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Sep 182014

Major Chinese oil company Sinopec Group on Thursday said it has taken over 67.5 percent of the A-shares of drilling equipment maker Kingdream.

Sinopec has agreed for Shenzhen-listed Kingdream Public Limited Company to raise funds through private offering to buy 100 percent of shares Sinopec holds in its Petroleum Engineering Machinery Co., Ltd.

The deal will pave the way for the listing of Petroleum Engineering Machinery Co., Ltd., Sinopec said in a statement on its website.

Kingdream has proposed a profit distribution policy stipulating that no less than 30 percent of annual average distributable profits from the past three years will be paid to investors in cash if the company has no major investment plan.

The injection of engineering machinery assets into Kingdream will make the company Sinopec’s center for petroleum equipment manufacturing and technological service.

Previously, Sinopec Group had made Hong Kong-listed Sinopec Yizheng Chemical Fibre Co. Ltd. its sole unit through asset restructuring to carry out business in petroleum engineering contracting and technological service.

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Apr 192014

China’s 100 largest restaurant chains saw their business revenue and profitability growth decelerate in 2013, as the nation is clamping down on government-funded receptions and their operation costs are on the rise.

Combined business revenue of China’s 100 largest restaurant chains grew by 5.7 percent in 2013 from the previous year to 191.1 billion yuan (31 billion U.S. dollars). The growth rate was 10.8 percentage points lower than that in 2012, the China Cuisine Association (CCA) said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, their average net profit margin narrowed to 4.1 percent last year, 3.62 percentage points lower than that in 2012, noted the report.

Fourteen big-name chains had to close restaurants in some cities, the CCA said in a latest report.

China’s central government this year will spend less on overseas visits, vehicles and receptions, popularly known as the “three public consumptions” amid the country’s frugality campaign, said the Ministry of Finance on Friday. For 2013, the central government spent 815 million yuan, or 10.2 percent, less than its original budget on the “three public consumptions.”

With the changing landscape of China’s cuisine industry, famous restaurant chains are spending more on employee training and research and development to lure new customers and enhance their competitiveness.

Growth of their combined spending on training as well as on research and development in 2013 surged 36.5 percent and 24.1 percent year on year, respectively, figures from the CCA revealed.

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Nov 112013

Goods for delivery pile up at a distribution center for courier company Shentong Express in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, on Monday. [China Daily] 

Chinese shoppers spent billions online yesterday as they took advantage of discounts offered on Single’s Day, a festival seized on by online retailers to increase sales.

November 11 was proclaimed Single’s Day because of the number of ones in the date and first appeared on student campuses, with young single people celebrating the day by eating together, sending gifts or going shopping.

Now a massive shopping extravaganza, it took just 13 hours for sales on just two online sites, Taobao and Tmall, to fly past last year’s overall total of 19.1 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion).

Yesterday’s final figure reached an astonishing 35.02 billion yuan as hundreds of thousands of consumers rushed to buy clothes, furniture, home decoration items at discount prices.

A common greeting among friends and colleagues yesterday was “Bought anything today?” as they exchanged tales of bargains or disappointing news of popular items sold out minutes after the spree began at midnight.

In under nine hours, turnover at the Alibaba Group’s Tmall and Taobao sites had exceeded that of last year’s Cyber Monday, a similar event in the United States.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States, recorded US$1.4 billion in sales on November 26 last year.

There were a few glitches at Alibaba’s payment unit in the first 10 minutes of yesterday’s shopping spree with some orders declined and customers having to refresh webpages and repeat the payment process to secure purchases.

Round trip to Sydney

Jenny Dong, a Shanghai office worker, was one of the lucky shoppers as she grabbed a round-trip ticket to Sydney for 4,700 yuan, a 30 percent discount on the normal price.

“The price was so attractive as I’ve been longing for a vacation to Australia and I was so excited to successfully put the order the very second after midnight,” she said.

