Thursday, October 9, 2008

Expert warning the risk of buying US financial equities

Chinese financial institutions must be very cautious when they are considering the possibility of investing in the developed market amid the global financial crisis, warns a Chinese expert in an interview with People's Daily Online on Oct. 8.

Chen Baosen, a research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that it may not be the right time for Chinese money to get in Wall Street where banks were struggling for survival.

He gives two reasons for the prudence. Firstly, the situation of the US financial market is currently too complicated to make judements. Secondly, Chinese financial institutions are still not well prepared enough in terms of management and supervision. They don't have enough right persons to do those things.

"Don't be haste to take the risks," he said.

Chen also stresses that the national interest should be the most important factor of China's any decision on whether it would buy the US treasury bonds.

By People's Daily Online

China ranks among the world’s top 30 economies

The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 released by World Economic Forum on Oct 8 shows that China is now among the world’s top 30 economy, up by 4 positions from the previous, continuing to lead the growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India as well China, collectively known as BRIC.

The Report was released by the Geneva-based WEF on Oct. 8. The Institute of Economic Structure and Management under National Development and Reform Commission and Research Centre , and Centre for China Economy and Statistics under Tianjin University of Finance and Economics published the report simultaneously.

The Report says China has achieved brilliant results in terms of economic development and plurality, and made remarkable progress in the aspects of poverty alleviation and improvement of people’s life since the late 1970s. China, which is becoming more and more influential in global economy, is now the world’s fourth largest economic entity, following the US, Japan and Germany.

The Report shows India has dropped to the 50th from previous 48th, while Russia gained the 51st rank from previous 58th, and Brazil edged to the 64th from previous 72nd.

The world’s top ten with regard to economic competitiveness are the US, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Canada. The economies in Asia that have surpassed China’s are Singapore, Japan, HKSAR, ROK, Taiwan, Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

By People's Daily Online

China looks to curb SOE losses through staff ownership

China's state assets watchdog is set to ban state-owned enterprise employees, particularly management staff, from owning shares in SOE affiliates and subsidiaries, in a move seen as an attempt to stop state assets ending up in private hands.

The measure was a crackdown on speculation by SOE management on SOE reform, through irregularities in management buyouts, and would prevent losses of state assets, Zuo Daguang, director of the watchdog's Liaoning branch, told Xinhua on Thursday.

"Staff, particularly middle and senior management, are forbidden to invest in companies that provide the SOEs with fuel, raw and auxiliary materials, equipment and spare parts," said the State-owned Assets Supervision and Management Commission .

The prohibition extended to companies that provided design, construction, maintenance, sales and intermediary services for SOEs.

Staff investment is also banned in companies involved in business similar to that of the SOEs, according to the proposals on regulating SOE employees' shareholding and investment, published by SASAC on Wednesday.

The SASAC also highlighted in the new rules that the SOE staff could in principle only hold equities of their own companies, not subsidiaries or other SOE-invested businesses.

The regulations did not apply to listed companies mainly held by the State.

In order to contain insider-control and state-owned assets losses, SASAC and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued a document in April 2005, forbidding management boyouts of large SOEs.

SOE management ownership of equities in affiliates, subsidiaries and SOE-invested companies has led to problems, such as executives procuring products or services of those businesses at prices unreasonably higher than the market price, resulting in "state-owned assets losses in disguise", said Zuo Daguang.

Public discontent with state assets losses and privatization has been in rumbling on since the SOE reforms were launched three decades ago.

Last March, the SASAC issued similar proposals specifically designed to regulate employee shareholdings in power generating SOEs. The proposals said such SOEs were to be the first to buy shares transferred by their staff.

But uncertainties over the enforcement of the regulations and the definition of senior and middle management could continue to puzzle state assets supervisors, said a SASAC research center expert who declined to be named.

According to the new document, SOE senior and middle management are required to transfer such shares or resign from the posts within a year of the publication of the new rules, but the new rules prescribe no penalties for failing to comply.

