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Gates looks to defuse tensions on China trip

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Defense Secretary Robert Gates hopes to defuse tensions with China’s growing military when he visits Beijing next week in the latest US bid to forge a security dialogue with the country’s skeptical generals.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, seen here in Afghanistan in 2010.

The trip, to include a tour of a nuclear weapons command center, carries hefty symbolism, with military relations marred by recurring strains and Washington increasingly impatient with Beijing’s stance toward North Korea.


Gates will leave Washington early Saturday. After three days of talks in China, he will head to Tokyo on Wednesday and Seoul on Friday for meetings focused on the volatile crisis on the divided Korean peninsula.


With Chinese President Hu Jintao due in Washington for a pivotal state visit on January 19, both sides are anxious to show progress in defense ties, which China has repeatedly suspended over US arms sales to Taiwan.


“This was something the Chinese very much wanted to do in advance of that trip (by Hu). They want to get this relationship back on track and working in a positive direction,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Friday.


The visit comes a year after Beijing broke off military relations in protest against a multibillion-dollar arms package for rival Taiwan.


Gates embarks on the journey “encouraged” and “optimistic” that military relations can be placed on a more solid foundation, said Morrell, but he acknowledged that previous efforts have produced only fleeting progress.


Days before the US defense chief’s trip, photographs appeared showing a prototype of China’s first stealth fighter, the J-20, at an airfield in the southwest.


The images of the fighter jet coincide with mounting concerns in the Pentagon about China’s increasingly assertive and capable military, including the development of anti-ship missiles that could undercut America’s navy.


Although China may be years away from fielding fully-capable anti-ship missiles or warplanes to rival US fighters, analysts say it is steadily gaining ground.


In his first visit to China since 2007, Gates is scheduled to hold an array of meetings with top officials, including President Hu and his counterpart, General Liang Guanglie.


On Wednesday Gates will visit the army’s Second Artillery Corps headquarters outside of Beijing, which is China’s nuclear command center.


The United States has long sought to open up regular discussions with the Chinese on nuclear, space and cyber weaponry. By talking to officers overseeing the atomic arsenal, Gates hopes to lay the groundwork for such a dialogue, officials said.


Aware of the Asian juggernaut’s rise, the United States for years has appealed to China to back a more “durable” dialogue — similar to US-Soviet exchanges during the Cold War — to avoid miscalculations.


But China has instead opted to sever ties in order to register its displeasure with Washington, particularly over billions of dollars in weapons deals to Taiwan.


“They will probably have some strong words about future arms sales to Taiwan,” said June Teufel Dreyer, an expert on the Chinese military and a professor at the University of Miami.


Because China senses its economic and military might expanding, Gates will not be in a strong negotiating position, she told AFP.


“He will be perceived as begging to get the military relationship back on track, enabling Beijing to ask ‘what do we get out of this?'”


Pentagon officials insist Gates is not out to plead with China.


“China will need to buy into the framework and the logic we see for the military-to-military relationship for its own reasons and in pursuit of its own interests, not because we ask them to,” Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said in a speech Thursday.


China’s fast-growing military will also be on the agenda when Gates travels to Japan on January 13-14, where he will hold talks with Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.


Tokyo last month announced a shift of strategy in which it would bolster its defenses in the south to address concerns about China’s armed forces as well as the threat posed by North Korea.


On Friday, Gates makes a brief stop in Seoul to discuss how to prevent tensions from escalating with North Korea in meetings with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and the new defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin.


“China has a very important role to play here as well, to get Pyongyang to understand that its current course and its current behavior is extraordinarily dangerous and destabilizing,” said a senior defense official, who asked not to be named.


Meanwhile, on Saturday, North Korea took further steps to mend ties with the South, suggesting talks within weeks and reopening an office to encourage cooperation on the fractured peninsula.


The latest offer from Pyongyang followed an apparent easing in tensions, which have soared since the North shelled the South’s frontline Yeonpyeong island on November 23, killing four people.


