Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fog causes closure of expressways in E China

Fog shrouded many areas in eastern and northeastern China on Saturday morning, causing the closure of expressways.

Foggy weather began to hit northeastern Liaoning Province on Wednesday and continued on Saturday with a visibility of 200 meters to 500 meters in some areas.

Sections of five expressways in the province were shut down early Saturday morning, the provincial expressway administration authorities said. They might be reopened at midday when the fog disperses.

The foggy weather, usually in the morning hours, would continue in the coming three days, said the meteorological observatory of the provincial capital Shenyang.

At least four major expressways in eastern Shandong Province were also closed on Saturday morning. The coastal cities of Rizhao, Qingdao and Yantai had a visibility of less than 1,000 meters.

Airports in Qingdao and the provincial capital Ji'nan remained normal operations.

The foggy weather would continue the whole day, according to the provincial meteorological observatory.

Source: Xinhua

Association sues 100 Beijing karaoke bars for copyright violation

The China Audio-video Copyright Association filed lawsuits at seven courts in Beijing on Friday against 100 Beijing-based karaoke bar operators refusing to pay royalties for songs and MTV videos they used.

On the list were popular bars including Tongyishouge and Huayangnianhua, the association said.

The CAVCA, which is responsible for charging karaoke bars, began to send notice to Beijing-based bars on Sept. 27. It urged them to pay the royalties before Oct. 10 and warned of legal actions if they failed to meet the deadline.

The association hoped the move could urge wavering karaoke bar operators to make the payment as soon as possible.

"Operators refusing to pay royalties would not only pay for using the products but also for their infringement on copyright," said the association's director-general Wang Huapeng.

The association didn't rule out the possibility of further legal actions against other Beijing-based karaoke bar operators.

At present, only about 10 operators out of more than 1,000 Beijing-based karaoke bars paid royalties for the copyrighted audio-video products they used. The figure stood at about 1,000 nationwide, according to the association.

Last year, 15 provincial-level areas, including Beijing and Guangdong, decided to collect karaoke copyright royalties. The practice has been spreading nationwide.

Karaoke operators must pay a daily charge of up to 12 yuan for each karaoke room -- less in underdeveloped regions -- for the use of musical and video products, according to a National Copyright Administration notice issued in November 2006.

The royalty in Beijing was set at 11 yuan at the beginning of this year, the second highest in the country compared with the highest 11.1 yuan in Shanghai and the lowest 8.1 yuan in northwestern Gansu Province.

Chinese karaoke operators have enjoyed free access to songs and MTV videos without paying royalties for more than 20 years.

The country has an estimated 100,000 karaoke establishments -- each with an average of 10 rooms -- collectively generating almost1 billion yuan in turnover annually.

Source: Xinhua

State 'committed to poverty goal'

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu pledged on Friday that China will come up with "increased efforts" to alleviate global poverty and fulfill its international responsibility to ensure a harmonious world.

He was addressing a forum organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China and UN China to mark the 16th International Day for Poverty Eradication.

Hui told officials China will reciprocate the assistance it received in the past from the international community.

China will play an active role with its international partners in formulating policies to fight global poverty and share its own experiences, he said.

"We aim to bridge the wealth gap, ensure prosperity and develop a harmonious world.

"We will always remember the help given us by our foreign friends.

"What we have done and continue to do is to return the assistance and help we received," Hui said.

China has made great contributions to reducing global poverty since 2004. Developing countries are major recipients of its assistance.

Statistics show that by the end of June this year, China had cancelled a total of 24.7 billion yuan of debts for 49 poor and least developed countries in Asia and Africa and had provided 206.5 billion yuan in various forms of assistance.

Hui said China will extend its efforts to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020 after it becomes the world's first developing country in 2015 to meet the UN's target of halving a population's poverty.

China has reduced the number of people in absolute poverty from 250 million to 15 million in less than 30 years.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded Hui's message to the forum. He said China had indeed made a great contribution to the world's efforts to improve human welfare, reduce poverty and hunger.

