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Wenzhou: Warning sign for China’s economy

WENZHOU — Wenzhou has never been typical, but the kind of credit that imploded there isn't unique within China. Should we expect more of the same?

China's looming trade deficit?

Economy still growing fast, but trouble spots remain

New economic data released in China on Tuesday eased some fears that the country is in for a hard economic landing.

The National Bureau of Statistics says the country's gross domestic product grew by 9.1 percent in the first three quarters of 2011, down just slightly from the 9.5 percent expansion of the second quarter. That's in addition to news earlier than inflation, a critical component, has started to slow down. But not all experts are convinced things are rosy. Major trouble spots like the looming loan crash in Zhejiang province and elsewhere are still drawing attention.

In comments to the official China Daily newspaper, a former vice minister of commerce said he thinks China may end up with its first annual trade deficit since 1993.

"China's export-reliant enterprises are facing their toughest time in years. The possibility of a full-year trade deficit cannot be ruled out next year," said Wei Jianguo, now head of a government-affiliated economic think tank.

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View from Beijing: Currency manipulation and the US Congress

BEIJING – Gloom and doom continue to pour from Beijing over passage by the US Senate of a measure that could punish China for currency manipulation. 

China's inflation eases

Prices up slightly less in September might come as good news to consumers, government

If there is a bright spot in China's apparently looming economic slowdown, it may be in the basic price of things.

New numbers released Friday showed that inflation, a major trouble spot for China's government, had eased slightly, with prices up 6.1 percent in September over the same month last year. Inflation was 6.5 percent last month, so the news could be a welcome signal. Still, the pace of consumer price rises remains higher so far this year than last. The consumer price index rose 5.7 percent in the first nine months of this year, compare with 5.4 percent over the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Food remains among one of the fastest-rising costs.

Inflation has been a serious sore spot in China's recent economic boom, with fast-rising prices outpacing gains in incomes. The government has warned repeatedly that reining in inflation is critical to what is known here as maintaining social stability, or in other words, keeping people roughly satisfied with their standards of living. It does seem, however, that recent targets of keeping inflation to 3.5 percent or less are long forgotten.

 

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Yuan spat

China says currency bill could cause trade war
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The shadow of a visitor falls on a huge 100 Yuan note on display at an art exhibiton in 798 art factory in Beijing on April 15, 2010. (FRANKO LEE/AFP/Getty Images)

China is not mincing words on the currency manipulation bill moving to the US Senate this week.

In a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, China's Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said the legislation would spark a trade war, and further damage the US economy.
"Should the proposed legislation be made into law, the result would be a trade war and that would be a lose-lose situation for both sides," said Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai. "It would be detrimental to the development of economic ties and might have an adverse impact on bilateral relations." 

The US-China spat over the value of the yuan has been simmering for years, heating up at different periods. Critics in the US and other countries maintain that China keeps its currency artificially for a trade advantage. These are some of the strongest words from Beijing yet in the ongoing currency spat. Despite the threat, congressional pressure my be having an impact, however, as illustrated by a sharp rise in the value of the yuan on Monday -- up 0.6 per cent against the US dollar.

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US-China trade war: ongoing chicken spat

China defended its decision to impose duties on American poultry parts entering its country.
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Chicken paws. (National Chicken Council/Courtesy)

The bilateral battle over chicken feet is heating up again.

On Wednesday, China defended its decision to impose duties on American poultry parts entering this country, saying that it is playing by the rules.

In a statement on its website, the Ministry of Commerce said: "China believes its anti-dumping and countervailing measures on U.S. chicken products are legal and in line with World Trade Organization rules."

More from GlobalPost: U.S.-China trade war, chicken paws anyone?

The statement came after U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the United States is pursuing consultations at the World Trade Organization over China's poultry duties.

The chicken spat has been going on for several years, starting with a U.S. congressional ban on cooked chicken from China.

The U.S. says China's tariffs have significantly cut American exports to China of chicken parts — primarily feet and other parts not eaten by most American consumers. Trade officials say American chicken exports to China have dropped by more than 80 percent since 2009.

