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BEIJING - Chinese central government offices suffered a day without air-conditioning as they warmed to a campaign to cut energy consumption and improve energy efficiency, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday. Tuesday's campaign, dubbed "experiencing energy shortage", targeted offices and government departments under the State Council, the nation's cabinet. "Beijing was not as sun-burning as previous days on Tuesday, but the overcast weather still made people sweat in the afternoon," Xinhua said. China's capital has unleashed "energy police" to enforce limits on air-conditioner use as the government pushes to save power and clean polluted skies, state media said this week. China last year vowed to cut energy consumption for every unit of economic activity by 20 percent by the end of 2010. But feverish economic growth has so far defied the target. The government's latest weapon is 22 officials who will check whether offices, hotels, malls and other big buildings in Beijing are observing a demand to set air conditioning no cooler than 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit), the Beijing News reported. Worried that the nation cannot sustain resource-sapping growth, the central government has repeatedly ordered officials and companies to save energy. Efforts to clear the capital of pollution have taken on a new urgency with the 2008 Beijing Olympics just over a year away. Chinese President Hu Jintao and other officials have said the country is committed to emission reduction, but refused mandatory caps. Beijing has held up its voluntary energy saving measures as an important contribution to fighting global warming, and called for more technological help for clean energy.


Finance Minister Xie Xuren and his Japanese counterpart Fukushiro Nukaga have agreed to work jointly to end the controversy created by allegedly contaminated China-made dumplings.Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren (L) shakes hands with Japan's Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga at the latter's office in Tokyo, February 10, 2008. [Xinhua]At the first-ever ministerial-level meeting since the food scare in Japan, the two ministers vowed to "keep searching for the real cause" that made 10 people fall ill after eating the dumplings."We must cooperate in the investigation to get to the root of the problem and to prevent such an incident so that it doesn't become an obstacle to our friendship," Nukaga told reporters in Tokyo yesterday. "And he (Xie) said he completely agreed (with the idea)."The two also agreed to hold another dialogue next month in Tokyo. Xie was in Japan to attend expanded discussions and meetings of the Group of Seven financial ministers. Representatives of Russia, South Korea and Indonesia were also invited to the deliberations.The ministerial-level meeting came four days after Lunar New Year's Eve, when Chinese and Japanese officials met in Tokyo and said they were ready to cooperate in the investigation.China is willing to fully cooperate and share information with Japan, Li Chunfeng, head of the five-member Chinese delegation, told reporters after the third round of talks at the Japanese Cabinet Office on February 6.The country had set up a joint investigation team with Japan to get to the truth as soon as possible, Li said, calling for an objective attitude and scientific measures to solve the problem.A joint investigation team that on Tuesday inspected the plant of Tianyang Food, which made the dumplings, did not find any "abnormality" with the production process."The plant (in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei) is very clean and well managed, and no abnormality was detected," Japanese delegation chief Harashima Taiji said on Wednesday.Chinese and Japanese journalists, too, visited the plant, where production was suspended on January 30. The plant employs about 800 people.Also on Wednesday, Japanese Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said someone could have deliberately tried to contaminate the dumplings."Judging from circumstantial evidence, we'd have to think that it's highly likely to be a crime," Masuzoe said in Tokyo.Chinese police and law enforcers in Japan's Hyogo prefecture, where the 10 people fell ill, have already set up a joint task force to probe the case.In a joint announcement, Hyogo police said that after finding large amounts of the pesticide methamidophos on and small holes in some of the dumpling packages they suspected someone deliberately tried to poison the product.Tianyang reiterated it has never used methamidophos and that the dumplings were always packed immediately after coming off the production line.China Daily - Agencies

