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1.一週國際財經大事短訊 Business this week
(Quick Takes for TV and Radio)
America’s government unveiled a plan to end the credit crunch by
spending up to $700 billion buying troubled assets from financial
institutions. Hank Paulson, the treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, the
chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued that swift and forceful action
was needed to stem growing panic about the soundness of the financial
system. But many members of Congress, which must approve the plan,
complained variously that the government was seizing too much power,
letting reckless bankers off too lightly and failing to help struggling
The Federal Reserve gave America’s last two big investment banks,
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, permission to change their status to
bank holding firms. They will be subject to stiffer regulation, but allowed
to take deposits. Goldman Sachs raised $5 billion to shore up its capital
by selling shares to Berkshire Hathaway, the firm run by Warren
Buffett, a celebrated investor. The next day, it raised $5 billion more
from a share offering. Mitsubishi-UFJ, Japan’s largest bank, agreed to
buy up to 20% of Morgan Stanley for $8.4 billion.
Nomura, a Japanese investment bank, offered to buy bits of the
European, Middle Eastern and Asian divisions of Lehman Brothers, an
American rival that declared itself bankrupt last week, for an undisclosed
sum. Barclays, a British bank, bought Lehman’s main American unit for
$250m, and several of its properties for $1.29 billion.
Moody’s, a rating agency, lowered its outlook for 12 Russian banks,
despite a government rescue package worth$120 billion. The state-owned
Development Bank said it would take over Svyaz Bank, a struggling private
one. Meanwhile a fund controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov, a former mining
magnate, agreed to buy half of Renaissance Capital, a big Russian
investment bank, for $500m.
Chrysler, America’s third-biggest carmaker, said it had lost $400m so far
this year. At the same time, it tried to dispel doubts about its future by
unveiling prototypes for three different electric vehicles, including a
Six American states were due to set the country’s first mandatory cap-
and-trade scheme to combat global warming in motion on September
25th with an auction of permits to emit greenhouse gases. The Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative will impose a limit on emissions from big power
stations in ten north-eastern states from the beginning of next year.
T-Mobile, a telecoms firm, unveiled the first mobile phone to use
Android, operating software developed by Google, an internet-search
giant. Android is designed, among other things, to make it easier for
people to access the internet from their phones. Google also plans tie-ups
with other handset-makers.
The oil price was volatile. It shot up by $16 a barrel on September 22nd,
mainly for technical reasons, to close at $121. It fell back to $106 two
Manufacturing and services activity in the euro area fell in September,
reaching their lowest level since 2001, according to the purchasing
managers’ composite index. The survey implied that GDP shrank in the
third quarter, which would constitute a technical recession after the
The IFO business-climate index for Germany fell sharply in September,
adding further evidence that the European economy is weakening.
The outlook for Asian economies is darkening. New forecasts from the
Asian Development Bank for GDP growth in 2009 are generally lower than
the ones it made in April. Next year’s growth projection for China has
merely been shaved, from 9.8% to 9.5%, but forecasts for some countries
have been shorn. Vietnam is now expected to grow by 6.0% rather than
8.1%; India by 7.0% compared with 8.5%. The bank says that emerging
Asia is being hit by lower demand for its exports in developed economies
and by tighter and more costly access to global capital markets as a
result of the financial crisis. Growth prospects are also dimming because
of steps taken in the region to tighten monetary policy so as to contain
2. 一週國際政治大事短訊 Politics this week (Quick Takes for TV and
Radio) South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, was forced to resign by
the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). This
followed a bitter legal and constitutional struggle with Jacob Zuma, who
ousted him as party leader last year. Kgalema Motlanthe, an ANC ally of
Mr Zuma, will serve as caretaker president until an election in which Mr
Zuma is expected to win the post. Mr Mbeki’s deputy and ten ministers
also resigned, of whom six said they would not serve in a new government.
Nearly two weeks after a power-sharing agreement was agreed on in
Zimbabwe, ministerial posts in a unity government had yet to be allocated.
President Robert Mugabe and a large entourage went to New York to
attend the annual opening session of the UN’s General Assembly.
Iraq’s parliament passed a long-awaited law providing for provincial
elections to be held, probably before the end of January, though they
had been due next month. Elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk were to
be postponed until a separate agreement could be reached.
