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  • Metro, roads boost Disneyland
    Tourists to the Shanghai Disneyland and its related resort in Pudong will get a dedicated Metro link and road access when it opens in 2015, Shanghai government officials said yesterday.
    To facilitate the Disneyland project, the first on the Chinese mainland, a Metro link is to be constructed plus supporting highways.
    Qin Yun, chief engineer with Shanghai Construction Commission, said: 'We are revamping and constructing nine roads to build direct access to the core areas of Disneyland and the leisure resort. An elevated walkway will be set up for tourists.'
    Some roads, such as Shenjiang Road, will be improved to boost their traffic capacity, according to Yin Hong, the city government's deputy secretary-general.
    The initial cost to build the park is about 24.5 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion).
    An additional 4.5 billion yuan will finance other aspects of the resort, including hotels and a retail, dining and entertainment complex.
    The city government regards the project as vital in its bid to make Shanghai a world-class tourist destination. The first phase of the project is expected to attract 7.3 million visitors annually.
    The park is about 21 kilometers from People's Square and 12km from Pudong International Airport.
    Besides the Disney Metro link, Shanghai will start construction next year of other new subway projects, including the third phase of Metro Line 8, the third phase of Line 9, the second phase of Line 5, and Line 17, Yin said.
    The subway projects are only part of the city's efforts to improve and expand public services and traffic infrastructure over the next four years, the government said.
    Investment from 2011 to 2015 will be increased, officials said yesterday, without specifying the size of the planned investment.
    Qin with the construction commission said: 'The government will raise the budget to ensure quality in new infrastructure facilities and also to invest more in future projects.'
    From 2005 to last year, the city spent about 800 billion yuan constructing and renovating infrastructure, such as road, water and Metro projects.
    Meanwhile, the city will shift its focus on new infrastructure work in the next four years from downtown to more outlying districts as the government boosts four new towns in the suburbs, according to Yin.
    The towns include Nanqiao New Town in Fengxian District, Qingpu New Town, Jiading New Town and Songjiang New Town, according to Yin.
    It is planned that Nanqiao will cover 10 square kilometers and it is projected to become an economic and residential center of Fengxian. --(10/28)

  • Open airspace, tighter security
    Shanghai may open its low-altitude airspace to the growing number of privately owned light aircraft, a police official said yesterday.
    However, the city would also introduce tough regulations and stringent supervision to prevent fliers straying into prohibited areas, posing safety threats to civilian flights, said Zhang Xuebing, director of Shanghai police.
    Zhang said the city government had begun preparations that could lead to the opening of the city's low-altitude airspace to privately owned aircraft, including helicopters and paragliders.
    'Feasibility studies are under way as the government has noted the booming market in privately owned light aircraft,' Zhang said.
    But if low-altitude airspace is opened up in future, for safety reasons, private aircraft will still be banned in certain areas, such as around airports.
    Officials said there has been an increase of numbers of unauthorized private aircraft in local airspace in recent years
    On September 1, a fighter jet and two police helicopters scrambled to intercept aircraft detected over the coast in Fengxian District.
    The errant fliers turned out to be three paragliders.
    Police detained two other paragliders on the ground preparing to take off, said Xu Haiqing, a government official, yesterday.
    In the end, nine paragliders were found. Their unauthorized actions delayed 39 flights, said officials.
    Zhang said there are now only four police helicopters in service in Shanghai. --(10/27)

  • City households get smaller
    The size of households in the city is shrinking, leaving more seniors living alone, the Shanghai Research Center on Aging said yesterday.
    At present in Shanghai, the average household size is 2.49 people per household ! 0.3 less than in 2004.
    Officials said as more and more city residents choose lifestyles closer to those in Western countries, people tend to live in nuclear rather than extended family groups.
    After marrying, fewer couples are now prepared to stay with parents.
    Young people say they have a very different lifestyle to their parents' generation, and that living under the same roof would lead to serious disputes over every tiny issue.
    Zhang Weiyi, who will soon tie the knot, said her fiance's parents asked the couple to live with them after they marry, but she declined.
    'I don't want to have endless conflict with my mother-in-law,' she said. 'So I believe keeping a distance is the best way to avoid trouble.'
    But Zhang has agreed to buy an apartment near her in-laws' home, so she and her husband can take care of the seniors when required.
    Yin Zhigang, deputy director of the center, said traditional Chinese culture requires young people ! whether or not they are married ! to take care of seniors.
    But the decline of the extended family has left more seniors without family care in their own homes.
    At present, 45 percent of seniors in Shanghai don't live with their children or any other young relatives.
    However, the government estimates that 90 percent of seniors are looked after by their families.
    'The community and government can provide some help and subsidies for seniors,' said Yin. 'But a very positive factor in traditional Chinese family culture is the responsibility and obligation among family members.'
    Yin said although communities can help with physical requirements, the elderly still want their families to communicate with them and provide psychological comfort.
    'Emotional exchange between family members is what seniors need badly nowadays,' he said.
    Yin said children should not forget about their parents when they have their own families.
    Within five years, an estimated 4.3 million Shanghai residents will be aged over 60. About 200,000 people will reach that figure every year from now until 2015 ! double the annual figure in the past five years, according to the center. --(10/26)

