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November 14, 2002 Hong Kong Presentation Notes by Johnson Choi
In Depth Look of Hong Kong - Past, Current & Future
In Depth Look of China - Past, Current & Future
To succeed in business in Hawaii, you must understand the islands
How to Do Business with China, through Hong Kong & Setting up Business in China?
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April 30 - May 1, 2005

Hong Kong: A number of Hong Kong newspapers carried editorials Thursday welcoming the Basic Law interpretation by the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC). They said the interpretation of Clause 2, Article 53 of the Basic Law not only effectively settles the debate on the tenure of the new Chief Executive, but also lays an unshakable legal foundation for the smooth selection of the new Chief Executive on July 10 and will eventually maintain the essential interests of Hong Kong people. The interpretation of Clause 2, Article 53 of the Basic Law has drawn warm applause from various circles in Hong Kong.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang faced a barrage of criticism Thursday from those whom he logically would have expected it least - government-friendly, pro-Beijing politicians acting out their frustration at being given short shrift by China's leaders, who ignored them in picking Tsang as Hong Kong's prospective leader. Making his first appearance at the legislature Thursday, Tsang faced an unrelenting attack from pro-Beijing lawmakers who questioned his performance and the propriety of some of his actions prior to the departure of his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, who stepped down March 10.

The receivers of Shanghai Land, once run by jailed tycoon Chau Ching-ngai, a key figure in several banking scandals, have begun efforts to liquidate the company, which is still unable to find more than 600 million yuan (HK$565.62 million) loaned to subsidiaries. Shanghai Land, suspended from trading in Hong Kong since June 2003, said Thursday that its receivers have entered negotiations with representatives of its chairman, Chau, and Bank of China (Hong Kong), its largest creditor.

Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan would be appointed the ambassador of the 2006 World Firefighters Games, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Walton Brown, part of Lane Crawford Joyce Group, plans to open its second mainland lifestyle mega-store in Dongguan. Walton Brown's Joe Wong (left) and Wu Kwai-yung, chairman of developer Dongguan Sanyuan Yinghui, seal the store deal.

Charles Chan Kwok-keung says he will reassess his planned stake in Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting after three years, despite a clause in the proposed sales and purchase agreement with Television Broadcasts prohibiting sale of the stake within five years without the approval of all the signatories.

China: Chairman Lien Chan (L2) of the Kuomintang (KMT) Party of China and his wife Fang Yu (L1) wave to the greeting crowds upon their arrival in Beijing April 28, 2005. Lien arrived in Beijing Thursday, the second leg of his mainland visit. Lien Chan said Thursday that a peaceful and win-win future to be achieved Is the common aspiration of the people across the Taiwan Straits.

China's legislature has passed its first law regulating the activities of civil servants but left out a controversial measure aimed at curbing rampant corruption, state press said on Thursday.

Strict land control and tax policies are among eight measures being implemented to beef up macro-control over China's red-hot real estate sector.

Property draws overseas investors - Nothing is subtle about Hong Kong town in Shanghai. Dominating the centre of Huai Hai Middle Road, one of the city's prime business hubs, are the twin towers of Hong Kong Plaza, linked by a footbridge that spans across the wide boulevard. On its right and left extending three to four city blocks, are skyscrapers bearing names that are unmistakably Hong Kong - Lippo Centre, Central Plaza, New World Plaza, Shui On Plaza and Shanghai Times Square. They are all owned by Hong Kong's major property developers. On the other side of Huai Hai Park is Xintiandi, a cluster of bars combining Shanghai architecture with modern decor, developed by Hong Kong's Shui On Land. On the adjacent blocks are properties, including a service apartment complex and several office buildings, developed by Singapore investors, mainly CapitaLand. "Shanghai's commercial real estate market is an emerging investment magnet for overseas property developers," says Wayne Zane, associate director of Colliers International Property Services (Shanghai). "Demand for prime office space has continued to outstrip supply by a widening margin," he says.

The country's top legislature in Beijing yesterday ended weeks of bitter debate and unanimously agreed that the SAR's new chief executive (CE), returned in the July 10 by-election, will serve only up to the end of June 2007.

Lu Xiangdong (left), deputy general manager of China Mobile, and Bill Roedy, vice-chairman of MTV Networks try out mobile phones. The pair announced a ground-breaking partnership yesterday.

China and the Philippines are pushing for the establishment of a "strategic and co-operative relationship for peace and development" by signing a series of agreements to open the way for more trade, investment and maritime co-operation.

Beijing has told recalcitrant - or just plain confused - local government officials to start implementing new rules that will allow foreign companies to set up their own distribution systems on the mainland, one of the most sought-after goals of foreign companies doing business in China.

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Tuesday it would set up a reporting mechanism to oversee the country's overseas mergers, in a fresh move to intensify the management of China's outward investment.

April 29, 2005

Hong Kong: The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China on Wednesday adopted the draft interpretation on Clause 2, Article 53 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), setting that the term of office of the next HKSAR Chief Executive shall be the remaining part left by Tung Chee Hwa, former HKSAR Chief Executive. The selection for the next Chief Executive will be held on July 10 according to the HKSAR Basic Law.

Even though Hong Kong is HK$1.9 billion richer than when the 2005-06 Budget was announced last month, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said he has no "magic wand'' for the economy. Expenditure for the year ended March 31 amounted to HK$242.2 billion, while revenue was HK$263.6 billion - resulting in a surplus of HK$21.4 billion. This is an improvement of HK$9.4 billion over the revised surplus of HK$12 billion forecast in the 2005-06 Budget, said a government spokesman.

The Hong Kong government has approved plans by the Greek Mythology (Macau) Entertainment Group to take over the rights to renovate and operate the cross-boundary ferry terminal from Tuen Mun, thus providing a third alternative ferry service for Macau-bound gamblers.

Singer Ella Koon Yun-na is thanked by Lee Man-yuk, six, for helping in a cake-decorating competition at the Grand Hyatt. The event on Monday, organised by the Heep Hong Society, was to promote a buffet on May 26 that will raise money for disabled children.

Faced with declining revenue because of piracy, the Hong Kong Film industry is to launch civil action to stop the illegal downloading of copyrighted movies from the Internet.

Hong Kong's Immigration Department expects 5.54 million people to pass through HK¡¯s land, sea and air control points during the Labor Day holiday period, up 15.7 percent on last year.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), allocated US$15 billion in government bailout funds last week, will soon invite the country's four state-owned asset management companies to bid for more than 450 billion yuan of non-performing loans it has on its books, industry sources say.

China: China's economy is expected to grow by 8.3 percent this year, while its inflation rate will be 3.5 percent, well within the range set by the central government, the World Bank said Wednesday in a quarterly report.

President Hu Jintao reaffirmed burgeoning ties with the Philippines Wednesday by agreeing to investments and loans worth US$1.7 billion (HK$13.3 billion) to fund infrastructure and mining projects in the Southeast Asian country. The Philippines also edged towards closer security ties with China despite concerns by some senior Philippine military officers this could irritate the United States, Manila's traditional ally.

The draft amendment of China's Securities Law to rejuvenate the stock market was submitted Tuesday to China's top legislature for first deliberation.

Hong Kong's Immigration Department expects 5.54 million people to pass through HK¡¯s land, sea and air control points during the Labor Day holiday period, up 15.7 percent on last year.

Chinese companies, especially brand name producers, have resolutely embarked on the road of safeguarding their rights after experiencing various lawsuits involving IPR at home and abroad.

Foreign banks are currently allowed to conduct business in yuan in 18 cities, but all restrictions are scheduled to be removed at the end of next year. Foreign banks operating in China may soon face new rules curbing their spread along the country's prosperous and lucrative eastern seaboard, state media reported Wednesday.

The leader of Taiwan's Nationalist Party on Wednesday visited the tomb of Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary claimed by both his party and its former communist enemies as their founding hero, as he prepared for a history-making meeting this week with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Mainland officials will be required to declare their income and assets under a new civil service law that is part of Beijing's efforts to crack down on rampant official corruption.

April 28, 2005

Hong Kong: The Kuomintang (KMT) Party of China Chairman Lien Chan leading a Kuomintang delegation arrived at the Hong Kong Airport at noon by Dragonair Flight KA487 Tuesday. Lien and his delegation were welcomed at the airport by Assistant Director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Xing Kuishan and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung.

One of the 15-year-old Hubble Telescope's best-known images is that of the Whirlpool Galaxy passing in front of a smaller cluster of stars. The Whirlpool is 31 million light years from Earth.

Over 480 organizations and groups jointly held a party Monday evening to congratulate Tung Chee-hwa on his assuming the post as vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Tung and his wife, Henry Ying Tung Fok, the vice-chairman of the CPPCC, Donald Tsang, the Acting Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Gao Siren, the Director of the Lianson Office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR, Yang Wenchang, the Commissioner of China's Foreign Ministry in HKSAR and Wang Jitang, the Commander of the People's Liberation Army Garrison Troops in HKSAR attended the congratulatory party.

Stonecutters Island treatment works, which will be expanded by 2013, will lead the way to a cleaner, safer harbour, according to officials.

Nearly half a million mainland visitors were expected to flock to Hong Kong during the coming Labour Day golden week, Tourism Commissioner Eva Cheng Yu-wah said on Tuesday.

The Law Society has dropped its opposition to Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law over the tenure of the next chief executive after its delegation met with mainland senior officials in Beijing on Tuesday, local radio reported.

Chinese President urged for closer China-ASEAN economic cooperation, setting the goal of bringing China-ASEAN trade to US$200 billion before 2010. China and Indonesia - the largest country in Southeast Asia - signed a joint declaration for a "strategic partnership" yesterday, signalling a new determination on both sides to further consolidate bilateral ties.

PICC Property and Casualty, China's biggest non-life insurer, disappointed the market with an 86 per cent fall in its 2004 earnings on the back of higher-than-expected losses from claims and trading activities.

China: A TV grab shows Chairman Lien Chan (L) of the Kuomintang (KMT) party and his wife wave to people upon arriving arrived in Nanjing in east China's Jiangsu Province at 16:40 Tuesday to begin an eight-day mainland visit. This is the first time the chairman of the KMT party has landed foot on the mainland in more than half a century. When the KMT described Lien's visit a "journey of peace," Lien said in Taiwan on Monday that "cross-Straits exchanges should no longer be hampered by the mindset of civil war." He expressed the hope that his visit could lay the groundwork for improved relations and closer trade links across the Taiwan Straits. An overwhelming 96 per cent of Chinese mainland respondents to a survey released yesterday in Beijing show they welcome and appreciate the imminent visits of Lien Chan, chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) and James C. Y. Soong, chairman of the People First Party (PFP).

A regulation on internet piracy aimed at curbing illegal downloading of video, audio and software products will be issued next month by China's National Copyright Administration and the Ministry of Information Industry.

Fledgling technology company Gaoxinqi would prefer to forget last summer. The Shenzhen firm had been flying high since its establishment in 1997. Going from a start-up with 40 workers, the company evolved into one of the mainland's leading telephone manufacturers.

China Southern has recovered from Sars but now faces a future at the mercy of oil prices.

Relations between Japan and the mainland are on the mend after two weeks of tension, and Japanese electronics firms with ventures in China aim to continue with their plans but are watching out for future flashpoints. Some of the world's most sought after liquid-crystal display television sets and office printers are made in China, so it is in the best interest of both nations to smooth out any differences.

April 27, 2005

Hong Kong: The NPC Standing Committee on Sunday started to examine a draft interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution regarding the tenure of the region's chief executive.

For the first time since he resigned last month, former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa openly backed Donald Tsang to succeed him as Chief Executive.

The director of an independent advocacy group says the Planning Department is turning its back on efforts to allow storied Kai Tak airport to be a center for general aviation in addition to its planned role as a cruise ship terminal.

A district judge Monday halted a troubled Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into bribery and share manipulation in the financial sector for a second time in order to consider charges of malpractice directed at the ICAC. The trial of Kwong Hing International director Li Man-tak and former UBS financial analyst Nicholas Tan has been in court for 18 days but has yet to formally begin while district court judge Fergal Sweeney has heard arguments relating to ICAC investigative practices. The hearing was adjourned Monday as government lawyers and the judge prepared for a defense application to stay the proceedings.

China: Chen Yunlin (L2), Director of Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the talks with the nine-member delegation led by Chin Chin-sheng, Secretary-General of Taiwan's People First Party (PFP), at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, April 24, 2005. Official talks over the schedule of PFP Chairman James Soong's planned visit to the mainland began yesterday.

It is probable that China will take over Canada this year to be the largest trading partner of the United States, said former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky at a trade negotiation recently.

As is learned from Customs General Administration, on the eve of "4.26 World Intellectual Property Day", Chinese Customs has, in Tianjin, Xiamen, Urumqi, Zhuhai, etc., destroyed several batches of IPR-violation commodities, which include pirate CDs, counterfeit name-brand watches and counterfeited sneakers. This is only part of the discovered and seized commodities that infringed the intellectual property rights (IPR). Statistics show that since the new Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights was put into effect on Mar. 1 last year, Chinese customs has tracked down and confiscated a total of 1.129 cases of import and export commodity infringement, involving a value of 92.88 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 48.1 percent and 34.2 percent respectively.

Hu Jintao leaves the Jakarta palace after signing a deal lifting trade between China and Indonesia to US$20 billion a year. Beijing has sealed a far-reaching deal with Indonesia to extend billions of dollars of trade and provide a raft of other assistance likely to help revive Southeast Asia's largest economy and cement China's regional dominance.

China's iron and steel industry is set to be transformed in the near future, as the central government will soon introduce a new industry policy to regulate the fast-expanding sector. The executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to the long-awaited China iron and steel industry development policy.

The mainland's slumping car market has claimed another victim. Brilliance China, the country's biggest minivan maker and BMW's joint-venture partner, said profits plunged 95 percent from year-ago levels to 48.57 million yuan (HK$45.79 million), as sales dropped 35.29 percent to 6.54 billion yuan from 10.11 billion yuan in 2003. The fiercely competive mainland car market, coupled with government restrictions on lending for new car sales, have left many mainland automakers reeling. General Motors and Volkswagen, which had come to rely on China sales for a disproportionate amount of their profits, have seen their businesses slump.

April 26, 2005

Hong Kong: The tenure of a new Hong Kong chief executive shall be the remaining part of the former chief executive's five-year tenure when the former retires before full term, according to a draft interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution provisions. The state legislature's interpretation of the Basic Law on the chief executive's term is a one-off ruling that will apply only to the current vacancy, a senior mainland official said yesterday.

Cheung Kong (Holdings), Hong Kong's second-largest developer behind Sun Hung Kai Properties, has arranged the cheapest financing of any public company in the territory as the competition to fund Hong Kong borrowers pushes the deal fees of lenders to the wall. The HK$5.6 billion loan will pay bankers, which include HSBC and Bank of China (Hong Kong), an all-in fee, including commissions and other deal-related charges, of 30 basis points on the five-year loan, said bankers familiar with the situation. That comes in just under the ultra-low 31 basis points Sun Hung Kai Properties squeezed from bankers on a HK$12.6 billion, five-year term loan earlier this year.

Unbeaten thoroughbred Silent Witness did everything expected of him as he racked up win No17 in yesterday's Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin and simultaneously opened up a world of possibilities. Jockey Felix Coetzee raises an arm in triumph after Silent Witness' record win.

A rush for free Silent Witness baseball hats resulted in 21 people being injured at the Jockey Club in Sha Tin.

More young single people are applying for public flats, confounding previous assumptions about marriage, the formation of households and demand for subsidised housing.

Retired US general and former secretary of state Colin Powell will visit Hong Kong in June to attend an economic forum, his first trip to the region since leaving office on January 26.

A plan to present a travel book to delegates attending a tourism conference in Macau last week was scrapped by the government due to its negative portrayal of the enclave's last governor, the author claims.

A new listing rule requiring the disclosure of directors' remuneration by name could boost their average pay as it will enable directors to benchmark their pay packages against those of their peers, according to KPMG.

China: During talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (L) on the sideline of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta, Hu (R) initiated five proposals on developing Sino-Japanese relations. Chinese business leaders attending the Boao Forum for Asia say trade and investment relations between China and Japan could be on the mend following a meeting between the countries' leaders. The meeting between President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Jakarta was timely and necessary, and is set to greatly ease tensions between the two countries.

Hainan Airlines plans to issue up to 2.8 billion non-tradeable shares to finance its expansion and debt problems, according to an announcement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday.

The spread of the news that Lien Chan and Soong Chu-yu will visit the mainland has aroused great repercussion at home and abroad. Official talks between Taiwan's opposition People First Party (PFP) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the schedule of PFP Chairman James Soong's planned visit to the mainland began yesterday in Beijing.

A model poses before a Ford sedan in the Shanghai International Auto Show April 22, 2005. The show opens Friday amid a downturn in the industry with buyers no longer snapping up cars as fast as they are being churned out.

China will not copy the international practice in corporate governance for enterprises that are carrying out reform, said Zhou Xiaochuan. Long-awaited Securities Law amendments, which focus on strengthening the supervision of listed companies and securities firms, came under the review of top legislators in Beijing yesterday.

President Hu Jintao (second left), Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (centre), Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (second right) and other Asian and African leaders at a walk yesterday for the 50th anniversary of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. Representatives of approximately 100 Asian and African nations, including more than 40 heads of state, visited Bandung yesterday to mark the occasion.

A total of 108 eminent monks from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan Province, Hong Kong and Macao, sang in unison during the enshrining ceremony of a statue of Guanyin, or Bodhisattva, in Sanya, Hainan Province yesterday.

