Archive for May 2016

IGF 2016 FAQs on Workshop and Open Forum Proposals

FAQs on IGF2016 Workshops

1. What is a workshop session? What is the purpose of workshops?

Workshops are sessions centred around a specific Internet governance-related topic or question. They should offer expertise or insight on the topic, and in the best cases, fulfil both a didactic purpose and generate discussion among participants. Some thematic areas covered by workshops include Cybersecurity, Human Rights, Privacy, Openness, and Critical Internet Resources.

Starting this year, workshop proposers can ‘write in’ their own themes in addition to, or instead of, selecting from a menu of pre-set themes.

2. Who can submit a workshop proposal?

Any person, or group of persons, from any stakeholder group – civil society, the technical and academic communities, the private sector, Government – may submit a workshop proposal. First-time proposers and proposers from developing countries and least developed countries especially are encouraged to make a submission.

3. How can I submit? What is the deadline?

All proposals must be submitted electronically through the form provided on the IGF website.

The deadline for submission is 6 June 2016.

4. What are some of the rules for submitting a proposal?

No more than 3 proposals from any one individual or institution will be accepted for consideration;
The subject matter of the workshop proposal must be of direct relevance to Internet governance;
Proposal must be complete and ready for consideration, with all fields of the proposal submission form completed;
Proposers who held a workshops at previous IGFs were required to have submitted a workshop report after the meeting. The proposer must provide a link to this workshop report in their new proposal for IGF2016. Proposals submitted by those who held workshops in the 2014 or 2015 IGF, but who failed to file a workshop report afterwards, will be declined.

5. Is there a fee for holding a workshop?

There is no fee of any kind for submitting a workshop proposal. There is also no fee for the room the workshop will occupy at the IGF, and no collateral cost for the IGF Secretariat’s promotion of the workshop as part of overall promotion of the IGF programme.

Personal costs, however, will apply to attending the annual meeting, including travel and hotel costs.

6. Will funding be provided?

On a limited basis, the IGF Secretariat will fund some participants to attend the annual meeting in the context of specific eligibility criteria. Please consult these here.

7. How is a workshop proposal evaluated? What happens if the proposed workshop is selected?

The IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) evaluates and selects all workshop proposals, consulting with the IGF Secretariat on organizational matters.

The final round of evaluation will take place this year during the MAG’s face-to-face meeting in July 2016. Once complete, the successful proposers and candidates for workshop mergers (please see question 10 below) are informed by email by the Secretariat. The selected workshops are then incorporated into the IGF2016 programme, taking into account, to the extent possible, the room and scheduling requirements of the organizers.

Organizers will be periodically requested by the Secretariat to update their workshop information and provide additional details on speakers.

8. Who are the speakers in a workshop? How can I find speakers for my workshop?

Proposers can include any speaker they deem fit for their workshop.

Proposers/organizers having difficulty finding speakers with the right expertise are invited to consult the IGF’s ‘roster of resource persons’. The rostered individuals, usually experts in their respective Internet governance fields, have volunteered to act as resource persons in IGF sessions upon request.

9. What is the length and format of a workshop?

The majority of workshops are 90 minutes-long, however this can vary depending on the format selected by the proposer. There are different format options with corresponding lengths (30, 60 or 90 minutes), as indicated in the Outline of Formats. Proposers may also select their own innovative formats and specify the appropriate length.

10. What is a ‘workshop merger’?

In a small number of cases, if a workshop proposal is very similar thematically and shows a great deal of synergy with another proposal, upon evaluation, the MAG will suggest the sets of organizers merge their sessions. This is also done to include proposals which are worthy but for which space in the programme has already run out.

Organizers are under no obligation to accept a merger, but risk losing the opportunity to hold their workshop.

11. Who will attend the proposed workshop?

Any in-person or online participant of the IGF annual meeting can attend a workshop, as it is a requirement for workshops to be open. IGF participants come from all stakeholder groups and regions.

12. What can I do to maximize my chances for a successful workshop proposal?

Consult the Guidelines and Considerations for workshop proposers before making your submission! These contain several useful tips for crafting appropriate and interesting proposals.

