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Shanghai Municipal Government Press Conference Memo (May 31)
1/6/2007 16:34

1. Shanghai Morning Post: Thank you. I am a reporter from the Shanghai Morning Post. I have three questions to ask. The first one is about the social security policy, released just now, on disabled people who suffer serious handicaps. I think the disabled will be quite eager to know when the policy will be put into effect. How will those who are supposed to be entitled to the policy apply for this medicare program? In addition, the major targeted group of the policy is those heavily disabled people who have not been covered by any insurance program. I also want to ask how many disabled people are registered in the city. Some of them may have some abilitity to work. Then, does the government have any measures to help them participate in working? Another two questions. Some media last week reported that the construction of the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev line had been suspended. I am not sure if the news is true? Could you give more details? Another question is about real estate. Also last week, some news said there would be some adjustment in the transaction tax on second-hand house. Is it true? If there is an adjustment, when will it be enacted citywide from a trial basis in some areas? And why the adjustment is needed?

Jiao Yang: First of all, I give an answer to the question about the basic medicare program for those seriously handicapped people without any insurance. The reporter raised several practical questions and paid much attention to details, such as how many people, how to help them and how to apply. I will pick up several key points to reply.

The policy has been passed at a regular meeting of the municipal government. The city¡¯s medicare authority, the association of the disabled, the labor and social security bureau, the finance bureau and the civil affairs bureau will further improve the implementation plan, according to the requirements of the municipal government. The detailed rules are being drafted. We need to set up a database on the city¡¯s seriously handicapped people without any social insurance. It takes time to develop and test the computer system and to train the staff to be engaged in the work. Therefore, the involved authorities are addressing their efforts to the preliminary work. As for the time when the policy will become effective, the municipal government requires the authorities to strive to launch the operation of the policy in July. Then those heavily handicapped people will enjoy a basic medicare program and benefit from the achievements of the reform and opening-up strategy.

The following is some basic information on the city¡¯s seriously handicapped people. I mentioned just now that Shanghai has about 35,000 seriously handicapped people, and there are a total of 269,000 disabled people registered in the city. About 168,000 are of working age. At present, about 120,000 are employed. A minimum income policy has been introduced for heavily handicapped people who are unable to work. About 35,000 such people have been covered.

As for the procedure of the application for the medicare program, the entitled seriously disabled people can file an application with the association of the disabled at their neighborhood committee, producing disability certificate, ID card, household register and a document issued by the district/county medicare authority to certify the applicant has not been covered by any medicare program. The neighborhood-based association of the disabled will accept the application. When the association at district/county level reviews the application, they will submit the information to the city¡¯s association of the disabled. Reviewed by the city-level association and the municipal civil affairs bureau, the information of those qualified applicants will be provided to the municipal medicare authority. The authority will issue a certificate of medical treatment for the applicant.

The reporter also asked some other questions just now. As we inquired of the related authorities about the suspension of the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev project, they haven¡¯t received any notice on this issue. The reporter also asked a question about the tax on second-hand house transaction. There is no change in the current tax policies on second-hand house transaction. The Shanghai Local Taxation Bureau has clarified the issue on the city¡¯s major media. The taxation authorities at all levels in the city are explaining it to the taxpayers. Here I have nothing to update.

2. 21st Century Business Herald: In the logistics industry plan released today, the Yangshan Deep-Water Port is a much highlighted part. I want to ask several questions about the Yangshan Deep-Water Port. Some news said that the operation of the first phase and the second phase of the port needs a merger. The first phase is operated by Shanghai International Port Group, a state-owned company. But the second phase has foreign participation. Now the first and the second phases will merge. Is the news true? Have the investors of the third phase been nailed down? What is the proportion of the shareholding? And how about the next phases? Does Li Ka-shing¡¯s group intend to invest in the fifth phase, and is the negotiation under way? How is it going? Thank you.

