The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has lowered drug and medicine prices more than 30 times over recent years. Yet some drugs are still being sold at inflated prices, while other low-cost medicines are often in short supply.
As in all markets, pricing is a key factor in the sale of medicines as it naturally affects the supply and demand of various products. The NDRC's decrees alone cannot effectively lower medicine prices because the commission's regulations clash with the natural order of the drug market.
Regulators must give more leeway to drugmakers when it comes to setting the prices of their products. This is not to suggest that proper supervision is unnecessary with various factors affecting prices. While the government does have a responsibility to regulate prices of electricity, water, medicine and other services and commodities that are closely related to the public good, allowing the market to play its role in resource allocation is essential in coordinating the healthy development of the drug industry. Only by granting more discretion to drugmakers will efforts to reform the medical industry truly be realized.
The Google Inc stand at a mobile Internet expo in Beijing. The search provider has started to allow app developers in China to sell items through Google Play.
Google Inc is making its most aggressive move on the Chinese mainland since a high-profile exit from the market nearly five years ago.
The Internet giant said on Thursday that it has started to allow app developers in China to sell their products through Google Play, an online app store installed in more than 1 billion Android smartphones worldwide.
Industry sources speculated that Google is preparing for a more significant move that would let Android phone users in China download apps from the store, which cannot be done at present in the world's biggest smartphone market.
Google was careful in phrasing its app announcement because the move could potentially make available the first major Google service in China since early 2010. After months of skirmishing with local regulators over information security, Google gradually withdrew its core services from the mainland in that year.
Google's products, including its online search engine and mapping service, are not available on the mainland.
"Today we are simply opening Google Play to Chinese developers and giving them the ability to bring their applications to a global audience?just like what we've done in more than 60 other countries," Google said in an e-mailed statement to China Daily.
Developers in China will be able to sell apps via Google Play in 130 overseas markets. Google will help developers collect revenues from in-app purchase and subscription services. The revenues will be transferred to developers' Chinese bank accounts.
App developers in China had to find an overseas agent to manage the payments in the past.
Chris Yerga, Asia-Pacific managing director of Google Play, said: "Chinese developers will be able to explore global business through the Android platform. They will have a chance to build a real international business."
Also on Thursday, US tech website The Information reported that Google intends to introduce a version of Google Play to China in hopes of tapping into a market that accounts for about half of the global population that is using the Google-developed Android operating system.
"The company has indicated its intention to reverse a longstanding Google policy and distribute its app store with phonemakers and other potential partners in China," said the report, citing an unidentified source.
Google declined to comment.
Wang Jun, a senior analyst with Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International, said Google has already missed the key window of opportunity to return to the Chinese app market.
"Local players are taking firm control over the Android app-distribution market. There is not much room left for Google Play," Wang said. He said that most Chinese smartphone producers do not pre-install Google Play on their devices, making it harder for the service to reach out to customers.
Baidu Inc, Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd and wandoujia are the country's top three app distributors, according to the China Cloud Degree Registration Center, an app distribution monitoring organization. The three platforms handled more than 70 percent of the country's total game app downloads as of August, the center said.
According to Google, more than 1 billion Android devices, including smartphones and tablets, are installed with Google Play globally. The app store now has more than 1 million utility and gaming apps with total downloads exceeding 50 billion.
Apple Inc, who operates Android's rival system iOS, is also trying to grab more revenue in China. The company teamed up with local bankcard association China UnionPay in an attempt to spur app sales and to bundle more bankcards. It is launching a promotion campaign on the mainland by lowering some of the apps' prices to 1 yuan (16 cents).
The Chinese yuan-linked financial products rose in South Korea ahead of the launch of a market where currencies of the two countries would be traded directly and the implementation of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
Shinhan Bank, one of South Korea's four leading banks, said Thursday that it rolled out the yuan deposit product, named China Plus Time Deposit. It has five maturities, including one month and a year, and the deposit rate was set at 3.15 percent.
Hana Bank and Korea Exchange Bank launched a joint yuan deposit product with a maturity of six months and a year earlier this month. The deposit rate was more than 3 percent.
The yuan deposit rate almost doubled the rate of the South Korean won-denominated deposits offered by local banks. The won deposit rate stays at a mid- to upper-bound of 1 percent.
The rise in yuan-related financial products came as the two countries are expected to implement the bilateral FTA next year. South Korea plans to launch the direct trading market between the yuan and the won within this year.
