China Briefs—Nov 16 to Nov 19
Nov 16 — China's growth threatened by social divide
Reuters (Chris Buckley and Paul Tait)—China's growth prospects are clouded by a gulf between rich and poor, deterring consumption and dragging down productivity, said a report released on Sunday. The U.N.-sponsored "China Human Development Report" appeared a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao told a summit in Washington that his nation's continued fast growth was its "important contribution" to steadying the global economy.
But the report warns that skewed policies reinforce social divisions and threaten growth by giving the richest Chinese cities European-like levels of development while the poorest rural regions struggle at levels similar to African nations. The resulting mobility barriers, stagnated skills and dampened consumer spending could stifle growth unless the government channels more resources to poor groups and regions, said the report's authors from the China Institute for Reform and Development and other think-tanks.
The report urges faster steps to give rural residents public services similar to urban residents', and to extend welfare to 200 million migrant workers leaving farms.
Nov 16 — Earthquake shakes China province
MIANYANG CITY, China (UPI)—Another earthquake, this one measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, shook Sichuan province Sunday. Chinese officials say no one was killed.
Nov 16 — China gives no bailout promises at summit
US—China’s leader Hu Jintao got what he wanted: the promise of a bigger role in global financial decisions, but declined to commit any of China’s 1.9 trillion reserves to a global bailout fund. Speaking to leaders from the Group of 20 nations in Washington, Hu said China can best help reduce the impact of the global financial crisis by taking care of her own economy.
Nov 16 — China subway tunnel collapses
CHINA—Rescue workers continue their search for 18 missing workers after Saturday’s collapse of a subway tunnel under construction in the eastern city of Hangzhou. Three people were killed and 19 injured when at least 11 vehicles plunged into a huge hole according to state news.
Nov 16 — China's unemployed migrant workers woes
TONGAN, China (AFP)—The report highlighted the financial worries of China’s growing number of unemployed migrant workers and security concerns by China’s regime already grappling with thousands of violent public demonstrations each year by disgruntled, marginalised people in society. Experts warn the problem could get worse as more rural migrant workers lose their jobs.
Nov 16 — Chinese leader to visit struggling ally Cuba
HAVANA (Reuters)—China's President Hu Jintao travels to Cuba on Monday. Hu, who attended Saturday's Group of 20 global economy summit in Washington, was to stop in Costa Rica on Sunday before starting his two-day visit to Cuba. He will go to Peru later in the week for the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Cuba's economy was still suffering from the demise of the Soviet Union during Hu's last visit but has rebounded largely due to integration with oil-rich Venezuela and Chinese loans.
Nov 16 — China struggles to get rid of tens of thousands of tons of tainted milk
AP (Audra Ang) reported China faces a new problem with the tainted milk that has sickened babies and battered public confidence: how to get rid of the toxic stuff. It has been burned, buried and mixed into coal. One trash-hauling company dumped a load into a river, turning the waters a frothy white and raising fears about the safety of the drinking water.
Nov 16 — China's underground coal fires worst on earth
McClatchy’s Tim Johnson, in a report from Rujigou, China, said, China has the worst underground coal fires of any country on Earth. The fires destroy as much as 20 million tons of coal annually, nearly the equivalent of Germany's entire annual production.
The costs go beyond the waste of a valuable fuel, however, as they are also a significant source of greenhouse gases, which lead to global warming. Unnoticed by most people, the coal fires can burn for years — even decades and longer — seeping carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that warm the atmosphere, scientists say.
The article is part of a series by McClatchy on how human activities affect global warming. The rising demand for coal worldwide to satisfy a hunger for energy has given way to greater mining, and a proliferation of fires in coal seams and abandoned mines. China , which has tripled coal production in the past three decades, has mobilized thousands of firefighters to combat the 62 known coal fires that are scattered across its north.
Nov 16 — China's Gruesome Organ Harvest
Weekly Standard, Vol. 014, Issue 10—“The whole world isn't watching. Why not?” Ethan Gutmann is asking a rhetorical question at the outset of his investigative report into allegations of forced organ harvesting from practitioners of Falun Gong in China’s detention centers.
The interviews with some of the captives who got away and who told of torture, abuse and so called health examinations are chilling. “The doctor checked her retail organs and nothing else,” Gutmann says.
Equally chilling is Gutmann’s answer to his rhetorical question why the world isn’t watching this, “Washington faces its own imperatives: The riptide of Chinese financial power is strong. Those in government do not want to hear about Falun Gong and genocide at a time of financial crisis, with China holding large numbers of U.S. bonds. So the story continues to founder under the lead weight of American political and journalistic apathy.”
Nov 17 — 33 miners trapped in flooded mine in China
BEIJING (UP)—Thirty-three coal miners were trapped in a mine that flooded Monday in China's Henan province, provincial government officials said.
