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

Dogs trained to listen up

China's first center for training hearing dogs for deaf people will be set up at Beijing Union University with financial support from Samsung, an official partner of the 2008 Paralympics, a spokesman for the firm said yesterday on the sidelines of the Games.

Park Keun-hee, president of Samsung China, said the company will donate 1.4 million yuan to establish the facility at the university, where more than 300 students with hearing problems are following courses in higher education.

He did not say when the center would open.

The center will, however, be one of only a handful in existence around the world. Similar facilities exist in the US, the UK, Japan and South Korea, Park said.

The center in South Korea was set up in 1993, and since then has trained 650 "assistant dogs" for a variety of people including the blind, the deaf and police officers, he said.

"Staff at the Samsung Assistant Dog Service Training Base in South Korea have a lot of experience in training dogs, and we hope to bring that knowledge to China to provide long-term support for deaf people here," Park said.

The dogs, many of which are former strays, are provided free of charge.

Samsung will provide financial support for the center's first three years of operation, he said.

Hearing dogs are trained to distinguish between different types of sounds, such as a telephone ringing, a knock at the door or a fire alarm.

They then "touch" a specific part of their owner's body to indicate the particular sound.

The Beijing center will train four dogs per year in the beginning, with the number growing over time, Park said.

Although China has more than 20 million people with hearing problems, there are just three hearing dogs working in the country, two of which were provided by Samsung in 2006 to two students at Beijing Union University.

Dong Shan, one of the dogs' owners, said: "I've had my dog for over two years now, and it has become my close friend.

"It has made my life much easier."

China's third hearing dog, also donated by Samsung, was presented yesterday to Qi Daxin, a deaf man living in Beijing.

"Getting this dog in my 50s is great," the 53-year-old said using sign language.

"It will help me to become more integrated in society."

Source: China Daily

Track joy for determined cyclist

When Dong Jingping lost her leg in a freak traffic accident 14 years ago, she could never have imagined she would one day stand on the podium at an international sports event.

But this week, that is exactly where the 21-year-old cyclist from Jiangsu province was, after winning bronze in the individual pursuit event.

One of eight Chinese cyclists competing at the Beijing Paralympics, Dong lost her left leg after being hit by a truck as she played in the road near her home in Ganyu county.

She was fitted with a prosthetic leg three years later, and although she had never before attended a physical education class, she decided to take up a new challenge, and learn how to ride a bicycle.

At first, her parents were reluctant to teach her, as they didn't want to see her fail. But Dong was determined.

"I'm a stubborn person. Once I decide to do something, I will hang on to the end," she said.

Her parents hung on, too.

"I saw from her eyes how much she admired her pals who rode bicycles," her father Dong Yujun told Cangwu Evening newspaper.

"We didn't want her to feel different from the other children."

Because of her artificial limb, in the beginning, Dong could only move her feet straight up and down, rather than pedal in a full circle. She said she was also scared to ride in the streets, so just kept practicing around the house.

One day, however, Dong's parents asked her to go shopping by herself, so she worked up her courage and ventured out.

Subconsciously, she began to pedal normally.

So after that, she joined the daily bicycle commute to and from school.

What she gained most from her newfound talent was self-confidence, she said.

In 2002, Dong was chosen by the local disabled persons' federation to train as a professional cyclist.

A year later, she won her first gold medal in the Sixth National Games for the Disabled, and was subsequently chosen for the national disabled cycling team.

In preparation for the Beijing Paralympics, Dong said she trained for two hours a day for several years.

"The harder you work, the bigger the reward," she said.

Despite her success this week, Dong said she was disappointed her parents were not in Beijing to watch her.

But her father said he and his family decided to stay at home to watch the event on TV, so as not to put any extra pressure on her. As for not winning the gold medal, Dong said she has no regrets.

"The Paralympics is the highest level of competition that every athlete dreams of participating in," she said.

"As long as I know I tried my best, there is no reason to be disappointed."

Source: China Daily

Energized by kindness

Marcel Bergmann thought he knew well the kindness of the Chinese people. But the Beijing Paralympics has exceeded the German reporter's expectations.

"I've attended the Paralympics in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, but this one has given me the most satisfaction. Beijing's attitude toward disabled people is 100 percent positive," the 44-year-old sports reporter with ZDF , told China Daily yesterday.

"I work 12 hours a day here, but it's fun. The locations, such as the Paralympic village, are fantastic. People have helped me get into taxis and lifted me up stairs. They always smile at me and say hello in English. It has given me a lot of energy," Bergmann said.

A car accident in 1994 claimed his father's life and left him in a wheelchair.

When he reached his lowest point in 2005, recovering from "endless operations", Bergmann decided a trip to China would buck up his spirits.

"I had long been interested in China's culture and history," he said.

Last year, accompanied by a friend, he visited China for three weeks. He traveled through many parts of the country, and once hand-pedaled his wheelchair about 50 km around the border of Guizhou and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

At the Great Wall he tried to use the cable car, but the steps to the terminal were much too steep.

"An employee of the station kneeled down in front of me and gestured that I should get on his back. He carried me 50 m up the wall.

"I didn't know him. It was a little miracle for me," Bergmann said.

The trip opened a new chapter in his life.

"With such help, I regained confidence that adventures are still possible. I accepted my wheelchair as my legs," he said.

Bergmann published a book on his China trip, In a wheelchair from Shanghai to Beijing. A review of it was written by the present German President Horst Kohler. It once occupied 24th position on Germany's bestseller list.

Kohler told President Hu Jintao about the book when they met a day after the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics.

"I'm so proud of it," Bergmann said.

As a reporter he knows there are differences between countries. "More Germans should come to China to witness the eyes," he said.

Source: China Daily

Australian FM denies Chinese involvement in its foreign policy

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Friday dismissed the notion that China was preventing Australia from exporting uranium to India and said the claim had been put to him during his ongoing visit to India.

"There is certainly no basis for it. It hasn't been expressed to me by the Indian government or Indian officials," Smith told Sky News.

"I have had that question raised of me at a public speech that I gave at one of the Indian think-tanks, and I made this point - people should not assume that just because the prime minister can speak Mandarin that in anyway influences our foreign policy approach."

Smith, who is in India on a five-day official visit, has reaffirmed that the Australian government will not allow uranium to be exported to a country that is not a part of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

"Our decision about uranium is as a result of a long-standing policy position of the Labor Party that we don't export uranium to a country that is not a party to the non-proliferation treaty," he said.

"It's not aimed at India, it's just a long-standing position which underpins and underlines our support of non-proliferation," he said.

"There is no doubt of course that India would prefer Australia had a different position on uranium. But there's more than one country that India can source its uranium from and it's just one aspect of a much broader and deeper relationship - economic, trade, investment, people to people - between Australia and India," Smith said.


Nothing beats being there, fan discovers

Suffering from chronic pain and a stiff back since he was 12, Jin Jun never imagined that one day he would be able to watch a live game at a stadium.

That was until yesterday when the 35-year-old visited the National Indoor Stadium to watch a game of basketball.

"Watching a game on television is nothing compared to being at the venue The atmosphere is so different, you enjoy it more," Jin said.

Jin watched the women's wheelchair basketball game between the US and Brazil as part of activities organized by the Beijing Disabled Person's Federation for 160 people and their families from the Haidian district.

Jin said he never knew that wheelchair-bound people were capable of playing basketball.

"They are an encouragement to me that I must, and can, do better," he said.

"But physical rehabilitation is not enough. Psychological rehabilitation is also very important for disabled people," he said.

In the past few days, the disabled in Haidian district have been taken on tours of the Olympic Green.