Nafis Sadik, special advisor to the UN secretary-general, said global anti-poverty efforts were now facing new challenges due to an unstable global economic environment.

He said the poor and vulnerable must be kept in mind as the world's economic problems are addressed.

"As attention and resources are focused on restoring sound financial systems, it would be all too easy to put out of mind the poor and vulnerable population," Sadik said.

Source: China Daily

2,500 mines to close before 2010

About 2,500 coal mines will be shut down and 1,600 restructured within the next two years. They each have an annual production capacity of less than 300,000 tons.

In a notice posted on the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety's website on Friday, its director, Zhao Tiechui, said the number of such mines will be reduced to 10,000 from the present 14,000 by 2010.

The number of mines to be closed in each coal-rich provinces has been circulated to local governments, he said.

The administration wants to encourage large mining firms to merge with smaller ones to boost work safety, he said.

The notice comes on the heels of another mine blast on Thursday in Shizuishan city, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in which 16 miners were killed and 46 injured.

Police have held two men from the Guangdong Hongda Blasting Co Ltd for questioning.

The country had closed down more than 18,000 small coal mines by the end of last year. They had a total annual production capacity of 250 million tons.

More than 8,800 mines have also been merged into 3,700, increasing the annual production of each from 32,000 tons in 2005 to 60,000 tons last year.

The mergers have also helped reduce the industry's casualty figures.

A total of 2,900 people died in accidents occurring in small mines last year, about 15.5 percent down from that of 2006.

Experts said that the current clampdown on small mines will not affect market supply. Instead, it will help stabilize it, as the price of coal has seen a drop on the market.

"Shutting down the small mines at this time will help ease the problem of excessive productivity in the industry," Chen Liang, a senior analyst with Ping An Securities, told the Xinhua News Agency.

The new campaign will help keep down the industry's death toll as large mines often pay more attention to work safety, a mine owner surnamed Zhou in Shanxi, said.

For every 1 million tons of coal produced, the death toll at small mines is eight times that of the large State-owned ones, he said.

Source: China Daily

CSRC official refutes report on fund flow

The securities regulator will not implement extreme measures to regulate cross-border fund flows, an official from the China Securities Regulatory Commission said, refuting a media report saying the country will ban such fund flows.

Bloomberg said in a report on Friday that China "will ban cross-border fund flows, push publicly traded companies to return more money to investors and toughen rules to punish insider trading", quoting CSRC Chairman Shang Fulin at a forum in Beijing.

But the CSRC official said: "It's neither wise nor possible to ban all cross-border fund flows."

"It's ridiculous if all the cross-border funds are banned," said Zhao Xijun, finance professor at Renmin University of China.

Cross-border funds, including FDI, QFII , PE can benefit the development of China's economy, especially for the capital-thirst small and medium-sized companies, Zhao said.

"Some cross-border funds threaten the stabilization of the country's financial market and the regulators should have a close eye on this kind of hot money," Zhao added.

In order to increase the supervision of the QFII, the CSRC on Friday released a guideline that required QFII to put an internal supervisor in place. The supervisors can be selected from the staff in existence.

QFII was introduced five years ago and the related regulatory framework has been perfected gradually. "In general, the investment of QFII is normal and stable. As the important intuitional investors in China, QFII has accumulated valuable experience on the opening up on China's capital market and supervising cross-border funds," a CSRC official said.

According to the CSRC website, Shang attended the Sino-France financial forum held in Beijing on Friday and said "the regulators will enhance cooperation and seek the fundamental reason that caused the crisis. They will strengthen the risk management and internal control of securities futures companies, and toughen rules to punish the illegal activities on the financial market".

Source: China Daily

China's sovereign wealth fund raises stake in U.S. company to 12.5%

China Investment Corporation , the country's 200-billion-U.S.-dollar sovereign wealth fund, has raised its stake in U.S. investment group Blackstone LP to more than 10 percent -- still short of the 12.5 percent limit recently agreed between the two parties, a source close to the deal said.

