China Briefs: Jan 23, 2009

By Gisela Sommer, Epoch Times
January 24, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

A young woman plucks chickens at a small market in the city of Kaili in China's southwest Guizhou province on January 21, 2009. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)
A young woman plucks chickens at a small market in the city of Kaili in China's southwest Guizhou province on January 21, 2009. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)
Jan 23 — China reports 4th bird flu death in 2009
BEIJING (Associated Press) – A woman in China's far west has died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Health Ministry said Saturday, the country's fourth death from the virus this year as the biggest festive season approaches.

The victim, a 31-year-old woman from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, had been to a live poultry market before she fell ill on Jan. 10, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Wang Xiaoyan, a deputy director of the regional health department. She died Friday.

Jan 23 — Parents express anger over China milk verdicts  
BEIJING (AFP, Karl Malakunas) – Angry parents of victims in China's milk scandal accused the government Friday of holding show trials and giving little help to their sick children, after the high-profile sentencing of 21 people.

They also asked why no government officials had been charged.

Jan 23 — China: Tainted milk payments too low  
BEIJING (UPI) – Nearly 550 parents of children made ill in China after drinking tainted milk products say they should receive greater compensation from the government.

The parents asked the Chinese government Friday in a petition to increase payments being offered to the families of those killed or hospitalized as a result of consuming milk products containing melamine, the China Post said.

The parents ask in the petition for reimbursements for medical services sought as a result of the contamination and for research into the long-term effects of melamine.

The Post said the petition also demanded free medical care for all victims and increased accountability for those deemed responsible for the contaminated products.

Jan 23 — China dairy association: 90% of tainted milk victims compensated  
People's Daily (China’s official English-language media) – About 90 percent of the families of the victims in the country's tainted milk scandal have been compensated, the China Dairy Industry Association said Friday.

As of Thursday, families of 262,662 children who were sickened after drinking the melamine-contaminated milk products had signed compensation agreements with involved enterprises and accepted compensation, the association said.

Jan 23 — Chinese Media Censor Obama Speech
Radio Free Asia (Yan Xiu and Joshua Lipes) – A censored version of U.S. President Barack Obama’s inaugural address leaves Chinese viewers puzzled.

Yao Lifa, a rights activist in China’s central Hubei province, said the censoring of Obama’s address shows how “absurd” the government is and called the move a “denial of the Chinese people’s right to know about the outside world.”

Yao, who was placed under house arrest for several days by authorities to prevent him from attending an inaugural celebration party held by the U.S. General Consulate in Wuhan, was released on Wednesday morning and was unable to watch Obama’s inauguration.

“Across the world there are many people who yearn for the current political system in the U.S., but [the authorities] want to stop this kind of information from being transmitted. It’s only natural that the words in Obama’s inaugural speech should address these issues,”  Yao said.

“In that sense, it’s just possible that some of the corrupt members within the Party were made to feel very vulnerable and panicked, afraid that more people would hear this kind of message. This is especially true when such a straightforward opinion from an incoming American president is directed to the rest of the world,” he said.

Jan 23 — China says Internet crackdown to be "long-lasting"  
BEIJING (Reuters) – China sought on Friday to portray its Internet crackdown as a campaign to protect youth from filth and nothing to do with stifling political dissent, with an official promising long-lasting action against "vulgarity."

The government has already closed 1,250 websites, which also includes a popular blog site, though with an estimated 3,000 websites appearing daily, the battle to maintain control over the online world is never-ending.

Jan 22 — China’s Route Forward  
GUANGZHOU, China (New York Times, Keith Bradsher) – In an effort to hold back the domestic effects of the global downturn, China is starting to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new highways, railroads and other infrastructure projects.

Jan 23 — China tells Obama's Treasury pick it is not manipulating currency  
BEIJING (AFP, Peter Harmsen) – China denied Friday that it was manipulating its currency, reacting to a statement by US President Barack Obama's Treasury secretary-designate Timothy Geithner.

"The Chinese government has never used so-called currency manipulation to gain benefits in its international trade," the Chinese commerce ministry said in a statement faxed to AFP late Friday.

Jan 23 — The Global Recession Slams China  
BusinessWeek Online (Frederik Balfour) – By the standards of just about any other country, the latest growth figures in China would be a cause for jubilation. The country clocked 6.8% year-on-year growth for the fourth quarter of 2008 and 9% for the year. But those figures mask an underlying picture that is anything but rosy for an economy that is just starting to feel the full impact of the global meltdown. In fact the economy registered virtually no growth over the third quarter, and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

"The situation is quite dire," says David Cui, China economist at Merrill Lynch. "I don't expect us to come out of this any time soon because the global demand situation is so bad."

