Friday, September 12, 2008

Xiamen fair concludes, overseas investment hit 13.5 bln USD

A total of 784 investment projects involving 15.9 billion U.S. dollars, including 13.5 billion U.S. dollars in overseas capital, were signed at the 12th Xiamen International Fair for Investment and Trade that concluded here in the southeast Fujian Province on Thursday.

On the fair, foreign trade contracts worth 27.53 million U.S. dollars were signed, including 16.61 million U.S. dollars in exports and 10.92 million U.S. dollars in imports.

The fair, which ran from Sept. 8 to 11, attracted 55,000 investors and traders from both home and abroad. Among them, there were more than 13,000 overseas participants from 126 countries and regions.

In total 445 overseas delegations from 104 countries and regions attended the event, according to the organizers.

The 12th session of the fair covered a floor space of 52,000 square meters, the largest ever in its history.

The fair, co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development , was first held in 1997.

Source: Xinhua

Quake victims share in hopes for future

Days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sunday, 37-year-old Li Jianrong already decided how he would celebrate the occasion.

"I will share half a moon cake with my son and leave the other half for my deceased wife," he said.

"I want my son to feel that his mother will always be part of the family, in spirit."

Li is a resident of Dujiangyan in Sichuan province. He is one of the victims of the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people.

Dujiangyan's bureau of civil affairs gave out two moon cakes to each resettled victim in the quake zones, in line with the traditional practice of enjoying the treats during this highly valued time of sharing and family reunions.

Recounting in tears that frightful day when his house collapsed and buried his wife, Li said it felt like an evil spirit had sucked the very life out of him, leaving behind nothing more than a walking corpse.

"Then I remembered I still have a son and I must rebuild a family for him. And there is no better time to start doing this than during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which symbolizes family values in Chinese culture," he said.

Li is just one of the many quake victims who are holding onto hopes for a better future as rebuilding efforts continue in Sichuan.

Another of the city's quake victims, Jin Liang, relished a slice of moon cake as he sipped a cup of tea. He seemed contented, to be able to indulge in his weakness for the sweetmeat.

"But, unlike before, I'm enjoying the cake in front of a prefabricated home, built after the May 12 quake," the 64-year-old retired high school teacher told China Daily in the Frugal Home, the city's largest earthquake resettlement site with about 8,000 quake victims.

"Life has to continue," said Zhong Yueqin, a storekeeper in the Happy Home, another resettlement site with 500 prefabricated houses sheltering more than 1,500 quake victims.

More than a week ago, Zhong bought five boxes containing 200 moon cakes with different stuffing.

"I did not expect the moon cakes would be popular among the victims. But to my surprise, many of them asked me for moon cakes. And I had to buy more," she said.

As the festival draws near, more people in Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu can also be seen carrying bags of the confectionaries on the streets.

"Chengdu people have not forgotten those who contributed to quake relief they have considered the relief workers their family members and have bought moon cakes for them," said He Huazhang, chief of the city's publicity department.

On behalf of more than 10 million Chengdu residents, He went to Dengzhou, Henan province, on Tuesday to visit the home of an army officer who had died of overwork to help quake victims.

A resident of Dengzhou, the 26-year-old military officer, Wu Wenbin, worked in quake-relief missions in Dujiangyan from May 15 to June 17. On June 18, he fainted while unloading material for temporary houses, and died from exhaustion.

He Huazhang had brought moon cakes and a letter of gratitude written by Li Chuncheng, the city's party chief, to Wu's family members.

Soon after Wu's death, his 60-year-old father, who could barely support himself with his job in a local hospital in Dengzhou, went to Dujiangyan and donated all the money Dengzhou residents gave him to schools in Dujiangyan.

"When journalists from Chengdu visited the Dengs, they found the family had lived in thatched housing built 32 years ago. They did not even have a TV set," He said.

The publicity chief told China Daily that Cai Yinfu, a construction company leader in Chengdu, designed a blueprint for Wu's new home and offered to build a house for them with his own money, after reading about their situation from reports.

"Construction of the 222-sq m home with bedrooms, kitchen and toilets will be completed in mid-November," Cai said.

Source: China Daily

Report shows real price of growth

The environmental cost of China's economic growth in 2005 outweighed the gains, the author of a report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences told China Daily yesterday.

