City protects migrant workers' rights
Shanghai is moving to standardize the local labor market, mainly focusing on protecting the rights of migrant workers.
Starting today, the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau, together with local public security, the personnel, and the industrial and commercial-administrative department will crack down on illegal job agencies, to standardize the local labor market. The move will continue through to March 31st.
Migrant workers are warned not to hunt for jobs blindly, to avoid being cheated, said a spokesman with the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau.--(2/28)
China's two largest retailers join hands
China's two largest retail groups, the Dalian-based Dashang Group and the Shanghai-based Bailian Group, signed an agreement in Dalian Friday afternoon on jointly establishing a third company, the Dashang International Co, Ltd, sources with the two groups said.
The two retailers plan to build the Dashang International into a large modern company with an annual volume of business at 50 billion yuan (US$6.02 billion) in five years, the sources said.
Automobile sales and services, drug stores and e-commerce will be the priorities of the new company, which will target the vast northeast and east China markets, the sources said.
The Bailian Group, China's top chain store company, had a sales volume of 114.7 billion yuan (US$13.8 billion) in 2004. The sales volume of the Dashang Group, the second biggest chain store company in China, was 23.1 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion) last year.--(2/27)
Fraudulent headhunters targeted
The city has kicked off an intensive campaign against fly-by-night job placement agencies in response to a growing number of migrant workers who say they were ripped off when hunting for a job.
The campaign, which will run until the end of next month, was initiated by the Shanghai Labor Inspection Team. It will target small job agencies near local railway stations or long-distance bus stations, which claim to help migrant workers find jobs.
"As a large number of migrant workers flooded into the city to hunt for jobs after the Chinese New Year, recruitment ads near the transport hubs will easily attract them to have a try," said Chen Ran, an official with the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau.
Many of the companies posting ads, however, are unlicensed private job agencies that exploit migrants' eagerness to find work and low awareness of the city's job market, Chen said.
The bureau's telephone consultation center received more than 20 complaints from migrant workers since the Spring Festival holiday, a drastic surge compared with the usual number of two or three similar cases each month.
Most of the migrants accused agents they have entrusted of fleeing with their commissions, bureau officials said.
This Wednesday, three women aged 18 to 22 arrived in the city from Shandong Province to look for jobs. As they had no prospects or acquaintances in Shanghai, the three migrant women turned to the Hongcheng Job Placement Agency in Jiuting Town, suburban Songjiang District.
The agency's recruitment ad claimed that a local electronic company was looking for employees and offering room, board and a monthly salary of 850 yuan (US$102).
"We all consider it a nice opportunity with low requirements and considerate payment," said Zhang Weida, one of the three migrants.
Zhang was one of 100 job seekers who paid 350 yuan each to the agency. They were told to come back for an interview the next morning.
To their surprise, the mini buses the agency said would take them to the interviews threw the migrants off at four different local rural roads. One bus driver said that he was only paid to drive the passengers to the destination.
The agency boss had already disappeared when the angry migrant workers went looking for a refund.--(2/26)
City marks National Ear Care Day
The Shanghai Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital announced that it will launch free medical consultations at Xiangyang Park on Saturday morning in advance of next Thursday's National Ear Care Day. Medical experts will be on hand to provide advice on ear disease prevention and treatment.--(2/25)
City suffers blood shortage(2/24)
As the city is suffering from a serious blood shortage and the daily blood storage is only 600 liters, the Shanghai Blood Center and the Shanghai Blood Administrative Office are asking residents to roll up their sleeves and donate blood to solve the shortage. Blood type A is facing the most serious shortage. Many hospitals have had to postpone elective surgeries that require a large amount of blood. More than 40 employees of the blood authorities donated their blood yesterday.--(2/24)
Lantern show marks Lantern Festival (2/23)
Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai is hosting a lantern show to mark the traditional Lantern Festival today. The festival marks the end of the Spring Festival holiday.--(2/23)
First secondhand house purchase reached on website(2/21)
A newly opened secondhand house purchase website has successfully managed to record the first such deal of its kind, right here in Shanghai. The contract was inked on February 20, just two days after the Chinese-only website (www.fangdi.com.cn) started trial operation.