On Tuesday, 50 visually impaired people were taken to the Bird's Nest so that could touch parts of the structure to get a better idea of what it is like.

Chen Yanning, an official of Fragrant Mountain Community Disabled Person's Federation said: "The most frequently asked question by the blind is what the Bird's Nest is like.

"When we saw the expression on their faces, I felt so happy. They must have formed a much more beautiful picture of the Bird's Nest than us," Chen said.

Source: China Daily

Legal experts welcomed new rules published on Wednesday on the punishment of managers of State-owned enterprises responsible for huge losses of State

China has become a global tourist attraction after the Beijing Olympics which concluded on Aug. 24, according to a survey released by the Nielson Company here on Thursday.

The survey said the Olympics not only built up China's image but also served as an advertisement for China's tourism.

The online survey was conducted on consumers in 16 countries and regions before the Games' opening ceremony and after the closing.

About 80 percent of the respondents had not been to China before the events and 50 percent of them expressed hopes of visiting China after the Games.

According to the survey, 70 percent of the respondents felt Beijing was more modern and scientific than what they had thought.

The most interested respondents were from Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Mexico, Taiwan, South Africa and the Republic of Korea.

Pan Wen, in charge of Chinese tourism research of the Nielson Company, said the World Tourism organization predicted that China would become the largest tourist attraction in the world with 137 million foreign tourists every year.

"This figure would be realized earlier with the aid of the Beijing Olympics," Pan said.

Source: Xinhua

State asset rules greeted

Legal experts welcomed new rules published on Wednesday on the punishment of managers of State-owned enterprises responsible for huge losses of State assets.

But the rules still need to be made more practicable in order to properly safeguard the assets, worth around 30 trillion yuan, they agreed.

Senior executives of China's 147 centrally administered State-owned enterprises will face a permanent ban from their management posts or even be kicked out of their company if found responsible for severe losses, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in a statement.

Managers responsible for misconduct in areas such as procurement, sales, investment, guarantee, asset transfer and corporate restructuring will face measures including warnings, fines, demotion or even dismissal if their businesses run up severe losses.

The draft State asset law, reviewed for a second time by the nation's top legislature in June, stipulated that managers responsible for such major losses would be banned for life from taking up posts including board director, supervisory board member or high-ranking executive.

"Even if it is finally passed, the law can only set out some principles," said Li Shuguang, a law professor at China University of Politics and Law.

The new rules spell out 50 situations causing economic losses that will lead to the punishment of company executives, including irregular practices in daily operation.

Both direct and indirect losses will be calculated to assess executives' performance.

For example, if an executive, who is only entitled to make investments of up to 200 billion yuan, actually invests 500 billion yuan in a project, he would be punished according to the new rules, Li said.

"Some conduct is not so serious as to be subject to civil or penal clauses and the new rules will deal with these."

"Someone must be held responsible for the loss of State assets," he said.

Former executives cannot escape liability if they are found responsible for the losses after they leave their posts, according to the rules.

The rules, however, do not clarify who should have the power to punish - it is not clear whether it is the corporate board or SASAC, said Zhang Huiming, a researcher with Fudan University's corporate research institute.

China recently cut the number of its centrally administered State enterprises to 147 after two rounds of restructuring.

Source: China Daily

Exports up on rebate talk

Market rumors that the government is about to scrap the export tax rebate are behind a recent steel export surge, analysts said yesterday.

The nation posted a record 7.68 million tons of steel exports for August, a sharp rise of 470,000 tons from July, and up 42.78 percent year-on-year, according to Customs figures.

China has exported 41.84 million tons of steel products worth $41.89 billion since January.

Some analysts are linking the export surge to postponed changes to the export tax rebate policy, which was due to start at the end of August. "Speculation the rebate would be scrapped caused a spike in the export volume," Wang Jianhua, research director of, a steel information provider, said yesterday.

Yang Baofeng, an analyst at Dongfang Securities, said much of the export tax rebate policy has been dropped already, and only a few steel products are still eligible for the refund.

"Apart from a few varieties of high value-added products, such as alloy products, most are already excluded from the export tax rebate," Yang said.

"The latest figure is in accordance with market expectations."

Whether the latest export data will prod the central government to move more quickly on scrapping the export tax rebate is still unclear. Steel bellwether Baoshan Iron & Steel and Shougang Group declined to comment on the figures and possible policy changes.

"I personally welcome the end of all export tax refunds as soon as possible. Once the policy is implemented, export volume might drop at first, but that will drive domestic steel mills to focus more on product quality and restructure their businesses to be more sustainable," Wang said.

Source: China Daily

Bertelsmann eyes opportunities

Global media conglomerate Bertelsmann still sees China as an important growth market despite the closure of its book club business here, said Thomas Rabe, the firm's chief financial officer.

In July, the German company closed its book club in China, its biggest business in the nation with over 1.5 million members and 38 bookstores.

But Rabe, the company's global chief financial officer, said yesterday in Beijing that China will remain one of its key growth markets.

The firm expects to see a significant increase in its business in China over the next five to 10 years, he said. And, as a sign of its commitment, the company set up one of its three global corporate centers in Beijing this year.

It will seek opportunities in outsourcing business solutions, and has also established a 100-million-euro strategic investment arm in China, looking for startups in media and education.

At the moment, China contributes little to the global revenue of Europe's largest media company.

Around 95 percent of the company's revenue comes from Europe and the United States, accounting for 18.8 billion euros in 2007.

Rabe said the company's revenue in China mainly comes from Arvato, a third-party business outsourcing provider and the largest CD/DVD replicator in China, and G+J, through which it partners with fashion, parenting and automobile magazines.

Bertelsmann brought its book club system to China in 1997, offering readers membership discounts, and selling books through catalogue delivery, bookstores and online stores.

The method, which at first proved popular among white-collar workers and young people, lost its appeal as online bookstores began to boom.

Rabe said the company quit the sector because, compared to Europe, book prices in China are relatively low, while operating costs are higher, and that makes the book club business unprofitable in the long term.

Rabe said the company has redirected its book club resources, which include over 500 workers throughout the country, to other branches.

The media giant, which also owns Random House, the world's largest publisher, has been faced with the challenge of more people reading online. It also closed its book club business in the US this year.

Source: China Daily

Chinalco invests in Harbin factory

Chinalco Northeast Light Alloy Co, which provides aluminum alloys to the aviation and defense industries, will spend more than 5 billion yuan to build a new plant as it tries to meet rising demand.

Construction of the 200,000-ton-a year alloy plant in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, began on Tuesday and it is due for completion in 2011, Beijing-based Chinalco said in a statement on its website.

The plant will produce aluminum plates and strips widely used in the defense, petrochemicals, transport and machinery industry.

Chinalco Northeast expects annual profit of 400 million yuan and sales of 7 billion yuan once the plant is operational, the statement said.

Song Huaibin, an analyst at Guoyuan Securities, said the new plant is part of the nation's push to change its aluminum product structure and export more high value-added aluminum products.

The nation's aluminum supply has exceeded demand this year, Song said.

Total domestic output of electrolytic aluminum in 2008 is expected to increase 15.4 percent to 14.5 million tons, which would exceed the projected demand of 14 million tons by a small margin, according to statistics.

The nation exported 621,001 tons of unforged aluminum from January to August, up by 68.3 percent on a yearly basis, according to Customs figures.

However, the country currently imports some high-end aluminum products, and that might have been a key factor in the decision to build the new plant, Song said.

Xiao Yaqing, general manager of Aluminum Corp of China, or Chinalco, said the company supplies 80 percent of the aluminum alloys used in aircraft, atomic reactors, nuclear weapons, satellites and missiles for the defense industry.

