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  • CHINA DRAFT COUNTERTERROR LAW STRIKES FEAR IN FOREIGN TECH FIRMS

    China is weighing a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys and install security "backdoors". A parliamentary body read a second draft of the country's first anti-terrorism law and is expected to adopt the legislation by the end of 2015.

    The initial draft, published by the National People's Congress late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related internet content. Its scope reaches far beyond a recently adopted set of financial industry regulations that pushed Chinese banks to purchase from domestic technology vendors.

    The implications for Silicon Valley companies, ranging from Microsoft to Apple Inc., have set the stage for yet another confrontation over cybersecurity and technology policy, a major irritant in U.S.-China relations. The Obama administration has conveyed its concerns about the anti-terrorism draft law to China; although the counterterrorism provisions would apply to both domestic and foreign technologies, officials in Washington and Western business lobbies argue the law, combined with the new banking rules and a slew of anti-trust investigations, amount to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies.

    Beijing has argued the need to quickly ratchet up its cybersecurity measures and in December 2014, China's banking regulator adopted new rules that outlined security criteria that tech products in 68 categories must meet in order to be considered "secure and controllable" for use in the financial sector. To attain the designation, source code powering operating systems, database software and middleware must be registered with the government if they are not domestically developed.

    James Zimmerman, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the latest rules, if implemented, would likely limit opportunities for U.S. companies, but could also backfire on China.

    The National People's Congress did not respond immediately to a request for comment and Apple and Google declined to comment on the proposed law, while Microsoft was not immediately available for comment. China is drafting the anti-terrorism law at a time when Chinese leaders say the country faces a serious threat from religious extremists and separatists: hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in the far western region of Xinjiang in unrest the government has blamed on Islamists who want to establish a separate state called East Turkestan.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Reuters)

  • HONG KONG LAUNCHES DOMAIN MONITORING SERVICE TO PROTECT ONLINE BRANDS

    Hong Kong Internet Registration Coporation(HKIRC) has launched the first .hk domain name monitering service for brand owners.

    The domain name is .hk WATCH, which is now open for all brand owners. It monitors ".hk" domain names, yet is does not imply the search label must be ending with ".hk". By using this method, customers with other Top Level Domains (TLDs) can find out all .hk domain names which are identical, similar or feature common misspellings of their search label (s), also those combining prefix/suffix 'wildcards'.

    The .hk WATCH service closely monitors .hk domain names to identify those which are identical, similar or feature common misspellings of a name, trademark or service mark, as well as those combining prefix/ suffix “wildcards” with trademarks, effectively tackling possible attempts of .hk domain names being used for cybersquatting and typosquatting activities.

    This service also provides an initial report for subscribers, showing existing .hk domain names which resemble the brand name(s) or mark(s). The search runs daily, checking for newly registered .hk domain name that meets the search criteria. It keeps brand owners updated in a timely manner, alerting them if there is malicious activity.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Asia IP Law)

     

  • ONE YEAR ON AFTER “WAR” DECLARED ON POLLUTION, BEIJING AIR SCARCELY IMPROVES

    Air pollution levels in and around Beijing remained dire last year, underlining the scale of effort that will be needed to win the self-declared “war on pollution".

    The area surrounding Beijing accounted for the worst air pollution in China, with Hebei home to six cities judged to have the country’s worst air quality.

    Given the scale of the problem, few will have expected China to make a big improvement to its air quality in just a year since premier Li Keqiang said that tackling chronic air quality would be a national priority. But the figures show that heavily-industrialised areas surrounding the capital are still churning out harmful particulates on a massive scale despite  the announcement of policies last year aimed at curbing coal use. 

    Hebei's reliance on heavy industry, particularly iron and steel, means that targets on cutting pollution and coal use could stoke unemployment and migration to nearby Beijing, and local officials want more economic aid and subsidies to cushion the blow. 

    Experts argue China is still underfunding its “war on pollution”. In 2013, China’s environmental spending fell by almost 10% despite premier Li Keqiang’s much-publicised commitment to tackling pollution.