The transaction, involving complicated processes, procedures and paperwork such as property transfer and capital supervision, indicates the city's online housing transaction platform is effective.
The previous owner, surnamed Zhao, sold his unit of nearly 66 square meters on Xuhui District's Guipin Road for 628,000 yuan (US$75,937) to a local woman surnamed Wang, his third bidder. Zhao found an agent on the website for consultation on the deal.
The online platform for secondhand home transactions is designed to provide more transparency in the market. "The system will monitor the entire process of the secondhand home transaction to ensure the safety and convenience of each deal," said the Shanghai Real Estate Exchange Center, in a recent statement.
Both buyers and sellers of secondhand houses can reach deals based on services available on the Internet. The services will provide information on housing, mortgage loans, real estate agencies, as well as guarantee and appraisal firms.--(2/21)
The Shanghai Water Reclamation Trade Association, comprised mainly of sewage treatment companies and equipment suppliers, was established in the city yesterday. The association, comprising 164 units, aims to upgrade local sewage treatment ability by setting up a platform for the exchange of technology and management experience.--(2/20)
Taiwan charter flights end in Pudong
A Shanghai Airlines charter plane returned to Pudong International Airport yesterday evening, marking the end of a series of flights between the city and Taiwan.
The Boeing 767 aircraft took off from Shanghai at 2:30pm and flew to Taipei to pick up 255 Taiwan business people after the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.
There were 20 roundtrip charter services between Shanghai and the island's two biggest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Two local carriers, Shanghai Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, flew 10 services. The other 10 flights were operated by six Taiwanese airlines.
Shanghai Airlines transported 1,095 Taiwanese passengers on its four charter flights, and China Eastern flew 1,751 Taiwanese on its six flights, the last of which landed at Pudong airport on Tuesday.
Both sides were permitted to designate six airlines to run 24 roundtrip non-stop holiday flights for Taiwan business people working or living on the mainland from January 29 to February 20, the first direct flights across the strait since 1949.
Although it was a breakthrough, insiders thought the program could have gone further.
"This year the agreement on charter flights was reached too late. Actually most Taiwan businessmen on the mainland had already booked tickets home," said Xie Lijun, secretary-general of the Association of Shanghai Taiwan Businessmen Invested Enterprises.
"We hope authorities on both sides can launch the program earlier next year," he added.--(2/18)
More large exporters in city
With 34 more companies having an export volume of over US$100 million last year, the total number of such companies reached 99, according to the Shanghai Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Commission yesterday.
Last year, such companies boasted a combined export volume of US$40.382 billion, accounting for 54.94 percent of the total export volumes in Shanghai.
Improving investment and trade environment in Shanghai and the speedy moving of the international manufacturing industry to the city have driven up the number of large exporters in Shanghai. In 1990, only 17 companies in Shanghai had an annual export volume of more than US$100 million, with the number reaching 31 in 1999, 70 in 2003 and 99 last year.
In 1990, most of such companies in the city were state-owned foreign trade firms, while foreign invested companies played a leading role last year.
More companies in the city have boasted an annual export volume of more than US$200 million. The Tech-Front (Shanghai) Computer Co Ltd exported US$8.303 billion valued goods last year, topping the list in the city for three consecutive years.
In 1994, no high-tech companies in the city had an export volume of more than US$100 million, with the number increasing to eight in 1999 and 38 last year. The 38 companies exported high-tech products with a combined value of US$25.178 billion last year, covering 62.35 percent of the total export volumes of such companies.--(2/17)
Foreign investors find EPZs attractive
Local export processing zones(EPZs) hold great appeal to foreign investors although companies in the zones are given less preferential taxation treatment, according to a survey conducted by the Shanghai Customs.
Simplified customs declaration procedure is considered by many respondents as the main competitive advantage that EPZs have. For example, it takes less than ten minutes for imports to clear customs in local EPZs.