The proposals encouraged employees of small and medium-sized SOEs to own shares of the SOEs, a move that has been contemplated for more than a decade to help smaller firms out of debt and push them into competition.

But they stipulate that employee stakes in large SOEs should be minority shareholdings to maintain their nature of state ownership. Large SOEs, particularly the 147 giants reporting to the central government, include industries crucial to state security and national economy, including petroleum and petrochemical, power and telecommunications.

Source: Xinhua

Australian PM says China's growth strategy to continue

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said here on Thursday he believed Chinese economic growth - which has helped underpin the Australian economy - would continue over the longer term.

Rudd told a press conference that he had spoken to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in recent days and been reassured of the continuing strength in the Chinese economy.

"I note in particular a decision taken by China to reduce its interest rates by 27 basis points. This is important in terms of indicating China's long-term growth strategy," he told reporters today.

China cut its key interest rate by 27 basis points on Wednesday in a bid to shore up the economy in the midst of the global financial crisis.

"Following a conversation I had with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ... it would appear to me to be confirming that China intends long term to accelerate its growth strategy into the future," Rudd said.

While China was marginally revising down its growth rate, Rudd said actions and statements from Beijing suggested China would "continue to accelerate the growth lever for itself".

Source: Xinhua

Chinese bank issues Platinum Card in Singapore

Bank of China , one of the largest banks in China, and China Unionpay , the only National Bankcard Association in China, jointly unveiled the BOC Great Wall CUP Platinum Card following both sides inked a global partnership agreement on Thursday.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, which was attended by some 100people from Singapore and China, Yue Yi, Global Head of Consumer Banking of BOC Head Office, said that with the strengthening of economic and trade ties between China and Singapore, coupled with the recently concluded Beijing Olympics 2008, there is renewed interest amongst Singaporeans of all business groups and ages to visit China.

Xu Luode, president of CUP, also said that the signing of the global partnership agreement and launch of the Great Wall CUP Platinum Card enhance the overseas card business collaboration for both parties.

"We believe that this card will provide a greater ease of payment convenience to Singaporeans who travel frequently to China for business or leisure as well as setting the benchmark for the expansion of CUP card in the global card business," he said.

This is the first Singapore dollar denominated CUP Credit Card to be launched in Singapore and will provide recognition and convenience of card payments, with associated discounts and privileges, for the thousands of travelers and businessmen who travel frequently to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau.

The Great Wall CUP Platinum Card is the passport to the wide payment networks throughout China with 1.45 million merchant terminals and easy access to cash withdrawals at over 148,000 ATMs.In addition, card members will enjoy exclusive privileges at more than 17,000 merchants in the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Macauwhen they dine, shop, entertain and travel.

Source: Xinhua

Hong Kong stocks rebound 3.31% on concerted rate cuts

Hong Kong stocks rebounded 3.31 percent Thursday on concerted emergency rate cuts earlier by central banks of major economies, although there were still uncertainties on the market as investors largely remained shy.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index ignored moderate overnight losses on Wall Street to open up 1.08 percent at 15,598.24 on Thursday and gradually widened its gains to 511.51 as it closed at 15,943. 24, just dozens of points away from the 16,000 mark.

The index moved between 15,990.20 and 15,550.86, with market turnover totaling 60.87 billion HK dollars , lower than Wednesday's 77.78 billion HK dollars but not too bad for the current time of turmoil.

Forty of the total 42 blue chip stocks turned out gainers, with heavyweight HSBC Holdings advancing 2.2 HK dollars, or 1.9 percent, at 118 HK dollars, and its local unit Hang Seng Bank surging 3.97 percent to finish at 117.9 HK dollars.

Mainland lender ICBC surged 6.58 percent to 4.05 HK dollars, and China Mobile, another market heavyweight and by far the largest carrier on the mainland, added 2.9 HK dollars, or 4.36 percent, to close at 69.4 HK dollars.

Analysts attributed the gains to the emergency rate cuts announced after the close of Hong Kong market Wednesday by central banks of major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Eurozone, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and China.