Sherry Chen, a postgraduate student, was among the many consumers delighted to pick up a bargain online. Chen said she got a pair of boots on Tmall at 40 percent of the department store price.

“I don’t care if it’s November 11 or December 12. As long as they have sales promotions, I’m more than happy to participate,” she said.

The line between online and offline retailers is gradually blurring, said Jason Yu, general manager of market research firm Kantar Worldpanel China.

“The offline retail presence of apparel vendors such as Uniqlo is an indispensable part of the massive amount of sales of its online unit, and retailers need to create a multi-channel shopping experience for consumers,” Yu said.

A Kantar Worldpanel study showed that up to a third of consumers are spending their money online this year instead of in traditional stores, Yu said.

The study found that of 1.1 trillion yuan in sales of fast moving consumer goods in the 52 weeks to September 6 this year, expenditure through e-commerce channels jumped 45 percent from a year earlier, much faster than the 9 percent annual growth in hypermarkets and supermarket chains.

In an online survey by CTR Market Research Co of 7,117 web users last week, 73 percent said they would buy from online vendors this year and spend an average of 1,078 yuan, 68 yuan more than last year.

In the past 12 months, online shoppers spent an average of 4,185 yuan, according to media investment firm GroupM.

The survey of 19,400 respondents in 279 cities across China reported a sharp rise in online expenditure among third and fourth tier cities with residents spending 31.8 percent more than the previous year, or 3,768 yuan each. The average amount spent by first and second tier city residents was 4,378 yuan.

Oct 212013

Water-levels at Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, have dropped below 10 meters during its annual dry season. [File photo]

Water-levels at Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, have dropped below 10 meters during its annual dry season, exposing its grassland lakebed, affecting wetland vegetation growth and the over-wintering of wild fish and migratory birds, CRI Online reports.

While an official at the Jiangxi Hydrologic Bureau said that rainfall shortages in the region can be part of the reason why the levels are so low, experts have noted that, over a 50-year period, Poyang Lake’s dry season has advanced gradually over time.

The planetesimal station at the lake recorded its water-levels dropping 9.98 meters, four meters lower than the average levels for this time of year.




Oct 142013

Two more foreign banks have announced they will set up branches in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to tap into the opportunities under the financial reform being tested in the area.

HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of East Asia said they had received approval from the authority to operate in the 28-sq-km FTZ, after the pilot area was officially unveiled on Sept 29.

HSBC and BEA followed Citigroup and DBS, which were the first two foreign banks to get a green light to operate in the FTZ.

According to the development plan by the State Council, or China’s cabinet, the Shanghai FTZ will be a test field for further financial reform. Analysts said such measures may include market-oriented interest rates.

But it is not yet clear what operations will be allowed for foreign banks in the FTZ as details of reforms were not released. HSBC said its FTZ branch will start operations in the beginning of 2014.

Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday that the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, will release details of FTZ financial reform soon. Shares of local companies in Shanghai rallied on the news with 20 stocks reaching their daily upper limit.

Sep 052013

A six-million-year-old fossilized cranium of a juvenile ape has been unearthed in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, a rare find paleontologists hope may help unravel the mystery of human origins.

A six-million-year-old fossilized cranium of a juvenile ape has been unearthed in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

The remains is only the second recovered cranium belonging to a juvenile ape inhabiting Eurasia in the Miocene that dates back to 23 to 5 million years ago, Ji Xueping, a researcher who led the study, told a news conference on Thursday.

“The skull boasts great significance in research on our ancestors, as the time when the primate lived was close to that of the first humans, estimated at between 7 million to 5 million years ago,” said Ji, with Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

“Africa has found a number of fossils of ancient primates of that age, but such finds are scarce in Asia. From this perspective, the discovery is quite important,” said Lu Qingwu, a professor with Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A detailed description of the find was published in the Chinese Sciences Bulletin last month, nearly four years after Ji and his fellows found it in a pit owned by a brick factory in Shuitangba community, Zhaotong City.