The number of foreign-invested projects in local EPZs had increased from less than 30 in 2002 to 103 in 2004. Meanwhile, the import and export volume of local EPZs hit US$17.5 billion last year, accounting for nearly half of the total trade volume of China's EPZs--(2/16)
Big return packs trains
Shanghai Railway Station had its busiest day of the New Year yesterday as thousands of people returned a day early from the Spring Festival holiday.
Many of the early arrivals were migrant workers, seeking to avoid higher ticket prices and crowded trains.
About 130,000 train passengers arrived in Shanghai yesterday, nearly 30 percent more than the first five days of the Lunar New Year.
People who visited the city for the holidays began to return home, adding to the congestion.
The Shanghai Railway Administration added 163 extra trains yesterday. Most of them were heading to Fuyang, Hefei, Mingguang, Huaibei and Tongling cities in Anhui Province, home to many migrant workers.
More trains will be added today.
Zhu Fuhai, a worker from Sichuan Province, arrived back in the city on Sunday.
"We bought tickets, which were 100 yuan (US$12) more expensive each, on the third day of the Lunar New Year to ensure we can get back to Shanghai in time," he said.
"Once the return traffic peak comes, you would pay even 100 yuan more. It's hard to get tickets and the train will be more crowded," said Zhu.
More than 550,000 travelers visited Shanghai during the festival, up 12 percent from a year earlier, according to the railway administration.
About 540,000 people left the city by train in the first five days of Chinese New Year, almost the same as last year's figure.
Officials yesterday also predicted heavy traffic on the roads, with 50,000 to 60,000 travelers arriving in the city by long-haul bus starting yesterday.--(2/15)
Rose sellers to quintuple price on Valentine's Day
Customers buy roses for Valentine¡¯s Day at the Jingwen Flower Market in downtown Shanghai yesterday. An ordinary rose usually costs about 2-3 yuan in local flower shops, but vendors say they expect the price to skyrocket to 10-15 yuan each today as more and more young people follow the Western tradition to buy roses for their lovers.--(2/14)
Black box found from chopper in ship crash
High-tech scanning equipment has found the black box of the helicopter that crashed on a cargo ship and sank into the deep waterway of the Yangtze River on Thursday.
Authorities said the equipment was brought in from Tianjin, near Beijing.
The helicopter carrying two Chinese and two foreigners hit a Singaporean cargo ship at the mouth of the Yangtze River before falling into the river.
The East China Sea Rescue Bureau rescued the Canadian pilot soon after the mishap and recovered the body of one of the flight crew.
The other two were still missing late last night.
The search for the black box and the missing crew had gone on for more than two days before authorities received signals from the black box early yesterday.
Authorities said it appeared the tail of the helicopter may have broken off after the crash, but the cause of the accident was still under investigation.
Recovery of the black box could help investigators.
The helicopter belonged to Guangdong General Aviation Corporation and was on pilot duty above the deep waterways at the time of the accident.--(2/13)
Children's game offered to attract visitors
Two adults spin a top at a ski sports center in Shanghai. The facility is offering the children's game to attract visitors druing the Spring Festival holiday.--(2/12)
Most Shanghai residents satisfied with their life
According to a recent survey by the Shanghai Statistics Bureau, 80 percent of the city's residents are satisfied with their life in the past five years.
The survey, the largest in recent years, was conducted by the bureau's urban survey team. The team went door to door to gather basic information such as residents' living conditions, health and family structures. They got 3,000 samples spread over 19 Shanghai districts and counties.
Almost 32 percent of those surveyed said the quality of their lives has improved by a large margin over the past five years. Another 50 percent said it has remained at the same level.
Residents are also positive about their residential conditions, with 31 percent saying that it's getting better and another nearly 60 percent surveyed saying it's almost the same as before.
In addition, 87.6 percent of surveyed felt they are healthy, while 9.9 percent said they suffered from diseases. Of the total, 97.7 percent those 20 to 40 think they are healthy, 90.8 percent of those at age of 40-60, and 75 percent of those over 60.
