Shanghai land sales start the year on strong note
Shanghai's land market gained this month with both transaction volume and prices rising from the same period of last year.
In January, 355,000 square meters of land were sold for 5.15 billion yuan (US$817 million) in the city, a year-on-year increase of 37.7 percent and 96.2 percent, respectively, Soufun.com, China¡¯s largest real estate website operator, said yesterday in a report.
Nine of the 15 land plots released last month were sold above the asking price. Six of the nine plots fetched 50 percent more than the asking price, Soufun data showed.
"The recent land market boom has reflected improving investment prospects among real estate developers over the past few months,¡± said Huang Hetao, a researcher with Century 21 China Real Estate, operator of the city¡¯s largest estate chain in terms of outlet number. "Steadily recovering buying sentiment among home seekers since the second half of last year has boosted the capital strength of many developers, as well as their confidence in the market."
A joint venture formed by several subsidiaries under China Shipping (Group) Co yesterday agreed to pay 1.47 billion yuan for a 9,000-square-meter plot near the Huangpu River in the Pudong New Area. --(1/31)
Arrests for food safety offenses up
The number of arrests made for food and drug safety related offenses have increased in the last five years, Chen Xu, chief prosecutor of the Shanghai People¡¯s Procuratorate, said yesterday.
Some 310 people have been prosecuted, which was nearly triple than in the previous five years, he said. The cases include the "dyed buns¡± scandal in 2011, selling of tainted bean sprouts in Qingpu District last year as well as dead pig and gut oil scandals.
Corruption-related trials declined by 15 percent in the past five years, the Shanghai Higher People¡¯s Court and People¡¯s Prosecutor¡¯s Office said, while the total number of criminal cases heard by courts since 2008 had increased by about 40 percent.
Some 201 government officials, including 14 bureau directors, went on trial, as local courts handled 1,528 cases. --(1/30)
Spring-like weather will stick around this week
It may feel like springtime in Shanghai this week as the warm spell pushes temperatures to as high as 17 degrees Celsius and a chance of showers pops up late in the week.
Today will be overcast to partly cloudy and the mercury should range from a low of 6 degrees Celsius to a high of 14. Tomorrow should be partly cloudy with a low of 10 degrees and a high of 16 degrees, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
Temperatures should peak with a high of 17 degrees Celsius on Thursday and a low of 13, with a chance of rain.
Temperatures should start dropping on Friday, and Saturday¡¯s high is expected to be below 10 degrees, the bureau added.
The warmer, more humid winds from the south this week also should bring cleaner air to the city and last week¡¯s hazy weather is not expected to return, forecasters said. --(1/29)
Clean fuel trial could extend to all buses and taxis
More than 50 taxis in Minhang District are using a cleaner fuel that can be expanded to all the city's buses and taxis to help control PM2.5 pollution, legislators said yesterday.
Exhaust emissions from motor vehicles are the biggest single source of PM2.5, accounting for 25 percent of fine particles in the city's air, according to the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
The Minhang taxis are burning dimethyl ether ¡ª a non-toxic, cleaner-burning hydrocarbon gas that generates neither sulfur nor nitrogen particles, said Ding Kuiling, director of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and a lawmaker.
"It is time for the city to expand new energy among buses and cabs, which would help better control PM2.5 pollution," Ding said.
Engines only need slight modifications for the fuel, while it will power vehicles for long distances without a refill, so few refuelling stations are needed, Ding said.
Dimethyl ether, somewhat similar to LPG gas, costs just 3,000 yuan (US$482.10) a ton, cheaper than gasoline, he said.
A dozen of the city's No. 147 buses launched a test operation using dimethyl ether in 2007 that showed it to be cleaner than conventional fossil fuel and safe.
The city has more than 300 buses using cleaner power sources, mainly electricity, hybrid technologies or dimethyl ether. Many were used during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
"There is no technical barrier to the expansion of new energy to the city's buses," said Yin Bangqi, an official with the city's Science and Technology Commission and also a legislator.
There are many companies in Shanghai that have been developing new energy for buses, Yin said. Refuelling and recharging stations are needed only at the terminus for buses, and they can be charged or refilled at night, he added.
Some simple refuelling locations should be built across the city for new-energy taxis, said Zhang Hailiang, managing director of Shanghai Volkswagen and another legislator.
Zhang said "fast charge" stations should be installed at public parking lots and commercial areas for urgent use and "slow charge" centers at residential areas and office buildings. --(1/28)
Taiwan to let banks do yuan trade
Taiwan will follow Hong Kong and Singapore as an offshore yuan center by allowing local banks to conduct yuan business.
