Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Official: China to insist on principle of market-oriented economy on Huiyuan-Coca-Cola union

As Coca-Cola Co. seeks to acquire China''s largest juice company Huiyuan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said the government would insist on the principals of market-oriented economy under the legal process.

In an interview with Xinhua on the occasion of the 12th Xiamen International Fair for Investment and Trade in the southeast Fujian Province, spokesman Yao Shenhong said the ministry "would review the case of Coca-Cola''s acquisition of Huiyuan" and it was against monopoly while supporting "normal economic activities."

"Once we receive the application we will start the antitrust review," Yao told Xinhua.

Coca-Cola Co. said on Sept. 3 it had offered to buy Huiyuan for the equivalent of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in cash. If successful, it would be the second-largest acquisition in the company''s history.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based company said the offer needed to be approved by the Chinese government.

The prospects of approval were unclear with much speculation emerging. In July, China turned down an offer by the Carlyle Group,a U.S.-based private equity company, to acquire Xugong Group Construction Machinery Co.

Both the Office of Anti-monopoly Investigations and Department of Treaty and Law in Ministry of Commerce, and Coca-Cola public affairs director Li Xiaoyun confirmed the company hadn''t submitted the application as of Wednesday.

Li said Coke was preparing the required materials and data for the application.

"The review of anti-monopoly has nothing to do with suspicion of monopoly but were simply required when the related companies reached the criterion in the laws," said Li, who also goes by the name Brenda Lee.

"This is a very normal process," she told Xinhua in a phone interview. "We simply submitted the materials according to the antitrust laws."

Any concentration should be reviewed when it has a global trade volume of 10 billion yuan and the total domestic trade volume of the two sides exceeds 400 million yuan in the previous financial year, according to the Anti-monopoly Law of the People''s Republic of China implemented onAug. 1, and the Guidelines on Anti-monopoly Filings for Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors issued in March last year.

The examination should happen when the total trade volume of all the related companies exceeded 2 billion yuan in the last financial year and the trade volume of the two sides in China exceeded 400 million yuan.

The law was welcomed by senior leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Coca-Cola was one of its members.

"Frankly, we welcome the new anti-monopoly law as it brings transparency to acquisition cases in China. We welcome the transparency," said AmCham chairman Norwell Coquillard at the Xiamen Fair.

"We understand the environment we invest in. We had estimated the market share of Huiyuan and Coca-Cola, which had reach the criterion, so we understand it has to be done," said Norwell, also the Cargill Investment Ltd president.

Since the antitrust law was a new law, Coca-Cola''s case would test the regulations, he noted.

Official: China to insist on principle of market-oriented economy on Huiyuan-Coca-Cola union (2)

His view was shared by Coca-Cola''s Li. "Accurate laws clarify the investors concept of the procedures. It could also help to create a healthier investment environment and encourage more foreign investment."

The case would also help China to detail the law for future protection of some important domestic markets, said Li Fei, a Xiamen University economics professor.

The acquisition was considered to be a big step for the soft drink giant to explore its non-carbonated drinks market in China when the rate of carbonated drinks share had slowed.

Last year, Coca-Cola launched its Minute Maid juice brand in China as part of its expansion into the nation''s fruit and vegetable drinks business. The category was valued at 10.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2007, while carbonated drinks were 7.4 billion U.S. dollars, according to Euromonitor figures.

"This acquisition will deliver value to our shareholders and provide a unique opportunity to strengthen our business in China, especially since the juice segment is so dynamic and fast-growing in China," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola president and chief executive officer . The acquisition would be the 55-year-old American-born Turk''s first major move since taking the reins as the company''s CEO in July.

Coke offered a figure of an exclusive soft drink review from Methodology Canadean Ltd, a British investigation company for the drinks market, showing the market share would be lower than 20 percent if the marriage was a success.

Currently, Huiyuan has a domestic market share of 13.95 percent among the 134 large drink producers in China, according to figures of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, Ltd. , a professional consulting firm specializing in agri-business consulting services to the food business.

If successful, Coca-Cola would overtake France''s Groupe Danone, which held a 16.3 percent share of China''s soft drinks market in 2007, as the country''s top brand with a 17.9 percent market share.

The marriage would be a challenge for domestic juice companies and might change the whole strategic situation of the juice industry, said Huang Bin, president of the Quanzhou branch of the Agricultural Bank of China in Fujian Province.

Experts believe that despite the anti-monopoly examination, the case also faces the worries of Chinese people about the disappearance of a famous domestic brand. Many domestic news reports had the headline "Coca-Cola drinks Huiyuan Juice."

"The brand Huiyuan has been developed in China for many years, and has grown on Chinese people''s emotional connection to the brand. That''s why we cherish the brand, " said Li whose employer had been doing business in the country since 1979. It was also a major sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in its fourth largest market country.

She emphasized Coca-Cola would preserve and develop the Huiyuan brand, with the company''s resources of international marketing and product research for the Chinese customers.

In addition, there would be no competition between Huiyuan and Coke, because the latter''s business was a subsidiary to the former, she said. Coca-Cola''s Minute Maid juice and Qoo were juice drink brands while Huiyuan''s strength was in pure fruit juice where it had a 46 percent market share, according to ACNielsen figures.

More hurdles had also emerged to disturb the potential union.

Public opinion has gone against Huiyuan founder and president Zhu Xinli of late, with many saying Coca-Cola was controlling him.

Some said Zhu behaved differently from before on the case as he had said, "I didn''t sell Huiyuan when I was in trouble in 2004. I''ll sell it now because they offer a good price."

Coca-Cola denied the blame, saying Zhu''s words had not been influenced by the company at all.

"President Zhu is an experienced entrepreneur. My company respects him a lot. What he said was decided by himself," Li said.

Despite the hurdles, Li confirmed three major shareholders whoheld more than 60 percent of Huiyuan stock, including Huiyuan, Danone and U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus, had approved the international marriage.


China trade surplus jumps in August; consumer inflation lowest in a year

China's trade surplus in August rose 14.9 percent from a year earlier, as imports growth decelerated sharply on lower commodities prices.

The surplus last month was 28.69 billion U.S. dollars, posting gains for the second month in a row. The figure was 25.28 billion U.S. dollars in July and 24.97 billion U.S. dollars last August.

Exports in August jumped 21.1 percent to 134.87 billion U.S. dollars, compared with 26.9 percent in July. Imports climbed 23.1 to 106.18 billion U.S. dollars, down from 33.7 percent in July, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.

"Exports growth decelerated, but imports posted a much bigger slowdown as commodities prices and shipping rates slumped," an official with the Ministry of Commerce told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. "This is the main reason for the jump in the surplus."

The slower advance in the Chinese currency against the U.S. dollar also contributed to the surge.

"The yuan remained almost steady against the U.S. dollar since July. This can help exports while giving no further incentives to imports."

In the first eight months, the exports growth slowed on faltering demand from the European Union and Japan, despite a small acceleration in shipments to the U.S.

Exports to the U.S. climbed 10.6 percent from January to August, compared with 9.9 percent in the seven months to July.

"The exports prospects might not be as gloomy as some others claimed," said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a government think tank under the Ministry of Commerce.

"Traditional industries posted slower exports growth, but industries like the electro-mechanical sector reported robust expansion," Mei told Xinhua. "China-made goods are still very competitive on the overseas market."

Overseas shipments of electro-mechanical products soared 24.7 percent to 538.65 billion U.S. dollars. Exports of garments and accessories edged up 2.6 percent to 75.03 billion U.S. dollars.

The trade gap narrowed 6.2 percent annually to 151.99 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months of the year.

Exports increased 22.4 percent to 937.69 billion U.S. dollars during the Jan.-Aug. period and imports were up 30 percent to 785.69 billion U.S. dollars.


The consumer price index , the main gauge of inflation, eased further to 4.9 percent in August, the lowest since July 2007,the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. It hit the12-year-high of 8.7 percent in February.

This came on falling food prices. Prices in food, which accounted for a third of the CPI, jumped 10.3 percent last month, down 4.1 percent from July level.

"This shows the effectiveness of the government macro-control measures. It didn't come easy when considering the widespread inflation in the world," said NBS chief economist Yao Jingyuan.

"The turning point for a wave of CPI rises had come, as the economic growth gradually slowed and dampened demand," said economist Wang Xiaoguang.

Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development and Research Center of the State Council, said some attention should be paid to the rising production costs and squeeze on corporate profits.

The factory-gate prices, another measure of inflation, gained 10.1 percent in August, the highest since 1996 and up from 10 percent in July.

Zhuang Jian, Asian Development Bank senior economist, urged caution over existing inflation pressure as price rises in non-food items accelerated.

But Zhuang added the easing in consumer inflation left more room for the government to adjust macro-control policies for sustainable economic growth.


Urban fixed asset investment rose 27.4 percent in the eight months to August, 0.1 percentage point higher than the January-July level and 0.7 percentage points higher than a year ago, according to the NBS.

"The investment growth in nominal terms was acceptable and even showed a sign of accelerating," said Zhang Xiaojing, an economist with the China Academy of Social Sciences.

"But when considering the high investment price index, the real growth was lower than a year earlier."

Zhang Hanya, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, said investment impulse was low because of slower economic growth, Yuan appreciation, rising production costs and tight credit controls.

China's gross domestic product had been decelerating for four straight quarters through June. Exports, fixed asset investment and consumption are the three drivers of the economy.

"Everybody was worrying about the dismal economic outlook. The monetary tightening since last year was a bit too much," said Zhang Hanya.

