Some of China’s largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry is hitting business in its top export market.
The moves by Sun Art Retail Group (6808.HK), China’s biggest hypermarket chain, and the Chinese arms of global retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Metro AG (MEOG.DE) come days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian meat imports.
Safety fears over Brazilian meat have grown since police accused inspectors in the world’s biggest exporter of beef and poultry of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
A spokeswoman for Sun Art Retail, which operates 400 Chinese hypermarkets, said on Wednesday the chain had removed beef supplied by top Brazilian exporters BRF SA (BRFS3.SA) and JBS SA (JBSS3.SA) from its shelves from Monday. Brazilian beef accounts for less than 10 percent of Sun Art’s beef supply, she said.
Wal-Mart has also removed Brazilian meat products from its stores, said a person familiar with the matter. He declined to be quoted because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Germany’s Metro has withdrawn Brazilian chicken legs and wings from its Chinese stores, said a manager, who declined to be named as he was not allowed to speak to media. The retailer, with 84 stores in China, does not sell Brazilian beef.
While Brazilian officials sought late on Tuesday to reassure consumers that the investigation had revealed only isolated incidents of sanitary problems, the reaction by Chinese retailers suggests that the probe could have far-reaching repercussions for the world’s top meat exporter.
Hong Kong, the second-biggest buyer of Brazilian meat last year, has also issued a ban on imports, following similar steps by Japan, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
A stampede at a primary school in central China has left two children dead and 20 injured, state media said.Xinhua news agency said students were crowded into a toilet during the morning break in Puyang when others began pushing their way in.
Another report in a Chinese newspaper claimed the toilet’s wall collapsed from the pressure of the crush.All the injured have been taken to hospital, where some are reported to be in a serious condition.
Puyang county’s government told the Associated Press the incident was under investigation, but declined to provide further details.
It happened at the Number Three Experimental Primary School in Puyang county in Henan province on Wednesday morning.
Similar deadly incidents have happened before.Six children died and 25 were injured in a stampede on a school staircase in South West China in 2014.
MUCH grumbling accompanied the start on March 4th of this year’s season of the Chinese Super League (CSL), the uppermost tier of professional football in China. Managers of its 16 clubs have been gnashing their teeth at a change of rules which was suddenly announced just a few weeks before the first matches. Teams are now allowed to field a maximum of three foreigners.The clubs would have preferred more notice. Many of them have only just acquired even more foreign players. All now have at least four, the previous maximum per side in any CSL game. (One of them, a Brazilian called Oscar, is pictured in a CSL match—he was transferred to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea, an English club, for £60m, or about $75m, in December.)
Last year China spent more than $450m on footballers, the fifth-largest such outlay by any country.
But all this money has not improved the dismal state of Chinese football. The men’s national team ranks 82nd in the world. In October an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to war-torn Syria triggered protests by hundreds of fans in the city of Xi’an where the match was played. Local media say the Chinese Football Association announced its new rules on orders “from above”. They impose a levy on big transfers and demand that one-sixth of clubs’ spending must be on youth training.
Officials have also been trying to curb the buying of stakes in foreign clubs—Chinese investors shelled out about $2bn on them last year. The government says this is part of an economy-wide clampdown on currency outflows. But it also wants to make the point that foreign talent won’t necessarily help China’s. The government has recently scuppered several investment deals. A Chinese consortium bought AC Milan, an Italian club, for $825m in August, but has been unable to move money out of China to complete the purchase.
Rather than simply moaning about the new rules, clubs have been devising ways of dodging them. Teams must now field at least one Chinese player under 23 each week. Some coaches simply replace them early in the game with older hands.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi is the first senior Chinese official to meet Mr Trump since his inauguration.
Mr Yang also discussed security matters with the new US national security adviser, HR McMaster, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
It follows tensions over trade and security between the two countries.
On 9 February Mr Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by telephone.
In that call he agreed to honour the “One China” policy, backing away from previous threats to recognise the government of Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province.In December Mr Trump, as president-elect, had spoken on the phone to the president of Taiwan – a break in protocol which angered Beijing.
In his visit on Monday, Mr Yang also met Vice-President Mike Pence and strategist Steve Bannon, Chinese state media reported.White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Mr Yang then “had an opportunity to say hi to the president”.
The talks with the Chinese delegation covered “shared interests of national security”, Mr Spicer said.
