BEIJING – Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday stressed the CPC’s leadership over auditing work and the vital role of auditing in Party and state supervisory system.

Efforts should be made to establish a centralized, unified, comprehensive, authoritative, and efficient auditing supervisory system, so that auditing can play a better role in Party and state supervisory system, he said.

President Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission and head of the central auditing committee, made the remarks when presiding over the first meeting of the committee.

He said the reform of auditing management system and the formation of the central auditing committee are both important measures to strengthen the CPC’s leadership in auditing.

He stressed coordinated efforts in national auditing work and called for improved allocation of auditing resources.

Also attending the meeting were Premier Li Keqiang and Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Zhao Leji, who are both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice directors of the central auditing committee.

The central auditing committee should strengthen its top-level design as well as planning and coordination, Xi said.

Efforts should be made to expand the scope and depth of auditing, and eliminate blind spots in supervision, Xi said.

Auditing institutions should step up efforts in tracking the implementation of key policies of the CPC Central Committee, revealing all sorts of risks in the country’s economic and social work, and auditing key projects and funds associated with people’s livelihood, he said.

Party and government officials at all levels should support and cooperate with auditing work, voluntarily accept auditing supervision in accordance with the law, earnestly rectify problems found out by the audits, and carefully study and then accept suggestions raised by auditors, he said.

The meeting approved documents including work rules of the central auditing committee and audit reports on the implementation of the 2017 central budget and other fiscal expenditures.

The IC434 Horsehead Nebula of Orion that took by Xu Weibin in November 2017 in Fengxian district’s Nanqiao town, Shanghai. [Photo provided]

An astronomy photo of the Rosette Nebula, a cloud of interstellar dust and gas located about 5,000 light years away in the constellation of Monoceros, has been published in the latest issue of Amateur Astronomer.

The photo was taken by Chinese photographer Xu Weibinin Shanghai’s Fengxian district, where he believes provides the best observation point and has the least light pollution in the city. Most of the works were shot in Fengxian.

Xu, who picked up astrophotography in 2006, has taken more than 300 astronomical photos in the past 13 years. Many of them, including images of the M27 Dumbbell Nebula of Vulpecula, the M51 Triangulum Galaxy and the M51 Canes Venatici of Spiral Galaxy, have been published in Amateur Astronomer and the Chinese National Astronomy.

Potential homebuyers examine property models at a real estate firm in Chongqing. [Photo by Sun Kaifang/For China Daily]

Young people in failing marriages are usually determined to divorce, even if they have difficulty dividing or selling their homes. However, when middle-aged and older couples encounter relationship problems, the challenge of rocketing property prices means they usually choose to abandon the idea of splitting up, according to experts.

“Sky-high house prices in big cities make it hard for some couples to split their apartment in two, which forces them to continue their broken relationship and continue to live together,” said Shu Xin, director of the Weiqing Group, a relationship counseling agency in Shanghai.

Lu, a 65-year-old Shanghai native who preferred to only give her surname, said her marriage became rocky soon after she gave birth to her daughter three decades ago, because her husband began to think he was not the girl’s biological father.

“Fights and quarrels became part of our daily life, but we didn’t separate because I wanted to give my daughter a comfortable home during her teenage years,” Lu said.

For decades, she and her daughter have lived in separate bedrooms, while her husband lives in the sitting room.

The family does not even eat meals together. “He cooks every day, and after he finishes cooking, each of us chooses some food from the kitchen and takes it to our separate rooms to eat,” she said.

A year ago, Lu’s husband requested a divorce, but sky-high housing prices made that almost impossible, she said, adding that their apartment, in the heart of Xujiahui, one of Shanghai’s best-known commercial and shopping centers, is valued at about 7 million yuan ($1.04 million).

“If we sold the apartment and divided the money, we could only buy a small apartment each in the suburbs. We are used to life here; it’s very convenient for hospitals and close to relatives’ homes. Moreover, our daughter, who is single, lives with us and works nearby,” Lu said.

Zhang Lili, 67, said that if she and her husband could divide their house satisfactorily, they would have divorced about 10 years ago because of sharp differences in personality and her mother-in-law’s endless involvement in their everyday life.