State-owned Chinalco, the parent of the Hong Kong-listed Chalco, is China's biggest producer of aluminum. It acquired 75 percent of Harbin-based Northeast for 1.2 billion yuan last September.

The new plant is expected to boost production and create jobs in the region, Song said.

Source: China Daily

China's industrial output growth slows to 12.8% in August

China's industrial output rose 12.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the lowest in one and a half years, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

The pace, which decelerated for a second straight month, was 1.9 percentage points lower than July and 4.7 percentage points lower than last August.

The last slowest growth rate was 12.6 percent in February 2007 when many businesses closed during the Chinese lunar new year holiday.

Industrial output jumped 15.7 percent from January to August, down from 16.1 percent in the first 7 months and 18.4 percent in the same period last year.

Source: Xinhua

Cost of environment damage outweighs China's economic benefits

Huge cost of damage to the environment has outweighed China's economic benefits in recent years, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has warned.

China Daily reported on Friday that Shi Mingjun, a professor at the academy's Research Center on Fictitious Economy & Data Science, found the cost was 2.75 trillion yuan in 2005, while the growth in gross domestic product for the same year was 2.24 trillion yuan.

Shi said the cost of damage to the environment, such as the exploitation of natural resources, ecological degradation and environmental pollution, was 13.9 percent of the total output for the year.

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

"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 Shisaid 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.

Source: Xinhua

China stocks rise back on electricity shares buy

Chinese shares gained 0.03 percent on Friday led by electricity companies on talk of electricity prices rise.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.03 percent higher at 2079.67 points. The Shenzhen Component Index edged 0.86 percent to 6935.07 points.

Gainers outnumbered losers by 427-399 in Shanghai and 424-269 in Shenzhen.


Sino-India relations developing in-depth

China's consulate-general in Kolkata , the capital of India's west Bengal, opened to the public under the auspices of visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Monday, or September 8. To date, two consulates-general have been established in Mumbai and Kolkata for China, and two consulates-general set up in Shanghai and Guangzhou for India.

Sino-India bilateral relations have grown rapidly with an increasingly frequent exchange of high-level visits since the entry of the new century. Leaders of the two nations have held bilateral talks in vital international arenas such as the site of the East Asia Summit , the United Nations General Assembly, the Asia telecom conference, and the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic cooperation organization.

Meanwhile, China and India have set up a variety of dialogue channels, including the annual security dialogue, the bilateral strategic dialogue, the Sino-Indian defense and security consultation, the economic and trade dialogue, and the China-India special representatives-level border negotiations. Such dialogues via these avenues have made the gratifying outcome, and particularly with the talks concerning the border issue and bilateral military ties.

On the border issue, the two sides have held 12 rounds of talks since the mechanism of Special Representatives on the Boundary question was instituted in 2003. China and India in July 2006 re-opened cross-border trade at Nathu La, a historical trade route in the Himalayas that was closed 44 years ago; it was agreed in Sept. 2007 to establish a Joint Working Group on the boundary question for eventually forming a framework to settle the border issue. So, their frontier areas have been in peace and tranquility over the past two decade, and the two nations have been working hard to resolve the substantial issues existing between them.

The two sides are in mutually induction with frequent military exchanges. The first-ever joint military operations in search and field rescue between the two navies of China and India were held in November 2003. In December last year, the Chinese and Indian armies held the first joint anti-terror military drill codenamed Hand-in-Hand 2007, in the southwestern China province of Yunnan; the two nations would also hold similar anti-terror drills in late 2008, and a Sino-Indian joint airforce exercise has also been put on the agenda.

Moreover, the defense ministers of China and India have made numerous visits to each other's countries and such an exchange of visits at the high level has become quite normal, and the two nations have set up a mechanism for "annual defense dialogue". In November 2007, the two armed forces held the first-ever "defense and security consultations," and turned this mechanism into a most important platform to build up their mutual trust.

Commerce and trade also represents a "bright spot" in bilateral ties. The volume of Sino-Indian trade, which stood merely at 2.94 billion US dollars in 2000, surged to 38.6 billion dollars in 2007, and China substituted the United States for India's largest trade partner in the year. During Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official trip to China in early 2008, leaders of both countries set a bilateral trade target to 60 billion US dollars against the 40 billion dollars as planned previously. The governments of the two nations are conferring to reach a Sino-Indian free trade agreement so as to uplift their bilateral trade to a new height.

Besides, China and India have increasingly stepped up their strategic cooperation on the regional and global scale. To date, the two nations have come to share or seek growing common interests on issues such as global trade, climate change, and even with regard to core labor standards and the human rights. Much cooperation has occurred with China and India on quite a few occasions, and helps to ease their pressure from the U.S. and other Western developed countries.

For example, the two nations share the same or identical views on the issue relating to the subsidization of agricultural produce in the process of negotiations during the Doha round of trade talks and, in previous climate change negotiations, China and India both underscored "the common but different responsibilities" with climate change mitigation in developing countries. The two sides have been supporting each other in an endeavor to spur the international order to move toward the direction conducive to their socio-economic development.

To view things from a global perspective, it is the common desire of the people of both nations to seek the win-win result through their friendly cooperation and common development. As the two largest newly emerged countries, acknowledged Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in his speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Chinese consulate-general in Kolkata on Monday, the improvement and development of Sino-Indian ties are not only favorable for the fundamental interest of both countries and the common aspiration of their people, but also favarable for peace and prosperity in Asia and the world at large.

By People's Daily Online, and its author is Hu Shisheng, an associate researcher of Asian-African Studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations

CASS Report: Two challenges emerging in social harmony and stability

The State think tank, China Academy of Social Sciences Friday released a report entitled Research Report on China's Social Harmony and Stability , pointing out the complex relations between different interests groups and the outstanding social problems emerging with social progress remain the top two challenges facing China's government when it is bent on the construction of a harmonious and stable society. The report is the first ever academic report on harmonious society studies.

The report pointed that at the current stage China's society generally tend to be stable, with the various mainstream social relations basically staying in harmony. The report is based on an extensive data gathered from across China, spanning 28 provinces, 130 counties and townships, 520 villages and neighborhoods and 7,100 households.

Statistics indicated that 80 percent of interviewees agreed China's society is generally a harmonious one, and the problems, though striking, will be short-lived. 74.9 percent of them found the society 'very harmonious,' or 'basically harmonious.' Meanwhile, 96.5 percent of the survey recipients agreed stability is very critical to China at present.

Researchers explained in the report that with China's economic and social development standing at a crucial juncture, assorted social problems and clashes would come up, as the international experiences manifest. But, in light of the report, the Chinese people are generally holding sanguine views on the country's prospects of social and economic development, and 91.6 percent of the interviewees showed their complete confidence in the State administration and the government believing the problems will be sooner or later addressed in a proper way. 93.5 percent of people interviewed are convinced the next generation of theirs will be leading a much better-off life.

The report also pinpointed the thorny problems born from the process of social and economic development, clearly stating it is still unrealistic for different social groups to equally share the fruits of China's reforms and development, considering the disparities in people's capacities, opportunities and conditions seen in different social groups. The existing differences would cause a gap between different interests groups, and could even evolve into conflicts or crises in future.

The increasingly protrusive clash among all the emerging social contradictions is found in the relationship between the cadres, or civil servants, and the grassroots. Some assume that it is the sudden outburst of some potential conflicts brewed over time as a result of uneven distribution of interests among different groups. The survey conducted for the report also showed that 69.84 percent of interviewees think the cadres, or State civil servants, are the biggest beneficiaries of the social wealth, and following in sequence are people in show and entertainment circle with 53.71 percent of votes, private businesses owners with 52.13 percent of votes, managers of State-or collective-owned enterprises with 47.98 percent and professionals with 44.11 percent of votes respectively.