 

Source: SGGP

Icy rains force 58,000 to evacuate in southern China

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:15 am

 Torrential icy rain across five provinces in southern China has forced 58,000 people to evacuate from their damaged homes, causing economic losses of $203.8 million, the ministry of civil affairs said on Wednesday.


Freezing rain has pummeled the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou in the past few days, killing one person and causing more than 1,200 houses to collapse, the ministry added.


The harsh weather in southern China, where winter is usually relatively mild, has damaged 142,400 hectares of crops in the provinces that produce rice, timber and coal and caused economic losses of 1.35 billion yuan ($203.8 million) as of Tuesday, the ministry added.


In southwestern Guizhou province, 22,800 people were forced to evacuate from their homes on Tuesday, state news agency Xinhua reported.


The icy weather and sleet have paralyzed traffic and strained power networks in some areas ahead of the vast migrations of people for the Lunar New Year holiday next month.


Highways in Guizhou have been clogged in the past few days, leaving thousands stranded in their cars as almost all expressways in the province were closed, said the Guizhou Provincial Department of Transport.


On Tuesday, traffic slowly returned to normal in Guizhou as all ice-covered highways reopened after being closed for over 30 hours. Guizhou’s provincial weather forecaster warned that it could take five more days for the cold and rainy weather to subside.


In early 2008, freezing weather across southern China caused power cuts and transport chaos, preventing many residents from spending the Lunar New Year with their families. The disruption rippled across the region, causing a brief spike in food prices.

Source: SGGP

US cannot accept China military power: state media

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:10 am

BEIJING, Jan 7, 2011 (AFP) – China will eventually have a military powerful enough to compete with the United States, state media said Friday ahead of the visit of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.


The claim in a newspaper editorial followed reports that China had completed a prototype of a stealth fighter and after a top US military official said Beijing was stepping up efforts to deploy a “carrier-killer” missile system.


“Whether the reported new weapons are true or not, in the long run, China will own first-class weapons that are capable of competing with the US war machine,” said the Global Times, known for its nationalist tone.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (R) meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations headquarters in New York, January 6, 2011. AFP

Gates arrives in China on Sunday to smooth over tense defence relations between the two countries — one year after Beijing cut military ties with Washington in protest against US arms sales to rival Taiwan.


“Apparently, the US is not ready to treat China as a major power. They cannot accept the fact that China will sooner or later possess a first-class military,” the editorial said.


“They are too used to the old power structure, in which China and other developing countries have long been treated unfairly.”


In an interview last week with a Japanese newspaper, the head of the US Pacific Command Admiral Robert Willard said China was pushing development of “carrier-killers” and aimed to project its influence beyond its regional waters.


US military analysts have warned China is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile — a new version of its Dongfeng 21 missile — that could pierce the defences of even the most sturdy US naval vessels and has a range far beyond Chinese waters.


Whereas Gates’s Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie has said that China will push forward with modernisation of its military thanks to a booming economy, the United States is facing major cuts.


Citing “dire” fiscal pressures, Gates on Thursday proposed deeper cuts than planned in US military programmes, scaling back ground forces for the first time since the 1990s.


Gates, in a compromise with the White House, said the 78 billion dollars in cuts and other measures would result in a slower pace of growth in defence budgets over the next five years, despite earlier plans to keep spending at a higher rate.


China has long described its military build-up as “defensive” in nature but top armed forces officials have recently made increasingly strong statements about its quest for a powerful military. 

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Source: SGGP

Vietnam Airlines to fly direct between Can Tho and Taipei (China)

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:35 am

Vietnam Airlines plans non stop flights between Can Tho and Taipei  (China) to meet travel demands of passengers during the Lunar New Year 2011.

                Can Tho International Airport

The airlines celebrated the inauguration of Can Tho International Airport in December. The first inaugural flight departed from Can Tho at 1.55 on December 20 and arrived in Taipei at 6.15. The return flight left Taipei at 7.40 and arrived in Can Tho at 10.10.