The couple owns an apartment worth nearly 4 million yuan in Shanghai’s Putuo district. Their son has been away home for more than a decade, and he is currently working in Japan.

“We were both laid off in the late 1990s. It’s impossible for either of us to pay 2 million yuan to the other or spend more than 3,000 yuan a month to rent a new place,” she said.

In their 60-plus-square-meter home, they occupy separate bedrooms, and there are two electric cookers in the kitchen along with two rubbish bins. There are two bins in the bathroom, too.

Fang Mo, chief relationship and marriage counselor at the dating website, said the fact that unhappy middle-aged and elderly couples are more prone to staying together is related to the traditional belief in conservative choices and the traditional sense of shame associated with divorce.

“Moreover, people born in the 1950s and ’60s usually have a strong sense of the collective and family. They pay more attention to what other people in a group are feeling, while the single-child generation born in the 1980s and ’90s care more about their individual feelings,” she said.

Soaring house prices have also resulted in more middle-aged and senior lonely hearts, who are seeking love after a divorce or the death of their spouse, opting to cohabitate – something quite unthinkable in conservative Chinese tradition – rather than undertaking a registered marriage, according to relationship experts.

In the past five years, at least 80 percent of seniors seeking a permanent partner said they would choose to move in together rather than remarry, according to dating agencies. That means many alternate between homes and also keep their finances separate, mainly because of overwhelming objections from children on both sides.

“The intention of the majority of those who don’t remarry is to prevent future problems, mainly regarding the division of property after death. The upsurge in house prices in recent years has seen property wrangles become a main source of complaints among the younger generation,” said Huang Huiming, who has worked for a professional matchmaking agency in Shanghai for 20 years.

BEIJING – Another of China’s most wanted graft fugitives returned to China Friday, surrendering to the police and returning bribes he had taken, according to an official statement.

Lai Mingmin (aka Lai Min), was among China’s top 100 fugitives listed on an Interpol Red Notice. He used to be the president of the Jiangmen branch of Bank of China located in South China’s Guangdong province.

He fled to Australia in August 2001 and was listed on an Interpol Red Notice in December 2005. A total of 53 fugitives on the notice have been seized.

Lai is the second overseas fugitive to turn himself in after information on 50 fugitives suspected of duty-related or economic crimes was released June 6.

The information, including the fugitive names, photos and possible current whereabouts, was exposed by an office in charge of fugitive repatriation and asset recovery under the central anti-corruption coordination group.

Newly appointed judge assistants take their oath as they assume their posts in Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

Shanghai will begin selecting new judges from the ranks of its judge assistants-a position created five years ago as part of the city’s wide-ranging judicial reform.

Up to 160 judge assistants, who serve in the city’s district and intermediate courts, will be promoted and assume new roles by the end of the year, the Shanghai High People’s Court announced.

Nearly 300 candidates took written tests on Sept 2 and will go through simulated court hearings and qualification tests in mid-September.

“We believe the size of the talent pool is big enough, and that the people are ready in terms of professional capability and maturity,” said Wei Jianping, a senior official at the high court.

The average work experience of the candidates is 6.6 years.

The role of judge assistant was created by the Supreme People’s Court in 2012 as part of its effort to streamline personnel, increase efficiency and reduce the workload of judges.

Unlike court clerks, who mainly handle administrative tasks such as filing and taking notes, judge assistants preview case files, coordinate mediation hearings and handle the exchange of evidence, which were all previously a judge’s responsibility.

“When court assistants shoulder the time-consuming tasks, such as pretrial mediation, judges can be more focused on hearing cases,” said Zhang Xiaoli, director of the general political department of the court.

When the reform was rolled out, judges had to reapply for their jobs, with only the best qualified chosen. Others were reassigned as judge assistants, many of whom are law graduates and experienced court clerks.

Shanghai currently has 1,939 judge assistants assigned to help 1,108 judges.

The first round of promotions marks an important step, said Ye Qing, director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’s Law Institute.