Additionally, 50.68 percent of people surveyed believed the gap between the rich and the poor act as the catalysis to the rift and conflict among different social groups. But many more recipients for the survey think it is unfair to rush the conclusion that people in lower income groups tend to hate the rich, saying in the interview what actually annoys them most is not who possess wealth, but the illicit channels some of the affluent guys use to accumulate their wealth, for example, achieving and enhancing personal gains through graft and embezzlement.

The report also cited the other ten outstanding problems endangering ordinary people's livelihood and social stability, which are listed as follows in order of their social influence: seeking medical treatment, employment and unemployment, polarization between the rich and the poor, official corruption and embezzlement, housing prices, social security, the gap between city and countryside and environmental pollution.

The report concluded that the social problems, though not forceful enough to block the social progress, could incite discontent among the general public toward social unfairness, and somehow pose a threat to social harmony and stability. The report thereby suggested that the fight against official corruption and embezzlement be tightened up, and the distributions of income be standardized with the implementation of feasible policies like enhancing the farmers' income and employment in non-farming industries, and enlarging the residents' property income.

By People's Daily Online

UN chief lauds China for "good examples" in economic development

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday spoke highly of China's "good examples" in terms of economic development, urging the world's largest developing nation to share its experience with other developing economies.

As one of the fastest growing economies, China has shown "many good examples," Ban told a press conference at the UN Headquarters.

"These examples should be shared, transferred and emulated by many developing countries," he said.

The secretary-general said he was "very much encouraged and grateful" to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who has agreed to attend the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals slated for Sept. 25.

Representatives from some 150 countries, including more than 90 heads of state or government, are expected to attend the event, which will be convened by Ban with the aim to generate further actions to reach the MDGs by 2015.

"I sincerely hope that member states will learn and China will be able to share their experience," he said.

Stressing that China's commitment to participating in MDG realization will be "crucially important," Ban noted that China has been hosting a forum on China-Africa cooperation for many years.

"They have been providing necessary economic and technological cooperation to many developing countries, and this is what we expect from other countries too," the UN chief added.

September's high-level meeting will be the first summit-level gathering on the MDGs since 2000, when world leaders committed to the goals laid out in the Millennium Declaration.

Source: Xinhua

UNHCR to verify Tibetans in Nepal

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nepal is set to verify the identity of the Tibetans arrested in course of demonstrations before Nepal-based Chinese embassy, consular section and other places, state-run newspaper The Rising Nepal reported on Friday.

The understanding to this effect was reached at a program organized Thursday at the Home Ministry to discuss the circumstances after the police arrested 106 Tibetans during demonstrations and handed over to the Immigration Department for necessary legal actions, said Home Ministry Spokesperson Mod Raj Dotel.

Urging the demonstrating Tibetans in Nepal to stop such activities some days back, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam warned that those undeterred would be sent back to heir country.

The UNHCR made it clear that those verified as Tibetan refugees would only be allowed to take shelter in Nepal and rest others would be sent back to their destination.

Tibetans have long been taking shelter in Nepal. They have been staging demonstrations around Chinese diplomatic offices and other areas in Nepal for the last few months.

"Nepal has been sticking to one China policy," the report said.

Another local newspaper The Himalayan Times quoted government sources as saying those activists failing to produce Tibetan refugee status would be sent to India through UNHCR, as in the past.

The Home Ministry of Nepal has received what officials said was reliable intelligence that some European and American NGOs are supporting the protests by the refugees, according to local newspaper The Kathmandu Post.

"We are going to take action against as well," Home Ministry sources said on condition of anonymity. He did not name the NGOs.

Nepali Home Ministry officials, on the basis of intelligence reports, concluded that the protests have been coordinated by someone outside Nepal.

"We tolerated the protests to date but we will no longer stand for it," a senior Home Ministry official said.

"Such protests are not allowed in India though a large number of them have been staying there," the official said.

Taking advantage of the special transitional period Nepal is undergoing, the so-called "Tibet Independence" activists instigated demonstrations outside UN and Chinese diplomatic offices mainly in Nepali capital Kathmandu since March 10.

The activities often went ugly, leading to disruptions of city traffic and clashes with police injuring some Nepali policemen even by use of stones and injections, etc.

Source: Xinhua

Entrance fees at tourist attraction fueling controversy

A popular tourist attraction in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu province is fueling controversy for its entrance fees, amid an increasing trend at museums and other scenic spots associated with patriotic education dropping their admission charges.

The management of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, which contains the tomb of the father of the Republic of China revered by many Chinese at home and abroad, has reportedly been facing criticism for not opening its site for free to the public.

The scenic spot has an admission fee of 80 yuan , higher than the Forbidden City in Beijing.

The authorities will open the spot to the public for free next year, an official of the Jiangsu administration of cultural heritage was quoted as saying by Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

The administration did not comment further on the issue yesterday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited Zhang Yinong, a member of the Nanjing branch of the Jiu San Society, one of the country's eight non-Communist parties, as saying that the mausoleum management's interests had hurt the public interest. Zhang also reportedly asked for a thorough audit of the attraction's revenue.

In line with a regulation released earlier this year, museums, memorial halls and spots used for patriotic education began to open free of charge and received national allowances for rising operational costs.

Negotiations with the mausoleum's management on the issue reportedly fell apart because the site required an allowance of 300 million yuan every year, 10 times of what was proposed by the government.

Responding to the ongoing criticism, a publicity official of the mausoleum said yesterday that it is "impossible" for the attraction to be free.

The official, who refused to be named, said the revenue from admission tickets was being used for maintaining cultural relics and that the issue should be viewed from a long-term perspective.

Located in the eastern suburb of Nanjing, the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is considered a top attraction containing deep historical significance, magnificent architecture and beautiful scenery.

Sun Yat-sen is considered a major figure of the Chinese democratic revolution, under whose leadership the Chinese people overthrew the Qing Dynasty .

Source: China Daily

Lenovo: A carrier of Chinese culture

To mark National Teachers' Day, and as part of its efforts for the Paralympic Games, volunteers from computer maker and Lenovo taught foreign coaches, trainers and athletes Chinese language and culture on September 10.

Held in a Lenovo Internet lounge at the Paralympic Village in Beijing, the event included a brief introduction to Confucius and distributed a book on his Analects in both Chinese and English.

"The master said to learn and at due times to repeat what one has learned, is that not after all a pleasure?" they read Confucius' teaching out loud.

"To remain unsoured even though one's merits are unrecognized by others, is that not after all what is expected of a gentleman?"

Confucius was a thinker, political figure, educator and founder of the Confucianist School of Chinese thought.

His Analects, a collection of brief aphorisms, was compiled many years after his death.

"As a Worldwide Olympic Partner of the International Olympic Committee and a partner of the 13th Paralympic Games in Beijing, Lenovo is dedicated to popularizing Olympic ideals and Chinese culture in the international community," said Alice Li, vice-president of Lenovo Group.

"We held a series of events related to Teachers' Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival to promote cultural exchanges. Coaches and trainers are all teachers in our mind and deserve our respect. Wish them a happy Teachers' Day. "

The furnishings for event included a hanging scroll from the Beijing Confucius Temple and a guest book designed like a thread-bound Chinese book.

Long, narrow antique tables were used for practicing Chinese calligraphy, on which the "four treasures" of Chinese calligraphy were placed - the traditional brush, paper, ink and ink-stone, as well as mahogany paperweights and rosewood brush holders.