"It's normal for the economy to retreat from 11 percent to 10 and even 9 percent," said Wang Xiaoguang. "The economic expansion might slow to as low as 8 percent over the next few years. But the authorities would not allow any slower growth than that.

"The GDP would slow further during the rest of the year with slower exports growth and declining housing prices."

The government has raised tax rebates for textile and garments exports, lifted credit quota and scrapped administrative fees for small businesses amid the latest efforts to boost the economy.

"The relaxation in the macro-economic control is surely a trend, but it would be a gradual process," said Wang Xiaoguang. "The economy now doesn't need any drastic stimulus plans."  


China to grant $7.31 mln to Sri Lanka

The Chinese government will grant50 million yuan to Sri Lanka for economic and technical cooperation, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters in Colombo on Wednesday.

He said the grant will be provided by China to Sri Lanka under an agreement of economic and technical cooperation signed earlier in Colombo between the two governments.

During his talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama, the two sides agreed to maintain high-level contacts and expand multi-level associations between the two countries' legislatures, political parties, foreign ministries and local governments.

They also agreed to expand the two countries' cooperation in education, tourism and continue to carry out cooperative projects such as the Hambantota Port and Norochcholai Power Plant.

In international fora, the two sides will strengthen their coordination and defend the legitimate rights and interests of developing nations.

Yang arrived in Colombo Tuesday evening for a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka at the invitation of Bogollagama.

He also called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake during his stay in Colombo.

The Chinese foreign minister left Colombo for Beijing Wednesday afternoon.


China up 7 spots on ease of doing business ranking

Reforms helped China rise to 83 from 90 in the "Doing Business 2009" ranking by the World Bank , said the WB in a report on Wednesday.

The country's reforms made it easier to access credit, pay taxes and enforce contracts, said the report, the sixth in the annual series released by the WB and its private sector arm - the International Finance Corporation .

The report said regulatory reforms were gaining momentum worldwide. A record number of 239 countries and regions made reforms between June 2007 and June 2008. The top 10 reformers were Azerbaijan, Albania, Kyrgyz Republic, Belarus, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Egypt.

"Doing Business 2009" ranked 181 economies on the ease of doing business. Singapore kept its top ranking for the third year in a row. New Zealand was the runner-up, and the United States was in the third place.

Other high-ranking countries and territories in East Asia and the Pacific were China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.

The rankings were based on 10 indicators of business regulation that tracked the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation and closure.


Taiwan reports trade deficit for two consecutive months

Foreign trade in Taiwan registered deficit for two consecutive months, according to figures from the Taiwan authorities.

The island reported trade deficit of 410 million U.S. dollars in July and 30 million U.S. dollars in August, the latest statistics indicated.

Although foreign trade in the first eight months this year still retained a favorable balance of 7.57 billion U.S. dollars, the figure was down 47 percent, or 6.7 billion U.S. dollars, from that of the same period of last year, the authorities said.

Experts said that sounded a "warning signal" to the local economy as the island, with a relatively small local market, relied heavily on foreign trade.

However, meanwhile, Taiwan's trade with the Chinese mainland remained robust. In the first half of this year, its export to the mainland surged 21.7 percent from the same period of last year, with the trade surplus reaching 24.4 billion U.S. dollars and expected to hit new high for the whole year.

The mainland has become "the most important source" of Taiwan's overall trade surplus, said its authorities.

Source: Xinhua

Hong Kong stocks end lower on profit-taking

Profit-taking in blue chips after the benchmark index's sharp rise in the previous session pulled Hong Kong shares lower Tuesday.

The blue-chip Hang Seng Index fell 303.16 points, or 1.46 percent, to 20,491.11 after trading fluctuating between 20,299.97 and 20,543.15 during the session.

Turnover fell to 47.90 billion HK dollars (6.15 billion U.S. dollars from Monday's 68.41 billion HK dollars .

The index had risen 4.3 percent Monday on news of the bailout for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Analysts said the local market is likely to continue to decline in the near term as global economic uncertainties remain an overhang.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both A and B shares, ended up 0.1 percent at 2,145.78 after two straight days of sharp falls. But turnover was light and analysts said China shares will likely fall further on concerns over a potential drop in corporate earnings and an increase in share supply.

China Mobile fell 2.2 percent to 84.00 HK dollars on profit- taking after it rose 4.8 percent Monday.

Cnooc, China's largest listed offshore oil-and-gas producer by capacity, dropped 3.5 percent to 10.46 HK dollars on falling crude oil prices.

PetroChina ended 2.3 percent lower at 9.28 HK dollars after rising 3.4 percent Monday.

Alumina and aluminum producer Chalco slumped 7 percent to 6.02 HK dollars on concerns over its margins.

Chinese banks fell on lingering concerns over earnings in the second half as the government is not likely to relax its monetary tightening measures, analysts said. Bank of Communications dropped4.3 percent to 8.54 HK dollars, China Construction Bank fell 1.6 percent to 6.10 HK dollars and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was 1 percent lower at 5.23 HK dollars.

The properties sub-index fell 435.87 points, or 1.76 percent, at 24,354.75.

The commerce and industry sub-index went down 262.91 points, or 2.40 percent, to 10,712.88.

The utilities sub-index rose 187.57 points, or 0.43 percent, at 43,857.03.

The Finance sub-index slipped 259.71 points or 0.79 percent at 32,812.14.

Source: Xinhua

Securities market dances to its own tune

The year 1986 is seen as the beginning of China's stock trading. On September 26 that year, on a small trading floor in Shanghai, two stocks were traded - Shanghai Feilo Acoustics Co Ltd and Shanghai Yanzhong Industrial Co Ltd. Some 1,540 shares worth 85,280 yuan changed hands that day.

The drama largely took place on the street outside the exchange. A local newspaper reported hundreds of eager punters, some of whom had stood in line from the day before, gathered in No 1806 Nanjing Xilu, where the first stock trading counter was located. "The crowd almost broke down the gate in front of the counter," according to the article.

From the start, China's securities market has been dancing to its own peculiar tune that has a different flavor and tempo from those of the markets in developed countries.

The lack of investment channels, with far more buyers than sellers, and the split equity ownership, with very limited share trading, had characterized and, said some, plagued the Chinese capital market before 2005. This caused the stock market to be extremely volatile and seen as "controlled" rather than an unshackled market.

It was not until 2005, when China launched a national share structure reform aimed at changing split equity ownership into a fully floated share structure, did the market begin to meet international standards.

Securities reform was no doubt a milestone in the history of the country's capital market. In the next two years, over 1,300 listed companies had converted their non-tradable State-owned shares into tradable ones.

By the end of 2007, 1,550 companies were listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, with a combined market value of 32.71 trillion yuan and accounting for 140 percent of the country's GDP, figures from the CSRC show.

Another major law introduced at the beginning of 2006 brought more sophistication into the capital markets once marked by embezzlement and lack of transparency.

The Company Law and Securities Law, enacted on Jan 1, 2006, were aimed at increasing corporate governance, creating more transparency and putting more power in the hands of shareholders. Seventy related rules and regulations have been published since the enactment of this law, smoothing out the market's rough edges from its early days.

Source: China Daily

Morgan Stanley tips new round of energy price hikes

Morgan Stanley said it expects China's CPI, a gauge of inflation, to drop from 6.3 percent in July to 5.5 percent in August, paving the way for another round of energy price hikes in the coming months.

"With the successful conclusion of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese policymakers will focus once again on macroeconomic management, so energy price normalization is likely to feature prominently in the post-Olympic policy package," said Morgan Stanley analyst Wang Qing.

The government raised gasoline and diesel prices by 17-18 percent in June, while electricity charges for commercial units went up by 0.025 yuan per kWh from July 1.

Chinese oil refiners have suffered massive losses due to the gap between international crude oil prices and the prices of refined petroleum products, which remain controlled by the government.

Morgan Stanley suggested if the prices of refined products, electricity and coal were raised by 10 percent, it would cause the producer price index to increase by 0.88 percent, 0.44 percent and 0.23 percent respectively, while the CPI would increase by 0.35 percent, 0.52 percent and 0.03 percent respectively.

"Although the impact of energy price normalization on the CPI seems affordable, energy prices will not be raised to such a great extent. Refiners have been under less pressure recently due to a sharp fall in the crude oil price," said Wei Weixian, an economist from the University of International Business and Economics.

"And many industries have suffered from higher raw material and labor costs, so I predict that energy prices will not surge by 10 percent in the short term, and are more likely to rise by up to 5 percent," he added.

However, Cai Zhizhou, an economist from Peking University, disagreed.

He said that a 10 percent hike in energy prices would be "normal" and not have a major impact on CPI.

"And increasing energy prices is an important way to optimize the industry structure, so hi-tech and environmentally friendly firms can come to the fore."

Source: China Daily

Share issues paced

The securities regulator said yesterday it will continue to control new share issues to balance supply and demand in the capital market.

"Over the past eight months, the pace of new share issues has slowed," an anonymous official from the China Securities Regulatory Commission said.

There were 73 new mainland listings by the end of August, the official said. In the first half, 59 companies went public at a rate of about 10 initial public offerings per month. That number fell to nine in July and five in August.

On Monday, the CSRC approved China Merchants Securities' plan to issue 358.5 million shares.

" it's still too early to say when the IPO will be, as there are still a lot of procedures and requirements to get through," the official said.

Everbright Securities Co is in the same boat.

The securities regulator has kept another 30 companies waiting as it tries to control the pace of new share issues on the market.

