It was after his retirement that Li’s influence reached the

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It was after his retirement that Li’s influence reached the

pinnacle. Since the end of the 1980s, he had made his voice heard constantly and had been labeled the “CPC veteran cadre + CPC critic.”

As a representative figure among veteran outspoken officials, he was hailed among Chinese liberals and Western public opin

ion. Among his propositions, the most famous was opposing the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Looking back on Li’s life, the prime of his life was embedded in the wave of the Chinese Revolu

tion and the country’s early development; he suffered a lot during that period of time.

In his later years, he participated in the creation of a special type of “veteran cadre + critic.” Stronger opinion was not at al

l unusual in those years, but the label of a retired official helped increase the gravity of Li’s voice and consolidated his stance.

Li’s later years were a success from another perspective as well. He had been enjoying a

generous pension and lavish benefits after retirement until he died in Beijing Hospital.

While benefiting from the privileges the state provided, he was also supported by China’s do

mestic anti-establishment forces and some Western powers. He was one of China’s least lonely old men and veteran cadres.

It should be noted that Li in his later years became a symbol of the diversificat

ion of Chinese society. Considering the meaning of this symbol, different conclusions can be drawn.

Supporters may hold that he had added a voice and more importantly a “scarce voice,” while

opponents would argue that he had become a tool for hostile and unfriendly forces to attack the Chinese system.

Li’s later years demonstrated a special way of boycotting China’s mainstream path. Such a role played by him may reflect various value judgments.

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Nevertheless, it should be made clear that despite the external

 pressures, it is actually a need for China’s economic development, at the current stage, to further open up markets. Thus, the c

ountry’s accelerated opening-up is not only the response to the external risks, but also a key step in transforming pressures into new growth momentum.

So far, the openness of China’s manufacturing sector is relatively high, especially compared to the degree of ope

nness in the service industry, with foreign ownership limits and license restrictions set in such sectors like m

edical care, education, express delivery and others. Since the overall manufacturing sector is now basically opening up,

there is a high possibility that China will expand the opening of the service industry in the near future. Specifically, finance, medical care, education

and elderly care are all potential sectors that could see greater market access, as the current Chinese society is also in need of these services.

In other words, China has already got the basic conditions for further opening up of its service industry. With the country’s

per capita GDP exceeding $9,000, the proportion of residents’ basic living consumption has declined, while the co

nsumption demand for information, culture, medical care, education, elderly care, entertainment and other services has increased.

Some observers, however, have been concerned about the impact of increased opening-up on the domestic services industry. It is

undeniable that such an impact is inevitable, but it should be viewed as the pressure to stimulate the innovation and

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Moreover, the number of Chinese who go abroad is closely

residents’ disposable income levels and income growth. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that in 2017, the per ca

pita disposable income of the high-income group reached 64,934 yuan ($9,604.71). For most of the residents in the high-inco

me group, overseas tours remain as a kind of luxury spending, thus the per capita disposable income for residents that traveled abroad

should be raised to at least 120,000 yuan a year. Yet this group probably numbers less than 100 mil

lion residents. In other words, the number of people who can afford the average cost of going abroad is theoretically less than 100 million.

Although many research institutions are optimistic about the development pr

ospects for Chinese people’s overseas tourism, the growth rate of private outbound trip

s was only 5.7 percent in 2017, compared to 22 percent in 2010 and 10.6 percent in 2015, showing a do

wnward trend. This may actually reflect the decline in the growth rate of disposable income.

I don’t agree with the so-called “consumption downgrade,” as the Engel coefficient – the propor

tion of money spent on food in household expenses – fell to 28.4 in 2018. Yet, the slowdown in consumption growth, increased leverage r

atio in home purchases and other factors have all impeded the pace of the consumption upgrade.

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henzhen to strengthen smoking policylayed at a shopping ma

Shenzhen is to strengthen its regulations on smoking in public places, making it the strictest smoking policy in history, Nanfang Daily has reported.

The strenghtening is to focus on five areas of the policy.

Since the implementation of the smoking policy in Shenzhen on March 1, 2014, smoking in public places has been banned, carrying a total fine of 3.745 millio

n yuan, comprising a 3.325 million yuan fine for illegal smokers and 420,000 yuan for public places that failed to control smoking.

In implementing the policy however, problems arose with excessive fines, difficulties

with law enforcement and evidence collection, and complicated punishment procedures.

Deputies of Shenzhen People’s Congress on Jan 18 jointly proposed that Shenzhen should revise the policy to make the regulations more practical and operable.

The revised draft of The Regulation on Smoking Control explicitly expands the de

finition of smoking to include the use of e-cigarettes and other lit tobacco products.

It also expands the scope of smoke-free areas, which now include outdoor p

latforms and areas featuring wait lines for public transport, such as buses, coa

ches, taxis, subways, ships, civil aircraft and other public transport vehicles.

Smoking is also prohibited within five meters of subway entrances and exits.

The draft enhances protection for minors. It stipulates that no tobacco produ

cts are to be sold within 100 meters of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and children’s activity centers.

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Organizations and individuals involved in the abnorma

will be publicized on the CNIPA website and China Intellectual Property News, a Beijing-base

d newspaper, and face other punishments administered by related authorities, according to the draft.

They will also be blacklisted and exposed via a national credibility information sharing system.

Trademarks achieved by this means will be declared void, the draft says.