"The investment exceeds 10 percent," the source was quoted by Saturday's China Daily as saying. But the source did not reveal when the investment portion might reach the 12.5 percent limit.

Analysts said the fundamentals of Blackstone might justify CIC's additional investment, although the prospects of the U.S. financial market remain murky.

According to a filing of Blackstone with U.S. regulators, a revised agreement was reached Thursday between the firm and CIC unit Beijing Wonderful Investments Ltd. to raise the limit of CIC's holding of Blackstone stake up to 12.5 percent from the previously agreed 9.99 percent.

There was no official comment from CIC on its additional share purchase.

CIC paid 3 billion U.S. dollars to acquire 101 million shares before Blackstone's June 2007 initial public offering, committing to hold those non-voting common units for four years. Its investment has lost more than two-thirds of its value as Blackstone shares slumped amid global financial turmoil since last year.

When CIC purchased its Blackstone stake last year, the shares were valued at 31 U.S. dollars apiece. They are now worth about 9 dollars.

The purchase of the additional Blackstone stake does not require regulatory approval and can be carried out through the open market and be resold freely.

Different from many U.S. financial institutions that have had to be bailed out by the government, Blackstone's liquidity and asset quality remain sound, the source said, suggesting the CIC investment is aimed at long-term interest.


China sees more than 50% decline in coal exports in September

China's coal exports have kept declining since the beginning of the second half of this year, partly as a result of limits in export quotas.

According to latest customs data, China sold abroad 2.08 million tonnes of coal in September, down 53.6 percent from the 4.48 million tonnes in the same month of last year.

After the coal exports hit 6.99 million tonnes in June, the highest within the year, the foreign sales began to fall in July and continued the downward trend in August and September.

Industry observers said the foreign sales were limited by absence of second-batch quota.

In the first half of this year, China set the first-batch quota at 31.8 million tonnes, or 60 percent of its total coal exports for whole of last year. But it declined to release the quota for the second half year as an effort to ensure domestic supplies.

Huang Teng, a coal trade analyst, said on Saturday that the new export quota would likely be issued within this month, so that exporters would be able to fulfill their contracts with importers from Japan and the Republic of Korea.

In the first three quarters, the coal exports stood at 35.72 million tonnes, down 6.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs. But the export value increased by 65.1 percent to 3.78 billion U.S. dollars.


Month-on-month decline in China's steel exports not so worse as expected

China saw a month-on-month drop in rolled steel exports in September, albeit the foreign sales of such products were higher than the year-earlier level.

Last month China exported 6.67 million tonnes of rolled steel, a growth of 2.23 million tonnes over the same month of last year, sources with the General Administration of Customs said Saturday.

But the exports were 1.01 million tonnes less than the August amount. The decrease was not so big as observers expected upon global economic slowdown.

This indicated that China-made rolled steel was still competitive in price on international markets. It was possible that the decline in orders from Europe had been offset with those from emerging markets, said Zhang Ping, a steel industry analyst with the United Metals Web.

According to customs data, China exported 48.5 million tonnes of rolled steel in the first nine months of this year, down 2.1 percent from the same period of last year. But the export value went up 46.5 percent to 49.8 billion U.S. dollars.

In a related development, China imported 1.27 million tonnes of rolled steel in September, down 4.54 percent from August or 11.1 percent from the same month of last year.

Rolled steel imports were 12.32 million tonnes in the January-September period, down five percent from a year earlier.


China to provide more rural financial services on trial basis

China has decided to start on a trial basis to provide more rural financial products and services in nine provinces, the central bank said.

In a statement posted on its official website late Friday, the People's Bank of China said it had joined hand with the China Banking Regulatory Commission to issue a guideline document, asking commercial banks to improve their financial services in rural areas.

PBOC said such financial services would be first started on trial in grain-producing areas and counties with solid economic development in six central provinces and three northeastern provinces.

