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  July



  • Buses to come sooner after Metro breakdowns
    The first replacement transit bus will come no later than 15 minutes after any future Metro breakdown to help reduce delays for subway commuters, the Shanghai Transport Bureau said yesterday.
    Breakdowns caused by signal malfunctions on local subways have a greater effect as the network keeps expanding and getting busier. Some Metro riders have complained about slow responses from authorities handling buses. The problem is especially acute during rush hours, when replacement transit buses on the same route tend to arrive in insufficient numbers and slowly.
    The transport bureau said its now planning to increase the regular number of standby buses to respond to any Metro breakdown citywide. And the bureau is also currently seeking to streamline its emergency response collaboration with Metro management improve coordination during breakdowns.
    The plan should benefit millions of daily Metro commuters. Currently, 6.03 million people travel each day by subway in Shanghai, constituting 37 percent of the total traffic on public transportation.
    New transit improvements expected soon also include a plan for more green transit buses. The transport bureau said 150 hybrid buses, fueled by electric capacitors and batteries, will be put into service on local streets in upcoming months.
    They will include 80 in downtown areas and 70 in suburban districts.
    The city also plans to prioritize traffic of buses in bus-only lanes as the project is expected as a major solution to improve public transport service in Shanghai. And traffic authorities are coming up with new ideas to tackle drivers intruding into bus exclusive lanes. --(7/27)

  • City's weather clearly will be nice for 5 more days
    Shanghai's sunny and clear weather should keep going for at least another five days because of stable meteorological conditions, forecasters said.
    Although areas in southern China are suffering from typhoon Vicente, which has caused serious gusts and showers followed by floods and damage, the city's good weather will not be disturbed in the near future, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
    The weather in the next five days should be mostly sunny and cloudy, with the maximum temperatures of 34 to 35 degrees Celsius.
    "With the influence of the subtropical high, the fine weather should continue," said Kong Chunyan, a chief service officer of the bureau.
    "But with the currents at the south side of the subtropical high, which keeps sending winds to Shanghai from the sea, the city's maximum temperatures should not reach 37 or 38 degrees."
    Despite high temperatures and plenty of sunshine, the weather these days should not feel stifling as the humidity should be stable at 50 to 70 percent, with sufficient southeastern winds to keep it comfortable.
    Shanghai is getting closer to its typhoon season, in which frequent storms from the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean approach and often bring heavy rain and gusts to the city.
    "We are monitoring the atmospheric movement in the Pacific but so far no storm has been seen coming towards the East China Sea," Kong told Shanghai Daily yesterday.
    Typhoons don't usually approach Shanghai until August or September, and this year the number of typhoons or storms that may affect the city has been estimated at around three, according to the bureau's early predictions. --(7/26)

  • Free Wi-Fi service at public places
    Locals will enjoy free Wi-Fi for two hours each day at 26 public places in Shanghai by the end of this month, the latest effort the government takes to build a "wireless city."
    By the end of this year, the free Wi-Fi service will cover about 300 places, and the number is expected to reach 450 by the end of next year. The places will have signs tagging them as "i-Shanghai," said the city information technology authority.
    To enjoy the service, users can turn on the Wi-Fi connection on their mobile devices, select "i-Shanghai," get a password by inputting your mobile phone number and log in.
    Zhang Jianming, an official with the local information technology commission, said yesterday that the fares will be covered by the municipal and district governments.
    Zhang said the service provider bans users from linking to video clips online at the beginning stage to ensure the smooth login of other users sending or receiving e-mails.
    Users can apply to different telecom operators and they will not view advertisements after they log in. --(7/25)

