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Death toll rises to 25 in South West China earthquake

Rescuers search for survivors in a damaged building after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit Yingjiang County in southwest China's Yunnan Province, March 10, 2011. The death toll has risen to 25 as of 0:00 a.m. Friday, at least 250 others were injured. (Photo : Xinhua/Qin Qing)

YINGJIANG, Yunnan, March 11, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The death toll from an earthquake that hit Yingjiang County in southwest China’s Yunnan Province Thursday noon has risen to 25, local authorities said.

As reported by XINHUA on Friday, so far 250 people are confirmed injured in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, with 134 in serious condition, the provincial civil affairs department said in a statement late Thursday.

The earthquake has toppled the homes of 1,039 families and left 4,994 others seriously damaged, mainly in the county seat near the border with Myanmar, it said.

The National Committee of Disaster Reduction, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Yunnan’s provincial government have dispatched 9,700 tents, 15,000 quilts, 15,000 clothes and other materials to the quake-hit region.  (*)
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in World News

 

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19 dead as quake topples buildings in SW China

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, citizens pass by a damaged building after a strong earthquake jolted Yingjiang county, southwest China's Yunnan province on Thursday March 10, 2011. The earthquake toppled houses and damaged a hotel and supermarket in China's extreme southwest near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 150, officials and state media said. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Xiao Wenhui)

 

BEIJING, March 10, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – An earthquake toppled houses and damaged a hotel and supermarket in China’s extreme southwest near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 150, officials and state media said.

Witnesses reported that people were buried under debris from buildings damaged by the quake, centered in Yunnan province’s Yingjiang county, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China Central Television said the quake hit while many people, including students, were home for a customary midday rest. The report said at least two students were among those killed, but didn’t give details. The state broadcaster showed several buildings with concrete foundations that had cracked and buckled.

The website of the Chinese government earthquake monitoring station said the magnitude-5.8 quake struck just before 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers). The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 5.4 and at a deeper 21 miles (35 kilometers).

At least 19 people were killed and 157 other people were hurt, said Ren Xueli, an official with the Yunnan Disaster Relief Center. China Central Television said 166 were injured.

CCTV reported that about 100 armed police, firefighters and soldiers were using three excavators to try to rescue a man and a girl trapped inside a four-story building that had partially collapsed.

He Shuhui, head of an armed police squad, was quoted as saying they were trapped in a stairway on the ground floor of the building.

Another official on duty at the center, Gao Shaotang, said many houses had been toppled. Xinhua said the army was sending 400 soldiers to the site for rescue efforts.

The epicenter was in Shiming Village, just over a mile (kilometer) from the county seat, but triggered a power outage across Yingjiang, which has a population of about 300,000 people, Xinhua said.

The mountainous area lies 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, close to the border with Myanmar, and is home to many ethnic groups on both sides of the border, which sees heavy traffic in people and goods.

Xinhua said the quake-prone region has been hit by more than 1,000 minor tremors over the past two months.

The Myanmar Meteorological Department released a statement saying a quake had hit some 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city.

The statement did not mention injuries, damage or the specific area of Myanmar most affected by the quake. Authorities in the tightly ruled country tend not to immediately discuss the effects of natural disasters.

Much of the area on the Myanmar side been under the control of various armed ethnic groups, who have battled the Myanmar military to remain free from central government control.  (*)

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in World News

 

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China says it will tackle inflation, boost incomes

China's President Hu Jintao, left, and Premier Wen Jiabao arrive at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 5, 2011. Premier Wen said Saturday there would be more assistance to working class and rural Chinese who have not benefited from the country's rapid growth. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

 

 

BEIJING, March 5, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM /  AP ) – China’s government vowed Saturday to clamp down on inflation and urgently raise incomes as it pushes to spread the benefits of economic growth at a time when living standards are rising but so are popular calls for greater change, as reported by AP on Saturday.

In a speech that is China’s equivalent to the American president’s annual State of the Union address, Premier Wen Jiabao said there would be more assistance to working class and rural Chinese who have not benefited from the country’s rapid growth.