The central bank required commercial banks to improve their service network in the countryside and divert more funds to support rural economic growth.

Chinese commercial banks were demanded to provide more petty-sum credit loans and group guarantee loans to farmers. They were also asked to create more loan guarantee methods.

The nine provinces were Anhui, Shanxi, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. PBOC said each province was allowed to select two or three county-level areas and allow commercial banks to start trial operation.

The decision was designed to push forward financial reform in the countryside and renovate the financial system in rural areas, which was stated in the communique adopted by the Third Plenary Session of the 17th Communist Party of China Central Committee, according to the central bank.

The plenum, which focused on issues concerning rural reform and development and ended on Sunday, said in the communique it would strive to double the per-capita disposable income of rural residents by 2020 from the current level.

Source: Xinhua

Singapore's Goh hails China's response to world financial storm

Singapore's Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has praised China for its response to the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the current global financial storm, which is believed to have serious impact on the world economy.

In a recent interview with China's Central Television Station, Goh said that China held its national currency and did not devalue it in 1997, which would have put further pressure on other currencies, local English newspaper "The Straits Times" reported on Saturday.

Goh was quoted as saying that this time, China, together with the Europeans and Americans, also lowered its interest rate. Otherwise, there would have been some competitive leakages of funds to the Chinese currency of Renminbi.

Echoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech that China's best contribution to the current global financial crisis was to keep the country's economy humming, Goh said that if China concentrated on growing the Chinese economy through fiscal policy as well as monetary policy, this would be a huge contribution towards tackling the current financial problem.

While warning that if China's economy slowed, coupled with the United States and other major European economies, the world would go into a very deep recession, he said that if China could grow, China could become for the time being a very big, maybe the biggest, engine of growth in the coming two or three years.

Source: Xinhua

News Analysis: Interests of developing countries need to be taken into account in new global financial system

Facing the most ferocious financial crisis ever, European Union leaders at their two-day summit here called on the United States and emerging economies to revamp the global financial system to prevent a recurrence of the crunch.

But what kind of new financial system do they want to establish? One that only covers the interests of developed countries? Or one that covers the interests of all, including those deep in poverty?

In the initial period of the crisis, EU nations fought it individually but have been forced to join hands very recently as banks collapsed one after another and stock markets plunged at record rates day by day across Europe and the larger world.

EU members have thus rushed to adopt a string of measures to rescue their banking systems and restore confidence.

Germany and France jointly built up a defense against the financial crisis Monday by pledging more than one trillion euros to save troubled banks. Britain injected billions of pounds into three of the country's major banks.

At the EU summit, member countries "unanimously" agreed to take concerted actions to contain the crunch, accepting the principles agreed upon at the Eurogroup summit in Paris Sunday.

While tackling the emergencies, the EU leaders also urged major international players to work together for a revamp of the global financial system as they saw that "Laissez-faire" policy mistakes, loopholes in the financial system and the fragility of the market order were the cause of this financial tsunami.

For this purpose, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, pushed for a global summit by the end of the year.

Sarkozy said he would invite U.S. President George W. Bush to the summit when visiting the United States this weekend and would also bring onboard leaders of the emerging economies, such as China and India.

"We all agree in Europe that we are going to need to refound the international financial system," Sarkozy said after the summit.

"We had the crisis in developing countries; we had the Internet bubble; now we have a massive crisis."

"We are determined to draw conclusions concerning the financial system and the monetary system to revamp capitalism," he said, adding no financial institutions should be exempted from supervision.

The EU, together with the United States, has acted so far for the sake of their own interests, first at national level, then at the EU level.

It would not work if these nations act only with their own interests in mind without taking into consideration those of developing countries, the innocent victims of this crisis, in overhauling the global financial system, analysts here say.

Former EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said, the world needs a modern and efficient redistribution system.

If all the interests go to the richest one percent, with the middle class hollowed out and the poor completely forgotten, this kind of globalization would not be politically sustainable, he said.