  • Shanghai stocks skid 1.26% on slow growth
    Shanghai stocks plunged yesterday on concerns over China's economy after a central bank adviser said economic growth will slow this quarter.
    The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.26 percent to 2,141.4 points, the lowest level since March 2009.
    Song Guoqing, a member of the People's Bank of China monetary policy committee, told a Beijing forum over the weekend that China's economic growth may cool to 7.4 percent this quarter.
    Metal and coal producers were the big losers amid low demand for raw materials as the country's manufacturing activities continue to slacken.
    Jiangxi Copper Co, the nation's biggest producer of the metal, plunged 3.2 percent to 21.89 yuan (US$3.43). Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, the listed unit of the nation's biggest maker of the lightweight metal, retreated 1.5 percent to 6.04 yuan. China Shenhua Energy Co, the nation's biggest coal producer, slumped 1.3 percent to 21.96 yuan.
    "The tumbling market is causing panic among investors. The key index may fall below 2,000 points. Overcapacity, weak market demand and decelerating inflation are clear signals of a bearish market," Liu Kan, senior analyst at Guoyuan Securities, said yesterday.
    Hu Xiaohui, chief analyst at Datong Securities, however, had a different take.
    "The market may rebound before the weekend. There's very little chance that the index will break the 2,000-point threshold," Hu said. --(7/24)

  • Blue sky, nothing but blue sky ...
    Many residents said the blue sky and white clouds reminded them of the 2010 World Expo, when the city government strictly curtailed pollution from traffic and local factories. The city will continue to enjoy good air for about three days due to a subtropical high, forecasters said. --(7/23)

  • Adidas denies closure of factory linked to pay rise
    Adidas confirmed yesterday that it will close its only company-owned factory in China, signaling a strategic transition by the German sportswear giant to fully subcontracted production.
    The factory in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, will be shut in October to allow the company to "realign its global resources," according to Chen Qi, a spokesman with Adidas Greater China.
    "We will not move the factory anywhere else," Chen said, adding that China, as the company's second-largest market, remains very important.
    Workers at the factory, which employs less than 200 people, suspect that the closure might be caused by rising salaries.
    "The factory announced the closure not long after our salaries were raised," said a worker who requested anonymity.
    The worker said monthly pay at the factory had been kept at about 1,100 yuan (US$175) before 2010 and was raised by between 400 yuan and 600 yuan over the past two years.
    Chen, however, said there was no direct link. --(7/22)

  • New iPad hits stores on mainland
    Security officers were ready and queue barriers were used at the Apple Store in Shanghai's Pudong New Area yesterday to ensure order as the new iPad hit the shelves on the Chinese mainland.
    However, the precautionary measures seemed unnecessary as no problems were reported, unlike past Apple product launches in which unruly buyers and scalpers created chaotic scenes.
    Apple China described the launch as a "well organized" activity enabled by an online reservation system, which was introduced for the first time on the mainland.
    The quiet debut was also in part due to the four-month delay of sales on the mainland. Before its release, Apple agreed to pay Shenzhen-based Proview US$60 million to settle a trademark dispute over the iPad on the mainland.
    From 8am to 9am, only about 100 customers with reservation slips, which included set pick-up times, arrived at the store to buy the new iPad.
    A man in his 30s, surnamed Sun, was the first buyer at the store. He chose a white 16GB model.
    The new iPad starts at 3,688 yuan (US$585) for the 16GB model and rises to 6,288 yuan for the 64GB version.
    "Now I can surf the web while lying in bed with this new iPad," said Sun, who is an IT engineer working in Pudong. "It was easy to make an online reservation."
    Sun said he has not used an iPad before. He came to the store at 7am and waited for about one hour before making his purchase.
    Sun's case was in stark contrast with previous iPad and iPhone launches on the mainland, when the first buyers often had to camp outside the store overnight to pick up a newly released Apple product.
    In January, Apple stopped selling the iPhone 4S in stores after unruly customers led police to seal off part of a mall in Beijing's Sanlitun shopping district.
    According to the company's new system, consumers can make an online reservation in the morning and pick up their iPad in Apple Stores, three in Shanghai and two in Beijing, the next day.
    Thanks to booming iPad and iPhone sales, China is Apple's second-biggest regional market, which contributes 20 percent of its global revenue.
    By the end of 2011, iPad had a 72 percent share of the tablet computer market in China, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based research firm.
    Shanghai buyers could also make online reservations for the new tablet computer at Apple Stores on Huaihai Road M. and Nanjing Road E., in addition to the Pudong store. --(7/21)

