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  • Recalled cooking oil not found in Shanghai
    The cooking oil that has been recalled in southern China's Guangdong Province, which is suspected of containing high doses of a carcinogenic mildew, is hardly found in the Shanghai market, local officials said yesterday.
    The mildew, aflatoxin, has aroused nationwide concern after it was found in the milk products of a popular dairy.
    The recall covers cooking oil produced by three companies in Guangdong Province ! Fusheng Oil, Manyi Peanut Oil and Mabao Oil ! that contains excessive levels of aflatoxin, officials with the Guangdong Province Bureau of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said yesterday.
    The three brands, however, are rarely seen in Shanghai, the city's authorities said. The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said it inspected the cooking oil sold in Shanghai this summer, and all 19 batches inspected passed the test.
    According to a report by the Xinhua news agency yesterday, the questioned companies' factories in Guangdong were ordered to suspend operations, their storage facilities were closed and their licenses were revoked as authorities continued the investigation. It was not immediately known how much of the three companies' tainted products entered the market, said Xinhua.
    Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that commonly grows on crops such as grains and peanuts. High levels of the toxin harms the liver and may lead to cancer in some animals. It is listed as a Class A carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
    The mildew recently caught the nation's attention after it was found in high doses in dairy products from the popular Mengniu Dairy Group.
    An investigation showed that the contamination was caused by mildewed feed given to cows in the dairy's plant in southwest Sichuan Province.
    Mengniu on Monday issued an online public apology but insisted that the problem was discovered before the tainted milk entered the market.
    It said the questioned products had all been sealed and destroyed. --(12/30)

  • Yuan rate to be increasingly flexible
    China will continue to push for an increasingly flexible yuan exchange rate and boost domestic consumption, a foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday after the United States Treasury declined to name China as a currency manipulator.
    Since June last year, the yuan exchange rate had become increasingly flexible, spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.
    China's foreign trade is balanced overall and the percentage of trade surplus to GDP is declining, he said.
    The nation's current account surplus has been dropping as a percentage of GDP, according to official figures.
    In the first three quarters of this year, the surplus was 3 percent of GDP, compared to 5.1 percent in the same period of last year.
    'China is going to continue to increase flexibility in the yuan exchange rate and encourage domestic consumption,' Hong said.
    In its semi-annual report to Congress on the currency policies of major trading partners, the US Treasury said the yuan was still undervalued although it did not label China as a currency manipulator.
    The Treasury said that with China's US$3.2 trillion foreign exchange reserves and current account surplus, 'the real exchange rate of the renminbi is persistently misaligned and remains substantially undervalued.' In recent years, the US has been putting pressure on China to make the yuan exchange rate more flexible.
    Some US politicians argued that the yuan's undervalued exchange rate gave Chinese exports an unfair advantage in overseas markets.
    The report pointed the finger at Japan, however, for stepping into the currency market to stem the yen's rise and urged South Korea to use such interventions sparingly, Reuters said.
    The Treasury criticized Tokyo for its solo yen-selling interventions in August and October that followed a joint G7 action in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake.
    'In contrast to the post-earthquake joint G7 intervention in March, the United States did not support these interventions,' the Treasury said, adding that Japan should pursue reforms to revive its domestic economy rather than try to influence the exchange rate.
    The US had a US$273 billion trade deficit with China last year.
    The US Senate passed a bill this year that would require US government to impose penalties on Chinese imports if it did not adopt market-based exchange rates. If the bill is approved, some are concerned there might be a trade war between the two countries.
    But the Treasury report shows the US government prefers dialogue, and not confrontation, with its second largest trading partner.
    'The Treasury will closely monitor the pace of yuan appreciation and press for policy changes that yield greater exchange-rate flexibility, a level playing field, and a sustained shift to domestic-led growth, it said.
    The report follows the US administration's push for a stronger yuan. Last month, US President Barack Obama urged China to speed up currency reform.
    The value of the yuan has risen 4 percent against the US dollar this year and 7.7 percent since China dropped a firm peg against the greenback in June 2010. --(12/29)