The regulator is planning to release new inquiry system rules to guide the pricing of new shares.

"The current inquiry system gives new shares a market-oriented price, but some market players could flout the rules. The CSRC will strengthen supervision and punishment," the official said.

Rebuilding lifts industry

Post-quake reconstruction in Sichuan province, expected to top 1 trillion yuan in the next few years, is set to give a much-needed lift to the building materials industry, threatened by rising costs and dwindling investment.

Latest official estimates indicate that demand for cement and steel will amount to 370 million tons and 37 million tons, respectively, to rebuild infrastructure, housing and other public facilities. Huge demand is expected for other building materials such as piping, tiles and bricks. Literally trillions of standard bricks will be needed.

"A huge increase in demand for all kinds of building materials will benefit not only the producers in that region but also many others around the nation," Luo Guo, a building materials analyst at Orient Securities in Shanghai, said.

Before the earthquake, Sichuan was largely self-sufficient in cement. Provincial cement sales amounted to 62.14 million tons in 2007, or 4.5 percent of the nation's total.

Transport costs make it unprofitable for outside cement producers to sell in Sichuan. It costs an extra 50 yuan to transport the cement 100 km.

But all this is about to change. Cement production in Sichuan will not be able to meet projected demand when reconstruction work shifts into high gear in the coming months. For this reason, there will be no alternative but to buy cement from manufacturers in other provinces at prices that will cover transport costs.

"The tightening supply and demand relationship is likely to drive up cement and other building material prices not only in Sichuan province but also throughout the nation, helping to boost the industry's profit margins as a whole," Hong Liang, a building materials analyst at China Galaxy Research in Beijing, said.

In the first half of this year, the average profit margin of listed cement makers located in or near Sichuan rose by 5 percentage points from the previous year, Hong said. Much of that increase was attributed to the price jump after the May 12 earthquake.

In the first five months, total domestic cement output rose by 9 percent to 514 million tons. From January to May, cement sales climbed by 23.6 percent to 160.7 billion yuan, while cement prices rose 10.1 percent year-on-year. In the same period, the cement industry posted profit of 8.4 billion yuan, up 65.4 percent from a year earlier on higher sales and prices.

Those results are due to strong demand from the building boom, which had fizzled out by the middle of the year. The credit tightening policy introduced to combat escalating inflation sent the building industry into a tailspin and demand for cement and other building materials plummeted. At that time, the industry faced an overcapacity threat that could have severely damaged producer earnings, analysts said.

But expected demand from Sichuan is brightening the industry outlook. "Increased demand for cement and other building materials in Sichuan is expected to last for at least three years until the reconstruction work is finished," Hong at China Galaxy said.

Source: China Daily

Norwegian paper maker upbeat on China

In the past months, some in China may have found that the price of their newspapers have increased a little. Meanwhile, some small and uncompetitive newspapers can no longer be found on the newsstands. What's going on in China's newspaper industry?

One reason is that newspapers have been hit by frequent newsprint price rises. As of Aug 1, newsprint cost 6,100 yuan per ton, up about 26 percent over January, its highest price in five years.

But newsprint producers have benefited little from the price hikes and are still struggling with low profits. In an exclusive interview with China Daily reporter Bi Xiaoning, Terje Engevik, head of Norske Skog in China, provides some insightsway-based Norske Skog is the second largest newsprint maker in the world.

Q: Why have newsprint prices in China shot up in recent months?

A: Mainly because of the rising raw material and energy costs caused by soaring domestic demand. A large portion of recycled fibers from Old Newspapers in China relies on imports and there was a tremendous expansion in new paper capacity in China over the past years.

In 2000, about 2 million tons of old newspaper was imported by China, and the number is likely to double in 2008. About two-thirds of this comes from North America. However, over the same period, the newspaper consumption there sharply declined. The annual consumption of newspapers in North America fell from about 13 million tons in 2000 to less than 8 million tons this year.

So the fall in supply of recycled old newspapers in North America and the increasing demand in China and other emerging markets like India have resulted in rising fiber prices.

Q: In August, the price of newsprint was raised from 5,800 yuan per ton to 6,100 yuan per ton. Was this price increase triggered by the Olympics? What will be the trend post-Olympics?

A: Until the end of July, newsprint demand in China rose about 9 percent over the corresponding period last year. The reason may be that local newspapers were trying to build up enough stock to ensure good coverage of the Olympics and more daily supplements were published as a result of the event.

Paper makers have been forced to increase prices to meet the increasing raw material and energy costs. Reviewing the financial statements of paper makers, you will find the profitability improved a little in the second quarter of this year, but is still down compared with previous years.

As for the future trend, it's hard to predict what the demand for newsprint will be in China post-Games. In 1988, newsprint demand in Olympic host South Korea continued to rise sharply even after the Games.

Q: If the price hike of ONP and newsprint in China partly came from shrinking newspaper consumption in North America, as you say, what led to the decrease of US newspapers' circulation and volumes?

A: To some extent, free distribution of news - also by some free newspapers - has made things difficult for traditional newspapers.

I believe Chinese publishers can learn from their overseas counterparts. Publishers must pay more attention to quality. It's quality that will help publishers to retain their market share, not low cover prices.

For example, in Norway, the retail price of a Saturday edition of a financial daily is equivalent to 33 yuan. So it baffles me that some thick newspapers in China sell for as low as 50 fen.

Q: Is it possible to find some alternative to recycled fibers from North America to make newsprint in China?

A: The alternative would be to produce virgin fibers from wood, in a process that requires substantially more electricity. But China is short on suitable wood fibers and electricity costs are high here. So we prefer to use recycled fiber in China.

With stable supply and good quality, American old newspapers are the favorite material for us and other Chinese paper makers.

The price pressure can be somewhat alleviated if we can get enough quality raw materials from the domestic market. Unfortunately, there isn't a very efficient newspaper recycling system here in China yet and the quality is not satisfactory.

Q: Norske Skog entered the Chinese market in 1998. What progress has it seen in China's paper industry in the past 10 years?

A: Ten years ago, there were many paper factories in China, but most were small companies that were low on efficiency and high on pollution. With the reshuffle in the past years, the Chinese government has closed down uncompetitive small paper mills and optimized the market.

Now Huatai Paper Group and Shandong Chenming Paper are all listed paper giants.

As a multinational paper maker, Norske Skog has brought advanced technology and management systems to China, especially in the quality and environment protection aspects. To some extent, we may be a benchmark for the Chinese paper sector and have helped improve performance and efficiency.

Q: What's the difference between China's newsprint industry and those overseas?

A: China is still a promising and growing market. From 1998 to 2005, the newsprint demand in China saw double-digit annual growth. In 2007, the demand was still high, with an 8 percent year-on-year increase. It reached 9 percent in July. I believe the trend will last for many years to come.

Source: China Daily

Shanghai World Expo launches "one-stop" services

The exhibiter service hall set up by the organizer of the World Exposition Shanghai China 2010 has been put into use recently.

Meanwhile, the first batch of 22 one-stop management and services were launched. Sixteen related departments including Shanghai Customs will provide "one-stop" services on visa, residence permit, policy consultation on customs and entry-exit inspection and quarantine, construction project permit and guest room booking etc.

By People's Daily Online

China trade surplus jumps 15% in August

China's trade surplus in August rose 14.9 percent from a year earlier, as imports growth decelerated sharply on lower commodities prices

The surplus last month was 28.69 billion U.S. dollars, posting gains for the second month in a row. The figure was 25.28 billion U.S. dollars in July and 24.97 billion dollars last August.

Exports in August jumped 21.1 percent to 134.87 billion dollars, compared with 26.9 percent in July. Imports climbed 23.1 to 106.18 billion dollars, down from 33.7 percent in July, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.

"Exports growth decelerated, but imports posted much bigger slow-down as commodities prices and shipping rates slumped," an official with the Ministry of Commerce told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity. "This is the main reason why the surplus jumped."

The slower advance in the Chinese currency against the dollar also contributed to the surge.

"The yuan remained almost steady against the U.S. dollar since July. This can help exports while giving no further incentives to imports."

The trade gap narrowed 6.2 percent annually to 151.99 billion dollars in the first eight months of the year.

Exports increased 22.4 percent to 937.69 billion dollars during the Jan.-Aug. period and imports were up 30 percent to 785.69 billion dollars.


Digital waterway built for Yangtze River

China's first digital waterway, the digital waterway in Nanliu section of Yangtze River, has been built successfully.

It will lead Yangtze River waterway management and its external services into a digitization and information era.

Starting at the river mouth of Cihu River on the boundary of Jiangsu Province and Anhui Province and ending at the river mouth of Liuhe River in Taicang, a city of Jiangsu Province, the digital waterway in Nanliu section of Yangtze River has a total length of 369.5 kilometers.

Moreover, the digital waterway project on the 2,688 kilometers main navigation channel of Yangtze River will be built in three phases.

By People's Daily Online

Chinese shares close 0.23% higher on favorable economic data

Chinese shares on Wednesday regained some ground in the morning session after the release of favorable economic data, but went lower in the afternoon on sell-offs.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed the day 0.23 percent higher at 2150.76 points, compared to a 1.06 percent gain in the morning.

The Shenzhen Component Index gained 0.62 percent to 7065.47 points.

Gainers outnumbered losers by 583-248 in Shanghai and 447-244 in Shenzhen.