China's banking regulator yesterday pledged an all-out effort to fight the battle against irregularities, following earlier regulatory measures announced after recent scandals at major banks further exposed weaknesses in the sector.

April 25, 2005

Hong Kong: Deputy Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Qiao Xiaoyang held two meetings with nearly 300 Hong Kong personnel from various walks of life in Shenzhen City Thursday, in a bid to solicit views on the tenure of the new Hong Kong Chief Executive (CE) through by-election and the NPC Standing Committee's interpretation on the issue.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is conducting a WTO Asia-Pacific Regional Trade Policy Course for senior government officials in partnership with Hong Kong University. A spokeswoman of Hong Kong University said Thursday that the course, started on April 18 and due to complete on July 8, 2005, is attended by government officials from 28 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region. The course aims to address the need for developing countries to strengthen the skills and knowledge of their government officials to face the challenges of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).

Legislators Friday passed a motion calling on the government to build the Tuen Mun Western Bypass and Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link as early as possible to improve the traffic situation in the northwest New Territories. They also criticized the government for acting slowly in tackling traffic problems. In proposing his motion, labor sector representative Wong Kwok-hing expressed fears that the opening of Disneyland and various other projects, including the proposed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, will severely increase traffic.

Inflation in Hong Kong held steady in March with prices rising 0.8 percent, the same rate in February, government figures showed on Friday.

With its rising international profile, Macau was hungry for feedback from delegates at the Pacific Asia Travel Association annual conference, which came to an end yesterday. Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos have worked together for a decade to encourage overseas visitors, but tourism authorities say greater co-operation is needed.

David Eldon (centre right) yesterday presided over his last annual general meeting as Hang Seng Bank chairman. Mr Eldon, due to retire next month as chairman of sister bank Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, will hand the Hang Seng chairmanship today to Hongkong Bank chief executive Michael Smith (centre left).

China: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized for Japan's wartime atrocities and said he will meet President Hu Jintao in an attempt to repair ties that are at their worst in over three decades. Koizumi, speaking after making the apology in front of world leaders at a multilateral forum, said he will meet Hu Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta.

Winners of Miss Tourism Queen International 2005 China finals salute the audience in Xitang, East China's Zhejiang Province April 20, 2005. Sun Jia (center), Ma Yuan (left) and Li Xi were ranked 1st. 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Sun will represent China to take part in the finals to be held in Hangzhou.

The spread of the news that Lien Chan and Soong Chu-yu will successively visit the mainland has aroused great repercussion at home and abroad. The matter has recently become the focus of media reports and the topic of lively neighborhood discussion. It can be said that the news has caused a wide stir before their visits take place. Motivated by farsighted people between the two sides, a new platform of links between political parties is being set up. The atmosphere of the long-stagnant Taiwan Straits has presented a scene of the swirl of breeze.

China and France reached a three-billion-euro deal Thursday morning during French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's three-day official visit to Beijing. Raffarin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao witnessed the signing ceremony of the 20 cooperative agreements, which deal with aviation, nuclear energy and agriculture. As part of the agreements, China promised to buy 30 Airbus planes, including five Airbus A380 and 25 A320 planes. Prior to the signing ceremony, Wen and Raffarin held hour-long talks, agreeing to further political and economic ties. Wen said both China and France are putting the bilateral ties in an prominent position in their foreign relations and making efforts to improve mutual political trust and strategic dialogue.

A model poses at a concept car of China's Chery Motor during the preview of the 11th Shanghai International Auto Industry Exhibition in East China's Shanghai, April 21, 2005. Some 1,036 manufacturers from 26 countries and regions will participate in the Exhibition, which will open to the public on April 22. Covering an area of 120, 000 square meters, the exhibition has surpassed Tokyo exhibition to be the largest in Asia and the world's third.

A visitor tries on a new-style sports car during a preview of the 11th Shanghai International Auto Industry Exhibition in East China's Shanghai April 21, 2005. Some 1,036 manufacturers from 26 countries and regions will participate in the Exhibition, which will open to the public on April 22.

Chinese President Hu Jintao made a three-point proposal here Thursday on strengthening cooperation between Asia and Africa.

Premier Wen Jiabao (centre) and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin (left) at the Forbidden City in Beijing yesterday at the opening of the Louis XIV exhibition. Raffarin is on a three-day official visit to China. French firm Rhodia, the world's leading speciality chemicals manufacturer, yesterday announced a huge funds injection plan for the Chinese market in the next few years, which will account for a third of its global investment.

Haier, Lenovo, CCTV and Changhong have been listed in World Brand Lab's global top 500 brands made public recently.

Commercial Bank in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced yesterday an investment of 625 million yuan (US$75.3 million) to purchase a 19.9 per cent stake in the bank.

China will plough US$15 billion ($117 billion) into Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to rehabilitate its books and prepare it for a stock-market listing next year, state media reported yesterday.

China has shut down several anti-Japanese websites to prevent people from organising more protests through the internet, in a further indication on Friday that the government feared demonstrations would get out of hand.

Lenovo Group, hurt by a seasonal sales slowdown in the mainland, has lost its top spot in Asia-Pacific personal computer sales to Hewlett-Packard. Lenovo's fall in the first quarter was attributed to a dip in sales during the Lunar New Year holiday, although it also had to deal with "high levels of inventory" from the previous quarter, according to a research report.

In the fiscal year of 2004 (April 2004-March 2005), the trade volume between Japan and China (Hong Kong SAR included) reached 22.71 trillion yen (about US$200 billion), while that between Japan and the United States was 20.63 trillion yenr.

April 22 - 24, 2005

Hong Kong: Beijing has lifted an entry ban on a Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker, allowing him to visit the mainland to comment on its intervention in the territory’s affairs, the lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Catholic leader Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said on Wednesday that he hoped the new Pope Benedict XVI will be able to mend ties between the Vatican and the mainland.

The tourism industry says there are not enough hotels to cope with the increasing number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong, legislator Abraham Shek lai-him said on Wednesday.

Lenovo Group has concluded a US$600 million revolving credit and loan facility with a syndicate of 20 banks, shoring up the mainland giant's funds for its US$1.75 billion purchase of IBM Corp's personal computer business.

The Audit Commission has made official what most people see with their own eyes: the government is failing to tackle air pollution in the SAR. The main problems, according to an Audit Commission report issued Wednesday, are the 129,000 diesel vehicles and lax enforcement of standards for testing and regulating diesel emissions. According to the commission, the vehicles account for about 40 percent of the total distance traveled on Hong Kong roads, and about 90 percent of respirable suspended particulates.

Hong Kongers spent 3.3 billion yuan (HK$3.1 billion) to buy properties on the mainland in the first quarter, 15 percent more than a year earlier, property consultancy Land Power International said.

China: Actress Zhang Ziyi arrives at Time magazine's "100 most influential people" dinner in New York City April 19, 2005. The special issue of the magazine was published April 11, 2005.

KMT chairman Lien Chan will visit the mainland cities of Nanjing, Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai from April 26 to May 3.

The Nanjing Company of the Changan Ford Automobile Co., ltd. was inaugurated in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province on April 19, 2005. The company is jointly invested by Ford Motors, Mazda and China's Chang'an Group. The plant with annual output of 160,000 sedan cars is expected to be built in 2007.

China's GDP (gross domestic product) grew by 9.5 percent to 3.1355 trillion yuan (379 billion US dollars) in the first quarter of this year, and the growth rate was 0.3 percent lower than a year earlier.

The IDC, world's renown advising and consulting institute, said in a report released on April 19 that China has become the world's third largest semiconductor consumption market with the market revenue topping $26 billion.

Consumers select skincare products at one of Nu Skin's stores in Shanghai. The world's leading direct seller of personal care and nutrition products will open 75 more stores this year and expects to get business licences for Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces.

Avon unveiled an implementation plan for its direct-selling trial yesterday, a move signaling the start of a milestone testing programme proceeding the opening of China's highly monitored direct-selling sector.

April 21, 2005

Hong Kong: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, the Catholic Church's leading hardliner, was elected the new pope last night despite a widespread assumption he was too old and divisive to win election.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has postponed its decision on Beijing's proposal to move the equestrian events for the 2008 Olympics to Hong Kong, saying the issue needs more study.

More than 250 emergency services personnel conduct a counter-terrorism exercise last night at Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, focusing on biological and nuclear hazards. Victims of a simulated attack were rescued from a cruise liner.

Visiting US Secretary of Transport Norman Mineta adds some muscle to Washington's efforts to force the pace of talks for an "open skies" deal with Hong Kong. He told an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday that Hong Kong negotiators' priority should not be the city's airlines. He urged an immediate lifting of flight restrictions instead of gradual liberalization. The message failed to win over Cathay Pacific Airways, among other local interests.

The days of paying by the minute for international direct dialing (IDD) calls look numbered. Both Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) and Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) yesterday offered a flat-rate, unlimited plan for less than $40 a month.

Shangri-La Asia, the region's largest luxury hotelier, says its mainland hotels performed strongly in the first quarter.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong took home a pay cheque of $8.9 million last year, cementing his position as the best-paid central banker in the world.

China: Students of the University of Shangdong wield fluorescent sticks as they welcome the arrival of the "Light of Einstein", a worldwide relay of lights to mark Albert Einstein's 50th death anniversary, Jinan, East China's Shandong Province, April 19, 2005.

President Hu left Beijing Wednesday for state visits to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Beijing is set to open its markets to Taiwan in an arrangement similar to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) it struck with Hong Kong and Macau, according to informed sources.

Car emissions are one of the main factors behind worsening air quality in Guangdong, provincial Environmental Protection Bureau vice-director Chen Guangrong has admitted.

April 20, 2005

Hong Kong: Japanese tourists are canceling holidays to Hong Kong fearing they will be caught up in anti-Japanese protests that have erupted in Chinese cities, travel associations said Tuesday.

Unemployment in Hong Kong held steady at 6.1 per cent in the three months to March, government figures showed on Tuesday.

For the first time, Hong Kong is poised to get its own taste of Olympic glory, as press reports say that the city will be awarded the rights to stage the equestrian events for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Shanghai Electric Group, which hopes to raise as much as HK$5.2 billion from selling shares in Hong Kong, met a lukewarm response from retail investors in the first two days of its initial offering amid see-sawing share prices and rising interest rates.

Hong Kong police said on Tuesday they were hunting a lone man who attacked and slashed the face of a prominent lawyer who is facing charges for allegedly obstructing an anti-corruption agency.

The World Trade Organization agreement on anti-dumping needs to be clarified and improved, according to the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang Chun-wah.

The US transportation secretary warned Hong Kong on Tuesday that it will lose its status as a global aviation hub if it doesn't sign an agreement with Washington to open its skies further.

A shipping company on Monday was fined $64,000 by the Eastern Magistracy for using pirated computer software during business hours.

Singapore has followed the region in allowing casinos.

Struggling undersea cable carrier Reach has received further parental help from PCCW and Telstra Corp, which have slashed the joint venture's outstanding debt and committed US$212 million to fund its capital spending.

Radio veteran Tony Reno had long dreamed of creating a program to bring Asian hip-hop, rock, metal, pop and other styles of music to western audiences, but the commercial demands of the industry kept him off the airwaves. Now, thanks to a confluence of technologies such as high-speed broadband connections and portable digital music players, the economics of audio creation and distribution have changed.

Real estate tycoon Lui Che-woo and his family will take a payout of more than HK$11.5 billion on their long-shot bet on Macau's gambling industry. Lui secured his place in a triumvirate of Macau casino magnates - next to old-timer Stanley Ho and American newcomer Sheldon Adelson - as KWah Construction Materials, a supply company run by the Lui family, announced a HK$18.4 billion deal to buy nearly all of the stock of Galaxy Casino, mostly from the Luis themselves. Galaxy owns one casino and has four others under construction. The Luis spent HK$612 million to acquire their shares during a February 3 ownership restructuring.

China: Zhao Chenchi (2nd from right), Bai Yunping (right) are ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the 5th Chinese Model Contest held in Shishi City, East China's Fujian Province April 17, 2005. More than 10,000 candidates took part in the contest, with 60 entering Sunday's final.Wang Qing (left) and Shan Jingya shared the third prize.

Two American men were sentenced on Tuesday to prison terms of up to two years and six months for selling pirated DVDs over the internet in a rare success for joint United States-China efforts to enforce intellectual property laws.

China has developed its home-made central processing unit (CPU) chip -- Godson II -- equivalent to Pentium III, announced the CAS in Beijing on Monday.

The Ministry of Commerce has denied the rumor that the Chinese government is considering any plan to impose even higher duties on Chinese textile exports.

China and Australia agreed to start talks on establishing a free trade area following Australia's recognition of China's full market economy status.

This shot of the Badaling section of the Great Wall was taken by space station astronaut Leroy Chiao on the morning of February 20 when he flew over Beijing at an altitude of 360 kilometres. The photograph, the first ever released by Chiao, was studied by Professor Wei Chengjie, an expert in remote sensing, who added the markings and toned down the blue colour so that it more closely resembles the view one would have from an aeroplane.

The Japanese consulate in Shanghai yesterday halted its direct service for providing visas to Chinese citizens, citing damage to the building inflicted during the protests and security concerns.

The head of Taiwan's opposition People First Party (PFP), James Soong Chu-yu, has accepted an invitation from President Hu Jintao for a fence-mending visit, possibly early next month.

April 19, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan shakes hands with Acehnese refugees at a children's centre at Lampeuneurut village, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Monday. Chan is in the region to help raise awareness that the tsunami ravaged province is still in need of aid.

The Highways Department planned to build two elevated roads in Lok Ma Chau to help ease traffic congestion in the area, a spokesman said on Monday.

Within one week of the Arch notching a record per-unit price for a $168 million penthouse, all available units in the Sun Hung Kai Properties development have been sold. The developer says only reserve units remain on its books at the West Kowloon project. Eight hundred of the 1,052 units were sold within days of the pre-sale launch.

PCCW intends to offer fully mobile voice and data services in the British market once the regulator liberalises its spectrum policy, according to company executives.

China: President Hu Jintao (R2) talks with veteran Jewish journalist and writer Israel Epstein (L2), April 17. Hu paid a visit to Epstein to extend greetings on the eve of his 90th birthday. Hu praised Epstein for his "outstanding contributions" to China's progress and his "sincere affection for China and Chinese people" in past dozens of years during which he witnessed all the stages of China's revolution, construction and reform under the leadership of the CPC.

President Hu Jintao and Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi may meet this week at a conference in Jakarta to try to ease tensions that have sparked weekend anti-Japanese protests in mainland cities since April 2.

A visitor consults an employee of a web company during the 8th China International E-Commerce Conference in Beijing, capital of China, on April 17, 2005. The conference, jointly sponsored by China's E-Commerce Association, Xinhua News Agency and Xinhuanet, opened here on Sunday and it is the first of its kind after the electronic signature law took effect in China on April 1.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday invited Taiwan opposition leader James Soong to visit the mainland, just weeks after Beijing feted a high-level Kuomintang party (KMT) delegation.

Passengers wait for a cable car in the fog in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Saturday. Since it started operating in 1987, the 1,166-metre cable car service, the first built across the Yangtze River, has been the main mode of transport for residents to cross from the main island in the middle of the river.

Air Macau has begun negotiations with management from at least two airlines with a view to surrendering its exclusive right to operate from the former Portuguese colony.

The central government is considering a proposal to dissolve all provincial and state-level media group companies in a far-reaching reform of the mainland's media industry, sources say.

Cosco Pacific and Guangzhou Port Group have agreed to form a four billion yuan joint venture to build and operate a container terminal in Nansha, Guangzhou.

Guangdong recorded foreign trade volume of US$33.49 billion in March, up 16.2 per cent from the same month a year ago, according to statistics released by Guangdong Customs yesterday.

April 18, 2005

Hong Kong: The Airport Authority of Hong Kong agreed to pay a 1.99 billion yuan (HK$1.87 billion) for a 35 percent stake in Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, its first major investment outside the territory as it seeks to cash in on the mainland's rapidly growing aviation market.

Weddings at any time of the day or night and at virtually any location within the SAR came a step closer yesterday when the Legco security panel supported proposed amendments to the Marriage Ordinance.

Tying the knot on planes or while parachuting from them, on cruise ships or underwater, at theme parks, beaches and parks may be permitted by the end of this year.

Secretary for Health York Chow talks with a villager about the anti-mosquito efforts in Sha Kong Tsuen, Yuen Long. He says vacant houses are dangerous breeding grounds.

Ministers will be allowed to join in electioneering for candidates in the chief executive race under proposed guidelines unveiled by the electoral watchdog yesterday.

China: The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has pledged to "pay efficient attention to problems that have a bearing on the fundamental interests of the people, while stepping up efforts to prevent and punish corruption." The Politburo meeting praised the personal participation in the campaign by the Standing Committee members, saying it is of great importance for promote the campaign among the whole Party.

The way China is managing its watersheds is a matter of life and death, claims a Communist Party member who is mobilizing peasants to fight for a greater say in the resource, writes Rose Tang.

The number of foreign tourists visiting China jumped by a record 14.8 percent in the first two months of this year to 17.9 million, the government said Friday. Tourist spending grew even faster, surging by 23.6 percent to 4.1 billion yuan (HK$3.86 billion), Xinhua and the China National Tourism Administration said.

