Mainland scholars join HK projects
The Chinese mainland and Hong Kong yesterday signed an agreement for a five-year program that will give mainland post-doctoral scholars the chance to participate in research projects in Hong Kong universities.
Under the deal announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the mainland will select 50 post-doctoral scholars for joint research projects every year from 2011 to 2014.
A ministry statement gave no details on which Hong Kong universities were involved in the program.
The statement said key areas for the program include bio-medicine, information technology, agriculture, new energy and advanced manufacturing.
For each two-year research project, the mainland will annually give each scholar 150,000 yuan (US$22,500) and HK$150,000 (US$20,000) to cover living and research expenses.--(12/20)
Pandas arrive safely in Macau
The central government has given two giant pandas to the Macau Special Administrative Region as a gift. Xin Xin and Kai Kai- combining their names means happy - arrived in Macau after taking a chartered flight from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. The pandas will be quarantined for at least a month and they also need time to adjust to the environment in Macau before the panda pavilion can open to the public. A team of keepers and veterinarians from the Chengdu base will stay in the special administrative region for at least six months to assist the local staff in caring for the animals. The Macau government has spent more than US$11 million to build the panda pavilion.--(12/19)
Steeling for bigger mill
China's Anshan Steel Group plans to take over a smaller mill in southeast China as it seeks to forge a steel major in the country.
Anshan Steel has applied to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for permission to acquire Sansteel Minguang from Fujian Sangang Group, Sansteel Minguang said in a statement filed to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange yesterday.
The acquisition will boost Anshan Steel's annual production capacity by 5 million tons.
The move also follows the government's call to consolidate the fragmented steel sector to create three to five steel giants to raise competitiveness and eliminate outdated production capacity.
Industry observers said the takeover may signal Anshan Steel is starting to consolidate the steel sector in Fujian Province and will increase production capacity in the region.
Anshan Steel, based in Liaoning Province, has already extended to the country's southwestern region by merging with Sichuan Province-based Pangang Group in late May.
The news of the planned takeover came a day after Panzhihua New Steel and Vanadium Co said it would swap its 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) of steel assets for parent Anshan Steel's iron ore and other mining assets, Panzhihua said in a statement late Thursday.--(12/18)
Cold front leaves, temperatures rise
Winter is likely to be officially announced today, despite the fact that the city should get a little warmer due to the departure of the latest strong cold front.
Today's temperatures are forecast to be between minus 2 degrees Celsius and 6, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. It should be the fifth consecutive day with an average temperature below 10 degrees, which means the city entered meteorological winter on Monday, according to the bureau's measuring system.
With fine weather, mostly sunny and cloudy, the temperature over the next few days should climb gradually and no snow is expected.
Locals should prepare for potentially foggy weather when the temperatures climb, the bureau added.
Due to the strong cold front, Shanghai was covered with snow and buffeted by strong gales over the past two days, which caused some disruption throughout the city.
A woman died while sitting outdoors in a residential area in Yangpu District on Wednesday evening.
A witness surnamed Zhang said the woman was sitting on the curbside of a greenery belt for a long time and was pronounced dead by an ambulance crew after worried residents had called the emergency services.
Yesterday afternoon, a two-year-old boy fell from a restaurant window on Zhongshan Road W. in Changning District, where he was trying to enjoy the view outside.
The boy was rushed to hospital and was still in critical condition.
Traffic returned to near normal yesterday morning, with no snow and lighter winds.
Expressways began to reopen in the morning with police cars guiding vehicles stuck in congestion. However, some ramps stayed closed because of ice.
More than 300 long-distance bus services at the city's two major bus hubs stopped services and 200 others suffered delays yesterday. Most services returned to normal in the afternoon.
Ships and vessels, stranded at sea or in city ports, were able to continue their journeys at 7am yesterday.
Nearly 40 international ships postponed their voyages on Wednesday night due to the high winds.
The city's two airports saw relatively smooth operations yesterday. On Wednesday, 47 flights were canceled and 221 others were delayed in total at the airports.
Local animals and plants have been struggling with the cold weather recently. Animals at the Shanghai Wildlife Park are encouraged to take part in more "sports" to keep warm.
Carnivores, such as lions and leopards, are not kept in heated enclosures, but are out on the fields as usual. The handlers said taking part in sports is good for their constitution.--(12/17)
Mixed signals for economy
Shanghai's economy sent out mixed signals as November's trade value surged to a new high, with inflation below the national level and moderated growth in retail sales.
The city's Consumer Price Index rose 4.3 percent on annual basis last month, led by a 10.9 percent surge in food costs, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday.
