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News letter Issue No. 8
2009/01/22

Issue No. 8

14 January, 2009

WHAT'S NEW BETWEEN CHINA AND THE EU

On December 10 2008,Ambassador Song Zhe, Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Communities gave a speech at the Belgian-Chinese Economic and Commercial Council. To read the speech, please go to http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/cebe/eng/stxw/t525675.htm

On December 17 2008,Ambassador Song Zhe gave a speech at the Photo Exhibition in Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of China's Reform and Opening Policy. To read the speech, please go to http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/cebe/eng/stxw/t526805.htm

WHAT'S NEW IN CHINA

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of China's manufacturing sector climbed 2.4 percentage points month-on-month to 41.2 percent in December 2008 according to China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP). The index has been lower than 50 percent for three consecutive months. It was also the fifth time the index remained below 50 percent within last year after it fell to a record low of 38.8 percent in November. The sub-index of output rose to 39.4 percent, up 3.9 percentage points. Purchasing prices were up 6.1 percentage points to 32.7 percent, the first increase after five straight months of significant drops.

Chinese netizens have made their voices heard more loudly and their presence better recognized in headline news events over the past year. A report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Dec. 2 2008 showed about 206 million Chinese use the Internet as their main source of news. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, under-30s are the majority of online news readers, accounting for about 69 percent of total Internet users.

China would not reduce assistance to Africa because of the international financial crisis. Premier Wen Jiabao made the remarks when meeting with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on December 19 2008. "We will implement the follow-up actions agreed upon during the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2006," Premier Wen noted. President Hu Jintao announced eight measures at the summit for China-Africa cooperation, including China's pledge to double its assistance to Africa by 2009, provide 3 billion U.S. dollars of preferential loans and 2 billion dollars of preferential buyer's credits, as well as establish a development fund of 5 billion dollars to encourage Chinese firms to invest in Africa. Debt cancellation was another major measure.

China's top legislature on December 27 approved the revision of the Patent Law to allow inventors to apply for foreign patents before domestic ones for their inventions. The revised law, which takes effect on Oct. 1, 2009, was adopted with 154 votes and four abstentions at the closing meeting of the sixth session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The change is aimed at encouraging innovation and improving China's international competitiveness. The amendment applies to all inventions completed in China.

China's top legislature made public on December 28 a draft law on social insurance, the first of its kind in the country. It specifies a common right for citizens, urban and rural alike, to pay premiums and enjoy social insurance for medical care, work injuries, unemployment and childbirth. The draft highlights more efficient fund management. Governments at municipal, provincial and the state-level should encourage and support the public's participation in supervising insurance funds. Any individual or organization has a right to complain or report illegalities. The law also allows Chinese citizens to pay pension premiums in one place and draw money in another, if they migrate to other cities or provinces. This stipulation is particularity significant as the country has a much more mobile population than in the past. Meanwhile, governments will cover medical insurance expenses for citizens who live on low-income subsidies, have serious disabilities or are older than 60 years, the draft said.

China's State Council issued a decree signed by Premier Wen Jiabao on December 31 abolishing three tax and fee regulations. The provisional regulation governing urban real estate tax, promulgated in 1951, is abolished as of Jan. 1, 2009. From Jan. 1, 2009, foreign-invested companies, wholly foreign-funded companies and organizations and foreign nationals shall pay real estate tax under the interim regulations of the People's Republic of China on real estate tax. The Yangtze River maintenance fee collection regulation promulgated in 1987 is abolished as of Jan. 1, 2009. The inland river maintenance fee collection regulation promulgated in 1992 is also abolished as of Jan. 1, 2009.

China started taking new administrative policies on New Year's Day, including two regulations on car fuel levy and road policing which are expected to mostly affect drivers. In a circular to all localities last month, the State Council, said the government decided to levy a fixed sales tax, or 0.8 yuan (0.12 U.S. dollar), on per liter of motor vehicle fuel, which offsets car owners' previous annual payment for road maintenance, beginning Jan. 1, 2009. The money collected would go for road and water routes maintenance.

A Chinese naval fleet arrived on January 6 in the waters of the Gulf of Aden off Somalia to carry out the first escort mission against pirates. Four Chinese merchant ships, including one from China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, were escorted by the fleet under authorization from both the United Nations Security Council and Somalia's transitional government to primarily escort Chinese merchant ships.

China said on January 9 it welcomes and supports the UN Security Council resolution on Gaza. "The resolution reflects the concerns and desires of the international community on the situation in Gaza," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in response to a question. China called for effective implementation by all parties concerned of the new resolution and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. China also urged Israel to withdraw its forces from Gaza, ensure the smooth operation of humanitarian aid activities and ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza at an early date. Qin called on all parties concerned to continue the political process to achieve a just and reasonable settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli issue and realize the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and peaceful coexistence.

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