The European Union vowed on Friday to boost its partnership with China in an all-around manner, saying the issue of lifting an arms embargo on China does not overshadow the bilateral dialogue. China is the EU's "huge and important partner," said European Commissioner on External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner after a meeting of EU foreign ministers here. She noted that the issue of lifting the arms embargo on China does not "overshadow" the EU- China dialogue in as many as 20 fields.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing (centre) signs an autograph for visitors to his ministry at its "Open House" on Friday. You would never know Kong Quan had such an effervescent sense of humor if you only ever saw him on the news.

A foreign businessman examines a refrigerator made by Haier, a famous Chinese home appliance maker, at the 97th session of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair. The event opened on Friday in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel), China's largest steelmaker, rolled out its long-awaited additional share offer plan on Friday, with an aim to raise 25 billion yuan (US$3 billion) on April 20 to acquire steel mills, raw materials, logistics and trading assets from its parent company Baosteel Group.

American Express, one of the world's largest payment and travel companies, is in talks with one of its Chinese partners to introduce a corporate card product into the Chinese market, a move that could make it the first foreign firm to debut the business in China.

Local girls give performance at the opening ceremony of China National Tourism Trade Expo opened in Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, April 14, 2005. The annual fair, initiated since 1993, has been China's largest exhibition on tourism.

US President George W. Bush and other top American officials have stepped up the pressure on Beijing to liberalise its currency regime ahead of a weekend meeting of finance chiefs from rich nations.

April 15 - 17, 2005

Hong Kong: Commissioner of Police Dick Lee Ming-kwai (centre) attends a ceremony to launch a competition that uses Hong Kong's 140,000 Junior Police Call members to report environmental problems and find the culprits behind them.  The Junior Police Call Environmental Detectives Competition aims to enhance the civic-mindedness of youngsters and their awareness of environmental protection.

A Hong Kong property group controlled by billionaire Robert Kuok said that it would review its US$600 million development project in Shanghai, following a change in the government's policy on State-owned assets. In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday, Kerry Properties and its hotel affiliate Shangri-La Asia said their hotel-office-residential complex project in downtown Shanghai had not obtained government approval due to recent changes in the Chinese laws on the disposition of State-owned assets. The delay is closely watched by many overseas investors who have been pouring money into the country's soaring property market. They fear the latest government measures might further increase the uncertainties on the already volatile property market, said Michael Hart, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle in Shanghai, an international property agent.

Two antique cups carved out of rhinoceros horn are under the spotlight as Baptist University president Ng Ching-fai (left) discusses them with their owner Lee Chun-hung, chairman of Lee Hoong Kee. The cups went on display yesterday at the university's museum of Chinese medicines and they will remain there until March next year.

PCCW will upgrade its broadband network to offer download speeds of up to eight megabits per second as it continues its transition from a traditional voice carrier to one with internet-based services at the centre of its product offering.
Wheelock Properties expects to reap more than HK$3 billion from the sale of No1 Plantation Road, a two-year-old development of 40 apartments and eight penthouses on The Peak, the SAR's poshest residential district. Wheelock property investment director Gareth Williams said the development, due to be sold during the second quarter, has already attracted keen interest from overseas funds. However, the company believes it could fetch a higher price by selling the development unit by unit.

More Hong Kong criminal court proceedings were being conducted in Chinese - not English, Director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross said on Thursday.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have been invited to meet top Beijing officials in Shenzhen next week to discuss the imminent interpretation of the Basic Law, local radio reported on Thursday.

Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen says the only way is up with his plan to submit a bill to the Legislative Council this month that will seek to abolish estate duty. Mr Tang, speaking at a Hong Kong Capital Markets Association lunch meeting yesterday, said he would like to see the tax taken off the books as soon as possible if the bill were passed, which would be a boon to the capital and investment markets. He also said talks would be held with mainland authorities on expanding the scope of yuan business for local lenders.

Sun Hung Kai Properties yesterday said it sold a 5,353 square foot penthouse at its luxury apartment complex the Arch for a record $168 million, or $31,300 per square foot.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing's new trading hall will feature a traditional circular layout if brokers get their way but they want its glass-wall, "fish tank" design modified to protect their privacy, sources say.

The United States is coordinating efforts and sharing technologies with "like-minded'' Asian countries to help track down and prosecute intellectual property criminals, a visiting US delegation said Wednesday.

Disgruntled Liberal Party chief James Tien decided Wednesday to drop out of the chief executive election on July 10 after failing to secure support from either the central government or the general public of Hong Kong. Announcing his decision, Tien made it clear he had consulted some Beijing officials about his possible candidacy and got a feeling that the central government will support Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

China: The photo taken on April 13, 2005 shows a bird fossil belonging to the early Cretaceous period which is unearthed in Ningcheng County, Chifeng City of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Paralyzed panda has operation: Paralysed giant panda Kangkang receives surgery to vertebrae at Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province yesterday. Doctors stabilized the panda's fractured spine but said Kangkang needs six months to a couple of years of intensive care to fully recover.

China is expected to put a self-made communication satellite into orbit for Nigeria in 2007, making the African nation the first foreign buyer of both a Chinese satellite and its launching service.

Shoppers wait to sample tuna sashimi as a chef prepares the fish at the newly opened Ito-Yokado company store in Beijing.

China's foreign-exchange reserves rose to a record high last month as exports surged and investors continued to bet the government will allow the yuan to appreciate, according to the People's Bank of China.

Beijing has issued its first set of detailed regulations governing management buyouts, which will bar the managers of large state-owned enterprises from acquiring a stake in the companies they run.

Rules designed to curb hot-money inflows and the sale of undervalued state assets are complicating the overseas listing plans of private mainland firms and obstructing foreign-invested projects in the country, analysts say.

A local citizen (R) purchases cosmetics products in an outlet of Avon Products Inc. in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, on April 13, 2005. China gave green light to Avon to test direct selling of its products in Beijing, Tianjin and Guangdong, which makes Avon the first one to get approval for direct selling on trial in China.

China's overall economic situation is good and the nation's economy continues to grow in a steady way in the first quarter of this year, according to an executive meeting of the State Council held here on Wednesday.

Beijing said yesterday it expects Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's planned mainland visit to help improve cross-Straits ties despite Taiwan authorities setting up hurdles to block bilateral exchanges.

Australian mining giant BHP Billiton said yesterday that it had dropped a planned surcharge of up to US$10 per ton on its iron ore exports to Chinese steelmakers and agreed to set the price rise at 71.5 per cent in line with its rivals. Inc has acquired well-known online map provider Go2map Inc and teamed up with leading auction site, showing it is keen to grow its advertising business.

Swiss-based UBS Global Asset Management yesterday announced that the China Securities Regulatory Commission has granted approval for a joint venture fund management company with the State Development Investment Corporation (SDIC).

China Sciences Conservational Power (CSCP), known until recently as technology firm Central China Enterprises, will invest up to 1.5 billion yuan in three mainland waste-to-energy generation projects after completing an equity shuffle between companies controlled by its chairman, Hon Ming-kong.

Power shortages, the summer scourge of Guangdong, China's most industrialized province, have begun three months earlier than usual this year, prompting the usual plant shutdowns and an emergency request from the provincial government for more power from the Three Gorges project.

April 14, 2005

Hong Kong: Joseph Yam's deputy resigns to take 'mid-life sabbatical' in the USA. The long-serving deputy head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is quitting to take a career break. Norman Chan Tak-lam's announcement that he is leaving his $6 million-a-year post to study macroeconomics in the United States shocked the financial sector.

Setting aside a clutter of legal wrangling and conflicting ideas of how to proceed, Beijing has spoken: the next chief executive will serve only until 2007. After a four-hour meeting in Shenzhen Tuesday with 82 Hong Kong lawyers, National People's Congress Standing Committee deputy secretary-general Qiao Xiaoyang emerged to tell reporters what they already assumed - that a full five-year term for the next chief executive is not in the cards.

Hong Kong's lack of a clear cultural policy will create a bleak future for its artists because the "millions of dollars'' the government gives out to develop the sector raises questions over whether they are really investments for the long term, according to Taiwan's former minister of culture.

The board of the International Olympic Committee is almost certain to name Hong Kong as the venue for all equestrian events at the 2008 Games after it meets next week.

Apart from deciding whether Tung Chee-hwa's successor should initially serve only the remainder of his term, Beijing might also rule on the chief executive's maximum tenure upon re-election, a top mainland adviser says.

The government is poised to earn a debut dividend of $250 million from its mortgage funding agency, the Hong Kong Mortgage Corp (HKMC).

Cathay Pacific Airways is studying the feasibility of operating direct flights to Moscow, Bahrain, Dubai and Egypt, according to the group's chief executive Philip Chen Nan-lok.

China: China launched the APstar 6 at the Xichang Satellite Launching Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday. It was the country's first commercial launching of telecommunications satellite since 1999. At 20:00, a Long March 3-II rocket carrier sent the APstar 6 into the skies. Twenty-five minutes later the rocket and the satellite separated as planned.

The mainland attracted US$5.4 billion in foreign investment last month, the most in nine months but down 7 per cent on March last year in a sign the world's seventh-biggest economy could be losing some of its lustre.

Offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC has bought the mainland's first significant stake in an oil sands project, betting that global petroleum prices will remain high enough to sustain profitable exploitation of unconventional crude oil reserves.

Hsufuchi is planning to act as foreign confectionery makers such as Mars, Cadbury and Nestle continue to expand aggressively in China. Dongguan Hsufuchi Food, a Guangdong-based confectionery maker, plans to raise US$100 million to US$150 million (HK$780 million to HK$1.17 billion) in a fourth-quarter share sale in Hong Kong, sources said. Technical issues that have blocked a share sale since 2003 should be cleared up soon, sources said, with an initial offering as soon as October or November. The sale will be underwritten by BNP Paribas, which declined to comment. If successful, Hsufuchi would join a growing number of privately owned mainland firms seeking overseas listings. Until now, most overseas share sales have been by state-owned enterprises, partly because they are generally far bigger than private firms and had central government backing. In recent years, though, a clutch of mainland tech firms have made the Nasdaq stock exchange their home. Now it is the Hong Kong market's turn. Hsufuchi, set up in 1978 by the Taiwan-born Xu brothers, makes products ranging from chocolates to biscuits to preserved fruits. They are sold chiefly in mid-sized mainland supermarkets under such brand names as Hsuchi, Anke and Qiaobi. The company, with a workforce of more than 10,000 manning 110 assembly lines, operates through 15 distribution companies. Besides the mainland, its goods can be found in the United States, Europe, Singapore and Hong Kong, where ParknShop supermarkets peddle Hsufuchi chocolate bars. Foreign confectionery makers such as Mars, Cadbury and Nestle have expanded aggressively in China, while domestic food processor Beijing-based China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs saw sales at its confectionery arm grow 17 percent last year.

Air China and China Eastern Airlines, two of the mainland's three biggest airlines, reported big profits for 2004 but management warned that high oil prices will make 2005 a difficult year. Air China, the mainland's largest international carrier, reported a net profit of 2.39 billion yuan (HK$2.25 billion), or 0.36 yuan a share, compared to 159.6 million yuan a year earlier when earnings were hit by the SARS crisis.

China's foreign exchange regulator aims to cut the country's balance of payments surplus this year by strengthening supervision of capital inflows and steadily promoting foreign exchange reforms, state media said Tuesday.

April 13, 2005

Hong Kong: Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang is prepared to serve in the top post for just seven years in order to keep alive Financial Secretary Henry Tang's hope of contesting the job in 2012, according to a source. Tang, mentioned as a contender for the chief executive race in 2007, is seen as "vital'' to the government, the source said.

Henderson Land has taken the Urban Renewal Authority to the High Court in a case that challenges the government's right to take over property to enhance the revenue potential of an unprofitable renewal project. In a three-day judicial review that began Monday over the redevelopment of part of the fashionable SoHo nightclub area, Henderson Land says the URA has refused to consult openly, failed to consider Henderson's appeals, and contravened the company's existing right to manage its own development.

Bank of East Asia shareholders have voted to deny the bank's directors a "general mandate'' to issue new shares at will, the first time a blue-chip company has suffered such a setback in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong-listed ZTE Corp, the country's second largest telecommunications equipment provider, posted a net profit of 1.27 billion yuan (US$153 million) yesterday for the 2004 fiscal year, registering a growth of 23.7 per cent from the previous year.

Hong Kong lawmakers and legal experts met with Chinese legislative officials Tuesday to discuss a constitutional dispute over how long Hong Kong’s next leader will serve.

Tastes among Hong Kong’s well-to-do have changed and buyers are queueing up to pay more than $30,000 per square foot for penthouse duplexes in the Arch, near Kowloon Station.

When it comes to promoting itself as a hi-tech hub, Hong Kong always points to its sky-high mobile phone and broadband penetration rates and long history of consumer electronics manufacturing, here and in southern China. The government has even thrown in a science park for good measure.

A European initiative to consolidate patent laws for computer-implemented inventions (CII) this year could help spur a review of digital technology patent structure in Asia, according to industry experts.

A senior partner in a law firm is claiming almost HK$20 million in damages for psychological injuries after his Shiitsu dog was mauled to death by two mongrels owned by his former neighbors in Sai Kung.

China: China and India have agreed to establish a "strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity" between them. Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during their meeting in New Delhi, capital of India, on April 11.

A visitor stands close to a show stand at the 9th China International Machine Tool Show, which opened in the International Exhibition Center of Beijing, April 11, 2005. Some 1,000 enterprises from 26 countries and regions have participated in the 7-day show.

China's hi-tech import and export enjoyed robust growth for the 1 quarter of the year, which contributed 28.5 percent to the country's total foreign trade.

In 2004 the foreign trade between China and DPRK, ROK, Japan, Russia and Mongolia accounted for nearly one-fourth of China's total imports and exports.

Four of Shanghai Electric Group's mainland corporate investors will see total gains of up to $2.3 billion on the combined 30.52 per cent stake they took in the listing candidate barely a year ago.

China's steelmakers and traders, refusing to accept an iron ore surcharge proposed by BHP Billiton, are looking for alternative suppliers as negotiations with the Australian mining giant make little headway.

April 12, 2005

Hong Kong: If the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is not able to discharge his or her duties for a short period, such duties shall temporarily be assumed by the Administrative Secretary, Financial Secretary or Secretary of Justice in this order of precedence.

Fishermen on Monday stationed their boats off the building site of Hong Kong Disneyland, demanding the project be halted for allegedly polluting local waters and killing an estimated 1.6 million fish.

The government was considering a new plan to encourage consumers to use re-usable shopping bags in supermarkets, Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said on Monday.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption and Hong Kong's six largest chambers of commerce will jointly host a leadership forum in June, in a bid to enhance ethical behaviour and corporate governance.

China: The anti-Japanese protests have been largely peaceful and controlled, compared to demonstrations of a similar scale in western countries. Angry protesters threw eggs, bottles, stones and bricks at the Japanese embassy and ambassador's residence, and smashed one or two Mitsubishi vehicles in Beijing, but no one was hurt or arrested.

Main board-listed Chevalier iTech Holdings has bought the Pacific Coffee chain for $205 million, in a move that will bring cappuccino culture to the local stock market for the first time.

China's imports and exports are believed to have grown 15 percent and 35 percent respectively in the first quarter of 2005 over the same period last year.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) meets with President of Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi (R) in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2005. Wen started a four-day visit to India April 9. He put forward Sunday his three-point expectation to his India visit.

Visitors at the Investment and Trade Forum for Co-operation between Eastern and Western China examine the Xi'an Yanliang Aviation High-tech Base stand on Saturday, April 09, 2005. The base aims to become a top aviation industry centre in Asia.

Alcatel has pledged it will consolidate its performance in the domestic market by enhancing its research and development (R&D) in China.

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says it will open two outlets in Beijing this year, and at least one more store next year.

April 11, 2005

Hong Kong: The State Council Sunday decided to make a request to the NPC Standing Committee to interpret the Clause 2 of Article 53 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR concerning the tenure of new chief executive.

Democratic Party chief Lee Wing-tat declared yesterday he would run for chief executive in the July 10 election. Democratic Party chief Lee Wing-tat conceded last night that he faced an uphill struggle to find the nominations he needed to run in the election for chief executive.

Britain's Prince Charles and the new Duchess of Cornwall greet well-wishers as they leave St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after a blessing service for their marriage.

China Resources Enterprise chairman Charley Song says the firm is eager to capitalise on Hong Kong's energy market through its power flagship China Resources Power. Red chip conglomerate China Resources Enterprise has joined the fray to challenge Hong Kong's electricity duopoly with plans to source low-cost electricity from Guangdong province.

Hutchison Whampoa managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning pocketed $124.85 million in bonuses last year, just $400,000 short of his entire 2003 pay packet, according to the conglomerate's annual report.

Power tool maker Techtronic Industries expects lithium ion batteries to be a key profit earner this year, as it makes known its desire for blue-chip status on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Two local start-up airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways and CR Airways, have obtained licenses to fly passengers to China and tap into a market now served by Hong Kong Dragon Airlines.

The government says there will be no change to the requirement that only permanent residents can apply for welfare handouts. Those who do not meet the seven-year residency requirement will be treated on a case-by-case basis. Speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council's welfare services panel Friday, Director of Social Welfare Paul Tang said the purpose of the policy is to encourage new arrivals to be self-reliant rather than fall into the welfare assistance program within seven years of their arrival in Hong Kong.

China: "The Year of The Yao" promotion. A girl passes by a poster hanging at the entrance to a meeting room for promoting "The Year of The Yao" in Los Angeles of US, April 7, 2005. The documentary film, directed by Adam Del Deo, records Chinese basketball player Yao Ming's way to success in NBA. The film is to come to screen on next Friday in Los Angeles and April 29 in America.