“Happiness” is a key theme for the authoritarian government this year, as it seeks to pull down inflation that has caused public grumbling and deliver more sustainable growth rather than the breakneck pace that has fouled the environment and widened a yawning rich-poor gap.

“We must make improving the people’s lives a pivot linking reform, development and stability … and make sure people are content with their lives and jobs, society is tranquil and orderly and the country enjoys long-term peace and stability,” Wen said at the opening of theNational People’s Congress, where the country’s social and economic goals will be laid out for the next five years amid lower growth targets and concerns about inflation and asset bubbles.

Security, always high during the congress, is extreme this year following anonymous calls posted on the Internet for Chinese to imitate the popular protests that unseated autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt. A new appeal called for more protests Sunday, the third in a row, though the previous two have attracted onlookers, journalists and swarms of police, but few outright demonstrators.

Police were seen Saturday taking away at least two woman from Tiananmen Square, possibly several of the many petitioners who flock to Beijing during the 10-day congress to seek help with their grievances.

In a country where many people spend a large part of their salaries on food, inflation is a serious concern, hitting 4.9 percent in January despite government efforts to reduce it.

“This problem concerns the people’ s well-being, bears on overall interests and affects social stability,” Wen told the nearly 3,000 national legislators, adding the government would impose price controls as needed and promote food supply, including building up reserves of key items to be released into the market when needed.

Price supports for wheat and rice will also be raised.

The centerpiece of Wen’s program — certain to be approved by the Communist Party-controlled congress — is a five-year plan that outlines an ambitious transformation: moving the economy from its dependence on state investment and exports to one driven by consumption.

If accomplished, the change would boost household spending power through higher wages, level the playing field for private companies and end policies that have effectively shortchanged consumers and channeled savings to the favored state-owned enterprises. The move would also likely reduce friction with the United States and other trading partners as China imports more.

Getting there, however, would require altering the successful formula that has helped propel China to the world’s No. 2 economy. It would also challenge deep-seated interests — from state companies and real estate barons who have benefited from cheap bank loans to politicians whose careers have benefited from the resulting high rates of growth.

Just when it needs cohesion, the leadership is also in the midst of an always contentious transition. Wen, President Hu Jintao and most other members of the Politburo Standing Committee are expected to begin stepping aside late next year for a new generation of technocrats.

In a sign of friction, Wen’s program sets economic growth for this year at about the normal 8 percent, but ratchets back the figure for the whole 2011-15 period to 7 percent annually, hoping to downshift to better quality growth. But most provincial and other local governments have set higher rates, some in double digits.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Beijing is empowering consumers without encouraging them to demand greater political rights. Protests have proliferated in pace with affluence over the past decade. Chinese scholars, extrapolating from state media reports, estimate that large-scale demonstrations, strikes and other mass disturbances reached 180,000 last year — a doubling in five years.

Wen said the government would move to stop illegal seizures of farm land and illegal demolitions of houses, common causes of protests as local governments try to boost growth through construction.

Aware of social fracturing, the government has spent heavily strengthening the military and police and other domestic security agencies. A spokesman for the national legislature told reporters Friday that defense budget would rise 12.7 percent this year, resuming the double-digit increases of much of the past decade.

A task force from elite Tsinghua University reported last year that spending on internal security nationwide was on par with the official defense budget and was expanding much faster. Some members of the task force have questioned that smothering security — evidenced in recent weeks in Beijing in response to calls for a Middle East-style “Jasmine Revolution” — saying it risks alienating the public and stifling appropriate demands for greater accountability and less government waste and corruption.

The government is not counting on muscle alone to forestall those demands.

“We will adjust the income distribution in a reasonable manner. This is both a long-term task and an urgent issue we need to address now,” Wen said, adding the government would steadily increase the minimum wage, pensions and welfare payments, and boost spending on health care.

“Through unremitting efforts, we will reverse the trend of a widening income gap as soon as possible and ensure that the people share more in the fruits of reform and development,” he said.

