The Board of Airport Authority Hong Kong awarded a franchise to building a new cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Airways Limited here Tuesday. According to the contract, Cathay Pacific Services Limited, a subsidiary of the parent airways, will design, construct and operate the 10-hectare new cargo terminal during the non-exclusive,20-year franchise. The new terminal and recently completed enhancements to the cargo apron, taxiways and aircraft stands will equip HKIA to meet future demand for cargo services and to maintain its position as the region's premier air cargo hub. "The new cargo terminal will reinforce the competitiveness of HKIA as a regional and international air cargo hub." Airport Authority Chief Executive Officer Stanley Hui said, adding "it will provide additional choices for airlines, shippers and freight forwarders. "I believe it will bring substantial economic benefits, in the form of new jobs and business opportunities, to Hong Kong," he said. Scheduled to open in the second half of 2011, the new terminal will have an annual capacity of about 2.6 million tons and increase the airport's total general and express cargo handling capacity to 7.4 million tons per annum. According to Cathay Pacific Services, construction of the new terminal will create over 400 jobs. When it starts operation, the facility will employ more than 1,700 people. The decision to build a new cargo terminal was made after the Airport Authority held extensive consultations with Hong Kong's air cargo and logistics industry. In December 2006, the Airport Authority called for pre- qualification proposals, which was followed by invitation for submission of business plans. The Airport Authority assessed the business plans and decided to award the franchise to Cathay Pacific Services as a result of an open and competitive tender process. The Airport Authority also invited the Independent Commission Against Corruption as an independent advisor to oversee the process. Driven by the rapid expansion of the Chinese mainland's economy and robust global trade, cargo throughput at HKIA rose 4.5 percent in 2007, to 3.74 million tons. The air cargo industry handled over1.9 trillion HK dollars (243.6 billion US dollars) worth of goods in 2007, accounting 35 percent of Hong Kong's total external trade. HKIA has remained the world's busiest international cargo airport for the 11th consecutive year.
Police will charge 38-year-old Wu Shengli next week with kidnapping and injuring Wang Bingrong, Party chief of Weining County in southwestern Guizhou Province, on April 13. "We are making final preparations to conduct legal proceedings for the procuratorate departments," a police officer told China Daily yesterday. Wang is still in hospital, according to an official of the county office. The Guangzhou-based Nanfang Weekend reported the case yesterday. According to the newspaper, the kidnapping occurred at the Party chief's home at about 8 pm and the kidnapper demanded a ransom of 21 million yuan (.73 million) for his release. Wang tried to call a local finance official for help, but he thought Wang was playing a joke on him. It was not until the next morning when the official received a second call from Wang that public security departments were alerted. Wang was found seriously injured and rushed to hospital. "There were three big wounds on his head," one of Wang's nurses from Weining County People's Hospital said on April 20. "Surface wounds have healed, but there is still a hematoma inside his head." Wu, from Hubei Province, was captured "without difficulty" and put under criminal custody, the newspaper said. He used to work as a truck driver for a local gold mining company. While officials remain tight-lipped about the case, rumors of why Wang was targeted have spread. "It is a pure kidnap case for money, and there is nothing between Wang and the kidnapper," Li Zhengchao, a local official told the Guangzhou newspaper. But others are not convinced given that Weining is a remote county and kidnapping a top official poses high risks. Two mine explosions in the coal-rich county last May and June killed 20 workers, leading to the shutdown of more than 400 illegal mines. Wang is believed to have ordered the closure of more than 2,000 illegal mines in one year. In Weining, Wang is known for his boldness in streamlining local government bodies. Over-staffing of departments has been a problem in the county. For example, there are as many as six or seven vice-directors for a small department, as compared to two, regulated by the State. Wang's reform has reduced the ranks by more than 100 senior officials. "Many officials could previously stay in their posts until aged 58, but now they have to step down at 50," said a local official. Last November, Wen Jiangang, the former head of Xingren County, was stabbed to death together with five other family members. He was also known for his tough stance on coalmine safety. Wen had closed more than 300 illegal coalmines within six months.
