Car park workers remove wheels to thwart thefts (Chongqing Morning News)

Attendants of an open-air car park in suburban Chongqing began removing car tires in a bid to deter thieves who had been targeting the area.

Li, one of the attendants, says felons had long targeted cars temporarily detained by traffic police overnight.

He also complained that he once had to pay 1,640 yuan for the loss of several number plates during his first eight days on the job.

Li’s boss applauded the measure and keeps an eye on the stock of removed tires until the car owners arrive to collect their cars.

The 5th China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (China Daily)

China should prepare for the worst and take “timely and effective measures” to overcome the global financial crisis and maintain growth and stability, the central bank governor said on Thursday.

Speaking at the fifth China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), Zhou Xiaochuan, however, expressed confidence that China would sustain its growth and financial stability. Nevertheless, policymakers “need to prepare for the worst,” Jin Qi, head of the bank’s international department, quoted Zhou as having said.

“Excessive consumption in the US and over-reliance on debt are the key reasons behind the (global financial) crisis,” Zhou, said, urging the US to increase savings and reduce its budget and trade deficits.

“For China, the key to maintaining stable growth is increasing domestic demand,” Zhou said. “We should use the crisis as an opportunity to increase consumption and expedite the transformation of China’s development pattern.”

The country’s economy has been slowing down over the past few months, largely because of a slump in the property market and shrinking overseas demand.

On the global front, things do not look like improving in the near future because major economies such as the US, Japan and many European Union countries have entered into recession.

The country’s GDP growth dropped to 9 percent in the third quarter of this year, the lowest in five years.

The forecast for next year does not look brighter either because the World Bank has slashed it to 7.5 percent, the lowest in almost two decades. Government authorities, though, have said the country could have a growth rate of 9 percent next year.

“China has announced a series of measures to spur domestic demand, which is a significant move for world economic and financial stability,” Vice Premier Wang Qishan said in his opening speech at the SED Thursday. “We hope the US takes necessary steps to stabilize the financial market and the economy.”

Apart from the $586-billion stimulus package, the government will also use further interest rate cuts and other necessary measures to maintain ample liquidity.

The announcement came on Wednesday, a day before the European Central Bank cut its benchmark lending rate from 3.25 to 2.5 percent, the steepest rate cut in the past decade.

The sudden fall of the yuan against the US dollar has triggered speculation over further revaluation of the Chinese currency. The yuan recorded its highest one-day fall against the dollar on Monday, and has being sliding since. It closed at 6.88 to a dollar on Thursday, down from its peak of 6.80 on Sept 23.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming, however, said at the SED that the yuan’s movement this week was normal and its fall can be attributed to the rise of the dollar against other currencies.

A top US Treasury official said at a media briefing at the SED on Thursday that “China’s currency reform has progressed well in the past two years” and the “Chinese leadership” is committed to the reform.

“Our focus is still on the long term,” the official said when asked about the yuan’s sudden fall. “We’ve seen a continued rise of the yuan over time.” 

  • 9% GDP growth tipped for next year (China Daily)

China could next year notch up growth of 9 percent, or even above, as the world’s fourth-largest economy pulls out all stops to stimulate investment and consumption, the nation’s top think tank said on Tuesday.

“I think China can achieve 9 percent GDP growth, or even higher,” said Wang Tongsan, a senior economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), at a news conference releasing the academy’s annual economic forecast, or Blue Book.
“The possibility is quite high – it could be at least 70 percent possible that GDP growth reaches 9 percent next year.”

The economic forecast research team said in an article in the CASS blue book that next year, economic growth could reach 9.3 percent, compared with this year’s estimated 9.8 percent.

Zheng Jingping, an official at the National Bureau of Statistics, also said in an article for the CASS book that growth would be about 9 percent next year.

The forecasts are higher than those made by international organizations.

The World Bank said last month that China’s growth may slow to 7.5 percent next year, the lowest since 1990. Though the bank expects 9.4 percent growth this year, it said the global financial crisis would take a greater toll in 2009.

An Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development report said China’s growth next year could be 8 percent, while the International Monetary Fund put it at 8.5 percent.

The CASS’ Wang said the government’s forceful stimulus moves would make a big difference next year. “We believe the pro-active policies to stimulate domestic demand will work and the effect will be impressive,” Wang said, referring to the country’s $586 billion stimulus plan announced on Nov 9.

Local governments have also pledged to follow suit to help prevent the national economy from sliding further after it registered an annualized 9 percent growth in the third quarter of this year, compared to nearly 12 percent for last year.

The central bank slashed the benchmark interest rates by 1.08 percentage points last week, the steepest cut in 11 years, to reduce borrowing costs for enterprises and individuals, and bolster confidence.

More supportive fiscal and monetary policies are believed to be in the pipeline, analysts said.

Given the serious global financial turmoil and economic slowdown, China would not be unscathed but “we should be confident in China’s stable economic growth, or relatively high growth”, Wang said.

He said there are two prerequisites for the GDP to grow by at least 9 percent: The US economy does not significantly worsen and China’s pro-growth economic policies are well implemented.

The CASS team also forecast that China’s consumer price index (CPI), the key gauge of inflation, could drop to 4.3 percent next year from more than 6 percent this year.

“The falling trend of CPI is entrenched,” said Wang, adding it would not rebound in the coming months.

Zheng from the NBS put CPI growth much lower for next year, at around 3 percent.

The urban jobless rate, meanwhile, could rise to 4.5 percent next year from this year’s 4 percent, according to a forecast by Fan Jianping, an economist from at the State Information Center.

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