    This falls far short of what is needed to address problems of air pollution, much of which stems from the burning of coal for power generation and heating, and fuels used in cars and trucks.

    Dealing with pollution was a major theme at the National People's Congress in Beijing in March 2015, when Communist Party officials discussed how measures to clean up China's air, soil and water can be integrated in the 13th five-year-plan.

    The MEP data shows that only eight out of 74 big cities managed to meet national standards last year on a series of pollution criteria, including PM2.5 and sulphur dioxide levels.

    The gLawcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

  • CHINA’S TOP COURT MAY LEAN ON LOCAL GOVT TO ENFORCE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

    The official newspaper of China’s Supreme Court has castigated local officials in Wuhan for not doing more to protect the city’s residents from two-recently built waste incinerators. Critics say the incinerators are located near schools and water treatment facilities that are in breach of environmental laws.

    A lack of enforcement by central government will lead to challenges to the new environmental protection law, damaging the credibility of the law. The judiciary is positioning itself more clearly and increasing awareness of its independence, rather than dependence on the government. Previously, courts would not risk holding local officials to account, making it difficult to enforce environmental laws. China’s courts have long been subordinate to the authority of the Communist Party but the central government, mindful of the political impact of environmental breaches, has approved a more independent track for the judiciary to prosecute wrongdoers. But in the case of the Wuhan waste treatment plants, no legal hearing has been scheduled. That means that the responsibility of pursuing the Wuhan incinerator cases rests with local courts rather than the city government.

    The two facilities, located side-by-side, are close to two kindergartens, an elementary school and homes to 30,000 people. Although the household waste plant was temporarily closed at the end of 2013 after the Hubei Environmental Protection Department found its operation illegal, it soon started operating again despite no approval having been given by environmental protection authorities.

    China’s new environmental law, which came into effect on 1st, January 2014, is intended to beef up protection for residents against breaches of environmental controls. But during its first month, activists have expressed worries about its implementation, in particular, local governments have put pressure on courts to be lenient, or even ordered them not to accept cases. The Wuhan case has highlighted this problem.

    In August 2014, a court in Wuhan declined to hear a case brought by five residents living near the controversial waste treatment plants. According to an investigation, both incinerators are illegally releasing harmful substances, but local residents protesting against the plants have been detained.

    This case shows that environmental cases are often complex: government failings and misconduct are often the main reasons for pollution caused by companies; relocating the incinerators would be a huge problem for the local government, and so is claimed to have interfered with the court’s handling of the case.

    The main problem is that environmental problems are common, but judicial redress is largely unavailable.

    The successful implementation of the new environmental protection law will depend on local government: to solve China’s environmental problems requires balancing the needs of protecting the environment and fostering economic growth, and it is often local government that has to find that balance, but implementation of the new law will be extremely difficult, mainly because of the close links between business and local government.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

     

  • MINISTRY: SUBSIDIES COMPLY WITH WTO RULES

    China's measures to offer subsidies to manufacturers in certain industries is in conformity with World Trade Organization rules and will help the country ship more quality products to the world market.

    The comment came after the Office of the United States Trade Representative challenged China at the WTO, claiming that the Chinese government offers subsidies for the exports of seven industries through "demonstration bases" that receive free or discounted services from suppliers. .

    Given current global economic conditions, building model manufacturing bases and public service platforms to offer subsidies to cash-starved domestic companies is a practical way for them to seek and gain new market growth points, as well as improving the technical content and environmental protection standards of their products. The ministry expressed its regret over the matter and said all disputes will be resolved under the WTO rules and the analysts said the US' chances of winning its complaint at the WTO over alleged Chinese export subsidies to seven domestic industries are mixed, that subsidies cited by the US resemble in part tax breaks that local, state and the federal governments hand over to American firms.

    The seven sectors of the Chinese economy involved with the subsidies cited by the US complaint are textiles, apparel and footwear; advanced materials and metals (including specialty steel, titanium and aluminum products); light industry; specialty chemicals; medical products; hardware and building materials, and agriculture.

    This case will directly affect negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership since China is not a participant in the talks. TPP is a proposed free-TRADE deal covering the US, Canada and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region (not including China) that has been under discussion since 2005.

