Monday, October 6, 2008

Four on trial for smuggling 100,000 kg of silver into Chinese mainland

Four people have gone on trial here for smuggling more than 100,000 kg of silver from Hong Kong into the Chinese mainland and evading nearly 55 million yuan in taxes , a court source said on Monday.

Guo Bailiang and Huang Zhiqiang, both Hong Kong long-haul drivers, were accused of transporting the silver, hidden in secret compartments of container trucks, to an auto repair garage in Shenzhen in the southern Guangdong Province.

Hu Yunpeng, owner of the garage, and a man named Wu Peijia who distributed the silver in the mainland, were also arrested, according to the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court source.

The scam, which started in November 2006, was uncovered eight months later when Guo was caught by Shenzhen custom officers while trying to transport 32 silver blocks weighing nearly 500 kg.

Source: Xinhua

Changes and challenges with China's 30 years reform and opening up

This autumn was a season of revelry and national pride for the Chinese. Not yet recovered from the spectacular summer Olympics in August, the whole nation had something else to celebrate as its first taikonaut waved a Chinese flag in a maiden spacewalk.

Through the live broadcast of the mission, tens of millions of Chinese saw, at around 4:40 p.m. on Sept. 27, Zhai Zhigang, strenuously open the hatch of Shenzhou-7. You could hear the wheezing sound as he floated around in the four million dollar China-made Feitian EVA suit. The 42-year-old, squarefaced taikonaut stayed in space for about 20 minutes, accomplishing China''s first extravehicular activity in space.

Zhai''s spacewalk marked incredible progress in the country''s ambitious space program. This was just the third time China launched manned spacecraft. The first manned space flight was in 2003. A second flight with two astronauts followed in 2005. The only other countries to successfully stage a spacewalk are Russia and the United States.

China''s rapid development in space, science and technology, is attributed to growing industrial strength, a booming economy and vast scientific potential, experts said.


The Shenzhou-7 story is but one example of China''s extraordinary transformation over the past three decades.

After realizing the old system of a highly centralized, planned economy and a semi-closed country did not work, the Chinese people resolutely embarked on a historic journey of reform and opening-up in the late 1970s.

The initiative was made by late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping as well as other senior leaders who gathered for the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 1978.

The plenum introduced a series of important decisions on reform which represented a turning point in the history of the CPC and New China since its founding in 1949.

Since then, several events have taken place which have shaped the country.

In December 1978, 18 farmers in Xiaogang village, east China''s Anhui Province, signed a secret agreement to divide community-owned farmland into pieces for household contract.

The move was supported by late leader Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China''s reform and opening. It was also recognized by the government, which then initiated the system of contracted responsibilities based on the household in rural areas.

On July 15, 1979, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council changed policies regarding foreign economic activities to make them more flexible. Special economic zones were also set up in the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen.

The construction and development of special economic zones and opening-up zones prompted the creation of a group of regional economic growth centers.

During his tour to South China in 1992, when China''s reform and opening-up drive came to a crucial juncture, Deng Xiaoping set about defining socialism as the pursuit of common prosperity. Deng delivered a series of speeches to define and clarify what was and how to build socialism in response to doubts as a result of the developing special economic zones. Some people thought the zones were a road to capitalism.

"Practice of a planned economy is not equivalent to socialism because there is also planning under capitalism; Practice of a market economy is not equivalent to capitalism because there are also markets under socialism," said Deng in one of his most repeated quotes.

Experts believe Deng''s simple but penetrating paradox paved the way for China''s switch from a planned economy to a market economy.

That economy has grown rapidly as a result of foreign trade. In 1996, China''s total foreign trade volume accounted for 35.5 percent of its GDP. Now, it accounts for nearly 70 percent of the GDP.

Twenty-three years after the launch of the opening-up policy and 52 years after the founding of People''s Republic of China, the country entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 to become its 143rd member.

"China''s negotiations for the accession to the multilateral trading system over the past 15 years have been an integral part of the process of its reform and opening up from the beginning to the end," said the then Chinese foreign trade minister Shi Guangsheng.

The Chinese government launched reforms of the exchange rate system on July 21, 2005, introducing a managed floating foreign exchange rate system after discontinuing the former foreign exchange regime pegged to the U.S. dollar.

The goal of the exchange rate reform is to build a managed, floating exchange rate mechanism based on market supply and demand. It should also maintain the yuan''s basic stability at a reasonable equilibrium, said the central bank.

China opened its financial sector to foreign banks in December, 2006. Before that, China had dropped tariffs, canceled non-tariff measures and opened up its market in accordance with the pledge it made when joining the WTO.

