Thursday, September 11, 2008

HK shares end at 18-month low following regional markets

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang SengIndex plunged 3.06 percent to a near 18-month low below a key support level Thursday, following Asian stock markets.

The Hang Seng Index fell 611.06 points or 3.06 percent to 19, 388.72, its lowest close since March 20, 2007. The index traded between 19,220.28 and 19,854.82 during the session. Turnover rose to 69.60 billion HK dollars from Wednesday's 65.31 billion HK dollars .

Hong Kong followed the decline in Asian stock markets in the aftermath of a disappointing Lehman Brothers turnaround plan, which failed to quell worries about the health of mainstay financial services players.

The China Enterprises Index, which tracks the movement of China- registered companies traded in Hong Kong, fell 4.2 percent to 10, 052.03, after Chinese mainland's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.3 percent on institutional sales for client redemptions.

The Hang Seng Properties Index fell 4.1 percent to 22,165.09. Sun Hung Kai Properties shed 1.6 percent to 91.30 HK dollars, ahead of its full-year results. Sun Hung Kai, Hong Kong's biggest developer by market capitalization, said after market close that its net profit in its last fiscal year was 27.60 billion HK dollars, up from 21.23 billion HK dollars in the previous fiscal year.

Cheung Kong Holdings, one of the biggest housing companies controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, tumbled 4.0 percent to 99.70 HK dollars. Sino Land fell 7.6 percent to 11 HK dollars, and Hang Lung Properties dropped 5.5 percent to 20.80 HK dollars.

Several Chinese metals producers also fell sharply. Jiangxi Copper fell 7.6 percent to 8.63 HK dollars. Chalco fell 3.6 percent to 5.40 HK dollars.

China Mobile, the largest mobile phone operator in the country and the market's largest stock measured by capitalization, fell 5.29 percent to 77 HK dollars on the rumors that operator portability was to be put in place on the Chinese mainland.

Other Chinese telecom stocks also tumbled, with China Unicom down 4.81 percent, China Telecom down 5.07 percent and Netcom down4.54 percent.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the sole market operator, was down 2.95 percent to 93.85 HK dollars.


President Hu addressed three top concerns in field tour

In the run-up to the opening of the 3rd Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee to be convened next month in Beijing, and in the days from Sep.8 to 10, China's President Hu Jintao made his field tour to Henan Province, one of the most prominent grain producing provinces in China. On his tour of conducting grassroots investigation, President Hu discussed with the local authorities on wide arrays of issues concerning China's rural reforms under new circumstances.

Grain safety

The first stop of President Hu's investigation tour was Jiaozuo, township at the northern top of Henan Province, where he headed for a test field of corn, a pilot project for corn harvest covering around 10 thousand acres. He talked to the farmers from time to time while touring the field. When asked what they expected most from the preferential policies on farmers already carried out by the State, a farmer told the President they hoped the grain prices would be further raised, subsidies for grain production a little higher, and prices of farming materials more stable. President Hu smiled and promised, ‘I will bring back what concerns you for detailed discussion.'

He reiterated in this inspection trip that grain production should be paid close attention to. To develop grain production, he added, we will have to rely on policies, and science and technology.

President Hu also encouraged the scientific and technical staff to contribute more ideas to high and stable yields of crops. When mentioning grain safety, he addressed the importance of grain reserves and urged all the relevant departments to be bent on the task.

Cooperation along specialized lines

In Jiaozuo, the President also drove for a cooperative economy for grape yards. After a light conversation with several farmers, President Hu said practice has proved that, in a backdrop of persisting contracted responsibility system on the household basis, it is a practical and accessible way to organize farmers to develop massive-scale economy through cooperation along specialized lines. He encouraged local authorities to further explore more favorable ways benefiting more farmers.

President Hu took interest in the countryside enterprises and production bases, and praised the way they pointed to the future of the rural reforms, saying farming-related industries act as the ‘dragon-head' leading and pushing ahead with the industrialization management of farming, and will enlarge the business scope of farming by creating more specialized farming projects. He said this is an effective method to offer farmers more chances to get rich.

Rural reform in compliance with the farmers' aspiration

Towards the end of his three-day investigation tour, President Hu summoned local leaders from Henan Province and the township of Jiaozuo holding an informal discussion centering round rural reforms and development.