The forthcoming flights are scheduled on December 29, January 12,19,21,29, 30 and February 5, 7,9,12.


In the first phase of renovation the airport was upgraded to receive domestic flights in 2008 and international flights in 2009. The total cost of the project from 2007 to 2025 is expected to exceed VND11, 000 billion.


The renovation will upgrade the airport to Grade 4E ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards allowing landings by larger aircrafts including the B777 and B747-400 normally used for international flights. The new facilities will also improve on the passengers checking time.

Source: SGGP

China bars English words in all publications

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:32 am

BEIJING, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – Chinese newspapers, books and websites will no longer be allowed to use English words and phrases, the country’s publishing body has announced, saying the “purity” of the Chinese language is in peril.


The General Administration of Press and Publication, which announced the new rule on Monday, said the increasing use of English words and abbreviations in Chinese texts had caused confusion and was a means of “abusing the language”.


Such practices “severely damaged the standard and purity of the Chinese language and disrupted the harmonious and healthy language and cultural environment, causing negative social impacts,” the body said on its website.


“It is banned to mix at will foreign language phrases such as English words or abbreviations with Chinese publications, creating words of vague meaning that are not exactly Chinese or of any foreign language,” it said.


“Publishing houses and the media must further strengthen the regulated use of foreign languages and respect the structure, glossary and grammar of the Chinese and foreign languages.”


GAPP said companies which violated the regulation would face “administrative punishment” without offering specifics.


English abbreviations such as NBA (National Basketball Association), GDP (gross domestic product), CPI (consumer price index) and WTO (World Trade Organization) are commonly used in Chinese publications.


They are also often used in everyday conversation, and government officials routinely use the abbreviations at press conferences.


The body left a small loophole, stipulating in the regulation that “if necessary”, English terms could be used but must be followed by a direct translation of the abbreviation or an explanation in Chinese.


The names of people or places in English also must be translated.


One editor at a Beijing publishing house told the China Daily that the new GAPP regulation could actually result in reduced understanding.


“The intention of protecting the Chinese language is good. But in an age of globalisation, when some English acronyms like WTO have been widely accepted by readers, it might be too absolute to eliminate them,” the editor said.


“Conversationally, people also use these words all the time, so the regulation could create discord between the oral and written uses of language.”


China has launched several campaigns in recent years to try to root out poor grammar and misused vocabulary in official usage.


Sometimes those campaigns go awry, resulting in awkward Chinglish. In the run-up to last month’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, signs were posted in the metro that read “Towards Jichang”. “Jichang” means airport.


Earlier this year, China Central Television and Beijing Television told the China Daily that they had received notification from the government to avoid using certain English abbreviations on Chinese programmes.


But English abbreviations are still commonly heard on regular news and sports broadcasts.


The Global Times quoted an editor at a Beijing publishing house as saying finding translations for globally used acronyms would be time-consuming and confusing.


“I wonder how many people understand ‘guoji shangye jiqi gongsi’, when IBM is instantly recognisable,” the editor said.

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Source: SGGP

China supports EU efforts at financial stability

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

China supports measures taken by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to stabilize Europe’s debt crisis, Vice Premier Wang Qishan said Tuesday.


China has also taken steps to help European nations combat the sovereign debt crisis, Wang said at the opening of the third China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue.


Wang said the two sides “should have confidence and enhance cooperation to work together for a robust, sustainable and balanced growth,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.


Last week, EU leaders agreed to the creation of a permanent rescue mechanism for debt-laden countries in 2013 that would replace an existing bailout fund.

Chen Deming, China’s minister of commerce, speaks at a press conference during the 3rd EU-China High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday December 21, 2010.

Ireland last month agreed to borrow up to euro 67.5 billion ($90 billion) from the EU and International Monetary Fund and implement severe spending cuts as its economy staggered under the weight of massively indebted banks.


The Irish rescue followed the EU-IMF bailout of Greece earlier this year and added to fears that other financially weak countries including Portugal and Spain would need bailouts, imperiling the future of the euro common currency.