A South Korean news media reported that the financial regulator plans to increase the portion of yuan settlement in trade with China to 20 percent in the long term.
In 2013, South Korea and China traded 228.8 billion U.S. dollars of goods and services, among which 1.2 percent was settled with the Chinese yuan.
The World Internet Conference, which will take place in Wuzhen, a town in East China's Zhejiang province, on Wednesday, has attracted more than 1,000 participants from across the world.
The conference, held from Wednesday to Friday, will focus on several hot issues in the cyberspace, including cyber security, online anti-terrorism crackdown, mobile network and cross-border e-commerce.
It is the first time that China is holding such a top-level conference related to Internet. Guests include government officials from various countries, cyberspace specialists and technology enterprises tycoons, such as Zhou Hongyi, head of Qihoo 360, Chinese largest security software manufacturer, and Jack Ma, the founder and board chairman of Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce business.
According to the organizer, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country's top Internet watchdog, the meeting has also attracted almost 700 journalists from the world and 500 volunteers have been deputed to serve the guests.
In addition, participants can enjoy fast-speed free Wi-Fi in Wuzhen, and the town will become the permanent place to hold the conference in future.
Haixin Iron and Steel Group, the largest private iron and steel enterprise in Shanxi Province, has started bankruptcy reorganization procedures, according to a local court on Monday.
The company, located in Wenxi county, had an annual steel output of five million tonnes and was ranked second only to Shougang Changzhi Iron and Steel Company, another state-owned enterprise, within the province. It is also the largest privately-owned company in Shanxi.
According to public data, the company recorded 10.46 billion yuan (1.71 billion U.S. dollars) in debt compared with 10.07 billion yuan in its account.
Production was suspended on March 18, due to industry overcapacity, a stagnant market, tightened credit and management issues.
In August, four lenders to Haixin filed bankruptcy plans to the Yuncheng Intermediate People's Court, aiming to reorganizing five companies within the group.
Move aims to boost cross-border transactions
A national copyright trading base was launched in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Thursday, with the aim of using the advantages of the FTZ to promote the copyright industry, Chinese financial news portal yicai.com reported Thursday.
The national-level copyright trading base, which is the first of its kind in the Yangtze River Delta region, was approved by the National Copyright Administration on September 28, the report said.
Xu Jiong, director of the Shanghai Copyright Administration, said that the new base will protect copyright and encourage cross-border transactions for cultural products, according to the report.
Beneficial trade policies for the FTZ and the financial reforms that have been conducted there have already been positive for copyright trade growth, it noted.
The national base can be a helpful platform for individuals to sell the copyrights for their works, Wang Qian, a professor with the School of Intellectual Property at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, told the Global Times Thursday.
However, it may not be that effective in terms of large-scale copyright transactions, such as for foreign movies, TV dramas or literature works that the Chinese market usually buys, he noted.
The copyrights for these cultural products are mainly held by large companies. For instance, the copyrights for animated films are dominated by two US-based firms - Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios - Wang noted.
For larger transactions such as this, sellers and buyers can easily reach each other without needing any special platforms, according to Wang.
Zhao Zhanling, a Beijing-based intellectual property lawyer, agreed with Wang and said that small copyright transactions may benefit from the new base in Shanghai.
Usually, copyright transactions for more popular products such as TV shows are dominated by a small number of companies, he told the Global Times Thursday.
For example, the fierce competition among China's online video websites for copyrights for popular US TV dramas in previous years has forced up the prices, even if the battle for copyright has been less intense since two major video websites - youku.com and tudou.com - merged in August.
The new base in Shanghai might function as more than just a platform, according to financial news portal cs.com.cn, which reported Thursday that the base will seek policy breakthroughs in fields such as tax, financing and registration for copyright trade.
The FTZ facilitates overseas art works' entry into the domestic market with fast customs clearance, and tariff and value-added tax (VAT) payments can be delayed until after sales rather than before, Li Wei, an employee at a cultural communications firm in Shanghai, was quoted as saying in the yicai.com report. Overseas buyers do not pay the 8 percent tariff and 17 percent VAT if cultural products are purchased through the FTZ, Li said.
China's copyright trade is still at an early stage, cs.com.cn reported Thursday.
Cross-border copyright trade revenue is decided by a country's soft power, Wang said, noting that China does not currently export as many cultural products as it imports.
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