Local banks in Taiwan can take deposits and extend loans in the yuan after establishing clearing accounts with the Bank of China's Taipei branch, Taiwan said yesterday in a statement.
The People's Bank of China said in a separate statement released yesterday: "Financial institutions on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be able to conduct cross-border yuan business for clients, and in addition, they will be able to conduct yuan settlement business for clients through the clearing bank channels."
Individuals can buy or sell 20,000 yuan (US$3,213) daily in notes or through accounts. They are allowed to transfer a maximum of 80,000 yuan daily from Taiwan to China's mainland.
Taiwan said some banks may start the yuan business before the Spring Festival at the earliest, after the PBOC signed a clearing settlement deal with BOC's Taipei branch yesterday. --(1/26)
TV tower opens its highest 'capsule'
Renovation of the "space capsule" observatory on the highest deck of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, one of the city's iconic scenic spots in the Pudong New Area's Lujiazui financial hub, is finished and it is expected to reopen early next month.
The deck, at 350 meters, was shut last November for updating.
The changes highlight the deck's futuristic appearance and incorporate more high-tech elements around the theme of outer space.
Some new exhibits will provide an interactive experience, officials said, but they said it would remain a secret until nearer the opening. --(1/25)
Light winds, cold worsen city air quality
Shanghai is experiencing another round of serious air pollution this week with the spread of cold and hazy weather, forecasters said.
Rain has departed from the city and the weather should turn clear and stable, mostly sunny and partly cloudy, in the next five days.
But pollutants that have come with the cold air from the north are worsening the air quality, according to the Shanghai Observatory.
The city's air quality index (AQI) reached 203 by 11pm yesterday, described as "heavily polluted."
That's the fifth-highest of the new, six-level air pollution scale, officials said.
High pollution levels could remain in the atmosphere for the next three to four days as a result of stable weather conditions, officials said.
The city's air quality was expected to improve by this morning, according to the observatory, though the AQI was rising last night.
"With the expansion of the cold ... the haze these days may reoccur in the next three to five days," said Man Liping, a chief service officer of the bureau.
Today is forecast to be partly cloudy with some light haze and the mercury should range from a low of 3 degrees Celsius to a high of 11 degrees, according to the observatory.
The city should get colder tomorrow, with a low of 1 degree Celsius and a high of 8 degrees, and sunny skies.
On Saturday, the low is forecast to be 2 degrees Celsius and the high 9 degrees, again with sunny skies. --(1/24)
Shanghai delivers 238,000 babies in 2012
Last year about 238,000 babies were born in Shanghai, the highest number since 2002, Shanghai Health Bureau announced today.
The city's maternal and infant mortality rates were 7.1 per 100,000 and 5.03 per 1,000 respectively last year, the same as in the developed countries, the bureau said.
As the city is experiencing a baby boom, the bureau has introduced higher standards for prenatal services to ensure the safety and health of pregnant women and babies.
Pregnant women can receive nine items of prenatal check for free as these have been included in the city's health care coverage.
The city also strengthened pregnancy monitoring last year to detect high-risk pregnant women for early medical intervention. They are classified with five colors from green to purple based on their conditions. Those with a high risk are given a regular check and are transferred to an advanced or specialized hospital.
Last year, the five pregnancy diagnosis and treatment centers in Shanghai treated 345 patients with a success rate of 98.84 percent. Six infant treatment centers treated 4,690 babies with a success rate of 91.45 percent. --(1/22)
Developers lukewarm as buyers ease off
Property developers will launch 13 residential projects in Shanghai in February, same as this month, as buying sentiment wanes due to the approach of the Spring Festival, Soufun.com said over the weekend.
As the Spring Festival nears, developers have found it less appealing to launch projects amid waning appetite from home seekers, said Xia Junqing, a Soufun analyst.
"The Spring Festival holiday is a traditional low season for property sales in China and most developers intend to gear up in March after the holiday and when the weather becomes warmer."
The week-long Spring Festival holiday starts on February 9.
Half of the projects to be unveiled in February will be located beyond the city's Outer Ring Road, with 29 percent between the Middle and Outer Ring Roads and 21 percent within the Inner Ring Road, Soufun, said. --(1/21)
Locals queue to get free Laba porridge at downtown Shanghai's Jing'an Temple yesterday. Temples around the country distributed Laba porridge free yesterday, the eighth day of the 12th lunar month, the day of the Laba Festival. This festival is regarded as a prelude to the Spring Festival ¡ª or Chinese lunar New Year ¡ª the most important occasion for family reunions, which falls on February 10 this year. The Laba festival is also a Buddhist festival on the date when Sakyamuni, the founder of the religion and first Buddha, is believed to have attained enlightenment. Eating Laba porridge, which is made of mixed rice, beans and various types of nuts and dried fruits, is a traditional custom in China.--(1/20)
Water called safe
Moderate levels of water eutrophication have been spotted at Shanghai's Qingcaosha Reservoir, a major tap water source for local residents, as too much nitrogen and phosphorus risk the harmful growth of algae. Officials said the compounds come mainly from upstream. They said they've noticed the problem but ensured the safety of the reservoir's water.--(1/19)
Locking in gains hits key index
Shanghai key stock index dropped yesterday to a four-day low as investors locked in gains.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.06 percent to 2,284.91 points.