Behind the shift to greater economic and social fairness is a demographic change. State media have in recent days reported that China’s labor pool is expected to peak during the five-year plan before shrinking as the population ages. The reports note that when South Korea entered that phase in the late 1980s, the government and companies were forced to raise wages. The reports did not mention the labor strife and surge in democratic protests against the authoritarian South Korean government.   (*)

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in World News

 

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Reining in prices is China's 'top priority': Wen Jiabao

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is seen in India 2010. Reining in prices is China's "top priority" in 2011, according to a speech Wen was to deliver to the nation's parliament Saturday, which reiterated a four percent inflation goal. (AFP/File/Pedro Ugarte)

 

 

BEIJING, March 5, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – Reining in prices is China’s “top priority” in 2011, according to a speech Premier Wen Jiabao was to deliver to the nation’s parliament Saturday, which reiterated a four percent inflation goal, AFP reported on Saturday.

The world’s second-largest economy will target eight percent growth this year, and seven percent growth in the 2011-2015 period, Wen was to say, as he outlined the country’s priorities for the coming year.

The premier acknowledged that the communist leadership has “not yet fundamentally solved a number of issues that the masses feel strongly about” — from price rises to illegal land grabs to corruption.

“Recent prices have risen fairly quickly and inflation expectations have increased,” Wen was to say.

“This problem concerns the people’s well-being, bears on overall interests and affects social stability. We must therefore make it our top priority in macroeconomic control to keep overall price levels stable.”

Soaring prices of food, housing and other essentials have become the top public concern in China and Wen’s “state of the nation” speech to the rubber-stamp parliament pledged new efforts to contain the problem.

“We will resolutely regulate the housing market. We will act more quickly to improve the long-term mechanism for regulating the real estate market,” he was to say, according to the text.

China aims to “generally stabilise housing prices and meet the reasonable demands of residents for housing,” Wen was to say.

China announced last month that January inflation remained stubbornly high at 4.9 percent despite a series of measures taken to dampen price rises, including three interest rate hikes in the past four months.

The consumer price index, the main inflation gauge, had hit a more than two-year high of 5.1 in November.

The urgency of addressing key social issues has been underlined in the past two weeks by mysterious Internet calls for weekly Sunday “strolling” rallies in major cities, which have largely fizzled under a smothering security presence.

Wen noted the “large income gap” dividing rich and poor, as well as the need to boost minimum wages.

Shanghai’s municipal government said earlier this week it would raise the minimum wage 14 percent, taking the figure in the financial hub to 1,280 yuan ($194) per month from 1,120 yuan.

Local authorities across China have been raising minimum wages to help boost domestic consumption and relieve pressure on households struggling to keep up with rising food and property prices.   (*)

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : Chinese President Hu Jintao Arrives in US for State Visit

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (R) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) stand at the end of the red carpet during an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base January 18, 2011 at Camp Springs, Maryland. Chinese President Hu is on a state visit to the United States. He will be welcomed with a state arrival ceremony and have official meetings with the Obama Administration at the White House tomorrow. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Chinese President Hu Jintao talks with Vice President Joe Biden during an arrival ceremony,Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

China's President Hu Jintao receives flowers upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is at rear. REUTERS/Jason Reed

China's President Hu Jintao greets members of the United States government alongside Vice President Joe Biden (R) upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

China's President Hu Jintao and and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) listen to national anthems upon Hu's arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in World News

 

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British Deputy PM welcomes £2.6bn agreements between UK and China

Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang

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London, Jan 11 (KATAKAMI / DPM.CabinetOffice.Gov.UK) — Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has welcomed Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to London following his visit to Edinburgh yesterday.

Official talks took place at Lancaster House, after which the Deputy PM and Vice Premier Li witnessed the signing of agreements with an estimated value of £2.6 billion, which will further strengthen ties with China.

The talks covered global issues including international security and climate change in which the UK and China work closely together.