  • China begins trials of its own satellite navigation system
    China began trial operations of its home-produced navigation system yesterday with more than 100,000 people, including fishermen, bus drivers, emergency workers and military personnel using the Beidou Navigation Satellite System.
    Currently, China and its military mostly rely on the United States' dominant Global Positioning System network.
    The Beidou system currently consists of 10 satellites and has an accuracy of about 25 meters, said Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation System Management Office.
    China is the third country after the United States and Russia to have an independent satellite navigation system in operation.
    'Without a controllable satellite navigation system, a country's economy and social development will lack a reliable safeguard,' Ran said.
    The accuracy of Beidou, which means the Big Dipper in Chinese, will be improved to around 10 meters, almost the same as GPS, by the end of next year after six more satellites are put into orbit. By then, the service will cover most of the Asia Pacific region, Ran said.
    The system will eventually have more than 30 satellites, he said. The GPS system has 24 working satellites and three backups.
    Beidou is expected to provide a global service to the public by 2020 and it will be used in areas such as engineering monitoring, fishing, meteorology, traffic management and rescue missions, in addition to its navigation service.
    'I would like to make an official promise that the global services from Beidou will be free,' Ran said at a press conference in Beijing.
    Compared with the satellite navigation systems developed by the US (GPS), Russia (Glonass) and Europe's Galileo system, which is being developed, Beidou is the only one that also offers telecommunication services.
    Apart from giving users location and time information, Beidou can also send users' information to other people and communicate with users via text messages, which will be helpful especially during rescue work, said Ran.
    'China has always been working hard to make the Beidou system compatible with the other three major satellite navigation systems in the world to provide a more reliable navigation service with better quality to world users,' Ran said.
    He said that as the world's earliest navigation system, GPS is the most advanced and mature.
    The Glonass system from Russia has the strongest ability to resist interference, while the Galileo system will eventually have the greatest accuracy.
    China began to build a satellite navigation system to break its dependence on the US system in 2000 when it sent two satellites into orbit as an experiment. It launched the first Beidou satellite in April 2007 and the 10th early this month.
    'We have been promoting the use of the Beidou navigation system in various economic and social sectors since 2000,' Ran said.
    The system has been widely used in transportation, marine fisheries, hydrological monitoring, weather forecasting and disaster mitigation.
    Over 1,000 Beidou terminals were used in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, providing information from the earthquake area.
    It was used during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo to pinpoint traffic congestion and supervise venues.
    Recent examples include the Ministry of Transport developing a terminal to use the Beidou navigation in its monitoring of shuttle buses, tourist chartered buses and vehicles carrying dangerous goods, Ran said.
    Guangdong Province has also used Beidou to monitor the use of government vehicles to prevent private use.
    The US is currently the dominant provider of navigation services for vehicles in China, with its GPS system used in 95 percent of the country's navigation market. --(12/28)

  • Shanghai exhibition center to be among the world's largest
    Shanghai began construction of what will be one of the world's largest exhibition facilities yesterday.
    The China Expo Convention & Exhibition Complex will have 400,000 square meters of indoor space and 100,000 square meters of outdoor areas ! double the size of the Shanghai New International Expo Center, currently the city's largest exhibition facility.
    Commerce Minister Chen Deming and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng yesterday witnessed the inauguration of China Expo Co Ltd, which will manage the construction and operation of the new complex.
    'It will become a very competitive exhibition entity, and help to accelerate Shanghai's pace to become a global trading center,' said Wang Zhiping, president of China Expo Co Ltd.
    Located in Qingpu District in the Hongqiao Business Park, the new complex is expected to be finished in five years and will then host important events such as the China International Industry Fair and the Shanghai International Automobile Exhibition.
    It will also aim to promote close connections between foreign and domestic businesses.
    Shanghai Vice Mayor Ai Baojun said the new complex will strengthen the city's position as a global exhibition center.
    'Shanghai has established a good reputation in the exhibition industry after successfully hosting the World Expo 2010. The new facility will further bolster our strength,' Ai said.
    Shanghai's renting rate among exhibition sites is up to 60 percent, far above the nation's average of 25 percent and the world's 35 percent, Ai said.
    Under the city's Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for the industry, Shanghai aims to double the size of its exhibition space to 15 million square meters by 2015, and devote 80 percent of the area to hosting international fairs.
    Also yesterday, Shanghai announced the establishment of the Shanghai International Technology Exchange Center and opened the China International Trading Center Platform by launching, a portal to serve traders.
    The technology exchange center in the Hongqiao Business Park aims to spur trading of technology through promoting information collection, resources integration, professional training, rule familiarization and global collaboration in technology exchanges.
    Last year, China's trade in technology was worth US$40.1 billion, or 1.35 percent of total trade value, according to the Ministry of Commerce, and there is huge potential of more technology exchanges with overseas markets, the ministry said.
    The trading center platform is expected to become the country's authoritative portal to promote trade. --(12/27)