  • Locals say college policies a hardship
    Some residents in the city's northeastern Jiangwan area are complaining that Fudan University forbids them to pass through its campus there, forcing them to take a 2-kilometer detour to a Metro station every day.
    Residents said it's wrong for a public school to keep citizens out. One has written a public letter to the university's head and said he would sue unless the policy is changed.
    "Fudan encloses such a large area of land in Jiangwan," wrote the resident, who identified himself as Wang Yuanyuan in the letter. "It affects the Metro Line 10 service area and harms the public interest."
    The university's Jiangwan campus covers 1,600 mu (roughly 1.07 square kilometers). It stands between the Shangjingyuan Community and the Xinjiangwancheng Metro Station. Residents wish to cross a path along a river that runs across the university instead of detouring along the wall of the university to get to the station.
    Wang uploaded the letter online and it attracted many comments. Some said it's unreasonable for residents to blame the university because the Metro line was built after the campus. Some supported Wang, saying many public roads in other countries pass through universities.
    The university said its security department banned residents from using the campus as a shortcut because of safety concerns.
    "Jiangwan area is still very desolate," said Fang Ming, a media coordinator with the university. "We may open the suburban Jiangwan campus to the public after the area is fully developed."
    Most local universities open their downtown campuses to the public but check student IDs on weekends and holidays because of safety concerns, which sometimes generate complaints from the nearby residents of the area. --(7/20)

  • Shanghai stocks up for second day on stimulus hopes
    Shanghai stocks yesterday rose for a second day amid expectations that more stimulus measures will be unveiled to boost the economy.
    The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.37 percent to 2,169.1 points.
    The State Council, China's Cabinet, will likely come up with economic policies for the second half of this year, including more fiscal stimulus, this week. Premier Wen Jiabao has emphasized downward pressure of the economy, suggesting more room for policy-easing measures. Market watchers fear the rebound will not last long without improvement in the real economy.
    "Currently the stable performance of most heavily-weighted shares is due to technical adjustment and some small-cap shares on the ChiNext board could drop further," Galaxy Securities wrote in a research note yesterday.
    Steel makers and heavyweights rose. Fushun Special Steel Co surged the daily limit of 10 percent to 4.57 yuan (72 US cents). China Petroleum and Chemical Corp advanced 0.84 percent to 5.99 yuan.
    Property shares were among the losers amid speculation that tightening measures would stay in place after home prices in 25 out of 70 cities tracked by the National Statistics Bureau posted monthly gains in June, the highest number in 11 months.
    Gemdale Corp sank 8.86 percent to 6.07 yuan. Poly Real Estate Group fell 4.85 percent to 11.78 yuan.--(7/19)

  • Apple launches reservation site for new iPad sales in China
    Chinese buyers have to make online reservations to get Apple Inc's new iPad, which will debut in the domestic market on Friday, Apple said today.
    Online reservations will begin at 9am and end at 12pm tomorrow.
    After reservation, buyers can pick up their new iPads at Apple's retail stores C three in Shanghai and two in Beijing. Without the reservation, people can't purchase the new iPad on-site on Friday.
    As part of the reservation drive, Apple will kick off a new iReserve system on its Chinese mainland website tomorrow. This is the first time the system, which has been used in Hong Kong, will be adopted on the Chinese mainland.
    The new system aims to improve the purchase experience for consumers, Apple said without providing more details.
    The new system is designed to prevent scalpers, who previously sold products at much higher prices to consumers who were unwilling to wait in line for several hours during product launch days, industry experts said.
    The new iPad will be priced between 3,688 yuan (US$585) for the 16 GB Wi-Fi-only model and 6,288 yuan for the 64 GB 3G iPad.
    The latest iPad, featuring high-resolution Retina Display and improved cameras, debuted in the United States in March.
    The Chinese debut is later than expected mainly because of a trademark case, industry experts said.
    Early this month, Apple agreed to pay Shenzhen-based Proview US$60 million to settle a long-term Chinese mainland iPad trademark dispute.--(7/18)

