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China world’s largest energy consumer

 

China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer, said a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organisation which acts as an energy policy advisor to 28 member countries including the United States.  The report indicates that China’s energy demand has doubled since 2000.  These demands, says the report, would be far greater if China had not made such progress in reducing the energy intensity of its economy.  Energy intensity is the input of energy per dollar of output.  The report also highlights that while China is now the world’s largest consumer of energy, it has a far lower per capita consumption level than the United States.  One of the largest ramifications of this new status is that Beijing will be influential in global energy markets, determining prices and trends.  Said IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, “If China uses electric cars [and] hybrids, they will impose the manufacturing line on most of the rest of the world,” reported Bloomberg.  China is one of the leading producers of wind power and solar energy.  Still, the United States remains the world largest oil consumer, using 843 million tons in 2009, compared to China’s 498 million tons, said British Petroleum, according to the New York Times.  China is installing 23 nuclear power units which accounts for 40 percent of the world’s total nuclear power units in installation, reported the China Daily, although it also said that Beijing has rejected the report saying that the IEA’s sources were unreliable.

 

“China overtakes the United States to become world’s largest energy consumer”, IEA, July 20, 2010; “China passes U.S. as world’s biggest energy consumer, IEA says”, New York Times, July 20, 2010; “China dismisses IEA analysis of it being world’s top energy user”, China Daily, July 20, 2010; “China now world’s biggest energy user”, FT.com, July 19, 2010; “China denies top energy user tag”, China Daily, July 21, 2010; “China leapfrogs US to become biggest energy user,” BBC, July 20, 2010

 

 

Most important trade deal in 60 years: Beijing and Taipei  

 

Beijing and Taipei have finalised details on one of the most important agreements between the two regions in six decades, reported the BBC.  The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is akin to a free-trade agreement which would cut export taxes and give mainland China and Taiwan access to each others’ markets.  The deal is seen as economically benefiting Taipei more than Beijing; 539 Taiwanese categories from auto parts to fruit will see reduced tariffs immediately and no tariffs within the next three years, compared to half that amount from mainland China.  Taiwanese president, Ma Ying-jeou, whose presidency has expressed greater cooperation with Beijing, is hoping the pact will start to redress Taiwan’s exclusion from the world’s 272 free trade agreements, said the Economist.  For Taiwan’s pro-independence sector, the ECFA represents a ‘selling-out’ to Beijing.  Critics, like former Taiwan president, Lee Tung-hui, say that an influx of cheap Chinese goods could hit Taiwanese jobs, undermine local industries and lock Taiwan into a ‘one China’ market.   It is widely thought that Beijing is engaging in economic cooperation as a form of political control, reported the Guardian. The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which claims nearly one third of Taiwan’s population, sees ECFA as a plan by Beijing to annex Taiwan. The DPP organised a protest in which tens of thousands took to the street in opposition, reported Reuters.

  “China trade deal has a sting in its tail for Taiwan”, Guardian, June 29; “There’s no such thing as free trade”, Economist, June 2010; “Thousands protest in Taiwan against China trade deal”, Reuters, June 26, 2010; “Taiwan and China agree details of key trade deal”, BBC, June 24, 2010

China world’s largest energy consumer

 

China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer, said a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organisation which acts as an energy policy advisor to 28 member countries including the United States.  The report indicates that China’s energy demand has doubled since 2000.  These demands, says the report, would be far greater if China had not made such progress in reducing the energy intensity of its economy.  Energy intensity is the input of energy per dollar of output.  The report also highlights that while China is now the world’s largest consumer of energy, it has a far lower per capita consumption level than the United States.  One of the largest ramifications of this new status is that Beijing will be influential in global energy markets, determining prices and trends.  Said IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, “If China uses electric cars [and] hybrids, they will impose the manufacturing line on most of the rest of the world,” reported Bloomberg.  China is one of the leading producers of wind power and solar energy.  Still, the United States remains the world largest oil consumer, using 843 million tons in 2009, compared to China’s 498 million tons, said British Petroleum, according to the New York Times.  China is installing 23 nuclear power units which accounts for 40 percent of the world’s total nuclear power units in installation, reported the China Daily, although it also said that Beijing has rejected the report saying that the IEA’s sources were unreliable.