More than 60 percent of those surveyed said their social status had improved to some extent.--(2/11)
Survey shows locals still prefer their own dialect
A recent survey has found residents in China's largest city, Shanghai, prefer speaking their own dialect even though most speak fluent mandarin (putonghua).
Compared with people from other parts of China, Shanghaiers speak more often in their local dialect at home, office, supermarkets and doctor's consulting rooms, according to the national survey on the popularity of mandarin, conducted by the State Language Commission of China.
Mandarin, known in China as "putonghua" or "common tongue," was made the standard pronunciation of Chinese language more than 50 years ago.
The survey found only 35 percent of Shanghaiers speak mandarin in the office, while the national average use of mandarin at workplaces is 42 percent. About 12 percent of Shanghai's residents speak mandarin at home, opposed to 18 percent nationwide.
Results of the survey have surprised many Chinese linguists because Shanghai has long been considered a "melting pot" and about 35 percent of its population have moved in Shanghai from other parts of the country.
"Drivers and conductors on Shanghai buses all speak the local dialect, though posters are seen everywhere reminding the residents to speak mandarin," said He Xin, a public servant who's been in Shanghai for seven years. "You'd be an outsider if you speak mandarin among a group of local Shanghaiers."
But he said Shanghaiers are generally friendly and don't discriminate against people from other parts of China.
In fact, some local newspapers have started to discuss how the Shanghaiers should make sure their future generation still speak their "mother tongue" now that schools have been told to teach mandarin only.
The unique Shanghai dialect is very different from mandarin and many other Chinese dialects. It was for a time a symbol of Shanghaiers' localism and superiority over people from the rest of the country.--(2/11)
New Year celebrations feature with Golden Rooster
People flooded the Yuyuan Garden on the first day of the Year of Rooster yesterday despite the rainy and biting weather. There was a lantern festival featuring the Golden Rooster Crow.--(2/10)
Locals hail for Spring Festival
Shanghai residents say good-bye to the past lunar year and welcome the Year of Rooster, which starts today.--(2/9)
Festival keeps airports busy
With the Spring Festival approaching, the peak traffic season has already arrived in the city.
From February 3 to yesterday, Shanghai's two airports handled more than 1,000 flights every day on average, with more than 110,000 people leaving or entering the city by air every day on average. All the city's long-haul bus stations transported an average of more than 120,000 commuters every day during the period.--(2/8)
Romantic festival plans
With Valentine's Day landing on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, local retailers are looking for a romantic way to attract shoppers for the Western festival.
Various department stores and shopping centers are dotted with red lanterns, Chinese knots, couplets and cartoon figures in traditional Chinese suits for the Spring Festival, which begins tomorrow.
To add a rosy color to those displays, Valentine's promotions have been set up with stores decorated with heart-shaped roses, offering Valentine's specials and carefully designed games.--(2/8)
Rooster to crow in the rain
Shanghai residents will be huddling under umbrellas tonight when they light the fuses of their Spring Festival fireworks, according to the local weather bureau.
The Year of the Rooster is expected to crow at midnight under light rain.
The wet weather is expected to get even worse on Lunar New Year's Day tomorrow, with highs hovering between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
The rain is expected to end on Thursday, leaving behind a cloudy sky and high temperatures from 3 to 5 degrees.
The mercury will drop a degree or two on Friday under the influence of a weak cold air mass from the north. The overnight low is expected to fall to around 1 degree.--(2/8)
Taiwanese jet lands at Pudong Airport
A Taiwan-based China Airlines charter plane landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Saturday morning, making it the first charter flight run by a Taiwanese carrier to arrive in the city this year.
It was also the second time for the island's airlines to run the charter services for Taiwan business people on the mainland during the Spring Festival.--(2/7)
Top online game operator reports surging profits
China's top online game operator listed on the NASDAQ market reported more than 100 percent year-on- year rise both in revenues and net profits in its 2004 fiscal year, according to Saturday's China Daily.
The Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd's fiscal report without auditing showed that the company's revenues in the fiscal year ending on Dec. 31 totaled 1.37 billion yuan (US$165 million), up 115.8 percent from the 633 million yuan (US$76.3 million) in 2003.
The Shanghai-based company reported a net profit of 610 million yuan (US$73.5 million), or 8.1 yuan (98 US cents) per American depositary share (ADS), for 2004, compared with 496 million yuan (US$59.8 million), or 4.14 yuan (50 US cents) per ADS, a year earlier.
The revenues generated from its massive multi-player online role-playing games, or MMORPGs, entertainment games and other businesses accounted for 76.8 percent, 16.6 percent and 6.6 percent of the total revenues last year, respectively.
Chen Tianqiao, Shanda's chairman and chief executive officer, says the company will achieve continuous, robust growth in 2005, by enriching its service content and strengthening operating platforms.--(2/6)
Year-end overhaul ensures safety, stability
Local authorities launched a sweeping overhaul in nearly every part of the city to ensure safety and social stability for the coming Spring Festival.
Conducted jointly by bureaus in charge and district authorities, the overhaul will mainly target chemical works, construction sites, road transportation and warehouses. Thus, the city will get well prepared to give quick reactions to any emergencies.
A carpeting check on all the chemical companies and their workshops, including pots, containers and ducts, found nearly 10,000 problems, 92.5 percent of which have been corrected already. Chemical works with serious safety dangers were warned or closed.
Construction authorities checked the payrole of the migrant workers to ensure proper payments. It also held a seminar to discuss glass pieces transportation, which used to cause accidents.
Public Security Bureau worked out a draft to deal with emergencies in bad weather and on road junctions. Its recent check on highway entrances and exits signaled a heavy crackdown on outlaws, during which 19,000 cartons of illegally traded fireworks were seized.
Public gathering centers, especially the underground places and those with combustibles and/or food, cotton, oil and coal storages, have been carefully checked to ensure being fireproof. Among them, 131 units were closed for corrections.
Some district authorities even paid visits to the poor and needy.--(2/5)
Chinese musical planned
The Shanghai Grand Theater announced plans yesterday to produce a Chinese version of the hit musical "Les Miserables."
"Importing comes first and the second step is to 'localize' these Western musicals," said Qian Shijin, art director of the theater.
"Although Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted us to 'localize' his 'Phantom of the Opera' first during his Shanghai trip last week, we decided to start with 'Les Miserables' since its producer Macintosh company has been in discussions with us for two years."
Qian admits "localizing" a musical is not an easy job.
"It's hard to translate the script into beautiful, easy-to-understand Chinese and Chinese actors can hardly perform more than six times a week," he said. "It's also a question if Chinese audience would prefer the original or Chinese version. But we will have a try. Our ultimate goal is to produce an outstanding Chinese-subject musical to perform for foreign and Chinese audience alike by the World Expo 2010."
Qian also said the theater would continue to import Western musicals and Webber's "Bombay Dream" might be next.
The theater claims shows of the ongoing "Phantom of the Opera" were sold out during the last two months. At its peak, 3,700 tickets a day were sold for the show, bringing in 1 million yuan (US$120,482). --(2/3)
Largest-ever flower show opens in city
Visitors look at exotic blossoms at the 2005 New Year Flower Show at the Shanghai International Agriculture Exhibition Center yesterday. Featuring more than 200 kinds of flowers and plants, the city¡¯s largest-ever flower exhibition will run through Saturday. --(2/2)
Railway ticket prices rise as travel peak arrives
The prices for railway tickets on busy routes have started to move up from today as the annual spring travel peak is setting in throughout Shanghai's road, railway and air traffic systems.
With 80 percent of the tickets already sold out, the tough part of the work has moved from ticket selling to handling the surging passenger volume, the local traffic authority said.
The peak has already started for road and railway, and a huge passenger flow is expected for air service beginning February 5.
This year's peak daily passenger volume is anticipated to exceed last year's 412,000, with Shanghai dispatching 323,000 travelers last Sunday. --(2/1)