Friday, September 19, 2008

China to push forward South-South agricultural cooperation

China will continue to cooperate with developing countries in pushing forward South-South agricultural cooperation, said China's Ministry of Agriculture on Friday.

Lu Xiaoping, the deputy chief of the international cooperation department of the ministry, made the remarks at a news briefing on Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals scheduled for Sept. 25 in New York.

"China is still a developing country. It has a common task with many developing countries in developing its domestic economy, improving the people's living standards and realizing the MDGs," said Lu.

He said China had established effective and pragmatic agricultural cooperative mechanisms with many developing countries. It aimed at promoting information-sharing, research cooperation and technology exchanges in the agricultural field.

"The Ministry of Agriculture has forged sound relations with many international agricultural organizations, financial institutes and developing countries," he said.

"In addition, China signed cooperative documents or memorandums on agriculture with more than 30 developing countries, which established the cooperative mechanism in the field."

Under the framework of the mechanism, China promoted cooperation with the governments of many developing countries on both policy and technology exchanges. They also coordinated with one another in international agricultural negotiations and enacting international rules on agriculture.

Lu said China had helped some of the developing countries to build agricultural technology demonstration centers and farms, which helped them to share China's successful experience and practical technology.

"China carried through cooperation in the planting industry and the prevention of cross-border animal epidemic diseases," he said.

China had also played an active role in human resource exploration and management in the agricultural field, such as sending agricultural experts and technicians as well as holding training courses and seminars, which benefited thousands of people.

So far, China has sent nearly 1,000 agricultural experts and technicians to more than 20 countries. Regarding Ethiopia alone, China had sent about 300 agricultural teachers there in seven years, which benefited more than 30,000 local teachers.

Set in 2000, MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal health, all by 2015.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese FM: Credit turmoil won't compromise UN development goals

China on Friday reaffirmed its efforts to honor its commitments to the United Nations development goals despite the global financial turmoil.

"China, together with developing countries, is concerned about the U.S. financial situation, which was triggered by the U.S. credit crunch," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told journalists.

"But I don't think the turmoil will compromise the UN Millennium Development Goals," or MDGs. "China will honor its commitments," he said.

He made the comments at a press briefing on Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the UN MDG summit in New York on Sept. 25.

Set in 2000, the MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal health, all by 2015.

As this year coincided with the mid-term review for the MDG, heads of states or government chiefs from 140 countries will attend the summit, he said.

"The presence of so many world leaders at the summit shows their intent to carry out the commitments in reaching the MDGs," he said.

Wen will address the summit, elaborating what China has done to realize goals on global poverty alleviation and offering suggestions on how to better attain the goals.

Wen will also attend the general debate of the 63rd UN General Assembly, outlining China's development strategy and foreign policy.

"We can't foresee how the financial market will move, but we can prevail over difficulties as long as all countries make concerted efforts," the vice minister said.

"As for China, our economy is much more solid than in past. Thus, I am confident we will implement our commitments for the MDGs," he said.

Source: Xinhua

China, India conclude border talks without agreement

China and India concluded two days of border talks on Friday without reaching any specific agreements.

"Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Indian National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan headed their delegations for the talks, which were pragmatic, candid and friendly," according to a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

This was the 12th round of bilateral talks since China and India appointed special representatives in 2003 to expedite a resolution of the decades-long border issue.

The statement said Dai and Narayanan exchanged in-depth views on a framework to solve the issue.

They agreed that both countries would carry out the guidelines of their leaders, maintain negotiations and seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both sides.

The brief statement did not indicate whether any progress had been made during the latest talks.

The next round of discussions will take place in India, according to the statement.

Source: Xinhua

China to launch 100-day campaign to beef up road safety

The Ministry of Public Security will launch a 100-day campaign on Sunday aimed at preventing serious road accidents.

"The aim of the campaign is to avoid very serious road accidents that kill more than 10 people and markedly decrease those causing more than three to five deaths," Vice Minister Liu Jinguo told a conference here.

The ministry directed local bureaus nationwide to check all passenger vehicles within their area and offer education to all drivers at least once before Oct. 15.

Local offices were directed to overhaul road signals and traffic safety facilities, report any hidden troubles and give feasible suggestions for improvement.

Liu said that those who failed to complete these measures would face punishment.

Liu urged local bureaus to beef up rural road safety, check and register all vehicles of seven seats or more and those transporting dangerous chemicals, and absolutely avoid overcrowding.

On Sept. 13, a bus accident in southwestern Sichuan Province killed all 51 people aboard.

Source: Xinhua

As tainted milk is withdrawn, China says supplies are sufficient

The Ministry of Commerce said here on Friday that 3,215 tonnes of milk powder had been removed from retail outlets around the country amid the tainted milk scandal, but supplies of safe domestic milk powder are sufficient.

The ministry is to continue monitoring the market and take effective measures to guarantee supply. A daily report system, initiated on Sept. 15, requires local authorities, major dealers and manufacturers to report key statistics, such as the price, stock and sales of milk powder.

The National Development and Reform Commission also issued an emergency notice, asking local authorities to step up price monitoring and intervene when necessary to stabilize the price of baby milk powder.

More than 6,200 infants have developed kidney stones after drinking baby formula tainted with the hazardous chemical melamine, which makes the protein content of the milk appear higher.

Dairy giant Sanlu, based in the Hebei provincial capital of Shijiazhuang in north China, was the first company exposed in the scandal, but subsequent investigations found a total of 22 manufacturers involved, including leading companies such as the Bright Dairy & Food and Mengniu Group.

Source: Xinhua

HK testers: No more dairy products from mainland tainted

All the 47 samples of dairy products, including milk, milk beverage, milk powder, yogurt and condensed milk, were free from melamine, Hong Kong testers said Friday.

The Center for Food Safety of Hong Kong released the latest batch of test results of the Chinese mainland dairy products on Friday.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to collect dairy product samples for testing," a CFS spokesman said.

The CFS warned the public on Thursday not to consume dairy products from Chinese mainland's brand Yili as eight samples of its goods had been found to contain melamine.

Source: Xinhua

HK stocks rally dramatically, market's full recovery looms

Hong Kong stocks rallied 9.61 percent Friday, its biggest gain in eight months, but analysts and traders said it was too early to say whether the local equities market has fully recovered.

Hong Kong's benchmark Index on Friday almost recouped all the losses in former three sessions this week, following Wall Street's overnight rally and Chinese mainland's rebound Friday on news of latest market-boosting measures.

But analysts said the index will likely remain in a wide 16,000-20,000 range in the near term as uncertainties surrounding global economic growth and the health of major financial institutions continue to loom.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 410.03 points or 3.86 percent overnight, boasted on news that worldwide leading central banks injecting multi-billion U.S. dollars capital to ease liquidity in strained markets.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed up nearly 9.46 percent, the biggest one-day percentage gain in seven years, on news that Chinese mainland government launches a series of major rescue market-boosting efforts.

The central government on Thursday announced to cancel the share trading stamp tax on stock purchase, effective on Friday, while the stamp tax on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent.

Central Huijin Investment said it began buying ICBC, China Construction Bank and Bank of China Thursday, sending the three banks' share prices steeply up in Hong Kong market which led Friday's blue-chip gains.

Analysts said Bank of China's rally was also helped by its purchase of a 20 percent stake in France's Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild.

However, the strong gains in regional stock markets failed to allay concerns that the turmoil in the global financial markets will continue to exert downward pressure on local shares, analysts said.

"Investors should be taking today's opportunity to trim some holdings rather than chasing into a rally," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia, as the bear market isn't over.

Peter Lai, a director at DBS Vickers Securities, said there hasn't been enough change in the market and companies' fundamentals to warrant optimism on their outlook.

"Trading remains driven by news and sentiment, so I would expect index to continue to swing wildly in the near term," he said.

Source: Xinhua

Beijing hospital full up with panicked parents over tainted milk scare

"It has been almost three months. e cries every time he pees," said Ren Haitang, a 50-year-old grandmother from a rural village in Yan'an City of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

She was referring to her eight-month-old grandson who had been raised on Sanlu milk powder, the formula which was detected to contain the banned chemical melamine.

Upon her arrival in the capital early on Friday morning, she hooked up with her husband who was working in the city and the couple rushed with the boy in tow to Beijing Children's Hospital, one of the country's most prestigious childrens hospitals.

At about 11 a.m., the grandfather was given registration card "No. 1169" for sonographic scans of the baby's kidneys and a urine test. It would be a long wait as many other infant patients were ahead them.

Ren's family, including her husband, three sons, a daughter-in-law and the grandson, make their living by running an apple orchard. It earns about 20,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan annually.

"We have spent more than 10,000 yuan before we came to Beijing," Ren said. "We can't afford more."