  • Inbound FDI drops 7% in June
    Foreign direct investment in China fell again last month, ending a short-lived rebound in May on uncertainties in the global market and a slowing domestic economy.
    Inbound FDI lost 6.9 percent from a year earlier to US$12 billion last month, the Ministry of Commerce said this morning. The latest decline followed the surprise 0.05 percent increase in May.
    "Stagnant economic growth around the world, especially the lack of a proper solution to the eurozone debt crisis, continues to deter investors from allocating their money," said Shen Danyang, a ministry spokesman.
    Shen added that "the weakening conditions in the domestic market also weigh on China's strength in absorbing foreign capital, when production costs are rising rapidly and the supply of land is shrinking."
    In the first half, foreign investors set up altogether 11,705 new enterprises in China with an investment of US$59.1 billion, which was down 3 percent year on year. Among it, foreign investment in the property sector slumped 12.4 percent, the sharpest in all categories, the data showed.
    Capital from the 27-member European Union increased 1.6 percent year on year to US$3.52 billion in the first six months, bolstered by more funds attracted from Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany, the ministry data showed.
    Japanese investors raised their investments by 16.9 percent to US$4.1 billion during the January-June period but capital from the United States fell by 3.2 percent to US$1.63 billion. China's outbound non-financial foreign direct investment climbed 48.2 percent to US$35.4 billion in the first six months, up dramatically from last year's growth of 1.8 percent.--(7/17)

  • Football player dies in lightning strike
    One man died and another three collapsed when they were struck by lightning on Saturday evening while playing football in Shanghai.
    Meanwhile, a farmer in the Pudong New Area was slightly injured early yesterday when his house was hit and damaged by lightning.
    More than 20 people were playing football at Shanghai Gaohang High School in the Pudong New Area at around 5pm on Saturday when a storm hit.
    Four people collapsed but three of them regained consciousness within two minutes.
    A 24-year-old man was rushed to a nearby hospital but he died on the way, officials said.
    His girlfriend had been watching the game.
    Many schools open their playgrounds and gymnasiums to the public during weekends and holidays. Security guards at the school said the building and playground had lightning protection equipment.
    The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
    Meanwhile, Shanghai enjoyed its coolest night and morning of the month so far yesterday, thanks to rain, wind and thunderstorms which are expected to continue this week, forecasters said.
    Temperatures for the first three days are expected to be comfortable, reaching 26 to 30 degrees Celsius.
    Thunderstorms are expected today and there will be more rain tomorrow, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.
    Air quality yesterday was classified as good, with PM2.5 readings at 40 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, compared to the national standard of 75.--(7/16)

  • Airliner finally heads off to US after 3-day delay
    A delayed United Airlines flight with more than 200 passengers finally left Shanghai yesterday morning, after being stranded for three days following mechanical problems, an airline official said.
    Passengers were supposed to leave on Wednesday for Newark, New Jersey, but a technical problem on the Boeing 777 saw the flight delayed.
    United said repairs took place on Wednesday and Thursday, but the flight encountered another delay on Friday due to limits on crew duty hours.
    The airline said it was "unable to complete required pre-departure activities in time for the crew to operate the flight before reaching the end of their legal duty limits."
    The delayed flight finally departed at 9:46am yesterday.
    During the delay, passengers were put up in local hotels. The airline said it is offering customers a full refund, plus US$1,000 off future travel with United Airlines.
    While flight delays due to mechanical problems are not uncommon, it is rare for passengers to be stranded for such a long time.--(7/15)

  • Museum will light the way
    Shanghai plans to build a neon light museum to keep alive the nights of old Shanghai.
    In recent years LED lights have replaced most neon lights around the city. The museum will exhibit different styles of neon lights from various periods to show how Shanghai streets have changed since the lights were first used in 1921.
    Shanghai's neon light market has shrunk 90 percent since 2006 as many neon light manufacturers closed or began producing LED lights.
    The museum will be part of an exhibition hall being set up by the Shanghai Advertising Association for logo light manufacturers.
    The association will help police and the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau inspect broken light boxes and illegal store signs to prevent safety hazards.--(7/14)