Shi Mingjun, a professor at the academy's Research Center on Fictitious Economy & Data Science, said the cost of such things as the exploitation of natural resources, ecological degradation and environmental pollution was 2.75 trillion yuan in 2005, or 13.9 percent of the total output for the year.

The growth in GDP for the year was 2.24 trillion yuan.

"If we calculate the real cost to the environment and natural resources, the losses are greater than the gains," he said.

"And as the nation's growth pattern has changed little over the past two years, the conclusions are likely to be the same for 2006 and 2007," he said.

Shi and his team began researching the issue in early 2006. Over the following two years, they managed to calculate the monetary value of the natural resources consumed in 2005, as well as the cost of the pollution and ecological degradation over the year.

Most of the calculations are based on official figures, and Shi said the team tended to choose the most conservative ones, so as to not "exaggerate the results".

The results validate the view that China's economic growth has relied mainly on the input of natural resources and is causing enormous environmental losses, Shi said.

"Such a growth model is unsustainable."

Thanks largely to its manufacturing powerhouses in coastal regions, China is the fastest-growing major economy in the world.

However, its growth has come at a high price to natural resources and the environment, which led the government to launch a drive to change its development pattern.

In 2005, authorities conducted a pilot project to calculate the "Green GDP", which was designed to gauge real economic growth by deducting the cost of environmental pollution.

The first figures were released in September 2006, and showed an economic loss in 2004 of 511.8 billion yuan, or 3.05 percent of the nation's GDP for that year.

Earlier reports have suggested the reason why the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the National Bureau of Statistics have yet to release figures for Green GDP for 2005 is because some local governments are opposed to the publication of such disappointing results.

"Our findings are largely consistent with the official figures for 2005, although they calculated only the cost of pollution," Shi said.

He said he had discussed his report with officials from the environment ministry.

Source: China Daily

Environmental guidlines for firms investing abroad

China is drafting environmental guidelines for companies investing in or providing economic aid to overseas countries.

The work is being undertaken by the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning , in cooperation with the Global Environmental Institute and the University of International Business and Economics.

The first draft is now being discussed, the GEI said.

A report released by the CAEP last week said the country lacked comprehensive environmental protection policies in its overseas projects, although investment had been expanding.

Statistics show that between 2002 and 2006, China's overseas non-financial direct investment grew by 60 percent annually. By the end of 2006, 5,000 Chinese companies had set up nearly 10,000 directly invested firms and invested $90.6 billion in 172 countries.

"China should consider and take action as globalization has produced new environmental challenges," Ge Chazhong, an official from the CAEP, was quoted as saying by China Business News yesterday.

China's overseas investment and aid mainly focuses on exploring oil and other resources, processing, manufacturing, and construction in African and Southeast Asian countries.

Without proper management, such projects are likely to cause environmental problems, the report said.

In April, several companies, including China Mobile, Haier Group, and China International Marine Containers, joined "Caring for Climate", a voluntary UN initiative to combat global climate change.

Liu Meng, director of UN Global Compact China Office, told China Daily earlier that these companies' participation suggests that China's business sector is catching up with its international counterparts on climate issues.

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's largest oil producer, has pledged to stick to stringent environmental requirements before deciding on overseas projects.

However, the report said there are still some environmental concerns over China's overseas projects.

Although China's banking industry has seen rapid development it its overseas credit business in recent years, most banks have failed to take environmental concerns into account.

Currently, only four banks in China have either formulated independent environmental standards for financing, or have joined the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative to reduce environmental risks.

Source: China Daily

Measures in place for green Expo

Following its success as a co-host of the Beijing "Green Olympics", authorities here yesterday outlined plans to ensure an equally environmentally friendly World Expo 2010.

Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai environmental protection bureau, said at a press briefing that an eco-town, or recycling park, is currently under construction to encourage the development of a circular economy.

Within the town, companies engaged in various kinds of waste treatment and recycling will create an industrial chain that will make such an economy sustainable, he said.

"Environmental protection is not just about waste treatment. More importantly, it is about the recycling of materials in order for us to be really resource-efficient," Zhang said.

He added that he would like to see more communities and schools, not just commercial enterprises, engaged in promoting the development of circular economies.

Meanwhile, Zhang said the city is also set to bring in a "total pollution load control" for nitrogen oxide, ammonia nitrogen and total phosphorous, which will add to the usual barometers for water pollution such as chemical oxygen demand.