He pointed out that China's rural reforms and development are standing on a fresh historical starting point. The reforms to be carried out in rural areas must conform to the new situations brought about by economic and social development in the vast rural areas, comply with the farmers' aspiration for a better-off life, and adhere to propelling the construction of new socialist countryside.

On top of this, the President also stressed that it is equally important to adhere to the route of rural modernization with Chinese characteristics, speed up forming a new layout of the integration involving both urban and rural economic and social development, further promote rural development, and open up a new vista for rural reforms and development.

By People's Daily Online

Dong music and buildings artistic wonders

You cannot leave a village of the Dong minority without being impressed with their songs and buildings.

Many of their songs are a reflection of their lives - about nature, labor, love and friendship.

While relaxing and useful for communication, singing has long played another important role.

Without a written language for more than 2,500 years, the Dong people passed on their history and customs from generation to generation through oral literature and art. Songs are key to their oral tradition.

Not surprisingly teachers of songs are respected as the most knowledgeable in a Dong village.

In particular, their a cappella harmonies with a lead singer and no conductor - which can imitate sounds of nature like streams and insects and inspire listeners' imagination - are considered a gift from the Dong people to the world.

Their art hit the headlines in 1986, when a Dong chorus performed in Paris, changing the idea that harmonies exist only in Western music and cannot be found in Chinese music.

Harmonies have long been valued by the Dong people. They only perform them at special occasions like important holidays, group dates and reception of distinguished guests.

In most cases the harmonies are performed in the drum tower of the village, so they are also known as "drum tower chorus".

Another Dong art form - architecture - is also impressive. Wood and stones are used instead of iron and steel as construction materials.

Dong people's skill in building houses and bridges with stones and wood without a nail or rivet marvel visitors.

The drum tower is a typical example of Dong architecture and a landmark in their villages. Without a drum tower, it cannot be counted as Dong.

As one of the highest and most spectacular buildings in the village, the tower is used for holiday parties and other entertainment.

In important matters or emergencies, the drum is beaten and villagers will gather at the tower for a meeting.

In fact it is so closely related to their lives that the Dong culture is also known as Drum Tower culture.

The Fengyu - wind and rain - Bridge, a common sight in almost every Dong village, is also a demonstration of their advanced building skills.

Entirely made of wood and stones, the covered bridges provide shelter for travelers if needed.

As the style of the bridge is also beautiful, it is known as Flower Bridge, or huaqiao, in Chinese.

Today the 2.6 million Dong people live mostly in Guizhou and Hunan provinces as well as Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Liping county in Guizhou has the highest concentration with a population of 350,000 Dong people.

The county has 320 drum towers and 290 flower bridges, thus winning the reputation of a Dong architectural museum.

With a land area of 180,000 sq m and a population of more than 4,000, Zhaoxing village in the county has one of the biggest groups of Dong in southeastern Guizhou. It has five districts - and so five drum towers and five flower bridges

The drum tower cluster has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Source: China Daily

Zhang Yimou, Gong Li, Jackie Chan fail to make shortlist for Chinese audience film awards

Chinese film veterans Zhang Yimou, Gong Li and Jackie Chan failed to make the shortlist for film awards given by the audience at an annual domestic film festival which opened in China's northeast seaport of Dalian on Wednesday.

Directors Feng Xiaogang, Yin Li, Stephen Chow, Ning Hao and Gao Qunshu will contend for the Best Director of the 29th Full Blossom awards, with their "The Assembly," "Yun Shui Yao," "Crazy Stone," "A Hope," and "Tokyo Trial", respectively.

They were selected and then nominated during a general election campaign organized by China Film Association from April 16 to July 31.

Zhang Yimou, director of "Curse of the Golden Flower," has missed the shortlist, together with Peter Chan and Benny Chan, other two candidates announced by the CFA earlier.

"Curse of the Golden Flower" received heated and mixed reaction after its release in China in December 2006.

Zhang is also the general director of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies.

Gong Li was on the longlist for her leading role in "Curse of the Golden Flower" together with Xu Jinglei and Lin Hsilei, but lost out on a shortlist spot to Li Bingbing, Tang Yan, Gao Yuanyuan, Hsu Vivian, Leung Wing Kei, who were nominated for the Best Leading Actress award.