Economists back yuan policy - Long Yongtu(R), secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia and Desmond Supple, head of Asia research at Barclays Capital, answer questions April 8, 2005. China is doing the right thing rejecting requests from trading partners to adjust its currency regime, according to financial officials and economists attending the Beijing Forex Conference 2005 on Friday.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (1st R) visits tsunami disaster area in Sri Lanka on April 9,2005. Known as his kindness to Chinese common people, the Chinese premier shows his sympathy and relief to the tsunami-stricken Sri Lankan people.

China's steel output climbed by 23.7 percent to 77.7 million tons in the first three months of this year, said an official Saturday in Beijing.

European textile industry leaders have lambasted the EU executive for failing to stem a rising tide of cheap imports from the mainland, warning that without action up to a million jobs could be lost this year.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is understood to be in advanced talks to take a 15 to 20 per cent stake in Bank of China (BOC) in what will be the largest single foreign equity acquisition in the mainland's banking sector to date.

Mobile-phone design house China Techfaith Wireless Communication Technology is looking to raise US$125 million to US$150 million from an initial public offering and listing on Nasdaq early next month, according to sources.

Pandering to special patient's needs. Giant panda Xiaopingping, 17, receives fillings. He became the first panda to sit in the dentist's chair and complete the operation on Thursday. At his age, Xiaopingping is a grandpa panda.

Steel makers adopted a hard line during negotiations with Australian mining company BHP Billiton Ltd on the price of iron ore, claiming they would not accept any unreasonable requests "under any circumstances."

The Shanghai Shenzhen 300 Index, the first unified index jointly launched by the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, closed up 1.9 per cent at 1,003.445 points on its debut on Friday. The index is made up of 300 index heavyweights on the two bourses in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

April 8 - 10, 2005

Hong Kong: The SAR government yesterday asked the State Council to request the nation's top legislature to interpret the Basic Law in an attempt to secure the smooth election of a new chief executive (CE) in July.

The government has confirmed it will bypass Hong Kong's highest court to seek Beijing's intervention on the term of office for the next chief executive. The widely expected move was condemned by critics as a vote of no confidence in the judicial system and a tactic to deny SAR citizens their right to challenge government decisions in court.

The poultry industry on Thursday accused the government of using recent bird flu cases in Southeast Asia to as a scare tactic to push through a plan to halve the territory’s chicken population.

The government is developing a new information system to monitor the emergence of infectious diseases in Hong Kong, Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said on Thursday.

Hong Kong inventor KN Tsang wears his electronic "bat ears" navigation device at the 33rd International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products, in Geneva.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said on Thursday it planned to amend tenancy agreements and auction rules for public market stalls next month in order to prevent abuses.

China Netcom Group (Hong Kong), the mainland's second-biggest fixed-line phone operator, plans to complete its nationwide network by buying four provincial firms from its unlisted parent, China Network Communications Group, as it fends off mounting competition in both its broadband and local-phone businesses, vice-chairman Edward Tian said Wednesday.

The former Kai Tak airport site has been chosen for Hong Kong's new cruise ship terminal, the government said. Construction will not start until 2008 at the earliest when the government expects all consultations and statutory processes to be completed.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club's hopes for tax reforms were dealt a heavy blow when a top government official said there is no need to change the way it collects money from horse racing. But Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho left the Jockey Club with some hope when he said the government is still considering the request for reforms.

China: Tourism Queen International preliminary in Guangxi.

The US public and business community increasingly view China in a positive light, but Congressional staff hold strongly critical views of Beijing, according to a new survey on Wednesday. The poll by Zogby International showed the America public and Congressional staff united in citing human rights as their top concern about China and in voicing fears about job losses. Business leaders listed counterfeiting as their top concern. A majority of respondents from the general public, business leaders and Congressional staff agreed that low-cost Chinese goods benefited US consumers and that bilateral trade was good for both countries.

The opening ceremony of the Fortune Global Forum 2005 will be held in the park of Temple of Heaven Beijing in May 2005, announced Wang Weiqiang, spokesman of the Information Office of the State Council at a press conference for the Fortune Forum.

China will have nuclear power play an increasingly important role in its energy supply. Nuclear power is set to become a "pillar" in the power supply in developed coastal areas.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday the Chinese economy is expected to land softly in 2005-2006 even as it continues to expand rapidly from 2005 to 2007, with growth rates expected to reach 8.5 percent, 8.7 percent, and 8.9 percent, in successive years.

A more developed and stronger China will pose no threat to the rest of the world, Premier Wen Jiabao told the fourth ministerial meeting of the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) yesterday.

A public hearing on the controversial lake restoration project at Beijing's Old Summer Palace - ruled illegal by environmental officials - will be held next Wednesday.

German engineering giant Siemens will spend up to $270.53 million to buy 5 per cent of Shanghai Electric Group's initial public offering, giving it 1.25 per cent of the mainland conglomerate after the flotation.

Skype Technologies has signed up about four million users in Greater China, making the region the firm's biggest market for software which allows long-distance calls at low to free-of-charge rates.

April 7, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong-listed Kowloon Development Co has acquired a controlling stake in a local State-owned property developer, triggering a new round of State-owned enterprise (SOE) restructuring.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said on Wednesday he will ask Beijing to settle a dispute over how long the territory’s next leader should serve, a move pro-democracy groups warn will subvert the city’s cherished rule of law.

The introduction of cross-boundary taxi services between Hong Kong and Shenzhen still needed careful consideration, Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao told the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

A bill before the Legislative Council will help Hong Kong banks better assess and manage risks, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang said on Wednesday.

Legacy issues have stalled China Everbright Bank's nine billion yuan private share placement plan and talks to sell a 15 per cent stake to Standard Chartered Bank, as the mainland lender pins its hopes on a Beijing bailout.

China's Bank of Communications could miss its target of raising US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion) from share issues in the first half of this year unless the State Council waives its obligation to sell extra shares to meet a mandatory contribution to the National Social Security Fund.

China: Pakistani PM Shaukat Aziz (R) welcomes Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao upon Wen's arrival at a military airport in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, April 5, 2005. The two leaders signed a treaty for friendship and good-neighborly relations Tuesday evening, looking back the sound bilateral relations over the past 50 years, and outlining where it will go. Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday called all Asian nations to take up the historic responsibility and renew the joint commitment to a new Asia. Pakistan yesterday said closer Sino-Pakistani relations would not upset ties between its long-time rival, India, and China.

Beijing is going to purchase by bidding 4000 vehicles for public transportation this year. The bill of order values at 3bln yuan, a record for vehicle procurement in China.

China will produce 350 million tons of steel this year and the country's consumption of steel is expected to see steady, not rapid, growth.

With flowers being sold worldwide and overseas florists swarming it Guangdong, dubbed "natural greenhouse", is becoming the "world's flower nursery".

Stemming the rise in property prices is a priority of the central government's agenda this year. Since the central bank's housing loan interest rate adjustment last month, property price have been in the spotlight. Now the central and local governments are taking measures to curb surging prices. China Daily will run a series of stories to analyze China's property market, as well as the real estate market in big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. This is the first story in the series.

Egypt's biggest ever business delegation to China will begin a visit on Sunday to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries.

Toshiba on Wednesday said it had withdrawn from the mobile phone business in China. "We have already sold our 33 per cent stake in the joint venture mobile phone business in China early this year," a Toshiba spokesman said.

April 6, 2005

Hong Kong: The Pope's body is borne across St Peter's Square to the basilica where it will be on public view until his funeral on Friday. Pilgrims clapped as the procession entered the square. Pope John Paul II's body made its solemn journey from the Apostolic Palace to St Peter's Basilica for public viewing yesterday, four days before it will be entombed in the grotto below the church.

Hong Kong's economy faces a "double whammy" from the steep cycle of rising interest rates now under way, and the first sector to be hit will be property, analysts warn.

The Vatican is prepared to sever its ties with Taiwan in exchange for the resumption of diplomatic relations with Beijing, the head of the Hong Kong diocese said last night.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday sought to settle differences between himself and the pro-Beijing camp, describing as "well-intentioned" a DAB lawmaker's criticism that he had been disrespectful of patriotic values. It will take at least another five months to choose a new chief executive if the July 10 poll is derailed, according to the elections watchdog. Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang appears ready to cede control over Hong Kong's leadership issue to Beijing, telling the Legislative Council today that the government has to seek Beijing's intervention to tinker with the Basic Law. The Executive Council is expected to endorse the government's decision at a special meeting to submit a report to the State Council asking Beijing's governing body, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, to interpret Hong Kong's mini-constitution.

The government has made another U-turn on its proposal to give the Securities and Futures Commission the power to impose fines on companies and directors who breach listing rules.

Activist sees sharp Eastern Harbor price rise as push for Wan Chai project A sharp rise in tunnel tolls may become the excuse the government is looking for to push ahead with the controversial Wan Chai reclamation, a harbor protection activist fears. Christine Loh, chairwoman of the Society for Protection of the Harbor, said Tuesday the more than 60 percent rise in tolls for the Eastern Harbor Tunnel may lead motorists to favor the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, worsen congestion around the area and provide the key reason for a reclaimed bypass road.

China: A Chinese senior official Monday vowed to launch a "people's war" against drugs, aiming at checking the sources of drugs, curbing the harmful influence of drug crimes and keeping the number of drug addicts from growing.

Beijing is focused on reforming the yuan exchange rate mechanism rather than changing the currency's value, since it is hard to pinpoint a rational level, a deputy central bank governor has been quoted as saying.

China will, after completing unmanned lunar probe, launch manned exploration at proper opportune and will build a moon base with other countries. The objective at the first stage is to launch a moon-orbiting satellite by the year 2007, which is aimed to obtain three-dimensional images of the moon surface, ascertain the distribution of the 14 elements and substances on the moon, probe the depth of the lunar soil and the space of 40, 000 to 400, 000 kilometers between the earth and the moon.

A crane lifts a locomotive made in China, which will be exported to Pakistan, onto a tanker in Dalian, in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. China's exports to Pakistan hit US$2.47 billion in 2004, up 33 per cent year-on-year.

China's decision to scrap a 13 per cent tax rebate on steel billet and ingot exports will help rein in runaway iron ore prices and ensure the healthy development of the nation's steel sector, industry analysts said yesterday.

Orders from foreign governments, international organizations and multinational giants have boosted China's exports.

A potential female recruit undergoes a fitness test in an attempt to be taken on as a police officer during a recruitment drive in Guiyang , capital of southwest Guizhou province , on Sunday. More than 1,000 positions have been made available in the provincial police force as part of efforts to increase the number of officers.

Australian mining giant BHP Billiton's proposed US$7.50 to US$10 per tonne surcharge on iron ore in an escalating test of wills between suppliers and consumers, as global demand soars and prices hit records.

China's Bank of Communications could miss its target of raising US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion) from share issues in the first half of this year unless the State Council waives its obligation to sell extra shares to meet a mandatory contribution to the National Social Security Fund.

April 5, 2005

Hong Kong: Banking giant Standard Chartered and its local counterpart, Bank of East Asia, said on Monday they will raise their Hong Kong lending rates for the second time in three weeks.

Hong Kong will hold elections on May 1 to fill 27 vacancies on the 800-member committee that will choose the territory’s new leader, election officials said on Monday.

Celebrating to a 377 per cent surge in profit in the six months to December last year, Henry Cheng, managing director of New World Development, says the former blue chip is back on track after a disastrous 2003. "We now have a clearer and more streamlined corporate structure," he says, pledging to cut the firm's debt to $10 billion by year-end. The firm also plans to invest $4 billion over the next five years to boost its hotel portfolio.

International bidding for the US$3.8 billion Pearl River Delta bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai is expected within months under a tight planning schedule that aims for building to start before the end of the year.

Fears have been raised that the government plans minimal reform of Hong Kong's power sector after a key adviser responsible for overseeing the process failed to have his employment contract renewed.

State-owned Xiamen Port Affairs, which runs China's seventh-largest container port, will launch an initial stock sale in early July, raising up to US$150 million (HK$1.17 billion), industry sources said. French investment house BNP Paribas Peregrine is underwriting the Hong Kong share sale.

HKR International said it expects to fetch about HK$800 million from the sales of its luxurious new detached homes in Tung Chung, double its estimate in the depths of the SARS crisis two years ago. The homes range up to 2,500 square feet and are expected to sell for as much as HK$10,000 per square foot (psf) - in an area that has some of the worst air pollution in the Pearl River Delta.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa will spend 570 million yuan (HK$537.5 million) to jointly develop a residential-commercial project in Chengdu city.

If last month's opinion polls are anything to go by, it would seem Liberal Party chairman James Tien is not expected to run against Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang in July's election to pick Hong Kong's new leader.

The death of Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman at the center of a fierce battle over euthanasia in the United States, has provoked discussion in Hong Kong about mercy killing and the implementation of living wills for patients in emergency care.

China: As part of the French Culture Year in China, "Un Peu de Paris" (A little of Paris), an exhibition featuring French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe's original works opened April 1 in Beijing, which will last till April 20.

Beijing yesterday expressed its condolences over the Pope's death and said it hoped Sino-Vatican ties would improve under his successor.

Premier Wen said Monday that China values its trade with Pakistan and regards it as pivotal area that should be expanded.

The Qianzhou-Longyan railway, a key state railway project which links southern Jiangxi Province and western Fujian Province, opened to traffic Friday after three years of construction. Costing 6.33 billion yuan (765 million US dollars), the 209.1 kilometer railway is expected to boost economic development in areas it runs through in these two east China provinces.

A recent report by German Federal Statistical Office showed that its trade with China reached 53.5 billion euro in 2004. China has become Germany's largest trade partner in Asia.

Teenager Ding Junhui shares his victory with his mother Chen Xijuan yesterday in Beijing after winning his first world title at the 2005 World Snooker China Open. Ding beat seven-time Scottish world champion Stephen Hendry 9-5 after a 4-4 tie in the first half of afternoon play.

Kuwait hopes the next few months will see a strengthening of its partnership with China's oil industry.

An official with the China General Chamber of Commerce said this was not just a change in numbers. Rather it marked symbolic changes.

China has pushed the pause button on its cautious opening of the film and television sector to foreign investment as a more conservative management team at the country's media regulator examines whether some overseas companies are pushing the industry's reforms too far too fast.

April 4, 2005

Hong Kong: Li Zhilin has won the nation's top scientific honour for a modelling system that simplifies the updating of maps. It was the only Hong Kong entry to receive an award.

Possible landing sites for the planned Pearl River Delta bridge are now being thrashed out in Zhuhai by officials and experts from Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong and Beijing.

Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po is blunter in his forecast. He expects banks to increase their prime, or best lending rates, by 0.25 percentage point on Wednesday.

The economy is rebounding and staff at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority are not missing out on the better times - the regulator gave out "bonuses" of more than 5 per cent yesterday.

Hong Kong's highest individual taxpayer paid HK$18 million in salaries tax for the 2004-05 financial year, the Inland Revenue Department revealed Friday. The department also said one company it did not name paid HK$1.54 billion in profits tax for 2004-05.

China: Major campaigns will be launched this year to secure the food safety, protect intellectual property rights and crack down commercial frauds. Vice Premier Wu Yi stressed that a healthy market relied more on regulating and construction, rather than on crackdowns or rectification.

              Winners of the Chinese Elegance Model Contest wave to the audience at the Beijing Hotel in the Chinese capital March 31, 2005. The event was hosted by the Chinese Designer`s Association.

Facing a growing ban on core technology transfer to China, State Councillor Chen Zhili urged Chinese scientists and enterprises on Friday to become more innovative in building up the nation's research strength.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has approved the appointment of John Langlois and Jeffrey Williams to lead the Shenzhen Development Bank, the Shenzhen-listed bank announced on Friday.

The chairman of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang yesterday gladly accepted an invitation to visit Beijing as his deputy wrapped up a five-day ice-breaking trip to the mainland.

A four-month-old baby girl has become the youngest mainland patient to receive a liver transplant. The surgery lasted nine hours at the Paediatric Hospital under Fudan University in Shanghai.

April 1 - 3, 2005

Hong Kong: Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday expressed fears that the election to select Tung Chee-hwa's successor on July 10 could suffer a "miscarriage" if a proposed judicial review halts the poll process.

Victor Li (left) and father Li Ka-shing disclose yesterday that their firm Cheung Kong has amassed much more land than many analysts have estimated.

The government has hailed the possibility of increased competition in the electricity sector, a day after a small listed company unexpectedly said it would challenge the duopoly of CLP Power and Hongkong Electric.. Vertex chairman Steven Poon expects the joint venture to start distributing electricity to areas in the New Territories late this year.

PCCW deputy chairman Jack So does not see lower tariffs cutting into earnings. PCCW has provided a positive snapshot of revenues from its pay-television service, a ground-breaking venture that fixed-line operators around the world are following with intense interest due to its potential to reverse market share loss.

Sunday Communications reported an earnings loss of almost $13 million for the second half of last year, as the cost of rolling out its third-generation mobile network wiped out strong profit growth achieved earlier in the year.

The Securities and Futures Commission plans to open the door for mainland and overseas property owners to list real estate investment trusts (reits), paving the way for Hong Kong to catch up with regional rivals.

Concerns about rising prices are deterring people from entering the property market in the short term, but public confidence in Hong Kong's residential real estate sector has risen to its highest level since the end of 2003.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong yesterday urged acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to follow the church's social teaching, saying this would help him to become a better leader.