  • Slower GDP growth dampens Shanghai market
    Shanghai stocks dipped this morning after data showed China's second-quarter GDP expanded at the slowest pace in three years.
    The key Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.03 percent, or 0.67 points, to 2,184.82 points. Turnover stood at 31.1 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) by midday.
    China's economy expanded at 7.6 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. That is down from the first quarter's 8.1 percent.
    "The data showed the nation's real economy is still in the downward," Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at HSBC Holdings Plc, wrote on his Weibo shortly after the data was released. "The slowdown in industrial added value, power production and imports indicates the economy is still under huge downside pressure."
    "With a quick drop in CPI, the government should make moderate policy easing moves to stabilize growth," Qu wrote.
    Most brokerages lost in the morning trading. Citic Securities, the nation's biggest listed brokerage, edged down 0.1 percent to 12.73 yuan. Founder Securities Co retreated 1.1 percent to 4.66 yuan. Soochow Securities Co fell 0.2 percent to 8.66 yuan.
    Property developers traded mixed. Poly Real Estate, China's second largest developer, shed 0.5 percent to 12.80 yuan. Gemdale Corporation lost 0.3 percent to 6.87 yuan. China Vanke, the nation's biggest developer, gained 1.6 percent to 9.78 yuan.
    Cement producers gained. Anhui Conch Cement Co, China's biggest cement producer, added 1.4 percent to 14.90 yuan. Zhejiang Jianfeng Group Co climbed 2.6 percent to 11.65 yuan. Gansu Qilianshan Cement Group Co rose 2.8 percent to 10.79 yuan.--(7/13)

  • Wet, sticky and steamy forecast
    The hot weather should return today and tomorrow with the mercury hitting 35 degrees Celsius or more, forecasters said.
    Today's forecast calls for clouds with a chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon and a high of 35 degrees. Tomorrow will be cloudy to overcast with more thundershowers and the high will climb to 36 degrees, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
    The temperature dropped to 31 degrees yesterday. The maximum reading was recorded around 9am, which was unusual. The temperature dropped afterwards due to the rain, meteorologists said. The high should dip to 33 degrees with more rain this weekend.--(7/12)

  • Flights delayed at Shanghai airports
    Some flight delays hit Shanghai's two airports yesterday and may continue in the following days because of air traffic control issues in east China's coastal areas.
    Dozens of flights from Shanghai to Dalian, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were delayed for at least an hour starting at 10am yesterday.
    Three flights departing for Qingdao City in eastern China's Shandong Province and Xiamen City in the southeastern Fujian Province were canceled, according to Shanghai's airport authority.
    China Eastern Airlines and Dragonair issued statements yesterday to remind passengers that a wide range of flight delays may occur in coastal cities because of the air traffic control issues.
    "China Eastern did not know exactly how long the traffic control will last but will update information on its official website every day,"a staffer with the airline said yesterday.
    China launched a five-day military maneuver on the East China Sea yesterday and many suspected the air traffic control issue was caused by the maneuver.
    The country's military authority began limitations on boats entering an area near the Zhoushan archipelago for five days beginning yesterday.--(7/11)

  • Trade surplus widens to US$31.7b in June
    China's trade surplus expanded sharply last month as exports outperformed imports, indicating insufficient domestic demand.
    Exports in June increased 11.3 percent year on year to US$180.2 billion, the General Administration of Customs said this morning.
    In comparison, imports rose 6.3 percent to US$148.5 billion. The trade surplus was US$31.7 billion in June, up 42.9 percent from a year earlier and compared with May's US$18.7 billion and April's 18.4 billion.
    Both exports and imports grew at slower paces last month from May when exports jumped 15.3 percent and imports gained 12.7 percent. But June's data were still much better than in April when exports edged up 4.9 percent and imports reported a mere 0.3 percent rise.
    "China's trade performance seems to be comparatively unstable at the moment,"said Xue Jun, an analyst at CITIC Securities Co. "It reflects the uncertainties in the external market and the weakness of demand at home. More supportive measures are needed to prop up the domestic market.
    Xue attributed the rising trade surplus to the slower growth of imports, rather than an over reliance on exports.
    Xue added that trade performance in the first half was satisfactory on the whole, given the background of a slowing economy and the global economic downturn.
    China's trade value advanced 8 percent on an annual basis to US$1.84 trillion in the first six months.
    Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said earlier that China will achieve the annualized 10 percent trade growth target this year. --(7/10)