Beijing restarts personal license plates

China's capital readopted a program on Monday allowing car owners to have personalized license plates, but clamping down on the flashy and crude picks such as "UFO", "SEX 001" and "FBI 007" produced by some people six years ago.

A Beijing resident became the city's luckiest car owner when he secured the plate reading "NV8888" at 8:30 a.m. Monday after queuing for three days with his family at a car registration center of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

He was followed by another Beijinger, Du Fei, who got "NA9999."

Many Chinese have demonstrated their fervor over lucky numbers as usual, picking as many eights, sixes or nines as possible in their license plates.

Eight in Chinese is pronounced in the same way as "fortune," six is associated with "smooth" or "propitious," while nine has the same sound as "eternity."

Chinese traditionally avoid the numbers three and four, which sound like "dissolve" and "die" respectively.

The seven car registration centers opened at 8:30 a.m., but at the registration headquarters in southern Beijing alone, at least 130 new cars had lined up along a police cordon that had been set up over the weekend. Many had waited for at least 48 hours. "I came here on Friday and my whole family took turns to wait here," said Du Fei at the head of the queue.

Retired Chinese soccer team striker Gao Hongbo was also among the early birds, picking his desired license plate reading "N168B0."

The registration headquarters alone issued nearly 400 plates in two hours. Several thousand will be issued across the city on Monday.

Beijing introduced the "pick-your-own" license plates for the first time in 2002. The system lasted for only 10 days. About 23,000 plates were issued before it was suspended amid complaints over picks that were rude and crude, including "USA 911" and "TMD"-- representing the first letters in a common Chinese swear word.

The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau says such picks won't be possible under the new system, which limits car owners freedom to only four digits and one English letter.

The first two slots in the seven-digit plates are set with the Chinese character for Beijing, followed by "N" for automobiles in the eight urban districts, or "Y" for those registered in the outer districts and counties.

Beijing's automobile fleet has exceeded 3.4 million, with more than 1,000 new cars hitting the road daily.

Source: Xinhua

China's Cabinet lays groundwork for dairy industry recovery

Calling China's dairy production and circulation "chaotic" and admitting government supervision "gravely absent," the State Council is planning an overhaul and recovery of the nation's dairy industry.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, held an executive meeting Monday on the nation's milk powder industry and approved draft regulations on quality control for dairy products.

State Councilors on Monday heard that the authorities had conducted across-the-board checks on liquid milk and dairy products and investigated food safety. All efforts had begun to pay off.

They noted that the Sanlu baby formula scandal had been a major public health incident and tarnished the reputation of China's dairy sector and the food industry at large.

The direct cause of the incident was illegal production, greed and ignoring of people's lives, the State Council said in a statement. "It is also exposed that China's dairyy production and circulation order has been chaotic and supervision has been be gravely absent."

Premier Wen Jiabao presided over the meeting. This was the second conference on the issue since the tainted baby formula scandal that broke in earlier September. The previous meeting was held on Sept. 17.

The State Council on Monday stressed that efforts should be made to scrutinize every link, from farm to dinner table, of food processing, so as to "restore the reputation of the nation's food industry, enhance consumer confidence and ensure public health."

They underscored the principles of the scrutiny: to put the people first, ensure safety, prescribe responsibilities clearly, intensify supervision, monitor the whole process, realize information disclosure, improve institutional systems and criteria and ensure accountability.

Follow-up work should be done properly. Free examinations and medical treatment should continue to be provided for infants at risk from the problematic milk powder, with examinations and hospitalization to be enhanced in rural and remote areas.

Those responsible for the contamination, including producers, traders and officials, should be penalized in accordance with laws and regulations, the State Council said.

The normal order of the domestic dairy market should be restored, with the suspension of production at enterprises that recorded poor product quality and imperfect quality guarantee systems. Milk collecting stations should be overhauled, and the threshold for the milk market should be raised. Quality criteria for the wider food industry should be improved.

Meanwhile, dairy farmers in major areas should be supported financially.

The meeting approved draft regulations on quality control for dairy products. The regulations stipulated stricter and detailed rules on animal husbandry, fresh milk collection, dairy production, domestic sales and import and export of dairy products.

The Sanlu Group, a leading dairy producer based in northern Hebei Province, admitted on Sept. 12 that it had found some of its baby milk powder products were contaminated with melamine.

Contaminated baby formula has killed at least three infants and left more than 53,000 with urinary tract problems, including kidney stones. About 13,000 infants are still being treated in hospitals.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has already sent 1,644 teams and 387 working groups across the country to inspect the production processes of dairy plants.

