HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Construction worker Li Fuxing had been in the wealthy Chinese city of Hangzhou for less than a month when a falling beam smashed his knee, landing him with hospital bills equivalent to half a year’s wages.
In striped pajamas and a cast, he is another test case in China’s experiment in providing affordable health care to 1.4 billion people, an endeavor expected to cost $124 billion over the three years to 2011.
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry insisted on Thursday that the country’s intentions in space were peaceful, after comments from top air force brass preparing to celebrate a 60th anniversary worried analysts in the United States.
Like the rest of the People’s Liberation Army, the air force is trying to upgrade information capability, modernize its forces and develop homegrown technology.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Recovering commodity prices are reviving Chinese investors’ interest in African resource deals, after nearly a year in which infrastructure projects dominated Chinese investment in the continent, the head of Standard Bank’s China operations told Reuters.
When Industrial and Commercial Bank of China took a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank in 2007, Standard Bank executives like Craig Bond expected its Chinese clientele to use the new banking channels into Africa to snap up resource projects.
WASHINGTON/HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China pledged to lift its ban on U.S. pork on Thursday and the United States took a step toward easing restrictions on chicken imports as the two superpowers agreed to tackle a series of trade irritants.
The flurry of trade accords between China and America comes ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to China in mid-November to reach agreements on currency, the environment and trade with its second-largest trading partner and the largest foreign holder of its government debt. [ID:nPEK8692]
China’s promise on pork sent U.S. hog futures higher on Thursday and also lifted the stock of Smithfield Foods Inc <SFD.N>, the largest U.S. hog and pork producer.
"We’re going to work through whatever details remain to try to get this done as expeditiously as possible," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters during a telephone interview from Hangzhou, where the countries held trade talks. [ID:nN29356378]
China is a top buyer of U.S. meat, chicken, soybeans and other products, purchasing $560 million worth of pork in 2008. China imposed the ban on U.S. pork five months ago following the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu. The disease cannot be caught by eating pork.
China’s Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai did not say when he would announce a formal end to the pork ban.
"He didn’t put a specific timeline on it, but as you know President Obama is coming to China in a couple of weeks, and I don’t know whether that is part of their calculation or not," Vilsack said.
China’s willingness to lift its pork ban was not related to the recent move by Congress to end its ban on imports of Chinese poultry products, Vilsack said.
"I asked Minister Sun that specific question, and he was very emphatic in indicating that there’s no connection," he said.
But Vilsack said his department will soon begin the process to review China’s food safety laws and poultry plants with an eye to allowing U.S. imports of poultry meat.
Vilsack said officials did not discuss China’s recent anti-dumping investigation into U.S. chicken exports. [ID:nPEK218176]
News that China would scrap the ban sent U.S. hog futures <0#LH:> at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange up 2 percent early Thursday. Hog futures have fallen about 40 percent after hitting a high of 90 cents per lb in August 2008 amid high prices for feedstock, the recession blunting demand and the H1N1 flu.
Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc rose as much as 5 percent to $13.92 per share Thursday morning at the New York Stock Exchange.
BEEF ISSUES REMAIN
While making progress on pork and chicken, China and the United States are still at odds over beef.
China has banned U.S. beef imports since the United States found its first case of mad cow disease in 2003.
"I think there’s still work to be done" on the beef issue, Vilsack said, noting talks focused on pork and poultry trade.
"I think we have to be creative. I think we have to put something on the table (on beef trade) for the Chinese to respond to, and we intend to do that very quickly," he said.
Vilsack said he had established "a good personal chemistry" with Sun during the talks.
"We’re going to try to build on the momentum that was created during this meeting" to focus on other outstanding farm trade issues, he said. (Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Russ Blinch)
HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China and the United States agreed to tackle a series of trade irritants and reiterated pledges against protectionism, but left the broader questions of the value of Chinese currency and U.S. debt untouched at high-level talks that ended on Thursday.
In a sign that the global financial crisis has fuelled a risk of more, not fewer, trade barriers, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming confirmed that Beijing would conduct a preliminary dumping investigation of U.S. auto imports.
The probe was initially announced in response to the imposition last month by the United States of tariffs on Chinese tyres, the first time the U.S. invoked safeguard clause China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organisation.
Speaking to reporters after the bilateral meetings, officials from both countries tried to keep the focus on areas of agreement, not contention.