A mere look at the child was enough to make her tearful.

Like Ren, many parents at the hospital said they had not been aware of their children's sickness until they saw the news about the tainted Sanlu milk powder.

According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, 69 batches of milk products made by 22 dairy companies, including the well-known Sanlu, Yili, Mengniu and Yashili brands, had been laced with melamine.

Melamine, a chemical normally used in plastics, was mixed illegally into the milk powder to raise its protein content.

The worst tainted formula of Sanlu Group Co. has the largest market in China with its lower price, usually one-third that of imported powdered milk.

The melamine-tainted formula has caused four infant deaths and left more than 6,000 other children sick with kidney stones.

Panicked parents took their babies to hospitals though many didn't show any symptoms of kidney disease.

Tian Xiaoyan took her eight-month-old daughter to the Beijing Children's Hospital for an ultrasound. The baby was fed a milk powder sold by the southern Guangdong-based Yashili Group Co.

The Beijing woman said she had switched to imported infant formula, but was still concerned about safety. "I really hope the government can expand the checks and testing to more overseas brands of infant formula."

Not all children were so lucky to have timely checks at the hospital. Li Zhanshan, 47, had to find another facility for his nine-month-old son. The boy, who had been diagnosed with a kidney stone measuring 0.9 cm in diameter, was turned away after being told the hospital was fully booked.

The man had traveled from Tangshan City in the northern Hebei Province. He said his son was in such a serious condition that hospitals in his hometown refused to take him.

"Whatever it takes, I'll get my son hospitalized," he said while leaving, a worried look on his face.

Beijing has two children's hospitals where the patient admissions have been on the rise. The institutions had borrowed ultrasound scanners from other hospitals.

The influx of sickened children to the city has risen as the Beijing municipal government promised free exams and treatment to all who have consumed the contaminated milk.

Source: Xinhua

China makes contributions to Millenium Development Goals, official

A Chinese Ministry of Commerce official said here on Friday that although China is still a developing country, it would continue to make contributions according to its own capabilities to help reduce global poverty.

"China is still a developing country. Its GDP per capita will remain low for a very long time," said Gao Yuanyuan, the ministry's foreign aid department deputy head, at a press conference prior to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit to open in New York on Sept. 25.

As this year coincides with the MDG mid-term review, heads of states or government chiefs from 140 countries will attend the summit.

Gao said although China is a developing country, it is committed to making bigger contributions to the global poverty alleviation campaign.

According to Gao, China has already offered its assistance to more than120 foreign countries, establishing about 2,000 projects abroad since the 1950s. Since then, it has also trained more than 100,000 professionals for 160 countries and dispatched 20,000 medical personnel and 240 young volunteers.

It has also exempted 376 debts owed by 49 of the most underdeveloped countries and offered timely help and assistance to those who suffered humanitarian disasters.

China's foreign assistance, according to Gao, covers such fields as agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, light textiles, transport, telecom and civil construction, among others.

The country would expand its foreign aid plan in line with its national capabilities and increase its assistance efficiency to realize the MDG along with the joint efforts from the international community, she added.

Established in 2000, the MDG include goals for eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal health by 2015.

Source: Xinhua

China opens second national hotline for panicked parents over tainted milk scare

China's Health Ministry announced on Friday it had opened a second national hotline for panicked parents to have medical consultation in the wake of the ongoing tainted baby milk formula scandal.

The public health service number -- 021-12320 -- in Shanghai is manned by experts who provide advice on how to appropriately treat babies stricken by the tainted baby milk powder.

The hotline follows the first round-the-clock service opened in Beijing on Wednesday. It was providing people with information on treatment and had partially met the demands of parents, a ministry source said, without elaborating on how many had used the service.

Six provinces had also opened regional hotlines, including Hebei, Qinghai, Jiangsu, Shandong, Jilin and Fujian.

On Friday, the ministry asked the rest of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to organize experts and set up hotlines for local residents.

More than 6,200 infants developed kidney stones after drinking a baby formula tainted with melamine. The chemical, which was added illegally, makes the protein content of milk appear higher than it actually is.

The formula has so far killed four infants.

Dairy giant Sanlu based in the northern Hebei provincial capital of Shijiazhuang was the first company exposed in the scandal.

Source: Xinhua

Ministry: China becomes first nation to halve poor population

China halved its impoverished population over the past three decades, according to Huang Yanxin, deputy director of the regulation department under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The accomplishment makes China the first nation to fulfill its objective under the Millennium Development Goals framework.

"According to China's standards, the number of poor people dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 14.8 million in 2007," said Huang.

He made the comments at a press briefing on Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the UN MDG summit in New York on Sept. 25.

The comments also conveyed China had fulfilled the goal of halving poor population, compared with the time when MDG project was established. Set in 2000, the MDG include eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal health, all by 2015.

The percentage of people living in absolute poverty in rural areas plunged from 30.7 percent in 1978 to 1.6 percent in 2007, Huang said.

As to those living a subsistence existence, the number fell from 62 million in 2000 to 28 million last year.

China's achievements in relieving poverty had been felt by all, Huang stated. China's poverty reduction promoted development in rural areas, fostered harmony in communities and sped up the process of international poverty relief work.

Huang noted that 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. One of the first steps the country took was to improve rural living standards.

Huang said China had solved the problem of feeding 1.3 billion people during the past 30 years. Compared with 1978, grain output had increased from about 300 billion kg to 500 billion kg in 2007.Amid world shortages of food and soaring prices, China's food supply and prices remained stable.

"It's the important contribution Chinese agriculture made to domestic development and global agriculture," Huang said.

Source: Xinhua

Financial regulators have asked domestic financial institutions to submit detailed records of their investments in US and European financial assets to

China expressed its gratitude to the international community for its support to the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics at a reception here on Friday.

Vice President Xi Jinping voiced his congratulations to the athletes from various countries and regions for their outstanding performances. He expressed his appreciation to the international community for its support and contribution to the success of the respective games.

He said China had already fulfilled its promise to host two Olympic events, the Olympics and Paralympics, with the same distinguished features and of the same high level; their success was yielded from the joint efforts made by Chinese and people all over the world.

The Olympic events were the stage for the athletes to realize their dreams and achieve glory, Xi said, noting the Olympic and Paralympic games were also platforms for people worldwide to boost friendship and increase mutual understanding.

He said the two events left the world with spiritual legacies of solidarity, friendship and cooperation, which helped China and the outside world better understand each other.

"We Chinese people are very proud of creating and carrying on those spiritual legacies."

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi hosted the reception. Around 380 ambassadors and representatives of international organizations in Beijing attended the reception.

Source: Xinhua

Details of banks' foreign investment sought

Financial regulators have asked domestic financial institutions to submit detailed records of their investments in US and European financial assets to ascertain the full extent of their exposure to the US financial crisis.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission reportedly made the request to financial institutions under their supervision.

At least six Chinese commercial banks have reportedly disclosed their holdings of bonds issued by US investment bank Lehman Brothers, which has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has said it holds $151 million in bonds issued by or linked to Lehman. China's largest State-controlled commercial bank in terms of assets is known to have the highest exposure to securities associated with Lehman.

On Tuesday, China Merchants Bank said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange that it holds $70 million worth of Lehman bonds, out of which $60 million is senior debt and the rest subordinate bonds.

A day later, Bank of China said it holds Lehman bonds worth $75.62 million, and has lent out $53.2 million to Lehman and its subsidiaries.

The three other commercial banks that have reportedly invested in Lehman-related assets are China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications, and Industrial Bank Co.

The only known Chinese insurer holding substantial foreign assets is Ping An, which has a 4.18 percent stake in Fortis, one of the largest European insurance conglomerates.

Source: China Daily

Stamp tax dropped to lift stock market

The government Thursday scrapped the stamp tax on purchase of equities and the State-owned investment agency Central Huijin announced it would buy shares of three major Chinese banks.

The moves are aimed at stabilizing the fragile stock market, reeling under the impact of the US financial crisis.

In the US and Europe, the news of central banks across the world pumping billions of dollars into the market appeared to calm investors' nerves early yesterday.

The triple whammy of Lehman Brothers going bust, Merrill Lynch being sold and AIG needing $85 billion of US government funds for survival sent the financial markets across the globe tumbling over the past few days.

Chinas' top assets regulator said Thursday that it will back up and encourage its 147 State-owned enterprises to buy more stocks of their listed subsidiaries.

Analysts, however, said more measures are needed to put the market back on the track to healthy development.

The stock trading tax cut takes effect from today, which means the 0.1 percent tax will apply only to the sale of shares. The government had slashed the tax from 0.3 percent to 0.1 percent on April 24 to invigorate the market.

But despite that the market continued to fall, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index hitting a low of 1,802 yesterday before closing at 1,896 points, down 1.72 percent. The SCI has dropped about 70 percent from its October peak of 6,124.