In January, China’s foreign ministry warned Washington against challenging Beijing’s sovereignty in parts of the South China Sea.
It came after Mr Spicer said the US would “make sure we protect our interests there”.
Barack Obama’s administration refused to take sides in the dispute.
China expressed concerns on Tuesday over what it said was increasing protectionism after European Union regulators imposed new duties on steel imports from the world’s biggest producer.
The European Commission is seeking to protect EU steelmakers while avoiding tensions with Beijing, which it sees as a possible ally against protectionism and climate change.It imposed definitive anti-dumping duties of between 65.1 percent and 73.7 percent on imports of heavy plate non-alloy or other alloy steel from China on Tuesday, confirming provisional tariffs set in October.
This prompted a statement from China’s Commerce Ministry calling on Europe to treat Chinese companies “fairly and impartially”, adding it was ready to strengthen communication with the EU to tackle issues in the industry.
The companies named in the Commission’s ruling included Nanjing Iron & Steel Co Ltd, Minmetals Yingkou Medium Plate Co Ltd, Wuyang Iron and Steel Co Ltd [WYIAS.UL] and Wuyang New Heavy & Wide Steel Plate Co Ltd.
The EU executive said it acted after an investigation found Chinese companies to be heavily dumping their products on the EU market by selling them at well below half of the price on the producers’ home market.
“The Commission has responded forcefully and quickly to unfair competition, while at the same time ensuring that the rights of all interested parties have been protected,” the Commission said in a statement.
Eurofer, which represents the European steel sector, said the Commission had found clear evidence of dumping.”Tens of thousands of steel jobs have been lost in Europe over the past few years, and dumping, particularly demonstrably from China, has been one of the causes,” it said in a statement.
The EU has strengthened its policy against what it considers unfair competition for its steel industry, and said its new approach had allowed it to decide on trade sanctions more quickly than in the past.
It said on Tuesday it has 41 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place, 18 of which are on products from China.Also on Tuesday, Europe’s second highest court backed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties imposed by the EU nearly four years ago on imports of Chinese solar panels.
BEIJING–Asia needs at least $1.5 trillion of roads, bridges and other infrastructure annually between now and 2030 to maintain its growth momentum, a doubling of earlier projections, according to the Asian Development Bank.
In a report released Tuesday, the Manila-based development bank said the tab would run even higher if climate change is factored in: Upgrading power plants, transport systems and other facilities would boost regional investment by another $241 billion annually among some 45 Asia and Pacific countries.
Infrastructure has gained favor as a way to boost flagging growth following the 2009 global financial crisis. U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to spend $1 trillion over a 10-year period rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges. China spent 15.2 trillion yuan [$2.2 trillion] in infrastructure fixed-asset investment in 2016 alone. The world’s second-biggest economy is promoting its infrastructure-led growth model, creating the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which touts itself as a more efficient alternative to the likes of the World Bank and ADB.
Countries that fail to invest in infrastructure may see economic growth pinched by bottlenecks and lackluster job-creation. The ADB’s current projections represent a doubling of the $750 billion in annual infrastructure requirements the bank forecast in 2009 for the 2010-2020 period. The Asia-Pacific region currently invests around $880 billion annually in infrastructure, according to ADB.Governments currently pay around 92% of the cost of infrastructure in the region, the bank estimates in its report. Boosting spending levels, it said, is going to require tax, regulatory and institutional changes to draw in the private sector.
“Governments can get more bang out of their infrastructure investment,” said ADB economist Rana Hasan. Mr. Hasan acknowledged that the Asian region is unlikely to spend the full $1.7 trillion annually, but said the ADB hopes its recommendations can bring governments closer to those levels. “They need to make it more attractive for the private sector,” he said.
Of the estimated $26 trillion in projects required between 2016 and 2030 to bolster economic output, alleviate poverty and respond to climate change, $14.7 trillion is needed for the power sector, $8.4 trillion for transport, $2.3 trillion for telecommunications and $800 billion for water and sanitation projects, the report said.While acknowledging the need for better and more infrastructure, some economists caution that corruption and politics can significantly undercut the economic benefits of big building initiatives.
