Friday, September 12, 2008

China to repair 6,240 reservoirs by 2010

China would finish repairing 6,240 mid-size and small at-risk reservoirs by the end of 2010, said the Water Resources Minister Chen Lei.

Chen made the remarks here at a working conference in the capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Senior water officials said these reservoirs are "weak points" in the country's flood control work.

More than 2,300 of the most at-risk reservoirs have been repaired since 1998.

The country's direct economic loss from floods this year reached 56.19 billion yuan as of Aug. 1,said the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

The floods left 346 dead and 101 missing in 27 localities nationwide, with more than 77.89 million people and 4.65 million hectares of farmland affected and 294,400 houses destroyed.

The State Council, or the Cabinet, approved in March an investment of 51 billion yuan in the ministry's reservoir repair project.


Vice premier urges maintaining low birth rate for sustainable development

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said the country should continue keeping a low birth rate for its sustainable development.

The country should also take comprehensive measures to address the problem of gender disproportion among the newly-born, said Li, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

He told a conference on population and family planning here that China's family planning policy had greatly promoted its economic development and social progress, and meanwhile also made significant contribution to the world's population and development cause.

However, he cautioned that in the next few years, China's population would still record a growth of about 8 million every year, and the country should stabilize the low birth rate and comprehensively solve the population problem.

He also urged taking precaution against birth defect and improving the quality of the new-born population for the society's harmony and stability.

Li stressed the importance of studies on strategic issues including the long-term development trend of the population, its rational distribution and ageing to make the population and family planning work more predictable and scientific.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese leaders watch art performance by disabled people

With the Beijing Paralympic Games under way, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other top leaders watched a musical and dancing performance staged by disabled artists in Beijing on Thursday night.

The grand show, titled "My Dream," was presented by the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe in the Poly Theatre in downtown Beijing. Specially prepared for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, the show has been continuously modified and Thursday's was already its fifth edition.

Chinese President Hu Jintao talks to International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven as International Olympic Committee Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch looks on before a performance dubbed "My Dream" presented by China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe at the Poly Theatre in Beijing Sept. 11, 2008
Sitting among the audience were Party and state leaders Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, as well as International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven and International Olympic Committee Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The performance -- a mixture of music, dancing, Peking Opera, dancing drama and music drama -- has been a hit since its debut on Aug. 10, staged for more than 40 times in the Chinese capital.

The performance on Thursday night began with a poem titled "My Dream," which was presented by performers using the sign language.

"We are trying to hear sounds and rhythms in silence, to see light in darkness, and to pursue perfection with disabilities," the poem goes.

In a classical repertoire of the troupe called the Thousand-hand Bodhisattva, Tai Lihua, a deaf dancer with great popularity in China, led 20 other hearing-impaired dancers in golden costumes to perform in breath-taking synchronicity.

Other highlights of the show included singing by disabled vocalists, playing of traditional Chinese musical instruments by blind musicians, and rhythmic dances and Peking Opera performance by blind, deaf or amputated artists.

Amazed by the spectacular show, the entire audience, including President Hu and IPC chief Craven, warmly applauded time and again to show their respect for the artists.

When the show ended, Hu, Craven and others also ascended the stage to shake hands with the performers and congratulate them on the success of the performance.

Head of gov't: China is very important development partner of Bangladesh

Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser of the Bangladesh caretaker government, said on Thursday that China is a very important development partner of Bangladesh as bilateral cooperation has been expanded in many fields.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua ahead of his visit to China, the head of the government said he expected his visit would further strengthen the already very strong and cordial friendship between the two countries and two peoples.

"China has been assisting us in economic growth," said the chief adviser, who is going to attend the closing ceremony of Beijing Paralympic and to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

China's contribution to the infrastructure sector is evident, said the chief adviser, noting the six friendship bridges and the Bangladesh-China friendship conference center which is a landmark building in capital Dhaka.

The bilateral relations between Bangladesh and China is based on the strong bond of friendship and common understanding on regional and international issues, he said. It can go further through mutual exchange of visit and exchange of people of various levels, he added.

The chief adviser also expected closer economic cooperation with China and more Chinese investment.

"I hope my visit will strengthen economic cooperation in different fields and trade between the two countries, and improve and increase Chinese foreign investment in Bangladesh," he said.

Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed said Bangladesh is providing very attractive financial incentives for foreign investment in addition to other advantages like competitive cheap, young and trainable labor force.

He welcomed China's investment especially in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

Chinese contractors will be most welcomed to be a competitive tender to construct the proposed Padma multipurpose bridge, which will be the largest bridge in the country at a cost of about 1.45 billion U.S. dollars, he said.

"We have been good friends and we will continue to remain good friends in the future and let the bonds of the friendship flourish in the future," the chief adviser said.

