Bill Zhang

Saturday, October 01, 2005

US warns of possible terror in China's northwest

The United States has warned American travellers to be vigilant against a terrorist attack in China's restive northwestern region of Xinjiang after Beijing told police there to be prepared for danger.

The call came ahead of the 50th anniversary on Saturday of the establishment of Xinjiang as an autonomous region.

Muslim Uighur militants, whom Beijing calls terrorists or separatists, have been struggling for decades to make the remote region, formally established on October 1, 1955, an independent state called East Turkestan.

"Americans considering travel to the region and those already there should review their plans carefully, remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and exercise caution," a message e-mailed from the U.S. embassy in China said.

"Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Americans in remote areas or border regions where military or police authority is limited or non-existent could also become targets."

Chinese security chief Luo Gan had urged law enforcement officers and armed police in Xinjiang to crack down on criminals to create a "safer environment for economic growth and social progress," the China Daily newspaper said on Thursday.

Luo, a Politburo Standing Committee member, also said officials at all levels should be "prepared for danger in times of safety" and "keep a clear mind."

The Public Security Ministry said earlier this month that more than 260 terrorist acts had been committed in Xinjiang in the past two decades, killing 160 and wounding 440. It labeled East Turkestan forces the main terrorist threat to China.

Majority-Muslim Xinjiang is home to nearly 20 million people, more than 60 per cent of them considered ethnic minorities in predominantly Han China.

Wang Lequan, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, said last month that Rebiya Kadeer, a minority Uighur businesswoman freed in March after years in jail and exiled to the United States, was plotting to sabotage the anniversary celebrations in Xinjiang, which lies to the north of Tibet.

Kadeer, jailed in 1999 on charges of providing state secrets abroad, was released on medical parole.

Friday, September 30, 2005

1st October----China national day

China had an party to celebrate the 56th anniversary of ‘new China’ Friday evening in Beijing.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here on Friday that China will work for building "a new world of peace, amity and harmony" together with the people throughout the world.

Wen made the remarks at a reception marking the 56th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China held in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing.

About 1,000 Chinese and foreign diplomats, scholars and people from all walks of life were present at the reception.

In fact, Chinese leaders and senior officials over the past few months have kept highlighting the new feature of the country's foreign policy: "peace, development and cooperation".

In an article issued in August, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said that seeking peace, amity and harmony among all countries is a key component of Chinese traditional culture. Under the banner of peace, development and cooperation, the country's diplomacy has kept forging ahead and contributed to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

In Asia, China helped its surrounding countries deal with the financial crisis in 1997 and offered the country's largest-ever aid to the tsunami-hit countries in January this year.

China also initiated the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for regional security and economic cooperation and promoted cooperation between China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

All the facts proved that China is a good neighbor, good friend and good partner of its neighboring countries , Li said.

On the international arena, China has pushed for South-South cooperation and North-South cooperation, explored new areas and channels of mutually beneficial cooperation with developing countries and provided them with assistance within its ability.

Meanwhile, China has forged partnership with the world's major powers, and made common efforts to promote world peace and prosperity.

Besides, China has actively taken part in the United Nations affairs and carried out international cooperation on anti-terrorism, arms control, peace-keeping, development, human rights, law enforcement and environmental protection.

Li Junru, a well-known theorist in the Party, said that China is late in the progress of modernization and industrialization.

"However, we will not repeat the past bitter history of turbulence and instability in the world resulted from the rise of a big power, but seek a road that a new rising nation has never taken," Li said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao told a UN summit meeting in New York earlier this month that China will resolutely insist on the road of peaceful development, the independent foreign policy of peace and develop friendly relations and cooperation with various countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Enditem

Premier pledges to build harmonious, well off society

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Finland: E-Services Change Health Care for the Good of the Customer

The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development Sitra’s Health Care Programme brought together the key persons of Finnish Health care to its seminar Challenges for the future: Digitalisation of health care in Helsinki on 28 September 2005. The purpose of the seminar was to provide new information on the opportunities presented by digitalisation in health care. The speakers at the seminar consisted of Finnish and foreign experts who shared their experiences and views on the development of health care.