Finland’s prime minister called for tougher gun controls after a gunman
shot and killed nine students and a teacher at a college in the west of the
country before killing himself.
The number of Chinese children admitted to hospital after drinking
infant-milk formula tainted with melamine climbed to 13,000. Li
Changjiang, the head of China’s quality-control watchdog, resigned. Four
children in Hong Kong have also been diagnosed with kidney stones after
drinking milk from the mainland. Many other countries have started
testing Chinese dairy products or taking them off shop shelves.
Suicide-bombers detonated an enormous bomb outside the Marriott
Hotel in the centre of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. It killed 53 people
and wounded more than 260. A previously unknown group, Fedayeen Islam,
claimed responsibility. A few hours earlier Asif Zardari, Pakistan’s new
president, made his first speech to parliament. He promised to protect
the country’s sovereignty, a message he later conveyed to George Bush in
New York. Pakistanis have been incensed by recent American raids on
militants on their territory.
Among 9,002 prisoners granted amnesties by Myanmar’s ruling junta were
a handful of political prisoners, including the longest-serving one, Win Tin.
But more than 2,000 are believed still to be detained, including Aung San
Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition. Most analysts thought the releases
had been timed to influence opinion at the UN General Assembly session
in New York.
Taro Aso easily won an election to become leader of Japan’s Liberal
Democratic Party and was sworn in as prime minister, the country’s third
new leader in two years. There was speculation that he might call a snap
general election, though one does not have to be held until September
North Korea said it planned to restart its plutonium reprocessing plant at
Yongbyon, which it had pledged to dismantle as part of a denuclearisation
process agreed with America, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. UN
inspectors were asked to remove seals and surveillance cameras from the
Barack Obama and John McCain were due to meet in Oxford, Mississippi
for the first of their three eagerly awaited presidential debates. But Mr
McCain appealed for a delay while Congress attempted to tackle the
financial crisis. Mr Obama declined one, leading to impasse.
Russian warships set off to Latin America to take part in joint
manoeuvres with Venezuela, for the first time since the cold war.
Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, said Latin America needed a strong
friendship with Russia to help reduce the influence of the United States
in the region.
3. 中國食品管理問題驚嚇全世界 Food regulation in China The poison
spreads Tainted milk kills children—and harms China’s image abroad
WITH each passing day the news about China’s tainted-milk scandal gets
worse. It started with reports in the Chinese press on September 10th
about tainted baby-formula produced by Sanlu, a large diary firm, but has
since spread to 21 other producers, including the three Chinese giants,
Mengniu, Yili, and Bright. Four children have died, 53,000 have been taken
ill and there is no end in sight.
The range of products found to have been tainted with melamine (an
industrial chemical used to hide the fact that milk has been watered
down) now includes milk, yogurt, sweets and cake. Private testing
laboratories, which have sprung up like mushrooms in China recently, are
working overtime testing food. Several countries in Asia and Africa have
banned imports of Chinese dairy products, and testing has been stepped
up in Europe and America. Even if no more problems emerge, damage has
been done. A survey by Interbrand, a consultancy, shows that the post-
Olympics improvement in the perception of the “Made in China” brand has
been wiped out by the scandal.
Fonterra, a New Zealand co-operative that owns 43% of Sanlu, has been
praised for working with New Zealand’s government to push Sanlu and the
Chinese government to disclose information about contaminated products
and get them off the shelves and out of homes. But it has also been
slammed for not doing more—in particular, for not going public earlier (it
first learnt of problems in early August). Several of China’s big internet
portals have also been accused of filtering out information about tainted
milk from as long ago as December, in order to protect China’s reputation
during the run-up to the Olympics.
The government’s response has changed, seemingly overnight, from
suppression to intervention. The chairwoman of Sanlu has been detained.
Four milk dealers have been arrested and 22 others held for questioning.
The mayor of the city where Sanlu is based has resigned, along with the
local Communist Party leader and the head of China’s national department
of quality supervision.
Whether all of this will address the problems with China’s food-
production system is questionable. The boss of one big food company says
that at a local level, regulation is the responsibility of the Communist
Party officials. Companies close to the party get an easy ride, until there
is a breakdown, at which point punishment is draconian. Until the
regulatory and judicial systems become independent, there will always be
an incentive to ignore problems until they explode.