Lee Kuan Yew shares his views on leadership and legacies at a business lunch. Hong Kong needs a "street-fighter" chief executive to avoid mass confrontations, former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

A senior mainland official has defended Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's weekend meeting with the director of the central government's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

China: Jia Qinglin (4th R Front), member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, poses for a photo with Vice Chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Chiang Pin-kung (5th R Front) during a meeting in Beijing March 31. Jia presented Chiang the Chinese painting "Splendid China" as a gift during the meeting. Hopes of improved cross-Straits relations received a further boost yesterday when Beijing extended an official invitation to Taiwan-based Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan.

The growth of China's Consumer Price Index (CPI) will reach 3.15 per cent in the first half of this year and the whole year's growth will be kept within the range of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

Consumers in Chongqing Municipality in Southwest China shop at the city's first Ek-Chor Lotus supermarket, which opened yesterday. Most of the agricultural products at the store, which belongs to the Chia Tai Group, come from Southeast Asia.

Beijing yesterday hailed the Koumintang's (KMT) historic mainland visit as the opening of a party-to-party dialogue between the KMT and the Communist Party of China (CPC).

New car to hit market: Models and local soccer players in Chongqing pose at the launch ceremony of the Lifan520, a new car manufactured by privately-owned Lifan Group, at an auto expo yesterday. The new car, priced at around 80,000 yuan (US$9,640), is expected to hit the market in June.

Following the breaking ground of two Japanese-funded automotive component projects - Ohashi Technica Precision Parts (Guangzhou) Co Ltd and Tsuchiya (Guangzhou) Automotive Components Co Ltd - earlier this month, construction began on a further three component projects yesterday in the Guangzhou Development District.

The State Forestry Administration is taking on the world's biggest paper maker, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), over an illegal logging project in Yunnan province, state media reports say.

March 31, 2005

Hong Kong: Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew on Wednesday warned Hong Kong against making unrealistic political demands to China’s central government.

CNOOC Limited, an arm of China's dominant producer of offshore oil and natural gas China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), announced yesterday that its net profit in 2004 reached a historic high thanks to oil prices soaring to all-time highs. Chairman and Chief Executive Office Fu Chengyu announces the firm's record net profit at yesterday's press conference in Hong Kong.

Twenty-three pro-China groups in Hong Kong are planning a joint banquet for 2,000 people in honor of the territory’s former leader Tung Chee-hwa, the groups said on Wednesday, weeks after the unpopular Mr. Tung resigned.

London-based bank Standard Chartered on Wednesday named the sister of acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as the head of its China operations.

New guidelines for selling telecom products have been drawn up by the government, following complaints of rampant malpractice by salespeople. The rules follow investigations into the territory's four fixed-line telephone and Internet service providers.

China: Yang Yanan, a girl of Lisu nationality won the championship in finals of the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant for China (Yunnan) Region March 28 in Kunming, capital of southwest China¡¯s Yunnan Province. Yang Yanan, Yang Yuan and Tang Ling won the champion, runner-up and the third place respectively.

Chiang Pin-kun, vice-chairman of the Taiwan-based Kuomintang Party, bows to pay tribute to a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen at Sun's mausoleum in Nanjing, Jiangsu, March 30. Dr. Sun is the pioneer of Chinese revolution and the founding father of the republic. Chiang and his delegation will also visit Beijing and meet senior officials of the Communist Party of China before the end of their trip on Friday.

As China turns itself a big trader, it has seen at least US$100 billion of overseas accounts receivable in arrears, and the figure is continuing rising.

China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec), the country's second-largest oil and gas producer, yesterday showed its eagerness for domestic fuel prices to be linked with the international market. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec Corp), Asia's biggest refiner, will devote more than a third of its planned 62 billion yuan (HK$58.47 billion) in capital spending next year to exploration and production as its seeks to lessen its dependence on volatile refining earnings.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), the biggest chipmaker in the Chinese mainland, saw its first quarterly losses in the fourth quarter last year, after becoming profitable a year ago, mainly due to compensation payments made to its competitor Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC).

Sixteen Shanghai banks have slapped a voluntary ban on new mortgages on flats sold less than a year after purchase, in a show of solidarity with the government's so far unsuccessful struggle to cool the city's torrid property market.

Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco), the country's dominant alumina producer, said it plans to issue 1.5 billion A shares in the mainland market to raise up to eight billion yuan (HK$7.54 billion). Xiao Yaqing says Chalco has been exploring for resources in Brazil, Australia and Vietnam.

Mainland judges will today hear Pfizer's appeal against China's withdrawal of patent protection for the company's best-selling erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, a Pfizer spokesman said.

March 30, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s police force will deploy about 9,200 officers to maintain order when the World Trade Organisation meets in the territory in December, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen briefed a Chinese official and paid his respects to a Catholic saint during his first trip to China since taking office, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Greenpeace's Edward Chan warns that the illegal export of electronic waste to the mainland is taking its toll as toxic chemicals are contaminating Hong Kong soil.

Wages and salaries in Hong Kong fell slightly last year compared with 2003 — mainly due to salary cuts in the territory, latest figures released on Tuesday showed.

The $1.82 billion Sino Land paid for a Kowloon Bay commercial site at an auction last month has propelled office prices and rents.

With Hong Kong banks holding more cash than they know what to do with, syndicated loans are supposed to be a borrower's market - but do not tell that to loss-making toll road company Route 3 (CPS), whose pleas for funds seem to be falling on deaf ears.

China: Chinese navy members welcomed the USS Blue Ridge of the US Seventh Fleet, which kicked off a three-day goodwill visit in Zhanjiang, south China's Guangdong Province March 28, 2005.

A poll shows the most livable city in China is Shanghai, followed by Dalian, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Guilin, Zhuhai and Xiamen.

Chinese American astronaut Leroy Chiao (Jiao Lizhong in Chinese pinyin) leads the current joint US-Russian expedition. Yesterday's space walk was his sixth.

China has appointed a woman as the new director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), a government source said yesterday.

Beijing Tongyi Petroleum Chemical Co Ltd, China's largest privately-owned lubricant oil brand, is to step up research and development this year and is looking to achieve a sales revenue of 3.2 billion yuan (US$385 million), up 60 per cent from 2.1 billion yuan (US$253 million) in 2004.

Primary school students in Chengdu, Sichuan, watch with fascination as a chemical experiment is conducted at a rural school. Students like these may benefit from Premier Wen Jiabao's announcement that students living in areas covered by the government's poverty-alleviation plan will receive free textbooks and tuition.

The mainland's leading chipmaker on Tuesday said it recorded a fourth-quarter loss of US$11.2 million (HK$87 million), brought by payments to settle a corporate espionage lawsuit filed by a rival Taiwanese company, but that it recorded its first annual profit.

March 29, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong actor Tony Leung (R) and Chinese mainland actress Zhang Ziyi smile holding their trophies after winning the Best Actor and Actress awards for their role in the movie '2046' during the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards March 27, 2005.

The Hong Kong Film Awards celebrated a century of Chinese film last night - and its love affair with martial arts - by honouring legendary action hero Bruce Lee and declaring the creative comedy Kung Fu Hustle the year's best film. Shannon Lee accepts the Star of the Century Award on behalf of her late father Bruce Lee. "My father's spirit lives on," she told the star-studded assembly at the Hong Kong Coliseum last night.

The Bar Association has warned the government that the proposed anti-racism legislation should not exclude immigration policies and foreign domestic helpers from its scope.

The long-serving president of the Hong Kong branch of the US Democrats Abroad, who has been picked to head the international body, has expressed deep concerns about America's direction. Michael Ceurvorst, 62, was elected international chairman at a Democrats Abroad meeting in Toronto last week. He has headed the Hong Kong chapter since 1999. "Americans living overseas are the frontline ambassadors for our country. We acutely feel the impact of the Bush administration's policies and are gravely concerned about the direction our country is heading," he said. During the US presidential election last year, Mr Ceurvorst said: "It's a dangerous time for the US. In my opinion, we haven't ever had an administration as radical as the Bush administration.

The number of secondary property transactions in Hong Kong during the first quarter of the year is expected to exceed 20,000, the highest since the 1997 property boom, according to Midland Realty.

Yunnan Copper Industry (Group), China's third-largest copper producer, intends to sell shares worth at least one billion yuan (HK$942.9 million) in Hong Kong to finance its expansion.

The One Country, Two System Institute, a pro-Beijing think-tank, said Monday that 52 per cent of 745 people interviewed by telephone are unconcerned about the term length. Some 51 percent did not think the National People's Congress should interpret the Basic Law to resolve the question, as against 36.2 percent who said it should.

China: Easter Sunday in Shanghai: Catholic priests and laymen process at Easter Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Church in Shanghai. Millions of Christian Chinese celebrated Easter Sunday across the country yesterday.

Fashion gala kicks off: A model poses at the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair 2005 (CHIC2005), which opened yesterday in Beijing. As the largest professional fashion fair in Asia, the 3-day expo has lured over 1,000 clothing manufactures from around the world.

China will have to import almost the same amount of sugar this year as it did in 2004, as the gap between supply and demand is estimated to reach 1 million tons.

The Conference on International Exchange of Professionals 2005 was held in the Nanjing International Exhibition Center from March 27 to March 28. Sponsored by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and People's Government of Jiangsu Province, the conference aims to fully cultivate human resources home and abroad and create conditions for Chinese institutions and enterprises.

Cen Wenhong poses with his bride Mo Deyan on their wedding day in Guiding county, Guizhou. The couple, both from the Buyi ethnic group, are carrying traditional items, including a rooster, signifying the start of a new family.

To alleviate pressure on roads and other resources downtown, the city government will relocate people to the suburbs and build 11 new satellite towns to accommodate them, Xinhua reported. At present, about half of Beijing's 15.2 million registered inhabitants live within the area bounded by the Fourth Ring Road, according to figures from the latest census.

March 28, 2005

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong International Film and TV Market (Filmart), which is incorporated as part of the Entertainment Expo, has attracted more than 350 exhibitors and 2,000 buyers from 40 countries this year. Among them, 1,414 were buyers from outside Hong Kong, a 46 percent increase compared with last year.

In Aberdeen Harbor, one of Hong Kong's 43 commercial fishing ports, dozens of aquamarine and red-roofed shrimp trawlers float, roped off eight abreast like unused washtubs. They are the vessels that may prove to be the beginning of a powerful fight to save the dying Hong Kong fishing industry.

Broken promises and missed opportunities have seen Hong Kong lagging behind when it should instead be Asia's hub for Chinese medicine, a scholar and historian said. Hiroyuki Hokari, who is in Hong Kong researching the history of Chinese medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, said authorities did not seem to have the resolve to pour resources into Chinese medicine despite promises, and the government's attempts to promote it are only half-hearted. "Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa [in his 1998 policy address] said he wanted to develop Hong Kong into a Chinese medicine port. It just turned out to be an empty promise,'' Hokari said.

China's first privately owned lender, Minsheng Bank, has won approval from mainland regulators to sell up to 1.34 billion shares in Hong Kong in a sale expected to raise up to US$800 million (HK$6.24 billion).

International Egg Gallery at the APM shopping centre in Kwun Tong. The three-week exhibit features 100 different cartoonish egg figures by designers from Hong Kong, Japan, the United States, Spain and Britain.

The Easter exodus kicked off yesterday with a record 790 flights into and out of Chek Lap Kok and more than 700,000 people passing through immigration checkpoints. But for those left behind there were plenty of fun things to do on the first day of the long Easter weekend.

The number of mainland professionals who came to Hong Kong for employment last year jumped more than 3,000, helping to make up for a shortage of highly skilled workers.

Although more than half of its shops are still being outfitted, Sun Hung Kai Properties' APM shopping centre in Kwun Tong is well on the way to proving shopping until midnight is a winning concept. Since March 16, about 70,000 people have visited the complex each day and the developer expects this to increase to 100,000 over Easter.

China: A girl buys the presswork of a painting by Pablo Picasso at the Beijing Imperial City Art Gallery in Beijing, capital of China, March 26, 2005. A total of 265 paintings by Picasso started to be displayed at the art gallery on March 26 in a two-month exhibition, the largest ever held in Asia.

China will stop subsidizing bankrupt state-owned businesses within four years, an official with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said Saturday.

The failure of the National People's Congress to debate, much less pass, long-awaited legislation equalizing tax rates for foreign and domestic firms reflects a continuing struggle at the top echelons of the government to balance conflicting interests.

Chinese Ministry of Finance announced Friday it will tighten budget spending for overseas tours in hopes of curbing the rapid increase in the overall travel spending. With the approval of the Chinese Government, a zero increase will be introduced this year for overseas tours of Chinese Communist Party cadres and government officials, the ministry said in a press release. The ministry said the spending on foreign tours has resulted in a significant growth in the use of foreign exchange funds. All localities and government departments are ordered to improve their supervision on the use of foreign exchange funds and curb the number of groups traveling abroad, according to the document. Overseas sight-seeing under the cover of training and official exchanges is banned and non-essential training should be reduced, the document said.

The Sunlignt Girls Band from the Music School, China Central University for Nationalities play Chinese folk music to welcome guests from around the world to the China Hall of 2005 World Expo in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The Expo is officially open on Mar. 25. The theme of China Hall is Nature, City, Harmony - the Art of Life.

Two Nobel laureates in Economics have endorsed China's decision not to appreciate its currency, saying it would not be helpful to either China and the US. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, mirrored Robert A.Mundell's argument that the political pressure on China to appreciate the yuan conflicts with economic reality.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce announced Thursday that private enterprises will be encouraged to enter some of the country's historically state-owned sectors -- including power, telecommunications, rail and civil aviation.

Bridge with a seasonal view : Thousands of people gather to play traditional games near Taiping Bridge in Anxian County, Sichuan Province, Southwest China, to celebrate the arrival of spring and pray for a peaceful and prosperous year. The bridge becomes a prime viewing spot for the local annual custom, which attracted nearly 200,000 people on Friday.

ING Group signed an agreement with Bank of Beijing on Friday in Beijing to purchase a 19.9 per cent stake in the bank, making a substantial move to expand its commercial banking business in China.

Troupe members perform during a dress rehearsal for Swan Lake the Acrobatic in Shanghai. The show, billed as the world's first acrobatic ballet, features the innovative combination of western dance and ancient Chinese acrobatics.

March 25 -27, 2005

Hong Kong: It is not inevitable that the NPC Standing Committee will interpret the Basic Law provisions on the term of the next chief executive, though it will step in as a last resort, one of its top advisers says.

Joseph Wong announces that the pay comparison between the civil service and the private sector will be carried out soon.

Exports of goods rose by more than 32 per cent by volume in January compared with a year ago, fuelled largely by a sharp jump in re-exports of office and industrial machinery, the government said yesterday.

Not one property developer has applied for public auction of a site under the government's land application list in the first two months of this year despite the booming property market.

Cheung Kong (Holdings), in a $3.4 billion disposal to rationalize its balance sheet, is offloading more second-tier retail properties that will be bought by the developer's Singapore-listed real estate investment trust (reit).

A survey has found that the bulk of the time Hong Kong parents spend with their children is taken up by homework, local radio reported on Thursday.

Inflation fears rattled Asian markets yesterday, causing stock prices across the region to tumble and igniting fresh concerns in Hong Kong that its currency peg to the US dollar could force domestic interest rates sharply higher.

The son of former China Construction Bank (CCB) chairman Zhang Enzhao may have fled Hong Kong in the wake of a mainland corruption investigation into his father.

Bank of China (Hong Kong)'s drive to clean up its loan book continues to produce mixed results, as a core earnings drop last year posted yesterday met most analysts' expectations.

Two former directors of the popular Hong Kong coconut sweets brand, Yan Chim Kee, were given fixed terms of disqualification from managing com-panies on Tuesday, despite the fact they were not directly responsible for the incurring of the company's debt and its decline into insolvency.

China: An archeologist is cleaning a Qin bamboo slip. The cleaning of 36,000 bamboo slips of Qin Dynasty (221- 207 BC) unearthed in Liye city of China's Hunan in 2002 has been completed.

Pearl Oriental Corp intends to increase its Macau exposure by acquiring more hotel and casino projects, says chairman Wong Kwan (right). Seen at the company's general meeting with independent director Leon Chan Nim-leung at the China Club, Mr Wong said the projects would be bigger than the Golden Dragon stake bought in January. Pearl Oriental yesterday won minority shareholders' approval for the purchase of 40 per cent of the Golden Dragon, Macau's biggest casino, for $514 million.

Lenovo Group has secured a US$600 million revolving credit and loan facility from a syndicate of 20 banks, boosting the mainland giant's funds ahead of its US$1.75 billion acquisition of IBM's personal computer business.

China's foreign exchange chief Guo Shuqing was elected chairman of board of directors of the China Construction Bank Corporation (CCB) at a meeting held by the bank Friday. Guo, director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and vice-governor of the central bank, had been appointed as the CCB's Communist Party chief following last week's resignation of former chairman Zhang Enzhao for "personal reasons."

Construction began on the 240-kilometer Chinese section of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline Wednesday in Jinghe county in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to sources with China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), China's biggest oil producer. The Xinjiang section will form part of a 3,000-kilometer pipeline from the oil-rich Caspian shelf to China, which will carry oil across eastern Kazakstan into China's Xinjiang autonomous region, where it will be refined or sent directly to China's booming east.

