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Morning Wrap: Top Stories in the Chinese Press - Aug 14

Photo: The brother of Caixin journalist Chen Baocheng
Source: Tencent

August 14, 2013
Translated by Tian Shaohui and Pang Lei

Most news websites this morning lead with a directive from central government and party authorities calling for a halt to using government funds to pay for "luxurious and extravagant galas" (Xinhua). 

Many websites also linked to news about how criminal gangs value stolen second-generation ID cards because under current rules they can't be canceled (Shanghai Daily).

Also, conflicting details about the detention of Caixin journalist Chen Baocheng and six of his fellow villagers who are opposing the demolition of their property in Shandong are starting to emerge (China Daily).

In international news, reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine on the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II (Xinhua), are appearing in prominent positions on major web portals.

Also, breaking news about an accident aboard an Indian submarine is also attracting a lot of coverage (Guardian).

Keep reading below for translated digests of some of the other stories being reported by mainland Chinese media outlets today.

NDRC Begins Price Monopoly Probe into Imported Vehicles
Phoenix TV
National Development and Reform Commission has announced that it has begun an investigation into the pricing practices of companies that sell imported cars in China. Luo Lei (罗磊), the deputy secretary general of the China Automobile Dealers Association (汽车流通协会), has confirmed that an investigation into the setting of minimum retail prices is currently underway. Experts say that if auto dealers are found to have colluded to set minimum prices, they could be in violation of China's Anti-monopoly Law which was adopted in 2008. The NDRC has become more active in pursuing companies alleged to have violated the anti-monopoly law, issuing 5 large fines in various sectors since Nov 2011, 4 of which were issued this year. This month the NDRC fined dairy companies and gold retailers for violating pricing regulations.
Original article: [Chinese]

Wenzhou Becomes First City to Ease House Purchase Restrictions
China Business News
The coastal city of Wenzhou has relaxed restrictions on property purchases to allow local resident to buy second homes, reversing a restriction introduced in March 2011 that barred people from purchasing two properties as part of a nationwide campaign to rein in housing prices. The city is the first in the country to ease such restriction. The news was confirmed by officials from Wenzhou's Housing and Urban-Rural Construction Commission (温州市住建委). A source told the newspaper that the move is aimed at helping to revive Wenzhou's struggling economy.
Original article: [Chinese]

Private Companies Could have Greater Share of Crude Oil Imports
People's Daily Online (via Reuters)
China is considering making it easier for private oil refineries to compete with the two state-owned energy giants when it comes to their share of the country's crude oil import market. It's estmated that crude oil imports will increase by at least 100 million tons in 2014. The All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (中华全国工商业联合会) and private refiners have been calling on authorities to further remove restrictions on crude oil imports. Despite some private companies being awarded permits to import crude oil from the Ministry of Commerce, they've been unable to compete with PetroChina (中石油) and Sinopec (中石化). For more background on how private companies have been trying to get permission to import crude oil directly, see this abstract of a headline EO article from earlier this year.
Original article: [Chinese]

Average Spending by Bank Card Increases by More than 50% in Second Quarter
China News Agency
As of the end of June this year, a total of 3.83 billion bank cards had been issued in China, according to a report released by the Central Bank yesterday afternoon. The report also saud that over the three months from April to June, the average amount spent per cardholder was 5469.98 yuan, more than a 50% increase on the average amount spent during the second quarter of 2012. Over the same period, a total of almost 12 billion transactions worth more than 103 trillion yuan were made using bank cards, in both cases a rise of more than 20 percent on last year's figure.
Original article: [Chinese]

Three Provinces Account for 60% of Nationwide Increase in Bad Loans
China Business News
As of the end of June, bad loans held by banks in the province of Zhejiang had reached close to 105 billion yuan, according to data released by the provincial banking regulator yesterday. Add to this the total amount of bad loans held by banks in the provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong as of the end of the first half of 2013 and the total comes to 247 billion yuan, which accounts for close to 45 percent of bad loans across the country. The amount of bad loans held on the books of banks operating in these three provinces increased by 31 billion yuan in the first six months of this year, accounting for more than 60 percent of the national increase in bad loans. These provinces have all been hard hit by a slowdown in key industries like photovoltaic cell production, steel making and ship building.
Original article: [Chinese]


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