Remembering a Storyteller
Yuan Kuocheng, a renowned Chinese pingshu performer, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 86 on March 2. Pingshu is the name given to the traditional performing art of storytelling in China.
Yuan was regarded as one of China's greatest pingshu artists. He was born into a pingshu family in Tianjin in 1929. Encouraged by his father and two uncles, Yuan held his first performance when he was 14.
Yuan successfully combined traditional pingshu performance skills with elements borrowed from modern art forms such as film and opera, and created his own distinctive style which was in a strongly comedic vein. He was also the first pingshu performer after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to relate stories with a contemporary setting through this traditional art form. A number of Yuan's pingshu performances that were broadcast on the radio occupy a special place in the childhood memories of several generations of Chinese people.
"Chinese banks must accelerate transformation and upgrades by restructuring their asset and profit structure and regional layout of branches."
Yang Kaisheng, former President of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, stating that banks will further develop their asset management business to compensate for the recent decline in net interest income on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
"The recent launch of the 'Four Comprehensives'--comprehensive prosperity, reform, law and Party discipline--will put the Chinese Dream on the road to becoming a reality."
John Coulters, an Australian researcher currently engaged in collaboration with Chinese academic and commercial institutions, recognizing the role of President Xi Jinping's new political theory for building a fairer society
"The major challenge with regard to China's environmental policy and legislation is weak enforcement. A large number of regulations exist in name only and perform no practical function."
Pan Yue, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, revealing on March 2 that Chinese authorities plan to set up a platform for the public to report polluting practices, thus helping implement the country's new Environmental Protection Law
"To tell the truth, there is still a gap between China's armed forces [and foreign counterparts] in terms of the overall military equipment in our possession. We still need more time."
Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress, announcing on March 4 that China will raise its defense budget by around 10 percent this year
Huge Shifts in China's Private Bank
New Century Weekly
China Minsheng Bank (CMBC), the country's oldest and largest private bank, has recently been shaken by one of the biggest upsets the bank has experienced since its establishment in 1996.
Firstly, Mao Xiaofeng, the bank's president, who it was believed would be next in line for the position of chairman, resigned in the aftermath of being taken away for investigation by China's top discipline watchdog on January 25. He was reported to have been implicated in the corruption case of Ling Jihua, a former senior political adviser. Secondly, the balance of power among its shareholders has greatly changed, with Anbang Insurance Group now holding over 20 percent of its shares and becoming the company's single largest shareholder in the process.
At present, CMBC has assets of 4 trillion yuan ($640 billion) and most of its shareholders are private entrepreneurs. When Dong Wenbiao took over as chairman of the bank in 2006, its business developed rapidly and there existed an equitable balance between all shareholders. In recent years, the bank has been wooed by the capital market, owing in large part to measures undertaken in order to transform its profit models, such as the promotion of loans to small and micro businesses. Dong resigned in August 2014.
The dramatic changes occurring over the past few months have thrown a shadow over the bank. The personnel shifts and the purchasing of stock by Anbang have both added to the mounting uncertainties regarding its future.
Evolution of Sino-Foreign Joint Ventures
In the 1980s, joint ventures were nearly the only vehicle available to attract foreign investment to China. The nation had originally wished to barter access to its vast market for foreign investors' advanced technology by enabling the establishment of such ventures.
After the first joint venture in China, Beijing Air Catering Co. Ltd., was established in 1980, more such companies cropped up in industries ranging from car manufacturing to beer production in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, ever since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, foreign investors have been allowed to set up exclusively foreign-owned companies, with the exception of a select few industries. An increasing number of foreign investors have chosen to break away from the joint ventures and establish their own companies in China. Many foreign companies that have since extricated themselves from joint ventures now enjoy a position of monopoly in their respective industries.
Although more and more Chinese and foreign enterprises are parting company with one another and developing independently, joint ventures nonetheless remain the sole available avenue for foreign capital to enter the Chinese market in certain industries. For instance, the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone and the Aviation Industry Corp. of China signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus in October 2014 to build a completion center for A330 planes in the northern city of Tianjin. For some Chinese and foreign companies, joint ventures are still an effective means of complementing each other's advantages.
A Fairer System for Selecting Professors
Xi'an Evening Post
Lately, a news item about a 27-year-old woman named Lu Yingying being granted the titles of a professor and a doctoral adviser at Zhejiang University has generated consternation online.
Although the university has denounced the news as false and explained that Lu has been employed as a researcher who is allowed to recruit doctoral students, the question concerning the criteria for appointing professors has become the subject of much debate.
The very fact that Lu could inhabit the role of a researcher and recruit doctoral students but at the same time be denied the title of a doctoral advisor reflects discrepancies between her title and ability. The conditions in place for being an advisor should not be tied to one's age, but rather to whether or not one possesses the requisite level of academic competence. Supervisors who have attained their positions through plagiarism should be stripped of their professional titles, while young scholars with the appropriate degree of ability and expertise should be accorded the titles in their stead.
In order to attract more talented teaching staff, universities should reform their personnel recruitment systems to open more occupational channels for young teachers.