Importantly for U.S. businesses, China agreed to treat products of U.S.-China joint ventures as local products in government procurement tenders, and would submit a revised offer to join the World Trade Organisation’s government procurement agreement by 2010, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
China will remove its local content requirement in tenders for wind power equipment, Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration, said.
The United States, for its part, agreed that imposing curbs on imports from China was not the way to tackle the country’s politically contentious trade surplus, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said.
"The two have agreed that the solution to the trade gap between the United States and China is not to restrict imports from China but to promote balance," Chen told reporters through an interpreter.
China will soon allow imports of U.S. pork, after a ban following the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, Chinese Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai and his U.S. counterpart, Tom Vilsack, said.
The U.S. Congress had earlier dropped its ban on U.S. agencies certifying Chinese cooked poultry for U.S. sales.
"I hope pork imports can quickly resume, but I also hope the the U.S. will follow Chinese requirements to credibly ensure the quality, safety and health of pork exports to China," Sun said, adding China had already restored cooked pork products imports.
They did not give a timeframe for the ban to be lifted.
President Barack Obama will travel to China in mid-November, preceded by a flurry of official American visits as the United States tries to reach accords on currency, the environment and trade with its second-largest trading partner and the largest foreign holder of its government debt.
For a FACTBOX on the two countries’ interdependency, please click on [ID:nPEK294728].
Chen said the United States agreed to establish a working group to examine Beijing’s long-standing demand that Washington formally regard it as a market economy, a status that would make it harder to impose trade penalties on China.
As part of its WTO agreement, China gets that status automatically in 2016, but is pushing for earlier recognition in light of its market reforms.
Chen said progress on U.S. recognition was unrelated to "micro-economic" issues such as U.S. concerns that China subsidises its state-owned enterprises with cheap loans, land and other resources.
The U.S. failed to get China to retreat on regulations over online music distribution, but officials said they were pleased with Chinese pledges to combat and punish Internet piracy.
Intellectual property rights are one of the biggest concerns of U.S. investors in China, where piracy of brand name clothing, films, books, music, and industrial patents is rampant.
The Obama administration angered China, whose economy is heavily dependent on exports, when it slapped a 35 percent safeguard duty on imports of Chinese-made tyres, which totaled about $1.8 billion last year.
China immediately challenged the action at the World Trade Organisation and said it would launch an anti-dumping and countervailing-duty investigation against U.S. poultry and autos to offset unfair pricing and government subsidies.
The probe into U.S. auto imports would be "objective, just and fair," Chen said. (Editing by Nick Macfie)
HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China and the United
States both reiterated calls against protectionism at an annual
trade meeting on Thursday, against a backdrop of friction over
trade and the value of their currencies.
The annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting,
held in a garden compound in the lakeside city of Hangzhou,
comes just a few weeks before U.S. president Barack Obama’s
first official trip to China.
HANGZHOU, China, Oct 28 (Reuters) – U.S. and Chinese officials meet in Hangzhou this week at the annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, a few weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama makes his first official trip to China.
With the two giant economies joined at the hip, the U.S.-China relationship is strained by issues like the value of the yuan, but is unlikely to unravel over any single dispute.
"Made in China" products accounted for less than 1 percent of U.S. imports a quarter of a century ago.
Now, China’s high rate of savings is used to buy U.S. treasuries, allowing Americans to buy Chinese exports. That has driven economic growth in China and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.
By 2008, U.S. exports to China totalled $69.7 billion, but were dwarfed by $337.8 billion in exports from China to the United States, now Beijing’s second biggest trade partner.
The U.S. trade deficit with China has grown steadily since 1985, when its exports to China were worth $3.86 billion, $6 million less than the value of Chinese shipments to the United States. Bilateral trade was less than $2.5 billion in 1979.
Rising Chinese exports have alarmed U.S. industry and unions, while China worries that U.S. duties — like a safeguard duty on tyres — will threaten its export markets.
China held $797.1 billion in U.S. Treasuries at end-August, displacing Japan in September 2008 as the largest foreign holder.
Beijing is concerned the value of its dollar holdings could be eroded by massive debt issuances to fund the U.S. stimulus.
The 2000 census says 1.19 million people living in the United States were born in China. About half are U.S. citizens.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
As recently as the early 1990s, foreign direct investment accounted for less than 5 percent of total investment in China.