 

“China overtakes the United States to become world’s largest energy consumer”, IEA, July 20, 2010; “China passes U.S. as world’s biggest energy consumer, IEA says”, New York Times, July 20, 2010; “China dismisses IEA analysis of it being world’s top energy user”, China Daily, July 20, 2010; “China now world’s biggest energy user”, FT.com, July 19, 2010; “China denies top energy user tag”, China Daily, July 21, 2010; “China leapfrogs US to become biggest energy user,” BBC, July 20, 2010

 

Chinese investment brings new oil refineries for Nigeria

 

China will build an £5.3 billon refinery in Nigeria, one of 3 refineries promised under a deal worth £15.3 billion signed by Beijing and Abuja in May, said the BBC.  Nigeria is the world’s 12th largest oil producer and the 8th largest oil exporter, but it must import nearly 85 percent of its fuel needs because of the poor condition of its refineries, said the BBC.  The China State Construction Engineering Corporation will fund 80 percent of the cost of the refineries and Nigeria’s state oil company, the NNPC, will cover the additional 20 percent.  The state of Lagos will provide the land and infrastructure.  This first refinery is to be built in the Lekki free trade zone, with two others to be built in the states of Bayelsa and Kogi.  Nigeria has said that foreign companies who want to benefit from its oil and gas exports must first invest in developing Nigeria’s infrastructure and economy, reported the BBC.  Nigerian oil is a sweet-crude, coveted for its low refining costs, said chinainvestor.com.

  

“China to build $8 bn oil refinery in Nigeria”, BBC, July 6, 2010; “Nigeria and China sign $23 bn deal for three refineries”, BBC News, May 14, 2010; “China, Nigeria to build $8 bn refinery”, July 6, 2010, chinainvestor.com

 

 

Mandatory pay cap for top state finance executives 

 

China’s Ministry of Finance imposed a pay cap for top executives of state-owned financial institutions in a move to stem increasing public criticism of the large salaries being given to executives in the banking sector in light of the nation’s economic downturn, said Xinhua.  The new rule said that an executive’s pay must be no more than 90 percent of the 2007 pre-tax level.  The official China Securities Journal reported that top executives of listed financial institutions were making an average of 604,600yuan (£50,500) during 2008, the highest salary of all industries.  In comparison the per capita income of the average Chinese citizen is £1,080 cited the Chinese embassy.  The high salaries of state financial executives have angered many people in China where nearly 40 percent of all factories that produced goods for export have closed.

 

 “China’s national per capita income reaches $1,740,” http://big5.fmprc.gov.cn/gate/big5/us.china-embassy.org/eng/gyzg/t268200.htm ; “In China, pay cuts are ordered for bankers,” The New York Times, April 11, 2009; “Executive pay ignites public grumble, regulations urged,” Xinhua, February 9, 2009

 

China to revise writing, add more strokes to characters 

 

Later this year Beijing is set to announce plans to create a new list of Chinese characters whose simplified version (jianti zi) will have some additional strokes added to the character to correct what Beijing calls ‘oversimplification’, said theEconomist.   In the 1950s the government of Mao Zedong had simplified many of China’s 50,000 characters in order to assist literacy efforts as well as to disassociate itself with traditional values, which included classical writing, which it thought held the country back from modernization.  Taiwan, the Hongkong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, and overseas Chinese diasporas continue to use traditional characters (fanti zi).  The move to add more strokes to some of the most reduced characters is highly emotive as some feel traditional characters add a greater expressiveness and cultural identity than simplified ones.  Others are worried how hard it will be for those brought up on simplified characters during the last 51 years to learn anew, as well as the cost of converting hundreds of millions of primary and secondary school text books. 

 

“Not as easy as it looks,” The Economist, April 23, 2009

 

 

Universal health care to return for China's citizens

China's State Council passed a plan to establish universal health care for every Chinese citizen beginning the year 2010. According China's state news agency, Xinhua, the 'long awaited' measure will provide basic health care and medical services to 'ordinary' Chinese citizens, and include free medicines, medical services, and reforms to the way rural hospitals are run. Said Xinhua, "Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, a lack of access to affordable medical services, poor doctor-patient relationship and low medical insurance coverage compel the government to launch the newround of reforms." China's health care systemis also facing long term changes, said the BBC.

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A growing urban middle class means families can afford more red meat in their diets and are eating less vegetable and rice dishes; many are forsaking the bicycle for motor scooters and can afford to take taxis. All this impacts the general health of an ordinary urban resident, who now may be getting less exercise than they did ten years ago. As a result a growing percentage of people have chronic diseases like heart attacks and strokes which could be lifestyle-related indicated the BBC. The government will be investing 850 billion yuan (£84 billion) into this universal health care project and it is widely thought that this project also hopes to stimulate domestic spending in an effort to kick start a stalling Chinese economy, said the New York Times. Chinese citizens have one of the highest savings rates in the world, in part to save for medical emergencies, said the International Herald Tribune (IHT). Professor Bai Zhongen, chair of the School of Economics at Qinghua (Tsinghua) University, said that universal health care will increase consumer spending as families will no longer need to save money for health care needs, reported IHT.

("China passes new medical reform plan," Xinhua, January 21, 2009; "China plans to subsidize health care nationwide," International Herald Tribune, January 22, 2009; "China announces subsidies for health care," New York Times, January 22, 2009; "China to pour $120 billion into health," BBC News, January 21, 2009