Friday, September 19, 2008

Senior Chinese officer urges military efforts to cope with security threats

China's top military officer Guo Boxiong on Thursday called for more efforts to enhance the country's military capacity to cope with security threats.

Priority should be given to upgrade the military capacity to fight an information-based, high-tech regional war and efforts should be made to enable troops to tackle various security threats, said the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

"More drills should be carried out under a complicated electromagnetic environment," he said during an inspection tour to the country's northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where troops from the Beijing Military Area Command were undertaking a drill.

He also urged the troops to realize the importance of non-military missions and improve their mobility during those tasks.


Go private call stirs controversy

Government officials in Weinan, Shaanxi province, are being encouraged to take a second job and use their business know-how to help drive the city's private sector, the Weinan Daily reported on Wednesday.

"But the jobs must have no direct links to the officials' government roles," Xu Xinrong, the city's mayor, said.

Speaking to officials at a conference on Tuesday, Xu said the local government will do all it can to aid the development of the private sector.

"We encourage all public servants to get involved with or invest in legal private enterprises," he said.

"We will support them if they choose to resign and set up their own businesses, and will also allow them to stay in government and take a second, part-time job with a private company."

According to official figures, there are 144,900 private firms in Weinan, but most are small in scale and generally uncompetitive.

Last year, the private sector contributed 30 percent of the city's GDP, far below the provincial average of 47 percent.

"The small scale of our private sector is one of the principal reasons for Weinan's underdeveloped economy," Xu said.

Despite the mayor's encouraging words, several officials said they appeared to conflict with the law on civil servants.

Article 42 of the law stipulates that a civil servant must be granted approval by the relevant authority before taking a part-time job outside his office, and cannot receive any payment for that work.

Similarly, Article 53 states that civil servants cannot engage in profit-making activities with any firm, or hold a position in such a firm.

Liu Anli, a retired Weinan official, said Xu's suggestion could pave the way to corruption by allowing officials to join private companies and use their influence to boost profits.

"It's an easy way for them to make money," he said.

"If the policy is supposed to stimulate entrepreneurship, the officials should have to resign first," he said.

An official with the city government in charge of drafting policy proposals, who refused to give his name, disagreed.

"I don't think the mayor's speech conflicts with the law," he said.

The mayor stressed that the second job must have nothing to do with the official's government work, or circles of influence and power, he said.

However, Zhang Baotong, director of the Shaanxi provincial economic development research institute, said it would be extremely difficult to know if an official was using his power to profit.

Far more detailed and more stringent measures need to be drafted and implemented before the scheme can be introduced, he said.

Source: China Daily

Director Zhang ready to relax

He might have directed several blockbusters, but none of them was as demanding as producing the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, movie director Zhang Yimou said earlier this week.

"I have never used so many people or gone to so much trouble when making a film," the 57-year-old told the Xinhua News Agency ahead of Wednesday's closing ceremony for the Paralympic Games at the Bird's Nest.

"The ceremonies are grand cultural events, and entail a daunting amount of coordination with other artists, technicians and officials," he said.

"It was very time- and energy-consuming, but a rare and rewarding experience."

He is now looking forward to a good rest, he said.

Among Zhang's collaborators on the four performances were Zhang Jigang, choreographer of the Thousand-hand Bodhisattva Dance, and fireworks expert Cai Guoqiang.

The team spent years developing, designing and perfecting their performances, Zhang Yimou said.

"People want to see something they've never seen before, so it was extremely challenging.

"The use of water at the Athens Olympic opening ceremony, for instance, was a brilliant stunt, and that put us under pressure to be equally stunning," he said.

The team spent many long nights discussing and arguing over which of the myriad sporting and cultural elements to include, Zhang said.

The end results were worth the effort, though, Zhang said.

Elements such as the drumbeat countdown to the opening of the Olympics and the jade plate at the opening of the Paralympics spoke the language of artistic expression, he said.

"We had to abide by certain procedures stipulated by the Games' supervising bodies," he said.

"But we were able to present all the mandatory elements in our own way."