Foreign invested firms in China now employ more people than do China’s state-owned and collective enterprises.
Since the joint venture heyday of the 1990s, U.S. non-financial FDI in its trading partner has slid, accounting for 3.2 percent of utilised FDI in 2008, versus 10.5 percent in 1999.
Utilised FDI from the United States slipped to $2.9 billion in 2008, down from $4.2 billion in 1999, even as overall FDI in China nearly doubled to $92.4 billion last year.
China encourages its firms to "go out" and invest overseas, particularly in natural resources — but ran up against national concerns when China’s CNOOC tried to buy U.S. oil firm Unocal.
Chinese non-financial direct overseas investment leapt to $40.65 billion in 2008, almost half of the investment coming in. That is compared with $6.92 billion in outbound investment in 2005, about one-tenth of the investment into China in that year.
China and the United States meet regularly through what is now known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
The two countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
They are key players in the six-party talks over North Korea, and the Washington is seeking China’s cooperation over Iran.
China has become an enthusiastic participant in the World Trade Organisation [ID:nPEK143174].
Sources: American Chamber of Commerce 2009 White Paper; U.S. Census Bureau; The U.S. China Business Council; Chinese Ministry of Commerce; American Chamber of Commerce China Brief.
(Editing by Paul Tait)
HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will press for more access for American companies in China’s clean energy sector, an area where Washington feels it can make inroads on its enormous trade imbalance with China.
China’s ambitious wind power plans, as well as national policies to reduce emissions and use water and fuel more efficiently, create a potential market for U.S. firms who have developed those technologies, Locke said in Hangzhou before the annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting.
BEIJING (Reuters) – The hijacking of a Chinese coal ship in the Indian Ocean shows Somali pirates are extending their reach beyond the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast, shippers said as traders worried that more coal ships could become targets.
The De Xin Hai, carrying about 76,000 tons of coal from South Africa to the port of Mundra, in Gujarat, India, was hijacked about 700 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia on Monday, the European Union’s counter-piracy force said.
BEIJING, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Nearly 1,000 children living in a major Chinese lead smelting base have excessive levels of the heavy metal in their blood, state media said on Tuesday, as environmentalists called on firms to detail their pollution.
The country’s biggest smelter has acknowledged some responsibility in the poisoning in central Henan province, and all children whose homes were within a kilometre of metal plants have been moved, the official Xinhua agency said.
"We do bear responsibility for the pollution," Xinhua quoted Yang Anguo, board chairman of Yuguang Gold and Lead <600531.SS> as saying. "Some pollution has accumulated over the past 20 years or more and the plant is too near homes."
Health officials in Jiyuan city decided to test children under 14 after a series of other scandals in metal producing areas of neighbouring Shaanxi province.
Of 2,743 who were checked, more than one-third had excessive lead in their blood. The city government has suspended production at 32 of the 35 lead plants, and on the most polluting production lines at the three major plants, Xinhua said.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace on Tuesday slammed 18 major Chinese and international companies for failing to publish their pollution levels, in violation of environmental laws.
Firms fingered by Chinese officials for violating pollution standards are required to disclose the details of all their emissions within a month, but none of those Greenpeace found cited around China had done so.
"Our results demonstrate corporate … disregard for Chinese environmental regulations. This is especially disheartening given that all 18 companies are leaders in their respective fields," Greenpeace said in a report after combing local media and contacting officials and the companies to ask for data.
They said the lack of information undermined grassroots efforts to keep China’s land, air and water clean.
"A comprehensive environmental information system that is free and easy to access for the public … is essential to safeguard citizens and the environment from industry-induced risks," Greenpeace said in its report.
Environmental problems are an increasing source of unrest in China, worrying the stability conscious government.
"Mass incidents" — or riots and protests — sparked by environmental problems have been rising at a rate of 30 percent per year, according to China’s environment minister.
At the same time, the boom in metals prices has made investment in mines and smelters very profitable, and dangerously polluting plants have sprung up across the Chinese countryside.
A child who ingests large amounts of lead may develop anaemia, muscle weakness and brain damage. Where poisoning occurs, it is usually gradual. The average level of lead in the blood of Chinese children is five times the acceptable level in the United States, according to statistics from the China Daily.
Jiyuan officials cited by Xinhua attributed the poisoning to past accumulation of lead due to decades of smelting. (Editing by Jonathan Leff and Alex Richardson)