An oil pipeline will travel beneath the Yangtze River for 2.32 kilometers in Jiujiang, east China's Jiangxi Province. The pipeline section will be the world's longest underneath a river and will be built by the Sinopec Pipeline Transport & Storage Company. It will travel about 60 meters below the river bed. The company has laid 2.32 kilometers of optical fiber cable under the Yangtze and began laying an oil pipeline of the same length under the river this week.

The profits of the mainland's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have increased tenfold in the past six years and those listed on stock markets now contribute to two-thirds of all profits of state firms, according to the minister in charge of the state-owned-business sector.

Beijing Capital Land, the property arm of the capital's municipal government, has scrapped plans for a three billion yuan (HK$2.82 billion) A-share offer in Shanghai, citing unfavorable market conditions and regulatory obstacles. "We have put a hold on our listing plans in light of volatile market conditions and the difference between listing requirements for the Shanghai A-share market and for the Hong Kong market,'' vice-president Jerry He told The Standard without elaborating.

Shanghai banks have withdrawn a previously announced set of mortgage lending restrictions designed to reinforce a city government crackdown on property speculation, officially to give them time to digest Beijing's latest lending rate rise.

Workers remove an installation for a PetroChina-controlled petrol station in Shanghai. Rising crude prices in the past year have affected petrol profits at many mainland refiners, which have been allowed to raise prices to lift margins. China, the world's second largest oil consumer after the United States, raised its retail benchmark rate for gasoline Wednesday by seven percent in response to soaring crude oil prices. Industry sources said the new rate is between 4,340 and 4,870 yuan per metric ton.

The biggest Chinese software exporter Neusoft Group Co Ltd will continue to develop its offshore software outsourcing business, which will account for 30 per cent of the company's total revenues in five to 10 years, up from the current 10 per cent.

French President Jacques Chirac says he still expects an agreement on lifting a European Union ban on arms sales to the mainland by the end of June, despite growing signs it could be delayed.

March 24, 2005

Hong Kong: When the Hong Kong Growth Enterprise Market and NASDAQ-listed Tom Online announced its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2004 last Tuesday, it was the final one of the 13 NASDAQ-listed Chinese Internet companies to disclose its financial results for last year.

The government will ask Beijing to interpret the Basic Law over the term of the next chief executive. Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said on Wednesday the government's priority was to push ahead with an amendment bill to the Chief Executive Election Ordinance.

Li & Fung has chosen Shanghai as its central China headquarters as part of an aggressive expansion in the mainland. William Fung Kwok-lun (above), managing director of Hong Kong's largest trading house, says Shanghai is a natural hub for central and north China. The 260,000 square foot headquarters will serve as the firm's base for central China. The company also says it is embarking on a three-year plan to raise annual revenues to US$10 billion.

Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen defended the lack of tax concessions in this year's budget when addressing the Joint Business Community Luncheon on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong-listed investment banking arm of the Bank of China, BOC Hong Kong (Holdings), on Wednesday reported net profit of $11.96 billion for the year to December, a 50.2 per cent rise from the $7.96 billion earned in 2003.

The chairman of Esprit Holdings was back in the market yesterday, attempting to sell shares worth as much as $4.38 billion on the back of a 20.2 per cent share price rally since the interim earnings report just over a month ago.

Tom Group - the media flagship of Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing - on Wednesday said its net profit surged last year, boosted by a one-off gain from the sale of its internet division.

China: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) and Pak Bong Ju, premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), inspect the honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 22.

China has adopted effective measures to step up investigation and punishment of infringement cases and to further protect well-known trademarks.

Workers are busy working at the Longtan hydropower station, located on the upper reaches of the Pearl River in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, March 20, 2005. Concrete pouring of the 216.5-meter dam has entered a crucial stage now. The station will begin power generation in May 2007.

Visitors to the China International Furniture Fair 2005 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province browsing some of the exhibits on Monday. Nearly 900 furniture manufacturers from around the world have gathered to showcase their latest products.

Beijing is the "most ideal city" to host the 2005 FORTUNE Global Forum because it is the capital city of one of the oldest cultures in the world and, with the 2008 Olympics coming, the timing is perfect, said I. Peter Wolff, senior vice-president international, Office of Global Public Policy at Time Warner Inc.

March 23, 2005

Hong Kong: Financial Secretary Henry Tang says new hotel developments this year, including two Disneyland properties, will lead to increased hiring in coming months.

Beijing may issue a ruling on Hong Kong’s constitution by late June to resolve a dispute over whether the territory’s next leader should serve for two or five years, a pro-Beijing newspaper on Tuesday cited a Chinese lawmaker as saying.

Hong Kong experienced modest inflation in the first two months of 2005, despite a wide variation between the two months because of the Chinese New Year, the government said on Tuesday.

Government-owned commuter rail operator Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp announced a 69 percent fall in net profit for 2004 and said it would do little more than break even in the next four years as it continues to absorb the start-up costs of new lines and face fierce competition for cross-boundary business. Chairman Michael Tien forecast pre-tax profit of HK$1 billion in 2010 and HK$2 billion in 2011 - roughly what KCRC was earning in 2002.

The road to an uncontested election for the next chief executive was cleared Monday when Financial Secretary Henry Tang said he would not run in the July 10 election even if Donald Tsang is the lone candidate. Tang did not say if he would consider standing for election in 2007. He refused to speculate on whether Tsang, the Acting Chief Executive, would run in the July 10 election, saying he had heard no one declare an interest in entering the race. Asked whether he will remain in his present post, Tang said this would be for the new chief executive to decide.

Lawmakers have rejected a government report on a retired senior civil servant whose new job spurred accusations of conflict of interest. The legislators want an independent investigation into former deputy director of housing Elaine Chung who worked for a subsidiary of Henderson, the property developer that bid for the West Kowloon Cultural District project, after she left government.

China: Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laughs while meeting with young skaters, World Champions Shen Xue (in track suit, centre) and Zhao Hongbo (right) and Olympic skating atheletes during an impromptu visit to an ice-skating rink in Beijing following a news conference yesterday. China was the last leg of Rice's first Asian tour since she took office. She then left Beijing for home. Rice's view of China has already had a rough mark that can be followed, which includes the reiteration of "one-China" policy, the orientation of "candid constructive cooperation", repeating the statement by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell that "the Sino-US relations are in the best period in history", welcoming "the take-off of a self-confident, peaceful and prosperous China" and wishing China to become US global partnership.

Suouzou Takemoto (left), general manager of the Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Corp Ltd, raises a symbolic car key at the launching ceremony of the Crown, their new sedan model, yesterday in Tianjin.

Australian billionaire Kerry Packer’s Publishing Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) expanded its presence in China’s premier gambling enclave on Tuesday by taking a stake in the future Park Hyatt Hotel and Casino on Macau’s Taipa Island.

China needs to come up with a new strategy to attract foreign investment as overseas investors look to relocate service industries, according to a senior United Nations official.

State Street Corp, the largest United States pension services manager, is to team up with Bank of China Group to offer retirement plan services in the mainland.

March 22, 2005

Hong Kong: The Beijing branch of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) has officially kicked off Renminbi businesses toward local enterprises, foreign-funded enterprises, foreigners and people from Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Taiwan, turning itself the first foreign-funded bank in Beijing providing such services. The first applicant for Renminbi businesses in Beijing, HSBC was among the first batch approved by China Banking Regulatory Commission on December 21, 2004 for preparation in this regard and received the authority's official approval recently.

Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung said yesterday the appointment of the chief executive is clearly the responsibility of the central people's government.

Hong Kong’s jobless rate has decreased to 6.1 per cent — the lowest level since November 2001, latest statistics released on Monday showed.

Hong Kong's service industry was poised to gain considerably from the Closer Economic and Partnership Arrangement this year, John Tsang Chung-wah, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology said on Monday.

Prosten Technology Holdings, a Hong Kong listed company, served as a conduit for a US$1 million bribe paid to former China Construction Bank (CCB) chairman, Zhang Enzhao, according to documents filed in a California court.

China: Chinese president Hu Jintao (R) meets visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Beijing, Mar. 20, 2005. Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday in Beijing that the US side thinks "it is a positive factor that Chinese economy is growing." "China's very rapid economic growth and its obvious impact on the international economy is something that everybody is watching and that everybody is concerned about," Rice told a press conference. China's economy "is growing so rapidly and having such impact that people want to be assured that it is going to be encapsulated in a role-based approach to the international economy," she said. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a piano prodigy, may find her China tour like playing a complex piece of music, but if done properly the result will be harmonious.

Visitors to a Philips medical forum examine new medical equipment on Saturday in Beijing. Philips sources said China will surpass Japan to become the world's second-largest medical market after the United States.

Deloitte, a leading professional accounting services firm, signed a merger agreement on Saturday with leading Chinese accounting firm, Beijing Pan-China CPA Ltd. The move is key to Deloitte's plan to strengthen its foothold in China's fast-developing market.

In an effort to find ways to satiate the country's hunger for power supplies in 2005, China's two electricity distributors are to heavily invest in building ultrahigh-voltage power grids from this year, in a bid to upgrade the country's power transmission facilities. The investment strategy was revealed by the two companies last week in interviews.

March 21, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong homeowners got a jolt of bad news Friday - and there may be worse to come. Hongkong Bank, in a surprise move that was quickly followed by other major lenders, boosted interest rates by a quarter percentage point - just days ahead of a US Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting that could see the central bank raise short-term rates a quarter point to 2.75 percent - putting further upward pressure on Hong Kong banks to follow suit.

Tsunami fundraising in Hong Kong

Basic Law drafter Maria Tam described the democratic camp's call for Beijing to amend the Basic Law to resolve the row over the term of the next chief executive as "mission impossible." She said on Friday an amendment to the Basic Law would require the endorsement of the 2,980-strong National People's Congress (NPC) and that it would be too daunting for the whole congress to be called into emergency session just to amend the law.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen outlines his policy blueprint, pledging to uphold what he calls the "four pillars of Hong Kong's success": the rule of law; a level playing field for business; a clean and efficient civil service; and the free flow of information.

An architect with one of the three bidders for the West Kowloon Culture District project Friday lent his support to the single developer concept. Cesar Pelli, the theater complex architect for the World City Cultural Park, said cultural venues may lose money and it is important for the developer to be able to compensate for this loss through other means, such as a residential project. He said a single developer could measure the risks involved and balance this against the revenue that can be raised.

Ocean Park has unveiled plans for a $5.5 billion revamp, financed by private and government loans, to turn it into a world-class attraction.

Personal bankruptcy applications hit a four-year low of 640 last month, down 29 per cent from 900 in January, the Official Receiver's Office reported yesterday.

China Resources Peoples Telephone, the mobile telecommunications arm of China Resources (Holdings), is unlikely to become a 3G mobile virtual network operator (mvno) this year, contrary to media reports in November that the company was preparing to lease 30 per cent of Hutchison Telecom's 3G network.

China: It was a line easy to miss in Premier Wen Jiabao's 13,744-word speech to the National People's Congress earlier this month. But there, buried in the text, was this sentence: "We will severely crack down on ... economic crimes such as smuggling, tax evasion and fraud, and money-laundering.''

The European Union reassured China that it was pressing ahead with plans to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo on Beijing despite a storm sparked by its anti-secession law targeting Taiwan. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Thursday the controversial law, which authorizes the use of force if Taipei moves towards independence, had caused "complicated atmospherics'' around the debate over the EU arms ban.

China will implant high-tech identification tags into all its captive pandas in an effort to better monitor the population and prevent inbreeding, media reports.  "Information about pedigree, age and other basic data will be permanently incorporated into the giant pandas by ways of molecular labelling or hypodermic implantation of sensing chips," said a State Forestry Administration official. The tagging would begin this year, and would also help keep track of the animals once they are sent back into the wild, said the official, who was not identified. At the end of 2004, China had 163 pandas in captivity and an estimated 1,590 in the wild.

The world's first water buffalo cloned from somatic cells was born Thursday morning in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The buffalo's heart rate, temperature and breathing were normal. About 30 minutes after birth, the calf stood up and nursed, said Dr. Shi Deshun, head of the research project at Guangxi University. The calf, which was born at 4:15 a.m., weighs 23 kilograms and is 86 centimeters long and 62.5 centimeters tall, said Shi. The calf was cloned with ovary cells that were taken from an adult native buffalo and were transplanted into the 12-year-old female buffalo on April 10, 2004. "The birth of the calf proves that our somatic cell clone technology is mature and this technology will greatly promote cattle breeding in China," said the doctor. "Our university has another two buffaloes pregnant with babies cloned with somatic cells and they are expected to be born this year," he said. Last November, a buffalo also gave birth to a cloned calf at the university, but the calf suffocated when amniotic fluid choked in its respiratory system shortly after birth.

A massive burial site in the desert of Northwest China is unearthed. Insets: Idelisi Abuduresule, leader of an excavation team, listens to a colleague at the site while assistants help uncover a coffin. Abuduresule said the tombs may tell stories of the ancient Loulan Kingdom which disappeared about 15 centuries ago.

The government's injection of capital into the China Construction Bank and the Bank of China is "appropriate," said Guo Shuqing, director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

Shop staff make last minute preparations for the opening of the New Xiushui Building on Friday in Beijing. The Xiushui marketplace is a haven for foreign and domestic tourists, with its cheap but good quality products. The new building is due to open its doors to shoppers on Saturday, with more than 1,500 stalls to browse.

Germany's Siemens AG and China's Huawei Technologies formally kicked off a joint venture on Friday to develop products based on China's home-grown 3G (third generation) wireless standard TD-SCDMA.

US Continental Airlines Inc. said on Friday that it will start daily nonstop flights to China this summer.

China Eastern Airlines, the mainland's third-largest carrier, will buy five Airbus A319 planes in a deal worth about 1.9 billion yuan (HK$1.77 billion) at list prices.

The world's growing flower market offers an opportunity for China's floriculture industry, an industry analyst has said.

March 18 - 20, 2005

Hong Kong: Once again, the government blinked. Rather than propose tough measures to broaden the territory's extraordinarily narrow tax base - and head off future crises - the government "is going back to relying heavily on land sales and continued economic growth to meet expenditure,'' PricewaterhouseCoopers tax partner Guy Ellis said. Indeed, the budget envisions the government becoming even more dependent on notoriously cyclical land sales revenues than it was at the height of the property bubble of the late 1990s. According to projections, over the next three to five years land sales as a percentage of total government revenue will climb to 13 percent of total revenue, or HK$30 billion a year - three percentage points more than in the late 1990s.

HSBC Holdings expects to double its Asian back-office workforce in three years and ax more clerical jobs in the West to help it save more than US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion), a top executive said.

Still mired in controversy, the West Kowloon Cultural District project will be put on hold with an extension of the public consultation period to the end of June, the government has announced. Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen said Wednesday at a Legislative Council special committee meeting on West Kowloon that the consultation exercise will be extended for another three months.

Shanghai Electric (Group) Company (SEC), one of China's largest power generation equipment makers, plans to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange next month, according to a senior official from one of its subsidiaries.

Oil prices hit an all-time high in Asian trade on Thursday, nudging past the record of US$56.60 (US$440.12) a barrel set in New York overnight, dealers said.

Singer Karen Mok Man-wai meets Fulvia Visconti Ferragamo, daughter of the legendary designer, at the launch of the book in Central yesterday.

Chinese state media signaled on Thursday that Beijing was ready to intervene in a brewing succession row in Hong Kong following the resignation of the territory’s leader last week.

Commerce, Industry and Technology Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah on Thursday said Hong Kong was committed to further developing its strengths in research and development.

Cathay Pacific Airways and parent Swire Pacific confirmed progress in wide-ranging talks with Air China, holding out the possibility of a cross-shareholding agreement and the sale of Dragonair.

PetroChina, looking for more growth after recording the largest annual profit from normal operations by a Hong Kong-listed company, will buy into its parent's overseas assets "in the not-too-distant future", chairman Chen Geng said yesterday.

The operator of the Hyatt Regency hotel on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui that is due to close at the start of next year is planning to move to nearby Hanoi Road.

The World Trade Organisation has rejected European Union claims that South Korea's microchip giant Hynix Semiconductor was illegally subsidised by the government, a news report said on Thursday.

China: Canadian Roberta Mundell (c), the "father of Euro" and Nobel economic prize laureate of 1999, received his green card allowing him to live and work freely in Beijing and free movement from city to city on March 16 in Beijing. Robert Mundell was one of 12 foreigners who were granted green cards at a special ceremony in Beijing Wednesday. China adopted the green card system last August.

Tibet: largest winter habitat for black-necked cranes.

The balance of China's foreign debts were equivalent to US$228.596b by yearend of 2004, a year-on-year increase of 18.06%.

Jeffery Garten, president of the Harvard school of management delivers a speech at the IBM Forum in Beijing March 16. Nearly a thousand decision makers from various industries and scholars gather at the forum to discuss the way to success for Chinese enterprises.

The Chinese aviation market is the most vigorous one n the world, said Boeing Commercial Airplanes Director of Product and Service Marketing Randy Tinseth.

Airbus China will offer 5% of A350's work to China, and the Chinese partner will be selected this year to produce parts for the A350, said Airbus China President Laurence Barron on March 16.

A trader arranges tennis racquets during the first International Trade Fair for Sports, Fashion and Lifestyle Brands in Asia 2005 in Shanghai yesterday. The four-day exhibition ends today.

Guangdong's exports to the European Union (EU) reached above US$4.49 billion in the first two months of the year, a year-on-year growth of 29.9 per cent.

March 17, 2005

Hong Kong: Dongfeng Motor Corp, the State-run automaker seeking a Hong Kong stock listing, expects to sell more than 600,000 vehicles with a turnover exceeding 100 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion) this year.

Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen announced no major new taxes in his budget on Wednesday but did unveil some relief measures for wage earners. Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said in his second budget speech that helping the poor remained an important priority of the government. The development of tourism, logistics and encouraging skilled mainland people were integral to Hong Kong's economic future. Hong Kong has over $280 billion held in its fiscal reserves.

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang, sitting next to justice chief Elsie Leung Oi-Sie, kept his smile in place throughout questioning by lawmakers at Legco yesterday.

The link-up with Air China will give Cathay Pacific exposure to the Beijing Olympics. Flagcarrier Air China on Wednesday rejected a report that it was in talks with Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific over a merger that would give the combined airlines unrivalled coverage of the mainland.

Zhengzhou Gas, a Hong Kong-listed gas supplier controlled by a mainland municipal government, plans to invest 100 million yuan (HK$94.27 million) to expand its gas distribution business this year as it withdraws from the liquefied petroleum gas business because of low margins.

Salaries in Hong Kong have risen by an average of 1.8 percent in the past two months compared with the same period last year, according to a pay trend survey conducted by the Employers Federation of Hong Kong.

China: Former Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz described the current RMB debate as "irony" on a forum held Tuesday in Hong Kong. "China was urged not to devalue (RMB) in 1997, and it was argued that greater flexibility would destabilize global financial markets", he said, adding the current pressure on China to appreciate its currency is of certain irony. He said it is necessary to "recognize that there are problems with all exchange rate systems", noting that even if China adopts an exchange rate system in accordance with what other countries have asked, it could not be a perfect one. According to him, on the real side, prospect of stronger dollar remains slim. He said central banks may further diversify away from US dollar as reserve currency, and he argued that the end of dollar as the reserve currency is coming.

The Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is getting its biggest ever facelift since 1911.

By the end of February this year, China's high-tech products have maintained trade surplus for five consecutive months, the exports reaching 12.93 billion US dollars and imports 11.77 billion US dollars, up 21.3 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.

Zhang Enzhao, chairman of the China Construction Bank (CCB) has quit from the posts of CCB chairman and director out of personal reasons. China Construction Bank's (CCB) initial public offering will proceed, even after the mainland's largest property lender lost its second senior executive in three years to a corruption scandal.

Local residents learn to tell the difference between a quality bottled tea product and a fake one from an official at the People's Square in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. Yesterday the country held various promotions to mark the International Consumer Rights Day.

Workers load fertilizer produced by the nation's largest fertilizer plant in Dongfang, South China's Hainan Province, on Monday. The project, an investment by oil giant CNOOC, aims to reach an annual production capacity of 2.6 million tons of industrial chemical products upon completion.

China's insurance regulator appears determined to guarantee the solvency of the rapidly growing industry, pledging to close heavily insolvent insurers should they fail to promptly improve their solvency margins.

China's Railways Ministry has chosen Canadian telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks to provide a digital wireless communications network on the world's highest rail service, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the company said on Wednesday.

March 16, 2005

Hong Kong: More than 186,000 people - considered at high risk of influenza - have been vaccinated since last October under the Influenza Vaccination Program, a Department of Health spokesman said on Tuesday.

Leading property developer New World Development on Tuesday reported a net profit of $1.12 billion for the six months to December — up 378 per cent from $236 million in the second half of 2003.

Regal Hotels executive directors Poman Lo and Donald Fan announce the company's plans to double the number of hotel rooms in its portfolio to 8,000 with a $2 billion complex in Macau that will include a casino and an opera house.

Credit Suisse First Boston is teaming up with China's largest commercial bank to set up a fund management company to tap the country's 13.62 trillion yuan of private savings.

An overwhelming majority of businesses and most tourists believe a sales tax will kill Hong Kong's reputation as a "shoppers' paradise," according to a group. The Coalition Against Sales Tax, made up of companies and 36 associations from 10 service and retail industries, said a survey found that more than 90percent of firms are opposed to the sales tax. It found 62 percent of tourists in another survey agreeing that such a tax will mar Hong Kong's reputation as a top shopping destination.

China: The National Working Meeting of China Software Industry Association was held in Shenzhen on March 13. An official with the Ministry of Information Industry said the output value of China's software industry reached 220 billion yuan in 2004 increasing by 34.7 percent year on year. By the end of 2004 the software industry has hired more than 700,000 employees.

China Mobile released its annual results for the year 2004 in Hong Kong on Mar. 11. The company accomplished gratifying financial results in 2004 and saw remarkable increase in turnover, which reached 192.381 billion yuan increasing by 21.3 percent year on year. Its net profit was 42.004 billion yuan, up by 18.1 percent. Up to Dec. 31, 2004 the company's subscribers has exceeded 204 million. In addition, its new services witnessed marked development in 2004. Compared with the previous year revenue from new services increased 76.5 percent.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo meets with delegates of the National Offshore Oil Corporation of China, the Vietnamese Oil and Gas Corporation and the Philippine National Oil Company (from L to R) in Manila, capital of the Philippines, March 14, 2005. The three parties signed a landmark tripartite agreement about joint marine seismic undertaking in the South China Sea.

Premier Wen Jiabao said China is working on a plan for a more flexible exchange rate of its currency, but the specific measures might come around unexpected.

Tibetan hardliners in India reacted angrily yesterday to the Dalai Lama's assertion that he is ready to accept that the region stay a part of China.

March 15, 2005

Hong Kong: Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen insisted on Monday that the territory’s abrupt leadership change wasn’t part of a Chinese conspiracy. He also pledged that Hong Kong was moving toward greater democracy and wouldn’t backtrack.  The Central Government would respect legal procedures in selecting Hong Kong’s new leader, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday.

New acting first lady Selina Tsang and casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun chat together as he officiates at the opening ceremony of a Guides' event.

Wen Jiabao complimented Tung Chee-hwa but refrained from commenting on Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang. Premier Wen Jiabao emphasized the election of the next chief executive must follow the laws of the land, though he would not be drawn on whether the term should be two years or five. "After [Tung Chee-hwa's] resignation, the election of the new chief executive will proceed in accordance with the Basic Law and with other laws in Hong Kong,'' Wen said in Beijing Monday. An independent committee is to be set up in the next few days to hammer out conflict of interest guidelines for retired chief executives. Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who quit last week, has said he will not return to private industry.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hang Lung Properties are seeking loans of at least HK$8.6 billion, boosting their capital reserves before an anticipated rise in interest rates in coming months, bankers close to the deals said.

An overwhelming majority of businesses and most tourists believe a sales tax will kill Hong Kong's reputation as a "shoppers' paradise,'' according to a group. The Coalition Against Sales Tax, made up of companies and 36 associations from 10 service and retail industries, said a survey found that more than 90percent of firms are opposed to the sales tax. It found 62 percent of tourists in another survey agreeing that such a tax will mar Hong Kong's reputation as a top shopping destination.

China: China’s premier on Monday criticised demands for Beijing to raise the value of its tightly controlled currency immediately as irresponsible, saying the communist government is making progress on reforming its foreign exchange system.

News from Minsheng Bank says that a Large-value and Suspicious Forex Fund Trading Report Data Monitoring System the bank developed was recently put to full operation. The system became an effective means for the bank to prevent suspicious forex transactions. According to an official with the Beijing branch of the bank the system is dedicated to automatically screening out useful information from the internal business system according to certain data index, which can be sued as basis for the anti-money laundering report data monitoring. The move changed the practice of banks which used to sift date manually and greatly improved the efficiency and quality of monitoring.

Zhu Yanfeng, a deputy of the National People's Congress and General Manager of China First Automobile Group, revealed today that China's auto output would increase to 6 million units in 2005 and would possibly surpass Germany to become the world's third largest carmaker.

According to the report by Haikou Evening Post of 11 March, China's 4th Spaceflight Launching Center is expected to be "landed" in Hainan as confirmed on the morning of 10 March from the Hainan Delegation to the National People's Congress. As reported, there are many suggestions and appeals for setting up spaceflight launching center in Hainan and we see three times of such proposals as taken down in the notes of the NPPCC alone.

Paramilitary police officers from Jiangsu work as volunteer models for the Nanjing Arts Institute's mock entrance examination. There is a shortage of models in the city of Nanjing, Xinhua reports, with a number of arts institutes holding annual entrance tests.

Red chip China Resources Enterprise plans to spend up to $2 billion expanding its supermarket chains on the mainland this year to fend off competition arising from the deregulation of the consumer market, says chairman Charley Song Lin.

Hutchison Ports Holdings (HPH) has agreed to develop and run up to three berths at two terminals in the ports of Alexandria and El Dekheila on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

China Telecom, the mainland's largest fixed-line telephone operator, won a nationwide license from the Ministry of Culture to operate Internet cafes as part of the government's continuing drive to consolidate the sprawling, largely mom-and-pop industry and bring it under tighter state control.

Retail sales in January-February were 13.6 percent higher than a year earlier, slightly less than expected but maintaining a trend of rapid growth in consumer demand seen since early last year. Retail sales have seen annual rises of more than 13 percent every month since April last year, good news for policy-makers trying to boost the role of consumption in an economy that some say relies too much on fickle investment.

March 14, 2005

Hong Kong: Tung Chee Hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and two others were elected vice chairpersons of China's top political advisory body on Saturday. The third session of the Tenth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) also elected Zhang Meiying and Zhang Rongming vice chairwomen.

Arthur Li, the most publicly disgruntled of the suitors for the job of chief executive, has told associates he intends to resign as Secretary of Education and Manpower and is refusing to join Donald Tsang's team despite Beijing asking him to stay on. Being a Catholic was not a guarantee that Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would be a good chief executive, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said yesterday.

Donald Tsang is shadowed by two bodyguards and surrounded by security guards as he walks to his office in the west wing of the Central Government Offices yesterday.

Tung Chee-hwa, in Beijing yesterday, may have paid the price for his lack of decisiveness and inability to delegate responsibility, say human resources experts. Expectations of an easy victory for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen when running for chief executive have been called into question after two pro-government parties called for more candidates to come forward.

NPC attendants kick up their heels in Tiananmen Square during a break in proceedings.

A new strain of flu is spreading in Hong Kong, warned a government health body, but added existing vaccines should offer some protection.

Tycoon Li Ka-shing, said to be the "kingmaker'' behind the throne as well as a close ally of Tung Chee-hwa, on Friday credited the outgoing Chief Executive with engineering Hong Kong's economic recovery and successfully implementing the "one country, two systems'' policy.

A joint effort by two universities has put Hong Kong in the forefront of studies into the regeneration of facial bones. The advanced medical technology, known as distraction osteogenesis, was introduced to Hong Kong a decade ago, three years after its debut in New York, said Cheung Kim-kwong, chair professor of Hong Kong University (HKU) oral and maxillofacial surgery.

China Mobile (Hong Kong) chairman Wang Jianzhou announces that his company will spend US$7.8 billion this year on its 2G network. The aggressive plan was announced yesterday as Mr Wang presented the company's forecast-beating results. Net profit last year rose 15.3 per cent to 43.21 billion yuan.

Reflecting his country's emerging economic status, Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal has knocked Li Ka-shing from the top spot as Asia Pacific's richest man in Forbes magazine's annual ranking of the world's wealthiest.

China: TNT, the world's leading provider of express, logistics and mail services, yesterday announced that it will launch its logistics flagship suite Matrix transportation management system in China as a powerful technical support for its business expansion on the Chinese mainland.

Development of Jinbao Street, the largest period house renovation project in Beijing, will be in line with the principles of concentrating on establishing an internationalized business area and protecting the precious cultural relics.

China aims to build more ships in the years ahead to cope with a growing demand from the international market and turn itself into the world's largest shipbuilding nation.

Longtan hydropower station, located on the upper reaches of the Pearl River in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, will begin power generation in May 2007. A strain in China's power supply tends to ease to a certain extent but the whole situation remains stark in 2005, with the toughest period being set in the summer season.

The mainland's largest shipping firm China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (Cosco Group) said it plans to list its unit Cosco Holdings, whose assets will include the group's container shipping business as well as its locally listed container-to-ports outfit Cosco Pacific. Cosco Pacific managing director Sun Jiakang said Friday the move is part of an internal reorganization of Cosco Group's core businesses, but gave no timetable for the listing it is seeking on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

China Unicom, struggling with its code division multiple access (CDMA) business at home, has won a licence to build a 250 million yuan mobile network in Macau based on the same technology.

March 11 - 13, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa officially offered his resignation on Thursday. Tung cited health problems as his reason for leaving the position. Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee Hwa will depart for Beijing on Friday to attend the third session of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) until the meeting ends on Saturday. The Chief Secretary for Administration, Donald Tsang, will be the Acting Chief Executive. The Federation of Hong Kong Industry chairman Kenneth Ting praised outgoing Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa - noting that his time in office had resulted in some important accomplishments.

Swire Properties chairman Keith Kerr says the group will be setting its sights on more investments in the mainland. One of Hong Kong's largest office landlords believes strong letting demand will rapidly feed through to increased rents, bolstering the prospects for a sector that has seen pricing power swing back in its direction.

Hongkong Electric Holdings has vowed to bolster overseas investments after its Australian portfolio fuelled 3.7 per cent growth in net profit to $6.28 billion last year

Rising steel prices will slow capital expenditure at Orient Overseas (International) Ltd this year despite the shipping firm's announcement yesterday of a second consecutive year of record earnings.

China Mobile (Hong Kong) - the world's largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber numbers - on Friday reported a net profit of 42 billion yuan (HK$39.6 billion) for last year; up 18.1 per cent from 35.5 billion yuan in 2003.

Hong Kong’s leading carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said it carried 1.15 million passengers in February – a 24.1 per cent increase from the same month last year.

Leading Hong Kong company Swire Pacific on Thursday reported net profit of HK$6.54 billion in for last year — up 33 per cent from the HK$4.92 billion recorded for 2003.

Trade and Industry director-general Raymond Young Lap-moon on Thursday stressed the importance of the World Trade Organisation to Hong Kong’s future trade relationships.

The Public Affairs Forum — a new body which would advise the government on major public issues — was officially launched on Thursday. The forum’s website was launched at the same time.

Outgoing Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp chairman David Eldon yesterday called on all Hong Kongers to assume their responsibilities in combating pollution and improving the education system and cultural awareness.

Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (HTIL) further enhanced its reputation as an emerging markets mobile provider yesterday, announcing it will invest US$300 million ($2.34 billion) in an Indonesian 2G network.

A Hong Kong firm is seeking a share of earnings from computer giant Apple, claiming its patented technology was being used in the successful iTunes music download service, the company's website said.

China: Friday's maiden flight of China's first privately run airline, Okay Airways, is rocking the monopoly of the state-owned airlines. A 737-900 plane leased from the Republic of Korea by the company took off Friday from its base at Binhai International Airport in Tianjin Municipality near Beijing. Carrying a total of 76 passengers, including dozens of journalists, the liner will fly to Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, via Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. According to Han Jing, a company executive, Okay mainly engages in air cargo and passenger charter services, express services and ground distribution.

Cashing in on China's consumer boom, a 31-year-old online game entrepreneur, an appliance retailer and the head of a chain of home-improvement stores were among the country's richest tycoons last year, according to a list released Friday by Forbes.

Efforts to raise agricultural productivity even in the wake of last year's record grain output and farmers incomes are to be stepped up, the minister responsible said yesterday.

A visitor looks at products of China's Haier Group at the "CeBIT" expo on March 10 in Hanover, Germany. The world's biggest information and communication technology exhibition "CeBIT" opens that day. The week-long expo has attracted about 6, 000 companies from 70 countries and regions in the world.

This speed is much higher than the Commerce Ministry's expectation for 2005 which is set at some 15 percent. China enjoys 11.1 billion USD of trade surplus.

Corruption in the judicial system is the most important area Supreme People's Court President Xiao Yang and Procurator-General Jia Chunwang have to address if they want fewer votes against their annual reports, according to deputies interviewed at the Great Hall of the People yesterday.

Tax policies will be used to achieve the central government's goals of helping the poor and narrowing the income gap, according to the mainland's finance minister and taxation chief.

The 85th China Knitwear Expo attracts visitors. The three-day event, which opened on Tuesday in Shanghai, consists 1,800 booths from 350 enterprises from home and abroad.

Chinese Finance Minister Jin Renqing said Wednesday the government is determined to levy fuel tax but needs to find an "opportune time."

March 10, 2005

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was widely expected to resign on Thursday, news reports, said as high-ranking Chinese officials heaped praise on him in an apparent send-off after seven rocky years in office.

Cathay Pacific Airways on Wednesday reported its second-highest ever annual net profit of $4.4 billion in 2004 — up 239 per cent on the $1.3 billion net profit recorded in 2003.

Hong Kong people can learn more about Sun Yat-sen with the opening of major new exhibition on the Chinese nationalist leader on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong Disneyland theme park, set to open in September, has already received 10,000 room reservations for its hotel since it opened a customer call center three weeks ago, officials said Wednesday.

China: A P Moller-Maersk Group, the world's largest shipping company and one of its leading terminal operators, is expanding its presence in China on the back of the country's booming terminal and port sector, according to a senior company official.

Global law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary will soon apply to authorities to open its second office in China to meet expected demand bought about by the rapidly expanding economy.

Chinese investors make deals at a trading hall in Shanghai, east China, March 8, 2005. The Composite Stock Index on the Shanghai Stock Exchange closed at 1,318.27 points on Tuesday, up 24.53 points from the previous close, while the Component Stock Index on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange closed at 3,451.82 points, up 83.15 points.