Central Huijin, an arm of the country's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, said it has started buying shares of heavyweights such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China , Bank of China and China Construction Bank as early as yesterday.

Li Rongrong, head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission , said the regulatory body has for long wanted SOEs, especially the 147 that report to the central government directly, to become an active force in facilitating a stable development of the stock market. Companies owned by the 147 giants should play an exemplary role in the market.

He said the national economy is basically sound, and the key SOEs are performing well. The SASAC encourages them to buy more stocks of their listed companies.

Banks' shares have fallen steeply during the last two trading sessions, thanks to the news of Lehman's bankruptcy.

"The government has taken the steps to protect the market from irrational sell-off," Li Zhikun, China Jianyin Investment Securities' senior analyst, said.

Chinese stocks have become fairly undervalued after steep falls during the past year, and the government is trying to restore investor confidence, he said.

Though the market is expected to rebound, analysts are not sure how long it would sustain. To hold the market from diving further, more measures need to be taken, they said.

For example, the fear of mass floating of shares, locked up before the share-merger reform in 2005, has triggered a continuous sell-off since early this year, said Zhao Xijun, professor of finance at Renmin University of China. The authorities, on the other hand, could issue new regulations to make it more difficult for those shares to flood the market.

Source:China Daily

Bank rally sweetens bitter pill

SHANGHAI: The recovery of bank shares after a technical correction in the afternoon helped lessen the impact of the global stock market crash on mainland bourses yesterday.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slid 33.21 points, or 1.72 percent, to close at 1895.84, with 795 out of 963 stocks closing lower, while the smaller Shenzhen Component Index plunged 116.99 points to end at 6563.07.

The combined turnover on the two bourses reached 60.76 billion yuan, up 37.2 percent from Wednesday, while total market capitalization shrank 1.8 percent to 12.37 trillion yuan yesterday.

Analysts said major stocks should take the blame for the straight fall yesterday, with seven out of the top 10 heavyweights tumbling on the two bourses. Both China Ping An Insurance and China Life Insurance fell below their IPO issue prices.

China Ping An fell 8.64 percent, or 2.9 yuan, to 30.66 yuan, while China Life was down 4.48 percent to close at 18.97 yuan.

"The continuous slumps in the US market overnight caused panic among Chinese investors fearing a longer southward trend in the market, making insurance and securities firms fall sharply," said Wu Feng, an analyst at TX Investment Consulting Co Ltd.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones slid 449.36 points to close at 10609.66, a fresh low since 9/11.

All securities shares were down yesterday, led by Hongyuan Securities, which dropped 6.19 percent to 13.78 yuan.

Bank shares, besides China Construction Bank and Bank of Communications, rebounded in afternoon trading after drops in the morning, led by Nanjing Bank with a 10.07 percent increase to 8.42 yuan.

Bank of China gained 2.69 percent to end at 3.05 yuan, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was up 0.58 percent to 3.44 yuan.

"The recovery of bank shares is a short-term correction, but the long-term performance of banks remains unclear as the latest interest rate cut may hurt bank's earnings," Wu noted.

TX Investment Consulting lowered its forecast for lenders' 2009 net profit growth to 13 percent from its previous figure of 19 percent.

Caught up in the tainted baby milk scandal, shares in Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group fell to its daily limit of 10.01 percent to close at 10.88 yuan.

"In a bearish market, any negative news would cause a severer than expected response from investors. Consumers' concerns on food safety have deepened with the unfolding tainted milk scandal," Wu said.

Source:China Daily

COSL's offer for acquisition of AWO to be completed within two weeks

China Oilfield Services Ltd. announced on Thursday its offering to buy Norway's Awilco Offshore ASA for 12.7 billion kroner had been approved by Chinese securities regulators and the deal's settlement would take place within two weeks.

So far, COSL has received all approvals required from relevant Chinese authorities and has met all required conditions for completion of the offer, said the company.

COSL, the listed arm of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation , the country's biggest offshore oil producer, announced in early July that the company would pay 85 kroner in cash per share for the Norway-based operator of oil and gas rigs through its 100 percent owned Norwegian limited liability company COSL Norwegian AS.

COSL got approval from its shareholders at the extraordinary general meeting held in August as well as acceptance representing 98.82 percent shares in AWO.

Related Chinese authorities including the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the State-owed Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Ministry of Commerce have also given green light to the deal.

Based in Oslo, AWO operates in Australia, Norway, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and the Mediterranean. The deal would help raise the number of COSL's operating rigs to 22 from 15 at present and create the world's eighth largest rig fleet.

CNOOC Group owns a 54.74 percent stake in the Hong Kong- and Shanghai-listed China Oilfield.


China stock prices open 9.06% higher following stamp tax cut

China stock prices soared 9.06 percent at opening on Friday after the government moved to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase, effective Friday, in a move to boost the equities market.

The government said late Thursday it would cancel the 0.1-percent stamp tax on purchasing shares while that on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent.

The move came after domestic stocks fell for three consecutive days under the influence of U.S. financial market upheaval.

Also on Thursday, the government's investment arm -- Central Huijin Investment Co., Ltd. -- said it would buy shares of three major Chinese lenders on the secondary market to fortify their share prices.

The three lenders, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank, had shed heavy losses in the previous three days of trading, as banks were most hit by the spreading crisis on the Wall Street.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2,067.64 points, up 171.81 points. Nearly all the stocks rose to the daily limit of 10 percent at opening.

The rising momentum was maintained in about an hour after the market opened, with the key index repeatedly hitting new highs in trading. It reached a high of 2,074.31 points before 10:20, up about 9.4 percent.

The market surge also came after the Wall Street rallied on news of a possible government rescue plan to create an entity like the Resolution Trust Corp. to absorb banks' bad loans.

Boosted by the overnight Wall Street advance, regional markets in Asia mostly opened higher on Friday.


China aims to foster more world famous bag brands with good quality

China Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports of Light Industrial Products and Arts-Crafts Thursday signed a cooperation memo with eastern Pinghu city to set up a suitcase and bag manufacturing base.

Wang Zhongqi, vice president of the chamber told Xinhua that this would foster more export famous brands and lay a sound foundation for the long-run industry development, as well as help promote regional industrial upgrading.

Zhejiang Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau would also help in improving suitcase and bag quality for export.

Wang said that the CCCLA and the local government would strengthen product safety and quality supervision and raise the environmental protection threshold for local enterprises.

Liu Zhiyan, vice director of the bureau, said the collaboration between the local government and the quality watchdog was well-timed to safeguard export quality.

Liu called on companies to enhance their sense of social responsibility and self-discipline, adding that "premium-quality products come from production, not from inspection".

Shi Yunliang, the city's vice mayor, urged the more than 500 local suitcase and bag businesses to focus on brand building and better quality to increase their products added-value, amid sliding demand from traditional European and American markets.

As the world's largest suitcase and bag manufacturer and exporter, China exported 6.286 billion U.S. dollars of product globally in the first half of this year, up 26.45 percent year on year, according to Huang Daqi, CCCLA Suitcases and Bags secretary general.

The country's exported suitcases and bags accounted for more than one third of the global market. The United States and the European Union were the major customers, Huang said.

She added that the country exported 4.066 billion bags and suitcases in the first half, which translated into 1.55 U.S. dollars per bag, far cheaper than world's well-established brands from France, Italy, Japan and other countries.

Shi Lili, a Ministry of Commerce research fellow, said pressure on exporters from the appreciation of the yuan, labor and material price increases and the slowing pace of U.S. and European markets were signs that domestic companies should embark on a "quality and brand-oriented" development road, as only those companies that did so would survive further squeezes on their profits.

Nie Jianqiang, a manager from a leading exporter, Shanghai-based Yangfan Suitcase and Bag Co., said that his company had felt the chill since last year from raw material price rises and employee salary rises.

Skilled workers at several companies in Pinghu told Xinhua that their current monthly salary was 1,700 yuan , more than 20 percent higher than the 1,300 to 1,400 yuan that Xinhua found this March in the same city.

James Wang, CCCLA Suitcases and Bags president, said regional cooperation, enterprise concept change and bigger government support were all pre-requisites for the industry, which employed more than 1.5 million people nationwide, to shift from "China Made" to "China Designed".

The country has more than 18, 000 suitcase and bag exporters, most of which are in Zhejiang, Guangdong, Fujian provinces and Shanghai.

Located in Zhejiang, with a population more than 500,000, Pinghu city sees this sector turning out more than 5 billion yuan sales volume last year, according to Shi Jihong, local industry chamber president.

But most of these companies were doing the labor-intensive Original Equipment Manufacturing business, while their own brands were mostly low-end ones, Shi added.