  • Index may struggle as no sharp rally seen
    Shanghai's stock index may struggle this week to touch the 2,300-point level in the last trading week of the year as observers rule out a sharp rebound after the market suffered seven consecutive weeks of losses.
    They cited the general weak sentiment, a lack of positive news and most investors tending to stay away from the market as the year end nears for their not so rosy optimism.
    The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9 percent on Friday to end at 2,204.78, the first rise in a week, trimming last week's loss to 0.9 percent. The index gained on Friday because of speculation the government may ease monetary policies and relax curbs on the property market to prevent the economy from slowing further.
    Southwest Securities analyst Zhang Gang is more optimistic that the index will test 2,300 this week. He also said year-end window dressing, a common practice by fund managers and other institutions to boost portfolio, may help support the index.
    But Minsheng Securities analyst Wu Chunhua said slower growth in earnings of state-owned enterprises and exports signaled the economy may get worse.
    Observers cautioned about the railway sector. CSR Corp, China's biggest tran maker, may face pressure today after Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu said on Friday rail building will be cut further next year on rising concerns over debts and safety issues. --(12/26)

  • Wide use of new Internet system eyed
    China targets to adopt the large-scale commercial use of the next-generation Internet system by 2015 after putting it on trial in 2013.
    The next-generation Internet system, which greatly expands the capability of Internet Protocol address and improves Internet access speed, will create some globally competitive high-tech firms as well as boost the Internet economy, which in turn creates employment and fuels the domestic economy, according to a statement issued yesterday by the State Council, China's Cabinet.
    The new technology, called IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), is an upgrade of the current IPv4 whose IP addresses are about to be all used up.
    The new IPv6 technology opens up a pool of Internet addresses that are a billion to trillion times larger than the total pool of IPv4 addresses and are virtually inexhaustible for the foreseeable future, experts said.
    The IPv4 was developed in the early 1980s and has a capacity of just more than 4 billion IP addresses.
    The new IPv6 network bandwidth can reach 2.5-10 gigabytes per second, 100 times faster than the current Internet.
    The government's plan is for China, the world's biggest Internet market with about 500 million online users, to try out commercial use of the system on a small scale by the end of 2013 before expanding it in 2014 and 2015.
    Chinese companies are also encouraged to develop new technologies, such as cloud computing, Internet of Things and Three Network Convergence, on the new IPv6 network.
    Since 2004, the IPv6 networks have been built in some research organizations in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou for testing. --(12/24)

  • Fivefold rise in capital for foreign banks
    Foreign banks in Shanghai have seen their total capital surge more than fivefolds in the past 10 years to 1 trillion yuan (US$158 billion) by the end of October as they tapped the opening-up of China's economy since the country joined the World Trade Organization.
    The banks' bad loan ratio has also dipped to 0.33 percent during the same period, the Shanghai branch of the China Banking Regulatory Commission said yesterday.
    'Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the development of foreign banks in Shanghai has fully revealed the positive effects of opening-up,' the statement said. 'The banks' business, clients and services have all made a great leap forward. Their operation is generally healthy, and their localization is increasing. They have merged into the economy.'
    The HSBC, Bank of East Asia, Standard Chartered, Citigroup and Mizuho Corporate Bank (China) Ltd, has each exceeded 100 billion yuan in capital.
    The CBRC encourages foreign banks to tap their strengths and differentiate themselves from their Chinese counterparts to ride the growing market. --(12/23)