Liisä Hyssälä, Minister of Health and Social Services, introduced the Finnish strategy. The objective is that Finland would, in the next few years, have implemented an electronic archive system for health care and a national electronic health record system. Legislation will also be amended to correspond to these changes.

“Implementing the strategy requires, however, confidence between the different parties, co-operation and commitment to common goals,” said Hyssälä.

The development and implementation of a national electronic health record system is an enormous step for Finland.

“Health records and results stored in one place will enable a completely new standard for analysing care and its results,” said Hannu Hanhijärvi, Executive Director of Sitra’s Health Care Programme. “It will facilitate a consistent long-term development of care processes.”

The introduction of e-Services is still in its early stages in Finland. For experiences of large-scale information systems Finland has to look to other countries. Examples of good practices were learnt, for example, from the USA, where private health care providers have launched extensive projects in the field.

The California-based Kaiser Permanente has invested $ 2 billion in the digitalisation of their health care systems. It has a huge customer base when compared to Finland: over 8 million people. The company is the largest health care provider in the region and once the system has been completed, it will be one of the most advanced in the world.

“Our primary aim is to improve our operations and customer service although we naturally also wish to increase the profitability of our operations,” said Dr Andrew M. Wiesenthal.

Information technology can be applied in health care in a more versatile manner than at present. “The technology already exists. The challenge is to make organisational and operative changes to introduce innovations. Ultimately, the changes are made to serve the citizens,” said Esko Aho, President of Sitra.

The seminar was recorded on video and viewable on Sitra

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Chinese Google" in court again

Seven music companies and Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, agreed to attempt mediation yesterday on the first day of an eye-catching copyright trial.

Four music giants are suing Baidu, dubbed "the Chinese Google," for infringing the copyright of 137 songs and are seeking 1.67 million yuan (US$206,000).

The companies Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony BMG and their local subsidiaries, Cinepoly, Go East and Gold Label and Baidu said, however, that the judge will resolve the case if no agreement can be reached.

The two parties reached no agreements during a five-and-a-half-hour hearing at Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court. It was the second time NASDAQ-listed Baidu has been in court this month. On September 16, the People's Court of Haidian District in Beijing ordered Baidu to pay 68,000 yuan (US$8,400) to mainland music company Shanghai Busheng Music Culture Media for unauthorized downloads of 46 songs. Baidu has appealed.

The two suits against Baidu are the world's first targeting MP3 downloads from a search engine.

Analysts say what the music companies most want is the suspension of the service that allows Internet users free access to copyright material. Some believe that the suits might herald the end of free MP3 downloads in China, which are popular with youngsters.

At yesterday's hearing, the plaintiffs claimed Baidu has made it easy for users to download illegal copies of their songs.

The companies alleged they had never entrusted Baidu to make the 137 songs available on the Internet, and asked Baidu to immediately stop providing online displays and download services for these songs.

At present, Internet users may use Baidu's search engine to locate copies of music stored on the web. When a user clicks on a particular song, the engine provides a direct link to the site where the file is stored.

Baidu defended itself as a neutral search engine that is simply providing the basic service offered by all engines. Baidu said that it does not upload songs itself, nor does it provide online displays or download services to its users.

Furthermore, Baidu insisted it has always advocated improving copyright protection on the Internet and promises to provide relief and protection if a company can prove it owns the right to a song.

Baidu said it was willing to work with music companies to explore new business models to provide a legal platform for music searches.

Recently, Netease, one of the top three web portals in China, shut down its MP3 search function over similar concerns. Most of Netease's income, however, comes from online gambling.
For Baidu, however, MP3 searches are a core business, which contributes 22 per cent of its online traffic. The songs cited in the suits represent only a small part of the songs that are available through Baidu's MP3 searches.