China's coal liquefaction craze cools off

China's coal-to-liquid frenzy has cooled after it exposed the country's many coal-rich provinces to huge investment risk. As a result, the government has called off several controversial projects.

"Although CTL was widely considered as a good way to expand the coal industry chain, it was still uncertain that the massive investment would be worthwhile in commercial operation," Zhou Dadi, the former director of the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission , told Xinhua at the ongoing China International Coal and Energy New Industry Expo 2008 here.

Early this month, the NDRC issued an order that all CTL projects except two involving the Shenhua Group should be stopped. "It aims to control the business risk of the country's CTL industry, which was still in an experimental stage," it said.

"Coal liquefaction is a technology-, talent- and capital-intensive project, but most domestic enterprises lack advanced technologies, management experience and equipment."

Zhou added the "technology bottlenecks many small CTL projects, of which many were financed by bank loans. It will be troublesome if the loans default, which will hurt the interests of many depositors."

"Small investment in CTL projects does not make sense. Heavy investment, however, is likely to turn sour if the mid-and-small enterprises cannot be freed from the technology obstacles."

He also expressed doubt about its profitability as coal prices continued to surge and oil began to plummet from its peak of 146.50 U.S. dollars per barrel in July.

Shenhua Group, the nation's largest coal company, announced at last year's expo it would produce China's first barrel of liquid fuel from coal in 2008. It would use self-owned technology known as direct coal liquefaction.

During an inspection tour in June 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao described the project as a major scientific and technological experiment. His comments came against a backdrop when oil imports had soared in recent years to fuel China's booming economy, spurring the nation to look for technologies that could turn some of its coal reserves, one of the world's largest, into fuel and other chemicals.

After that, the CTL craze swept the nation as many coal-rich provinces rushed to pour billions of yuan to commercialize the projects without necessary risk assessment.

As insiders have estimated, the output capacity of the existing and the planned CTL projects combined at 16 million tonnes, with investment planned at 120 billion yuan .

As Wen warned: Enterprises should not rush to commercialize the CTL projects blindly before the test projects are proved successful. NDRC then issued a circular urging for the "healthy development" of the CTL industry and raised the threshold for coal liquefaction projects to a minimum annual output capacity of 3 million tonnes for fear of excessive production. The construction frenzy showed no signs of abating.

"We fully understand the NDRC's decision since CTL is restricted by many factors, including huge demand for water and massive money input," Chen Liming, Sasol China executive vice president, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the expo.

The company has partnered with Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group and Shenhua Coal Group to develop two CTL plants, which was exempted from the NDRC ban. South Africa's Sasol Ltd. is the world's biggest producer of motor fuel from coal.

"It takes time for government to adjust the industry pattern," Chen said.

China is not the only country suffering from the CTL dilemma, said Sun Qingyun, assistant to governor of West Virginia. Speaking at the expo, he said the only two CTL projects in the U.S. state were also challenged by many potential risks in the coal-abundant area.

"People are frustrated with the hefty CO2 generated from the liquefaction process, which is the main obstacle hindering the expansion in "the Almost Heaven" state, referring to the old John Denver song.

"Everybody knows CTL is a good thing, but no one wants a plant built near his backyard."

Sasol's Chen, however, remained optimistic about the future of the CTL application in China. "It is an unstoppable trend as China is rich in coal but strapped for oil. CTL will surely partly ease the oil imports pressure."


China conducts first suitcase and bag exporter quality training meeting

China's suitcase and bag export industry watchdog Friday kicked off the country's first-ever quality and safety training session in eastern Pinghu city, to boost quality awareness among the industry's manufacturers.

Nearly 100 large domestic suitcase and bag manufacturers and exporters took part in training for the newly-compiled "Guide to Quality and Safety Control for Export-oriented Bags and Suitcases".

The guide was jointly compiled by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports and an expert panel, said Huang Daqi, China Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports of Suitcases and Bags secretary general.

The guide detailed the differences between the domestic and foreign markets' quality and safety standards, the main technical regulations of targeted markets and how to deal with technical export barriers and so on.

Huang added that although there were not serious export suitcase and bag quality problems up to date, the country's first quality pre-emptive "dictionary" and training were also crucial, as "fire prevention" was even more important than "fire fighting".

As the world's largest suitcase and bag manufacturer, China exported 6.286 billion U.S. dollars of product globally in the first half of this year, up 26.45 percent year on year.

Figures revealed that the country's exported suitcases and bags accounted for more than one third of the global market. The United States and the European Union were the major customers.

Liang Ming, a member of the expert panel, urged domestic companies to regularly check technical, health and environmental protection standards in the main targeted markets, and enhance th equality and brand awareness, as "brand strategy is an important channel for industrial upgrading".

Shi Lili, a Ministry of Commerce research fellow, said pressure on exporters from the appreciation of the yuan, labor and material price increases and the slowing pace of U.S. and European markets were signs that domestic companies should embark on a "quality and brand-oriented" development road, as only those companies that did so would survive further squeezes on their profits.

Located in eastern Zhejiang Province, Pinghu city sees this sector turning out more than 5 billion yuan sales volume last year, according to Shi Jihong, local industry chamber president.

But most of these companies were doing the labor-intensive Original Equipment Manufacturing business, while their own brands were mostly low-end ones, Shi added.


China stocks end three-day plunge, surge 9.46% on stamp tax cut

Chinese shares prices had a rare single-day sharp rebound of 9.46 percent on Friday, after the government decided to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase a day earlier among other announcements to boost the market.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index finished the day at 2,075.09 points, up 9.46 percent or 179.25 points from the previous close.

The index was unchanged from the close at midday, as most stocks had already soared to the daily upside limit of 10 percent in the morning.

The smaller Shenzhen Component Index closed at 7,154 points, up9 percent or 590.93 points.


Hong Kong stocks close 9.61% higher

Hong Kong stocks staged a huge rally, up 1695.27 points, or 9.61 percent, to close at 19,327.73 Friday, following an overnight rally on Wall Street and rebound on Chinese mainland market Friday.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index opened sharply up 1,245.8points, or 7.07 percent, and finished the morning session by rising 1,146.57 points, or 6.50 percent, to 18,779.03. The index continued to add gains during the afternoon session, vibrating around 19000 level.

Turnover rose to 124.57 billion HK dollars , from Thursday's 102.23 billion HK dollars , which was above 100 billion HK dollars first time since May 7.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 410.03 points or 3.86 percent overnight to close at 11,019.69, boasted on news that worldwide leading central banks launching measures to ease liquidity in strained markets.

Leading central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, took a coordinated effort to ease strains in the financial markets, making hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars available to improve liquidity in the money markets.

Chinese share prices also opened sharply higher Friday morning, up more than 8 percent after the government decided overnight to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase, in a move to boost the equities market after the stocks fell for third consecutive day since Tuesday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed up nearly 9.46 percent, the biggest one-day percentage gain in seven years.

With the authorization of the State Council, China's Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation said on Thursday they decided to cancel the share trading stamp tax on stock purchase, effective on Friday, while the stamp tax on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed down 0.03 percent Thursday after rebounding from the largest early intraday loss of 7.7 percent, encouraged by news that leading central banks launched a coordinated effort to ease liquidity in the financial markets. The stock market was also boosted during the afternoon session on news that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority attempted to ease the credit squeeze by injecting 1.56 billion HK dollars into the banking system.

Source: Xinhua

Equities soar on support moves, U.S. bank plan

Chinese equities racked up huge gains on Friday, rising almost 9.5 percent, after the government announced a series of market-boosting moves.

By mid-day, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index had already surged to 2,075.09 points, up 9.46 percent or 179.25 points, and that's where it closed. Most issues were already up the daily limit of 10 percent during the morning, boosted by the government announcements and a sharp overnight gain in the United States.

U.S. indices posted their biggest one-day gain since October 2002 after federal regulators said they might mount a financial markets rescue plan to create an entity like the Resolution Trust Corp. to absorb banks' bad loans.

The smaller Shenzhen Component Index ended at 7,154 points, up 9 percent or 590.93 points.

Almost all stocks on both bourses rose by the daily limit, except those for which trading was suspended on Friday. This latter category of stocks, comprised of companies of that report losses for two consecutive years, are allowed to rise no more than5 percent.

Friday's rally ended a three-day decline in which equities lost almost 10 percent under the pressure of U.S. financial market upheaval. Despite the Friday gains, China's key index was still only at about one-third of where it stood at its peak in October, 2007.

The government said late on Thursday it would cancel the 0.1-percent stamp tax on purchasing shares. The tax on sales remains at 0.1 percent. The transaction tax rate was cut in April from 0.3 percent.

Investors reacted with enthusiastic buying, driven by the belief that this move indicated government resolution to keep boosting the market.