European companies expect more business in China

European companies are generally optimistic about their business in China thanks to the strong economic growth and positive progresses on the business environment. Trade imbalance, albeit still continuing, is not a big problem. But wider market access and more transparency is top on their wish list now. And they are seeking for more opportunity of engagement in the environmental protection industry.

European Chamber of Commerce in China, which represents more than 1,400 member companies, published its annual Position Paper Tuesday Sept. 9 in Beijing. It is the eighth edition and also the biggest one since the first was released in 2001 when China joined WTO. Joerg Wuttke, President of the Chamber, believed that the growing size of the book reflected the expanding trade and investment between China and EU.

The Position Paper will be presented to Chinese authorities and the European Commission and EU member states after it was published. EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson will visit Beijing at the end of the month and the China-EU Summit will be held in December.

Mr. Wuttke highlighted significant developments on regulatory environment, economic relations and business environment since the launch of their 7th report was announced the same month last year. Government restructuring reduces overlapping responsibilities. New laws and regulations, such as the Labor Contract Law, the Anti-Monopoly Law and new Foreign Investment Catalogue, have been promulgated and put into effect. The Chamber had actively involved in the legislation of many of those laws and regarded the development of the legal framework as an advantage to European businesses.

The two way trade between China and EU has been growing. The figure from China's Ministry of Commerce showed that China-EU trade rose 27 percent in 2007. From January to July, the trade increased by 27.9 percent, with China's imports from EU up by 29.8 percent and exports to EU by 27.1 percent.

Trade imbalance was one of the top concerns of the Chamber in China and the Commission in Brussels last year. It is not this year although the EU's trade deficit with China continues to widen. According to the Paper, the share of imports from Asia remains stable. Europeans benefit from Chinese products which help restrain inflation in the EU, reduce households' cost, and increase disposable income to purchase high-end locally produced goods and services. Mr. Wuttke added that a perfect balance of trade is nor desirable nor normal in the era of globalization.

Several issues raised in the Position Paper last year have been resolved or got remarkable progress. The Chamber noticed most positive development in banking, energy and petrochemical. In the IT and telecommunication sector, for the first time, an European telecom equipment manufacturer reached a tech transfer agreement with its Chinese partner.

The central and western parts of China represent new dynamics. Mr. Wuttke said he had been kept telling Chamber members about how diversified China was in terms of economic development model. The Chamber will host a forum at the end of October in Chengdu, Sichuan province which was hard hit by the strong earthquake in May.

Market access was the top concern of European businesses in China. That happened against the backdrop that the investment issue was increasing important on the agenda of the economic relations.

European suppliers claimed that non-tariff barriers cost them more than 21 billion euro business opportunities a year. And they hope that they could participate more in public procurement projects and standard setting.

Transparency and administrative coordination have improved as the legislation process is more open to the public comments. However, European companies require more time before they can respond.

Chinese government has adopted numerous policies to address the pressure of natural resources and energy supply. European companies believe they can be a part of if they are given more access to the bidding of infrastructure updating projects.

The paper includes more than 300 proposals for business environment. Marianne Friese, Secretary General of the Chamber, said: "The Chinese leadership's affirmation of the importance of innovation, openness and competition is encouraging. We firmly support China's efforts to ensure a sustainable balanced growth."

By People's Daily Online

Thank you, world!

At the opening ceremony of Beijing Paralympic Games, German athletes unfolded a banner "Hello, Beijing." On September 7, the first day of Paralympic Games, at the national stadium, after the Swedish team won the first victory of wheelchair basketball, the young men sitting in wheelchairs unfolded a red banner, "Thank you, China!" The four Chinese characters are particularly eye-catching in bright red color.

Whether at the scene or on television, I am always very touched seeing this. I believe there must be thousands of Chinese people who are also moved like I was, not only because we are proud of our dear motherland, but also because we are deeply touched by the sincere gratitude from our friends from various countries across the world.

Right at the beginning of this year, some people still doubted the Beijing Olympic Games. When the torch relay was held outside China, some people lacking of understanding of China or even hostile to the country even tried to disrupt and destroy the ceremony. Even in the forthcoming of the Olympic Games, there are still people questioning whether Beijing, China can successfully hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, Chinese people have never fluctuated. Even if we have experienced 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake, we've never lowered the standard of the commitment that we've made to the world seven years ago.

Promise will be kept. The 1.3 billion diligent and courageous Chinese people are fulfilling their commitment to the world by putting their actions into practice.

In fact, we do not expect honorarium. We are only seeking understanding. In the eyes of many foreigners, China is a mysterious ancient oriental country. However, some Western media's negative publicity has grown bias in their heart. They know nothing about the tremendous and profound changes that have taken place during the recent 30 years of reform and opening up. Olympic and Paralympic Games have provided an excellent opportunity to the world people to better understand China and Chinese people. Tens of thousands of journalists came in; some of them once were hostile to China. But when they witness what are happening around them, and personally experience the friendship and goodwill of ordinary Chinese people, they will change their awareness of the real China. Through their lens, through their pens, the outside world will know more about the Chinese people's lives.

Our dream is not only to enrich the country and people's lives. We also hope that we can make the planet we are living in more beautiful and harmonious. "One World, One Dream" is our wish. "How happy we are, To meet friends from afar!" When 1.3 billion people open their arms to meet the friends coming from across the world, they also unfold a beautiful picture about an ancient and young country. Once "sick man of East Asia", today full of self-confidence and vitality, China now is showing the whole world the true meaning of friendship, peace and goodwill.

"Thank you, China!" Our answer is "Thank you, world!" In the coming years, 2008 will become a permanent and precious memory of China and the world. Chinese nation will make a greater contribution to the world.

By People's Daily Online. The author is Chen Zhao, senior editor of People's Daily.

What is real tribute to Teachers' Day

September 10th has been set as the National Teachers' Day 24 years ago, when China's government began to realize the important role national education plays in a country's comprehensive strength. Since then on, 'to pay a tribute to teachers, and attach importance to education' has been known to every Chinese as a widespread slogan not only in urban areas but in the vast countryside as well.

May 12 Sichuan massive earthquake smashed the beautiful dreams of nearly ten thousand school children, but, just born in the debris of the collapsed school buildings were the episodes of hero-like teachers and students, and their sagas, distilled with time, are still touching people. In face of deadly disasters, people's qualities would be fully brought out and tested.

So 'what does it mean to be a teacher?' has become one of the hottest topics in the post-earthquake days, attracting readers and bloggers from every corner of the country into the discussion. Almost all of them deem teachers' professional ethics should cover as wide a range as protecting the students from danger and coming to their rescue in crisis. Some even cited examples in their discussion: one of the teachers sheltered the young students with her own body when the quake hit, as a result, all the three kids survived but she did not. Another teacher, in her 20s, helped all of her students out of the classroom when she sensed the shock, but she was buried in rubble when the room suddenly fell in.

On the other hand, people finger pointed one notorious teacher surnamed Fan, denouncing him in chorus 'a shame to all teachers,' or 'an ignoble person disguised as a noble teacher,' as the guy disappointed everybody in his deeds and words, when the quake happened, first fleeing for safety himself and leaving the entire class behind; later he defended himself explaining it out of instinct and in human nature.

Conventionally, teachers' role in the Chinese culture has been defined as 'a guide or an instructor,' and China enjoys a long history of showing respect and even paying tribute to teachers. Confucius, for example, is said to have tutored more than three thousand pupils and wins the all time worship in China. But the ten havoc years of the so-called 'Cultural Revolution' acted as the nightmare for all then Chinese teachers, some persecuted to death, some put in detention, others robbed of teaching to accept 're-education through labor.' What a relief to them in 1978, when China was finally ushered in the policy of Reform and Opening up to the outside world. The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping pointed for the first time in China's modern history that 'science and technology serve as the No.1 productivity.' The Chinese teachers have since been regarded highly and won the highest social status than ever before.

In 1993, China issued Teachers Law, providing protections for the teachers' basic interests and rights. Although there are some loopholes in its implementation, teachers' living and working conditions have been generally improved since its enactment. In some economically advanced coastal areas in China, the local authorities have also staged some very constructive supplementary regulations to benefit education and the teaching staff.

For example, Guangdong Province has set up a long-term mechanism ensuring teachers' wages and other benefits. The local government also stipulated that education fund must be spared in any financial budget, and the public resources must first go to meet the needs of education.

Admittedly, due to the uneven distribution of resources and development, the status quo of education differs from region to region. It is also manifest that in some backward regions teachers are still struggling for livelihood with the meager income or even hard to meet ends because of the long-delayed wages.

By Teachers Law, teachers' pay should be tantamount to that of the civil servants of the same level. The State fiscal expenditure of education fund will have to account for 4 percent of the country's GDP. Unfortunately, the implementation of the particular articles stipulated in Law is far from enough.

Prompted by the Sichuan earthquake, Professional Ethics Standards for Primary and Middle School Teachers have been passed immediately following the disaster, which has greatly elevated the threshold to be a teacher and further tightened the qualifications testing for the existing teaching staff, including not only the standard academic skills, but also good qualities as a responsible person. Even so, the de facto is still far from satisfactory.

The number of students passing the entrance examinations is still taken as the only yardstick to judge a teacher qualified or not in many parts of China, which has catalyzed some undesirable cases like cheating and bribery, and the reputation of the teachers involved has been ruined. If not deterred promptly, it could mar the image of teachers as a whole.

It has long been acknowledged that rights and responsibilities coexist in any occupation, to which teaching is no exception. On the very day of the nationwide teachers' festival, we will not only appeal for the early settlement of teachers' suspending cares and rights, but pin hope on all the teachers, as they are taking in charge of the country's tomorrow.