SHIJIAZHUANG - A joint investigation team of China and Japan to the Tianyang Food company has not detected abnormity after a half-day inspection tour in the plant, both Japanese and Chinese investigators said here early Wednesday morning."The plant is very clean and well managed, and no abnormity has been detected," a Japanese investigator told the press. Japan will conduct further analysis based on information and data collected in the plant, he said.Wang Daning, director of the department of food import and export safety under the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said that China and Japan have been cooperating well with each other, and the Chinese side has been letting Japanese investigators see related materials and equipments as many as possible.So far, Japanese police have confirmed that at least 10 people fell sick after eating dumplings laced with the highly toxic organophosphate pesticide called methamidophos made by Tianyang Food.Both governments of China and Japan have been struggling to find what actually had happened. A Japanese investigation team came to China and held talks with China Tuesday morning, then to Tianyang Food in Shijiazhuang in the afternoon and worked till 1 a.m. the next morning.
Chinese government said on Tuesday Vietnam had caused concern by agreeing with BP, a British oil company, to build a gas pipeline in the South China Sea. "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and neighboring areas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing."Vietnam's new actions infringing on China's sovereignty, sovereign power and administrative rights in the Nansha Islands (in the South China Sea) go against the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on this maritime issue," he emphasized. "It is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea area. China is paying close attention, and we have already made serious representations to the Vietnamese side," the spokesman said. "With everyone's hard work, the situation in the South China Sea has been stable." Qin also said that the February13 agreement on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear issue may have run afoul of some difficulties, but that does not mean the Six-Party Talks have failed or will be rendered invalid."(The difficulties) are natural because the talks have never been smooth, but the fact that the situation has encountered difficulties doesn't mean that the talks don't work," Qin said at a news conference. All parties are committed to the idea that negotiations are the only way to achieve a stable, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the normalization of diplomatic ties, he added. The DPRK (North Korea) walked out of the Six-Party Talks last month when the transfer of million that had been frozen at Banco Delta Asia in Macao did not come through. The latest agreement between the parties gives Pyongyang 60 days to shut down its nuclear facilities in return for energy aid. That deadline falls on Saturday. The US Treasury Department has said that Macao authorities are prepared to unblock the frozen funds. The government of Macao Special Administrative Region said it was aware of the US Treasury statement and that it would work with all parties involved. "Simultaneously, it expects all parties concerned to come up with appropriate and responsible arrangements," the government said on its website. Qin said Bank of China, which had been initially prepared to accept the frozen funds on behalf of Pyongyang, still needed more time to think about it. "It is a publicly listed company and has to conform to its international obligations and laws," he said. As for the Darfur issue, Qin said that China hoped that former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's peace plan would be implemented and that the UN troops would be employed as early as possible.
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
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.
SINGAPORE: China and the United States plan to set up a defense hotline aimed at improving military relations, a top Chinese general said over the weekend. Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, made the remarks at the plenary session of a three-day security summit known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. He said the issue of the hotline between the Chinese military and the US Defense Department would be settled when he visits the United States in September for the ninth Sino-US defense talks. Zhang also told the summit that China's defense budget is authentic. As the Chinese military gradually modernizes, some have raised questions over "military transparency", and voiced suspicions on China's defense budget. So it is necessary to clarify the matter, Zhang said. "In China, defense budgeting must follow a set of strict legal procedures, and the published budget is true and authentic," he said. He added that the increased proportion of the defense budget is mostly used to make up for inflation, improve the welfare of military personnel and logistics support. "Given the multiple security threats, the geo-political environment, the size of the territory, and per-capita expense, the Chinese defense expenditure is small by any yardstick," he added. He stressed that "China is gradually making progress in military transparency following the principles of trust, responsibility, security and equality". The annual Shangri-La Dialogue, named after the Singapore hotel at which the event has been held since its launch in 2002, and organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, opened on Friday. It gathered defense ministers and top officials from 26 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe to address major regional security issues and defense cooperation. Also at the meeting, the US and China turned down the heat on a dispute over Beijing's military build-up, with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates expressing optimism about future relations. Gates downplayed past US rhetoric on China's military might. "As we gain experience in dealing with each other, relationships can be forged that will build trust over time," Gates said. China Daily - Agencies
LOS ANGELES - More Chinese tourists are expected to visit the United States as new travel rules between the two nations are pending, a report said on Sunday.Southern California is a likely destination for middle- and upper-class visitors with money to spend, said the Los Angeles Times.Travels agencies are preparing for what they hope could be a boom in new Chinese tourism to the United States that is expected to occur next year.Both nations are finalizing a deal to ease entry restrictions and lift a ban in China on promoting travel to the United States, according to the paper.The negotiations have been going on for several years, but China's government news agencies and sources at the US Commerce Department said a deal should be completed within the next few weeks, said the paper.The new travel rules are expected to be a particular boom to Southern California, which already sees more Chinese tourists - 110,000 in Los Angeles County last year - than anywhere else in the United States. But travel officials expect that number to grow significantly if more members of China's emerging middle and upper classes are able to travel to the region for vacations.China's travel industry is currently prohibited from marketing the United States as a travel destination because of disputes over the strict entry process initiated after 9/11 - a reality that US officials blame on the need for national security and concerns about visitors overstaying their visas, said the paper.