“Most developing countries could use more infrastructure. But the problem is not a lack of demand. It’s a lack of credibility,” said Guanghua School of Management professor Michael Pettis. “If your debt gets too high, you start running into debt-servicing problems, defaults and other problems.”China has relied on infrastructure investment as a form of economic stimulus since the global financial crisis in 2009. Since then, local government debt, much of it to fund infrastructure, has risen by two-thirds, according to Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. That debt stood at more than 41% of economic output in 2015, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.Beijing has also struggled to attract private investors. Though it has strongly promoted public-private partnerships, some have stumbled during implementation, many due to mismatched expectations of private companies and the state sector.
More favorable reviews have been given to China’s ambitious plans to modernize the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Known as “One Belt, One Road,” the program envisions a network of ports, bridges, rail lines, industrial parks and telecommunication links linking China to the rest of Asia, Europe and points beyond.
The large sums have caught the attention of foreign engineering and equipment companies such as Caterpillar, ABB Group and Vermeer Corp., which are hoping for a slice of future projects.
FEW television dramas boast a plot as far-fetched as the one that has unfolded in North-East Asian geopolitics over the past two weeks. Days after North Korea tested a ballistic missile on February 12th, two women assassinated the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, by throwing chemicals in his face at a Malaysian airport. The alleged killers said they were duped into taking part, believing the attack was a prank for a TV comedy. Malaysian police suspect that a North Korean diplomat in Malaysia may have been among the organisers, several of whom are thought to have fled to Pyongyang.
Amid such skulduggery, China’s announcement on February 18th that it would suspend imports of coal from North Korea, from the next day to the end of this year, seemed a little mundane. But China’s state-controlled media played up the decision. Global Times, a newspaper in Beijing, said the move would make it harder for North Korea to exploit international differences over the imposition of UN sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear programme. China appeared to be signalling to the world that it was ratcheting up pressure on its troublesome friend, as the Americans have long insisted it should.
Or it may just be posturing. On February 21st China’s foreign ministry softened the message somewhat. It said imports were being suspended because China had already bought as much coal from North Korea this year as it was allowed to under the UN’s sanctions, to which China gave its approval last March. But North Korea-watchers doubt that China could have imported its yearly quota of 7.5m tonnes in a mere six weeks. It had not appeared likely to reach its annual limit until April or May. And exceeding that cap had not been expected to matter much to China. In 2016 it imported about three times the permitted amount, using a loophole that allows trade if it helps the “livelihood” of ordinary North Koreans.
Advancing the date of the suspension, if that is what happened, would certainly have sent a strong message to North Korea, which depends on coal exports for much of its foreign currency. Announcing the move so publicly, and unexpectedly, will have shown to North Korea that China is ready to take the initiative instead of waiting to be prodded by America, as it usually does when North Korea offends.
The test of an intermediate-range missile will have rattled China. It suggested that North Korea has learned how to fire such weapons at short notice, from hard-to-detect mobile launchers. The murder of Kim Jong Nam may have been an even bigger blow. Mr Kim had been living on Chinese soil in the gambling enclave of Macau, probably under Chinese government protection. Some Chinese officials may have hoped that Mr Kim, who favours economic opening, would one day replace his half-brother. With his death “you lose one option”, says Jia Qingguo of Peking University. It has reminded China that North Korea’s dictator is doggedly determined to rule in his own way, regardless of China’s or anyone else’s views.
Growing frustration with North Korea is evident in China’s more relaxed attitude towards criticism of its neighbour. In 2013 an editor of a Communist Party-controlled publication was fired for arguing in an article that “China should abandon North Korea.” These days, academics often air that idea. Debate about North Korea now rages openly online, largely uncensored (except when people use it as a way of attacking their own regime, jokingly referred to as “West Korea”). The murder of Kim Jong Nam unleashed a torrent of ridicule towards his country by Chinese netizens. China still sees North Korea as a useful buffer against America’s army deployed in the South. But it increasingly regards the North as a liability as well, says Mr Jia.In America’s court?
China would clearly like its tough-sounding approach to encourage President Donald Trump to rethink his country’s strategy for dealing with North Korea. America has been reluctant to enter direct talks because the North has blatantly cheated on past deals—knowing that China would continue to prop it up. With China more clearly on America’s side, the Americans would have greater confidence, Chinese officials hope. Mr Trump has previously said he would be happy to have a hamburger with Mr Kim and try to persuade him to give up his nukes. The trouble is, Mr Kim sees those weapons as the one thing that guarantees the survival of his odious regime.
