CHINA'S NEW PRESIDENT CALLS FOR 'RENAISSANCE' / IN CHINA, PH TWICE VOTED MOST POPULAR DESTINATION


[Newly-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his maiden speech at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.]

BEIJING, MARCH 18, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) Written by AFP - China’s new President Xi Jinping said on Sunday he will fight for a “great renaissance of the Chinese nation”, as the world’s most populous country completed its once-in-a-decade power transition.

In his first speech as head of state, Xi called for “the continued realisation of the great renaissance of the Chinese nation and the Chinese dream”, laying out a vision of a stronger military and ever-higher living standards.

The 25-minute speech closed a parliament meeting which named Xi as head of state and Li Keqiang as premier, four months after the pair took the top two posts in the ruling Communist Party—the real source of their power.

Both Xi and Li stuck to the party’s long-held consensus on the need for economic reforms to ensure growth, while increasing military power and avoiding political change that could threaten its grip on power.

Analysts said Xi’s concept of a “great renaissance” was a slogan designed to have broad appeal, without any firm commitments to specific reforms.

Xi has close ties to China’s expanding military—which put its first aircraft carrier into service last year—and he called for the armed forces to strengthen their ability to “win battles”.

Beijing is embroiled in a bitter territorial row with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, and with neighbouring nations over claims to the South China Sea. Tensions with the US have increased over reports of army-organised hacking.

Newly appointed Premier Li Keqiang sought to play down such conflicts in a press conference, saying that Beijing would not “seek hegemony” as it became stronger and denying allegations that China engages in hacking.

Li called the accusations “groundless”, days after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue. He said China’s relationship with Washington was vital and their mutual interests outweighed their differences.

“Conflicts between big powers are not inevitable,” Li said.

Li, now in charge of the day-to-day running of the government, said that “maintaining sustainable economic growth”, with an annual GDP increase of around 7.5 percent over the coming decade, would be his administration’s top priority.

But ensuring such a performance would be difficult, he said. China recorded its slowest growth for more than a decade last year amid weakened demand in key export markets.

“What the market can do, we should release more to the market”, he said without giving details of specific economic reforms.

Both leaders reiterated the party’s repeated pledges to fight corruption, with Li saying that the government had an “unshakable resolve” to do so.

“Since we have chosen public service we should give up all thought of making money,” the premier said.

Speaking in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi stressed continuity with previous Chinese leaders and thanked outgoing president Hu Jintao, who stood and bowed as China completed the transition of its top leaders.

Neither Xi nor Li mentioned systematic political reform. But Li said China would release a plan for unspecified changes to its controversial “re-education” labour camp system, in which people can be incarcerated for up to four years without trial.

He also promised to reduce the number of government employees as part of an anti-waste drive, again without giving details.

“The tone is definitely conservative,” Joseph Cheng, a China politics expert at Hong Kong’s City University, said of Xi’s speech. “It is difficult to anticipate serious political reforms in the near future.

“What we see here is a very balanced approach not to alienate any vested interests and to continue to do something popular like combat corruption, combat lavishness and pomp and so on, and appeal to patriotism.”

Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University, said Xi’s comments were open to widely differing interpretations. “We haven’t seen many detailed analyses of what the China dream might be,” he said.

Some within the PLA had a “much more aggressive” vision of the “China dream”, he said, while others saw it as “the idea of cultural renaissance, China getting back its due status in world politics and restoring its prosperity”.

Li handled his rare press conference—for which questions had to be submitted in advance—in a relaxed manner, smiling and occasionally joking with reporters.

But he did not field questions about the wealth of top officials and did not mention disgraced politician Bo Xilai, whose downfall last year exposed deep divisions in the ruling party before the leadership handover.

China’s leaders have come under fire in the last year after reports, suppressed within the country, that the families of top politicians—including Xi—had amassed huge wealth.

But they have not vowed publicly to disclose their assets.

FROM THE INQUIRER

In China, PH twice voted most popular destination By Jerome Aning Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:50 am | Sunday, March 17th, 2013


[Sinulog festival. CDN FILE PHOTO]

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines was voted the “Most Popular Destination” by the Guangzhou Information Times and the Guangzhou International Tourism Fair in separate ceremonies held recently in Guangzhou, China, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday.

The DFA said the Philippines was presented the “Most Popular Destination in Asia” award by Li Xinzhang, vice president of the Guangzhou Information Times, at award rites held at the Nanhu Travel Display Center in Guangzhou on March 9.

The Guangzhou Information Times is a subsidiary of the Guangzhou Daily, the most influential newspaper in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong, China’s most populous province.

Philippine Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz and consul general to Guangzhou Raly Tejada accepted the award.

An interview by the Information Times and Guangzhou TV followed the ceremony.

On the same day, the Philippines also received one of the “Most Popular Destination” awards presented at the Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) awards night held at the China Marriott Hotel.

The Philippines was the lone awardee from Southeast Asia. The other cowinners were Dubai, Chicago, South Korea, Seychelles, Mauritius, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Macau and Italy.

Tejada also accepted the award on behalf of the Philippines.

The GITF is organized by the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Administration through the Tourism Administration of Guangzhou Municipality in cooperation with Hannover Milano Fairs Shanghai Ltd.

Held every year in Guangzhou, the GITF has been recognized as one of the most significant annual international travel fairs in the Asia Pacific region for its extensive influence on the tourism and related industries.

The DFA said the Philippine consulate in Guangzhou issued 59,861 visas to southern Chinese visitors to the Philippines in 2012.

The Philippines also continues to have strong appeal to the Chinese market as the consulate posted a 6.45-percent increase in visa issuances in January 2013 over the same period last year, the DFA said.

The influx of tourists from China to destinations in the Philippines continued despite tensions over territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) between the two countries.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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