More than 40,000 people participated in the four ceremonies, thousands of costumes were made, and every cosmetician had to make up about 180 performers in just hours, he said.

Through it all, the emphasis was always on producing a quality show, he said.

"Beijing won't host another Paralympics in the near future," Zhang said.

"So we wanted every moment of this one to be memorable.

"Being so involved with one of the world's best sports events was something truly memorable," he said.

"It will influence my life and work in the future."

Source: China Daily/Xinhua

Beijing's volunteer stations to remain

The 550 volunteer service stations will remain in Beijing as an important legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, an official said on Wednesday.

The stations will continue to provide information to the public during holidays, Liu Jian, director of the volunteer department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the 29th Olympiad , said.

The Capital Museum, Beijing Zoo, Beijing Planetarium and the Xinhua Department Store have already approached the China Communist Youth League Beijing Committee, which is in charge of management of the stations, to offer volunteers in the future, Beijing News reported.

The stations will also be moved to other areas such as school campuses, communities and tourist attractions to provide help and advice, the newspaper quoted the committee as saying.

Statistics show 100,000 volunteers were stationed at the various venues of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, 400,000 in the city, and more than 1 million were designated social volunteers.

The city volunteers were stationed at 12 sq m "blue cubes" decorated with the Olympic and Paralympic Games logos.

The sites were open from 9 am to 5 pm each day.

Some were also assigned to subway entrances and bus stations across the city to help overseas visitors.

The social volunteers mainly offered services to the local communities.

More than 920,000 people had applied for the 400,000 Games' volunteer positions.

Volunteers have become a standard feature of the Olympics over the past few decades. Working for no pay, travel or accommodation expenses, they have helped keep costs down.

Source: China Daily/ Xinhua

Sportswear tops fashion podium

With the Olympics and Paralympics now over, people across Beijing are heading to the city's main shopping areas in search of stylish mementos.

Last week, Canadian Drew Graham went to Sanlitun hoping to buy a replica of the suits worn by Chinese athletes at the medal ceremonies.

"I wanted the Chinese suit because the jacket is so beautiful," he said.

Unfortunately for him, thousands of other people had had the same idea and the suits were all sold out.

Another fan looking for a souvenir was Shan Pingping.

"I felt very proud of the Beijing Olympics," she said.

"After watching the events on TV, I've absolutely fallen in love with sports," she said.

After browsing through the various products, Shan bought a black weightlifting T-shirt for her son and a white one for her aunt.

In the wake of the Games, sportswear with an Olympic theme has become the in thing for Beijing's trendy youngsters, and the global sports brands are cashing in.

An anonymous sales assistant at the Adidas megastore in Sanlitun said some Olympic T-shirts sell out almost as soon as they are put on the shelves.

"Foreign buyers, in particular, want the Olympic designs, and they are buying in bulk," she said.

As for the suit Graham had been looking for, "they sold out just days after they arrived and we've no idea when the next lot will come," she said.

For many people, however, just dressing like their favorite sports stars is not enough: they also want to get fit, and are heading to the city's gyms.

Making sure it did not miss out on the craze, fitness firm Hosa opened a new gym in the Chaoyang district at the end of last month and immediately increased its membership fees.

Li Xueyi, an executive with the firm, was open about the company's profiteering tactics.

"After watching the Olympics, people were motivated to get fit, we raised our membership fee."

Gao Ruigang, a coach at the Lanqi swimming club in Beijing, said: "The Olympics has really boosted our business."

Following a promotional campaign, the number of memberships rose by 50 percent, he said.

Source: China Daily

Call for more clarity on guide dog issue

Paralympic torchbearer Ping Yali was helped by her guide dog Lucky at the opening ceremony of the Games, but he faithful friend might not be able to give her the help she needs for much longer.

Temporary certificates issued by the authorities allowed guide dogs to be taken to all public places during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the certificates expire tomorrow. Ping is worried her freedom of movement will be curtailed.

"Guide dogs are the eyes of the blind. They help us to get about and integrate with the society," Ping said.