The country's inflation in November was 5.1 percent, a 28-month high.
Exports in Shanghai climbed 27.2 percent from a year earlier to US$17.1 billion last month, up from an 18.1 percent increase in October. Imports jumped 36.1 percent to US$17.4 billion, compared to a 27.6 percent gain in October.
It was the first time both exports and imports climbed above US$17 billion in the city.
"The sharp increase reflects robust demand here in Shanghai and in recovering external markets," said Wang Zehua, a bureau analyst.
In November, Shanghai's exports to Japan surged 39 percent from a year earlier while imports from the country expanded 37.1 percent.
However, Shanghai's retail sales in November slowed after the 184-day World Expo ended.
Retail sales grew 16.4 percent on an annual basis to 50.4 billion yuan (US$ 7.57 billion) last month, compared with a 19.2 percent increase in October.
"The slowing growth in consumption is because less tourists visited the city after the World Expo ended," Wang said.
However, Wang said retail sales will pick up as several holidays are on the horizon and stores will likely offer promotions and sales.
Shanghai's fixed-asset investment in the first 11 months decreased 4.9 percent from a year earlier to 461.9 billion yuan, the bureau said.
As the effects of the stimulus package fade, the city's spending on urban infrastructure construction plummeted 36.7 percent annually to 121 billion yuan in the January-November period, while investment in manufacturing dipped 1.9 percent.
The property sector bucked this trend. Funds swarming into the housing market gained 34.5 percent on an annual basis to 182.5 billion yuan through November, extending good growth momentum, according to the bureau.--(12/16)
Plan to renovate slum at Bund
Engineers are investigating whether they can save a sinking 100-year-old building near the Bund, after residents complained that they were living in a dangerous slum.
"We are planning to uplift the building's sunken foundations from the outside to help it stand straight again," said a manager surnamed Zhang with property management company Duanzheng Co.
Zhang expected the project would be a great challenge, and said no decision had yet been taken as engineers had to determine its feasibility.
It is feared that renovations might destroy the decrepit structure.
Over the past few months, engineers had drawn up proposals for the four-storey building on Zhongshan Road E2, but these were vetoed due to concerns about the building.
"The final plan will come out in the beginning of next year, otherwise we will tear the building down and rebuild another one for its residents," said Zhang.
Gangsi Building was built in 1910 to serve as dormitories for workers from a British ship company.
Later, Shanghai locals moved in, and now around 200 residents - mainly elderly people - live in 73 households there.
But the building is now suffering from serious subsidence, with noticeable tilting and wide cracks spreading along its walls.
Residents said their complaints fell on deaf ears until media reports about "slum conditions" on the doorstep of the wealth and glamor of the Bund brought action.
While householders yesterday expressed relief that work may soon begin to improve the building, many were sceptical that this may just be another empty talk from the property management company.
Recent temporary repairs have included fitting wooden supports to bolster the sinking building.
"They made similar promises before, saying the old building will be repaired after the World Expo, but repairs only meant temporary wooden supports," said a 60-year-old resident surnamed Liu.
"Now I don't buy their words until I see them taking some action."
Another resident, surnamed Pang, asked why, since Duanzheng Co was working on the project, it never asked residents for their opinions.
Duanzheng Co manager Zhang said the company did not inform residents as the company didn't want to disappoint them should provisional plans not proceed. He promised they would contact residents once these were finalized.--(12/15)
Expo sold 4.5 billion yuan of goods
During the World Expo from May 1 to October 31, retail outlets in the Expo site achieved 4.507 billion yuan (US$673 million) in sales, according to Shanghai Statistics Bureau.
Of the total, shops and restaurants run by the pavilions earned 1.251 billion yuan.
October saw the highest sales revenue of 847 million yuan while September had the lowest revenue of 613 million yuan.
By category, food and beverage accounted for the bulk part of the earnings, totaling 2.492 billion yuan. About 2.015 billion yuan was earned by 100 franchise stores and 155 souvenir stores.
Expo passports, Haibao toys, mobile phone accessories and souvenir pins were favorite commodities while special products, such as Belgian chocolate, French perfume and New Zealand milk powder were top sellers.--(12/14)
Line 9 goes east
Shanghai's Metro Line 9 will extend east to the Caolu Town in the Pudong New Area and link a station of the planned Shanghai-Nantong Railway, the city's urban planning authorities said. It gave no timescale.--(12/13)
CPI soars to 28-month high of 5.1%
China's Consumer Price Index surged to a 28-month high in November, rising 5.1 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
The main gauge of inflation beat the market's 4.8 percent expectation and followed a 4.4 percent jump in October.