13. Who can I contact if I need more information?

Please get in touch with Ms. Eleonora Mazzucchi at the IGF Secretariat, at emazzucchi[at]unog[dot]ch.

Additional FAQs on IGF2016 Open Forums

1. What is an open forum session? What is the purpose of open forums?

Open forums are intended as platforms for Governments and organizations to showcase or discuss their recent Internet governance-related activities. They are not required to focus on a particular theme.

2. Who can submit an open forum proposal or request?

Governments and organizations dealing with Internet governance issues, including UN system and treaty-based international organizations, may submit open forum requests.

3. How can I submit? What is the deadline?

All proposals must be submitted electronically through the form provided on the IGF website.

The deadline for submission is 20 June 2016.

4. Is there a fee for holding an open forum?

There is no fee of any kind associated with holding an open forum.

5. How is an open forum proposal evaluated? What happens if the proposed open forum is approved?

Open forum proposals/requests are received and selected by the Secretariat, largely on the basis of available space in the programme and whether or not the organizers meet the requirements for who can propose (please see question 2 above). As stated on the IGF’s website, Governments and treaty-based international organizations will be given open forum slots on a priority basis.

Successful proposers will be informed by email by the Secretariat. Open forum sessions will then be incorporated into the IGF2016 programme, taking into account, to the extent possible, the organizers’ room and scheduling requirements.

Organizers will be periodically requested by the Secretariat to update their session information and provide any additional details.

6. What is the length of an open forum?

Open forums are 60 minutes-long.

7. Who will attend the open forum?

Any in-person or online participant of the IGF annual meeting can attend open forums, as it is a requirement for these to be open. IGF participants come from all stakeholder groups and regions.

8. Who can I contact if I need more information?

Please get in touch with Ms. Eleonora Mazzucchi at the IGF Secretariat, at emazzucchi[at]unog[dot]ch.

Guideline streamlines China’s court case filing process

A new guideline introduced last year has streamlined the process of filing court cases, China’s top court said on Tuesday.
By March, 14.2 million cases had been filed in Chinese courts, a 28.44 percent year-on-year increase. Of the total, 222,664 were administrative cases, up more than 60 percent year-on-year.
This follows a legal guideline adopted by the Supreme People’s Court last May, which requires Chinese courts to accept appeals without hesitation and reply to litigants in a timely manner.
The guideline also stipulates that a civil, criminal or administrative appeal should be accepted as soon as it is registered — previously a preliminary review of the merits of the case was carried out beforehand.
According to the top court, courts in four provinces — Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong — accepted more than 1 million cases after the guideline took effect.
Jiang Qibo, chief judge of the case filing tribunal under the top court, said that many grassroots courts were exploring new ways for residents to file lawsuits as they looked to speed up proceedings.
In Shanghai’s Pudong court, for example, a case can be accepted within 15 minutes thanks to a self-service system, “which improves the court’s work efficiency and reduces the waiting time”, Jiang said.
In Jiangsu province, case filing has also been moved online. Residents can submit case materials through the internet, or even using their smartphones, Jiang said, adding that 25,779 cases were accepted via the online platform in the province last year.
But the official warned that the increasing number of cases has also brought challenges as there is a general shortage of judges across the country.
It is also important to put measures in place that prevent residents from filing unnecessary or vexatious lawsuits, he said.

Smoking declines after increase in tobacco tax

Raising the tax on tobacco products in China resulted in a decrease in tobacco consumption in a country where nearly half of all men smoke, according to a World Health Organization report released on Tuesday.
In May last year, China’s Ministry of Finance announced the tax increase, and a series of other controls followed. The WHO estimates that the number of cigarettes sold in China between April 2015 and March this year fell by 3.3 percent from the same period a year before, the report said.
The decrease included a 5.5 percent reduction in sales in the cheapest class of cigarettes – indicating that low-income smokers cut back consumption the most, it said.
“This is good news, because it is people in the lowest socioeconomic groups in China who are most profoundly affected by the health and economic burdens caused by smoking,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO representative in China. “Tobacco use – in particular, the cost of tobacco-related illness such as lung cancer – can plunge people and families into poverty, and make it impossible for others to escape it.”
China has raised its tobacco tax three times beginning in 2009. “The tax now accounts for about 56 percent of the cigarette price per pack,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of ThinkTank, an NGO committed to tobacco control.
“These have just been baby steps. We hope for a target of 75 percent, which is recommend by the WHO for effective tobacco control,” she said.
Worldwide, China remains among the countries with the cheapest cigarettes, she said, adding that last year’s tax increase set the important precedent in China that the hikes should be passed on to the retail price of cigarettes to achieve the public health objective of reducing consumption.

