Mar 31

China Watch Blog has learnt that two major Chinese microblogging sites, and, have suspended comment functions after they were punished for allowing rumors to spread.

According to a Shanghai Daily report, the, run by Tencent, put up an online announcement this morning that it has decided to suspend comment function from March 31 to April 3 to clean up rumors and other illegal information spread through microbloggings.

The operated by Sina also released an announcement today saying it would suspend comment function during the above-mentioned period.

Chinese authorities have closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for “fabricating or disseminating online rumors”.

The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) and Beijing police said that those websites were closed for spreading rumors of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” which were fabricated by some lawless people recently.

Beijing police also detained six people for allegedly fabricating and spreading the above-mentioned rumors, particularly through microblogging posts, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security.

A spokesman with the SIIO also said with regard to a number of rumors having appeared on and, the two popular microblogging sites have been “criticized and punished accordingly” by Internet information administration authorities in Beijing and Guangdong respectively.

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Mar 31

China Watch Blog wishes to inform readers that tonight (Mar 31) at 8.30pm, Hong Kong joined hundreds of millions of people in over 6,400 cities across 150 countries and regions, and every continent in a moment of unprecedented global unity to show the way forward on sustainability by switching off its lights.

Hong Kong participates in Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2012 began at 8:30pm tonight for one hour and participation has reached record levels. The Hong Kong community, as in previous years, have shown overwhelming support for Earth Hour: The Government House, the Chief Executive’s Office and Legislative Council Complex participated in the lights-out event. In addition, over 3,300 companies and buildings, all universities and over 340 secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong have also supported WWF’s Earth Hour.

“Earth Hour itself might last just one hour, but its spirit surely goes beyond that. Our theme this year is ‘Go beyond the hour, set your own energy saving target’. We believe that every individual has the power to make a difference. With each of us having an energy saving target, we can reduce our energy consumption, and make Earth Hour every hour of every day,” says Trevor Yang, Chairman of WWF-Hong Kong.

Earth Hour is a symbolic event that clearly demonstrates that small actions such as turning off your lights for one hour can collectively make a difference. According to “Hong Kong Energy Index”, 26 percent more energy was wasted in the overall energy consumption in Hong Kong over the past two decades (1990-2008). This year, WWF is calling on people to support Earth Hour not only by turning off the lights for one hour in a year, but also by going beyond the hour and contributing to a sustainable future by doing their part at home every day.

Hong Kong’s famous skyline was dimmed from 8:30-9:30pm. Landmarks and iconic buildings participating in Earth Hour include: International Finance Centre, Manulife Financial Centre, International Commerce Centre, Exchange Square One, Two and Three, Jardine House, Cheung Kong Center, Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Pacific Place, Standard Chartered Bank Building, HSBC Building, Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, Tsing Ma Bridge, Mega Box, Festival Walk, SOGO Causeway Bay, One Island East, Sino Plaza, Central Plaza, 1881 Heritage, Sun Hung Kai Centre, Hopewell Centre and Nina Tower.

Besides the WWF event at Cultural Centre Open Piazza, WWF also organized a series of activities during the day including a tram parade and street promotion to invite Hong Kong citizens to celebrate and witness this memorable event together.

Just before the countdown, 150 maracas handmade by Earth Hour school ambassadors out of recycled bottles are being distributed to guests to count down with fun. The handmade maracas also demonstrate the spirit of maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. In addition, a number of spontaneous events will be held in homes and communities all over the city. Corporations have involved their staff in Earth Hour. In the catering industry, restaurants and hotels are dimming or switching off their lights. Shops have provided Earth Hour special offers and campuses are also participating in the lights-out event.

Standard Chartered Hong Kong 150th Anniversary Community Foundation continues to be the Lead Sponsor of Earth Hour in Hong Kong for the third consecutive year.

Around the world, citizens in 150 countries and regions have confirmed that they would switch their lights off for Earth Hour 2012. This includes a number of international landmarks such as the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Buckingham Palace in London, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Table Mountain in South Africa, and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro as well as the Sydney Opera House.

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Mar 31

China Watch Blog is considering a number of policies to boost the country’s imports and improve its trade balance, which include adjustments to import tariffs and measures to facilitate fund-raising and customs clearance for import enterprises.

According to a State Council, or cabinet, executive meeting presided by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday, China will cut import duties on some energy and raw material products, consumer products as well as some high-tech goods.

It said the country will put more attention on increasing imports, which will help improve people’s living standards and ease frictions with the country’s trade partners.

The country will also encourage commercial banks to support the imports of high-tech technologies, equipment, key parts as well as energy and raw material products, it said.

Other policies will include measures to expand fund-raising channels of import firms, improve the cross-border trade settlement in the yuan, cut import costs and remove irregular restrictions.

China is now the world’s largest exporter and the second-largest importer. The growth of its imports has recently outpaced exports as the country tries to increase domestic demand.

The countries’ exports rose 18.4 percent from a year earlier to $114.47 billion in February, while imports were up 39.6 percent, the highest growth in 13 months, to $145.96 billion, according to customs data.

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