Quality sample checks have been conducted on the products of other major brands including Mengniu, Yili, Guangming and Sanyuan.

The administration said on Sunday that latest tests on dairy products nationwide had found no traces of melamine.

The Ministry of Health has dispatched more than 1,600 medical teams, involving more than 8,000 people, to deal with the problem. More than 4,500 medical institutions nationwide have helped with medical tests.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese scoops UN awards for its harmonious cities

Chinese cities may have some of the best solutions to be found anywhere in the world at a time when the global financial crisis has left everybody worrying about their housing financing and mortgages in the United States and other developed countries.

It is not by coincidence that this year for the first time, the highest award conferred by the United Nations system in this field-- the Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation -- goes not to an outstanding individual, but to a Chinese city, Nanjing.

According to a news release from the UN-HABITAT, at the next level, the cities of Shaoxing and Zhangjiagang were given the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award, along with the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the Tatarstan city of Bugulma, in the Russian Federation, and Ciudad Juarez a major Mexican city on the United States border.

"The Awards this year show us that we can learn from the great strides made by all of these Chinese cities, especially at this time of global financial crisis," said Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

"Indeed, all of our winners this year have some answers when it comes to the financial crisis. All show that Government has to take the lead and show commitment when it comes to affordable housing."

She also commended Angola for its national reconstruction program and the delivery of new roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure either damaged or destroyed during the war.

In holding the global celebration of World Habitat Day in Luanda, Tibaijuka cited the importance that the Angolan government attaches, among other priorities, to the delivery of social housing and basic services, like water and energy for Angolan families.

The World Habitat Day prizes are conferred upon cities, governmental and non- governmental organizations, local authorities, public, private and research bodies, or individuals for outstanding achievements in the cause of sustainable human settlements.

The prize, granted in person each year by Tibaijuka, constitutes global recognition of a city's achievements.

The 2008 Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation is awarded to the Nanjing Municipal Government for its bold, distinct, exemplary and comprehensive redevelopment, revitalization and improvement along the Qinhuai River which runs through the Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.

In November, Nanjing will host the fourth session of the World Urban Forum, the world's premier conference on cities. In response to a growing public outcry over the health dangers posed by industrial and human pollution of the river, the municipal government backed a comprehensive Improvement and Redevelopment Program.

It delivered affordable housing for many thousands of people, new flood prevention measures, the relocation of business and industries to better sites, a new waste management system with pipelines to keep all effluents directed at new treatment plants away from the river.

It also provided new conservation measures for the city's historic sites, and new landscaping with recreation facilities blending in with the natural environment.

It further provided alternative decent accommodation for those who lost their land to the new developments.

UN-HABITAT's Water for Asian Cities Program worked with the city to improve its water and sanitation systems with a 100-million-U.S. dollar Asian Development Bank loan.

The ancient canal city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province, eastern China, gets the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for preserving a unique cultural and historical heritage at a time of rapid urbanization.

The city which dates back to 490 BC is known variously as the City of Waters, the City of Bridges, the City of Calligraphy, the City of Tea, and the City of Scholars.

Despite rapid urbanization, the urban conservation program has enabled this city to present itself as an elegant, peaceful and cultured place with a decent quality of life.

The award recognizes the restoration of its seven historic communities where buildings have been restored or renovated, the rivers cleaned up, and the streets spruced up to show off its traditional mix of white walls and black roofs.

The bustling port city of Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province, also in eastern China, gets the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for setting a new trend in integrated urban-rural development and management through an initiative by the city's authorities to improve the quality of life for farmers and other residents in its hinterland.

Zhangjiagang, just half an hour's drive from Shanghai along a new super-highway, is the first Chinese city to explore a system of reallocating urban and rural resources so that people living intown or the countryside can derive the maximum benefit.

With a reputation for showing the way as one of China's cleaner and safer cities, its new shopping malls and high rise apartment blocks, in many ways symbolize the country's modernization.

Notable is its modern state-of-the-art community resource centers, the hub of the city's new found harmony.

The city of Bugulma in the Tartarstan Republic of western Russia gets the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for transforming its contaminated water system into cheaper, safer water for its citizens. Founded in 1736, the city at the confluence of the Bugulminka and Stepnoy Zay rivers, is the center of petroleum mining in Tatarstan.

Other economic activities in the city include machinery production, the processing of agricultural products, and construction, all of which contributed to pollution of the river.

Such was the toxicity, that many people became ill. In 1996, the Clean Water Program was initiated under the guidance of the Bugulma's mayor and with the support of the Tatarstan's president.