  • Names on train tickets
    The Shanghai Railway Bureau said yesterday it would extend its policy of requiring names on tickets to all train services, fast and slow, by next year, a way to curb ticket scalping.
    Bullet trains were the first to enforce the policy, starting in June this year. Foreigners can buy tickets with their passports, temporary residence permits, exit-entry permits, and diplomatic certificates. --(12/21)

  • Shanghai haven for foreigners
    Shanghai has the largest population of foreign nationals among all domestic cities and provinces in China, with about 143,200 expat residents living in the city, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau announced yesterday.
    Nearly one in every four foreign residents in the country lives in Shanghai, according to the sixth national census conducted in November 2010.
    Shanghai is home to a total of 208,300 overseas residents, which adds people from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to the foreign nationals population. That is second only to Guangdong Province.
    The overseas population accounts for nearly 1 percent of the city's total residents ! 23.02 million people.
    Last year marked the first time that China included overseas residents in the national census.
    'More and more overseas residents are attracted to move to Shanghai, an international economic hub, since the economic crisis in 2008,' said Ren Yuan, professor at Fudan University's School of Social Development and Public Policy.
    He said overseas residents accounted for only about 0.56 percent of the city's population 10 years ago, according to one of his studies.
    Pudong New Area, Changning District and Minhang District have the greatest number of overseas residents living in international communities, according to the bureau.
    The top three home countries of foreign residents in Shanghai are Japan, the United States and South Korea, as most foreign residents come from developed countries, not developing nations.
    More than 60 percent of expats in Shanghai are engaged in jobs which demand great skills or managerial experience, according to the census.
    'The city sees few labor immigrants from overseas as domestic migrant workers fill the vacancies in the labor-intensive industries,' Ren said.
    'The overseas residents and migrant workers make up for the structural labor shortage of the city,' he added.
    With more foreign people coming to the city, cross-border marriages are increasing. About one fifth of the 110,000 overseas households are based on cross-border marriages, in which one spouse is not from Chinese mainland.
    Meanwhile, more than half of the overseas households are single-person households. Most overseas residents are young or middle-aged people, and the average age of the overseas resident is 33.
    More than 50 percent of overseas people come to the city to work or do business while about 20 percent come to study. The rest visit relatives, immigrate to the city or come for other purposes. --(12/20)

  • Winter's blast on the way again
    While the mercury is set to creep up during the first half of the week, it may drop to below freezing in the second half, weather forecasters said yesterday.
    After a chilly morning yesterday ! when the minimum temperature dipped to minus 0.5 degrees Celsius ! today should be warmer and sunny.
    Temperatures will range between 3 and 11 degrees, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
    Rain is expected tomorrow and Wednesday and the milder weather will continue, with high temperatures of 10 to 11 degrees and lows of 6 degrees.
    Chilly weather is set to return on Thursday, with the arrival of a cold front over Shanghai. The high is expected to drop to around 5 to 7 degrees, while the low could dip below freezing, forecasters said.
    Cold yet fine weather is forecast for the winter solstice on Thursday, when it is predicted some 2 million people will visit family graves in cemeteries in suburban areas and surrounding provinces.
    According to Chinese tradition, this date is most auspicious for burying the ashes of family members.
    Many people visit family tombs around this time to pay their respects.
    Local police will use helicopters to patrol the skies around major cemeteries to support traffic officers. Helicopter crews will also liaise with local medical centers to deal with any emergencies.
    Fire is a particular hazard during this time as many people visiting cemeteries burn paper offerings for deceased family members, said police.
    Traffic police said more than 310,000 people visited cemeteries yesterday, which did not cause much congestion.
    As the solstice falls on a workday, Thursday's cemetery visits are likely to make morning rush-hour traffic condition worse, said officers. --(12/19)

