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Immigration: GMS member countries deliberate on introduction of single visa for six countries

YANGON, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) -- China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will make discussions on introducing single visa for the member countries at GMS travel show to be held in Myanmar later this year, according to tourism circle Wednesday.

Organised by the Tourism working group of the GMS, the travel show will be held in the ancient city of Bagan for development of tourism as part of its economic cooperation in the subregion.

Food show will also be attached with the travel show.

The 4,500-km Mekong river originates from China's Qinghai and runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam down to South China Sea near Ho Chi Minh city.

Myanmar, a member of the six-country GMS, has worked for closer economic ties together with other members of the grouping.

According to statistics, the number of tourist arrivals in Myanmar reached over 140,000 in the first four months of 2011, up about 30,000 from over 109,000 in 2010 correspondingly,

Most of the tourists arrived through Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports as well as through Muse and Tachileik border points by road respectively.

Visitors from China stood top in Myanmar 's tourist arrivals, followed by those from Germany, Spain, Norway, Thailand, Cambodia and India.

Sources from Xinhua


Immigration: NW China's Gansu Province grants "green cards" to foreigners

LANZHOU, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Gansu Province in northwestern China on Thursday granted two foreigners with permanent residence cards, or the Chinese version of "green cards."

It is the first time for the province to grant such cards since 2004, when China allowed issuance of permanent residence cards to foreigners.

According to the exit and entry administration under the public security bureau of Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu, the two foreigners were Fu Qiang and Wang Muyin, a scholar and his spouse.

Fu and Wang are American-born Chinese, and their green cards were granted based on an overseas talents program of Lanzhou University.

Yao Hanzhong, head of the administration, said the issuing of the green cards is to bring more overseas talents to Gansu to start businesses or to improve the research work of local research institutes.

The number of foreigners who permanently stay in Lanzhou is continually on the rise, over 1,000 at present, and among them 160 are professors or scholars.

Foreigners who hold Chinese green cards can stay in China without time limit and are entitled to skip the visa procedures when they cross the border.

Editor: Zhang Xiang 

Source from Xinhua


Immigration: Govt may seek ruling on abode rig

Stopgap measures possible to delay foreign domestic helpers from seeking residency

The government may seek an interpretation of certain provisions of the Basic Law that relate to the right of abode after the Court of Final Appeal ruling on a Filipino petition seeking the right after seven years of residency.

Insiders who attended Thursday's special discussion held by the Executive Council said that if the petition is successful and Filipino domestic helpers are granted the right of abode, the government may employ stopgap measures.

That may include applying to the court to suspend execution of the ruling, or to restrict visa extensions of foreign domestic helpers who have stayed in Hong Kong for less than seven years.

Some contended that executive measures such as those would not be effective for those who have stayed in Hong Kong for more than seven years.

If the law is changed, there will be an estimated 125,000 foreign domestic helpers eligible to apply for permanent residency.

In addition, the government pointed out that each domestic helper has three children on average, meaning there may be more than 400,000 foreigners who may become entitled to the right of abode "overnight".

The Filipino petition comes up for review on Aug 22.

Meanwhile, grassroots employees are worrying that they may lose jobs if foreign domestic helpers are granted the right of abode.

Chow Kwai-ying, president of the Commercial Organization and Domicile Services Employments Association, voiced concern on Thursday that the large population of foreign domestic helpers, who will be able to choose other kinds of jobs if they become permanent residents, will exacerbate competition for employment for part-time domestic services and other low-paying trades.

Eman Villanueva, secretary general of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, offered his rebuttal, saying that many of the foreign domestic helpers he talked to remain "undecided" over their career future if the law is changed.

"I don't understand why Hong Kong people are so concerned about it. Not necessarily all the eligible migrant workers intend to stay in Hong Kong forever, but some will choose to go home and stay with their families. It's just more convenient for them to depart and come back, and I believe that this is a right that they should enjoy," Villanueva told China Daily.

"Migrant workers do not have the intention to steal the jobs from local people whatsoever. It is also largely dependent on the need of employers - whether they want to hire people who can speak Chinese or people who just need to do some part-time jobs," he said.