But combined turnover on both markets was just 65.5 billion yuan , compared with 63.1 billion yuan on Thursday, with many reluctant to sell because they believe that further gains lie ahead.

Heavy-weight oil producer PetroChina shot up 9.96 percent to 11.04 yuan, while Sinopec, the country's largest refiner, surged 9.96 percent to 9.94 yuan.

Sentiment was also bolstered by the day-earlier announcement from the government's investment arm -- Central Huijin Investment Co., Ltd. -- that it would buy shares of three major Chinese lenders on the secondary market to support their share prices.

The three lenders, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China , the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank , experienced heavy losses during the three-day plunge, as banks were most hit by the credit crisis radiating out from Wall Street.

The country's largest lender ICBC rose 9.88 percent to 3.78 yuan, while BOC surged 10.16 percent to 3.36 and CCB rose 9.97 percent to 4.19 yuan.

Also on Thursday, the country's top state assets regulator said it was backing up its 147 centrally-administered state-owned enterprises to buy more stocks of their listed subsidiaries.

The package of support moves drew a mixed response from veteran investors, who've suffered amid the market's bear run that began late last year.

"I certainly welcome such government moves, because they will drive the share prices higher. But I doubt how long the rise could be sustained," said an elderly man who only gave his surname as Gao at a stock exchange outlet in Xuanwu District of Beijing. He has been investing in domestic shares for more than 10 years.

A lady surnamed Guan shared Gao's feelings. "I fear a deeper correction will emerge after several days of rises, the same as what happened when the government cut the stamp tax" in April.

"Investors are likely to be more prudent this time, after experiencing the prolonged sluggish market since the short-lived rebound in April," said Zhang Yong, a Great Wall Securities analyst.

Source: Xinhua

China files WTO complaints over U.S. anti-dumping measures

China filed complaints to the World Trade Organization on Friday over U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing measures imposed on Chinese-made steel pipes, tires and laminated woven sacks.

"China requested consultations with the United States under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism regarding those measures," the Chinese mission to the organization said in a statement.

"China believes that the request for consultation is the legitimate right of China as a WTO member and a normal practice of WTO members to resolve their disputes," the statement said.

It also expressed hope that the United States would attach importance to China's serious concerns over those measures, which it believes violate WTO rules.

According to WTO dispute settlement procedures, the two sides will have some 60 days to try to solve their dispute through consultations.

If that fails, China can ask for a WTO panel to investigate and rule on the case.

Source: Xinhua

Taiwan stocks end 5.82 percent higher

Taiwan's share prices surged Friday, with the weighted index, the market's key barometer, moving up 328.43 points, or 5.82 percent, to close at 5,970.38, according to news reaching here from Taipei.

Rebounding from losses of the previous day, the local bourse opened at 5,910.76 and fluctuated between 5,982.64 and 5,858.19. A total of 4.41 billion shares changed hands on market turnover of 105.33 billion new Taiwan dollars .

All eight major stock categories gained ground, with cement stocks moving up the most at 6.6 percent. Textile stocks advanced 6.3 percent, paper and pulp issues rose 6 percent, plastics and chemicals shares and banking and financial shares both increased 5.9 percent, foodstuff issues gained 5.8 percent, machinery and electronics shares were up 5.6 percent, and construction issues grew 5.4 percent.

Gainers outnumbered losers 1,686 to 233, with 257 stocks remaining unchanged.

Source: Xinhua

US financial woes offer lessons

The worsening US subprime crisis has turned in to the "financial hurricane of the century" that is wreaking havoc on Wall Street.

On Monday, the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America. The US government has agreed to provide a $85 billion emergency loan to rescue the huge insurer American International Group . The three "bomb blasts" rocked Wall Street to the core, sending shockwaves through the US economy and very likely the presidential election as well.

On Sept 14, Bank of America acquired the 94-year-old brokerage Merrill Lynch, the third largest investment bank in the US. On the same day, AIG, once the top insurance company in the world, applied for $40 billion in federal loans to stay afloat through the worst period of the disaster.

However, the heaviest blow so far to financial markets worldwide had to be the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-ranked investment bank in America.

Founded 158 years ago, Lehman Brothers survived the American Civil War, the two world wars, the Great Depression, the September 11 terrorist attacks and one takeover attempt before this week.

If the venerable investment banks on Wall Street can be described as "cats with nine lives", Lehman Brothers probably had 19.

But that was apparently not enough today, as the 158-year-old business went for bankruptcy protection after languishing in the red for two quarters in a row, and the Korea Development Bank, Barclay's of Britain and Bank of America abandoned their plans to acquire it.

After the three concussion grenades turned the financial market upside down on Monday, the Dow Jones ended the day losing 504 points - the sixth biggest fall in history and the steepest since 9/11.

The Financial Times Index, meanwhile, tumbled nearly 4 percent, while the CAC40 in Paris dropped by 3.78 percent. The oil futures price fell to less than $100 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the US dollar nosedived against the euro and Japanese yen after news broke of Lehman Brothers' demise.

Also on that day, the Federal Reserve rounded up 10 cross-national banks and securities companies to form a $70 billion stability fund for the financial market as well as providing a safety net for financial institutions threatened by bankruptcy and ensuring market liquidity.

It also relaxed credit conditions for securities brokerages, while the European Central Bank and the UK's central bank launched a market rescue plan worth billions of euros. ECB also injected $43 billion into some 30 banks through one-day refinancing operations.

Bank of England provided short-term loans worth about $9 billion to several banks valid for three days, while Japan's central bank governor vowed to maintain market stability with sufficient capital injection whenever necessary and keep a close watch on the effects of the US financial crisis. It had injected $14.4 billion by Tuesday.

Unfortunately the emergency measures by the US, European Union and Japan can only ease the tension in financial markets temporarily. As the subprime crash is fast turning into a full-blown financial crisis, the financial regulators are now overwhelmed by rising emergencies

In March, the US government lent JPMorgan Chase $29 billion for taking over troubled investment bank Bear Stearns. Not long after that the federal authorities started providing liquidity assistance to investment banks by allowing them to trade their assets, including bad ones, for treasury bonds with the Fed. The policy used to be available only to regular banks.

The US government threw down $200 billion to rescue leading mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae because they are "too big to let die", but the effort was met with even more widespread and spirited media criticism.

Today, because of worries over ethical risks and depleted treasury reserve, the US government has been forced to withhold guarantees for banks interested in buying Lehman Brothers. This shows the US government, faced with a fast-sinking financial market where institutions go under at the pace of one every week, is already stretched thin.

As the stimulating effect of tax rebate wears off, the US economy is again showing signs of turning bearish. A recent Wall Street Journal survey of 51 economists found there is the possibility that American consumption will fall in the third quarter, the first time in 17 years.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said the collapse of Lehman Brothers is the event of the century. Its development will prove more serious than he had foreseen and is far from over.

At a time when some of the largest US financial institutions are faced with persistent uncertainty, more could go bankrupt in the near future, he said, adding that the US stands a less than 50 percent chance of avoiding an economic recession.

Researchers at Brookings Institute believed the collapse of Lehman Brothers will not only set off a domino effect throughout financial markets worldwide but also impact the US presidential election.

Some election experts have pointed out that public opinion polls so far have shown American voters generally think neither Barrack Obama nor John McCain is very good at handling economic issues. But the Republican Party now holds the presidency, and its economic policies are widely perceived as more Wall Street friendly than otherwise, so the financial crisis will probably hurt Republican presidential nominee McCain more than Obama.

To deal with the impact of the US subprime crisis and check the downward momentum of the domestic economy, the People's Bank of China made a "sudden move" on Monday, cutting the interest rate of one-year loans by 0.27 percentage points to 7.2 percent while lowering the reserve rate for small and medium-sized banks by 1 percentage point.

This is the first time since Feb 2002 the country's central bank cut interest rates and the first time since Nov 1999 the reserve rate was reduced.

The financial industry saw this move by the central bank as a turning point in China's macro-control strategy.

The worsening US subprime crisis puts China's enormous US dollar assets and its opening financial market at tremendous risk. It also makes more Chinese people think about ways to prevent financial crises from spreading across the world amid globalization.

The author is director of Center for Economic Security Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

Source:China Daily

NDRC official: toughest ever challenges facing China

Cao Wenlian, vice director of Fiscal and Financial Department at the National Development and Reform Commission , was cited as saying at a financial forum held on Sep.18, 'China's economy is confronting the toughest ever test since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.' To combat the likely economic setbacks, he said, china will have to further promote the international revenue- expenditure balance, actively enhance import while streamlining export structures, upgrade the levels of using foreign investment, steadily push forward the strategies of 'going global,' and increase the strength of foreign equity investment in due form.