Developing countries have been hit hard as well, even harder, by the crisis because their hard-won achievements in development have been nearly wiped out.

Besides, poor nations would suffer a double blow, developing nations say.

On the one hand, it would be more difficult for developing or poor nations to get financing in global financial markets as a result of capital flow to developed countries due to bailout measures.

On the other hand, the current crunch has undermined demand, thus hurting their exports.

The pressure of the crisis on aid-receiving countries, plus the impact of soaring food and energy prices, may force up to 100 million people worldwide into poverty, according to the World Bank.

International aid agencies have warned that the financial crisis would worsen the life of the poor, leaving them exposed to more serious problems famine, diseases and unemployment.

Dominated by developed economies, the United States and the EU, which are also the biggest beneficiaries of globalization, the existing global economic order lacks rationality and justice to developing and poor countries, analysts say.

Global imbalance in economic development has made the rich richer and better prepared to weather crises, and the poor poorer and more vulnerable to crises, they say.

The effect of the financial crisis on developed nations is nothing more than a dip in living standards, but to the developing and poor ones, which have been dragged into the crisis, it means famine and poverty.

To achieve sustainable globalization and eliminate poverty worldwide, developed countries should responsibly take into account the needs of their developing partners when rebuilding the world financial system, analysts say.

Source: Xinhua

China's Aug. trade value on motor vehicles, related products declines month-on-month

China's import and export value on motor vehicles and related products stood at 7.417 billion U.S. dollars in August, a decline of 3.85 percent from the previous month, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers .

The total included 2.713 billion U.S. dollars in arrivals, down 7.6 percent from a month ago, but up 22.58 percent over the year-earlier level; and 4.704 billion dollars in foreign sales, down 1.53 percent month-on-month, but up 23.32 percent year-on-year.

August saw the nation's imports of complete vehicles, particularly large-engine cars, increase from a month earlier, but exports of such products drop.

China bought from abroad 5,365 vehicles each with a displacement of at least 3,000 ml last month, up 28.7 percent on the same month of last year.

CAAM analysts attributed the growth to higher demand for big-displacement cars at home in advance of the expected rises of consumption tax as of Sept. 1.

Spurred by the increase of big-displacement car imports, China's total car arrivals reached 14,000 units in August, up 8.7 percent over the same month of last year, or up 26 percent over the previous months.

But August witnessed the first monthly decline over recent few years in China's car exports, due largely to shrinking demand overseas.

The country sold abroad 44,400 motor vehicles last month, down 22.18 percent from the previous month, or 11.29 percent from a year earlier.

CAAM data showed that between January and August, China's foreign trade value on motor vehicles and related products amounted to 56.333 billion U.S. dollars. The total included 21.983 billion dollars in import value, up 35.15 percent year-on-year, and 34.35 billion dollars in export value, up 36.5 percent.


China signs zero-tariff trade deal with Senegal

China signed Friday a trade deal with Senegal to offer zero-tariff treatment to more than 400 categories of goods imported from Senegal.

The agreement was inked by Chinese Ambassador to Senegal Lu Shaye and Senegalese Minister for Commerce Mamadou Diop in Dakar, Senegal's capital.

The trade deal will elevate their bilateral trade and economic ties to a new stage and will also foster people-to-people exchanges between the two sides, said Lu.

The two peoples will benefit from the agreement which raised the number of tariff-free Senegalese export products to China from about 190 in 2005 to more than 600, the Chinese ambassador added.

Diop said that the agreement was of great significance for the two countries to strengthen their economic and trade cooperation.

Friendly bilateral cooperation in various fields, particularly in trade and economy, has been booming since China and Senegal resumed diplomatic ties in October 2005, the minister said.

More Senegalese are now running businesses or have started their own enterprises in China, he said, adding that he welcomed more Chinese businessmen to make investment in Senegal.

At the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2006, the Chinese government pledged to further open China's market to exports from Africa's least developed countries by raising the number of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment from190 to 440.