  • City set to sizzle again
    The heat will return to Shanghai this week, city forecasters said yesterday.
    Today's maximum should be 35 degrees Celsius and tomorrow sees the start of three days of around 37 degrees.
    Thunderstorms will also be frequent and residents should not leave home without their umbrellas, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.
    Meanwhile, the city has been enjoying excellent or good air quality and that should continue, the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said, with PM2.5 readings around 50 micrograms per cubic meter yesterday, compared to the 75 micrograms standard.--(7/9)

  • Bullet train delay
    An equipment breakdown led to delays of more than an hour on high-speed trains between Shanghai and Hangzhou yesterday morning, said the Shanghai Railway Bureau. A malfunction at Shanghai's Songjiang South station at 8:22am was repaired at 9:36am, the bureau said.--(7/8)

  • Rate cuts likely to hit bank profits
    China's second interest rate cuts in a month will further eat up lenders' profits but to a limited extent as banks will adjust their lending structure to trim the losses, analysts said yesterday.
    "The interest rate cuts will shrink lenders' net interest margin and long-term profitability," UBS said in a report.
    "Banks will adjust their credit structure to maintain their margin by lending more to small and medium businesses that have less bargaining power over the lending cost."
    "We expect the negative effects of the cut to be gradually reflected in the third-quarter earnings reports and annual reports of this year. Meanwhile, 2013 results will be more impacted than those of 2012," UBS said.
    ANZ Bank said in its latest report that the widened floating range of lending cost will further squeeze lenders' profits, but commercial banks may not be willing to offer lower lending rates as the difference between lending rates and borrowing rates is reduced.
    China International Capital Co said lenders are not motivated to lend money at a 30 percent off discount rate, as it roughly equals to the seven-day interbank lending rate. If the profit margin of lending to peers and businesses is the same, the lender will rationally favor interbank loans with lower risks.
    "Mortgages also have lower risk and capital consumption than corporate loans, therefore there's very little chance the banks will lend at the maximum discounted rate. Lenders' net interest margin will not be significantly impacted," the research company said.
    Shares of Chinese banks fell in Shanghai yesterday. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, slumped 1 percent to 3.91 yuan (61 US cents). China Construction Bank shed 0.7 percent to 4.16 yuan. The Bank of China lost 0.4 percent to 2.81 yuan.--(7/7)

  • Shanghai may get rights to vet games
    The Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau will be the first regional bureau to have the rights to examine and approve games, which will accelerate the process and boost the local game industry, officials said yesterday.
    The Shanghai bureau is expected to get the rights from the General Administration of Press and Publication, the national regulator, said Zhu Junbo, the local bureau's vice director.
    "We have submitted the proposal to GAPP and we will have a meeting to discuss the matter later this month,"Zhu said.
    Once Shanghai gets the approval the process should be simplified as more than half of the 400 games GAPP examined last year were also checked first by the local bureau. The whole process should improve and repeat examination and time wasting will be avoided, the Shanghai bureau said.
    In 2011, Shanghai's online game output grew 24 percent annually to 14.9 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion), accounting for 30 percent of the national level. The output was mainly contributed by firms including Shanda Entertainment, Giant, NetEase and Perfect World Shanghai branch, Shanghai government officials said at a press conference yesterday.
    Meanwhile, Asia's biggest game show China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, better known as Chinajoy, will be held in Shanghai at the end of this month. The event may attract 150,000 visitors.--(7/6)

  • Most pool water passes inspections
    About 96 percent of water samples from the city's swimming pools meet national standards although 89 pools were ordered to upgrade equipment and improve water quality before opening this summer, officials from the Shanghai Health Supervision Agency said yesterday.
    There are 546 swimming pools in the city, including 293 that only open in the summer. These 293 pools are the key targets of supervision, officials said while initiating a new round of pool checks yesterday.
    According to the newly issued hygiene rule on public venues, including pools, violators can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,762). Officials said pools are usually fined between 1,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan for poor water quality and improper hygiene. The 30,000 yuan fine is only imposed when a serious injury is caused, officials added.
    By June 30, the agency had checked the citys 546 swimming pools and 927 water samples. A total of 889, or 95.9 percent, passed the test.
    The agency said water quality is a major concern among people who go swimming.--(7/5)