  • Car plate supply dips, prices surge
    Car plate prices rebounded sharply to more than 51,000 yuan (US$8,035) in Shanghai yesterday as supply dropped in the last auction of the year.
    The average price for a license plate rose to 51,437 yuan at this month's auction, up 3,802 yuan from November, auction organizer Shanghai Commodity International Co said.
    The lowest price increased 5,300 yuan to 51,000 yuan this month.
    After climbing for 10 months, car plate prices unexpectedly fell in November, tempting bargain hunters to try their luck at yesterday's auction. The number of bidders jumped 30 percent from last month to 26,531, the second most this year after 30,675 participated in January.
    The city offered 8,500 car licenses this month, 500 less than in November.
    "Many bidders considered the price dip last month as the turning point for the price increase," said Zhuang Qiang, a Guangzhou Honda dealer. He said the traditional year-end sales boom also pushed up demand for plates and created more competition.
    The price rebound prompted some vehicle traders to hoard car plates on the second-hand market in expectation of further rises.
    A car plate on the second-hand market is now at least 53,000 yuan, according to dealers.
    The average price for a car plate in Shanghai was 48,524 yuan this year. A total of 103,500 car plates were auctioned this year.
    Shanghai is the only city in China to offer car plates through a monthly auction to control the number of vehicles on the streets.
    Owners can register vehicles in other provinces for less money, but they face traffic restrictions in Shanghai.
    The next car plate auction will be on January 7.
    It was moved up due to Chinese New Year, which falls on January 23 in 2012. --(12/18)

  • Winter's warmer
    The city can expect sunshine and some cloud over the weekend, with temperatures up a few degrees on recent days, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau yesterday. Today is forecast sunny, with a high of 7 degrees Celsius. Tomorrow should be cloudy, with a low of 3 degrees and a high of 9. Cloud and drizzle are forecast for next week. --(12/17)

  • Bridge across Yangtze River to benefit business, travelers
    A new bridge expressway running across the Yangtze River will open to traffic before the end of this month, providing a boost to economic development for Shanghai and Qidong and other cities in neighboring Jiangsu Province.
    The Chongming-Qidong Bridge link will enable significantly shortened driving time between Shanghai and Qidong and will work as an express gateway to boost logistics and travels, said local government officials.
    The 52-kilometer bridge complex starts from Shanghai's Chongming Island, runs across the Yangtze River and ends at the coastal city of Qidong in Jiangsu. The road will connect to the local Yangtze River Tunnel Bridge expressway that runs between the Pudong New Area and Chongming and Changxing islands.
    The new link means a drive from downtown Shanghai to Qidong and some nearby Jiangsu cities will be cut to around one hour, less than one-third the current time needed.
    The logistics industry and provincial travelers will benefit from the link across the Yangtze.
    For example, Shanghai's container ports in Pudong will be only about 35 minutes' drive away from Qidong.
    It will also benefit air travelers heading from Jiangsu to Pudong International Airport.
    A drive from Qidong to the Pudong airport will take only 45 minutes, officials said.
    Nine provincial coach buses running between Shanghai and Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong provinces will change their current routes to use the bridge link. Travelers can expect their trips to be reduced by hours.
    The link is also expected to attract more Shanghai tourists to Qidong, a city with rich coastal attractions such as a thriving fishing industry and seafood businesses.
    Improved traffic will also propel the development of Shanghai's ocean machinery industry, centered on Changxing Island, and attract more tourists to Chongming Island.
    Alongside praise for the new link, concerns have been raised that the road could jeopardize the natural wetland environment of Chongming Island because of the increased traffic and people.
    The island features precious wetlands and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including migratory birds. Driving down a highway alongside peaceful wetlands might be enjoyable to the drivers but could be disasters to the plants and animals affected, people argued.
    At least 20,000 vehicles a day, mainly cargo trailers, are expected to use the island highway during the early stages, and the number will gradually increase. But officials said efforts have been made via the road's design to reduce its environmental footprint.
    Officials said the planned toll charge will be 0.6 yuan per kilometer on the bridge ! equal to the rate on other local expressways. The project cost about 8.2 billion yuan. --(12/16)