  • Bulk oil production ban in food safety initiative
    Bulk food oil production in the city is to be banned by the end of this year, as city watchdogs seek to improve safety in the market.
    This is part of efforts to crack down on the production of 'swill oil' ! made from oil and grease ladled from restaurant gutters.
    When oil is distributed in bulk containers, it is easier for swill oil to be added.
    The local commerce watchdog has ordered local oil manufacturers to shift production modes and replace bulk oil production and supply with bottled ones.
    It is easier for watchdogs to supervise the production chain for bottled oil production.
    'Bulk sales of food oil allow major channels for the underground market of swill oils,' said An Pei, deputy general manager with a local food company.
    The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said 246 of the city's 247 oil producers involved in supplying bulk oil have stopped this type of production, as required.
    The last manufacturer will complete the shift by the end of the year, said Xu Feng, deputy director with the bureau.
    Shanghai is proceeding with having only watchdogs collect restaurant food waste. --(10/25)

  • Forecast flat for Shanghai market
    Shanghai's stock market is likely to stay flat this week after losing 4.7 percent last week on weak sentiment fueled by fears that China's tightening monetary policy might hurt economic growth.
    The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.6 percent to close at 2,317.28 last Friday, the lowest since March 2009 and the biggest weekly drop since the five days ended May 27.
    The National Bureau of Statistics reported last week that China's gross domestic product grew 9.1 percent in the third quarter, the slowest in two years.
    Zhang Yidong, chief strategic analyst at Industrial Securities, said: 'The index will not see a large rebound as investors are still reluctant to enter the market as macroeconomic policy remains rather tight.'
    Beyond wider considerations, the market is also under capital pressure from the planned listing of six new stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen this week.
    Yi Xiaobin, an analyst with Galaxy Securities, said: 'It will take a while for the overall situation and market sentiment to stabilize.'
    Yi estimated the index will remain between 2,245 to 2,450 points this week. --(10/24)

  • Cloudy outlook
    The city will be mainly overcast over the weekend, with the low temperatures ranging between 18 and 19 degrees Celsius and the high staying at around 24 degrees. There will be light rain on Sunday, local weather forecasters said. Local temperatures are set to drop below 20 degrees on Monday and Tuesday because of the influence of a cold front heading from the northwest, forecasters said. --(10/22)

  • Tight liquidity fears damp index
    Shanghai's key stock index yesterday fell to the lowest in more than two years, led by metal producers and banks on concerns over tight liquidity and slower growth for the Chinese economy.
    The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.9 percent to 2,331.37 points, the lowest close since March 25, 2009.
    Wen Lijun, an analyst with Nanjing Securities, said that money supply in the domestic market is still tight and the government's stringent monetary policies will not be eased in the short term.
    China's total financing shrank in the first three quarters from a year ago on the tighter money policies, the People's Bank of China said in a statement yesterday.
    Metal producers dropped after metal prices tumbled in Shanghai on concerns that slower economic growth will dampen demand.
    Jiangxi Copper Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, shed 4.4 percent to 25.20 yuan. Copper futures for January delivery slid 6 percent to 50,950 yuan (US$7,979) per ton.
    Aluminum Corp of China trailed 2.8 percent to 7.97 yuan. Aluminum inventories in China, the largest user of the metal, rebounded 30 percent in three weeks on slower trading, said a report by Guangzhou KT Commodity Information and Consulting Co.
    Property developers and banks also fell after the China Banking Regulatory Commission said that lenders could withstand a 40 percent drop in home prices, affirming speculation the government will not loosen its curbs on the property market. --(10/21)