Jan 23 — Roubini, Edwards Predict Slump in S&P 500 on China (Update3)  
Bloomberg (Michael Patterson and Adam Haigh) – Stocks will retreat around the world because of shrinking demand from China as growth in the third- biggest economy slows, said Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted last year’s financial crisis.

Jan 23 — Shanghai's Skyline May Be Clue To Economic Trouble
NPR, Morning Edition (Louisa Lim) – Shanghai's glittering skyline has for many become a symbol of China's modernization and its economic dynamism. But now, as the city's property market slides downward, some believe it's exposing weaknesses in China's economic model.

Huang Yasheng from MIT's Sloan School of Management says the modernist skyline of Shanghai's Pudong marks the moment when things started to go wrong.

He argues that the economic crisis is exposing weaknesses in China's interventionist topdown style of capitalism. … the property boom has translated into "almost zero gain for people on the ground in terms of property income."

He says this has happened because the state has requisitioned land from its residents at artificially low prices, and sold it off at higher, market rates, keeping the difference.

Jan 23 — China’s Slowdown Is Set to Worsen as Recession Pummels Exports  
Bloomberg (Kevin Hamlin and Li Yanping) – China’s economic slowdown, already the deepest in seven years, is set to worsen as the global recession pummels its exports, darkening the outlook for suppliers from Australia to Taiwan.

Jan 23 — MAN to Sell Stake in Unprofitable China Bus Venture for 1 Euro  
Bloomberg (Jiang Jianguo) – MAN AG, Europe’s third-largest truckmaker, plans to sell its 50 percent stake in an unprofitable China bus venture for 1 euro ($1.30), its Chinese partner said in a statement to Shanghai’s stock exchange today.

The venture in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou has lost 94 million yuan ($14 million) since it was established in 2002, the statement said.

Jan 22 — Taiwan wins landmark access to WHO amid China thaw  
TAIPEI (Reuters, Ralph Jennings) – The World Health Organization opened a formal line of communication with Taiwan this month.

The WHO sent Taiwan a letter on January 13 saying it would allow the self-ruled island, over which China claims sovereignty, to contact the global organization about disease outbreaks such as SARS and avian influenza, the island's Department of Health said.

"Improvements in relations between Taiwan and mainland China have been a big help in getting this item passed," said island foreign ministry spokesman Henry Chen.

Beijing's 170 diplomatic allies around the world would once bar Taipei, with a mere 23 partners, from global bodies including the WHO that required statehood as a condition of membership.

Jan 23 — China Asks for Return of Uighurs Held in Guantanamo (Update1)  
Bloomberg (James Peng) – China called for the early return of 17 Chinese Uighurs from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison as President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the detention center holding suspected terrorists within a year.

“We oppose other nations taking these suspects and they should be repatriated to China immediately to be dealt with by Chinese law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yusaid yesterday, according to the ministry’s Web site.

While the Chinese Uighurs were originally cleared for release in 2004, the U.S. government said it couldn’t find any country willing to accept them and was concerned they would be persecuted if they returned to China.

Jan 23 — China rides crisis on a toy ox  
Hindustan Times – This month, the best Chinese New Year gift for a businessman fighting the economic crisis is a toy ox — a charm for prosperity as China’s economy battles a historic low.

So the atheist Chinese are hoping the year of the ox will usher a change of fortune.

Jan 23 — In China, out-of-work migrants destabilizing  
SHANGHAI (San Francisco Chronicle, Anna Mehler Paperny) – On a recent Sunday morning, the scene on the K290 train heading west from Shanghai to China's rural heartland was one of chaos. The hard-seat cars teemed with passengers, many of them migrant workers fighting to place their baggage in overhead compartments.

Jan 23 — China Train Travelers Want A Ticket To Ride  
NPR, Morning Edition (Anthony Kuhn) – The Year of the Ox begins on Monday. In the month before and after the Chinese New Year, an estimated 188 million Chinese passengers will endure long crowded train rides. The first hardship with the journey is just getting a ticket.  Public anger at issues, including ticket scalping, recently boiled over forcing China's president to take action.

Jan 23 — China rules out "Spring Festival" snow storm repeat  
Reuters (Ben Blanchard) – China does not expect a repeat this Lunar New Year of the snow storms which caused travel chaos and misery for millions of Chinese heading home for last year's "Spring Festival," the government said Friday.

"This year everyone can feel that there is much less snow, and in the south incidents of freezing cold and rain and snow have been localized and short-lasting," he told a news conference carried live on government website.

The Year of the Ox starts Monday.

Jan 23 — Weather disrupts travel in northern China  
BEIJING (UPI) – Heavy snow in China has caused havoc for thousands of travelers in northern parts of the country, officials said.