It was "unprecedented" for the central banks to cut rates together, they said.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority also followed the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut the base interest by 50 basis points. The actual rate cuts amounted to 150 basis points, as there was also a 100 basis point cut resulting from a methodology change.

But most of the local banks, including the Standard Chartered, chose not to slash their mortgage lending rates because of high interbank lending rates.

The commerce and industry index gained the most among the four major categories with an increase of 3.87 percent, followed by 3. 49 percent for the financial sector. The properties genre ended up1.29 percent and the utilities gained 1.67 percent.

Cheung Kong, the real estate conglomerate headed by "superman" Li Ka-shing, gained 1.31 percent at 73.45 HK dollars. SHK Properties, one of the leading residential developers in Hong Kong, closed up 0.3 percent at 66.2 HK dollars.

Mainland-based lender Bank of China finished up 5.41 percent at2.73 HK dollars. Ping An, the insurance group, added 3.87 percent at 41.6 HK dollars.

China Unicom surged 9.27 percent to 9.9 HK dollars.

Two oil shares also recovered part of the ground lost on the previous day, with PetroChina adding 3.07 percent at 6.37 HK dollars and Sinopec up 7.35 percent at 5.26 HK dollars. CNOOC, the offshore oil producer, remained unchanged at 6.5 HK dollars.

Shipping stock China COSCO was up 0.79 percent at 5.1 HK dollars, but the gain was far less than its 20.06 percent loss on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua

China approves six small enterpirses to issue short-term bonds

Six Chinese enterprises have been approved to issue short-term bonds amid a pilot program among the country's small- and mid-sized companies.

Six firms that run machinery and electronic businesses have been approved to issue short-term bonds worth 252 million yuan with maturities of less than one year on the inter-bank market. About 197 million yuan of bonds would be issued in the first phase, sources with the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investor said on Thursday at a press conference here.

China's central bank gave the nod for eligible enterprises to sell short-term bonds in 2005 to widen financing channels.

To develop the country's capital market and broaden direct financing channels to curb enterprise's heavy reliance on bank credit, the central bank announced in April non-financial companies could issue such bonds without its approval from April 15.

Since the green light was given in 2005, only large state-owned enterprises gained such a right. Very few small enterprises enjoyed the same right.

The pilot program among small- and mid-sized companies was vital to help the cash-strapped small-scale business out of their difficulties and diversify the credit products in the inter-bank market, said Shi Wenzhao, NAFMII general secretary.

But experts said the popularization of the program demanded a more transparent market and greater policy support.

Shi said many small- and mid-sized companies lacked sound corporate governance and their information release was not transparent enough, which posed bigger risk than that of the large enterprises.

He also called for the establishment of a national credit guarantee system for small- and mid-sized businesses since it was a precondition for their financing activities.

He said more investors should be allowed to engage in the short-term bonds market.

Through 2007, 316 companies issued 769.3 billion yuan of short-term bonds, with 320.3 billion yuan of outstanding debt, statistics showed.

In comparison, short-term loans to non-financial companies and other institutions surged 1.25 trillion yuan in 2007, while middle- and long-term loans jumped 1.65 trillion yuan.

Source: Xinhua

Bent on our own undertakings

Currently, the specter of global financial crisis induced by the U.S sub-prime mortgage crisis has extended well beyond the financial sector and is hovering over almost all the economic entities. The individual consumption accounting for 2/3 of the U.S GDP has been on the conspicuous decline. The unprecedented financial turmoil also hit the E.U countries and Japan, dramatically lowering their import demands.

Generally speaking, the contradictions seen in the world economy and involving multi-parties are still accumulating and deepening, with many uncertain and unpredictable factors in existence. Overshadowed by the gloomy world economy, the foreign demands for China’s economic growth would correspondingly go down, and the production as well as operation in some industries and enterprises would also be thrown into great difficult.