Considerable changes have taken plance in China's private economy in six aspects in recent years. It is widely believed this year will see a take-off the private sector.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has made concrete progress on its projects in Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai recently.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which rules on national security implications of foreign takeovers of US firms, has cleared the US$1.75 billion (HK$13.65 billion) acquisition of IBM's personal computer business by Lenovo Group, China's largest PC maker, the two companies announced.

March 9, 2005

Hong Kong: Donald Tsang takes the lift to his office yesterday. His ascent to the top post seems assured. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen looks likely to head an administration composed largely of Tung Chee-hwa's team, given Beijing's desire for stability. Pro-government organisations are preparing for a series of farewell parties for Tung Chee-hwa.

A strong luxury goods market helped boost the value of retail sales in January by 4 per cent year on year to about $19 billion, nearly matching the 1997 level of $20 billion. A government spokesman says it reflects robust consumer confidence.

Once Donald Tsang takes the post of chief executive, his successor as chief secretary for administration is tipped to be former secretary of financial services Rafael Hui. According to a source close to Tsang, Beijing appears to have offered the job to Hui, who is in Hong Kong but last night neither confirmed nor denied the job offer.

Beijing has given final approval to build a 29-kilometre-long super bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, state media reported on Tuesday.

ICBC chief executive Zhu Qi says the bank plans to take over its parent's Hong Kong credit-card business by the end of the year.

China is considering allowing firms and banks to sell yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong as early as this year, a move that would boost the territory's yuan currency business and its role as a financial centre for the mainland.

Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (HTIL) expects its Hong Kong mobile business to improve this year, banking on hopes of lower third-generation (3G) operating costs.

The police training school is being developed into a college using the police force's existing budget of HK$11.56 billion this financial year. Hong Kong's police officers should get the world's best training when the Police Training School expands and becomes the Police College, sources said.

China: A sharp rise in mainland textile exports since global quotas were scrapped on January 1 threatens to ignite trade tensions between Beijing and its key western trading partners.

A study released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on Monday shows that China's industries, while attracting more foreign investment, are also helping other high-tech manufacturers in East Asia and Southeast Asia to attract more investment.

The mainland's demand for industrial wood is expected to hit 125 million cubic meters by the year 2010. A surging demand for wood fueled by the mainland's rocketing economy threatens timber stocks in forests around the world, an international environmental group warned Tuesday.

People look at newly-built apartments on Tuesday in Shanghai. According to local media the State Council's Research Institute recently called for a meeting with specialist from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Land Resources and the General Administration of Taxation, discussing on a just-finished report called Research on China Property Tax Policies. 

Economic chiefs including (from right) Li Yuan, Zhou Xiaochuan, Ma Kai and (left) Banking Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Mingkang conduct a press conference. The public listings of Bank of China (BOC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) are "not far off," China's central bank chief said yesterday.

Shanghai has imposed capital gains taxes on properties sold within 12 months, becoming the first mainland city to do so as it acts to cool a soaring property market and curb speculators. But at just 5 percent, it is not expected to inconvenience speculators much.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi (left) in close discussion with Huang Ganying (right), 85, and Zhang Jiexun (83) at a ceremony to mark today's International Women's Day in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Both Huang and Zhang are former vice-chairwomen of the All-China Women's Federation.

Toy bikes on show at the ninth China International Toy Exhibition yesterday in Shanghai. The expo, which ends today, lured toy makers from around the nation to showcase their products.

March 8, 2005

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa held an urgent meeting with his expected replacement, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, last night - immediately after returning from Beijing where he is believed to have discussed with state leaders arrangements for his departure. Tung Chee-hwa may look as well as ever to some people, with imminent retirement lifting a weight off his back, but he is in terrible shape according to several pro-Beijing politicians. The electoral authorities yesterday gave the clearest signal yet that they are gearing up for elections pending confirmation of Tung Chee-hwa's early departure.

A tycoon has warned that the "feel-good factor" caused by Hong Kong's surge in property prices will not last long as the fundamentals of the city's economy have not improved. Fierce competition in Tseung Kwan O's primary market has prompted Hong Kong's largest developer to price some units in its new residential project at prevailing secondary market rates.

Rene Liu and Tony Leung accept the accolades from the audience Sunday night for their best actress and actor awards at the Trade and Exhibition Centre.

Warren Buffett, the world's second-richest person, last year increased his bet against the US dollar by 78 per cent to US$21.4 billion, resulting in a US$1.84 billion gain.

China: The central government is facing a tough battle with the provinces to slow its overheating economy, with many trillions of yuan worth of investment projects already under way or in the pipeline, according to analysts.

The world has a broadly positive view of China's growing global clout, although enthusiasm for its economic influence is tempered by concern over its military potential, a survey has found.

China Iron and Steel Association vice-chairman Luo Bingsheng says clear steel targets will be set.

Main board-listed Moulin Global Eyecare Holdings, the world's third-largest eyewear firm, will increase its mainland outlets more than tenfold as it consolidates its recent purchase of Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA).

Cartoon cameras: A salesgirl displays cartoon webcams at an electronics market in Beijing over the weekend. Priced around 100 yuan (US$12), the devices are particularly popular among young netizens.

AIG-Huatai Fund Management Co Ltd, a Shanghai-based joint venture between AIG Global Investment Corp and Huatai Securities Co, will issue its first mutual fund in China today.

Standard Chartered, one of the world's leading consumer and wholesale banking service providers, has applied to establish a branch in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, according to a senior bank official.

China did not lower the yuan artificially to pursue its own interests, the country's foreign exchange chief Guo Shuqing said Monday in Beijing. China's foreign trade is projected to increase by 15 percent in 2005, with imports basically equaling exports, says a report on national economic and social development plan.

March 7, 2005

Hong Kong: An orchid fancier examines some of the 400 specimens competing in 38 categories at the Hong Kong Artistic Orchid Association's four-day annual show, which runs until Monday at the Exhibition Gallery in Sha Tin Town Hall. A giant slipper orchid was crowned champion yesterday.

Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said on Friday that he plan to step down as chairman of the biggest pro-business party in Hong Kong in 2008.

Cyber Prince, a 2.4-metre-tall robot that speaks Putonghua sings Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World and dances with female models, caused a stir when he arrived at the Langham Place Hotel yesterday for last night's grand opening. The second-generation robot - made from aluminium and carbon fibre and weighing in at 59kgs will return to its homeland, Britain, today. Cyber Prince cost $750,000 to build.

The disused Central Market, described as the jewel in the crown among 35 sites the government has released in its new land application list, could fetch as much as $5.36 billion, which analysts say would set a new benchmark for the sector.

China: Premier Wen Jiabao signs autographs for delegates. He will tell the National People's Congress session today that the government will try to contain inflation at 4 per cent.

President Hu shakes hands with a CPPCC member while he joins the discussion and solicits suggestions yesterday.

China's parliament, the National People's Congress, opens its annual session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 5, 2005, and Premier Wen Jiabaol delivers a report on the work of the government.

Premier Wen Jiabao will probably announce plans to cut taxes for farmers and encourage bank lending to entrepreneurs at the opening of the National People's Congress Saturday, analysts said.

A consumer stands by a shelf of Bright milk and dairy products at a supermarket in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province. Groupe Danone, a world leader in the food industry, will increase its stake in Bright Dairy & Food Co to 9.7 per cent through two share transfer deals, the local dairy maker said on Thursday.

The upcoming 15th session of China (Guangzhou) International Furniture Fair will put an impetus on the export business of the furniture suppliers of the nation and provide them with access to the latest global industrial information, market insiders said. "The event, to be held at two phases, will provide furniture suppliers with more space for their product display and will attract more global professional buyers than ever," Wang said. "That will mean much greater business potential for both furniture suppliers and buyers," he added. The first phase of the fair, set from Friday to next Monday, will highlight home furniture, while the second phase, scheduled from March 26 to 29, will focus on office furniture and commercial furniture. To be held at the same time as the first phase is the Interzum Guangzhou 2005, jointly organized by Koelnmesse BmbH, a leading global exhibition giant based in Germany; and the Hometextile China 2005, co-organized with the China Home Textile Trade Association, will be held concurrently with the second phase of the fair. Intermzum Guangzhou 2005 will focus on the latest innovations in manufacturing and production machinery, equipment, tools, electronics and software, as well as the latest manufacturing techniques for furniture production; and the Hometexitle China 2005 will concentrate on beddings, and linens for bathroom and kitchen. Some 410 renowned furniture suppliers will show off their latest products at the first phase of the fair; and another 400-odd suppliers will seek business opportunities at the second phase of the event.

March 4 - 6, 2005

Hong Kong: The government would introduce a bill into the Legislative Council between May and June to toughen Hong Kong’s anti-smoking laws — currently considered too lax by health experts, local radio reported on Thursday.

Hong Kong and Australian Federal Police have smashed a money-laundering syndicate and arrested three men and a woman in Hong Kong and Australia, news reports confirmed on Thursday.

Embattled Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is widely rumored to be quitting to allow his right-hand man to take over the job. If that happens, the territory can look forward to a new leader who is popular at home and has spent nearly 40 years helping run the city.

As they arrived for work yesterday, Henry Tang smiled for the cameras but snapped at reporters, while Tung Chee-hwa's tipped successor Donald Tsang seemed cheerful. Legal experts are demanding a full explanation of any resignation by Tung Chee-hwa amid widening fears that Hong Kong's autonomy is at grave risk. Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday became his boss' stand-in - at least until Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa returns from Beijing. And he appeared to be enjoying speculation the placement would be permanent. A power vacuum may be created with the resignation of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa if the Executive Council and principal officials step down at the same time.

The Pearl River Delta offers rich pickings for Hopewell Highway Infrastructure, whose managing director Thomas Jefferson Wu says the Western Delta expressway it opened last year led the toll-road operator to produce 19 per cent higher profit for the first half and helped parent Hopewell Holdings double its earnings.

Staff at the Securities and Futures Commission may shed a few more tears when chairman Andrew Sheng leaves his post in September, after he proposed a parting gift of $26.3 million in bonuses for the current and next financial years.

The Housing Authority will go bankrupt in about three years should the Court of Final Appeal uphold social welfare recipient Lo Siu-lan's objections to the sale of its commercial assets, the authority's finance committee chairman said.

China: China will subsidize major agriculture areas with 5.5 billion yuan (US$665 million) in 2005 to encourage farmers to increase grain production.

China has passed its first ever renewable energy law, drawing praise from environmental campaigner Greenpeace which said it had the potential to become a world leader in sustainable development. The law, which takes effect next year, requires power grid operators to purchase resources from registered renewable energy producers. It also encourages oil distribution companies to sell biological liquid fuel, and offers financial incentives, such as a national fund to foster renewable energy development, and tax preferences for renewable energy projects. At the Bonn conference on renewable energy last June, China pledged to increase its installed renewable energy generating capacity to about 60 gigawatts by 2010, about 10 percent of total power capacity. The amount of renewable energy it currently generates is less than one percent of the total.

President Hu Jintao will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming 2005 FORTUNE Global Forum in Beijing, its organizers announced yesterday.

Promised with strong policy support, entrepreneurs from the non-public or private economy demanded yesterday that the government at all levels adopt pragmatic measures to implement the new policy.

Participants at the 15th East China Fair examine textile products. The largest regional light industry trade fair opened yesterday in Shanghai, attracting over 3,300 professional exhibitors.

Based on the scale of job recruitment advertisements in newspapers, job fairs, online job recruitment, and head-hunting, the size of China's job recruitment market grew by almost 9 per cent year-on-year in 2004, with a total revenue of 4.16 billion yuan (US$502 million). It is estimated that this will grow to 5.12 billion yuan (US$618 million) in 2006 with an average annual growth rate of 10 per cent in 2005 and 2006.

Zhang Ruimin (R1), CEO of the Haier Group of China spoke at the inaugural ceremony for its new factory in Amman, Capital of Jordan on March 1st, 2005. Haier Group's factory in Jordan, the Haier Mideast Appliance Co., Ltd put into production that day.

The government has issued rules requiring automobile dealerships to be authorized by an automaker, or a licensed general distributor, to better regulate the market.

Bicycles and parts on display at a trade fair held last year in Nanjing, the capital of East China's Jiangsu Province. China's bicycle products make up 60 per cent of the world's total.

Pupils attend a maths lesson at a Beijing school that teaches more than 1,200 children of rural immigrants. By the end of last year, authorities say about 93 per cent of children were receiving at least nine years of education under nationwide requirements.

March 3, 2005

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) was voted "Asia's leading conference centre" for the 3rd consecutive year at the 11th World Travel Awards. Nominees were decided by votes from over 150,000 frontline agents and 80,000 travel agencies worldwide.

Hong Kong fashion guru Joyce Ma, founder of Joyce Boutiques, has been awarded France's highest civilian distinction, the Legion of Honour. French fashion federation president Didier Grumbach said Ms Ma was an ambassador for European fashion in Asia.

Over 300 international exhibitors will take part in FILMART 2005, one of eight major events at the inaugural Entertainment Expo (March 22 - April 6) showcasing Hong Kong's leading film, digital entertainment and music events under one roof. FILMART, or the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (March 22-24), has over the years become an important business-to-business platform in the international entertainment film calendar. This year's event with its theme on multi-media convergence will see movie and television professionals, producers and distributors from around the world show products, network and negotiate deals.

More than 1,500 companies from 40 countries have taken part in the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show. The event opened on Tuesday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

China: Chinese devotees burn joss sticks at a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beijing on Tuesday. China introduced new regulations on Tuesday intended to protect freedom of faith.

Workers install the national emblem on a new government building in Wuhan as the country prepares for the annual legislative sessions.

A leading state-run think-tank has proposed widening the yuan's trading band to 5 percent to ease pressure on the currency and allow the government greater leeway to reform the exchange rate mechanism. The State Information Center (SIC) said the appreciation of the yuan is inevitable and the key issue is when and how to carry it out, according to its latest research report published in the China Business Post Monday.

March 2, 2005

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was yesterday appointed as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, paving the way for his appointment as a vice-chairman of the nation's top advisory body.

China: A group of "angels" waits for guests at a promotional event for bedding products in Shanghai. Companies are employing different kinds of advertising strategies to attract the growing middle class as wealth and disposable income rise with the expanding economy.

The number of divorces on the mainland increased by more than 20 per cent last year, with experts attributing the upsurge to simplified procedures and the one-child policy.

Ten municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, have started experimental work to deduct environmental costs from their gross domestic product (GDP), the State Environmental Protection Administration said yesterday.

A survey of Chinese companies' investment intentions in Europe and North America has found that nearly 50 per cent of them intend to go global within the next two years. China's foreign exchange regulator pledged yesterday to do more to support domestic firms' overseas investment strategies.

Lanxess, Germany's third-largest chemical company, yesterday initiated its investment strategy in China by signing an agreement with its Chinese partners to launch a joint venture in Anhui Province.

President Hu Jintao (L) holds a ceremony to welcome Malaysian Supreme Head of State Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Feb. 28. China will work with Malaysia to carry forward bilateral traditional friendship, deepen bilateral strategic cooperation and promote bilateral overall good neighborly friendship and cooperation to higher levels, said Hu.

March 1, 2005

Hong Kong: Hong Kong marathon madness: Big crowds of people gather about 4 am near the starting point of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong international marathon 2 hours before the event actually began yesterday. More than 30,000 people participated in the event despite wet weather, 6,000 more than last year, organizers said. Kenyan Samson Loywapet was the winner in the men's race and Chinese runner Dai Yin-yin was the first woman to cross the finish line. A group of runners wore masks during the race.

Global banking giant HSBC Holdings on Monday said it posted a "solid" set of results for last year, typically understating another stellar performance as the bank reaped the gains of its growing worldwide presence. HSBC shares were marked down sharply at the opening of trade in London yesterday as investors shrugged off last year's record profits of US$11.84 billion ($92.22 billion), worrying instead that the world's second-biggest bank would be unable to pull off an encore this year.

The government on Monday released new financial figures showing Hong Kong had reported a budget surplus of $22.4 billion for the 10 months ended January 31.

PSA International of Singapore yesterday secured a place on Hong Kong's busy waterfront after the last shareholder in Asia Container Terminals (ACT) declined to exercise a right to match part of PSA's $3 billion offer to NWS Holdings.

China: Girija P. Pande from Indian firm TATA delivers a speech at the first China-India Software Industry Summit, held yesterday in Beijing. China and India's software industries are forging closer ties, as the world's two most populous countries are becoming the most favoured offshore software outsourcing destinations. Beijing is extending a warm welcome to Indian software and service suppliers, in the hope that they will set up shop in the lucrative information technology market of the nation's leading software hub.

China's largest arbitration institution will step up efforts to offer services for specific industries and the online sector, in a bid to create a favourable business environment for both foreign and local companies, said its top official. The Beijing Arbitration Commission not only increased the number of cases it arbitrated but also made strides in its arbitration efficiency and capability last year, officials from the commission revealed.

Three employees get ready to receive journalists from home and abroad in the news center in China Science and Technology Hall in Beijing, China, Feb. 26. The third session of the 10th National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the third session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) will be opened on March 3 and March 5 respectively in Beijng.

About 730 million Chinese farmers are expected to benefit from the agricultural tax exemption this year,as 26 of its 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have announced a termination of all agricultural taxes.

Workers at Luxing Food sort and pack seafood products in Yantai, Shandong. The province reported rapid growth in exports to Japan, the United States and South Korea last year, with its export volume to the three nations accounting for more than half of its total.

 *News information are obtained via various sources deemed reliable, but not guaranteed

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