The Chinese government on Tuesday expressed indignation and opposition to the resumption of "diplomatic relations" between St. Lucia and Taiwan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement that the resumption of "diplomatic relations" between St. Lucia and Taiwan was a flagrant violation of the declaration on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and St. Lucia. It also constituted interference in the internal affairs of China, Liu said. He said the embassy of China in St. Lucia had already lodged a strong protest to the government of St. Lucia. He said the government had instructed the embassy to request the St. Lucian government live up to the principle of the declaration that the two countries issued on the establishment of diplomatic links in 1997. It also instructed the embassy to request St. Lucia return to the rightful stance of recognizing one-China. "Otherwise, the government of St. Lucia will be responsible for the consequences incurred," Liu said. Liu said the Taiwan authority's attempts to pursue "money diplomacy" and create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" had no support in the international community and would not succeed.


CHANGSHA -- Central China's Hunan Province said it has taken effective measures to prevent epidemics after about 2 billion rats chomped their way through cropland around the Dongting Lake, the country's second largest freshwater lake. "It's not possible for rodent-borne diseases to break out in the lake area," said Chen Xiaochun, vice director of the provincial health department. Local health authorities have been watching closely over the rodent situation after the rats fled their flooded island homes and invaded 22 counties around the Dongting Lake last week, he told a press conference on Wednesday. Results of their observation are reported daily to the provincial health department and the public, he said. Meanwhile, local health and disease prevention and control authorities have intensified management of raticide and pesticide, for fear they might contaminate food and water, Chen added. No human infection of any rat-borne disease has been reported in the central Chinese province since 1944. The provincial government also ruled out widespread suspicions that rats flooded the area because one of their natural enemies -- snakes -- had been served at dinner tables. "The Dongting Lake area is not an ideal habitat for snakes," said Deng Sanlong, a top forestry official in the province, "and the only two species that inhabitate the region feed largely on fish and frogs." He said the top enemy of the rats are hawks that spend winter in the wetland around the lake but fly away in spring. China's Ministry of Agriculture and the Hunan provincial government have allocated 900,000 yuan in total to eradicate the rats.

International community should work together to support a "fast and smooth" implementation of the newly-announced agreement on sending hybrid peacekeeping troop to Sudan's Darfur region, China's special representative for Darfur Liu Guijin said on Friday. Meanwhile, political process with all parties involved should continue in order to help restore a lasting peace in that troubled area, he said after discussions with South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and other foreign ministry officials in the South African capital on Friday. South Africa is part of Liu's trip to Africa for consultations after the Sudanese government on Tuesday accepted the deployment of a hybrid African Union-United Nations force of between 17,000 to 19,000 troops in Darfur. Liu said both Chinese and South African governments welcomed the decision, which was announced after a closed-door meeting of the UN, AU and the Sudanese government in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, early this week. "China and South Africa hold similar view with regard to the Darfur issue... We need to give encouragement to the flexible attitude demonstrated in the recent meeting in Addis Ababa," Liu told a media briefing. The newly-appointed Chinese envoy, who made a fact-finding trip to Darfur last month, said this was achieved thanks to efforts of the international community. "Now the Sudanese government has responded positively," he said. The deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping troop is the final part of a three-phase support plan, also known as the Annan plan as it was put forward by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, with aims to end armed conflicts in Darfur. The AU, the UN and the Sudanese government agreed last November on the plan. With the first phase of the plan already underway, Sudan announced on April 16 that it approved the inauguration of the second phase, which involves the deployment of 3,000 UN troops and six attack helicopters in Darfur to support the 7,800-strong African force, as well as preparation for the next phase. The Sudanese government has been accused by the United States of delaying the deployment of the hybrid force. But Khartoum strongly requested that the joint force must be predominantly African one. Liu said the international community should now concentrate on how to support the deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping troop. He said China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has been closely cooperating with the UN, AU and the Sudanese government on the Darfur issue, including the commitment to send 275 engineering troops to Darfur to support the second phase of the Annan plan, as well as 10 million U.S. dollars and other humanitarian support to Darfur. "We have been playing a role of bridge... We have been trying to give advice and to persuade Sudan to be more flexible to accept the UN plan," he said. Liu said he would also hold consultations with the AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare in Addis Ababa, with officials of the Arab League during his visit to Egypt, and make another visit to Sudan. Liu said China opposed the move to put sanctions, which the United States threatened to use on Khartoum. "We do not need to rush to put more sanctions," he said. "It's not a proper time now. Peace has a future. We need to work together, make efforts and help with the newly deployed AU-UN hybrid operation." The Chinese diplomat also shrugged off the accusation on China' s failure to exert pressures on Khartoum, allegedly due to China's oil interest in Sudan. "Pressure cannot solve anything," he said. "No matter how many troops you send, without a political presence and cooperation of the government, we cannot find a long-lasting solution." "I think up to now we have been quite successful," he said. He said China's normal ties with Sudan have been "unnecessarily politicalized," which were "unfair and irrational." He said China will continue to be actively involved in projects, such as water-supply and establishing agriculture technology demonstration centers in Sudan, to help Sudan realize social and economic development, which "we regard as the root cause of the armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis."