"Market sentiment waned due to the recent fall in some bellwether shares and a bout of profit taking also weighed on the market," Damo Investment Co said yesterday.
The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets saw a 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) outflow of funds in the past two trading days, according to data from Great Wisdom Co.
Investors opened 5.5 million new accounts to trade A-shares last year, a report by the China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Ltd said. This was a tumble of almost 50 percent from 2011 and was the lowest level since 2007, indicating waning interest in the domestic stock market.
Standard Chartered said in a report that bad loans in China's banking sector may rise sharply this year and the central government may have to help the sector by injecting funds over the next five years.
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co fell 0.9 percent to 10.03 yuan. China Merchants Bank lost 2.2 percent to 13.22 yuan. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the nation's largest lender, shed 1.9 percent to close at 4.19 yuan.--(1/18)
Fall in FDI sends index down
Shanghai stocks fell yesterday after two days of gains as data showed foreign direct investment in China shrank for seven months in a row in December.
The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.7 percent to close at 2,309.5 points.
China's FDI fell 4.5 percent year on year to US$11.7 billion last month, the Ministry of Commerce said. For 2012, China drew US$111.7 billion in FDI, below the target of US$120 billion. The FDI fell 3.7 percent from 2011 and was the first drop in three years, the ministry said.
The World Bank yesterday cut its forecast for global economic growth in 2013 from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. China's economy may grow 8.4 percent this year and 8 percent next year, the bank said.
Most property developers fell after Premier Wen Jiabao said China should gradually improve its property tax system. Poly Real Estate shed 3.4 percent to 13.56 yuan (US$2.18). Gemdale Corp fell 2.9 percent to 6.80 yuan.--(1/17)
Highway car crash claims 1
A person was killed and another injured in a car crash on Monday on a highway in the Pudong New Area, police confirmed yesterday.
The driver, surnamed Chang, sustained minor injuries and was recovering in Shuguang Hospital.
Chang is under police control because he was intoxicated at the time of the accident, an officer said.
The crash occurred about 11pm on the Jinke Road exit ramp of the Middle Ring Road, police said. Chang lost control of his car and crashed into a cement railing. The vehicle then caught fire.
Chang crawled out while the victim sitting beside him did not make it.
The passenger burned to death and police have yet to identify the individual, an officer said.
Witness Li Yanting said she saw the driver get out of the burning automobile. "He was on the ground and crawling away from the burning car," Li said. "I gave the man a bottle of water and left when the police arrived."--(1/16)
Index surges to 7-month high on QFII quota news
Shanghai stocks yesterday surged the most in a month, sending the key index to a nearly seven-month high, after China's securities regulator said the investment quota for foreigners to invest in the stock market could be raised by 10 times.
The Shanghai Composite Index soared 3.06 percent, the biggest rally since December 14, to 2,311.74 points, the highest close since June 18.
The current quotas of the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investment (RQFII) and the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investment (QFII) that allow foreign investors to directly invest in yuan-denominated shares can be raised as much as 10 times, Guo Shuqing, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at a conference in Hong Kong yesterday.
With the increase Guo expects a large amount of new capital to flow into China's stock market and benefit it in the long run, analysts said.
"About 2 trillion yuan (US$322.6 billion) would be added to the domestic stock markets if the investment quotas of QFII and RQFII were increased by tenfold," said Liu Ying, analyst at Huatai Securities.
In a report released yesterday UBS estimated China's stocks to soar 20 percent this year.
Shares also surged on optimism over China's economy which is set to grow 8 percent this year, the Development Research Center of the State Council said in a report last Friday. That would be higher than an expected growth of 7.7 percent in 2012.
Property firms rose after the State Administration of Taxation said the property tax trial would not be extended in the short term. Poly Real Estate rose 4.2 percent to 14.10 yuan, and Gemdale Corp climbed 4 percent to 7.08 yuan.