By People's Daily Online

Health ministry: 15% Chinese suffer high blood pressure in China

Some 200 million people, or 15 percent of the Chinese population, are suffering high blood pressure, China's Health Ministry said Tuesday.

However, only 30 percent of the patients knew about their disease, 25 percent sought treatment and only a meagre 6 percent got their disease under control, the ministry said on its website.

The ministry said such an unsatisfactory status-quo was resulted from the patients' lack of knowledge of their blood pressure condition. Many people never monitored their blood pressure, and some didn't find the disease until cerebral hemorrhage occurred.

The ministry urged the public to care for themselves and frequently monitor their blood pressure so as to better understand their health condition and voluntarily seek treatment.

A 2007 survey of 9,900 high blood pressure patients in Beijing found that only 30 percent measured their blood pressure at home.

To encourage more people to self monitor their blood pressure at home, the ministry has decided to observe the 11th National High Blood Pressure Day, which falls on Oct. 8, under the theme of "Home Self-Monitoring" and launch a series of promotional activities.

Source: Xinhua

In China: young people most prone to suicide

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Chinese people aged 15 to 34, and the fifth biggest killer - after cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and accidental death - among all age groups, a report by the Chinese Association for Mental Health said Tuesday.

On average there is one suicide and eight attempts every two minutes on the mainland, leading to more than 250,000 deaths a year, it said.

Yang Fude, vice-president of Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, which specializes in mental health, said China has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, particularly among rural women.

"It is also one of the few countries where rural suicides outnumber urban suicides," he told China Daily.

"In China, the ratio is three to one," he said.

Yang was speaking on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the World Health Organization.

According to the report, 50 percent of all suicides on the mainland involve women from rural areas, the majority of whom drink pesticide to end their lives.

Family disputes, work pressures, poor educational opportunities and limited levels of social interaction are the main causes, it said.

Zhu Wanli, who specializes in suicide intervention, said marriage disputes are still the main cause of suicide, accounting for 30 percent of all cases.

"Changes in society have led to an increase in the number of extramarital relationships and these in turn have led to more disputes between husbands and wives," Zhu was quoted as saying Tuesday by the Chongqing Evening News.

Pressure at work and home is the second biggest cause of suicides, accounting for about 20 percent, the report said.

It also said the suicide rate among senior citizens in rural areas was six times that of their peers in urban areas.

"Senior citizens are becoming increasingly fragile, both physically and spiritually," Yang said.

"As more farmers migrate to the city to work, elderly people are becoming isolated and feel less secure," he said.

Meanwhile, a recent study by health authorities in Foshan, Guangdong province, found that 17 percent of junior high schoolgirls had contemplated suicide, Nanfang Daily reported Tuesday.

Pressure to do well at school, and feelings of isolation and loneliness were the main reasons given, the report said.

Source: China Daily

More than 2,000 artists expected to attend Asia Art Festival

More than 2,000 artists from 20 Asian countries are expected to attend an arts festival in central China, slated for September 26, the host city's publicity department said on Wednesday.

Artists from 37 performing troupes would gather in Zhengzhou and its neighboring city Kaifeng in central Henan Province, both host cities of the 10th Asia Arts Festival.

The 13-day festival, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Henan government, is to feature live performances, films, exhibitions and a trade fair. The festival was inaugurated in 1998by the Ministry of Culture and had been held annually except for abreak in 2003, when the SARS epidemic broke out


China reports 1,023 death of infectious diseases in August

The Chinese Ministry of Health Wednesday reported 1,023 death of infectious diseases nationwide last month but no serious outbreak in areas hit by the May 12 earthquake.

The figure was slightly up from 1,009 in July, said the ministry.

In August, 363,877 cases of A- and B-Class infectious diseases occurred and claimed 1.014 lives. Of the 138,879 cases of C-Class infectious diseases recorded, there were nine fatalities.

Except for plague, SARS, poliomyelitis, bird flu and diphtheria, the remaining 22 diseases in the A- and B-Class lists had reported cases.

The top five infectious diseases, accounting for 88.34 percent of the total cases of A and B-Class diseases, were tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diarrhea, syphilis and gonorrhea.

The top five killers, accounting for 92.7 percent of the total lives claimed by A and B-Class diseases, were AIDS which claimed 400 lives, rabies 213 lives, tuberculosis 200 lives, hepatitis B 73 lives and epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis 54 lives.

Infectious diseases in China are classified into three categories by the country's Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.

Diseases, A-Class infectious diseases include only two diseases, namely plague and cholera, B-Class infectious diseases include 25 diseases such as viral hepatitis and C-Class infectious diseases include ten diseases such as influenza.


NW China sandstorm no threat to launch of Shenzhou-7 spacecraft

The launch of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft, set to blast off between Sept. 25 and 30 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province, will not be affected by a strong sandstorm in the area, a meteorological expert said.

The sandstorm, which hit central and western Gansu Province from Sunday morning, had started to weaken and move southeast toward the provincial capital Lanzhou, the National Meteorological Observatory said in a statement on Tuesday.

The sandstorm would not last long and would not affect the launch of Shenzhou-7, the observatory cited a meteorological expert with the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as saying.

A serious sandstorm started to engulf Dunhuang on Sunday and cut visibility to 40 meters as of 10 a.m. Monday in the city, which was 410 kilometers west of Jiuquan, the observatory said.

At the same time, temperature in central and western Gansu dropped by five to eight degrees Celsius on Monday, and some regions experienced a sharp decline of nine to 11 degrees Celsius.

Source: Xinhua

Chang Wanquan heads the commanding team of Shenzhou-7

The list of the commanding team of Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft has already been finalized. Gen.Chang Wanquan will lead the team.

Gen.Chang Wanquan, 59, is a member of Central Military Commission and the head of PLA General Armament Department.

The four deputy chief commanders are Vice-admiral Zhang Jianqi , Ma Xingrui , Jiang Mianheng and Sun Laiyan .

Vice-admiral Zhang Jianqi is considered as one of the PLA generals who master space technology and nuclear industry. He is the primary superintendent and the standing deputy chief commander of Shenzhou-7 project.

Ma Xingrui takes charge of the development of spaceship and rocket. Ma, 49, is an academician of International Space Academy and winner of various national scientific awards. He was the chief commander and designer of satellite ShiJian-5, the deputy general commander of the moon probe.

Jiang Mianheng and Sun Laiyan are the members of Shenzhou-6's commanding team.

By People's Daily Online

Two world records set by British rowers

Two world-best times were set by British athletes during the opening day of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games rowing event on Tuesday.

Amid heavy rain and strong gust, 2006 world champion Helene Raynsford and compatriot Tom Aggar, the reigning world champion, set the new world marks in winning their heats of the women's and men's single sculls, both advancing directly to Thursday's finals.

As if sensing the historical significance of the occasion, Raynsford achieved her time of 5 minutes 38.44 seconds in the very first race of the inaugural Paralympic Games rowing regatta, incredibly slashing almost 20 seconds off the old mark .

After a characteristically fast start she established a boatlength lead by the 300m mark over Luidmila Vauchok from Belarus. Maintaining a low but powerful stroke rate, she pushed her lead out to two lengths by the halfway point of the 1000m journey.

She was never really threatened and crossed the line comfortably ahead of Vauchok and the rest of the field to record a memorable two and a half length win.

"It was a bit of head-wind, but if I apply myself diligently, I expect to get those times," said Raynsford. "I am sure everyone will want gold as much as I do. I will give 110 per cent, but you can't take anything for granted."

The second heat saw Ukraine's Svitlana Kupriianova get the best of the start to lead the field through the 250m mark. However, it was shortly after that point that the 2007 U.S. national champion Laura Schwanger made what was to become a race-winning move.

Lifting her rating by two strokes per minute, she overtook the early pacesetter and established a boatlength lead by the 500m mark. With 350m to go her advantage had stretched to over two lengths over the Ukrainian and a fast-finishing Zhang Jinhong of China.

Reigning world champion and former world-best time holder Claudia Santos from Brazil had a disappointing row by her standards, finishing almost 13 seconds behind the winner.

In the first heat of the men's single sculls, Ukraine's Oleksandr Petrenko secured his berth in Thursday's finals with an all-the-way win over China's Tan Yeleng and Italy's Simone Miramonti.

He'll be joined by world champion Tom Aggar who blitzed the second heat field to post a 5:12.25 win over Eli Nawi from Israel, bettering his own previous world-best time of 5:13.13.

To a noisy home crowd in the Shunyi Rowing and Canoeing Park, the Chinese rowers made a solid start as two teams earned direct entry to the finals in the remaining two team events.

Zhou Yangjing and Shan Zilong finished first in the opening heat of the mixed double sculls, clocking 4:14.67.

"It was just like our normal training. But it's raining, it's very slippery. We had to use a lot of strength to hold oars and the wind is also very strong which affected our breath," said Zhou.

"I am very grateful for this good chance to compete in the Paralympics and we are very satisfied to get into the top six. We started this sport very late, so we don't have big expectations."

Shand and Zhou won by a boatlength and a half and will meet strong challenge from Heat 2 winners, the powerful Brazilian combination of Josiane Lima and Elton Santana in Thursday's final.

The Brazilians, winning at 4:18.45, were untroubled in taking their heat over Italian and British teams.

The first heat of the mixed coxed four produced the most exciting race of the day with Italy proving too good for the more fancied Britain crew.

The Italians were pushed all the way, before winning their coveted berth in finals by 2.22 seconds. The United States were third with 2.98 seconds behind Italy.