It has since improved the standard of living and contributed towards the sustainable development of the city and its outlying districts.

Residents now enjoy high quality water. The use of many underground springs allowed for a considerable reduction in chlorine treatment, thus reducing the risk of cancer.

The capital of Rwanda, Kigali, gets the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for many innovations in building a model, modern city symbolized by zero tolerance for plastics, improved garbage collection and a substantial reduction in crime.

Starting from 1998, the authorities in Kigali began restoring the city's lost glory. They targeted garbage collection, and banned the use of plastic bags.

The streets and pavements were beautified, and public transport was upgraded. Other areas included improvement of the sewage system and slum upgrading.

In just one decade, Kigali has been transformed into a place to which people come from all corners of the world to see and learn how they can replicate the Kigali modernization and urban conservation model at home.

Ciudad Juarez, a major Mexican city on the United States border, gets the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for the innovative steps taken to help thousands of flood victims rebuild their homes and lives after the Arroyo del Indio burst its banks following heavy rains in 2006 largely believed to have been brought on by climate change.

Since these floods first started in 1990, an estimated 80 people lost their lives and 11,000 people have lost their homes and property.

In the last two years, the city's Municipal Planning Institute put the Arroyo del Indio Project into action and helped build 250 new homes for 1,050 people, while transforming the flood zone where they had previously lived into an attractive city park.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese, Australian premiers discuss relations, international issues

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd, in a phone conversation on Monday, exchanged opinions on relations between their two countries as well as the international financial crisis and climate change.

Wen spoke positively of the development of the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Australia.

He said China is willing to work with Australia to intensify coordination and cooperation, and meet the complicated global challenges in a bid to promote harmonious and sustainable development of the world.

The Australian prime minister lauded China's position and active role in handling the international financial crisis.

Rudd said the international community should strengthen cooperation to establish and improve the mechanism to guarantee the transparency and consistency of the international financial system.

Australia would like to work with China to reinforce exchanges and cooperation in international finance and in multilateral and bilateral fields, he added.

Source: Xinhua

Taiwan's ex-intelligence chief detained for alleged money-laundering cover-up

Taiwan's former intelligence chief Yeh Sheng-mao was detained after appearing at a court hearing in Taipei on Monday morning for hiding documents allegedly implicating a money-laundering case related to ex-Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.

The local Taipei court was holding the first public hearing of Yeh's money laundering cover-up case, an accusation he denied at the hearing.

He insisted he was just performing his duty as director of Taiwan's investigation bureau when he passed relevant documents from the international anti-money-laundering organization Egmont Group to Chen, then Taiwan leader.

The panel of judges, however, decided to detain him for allegedly hiding official documents, leaking secrets and seeking illegal gain.

Yeh, who served as director of Taiwan's Investigation Bureau from Aug. 2001 to July 2008, was indicted by prosecutors on Aug. 28 for involving in the cover-up of the money-laundering case.

The Taipei court planned to summoned Chen and Yeh for interrogation on Wednesday to let them face each other in court.

Three other suspects have been detained in the high-profile money-laundering case, including one former aide of Chen, a former cashier at his office and an associate of Chen's wife Wu Shu-chen.

So far, nine people have been named as defendants in the case. These include the above mentioned three under detention, Chen, his wife Wu, son Chen Chih-chung, daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching and brother-in-law Wu Ching-mao, and Wu's associate's brother.

Taiwan's Investigation Bureau reportedly received information from Egmont on Jan. 29, indicating that Chen's daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching, had set up a bank account in the Cayman Islands and was suspected of money laundering.

Yeh didn't submit the information to prosecutors in accordance with official procedure.

Taiwan prosecutors launched an investigation and confirmed Yeh's involvement in the alleged cover-up.

Prosecutors found Chen's family had remitted large sums of money amounting to nearly 1 billion New Taiwan dollars to accounts in Switzerland, Singapore, Cayman Islands and other places.

Source: Xinhua

India man falls to death in Shanghai Marks and Spencer

An Indian man fell from the fourth floor of a newly-opened Marks and Spencer department store in Shanghai on Sunday evening, police said on Monday.

The accident occurred at around 9:30 p.m. when Shah Harshit, 24,fell from an escalator on the fourth floor of the store in Nanjing West Road, a Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau official said.

Harshit was shopping with friends in the mall that day. The mall was opened on Oct. 2 and was the first mall of the British retailer Marks and Spenser in the Chinese mainland.

There was a dangerous two-meter gap between two adjacent escalators, said the official.

