China Briefs—Nov 8 to Nov 15

November 19, 2008 2:23 pm Last Updated: November 22, 2008 12:42 am

Nov 8—China Heading for Severe Economic Slowdown, Says Analyst

Times Online in a report by Leo Lewis, painted a pessimistic picture of China’s economic future, quoting numbers and predictions from a report by Eric Fishwick, chief economist at CLSA, an Asia specialist brokerage firm.

“It will be difficult for Chinese consumers to lift the country out of the slowdown as the economy is still largely focused on exports and commodities,” the report says, also, “China must be radically reassessed by investors and could be lurching towards a more dramatic economic slowdown than Beijing authorities will admit.” 

Nov 8—Mudslide Kills Family in China

CHANGSHA, China (Xinhua)—A family of six were killed when their house was hit by a landslide. The tragedy happened in the village of Huanxin, Hunan province, following heavy rain. One member of the family survived in critical condition. Government officials warned of additional mudslides, especially below reservoirs.

Nov 9—Obama, China's Hu Exchange Views on Taiwan, Other Issues

BEIJING (Reuters)—China's President Hu Jintao told U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in a telephone conversation that proper handling of the Taiwan issue would help improve Sino-U.S. ties, state media reported on Sunday.

Both countries should respect and accommodate the other's concerns and properly handle sensitive issues to promote Sino-U.S. relations to an even higher level, Hu was quoted as saying.

"Particularly the Taiwan issue," said Hu. "The relationship between the United States and China is the most vital relationship on today's international stage," Obama said to Hu, according to the reports.

The exchange mirrors the message China issued to Obama after his election victory, which also urged him to halt $6.5 billion worth of arms sales to the self-ruled island. China denounced last month a U.S. plan to sell the arms, including attack helicopters and missiles, to Taipei, and demanded Washington halt all military exchanges with Taiwan. Obama, who enters the White House in January 2009, expressed support for the arms sales during his election campaign.

Nov 9—Big Economies Eye China to Help Fight Recession

SAO PAULO (Reuters)—The world's biggest economies turned to China on Sunday to help soften an expected recession in many countries as Beijing approved a huge stimulus plan, the latest twist in a global effort to boost growth.

Finance ministers, senior officials and leading central bank governors from the Group of 20 were meeting in Brazil to discuss ways to bolster their economies, which represent about 90 percent of global output.

In China, the government approved a huge stimulus package worth nearly $600 billion through 2010 to boost domestic demand and offset a fall in exports, official media said. News agency Xinhua said the money will pay for the construction of airports, railways and highways across China.

China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said on Saturday that the Asian export powerhouse, one of the few remaining engines of global growth, wanted to maintain its economic expansion, which he forecast at 8 percent to 9 percent in 2009. Some economists have predicted the Chinese economic growth rate could slow to less than 8 percent next year, down from double-digit levels in the past five years until this year.

Nov 10—No Progress in China-Tibet Talks

After Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, last month expressed being hopeless about talks with China’s regime leaders, China responded that it was willing to talk. However, after another round of talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, it seams that once again, no mutually satisfactory progress has been achieved.

Outlook India reported that China told envoys of the Dalai Lama during talks in Beijing this week that any type of independence for Tibet, including semi-independence, was not an option. China asked the Dalai Lama to fundamentally change his political stance and become a "patriot" by accepting three conditions: "adherence" to the ruling Communist Party's leadership, the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, and the regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities as stipulated in China's Constitution.  

Envoys of the Dalai Lama returned to Dharmsala, India to prepare for a special meeting of Tibetans to be held Nov. 17-22.

6.5-Magnitude Quake Strikes Northwest China

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck remote northwestern China, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The center of the quake was near Golmud in Qinghai province, approx. 1,120 miles west of Beijing. According to state media, there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

Meanwhile rebuilding is slow and insufficient for many families in China's Sichuan province six months after the deadliest earthquake in a generation destroyed entire towns and left millions homeless.

"The quake… left more than five million homeless as whole villages were razed, 1.5 million people in Sichuan lost their jobs. In the hardest hit areas, more than 80 percent are unemployed, " United Nation's top official in China, Khalid Malik, told AFP Nov. 9.