Central China's Hubei Province has banned pearl farming in all lakes, rivers and reservoirs in an attempt to prevent water quality from worsening, local aquatic products administration said Saturday.Pearl farms have covered a total area of 13,000 hectares in the province, and the annual output has exceeded 400 tons, a spokesman with the administration said.Some farmers resorted to pesticides and manure to farm the pearl oysters, which has caused swathes of algae to bloom in the water, and turned the water stinky, he said.The administration said it would not approve new applications to establish such farms, and has ordered all water areas used to cultivate pearls to be cleaned.Over the past several months, blue-green algae outbreaks, usually caused by pesticides runoffs and other pollutants, have been reported in Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the Dianchi Lake in southwestern China, endangering domestic water supplies.Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), unveiled a set of tough new rules early July to tackle worsening pollution in the three lakes.The rules include a ban on all projects involving discharges containing ammonia and phosphorus. He also ordered all fish farms to be removed from the three lake areas by the end of 2008.


If you fancy "chicken without sexual life", "husband and wife's lung slice" or even "bean curd made by a pock-marked woman" then you will have to look elsewhere."Spring chicken", "pork lungs in chili sauce" and "stir-fried tofu in hot sauce" are the correct translations of dishes at some Beijing restaurants, according to an initiative designed to help visitors navigate bilingual menus.Currently, odd translations of food served up in the capital's eateries are causing food for thought.The Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program, and the Beijing tourism administration, is about to change all that.The project is part of Beijing's municipal tourism administration's preparation for the Olympic Games next year, when at least 500,000 foreigners are expected to visit.Beginning March 2006, the translation project gathered a database of dishes and drinks from 3-star rated hotels and large restaurants. A draft list was put online at the end of last year seeking public feedback.Subsequently, a second draft added more than 400 common dishes at restaurants in Beijing's Houhai and Wangjing districts, where foreigners like to gather.The recent draft has been online since last Saturday, at www.bjenglish.com.cn and www.bjta.gov.cn.The finished draft is likely to be published in October, said an official with the Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program, quoted by the Beijing News.The final version will be published online and "recommended" to restaurants.Restaurants will not be forced by the government to use the suggested translations, the newspaper quoted an unnamed tourism administration official as saying.