Iron ore arrivals in China continue to rise unexpectedly last month

China's iron ore imports failed the expectations for a substantial decline in September, due largely to traders and steel makers betting on possible mounting demand after the Beijing Olympics.

According to latest customs data, China bought from abroad 39.2 million tonnes of iron ores last month, up 1.8 million tonnes on the August figure. The arrivals were valued at 5.79 billion U.S. dollars, up 18.2 million dollars from the previous month.

The import volume went against expectations and failed to be inline with real demand at home over the past weeks, Xu Xiangchun, a steel industry analyst, said on Saturday.

Since the beginning of September, major Chinese steel manufacturers have announced to slash production upon falling steel prices on the domestic market.

Xu predicted that the less demand would be reflected in import figures for October and November.

Between January and September, China imported 346.11 million tonnes of iron ores, up 22 percent over the same period of last year. The arrivals were valued at 48.9 billion dollars, up 116 percent.


EU, Canada support world summit on financial crisis

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday they both support convening an international financial summit to discuss the current crisis by the end of the year.

The two leaders made the remarks at a press conference after a summit between Canada and the European Union. Sarkozy is the 27-member EU's rotating president.

Sarkozy has been pushing for some time to convene a summit that will seek rebuilding the global financial system to provide strengthening supervision on the markets, in order to prevent any new crisis.

He has gained the support of members of the European Union and is due to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush, together with European Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso, to discuss the crisis.

Harper added that Canada and the European Union reaffirmed their determination to restore confidence and normal functioning in the financial system.

About the "format" of the summit in sight, Sarkozy explained that the G8 would be a good shape, but he prefers inviting emerging countries for a serious dialogue as to how to face the world's biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression in 1930s.

"It's bizarre" to convene such a summit without inviting emerging countries like China and India, he said.

Sarkozy arrived here on Friday. He is to address the opening ceremony of the 12th Francophone summit later in the day.

Source: Xinhua

British expert: Europe seeks co-op with Asia to cope with financial crisis

Europe will seek cooperation with Asian countries in the upcoming seventh Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing in a bid to cope with the ongoing global financial crisis, a British expert on Asian affairs said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Under the current circumstances, "Europe will seek to gain cooperation with the Asian financial sector," said Alexander Neill, head of the Asia Program at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, a leading think tank in London founded in 1831.

Many European countries have invested in Asia, so "it is in Europe's interest to prevent the financial collapse in Asia," said Neill.

As the stock markets in Shanghai, Tokyo, Delhi, and Singapore all suffered recently "as a knock-on effect of the worldwide financial instability which started in the United States," Neill said discussions on the "financial solutions to guard against the collapse of some of the Asia tiger economies" would be urgent.

According to Neill, the current financial crisis would push Europe to achieve closer cooperation with Asia.

"I think Europeans will go to where the capital is, where the growth is," said the expert, adding that "ensuring the sustainable growth in Asia will be helping sustain growth in Europe," and is the key to retaining European investment in Asia.

In the past, Europe lacked a comprehensive approach to Asia, due to the fact that "each member of the European Union has put its own bilateral consideration first when it comes to engagement with Asian countries," said Neill.

But as Europe has realized that future prosperity is linked to success in Asia, it has recently solidified its efforts and policy objectives toward Asia, and a "unified approach" will be a must, added the expert.

"It is also important that there are some discussions with countries like China, India over their specific interests, regional interests, because both China and India are investing heavily locally, particularly Southeast Asia, and also central Asia," Neill said.

Despite the fierce competition in Asia and Europe's concern over problems such as its trade imbalances with India and China, Neill expressed confidence in the joint efforts by Brussels and major Asian countries to create a win-win situation in the future.

During the two-day summit, discussions will also touch upon topics such as energy security, food prices, climate change and anti-terrorism.

"Energy security would be high on the agenda," as energy is vital to sustaining the economy in western Europe and new members of the EU, he said, adding, "Rising energy prices will cause problems for recession in Europe."

Speaking on food security, Neill said that soaring food prices are affecting everyone in the world, especially the poor in Asia.