Having anticipated a high rate, the central bank announced on Friday night the reserve requirement ratio for banks would be increased, freezing around 360 billion yuan (US$54 billion) to reduce liquidity.
"The sharp increase in the CPI is really unexpected," Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman for the bureau, said at a press conference in Beijing yesterday. Although he still contributed the bulk of the CPI's rise to higher food costs, he no longer said it was a structural type of inflation.
Food costs, which account for one-third of the CPI basket, rocketed 11.7 percent year-on-year last month, further picking up from 10.1 percent in October. The non-food sector accelerated 1.9 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from a month earlier.
Daily necessities have reported runaway price increases with fruit costs surging 28.1 percent, eggs 17.6 percent, cooking oil 14.3 percent and rice 11.7 percent.
"The government has ratcheted up its efforts to combat inflation," said Li Maoyu, an analyst at Changjiang Securities Co. "November's CPI figure may be the peak of this round of inflation, but the authorities can't loosen their grip over irregular price fluctuations, especially speculation."--(12/12)
Property prices up for 18th month
Urban property prices in China rose for the 18th consecutive month in November despite the fact that year-on-year growth has been decelerating for seven straight months.
Real estate prices in 70 major Chinese cities advanced 7.7 percent last month from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
Property prices across the country rose fastest in April at 12.8 percent but started to slow down in May.
Tightening measures announced by central government in mid April helped rein in property speculation to some extent and curbed prices. On a month-on-month basis, however, real estate prices edged up 0.3 percent in November, compared to a 0.2 percent gain in October.
"On the whole, the current rein-in policies are still far from effective to bring down housing prices and fail to meet public expectations though smaller growth has been registered over the past seven months," said Song Huiyong, a research director at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd.
"The market has so far remained stable in terms of home prices after two rounds of tightening measures - the first since mid April and the second since late September - and perhaps it is time for the government to introduce some new polices."
Across the country, prices of new and existing homes jumped 9.3 percent and 5.6 percent in November from a year earlier, compared with 10.6 and 5.9 percent increases in October.
In Shanghai, they rose 2.3 percent and 4.4 percent.
New-property sales continued to grow in the first 11 months. Between January and November, sales jumped 9.8 percent year on year to 825 million square meters, accelerating from a growth of 9.1 percent for the first 10 months. By value, they rose 17.5 percent to 4.23 trillion yuan, the bureau said.
In Shanghai, new-home prices climbed for the fifth consecutive month in November, with average new apartment prices reaching a record.
New homes, excluding those built for relocated residents under urban redevelopment plans, were sold for an average 22,468 yuan (US$3,373) per square meter across the city last month, up 2.5 percent from October, according to Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co.
The average price of new apartments reached 21,278 yuan per square meter, the highest in the city so far.--(12/11)
Bullet trains to run at 500kph by 2050
China's high-speed trains are expected to run at an operational speed of 500 kilometers per hour or above by 2050, an expert said in Beijing yesterday.
"We will own the technology to operate trains at 500kph by 2050," Zhang Shuguang, deputy chief engineer of the Railway Ministry, said at the seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail.
Zhang used his own experience on a train during a test run on the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway to prove his argument. During the run a week ago, a CRH-380A train set a world speed record of 486.1kph.
"The interaction between wheel and track did not increase obviously as speed picked up," Zhang said. "When it reached 450kph, I felt even better than at 400 kph. In 40 years, we will reach the goal of 500kph."--(12/10)
Shanghai's migrants on increase
Shanghai's migrant population is on the increase, while the number of babies being born is expected to remain stable, officials from the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.
About 5.42 million migrant people, around 28 percent of the local population, stayed in the city for over six months in 2009.
The figure by the end of last year was 0.8 percentage points higher than 2008, officials told a news briefing.
In 2009, Shanghai had 19.21 million residents, 328,600 more than in 2008.
"Shanghai is facing a growing population with a rising number of migrants and elderly people," said Xie Lingli, the commission's director. "The newborn population remains stable."
The number of babies born this year to city residents is estimated to be around 168,000 while the figure expected for 2011 is put at 170,000.
Last year, 3.16 million, or 22.54 percent of the local registered population, were 60 or older, a rise of 0.93 percentage points over 2008.
Officials said there will be amendments to the city's population regulations aimed at improving maternity services and increase the allowance paid to couples who have only one child.
Currently the monthly allowance for a couple with one child is just 5 yuan, a figure that hasn't changed for decades.