It’s been a month and adjusting to Donald Trump as US president has been an enormous challenge for China, as for many around the world.
He arrived in office full of provocative and unpredictable messaging on China, but Beijing needs American goodwill, markets and technology to build what it calls its “comprehensive strength”.
That a functioning relationship with the United States is a core strategic interest for China may seem obvious, but it bears repeating.
For the time being at least Mr Trump seems to have stopped insulting and threatening China and key players in his administration are now making nice on the telephone.
So what were China’s tactics and how did it make them work?
1. Cultivate family, cultivate friends
Beijing quickly understood that President Trump would not run an administration like that of his predecessors.
Mr Trump is an elephant in a China shop for the makers of this float in Germany
It noted the importance of family.
Before Mr Trump himself or senior members of his administration talked to key players in China, and while China’s internet was full of mutterings about why Mr Trump had delivered no goodwill message over Chinese New Year, Beijing’s man in Washington, Ambassador Cui Tiankai, deftly reached out to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
She bridged the official divide with a well-publicised appearance at a Chinese New Year function at Beijing’s embassy in Washington.
Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner also has lines of communication to Beijing through his Chinese business partners.
And President Trump’s other daughter Tiffany made a point of sitting in the front row of the New York Fashion Week show of Chinese designer Taoray Wang.
Ms Wang and Tiffany Trump have praised each another
To bolster this network of unofficial connections, China’s best known private entrepreneur Jack Ma, met Mr Trump and promised to create a million American jobs through selling US products on his Alibaba e-commerce platforms.
Even private companies in China have Communist Party cells and are required to do Beijing’s bidding when it comes to matters of strategic national interest.
Jack Ma was on mission and on message. As were the 100 firms which sponsored a Chinese New Year greeting message to Mr Trump on a Times Square billboard in New York.
2. Bring gifts
Mr Trump’s controversial business empire has multiple trademark cases languishing in Chinese courts.
Beijing makes no bones about the fact that its courts are answerable to the Communist Party.
It was an easy act of goodwill to speed through a trademark registration for construction services that Mr Trump had sought for a decade, especially as the move was consistent with a wider move against businesses which jump on the names of public figures as trademarks.
After years of wrangling, Chinese courts awarded Mr Trump valuable commercial rights to his name
In the Trump case, the necessary moves were made quickly and without fanfare last autumn, and the case closed with a victory for Mr Trump last week.
3. Speak softly until you need to speak loud
China is often quick to thunder against hostile foreign forces and accuse foreign governments of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.Donald Trump offered provocations which would bring down retribution on a lesser foe.
Throughout his presidential campaign he insulted and threatened China, calling it a thief and a rapist on trade and challenging its dearest held positions on Taiwan. Officials also warned of a tougher approach in the South China Sea.
But throughout, Beijing has shown iron self-discipline and restraint.
China claims almost all the South China Sea, a position the US rejects
China’s official news agency Xinhua noted of Mr Trump: “He will soon realise that leaders of the two countries must use more mature and effective ways to communicate than trading barbs via Twitter.”
Since Mr Trump’s election in November, China’s media has been on a tight leash, ordered to use Xinhua’s bland wording in its coverage of the US.
4. Don’t speak until the script is agreed
Unlike other world leaders, President Xi was conspicuously slow to pick up the phone.
Observing the fallout of President Trump’s calls with Mexican and Australian leaders, Beijing was determined to avoid the risk of an undiplomatic incident.
By hanging back till the administration’s “grown ups” like Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were in the room (figuratively and in some cases literally) China ensured it got the script it wanted.
The two leaders did not speak until long after many other leaders had called Mr TrumpWhen the phone call between President Trump and President Xi finally took place, Beijing won a new US commitment to the cherished One China policy and a dignified encounter.
President Xi emerged with his reputation as a firm and patient actor enhanced. President Trump had talked of staking out a new position on Taiwan – but stepped back.
5. Sweet talk where it pays
Since that call, the lines between Beijing and Washington DC have been humming.
Newly confirmed US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has talked to several key Chinese players on economic policy. Mr Tillerson has met his opposite number, Wang Yi, and senior diplomat Yang Jiechi.
Beijing has begun to talk of implementing “the consensus reached between President Xi and President Trump” – a relationship featuring “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation”.
6. Give what you can
In practical terms, China knows that win-win will mean delivering concessions and co-operation wherever it can. And it has already shown willing in one area of US concern, with the suspension of coal imports from North Korea.