Beijing Capital Co, a wastewater disposal firm, added 3 percent to 4.41 yuan and Tianjin Capital Environmental Protection Group Co leapt 5.2 percent to 4.87 yuan.--(1/15)
Shanghai's air improving
Shanghai's air quality should be a lot better today after rain and wind swept across the city yesterday but the pollution experienced on Saturday could return as dense fog still affects central and eastern China.
Rain started to fall on Saturday night while the city was enveloped in heavy smog with PM2.5 readings peaking at about 200 micrograms per cubic meter ¡ª in the "serious" range.
After yesterday afternoon's rain and strong winds, the pollutants' density dropped to 26 micrograms, a level defined as "good."
However, a cold front is expected to hit the city from the north on Thursday, bringing heavy pollution with it, said Huang Yanming, a forecaster with the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.
"Pollutants brought by the northwest wind from the fog-affected regions along with pollutants to be accumulated within the city may cause pollution in the city again," she said.
The city should stay dry for the rest of the week, forecasters said.--(1/14)
Hotline a lifeline too often misused
Improper calls to the 110 Shanghai police hotline remain a headache for operators as the service completed its 20th year in operation yesterday.
Shanghai police receive 35,000 calls on average every day but 58 percent of them are not valid because they are made by people seeking inappropriate consultations, calling in the same information, dialing a wrong number or even engaging in harassment. That wastes significant public resources, Shanghai Public Security Bureau officials said.
On Tuesday, a police station on Ruijin No. 2 Road, Huangpu District, got a call saying a shopkeeper was trying to chop up a resident in a dispute, which caused two officers, Song Yiming and Gu Yaozong, to rush out of the station. But when they arrived, they found only a spoon in the shopkeeper's hand.
That's only one example of the 20,300 invalid emergency calls, slightly lower than last year's 22,000, that police say they receive every day due to people's inadequate knowledge or lack of calling skills.
Most improper calls are complaints. Yesterday morning, Song's station received a complaint about overcharging in hospitals and a report about a stray dog in the street.
"When we arrived, we found the dog with its owner and it went back home soon," Song said. "Once we get a call, we'll go for a check in a short time."
There are 301 operators at the police call center, and 80 percent are women with an average age of 29, who among them can speak nine foreign languages ¡ª English, German, French, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Spanish and Italian.
Each picks up the phone 450 times every day during the 12-hour workday. The team is on duty 24/7 with 60 operators per shift. Except for meals and necessary breaks, they have almost no slack time. Due to their efforts and the nature of the emergency line, less than two percent of the callers will have to wait in line, police said.
On the anniversary of the city's 110 service yesterday, police appealed to locals to call 110 in a correct way to save the line for those truly in need.
Last year, Shanghai police received nearly 13 million calls and more than 4 million of them required action. On a record day, the operators picked up 75,000 calls ¡ª one call per 2.5 seconds, police said.
Police officials reminded locals that calling 110 to deliberately report false information or disturb the public order can result in serious punishment such as detention.--(1/11)
Family doctors to cover all districts by year end
Shanghai plans to have family doctors in all districts and county by the end of this year, the city's health authority said yesterday.
The idea, which is already being tested in some districts, allows residents to see a general practitioner at community-based health centers.
The Shanghai Health Bureau will work out rules this year on the duties and services of general practitioners and promote the service across the city, Huang Fengping, deputy director of the bureau, told local lawmakers.
"The bureau will also carry out a new rule this year to give preference to general practitioners to help arrange patient transfers to higher-level hospitals through an online appointment system," Huang said.
According to the bureau, each GP will serve 800 families, or 2,000 to 5,000 residents.
Since the city started a pilot program in 10 districts in November 2011, 76,890 families have signed service agreements with general practitioners in 122 community hospitals.
Family doctors treat chronic and common diseases, give advice on health problems and help arrange patient transfers to higher-level hospitals when necessary.
However, not all residents can be covered due to the shortage of family doctors, said Liu Hongwei, an official with the health bureau who is in charge of community health care services.
The city has more than 2,000 general practitioners in the pilot hospitals and needs another 4,000 to ensure no family doctor serves more than 2,500 patients, Liu said.
Nationwide, there are 78,000 general practitioners, which is also far from enough, according to media reports.--(1/9)
Waiting on airliners shortened
The time that airline passengers spend waiting was reduced in tests of a new, computerized system to manage flight volumes at the city's two airports, air traffic officials said.
That should be good news for those flying out of Shanghai during the upcoming Spring Festival.
The system, called Collaborative Decision Making, will be updated late this month and fully deployed at Pudong and Hongqiao international airports before the coming spring travel rush, according to regional traffic supervisors.
