Two service staff stand outside the Chongqing room at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the 18th Communist Party Congress on Nov. 8, 2012. Photo: AP

Updated at 4:30pm

Li Keming, left, deputy direction of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. Photo: Keith Zhai
Brother Li leaves

Li Keming, left, deputy director of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration and brother of vice premier Li Keqiang, listens intently in a group meeting. 

Li Keming was recently in the news when Bloomberg quoted a report by Brookings Institution as saying that he should be removed from his position as a top official in China's tobacco industry to avoid conflicts of interest with his brother, who currently overseas public health. 

Apparently aware of the pressure and media interest, Li Keming left abruptly halfway through the meeting, took off his name tag and refused to answer any questions. 


Updated at 4:15

Zhu Xiaodan, deputy governor of Guangdong Province, said the provincial government intends to push ahead plans to achieve full mutual access between service industries in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.


The plans include opening up more service sectors in the Guangdong market to players from Hong Kong and Macau, and making it easier for service industry professionals from the two cities to work in Guangdong, he said.


Updated at 3:40pm

Understatement of the day

When asked to compare Xinjiang's current top official Zhang Chunxian against its highly unpopular former party chief Wang Lequan, Laixi Kanji, an official with the regional paramilitary Armed Police force and an ethnic Uyghur himself, said,

"Generally, both party secretaries are very good. But Secretary Zhang has done better in terms of improving people's lives, and enjoys a lot of popularity." 



Upcated at 2:50pm

Another politican in high spirits today is Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng, who by most estimates will likely be promtoed to the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's 7-seat top power club.

Yu was all smiles when he walked into the Great Hall of the People for the afternoon's group meetings, and didn't stop smiling when asked about his potential promotion.

"It is not convenient to answer this question now", he said. 


Updated at 2:20pm

Wang Yilin, chairman of state-owned oil giant CNOOC ( 0883.HK, NYSE: CEO), has good news to share:
  • CNOOC is confident to complete the US$15.1b acquisition of Canadian oil firm Nexen by the end of the year
  • CNOOC has discovered a "very large natural gas field" in waters off Yinggehai in Hainan Province, and is awaiting government approval before making announcements
The head of another big oil firm, Chairman Jiang Jiemin of PetroChina ( 0857.HK NYSE:PTR), said consumers in Hong Kong would soon be able to benefit from China's West-East Gas Pipeline project. A branch line in the project, a 70-km submarine line leading from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, would be completed and ready to use by the end of the year, he said. 

Jiang denied China would experience another natural gas shortage for the rest of the year. Beijing may increase gas imports from central Asia and other sources, and ration or turn off major industrial users if necessary to cope with a potential sharp increase in household gas consumption, he said. 


Updated at 2pm

After we take tough measures to deal with mass incidents, and if we find no more problems, we will release those that should be released. 
Inner Mongolia's Hu Chunhua dances around sharp questions 
Hu Chunhua, party chief for the region of Inner Mongolia and a rising star in the party's top ranks, paused for a full five seconds when faced with a loaded question about the way he deals with unrest on his turf. 

Q: How do you respond to comments that you take a soft approach when dealing with "mass incidents"?

H: The media may tend to put a lable on what I do. But when dealing with these incidents, we do what we should. No doubt we will take some forceful measures while dealing with mass incidents. We are tough when we should. After these measures are taken, when we find no more problems, we will release all those [people who have been arrested or detained] that should be released. There is no fixed soft or hard approach. I think that's a oversimplification.  

Hu circumvented questions about whether he would move to the top party post in Guangdong, where Wang Yang presides now, and also dodged questions about economic development. 


Updated at 10:40am

Chinese naval guided missile frigate Yuncheng (571) arrives at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. Photo: SCMP

Hu Wenming, congress delegate and chairman of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, calls for a stronger, better-equipped Chinese Navy. 

"We have an enormous shortfall in naval equipment compared with neighbouring nations, and are seriously under-equipped in our efforts to protect our maritime interests."



Wang Yang in group discussions during 18th Party Congress on Nov. 9, 2012. Photo: SCMP
Updated at 10:00am

True to his famed straight-talking, no-nonsense style, Guangdong chief Wang Yang rebuked one of his underlings, Shenzhen city party chief Wang Rong, after the latter delivered a dull, 30-minute speech at the group discussion. 

"All speeches must be kept under 10 minutes," Wang said, "or I will step in."


Updated at 9:30 am

Despite recent speculation that he may not make the Politiburo Standing Committee, the party's top power club, Guangdong party chief Wang Yang appeared to be in good spirits during a group discussion of the Guangdong delegation on Friday. Facing a bursting conference hall of delegates and journalists, he smiled broadly and showed off the newly decorated Guangdong Hall in the Great Hall of the People, where the meeting took place.