With the shrinking of foreign demands, the situation featuring less orders and downward exports could not be reversed in a short period. China’ emerging economy, highly dependent on its foreign trade, will accordingly have to face a fresh challenge. We will, therefore, have to make all-out efforts to shake off the side effects brought about by the globe-sized financial turmoil by facing up to the harsh reality and beating difficulties confronting us. China’s government decided to adopt flexible but prudent policies in its efforts to promote economic restructuring and transformation, steering clear of economic ups and downs in a bid to ensure a steady and smooth growth in its exports.

Facing the world wide financial crisis, China, as the biggest developing country, will act in a responsible way, bent on its own work ensuring a long-term and stable economic growth, which will be a great contribution to the global economy. To combat the weakening foreign demands, China is endeavoring to expand the domestic demands, streamline the relationship between domestic demands and foreign demands, further increase the ability of resistance on risks, and sharpen the comprehensive competitiveness of China’s economy.

Since the beginning of this year, reconciliation has been enhanced in China’s national economic development, and the ‘three carriages’---investment, consumption and export—have tended to keep in balance. Domestic demands have thus far contributed more than ever to the GDP growth. The first three quarters of the year have yielded the highest growth rate for 12 years in retail volumes of consumer goods. The just closed National Day holidays, set on October 1 and lasting a week, has created nearly 420 billion yuan so far in consumption. All this put together has delivered a positive message in face of the dim economic outlook.

The downward spiral of foreign demands could to some extent affect China’s economic growth rate, nevertheless, China is an emerging but giant economy with a much broader horizon in terms of its domestic market, and its large population of 1.3 billion, especially its vast countryside with a population of more than 800 million, possesses great market potential to be tapped.

On top of that, China is at the accelerating stage of urbanization and industrialization, with more opportunities and more room for maneuver. The driving force propelling China’s economic growth is being shifted from the heavy dependence on foreign demands and exports to the dependence on the coordination of consumption, investment and export. It is convincing that, with the ‘three carriages’ going well and advancing in step with time and situation, China’s economy will be strong enough to brave the financial storms from outside, by standing at a new height, take advantage of ‘two markets’ and ‘two resources,’ and maintain a better and faster trend in its economic development.

By People's Daily Online

Moderate earthquake hits Luzon, Philippines

An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale hit Philippines' northwestern island of Luzon at3:13 a.m. Thursday , according to a bulletin released by the Hong Kong Observatory.

The epicenter was initially determined to be 13.0 degrees north latitude and 124.4 degrees east longitude, about 80 km east of Legaspi.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages.

Source: Xinhua

Indian PM to attend ASEM summit in Beijing this month

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will go to China as an invitee to the ASEM summit of Asian and European leaders later this month, Indo Asian News Agency reported Thursday.

This is the first time that India will be participating in the summit that brings together leaders and representatives of 45 nations from the two continents, said Indo Asian News Agency.

The 7th Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Beijing Oct 24-25 will focus on expanding dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe on a wide range of global issues ranging from terrorism and security issues to multilateral trade, climate change and nuclear non-proliferation.

India, along with Pakistan and Mongolia, were invited to join the ASEM only two years ago.

Manmohan Singh will also hold bilateral talks with China's President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEM summit, official sources said.

Source: Xinhua

China leads developing countries on health list

China ranked 13th on a list ranking international health conditions released by a Chinese Academy of Sciences study group yesterday.

The tally uses a Nation Health Index combining four branch indexes measuring populations' metabolisms, immunities, nervous systems and behavior, and determined China to be "qualified healthy".

"A nation is like a person," CAS' study group leader Yang Duogui said. Yang explained that immunities hinge on ecological conditions, resistance to financial risk and social stability.

"We based the rankings on an overall assessment of the countries that combined all four branch indexes," Yang said.

Forty-five countries - accounting for 89.5 percent of the global GDP, 76.6 percent of the population and 64.2 percent of the land - were evaluated in the study.

According to their indexes, they were placed into four categories: "surplus healthy", "qualified healthy", "sub-healthy" and "health deficit".