The financial forum—Changes and Strategies—was summoned in a time when the specter of worrisome Wall Street meltdown is hovering over the entire world, and the worsening U.S. sub-prime loan crisis is further threatening the emerging economies. Mr. Cao pointed that, in the current circumstances, we need to keep prudent and cautious when enhancing the foreign equity investment and fully aware of the potential risks.

In view of the increased consumer contributions to the economic growth in the first half of the year, Mr. Cao suggested that we should firmly adhere to the route of expanding domestic demand, quicken the pace to carry out the fiscal and tax system reforms, stage and perfect the supportive policies ensuring the implementation of the fiscal and financial measures, enlarge consumption produced by the countryside and service industries, encourage the move of labor-intensive industries in the coastal areas to inland areas, increase the governmental input into the underdeveloped areas and strengthen the efforts in poverty elimination, and develop mini-and-medium financial institutions.

In addition, he deemed it a vital step to further highlight the predictability, flexibility and direction of the monetary policies, and make interests rate more market-oriented. Mr. Cao thought that China is undergoing the most severe challenges ever since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, but he insisted that the basic facets of China's economic development in the first half year are generally sound, and even better than anticipated; the economic development is gearing for the control goals.

Meanwhile, he thought it an evident tendency that the domestic demand is contributing more to China's economic growth, and therefore prices are basically under the effective control. It is predicted that China will not suffer an economic plummet in terms of the whole year's economic growth rate. 'I feel confident in China's post-Olympic economic situation,' he reassured people present at the forum.

By People's Daily Online

Putin says Russia to consider Beijing's experience of hosting Olympics

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Thursday called on the country to draw on Beijing's experience when Russia starts to prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

"The just-held Games offered new, very timely experience to the implementation of the Russian Olympic project," Putin said at a meeting of the presidium of the Council for Sports.

The Russian premier demanded those involved in preparing for the Sochi Olympics analyze Beijing's experience in hosting the Games, because the Chinese counterparts had demonstrated a very high level of creativity in the preparation and organization of the Games.

"Many of us were able to see that for ourselves. We've got to analyze all of the Chinese partners' positive achievements and take them into account," he said.

Russia's black sea resort of Sochi won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in July, 2007. It is the first time for the country to hold Winter Olympics.


China's tourism receives 1,095.7-bln-yuan income in 2007

China's tourism income reached 1,095.7 billion yuan in 2007, up 22.6 percent year-on-year, said China National Tourism Administration on Thursday.

The country hosted 131.87 million inbound tourists last year. Domestic and outbound travelers surpassed 1.6 billion and 40.95 million respectively.

The international tourism income reached 41.91 billion US dollars, up 23.5 percent. Domestic tourism income reached 777.06 billion yuan, up 24.7 percent.

The international inbound market maintained fast momentum last year. Tourists from other Asian countries took up 61.5 percent of all international tourists. Republic of Korea continued to be the first on the list of nations.

By the end of 2007, the country had 13,583 star hotels, up 6.5 percent, while the number of travel agencies increased to 18,943 from 17,957 in previous year.


Naomi Campbell to retire?

Naomi Campbell is considering retiring.

The British supermodel has always felt reluctant to give up her career because there are so few black women in the industry, but has thought about quitting more since designers at New York Fashion Week used beauties of all races to showcase their creations.

She said: "This time the designers and editors have stepped it up. I feel positive. That means I can go soon. "My gut instinct is to get women of color out there whether I'm still in fashion or not. I'll be very happy when I'm 55 years old to pick up a magazine and see a lovely spread with a black woman.

British model Naomi Campbell models a dress for auction during her Fashion for Relief 2008 charity fashion show which is part of London Fashion Week Sept. 17, 2008.
Then I'll know I didn't work for all these years only to see it go backwards." Despite what she perceives to be a changing attitude, the 38-year-old supermodel hopes it is more than a passing trend.

She added: "The recent issue of Italian Vogue magazine where they only used black models shouldn't make it briefly fashionable to be black and then unfashionable again."

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Most liquid milk in China does not contain melamine

Most liquid milk on the market did not contain melamine and was safe to drink, Chinese quality watchdog said on Thursday following a nationwide special check on the chemical.

The chemical was first found in a top powder milk brand, Sanlu, earlier this month that caused kidney stones and kidney failure among babies.

Chinese State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine , along with 150 state level food testing centers, checked more than 400 liquid milk producers, and found most diary products were safe to drink.

The 408 liquid milk producers, including Sanyuan and Nestle, were not found containing the chemical.

However, the test results showed nearly 10 percent of the sample batches tested from Mengniu and Yili, 2 top brands on Chinese diary market, contained 0.8 - 7 and 0.7 - 8.4 milligrams of melamine per kilogram respectively while 6 batches out of 93 from Bright, contained 0.6 to 8.6 milligrams of melamine per kilogram.

Medical experts said that it would not cause any illness such as kidney stones for an adult who drink less than 2 liters of such milk daily.

The administration also urged producers to recall all contaminated products, find the source of the problem and punish severely those held responsible.


Katie Holmes faces anti-Scientology protest on B'way

Katie Holmes knows how to draw a crowd 鈥�including anti-Scientology demonstrators.

Nearly 100 people lined up outside the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre Thursday night an hour before Holmes acted on Broadway for the first time in a preview performance for "All My Sons."

Not in the line: roughly 30 Scientology protesters who stood behind a barricade and loudly chanted "Scientology kills!" Some wore masks like in the movie "V for Vendetta," and one poster read: "FREE KATIE."

Tom Cruise poses with his wife actress Katie Holmes at the premiere of "Tropic Thunder" at the Mann's Village theatre in Westwood, California August 11, 2008.
Moments before the curtain went up, Holmes' husband 鈥�and Hollywood's most famous Scientologist 鈥�Tom Cruise entered the theater, where he mingled and shook hands with some other theatergoers who took photos and clapped. He then hugged Dustin Hoffman, who was sitting a couple rows away, which drew another cheer inside the theater.

Amid the hubbub, it took awhile for people to take their seats.

Melissa Doyle tried to ignore the ruckus. She said she took her spot in line early, and saw Holmes rush into the theater wearing skinny jeans, a black blazer and oversized sunglasses.

"I love Katie Holmes," the 27-year-old New Yorker said. "I think she's a great actress and right now, I really love her for her fashion, her style! I think she really kind of differentiates herself among young Hollywood. Plus, she's a mom 鈥�and I just think she's a really good role model."

Meanwhile, 27-year-old Alistair Savides, visiting from St. Louis, said he wasn't there to see Holmes. He said he's a fan of Arthur Miller's drama, which first played on Broadway in 1947.

"I don't really care about who's performing as long as they're good at what they do and it's a good play," Savides said.

As protesters' chants grew louder, Savides called it "surreal to be right in the middle of this thing. But, you know, there's always two sides to every story and they just really strongly believe in one side of the story. ... If it adds to public debate, maybe that's a good thing."

Cruise's membership in the Church of Scientology has made him a controversial target of criticism. And last year, Jada Pinkett Smith felt compelled to deny her good friend Holmes is a prisoner in her marriage to Cruise, who's been depicted by the tabloids as a controlling husband.

"All My Sons" concerns businessman Joe Keller whose factory supplied defective cylinder parts to the military, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots during World War II. Yet it was his business partner who went to jail for the mistake.

Dianne Wiest plays Keller's wife; Patrick Wilson his idealistic son; and Holmes the son's fiancee and daughter of Keller's disgraced partner.

The play officially opens Oct. 16.

Source:China Daily/Agencies

A-Rod reaches another milestone in Yankee win

NEW YORK: Alex Rodriguez became the first player with 35 homers and 100 RBIs in 12 seasons - one more than Babe Ruth - and the New York Yankees slowed the Chicago White Sox's pursuit of the American League Central title with a 5-1 victory on Wednesday.

Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer, Robinson Cano had three hits and Xavier Nady had a tying RBI single in the seventh inning.

Jermaine Dye had an RBI groundout off Phil Hughes, who was making his first start since April 29. That was all the White Sox could muster against Hughes and four relievers, who threw five shutout innings. The White Sox entered the night with a 2-1/2 game lead over Minnesota.

Hughes' return to the mound was cut short after just four innings. The 22-year-old right-hander gave up a run and four hits. Brian Bruney came on with a runner on second in the seventh and got three straight outs.

Tampa Bay 10, Boston 3

In St. Petersburg, Florida, Willy Aybar, Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez homered off Tim Wakefield and AL East-leading Tampa Bay beat Boston 10-3 to move closer to its first playoff berth.

Matt Garza gave up two long home runs to David Ortiz, but the Rays otherwise held the Red Sox in check to extend their division lead over them to two games.

Tampa Bay can clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth by beating Minnesota twice during a four-game series that begins Thursday at Tropicana Field.