Chow, however, said that part-time domestic helpers will be affected the most if the foreign domestic helpers change their jobs, since the job nature is very similar.

She cited statistics from the Employees Retraining Board that there are more than 100,000 local people who are trained and qualified as domestic helpers, yet the market is neither large nor stable.

She said that a few hundred members of the association have phoned and expressed concern.

However, Villanueva said: "Some migrant workers do intend to change to other kinds of jobs - because they are graduate students - such as school teachers or nurses, though it's another matter whether they could secure these jobs; others don't even have any idea what kind of jobs will be available to them other than domestic service."

Sources from China Daily


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China Capital Markets - Door opens for HK investments in Chinese Mainland stocks

A top Chinese official recently announced that the county would soon launch the long-awaited RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII) program and start an exchange-traded fund linked to Hong Kong stocks. This will boost the two-way capital flow between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. 

The official also introduced other polices on Aug. 17 for boosting Hong Kong's development, but none of them have received as much market attention as the announcement that qualified foreign institutional investors will be allowed to invest in stock markets in the Chinese mainland with an initial quota of 20 billion yuan, and an exchange-traded fund linked to Hong Kong stocks will be soon unveiled. 

Thanks to the central government's efforts to boost the internationalization of the RMB, Hong Kong investors will soon be allowed to buy RMB-denominated A shares, and investors from the Chinese mainland will also be allowed to invest in Hong Kong stocks, analysts have said. 

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Mining-Fight against illegal rare earth mining continues in China

Xinhua reported that although the government has been working to crack down on illegal rare earth mining since last year, villagers from East China's Fujian province have complained that profiteering still prompts unlawful miners to take risks by playing hide and seek with local law enforcement.

Mr Li Chukai head of the village of Xianghu "It's very hard to crack down on them. Tucked away in the southeastern mountains of Fujian province, the village has been severely affected by illegal rare earth mining. At one of the illegal mines identified by villagers, trees have been toppled and leaking waste barrels have contaminated the ground.”

Villager Mr Li Sida said that at another illegal mine, polluted water has been diverted to the villagers' farms, destroying rice fields and killing off a large number of fish and shrimp. Illegal rare earth mines were set up here three years ago. They use ammonium sulfate and oxalate to extract rare earth metals while contaminated water is pumped into farms without being treated.

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Shipping and Maritime - Top court to toughen sea pollution penalties

Regulations on marine accidents must be improved, judge says

BEIJING - The country's top court plans to improve rules and regulations to better handle rising disputes over marine pollution, a senior judge has said.

The remarks were made while ConocoPhillips China, the operator of two leaking oil platforms in northern China's Bohai Bay, faces compensation demands for the oil spills.

Existing laws and regulations on pollution cannot keep pace with the rapidly developing marine economy, experts said. The maximum fine for marine pollution is just 200,000 yuan ($31,000).

Liu Guixiang, president of the No 4 Civil Court under the Supreme People's Court, said that China's liability fund for marine pollution is currently only eligible for tanker spills.

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Analysis: China's telecom patent boom heralds innovation era

China's telecom giants are building up a war-chest of patents to help give them an edge in the legal battles raging between the world's smartphone makers, aided by Beijing's push to transform the country from workshop to innovator.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, China's top two telecommunications equipment makers, are stealing a march on rivals both in traditional network gear and, increasingly, high-end phones.

ZTE was the second highest filer of international patent applications in the world last year according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, making 1,863 different filings. Huawei was the fourth most active filer with 1,528 applications, having been in the top spot in 2009.

Patent filings are soaring across most sectors in China -- last year there were 313,854 patents registered in the country according to the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index, a 12 percent rise from 2009.

China was the third highest filer of patents in 2010, just behind the U.S., which registered 326,945 and Japan with 337,497. Japan has been the leading patent filer in the world for the past decade but its lead is narrowing, with its filings volume down 12 percent since 2006. China is up 83 percent.

The China telecom space in particular is seeing a lot of action as the likes of ZTE and Huawei, along with Taiwan's HTC move from being contract manufacturers for big foreign firms to making smart phones and tablets under their own brands.

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