China ranked No 1 among developing countries because of its pioneering spirit, sense of responsibility, economic vitality and cohesion.

"Our country has adopted a distinctive development process," Yang said.

China is unique in that it made great efforts to developing its power, rather than wealth, in its early years.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, people were willing to starve to develop advanced sectors, such as nuclear power generation," Yang said.

However, after the reform and opening-up, the country shifted its priorities to generating national and per-capita wealth.

Over time, problems such as over-development and pollution emerged.

"As the government and people developed greater awareness, China began pursuing sustainable development, which has made it healthier," Yang said.

"If we work to strengthen our capacities for responding to national risks, controlling the course of development, creativity, and resource and environment protection our country would move up the list," Yang said.

Finland ranked No 1, and Nigeria came last. Overall, the development pattern of the Northern European countries was the healthiest.

The United States ranked No 11, and Russia came in 29th.

Source: China Daily

Chinese tourists closer to Israel

"I was full of excitement and curiosity for the whole trip. I wish to come back in the future and dig into the diverse culture of this biblical land," said a lady with the surname of Ren when she is about to leave Israel's Gurion International Airport.

As a member of the first Chinese tour group to Israel, she said she felt lucky to enjoy the unique experience of the 10-day trip in the Jewish country that has long intrigued many travelers around the world in Israel.

Alongside with other nearly 80 tourists who departed from the Chinese capital of Beijing in two batches separately on Sept. 25 and 28, Ren visited many places of interests in Israel and Jordan during the tour.

"The most interesting parts are the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea," said Ren.

The tour, organized by two major Chinese travel companies, China Travel Service and China Youth Travel Service, together with six approved Israeli agencies, comes as the fruit of the agreement inked in October between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, which signals Israel an approval destination for Chinese tour groups.

Wu Jianguo, manager of the Latin America and Africa Division at China Travel Service Head Office, believed that Israel could became a potential destination for Chinese tourists.

The Chinese travel agencies are planning to gradually increase the number of Chinese tourists coming to Israel, not double or triple the amount every month.

The 10-day tour to Israel costs 21,800 yuan , more expensive than trips to the United States.

Currently, those who are interested in Israel trip are mainly increasingly rich Chinese business elites, according to Helen Huang, the sales manager of Israel's El Al Airlines in China.

Statistics released by Israel Tourism Ministry show that about 8,000 business tourists visited Israel from China in the first seven months of 2008, up 45 percent over the same period in 2007.

"Our target is to bring some 15,000 Chinese tourists by the end of 2008," said Foreign Press Adviser to Israel Tourism Ministry Lydia Weitzman.

However, things are not perfect. Ren said, "The biggest problem is that it is hard to find Chinese-speaking tour guides who could convey abundant information and stories to us, as we don't want to miss anything on the journey."

Moshe Even-Zahav, director of Non-represented Countries of Israel Tourism Ministry said the office is considering training some Chinese students studying in Israel to be tour guides.

"It will take some time to recruit professional guides that are capable of representing the historical and archaeological aspects of the country to the Chinese tourists," he added.

In fact, Israel Tourism Ministry has made great efforts in preparing for the wave of Chinese tourists, such as training chefs in hotel restaurants, recruiting Chinese-speaking employees in the hotel and tourism industries, translating informational material, maps, brochures into Chinese, Lydia told Xinhua.

Wu also suggest Israel to do more promotion works to attract Chinese people and convince them the country is not as dangerous as they imagine.

"The target of 15,000 tourists can only be achieved with very aggressive marketing and successful promotion the travel agents to destination with incentives," Wu said.

Source: Xinhua

Small and medium-sized cities become more attractive for tourists

Big cities like Beijing and Shanghai may be the most well-known tourist destination in China, but according to the survey on traveling in China by the Visa International Service Association recently, the small and medium-sized cities are also attracting potential tourists in the Asia-Pacific region.