  • Slumping index ends down for fifth day
    Shanghai's stock market yesterday fell for the fifth consecutive day after China indicated there were no plans to ease its monetary policy.
    The Shanghai Composite Index, erasing an early rebound, fell 0.9 percent to close 2,228.53 points, the lowest level in 33 months.
    China will maintain a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy in 2012, said an official statement released yesterday on conclusion of the three-day Central Economic Work Conference in Beijing, as the country pledged to seek faster economic restructuring based on stable growth and stable inflation.
    'The tone of next year's monetary policy has upset investors, as China will still focus on macro-economic controls and stabilizing consumer prices,' said Wang Xuan, an investment manager with Changjiang Securities. 'Some disappointed investors opted for selling in the afternoon session, resulting in a faster slump in the index.'
    Conference Board said in a report yesterday that the risk of a more substantive slowdown in China's economic growth is rising amid deteriorating external conditions and domestic real estate tightening.
    Property developers and banks were weak. Poly Real Estate Group, China's second-largest developer by market value, declined 2.1 percent to 9.38 yuan (US$1.47). The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell 1 percent to 4.11 yuan.
    Power plants outperformed after recent increase in electricity tariff and a cap over coal prices. SDIC Huajing Power Holdings Co rose 2 percent to 5.64 yuan. --(12/15)

  • New international school planned
    A new international school is planned for Yangpu District amid the growing number of expat residents there, officials said yesterday.
    The new school will be built in the Jiangwan area by 2015, according to the latest five-year development plan issued by the district. The new private school will adopt an international curriculum and admit mostly foreign students although it will be open to a few Chinese students.
    The district currently has no international school specifically for expat children. The international departments of high schools are too small to meet the market.
    Shanghai has 32 international kindergartens, schools or departments designed for foreign students. Most are in suburban areas. The downtown area is in urgent need of international schools.
    Rather than erecting new international schools, the education authorities prefer to encourage expat students to attend schools with local students to learn Chinese language and culture.
    More foreign students are coming along with their parents amid the city's increasing need for overseas elites. More than 23,500 foreign students were studying in Shanghai kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in 2009, the latest information available. --(12/7)

  • Schedule of holidays for 2012 released(12/07)
    People need to work only 17 days next month thanks to the New Year's Day holiday and the Spring Festival holiday. Moreover, the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday will overlap next year to form an eight-day holiday.
    The State Council yesterday released this calendar for public holidays in 2012:
    New Year's Day holiday break will run from January 1-3, but people need to work on December 31 (Saturday).
    Spring Festival holiday will run from January 22-28, but January 21 (Saturday) and January 29 (Sunday) will be made working days to compensate for the long holiday.
    Qingming Festival will be April 2-4 with March 31 (Saturday) and April 1 (Sunday) as working days.
    The Labor Day holiday will run from April 29 to May 1 with April 28 (Saturday) as the working day.
    Dragon Boat Festival break will be from June 22-24.
    Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday will overlap next year from September 30 to October 7 ! eight days in total.
    But people will be required to work on September 29 (Saturday) to make up for it.--(12/7)

  • Police seizing grossly overloaded school buses
    2011 City police said they caught two illegal school buses overloading kindergarten students in the suburban Minhang District yesterday.
    One vehicle, with seven seats, was packed with 19 people while the other, a bus with 17 seats, carried 30 people, said the district police.
    The two vehicles were confiscated by the police and the two kindergartens, not identified, were asked to stop the illegal school bus operation.
    Shanghai police intensified checks and inspections on the city's school buses after a school bus crash in northwest China's Gansu Province on November 16 killed 21 people, 19 of them kindergarten students. The nine-seat minivan was carrying more than 60 people, mostly children from the kindergarten.
    Shanghai's Songjiang District police said that by the end of last month, they had confiscated 15 vehicles for overloading students. Most of them were hired by parents to send their children to school, police said.
    Similar cases were found in the Pudong New Area, police said.
    A 17-seat bus was found with 43 students on Lianggang Avenue near Dongda Highway on November 16, police said. The driver of the bus was fined and ordered to contact the school to send more cars to carry the students.
    Five days later, on November 21, another bus was found overloading in Pudong. The 42-seat bus was found packed with 70 people and the driver did not have a school bus license, according to police.
    On the same day, a sedan with five seats was caught while taking 10 people in the same area, police said. Also on that day, a 28-seat bus of a primary school was found loading 51 people on Jielong No.1 Road, police said.
    Education authorities said a regulation concerning school safety will be enforced next year.--(12/6)