If Italy produced the excitement, China provided the style in Heat 2, the final race of the day.

The Li Ming-stroked combination rowed a technically perfect race to beat pre-regatta favorites Germany and Brazil.

All crews that did not advance directly to the finals will appear in Wednesday's repechages.

Source: Xinhua

Swimming Roundup: Big names, thriller victory lighten Water Cube

It doesn't matter how many world records tumble in the "Water Cube" Olympic Aquatic Center. The Paralympic moments belong to those who are fighting destiny and creating miracles.


Three days, three events, three gold medals.

Brazilian Daniel Dias has become one of the biggest names in the pool at the Beijing Paralympics.

After grabbing two golds in men's 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke S5, Dias picked up a third in his favorite 200m freestyle Tuesday evening.

The 20-year-old led throughout the race and touched home first with a brand new world record of 2 minutes 32.32 seconds, shaving a shocking 5.40 seconds off his old world mark.

"I'm very happy for one more good result and for breaking another world record. I feel very tired but it was worth it," he said.

"I didn't use all of my energy during the heats in the morning, so I had more energy for the final. There's been a lot of training, from Monday to Saturday, even on holidays. Now all these paid off," added the winner, who will have four events to go in the following days.


The closest race of the day came from the women's 100m freestyle S10 final. Poland's Katarzyna Pawlik, who updated the world record to 1:01.60 in her heat, swam the fastest first lap in the final but was surpassed by Ashley Owens with a strong spurt in the final 10 meters.

The in-form American touched the wall first, beating Pawlik by just 0.02 seconds and shaving a 0.03 of the Polish world mark.

"Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!" screamed the girl, who couldn't believe her eyes.

"I didn't know I'd got it. When I looked up, I was like 'Did I get it?'. Then I looked up and saw myself on the screen and knew I had won. Words can't describe it. I got myself a gold. My goal was to get a gold medal and I did it." said the American.


An emotional highlight of the day came from host swimmer Jiang Fuying. Without both arms, Jiang swooped down like a dolphin to take the women's 100m backstroke S6.

Jiang blew the roof off the Water Cube when she led the lanes most of the time but only to be overtaken 25 meters from the wall by a swimmer from the Netherlands. Jiang lost the gold, but touched a lot of hearts.

"It is a little disappointing. But I think I've done my best. I lack experience and had too much pressure to have a good rest. But I believe what others can do, I can do as well. I will keep fighting," said Jiang.

The Water Cube witnessed 12 world records tumble and produced 16 gold medals. But China's swimmers failed to see a top podium finish in their six events of the day.

After three days of competition, the United States led the swimming tally with nine golds, followed by Brazil with five and Spain four. Host China stood eighth with two.

The Beijing Paralympic swimming competition has attracted 560 athletes to its 81 men's and 59 women's events. The nine-day contest runs from September 7 to 15.

Source: Xinhua

From shadow to rainbow, South Korean shooter Kim Im-yeon finds hope in shooting

With her son's photo dangling on the right arm of her wheelchair, the shooter from South Korea was smiling all the time -- when she was running for International Paralympic Committee membership, competing on shooting ranges, and mounting the podium for silver medal after the women's 50-meter three positions on Tuesday.

However, when asked about her past experience, 41-year-old Kim Im-yeon chocked.

"I, I thought of committing suicide in the past," she bleated bitterly.


Holder of four world records in air rifle events, the five-time Paralympian became disabled at the age of four when she contracted polio.

Since then, she had been lying in bed all day, with a nanny bringing food to her.

But the memory of carefree days was transient.

When she reached the school age, Kim found the first conundrum she faced was to sit up.

"My parents fixed handles everywhere in the room," she said.

This method proved effective and some time later, she could sit like others.

Then here came the next problem: many normal schools closed their gates to her.

"People suggested that I attend schools especially for the disabled, but my parents refused." Kim said that to date, she was still grateful to her parents' such decision.

Fortunately, they managed to find one. Every day, her mom carried her on the back, trudging in the rain or under the scorching sun. Talking about this experience, the shooter had tears welling in her eyes.

Yet the devotion of her parents didn't bring an end to Kim's suffering.

"There were always kids surrounding and pointing at me, laughing at my disability," she recalled.

This hurt the girl a lot, hence she always shut herself in the bedroom after school and shed tears.

Her depression reached the climax in one day, when the autistic climbed to top of a building next to her school, one of her legs already strode over the guardrail.

"After several attempts to jump down, I found myself not brave enough," she said, "and if I did jump, my parents would be heartbroken."

The strong-willed girl thus made a decision: "I will work hard so that they would not look down upon me anymore!"

Soon she developed a hobby in painting, and some of her pictures won domestic prizes. Encouragement from teachers and acception of classmates gradually boosted her confidence.


Shooting entered her life when Kim was 12 years old and went to a shooting range by chance.

"I was fascinated by the sound of gunshot. It was so beautiful," she recalled.

In retrospect, Kim said, "I would do shooting even if I were born again."

Her first Paralympic tour was in 1992, when the debutant reaped two gold and one bronze.

To date, she had grabbed four Paralympic gold medals, but Kim noted that what the sport brought her was more than that.

"In shooting, you have a target, and you are always craving for better scores," she said, adding that it made her life focused.

During trips for competitions, Kim made lots of friends, with whom she could share her happiness and sorrow.

What's more, shooting brought her love as unexpected.

Four years ago in Athens, she failed to clinch any medal in her first discipline and seized the silver in the second. When the ambitious shooter was apparently depressed, a man came over to comfort her, whom she just knew three months ago as coach of the weightlifting team of South Korea and five years younger than her.

"He said he had been in love with me for quite some time and kissed me," the pretty lady with a ponytail flushed but with happiness written on her face.

One month later, the got married.

Last year, she had a child, whose photo she carried with her wherever she went and would show to others in pride. In the picture, the boy under a blue cap laughed.

Now Kim is a pursuing her doctorate in the Sports University of South Korea. She is the only disabled athlete who gained the chance.


Kim said she had two goals for the Beijing tour -- to dedicate her son a medal and to run for membership of the International Paralympic Committee.

On Tuesday, she had her first wish materialized.

In the qualification round of women's 50-meter sport rifle three position event, the Sydney champion and Athens runner-up chalked in just 571 points in the qualification to rank third.

Although she managed to collect the highest final round score of 100 points, her difference from the first-placing finalist, 8 points, was too huge to eliminate.

However, Kim said, "I'm satisfied."

Talking about her second wish, the lady traced it to 2006, when she had a chance to work at the Far East and South Pacific Games and saw poor service for athletes.

Then she thought, "Why not uniting to fight for our own rights?"

In Kim's view, Europe is developed in sports and holds the sway. But Asian countries need their representative as well.

She then contacted athletes from 43 Asian countries via e-mail.

During the Beijing Paralympics, whenever the crusader didn't have competitions, she would hang around in the athlete village, meeting people so as to get more votes.

"I am their voice, and I want to tell them that I will do my very best to represent them."

If possible, Kim said she also wanted to meet Chinese shooter Du Li, but reason for this was personal.

"She could always score 10.9 in the final, but I just have that score during training," she said admiringly, "I want to train with her, and learn how to conquer nervousness."

The shooter has a gift for everybody she met -- a pin with her own image. On the pin, a beaming cartoon girl reached out her right hand with thumb up, while her eyes were in the shape of a rainbow.

"I must cherish myself," she smiled, appearing much younger than her age, "there are always obstacles in life, but if you never stop trying, a more beautiful tomorrow will be awaiting."

Source: Xinhua

Yang Linshan listens to Paralympic judo live

It is the second time that Yang Linshan has ever been to a live game in his life.

Clapping the inflatable cheer sticks like a kid, the 47-year-old man was among the happiest of more than 6,000 spectators attending the Paralympic judo competitions at the Workers Gymnasium on Tuesday.

"These sticks are really good, do you know who invented it?" he asked. "It must be somebody who loves sports and goes to the stadium a lot.

"Finally there is a day that he found his hands were too tired and he got the idea of these sticks."

Although he can not see, Yang could easily find the heads of his friends sitting in front of him and slightly knocking on them with the sticks.

"I am so excited, so are my friends," the laid-off worker said. "I never knew I could have the chance to come here to the stadium for this exciting competition."

Yang had been to a table tennis match before, but that was almost two decades ago and he could hardly remember any details.

"I just remember that it was a domestic game and the Beijing club was involved, I don't know the score," he said. "But I love the live atmosphere, it's really different from listening to the radio or watching TV.

"I can even hear the players crashing on the Tatami and the coaches shouting at them, it is simply great."

Yang used to take a lot of sports activities when attending the blind school in Beijing, but after graduation he "retired" due to limit of time and lack of proper place.

"I liked running, rope skipping and parallel bars exercises when I was a student, and I even got injured when I took part in sports activities," Yang said, pointing to a seam above his eye.

"However, when I began to work, it's really hard to find some place to do sports."

Yang would love to be a judoka and take part in the Paralympic Games if he were young enough.

"I really love sports, I often feel that I have nowhere to use my strength and energy," he said. "Had I had the chance, I would love to do any Paralympic sports."

Yang was regretful that his son, an accountant student at the University of International Business and Economics who has perfect eyesight, did not inherit his sports talent completely.

"He used to play soccer in primary school, but now he had to spend most of his time in academic study," Yang said.

Yang, who also loves listening to novels and other literature works on the radio, wished his son could become a writer.