Among the 3,140 respondents in the Asia Pacific region who may come to China in the near future, most of them said that Beijing and Shanghai are the cities they most like to visit. That's not at all surprising. 21 percent of them said they want to visit Guangzhou, 120 km from Hong Kong. Compared with Beijing and Shanghai, smaller cities like Xi'an and Guilin are more and more popular among tourists, both of them among the top five tourist destinations in China.

The survey shows most of residents in Singapore, China's Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan Province who have been to the Chinese mainland still have great interest in visiting China again.

By People's Daily Online

Chinese calligraphy candidate for world heritage designation

Chinese calligraphy has been submitted to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization as a candidate for the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity designation.

MOIHH is defined by the UNESCO as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

With a 3,000-year history, Chinese calligraphy developed along with the evolution of Chinese characters, Li Shenghong, an expert with the Chinese National Academy of Arts, said here Thursday.

In China, calligraphy has been revered as an art form since it was first used in the 5th Century B.C., when it began with a simplified script in which the width of the brush strokes varied and the edges and ends were sharp.

Known as the "four treasures of the study", the paper, ink, brush and ink stone are essential implements of the art. Desk pads and paperweights are also used.

Chinese calligraphy is a unique oriental art of expression and a branch of learning. Through the medium of form, the handling of the brush, presentation, and style, calligraphy is believed to convey the moral integrity, character, emotions and aesthetic feelings of the artist.

Chinese calligraphy survives only as an art form as its practical function has diminished, though tens of millions people still learn and practice it, Li said.

"Being in an endangered position, it's in urgent need of being inherited and protected."

In June, the art form was put on the national list of intangible heritage for protection. The UNESCO will publish a decision on the application for world heritage in 2009.

In 2001, China's Kunqu Opera was listed among the first batch of 19 MOIHH by the UNESCO.

China's Guqin Music, the 12-part suit of ancient Uygur music "Mukam" and the Changdiao or pastoral songs of the Mongolian ethnic group, are also named MOIHH.

Source: Xinhua

"El Cervantino" inaugurated amid Catalonian music, Chinese firework

Chinese sparklers brightened the night sky of Guanajuato, central Mexico, as the International Cervantes Culture Festival or "El Cervantino" lifted its curtains Wednesday.

The annual festival of "El Cervantino" of Guanajuato is one of the most important cultural events of Latin America, dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist who created Don Quixote.

Catalonia of Spain and Campeche of Mexico are chosen as this year's guests of honor, for these two regions "have set admirable example of how to maintain one's own culture under globalization," according to the organization of the event.

"It's a challenge to every existent culture to inherit the traditions and promote their evolution in this more and more globalized world," Juan Manuel Oliva Ramirez, governor of Guanajuato told Xinhua reporter.

During an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Oliva showed full confidence in that, despite all difficulties in communication, the human beings share the same sentiments and mentality thus are able to understand each other.

The culture can be an efficient method and even a "shortcut" to obtain the mutual comprehension, he said.

Oliva coincided with Joan Manuel Serrat, well-known Catalonian singer-songwriter who inaugurated the festival with his duo concert "100X100 Serrat."

"The language never will become a barrier in case of understanding. I don't know Chinese but it doesn't mean I cannot get benefit from the Chinese philosophy, or the water painting," comented Serrat to Xinhua.

"The real challenge is not the globalization but oneself's identity as person," Serrat said.

From Oct. 8 to 26, more than 2,000 artists from 24 countries will offer 391 functions for the local public. Each one of the show is guaranteed a fabulous tour to different cultures.

Last year China made its first visual impact in Guanajuato withperformances of experimental play, dance and acrobatics.

Guanajuato is a small town in its namesake state of Guanjuato, in the center of Mexico, whose population is no more than 16,000 people but with a history of more than 470 years.

Every year in October the city will celebrate one edition of International Cervantes Culture Festival. In 2005, Guanajuato received the title of honor as the "Capital of Cervantes Culture of the Americas."

Source: Xinhua

China tests find no melamine in new liquid milk

The latest tests on Chinese liquid dairy products found no traces of melamine, the country's top quality control agency said on Thursday.

