Lu Wei has been elected to the inaugural Coordination Council of the NETmundial Initiative for advancing Internet governance worldwide. He is the only member representing governments and intergovernmental organizations in Asia and Oceania in the agency.
Lu, 55, is minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is in charge of China's cybersecurity and Internet policy. A former journalist, he assumed the current post in May 2014 after having served as vice president of Xinhua News Agency, vice mayor of Beijing and vice minister of the State Council Information Office.
The NETmundial Initiative was launched in August 2014 by a coordinated action of the World Economic Forum, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee. The inaugural Coordination Council will be in place for a period of 18 months to ensure the development of the initiative during its startup phase.
University Reform Explorer
Chen Shiyi, a physicist, has been appointed the second president of the South University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, replacing Zhu Qingshi who recently retired. The university, known as the first autonomous institution of higher learning in the country, has established a council to oversee its operations, providing an alternative to the prevalent system of appointing officials to run universities.
Chen, 59, earned a PhD in mechanics from Peking University in 1987. He conducted mechanics research at Los Alamos National Laboratory of the United States from June 1987 to February 1990 as a post-doctoral fellow. From July 2002 to June 2004, Chen served as a professor and chair of Johns Hopkins University's Mechanical Engineering Department. He was elected as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in December 2013, one month following his appointment as vice president of Peking University.
Chen is widely recognized for his achievements in statistical theory, computation of fluid turbulence, mesoscopic physics and Lattice Boltzmann computational methods.
"We cannot afford to be penny wise and pound foolish, lest we meet one goal and lose another. We should also not live beyond our means or be more interested in the here and now while ignoring our long-term interests."
Xi Jinping, Chinese President, stressing the importance of environmental protection on January 22
"The point of making a safe and controllable IT environment is to better protect national security rather than ousting foreign firms."
Zuo Xiaodong, Vice President of the China Information Security Research Institute, on the recently published first security standard for the cloud-computing industry of China
"The government should reduce the intervention in industrial restructuring and focus on creating an innovative environment for economic transformation to increase efficiency and social fairness."
Li Wei, head of the State Council's Development Research Center, on the government's role as China enters a period of slower but steadier growth
"Although the target is lower than that for 2014, it will still take a lot of hard work to meet."
Huang Libin, a senior official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, announcing an 8-percent growth target for China's industrial output in 2015 on January 27
Can Smog Control Target Be Met?
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced on January 4 that the city's PM2.5--airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can enter the blood stream directly if inhaled--declined by 4 percent last year, with the number of days where heavy pollution was experienced dropping by 13 year on year.
The rate of decrease for the major air pollutant PM2.5 falls short of the 5-percent target laid out for last year in the city's Clean Air Action Plan 2013-17. If the rate is projected onto the next three years, the target of reducing PM2.5 by 25 percent by 2017 against 2012 level becomes unattainable.
Severe air pollution in China has pushed the government to launch a war against smog. In recent years, measures such as cutting down on coal use have been implemented across the country. China's capital Beijing has taken the most forceful measures including restrictions on car purchasing and removing heavily pollutant factories out of the city.
In intensity and scale, the measures taken by Beijing have dwarfed all efforts made elsewhere in China in the area of air pollution control. Despite all this, however, the municipality still failed to meet its goal for last year. Therefore, it is up in the air whether or not other cities can successfully reach their respective goals. What is certain is that the difficulties and pressures lying ahead will be of an unprecedented magnitude.
Heritage Protection Gains Urgency
In recent years, the importance of cultural heritage protection has been increasingly driven home. There are three ways in which culture is preserved: through written documents, cultural relics and the oral tradition. Of the three, cultural heritage is arguably more evocative and vivid than its other two counterparts and sails closer to historical reality, as history is inevitably embellished and exaggerated in the telling. It could be argued that cultural artifacts serve to compensate for some of the disadvantages of written documents.
Contemporary Chinese society lacks the appropriate level of awe for cultural relics that stand witness to history, which may account for the destruction of cultural relics in some areas. The evaluation system for officials should not overly focus on economic growth. In recent years, although officials' awareness of heritage protection has been improved, some have co-opted the field as a means of boosting their local economy, often to the detriment of what they were originally sworn to protect. For example, historical streets have been transformed into commercial hubs to earn profits. In reality, though, relatively few historical streets are fit for the purposes of either recreation or tourism.
Economic development and cultural heritage protection do not run contrary to one another but are equally important and indeed interdependent in nature. During the construction of the Three Gorges Dam--the world's largest hydropower facility--from 1994 to 2009, both goals were taken into consideration and a balance was struck between the two.
Simplifying Hospital Registration
In China, registering to see a specialist in a large public hospital often proves to be an arduous process. Although the government has wheeled out measures to tackle this problem, such as enabling registration via the phone and Internet, the difficulties inherent in the process have not been significantly abated.
Some old problems remain: Medical resources are inadequate; the popular belief that larger hospitals offer better-quality treatment than smaller ones leads to patients swarming to the former regardless of the severity of their illness; and the prevalence of registration ticket touts has made it even more difficult for patients to secure a registration number.
As patients' complaints mount, it is clear that more needs to be done by both hospitals and the health authorities. In addition to improving the quality of large public hospitals, more use should be made of their smaller, less busy counterparts. Private capital should be encouraged to invest in the area of medical services so as to boost supply of medical resources.
A more forceful crackdown should be imposed upon ticket dealers through measures such as restricting repeated registration. Those who fail to register after multiple attempts should also be accorded priority. Furthermore, patients who have already undergone basic treatment in community or private hospitals should be given preference in registering in big hospitals.
Finally, people should be guided to seek treatment for minor ailments in community hospitals in order to reduce pressure on their larger counterparts.