New rule targets military corruption

Termination of the Chinese military’s commercial activities will strongly lessen incentives for military-related corruption while consolidating the PLA’s combat capability, military experts said.

“Some commercial fields engaged in by the People’s Liberation Army units are actually prone to corruption and other misconduct. The corruption case of Gu Junshan and those of other senior officers were closely connected to their involvement in businesses,” said Senior Colonel Gong Fangbin, a political education researcher at PLA National Defense University, referring to Gu, former deputy head of the PLA’s logistics authority, imprisoned in a embezzlement and bribery case.

“The military’s involvement in the commercial sector has also aroused suspicion about whether it properly uses defense funds,” he added. “Moreover, there have been concerns that the PLA would use its advantages in a race for profits and overpower civilian competitors.”

The closure of the PLA’s businesses would focus all of its concentration on honing combat readiness, he said.

On Saturday, the PLA and the Armed Police Force selected 17 units to be the first to close their commercial activities such as housing rentals, medical services and hospitality.

The move came after the death of Wei Zexi, a young university student who received experimental cancer treatment at a military hospital in Beijing, triggering a huge public outcry.

General Zhao Keshi, head of the Central Military Commission’s Logistical Support Department, said on Saturday that the chosen units are tasked with exploring effective ways to shut down businesses.

In March, the Central Military Commission ordered the PLA and the APF to end all commercial activities within three years. It told units to stop signing new contracts and to negotiate with civilian clients to try to cancel existing ones.

Gong said commercial activities usually exist in military hospitals, performance groups and publishing houses, major targets of the ongoing troop cuts announced by President Xi Jinping in September.

Chinese companies’ search widens for overseas professionals

Demand for skills grows as government pledges to introduce more imported talent for pillar industries

Chinese employers with a shortage of highly skilled workers have opened their doors wider to foreign talent.

The trend is being spurred by a new government manpower policy that encourages companies to hire directly from the international market.

Major international headhunting companies have benefited from the change, seeing robust growth in such business in recent years, a China Daily investigation has found.

Spring Professional, a subsidiary of leading human resources company Adecco Group, has operated on the Chinese mainland for more than 10 years.

It says that in the past three years, its annual revenue in China has grown by between 70 and 100 percent, thanks to the growing demand from Chinese companies for international staff.

“Three years ago, 80 percent of our business was to find candidates for multinationals in China. Now, more than 60 percent of our business has shifted to searching for international candidates for Chinese employers,” said Xiao Lirong, director for Beijing and Shanghai at Spring Professional.

“Besides the private sector, even State-owned enterprises have become our clients,” she said. State companies have traditionally relied on government agencies to introduce overseas talent.

Robert Parkinson, CEO and founder of RMG Selection, another international human resources company that focuses on China, said its annual placement for foreigners in Chinese companies has doubled in four years.

Parkinson said the demand for skilled technical foreign talent is growing as China moves from low-cost manufacturing to more diversified innovative business.

“In the past, foreign talent we searched for focused on marketing or selling. Now, Chinese companies increasingly need technical experts,” Parkinson said, adding that this business will continue to grow.

Minister: Gov’t guiding reforms via subsidies

The central government will provide financial support for corporate debt restructuring and training of laid-off workers, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank’s Board of Governors in Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday.

The Finance Ministry’s current priority, Lou said, is assisting China’s supply-side reforms and alleviating the fallout from the painful process of shedding overcapacity and piled-up debt.

Subsidies will support the restructuring of corporate debt and help train laid-off workers for new jobs as the coal and steel industries see shutdowns or shake-ups, Lou said.