Wu Zhenguo: The construction and the operation of the Yangshan Deep-Water Port draw everybody¡¯s attention. The port is a significant national project, approved by the State Council. It also has the country¡¯s first bonded port area approved by the State Council. The nine berths of the first and the second phases have been put into use. In 2006, the bonded area in Yangshan port handled 3.24 million TEUs. The total value of imports and exports amounted to US$48.2 billion. From January through April this year, the bonded port area saw a bigger development. The container throughput totaled 1.69 million TEUs during the period, and the total value of imports and exports reached US$22.7 billion, double that in the same period of last year. The third phase is under construction, and several berths of the facility are expected to be completed by the end of this year. These berths can be put into operation when they pass the national checks and receive the approval. I am not very clear about the information on shareholding the reporter talked about. You can consult the related authorities after the conference. I here want to reiterate that the Yangshan Deep-Water Port is an achievement of concerted efforts and cooperation between Shanghai and Zhejiang Province. It embodies Shanghai and Zhejiang¡¯s determinations and efforts to build Shanghai into an international shipping center. The management system of the Yangshan bonded port area is also a successful example of the cooperation between the city and the province, which is conducive to increased regional exchanges on the Yangtze River Delta and to Shanghai¡¯s construction of an international shipping center. Thank you.

3. CCTV: Thank you. I have a question about the construction of the maglev project. It is said that the residents along the planned route are so concerned about the electromagnetic radiation that up to 5,000 people complain to local authorities every day. How will the municipal government deal with the issue?

Jiao Yang: Shanghai municipal government always adheres to the principles of people oriented, scientific development and harmonious development. The State Council approved to conduct a feasibility study for the maglev project last year. The project is undergoing some preliminary work, including collecting opinions from various channels and improving the plan. The whole process reflects the prudence of municipal government on this issue.

4. Yomiuri: I have another question about the maglev train project. The line starts from Longyang Road, goes through the World Expo site, Shanghai South Railway Station and ends at Hong Qiao Airport. It is reported that the project has spurred a lot of complaints from the residents along the line. According to the current project, the safety distance between the houses and the maglev line is set at 22.5 meters. It is also claimed that residents living beyond the safety distance will not be affected by the radiation and as a result do not need to be relocated. What is the basis for setting the distance at 22.5 meters? I heard that the government has restricted the residents from taking interviews. What is your comment on this issue? Thank you.

Jiao Yang: In fact I have answered your first question when I responded the question from CCTV. I can explain again. The construction of the maglev line is going through the feasibility study, including the environmental issue you mentioned. The government is collecting opinions from experts and residents to improve the proposed plan at the moment.

As for your second question, I haven¡¯t heard of any restriction on interviews. According to No. 477 Order issued by the State Council, all interviews are open to foreign reporters during the preparation and the course of the Olympics. The municipal government will strictly comply with the regulations made by the central government. Please let us know if you have any problems.

5. Radio News Center: The 10th anniversary of Hong Kong¡¯s handover is approaching. I remember people once were worried that Shanghai would be a major rival of Hong Kong, while talking about the prospect of offshore logistics development. Today, we also mention the development of the Yangshan Deep-Water Port. Then, how will Shanghai cooperate with Hong Kong to develop offshore logistics together, and how will the two cities develop their own advantage for a sound competition?

Wu Zhenguo: The development of Shanghai and Hong Kong should include cooperation, mutual benefits and competition. Because of different geographical locations, the two cities have their own advantages. The Yangshan port situated on the center of the country¡¯s coastline and Hong Kong is in the country¡¯s south. The Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta will both obtain prosperity through mutual development. Competition between us also exists sometimes, but we both can benefit from it. In addition, our sound relationship of cooperation will help us exert our advantages to offset the other¡¯s disadvantages.

6. Agence France-Presse Shanghai branch: I¡¯d like to ask several questions about the maglev project. The project is in its preliminary stage. How far has the work to relocate the residents along the planned route proceeded? Is it ongoing or halted? The second question is if you will reach some agreements with some German technological companies. Have the agreement been clinched, or still in progress?

Jiao Yang: You have actually repeated my answer clearly. These are all the work in the preliminary stage.

7. Xinmin Evening News Community Edition: I am concerned about the issue of pork. Pork prices are soaring, which has also drawn the attention of Premier Wen Jiabao. Does Shanghai municipal government have any measures to cope with the issue?