“The long-awaited regulations draft came as no surprise,” Li said. “Such regulations are necessary, especially amid continuous growth in IP filings in China.”

The number of trademark applications from the country has topped the world for ye

ars, according to statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Data from the CNIPA show that the inventory of valid domestic trademarks had surpassed 18 million by the end of 2018.

China has improved in IP filings and protection by leaps and bounds, yet insufficien

t enforcement has come under fire and the discordance between quantity and quality has yet to be tackled, Li said.

Growing awareness of the issues and the reconfiguration of IP administrative organs contributed to the rollout of the draft, he added.

“The draft does not merely address the chronic problem of abnormal applica

tions but provides an approach to balancing the quantity and quality, ” he noted. “It is just a start.”

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Sao Paulo orchestra makes debut in ChinaState Symphony

The Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, the first South American symphony to t

our China, will hold a concert at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on the night of Valentine’s Day.

The event also marked the first time the symphony’s female conductor Marin Alsop is involved in a performance in China.

Alsop, who is one of the most prominent students of the late US musician Leonard Bernstein, introduced the symphony’s m

usic style as “accessible with folk elements” and highly rhythmic, which is “a hallmark of the Brazilian music”.
The

concert program, she added, is perfect for Valentine’s Day as it “begins with lots of fire and ends with lots of romance”.

The concert opened with Bernstein’s Candide Overture, followed by works from Brazilian composer Heit

or Villa-Lobos and Argentine Alberto Ginastera. The second part featured Sheherazade by Russian artist Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Following its China premiere in Shanghai, Alsop and the Sao Pa

ulo symphony will go on to play in Jinan of Shandong province, Beijing and Hong Ko

ng, where the company will feature as the opening performance for the Hong Kong Arts Festival on Feb 21.

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Shanghai unveils measures to optimize business environment

Shanghai has announced a series of reform measures aimed at improving its business environment to maintain stable economic growth.

The measures cover 25 main areas such as business startups, applications for construction permits and electricity serv

ice, according to a working conference held by the municipal government on Feb 11.

Shanghai cannot simply rely on favorable policies to achieve development, let alone low-cost compe

tition, said Li Qiang, Party chief of Shanghai, adding that a better business environment is the strong impetus.

This year, Shanghai will promote collecting and sharing of public data as well as easy

access to governmental services for enterprises and citizens, according to local government authorities.

According to a World Bank report on the ease of doing business released in October last

year, China advanced to a global ranking of 46 among 190 economies in 2018, up from 78 in the previous year.

Shanghai recorded an overall economic growth of 6.6 percent last year, with its GDP per capit

a exceeding $20,000. The city expects to attain a growth rate of 6 percent to 6.5 percent this year.

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Payment by phone sees big growth overseas

Swiping phones for payment is shaping up to be the new norm for Chinese people shopping oversea

s, as the adoption of mobile payment becomes more evenly distributed by age and geographical location.

Customers in their 50s saw a 1.3-fold increase in Alipay usage as they traveled overseas during the Spring Festival

holiday that concluded on Sunday, according to the country’s largest mobile wallet operator.

The age group has recorded the highest growth rate among all demographics tracked by Al

ipay, as more older people embrace digital payment at home and extend such habits overseas.

Meanwhile, those born in the 1990s, who grew up in relative material abundance and are more “digitally native”, formed the ba

kbone of outbound travel this year, data from Tencent’s popular messaging app WeChat showed.

They accounted for 31 percent of users who embarked on overseas trips, the biggest pr

oportion, and paid with WeChat’s embedded wallet, according to data released on Sunday.

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France advanced to the top 10 markets where WeChat P

ay was mostly adopted for the first time since WeChat started tracking the data in 2015.

A Nielsen survey released in January suggested that 93 percent of Chinese travelers are likely to increase their spen

ding overseas if mobile payment is more widely accepted, which would consequently boost local businesses.

Alipay and WeChat Pay accounted for almost 94 percent of the count

ry’s third-party payment market, according to consultancy iResearch. The duo are ga

ining market share by making ambitious forays overseas where mobile payment is yet to mature.

Among the latest developments, Tencent is looking to work with more smart solutions and s

ervice providers this year to make the app function run as smoothly in foreign markets as it does in China, by in

corporating a variety of tools developed by third-party providers, said Fan Wei, overseas business director of WeChat Pay.

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An old Hunan art form sees revival during Lunar New Year, Liu Xian

Deng Xia, a fan of Huagu (“flowery drum”) Opera, a local art form of Yueyang

in Central China’s Hunan province, barely misses such shows at the One Yuan Theater.

“It has enriched the cultural life of residents like me,” Deng, 35, says.

“In the past, we could appreciate the Huagu Opera,

mostly during important festivals such as Lunar New Year, but now we can watch it often.”

The One Yuan Theater, located in Rongjiawan town of Yueyang, has staged 30 to 50 Huagu O

pera shows annually since 2012, with the audience numbers for each show sometimes touching 1,000.

“Some people bring along stools or are even willing to stand through a show of two or three hours,” says Deng of the theater that has a seating capacity of 800.

To enjoy a show, each viewer has to pay only 1 yuan ($0.15) as admission fee to the theater, as the pr

ograms are covered by government funding. The initiative to provide regular and nearly-free shows to lo

cal residents has been successful in bringing the once-dead cultural heritage back to life.

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