It was the eighth investigation on the industrial chemical following the tainted baby formula scandal that killed at least three infants and sickened more than 50,000 others, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine .

The latest tests covered 855 batches of liquid milk, including yogurt, from 77 brands in 22 major and four mid-size cities, the agency said.

At present, 3,681 batches of liquid dairy products from 126 brands produced after Sept. 14 were tested and none contained melamine, it added.

Melamine, often used in the manufacturing of plastics, was added to sub-standard or diluted milk to make the protein levels appear higher.

China on Wednesday set limits on melamine content in dairy products. The limits were a maximum of 1 mg of melamine per kg of infant formula and a maximum 2.5 mg per kg for liquid milk, milk powder and food products containing at least 15 percent milk.

The agency had sent more than 5,000 inspectors to carry out round-the-clock scrutiny at dairy factories in effort to ensure quality and restore consumer confidence.

The Ministry of Finance on Thursday said it allocated 300 million yuan to dairy farmers in five major dairy producing provinces.

Farmers suffered losses as they disposed of raw milk because of a slump in dairy consumption following the scandal.

Source: Xinhua

China's Alibaba to invest 5 bln yuan in online auction unit

Taobao, the online auction unit of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, on Wednesday announced the parent company would invest in it 5 billion yuan over the next five years.

Taobao president Lu Zhaoxi said the investment showed its confidence in the long-term Internet development and economic growth in China.

Online shopping was predicted to be a basic demand of Internet users in the future, and to build a bigger and more open platform was Taobao's strategic goal, said Lu.

China's online shopping market reached 56.1 billion yuan last year and was estimated to gain 125.1 percent to 126.3 billion yuanin 2008, said an iResearch report. It added that the market would continue to post rapid growth in the coming years and would likely reach 569 billion yuan in 2011.

The largest consumer e-commerce company in China said it would continue to offer free services to online buyers.

Taobao pursued free services since it was established in 2003 and in 2005 it promised another three-year free services. The strategy helped it beat eBay to become the nation's largest online auction site.

Its Chief Operating Officer Zhang Yong disclosed the company's profit patterns, including banner advertisements and paid shop management services. The company, which has 850,000 active online shops, would continue to explore new patterns next year, said Zhang.

Taobao achieved a cost and revenue balance in August, said Zhang, adding he was confident the company would make a profit in 2009.

Alibaba was established in 1999 and headquartered in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province.

Alibaba.Com Limited, the listed arm of Alibaba Group, reported net profit of 970 million yuan last year, an increase of 340 percent over 2006.


One of the Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry is a Chinese American

Osamu Shimomura, a Japanese citizen in the US, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien from the US have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2008, announced the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Wednesday.

"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2008 jointly to Osamu Shimomura from Boston University Medical School, Martin Chalfie from Columbia University and Roger Y. Tsien from University of California in San Diego for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP. " said Professor Gunnar Öquist, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at the press conference.

According to the Nobel Prize Committee, the remarkable brightly glowing green fluorescent protein, GFP was first observed in the beautiful jellyfish, Aequorea Victoria by Shimomura in 1962.

This was the moment what the expert said "that made scientists' heart beat three times faster than normal".

Since then, this protein has become one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience. With the aid of GFP, researchers have developed ways to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread.

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the initial discovery of GFP and a series of important developments which have led to its use as a tagging tool in bioscience. By using DNA technology, researchers can now connect GFP to other interesting but otherwise invisible proteins.

Researchers can also follow the fate of various cells with the help of GFP: nerve cell damage during Alzheimer's disease or how insulin-producing beta cells are created in the pancreas of a growing embryo.

Martin Chalfie demonstrated the value of GFP as a luminous genetic tag for various biological phenomena, according to the committee.

Roger Y. Tsien contributed to the general understanding of how GFP fluoresces. He also extended the colour palette beyond green allowing researchers to give various proteins and cells different colors. This enables scientists to follow several different biological processes at the same time.

Professor Lars Thelander from Umeå University, who is a member of the Nobel Prize Committee explained why the discovery is so important.

