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China Feature: Week in Review --- Reforms on "Media Criticism" and Labour Camps? (Lin)

A Chinese labour camp

Isabel Lin writes for EA:

President Xi Jinping's Reforms to Allow "Media Criticism"?

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged the Community to be more tolerant of media critique and receptive to the views of non-Communists.

Xi said, "The CPC should be able to put up with sharp criticism, correct mistakes if it has committed them and avoid them if it has not."

Xi called upon the non-Communists to co-operate with the Party on common political common ground, namely, the socialist political system with Chinese characteristics. He urged them to offer more wise and practical suggestions and consultations to advance the country's development: "Non-Party personages should ave the courage to tell the truth, speak words jarring on the ear, and truthfully reflect public aspirations."

Xi's remarks sit alongside recent episodes of censorship, such as the Party's suppression of a New Year's editoral in the Southern Daily which called for "constitutionalism".

Labour Camps Suspended in Yunnan Province

The controversial Labour Camp system, with its "re-education" has been suspended in Yunnan Province.

Provincial Party official Meng Sutie said in a televised meeting that those who commit crimes will be punished in accordance with the rules of the law rather than through the camps. However, people currently imprisoned in re-education camps will continue with their terms.

The Labour Camp System was introduced in the 1950s. It has no basis in Chinese law, but is an administrative penalty. Public security organisations can impose a maximum four-year detention without a conviction in the courts.

Tuition Fees for All Postgraduates Next Year

A student prepares for the entrance examination for postgraduate students at Shandong Jianzhu University in December

The State Council has announced that China will charge tuition fees for all postgraduate students while offering more choices of student financial aid from autumn 2014.

Under the new policy, yearly tuition fees for master's degrees and doctorates in academic disciplines are capped at 8,000 yuan ($1,272) and 10,000 yuan ($1590) respectively.

The statement also said, the country will improve its financial aid system, introducing more types of scholarships, teaching and research assistantships, and loans to help students cover costs.

The central government also vowed to gradually increase funds earmarked to State-backed universities for improving the quality of their postgraduate education.

Beijing Sets Deadline for Coal-Fired Furnaces

Beijing has set a target of completing environmentally-friendly renovations on all its coal-fired heating furnaces by 2015.

Inefficient coal burning is considered one of the major causes of pollution in the capital, with its dependence on fossil fuels for centralized heating during a four-month-long winter. Beijing experienced 23 days of smog from 1 January to 28 January, about 10 more than the average of last decade and the most since 1954.

Amid Chinese-Japanese Dispute, Crew on Marine Surveillance Ship Extend Greetings to Chinese People

Two fleets of marine surveillance ship carried out regular patrol missions in the East China Sea and the South China Sea during the Spring Festival.

Crew members aboard the Haijian 137, a Chinese marine surveillance ship, extended their Festival greetings to the Chinese people during a patrol in the territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea on 10 February.

China and Japan are locked in a dispute over ownership of the islands.

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