China has also been involved in bailing out European countries, offering in October to buy Greece’s debt. Last week, Portugal said that China had pledged increased support for its efforts to climb out of a financial crisis, reportedly promising to buy $4 billion in Portugese government debt.


The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second-largest trading partner behind the United States, Wang said. Two-way trade for the first 11 months this year reached $433.9 billion, an increase of 33 percent from the previous year.


Wang said global economic recovery is being hampered by weak demand, while world markets have excessive liquidity and are turbulent.


He reiterated that China would implement a prudent monetary policy to ensure the world’s second-largest economy can maintain steady growth.


“China is taking a proactive fiscal policy and stable currency policy, while the EU is actively taking measures to combat the debt crisis,” Wang said. “China and the EU should strengthen cooperation to promote strong, sustainable and all-around growth for the economies of China and EU and even the global economy.”


Other officials participating in the talks include EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming.


Wang said he expected “substantive” progress during the talks on a wide range of trade and economic issue, including recognition of China’s market economy status and the loosening of EU restrictions on high-tech goods exports.


Wang said China and the EU should cooperate in a variety of sectors, including new energy and environment protection, while fighting protectionist measures.


“We need to jointly resist trade protectionism, advancing Doha round talks for balanced and all-around success,” he said.

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Source: SGGP

China, Pakistan to formalise 10 billion dollar deals

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

China and Pakistan are set to conclude another 10 billion dollars’ worth of deals on Saturday, the latest signings on a trade-focused trip to South Asia by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.


Business leaders are scheduled to formalise the deals — adding to the 20 billion dollars’ worth of deals inked Friday — at Islamabad’s five-star Marriott Hotel, where a huge suicide truck bomb killed 60 people in 2008.


Boosting trade and investment have been the main focus of the first visit in five years by a Chinese premier to the nuclear-armed Muslim nation on the front line of the US-led war on Al-Qaeda.


Pakistan regards China as its closest ally and the deals are seen locally as incredibly important to a moribund economy, which was dealt a massive blow by catastrophic flooding this year and suffers from sluggish foreign investment.


The Islamabad city administration declared Saturday a public holiday, apparently for security reasons with the country on full-time alert for suicide attacks and bombings blamed on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.


Wen inaugurated a cultural centre built as a monument to Pakistani-Chinese friendship, and was to hold talks with the country’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and senior figures in the military, which depends on China for hardware.


The 35-million-dollar Pakistan-China Friendship Centre offers the Pakistani capital a conference venue, theatre, cinema and space for multiple events.


Young Pakistani girls dressed traditionally and waving the flags of both countries danced for Wen and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, before Wen kissed one of them on the cheek and posed for photographs.


Wen said Chinese medics will provide 1,000 Pakistani patients with free cataract surgery next year to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.


“China-Pakistan friendship will last forever,” he told a ceremony commemorating Chinese workers who died in the 1970s while building the Karakoram Highway, the main road to the Chinese border through the Himalayas.


After the business leaders’ meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari is to host a state banquet late Saturday. Wen addresses a special joint session of parliament early Sunday before leaving.


Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the countries signed 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding on Friday in fields ranging from energy to railways, from reconstruction to agriculture and culture.


Kaira said China had promised to fund “all the energy projects of Pakistan,” which he termed a “major breakthrough”. Pakistan suffers from a debilitating energy crisis and produces only 80 percent of the electricity it needs.


“China will provide assistance in 36 projects in Pakistan to be completed in five years,” he said. “Basically this is a five-year development plan.”


Although not specifically mentioned, behind-the-scenes talks are expected on China building a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant as part of Pakistani plans to produce 8,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025 to make up its energy shortfall.


“The outcome of the visit is beyond our expectations. It is an historic day,” Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing Masood Khan said Friday.


Pakistan depends on China’s financial and political clout to offset the perceived threat from rival India and rescue its economy from the doldrums of catastrophic flooding, a severe energy crisis and poor foreign investment.