The age of the fossil ape, a member of the genus Lufengpithecus, was identified as between 6.2 to 6.1 million years ago in the late Miocene, the youngest among all ancient primates previously detected in Yunnan.

The well-preserved cranium that has maintained most of the facial skeleton is relatively complete and largely undistorted, providing valuable information about the morphology and growth of Lufengpithecus, according to the study.


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Jul 212013

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake jolted a juncture region of two counties in northwest China’s Gansu Province Monday morning, leaving at least 56 people dead, 412 others injured and 14 missing, according to local authorities.

A house is damaged in quake-affected Lixian County, northwest China’s Gansu Province, July 22, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

As of 1 p.m., the 6.6-magnitude quake, which happened at 7:45 a.m. at the juncture of Minxian County and Zhangxian County in the city of Dingxi, has also left over 300 others injured, the publicity department of Dingxi city government.

As of noon on Monday, 371 aftershocks had been recorded in the quake-hit region, with the strongest measuring 5.6 magnitude, Chang Zhengguo, spokesman for the provincial government, said at a press conference in the provincial capital city of Lanzhou.

Initial investigation showed that the quake had caused the collapse of over 1,200 homes and severe damage to 21,000 homes, he added.

Xinhua reporters arrived at the seriously-hit Meichuan Township, of Minxian County, around noon on Monday.

A total of 31 people have been confirmed dead in Meichuan, according to rescuers.

Five rural residential buildings have collapsed and cracks could be seen on many walls in Chagu Village, Meichuan Township.

Communication in many villages in Meichuan Township and in 13 towns of Zhangxian County has been cut off. Power has been cut off in five towns in the eastern part of Minxian County as of 2 p.m..

The epicenter of the quake, with a depth of 20 km, was monitored at 34.5 degrees north latitude and 104.2 degrees east longitude, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

The earthquake happened at a fault zone in the province, which has recorded 25 earthquakes with a magnitude of over 5 throughout history, the China Earthquake Administration said. The strongest quake recorded around the fault zone was measured with a magnitude of 8.0 on July 21, 1654. That one occurred about 121 km from the site of the latest quake, it added.

Sources with the Minxian County government said most of the townships in the county have been affected by the quake.

Locals in Minxian County said the quake lasted for about one minute.

Armed police, firefighters and more than 300 local militiamen have been dispatched to the quake-hit region to help with rescue efforts.

The provincial civil affairs department has sent 500 tents and 2,000 quilts.

The Lanzhou Railway Bureau has started an emergency response to guarantee the safety of railway bridges and communication equipment in the province.

Light to heavy rain has been forecast in Dingxi City, according to the provincial meteorological station. This will affect the rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, the earthquake was also felt in Tianshui City and Lanzhou as well as the cities of Xi’an, Baoji and Xianyang in neighboring Shaanxi Province.

(Xinhua contributed to the story)

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Jul 092013

The mayor of Hezhou city in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Tuesday apologized to residents for a river pollution case in a public statement.

A mining company discharges sewage directly into Haodong River, a branch of Hejiang River, on July 9. [Photo/Xinhua]

Bai Xi said in the written apology that loopholes in his government’s environmental protection and management work have led to river contamination.

He said he and his government felt sorry that the river pollution not only does harm to the city’s reputation, but also causes losses and inconvenience for local residents.

Bai added that he has also apologized to residents whose lives were affected by the polluted river in neighboring cities and counties.

The pollution was discovered after local authorities in Fengkai County in Guangdong Province, which neighbors Guangxi, said on Saturday that water in a section of the Hejiang River had been tainted by upstream pollution.

The county warned local tap water plants and residents living in the lower reaches of the Hejiang and Xijiang rivers to avoid drinking water or consuming products derived from the river.

Cadmium and thallium levels at a reservoir located on the river were four times and 1.3 times the recommended level, respectively, as of Monday, according to Yang Zhongxiong, vice head of Hezhou’s environmental protection bureau.