Of course, Beijing said this decision was a technicality based on quotas.
But given the provocation of Pyongyang’s latest missile test and growing American concern over the advances of North Korea’s nuclear programme, this is much more likely to have resulted from a careful Chinese calculation of what carrots it could flourish in the direction of Donald Trump and what sticks it could brandish at Kim Jong-un.
7. Turn your opponent’s weakness into your strength
On the global stage, President Xi has usefully presented himself as not Donald Trump.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, he famously championed globalisation and free trade.
Of course, China is not a paragon of free trade, with a highly protected domestic market. But in a world of “alternative facts”, the rhetoric is powerful.
On the regional stage, China is promoting itself as a leader on multilateral trade, assiduously taking advantage of the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which was intended to underpin American economic leadership in Asia Pacific.
And on the Chinese political stage, Mr Trump is indirectly doing Mr Xi’s work for him.
The Communist Party sometimes struggles to defend one-party authoritarian rule against the glamour and appeal of a free, open and democratic America. But the scenes of American street protest and visa chaos from President Trump’s first month in office are a propaganda gift.
An American president joining China’s state-controlled media in railing against what he calls fake, failing, dishonest US journalists is a second propaganda gift. Beijing has made extensive use of both for its political purposes at home.
Tactics that worked
Beijing will be well satisfied with its performance so far. But this is a multi-player multi-dimensional game with many dangers and traps over the long term.
It has done a good job of neutralising the risks and exploiting the opportunities of President Trump’s first month in office.
Round One to China. There are innumerable rounds still to come.
Don’t let Zhang Hexian’s age fool you as the 94-year-old has a particular set of skills that make her a nightmare for thugs anywhere. The resident of Ninghai County in east China’s Zhejiang Province has been practicing Chinese martial arts since she was four and through the years she has refined her skills with great diligence and effort to become affectionately known as “Kung Fu Grandma”.
Regarded as “the village of martial arts,” nearly everyone in the village where Zhang lives practices kung fu. As the eighth descendant of her family, Zhang learned kung fu under her father’s instruction at the age of four and has continued to practice throughout nine decades. “My dad took me to sleep at that time. When we woke up in the morning, we started practicing kung fu in bed. I learned basic martial arts skills such as pushing palm and throwing a punch at an early age,” said Zhang Hexian.
Practicing kung fu has become a daily routine in Zhang’s life. Every morning, Zhang does kung fu exercises without feeling tired. Apparently she is in good health. “She wakes up very early and does physical exercises every morning. She usually runs around the village for morning exercise,”said Zhang’s son Feng Chuanyin.
Zhang recalled that she once fought against a bully when she was young. The bully was beating his wife when Zhang saw him. To uphold justice, Zhang grabbed his collar, ripped his shirt off and urged him to behave well. Apart from being a deterrent to hooligans and ruffians, Zhang is also a warm-hearted woman willing to help others, which is one of the secrets of her longevity. “She always has a good mood with a positive attitude. Helping others is also good for her health,” said Feng.
A chef in southwest China became an instant celebrity after a video of him dancing while making noodles became an online sensation during the Lunar New Year holiday, according to a newspaper report.
Tian Bo, 31, was an ordinary cook of a noodle restaurant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, before he began to sway his body with coquettish look when making noodles to attract more customers, the West China City Daily reported.His signature dish, “longevity noodle,” comprises just one noodle long enough to fill a bowl and is a specialty in the historic town of Huanglongxi.
Tian told the Daily that he resorted to dancing while serving noodles in March last year when the restaurant was almost deserted and he was under enormous pressure. He fine-tuned his performance, adding pop music and coyish facial expressions.
Spinning, jumping and waving the noodles in his hand, Tian leers at the onlookers from time to time, according to the video circulated online.
After the video of his noodle performance made headlines online, his fortunes changed. Tourists arrived in town to seek him out and some even offered his a job with better pay.
Tian said he was merely acting at the restaurant and was not flirtatious in real life. He said he would stay at the restaurant for the time being but hoped to start his own noodle shop one day.
His video got mixed reviews on social media. “He is so tantalising. I just stared at the little brother and did not think about the noodles, ” said one Weibo blogger.
Said another: “I’ve seen him and I think he works too hard. He must get so tired from dancing and making noodles for long time.”