Only six blind people in China have guide dogs, and Ping hopes the numbers will be increased following the Paralympics.

Ping was allowed a dog because of her success at the 1984 New York Paralympics, where she won the long jump competition.

During her first encounter with Lucky, the dog helped her negotiate the stairs leading to her flat - one of the most challenging tasks for a blind person.

"I burst into tears," she said. "Lucky has reduced the risk of injuring myself when I go out."

The golden retriever was trained at China's only guide dog center at Dalian Medical Science University, Liaoning province.

Ping received Lucky last December.

The pair go out in the mornings for walks and shopping.

"I am impressed when people pat Lucky. They truly like him," Ping said.

But Lucky cannot accompany his mistress everywhere. The dog is usually turned away by taxis, buses and the subway.

Lucky stands taller than Beijing's current pet standard of 35 cm. He is 80 cm tall.

An amendment to the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons in April, granted the blind the right to take guide dogs to public places, provided they obeyed the "relevant regulations".

Just what "relevant regulations" means is unclear to Wang Jingyu, the director of China's Guide Dog Training Center.

"It is too vague. Detailed rules are needed to help its implementation," Wang said.

The government should allow guide dogs in all public places and give more financial support to the training of such dogs, he said.

The China Disabled Persons' Federation estimates there are 12 million people suffering from some form of visual impairment in the country, but there are only 20 guide dogs currently receiving training in Dalian.

"Not every blind person needs a guide dog, but if they need one, they should be given the choice," Wang said.

The cost to train a guide dog is more than 100,000 yuan . Golden retrievers, Labradors and German sherpherds make the best guide dogs.

"They are trained not to be afraid of sounds, fire, or traffic," Wang said. "They are calm and not intrusive." China's Guide Dog Training Center was established in May 2006.

The facility operates on a small government grant along with company and private donations. It employs 17 people, most are young female university graduates. Wang said the future of the center is uncertain.

"The Chinese people now know guide dogs are not pets. They are working animals just like police dogs," Ping said.

"Guide dogs are intelligent and friendly. They do not cause any safety issues."

Source: China Daily/ Xinhua

Regulators seek banks' foreign investment details

Financial regulators have asked China's financial institutions to submit detailed records of their investments in the U. S. and European financial assets to ascertain the full extent of their exposure to the U.S. financial crisis.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission reportedly made the request to financial institutions under their supervision.

At least six Chinese commercial banks have reportedly disclosed their holdings of bonds issued by U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, which has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has said it holds 151 million U.S. dollars in bonds issued by or linked to Lehman. China's largest State-controlled commercial bank in terms of assets is known to have the highest exposure to securities associated with Lehman.

On Tuesday, China Merchants Bank said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange that it holds 70 million dollars worth of Lehman bonds, out of which 60 million dollars is senior debt and the rest subordinate bonds.

A day later, Bank of China said it holds Lehman bonds worth 75.62 million dollars, and has lent out 53.2 million dollars to Lehman and its subsidiaries.

The three other commercial banks that have reportedly invested in Lehman-related assets are China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications, and Industrial Bank Co.

The only known Chinese insurer holding substantial foreign assets is Ping An, which has a 4.18 percent stake in Fortis, one of the largest European insurance conglomerates.

Source: China Daily

Taiwan's UN bid rejected

UNITED NATIONS: The General Committee of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly decided on Wednesday not to include the issue of "Taiwan's participation in the activities of UN specialized agencies".

The "proposal" was submitted by Nauru, Gambia and some other countries.

China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya said the UN special agencies have resolved the issue of China's representation in the world body in accordance with the UN Charter and Resolution 2758.

"People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits share the same blood and destiny," he said. Taiwan compatriots offered generous contribution and selfless assistance for disaster relief after the devastating earthquake struck Sichuan on May 12, he said. "This moved everyone deeply and gave full expression to the saying: blood is thicker than water."

Wang said cross-Taiwan Straits relations have recently maintained a good momentum of improvement and development.

