IN BRIEF (Page 2)

Updated: 2013-10-18 08:53

(China Daily Europe)

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 IN BRIEF (Page 2)

Premier Li Keqiang pays a store owner in Hanoi for some tea and food on the night of Oct 14. Li, who ended his Vietnam visit on Oct 15, was recognized by the owner when he walked into her store near his hotel. Huang Jingwen / Xinhua


Easier UK visas to lure Chinese tourists

The United Kingdom will make it easier for Chinese nationals to apply for visas to visit the country, a move designed to encourage more Chinese tourists as well as potential investors, British officials said on Oct 14 in Beijing.

Under the proposals, Chinese tourists visiting the European Union using selected travel agencies will no longer have to file a separate application to visit Britain.

Starting in the summer of 2014, businesspeople will be able to apply for a "super-priority" visa, which will be processed within 24 hours rather than one week. A "mobile visa service", which targets business executives and enables visa teams to collect forms and data at applicants' workplaces, is likely to be extended from Beijing and Shanghai to other cities.

The number of UK visas issued to Chinese nationals continues to rise, according to the British embassy in Beijing. UK Visas and Immigration issued 289,000 visas in 2012-13, nearly a third more than in 2010-11.


Govt offers $800m to fight environment

The central government is offering a total of 5 billion yuan ($818 million; 604 million euros) in financial rewards to Beijing and neighboring provinces to fuel their fight against air pollution.

The Ministry of Finance announced on Oct 14 that the special budget is to aid Beijing, Tianjin and the surrounding areas of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces as well as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, where the air quality did not meet national standards for nearly 20 days in August.

The cities with the worst air quality and those in the areas surrounding Beijing are higher on the priority list for receiving the special funding. At the end of the year, the central government will assess which regions made the greatest strides in reducing air pollution and allocate funds accordingly. Most will likely be funneled to the heavily polluted province of Hebei, which is currently taking considerable steps to reduce air pollution.

Extreme Sport

Colombian takes wingsuit crown

Colombian wingsuiter Jhonathan Florez was crowned champion of the Second World Wingsuit Championship on Oct 13, in a tournament marred by the death of Hungarian wingsuit flyer Victor Kovats.

Florez edged ahead in the final held at Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, with a jump of 23.40 seconds, followed by US flyer Noah Bahnson and Frenchman Vincent Descols.

Kovats plunged to his death during a trial flight on Oct 8. Out of respect, no competition took place on the side of the mountain where he crashed, and the contest was reduced from three days to two.


Bathhouse ban bid makes waves

UNAIDS' China office has expressed concern about a draft regulation from the Ministry of Commerce that would ask bathhouses to ban people with HIV.

The draft regulation on managing bathhouses, on which public opinion is being sought until Nov 11, stipulates that bathhouses, including those offering spa baths and foot care, should put up signs saying people with HIV/AIDS must not enter. They should also warn those with sexually transmitted diseases and infectious skin diseases to stay away, according to the draft.

"We are concerned about the regulation," said Guy Taylor, advocacy and information officer of the China office of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.

"It's important to highlight that HIV can only be transmitted in three ways: through sexual contact, through blood-borne transmission and through mother-to-child transmission. There is no risk of transmission of HIV through casual contact in bathhouses or similar facilities."

The Regulations on AIDS Prevention and Treatment, issued in 2006, stipulate that people should not be discriminated against because they are HIV-positive.

Emergency Services

Disaster response gets a helping hand

China has improved its disaster response capability by building an emergency supplies network, but disaster relief efforts by the government still struggle to meet people's diverse needs, said a senior official from the country's top disaster relief department.

"We can distribute tents, food, drinking water, clothes and quilts to people affected in 12 hours or less after a natural disaster takes place," said Li Baojun, deputy head of the office of the National Commission for Disaster Reduction, ahead of the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Oct 13.

He said China has established a four-tier disaster relief material storage network. All provincial capitals, 18 central-level transport hubs, 93 percent of cities and 80 counties have set up warehouses for disaster response.

From January to September, natural disasters claimed more than 1,700 lives and affected about 376 million people. Direct economic losses reached 517 billion yuan ($84.5 billion; 62.5 billion euros).


China to support traditional medicine

The Chinese central government has allocated 1.49 billion yuan ($242.67 million) to a subsidy fund to support development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the rest of 2013, the Ministry of Finance announced on Oct 16.

The move came after the State Council issued guidelines on Monday to boost the nation's health service sector.

According to the guidelines, the nation has required relevant authorities to take advantage of TCM in disease prevention and healthcare.

The new fund will be used to promote research and development of TCM at the grass-roots level, establish workshops for senior and famous doctors, construct special medical centers in rural areas and fund human resources training, according to the ministry.


Rare-earth mining rules being drafted

China, the world's largest producer of rare earths, is drafting rules to crack down on illegal mining, reduce pollution and prevent price wars, an industry association said on Oct 15.

The rules are only at the proposal stage, said Chen Zhanheng, a spokesman for the Association of the China Rare Earth Industry in Beijing.

The group has extensive contacts with various ministries and is in charge of drafting rules on the issue, although it isn't affiliated with the government, he said.

 IN BRIEF (Page 2)

A set of stamps was issued on Oct 15 to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Xi Zhongxun, a respected Communist Party elder and former vice-premier. Xi, who died at age 89 in 2002, was President Xi Jinping's father. Long Wei / for China Daily

(China Daily European Weekly 10/18/2013 page2)