Chen Haigang: I really appreciate media¡¯s attention to the issue concerning people¡¯s living. Pork is an important agricultural product and a daily necessity. Pork prices are affected by both cost and the relation between supply and demand. The city saw a steady increase in the consumption of pork in the recent years. The growth of pork consumption was not the fastest in consumer goods. The current change in pork prices basically matches up to the factors, including the increased cost.

People have noticed pork prices surged recently. I mentioned just now that this is a result of both an imbalanced supply and demand relation and the increased cost. During the same period of last year when pork prices were quite low, our urban residents couldn¡¯t realize the toil of raising pigs in rural areas. At that time, a live pig was sold at only more than three yuan a kilogram. Now the price is more than six yuan per kg. All pig raisers then suffered losses. The media might have not noticed the pig raisers were losing enthusiasm. So, now the supply of live pigs has declined. The second factor is the increased cost. Affected by the international market, prices of major feedstuff, such as corn, rose, which fueled the increase in pork prices.

Premier Wen Jiabao has pointed it out that the price hike gives farmers a signal that they can raise more pigs, while government agencies should pay attention to the rise of pork prices. The government should control and stabilize the price when it rises to a certain extent, to make sure urban residents can afford pork. The city¡¯s Party committee and the municipal government think a lot on the issue. The municipal government yesterday held a special meeting and discussed several measures. First, the city will beef up the cooperation between producers and sellers. Only 25 percent to 30 percent of the pork on the city¡¯s market is supplied by farmers in the city¡¯s suburban areas. More than 70 percent depends on the supply from other provinces and regions. Therefore, Shanghai should borrow the experience from the grain industry to strengthen the cooperation between producers and sellers.

Second, we will improve the organization of supply. At present, the supply on the market is ample. Media reports also said these days that pork prices have declined. We will strive to prevent price fluctuation caused by insufficient supply.

Third, we will step up the market management and supervision. The municipal government has done much job in this aspect.

Fourth, low-income residents, colleges and troops will receive financial support. We will give aid to low-income residents, following the city¡¯s minimum income policy. We have increased the amount of the cereal and an oil subsidy.

Finally, we hope media can tell residents that the municipal government has taken many measures to ensure a stable, sufficient and safe supply on the market. People have no need to worry about the issue.

8. Shanghai Daily: The auction price of private car plates has kept rising over the recent several months in Shanghai. It has almost reached a historic high. If the market demand rmains strong, will the city government consider increasing the quota, or other measures to prevent the price from surging too fast?

Wu Zhenguo: According to the practical condition of Shanghai¡¯s urban development, we will not change our principle to control the increase of new vehicles in the downtown area in the near future. And we will continue to step up efforts to develop public transport and give priority to public transport. The control and people¡¯s robust demand for car purchase will result in the increase in the auction price of private car plates. I believe the related government departments will properly cope with the relation between amount and price. If we don¡¯t control the increase of new vehicles in the downtown area, a prior development of public transport will never be realized, and the city¡¯s environment and road capacity are also unable to handle it.

Jiao Yang: As we all know, Shanghai government introduced the spokesperson system on June 3, 2003. Led by the city¡¯s Party committee and the municipal government and supported by all the reporters, the practice has proceeded for four years till today. The spokesperson team told me that we have held 101 press conferences during the period. This is the 101st conference today. On these 101 conferences, we released nearly 300 important government policies and government affairs updates. First of all, I want to thank every reporter for your support, participation and cooperation. Thanks to your efforts, much significant information of the city government has been recognized, comprehended and supported by citizens. Also, I here give my appreciation to our outstanding team, the working team of the city government¡¯s spokesperson. On the days when there was no press conference, they took a lot of phone calls from reporters, answered reporters¡¯inquiries, helped reporters solve interview problems and provided news services to domestic and foreign reporters.

We are gratified at the achievement we made in these four years. But we know we have a long way to go, before we build a service-, responsibility- and law-oriented government, as the city government promises. Therefore, we should keep learning and continue working hard to contribute to the realization of a fair, open and transparent information environment. The support of you reporters is also absolutely necessary.

Today¡¯s press conference is over. Thank you, every reporter and the two directors.