In the case of China Eastern Airlines, flights saved an average of about 20 minutes in waiting. When delays do happen, it makes it more likely that passengers will be sitting comfortably in the terminal rather than aboard an airplane on the ground.--(1/8)
Rain, sleet make for sloppy week ahead
Rain and sleet are expected to hold sway this week while the low should stay just above zero, forecasters said.
Today is likely to be overcast, with sleet, and a low of 1 degree Celsius and a high of 5 degrees. The city should get warmer tomorrow with drizzles and moderate rain and the mercury should range from a low of 2 degrees Celsius to a high of 6, said the Shanghai Observatory.
The week's highs should reach 5 or 6 degrees and skies remain overcast.
"Despite warmer temperatures, the city should feel colder than expected due to the humidity," said Man Liping, an officer of the observatory.
Shanghai entered what is considered the coldest period of the year on Saturday, which was xiaohan, or "lesser cold," on the Chinese lunar calendar, indicating the beginning of the coldest days. This winter is colder than usual as the average temperature has been the lowest of the past 30 years, according to the observatory. Nearly 3 centimeters of snow fell within recent days in the city's suburbs in Fengxian, Songjiang, Jinshan and Qingpu districts.
The city's power consumption hit its highest winter record over the weekend. The power load climbed over 22.7 megawatts at 10:30am Saturday. The previous record was Friday's 22.69 megawatts, said the Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd.--(1/7)
Flights resumed yesterday after fog lifted in Kunming, Yunnan Province. Nearly 10,000 passengers departed from the Kunming Changshui International Airport, many of whom had been stranded there since Thursday. Up until 3pm yesterday, the airport had handled 281 flights.--(1/6)
Rail travel record
A record number of passengers traveled via railways during the New Year holiday, the Ministry of Railways said yesterday. Between Monday and Thursday, some 22.55 million passengers traveled by train - up 3.05 million, or 15.7 percent, on last year, the ministry said in a statement. Short and medium distance travelers accounted for most of the travelers.--(1/6)
Bankcard spending increases
Chinese bankcard spending surged during the New Year's holiday as travel-related expenditures and shopping increased, industry figures showed yesterday.
Domestic cross-bank transaction volume jumped 38 percent from a year earlier, said China UnionPay, the country's sole bankcard transaction firm.
Overseas spending grew 23 percent with Southeast Asia a popular destination, UnionPay said.
Travel-related expenditures boomed as more people took short trips during the three-day holiday.
Tourist attractions saw tickets purchased with bankcards doubled during the holiday from Tuesday to Thursday, and spending at travel agencies increased 68 percent in the same period.
Major retailers also launched sales campaign during the holiday.--(1/5)
Stopping for yellow rule has angry drivers seeing red
Drivers in China have been getting angry over a new crackdown on running through intersections when traffic lights are at yellow.
While announcing new rules in October that double the penalties for traffic light violations, officials also stressed that running a yellow light will now be considered the equivalent of running a red one.
Drivers accustomed to considering the yellow light a warning and the red light an imperative have been left confused, wondering how they can stop suddenly for a yellow light.
In an online comment, Xinhua news agency cited pioneering physicist Isaac Newton on the difficulty of stopping the momentum of something in motion, saying the new rules are "unreasonable and contrary to Newton's first law."
Police must enforce the new guidelines on stopping on both red and yellow to protect people's safety, Li Qing, an official from the Ministry of Public Security's traffic administration, said in an interview on China Central Television.
Under the new rules that came into effect on Tuesday, penalties for traffic light violations doubled to six points on a 12-point scale that results in losing a license.
If your vehicle is already partly over the line when the light changes from green to yellow, you may continue. Otherwise, you must stop, Li said.
In some cities, some traffic lights count down the seconds until the color changes, but this isn't always the case.
The new rules sparked outrage online from irate drivers, who complained of the dangers of stopping short in front of other drivers or the inconvenience of always having to slow down when approaching intersections.
In an online comment forwarded more than 23,000 times, one driver wrote that he had smashed into the back of a car that had suddenly stopped for a yellow light.
"I would like to say whoever made this yellow light rule must be stupid and evil. Everybody, when you are 1 kilometer away from the lights start to slow down ... I wish you the best of luck," wrote Beijing-based Sun Yixuan.
"Netizens say it is difficult to stop on a yellow light. If you reduce your speed to very slow as you come up to the junction, this leads to unbearable traffic congestion," Xinhua said.--(1/3)
High hopes for the year ahead
People rush to ascend the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai on the first day of the year yesterday. More than 4,000 people signed up for the annual climbing of the TV tower and about 1,300 people qualified for yesterday's final. On the first day of a new year, it is customary for anyone hoping for better luck in China in the 12 months ahead to climb to a high place.--(1/2)