Nov 9—China's Pandas Face Tough Winter

The giant panda, China’s endearing national symbol, faces tough winter season. The May 12 Sichuan earthquake which caused over 80,000 human deaths and untold hardships for millions of survivors in the area, is also endangering China’s giant pandas.

As landslides have destroyed panda habitats and food supplies at high altitudes, more hungry and sick giant pandas than in past winters are seeking food at lower altitudes, straining facilities at the panda research centers, Xinhua news reported.

Nov. 10—China Evades U.N.'s Questions on Torture

GENEVA—China refused Monday to answer questions from a U.N. human rights panel about the alleged torture and disappearance of dissidents, or provide official figures on the mistreatment of detainees in its prisons.

Li Baodong, China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said his government had "zero tolerance for torture" and was making progress in stamping out abuse.

Amnesty International is among more than a dozen human rights groups that submitted reports to the U.N. panel describing acts of brutality in Chinese police stations, prisons, covert detention centres, and in the streets throughout the country. Amnesty's Francis said the U.N. panel needed to press Beijing to respond to new reports that China has been holding Falun Gong practitioners and others in covert "black jails," and hiring "thugs" to attack and harass human rights lawyers.

Nov 10—China Wants To Turn Toxic Milk Into Bricks

Guangzhou city officials are considering turning toxic milk into bricks and cement as a cheap and clean way of disposing of the tainted product, state media reported Tuesday.

The massive amounts of tained milk have not only brought the country huge health related and economic costs but are now causing additional disposal expenses and environmental concerns if dumped into rivers or buried in the ground.

Meanwhile a state news agency reported that 1,272 children are still hospitalized in China with illnesses resulting from baby formula contaminated with chemicals. The actual numbers of children suffering injury may be higher.

Nov 11—China Investigates Violence In Latest Taxi Strike

BEIJING (AP)—Police detained 21 people for smashing taxicabs during the latest taxi strike to hit China as more drivers took to the streets Tuesday to protest high costs and competition from illegal cabs.

Nov 11—China National Games Stadium Catches Fire Again

BEIJING (Reuters)—A second fire in four months engulfed the indoor stadium that is being built for next year's 11th China National Games in the eastern city of Jinan, state media reported on Tuesday.

About seven fire trucks and dozens of fire fighters rushed to the lotus-shaped Olympic Sports Center stadium in Shandong province, which will stage the ball games next October, Xinhua news agency said.

Nov. 11—China: Protecting Domestic Economy Is Top Priority

BEIJING (AP)—Preparing for a Washington summit to discuss a response to the global financial crisis, China indicated Tuesday its focus will be its own economy — not paying to bail out others.

Nov 11—China Stocks May Need More Measures to Lure Investors

(Bloomberg)—China may have more work ahead to revive investors’ confidence in the world’s worst-performing major stock market after unveiling a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus plan. The government’s announcement on Nov. 9 followed three interest-rate cuts in two months and the end of a tax on equity purchases. China’s benchmark CSI 300 Index had fallen 66 percent this year through yesterday, twice the drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Nov 12—China recalls capsules suspected of liver damage

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has ordered a hemorrhoid medicine off pharmacy shelves over fears the capsules were to blame for liver problems, state media reported on Wednesday.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) demanded the nationwide recall of the "Zhixue" capsules made by Vital Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd in southwest China, Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty-one people across the country suffered "liver problems" after taking the medicine in past months, and another 14 reported other problems, Xinhua reported.

Nov 12—Russia-China Oil Loan Talks Suspended

MOSCOW (Reuters)—Russia and China have suspended talks over $25 billion in loans to Russian oil companies due to disagreements over interest rates and state guarantees, two Russian sources close to talks told Reuters on Wednesday.

"The working groups have suspended talks after the Chinese side raised quite absurd lending conditions. One could have a feeling that there had been no previous round of talks in Moscow," one source, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to talk about the issue publicly, told Reuters.

Nov 12—China Plans Second Moon Probe

BEIJING (Times of India)— China on Wednesday announced plans to launch a second lunar probe as well as a moon landing and rover mission by 2012.

Nov 12—Nigerian Satellite Launched by China Loses Power

(AP)—A Nigerian communications satellite built and launched by China has been knocked out of service due to a power failure, a spokeswoman for China's launch services provider said Thursday.