The seventh ASEM summit will be held in Beijing on Oct. 24-25, to be attended by leaders and delegates from 45 Asian and European countries and organizations.

12th Francophone summit opens in Quebec, efforts urged to solve financial crisis

The 12th Francophone summit opened Friday in Canada's French-speaking Quebec City with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for efforts to help resolve the current global financial crisis.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Harper told the gathering of French-speaking nations that it has a role to play in helping the world emerge from the global financial crisis.

He stressed that a targeted and efficient response is needed to address the crisis, whose damage are spreading to the developing nations.

He also called for coordinated efforts to strengthen peace, security and global stability.

He urged the states to take effective measures to forge effective and realistic multilateral cooperation.

Other leaders addressing the opening ceremony include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who reiterated his call for rebuilding a new financial and monetary system.

"We want another monetary system... The IMF must reflect on its operation," said Sarkozy, who has also proposed a world summit dedicated to the financial crisis in the near future.

This summit must also include emerging countries such as China and India, said Sarkozy, whose speech raised applause from participants.

Given that the world faces the most serious economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression 1930s, well coordinated cooperation is necessary, said the French president.

The three-day summit of la Francophonie is bringing together leaders for talks on government and democracy, economy, environment and the future role of the French language.

Representatives of 55 member countries and 13 observer nations, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary General of La Francophonie Abdou Diouf were present at the ceremony.

"The banking crisis, the financial crisis, and the food crisis, as well as the energy crisis: all of these are to be discussed by leaders at the summit," Diouf said before the conference began.

Jean Charest, Quebec Premier, said before the summit that "the circumstances are such that we're the first North-South forum to take place amid this crisis and so it's an opportunity to measure its impact" particularly on poorer nations.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese premier says he supports developing transgenic engineering

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed his support for developing transgenic engineering, in a two-hour interview with Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of the Science Magazine of the United States on Sept. 30.

In the exclusive interview at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, Wen said his support of the transgenic engineering was further strengthened by the recent global food shortage.

When China didn't have the transgenic technology in cotton plants 10 years ago, the cotton bollworms would not die even when immersed in pesticides. Wen said," Since we began transgenic engineering of cotton, the plants not only increased their ability to resist bollworms but also increased yield."

"Therefore, I strongly advocate making great efforts to pursue transgenic engineering. The recent food shortages around the world have further strengthened my belief ," said Wen.

Responding Alberts' words on some European states' objection to developing transgenic crops, Wen said if transgenic science was mixed with trade barriers," that would block the development of science".

Source: Xinhua

China needs to spend more on basic science research, says premier

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said that the country needs to spend more on the research of basic sciences, which is the source of any technical innovations.

"No applied or developmental research can do without basic research," Wen said in an interview with Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of the Science Magazine of the United States on Sept. 30.

Mentioning China's investment in basic research fixed at five percent of total research investment, Alberts inquired whether the ratio was enough.

The Premier said China had continuously increased the level of support to basic research," but I think the ratio is still insufficient."

Wen said basic research served as the wellspring and driving force in development, and he "attached great importance to research in fundamental sciences".

Source: Xinhua

Irish rider Lynch banned three months for drug test failure

Irish rider Denis Lynch, whose horse Lantinus 3 failed a drugs test at the Beijing Olympics, was on Friday banned for three months, the International Equestrian Federation announced.

Lynch, whose ban was backdated to August 21, was also fined 1,750 Swiss francs and ordered to pay 2,000 Swiss francs towards legal costs.

Five horses failed dope tests at the Beijing Games where the equestrian competition was staged in Hong Kong.

Other horses failing test were Chupa Chup, ridden by Brazil's Bernardo Alves, Coster, the mount of Christian Ahlmann of Germany, Camiro, under Norway's Tony Andre Hansen, and Rufus, ridden by Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa.

Pessoa, the 2004 Olympic champion, had already been banned for four and a half months.

Source: Xinhua