He said China has not subsidized coal, though it has been accused by other countries of dumping cheap steel products worldwide and disrupting the global market.

Subsidies are also being provided to the country’s farmers, supporting tree planting and the use of organic fertilizers to help them shift to sustainable models, he said.

China has also stopped subsidizing diesel-fueled fishing boats and public buses, instead shifting money to clean-energy vessels.

Lou twice referred to Germany’s successful transformation from “the sick man of Europe” to an economic powerhouse in the 2000s, to make his case that reforms incur short-term pain but reap long-term rewards.

“Germany seized the opportunity and pushed through structural reforms,” he said. “As we all know, if we do not reform, we’ll fall off the cliff.”

In the early 2000s, Germany’s economy had gone from being a post-World War II miracle to a laggard in Europe after its bloated social welfare programs and narrow labor rules eroded the country’s competitiveness. By 2003, then-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was engaged in an overhaul.

In Lou’s view, Germany’s reform of its social welfare system and improvements in the flexibility of its labor market laid the foundation for the nation’s resilience in the face of the global financial crisis.

Wei Shangjin, chief economist of the ADB, agreed that money should not be used to shore up unprofitable companies in industries plagued by overcapacity, but rather should facilitate the formation of a “new economy” that includes channeling laid-off workers into other jobs.

Apple to appeal after losing trademark case in China

Apple Inc will appeal a trademark ruling to China’s Supreme Court after it lost a four-year fight against a Beijing leather-products maker.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court recently ruled in favor of Xintong Tiandi Technology (Beijing) Ltd, which sells a number of leather products such as smartphone cases and handbags under the name “IPHONE”, according to The Legal Daily, a Chinese state-run newspaper.

“Apple is disappointed the Beijing Higher People’s Court chose to allow Xintong to use the IPHONE mark for leather goods when we have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong,” Josh Rosenstock, Apple spokesman, told China Daily in an e-mail. “We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights.

“We work hard to make the best products in the world and want to ensure our customers’ experience is not compromised by companies who try to profit from using our brand,” he said.

The ruling was applauded by Xintong. In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese firm said, “From now on, ‘iphone’ is not only a smartphone! From now on, ‘iphone’ does not belong to Apple exclusively! This ruling means that the intellectual property of ‘iphone’ has been granted market freedom.”

According to The Legal Daily report last week, Apple applied for the iPhone trademark under international trademark class 9 (electrical and scientific apparatus) in China in 2002, but it wasn’t granted until 2013.

Xintong Tiandi filed for its IPHONE trademark in China in 2007 under international trademark class 18, which is leather goods. In the same year, Apple launched its first iPhone in the United States.

In order to obtain exclusivity on the iPhone trademark in China, Apple first took the case to the Chinese trademark authority in 2012, but it failed as the agency claimed Apple couldn’t prove iPhone was a well-known brand in China prior to Xintong Tiandi’s registration in 2007.

Apple then filed a lawsuit in a Beijing court. However, the court ruled against the California company, and Apple appealed to the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court. The high court upheld the lower court’s ruling, saying that the company didn’t sell the iPhone on the Chinese mainland until 2009.

Apple’s latest quarterly earnings showed a 13 percent drop in revenue as sales of iPhones slipped. China was a particularly weak spot as sales in China fell 26 percent to $12.49 billion.

“The failure of the trademark fight would not have a great impact on Apple’s brand and image but it might confuse consumers as they don’t know whether these products are made by Apple or some producers (copying) Apple’s name when they are buying leather products embossed with the ‘IPHONE’ brand,” said James Yan, a Beijing-based analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

Zhu Dalin, an analyst at Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, said the influence of Xintong Tiandi is minor and wouldn’t pose a threat to Apple anyway.

China’s manufacturing activity rebounds to nine-month high

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing activity rebounded in March to its highest level since last August, thanks to the government’s continued structural reforms, official data showed on Friday.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) came in at 50.2 in March, up from February’s 49, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 reflects contraction.

NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe attributed the rebound to the government’s pro-growth measures, as well as the rising demand in manufacturing imports and exports.