"I know it's really difficult, it's only my dream," he said. " Actually, for me, any job would be great, because there are so many jobs that I want to do but can not do."

Yang, who lost sights when he was three or four years old after suffering from measles, was content after hearing compatriot Yuan Yanping claim the title in the women's +70 kg judo competition and cheering for her.

"I am so happy today, even though I can not see," Yang said. "I have tried hard to find the difference from red and green in my memory as a kid, but it's just become vaguer and vaguer.

"Anyway, I love sports. And I love sports more after this precious experience," Yang told Xinhua. "Please write about everything in your story so that the commentators can tell us about everything on the radio, because the people like me are eager to know everything happening in the stadium."

Source: Xinhua

"Blade Runner" leaves field behind in 100m

One gold medal down in the Beijing Paralympics and two to go for sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

Despite a slow start on a wet track, the South African won the most difficult of his three races, clocking 11.17 on Tuesday to take gold at 100 meters. American Jerome Singleton was just behind with 11.20, and Brian Frasure of the United States got bronze with 11.50.

"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius from South Africa crosses the finish line ahead of Jerome Singleton of the United States during the final of men's 100m T44 of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, China, Sept. 9, 2008. Pistorius claimed the title of the event with a time of 11.17 seconds.
Pistorius will be a strong favorite to win the 200m and 400m.

The double amputee, known as the "Blade Runner" because of the prosthetic legs he races on, won a legal battle in May for the right to run in the Olympics. However, he subsequently failed to meet the qualifying time standard.

"I had a tough start and a slow first 30 meters," Pistorius said of the 100m. "I really just pulled out all the stops."

Pistorius still has his sights set on qualifying for the Olympics.

"I'm looking forward to London 2012," he said.

Pistorius' medal event was one of 20 on the track Tuesday in the third day of competition.

Swimming offered 16 with 7 in cycling and two dozen more in shooting, judo, equestrian, and powerlifting.

American Erin Popovich won her third gold medal in the pool, taking the 100m breaststroke for her disability class. She has also won gold in the 200m IM and the 100m freestyle.

Popovich won seven gold medals in Athens. She will go for only six this time as her other gold in 2004 came in a relay, which has been cut from the program.

Through three days, China leads with 16 gold and 53 overall. Britain is No. 2 with 14 gold and 32 overall. The United States is No. 3 with 10 gold and 26 overall.

More than 4,000 competitors from nearly 150 countries and regions are battling for 472 gold medals in 20 sports at the eye-catching venues used for the Olympics such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube.

The sports at the Paralympics, which end on Sept. 17, include athletics, swimming, powerlifting, wheelchair fencing and five-a-side and seven-a-side football, as well as the lesser-known goalball and boccia.

Source: Shanghai Daily/Agencies

Paralympic encyclopedia Kosmala expects to continue her glory

Taking a glimpse at the screen that showed her score, the 66-year-old Australian shooter on wheelchair turned around, poker-faced.

Her coach hurried to walk over and help Libby Kosmala take off her green leather shooting suit -- she had been exhausted by the 135-minute qualification round of women's 50-meter sport rifle three positions event.

"I didn't do quite well today," the elderly lady appeared dejected.

Oldest shooter to the Beijing Paralympics, she was ranked ninth in the qualification with 556 points, a near miss from the final.

However, the fact that Kosmala could appear in her tenth Paralymic itself was already a milestone. 


Born with disability in Adelaide of south Australia in 1942, the lady saw her life changed at the age of 20.

"I was visiting someone in a hospital, while another man said to me, 'why not try sports'," she recalled.

The man told her that there were lots of disabled people like her played together each Saturday.

"I thought, well, maybe I could meet some boy," Kosmala said jokingly.

It was quite an interesting experience for the lady.

At first she tried javelin, but was hit later. "That's too dangerous," she soon gave up.

Then she tried discus, but hit someone else on the head.

"I will never do that anymore," she cried, before a boy, who she later found out to be living near her home, said, "if you don't come next Saturday, I will pick you up from home."

However, it turned out that she didn't need him to pick her up. She started doing sports ever since.

Four years later, the lady went to a domestic competition representing her state, and clinched medals in every sport she competed: swimming, archery, wheelchair racing and fencing.

Kosmala's getting involved in shooting was quite by chance.

"When I was practicing archery one day, a boy came over and said 'come with me, let's do shooting'," she recalled.

Her reply was "no".

But when she picked up a rifle and fired in the shooting range, she easily scored a 10 point.

The excited newcomer aimed for a while and fired again. Another 10.

"People said I was born to be a shooter, and hence I started," she said.

Then the story was simple: "if you keep winning, you will enjoy."


The versatile Aussie cut a figure in the Paralympic arena in 1972, when she was ranked fifth in backstroke and fourth in pentathlon. A ten-time Paralympian, the granny who was called encyclopedia by some wrapped nine shooting gold, but the one in 1976 she cherished most.

"It was the first time I went to Paralympics with my husband," she said.

Kosmala had always wished to find a husband who was disabled as well. Her encounter with her husband Stan was just like the plot of a fiction.

"I met him in a wheelchair racing competition," she grinned, "I looked at the way he moved and said to myself 'this is the man I am going to marry'."

In 1976, they went to Toranto as engaged couple. After the event, they got married in December.

Kosmala rated the 1988 Seoul Paralympics as a highlight because Stan won a gold medal in lawn bowls and she took four gold medals in shooting.

However, for as long as 20 years, Stan didn't practice shooting. "We have two children and family is not a good place for shooting," said the wife.

Her husband only started shooting in 1997 under her suggestion.

Talking about her two sons, Kosmala, like all the doting mothers, appeared quite proud.

"My Luke is 30 and Jame is 26," she said.

James was an ambulance officer with a girl friend, while Luke, who still lived with them was a landscape designer.

"He designs for helping the disabled," said mother, admitting that disability of she and her husband did affect much in their children's growth.

But unlike their parents, the children didn't compete in sport events, although they like to play golf and tennis.

"They are not keen in getting to the top," the granny smiled.

Apart from shooting, the active Kosmala worked for public relations in a charity namely Spina Bifida, which was aimed to help people injured at birth.

"I know how it was like and I hope that they could live a better life," she said.


Kosmala said she came to the Beijing Paralympics to enjoy the competition, but this didn't mean that medals were not important.

"Competition is to get medals," she said, "medals are a bonus. If you can get one, you are lucky."

On Sunday, the veteran shooter got a good chance to win, as she was ranked second among all finalists. But the quick shooter blow away the chance by having her scores fluctuating, which which eventually dragged her to the fourth place.

After the competition, she had regret written on her wrinkled face. "It was so close, so close..." she nagged, shaking her head.

Kosmala admitted that she was "a little bit tired", as could be seen from the qualification, in which she managed to chalk up 97, 100 and 99 points in the first three ten-shot series. But in the last series, she just achieved a moderate 94.

Recognizing that it was the first final that she did at the Paralympics in more than two decades, however, she noted that result was not bad.

In her coach's eyes, Kosmala is a diligent shooter. "It has been fantastic shooting at her age and she is still improving in the last two years," said Miro Sipek.

Sipek, or in fact all her teammates know that the granny would shoot for as long as she could, thus going to the London Paralympics four years later is something quite possible, although before that, she still has two competition this week.

Source: Xinhua

Roundup: 15 Chinese table tennis players win semifinal berths at Beijing Paralympics

The table tennis tournament at the Beijing Paralympics finished group stages and quarterfinal matches in Beijing on Tuesday. 15 Chinese competitors secured their semifinal berths in 10 different classes.

Both men and women players in the Paralympic table tennis game are divided into 10 classes depending on their disabilities. The smaller the number is, the more severe their disabilities are. Classes 6 to 10 are for standing competitors while classes 1 to 5 are for players seated on wheelchairs.

In women's competition, 2-time Paralympics class 5 gold medalist Ren Guixiang and the Athens Paralympics team event gold winner Gu Gai defeated their last group opponents with clean 3-0s, and reached the semifinal with unbeaten records.

Zhou Ying, Li Qian and Liu Jing for women's class 4, class 3 and class 1-2, each won a semifinal position for China after Tuesday's competitions.

In men's 9-10 class, Chinese Ma Lin and Ge Yang both went into the semifinals after defeating their quarterfinal opponents Esa Miettinen from Finland and 2-time Paralympic champions Bourdonnaye by 3-0s, respectively.

In the same class, Athens Paralympics silver medalist Swedish Fredrik Andersson upset the then-gold-medalist Fraczyk Stanislaw in the 1/8 final and roared into the semifinal after taking over Spanish Jose Manuel Ruiz in a tight competition.

Chinese Li Manzhou from men's class 8 will compete with his teammate Chen Gang on Wednesday in the semifinals, while Ye Chaoqun will take on Mitchell Seidenfeld from the United States in men's class 7.

Feng Panfeng from class 3 and Zhang Yan from class 4-5 are the only two Chinese survivors in men's sitting competitions. Both edged their opponents, South Korean Kim Young-Gun and Tommy Urhaug from Norway respectively, by 3-2.

German competitor Rainer Schmidt from men's class 6 continued his good luck on Tuesday. He edged British Dave Wetherill with only a tiny advantage.

"I never beat Rosenmeier by 3-0. This is the first time," Schmidt said after the match. "The only chance for me to get into the final round is to beat him 3-0, and I was 7-3 down in the third set. I told myself I have to do it."

After four matches in his group, Schmidt and Wetherill got both the same points as well as set differences. But according to the rule, when set differences were the same, the competitors' positions should be judged by the divided number of their sets against and sets for.