The mall opened as usual on Monday.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Source: Xinhua

Railway to be constructed to connect SW China to booming areas

A major railway connecting Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, with Guangzhou, the southern Guangdong Province capital, is expected to begin construction on Oct. 13, a local official said on Monday.

The 857 km electrified railway, co-invested by the Railway Ministry, Guizhou and Guangdong provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is expected to be operational in 2012, said Wang Tongjun, deputy head of Chengdu Railway Bureau, which administrates railways in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Chongqing Municipality.

The investment is 85.8 billion yuan .

The railway will cut travel time between the two cities from 20hours to 6 hours.

Trains are expected to run at 200 km per hour, with a daily capacity of 100 trains and an annual capacity for goods transportation of 25 million tons.

The line is conducive to transporting goods from southwest China to the booming Pearl River Delta areas, including Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, Wang said.

Source: Xinhua

Body of former senior Chinese Communist cadre cremated

A host of senior Chinese leaders turned out on Monday to bid a final farewell to Han Guang, former discipline inspection chief of the Communist Party of China , who was cremated at the Babaoshan Cemetery in Beijing.

Han, former executive secretary of the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, died of illness at the age of 96 on Sept. 27 in Beijing.

President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, and state and Party leaders Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang attended the funeral.

Chinese President and Communist Party of China Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao condoles with family members of Han Guang, former executive secretary of CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, during a farewell ceremony held at the Babaoshan cemetery in Beijing, China, Oct. 6, 2008. The remains of Han Guang was cremated at the Babaoshan cemetery in Beijing on Monday.

Han was described in an official statement as "an outstanding CPC member, a long-tested and loyal Communist fighter, a proletarian revolutionary and an outstanding leader in the CPC discipline inspection battlefront."

Source: Xinhua

Premier: China's financial system "sound and safe"

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in Nanning Sunday that China's financial institutions have generally increased their strength, profitability and risk-resisting ability, and the financial system as a whole is sound and safe in face of the international financial crisis.

Wen made the remarks during an inspection tour to Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southwest China.

He said that the world economic situation has had dramatic changes this year, the United States' subprime crisis has been deteriorating and is having an increasingly serious negative impact on the world's financial market and the world economy as a whole.

Under multiple negative factors, both international and domestic, China has reacted actively and properly, made efforts to improve the predictability, pertinence and flexibility of macro-economic control policies, and timely solved outstanding problems in economic development. As a result, the country's economy has maintained its momentum of smooth and rapid development, Wen said.

Generally speaking, China's economic foundations have not changed and the economy is developing towards the preset macro control targets, said the Premier.

"We have full confidence in China's economic development and financial stability," Wen said, stressing that the most important thing is to do our own business well, maintain the stability of the economy and the financial and capital markets.

"It is the biggest contribution to the world when a big country with a population of 1.3 billion is able to maintain a lasting, smooth and fast economic development," he said.

On Saturday and Sunday, Wen inspected villages and factories in the cities of Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, and talked with local people of different nationalities and from all walks of life.

He said that the development of Beibu Gulf should focus on technological innovation and environmental protection to build into an important zone for international and regional economic cooperation.

In Gaosha Village of Qinzhou, Wen inspected rice paddy and visited farmers' homes. He said that the government will further reinforce its support for agriculture, continue to increase subsidies to farmers and raise the minimum grain purchasing prices to mobilize farmers to produce more grain.

Source: Xinhua

Deputy UN chief: China becoming engine for world economy

by Wang Xiangjiang and Wu Zhiqiang

Three decades after the advent of its reforms and opening up, China has become another engine driving the world economy in addition to the United States, UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang has said.

China has enjoyed 30 years of continuous and rapid development, expanding its economic aggregate by nearly 15 times and its foreign trade more than 100 times, a sustained fast growth rare in modern world history, Sha told Xinhua in a recent interview in his office at the UN headquarters in New York.

Measured by gross domestic product, China's economic aggregate now ranks the third in the world. It stands likely to become the largest exporter and the biggest manufacturing powerhouse in 2009,said the under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs.

"China's contributions to world economic growth in the past few years are comparable to that of the United States," Sha said, "It has become yet another engine driving world economic growth."

Its contributions to reducing global poverty have also been there for all to see, he said. Over the past 30 years, about 500 million Chinese people have emerged from abject poverty, meeting the target of halving such population as listed in the UN Millennium Development Goals well ahead of the 2015 deadline.

China, the world's most populous country, has been transformed into a world economic giant, with ever greater influence on world economy, Sha said.

Despite all the progress, he noted that China's per capita income remains well below the world average and far behind the income levels of many developed countries.