"We hope people across the Straits work together on the basis of the one-China principle to create conditions for resumption of consultations and negotiations to resolve in a pragmatic manner the concerns of the Taiwan compatriots, including giving priority to discussions of their participation in the activities of the World Health Organization."

He said the prospect of peaceful development of cross-Straits ties "is in the hands of people on both sides of the Straits".

Source: Xinhua/China Daily

CIC official: Single acquisition no solution to U.S. credit crisis

A single acquisition could not solve the systematic U.S. credit crisis, a senior official with the China Investment Corp. said Friday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not comment when asked by Xinhua if the country's 200-billion-U.S. dollar sovereign wealth fund was in acquisition talks with Morgan Stanley.

Bloomberg cited an unnamed source as saying on Sept. 18 the state-controlled fund may buy as much as 49 percent of the second-biggest independent U.S. securities firm. Morgan Stanley was also reported to be in talks about a possible merger with Wachovia Corp.

"The U.S. is experiencing liquidity strains and it is a systematic credit crisis. No single acquisition could solve it," the official said.

"Even if the CIC intended to buy a stake, it could be very hard now as the purchase of a stake, even one smaller than 10 percent, could be subject to the U.S. government foreign investment review."

The CIC bought a 9.9 percent stake in Morgan Stanley for 5 billion U.S. dollars in December. A purchase of 10 percent or larger stake in U.S. firms is subject to the government foreign investment review.

The U.S. investment bank was also reported to be in talks with CITIC Group, China's largest financial conglomerate, as it was seeking a buyer as the credit crisis deepens.

A public relation official with CITIC Group said he didn't knew nothing of the market talk about the CITIC move.

"We also learned the news on the web. We've received many media calls seeking comments and already reported this to the senior management," the official told Xinhua.


French president lauds Beijing Paralympics

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday hosted the French Paralympic delegation and disabled Chinese athlete Jin Jing at the Elysee Place and said the Beijing Paralympic Games achieved "a huge success."

The 12-day sports event, which ended Wednesday, is a success for the international Paralympic movement, Sarkozy told the French Paralympians and Jin, the wheelchair fencer and Olympic torchbearer known for protecting the torch from protestors in the Paris leg of the relay.

He said that as more than 4,000 athletes from nearly 150 countries or regions competed in the Games, making the Beijing Paralympics one of the most important sports events in the world.

The Beijing Paralympics also drew unprecedented media coverage, with about 4,000 journalists involved in reporting the event, the president said, adding that in comparison, about 2,50 the number of reports covered the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Sarkozy extended special welcome to Jin, saying the athlete showed "extraordinary courage" when facing rough treatment during torch relay in Paris.

"You have made your country proud, you have upheld the values of sports. France welcomes you today with deep friendship and strong emotions," he told Jin.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese-European Arbitration Center inaugurated in Germany's Hamburg

The Chinese-European Arbitration Center , the first international arbitration center designed to resolve China-Europe trade disputes, was inaugurated in this northwestern German city Thursday.

The CEAC was initiated by Eckart Broedermann, chairman of the China-Europe Legal Association, a non-profit organization which owns the CEAC and ensures its neutrality.

"The CEAC serves as a bridge linking the Chinese companies and Europe," Broedermann said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"It is a useful tool for dispute resolution in China-related trade and investment matters, adapted to the needs of the international business and legal communities," he said.

At present, the CEAC gets support from more than 400 lawyers from 44 countries and regions, including China, and clients can present their cases in three languages -- Chinese, German and English.

The CEAC's jurisdiction is recognized by courts across the globe, Broedermann added.

Source: Xinhua

Photographer behind tiger photo scandal to stand trial for fraud

A Chinese farmer who had been detained for allegedly fabricating photographs of a rare South China tiger in the wild will stand court trial next Tuesday

Zhou will be tried at the People's Court of Xunyang County, southern Shaanxi Province. Apart from fraud, Zhou will also face another charge of illegally possessing ammunition, Friday's The Beijing News reported.

Zhou, 54, from Zhenping county, claimed to have photographed the tiger with a borrowed digital camera on the afternoon of Oct. 3 last year.