Source: Xinhua

Bangladeshi official praises Beijing Olympics

"The opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics was a spectacular show," the Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed of the Bangladesh caretaker government said here on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Thursday ahead of his visit to China, the head of the government spoke highly of the Beijing Olympics in August.

"I watched both opening and closing ceremony and some events," said the chief adviser, terming China super sport power and praising the performance of Chinese athletes.

He said, joining of Bangladesh team in the Beijing Olympics is symbolic, but it provided inspiration to Bangladesh athletes to watch how other athletes performs in the Olympic games.

For Bangladesh athletes, it's also important, he said.

As he is going to visit China and attend the closing ceremony of Beijing Paralympics, the chief adviser said, "I am looking forward to the visit."

Bangladesh sent a 39-member delegation to Beijing Olympics including 5 athletes who competed in swimming, shooting, track and field games by 5 wild cards from International Olympic Committee for Beijing Olympics.

Source: Xinhua

Search for mudslide victims on

Rescuers yesterday were still searching for people missing after hundreds of thousands of tons of liquid iron-ore waste flowed downhill from a mine's dump in Shanxi province, as the death toll rose to 151.

The Tashan Mine iron-ore waste dump's wall broke on Monday, causing a massive landslide that buried an entire village and a market in Xiangfen county.

The dump was about to burst its banks on Monday after being filled to more than capacity, and rain precipitated the process.

Shanxi provincial government secretary-general Wang Qingxian denied claims on the Internet that hundreds of people were missing after the landslide.

The disaster relief headquarters has sent more policemen and government employees to conduct a "door-to-door" check in the nearby villages to determine the exact number of missing people, he said. The villages are home to many migrant workers.

The exact figure is still not known, Wang said, but he promised timely updates of the number of casualties.

More than 2,500 rescue workers, with the aid of over 110 excavators, had searched almost 60 percent of the 30 hectares covered by the thick, heavy slush by Wednesday, he told a press conference yesterday.

"The rescue work can be finished in three to five days if the weather remains fine."

The provincial government said families would be paid 200,000 yuan as compensation for every member they had lost in the disaster.

Hundreds of doctors have joined the medical team to treat the 35 injured and take steps to ensure an epidemic does not break out in the area, Gao Guoshun, provincial health department head, said.

The State Council, the country's cabinet, has formed an experts' group, led by Wang Jun, director of the State Administration of Work Safety , to probe the case.

Wang Qingxian said a man called Zhang Peiliang bought the Tashan Mine from the local government in 2005. But he did not apply for a new safety production license after it expired in 2006. Moreover, Zhang's mining license expired in 2007.

"It is a grave accident on the part of officials," said Wang Dexue, SAWS deputy chief, who is also the deputy head of the probe team.

Shanxi is rich in mineral deposits, and the government has already asked about 700 similar mine tailing dams in the province to streamline their operations.

Xinhua contributed to the story

Source: China Daily

SMEs to get benefit package soon

The Ministry of Finance will "soon" draft special rules requiring local governments to buy more products from small and medium-sized enterprises .

Funding to SMEs will be increased significantly to help them cope with the tightened credit situation and falling global demands, the ministry said yesterday.

The ministry will earmark 3.51 billion yuan worth of special funds to help the growth of SMEs, which will enjoy preferential tax policies, too. It, however, did not say when exactly the new government procurement rules would be announced.

Analysts said the new rules would change the prevailing situation in which governments shun SMEs to buy goods from big companies.

The country has about 40 million SMEs, including those run by individuals. They have become the national economy's most dynamic factor, accounting for about three-fourths of the urban labor force.

But because of last year's tightening monetary policy, aimed to rein in the runaway economy, it has become difficult for vulnerable SMEs to get bank loans.

Moreover, the demand for their products have fallen, thanks to the slowing of economic growth from 11.9 percent last year to 10.1 percent in the second half of this year.

And the drop in exports of their products, as a result of this year's gloomy global economy, has made things even worse.

The central treasury, too, has given financial help to enterprises facing multiple problems.

Of the 3.51-billion-yuan support package, 500 million yuan will go into making SMEs acquire state-of-the-art technologies. This year's amount is 25 percent more than last year's.

A total of 200 million yuan of the technology development fund will be used to subsidize institutions that guarantee the SMEs would get bank loans, the ministry said.

The SMEs' technological innovation fund will get 1.4 billion yuan , up 27.3 percent than last year.

The ministry will use 1.2 billion yuan , up 20 percent, to help the SMEs tap the international market by providing them information and helping them go through the often complicated global certification process.

The ministry imposes a 20 percent tax on SMEs with low profit levels, and has cut the tax rate for high-tech SMEs to 15 percent, according to the newly promulgated corporate tax law.

The government passed a unified corporate tax law for domestic and overseas companies in March, imposing a flat tax rate of 25 percent on them. Before that, domestic enterprises had to pay a 33 percent tax.

The law stipulates that high-tech firms and small enterprises with marginal profits will enjoy preferential tax rates.

Source: China Daily