder.

More data is still being added.

Pollution inspectors sharply criticize Tianjin, Anhui, Shanxi

Environmental inspectors sent by the central government uncovered severe problems in Tianjin and the provinces of Anhui and Shanxi during a monthlong review and said slack leadership has led to environmental degradation in some areas.

The inspectors transferred 11,527 pollution-related cases to the provincial-level governments, following the highest-level environmental inspection since late April.

The governments are required to submit improvement plans within 30 days and make them public.

In the three provincial-level areas, 1,686 government officials had been held accountable for pollution as of the end of June. Officials from Shanxi were the most numerous-more than 1,000. Another 136 were detained, according to Ministry of Environmental Protection statements on Saturday and Sunday.

About 10,000 polluting companies were ordered to suspend production or shut down by the end of June, the ministry said. Of those, about half (4,331) were from Tianjin. Environmental authorities have issued fines totaling 1.25 billion yuan ($185 million).

The common thread in these cases was that leadership was weak and officials failed to give sufficient attention to pollution control.

Tianjin received an unusually harsh evaluation.

There is a clear gap in Tianjin in meeting the requirements from the central government to match its position as a municipality and meet the expectations of the public, inspectors said on Saturday.

Some leaders did not insist on adherence to tough measures on air pollution, and air quality actually worsened in some periods. Likewise, the bureaus responsible for agriculture and urban greening did not work together, but evaded their duty to build a garbage processing plant, said Jiang Jufeng, head of the inspection team.

In Shanxi, inspectors also found that insufficient attention had been paid by provincial and city leaders, as the concentration of major airborne pollutants increased in 2016 and continued to worsen this year.

Leaders in Lyuliang, Shanxi province, were summoned to talk with the ministry twice because of severe pollution. But they did not pay sufficient attention, and measures to correct problems lagged behind schedule, said Yang Song, the team leader in Shanxi.

For example, 966 small coal-fired boilers in the city, which should have been phased out by the end of 2014, were still in operation at the end of 2016, hurting air quality.

In addition, six coal mines continued to operate illegally inside a natural protection zone in Jinzhong.

In Anhui, inspectors found that the provincial water resources bureau did not supervise drains, and that wastewater contained excessive pollutants. Also, officials in Hefei’s Binhu New District allowed construction waste to pile up and harm wetland, they said.

In some places in the three areas, half the sewage was discharged without treatment.

Summer camp helps to strengthen parent-child relationships

Twenty groups of migrant workers and visitors and their children took part in a summer camp between July 30 and August 2, visiting four major culture and art institutions in Guangzhou.

On July 30, the parents and children read classic stories from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, learned about traffic safety, as well as made thread-bound books and buffer devices at the Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province.

The next day, the families paid a visit to the Guangdong Museum where they viewed two exhibitions, learned to make sailors’ knots and put together dinosaur jigsaw puzzles.

Campers and volunteers pose for a group photo at the Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

Parents and children view the dinosaur exhibition at the Guangdong Museum. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

On August 1, campers went to the Guangdong Museum of Art to visit painting exhibitions and made water color paintings and portraits of each other.

On the last day at the Guangdong Culture Center, the campers attended a lecture on Cantonese opera, painted opera facial makeup masks, watched a classic Chinese war movie and told stories about the Red Army.

Children and their parents show their paintings at the Guangdong Museum of Art. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

A child paints an opera facial makeup mask at the Guangdong Culture Center. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

A closing ceremony and an exhibition showcasing all the paintings and artworks by the campers was held at the Center on the afternoon of August 2. The children put on a performance to thank all the staff, volunteers and their parents, and shared their thoughts on their camp experience.

Shan Jingwen, a grade six student from Zengcheng said that the camp was an eye-opener for her. She told the reporter that she had a lot of fun and liked the water color painting activity the best. “I love painting, and I love painting with my mom even more,” Shan said.

Chen Liangyu, a grade four student from Maoming said he enjoyed the camp very much and made many new friends. Chen added that he liked painting an opera facial makeup mask although it was difficult for him.

Six student representatives perform at the closing ceremony. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

People pose for a group photo at the closing ceremony. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]

The parents said the camp was beneficial to strengthening their parent-child relationships. Jing Xia, Shan Jingwen’s mother, said that her daughter had a great time at the camp, and she also learned a lot. Jing said that she will spend more quality time with her daughter from now on.

Liu Dan, Chen Liangyu’s mother, told the reporter that both parents and children were required to take part in all the activities together during the camp, which created many opportunities for them to communicate with each other. “This really helps to improve our parent-child relationship,” said Liu.