Foreign companies have been concerned about the possibility of such a
scandal for some time. Unilever dumped its joint ventures years ago, to
ensure it had full control of all domestic Chinese operations. McDonald’s
has created its own closed supply chain, spanning beef, fries, bread and
pickles. Coca-Cola imposes stringent rules on suppliers of sugar, water and
This approach is being greeted with increasing approval within China. In
monitoring consumer opinions, Coke says it initially found its recent
effort to acquire Huiyuan, a large juice company, generated complaints on
websites from nationalists opposed in principle to foreign brands. But
support for the deal has since grown as a result of the company’s
reputation for safety and quality. Chinese firms are just beginning to
build up their own brands and have yet to establish the kind of trust that
persuades people that it is worth paying more for a better product, says
Tom Doctoroff, chief executive in China of JWT, an advertising agency.
Never has there been more reason for that to change.
4. 神舟 7 號升空為中國太空科技爭面子 Lift-off for China space
mission China has launched its third manned space mission - which is
to feature the country's first spacewalk.
The Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit atop a Long-March II-F
rocket from the Jiuquan spaceport in Gansu province in the northwest of
The 70-hour flight will include a spacewalk undertaken by 42-year-old
fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang. Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other
"yuhangyuan" (astronauts) - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng. The rocket lit
up the darkness as it blasted off from Jiuquan at 2110 Beijing Time (1310
China's president Hu Jintao met the three astronauts before the lift-
off, wishing them success on the nation's riskiest space mission yet. "You
will definitely accomplish this glorious and sacred mission. The
motherland and the people are looking forward to your triumphant
return," President Hu told the yuhangyuan, who were dressed in flight
suits and behind glass to avoid being exposed to germs. The rocket will
put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above
Mr Zhai will conduct his extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on either Friday
or Saturday. When he steps out into space, Mr Zhai is expected to wear a
Chinese-made space suit and will be tethered to the capsule for safety.
Liu Boming will monitor the activity, presumably to reel the spacewalker
back inside if there is an emergency.
Mr Zhai will retrieve an externally mounted experiment and oversee the
release of a satellite. At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry
capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous
Region. Dr Roger Launius, senior curator at the National Air and Space
Museum in Washington DC, told BBC News: "It is a demonstration of
technological virtuosity. It's a method of showing the world they are
second to none - which is a very important objective for [China]."
China became only the third nation after the United States and Russia to
independently put a man in space when Yang Liwei, another fighter pilot,
went into orbit on the Shenzhou V mission in October 2003. Two years
later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on
According to the Associated Press, China's official news agency posted an
article on its website prior to the lift-off that was written as if
Shenzhou VII had already been launched into space. The article
reportedly carried a date of 27 September and came complete with a
dialogue between the astronauts. Chinese media report that this latest
mission is the "most critical step" in the country's "three-step" space
These stages are: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft
together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space
station. The Shenzhou VIII and IX missions are expected to help set up
a space laboratory complex in 2010. China launched an unmanned Moon
probe last year about one month after rival Japan blasted its own lunar
orbiter into space.
5.他山之石 --韓國試圖降低社會壓力—學費高補習多人民苦 S Korea
slams high tuition costs President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea has
called for measures to reduce the financial burden of private tuition.
Latest estimates suggest South Korean households spend an average of
$600 (£323) a month on private lessons. Figures from 2006 show
expenses with extra-curricular tuition approaching $30bn (£16bn), nearly
4% of annual GDP. South Korea has a fiercely competitive academic
system. About half the money used for private tuition is spent on
improving English language skills. Although South Korea scores highly in
most science-related subjects, its students tend to lack fluency in
The state-run education system, with its rigid emphasis on rote learning,
has been blamed for failing to encourage creativity and proficiency in
foreign languages. Anecdotal evidence suggests that despite achieving
high marks in English exams, some students remain unable to speak even
an easy sentence. Cram schools, known as hagwon, are often the answer.
Children and teenagers attend them after normal school hours, studying
hard well after nightfall. They spend more time in school than their
counterparts in any other developed country. With broadband internet
access in almost all households, South Korean students also purchase live
interactive tuition packages. These packages allow them to develop
comprehension and conversation skills by talking to qualified native
Many also seek education abroad, with Koreans forming the largest
foreign student contingent in the United States. But the large sums spent
on tuition weigh heavily on the budget of Korean families, particularly at a
time of declining economic growth. The amount spent privately now
exceeds the state's own education budget. Conservative president Lee
Myung-bak has blamed the inadequacies of the state-run system for
South Korea's failure to achieve higher productivity and catch up with
the world's richest nations. In a radical move after he came to power
earlier this year, his administration suggested teaching many subjects in
English in state schools - including Korean history. The idea proved too
controversial to become official policy.