  • Luxemburg donates its Expo pavilion to Shanghai
    The Luxemburg Pavilion of Expo 2010 will reopen to the public next March about the same time as the Italy Pavilion in their new location in the Puxi section of the Expo Park.
    Luxemburg officials signed a contract today with the Expo Shanghai organizer to donate the pavilion to the city.
    The pavilion's exhibits and ticket prices have yet to be decided, but the pavilion will serve as a platform for economic and cultural exchanges between China and Europe, the officials said.
    The Italy Pavilion is going to house a fashion design school according to the plan and the Luxemburg Pavilion will be integrated into that plan, said Jeannot Krecke, Luxemburg's minister of economy and foreign trade. --(10/20)

  • Economy grew at 9.1% rate in third quarter, showing stability
    China's economy is unlikely to experience a double-dip growth pattern as third-quarter growth remained stable and macroeconomic policies were proved effective, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
    Gross domestic product in China managed to expand 9.1 percent from a year earlier between July and September, only a slight slowing from 9.5 percent in the second quarter and 9.7 percent in the first three months.
    The economic output in the first three quarters thus rose to 32 trillion yuan (US$5 trillion), up 9.4 percent year on year, according to data released by the bureau.
    'It's no easy job to achieve such a growth rate under complicated global economic situations and new circumstances in the domestic market,' said Sheng Laiyun, a bureau spokesman. 'With stable investment and robust consumption, China's economy is more likely to continue stable growth instead of a second dip.'
    Fixed-asset investment in the first nine months jumped 24.9 percent annually to 21.2 trillion yuan, little changing from 25 percent in the months up to August. The investment was upheld by various new projects kicked off in the first year of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period.
    Meanwhile, retail sales in September gained 17.7 percent from a year earlier to 1.58 trillion yuan, up from 17 percent a month earlier.
    Industrial production also quickened 0.3 percentage point from August to grow 13.8 percent last month.
    'China's economy performed slightly better than expected in the third quarter, mainly thanks to solid domestic demand,' said Zhang Zhiwei, an economist at Nomura. 'With a global economic downturn in sight and inflation still high, China needs to keep its policies consistent while flexible.'
    Recent reduction of inflationary pressure has made it possible for China to adjust its monetary policies in a bid to support growth. The Consumer Price Index, the main gauge of inflation, rose 6.1 percent year on year last month, moderating for a second month from August's 6.2 percent and July's 6.5 percent.
    Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC, estimated the central bank may allow more liquidity in the market after a lack of credit has crushed some small firms in Wenzhou of Zhejiang Province, and pushed them to rely on illegal private lenders.
    'But the possible adjustment does not mean a complete reverse of the current policy stance, especially for the real estate market,' Qu said in an earlier interview.
    Some economists said China won't shift its anti-inflation bias before a clear downward trend in inflation. One concern is that powerhouse countries like the United States still hold onto a rather loose monetary policy that may further fan global inflation.
    Zhou Hao, an economist at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, said he thinks China's economy is heading towards a soft landing by expanding 9.4 or 9.5 percent this year. --(10/19)

  • Shanghai's growth in trade slows sharply
    Shanghai's growth in trade weakened sharply in September due to a stronger yuan, a moderating local economy and stubbornly high inflation, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday.
    The city's exports expanded 11.1 percent from a year earlier to US$17.8 billion last month, while imports rose 18.7 percent on an annual basis to US$20.1 billion. But both figures slowed from August when exports jumped 21.7 percent and imports surged 27.1 percent.
    Yan Jun, a spokesman for the bureau, said the weaker-than-expected growth mirrored a larger trend of a slower pace of expansion for China's trade.
    'Shrinking external demand, uncertainties about the direction of the Chinese currency, together with a moderating economy in the city, may lead to slower trade growth in the months to come,' Yan said.
    Shanghai's trade with the United States and the European Union, two regions hard hit by economic crises, grew by single digit last month, a sharp drop from the average growth rate of 15 percent previously.
    China's trade surplus in September fell for a second month due to a weaker rise in exports while growth in imports also eased.
    Premier Wen Jiabao pledged over the weekend that more support measures for exporters, including a stable exchange rate, will be unveiled.
    Wen made the remarks in Guangzhou where a national trade fair was taking place. It also coincided with the recent passage of a bill in the United States Senate which aimed at putting pressure on China to allow for a quicker appreciation in the yuan. --(10/18)