    Last year, the WTO sided with the US in at least two trade disputes. In June, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing extra duties on US cars and sport utility vehicles. In August, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing duties and quotas on exports of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. Those export restraints promote China's own industry and discriminate against US companies using those materials.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: China Daily)

     

  • CHINA AIMS TO DOUBLE PATENT APPLICATION IN FIVE YEARS

    China is becoming a superpower of innovation and Beijing has set an agenda to double the number of Chinese patent applications in the next five years.The number of patent applications is expected to reach 14 per 10,000 habitants by 2020, compared with six this year and four in 2013.

    Improving the country's agricultural technologies, especially in grain production, is a major priority during the period, along with having more globally competitive enterprises with overseas patents.

    The announcement comes after the easing of curbs on importing genetically-modified corn from the United States, with the two countries reaching an agreement in trade talks last month that would lift a ban on certain varieties of genetically modified organisms, which had been approved by the US but not by China.

    The number of Chinese patent applications rose 26.4 per cent in 2013, representing more than 32 per cent of global submissions. In contrast, Japan and Europe posted a decline for the same period.

    At this regard, the director general of WIPO, Francis Gurry said China was on a journey to becoming "created in China" from "made in China".

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Asia IP Law)

     

  • SAFEGUARDING FOOD PRODUCTION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE NEEDS URGENT MEASURES

    Rising temperatures are sure to have a big impact on China’s grain output and food security over the next 20 to 50 years.

    Climate changehas two main positive effects on grain output; northward migration of crops and less frost damage. By lifting average temperatures above 10°C for more of the year, climate warming has lengthened the growing season, and the biggest change is being felt in the middle latitudes of the North China Plain, a major region for wheat, maize and dry-rice farming.

    Climate warming has already moved crop boundaries north to varying extents. Benefits are visible in Hebei, where a more northerly boundary for winter wheat planting has raised yields by roughly 25% in wheat growing areas and furthermore, rice farming has also moved north.

    Warmer weather is also reducing frost damage to crops, and the area suitable for late-maturing crops will expand. However, it is not all good news. Extreme weather linked to climate change could cancel out the effect of increased yields, resulting in lower grain harvests.

    When it comes to negative effects, drought is the prime culprit. Climate expert Zhang Cunjie has predicted that total precipitation in northern China will fall over the next 10 years. Although small localized increases may take place in some years, overall north China will remain dry. Meanwhile, south China will suffer crop damage from high temperatures and worsening summer droughts. Although the south enjoys plenty of precipitation, it is not evenly spread over the year, or geographically.

    Moreover, in recent decades, China has suffered frequent regional floods due to heavy rainfall, though uncontrolled deforestation has also played a role, with consequent financial losses.

    Widespread outbreaks of pests and diseases are another problem of warmer weather as it helps them survive, breed and spread. Agricultural pests and diseases currently affect 20 billion hectares of land each year and cut grain output by about 9%. Climate warming itself will also affect the growth and quality of crops. Without new, adaptive technologies, crops will grow faster, and will be lower quality, stripping away some of the positive effects of a longer growing season. For example if temperatures increase by 1°C, rice needs 2 weeks less to grow. One outcome, less tilling time, would mean fewer, smaller grains of rice, and a lower overall harvest. Wheat and corn would be similarly affected.

    Several measures can be taken to counteract these problems. Technological improvements and crop strains that are more resistant to high temperatures, drought, floods, disease and pests are essential. More construction of agricultural infrastructure, and research and popularization of water-saving in agriculture are also needed.

    Higher temperatures will mean that double cropping can be carried out further north, and wider application of double cropping will help increase rice harvests. The introduction of new crop varieties, and technological advances would result in more significant increases in national grain output. In a scenario of comprehensive adaptation to climate change, by 2020 China’s grain output will have increased by 28.6%. Growth will be seen in five grain-growing areas, with particularly large increases in the north and north-east, where grain harvests as a percentage of national totals will increase from 31.1% in the base year to 39.4%.

    The gLawcal team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)