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Selling gold

Beijing to get gold-bar vending machines
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An employee shows off silver and gold bullion bars engraved with dragons at a gold shop in Beijing on September 15, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

More symbolic proof that China has arrived in the ranks of the ridiculously rich: the capital will be getting China's first vending machines that dispense gold bars. Patrons can pay by cash or credit card.

Chinese media reported this week that gold-bar vending machines will be rolled out in private clubs and other exclusive locations in Beijing for the super-rich in coming months. Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas claims to have some of the world's first vending machines dispensing bars of gold, while the machines are also in operation at the Frankfurt airport in Germany and as well as in Dubai and Spain, along with smaller cities in Florida.

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Wen: China can't fix world economies

Premier says countries need to take responsibility for their own financial woes

As Europe looks toward China as a potential buyer for its debt, Premier Wen Jiabao warned the world's financial elite on Wednesday not to count on China as a savior for the economic troubles of the entire planet.

Speaking to the opening of the China-based summer session of the World Economic Forum, held this year in Dalian, Wen said China is committed to economic stability both here and in other countries. Still, he said, western nations need to get their own economic problems stabilized, rather than simmply turning to China as a potential holder of foreign debt.

“Countries must first put their own houses in order,” said Wen. “Developed countries must take responsible fiscal and monetary policies. What is most important now is to prevent the further spread of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.”

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Taxing troubles for foreigners in China

Government to mandate that all non-Chinese enroll in the country's social insurance program, for services most don't want or use

China's plan to force foreign workers to buy into its national social insurance program is vexing expatriates from Beijing to Guangzhou, with many expatriates saying they wouldn't use any of the services but would end up paying a hefty price for nothing.

With more than 500,000 foreigners officially on the books working on China, the new mandate could have a major impact here when it goes into effect on Oct. 15. According to Chinese press reports and a copy of interim rules on the social security law, all legal foreign workers in China, including foreign correspondents, those employed by the Chinese government and foreign and domestic firms, will be required to enter the country's social insurance program, enrolled in the national pension, medical and life insurance schemes. Trouble is, foreigners tend to avoid Chinese hospitals to begin with and many have their own insurance policies and pay into national pension programs in their own countries. Yet China says it will only exempt workers from countries with which it has signed a social insurance program agreement -- the United States is not among those.

While foreign workers in the US are often faulted for taking advantage of the country's health care and social programs, the same can't really be said of foreigners working in China.

The cost? As much as $10,000 per year, with about 75 percent by borne by the employer and the rest paid by the employee.

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Meet China's top 10 billionaires

So much for the weakening global economy. At least for China's super rich.
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A Chinese bank worker counts a stack of 100-yuan notes at a bank in Hefei, east China's Anhui province on February 27, 2011. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

To get rich is glorious, Deng Xiaoping famously said.

Filthy, stinking, China-rich is the part he must have left off. 

That's the big takeaway from the latest check-up of the country's top billionaires, which comes courtesy of the Huran Research Institute.

Huran has been compiling a list of China's richest for the past 13 years.

This year, despite the global economic slowdown and some difficulties in China, Huran counted 271 billionaires in the country. That's up from 189 last year, and more than double the number in 2009.

Here's a quick rundown of the top 10 richest in China:

1) Liang Wen’gen, founder of heavy machinery company Sany, is worth $11 billion

2) "Drinks King" Zong Qinghou and family are worth $10.7 billion

3) Li Yanhong, founder of search engine Baidu, comes in at $8.8 billion

4) Yan Bin, of property investments firm Ruoy Chai, is worth $7.8 billion

5) Property developer Xu Jiayin has $7.2 billion

6) Wang Jianlin, another property developer, is worth $7.1 billion

7) Yet another property developer, Wu Yajun & family, have $6.6 billion

8) Liu Yongxing & family, who control the East Hope aluminum and feed company, come in at $6.4 billion

9) He Xiangjian & family, of home appliance maker Midea, own $6.3 billion

10) Yang Huiyan & family, of property development firm Country Garden, are worth $5.6 billion

Want some other fun facts about China's billionaires, according to Hurun?

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