Aybar, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, hit a two-run homer off Wakefield in the first inning. Aybar drove in the last of the six runs charged to the knuckleballer with a third-inning single off Devern Hansack.

Kansas 5, Seattle 2

In Kansas City, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki matched Willie Keeler's major league record of eight straight 200-hit seasons on Wednesday when he connected for an infield single for his third hit against Kansas City

The Japanese star came into the game three hits short of the record set by Keeler from 1894-1901. After walking to lead off the game, he hit a double just inside first base in the third inning and a single over third base in the fifth.

Suzuki matched Keeler in the eighth inning when he hit a ground ball up the middle then narrowly beat shortstop Mike Aviles' throw to first base.

"It has been roughly 100 years since Wee Willie Keeler - in normal circumstances, there's no way I would associate with somebody that is that far apart from me," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "But thanks to something like this, I have the opportunity to be associated with him and cross paths with him. That's something that makes me very happy."

Suzuki reached 200 hits in 151 games this season after doing it in 136 games a year ago. Shortly after beating Aviles' throw, his accomplishment was broadcast by the ground announcer, leading to a standing ovation from the Kansas City crowd. It was similar to the response he received in Texas earlier this year when he reached 3,000 combined hits in the majors and Japanese leagues.

"Each time something like this happens, at first I think the game will keep flowing around," Suzuki said. "So when it actually happens, I'm surprised and I'm very happy and very thankful. When something like this happens, the locations become special places for me."

NY Mets 4, Washington 7

In Washington, the New York Mets snapped a three-game losing streak and retained control of the National League wildcard race with a 9-7 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

With the Philadelphia Phillies also winning, the Mets are one-half game out of the NL East lead and one-half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the wildcard.

First-inning home runs by Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado helped spur the Mets to an early 7-1 advantage and starting pitcher Brandon Knight recorded his first career victory after throwing five innings and allowing two runs.

New York relinquished control of the NL East this week and is trying to avoid the type of collapse it suffered in 2007 when losing 12 of its last 17 games to miss the post-season despite leading the division for much of the year.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Bayern and Werder resume Bundesliga rivalry

BERLIN: Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich and last season's runner-up Werder Bremen will resume their league rivalry this weekend as the clubs return to domestic action after a week of mixed fortunes in Europe.

Bayern, which celebrated a 1-0 away win over Romania's Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Wednesday, is behind Hamburg SV but can climb above Martin Jol's side for at least 24 hours if it beats Werder at home on Saturday.

Werder will be looking to recover from the disappointment of its opening 0-0 home draw against Champions League newcomer Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus and make up for a similarly poor start in the league.

Thomas Schaaf's side took just two points from its opening three Bundesliga matches before finally registering its first win with last Saturday's 3-0 home win over Energie Cottbus.

After strongly criticizing the team's performance against Famagusta, Werder's sporting director Klaus Allofs said he expected a marked improvement in Munich.

"We have to put the disappointments behind us, change things and move on," Allofs told the club website on Wednesday.

"None of the players need to be told about the importance of a match against Bayern. They will all be motivated. Playing in the Allianz Arena is the best opportunity to put things back in order."

The reunion of Bayern striker Miroslav Klose and midfielder Tim Borowski with their former Werder teammates should add further spice to the meeting.

At the other end of the pitch, on-loan Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro will be seeking to get one over on his old Munich colleagues.

After throwing away a three-goal lead - and top spot in the league - at local rival Borussia Dortmund last weekend, third placed Schalke 04 should fancy its chances at home to winless Eintracht Frankfurt in another of Saturday's matches.

In the pick of Sunday's games Jol's Hamburg attempts to build on its strong start against a Wolfsburg team unbeaten in a nine-game sequence spanning the end of the old season and the start of the new.

Wolfsburg trainer Felix Magath is also unlikely to want for motivation as he pits himself against the club where he spent his Bundesliga career as a player.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Kimi says he needs miracle to retain title

MILAN: Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen said on Wednesday he needed a miracle to retain his title following a disappointing Italian Grand Prix.

With four races left, the Ferrari driver is fourth and 21 points behind McLaren's championship leader Lewis Hamilton after trailing in ninth at a rainswept Monza on Sunday.

The Finn, who won the title last year after making up a 17 point deficit in the final two races, still refused to give up his championship hopes despite three grands prix in a row without a point.

"You don't have to be Einstein to understand that this is not the right way to fight for the title," he told Ferrari's website .

"It's not over yet, but now it will take a miracle, like one that makes lightning strike twice."

Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, who finished sixth at Monza and a place ahead of McLaren's Hamilton, is now just a point behind the Briton overall.

Raikkonen, who signed a new deal with Ferrari until 2010 last week, was still reluctant to commit to helping his teammate.

"Things are definitely not going my way," he said. "Sometimes it happens, but that won't lower my spirit or my determination.

"I want to try and win again this season."

"You never know what will happen in a race and you can't make any programs," added the Finn. "Obviously the team has two goals to reach and they will give their best to reach them.

"I will give my best ... as usual."

Raikkonen hopes the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 28, Formula One's first night race, will suit him better after blaming the lack of grip from his tyres in the wet for his problems in Italy.

"It seems as if it is going to rain at every remaining race. We had enough water at Monza already ... the atmosphere will be very exciting and the hot and humid weather might work to our advantage," he added.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Azinger pins hopes on 13th man at Valhalla

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky: Loud chants of "USA USA" reverberated around the ninth green at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, early signs of the 13th man United States captain Paul Azinger is banking on to influence this week's Ryder Cup.

The Americans are under intense pressure to reverse a run of three successive defeats by Europe, the last two by thumping margins, and Azinger has targeted the Kentucky crowd to lift his 12-man team.

Four years ago at Oakland Hills, the US was outsmarted by Bernhard Langer's Europeans who shrewdly won over the home fans with a charm offensive in the build-up to the three days of competition.

Meticulous Langer told his players at the start of the week to make every effort to sign autographs and interact with the galleries. The ploy succeeded and Europe went on to crush its hosts by a record-equalling margin of 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2.

The highly competitive Azinger, a veteran of four Ryder Cups as player, is eager for that advantage to be reversed at Valhalla if at all possible. So far, his efforts are succeeding.

He has requested his players and caddies to engage the fans at every opportunity this week by signing autographs, posing for photographs and handing out US Ryder Cup lapel pins.

Around 40,000 fans have attended each of the first two practice days in sun-drenched conditions. Although they have given the European team a warm reception, their biggest roars have been reserved for the Americans.

By the time Kentucky natives Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes reached the ninth green on Wednesday in the company of Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley, the spectators were ready to raise the decibel level.

Chants of "USA USA" built to a crescendo after the American quartet had putted out and slowly made their way up the incline towards the clubhouse, signing banners and Ryder Cup programs and tossing lapel pins into the crowd like confetti.

Turning point

"It's awesome," Cup rookie Weekley said. "This whole crowd thing could be a turning point for us.

"I've never ever signed so many autographs. I must have signed at least a hundred by the ninth green."

Furyk, making his sixth Cup appearance this week, has vivid memories of Europe's cunning ploy with the fans at Oakland Hills and believes Louisville will be very different.

"That certainly didn't do us any favors at all in Detroit," he said of the 2004 Ryder Cup. "I loved the fans in Detroit and I love the fans here.

"Louisville fans don't get a lot of golf here but, when they do, they step it up a notch. It's important for us to play well to give the fans something to cheer about."

Azinger, who has appeared to be in more relaxed mood than his opposite number Nick Faldo so far this week, believes the crowd has fully embraced the American team.

"We are loving our gallery," he said. "I want to treat them like they're going to be our 13th man. They're screaming for more pins and I don't think we have enough. We only have 10,000.

"We really want to embrace this crowd. We don't want what happened in '04 to happen again. The Europeans are already requesting sharpies on the tees and stuff like that, so I know what they're trying to do.

"It's like The K Club," he added, referring to the fans in Ireland two years when Europe again hammered the Americans by a nine-point margin.

"The crowd was so energized there. It was hard to watch as an American player but it was the way it should be. I think what you're going to see here is the same kind of energy, maybe even a greater energy."

Although the Europeans have also made every effort to connect with the Valhalla fans, Azinger and his players seem to have established an early edge ahead of Friday's opening foursomes matches.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

It's time to party at China Open in Beijing

The 2008 China Open tennis tournament offers fans the chance to play fun games, eat delicious food and take the opportunity to play tennis with the stars.

For the first time, a 500 sqm area has been set up for fans as a games zone, while the caf area has been expanded to 800 sqm and will include famous brands like Starbucks and KFC.

Seafood, Sichuan and Guandong cuisine, hot pot, Beijing roast duck, local fast foods and Muslim food will also be available.