A price rebound for major international commodities spurred purchases. Technology upgrades also contributed to improvement in manufacturing sectors, said Zhao.

The sub-index measuring production stood at 52.3, up 2.1 points from a month earlier, with that for new orders settling at 51.4, up 2.8 points.

The sub-index for imports came in at 50.1, up 4.3 points from February, the highest reading since December 2013.

A separate survey by financial information service provider Markit, sponsored by financial media company Caixin, also showed improvement in Chinese manufacturers’ operating conditions.

The Caixin General China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an indicator of manufacturing activity, rose to 49.7 in March from 48 in February.

“All categories of the index showed improvement over the previous month,” said Caixin chief economist He Fan.

The output and new order categories rose above the neutral 50-point mark, indicating that “the stimulus policies the government has implemented have begun to take hold,” he said.

To help the country’s manufacturing sector weather the downturn, the Chinese government has cut interest rates, reduced taxes, slashed overcapacity and initiated reforms to improve efficiency.

In particular, the warming of the property sector has led to signs of recovery of the manufacturing sector, according a HSBC report.

China’s real estate investment rose 3 percent in the first two months of 2016 year on year, up from an increase of just 1 percent in all of 2015, official data showed.

Continued strong sales and more efforts to destock in third- and fourth-tier cities have boosted demand for related industries in both the manufacturing and services sectors, said HSBC.

However, it is still too early to conclude that a recovery has firmly taken hold in the domestic economy, said the HSBC report.

The NBS data showed that the employment sub-index was 48.1, indicating employment at manufacturing enterprises continued to decrease.

Additionally, the PMI for small and medium companies stood at 48.1 and 49.1, respectively, according to the NBS, showing their manufacturing activities had contracted.

“Considering that current conditions remain uncertain, the government needs to continue with moderate stimulus measures to reinforce market confidence,” said He Fan.

Further monetary and fiscal policy expansion can help stabilize property investment and support urbanization-related infrastructure spending, said the HSBC report.

“We believe that, combined with more actions to cut overcapacity, this represents the most appropriate strategy to anchor growth and counter deflation,” said the report.

Beijing leads way in standardizing ambulance fees

All ambulances in Beijing will be fitted with taxi-style meters as required by the municipal government in an effort to regulate fee-charging for ambulances in the capital.

The measure, which took effect on Sunday, is aimed at unifying the fees charged for transporting patients, according to a regulation recently released by several government departments in Beijing.

This makes the capital the first city in China to rely on meters for such fees, according to the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision.

A total of 580 ambulances in the city have been installed with meters, which have been tested by technicians to ensure they are accurate and reliable, the administration said.

Under the new pricing standard, patients can be charged up to 50 yuan ($7.70) for being transported by ambulance for up to 3 kilometers, and 7 yuan for every kilometer after that.

If an ambulance is called but not required, 50 yuan must be paid.

Beijing leads way in standardizing ambulance fees

The cost of pre-hospital emergency treatment in ambulances will be covered by the city’s basic medical insurance program, the regulation states.

Different standards are currently used to calculate transportation fees by ambulance in many areas of China, which has sometimes led to complaints of overcharging.

In February, a woman in Shandong province was asked to pay 3,600 yuan for an 80-km journey by ambulance to transfer his father to a hospital. This is more than 10 times the cost of taking a taxi, media reports said.

Ambulances in the capital are operated by the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, which uses 120 as its emergency telephone number and is affiliated to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, and the Beijing Red Cross Emergency Rescue Center (999), affiliated to the Beijing Red Cross.

Deng Liqiang, head of medical affairs at the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, said the decision to fit meters in ambulances is a step forward.

“Now we at least have a clear standard on such fees,” he said.

Deng said he believes the rate set by the government is reasonable, although it is higher than taxi charges.

“Ambulances are not like ordinary vehicles, as emergency medical resources are also used when an ambulance is called,” he said.

A netizen named Zuoxianseng said in an online comment: “In addition to the fee-charging measure, other standards on ambulance services are also needed, such as how many ambulances should be allocated to a certain area to ensure those in need can use the service.”