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|UNITED NATIONS , March 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN Refugee Agency ( UNHCR) has warned that more than 120,000 people have been displaced in central Mindanao, in southern Philippines, since fighting broke out between government troops and armed groups in late January, a UN spokesman said here Friday.
"UNHCR remains concerned about the safety of civilians as the conflict continues to spread into local villages," Farhan Haq , the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here. "An estimated 13 municipalities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato have been affected so far. And many internally displaced people are sheltering in schools and public buildings."
UNHCR and other UN agencies are working closely with local authorities to monitor the situation, Haq said. "They have distributed blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, plastic sheets and other essential aid supplies to displaced families."
As a result of the armed clashes , a state of calamity has been reportedly declared in Maguindanao, a province located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) -- the country's second biggest and southernmost major island, which has been the scene of a Muslim separatist conflict over the past 40 years.
Mindanao is home to the biggest and most relevant Muslim minority in the archipelago, the indigenous Moro people. Created in 1989, the ARMM is composed of five predominantly Muslim provinces and is the only region that has its own government.
BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's property market held broadly steady in November with home prices edging down in major cities amid tough purchase restrictions and a tight liquidity environment , the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Monday.
New residential house prices went down on a yearly basis in 11 of the 15 major cities, considered the "hottest markets." On a month-on-month basis, new residential housing prices fell in 7 of the 15 cities, while Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Wuhan saw prices flat with October.
NBS statistician Liu Jianwei said that housing prices stayed generally stable in major cities as differentiated control policies continued to take effect.
In first-tier cities where the curbs are strictest , home prices continued to soften, with new residential housing and second-hand home prices down 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, from a month earlier.
In contrast, the property market in second- and third-tier cities is showing signs of picking up, with new residential housing prices gaining 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent , respectively, from October.
The data provides evidence that government cooling measures to prevent asset bubbles in the property market are producing the desired outcomes.
Since late last year, dozens of local governments have passed or expanded restrictions on house purchases and increased the minimum downpayment required for mortgages.
The property market was also cooled by relatively tightened liquidity conditions as the government moved to contain leverage and risk in the financial system.
Chinese authorities have constantly reiterated that "houses are built for living in, not speculation," pledging to step up housing system reform and foster a long-term market mechanism.
BEIJING, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- China has vowed to increase imports and cut import tariffs on some products to promote balanced trade as part of its effort to push forward a new pattern of all-round opening up.
The country will expand free trade zone pilot areas and guide foreign investors to operate in the country in an efficient way , according to a statement released after the Central Economic Work Conference which concluded Wednesday.
The annual conference reviews work from the past year and sets the tone for economic work in the coming year.
According to the statement, the country will push for nationwide implementation of a pre-establishment national treatment system as well as a negative list which determines where foreign participation is prohibited or limited.
The negative list will become shorter and shorter, it said, adding that the country will improve laws and regulations and enhance protection of intellectual property.
At the twice-a-decade congress of the Communist Party of China held in October, the authorities emphasized that China will not close its door to the world, and the door will only become more and more open.
China has promised to let U.S. credit rating agencies do business on their own , remove the cap on foreign ownership of Chinese banks and asset management companies, and lift limits on investment in securities houses.
Decisions made at the meeting reflect China's new development concept featuring high-quality development, rather than the mere pursuit of high speeds.
"High-quality development is the fundamental requirement for determining the development path, making economic policies, and conducting macroeconomic regulation at present and in the period to come," according to the statement.
China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters , above the government's target of around 6.5 percent for this year.
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