  • Watchdogs on the trail of clone website scam
    Fake websites masquerading as official sites of luxury brands in a bid to dupe customers into buying bogus products are being targeted by local watchdog inspections.
    Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau officials said most of the e-commerce websites registered in Shanghai that they have already inspected are operated properly.
    But they warned consumers that some websites registered in other areas are fakes.
    Over the weekend, China Central Television revealed several cases. In one instance in Chongqing, a website resembled the official site of a foot massage machine company and sold fake products.
    Following a complaint from a customer, Chongqing consumers' rights officials discovered that the site was bogus. The only difference was the product's price ! 400 yuan (US$62) lower than that on the genuine site.
    'Few consumers check a website address carefully,' said officials.
    In Nanchang, in Jiangxi Province, a website copied the official Louis Vuitton website ! down to an introduction and history of the brand ! to sell fake LV products.
    Police discovered that all the LV products sold there were fake. The owner of the website said he could make 300 percent profits, provided he had a genuine-looking website, reported CCTV.
    The Shanghai bureau said it launched its campaign last month. It only covers websites registered in Shanghai and the results are, so far, satisfactory, bureau officials said. --(10/17)

  • Party looks at culture
    The 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China opened its Sixth Plenary Session in Beijing yesterday to reform the country's cultural development.
    Members will discuss issues on deepening the reform of the country's cultural system and promoting the development of socialist culture at the plenum, which is scheduled to end on Tuesday.
    Central authorities have realized that culture is increasingly a major source of national cohesion and creativity and a backbone of the country's economic and social development, while spiritual and cultural contentment is becoming a cordial aspiration for the Chinese people.
    The plenum will summarize the achievements and experiences of past cultural reforms. They will also draft goals so that the nation continues down the path of socialist cultural development with Chinese characteristics, analysts said.
    On September 26, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting where participants discussed a report on cultural reform.
    Analysts said the document embodied the wisdom of the CPC and other groups. --(10/16)

  • No synthetic hormone found in hairy crab test
    Shanghai officials said no excessive level of estrogen has been detected in hairy crabs in local markets following media reports about excessive hormone found in hairy crabs in Hong Kong.
    Chen Qiwei, the Shanghai government spokesman, told reporters at a press conference today that test results of all the samples collected from the local markets were satisfactory.
    Food inspectors checked for more than 30 contents in the samples, including diethylstilbestrol, a type of estrogen. The inspection is carried out every three months by the city's agricultural commission, food and drug administration, and administration for industry and commerce.
    Chen said the three departments will strengthen the inspection of hairy crabs to ensure food safety.
    It was reported on Tuesday that one-fourth of the 30 hairy crab samples tested in Hong Kong showed an excessive amount of hormone with the highest reaching 100 micrograms.
    SGS, an international inspection company, warned that eating three hairy crabs with the highest level of hormone will surpass the safety limit suggested by the WHO.
    However, it admitted that it used a new testing method in the check and was unable to tell if the hormone was natural or synthetic.
    The Hong Kong Food and Environment Hygiene Department said it will release a full report of its hair crab check soon. --(10/15)

  • Private funds grow
    Private investment has been playing a greater role in Shanghai's economic growth as the city moved ahead to support smaller firms and develop its private-equity market, the local industry watchdog said yesterday.
    In the first half of this year, private investment rose 34.7 percent year on year to account for more than 40 percent of total investment in the city, according to the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission. In 2010, private investment rose 19 percent.
    Shanghai will also boost investment in high-tech startup companies, Zhou Bo, director of the commission, told a press conference.
    Since 2000, consumption has surpassed investment to be the city's biggest economic driver, with the consumption sector contributing nearly 55 percent to Shanghai's growth last year, Zhou said. --(10/14)

  • Cooler days, a bit of rain on the way
    Shanghai is forecast to get cooler this weekend as a cold front hits the city, the weather authority said yesterday.
    Highs should be limited to about 23 degrees Celsius over the next few days, and rain is expected today. Lows will drop to about 15 degrees by Saturday, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
    Today's high should reach about 23 degrees, with a low of 20. Clouds and overcast skies are expected to dominate for the rest of the week, with the sun unlikely to show up until Monday.
    'The weather should be good in the following days but the temperature should go down, especially the low,' said Wu Rui, a chief service officer of the bureau. 'The rain on Thursday should not last long and should stop on Friday.'
    Wu said that as we go deeper into autumn, temperature differences between day and night likely will grow a lot. --(10/13)