  • Carrefour buses crippled
    The shuttle bus operations of Shanghai's Carrefour supermarkets were paralyzed yesterday morning after more than half of its fleet was sabotaged and could not be started.
    Shanghai police later caught a man surnamed Wu, who allegedly organized three other people to damage the buses, police said.
    Wu was a former partner of the contractor of Carrefour's shuttle bus operation and had an economic dispute with the latter, police said.
    Wu had confessed that he and his accomplices damaged 46 shuttle buses of Carrefour on Friday night, 44 of which had been confirmed, police said. The case was still being investigated last night.
    The breakdown was reported about 9am when Carrefour's shuttle buses could not be started.
    The shuttle buses at nine Carrefour supermarkets, mostly in the city's Baoshan and Minhang districts and the Pudong New Area, were affected. The supermarket had to dispatch buses from other stores to support the paralyzed lines.
    Automobile leasing service company Shanghai Haison, the shuttle bus contractor for Carrefour, found a circuit on the buses were cut off maliciously. Carrefour and Shanghai Haison soon called the police.
    The operation was restored by noon after emergency repairs, according to Carrefour. The supermarket also apologized to its customers for the inconvenience.--(12/4)

  • Wind to provide 3% of power
    Wind will provide 3 percent of China's electricity by 2015, doubling from the current level, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said yesterday.
    Power generated from wind turbines may reach 190 billion kilowatt-hours in 2015 in China, or 3 percent of the nation's total electricity, Shi Yubo, vice chairman of the SERC, said yesterday in Beijing. Wind output was 58.3 billion kWh in the first 10 months of this year, or 1.5 percent of total.
    China's wind market has doubled its accumulated installed capacity annually between 2005 and 2009. Last year, the country added another 18.9 gigawatts, bringing the total to 44.7GW and surpassed the United States as the nation with the biggest installed capacity.
    But citing tighter approval rules for wind projects and rising debts of wind farms, analysts said annual installation may have peaked in 2010.
    Industry officials have said the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, is consolidating project approval from local governments to cool the heady growth and also allow more time to work out problems connecting newly-installed turbines to power grids.
    An SERC report released yesterday said China's grid-connected wind capacity totaled 39.24GW as of August. Shi of the SERC forecast the capacity to reach 100GW by 2015.
    To reach that goal is not easy, Shi Lishan, vice director of the renewable energy department of the National Energy Administration under the NDRC, said on Thursday in Shanghai.
    "In the past, the problem was that we didn't have the equipment. Now the problems are grid connections and (stable) operations, as well as market constraints," the NDRC's Shi said.
    The SERC report also said China's exploitable land-based wind resources are 2,380GW, and offshore resources at 200GW, citing a survey by the China Meteorological Administration. These estimates differ from previous industry projections, which put exploitable wind potential offshore at 750GW.--(12/3)

  • Fudan opts out of joint pre-admission test
    Shanghai's Fudan University announced yesterday that it is pulling out of an alliance of top institutions setting pre-admission exams to prospective students.
    Fudan's decision to break with the "Peking University-led enrollment alliance" follows Nankai University in Tianjin opting out of the exam.
    Under this, students sit one exam and then, depending on their performance, may receive several offers, from which they can choose one.
    Instead, Fudan will offer its own independent enrollment next year.
    University enrollment alliances appeared last year to complement the college entrance exam - previously the only means of determining places - under higher education reforms.
    Universities specializing in similar areas can band together to offer a pre-admission test.
    These have become of great importance to many high school students as they can earn extra credits when applying for the universities in the alliance.
    The "Peking University-led enrollment alliance" features liberal arts colleges, while the "Tsinghua University-led enrollment alliance" covers science and engineering institutions.
    Parents and students have complained that the alliance, which was supposed to offer more choices, has burdened students with more exams.
    Now Fudan has decided to allow domestic high schools to directly recommend their students for enrollment interviews next year.
    No written exams will be held, with admission depending wholly on students' resumes and interview performances.
    Xiong Bingqi, vice dean of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said it is natural for the alliance to break up amid competition for the best students.
    However, some parents fear the resume and interview approach adopted by Fudan is open to abuse.
    "Many resumes will be 'well-decorated'," said one mother, Dong Chuanfeng. "And the interview mode lacks objective criteria."
    Fang Ming, a media coordinator at Fudan, said the judging panel has extensive experience in selecting top students, but did not give details of selection criteria they used. --(12/3)