Nov 12—Impact of Financial Crisis on China 'Worse Than Expected', Says Wen

BEIJING (AFP)—China's Premier Wen Jiabao said the effect of the global financial meltdown on the country was "worse than expected," state media said Thursday, in a sign of growing concern at the impact of the crisis.

Wen was quoted as making the assessment by the director of the National Bureau of Statistics Ma Jiantang when he briefed his staff on Tuesday, according to the website of the bureau's newspaper China Information News.

"The impact of the global financial crisis on the Chinese economy is much worse than many had expected," Ma said according to the website, passing on remarks made by Wen.

China initially said the global financial crisis would not cause too much harm to its economy, but in recent days the signals from Beijing have changed markedly.

Wen's comment comes after the Chinese government unveiled a four trillion yuan (586 billion dollars) economic stimulus plan on Sunday aimed at boosting domestic consumer demand in the face of flagging exports.

Nov 12—Hong Kong Finds Tainted Feed From China

International Herald Tribune – Hong Kong food inspectors have found fish feed imported from China contaminated with high levels of melamine.

Nov 13—FDA to Detain Food Shipments From China

FDA officials will be stopping dozens of imported foods from China, from snacks and drinks to chocolates and candies. The agency said it was a precautionary measure to keep out foods contaminated with melamine. The order also applies to pet foods and some bulk protein products.

The FDA action essentially shifts the burden of proof to Chinese companies, which must now give evidence that their products are safe.

Nov 13—U.S. Health Leaders Headed to China Over Food Safety

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Two top U.S. health officials will go to China next week to talk about food safety after a series of health scares from Chinese-made products.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach also will open new FDA offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, the Health and Human Services Department said on Thursday.

Nov 14—China Milk Inspectors Beaten Over New Safety Checks, Says State Media

BEIJING (AFP)—According to the China Youth Daily, two Chinese milk inspectors for Mengniu dairy were brutally beaten after leaving work on November 5 by a group of unidentified men with clubs. One of the inspectors suffered a fractured vertebra and other injuries and lapsed into a coma. The attackers are believed to be suppliers who are angry over the new tough safety regulations following the melamine tained milk scandal.

Nov 14—China Recalls Needles That Snapped in Infant's Vein

Beijing (Reuters)—China said on Friday it had recalled a batch of disposable medical needles after one snapped when inserted into an infant's vein, the latest in a string of food and product safety problems.

Health organizations were ordered to stop using the needles, made by a Shanghai-based firm, after tests on another six from the same batch showed they all broke easily, a health ministry statement on the central government website said.

The incident was reported by a maternity center in southeastern Guangdong province in mid-October, Xinhua state news said, without explaining why the problem was not made public earlier.

Nov 14—China Trying To Force 6-Months Pregnant Woman To Abort

BEIJING (McClatchy)—A Muslim Uighur woman who's more than six months pregnant with her third child is being threatened with forced abortion by Chinese authorities. The abortion is being delayed because of international protest.

The report said that U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith said in a statement that he wrote China's ambassador to Washington, Zhou Wenzhong to demand that "the nightmare of a forced abortion" not be carried out. "The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice."

Nov 14—China Warns France Over Meeting With Dalai Lama

Beijing thretened French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying his planned meeting with the Dalai Lama could hurt relations between the two countries.

"We resolutely oppose foreign leaders having any form of contact with the Dalai Lama," China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in response to Sarkozy's announcement that he would meet with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader during a visit to Poland next month.

Using customary regime state retoric, Qin reminded France to “look at the big picture, pay attention to China's serious concerns and handle relevant issues properly to promote the stable development of Sino-French and European-Chinese relations."

According to a report by The Tocqueville Connection, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters Friday at an EU-Russia summit in Nice that France rejected Beijing's claim that relations between France and China will suffer if President Sarkozy meets with the Dalai Lama.

"No, it is not a problem," Kouchner said. "I have already met him (the Dalai Lama) 20 times," he said, adding that he believed the French president was handling the issue "correctly."

Sarkozy himself remarked Friday, saying that if the meeting "is a problem, that will be another opportunity for dialogue."

Nov 15—China Subway Tunnel Collapses; 1 Dead, 16 Missing

State media reported that a subway tunnel under construction in eastern China has collapsed, creating a huge crater into which more than 10 vehicles plunged. At least one person died and 16 are missing.