  • Market up slightly as banks gain support
    Shanghai stock market edged up yesterday following a market-saving move by a government investment arm which pledged to spend 197 million yuan (US$31 million) buying the shares of China's Big Four banks.
    Coal producers narrowed the market's gains after the government announced higher taxes on coking coal.
    The Shanghai Composite Index closed up just 0.2 percent at 2,348.52 points after rallying as much as 2.9 percent.
    Analysts cautioned that Central Huijin Investment's move is insufficient to turn sentiment around.
    Wang Liemin, an analyst with Guosen Securities, said: 'The shrink in gains indicates pessimism still dominates the market. Investors are worried China's slowing economic growth will not disappear overnight simply because of Central Huijin's share purchase.'
    Financials were strong, led by banks after Central Huijin said it is buying shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agriculture Bank of China, the Bank of China and China Construction Bank, a move considered a bid to support a stock market that has slumped more than 16 percent this year.
    ICBC, China's biggest lender, rose 1.5 percent to 4.05 yuan. The AgBank gained 2 percent, and BOC rose 2.1 percent. CCB jumped 2.5 percent.
    Wang added: 'The shares Central Huijin bought yesterday is far from enough to reverse a sliding trend in the market. It is more like a symbolic move that indicates the central government's judgment that the market has bottomed out.'
    Central Huijin, a unit of China's sovereign wealth fund, pledged to continue with 'related market operations' without providing details on how much or how long it will invest, nor whether it will buy shares in Hong Kong or Shanghai.
    China Shenhua Energy Co tumbled 4.2 percent to close at 24.21 yuan. Yanzhou Coal Mining Co dropped 4.9 percent to 27.83 yuan.--(10/12)

  • Relics of Ming era bridge are unearthed
    The city's cultural relics authority yesterday stopped a construction project after some relics of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) stone bridge that was identified as one of the former 'Eight Sceneries of Shanghai'were unearthed at the site.
    The Moonlight on the Scholar's Bridge in the current Huangpu District was one of the eight sceneries of Shanghai in history. The relics are believed to be part of the former Scholar's Bridge, said Xue Liyong, a local historian.
    The bridge was named after a scholar surnamed Lu who built the bridge during the Ming Dynasty.
    Today's construction project involves a high-rise on the site. A worker said they dug out stones several days ago.
    Authorities said they will keep digging the area in hope of unearthing more of the bridge, he said. Once they are finished, construction can resume.
    Xue said most of the city's old scenic spots had disappeared and that any relics that are found could help to restore them.--(10/11)

  • Houses see first drop in prices for a year
    China's home prices fell for the first time in a year last month as a result of slack sales and tightening austerity measures, according to data released by China Index Academy.
    Home prices fell an average 0.03 percent from August to 8,877 yuan (US$1,398) per square meter in 100 major cities across the country, the first monthly decline since September 2010, the property research company said.
    Prices rose in 54 of 100 cities and fell in 44 cities in September from a month earlier.
    On a year-on-year basis, they climbed 6.15 percent, the academy said.
    Of the 10 largest cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chongqing, the average cost of homes stood at 15,786 yuan per square meter last month, little changed from August, the data showed. Compared to the same period a year earlier, housing prices still rose 3.45 percent on average in the 10 cities.
    'The first monthly decline in a year actually indicates that central government's continuing rein-in efforts to fight runaway home prices are taking effect and very likely September might be a turning point,'said real estate economist Xie Yifeng. 'With tightening measures remaining in force, more real estate developers are prone to offer price cuts so as to trigger sales and replenish capital.'
    During the last three months of this year, home prices around the country would most likely stay stable or decline a little, Xie said.
    'No significant price drops should be anticipated as demand from buyers seeking house upgrading will still be robust. Moreover, expectation of high inflation risk through next year continues to dominate the general public.'
    In Shanghai, for instance, sales of new homes, excluding affordable housing, fell to a six-month low of 570,600 square meters in September, Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co said. Average prices, meanwhile, were 22,605 yuan per square meter, up 3.62 percent from August and an increase of 6.5 percent from same time a year earlier, Uwin data showed.--(10/10)