Using the photos, first published on Oct. 12, the Provincial Forestry Department claimed at a press conference that those were proof the rare tiger still existed in the wild, and gave Zhou a reward of 20,000 yuan . That also started a controversy.

Internet users accused Zhou of making the tiger images with digital software, and also accused the local authorities of approving the photos to bolster tourism.

The "paper tiger" saga aroused widespread interest after the appearance of a Lunar New Year commemorative poster with a picture of a tiger that bore a striking resemblance to the one in Zhou's pictures.

This led to strong public demands for official proof of authenticity.

The Public Security Department of Shaanxi was forced to admit that Zhou fabricated the rare tiger photos, based on findings from a month-long police investigation, at a press conference held in late June.

The Police have seized an old tiger poster, which he allegedly borrowed from a farmer in another village in September to produce his photos.

They also found a wooden model of tiger claw, which Zhou allegedly used to fabricate a South China tiger paw print in snow, and seized 93 pieces of ammunition for semi-automatic rifles of military use from Zhou's home.

Zhou was then detained on suspicion of fraud. The Provincial Forestry Department revoked the reward it gave to Zhou.

A total of 13 local officials have been penalized in connection with the scandal, including Provincial Forestry Department deputy head Zhu Julong and Sun Chengqian, the official in charge of wildlife preservation Wang Wanyun, and media official Guan Ke, who were sacked for dereliction of duty.

Zhou, who had been kept at the detention center of Shiquan County, also in southern Shaanxi, was moved to the detention center of Xuyang County some two weeks ago to wait for the trial, Friday's The Beijing News quoted Zhou's lawyer Zhang Yong as saying.

The South China tiger, also called the "Amoy" or "Xiamen tiger," is widely believed to be extinct in the wild. It is thought to be the progenitor of all modern tigers, according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. It is considered critically endangered, mainly because of a loss of habitat.

Source: Xinhua

Japan's capital metropolitan area becomes largest Chinatown

The total number of Chinese people in Tokyo may have exceeded 350,000, nearly half of all the Chinese in Japan. The capital metropolitan area is Japan's largest Chinatown, according to Japan's "Chinese Herald".

With more and more Chinese people gathering in Tokyo, several business networks and districts for Chinese people have taken shape. Chinese "shopping centers" have been formed in areas such as the Ikebukuro Station, Shinjuku Station, Okubo Station, the new Okubo Station, the Akabane Station and other surrounding areas.

More and more Chinese people have bought houses in the Edogawa district, Dong district, Adachi district, and other surrounding areas. Subsequently increasing number of education centers, such as the Chinese language school, school of music, piano school, and so on, have been founded by Chinese people. In Shinjuku area of Okubo district, there are Chinese restaurants, beauty salons, cybercafés, and so on, forming a business system to serve the Chinese people.

According to incomplete statistics, Tokyo has hundreds of Chinese restaurants run by Chinese people, more than 200 Chinese products stores, more than 50 Chinese barber shops, more than 10 Chinese newspapers, 4 Chinese television stations with 5 channels. This year Internet Protocol Television service is made available to users too .

By People's Daily Online

China's robot team wins international contest

The robot team of Xi'an Jiaotong University, on behalf of China has won the finals of ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest which was held in India. This was the second time that Xi'an Jiaotong University championed the contest.

The final was between China and Egypt teams. China defeated Egypt with 22:21, and became the champion.

By People's Daily Online

BOC acquires 20 per cent stocks of LCFR

Bank of China announced September 18 in France that it has acquired 20 per cent stock of France's La Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild with 2.3 billion yuan , and became the second largest shareholder of the bank. This is the first strategic investment by a leading Chinese bank in a Eurozone bank.

BOC will get relative powers to participate in administrating and operating LCFR, particularly sending two directors to the board of LCFR. This agreement is still waiting for the authorization of the regulation department.

By People's Daily Online

China says UN Security Council reform should have broad, democratic discussion

China supports the necessary and appropriate reform to the UN Security Council , however, all plans should undergo broad and democratic discussions, said the Foreign Ministry.

Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei made the remarks Friday morning when briefing the reporters on Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the UN meetings.

Wen will attend the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals scheduled for Sept. 25 in New York, as invited by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and attend the general debate of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly.

The minister said China supported the necessary and appropriate reform to the Security Council, which aims to enhance its authority and efficiency. The reform should give priority to the African countries, which are under-represented on the Council. The reform should also tackle the easy problems first, before moving on to the hard ones, he added.

"Since the Security Council is an important organ for maintaining international security and world peace, any reform plans should go through broad and democratic discussions, and get the consensus of as many countries as possible," He said.

As for the permanent membership of Japan, He said China positively valued the path of peaceful development taken by Japan after World War II, and was willing to see that Japan played a bigger and a constructive role in international affairs.

"The Security Council reform needs a decision of all UN member countries after patient and in-depth discussions. China is willing to have dialogues with all sides including Japan on this issue, and find a plan acceptable to all sides," He said.

He also spoke highly of the recent development in Sino-Japanese ties, saying this development of bilateral relations is not only in the interests of the two peoples, but also conducive to peace and development in Asia and the world.

Source: Xinhua

Wen's UN visit shows China's support for development goals

Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the high-level dialogue of the United Nations shows China's firm support in realizing the Millennium Development Goals , Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said here on Friday.

"This is Premier Wen's first attendance at the UN meeting and an initial diplomatic move after the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics," he told a press briefing.

Wen will attend the UN high-level meeting on the MDGs scheduled for Sept. 25 in New York, which takes place alongside the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, where about 140 heads of states and government will be present.

"The UN meeting this year will focus on how the MDGs work and how much of their aid commitments the developed nations have honored," said He.

The MDGs are social and economic targets formulated by the United Nations that aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

Wen will deliver an important speech during the high-level dialogue, describing what China has done to realize the MDGs and the difficulties it has faced, according to He.

Wen will also give suggestions on dealing with the development challenges and difficulties facing all nations.

Wen will deliver another important speech during the UN general debate, explaining China's domestic and foreign policy.

Wen will reaffirm China's determination to pursue peaceful development, reform and opening up, as well as an independent foreign policy of peace, He said.

During his 48-hour stay in New York, Wen will meet foreign leaders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and some overseas Chinese. He will also meet the local press.

According to He, China will release a report on its implementation of the MDGs in New York during Wen's stay. He said China had submitted a document to all UN members explaining its stance on the main issues of concern to the 63rd UN National Assembly, which could be found on the website of the Foreign Ministry .

As to the current international situation, He said it was stable in general, but conflicts still happened in certain areas, while imbalances in the global economy had intensified, and an energy and food crisis challenged the international community.

He said China believed the meeting would help mobilize political will on all sides and strengthen the global partnership to help developing countries achieve their MDGs at an early date.

"China hopes to show its advocacy of multi-polarization and the UN work, as well as to display its efforts to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and prosperity," He said.

Source: Xinhua

Macao SAR, Mexico inked visa exemption agreement

China's Macao Special Administrative Region Friday signed a Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement with Mexico, which will grant Macao SAR Passport holders more convenience when entering the Latin American nation.

The signing ceremony of the agreement took place in the SAR's Government Headquarters on Friday. Under the authorization from China's central government, the SAR's Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan, and the Acting Consul General of Mexico in Hong Kong and Macao Hector Huerta, who represented respectively the two sides, signed the agreement.

The agreement will be effective from October 19 this year. After the agreement comes into effect, holders of a valid Macao SAR Passport will be exempted from visa requirements when entering Mexico for a stay of maximum 90 days, according to the agreement.

Currently, a total of 77 countries and territories have agreed to grant visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to the Macao SAR passport holders, while nine countries have agreed to grant the visa-free access to the Macao SAR Travel Permit holders.

Source: Xinhua

FM: China fulfills UN obligations

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said here Friday that China fulfilled its obligations to the United Nations.

According to He, there are currently 1,900 Chinese peace-keepers carrying out missions in 14 areas. China has the most peace-keepers among the five UN Security Council permanent members.

