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Target is subordinate to economic reforms
China’s top economic regulator pledged on Tuesday to set higher goals for cutting overcapacity this year while fending off financial risks.The pledge comes as the nation works to achieve more healthy growth with less emphasis on a specific growth target.
The economic growth of the world’s second-largest economy in 2016 is estimated at 6.7 percent, well within the 6.5 to 7 percent target range for last year, according to Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The economic growth target for this year is to reflect expectations while not considered binding, according to Xu, as the nation focuses more on resolving key structural challenges.
His comments were in line with the tone set by the Central Economic Work Conference held in late December.
The conference put more emphasis on reducing financial risks, cutting overcapacity and preventing asset bubbles, rather than simply hitting a growth target.
The nation met this year’s target of reducing 45 million tons of steel and 250 million tons of coal production capacity ahead of schedule.
But more progress should be achieved this year in excess production capacity reduction, and more pressure needs to be put on enterprises to achieve that goal, Xu said.
Rising commodity prices starting near the end of 2016 have posed challenges to capacity cuts, according to Zhang Lin, a senior analyst with dz18.com, an e-commerce site for the steel industry.
“It might lure loss-making producers that were previously shut down to restart their operations,” Zhang said.
Xi first top Chinese leader at Davos
World political and economic leaders also are anticipating Xi addressing the health of the world’s second-largest economy in the wake of fluctuations in the yuan and Beijing’s measures to rein in systematic financial risks, experts said.
Ruan Zonzge, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Xi’s first trip to the Davos meeting is to address “the widespread lack of confidence over the prospects for the world economy and the lack of viable solutions”.
Events last year, including the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, “showcase the downward pressure of the global economy since the crisis in 2008”, and “the gathering momentum against globalization and in favor of protectionism”, Ruan warned.
The world is expecting China to deliver a strong voice against trade protectionism at the forum because the voices of smaller countries have not been enough of a counterbalance, Ruan added.
The forum also is being attended by such figures as British Prime Minister Theresa May and US Secretary of State John Kerry, AFP reported.
Chen Fengying, a senior researcher on the world economy at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said, “We should make it clear (at the forum) that the existing international economic cooperative mechanisms should not be changed because of the change in state leaders.”
Since the world economy and globalization are “at a crossroad and a turning point”, it is time for Xi to demonstrate China’s power and duty as a major developing country, Chen said.
Xi’s comments also are highly anticipated because China’s annual central economic work conference recently wrapped up, Chen noted.
Ma, Trump discuss plan to create 1m jobs in US
Alibaba to add small and medium –sized US companies to its e-commerce sites
Ma and Trump met with reporters briefly after the meeting and said they discussed plans to create 1 million US jobs by allowing small and medium-sized businesses to sell to China through the company’s platforms.
“We’re focused on small business,” Ma told reporters.
The meeting was planned to focus on the Chinese e-commerce company’s US expansion plans, according to spokespeople for both Alibaba and Trump. Ma had planned to be in New York City on Monday and the scheduling worked out for the meeting, a source told CNBC.
The meeting comes amid tensions between China and the incoming Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly criticized China for its economic policies and accused the country of stealing jobs away from the US. Trump also has said he may raise tariffs on Chinese goods sold in the US.
“We also think that the China and USA relationship should be strengthened — should be more friendly,” Ma said. “The door is open for discussing the relationship and trade issues. I think the president-elect is very smart, he’s very open-minded to listen. I told him my ideas about how to improve trade, especially to improve small business, cross border trade.”
Ma told reporters at Trump Tower that the two discussed allowing US products such as “garments, wine and fruit” to be sold on the platform. Additionally, Ma said that the discussion included talk on the need for China and US to improve their relationship.
Alibaba has been planning to expand more aggressively into the US. The company has expanded its New York City US headquarters and it has been making a push for international participation in its signature Singles’ Day sale.
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Terracotta Warriors’ hometown will join ‘toilet revolution’
Xi’an, home to the famed Terracotta Warriors, has launched a citywide campaign to clean up its public toilets for a more pleasant experience for locals and tourists.
The capital of Shaanxi province has set up a leading group to steer the work and appointed “toilet chiefs”, neighborhood office employees tasked with regularly checking facilities, according to the city tourism administration.
If a restroom at a tourism spot or attraction does not make the grade, the officials responsible for sanitation, including those at district level, will fail their annual work assessment, said Zhang Yongke, director of the administration.
The move is part of China’s “toilet revolution”, launched in January 2015, which aims to ensure cleaner public restrooms in scenic spots as well as equip them with Western-style toilets, soap and even amenities like big-screen televisions, free Wi-Fi, ATMs and sofas.
According to the China National Tourism Administration, some 100,000 public toilets will be built or renovated nationally between 2016 and 2020.
Li Jinzao, the agency’s director, said that a dirty toilet destroys the efforts of all kinds of tourist resort promotions and the negative impression is hard to erase.
The administration has forecast that China’s tourism market will generate more than $760 billion in revenue in 2017, up from the $683 billion in 2016.
Feng Min, 57, a tourist from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, said it was not easy to find a toilet when she visited Xi’an recently, and the one she did find had a bad odor.
Wu Yihui, a retired tour guide, said foreign tourists he worked with in the late 1980s would return to the hotel for the bathroom since even toilets in museums were not clean.
Fans mourn death of California’s famous ‘drive-thru’ sequoia
Joyce Brown was 12 when her parents first took her to visit the “drive-thru tree”, a giant sequoia in California famous for a car-sized hole carved into the base of its trunk.
Brown thought she had entered a land of giants as she walked underneath and around the ancient, 30-meter-tall tree, which was toppled by a massive storm on Sunday.
“It’s kind of like someone in the family has died,” said Brown, a 65-year-old retired middle school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who spends about a third of the year at her family’s cabin in Arnold, 6.5 kilometers from where the now-fallen tree lies dead in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.