  • Chinese travel in record numbers
    A record of more than 300 million Chinese traveled during the National Day holiday, China News Service reported yesterday. The number included trips abroad and those within China.
    Retail and catering revenue on the mainland reached a new high at around 696.2 billion yuan (US$109.1 billion) nationwide, up 17.5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics.
    During the holiday, 119 scenic spots monitored by the National Holiday Office received 24.33 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 8.8 percent. A total of 1.25 billion yuan in revenue was generated at these sights, up 10.5 percent from last year, the report said.
    China's railway network transported 67 million passengers from October 1 to 7, up 6 percent compared to the same period last year.
    Domestic airlines also recorded a rise in passengers, with 5.98 million trips made in the period, up 5.2 percent year on year.
    Total flights in the period reached 42,263, up 8.2 percent from the same period last year, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China.--(10/9)

  • Shopping frenzy fuels retail sales to rise 18%
    Total sales at major retailers in Shanghai during the weeklong National Day holiday jumped nearly 18 percent from a year earlier as local shoppers took advantage of heavy discounts offered during the citywide shopping festival.
    Consumers spent a record high 7.1 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion), up an annual 17.6 percent, at 5,000 stores of 456 large- and middle-sized local retailers during October 1 to 7, according to data released by the Shanghai Commission of Commerce yesterday.
    Though the sales growth is slower from the same period of last year when the city also hosted the World Expo, the jump is still 6.1 percentage points higher than the sales recorded during the Spring Festival earlier this year. More than 1 billion yuan on average was recorded in daily sales during the National Day period.
    The commission attributed the surge in retail sales to heavy holiday shopping discounts by retailers as well as the current Shanghai Shopping Festival, which offered various promotion activities.
    The New World Department Store on Nanjing Road W. boosted sales by 40 percent to 200 million yuan during the seven-day holiday. Total sales at other major department stores also climbed 18 percent to 2.4 billion yuan during the past week.
    The fifth edition of the monthlong shopping festival, which ended yesterday, generated an annual rise of 17 percent in total revenue of 23.3 billion yuan among 469 other retailers.
    Department stores and shopping centers in downtown districts including Huangpu, Jing'an, and Xujiahui business hub as well as the Pudong New Area held events to encourage consumers to spend on apparel, wine, gold and jewelry.
    Restaurants rang up 1.3 billion yuan, up 9 percent annually, while other smaller retailers reported their sales jump 18.5 percent to 22 billion yuan in the period.--(10/8)

  • Staying cool
    The low temperature fell further to 18.6 degrees yesterday, against a low of 19.8 degrees on Saturday. Rain is expected again tomorrow and Wednesday and the high will hover between 21 and 22 degrees with lows of 17 to 18 degrees, forecasters said yesterday. However the mercury is forecast to climb back to about 25 degrees toward the end of the weeklong National Day break that draws to an end on Friday.--(10/3)

  • Manufacturing continues to slow
    China's manufacturing contracted for a third month in September, extending the losing streak to the longest since 2009 as export demand declined, the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index showed yesterday.
    Standing at 49.9, the index was unchanged from August, but it made September the third consecutive month that the index has been below 50, a reading that indicates contraction.
    "The final PMI for September still stays below 50, but it shows some signs of stabilizing," said Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at HSBC. "This implies that although the lagged effects of credit tightening will continue to cool industrial activities, there is little need to worry about a sharp slowdown."
    The HSBC Flash PMI for September, a harbinger of the final reading and released a week earlier, was 49.4, indicating a deeper pessimism at that time.
    The key drag on the vitality of China's manufacturing remains shrinking external demand. "The component index gauging demand conditions grew at the slowest pace in 14 months, and a reduction in foreign order levels was recorded, linked to sluggish demand from external clients," the survey said.
    However, Qu said fewer orders from foreign countries wouldn't shake the foundations of China's economy, which has become less dependent on exports. In the first half, exports contributed nearly zero to the growth of China, he said.
    Also, China is unlikely to launch more tightening measures as the growth rate has shown signs of slowing down. Qu estimated China's gross domestic product would grow by 8.5 percent to 9 percent this year, and stay at that level in the next few years.
    China's GDP expanded 9.5 percent in the second quarter, easing from 9.7 percent in the first three months and last year's 10.4 percent.
    But rebounding input prices remained a worry, Qu said. The survey showed average input costs rose sharply in September.
    The official Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, will be released today.
    The HSBC survey is slanted towards privately owned and export-oriented firms.--(10/1)



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