"It was fun to use a Chinese brush to finish a calligraphy work," said one coach for disabled athletes after he created his first work in Chinese.

"I will share what I have seen and heard in China with my friends. I like Chinese calligraphy and the Analects of Confucius too. I hope to learn more about the Chinese culture. "

In addition to cultural events, Lenovo is providing 240 computers in seven Internet lounges with barrier-free designs at the Paralympic villages in Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong as well as at the main press center.

The exclusive computer provider to the Paralympic Games also supplied Braille printers, special keyboards and barrier-free information terminals with text-to-voice technology that reads out words from computer monitors.

Workstations also have the capacity to print conventional Web pages in Braille, adding to the comprehensive design that allows blind athletes to surf on the Internet, check email and chat with relatives and friends.

Technicians and other staff from Lenovo have also been trained with professional skills to assist the disabled, including the use of Braille cards to communicate.

Source: China Daily

Tourism abounds today at ancient crossroads Zhenyuan

At a location central to relations between the empires of the past and the ethnic peoples of Guizhou for thousands of years, the small city of Zhenyuan is now a hot tourism destination in the southwestern province.

Zhenyuan was among the earliest regions in Guizhou under the jurisdiction of imperial governments. It became a county in 202 BC during the early years of the powerful Han Dynasty .

In Chinese, Zhenyuan means "pacifying the remote regions", illustrating it was a stronghold and springboard for central empires to spread their influence and strengthen their control of Guizhou and the neighboring regions.

But far from pacifying, emperors' ambitions were usually met with conflict. The small city was turned into a battlefield time and time again.

As military forces marched on, merchants followed in their steps, seeking profit in the underdeveloped Guizhou and regions far beyond.

Thanks to the navigable Wuyang River that links to the Yuanjiang and Yangtze rivers, Zhenyuan became a commercial hub after the wars ended. It also became one of the starting points of the Southern Silk Road that went on to present-day Vietnam, Myanmar and India.

Cultures also blossomed with the frequent flow of people and commodities.

The wealthy merchants from the central and eastern regions of the country built many palace-like guild houses in the city. After a busy day of work, they would gather before opera stages inside the guild houses, entertained by performers from their hometowns.

As history turned a new page in the last century, Zhenyuan is now a calm city. Wars are long past and commerce is no longer prosperous due to other cities with better modern transportation that have emerged.

But the legacy left by stories and people over the past 2,000 years is still there in well-preserved ancient buildings and the rich cultural activities still practiced by the Han and other peoples such as the Miao and Dong.

That culture and history along with a beautiful landscape today make the city a popular tourism destination in Guizhou.

There are more than 200 well-preserved historic sites in Zhenyuan, including ancient city walls, streets, buildings, wells, and ancient wharfs.

The long wall atop the Jinpin Mountains is called the "Great Wall of the Miao Region" by locals.

There are eight well-preserved guild houses and 12 opera stages in Zhenyuan.

But the largest ancient building complex is in the Qinglong Cave area. The 212,000-sq-m complex combines Confucianist, Taoist and Buddhist cultures. Its architectural style is a fusion of many ethnic elements belonging to the Han, Miao and Dong peoples.

A thrilling new experience that Zhenyuan offers is rafting on the upper reaches of the Wuyang River, a safe and yet adventurous tour.

Source: China Daily

China appropriates 420 million yuan to protect the "Silk Road"

China will invest 420 million yuan as special funds to protect the 21 historical cultural sites of the "Silk Road" in Xinjiang during the national 11th five-year plan.

During the last three years, Xinjiang had spent more than 80 million yuan protecting relics, building facilities, archeology and investigation, exploration and exhumation to 19 historical cultural sites, including Jiaohe ancient city, Gaochang ancient city and ancient Loulan site and others.

This time's plan is to protect those historical cultural sites which are generally distributing in east and north of Tarim Basin, Turfan Basin, Hetian, Kashi and so on.

By People's Daily Online

Health ministry starts nationwide haul of infant kidney stone cases

China's Health Ministry said here Friday that it has launched a nationwide investigation into the infant kidney stone cases with a domestic milk powder, Sanlu formula, involved and asked all local health agencies to report relevant cases immediately.

The number of cases as to 24:00 Sept. 11 should be reported to the ministry by 17:00 Sept. 12, the ministry said in a notice issued on Friday.

"Similar cases in the future shall be reported anytime they were discovered," it said.

One baby have died of kidney stones and more than 50 others were reported suffering from kidney stones in northwestern Gansu and other provinces this year. Investigations showed that most of the baby patients had drunk the Sanlu formula.

Sanlu Group, a leading Chinese dairy producer, said on Thursday it had found in its self-check that some of its baby milk powder products were contaminated by tripolycyanamide.

The contaminated powder was all produced before Aug. 6 this year, and about 700 tonnes have been shipped, the company said. It has decided to recall all the baby milk powder it had produced before that date.

The Health Ministry, based on investigations by relevant government departments, also said it strongly suspected that Sanlu, based in Shijiazhuang of Hebei Province, had produced milk powder contaminated by the chemical.

Health experts said tripolycyanamide, a chemical raw material, could lead to stone formation in the urinary tract of the human body.

The Health Ministry said that on-the-spot investigations are going on at the Sanlu milk power production base and those responsible for the infant kidney stone cases will face "heavy punishment".

"A joint investigation team led by the Health Ministry has reached the milk power factory. Investigations are going on. Those responsible will face serious punishment," Mao Qunan, spokesperson of the Ministry told Xinhua.

The joint investigation team consists officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Security, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, State Administration for Industry and Commerce, State Food and Drug Administration and medical professionals, according to the Health Ministry.

China's quality watchdog, the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, is carrying out nationwide check of other baby milk powders' quality.

The Health Ministry urged the public to immediately stop consuming the Sanlu milk powder formula and go to doctors if they find babies who have drunk it have difficulty in urinating.

The ministry has also issued a treatment scheme on its official website to help local hospitals treat such sick babies.

The ministry said it has notified the development to the World Health Organization and relevant countries. Any new development of the case would be publicized immediately, the ministry promised.

Source: Xinhua

Sony is recalling 77,705 VAIO laptop computers in China because of a possible manufacturing defect that may cause overheat, the country's quality wat

Ninety-five Chinese middle school teachers have been recruited to act as "Chinese-language assistants" to teach Chinese in British secondary schools for one year.

The "Chinese Language Assistance" program, jointly launched by China and Britain in 2001, has drawn an increasing number of participants each year.

The program aims to promote understanding and communication between the peoples of the two countries through language exchanges, Chinese Ambassador to Britain Fu Ying said at a reception for the Chinese teachers on Wednesday.

Fu said the Chinese teachers, while teaching Chinese philosophies, history and culture, could also learn advanced teaching skills from their British counterparts during the one-year term.

The shortage of qualified Chinese-language teachers is major factor hindering Chinese language learning in Britain.

Britain has always attached great importance to Chinese language training, in which British youngsters could deepen their understanding of the Chinese culture, history and language, said Olga Stanojlovic, Director of Schools in Education at the British Council.

Currently, there are 11 Confucius Institutes and 13 Confucius Classrooms in Britain.

Source: Xinhua

Sony recalls VAIO laptops for burning hazard in China

Sony is recalling 77,705 VAIO laptop computers in China because of a possible manufacturing defect that may cause overheat, the country's quality watchdog, Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on Thursday.

The recall relates to a problem with wiring near the computer's hinge, which may short-circuit and overheat in the power supply connector or the LCD area, causing transfiguration, AQSIQ quoted a report submitted by Sony as saying.

