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CPPCC Vice Chairman Criticizes China’s Online Review System

In a joint interview with the media in Beijing on March 1, Luo Fu, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), pointed out some of the problems that result from China’s online censorship rules.

Luo said that the speed of visits to overseas websites in China is becoming ever slower. This will greatly impact economic development and scientific research in China. It should garner a high degree of concern. Luo gave multiple examples that require attention. Some foreign university sites take more than half an hour to open; many domestic scholars and graduate students have to buy special software to get around the firewall for their scientific research needs. Some students in China cannot complete the relevant forms for online filing because they cannot open the university sites in foreign countries; some experts in China need to travel to Hong Kong on weekends or holidays and other places in order to visit overseas sites to research needed Information; some foreign enterprises in China also complain about the speed of visits to overseas websites. In recent years, some Taiwan delegations who visited the CPPCC also complained that there are a lot of websites they cannot normally enter while in the mainland. In addition, some well-known foreign search engines cannot normally be opened in China.

Luo believed that the main reasons for the problems are not enough bandwidth for an international port, limited online service providers, and online regulations that are too strict.

Luo’s interview was initially published on the CPPCC website and later withdrawn.

Source: Sohu, March 4, 2017

BBC Chinese: Wealth of Members of the Chinese Legislative Branch Increased

BBC Chinese recently reported that the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) are having full sessions now in Beijing. According to the Hurun Rich List (Mainland China), an annual report that ranks personal wealth and is widely accepted in China, in the last four years the total wealth of those NPC and CPPCC members who are listed in Hurun increased by 64 percent. Their wealth reached RMB 3 trillion (around US$435 billion), which is higher than the GDP of Austria. The average annual growth rate of their wealth was 13 percent. That is double the growth rate of China’s GDP. According to Hurun founder Rupert Hoogewerf, his reports are based on public information and are just the tip of the iceberg compared to the “hidden wealth” of the individuals on his list. In the past several years, many people on the Hurun list were found guilty of illegal activities and were brought to justice.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 2, 2017

Shanghai Cracks Down on Relatives of Party Officials Who Conduct Personal Businesses

Duowei News published an article stating that, on March 1, People’s Daily published a front page article on how Shanghai is cracking down on the relatives of government officials because they run businesses and have launched enterprises. The People’s Daily article stated that, among 2,133 municipal level officials, relatives of 229 officials received the actions: the rules do not apply to 17 of them; 137 dropped out of the company business; 11 had their job transferred;  10 retired; 1 left the company; 3 were subject to serious disciplinary actions; and 50 signed written acknowledgements. The Duowei article noted that it is rare for a party official media to post local news on the front page. This could indicate that the issue of relatives of public officials conducting businesses has become a serious phenomenon, especially in Shanghai.

According to the People’s Daily article, In May of 2015, the Shanghai Municipal government introduced a regulation about the spouse of a public official or the children of public officials and their spouses conducting business. It specified that the spouses of the officials are not allowed to conduct business, while their children and the spouses of the children can’t have their own business dealings in Shanghai. Meanwhile, 20 percent of the officials who claim that their relatives have no business dealings can be sampled each year and subject to investigation. In 2016, it was reported that 182 out of 1802 provincial and department level officials in Shanghai received disciplinary actions. According to the Duowei article, the number went up in 2017, compared to 2016, which means that the scope of the investigation has expanded.

{Editor’s note: It is known that former President Jiang Zemin’s sons and grandsons are running businesses in Shanghai and have built a big commercial empire there.}

Duowei News, March 2, 2017
People’s Daily, March 1, 2017

Weibo Posting Exposed Chinese Youth League’s Involvement in Boycott Lotte Group

The Epoch Times, an overseas Chinese newspaper, carried an article that contained a screenshot of a posting taken from Weibo. The author of the posting stated that the Youth League of Hunan Province just issued a notice asking its Youth League members to “actively participate in the public opinion warfare against the Lotte Group in South Korea for its support of the anti-missile system (the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD). The posting stated that each youth league branch must submit no less than five commentaries or screenshots showing the forwarding of a specific Weibo posting to a given email address. Their participation in this warfare will be used towards their annual performance evaluation at the end of the year. According to the article, the official Weibo account of the Youth League of Hunan Province has issued a number of postings encouraging people to “boycott Lotte” and favor the Weibo postings that the Central Committee of the Youth League made. The article also quoted a couple of online comments. One questioned why the youth league uses taxpayer’s money to commit itself to something that brings no benefit to society; another comment stated that, “This is how the official public opinion is created.”

The tension between China and the South Korean government has been escalating over the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system that the U.S. is assisting South Korea to build. Although the project is reportedly aimed at assisting South Korea to defend itself from the North Korean missile threat, China claims that it will be a threat to China. On February 26, after the Lotte Group agreed to provide land to host the anti-missile system, over 20 Chinese citizens gathered in front of the Lotte Mart in Jilin Province holding banners to protest Lotte’s support for the anti-missile project. Soon after that, online postings asked people to boycott Lotte or any Korean made product. On March 1, the Lotte Group reported that its official site was hit by a cyber-attack.

{Editor’s note: Currently the screenshot of the posting can no longer be found online.}

Source: The Epoch Times, March 2, 2017

China’s 2017 Economic Theme: Seeking Progress while Maintaining Stability

President Xi Jinping said on February 28 that this year, in order to achieve healthy development, China will stick to the basic economic theme of “seeking progress while maintaining stability.”

Xinhua News Agency reported Xi’s outline for this year’s economic work: to improve the quality and efficiency of the economy, to deepen supply-side structural reform, and to make major headway in economic restructuring. Xi gave this speech at the 15th meeting of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, which he heads.

Three other politburo standing committee members, Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan, and Zhang Gaoli also attended the meeting.

Xi urged that more effort be put into reducing excessive production capacity and that government departments firmly solve the problem of zombie enterprises, as they are unprofitable, debt-laden, and tie up public resources. As for people affected by the reduction in excessive capacity, Xi said that they should receive training for new job skills as well as social aid.

Xi reiterated the necessity of establishing long-term methods to promote the stable and healthy development of the real estate market. He again affirmed that “houses are built to be inhabited, not for speculation.”

Xi also said that the decisions made at all meetings of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs must be implemented.

Source: Xinhua News Agency, February 28, 2017

Liaoning Province 2016 GDP Number Was 23 Percent Higher than Reality

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported on newly released official economic statistics that showed a 23 percent decline in Liaoning Province’s 2016 GDP number. The surprising number reflected the adjustments needed because of the province’s illegal activities in faking the province’s official statistics. The governor of Liaoning acknowledged his predecessor’s wrongdoing. However, the adjusted new number also reflected an economic decline resulting from debt defaults, production reductions, and massive layoffs in this industrial province that relies heavily on producing steel. Last April, Liaoning became the first province in seven years to report a negative growth rate. Many economists expressed their belief that political manipulation of economic data has been a widespread issue across China. Liaoning is not an isolated case. For many years, China’s national GDP total has always been less than the sum of GDP numbers from all provinces.

Source: Sina, February 23, 2017

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