SHANGHAI, March 21 (Reuters) – Four executives from global
miner Rio Tinto <RIO.AX> <RIO.L> will stand before a judge in
Shanghai on Monday, in a trial that will also subject China’s
judicial system to international scrutiny.
The four from Rio’s iron ore team, including Australian
citizen Stern Hu, were detained last summer at the height of
fraught negotiations over 2009 iron ore prices, creating a
furore over China’s opaque state secrets laws. They were
ultimately charged with lesser charges.
BEIJING (Reuters) – They build the skyscrapers and lay the highways, mind the city children, sew the clothes and tend the shops, but China’s army of migrant laborers are still fundamentally aliens in the country’s bustling urban centers.
Despite a push for reform ahead of this week’s annual legislative meeting, the household registration, or hukou, system is likely to stay in place for the near future, slowing China’s rapid urbanization by denying city services to its estimated 200 million migrant workers.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chairman Mao famously said women hold up half the sky, but in today’s China, the half that matters, the economy, often remains out of their reach.
Women make up the backbone of production-line workers in China’s private, export-oriented factories, and gravitate to professions such as medicine, journalism and teaching.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Ai Weiwei’s tweets gather steam early in the day, building throughout the morning into a crescendo of aphorisms, outrage and profanity.
His salvos are the loudest, most flagrantly defiant forms of speech in China today, where government controls on the Internet and traditional media constrain a civil society that nevertheless enjoys freedoms and activities unthinkable a generation ago.
BEIJING, March 4 (Reuters) – China’s biggest private
agricultural firm, New Hope Group, is doubling a programme to
guarantee rural loans, as Chinese banks remain unwilling to lend
to farmers without collateral, its founder said.
China’s rural sector has long suffered from a lack of
financing, despite years of government pledges to improve access
to loans to help farmers invest and rural businesses expand.
SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea is “not eager” to return to six-party denuclearization talks but has not rejected the idea, a U.N. envoy said on Friday as fresh diplomatic activity raised hopes for progress on the issue.
North Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, who is now in China, will make a rare visit to the United States next month, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said earlier in the day, indicating the long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang’s atomic ambitions might be back on track.
SEOUL/BEIJING, Feb 12 (Reuters) – North Korea is "not eager" to return to six-party denuclearisation talks but has not rejected the idea, a U.N. envoy said on Friday as fresh diplomatic activity raised hopes for progress on the issue.
North Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, who is now in China, will make a rare visit to the United States next month, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said earlier in the day, indicating the long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang’s atomic ambitions might be back on track. [ID:nTOE61B00P]
The United States said it was not in talks with North Korea about a visit and there were no plans for one "at this point."
U.N. sanctions and a botched currency move that nearly halted commerce late last year have increased pressure on the destitute North to return to talks, to win aid to prop up its wobbly economy by reducing its security threat.
Kim’s visit to China coincided with an unusually busy week of diplomatic activity for the reclusive North that included high-profile visits by envoys from China and the United Nations, and leader Kim Jong-il reiterating he wanted a peninsula free of nuclear weapons. [ID:nSGE6180HK]
"Their attitude right now is, certainly they’re not happy with sanctions," Lynn Pascoe, U.N. Under-secretary general for political affairs, told reporters in Beijing.
"They’re certainly not eager, not ruling out, but not eager to return to six-party talks."
Pascoe met with North Korea’s president, foreign minister and vice foreign minister for discussions he said were "quite useful" and "friendly but frank," covering a wide range of issues. He dined with Chinese officials on Friday, and will travel to Seoul and Tokyo on his way to New York.
North Korea expressed interest in improving relations with its neighbours, particularly South Korea, he said, but did not offer any concrete strategy to do so.
He did not give specific details of any messages he carried.
Pascoe said North Korea was only getting about a quarter of the food and other aid it needed, and could see even that shrink. He cited donor fatigue as one of the reasons for the shortfall.
"I was alarmed to learn that funding shortfalls from the international community is placing some of these programmes in jeopardy," he said, adding that North Korea and its citizens welcomed the aid.
"Kids are not being given the nutrition requirements that they need, there is going to be hospital support that declines or goes away. These are all basic critical human needs… We need the programme to be going up, not down, to help the kids. That’s all."
Meanwhile in Beijing, Kim Kye-gwan planned to meet China’s top envoy to the nuclear talks on Friday and return home the next day with a message from the North’s biggest benefactor, a diplomatic source told South Korea’s Yonhap agency.
Asked if he may soon make a U.S. visit, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters: "We have no plans for such a visit at this point … There is no discussion that we are having with North Korea about a visit at this point."
THE NORTH AND ITS DISARMAMENT PLEDGES
Kim’s last trip to the United States was about three years ago and led a few months later to North Korea taking its first steps to disable the Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear plant that produces bomb-grade plutonium.
North Korea later backed away from its disarmament pledges, expelled international inspectors, and produced a fresh batch of plutonium at Yongbyon which experts said could give it enough fissile material for one nuclear bomb.
"If Kim is going to Washington, he will be taking something in hand and we will likely see significant results related to the six-way talks," said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University.
North Korea has previously put conditions on its return to the talks, including ending U.N. sanctions and also having discussions with the United States on a peace treaty to replace the ceasefire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Resuming the talks could ease concerns among market players about investing in the heavily armed peninsula, but was unlikely to cause any major movements in markets, analysts have said.
Investors, grown used to the mercurial ways of the North, expect no change in the "Korea discount," where equities, bonds and other assets are priced lower than regional peers on concerns that include risks from North Korea. (Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Christine Kim in Seoul; Editing by Jerry Norton and Bill Trott)
BEIJING, Feb 12 (Reuters) – China has indicted four
employees of mining giant Rio Tinto <RIO.AX><RIO.L> on charges
of bribery and stealing commercial secrets, in a case that has
unnerved foreign investors in China. [ID:nSGE6190GU]
If convicted, the men could face up to seven years in jail
on a commercial secrets charge, and up to 20 years for bribery.
Foreign businesses and Chinese industry will be watching to see
if they get the short or long end of those ranges.
BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States is once more ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to let its currency appreciate, but for many of China’s small exporters the issue is not even on their radar.
In marked contrast to the lead-up to China’s 2005 revaluation, when rumors of a change swept Asian markets daily, there is very little discussion these days in China beyond economists’ circles of allowing the yuan to resume its rise.
BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese activist who sought to document shoddy construction that contributed to deaths in China’s devastating 2008 earthquake has been sentenced to five years in prison for subversion, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Tan Zuoren was formally accused of inciting subversion of state power in emailed comments about the bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989, on pro-democracy demonstrators around Tiananmen Square.