The affected laptops are of the VAIO VGN-TZ series produced between July 2007 and July 2008. Sony suggests users contact the company and Sony will provide quality check and free maintenance.

Source: Xinhua

China expedition team to leave for Antarctica in late Oct.

China announced on Thursday that a 28-strong team would probe into Antarctica in late October and complete the first phase construction of a research station.

The team of scientists, construction engineers and two journalists are expected to build the research station next year at Dome A, the continent's highest peak at 4,093 meters above sea level, said Sun Zhihui, director of the State Oceanic Administration.

The move would mark a giant leap for Chinese scientists as it would expand their research area from the coastal area to the inland of Antarctica, he said.

The research station would occupy 560 square meters and consist of four sections including two for scientific research and the rest for accommodation and logistics.

The first phase of the construction, which is the main structure of the station and scheduled to be finished in January next year, would feature the accommodation quarters and a scientific research section. It occupies 236 square meters.

The structure is made of high-tech stainless steel and could help scientists avoid fire and low temperature.

The deadline to complete the rest was still pending, sources with the expedition team said.

Li Yuansheng from the China Polar Research Center will head the team. He made a historic trip by leading the Chinese researchers to scale Dome A for the first time in January 2005.

The new research station will be China's third station in Antarctica after the Changcheng Station and Zhongshan Station.

The country's 24th expedition to the region, which lasted 156 days and was finished in April this year, was tasked with choosing a site for the third Antarctic research station. During the trip, the scientists successfully scaled Dome A for the second time in history on Jan. 12.

China launched its first expedition to Antarctica in 1984.


Swimming: Erin Popovich claims fourth gold, China wins thrilling relays

The National Aquatic Center, better known as the Water Cube, witnessed another miracle after Michael Phelps' haul of eight Olympic gold medals last month, as his fellow American Erin Popovich won her fourth gold at the Paralympics here on Thursday.

Four events, four gold medals. Popovich's huge success highlighted the action-packed night.

The 23-year-old, who stands 1.34 meters tall, touched the wall first with a new Paralympic-record time of five minutes 17.41 seconds in the women's S7 400m freestyle, beating her compatriot Cortney Jordan by 3.60 seconds.

It was Popovich's fourth straight wins after she claimed titles in 200m individual medley SM7, 100m freestyle S7 and 100m breaststroke SB7.

"I didn't believe I could break 5:20, it was a huge success for me. I also wanted to thank Cortney. She kept the moment up and pushed me to get the whole race. Anyway, I'm very excited," said the winner.

On her victory, Popovich said there was no secret weapon.

"In the morning's heat, I just wanted to go out, made everything comfortable and smooth so that I can push harder in the night.

"My victory is due to a lot of hard work, just it. I have to get the right preparation and did everything that I need to do before every race," she said.

Elsewhere, the closest race of the day came in men's 4X50m freestyle relay. After losing in Wednesday's 4X100m freestyle relay, China's quartet rallied to win their first team event with a strong spurt in the final lap.

When anchor Yang Yuanrun jumped into the pool, he was five meters behind Spanish counterpart. But Yang made a desperate chase with his powerful and speedy stroke, rocketing to catch up with the Spanish at the final 25 meters point.

"I just thought I must breathe as less as I could. Because it's a team event and I cannot let my teammates down. So I let the pressure all behind me when I'm in the water and just tried to swim my best. I only made two breaths and the result paid off." said Yang.

Yang's amazing splash in the final 25 meter paced him to overtake the lead and out-touched the Spanish by 0.58 seconds.

Yang touched the wall, took off his glasses, gazed at the scoreboard, but still couldn't believe his eyes.

2:18.15! A shocking 3.74-second shave off the previous world mark. Yang waved his only right hand, punched the water and shouted to the roof of the 9000-attendance Water Cube.

"It's the power of unity. It's the teamwork fight. We have the same belief and we deserve the victory," said handless third leg He Junquan, with tears welling up in his bloodshot eyes.

The Water Cube witnessed 11 world records fall throughout the day.

Among them, in the men's 400m freestyle S7, Britain's David Roberts, who qualified for the final in a fastest 5:04.31, took the winning time further down to 4:52.35 and took 1.40 seconds off the former world mark, which stood unchallenged for eight years.

Brazil's Daniel Dias, who won three golds in his past five events, clinched his fourth in men's 200m individual medley SM5 and set a new world mark in 2:52.60, bettering the hosts' favorite He Junquan in 8.32 seconds.

Natalie Du Toit, the South Africa's hero who swam in last month's Olympics, won the women's 200m individual medley SM9 with a record-time of 2:27.83, chopping a further 2.09 seconds off her former mark set in 2005. It was Du Toit's third gold after three-event show and she had two races left.

After five days of competition, the United States led the swimming tally with 13 golds, followed by Britain with seven and Australia with six. Host China stood ninth with three.

The Beijing Paralympic swimming competition has attracted 560 athletes to its 81 men's and 59 women's events. The nine-day contest runs from September 7 to 15.

Source: Xinhua

Roundup: China sweeps 8 table tennis golds in Paralympics

The table tennis tournament at the Beijing Paralympics wrapped up its individual events here on Thursday as China won four more golds, making its total to eight.

The tournament is divided into 10 classes depending on their disabilities. The smaller the number is, the more severe the disability is.

The individual events offered 16 gold medals - eight each for men and women -- after combining several classes into the same categories.

In men's competitions, Chinese Ge Yang beat his teammate Ma Lin in men's class 10 match 3-1, winning his first Paralympic title.

"Mom, dad, I made it! I love you!" Ge burst into tears when he called his family in the mixed zone.

"In 2004, I had a very good chance to win the gold, but I failed, and I have prepared for four years for this moment. During the past four years, I have thought about retiring. I have been through a lot, but I finally made it.

"I am the most hard-working on the team. I know I am not a born table tennis player, and I know I can only improve with tremendous efforts and practice," Ge said.

Chinese Chen Gang in men's class 8 won a gold medal earlier, beating Poland's Piotr Grudzien 3-1.

"Words are not enough to describe the importance of this gold to me," said Chen, who had been a semi-pro table tennis player before he lost his left leg in a car accident.

In the morning's action, Chinese Feng Panfeng triumphed in the men's class 2 final and then dedicated the gold to his coach Heng Xin.

"My coach and I have been working together for over nine years," he said.

Chinese Ye Chaoqun in men's class 7 won a silver, following a 3-1 loss to German Jochen Wollmert.

In the women's class 9 final, Lei Lina downed Liu Meili 3-0 in an all-Chinese championship match.

Five-time Paralympic gold medalist in women's class 8, 51-year-old Zhang Xiaoling, won a bronze for China after beating French Claire Mairie 3-0.

Mairie's teammate, Thu Kamkasomphou helped France win the first gold in the tournament, while Christophe Durand and Vincent Boury added two for France.

Russian Natalia Martyasheva and Yulia Ovsyannikova finished 1-2 in women's class 6-7 competition.

Martyasheva said after the match that it was a "magnificent performance for her," as her teammate had much more international experience than she did.

"They are very important because table tennis used to be dominated by Asian countries, and there are Chinese and Korean players in the category," Russian coach Nikolay Kirpichnikov said.

"It is important for Russia to have two players in the same final match. It was absolutely a surprise for me," he added.

A seven-time Paralympics veteran, German Rainer Schmidt, finished fourth in men's class 6 in his last international competition. The 43-year-old has decided to retire after the Beijing Games.

Schmidt, who made his Paralympic debut in 1984 in New York, had collected four golds and four silvers in the past six Games.