Volatile organic compounds, which are an organic chemical air pollutant, will also be placed under close watch and control, he said.

"The Beijing Olympics set a good example for Shanghai to practice a green World Expo," he said.

"But given its wider range of influence and longer timeframe, we need to take stronger and more practical measures to bring about a successful and environmentally friendly event."

Wu Chengjian, director of the international cooperation department of the environmental protection bureau, said the Shanghai Expo venue will be equipped with air quality monitoring facilities throughout the event.

An environmental emergency mechanism will also be put in place to deal with accidents, he said.

Furthermore, the city is working with the United Nations Environment Program on a Green Expo guidebook for visitors and residents, which will help them to be eco-friendly during their tour of the facilities, he said.

An international forum on green Expos will also be held during the 2010 event, Wu said.

Also at yesterday's press conference, the bureau outlined its fourth three-year environmental protection campaign, which is expected to start next year.

It said the city will strengthen its pollutant control in rural and suburban areas, and introduce further caps on noise pollution.

In 2000, the Shanghai government launched a campaign to improve its environment. Since then, it has spent almost 180 billion yuan on green projects.

Source: China Daily

Bank scamers awaits sentence

Three people who used an automatic teller machine to deposit 120,000 yuan in counterfeit banknotes and then withdrew more than 80,000 yuan in genuine notes were brought before the Chongqing intermediate court.

The three, Qiu Guo from Chongqing, and Yu Sheng and Su Poyu, both from Sichuan province, were charged with forgery and bank theft.

They will be sentenced soon, a court employee told China Daily yesterday.

Prosecutors told the court the three shared a rented apartment in Chongqing, and made a living by forging ID cards.

In June 2004, two men from Sichuan asked Qiu to forge ID cards, which they wanted to use to obtain 500 bankcards. They promised to pay Qiu 100,000 yuan and gave him a deposit of 20,000 yuan.

Qiu, Yu and Su took photographs of people at Internet cafes, paying each 20 yuan. They made about 50 fake ID cards and asked the people in the ID cards to apply for a total 500 bankcards.

When the three handed the bankcards to the two Sichuan men on July 15, they could not be paid. The two men explained they tried to deposit counterfeit money at an ATM but something went wrong and they could not withdraw genuine cash.

As compensation, they decided to teach Qiu, Yu and Su how to deposit fake cash in return for genuine cash. They were given fake banknotes with a face value of more than 300,000 yuan, about 200 bankcards, and wigs.

The three succeeded in depositing 120,000 yuan in fake notes, and then withdrew 86,200 yuan from four ATMs. They then fled Chongqing.

The bank reported to police. However, the three could not be identified by the ATM cameras because of their wigs.

They were eventually caught in February following a tip-off.

In April 2004, the Jiangbei district court in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, sentenced Huang Junli to 12 years in prison for depositing fake money in banks and withdrawing more than 170,000 yuan.

The forgers had managed to break the security codes appearing on the banknotes.

Source: China Daily

Fraudster given life sentence in Foshan

A Guangdong man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for defrauding eight middle-aged women of 4 million yuan in one of the biggest fraud cases of the year, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

Ye Rihai of Xuwen county plans to appeal the sentence handed down by the Foshan intermediate people's court, which included the confiscation of his luxury car that will be sold to fund compensation payments.

Ye, who targeted widows and divorcees, was first suspected of fraud in 2006 after he "borrowed" 2.68 million yuan from a woman identified by the surname "He", with whom he lived for two years.

He later disappeared and the woman reported him to police who found and detained him.

However, he was released last year for lack of evidence.

In September of that year, Ye was arrested again after police received more reports of him committing fraud.

Chen Xiaochen, a press officer of the Foshan court, said Ye claimed to be the grandson of a retired general in Taiwan and heir to his fortune. He also said he was a wealthy liquor wholesaler.

Born in 1963, Ye would pass himself off as being 10 years older to gain the trust of his targets. Although he was not good-looking and only 150 cm tall, he had the gift of gab, Chen said.

Ye's lawyer insisted his client's case belonged in a civil, rather than criminal court, Chen said.

But the court disagreed.

"Ye intentionally defrauded others of their property by lying about his age, marital status and financial situation. And after defrauding his victims, he left them," Chen said.

Source: China Daily