As a low-to-medium-income developing economy, China faces a myriad of challenges such as bridging the widening gap between the rich and poor and protecting the environment amid rapid economic growth, he said, stressing that all these are problems in the process of development and can be addressed through further deepening reforms and pushing forward wider opening-up.

The Chinese government has in recent years come up with such concepts as "human-oriented" governance and building a harmonious society, emphasizing the quality of development, rather than simply pursuing faster GDP growth, Sha noted.

These guiding principles, he said, have laid a policy foundation for handling new problems cropping up in the process of development and ensuring sustained growth of China's economy.

Sha attributed China's success to its emphasis on development, its efforts to choose development path in line with its specific conditions, and its stepwise reform and opening-up rather than the so-called "shock therapy" championed by some.

On the relationship between China's reforms and opening up on the one hand and the development of the United Nations on the other, Sha said development is one of the three pillars of UN work, and it is also the foundation for the other two pillars -- peace and security, and human rights.

"China's achievements in its 30 years of reforms and opening up accord with the United Nations' tenets of promoting common development in the world," Sha said.

One of the key factors behind China's success in its reforms and opening up has been its adherence to proceeding from the country's actual conditions, he said.

"A country has to mainly count on its own efforts to develop," Sha said, "You may draw on other countries' experience in development, but cannot be copied or 'transplanted' it"

"It is imperative to study and explore in line with a country's actual conditions. There is neither ready 'blueprints', nor shortcuts," he said. "Overseas investments and foreign trade can all be utilized, but a country bears primary responsibility for its own development."

On China's cooperation with other developing economies, Sha said China has all along attached great importance to such cooperation and actively promoted cooperation among developing nations through frameworks such as the Group of 77 and China mechanism in a bid to safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries.

Sha also praised the assistance offered by the United Nations to China in its reforms and opening up, mainly in the areas of policy advices, information, and technical assistance and cooperation.

As China's economy grows stronger, the modalities and priorities of UN support are also changing, moving gradually from mainly assistance, as was the case in the past, to mainly exchanges and cooperation, he noted.

At a time of ever more profound economic globalization, Sha said, both China and the rest of the world have become increasingly indispensable to each other.

There is a solid foundation and broad vista for cooperation between China, the world's largest developing country and fastest growing economy, and the United Nations, the most authoritative and broadest represented intergovernmental world body, in the field of development, Sha said.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese shares fall 3.52% in morning session

Chinese shares fall in the morning session Monday, after big losses on Wall Street.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 80.7 points, or 3.52 percent, to 2,213.08. The Shenzhen Component Index fell 263.62 points, or 3.49 percent, to 7,295.65.

Banking shares fell across the board, with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's largest lender, shedding 3.91 percent to 4.18 yuan. China Merchants Bank fell 6.7 percent to 16.44 yuan and Bank of Communications lost 5.85 percent to 5.63yuan.

Brokerage companies saw gains after news Sunday that China Securities Regulatory Commission would soon launch the margin trading business for securities firms.

Haitong Securities rose 6.23 percent to 22.86 yuan, Guojin Securities gained 2.57 percent to 33.17 yuan while Guoyuan Securities was up 2.1 percent to 19.91 yuan.

Margin trading, which allows traders to borrow part of the money necessary to buy a security, would change current one-way trading on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets and serve as a risk aversion tool for investors.

The move was good for securities companies, however, a stronger upward momentum of the stock market depends on the performance of peripheral markets, especially the U.S. market, said finance professor He Qiang at the Central University of Finance and Economics.

Steel makers and coal producer shares dropped as investors worried falling steel and coal prices may erode their earnings, analysts said.

Baosteel, the country's largest steel maker, plummeted 7.43 percent to 6.73 yuan. The Angang Steel Co., a leading domestic steel maker, was down 8.52 percent to 8.05 yuan. China Shenhua, the country's top coal producer, sank 9.46 percent to 24.8 yuan and Yanzhou Coal Mining Company lost 8.31 percent to 11.81 yuan.

Source: Xinhua

Official: China-EU push new frontiers on trade

Video: China-EU tapping new trade opportunities

Official: China-EU trade healthy, but risks looming

Official: China urges political will on MES issue

China and its top trading partner EU have managed in the latest ministerial level dialogue to draw a roadmap to more business opportunities and less restrictions on bilateral trade and investment. The two sides also make commitments on working together to push the Doha round forward.

The meeting took place when world economies are grappling with their internal inflation and the US financial crisis. Declining demand in the US and Europe does not bode well for their trading partners.