Throughout its history with the UN, China has sent tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers, policemen and civilian officials to18 UN peace-keeping missions.

The vice minister also said China actively participates on the Security Council with the goal of peacefully solving regional issues through dialogue.

He said contributions to the UN continues to increase. Of the UN's total, China gave 0.995 percent in 2000. In 2007, the country's contribution was 2.667 percent ranking it ninth in the world and first among the developing countries.

"China's assistance has no political conditions and we are willing to share our success with development to all developing countries," He added.

He made the remarks while briefing reporters on Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming UN visit.

Wen will attend the Millennium Development Goals meeting scheduled for Sept. 25 in New York. He will also take part in the general debate of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly.

Wen was invited by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This will be the first time he's gone to the UN Assembly since he assumed the office of premier in 2003.

Premier Wen will deliver a speech at the MDG meeting. He is expected to talk about China's achievements and problems in realizing the MDGs, the country's participation in the south-south cooperation, make proposals on how to face the challenges of development and on full implementation of the MDGs.

Source: Xinhua

Vehicle accident kills seven in northwest China

Seven people were killed and 15 others injured in an accident in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday.

The accident took place on a highway in Gongliu County of Yili Prefecture shortly after midnight Friday.

According to an official with the Yili prefectural government, a cement truck rear-ended a tractor sending it into the opposite lane.

The tractor then smashed head-on with a minibus carrying 24 people.

Seven people on board the bus were killed. Fifteen were injured, two seriously.

Officials said everyone on board is related.

The minibus was over capacity. It was only designed to carry 14people.

No word on either driver's condition.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Source: Xinhua

Project to build 200 libraries in China's quake zones

A project was launched in Beijing on Friday to help build 200 libraries for primary and middle schools in China's quake-hit areas.

The China Writers' Association, the China National Tobacco Corporation and the China Literature Foundation plan to build 90 libraries in the southwestern Sichuan Province, the area worst hit by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12.

There are also plans to build more than 100 libraries in other affected provinces including Gansu and Shaanxi.

The project is expected to be finished before the end of the year, said the sponsors.

This isn't the first big project by the three organizations. They have previously built 800 libraries and donated 1 million books for schools and welfare homes throughout the country.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese President accepts credentials from ambassadors of five nations

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday accepted credentials presented by ambassadors from five nations.

They are Cesar Fernando Mayoral from Argentina, Charles Enoch Namondwe from Malawai, Elma Campbell from the Bahamas, Martin Mpana from Cameroon and Nguyen Van Tho from Vietnam.

They arrived in Beijing between June 24 and July 27.

Charles Enoch Namondwe is the first ambassador Malawi sent to China since the two countries established diplomatic ties in December, 2007.

President Bingu Wa Mutharika paid a state visit to China in March and unveiled the embassy in Beijing.

Ambassador Namondwe arrived July 12.

Source: Xinhua

Somali pirates hijack Hong Kong ship, 24 Chinese crew aboard

Armed Somali pirates hijacked Wednesday a Hong Kong bulk carrier with 25 crew members, 24 of them Chinese, off the Somali coast, the Chinese embassy in Nairob confirmed.

The bulk carrier owned by Sinotrans of Hong Kong was en route from Tunisia to Pipavav, India when it was hijacked off the eastern coast of Somalia, the 14th of such seizure by the pirates in the past two months, said Andrew Mwangura, an coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program .

Besides the 24 Chinese, a Sri Lankan captain was also on board the vessel that was captured, Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

The carrier was the second Hong Kong ship hijacked this week in the region. A Hong Kong-registered carrier was hijacked on Monday near the Somali coast with 22 crew on board. None of them were Chinese citizens.

Somalia's 3,300-kilometer coastline is considered by the International Maritime Bureau one of the world's most dangerous stretches of waters due to piracy as the Horn of Africa remains plagued by factional fighting since 1991.

Over 30 foreign ships have been captured by pirates near the Somali coast this year and more than 10 of them remain in the hands of pirates.