The country's top religious affairs official has pledged to continue support for the printing and publication of the Bible, even as the religious text here hit a milestone of 50 million copies published.Ye Xiaowen"The country respects and protects religious freedom," said Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs."And China has become one of the countries publishing the largest number of Bibles in the world."Ye made the remarks at a ceremony to mark the publication of the country's 50 millionth complete Bible by the Amity Printing Company over the weekend in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.About 43 million copies of the Bible have been made for believers on the Chinese mainland, with copies in Braille and eight minority languages.The remaining 7 million were exported to more 60 countries and regions, mainly through a joint venture with the United Bible Societies (UBS) established in 1988.The accomplishment of 50 million Bibles is a major milestone in Bible publication in China, which satisfies the nationwide demand including those of the remote rural areas, UBS general secretary Rev Miller Milloy said at the ceremony.About 3 million copies of Bible have been rolling off the press annually in recent years, which forms the largest annual production by any Christian group, said the organization.Amity Foundation, the only one authorized in China to print the Bible, said there are 74 sales offices set up throughout the country for distributing the text."The printing company not only produces Bibles for Christians, it also donates its earnings to charity," said Bishop Kuang-hsun Ting, chair of the board of the Amity Foundation.Official statistics show that there were 16 million Christians in China by 1997 and the number is said to be growing, said Cao Shengjie, president of China Christian Council. The country also has 18 theological schools, with about 1,800 students.Ye gave the assurance at the ceremony that Chinese religious groups will provide help and service, including giving copies of the Bible to overseas athletes and tourists, during the Beijing Olympics 2008."The Amity Printing Company is well prepared to provide assistance to print copies of the Bible for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008," said Zhang Liwei, deputy secretary-general of the Amity Foundation.Li Zhanjun, director of the Beijing Olympics media center, also said earlier that a religious service center will be set up in the Olympic Village to offer services to Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and followers of other religions next summer.
China's work safety agency denied claims that current coal shortage was due to the closure of small, illegal pits."China is not short of coal as the country turned out 2.53 billion tons last year, a rise of 8.2 percent year on year. Output could jump by 3.3. percent this year", said Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).The campaign against the illegal collieries is aimed at those without production permits working under risky conditions. The shut-down of 11,155 small coal mines in the past two years means the elimination of that number of potential pit tragedies, said Huang in an online interview with www.ce.cn on Friday.Among the suspended collieries, 7,000 to 8,000 have merged with larger mines. The output of small coal mines still account for one thirds of the national total, or near 900 million tons, the same share before the reshuffle, said the spokesman.The current coal supply strain is temporary and regional, according to Huang.The heavy snow that has fallen since mid-January, the worst in 50 years in much of China, has paralyzed transportation, frozen the power grid and caused serious economic losses. Up to 17 provinces experienced blackouts in the snow-hit areas.Coal mines nationwide are urged to beef up production to ensure power coal supply in the disaster-hit regions.The government has also ordered the railway system giving top priority to power coal transport.Power supply and coal reserves continued to resume in China. Reserves of coal for power generation increased 800,000 tonnes to 25.2 million tonnes on Thursday, equaling 13 days' supply for the country's power plants, said the Disaster Relief and Emergency Command Center under the State Council on Friday night.