Altogether 23 points of consensus have been reached at the 23rd China-EU Economic and Trade Joint Committee which was co-chaired by Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson on Sept. 25 in Beijing. "We had expected around 20 points before the meeting, but we have achieved more than that," said Sun Yongfu, Director-General of Department of European Affairs, Ministry of Commerce in an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online on Sept. 28.

According to Mr. Sun who also leads the Chinese team of the Senior Official Meeting, the Joint Committee is the most important platform to address existing problems in bilateral economic and trade relations and implement strategies set up by the Vice-Premier level of High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue launched in April 2008. It will also do preparatory work for the trade part of the upcoming 11th China-EU Summit on December 1st in France and the second HED to be held in spring 2009 in Europe.

The negotiation of upgrading the existing economic and trade cooperation agreement signed in 1985 as the legal framework of the bilateral trade relations is high on the agenda of the joint committee. The first round of the negotiation was launched in October 2007. Discussions are underway on 13 chapters out of the 20. Both sides express their satisfaction on the development of the talks so far and hope a fair, balanced new legal basis will be built. But there is no time frame for the conclusion of the negotiation.

Mr. Sun highlighted other consensus reached on IPR actions, dialogues on disputes over specific trades, development cooperation initiatives with 73.8 million euro, and collaboration on reconstruction of China's quake affected areas.

The IPR issue has long been a big concern for the EU sides. Both sides agree to accelerate the talks on the IPR Custom Enforcement Action Plan. More cooperation will be conducted on online infringement.

Progress has also been attained on sanitary and photo-sanitary protocols to pave the way for the exports of fruits and pork from EU to China. The EU has agreed to lift the import ban of heated poultry products from China's Shandong province and will probably extend the relaxation to Jilin province.
EU is the largest source of imported technologies for China. Mr. Sun said China would like to expand the cooperation on this regard and welcome sophisticated equipment from the EU particularly.

A tech transfer deal was reached between a European telecommunication company and its Chinese partner recently. Both sides encourage more similar contracts.

In environmental sector, European companies will have more opportunities. Mr. Sun noted that China was willing to import goods and services of environmental protection and energy efficiency from the EU.

The two sides also show readiness of solving their disputes through consultations instead of confrontations. They agree to make full use of the existing dialogues on textile, steel and iron products. There are trade balance talks at vice-minister level.

Mr. Sun insisted that the EU be more cautious about launching anti-dumping investigations against Chinese products to ensure "fair treatment". The EU, on its side, promises to pay more attention to the legal and factual basis in those cases.

Mr. Sun reiterated China's firm support to the Doha round talks and continuous efforts on pushing that forward after the Mini-ministerial meeting broke down in Geneva in July. He said Minister Chen Deming discussed that issue with his European counterpart Mandelson at the joint committee this time and over many phone calls.

"China is on the side of liberalization," said Sun, adding that bilateral free trade agreements or regional trade agreement, albeit helpful, was not the mainstream and China would try its best to continue to play a constructive role and encourage other members to be engaged.

By People's Daily Online

Official: China urges political will on MES issue

Video: China-EU tapping new trade opportunities

Official: China-EU push new frontiers on trade

Official: China-EU trade healthy, but risks looming

China reiterated its disappointment on EU's reluctance of recognizing China's market economy status . Without prejudice against any foreign investors, China is quite open both on its market and on multilateral and bilateral discussions on the negotiation of government procurement agreement .

In a recent exclusive interview with People's Daily Online, Sun Yongfu, Director-General of the European Affairs Department, Ministry of Commerce and head of the Senior Official Meeting on the Chinese side, highlighted the importance that China attaches to the MES issue and called for more "political will" from the EU side to solve the long-held pending issue as early as possible.

"The MES is very crucial for China鈥�we are not satisfied with the progress", said Sun after China and EU concluded the 23rd Economic and Trade Joint Committee co-chaired by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson on Sept. 25. It is one of the 23 points of consensus as the result of the meeting that the EU recognizes in its latest report China's "significant progress" on fulfilling the technical criteria of MES. Mr. Mandelson also agreed to accelerate the process.

Sun reiterated China's opposition to the criteria which are too difficult even for some EU members. He also urged the EU to show "political will" on this issue. "The five technical criteria are important. However, it is not possible for the issue to be solved without political will," Sun affirmed.

Seventy-seven countries have granted the MES to China. However, its top three trading partners, the EU, the US and Japan have not. That has put Chinese companies on a vulnerable place in the intensive anti-dumping cases launched by the EU and US.

According to Mr. Sun, the EU has filed 13 anti-dumping investigations into Chinese products since September 2007. "That is harmful to the bilateral trade," he said.