Pakistan’s prime minister has expressed hope that trade will rise to between 15 and 18 billion dollars over the next five years.


China, meanwhile, has been concerned about the threat of Islamist militants infiltrating its territory from Pakistan.


Before arriving in Islamabad, Wen visited India, where he and his 400-strong delegation inked deals that will see bilateral trade double to 100 billion dollars a year by 2015.

Source: SGGP

US and China sign trade deals, Beijing seeks more

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:41 am

WASHINGTON, Dec 15, 2010 (AFP) – The United States and China agreed Wednesday to pursue free trade in areas from agriculture to technology, but Beijing insisted that Washington needed to loosen its own export controls.


Top officials from the world’s two largest economies met for two days in Washington to try to iron out persistent tensions — including over the value of China’s currency, which the United States says is artificially low.

AFP file – The United States and China agreed to pursue free trade in areas from agriculture to technology

President Barack Obama’s administration, which has been hit hard by economic worries, offered an upbeat take on the talks and highlighted China’s willingness to restart talks on resuming US beef imports.


The United States said China also pledged to remain “neutral” on the technological standards for third-generation telephones along with smart grids, so as to permit market access for American companies.


“We were able to make progress on significant issues in a number of areas, and on other issues we have established channels that will allow us to continue our robust engagement and pursue timely solutions,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.


Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who headed the 100-strong Chinese delegation, said the two sides had a “candid exchange of views on China-US economic cooperation.”


“We’ve reached many agreements and produced positive outcomes,” he told reporters.


But the Chinese side also called for the United States to relax its export controls — turning the tables on the United States, which frequently presses Beijing to open its markets.


“In our efforts to increase our imports, we very much hope that those countries still having a trade deficit vis-a-vis China could lift or relax export controls towards China,” Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said.


“Therefore if the United States could offer substantial export facilitation to China, and allow an increase of its exports to China, this would be a help against the high unemployment rate in the United States today,” he said.


The United States restricts a range of goods to China that are “dual-use” — meaning that the technology could be put to military use. US businesses have also long worried about counterfeiting of products in China.


US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that China agreed to do more to crack down on theft of intellectual property theft.


“We expect to see concrete and measurable results, including increased purchase and use of legal software, steps to eradicate the piracy of electronic journals, more effective rules for addressing Internet piracy and a crackdown on landlords who rent space to counterfeiters in China,” Kirk said.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pointed to “progress” over US beef, which was banned by China among other countries in 2003 over concerns about mad-cow disease.


“Technical talks will resume as soon as possible with the goal of reopening China’s market in early 2011,” Vilsack said.


US officials said that China also pledged to keep off the books rules on “indigenous innovation,” which state that high-tech goods must hold Chinese intellectual property rights. China rescinded such guidelines early this year after an international outcry.


Topping other concerns, US officials — and particularly members of Congress — have pressed China to let its currency appreciate, accusing Beijing of keeping its yuan low to pump out more exports.


Chen said China “has stated again and again its firm position” that it will reform its yuan “to improve the flexibility of the exchange rate regime and also to stabilize the value of the currency.”


But Chen questioned if the size of the US trade surplus had been overestimated, saying that China often exports back finished products made of components imported from the United States.


Such trade “is hardly affected by the fluctuations of currencies,” he said.


Many analysts believe that China is determined to move methodically on its currency rates, fearing that any sudden revaluation would jolt its manufacturing hubs and trigger social instability.

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Source: SGGP

Foreign ministers of China, Russia consult on N.Korea

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

The foreign ministers of Russia and China held telephone consultations Saturday over ways to ease the surging tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Russian foreign ministry said.


Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi “underscored the need to prevent a further escalation in the situation and to work toward conditions that can ease the tensions in the two Koreas’ relations and resume the six-party talks,” the ministry said in a statement.


Both countries are involved in the six-nation negotiations on the North Korean crisis, although Moscow’s close contacts with Pyongyang have waned considerably since the Soviet era.



 

Source: SGGP

China orders more inflation fighting measures

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:11 am