Nov 17 — FDA to open China offices after toxic product scares
CHINA—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will open three offices in China this week in to improve the safety of exports headed to U.S. following the recent melamine contamination of milk products and other toxic product safety concerns.
Nov 17 — EU, U.S. warn China on toy safety before Christmas
Reuters—The consumer chiefs of the European Union and the United States called on China on Monday to crack down on unsafe products, especially toys, ahead of Christmas.
The agreement requires China to inform the EU about what it is doing to tackle dangerous goods, especially toys.
Nov 17 — Coal mine accident in China kills one
CHINA—One miner was killed and 33 others were rescued after being trapped for 23 hours when a coal mine flooded in central China.
Coal mine accidents are frequent in China due to lax safety standards and poor oversight.
Nov 17 — China Hints Navy May Add Aircraft Carrier
BEIJING—The Financial Times of London (Mure Dickie and Martin Dickson) said on Monday, Maj. Gen. Quan Lihua, a senior official of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, hinted that China’s navy is seeking to acquire an aircraft carrier, but Beijing would use such a vessel only for offshore defence.
This comes amid heated speculation within China and abroad that the increasingly potent naval arm of the People’s Liberation Army has decided to develop and deploy its first aircraft carrier, the FT said.
Nov 18 — Taiwan to Set Up Checkpoints to Monitor China Ships, CNA Says
Bloomberg—Taiwan's defense ministry plans to set up checkpoints to ensure shipping links with China do not endanger national security, the official Central News Agency reported on its Web Site.
Nov 18 — China’s missile deployment monitored, MND head says
TAIPEI, Taiwan (China Post)—Minister of National Defense Chen Chao min said yesterday that whatever new types of missiles or weaponry China is deploying along its coastlines opposite Taiwan, they are all a military threat to the island.
“The Ministry of National Defense is gaining a better understanding of the latest report on China’s deployment of cutting-edge YJ-62A guided missiles along its southeast coasts, and we will take necessary measures to deal with this,” Chen said at the Legislative Yuan.
Nov 18 — China denies trying to obtain US space technology
BEIJING (AP)—China dismissed suggestions that it is seeking to illegally obtain U.S. space technology after a scientist in the United States was convicted of violating the U.S. arms embargo on China.
The scientist, Quan-Sheng Shu, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai, pleaded guilty Monday in a district court in Norfolk, Virginia, to selling rocket technology to China and bribing Chinese officials to secure a lucrative contract for his high-tech company.
Nov 18 — Beijing orders demolition of leading activist's home
Beijing (AFP)—Authorities have issued an order to destroy the home of one of China's leading rights activists who has been in police custody for more than 200 days, her husband and lawyer said Tuesday. Beijing's Xicheng court ordered developers to level the home of Ni Yulan and told the family to vacate the premises by the end of last week, husband Dong Jiqin told AFP, adding he had refused to leave.
"They stuck the demolition notice on our front door," Dong said. "Nobody came to talk with us, there were no negotiations for compensation, no public hearings."
Nov 18 — China miners rescued but little hope for subway workers
Reuters—Rescuers in central China have saved 32 out of 34 miners who had been trapped by an underground flood, but there is now little hope of finding 14 people missing in a subway tunnel collapse, state media said on Tuesday.
China's mining industry is the world's most dangerous. A total of 3,786 coal miners died in gas blasts, floodings and other accidents last year.
Nov 18 — China largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries
Bloomberg reported that China surpassed Japan in September to become the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, as foreign investors sought the relative safety of government debt as stocks plunged 9.1 percent that month.
China led all foreign official investors in September by posting a net increase in U.S. Treasuries for the sixth month in the past seven, bringing its total ownership close to $600 billion.
Nov 18 — China calls on U.S. to lift ban on dairy products
BEIJING (Reuters)—China on Tuesday called on the United States to lift its ban on Chinese dairy products, saying it had cracked down on the use of the toxic additive melamine in milk.
Nov 18 — China Documents First Case of Tick-Borne Disease Spread
HealthDay News reported the first Chinese case of a tick-borne disease called granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), which then led to person-to-person transmission of the disease, is described in a study by researchers at China's National Institute of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention.
Nov 18 — Castro serenades China's Hu on Cuba visit
Breitbart —China's Hu Jintao made a visit to Cuba on Tuesday, bearing millions of dollars in aid and promising closer future trade ties. The Chinese leader also brought 4.5 tonnes of humanitarian aid for victims of three hurricanes that battered Cuba this year.