The camp, which started in 2016, is held annually during the summer break and is hosted by the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangdong Province and the Civilization Office of Guangdong Province, and organized by Guangdong Province Cultural Volunteer Corps, Guangdong Culture Center, Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province, Guangdong Museum and Guangdong Museum of Art.

Author: Monica Liu

Editor: Chris

No reason to keep putting up with scams

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Every time after a “golden week” vacation in China, there are always a few “horror stories” about how gullible tourists were set up by greedy business owners waiting for their prey on the Internet. In some cases, the tourists may have read about similar stories hundreds of times but the warnings still failed to prevent them from falling into a trap that is often more sophisticated than ever.

The leading example this past “National Day golden week” was clearly the Qingdao shrimps, which were listed as 38 yuan ($5.9) on the menu of a restaurant of this coastal tourism city. But gullible tourists only learned when they got the bill that the price was for a single shrimp rather than the entire dish, which normally has a few dozen of them.

But despite the frequency with which such shenanigans happen in China, they are not an exclusively Chinese phenomena. Not only are some developing countries known for various tricks around their tour sites aimed at the wallets of tourists, but even in developed countries where a more honest image may be portrayed, there are also plenty of similar scams.

In New York, one vendor charged tourists $35 for a hot dog and a pretzel, a combo that normally costs $5. And the hawkers around the Empire State Building won’t hesitate to claim to you tickets are not available inside the building, and you have to buy from them instead – at a big premium of course.

In Paris, restaurants around the Eiffel Tower will provide tourists with expensive bottled water and the locals with free tap water even if they all ask for water. And be careful of asking prices of snacks or memorabilia from street vendors if you are holding some money in your hand. The price, you’ll find, is magically the exact amount in your hand, whatever that is.

On a visit to Madrid at the same time as “golden week” in China, I was charged 47 euros in service fees for changing $200 into euros at a currency exchange service in the Spanish city’s old town area thronged with tourists. That meant I received 120 euros instead of 167. The services fees, under two different names, were not mentioned by the clerk who dealt with me. And he covered them up with his fingers when he held the receipt for me to sign. It seems there was fine print on an instruction sheet stuck on his window.

I got most of my loss back by simply standing there, informing other tourists of the hefty fees, and making the clerk and his boss realize that they were losing much more by refusing my request to cancel the transaction.

All of these anecdotes lead to a conclusion that shouldn’t be too surprising. The honesty of business people in the modern world is mainly based on self-interest rather than altruism. In developed countries, heavier regulation and a focus on retaining customers encourage honest dealing. But when it comes to tourists, who are less likely to become a recurring patron, business people are pretty much the same everywhere – and sometimes won’t bother trying too hard to conceal their greed.

But what intrigued me was not so much the “horror stories” themselves, but the reaction of Chinese people when we become victims of such traps.

When I wrote about my experience in Madrid for a Chinese language website, several readers who claimed they were Chinese living in Madrid criticized me for getting myself into trouble by not using the ubiquitous ATM machines (though I was changing cash), not reading the fine print for the transaction, and not looking carefully at the receipt before signing it.

This mentality is typical for many Chinese. After all, we all know the famous line from the Analects of Confucius: “Zengzi said, ‘Each day I examine myself in three ways…'” We are so used to examining ourselves that even when we are victimized in a scam, we blame ourselves.

This is completely opposite to the mentality of a Westerner, who will almost always blame an external person or factor for their predicament.

Our tradition may be able to help us to make more self-improvements and to be reasonable people, but it also diminishes our chances of changing the world.

In recent years, more and more Chinese have begun to change. The victims of the shrimp dish in Qingdao posted their ordeal online and caused a nationwide outcry, which helped to prompt the authorities to punish the unscrupulous restaurant with a penalty.

In the US, Chinese new immigrant customers for years have been targeted by used auto sellers and lured in to sign contracts that they don’t fully understand.

Nowadays, more and more victims stand up and fight against such predators rather than blaming themselves for not reading the contract carefully. But clearly, not everyone, in China or overseas, has made this transition in mind-set.

The author is a New York-based journalist. rong_xiaoqing@hotmail.com

China investigates 280,000 cases of Party frugality violations since 2012


BEIJING — China has investigated and dealt with 280,000 cases of violations of the Party’s frugality disciplines by the end of March, according to the top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China.

China has also exposed typical cases of frugality violations on a regular basis to warn and educate the public on the subject, according to the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the national supervisory commission.

The CPC released an “eight-point decision” in 2012 to improve Party and government conduct and address the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.

The top anti-graft body has a monthly reporting system with provincial-level governments, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, central Party and government agencies, centrally administered state-owned enterprises and central financial institutions.