The lack of sufficiently qualified teachers would also have been a major
obstacle. But Mr Lee seems determined to shake up the system. He told
South Korea's Yonhap news agency that he wanted private schools' bills
to shrink, and state schools to introduce rankings and competition among
teachers. He has also asked his government to look at ways to relieve the
financial burden on families in the short term. "New policy measures are
now needed to immediately help ordinary households," he is quoted as
saying. "Private educational institutions are accused of excessively raising
their fees, although their business is irrelevant to global oil prices."
6. 埃及觀光客小心被綁架 Kidnapped tourists taken to Libya Bandits
who kidnapped 19 tourists and Egyptians in the desert have moved them
from Sudan to Libya, shadowed by Sudanese forces who have said they
will not put the hostages' lives at risk. "The kidnappers and the tourists
have moved to Libya, about 13 to 15 kilometres (eight to nine miles)
across the border," Ali Yousuf, director of protocol at the Sudanese
foreign ministry, told AFP. "All hostages are well, according to our
information, and we are monitoring the situation... Military forces are in
the area, but we are not going to make any move that puts the lives of
those being held in any risk."
The group of five Germans, five Italians and a Romanian as well as eight
Egyptian drivers and guides was snatched by masked bandits while on a
desert safari to view prehistoric art in Egypt's remote southwest on
September 19. An Egyptian official has said the bandits want Germany to
pay a six-million-euro (8.8 million dollar) ransom. "Germany is in contact
with the kidnappers, and Sudan is remaining in close contact with the
Egyptian, Italian, German and Romanian authorities," Yousuf said. Libyan
authorities, contacted by AFP, declined to comment on the hostages'
An Egyptian source quoted by the official MENA news agency said the
group had moved "most probably because of water shortage in the place
where they were kidnapped." "Sudanese authorities have informed us
they (the hostages) have been moved to Libya," a security official in Cairo
said, asking not to be named. "We don't know if they are being released
or if the crisis is worsening." The group's latest move means they are
heading west around Jebel Uweinat, a 1,900-metre-high (6,200-foot-
high) plateau roughly 30 kilometres (20 miles) in diameter that straddles
the borders of Egypt, Libya and Sudan. In August, two hijackers of a
Sudanese plane surrendered to Libyan authorities after landing in Kufra,
an oasis in southeast Libya and some 300 kilometres (200 miles) away.
In contrast to the undeveloped Egyptian and Sudanese territory around
Jebel Uweinat, the Libyan side has access to roads and also has a
continuous military presence. Egypt has said Germany is heading
negotiations through the German wife of the Egyptian tour operator who
is among the missing. Berlin has only said it has set up a kidnap crisis
team. Several different ransom figures have been cited since the group
was first reported missing on Monday. The group was taken from Egypt's
Gilf el-Kabir 25 kilometres (17 miles) into Sudan to Jebel Uweinat, where
Sudanese forces were "besieging the area." Khartoum has said the
hostages have not been harmed and it has no intention of storming the
area "so as to preserve the lives of the kidnapped persons."
Travellers in their 70s are among the hostages being held in the desert,
where daytime temperatures can hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees
Fahrenheit) even in September. The area of the kidnapping is a desert
plateau famous for prehistoric cave paintings, including the "Cave of the
Swimmers" featured in the 1996 film "The English Patient." Authorities
only became aware of the abduction on Monday when the tour group
leader phoned his wife to tell her of the ransom demand.
An Egyptian security official has said the kidnappers are "most likely
Chadian" after Sudan said they were Egyptians. Other officials have
suggested the kidnappers rebels are from one of Sudan's war-torn
Darfur region, although several rebel groups have denied this. Kidnappings
of foreigners are rare in Egypt, although in 2001 an armed Egyptian held
four German tourists hostage for three days in the Nile resort of Luxor,
demanding that his estranged wife bring his two sons back from Germany.
He freed the hostages unharmed.