“Chinese courts are moving forward in deepening personnel management reforms and building a more elite team of judges to respond to people’s high expectations of fairness and justice,” he said.

Candidates with spouses who are lawyers or serve the court in other capacities can only become judges if their spouses leave their positions, a measure designed to protect the courts’ impartiality, Zhang said.

Guo Weiqing, vice-president of the high court, said that from now on all the judges in the district courts will be selected from the pool of judge assistants, and those for the city’s intermediate courts and high court will be selected from the pool of judges from district courts.

The selection of judges from the judge assistant pool will be carried out once a year, he said.

BEIJING – China has launched a universal network covering the data of elder care facilities across the country, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Thursday.

Information recorded about these institutions in the network will include internal management, service quality, security management and staff profiles.

The ministry said it has started a training campaign on how to use the new network, and the first set of information will be entered by May 10.

China’s aging society is a major social issue. There are currently more than 220 million people over 60 years old in the country, or 16.1 percent of the population, and the numbers are growing.

Authorities have said they will streamline the approval process for elder care institutions to address challenges brought by the aging population.

SHIJIAZHUANG – Wang Xiaolin, former deputy director of the National Energy Administration, has been arrested, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Further investigation is underway as he is suspected of taking bribes, according to a statement issued by the people’s procuratorate of Hebei province.

Born in October 1963, Wang was appointed to the position at the administration in 2015 after working at Shenhua Group, China’s largest coal producer, for about 20 years.

He was expelled from the Communist Party of China and public office in April.

BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — China advocates low-carbon tourism, ecotourism, and responsible tourism, and hopes to contribute to the sustainable development of Arctic tourism, according to a white paper issued Friday.

As a source of tourists to the Arctic, China supports and encourages its enterprises to cooperate with Arctic States in developing tourism in the region, said the document titled China’s Arctic Policy, issued by the State Council Information Council.

China calls for continuous efforts to enhance security, insurance, and rescue systems to ensure the safety of tourists in the Arctic, said the white paper.

It explained China’s training and regulation of Chinese tourism agencies and professionals involved in Arctic tourism, and endeavors in raising the environmental awareness of Chinese tourists.

It also highlighted that China’s participation is on the condition that the Arctic residents, including the indigenous peoples, will truly benefit from the development of Arctic resources.

Telemarketers now required to ask customers’ permission to continue

A woman in Beijing shows spam messages on her mobile phone. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

China has launched a national campaign targeting nuisance calls, according to a directive published on Monday.

The campaign aims to consolidate law enforcement and technology to ensure people receive significantly fewer nuisance calls, according to the directive published on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s website.

Nuisance calls cover a wide range of unwanted or unsolicited calls, including prank calls and telemarketing calls.

Led by the ministry, 13 central-level authorities, including the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People’s Court, will oversee the campaign, which will run until December of next year.

Authorities will crack down on acts of illegally obtaining personal information, the directive added.

Local telecommunication administrators are required to step up management over voice communication services provided by telecom and internet companies, and heighten oversight over call centers.

Telecom operators also need to better supervise individual and corporate user behavior by drafting contracts that clearly spell out punishments to be meted out to those engaged in nuisance-call activities, according to the directive. Operators are required to report and intercept calls made using altered caller IDs, and improve the ability to identify physical locations of nuisance callers.

China’s three major telecom operators-China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom-said they are studying the directive to determine the best implementation measures going forward.

Telemarketing call centers are also required to ask customers’ permission before continuing with calls, and the calls themselves can only be made during reasonable hours of the day. Violators will receive administrative punishment if they call customers a second time after first being refused. Telemarketing calls from financial, real estate, medical, human resources and tourist service providers in particular will be strictly regulated in the future, the directive said.

Call centers will also be required to remove software used to make automated calls, while public security authorities are encouraged to crack down on the illegal sale of personal information, especially from those who work in industries including telecom, healthcare, education, property management and logistics, the directive said.

“I receive at least four nuisance calls a day, and I always immediately block the caller. But they use new numbers to call back,” said Zhang Xiaomeng, a Beijing businesswoman. “Everyone around me is very annoyed by such calls.”

Ma Si contributed to this story.