China tops the table tennis tally with 15 medals including eight golds, followed by France in five and Germany in three.

The team events will take place on Saturday.

Source: Xinhua

After tragedy, new and happy life for South Korean shooter Lee

Life is full of surprises, bad or good. Lee Ji-seok didn't anticipate a life-threatening accident to befall him, nor did he expect what would happen afterwards.

After the awarding ceremony at the Paralympic Games on Thursday, the South Korean shooter took off his gold medal and put it around the neck of his wife.

South Korean athlete Lee Ji-Seok poses for photos with his wife Park Kyoung-Sun after winnning in the Mixed R4-10m Air Rifle Standing SH2 final with a total of 704.3 in Beijing Paralympic Shooting event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall Sept. 11, 2008. This is Lee's second gold medals in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Lee was seriously injured in a traffic accident in 2001. It was Park, a nurse then, who took good care of him during his rehabilitation and later encouraged him to train for shooting.
Throughout the final of mixed 10-meter air rifle standing SH2, Park Kyung-Sun was standing behind her husband and helping him with the loading before each shot, although she has been pregnant for six months.

SH2, in comparison to SH1, means that shooters have permanent disability in the upper limbs.

"When she helped me loading, it was the loveliest moment. I feel that my unborn child was there watching and cheering for me as well," said the reticent champion, the corners of his mouth lifted in happiness.

The 34-year-old Lee made his name at the Beijing Paralympics just two days ago, when he grabbed the gold medal of mixed 10-meter air rifle prone SH2 with a huge advantage.

In that event, he collected a staggering 600 points in the qualification, and led all the way in the final by hitting seven of the 10 shots 10.5 or more. His total score was 705.3 points.

"I will dedicate this medal to the child we are expecting," he said after the final.

The couple hugged and kissed in celebration, with the wife shedding happy tears.

This time, situation was just the similar.

His qualification score: 600.

His performance in the final: leading all the time, with five of the 10 shots above 10.5.

His total score: 704.3, equaling the Paralympic record.

"I feel lucky that so many people are supporting me. I don't know how to express my thanks."

To his wife, the champion said, "I give you my heart-felt gratitude."

Lee had been a taekwondo coach before he had a traffic accident in 2001.

His life was saved, but he can't walk anymore and his arms are stiff.

It had been a difficult time to become a disabled from an able-bodied person, which the man didn't want to recall too much.

"My parents, my brother and two sisters encouraged me a lot, and I can't let them down," he said.

But sometimes, misfortune could be a blessing in disguise, as was the famous case of American shooter Matthew Emmons, who blew an Olympic gold but found his love of life.

This is also true for Lee.

When he was in hospital after the accident, someone told him that a nurse insisted on meeting him.

"At first, I didn't like the idea of meeting a stranger," he said with a smile, casting a glimpse at Park, who was busy helping him with the urine test.

But later, he felt his decision was absolutely correct.

"She is a really kind-hearted person, the type that I like," he admitted.

Now Lee has a happy family that will be expanded in four months, and owns an online store selling ladies' clothes, with his wife being the model.

Similarly, shooting too is something that came to him as unexpected.

Since he could no longer practice taekwondo after being disabled, the energetic man was at a loss over what to do next.

In 2003, he met a shooting coach by chance.

"He was a successful coach who helped South Korea win its first Olympic shooting gold in 1992," he recalled.

Then the story was simple: the coach took him to several competitions, and Lee began to like the sport.

"It was very interesting," he hence started training.

In retrospect, Lee, who was too shy to talk much, said he cherished the moments of shooting.

"It brought me happiness, and I will continue," he said.

Source: Xinhua

Angels victory secures AL West title

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Angels clinched the American League West division with a 4-2 victory over the visiting New York Yankees on Wednesday.

The Major League-leading Angels became the first team in baseball to secure a post-season berth by winning their division for the fourth time in five years.

"It hasn't been easy, by any means," manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. "This team has pulled together and done the job all year long."

Third baseman Robb Quinlan delivered a two-run single during the team's three-run fifth inning to lead the way.

"I've had at-bats in the playoffs and that might have been bigger," said Quinlan of his game-changing hit. "For a regular-season game, that was pretty special."

Starting pitcher Dustin Moseley got the win over opposing pitcher Andy Pettitte in five innings of work, striking out six and allowing two runs.

Francisco Rodriguez recorded his league-leading 56th save of the season, one shy of the all-time record set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990.

The Yankees have lost three of their last four as their playoff hopes continue to fade. They managed only four hits led by Xavier Nady's 2-for-4 performance.

The Angels were without center fielder Torii Hunter, who began serving his two-game suspension along with Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez for their physical confrontation during Monday's contest.

In Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays gave themselves some breathing space at the top of the American League East on Wednesday with a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

After a marathon five-hour encounter at Boston's Fenway Park that stretched into the early hours of Thursday, the Rays padded their lead to 2-1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox .

With the score tied at 1-1 from the third inning, first baseman Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer over the famed Green Monster left-field wall at the top of the 14th inning to put the Rays ahead 4-1.

"I was just trying to make it as simple as possible. You can't start thinking too hard," said Pena, who came to the plate three times during the five extra innings. "I got a pitch that I thought I could handle."

The Red Sox answered with a sacrifice fly from first baseman Kevin Youkilis that drove in center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, but they failed to close the gap any further.

"We gave up the multiple runs, and that made it tougher," said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona. "Unfortunately for us they pushed three."

The Rays had ample opportunities to take the lead earlier in the game. They twice loaded the bases, in the fifth and eighth innings, each time leave the runners stranded.

Each team dipped deep into their bullpens during the game, with 14 pitchers taking the mound by the game's end.

Tampa's left-hander Trever Miller was credited with the win, while Mike Timlin took the loss.

Jason Hammel earned the save by closing out the game for Tampa Bay, calling the moment the best of his career.

"I just wanted to go in there and attack. That's my mindset," Hammel said. "I've been in other games where I'm the last reliever left. It's do-or-die with me."

Source: China Daily/Agencies

British press hails boy wonder Walcott after Croatia rout

LONDON: The British press laid aside its sniping Thursday as it hailed England's 4-1 win over Croatia and crowned Theo Walcott the nation's new hero after the teenager's stunning hat-trick in Zagreb.

"England were a delight to behold, soon delivering the most expansive football seen since the thrashing of Germany in 2001. The David Beckham era is over, the Walcott era had begun," the Daily Telegraph enthused.

The Times described Arsenal attacker Walcott's hat-trick as the "most stunning international breakthrough since Owen's brilliant solo goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup finals".

"Hero Theo leads rout by three lions", read The Sun, adding that the 19-year-old - whose goals were his first on the international stage - had proved his right to the number seven shirt usually worn by Beckham.

Praise was also heaped on manager Fabio Capello, as England sought to avenge the home-and-away defeats by the Croatians that had destroyed their chances of reaching Euro 2008.

"It felt like England had finally woken to the dawn of a bright new era and that in Capello, the FA had found someone who can indeed guide England out of the darkness and on to South Africa and the next World Cup," said the Daily Mail.

"Capello had the courage to select Theo Walcott in a role so long occupied by David Beckham and my, how that gamble paid off."

The Guardian noted that joy at the success of the previously much-criticized England beat even the "achievement of wrecking Croatia's proud unbeaten record of 35 unbeaten qualifying matches at home".

"In his first fixture of genuine significance, Fabio Capello has awakened immense expectations. Perhaps he is also the man to meet them," it said.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Klose scores 3 as Germany grabs a draw

LONDON: Miroslav Klose hit a hat-trick for Germany but his goals only salvaged a 3-3 draw for a side that was just seven minutes from losing to Finland for the first time in 85 years on Wednesday in the 2010 World Cup European qualifier.