The European Commission has recently declared renewal of anti-dumping taxes on shoe imports from China and Viet Nam. The Ministry of Commerce has expressed its strong opposition against that decision.

The EU has insisted that China has fulfilled only one of the five criteria for a market economy, that is, the absence of government intervention in the private sector and barter trade. China has yet to meet the other four involving the application of the international accounting standards, less government intervention in the economy, the implementation of the property laws and a market-oriented financial system.

The EU, on its side, has raised its tone asking for wider market access to the Chinese market. It requires that China accelerate its process of joining the WTO government procurement agreement and complains against "unfair level playing field".

"The GPA is a complicated issue," said Sun. He explained that the issue should be discussed under the WTO first but at the same time China welcomes bilateral agreement. China has provided its first GPA offer to the WTO. Sun disclosed that the second round of talks would be open in Geneva soon and China is discussing with the US and EU on the possibility of carrying out bilateral cooperation in this regard.

The trade deficit is still a concern for the EU although both Mr. Mandelson and European companies recognize that Chinese imports help both the European economies and consumers and the imports from Asia as a whole remain stable.

"The European side is using the argument to ask for further opening of the service sector," said Sun. He believes that the Chinese market is "quite open" or even "more open" comparing with some developed economies such as Japan. "You can see different car brands, including European cars, in China." What's more, 480 out of the 500 multinational giants are already in China.

He understands that the issues of further opening and reform in the financial system are "very crucial" for the EU. But he explained that it is not easy for China to "agree on anything beyond China's WTO commitments" at a time when it is not suitable for China's economic situation.

In its new annual report the European Chamber of Commerce classes the banking sector, as well as the energy and petrochemical sectors as the areas where "the most significant positive development" have taken place.

"China will continue its opening and reform," said Sun.

By People's Daily Online

Official: China-EU trade healthy, but risks looming

Video: China-EU tapping new trade opportunities

Official: China urges political will on MES issue

Official: China-EU push new frontiers on trade

A senior Chinese official with the Ministry of Commerce expressed satisfaction to the status quo of the China-EU trade but at the same time he warned against the possible impact of the international financial turmoil on the prospect of the trade and investment.

Mr. Sun Yongfu, Director-General of European Affairs Department, MOFCOM, said in his recent interview with People's Daily Online that the trade between China and the European Union still boomed in the year to August. The 27 percent growth is "satisfactory" especially comparing with the 13 percent increase in trade with the US, China's second largest trading partner and the 18 percent rise with Japan, the third largest trading partner.

Chinese Minister Chen Deming and European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson also gave positive comments on the bilateral trade during the 23rd China-EU Economic and Trade Joint Committee in Beijing on Sept. 25, the most important annual ministerial meeting to address trade issues.

However, Sun warns against the possible negative impact of the international financial turmoil on China's foreign trade and investment. "The impact in China must be taken into consideration", he said, concerned how China would be affected when the investment was down 10 percent globally.

Chinese small and medium sized enterprises are particularly vulnerable in the difficult time. They are generally struggling with increasing production costs and yuan value. Mr. Sun added that for EU-oriented SME exporters, too many anti-dumping cases and too difficult technical criteria were adding more risks.

Mr. Sun promised more help from MOFCOM to those SMEs in terms of quality control and early warning and training of technical standards. The ministry is offering training programs on REACH, the chemical standards in products on the EU market. "Such criteria will have big influence鈥�they are difficult to be reached by SMEs", said Sun.

China and EU agreed at the Joint Committee to cooperate on the application of chemical regulations.

China remains the No. 1 for FDI among developing countries. According to the figures from MOFCOM, for the first eight months of the year the old 15 EU members established less enterprises by 22.69 percent. But the amount of investment rebounded and went up by 29.09 percent, compared with the decrease of 33 percent in the same period of last year. However, the share of EU investment has been down slightly in total FDI into China in the past two years.

Chinese companies are at the "beginning stage" of investing outside. There is much more EU investment in China than the Chinese investment in the EU. Mr. Sun thinks the reason lies in the China's large domestic market, Chinese companies' lack of understanding of the laws, cultures and potential of the European market.

The MOFCOM, said Sun, would also give support to Chinese investors, either big or small, to invest in the EU market by providing business opportunities and trainings.

He also urges the EU countries to be more open to Chinese investors. MOFCOM is trying to use bilateral platforms with EU member states to raise the issues of investment facilitation, eg. the visa application and work permits for Chinese business people.

"We welcome European investors and encourage Chinese companies to invest in Europe," said Sun.

According to the consensus reached at the Joint Committee, a seminar will be held soon to boost the two-way investment between China and EU.

By the People's Daily Online