Schmidt won 7 sets and lost 3, while Wetherill won 8 but lost 4. Schmidt thus edged Wetherill in the group and will take on Peter Rosenmeier from Danmark on Wednesday in the semifinals.

Women's individual competitions will see five gold medals on Thursday, including the class 10, while the gold medals for women's class 9, 8 and 6-7 as well as men's games will be decided on Friday.

The team event will begin on Saturday.

Source: Xinhua

Paralympians ignite enthusiasm, win respect

Paralympics' brilliant performance has ignited great enthusiasm for the Games as well as earned great respect for the athletes among the audience.

In the Laoshan Velodrome filled to capacity and vibrant with thundering cheers, Liu Si, a Beijing resident, said his company had invited more than 40 employees to watch the cycling competition on Monday afternoon.

"I think the willpower of the disabled people is very strong, some even stronger than us the able-bodied," said Liu.

"Their striving side is fully demonstrated and I can see the Olympic spirit in them," he added.

Monila Broe, a spectator from Germany, said she shared the same feeling about the paralympic athletes.

"The paralympians have done a very good job and won great respect from us all," said Broe.

Among the cheering spectators were more than 100 students in school uniforms who made Mexican waves during the breaks of the competition.

Wang Jingjing, one of their teachers, said her school had made special arrangements for the students to watch the sporting events.

"I think the opportunity is precious. We want to use this opportunity to have the students feel the atmosphere and learn from the willpower of the Paralympians," said Wang.

"I felt deeply touched by the spirit of the athletes, so did the students I believe," she added.

Source: Xinhua

President congratulates Algerian Paralympic gold medalists

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Tuesday congratulated two Algerian judokas for winning gold medals at the ongoing Beijing Paralympics.

"I'm so proud of you after learning you've got the gold medals," the Algerian news agency quoted the president as saying.

Mouloud Noura captured the gold of men's -60kg class after overcoming Iranian Saeed Rahmati on Sunday, while Sidali Lamri beat three-time Paralympic champion Satoshi Fujimoto from Japan to win the gold in the men's -66kg division in overtime.

Meanwhile, Algeria's Nadia Medjemedj Tuesday won a bronze medal at women's shot put F57/58 at the Chinese National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest.

Source: Xinhua

China wraps up judo event with 4 golds

China's Yuan Yanping won the country's fourth judo gold at the women's +70 kg with three straight ippons on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Yuan, an English major graduate from the Beijing International Studies Univerty, proved her all-around ability with her first Paralympic gold after outgunning Brazilian Deanne Silva within 70 seconds.

Yuan's victory, together with a silver from the men's +100 kg event by Wang Song, lift China to the top of the judo medal tally with four golds, two silvers and one bronze. Algeria was ranked the second with two golds and one bronze and Brazil in third with one gold, two silvers and two bronzes.

Yuan, a hot favorite after winning the title at the last two World Championships in 2006 and 2007, finally had her "extremely tough" training over the past nine months paid off.

The woman from the coastal city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province is pretty homesick as she has not see her families for 11 months.

"The training is so hard that my tears could make a river except that my coach didn't know it," said Yuan. "There is no other way to success except hard practice. I have discovered my potentials following the strict requirements of my coach. Surely, I have a lot of gratitude for my coach, but I would also like to thank myself for being hard-working."

Though having clear plan for her future career, Yuan said she would like to continue working in sports.

"I want to do some contribution to the sports for the disabled people in China," she said.

Another star in the last day judo competition is Brazil's veteran player Antonio Tenorio Silva, who set a new record at Paralympic judo event in terms of gold number by winning his fourth championship in men's -100kg division.

Azerbaijan's Karim Sardarov took the silver, while Cuban Juan Carlos Cortada and Mykola Lyivytskyi from Ukraine shared the bronze medals.

The 37-year-old Brazilian made the history in a perfect way with four ippons in row. His previous three golds were won in the -100kgclass in Athens, in the -90kg class in Sydney and in the -86kg division in Atlanta.

"This medal is not only for me but for my country and all the Brazillians, especially for the 50 million disabled Brazillians," he said. "I've got four gold medals in the Paralympics. Each of them has a story. This one is like this -- some people think I'm 37years old and it's too old to win, but I've won again."

The Azerbaijan judokas appeared to be facing a night of frustration after first Tofig Mammadov in the -90kg class and then Karim Sardarov in the -100kg division lost their gold medal matches. But happiness came in the end as defending champion Ilham Zakiyev triumphed in the men's +100kg division for the country's first judo gold at the Beijing Games

Zakiyev overcame the host player Wang Song by osaekomi ippon within 20 seconds. French Julien Taurines and American Greg Dewall took the bronze.

"I felt so happy to win the medal. I'd like to dedicate the gold to my country and my family. Many thanks to Azerbaijan president. He loves sports," said Zakiyev.

In another two finals of the day, Oleg Kretsul won Russia's first judo gold in Beijing at the Men's -90kg event. He defeated Tofig Mammadov from Azerbaijan on points, scoring late with a waza-ari. Bronzes went to French Olivier Cugnon de Sevricourt and Britain's Samuel Ingram.

Reigning champion Maria del Carmen Herrera from Spain defended the title after upsetting Mexican Lenia Ruvalcaba in women's under 70 kg class. Russian Tatiana Savostyanova and Sanneke Vermeulen from Netherlands captured the bronzes.

Source: Xinhua

Indonesian President awards athletes commemorating sports day

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presented awards to 45 athletes as a token of the government's gratitude and appreciation for "their deeds in developing national sports" in a ceremony.

"I honor and appreciate all regional leaders and private and state-owned bodies for their deeds and support in developing national sports, especially to all Olympians for their great medal achievement at the recent Beijing Olympics," the Jakarta Post daily on Wednesday quoted President Yudhoyono as saying.

The award ceremony was held as part of Indonesian national sports day which falls on Sept. 9.

Receiving awards were 14 athletes, including Olympic gold medalists Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan; five coaches, including coach Sigit Pamungkas; six referees; two sports teachers; eight sports patrons, including Indonesian coordinating minister for people's welfare Aburizal Bakrie; and 10 institutions of private television, sports tabloid, bank.

The government also gave scholarship to five sporting champions, including young chess player Anastasia, a pension donation to former archery coach the late Donald Pandiangan and a house worth 100 million rupiahs to former judo star Raymond Rochili.

Source: Xinhua

French officials hail organization of Beijing Paralympics

Two French secretaries of state Tuesday hailed the successful organization of the Beijing Paralympics and the city's heavy investment on facilities for the disabled people.

Bernard Laporte, secretary of state for Health, Youth and Sports, and Valerie Letard, secretary of state for Labor, Labor Relations and Solidarity, who are in Beijing for the Paralympics, said the opening ceremony was "very moving."

People with physical disabilities should be considered during infrastructure planning, they said in a statement of the Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports.

Laporte and Letard expressed their respect for the 4,000 Paralympics athletes, saying they are examples of self-surpass. They also congratulated French medalists at the Games.

A total of 121 French athletes are now in Beijing for competition in 13 events.

Source: Xinhua

Singaporean, Dutch media laud Beijing Paralympics

The art performance during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics was amazing and the special care that the hosting country provided to the disabled athletes was more impressive, Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao said in an editorial Wednesday.

Following the success of the summer Olympics, China once again promoted the hosting standard of the Paralympics to a new high, said the editorial.

Compared with the Olympics, authorities of the host country paid the same amount of attention to the Paralympics, and in some aspects, the preparations and arrangements were even more careful, considerate and human.

The paper believes that China was using the Paralympics as a showcase window to convey the Chinese government's and society's respect and attention for the disabled people.

It cannot be underestimated that these qualities have influences on the reality of Chinese society in view of China's large disabled population, the editorial added.

The Netherlands national news agency, or ANP, said the opening ceremony of the Paralympics delivered a message that every single life is meaningful and valuable.

"On the opening show I couldn't keep quivering for several times not only because I was nervous to be the flag holder of the Dutch delegation but also because of the grand scene," the news agency Monday quoted Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer as saying.

Metro, a Dutch paper, said Monday that many details like restaurant menus for blind people and lifts for people in wheelchairs in the subway all warm the hearts of the disabled athletes.

Source: Xinhua

Brazilian boccia champions Pinto celebrates birthday at Paralympics

Paralympic champion Dirceu Pinto of Brazil celebrated his 28th birthday at the Beijing Paralympics after he had a good taste of gold medal in boccia individual BC4 competition one day before.

Pinto was moved to tears after he finished the a match in Mixed Pairs BC4 category, when about 1000 spectators in the venue Fencing Hall, sang "happy birthday" for him.

"I didn't even realize it was my birthday because of the time change between here and Brazil. Thank you, Beijing," Pinto said.

On behalf of all the working staff and volunteers in the FencingHall, the venue manager Song Liandi gave Pinto a bunch of roses and a Beijing Paralympic mascot as birthday gifts.

"We had planned to give him a birthday cake but it is not convenient to bring it on the court, because there are still several matches left today," Song told Xinhua.

"We hope he can have some cakes in the Paralympic Village."

Pinto beat Leung Yuk-wing of Chinese Hong Kong 3-1 on Tuesday in the final of BC4 category and he thought winning the gold was the start of his birthday celebration.

"The gold medal is the best birthday gift I've ever had," he said.

"My coaches, family, and friends all have a piece of this medal. Not just the ones here, but everyone back in Brazil as well."

Source: Xinhua