"The amendments are on next year's agenda of the Shanghai People's Congress," said commission spokesman Zhang Meixing.
"However, it will only renovate the clauses involving the reproductive service and bonus without touching key population policies," Zhang said.
He said the city government hadn't received any instructions from the central government about changing the current population policy, which strictly regulates couples eligible to have a second child - such as both spouses being from one-child families or the first child having a non-hereditary disability.
"The central government may do spot checks and studies concerning the current unhealthy population structure featuring a low birth rate and a growing number of the elderly," Zhang said. --(12/9)
Better GDP forecast helps index to end up
Shanghai's key stock index rose yesterday after a Chinese government think tank predicted a higher-than-expected economic growth, and also on gains made by metal producers and property developers.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.65 percent, or 18.68 points, to end at 2,875.86. Turnover was 111.2 billion yuan (US$16.7 billion), slightly higher than Monday's 110.8 billion yuan.
The gauge fell as much as 1.4 percent in the morning session as China Securities Journal cautioned over a possible interest rate hike ahead of the release of the Consumer Price Index for November.
But sentiment brightened after the China Academy of Social Science released its annual forecast of growth in China's gross domestic product next year at around 10 percent. Most organizations and analysts previously estimated economic growth to slow.
The academy also suggested raising the inflation target to 4 percent next year to increase farmers' income, absorb abundant liquidity and ease pressure for a yuan appreciation.
Gold miners extended previous gains after bullion prices hit a record US$1,426 per ounce on the New York market. Zijin Mining Group Co, China's largest gold producer, rose 5 percent to 8.85 yuan, and Shandong Gold Mining Co, the third biggest, climbed 5 percent to 57.93 yuan.
Jiangxi Copper Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, rose 2.4 percent to 36.92 yuan. Aluminum Corp of China added 1.1 percent to 10.27 yuan.
Poly Real Estate Co, China's second-largest property developer by market value, added 1.4 percent to 12.76 yuan after it said sales between January and November climbed 42 percent from a year earlier.--(12/8)
China set to lead the world in innovation
China is set to become the world's most important center for innovation by 2020, overtaking both the United States and Japan, according to a survey released yesterday.
China is already the world's second-largest economy, after establishing itself as the global workshop for manufacturing. Now it wants to lead in invention as well.
Today, the US ranks as the world's most innovative country, with 30 percent of those surveyed taking that view, followed by Japan on 25 percent and China on 14 percent.
Fast-forward 10 years, though, and 27 percent of people think China will be top dog, followed by India with 17 percent, the US 14 percent and Japan 12 percent, according to the survey of 6,000 people in six countries by drug maker AstraZeneca.--(12/7)
Reserve ratio may increase
China may raise banks' reserve requirement ratio at the start of next year to curb capital inflow and control lending rates, central bank adviser Li Daokui has said.
Interest rates will be raised gradually in 2011 and policy makers will also study global economic conditions, Li said on Friday.
His comments came after the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's Political Bureau said it would shift from a relatively loose to a prudent monetary policy to fight inflation and curb excessive liquidity.
The People's Bank of China raised lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points in October, the first time since 2007. It also raised banks' reserve ratio twice in November to a record level of 18.5 percent to tackle inflation.
"The prudent monetary policy will help ensure a more healthy and consistent economic growth in China as inflation remains high and liquidity is more than abundant," said Xia Bin, director of the Finance Institute under the State Council's Development Research Center.
"The 'prudent monetary policy' suggested growth of money supply will slow in 2011 and an interest rate hike is possible in the near future," the Securities Daily said over the weekend, citing Wang Jian, secretary general of macroeconomic studies at the National Development and Reform Commission.
Li also urged that more of China's large amount of savings be introduced into the capital market to avoid systematic financial risks and to foster the capital market.
"Right now, we shall address the problem by shifting from the loose monetary policy, slowing the growth rate of money supply and expanding investment channels," Li told People's Daily.--(12/6)
Winter just waiting to pounce
Winter is getting closer. A strong cold front is forecast to hit Shanghai next week, bringing temperatures as low as 3 degrees Celsius.
The current, milder cold front led to a high of just 13.6 degrees yesterday, 6 degrees lower than the day before.
Temperatures in the city are expected to plunge by 8 to 10 degrees in the 48 hours from tomorrow afternoon, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said. Temperatures will fall from Monday's 9 degrees to 3 degrees on Wednesday, and freezing point in the suburbs, the bureau said.
The cold front could also bring rain tomorrow afternoon and on Monday morning, the bureau added.