  • Breakthrough in malaria fight
    Scientists have developed a new and cheaper method to synthesize artemisinin, a key ingredient for making anti-malarial medicines, Shanghai Jiao Tong University announced yesterday.
    The finding is vital for mass production of an artemisinin drug that can save millions of malaria patients worldwide, the university said.
    Artemisinin is hard to extract from artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, a plant with bright yellow flowers.
    "The high cost of extraction makes the drug a luxury for most patients," said Zhang Wanbin, a lead researcher and professor of the university's School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
    His team found a catalyst enabling the extraction of artemisinin from the plant's flowers without using other chemicals. One ton of artemisia annua can produce 6 to 8 kilograms of artemisinin. Each kilogram costs 4,000 yuan (US$630) to 6,000 yuan.
    The new method is expected to slash costs by more than half, Zhang said.--(7/5)

  • China inflation may hit a 2-year low in June
    China's inflation rate is likely to fall below 3 percent for the first time in two years in June, creating more room for easing policies, analysts say.
    They predict China's economy can bottom out in the third quarter as the current stimulus measures filter through, and it is possible for policy makers to cut banks' reserve requirement ratio again this month to push the growth.
    The June's economic data, including the second-quarter gross domestic product, inflation and industrial production, will be released next week. They are closely watched by the markets to measure the current conditions in the world's second-largest economy.
    "We are probably at the bottom of a U-shaped growth model," says Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank. "The government is likely to unleash another set of mild policies to sustain growth, and the recovery is likely to be mild, too."
    More optimistic than other economists, Lu predicts that China's June inflation rate may ease to 2.2 percent, the lowest in three years. Other predictions range from 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent.
    Consumer Price Index, the main gauge of inflation, expanded 3 percent from a year earlier in May, the slowest in 23 months thanks mostly to cheaper food.
    "The same reason will enable inflation to ease more in June," Lu says, noting that the non-food sector may also report lower prices in June.--(7/4)

  • Shanghai's land sales weak in H1
    Shanghai's land market remained weak in the first half of this year despite a rise in purchases by developers last month, an industry report said yesterday.
    Land parcels, designated for all types of developments except public use, were sold for 14.665 billion yuan (US$2.32 billion) between January and June, an annual plunge of 67 percent and down 80 percent from the second half of 2011, according to data released by Soufun.com, a real estate website.
    About 2.11 million square meters of land were sold across the city during the six-month period, an annual fall of 56 percent and a plunge of 75 percent from the second half of 2011, the data showed.
    But Shanghai saw land sales exceed 5.7 billion yuan in June, up from 573 million yuan in May, Soufun said.
    "Tight cash flow damped developers' appetite while (land) supply was also small," said Zhang Wanyu, a Soufun analyst. "The significant rebound in June was certainly not enough to save the market from a weak first-half overall."
    The city released 55 plots totaling 2.47 million square meters for sale during the first six months, down from 99 parcels, or 4.87 million square meters, launched in the same period a year ago.--(7/3)

  • City upgrades to orange heat alert as mercury hits 37oC
    Shanghai's temperature soared to 37 degrees Celsius this afternoon, the highest this year, local weathermen said.
    The city has sweltered in heat of over 36 degrees for three consecutive days and the scorching weather is likely to continue for five to seven days, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.
    The mercury is expected to hit 38 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday.
    The bureau issued a yellow heat alert at 8:30am, the lowest of a three-level warning system, and upgraded it to orange at 12:50pm when the temperature exceeded 35 degrees.
    The highest was recorded at 1:08pm when the mercury reached 37 degrees Celsius, the bureau said.
    Thunderstorm is likely to happen this afternoon and tomorrow and the temperature will climb further on Wednesday and Thursday, the bureau said.--(7/2)

  • 52.6m take train
    Some 52.6 million passengers have travelled on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway since it opened a year ago, Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Company said yesterday. The 1,318-km railway took three years to build.--(7/1)

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