Co-operation on conservation and culture were also on the agenda, with China agreeing to gift a breeding pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo for ten years. The arrival of Tian Tian and Yuangguang will boost research, conservation and tourism in Scotland and the UK.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (standing 7th, L) speaks with China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang during a trade signing ceremony at Lancaster House on January 10, 2011 in London, Enlgand. Mr Li, who is widely tipped to become Chinese Premier next year, has already visited Germany and France during his European visit to strengthen business links. Mr Li and a delegation of 150 business and political representatives are also due to hold talks with the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg later today. (Photo by Paul Hackett - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Mr Clegg said:

It is a pleasure to welcome Vice-Premier Li and the accompanying Chinese delegation to the UK. We had successful talks covering a range of issues, and we witnessed the signing of a number of agreements, including commercial deals with an estimated contract value of at least £2.6 billion.

“This week’s visits, and the agreements we have seen today, follow the Prime Minister’s successful delegation to China in November, demonstrating the momentum we are building together towards even stronger relations. The kind gift of a loan of a breeding pair of giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yuangguang, is a sign that we can co-operate closely on a broad range of environmental and cultural issues, as well as commerce.

“Together, today’s deals will safeguard 700 jobs in the UK and are estimated to have the potential to create many more.”

Agreements signed today include a commitment by Jaguar Land Rover to increase sales to China. Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Dr Ralf Speth, who attended the ceremony said:

This commitment to sales in China in 2011 of some 40,000 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles with a value in excess of £1 billion not only signals the acceleration of our growth plans but also reflects both the importance of the Chinese market to Jaguar Land Rover and our value to the UK economy.

BP and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation signed an agreement on deepwater exploration in the South China Sea.

The China National Petroleum Company and INEOS signed two agreements today. INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe said:

We look forward to the success of this joint venture with the China National Petroleum Company. The agreement will further investment in our refineries, in France and the UK, ensuring their competitiveness in European markets, and securing jobs and skills in the UK and France. It will be hugely beneficial. Here in the UK, its success at our Grangemouth site will directly support 1,400 jobs at the site and indirectly around 7,000 jobs in central Scotland. We also look forward to mutual benefit in China through our agreement on technology sharing.

List of agreements

The full list of agreements signed today is as follows:

An agreement was signed on the terms of cooperation in the protection of and research into Giant Pandas between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA).

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation on low carbon.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the NDRC signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the China Development Bank (CDB) signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation.

BP and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) signed an agreement.

INEOS Group and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a framework agreement.

INEOS Group and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a strategic partnership deal.

Jaguar Land Rover and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Trading (Shanghai) signed a letter of intent.

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation.

Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd. and the Export and Import Bank of China signed an agreement.

The China Development Bank and HSBC signed a memorandum of understanding.

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), Beijing International Brand Management Centre and Beijing Chaoyang District signed a memorandum of understanding.

A cooperation agreement was signed between China Nonferrous Metals International Mining (CNMIM) and Kryso Resources plc (UK).

Soho Data Holdings Company Ltd and Xiking Culture Centre Media Beijing Company Ltd signed an investment agreement for the Soho Data Centre project.

Shanghai Haobo Chair (UK) Company signed an agreement to buy a 45% equity stake in ES UK Group.  (*)

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in World News

 

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British PM David Cameron welcomes Chinese Vice-Premier to Number 10

China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang (2nd, R) attends a round table discussion with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) at Downing Street on January 10, 2011 in London. Mr Li, who is widely tipped to become Chinese Premier next year, has already visited Germany and France during his European visit to strengthen business links. Mr Li and a delegation of 150 business and political representatives are also due to hold talks with the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg later today. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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London, Jan 10 (KATAKAMI / NUMBER10.GOV.UK) — Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to Number 10 as part of a four-day visit to the UK.

The PM said the Vice-Premier’s visit would “build on the momentum” from his trip to Beijing last year and offered a real opportunity for Britain in terms of trade, jobs and economic growth.

Earlier today, Deputy PM Nick Cleggheld bilateral talks with Vice-Premier Li and attended a signing ceremony at Lancaster House where the two countries signed agreements with an estimated value of £2.6 billion.

Mr Clegg said that the agreements signed by British and Chinese companies would safeguard 700 jobs in the UK, with the potential to create many more.

Other agreements included cooperation in the protection of and research into Giant Pandas between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) which will see the loan of a pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo. (*)

 

 
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