Nov 19 — Economic Crisis Could Push Reform in China
NEW HAVEN (YaleGlobal)— In a November 12 article, Zhiwu Chen, Professor of Finance at the School of Management at Yale University said that it was inevitable that given its high level of dependence on exports, China’s real economy would not escape the impact of the global slowdown. Indeed many manufacturing firms are shutting down, creating a serious employment challenge.
Chen says China’s private consumption has failed to grow because most citizens don’t own property and, even though both the economy and asset values have been growing fast, most households don’t feel any wealth effect.
According to Chen’s compilation of official statistics, the Chinese government owns about three quarters of the country’s productive wealth. He says, for most consumers, wages are their only source of income. And this single income source has grown at a pace far lower than GDP growth rate. Without more and spreading private ownership of assets, there’s not enough wealth effect to boost consumption and private savings pressure will necessarily remain high.
Chen believes that even though China’s economy has benefitted and stayed on the high-growth path during the past 30 years, China has not done enough to bring about privatization and distributing state assets to its 1.3 billion citizens. Privatization has taken place through selling shares of state-owned enterprises at a price, he said. This means relatively few could buy and all proceeds went into the Ministry of Finance. This methods of privatization had little, if any, effect on domestic consumption, said Chen.
One of Chen’s recommendations to effectively stimulate China’s economy would be putting the all state assets into national wealth funds and distributing the fund shares equally among Chinese citizens. After all, Chen says, state assets belong to the people and it would be consistent with the very logic of state ownership. If this happens, says Chen, the financial crisis–induced reforms could position China for another period of high growth.
Nov 19 — FDA opens food-inspection offices in China
Reuters—U.S. officials opened the first overseas Food and Drug Administration office in Beijing on Wednesday as they gear up for a long battle to ensure the quality of food, drug and feed imports from China. Offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou will follow.
U.S. inspectors have complained in the past of limited access and information when investigating safety disputes with Chinese suppliers and manufacturers, but U.S. Secretary of Health Mike Leavitt said cooperation was improving.
Access was "clearly spelled out" in agreements between U.S. and Chinese authorities, Leavitt told reporters.
China has hundreds of thousands of food-production facilities and drug manufacturers. Inspecting and training them could prove harder than U.S. FDA officials realize. U.S. staffing in the three China offices will be between nine and 12 people according to a report in the Los Angeles Times of the same day.
Nov 19 — China to improve entire dairy industry
Epoch Times Blog—A couple of months ago it was said to be a few unscrupulous farmers who watered down milk and added in a little melamine, making 50,000 babies suffer kidney disease and killing five. China’s regime acted with surprise and shock, full of assurances to bring culprits to justice.
Then more and more melamine turned up, everywhere, in cookies, candies, eggs. And again, China’s regime acted surprised and shocked, and assured the world that the problem had been taken care of, there was nothing to worry about. Meanwhile lawsuits by parents whose babied died of kidney failure were being “discouraged.”
Now China’s state media says there will be an overhaul of every step of the entire dairy industry, from cow breeding to animal feed, to milk sales.
What will we hear next? That China’s leaders have resigned?
Nov 19 — China's Web star Baidu.com fights to rescue reputation after ad uproar that pounds its stock
AP—Baidu.com has been the star of China's Internet world. But now the search engine dubbed "China's Google" is scrambling to rescue its reputation after state TV accused it of letting unlicensed suppliers of medical products pay for higher rankings on its results page — without alerting users.
Nov 18 — China’s Auto Industry Presses for a Bailout From Beijing
New York Times (Keith Bradsher)—China’s car industry is quietly pressing Beijing for government help as it copes with a jarring slowdown. After six years of 20 percent or more annual growth, vehicle sales were flat or slightly negative, a shock to an industry that has borrowed heavily to build ever more factories for a market that had once seemed insatiable.
Nov 19 — China's Hu extends credit, donations to Cuba
HAVANA (AP)—Chinese President Hu Jintao has promised Cuba at least $78 million in donations, credit and hurricane relief to one of the few communist allies China has left. Cuba has already borrowed extensively from China and it is unclear if Beijing ever expects to be paid back, the report says.
Nov 19 — China says employment situation 'critical'
AFP—China warned Thursday it was facing serious unemployment problems due to the global economic crisis, amid signs it was increasingly concerned about social tensions across the country.
Nov 19 — Taxi Drivers Strike in China
BEIJING, Washington Post (Maureen Fan)—Civil unrest stemming from economic concerns flared in southwestern China on Wednesday as several hundred taxi drivers in Chongqing went on strike over a government plan to put more cabs on their district's roads. The protest took place two days after rioting erupted in the impoverished northwestern province of Gansu over declining incomes and property values.
Nov 19 — Firefox warns users of China add-on
Mozilla has advised Firefox customers not to try add-ons classed as experimental, such as the recently released China Channel, because they could cause computer problems.