China's trade in goods will surpass .1 trillion in 2007, a 20 percent year-on-year increase, the Ministry of Commerce said in a report Thursday. Trade will increase in a fast yet stable manner as China optimizes economic structure, improves efficiency and lowers energy consumption, said the report, which is based on a review of China's foreign trade in 2006 and the first quarter of 2007. China's total import and export volume amounted to .76 trillion in 2006, up 23.8 percent year-on-year. China remains the third-largest country in the world by trade volume, according to the report released by the China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a research body under the Ministry of Commerce. The domestic and foreign trade environment and the macro-control policy have contributed to the rapid increase, the report said. The trade surplus continued to grow, reaching 7.5 billion in 2006, according to the report. Exports of machinery and electronic products and hi-tech products increased 28.8 percent and 29 percent respectively in 2006. Imports of primary products reached 7.1 billion, up 26.7 percent, while imports of machinery and electronic products increased faster than the previous year, up 22.1 percent. General trade - imports and exports of goods by enterprises in China with import-export rights - increased at a rate of 26 percent, 5.1 percentage points higher than last year, while the increase of processing trade slowed. Exports of privately owned enterprises surpassed State-owned enterprises for the first time, up 43.6 percent. The trade volume of private enterprises was up by 36.3 percent, while the trade volume of foreign-invested enterprises increased by 23.3 percent, faster than State-owned enterprises. Trade with foreign invested enterprises took in 58.9 percent of the total trade. Trade with the European Union, United States and Japan continued to grow, as did trade with emerging markets, including India, Brazil, and South Africa. Trade volume in the first quarter of 2007 reached to 7.7 billion, up 23.2 percent, while the trade surplus nearly doubled to .4 billion from the same time last year. Trade in goods increased by 27.4 percent from January to April, faster than processing trade. Gov't to raise export taxesChina will raise export taxes by 5 to 10 percent on a range of products, including steel, aiming to slow the country's export boom and ease the country's trade surplus, government sources said yesterday. Beijing also plans to further reduce tax rebates on some exports, including some basic materials and textiles. It would remove import taxes on coal and reduce import taxes on other raw materials, according to officials from three government bodies - the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State Administration of Taxation. "The plan has already been established basically," said a source in Beijing, noting that the changes could go into effect as early as June 1. China's exports of steel products hit a record 7.16 tons in April, as mills and traders raced to beat a change in export policy that took effect on April 15. China removed export rebates on most types of steel products while reducing the rebate on more value-added products to 5 percent. A proposal to raise the export taxes on steel billet and other semi-finished products to 20 percent has been discussed since early May, but has not yet been approved by the central government, a source said.


WUXI: Premier Wen Jiabao has demanded a thorough investigation of the Taihu Lake crisis, which has affected the drinking water supply of about 2 million people. Efforts to protect the lake from further pollution are also to be scrutinized. "The pollution of Taihu Lake has sounded the alarm for us," Wen said in a directive to a symposium held by the State Council here yesterday. Taihu Lake, which was once a scenic attraction famous for its aquatic life, including shrimp, lily and water chestnuts, has been heavily polluted by industrial, agricultural and domestic waste. Wen said efforts had been made to reduce pollution in Taihu Lake in recent years. "But the problem has never been tackled at the root," he added. He asked participants in the symposium, including officials from central and local governments, environmental workers, scholars and researchers, to thoroughly investigate the Taihu Lake crisis so that concrete measures could be drawn up in response. Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan, who attended the symposium, told governments at all levels to work to prevent algae blooms and ensure the safety of drinking water. Zeng asked local governments to continue collecting the blue-green algae, intensify monitoring of water quality, ensure the water supply and divert more water from the Yangtze River to flush out the pollution. He also asked environmental watchdogs to strengthen supervision and punish factories that discharge pollutants into Taihu Lake. At the meeting, all towns around Taihu were ordered to establish sewage treatment plants. Chemical factories will have to meet a new water emissions standard by the end of June next year. Towns must set up sewage treatment plants and are forbidden from discharging untreated sewage into Taihu Lake or rivers in the Taihu valley. Existing plants must install nitrogen and phosphorus removal facilities before the deadline, according to the plan announced at the meeting. Chemical factories that fail to meet the new water emissions standard risk suspension. They will be shut down permanently if they fail to meet the standard by the end of next June. The new water emission standard for the Taihu area will raise the bar for sulfur dioxide emissions and chemical oxygen demand. China Daily-Xinhua

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