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Morning Wrap: Top Stories in the Chinese Press - July 30

July 30, 2013
Translated by Tian Shaohui and Pang Lei

Stories that got top billing on China's major web portals on Tuesday morning included coverage of Xi Jinping's visit to  Beijing Military Area Command on Monday. Headlines drew attention to the President's call for troops to remain loyal to the command of the Party and focus their efforts on improving capabilities related to fighting wars (Xinhua).

More details of the charges against Bo Xilai are starting to emerge, with major web portals providing links to a report in this week's Caijing magazine that was cross posted by China Securities Times earlier today (this link has since been removed). The report hazards a guess that the bribery charges against Bo are related to his time as mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian in Liaoning Province and that businessman Xu Ming paid the bribes. The report also says that the charge of "abuse of power" is probably linked to Bo's role in the attempt to cover up a police investigation into the death of Neil Heywood in late 2011. Bo's wife and a personal aide were later convicted of murdering the man late last year. (Caijing via China Securities Times)

There's also plenty of headlines related to an explosion and fire at a PX plant in Fujian (CRI) and an announcement from the Beijing police that they're launching a crackdown on violent crime after a series of incidents over the past few weeks (Global Times).

Also many websites are linking to reports that Wang Lin, a controversial "qigong master" who has dominated headlines over recent days, has fled to Hong Kong (SCMP).
Keep reading below for a translated digests of some of the other stories being reported by mainland Chinese media outlets today.

China to Invest Trillions of Yuan in Upgrading Poor Housing
National Business Daily
Local governments have been asked to draw up plans for  renovating poor quality housing over the coming five years. The request to draw up plans was made during a joint teleconference involving the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development (MOHURD) and four other ministries. Local governments have been told to present detailed investment plans that include data on how many households will benefit from the program by October. Some local governments, including Beijing have already announced details of plans to invest hundreds of billions of yuan over the coming five years in upgrading poor quality housing. After other local governments submit their plans, as much as 4 trillion yuan might be invested in the 5 year national project. "These programs still focus on property investment and would bring benefit to downstream industries like steel, cement and construction material", said Zhang Hongwei (张宏伟), director of Tospur Consulting Center.
Original article: [Chinese]

Pace of Income Growth Trailing GDP
National Business Daily
The per capita income in real terms of urban residents in the past six months increased by 6.5 percent, slower than the GDP growth rate for the first half of the year and 3.2 percentage points lower than the same period last year, according to Sheng Laiyun (盛来运), spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics. Su Hainan (苏海南), vice chairman of China Association for Labour Studies (中国劳动学会) said that there were many reasons for the slow down in income growth, but two main factors were the impact of a general slowing of economic growth, especially on labor-intensive industries and the limited avenues for urban residents to earn financial income. The scholar also told the National Business Daily that the target of doubling incomes by 2020 would be hard to realize if per capita income growth among urban residents dropped below 6.5 percent.
Original article: [Chinese]

Strict New Limits on Bank Loans to Local Government Financing Platforms
Beijing News
The recent announcement that China's audit office would launch an urgent investigation into the state of local government debt in the country, led to a fall in the price of listed Chinese banks yesterday. However, those in the industry appear not to be too worried, noting that the risks can be handled. The Beijing News reported this morning that banking regulators have already issued new tighter rules in relation to lending to local government financing platforms.
Banks are now required to submit monthly records of loans issued to local government financing platforms to the regulator. Stricter loan requirements are also being applied to any new loans issued by banks to such financing platforms. Liu Yuhui (刘煜辉), a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says a mechanism to control and make local debt more transparent should also established.
Original article: [Chinese]

Value of Land Transfers Could Reach 3 Trillion Yuan
China Business News
Governments around China leased over 82,000 hectares of land to real estate developers during the first 6 months of this year, a new record. The value of the land "sold" was 1.7 trillion yuan, a 77 percent increase on the amount raised through land sales in the first half of 2012, according to data released by the Legal Affairs Center of the Ministry of Land and Resources. If, in keeping with past practice, land sales began to accelerate in the latter half of the year, the country is on track to sign land lease contracts worth over 3 trillion yuan in 2013.
Original article: [Chinese]

Lawyer in Bid to Make Basis of "Airport Construction Fees" Public
Beijing Morning Post
For more than twenty years China has been collecting an "airport construction fee" (机场建设费) - or more recently the "civil aviation development fund" (民航基础建设发展基金). Passengers are currently required to pay 50 yuan per seat on a domestic flight and 90 yuan for international flights, the fee is included when they purchase a plane ticket. More than 100 billion yuan in revenue has been collected from passengers since the fee was first introduced by Wenzhou's Yongqiang Airport in 1992. Last year, a lawyer surnamed Wang has been attempting to uncover more details about the legal basis of the tax and submitted a FOI request with the Minisitry of Finance (MOF). The MOF turned down Wang's request on the grounds that the information was not covered in China FOI regulations. The lawyer appealed the decision but in September last year the Ministry of Finance upheld its original decision. Wang has now taken the central ministry to court, arguing that the MOF had violated FOI procedures. The court case began yesterday with lawyers for the MOF arguing that the document marking the State Council's approval of the airport construction fees was a state secret and that their decision not to mke it public was in keeping with the relevant laws and regulations. For more commentary on the airport construction fee, see this commentary wrap from last year and this commentary about the "state secrets" excuse.
Original article: [Chinese]


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