"It is a breakthrough in a sense that this is a new method to make it possible to study phenomenon inside of the living cell while it is alive. Earlier you have to crush the cell and then put it into a test tube and so on, now you can study your enzyme in living cells, and that makes it in a very good position in understanding things much better. Professor Tsien makes it easier to use for anyone. " said professor Thelander.

Although earlier there are already predictions and rumors that Professor Tsien who is a Chinese American and a kind of relative to Chinese famous Scientist Qian Xuesen, Tsien said he was not expected to have won the prize and was very surprised when he heard the news.

"Although there are rumors, we think the rumors are very questionable." He told the press conference through telephone.

Being asked about his relations with Qian Xuesen, he said he had never contacted the latter and he only heard of Qian from his grandpa that Qian is a great scientist and engineer in China.

About the impact of his winning of the prize upon Chinese, he said, "Well, although I am an entirely American, this may make them feel very proud and will inspire a lot of young people to study in science in China and the US".

Roger Y. Tsien was a US citizen and born in New York in 1952, the youngest winner among the three. He got his PhD in physiology in 1977 from Cambridge University and became professor at University of California, San Diego USA since 1989.

Osamu Shimomura was born in Kyoto in Japan in 1928, later moved to America and became professor at the Boston University Medical School.

Martin Chalfie was born in Chicago in 1947 and got his PhD in neurobiology in 1977 from Havard University. He is professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University in New York.

The three scientists will equally share the 10 million kronor or 1.42 million US dollar prize and the issuing ceremony will be held on December 10 in Stockholm. Thursday the Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced and the Peace Prize on Friday in Oslo.

By Xuefei Chen People's Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm.

Del Potro into Shanghai contention, Gonzalez saves 5 match points in Vienna

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro moved up one spot to No. 8 in the ATP 2008 Race after booking his place in the Austrian Open second round on Wednesday.

The third seed beat wild card Martin Fischer of Austria 7-6 ,6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes.

With a 30-2 match record since July, Del Potro will next meet German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round as he bids to qualify for Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.

Del Potro, who moved past James Blake in the ATP 2008 Race, is looking to claim one of four remaining singles berths to Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai and to finish inside the year-end Top 10 for the first time in his career.

In second round action, Fernando Gonzalez of Chile reached his third ATP quarterfinal in as many weeks after saving five match points to beat Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 11 minutes.

After edging past the second set tie-break, second seed Gonzalez won the deciding set in just 23 minutes with Gulbis winning only 10 points.

Elsewhere, Frenchman Gael Monfils made a stuttering start with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Austrian Alexander Peya in the first round. Monfils next meets tough Czech Radek Stepanek.

Fifth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco knocked out Guillermo Canas of Argentina 6-1, 6-2 in 69 minutes in another second round match.

Source: Xinhua

Mathieu advances, Youzhny suffers first round exit in Moscow

Fourth seed Paul-Henri Mathieu improved his ATP Kremlin Cup tournament record to 13-3 after reaching the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky in Moscow on Wednesday.

The Frenchman, who converted three of 12 break point chances in the 1 hour and 26 minutes encounter, captured the title on his debut in 2002 and finished runner-up on his fourth visit last year. In the second round he will face Beijing finalist Dudi Sela.

Currently No. 23 in the ATP Rankings, Mathieu has now secured his 30th match win of the season and entered having reached his seventh ATP final in Metz last week.

Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili defeated his third-seeded compatriot Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 to hand the Moscow native his sixth first round defeat at the ATP Kremlin Cup.

World No. 66 Gabashvili, who also resides in Moscow, served nine aces and won just two points more than Youzhny in the 2 hours and 43 minutes encounter.

Elsewhere, Mischa Zverev of Germany progressed with a 6-3, 7-6 victory over compatriot Denis Gremelmayr.

The Moscow-born German citizen, who partnered Youzhny to the Tokyo doubles title last week, is through to the second round for the first time on his third visit.

Source: Xinhua