The annual Tsingtao Beer Festival in Qingdao city, Shandong province, will also host events at the China Open.

Ticket sales for the China Open have begun in more than 20 countries, via telephone on 400-707-9999. The local box office hotline is 65516590 and tickets can also be bought online at and at all Emma Ticketmaster locations.

This year's tournament, for the first time, offers ardent fans package-tickets for all 88 matches, costing 4,600 yuan, 3,500 yuan and 1,200 yuan.

People who buy package tickets will get a ticket for the Linkin Park world tour concert in Beijing, free dinners during the seven-day competition and a free tour of the China Open Carnival.

One of the carnival highlights is the themed concerts every day from star singers.

Stars arrive

French ace Richard Gasquet was the first seeded player to arrive in Beijing yesterday.

The world No 12, who has struggled with his form throughout the season, is looking to break his title jinx at the China Open.

But he should face strong resistance as reigning champion Fernando Gonzalez is geared up to defend his title.

Andy Roddick, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Ana Ivanovic, women's defending champion Agnez Szavay and Jelena Jankovic are among the other top stars set to play at the tournament, which begins on Saturday.

Roddick and Ferrer are hoping to win the China Open to make up for their disappointing performances at the US Open last month, where Ferrer was eliminated in the third round while Roddick exited in the semis.

Apart from being able to see the world's elite players, fans will be able to cheer on local players such as world No 33 Li Na, who made it to the quarterfinals at the Olympics last month; and Australian and Wimbledon Open double's title winner Zheng Jie.

The best result by a local woman in the tournament is a semifinal finish by Peng Shuai in 2006.

The past four Opens have attracted top players, including Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Lindsay Davenport.

Source: China Daily

Ferguson upbeat despite draw

PARIS: Manchester United began its European Champions League title defense with a damp squib on Wednesday as wily Spanish club Villarreal held it 0-0 at Old Trafford, while Arsenal and Celtic also drew.

United similarly failed to batter down the same rivals - nicknamed the "Yellow Submarine" - home and away three seasons ago - and subsequently saw its group hopes embarrassingly sink without trace.

Celtic took a leaf out of United's book as it could only manage another scoreless showing against Danish minnow Aalborg, coached by Scot Bruce Rioch, at Parkhead.

United fans welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo into the fold after injury despite his overtures in the direction of Real Madrid for much of the summer - but the Portugal winger was unable to oblige with a match-winning contribution after rising from the bench.

United had won its previous 12 home matches in the tournament going back to Villarreal's last visit - but Ronaldo, who netted 42 times last season including in the final win over Chelsea, and company drew a blank.

Jonny Evans hit the woodwork late on from a Ronaldo cross but United must now ensure it moves swiftly on by collecting full points in Denmark in two week's time.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who says 10 points should mean passage to the last 16, said he believed the Ronaldo saga was now resolved.

"He now realizes what a great club he is at and how loyal and suppportive the fans are to him," said Ferguson, who added of the result: "I've no complaints. On another day we might have scored four or five."

But the experience of 2005, when a loss to Benfica ended United's interest early, will serve as a timely reminder not to count chickens ahead of a double-header with Celtic, which actually beat the English Premiership champions in a group match in 2006 in Glasgow.

United was still aggrieved after Wednesday's action given that television replays suggested it should have had a penalty for Sebastian Eguren's trip on Park Ji-sung just inside the box.

The visitor's Michael Beauchamp was wrongly red-carded in a case of mistaken identity for a foul on Georgios Samaras, but Aalborg held on for a precious away point.

Arsenal needed a late William Gallas equalizer to salvage a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Kiev in its Group G opener but at least Arsene Wenger's side ended a three-match losing run in Ukraine.

Defeat loomed again after Guinea striker Ismael Bangoura stroked home a second half penalty at the Valeri Lobanovsky Stadium but skipper Gallas struck from close range two minutes from time.

"A point isn't bad but we feel we could do better and could have taken the three points," Gallas said.

Group rivals and two-time champions Porto saw off Turkey's Fenerbahce 3-1 after early goals from Lisandro Lopez, with a fine volley, and Lucho Gonzalez had put the hosts firmly in the driving seat.

In Group F, four-time winner Bayern Munich thanked a solitary goal from Belgian defender Daniel Van Buyten for a valuable 1-0 success away to Steaua Bucharest and French serial domestic champions Lyon was grateful for a late goal from Karim Benzema as it recovered from 2-0 down to draw with Italy's Fiorentina.

In Group H, two-time champion Juventus returned to the event after a two-season absence with a 1-0 home triumph over UEFA Cup winners Zenit St. Petersburg, Alessandro Del Piero netting a magnificent freekick.

In the same group, nine-time winners Real Madrid cruised past Belarus debutants BATA Borisov 2-0 with Sergio Ramos and Ruud van Nistelrooy on target in either half.

Tuesday's highlights saw Chelsea flatten Bordeaux 4-0 as Roma suffered a shock home loss to Romanian debutants Cluj, Liverpool won for the second straight year in Marseille as rivals Atletico Madrid swamped PSV Eindhoven 3-0 away.

Inter Milan won 2-0 at Panathinaikos and Barcelona saw off Sporting Lisbon 3-1 while Cypriot minnows Anorthosis drew at Werder Bremen.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Cost of English clubs will not deter fresh Gulf bids

DUBAI: The cost of buying an English soccer team will not deter Gulf Arab investors, experts said as media speculation over a fresh bid for a club heats up.

Championship club Burnley is the latest to be linked to investment from the Gulf Arab states after majority owner Brendan Flood said he wanted to bring Middle Eastern funding and players to the northern-based team.

"It's a club with super-sized ambition and we need an investor with a super-sized check book," Flood told Dubai-based magazine, Arabian Business. "It could help fulfil a lot for us."

His comments come after this month's takeover of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi investors amid media reports of interest by United Arab Emirates businessmen in other Premier League clubs.

Dubai Investment Group , owned by the emirate's ruler, said on Wednesday it was not involved in any negotiations to buy Newcastle United and does not plan to do so in the future.

On Sunday, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley said he had put the club up for sale after coming under pressure from the fans following popular coach Kevin Keegan's resignation.

"I don't think it's a question of cost," said Mustafa Alani, senior adviser at Dubai-based think tank Gulf Research Centre .

"I don't think they will jump to another deal until the first one becomes clear in terms of image and investment," he said referring to the Manchester City takeover.

Arab control

"There are people who are not happy with the negative image appearing in some of the British media ... of Arabs coming to control English football."

Alani added that investors would more likely wait and see whether there would be any long-term commercial benefit from buying a football club following the Manchester City deal.

"In reality, nobody knows what price Mike Ashley wants for Newcastle United," said Ben Hatton chief executive of sports consultancy Alexander Ross and former director of commercial enterprises at Manchester United.

"Ultimately, the value will be decided by a willing investor ... It's a big brand and it fills its stands week in week out. Newcastle United is very attractive," he said.

Dubai International Capital , DIG's sister company, ruled out on Monday a fresh bid for Liverpool or other clubs and said it was not aware of any other interest from the Gulf Arab emirate.

England's Premier League, underwritten by domestic and global TV deals worth more than a billion pounds , has become Europe's dominant league in the last decade with many of the world's top players earning huge salaries at the major clubs.

Mohammed Ali al-Hashimi, executive chairman of Zabeel Investments, which was part of the Dubai consortium trying to buy Liverpool and has been linked this week to Newcastle told Reuters on Sept 4 his firm was no longer looking at football as valuations had risen.

Hashimi was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

China stock prices rise to daily limit following stamp tax cut

China stock prices rose to the daily limit in the morning session after opening 9.06 percent higher on Friday, after the government moved to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase a day earlier in a move to boost the equities market.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index reached 2,075.08 points, up 9.45 percent or 179.24 points from the previous close around 10:30 in the morning, and stopped to rise further.

All the stocks rose to the daily limit, except those which suspended trading on Friday. The special treatment stocks, companies of which suffer losses for two consecutive years, are allowed to rise no more than 5 percent.

The government said late Thursday it would cancel the 0.1-percent stamp tax on purchasing shares while that on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent.

The move came after domestic stocks fell for three consecutive days under the influence of U.S. financial market upheaval.

Also on Thursday, the government's investment arm -- Central Huijin Investment Co., Ltd. -- said it would buy shares of three major Chinese lenders on the secondary market to fortify their share prices.

The three lenders, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank, had shed heavy losses in the previous three days of trading, as banks were most hit by the spreading crisis on the Wall Street.

The market surge also came after the Wall Street rallied on news of a possible government rescue plan to create an entity like the Resolution Trust Corp. to absorb banks' bad loans.

Boosted by the overnight Wall Street advance, regional markets in Asia mostly opened higher on Friday.