Most of the other teams expected to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa came through the second round of qualifiers in five days unscathed. World champion Italy beat Georgia 2-0 in Udine and World Cup runner-up France beat Serbia 2-1 in Paris.

European champion Spain maintained its perfect start in Group Five with a 4-0 win over Armenia in Albacete.

There was an amazing finale in Lisbon where Denmark beat Portugal 3-2 with four of the five goals in the match scored between the 83rd minute and the second minute of stoppage time.

Nani put Portugal ahead after 42 minutes, Nicklas Bendtner made it 1-1 after 83 minutes before Deco put Portugal ahead with an 86th minute penalty. Christian Poulsen equalized after 89 minutes before Daniel Jensen won it for the Danes in the second minute of stoppage time.

The one major shock was in Zurich where Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland lost 2-1 to Luxembourg, ranked 152nd in the world.

Bosnia scored the biggest win of the night, crushing Estonia 7-0, but the Czech Republic, ranked eighth in the world, failed to convince on a rainy night in Belfast and were held to a 0-0 draw by Northern Ireland.

The Netherlands, who went out of Euro 2008 at the quarterfinal stage after a brilliant start to the competition, opened their campaign with a 2-1 win over Macedonia in Skopje. John Heitinga and Rafael van der Vaart got the goals.

Coach Fabio Capello's England team overwhelmed Croatia 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick by teenager Theo Walcott which ended Croatia's run of 35 unbeaten European and World Cup home qualifiers since it began playing competitive soccer in 1994.

The win, following Saturday's 2-0 victory over Andorra, put England top of Group Six, along with Ukraine, which maintained its perfect start with a 3-1 win in Kazakhstan.

Italy, who beat Cyprus 2-1 away on Saturday, scored a second successive win in Group Eight by beating Georgia 2-0 in Udine, Daniele De Rossi scoring twice.

France got its first points in Group Seven following Saturday's shock 3-1 defeat by Austria, beating Serbia 2-1 in Paris with goals from Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka.

Despite its draw in Finland, Germany still tops Group Four, a point ahead of Russia and Wales.

Russia opened its campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales in Moscow, though the Euro 2008 semifinalists left it late with Pavel Pogrebnyak lashing home the winner nine minutes from time.

Greece, which won 2-0 in Latvia, has maximum points and tops Group Two while Lithuania, 2-0 winner over Austria, also has a 100 percent record and top Group Seven.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Frustration for Brazil, Argentina in qualifiers

BUENOS AIRES: Brazil and Argentina endured more frustration in the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday with draws against bottom sides Bolivia and Peru respectively.

Brazil was jeered by its own fans in a goalless stalemate at home to bottom-of-the-table Bolivia, who played the last 35 minutes with 10 men.

Argentina drew its fourth successive qualifier when Peru scored with the last kick of the game in Lima to snatch a 1-1 draw.

The two-arch rivals stayed level on 13 points from eight games where they were joined by Chile, who returned from Sunday's 3-0 home defeat by Brazil to thrash Colombia 4-0 in Santiago.

Paraguay, 2-0 winner over Venezuela on Tuesday, leads the 10-team group with 17 points.

Brazil's Luiz Fabiano and Bolivia's Ronald Raldes jump for the ball during their World Cup 2010 qualifying soccer match in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The match ended 0-0. Reuters

The top four teams qualify directly for South Africa and the fifth plays off against a team from the CONCACAF region.

Brazil's dismal performance in Rio de Janeiro put the heat back on coach Dunga, who had enjoyed some respite with the win in Chile.

As well as poor results and failure to win gold at the Olympic Games, Brazilian fans resent his safety-first tactics.

Wednesday's game in Rio de Janeiro, where the public are notoriously fickle, was seen as a gage of his team's popularity.

But with the cheapest tickets costing the equivalent of $60, the Joao Havelange stadium was half full and the reception lukewarm.

Frustrated with another lackluster display, the crowd quickly became impatient and even cheered Bolivia when they went forward.

The visitor, who conceded 16 goals in losing its previous four away games, had Ignacio Garcia sent off in the 54th minute for a foot-up challenge on Robinho, although replays showed no real contact was made.

"When we don't play well, it's normal," said Dunga, shrugging off the crowd's reaction.

Ronaldinho, taken off in the 77th minute amid more whistles, added: "The Brazilian team always has the obligation to win."

Argentina is under less pressure but there is still concern at its talent-laden team's failure to perform consistently.

Esteban Cambiasso's 84th minute goal appeared to have given them a welcome break but lowly Peru snatched a deserved point when Johan Fano slid the ball home in the fourth minute of injury time following a 70-meter run by Juan Vargas.

Peru stayed ninth with seven points.

Other teams continue to suffer ups-and-downs and Colombia, unbeaten in its first six games, slid to its second defeat in five days in Santiago.

Gonzalo Jara, Humberto Suazo, Ismael Fuentes and Matias Fernandez shared the goals for Chile who moved up to fourth, three points clear of its opponents and one ahead of Uruguay, who was held 0-0 at home by Ecuador in Montevideo.

"We didn't play well, we didn't find the key," said Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez after his side failed to break down the Ecuador defence.

Ecuador moved onto nine points after its fifth qualifier without defeat.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Riders welcome news of Armstrong's surprise return

CALAHORRA, Spain: Lance Armstrong's plan to return to professional cycling was welcomed by fellow riders on Wednesday.

"It's great news for cycling," Astana rider Jose Luis Rubiera of Spain, who was part of Armstrong's line-up on five of the American's seven Tour victories, told Reuters.

"Armstrong has got the character to do it and he would draw in millions of supporters again.

"At a sponsorship level, I can't see it doing anything but good.

"On one level, you have to ask if it's possible to come back at 37 to win the Tour. On the other hand, knowing Lance, anything is possible. He won't be coming back to finish second."

Rubiera is due to retire at the end of the season but said he might reconsider after Armstrong's decision, announced on Tuesday.

"It would be a very interesting challenge. I was going to quit but I could go on for another year if Lance asked me to do so," he said.

Fellow Astana rider and former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador said he would be pleased if Armstrong signed for his team.

"I'm focused on winning the Tour of Spain but of course I would welcome him to the team," Contador told reporters at the start of the Tour of Spain's stage 11.

The 25-year-old Spaniard added, however, that he would not sacrifice his own chances of a second Tour victory.

"Assuming I race the Tour de France next year, it will be to try and win it," said Contador, who won the Giro d'Italia in June.

Team barred

The Kazakh-funded Astana team was barred from this year's Tour because of its implication in doping scandals over the past two years.

Carlos Sastre of Team CSC, who won the 2008 Tour, told Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Wednesday: "Just seeing Lance Armstrong on television makes my hair stand on end.

"Armstrong is in love with this sport. It will be tough for him to come back but if that's the case it's because he thinks he can do something."

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he did not rule out the return of Armstrong, who retired after his seventh successive win in 2005, provided the American accepted the rules.

"As long as his team, which one we don't know, and himself accept the rules regarding notably doping, the perception of which has changed a lot over the past few years, we will accept him," Prudhomme told the website of French sports daily L'Equipe .

"It is a real challenge to come back three years after having retired, even if he did finish second in a mountain bike race recently," Prudhomme added.

Tour of Spain director Victor Cordero told Reuters: "Personally, I don't believe in these sorts of comebacks. Beyond that, I prefer not to comment."

Source: China Daily/Agencies