Kung fu star Jet Li will contend for the Best Leading Actor after beating off strong opponents including Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Chow Yun-fat, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Louis Koo.

He was nominated with Zhang Hanyu for Feng Xiaogang's "The Assembly", Guo Tao for 2006's black horse "Crazy Stone," Chen Kun for love story "Yun Shui Yao," and Liu Songren for "Tokyo Trial."

Li was acclaimed by audience for "The Warlords", depicting a struggle of three blood brothers and their love entanglements with a woman during a time of war and political upheaval in the Qing Dynasty .

He won the Best Leading Actor at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards on April 13, also for the movie, which was directed by Hong Kong director Peter Chan.

"Yun Shui Yao," "The Assembly," "Crazy Stone," "Tokyo Trial," "Invisible Wings" will vie for the Best Feature Film award.

All the awards will be given out at the closing ceremony of the17th Golden Rooster and Full Blossom Film Festival on Saturday evening.

Programs of the festival include promotion of dozens of films, projection of more than 80 domestic and foreign movies, a film forum and several press conferences.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese language center draws crowds

People from other parts of the world always are fascinated by China's 5,000 year old cultural tradition. At the Paralympics Village in Beijing, the Chinese Language Center has proven one of the hotspots.

The Chinese Language Center has three sections.

The middle section is known as the Learn-it-Quickly Zone. It is the most popular among foreigners. With the aid of specially designed computer software, it becomes easy and fun to master the pronunciation of Chinese sounds. Most visitors leave the language lab with increased confidence and the motivation to learn more Chinese.

The other two sections offer hands-on experience of China's cultural tradition. Visitors can take up a brush and write the Chinese characters they have just learned. Most will carry away their self created calligraphy as mementos.

There are traditional arts and crafts to experience, including opera masks, folk music, and traditional paintings.


More babies across China suffer from kidney stones, fake milk powder suspected

An unknown number of infants in at least seven provinces and regions across China have suffered from kidney stones while doctors and parents suspected it could bea result of drinking milk powder of the same brand, according to media reports on Thursday.

The new findings were reported after Xinhua broke out the news Wednesday that 14 cases of the same kind appeared in northwestern Gansu Province.

The Modern Express, a newspaper based in the eastern Jiangsu Province and affiliated with Xinhua, said similar cases were found in Jiangsu and the northwestern Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu, while the Oriental Morning Post based in Shanghai said that infants in the eastern Shandong and Anhui provinces and Hunan in central China were also inflicted.

No official figures are available at this moment on how many babies in the country have been affected.

A spokesman of the Gansu Provincial Health Department said on Thursday that they had received 59 cases of kidney stones in infants so far this year and one baby died. There were no such cases in 2007 or 2006.

It is not clear if the infant drank milk formula being investigated.

Authorities are trying to figure out if there is a link between the milk powder and the kidney stones. Samples of the milk powder have been sent to a state-run lab for analysis.

Sanlu Group, a leading dairy products company in the country, said the milk powder branded Sanlu could be mislabeled. It claims someone might be counterfeiting their product and has sent people to Gansu to conduct its own investigation.

Parents of the affected babies, mostly located in remote and poor rural areas, have bought the milk powder at much cheaper prices than usual.

The No.1 Hospital of The People's Liberation Army , in Gansu provincial capital Lanzhou, received the first case on June 28, which was followed by another 13 cases later on.

However, at least three other hospitals in Lanzhou confirmed they had received similar cases in the past two months.

Doctors of these hospitals had urged local authorities to step up investigations and take possible measures to prevent similar cases.


Baby dies of kidney stones in NW China, fake milk powder suspected

One baby has died of kidney stones in northwest China's Gansu Province, said health officials Thursday.

It is not clear if this infant drank milk formula being investigated for causing at least 14 babies to develop kidney stones.

All of them drank milk labeled with the Sanlu brand.

The company says the milk powder could be mislabeled. It claims someone might be counterfeiting their product.

Health officials are trying to figure out if there is a link between the milk powder and the kidney stones.

So far this year, the Gansu Province had received reports of 59 cases of kidney stones in infants. There were no cases in 2007 or 2006.