Lee starts job as boss of Google in China

Kaifu Lee, a target in the on-going fight between Microsoft and Google, has taken up his post as Google's head in China with the aim of recruiting 50 college graduates this year.

Lee, former vice-president with the US software giant Microsoft, said yesterday in Beijing, "We have a lot of expectations for our Chinese operations and the Chinese market."

Speaking after he received permission to work for the search engine in China, he said that Google's development centre in China will be established very soon.

Google has been deciding where to put the centre between Beijing and Shanghai. Lee said his company will make a decision soon.

It already has a representative office in Shanghai and has signed deals with several advertisement agents, preparing for the formal launch of its business in China.

The search giant plans to build a world-class centre in China, which will not only work on the localization of its products and services, but also on cutting-edge technologies for its global operations.

The top Chinese scientist at Google said his job is to hire at least 50 college graduates by the end of this year, as the job-hunting season for graduate students starts this month.

"We are here not to steal talent from other companies, but train local people," he said.

Lee, who enjoys a high reputation among Chinese students for his success in companies including Microsoft and Apple, promised he would lead the 50 new students personally and make them into top-class computer scientists.

He added that since the graduates can only begin work after their graduation in the middle of next year, his firm will also try to recruit engineers from within the industry.

Microsoft Research Asia, which was founded by Lee in 1998 in Beijing, also said yesterday it would aim to recruit 100 to 150 graduates this year.

Although the Chinese scientist received permission to work for Google from a US local court, he was not allowed to work on any projects similar to ones he had worked on at Microsoft.

The world's largest software firm sued Lee and Google for the breach of a non-compete agreement between Microsoft and Lee in July and demanded the court stop Lee from working at Google for one year following his departure from Microsoft.

The court gave Lee the green light to work at Google, but it still needs to rule in January on what jobs Lee can work on at Google so currently his main job is to find employees for his new firm in China.

China opens hearing on income tax threshold

China's top legislature held its first-ever legislative hearing on Tuesday, aiming to enhance legislative transparency and to promote democracy in legislation.

The hearing is on lifting the cutoff point of the personal income tax from 800 yuan (98.8 US dollars) to 1,500 yuan (185 US dollars), a major move for amendment to the Law on Personal Income Tax.

Some 40 people from various walks of life and various regions across the country, selected from nearly 5,000 applicants, attended the hearing, with 20 as speakers of the general public.

Their opinions will provide an "important basis" for the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, to make amendments to the personal income tax law.

The cutoff point, the first in more than 20 years, is to be raised to meet the rising wage level, cost of living and inflation.

"A major principle is to ensure the threshold of income tax payment will not affect the people's life as they have to pay more for housing and education, medical services," said a high-ranking taxation official.

During the morning session, 16 representatives from various social sectors voiced their opinions. Representatives from government departments and provinces were also given eight minutes each for an individual speech.

A survey of the 20 speakers conducted before the hearing shows 85 percent of them favor raising the personal income tax threshold above 1,500 yuan.

Yang Jingyu, chairman of the NPC Law Committee, said that the adjustment of the threshold has aroused great concern among the general public.

By holding the first-ever public hearing for such an important legislation, "we are collecting the wisdom and proposals of people from all walks of life."

"It is also a major step to increase legislative transparency and democracy," Yang said.

China put in force a law on legislation on July 1, 2000, which says the standing committees of people's congresses should solicit opinions from various sides on making laws and regulations. The opinion-collecting process may take various forms, including symposiums, debate sessions or hearings.

By the end of 2004, 24 provincial legislative bodies had held 38 legislative hearings on regional draft laws and regulations concerning market administration, protection of consumers' rights,the environment and resources, construction of urban utilities andother major issues of public concern.
According to Peng Zhenqiu, a deputy to the NPC, all the opinions raised in these hearings were well considered when the provincial lawmakers formulated the local laws and regulations.