"The temperature dropping should be fierce, which may easily trigger diseases like cold, respiratory and cardiac conditions," the bureau said yesterday.
Today, however, should be sunny with temperatures from 8 to 17 degrees. Tomorrow, before the temperature starts to fall, should be warmer, cloudy to drizzly, with a low of 12 degrees and a high of 19, the bureau said.
It is unclear if the city will officially enter winter next week despite the low temperatures, said Zhang Ruiyi, a chief service officer of the bureau.
Winter arrives when the average temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius for five consecutive days. The first day of the five is regarded as the beginning of the new season.
Next Friday, however, is forecast to be warmer so, despite how cold you might feel earlier in the week. Winter, officially, may not be here for some time yet.--(12/4)
Fog disrupts transportation
Fog enveloped the city and severely disrupted traffic early yesterday morning, but the temperature rose rapidly as the day wore on, reaching nearly 20 degrees Celsius, weatherman said.
Continuous foggy days have given rise to more respiratory disease symptoms among locals, doctors said yesterday.
The heavy fog started on Wednesday evening and led to the bureau issuing a yellow fog alert.
More than 25,000 passengers have been affected since Wednesday, with flights delayed or canceled at Pudong International Airport.
More than 10 international flights were redirected to Hongqiao International Airport yesterday for landing.
Water traffic was also affected as fog shrouded the mouth of the Yangtze River. Ferry services to Chongming Island were halted Wednesday and did not resume until 11am yesterday.
More than 100 vessels were delayed entering or leaving city ports yesterday as navigation channels were closed.
At Waigaoqiao Port, the city's major gateway for shipping, swarms of ships left yesterday at 10am as the fog lifted. The port emptied within an hour, said port authorities.
The fog lifted early yesterday after the sun came out and the yellow alert was lifted at 5:15am, the bureau said.
Foggy weather should not occur today due to a new cold front arriving, but it could return on Sunday, said Li Jinyu, a chief service officer at the?bureau.
Temperatures rose quickly yesterday and hit 19.6 degrees Celsius in the afternoon, which is unusually high for December, weatherman said. The last time the high was around 20 degrees in December was almost two years ago, at 20.5 degrees in 2008.
However, the warm weather should not last long as the next cold front is arriving in town today, bringing a low of 8 degrees. It is to be colder tomorrow with a low of 7 in urban areas and 5 in the suburbs.
Medical experts have advised people, especially children, the elderly and those with respiratory and cardiac conditions, to take extra care during foggy weather and be mindful of the frequent fluctuations in temperature.
The number of children with asthma and other severe respiratory problems admitted to hospital doubled in some areas.
The Shanghai Children's Medical Center received over 3,800 outpatients yesterday. About 65 percent of them children with respiratory problems.
"The period of late autumn and early winter is always the peak season for diseases like cold, fever and allergic diseases," said Xia Lin, an official with the center.--(12/3)
Shanghai's housing prices 2nd-highest
Shanghai posted the second-highest average housing price in the country and saw rapid annual price gains in November when average prices in 100 major Chinese cities edged up 0.82 percent from a month earlier to 8,487 yuan (US$1,267) per square meter, a report said yesterday.
Shanghai's average housing price was 23,333 yuan per square meter last month, following Shenzhen's 24,601 yuan, according to the China Real Estate Index System Statistics Study released yesterday by China Index Academy.
Shanghai's average price rose relatively fast on an annual basis, with a gain of 37.2 percent. The monthly increase was 0.4 percent.
The nationwide growth in average housing prices last month accelerated slightly from a 0.66 percent rise in October. Of the 100 cities, only 14 saw housing prices fall on a monthly basis while the remaining 86 experienced price rises of up to 2.5 percent.
The price rise came despite several tightening policies introduced by the government from mid-April to clamp down on property speculation.
For example, the China Securities Regulatory Commission has shelved approval for merger applications from property developers to rein in their capital flow.
It has also halted fundraising plans by developers.--(12/2)
Traffic control for marathon
Ttaffic on both sides of the Huangpu River, including the tunnel, will face restrictions on Sunday during the 2010 Toray Cup Shanghai International Marathon, police said.
The race starts at Century Plaza on Nanjing Road E. and ends at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center near the World Expo site in the Pudong New Area.
The race, from 7:30am to 1pm, follows the route of Nanjing Road E., Zhongshan Road E1, Fuxing Road E., Fuxing Road Tunnel, Pudong Road S., Yaohua Road, Yaolong Road, Longbin Road, Linpu Road and Huaxia Road W.
These roads will be closed temporarily.--(12/1)