  • Shanghai's housing index declines in November
    Shanghai's existing housing index fell in November for the second month, with prices declining in 75 percent of the areas monitored.
    The index, which tracks price fluctuations of the city's previously occupied homes, lost 5 points, or 0.2 percent, from October to 2,592, the Shanghai Existing House Index Office said yesterday.
    'Compared to rather significant cuts offered by some real estate developers, individual home owners still seemed pretty firm in their asking prices,' said Zhang Shu, an analyst at the index office. He added that ``it is still a bit early to see a clear downward trend in prices.'
    The prices of existing homes in prime sites, including the four downtown districts in Puxi and Lujiazui in Pudong New Area, dipped 0.06 percent on average in November.
    Across the city, prices in 75 percent of the 128 areas tracked by the office dropped 0.27 percent on average. Only 3 percent of the areas saw a an average 0.09 percent gain in prices while the remaining areas posted almost no change in their prices from a month earlier, according to the office.
    So far most owners have been willing to offer discounts of less than 10 percent and this cut is obviously not enough to spark buying interest, observers said. They said a discount of at least 15 percent would be attractive.
    Zhang said as individual home owners don't need capital urgently, they can withstand the existing property curbs longer than developers. He doesn't see massive price cuts by individual owners any time soon.--(12/2)

  • China cuts bank reserves for growth
    More money is being made available for lending for the first time in three years as China 'fine-tunes' its monetary policy to sustain growth amid expectations of cooler inflation.
    The central bank announced a lowering of reserve requirements for banks by 0.5 percentage points yesterday, the first cut since December 2008, after data showed an outflow of foreign capital in October and easing inflation in three consecutive months from 6.5 percent in July to 5.5 percent in October.
    The change in the ratio, effective from next Monday, is expected to add between 350 billion and 400 billion yuan (US$54.8 billion and US$62.7 billion) liquidity to the banking system. The reserve requirement ratio will be 21 percent for large banks and 17.5 percent for smaller ones.
    China hasn't raised interest rates since July, the longest pause since increases began in October last year. The last interest-rate cut was also in December 2008, during the global financial crisis.
    The People's Bank of China joins the central banks of Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and the eurozone in easing monetary policy, a reflection of growing alarm that the eurozone debt crisis could drag the global economy back into a recession.
    The decision came a day ahead of the release of China's official purchasing managers' index for November, a main measure of industrial activities, which is widely expected to fall from the previous month.
    Six of 13 financial institutions surveyed by Reuters expected China's industrial activities to contract in November from the same month of last year due to China's tight monetary policies and sluggish economic growth overseas.
    China has raised reserve requirements six times and interest rates three times this year to tame inflation, which has led to the country's slowest economic growth since 2009, with gross domestic product increasing 9.1 percent in the third quarter.
    'The loss of foreign capital in October has resulted in a shortage of money for the banks, and the central bank is aiming to resume liquidity,' said Guo Tianyong, a professor with the Central University of Finance and Economics. 'But the decrease is not an indication of a change in direction for China's monetary policies.'
    He said he expected monetary policies to remain prudent due to still high inflationary pressure and the needs to control house prices.
    His view was echoed by Fudan University professor Sun Lijian, who said the decrease in reserve ratios was temporary and warned of a return of inflationary pressure after the US and European governments offer bailouts to ease their debt crises and boost the economy.
    But Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist for HSBC Holdings, said more reserve ratio cuts may follow, while interest rates may remain unchanged until inflation is below 3 percent. 'We see this surprise move as the beginning of monetary easing,' Qu said.
    Stephen Green, China economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong, told Reuters: 'This is a big move ! this is easing. It's a clear signal that China is on a loosening mode. The next move will be another reserve requirement ratio cut in January.'
    Premier Wen Jiabao said in October that the government would fine-tune economic policies as needed to sustain growth while pledging to maintain curbs on real estate.--(12/1)



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