RMB Joins ECB Rate List
The European Central Bank or ECB has added China's currency, the renminbi, along with seven other currencies, to its daily list of exchange rates.
The list now offers euro reference exchange rates for 35 currencies.
ECB sources say the decision to add the seven currencies is based on factors such as their transaction volume.
A financial researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Yi Xianrong says the Chinese economy's rapid growth means fluctuations in the renminbi are starting to have an impact on the euro.
Automakers' Profits Down 78.4%
Chinese carmakers saw their profits plunge by 78.4 percent in the first two months of this year from the same period a year earlier.
The Shanghai Daily reported that the biggest factor sapping profits was falling sales prices despite rising prices for raw materials and production costs.
Car prices dropped an average of about 12 percent last year.
Vehicle sales are forecast to rise about 10 percent this year, compared with a 75 percent growth in passenger car sales in 2003 and 15 percent last year.
Chinese Banks Get Foreign Strategic Investment
Ten Chinese banks have acquired strategic investment from foreign financial organizations such as Citibank and HSBC, while eight others are still in talks.
Chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission Liu Mingkang says these strategic investment will not only provide capital for the Chinese banks, but also introduce them to modern banking systems and advanced management methods.
Chinese banks such as the Bank of Communications and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank have already seen the benefits of foreign strategic investment in risk-management and business operation.
Why the Slow Reaction of Food Safety Agency?
Anchor: The Sudan 1 and Lipton Black Tea issues have aroused great concern among the ordinary Chinese. Many can't help asking why Chinese quality inspection agencies can't detect the problems in the first place? @@@ has the story.
Rep: Recently, the frequent media reports of foreign brand quality defects like Sudan I, Johnson-Johnson and flouride laden Lipton black tea issues really provoke common Chinese's awareness of the food safety.
"A lot of them have chemical additives. We may not trust them in the future."
"It is too late to tell us. The quality inspection agency's work should be strengthened."
Sudan 1 has finally been banned, but the questionable Johnson - Johnson and Lipton Black Tea proved to be OK after Chinese food agency's checkups.
He Jiguo is the director of Nutrition and Food Safety Department of China Agricultural University.
"In China, the food quarantine system is actually based on a list. There are many food additives. The primary concern is the common poisonous things like the amount of heavy metal. There are many unknown substances which are not listed, and it is very hard to test them all since it takes too much time and money to do the checks. So if it is not on the list, the bureau will pass it."
Moreover, different standards and eating habits are also the reasons. Here is He Jiguo again.
"We are using a different standard concerning the Lipton black tea issue which has been found to contain flouride. The US FDA is using the drinkable water and beverage standard. It is not right to apply the pure water standard to the examination of tea water. People in United States don't drink tea as often as the Chinese do, and they don't have a tea standard.
According to He we can't deny that the food safety agencies are slow in action. Professor He says more resources should be put into the inspection sector, and the food safety law should be renovated.
"The inspection agencies do not have enough money and technology to do a better job. We should set up a black list. Once products are found to be problematic overseas, we should thoroughly test them, and not to let them get into China. China¨s law on food sanitation is ten years old and needs renovation."
For Realtime Beijing, I am @@.
U.S. Firms Invest US$350 Mln in Lenovo
China's top computer maker Lenovo has confirmed that three U.S. private equity firms have agreed to invest 350 million US dollars in the company, with part of the investment going toward its purchase of IBM's PC business.
Lenovo says the investment includes 200 million US dollars from Texas Pacific Group, 100 million from General Atlantic and 50 million from Newbridge Capital.
Of this, 150 million US dollars will be used to fund the IBM deal and the rest will be for general use.
In return, the three U.S. firms will get around 3 million dollars of preferential shares at 128 US dollars per share.
Siemens to Purchase Flender from Citigroup
Engineering giant Siemens plans to buy a German maker of ship motors and windmill turbines from Citigroup for over 1 billion euros or 1.5 billion US dollars.
Siemens says the purchase of Flender includes its 6,700 employees and about 1 billion euros or 1.3 billion US dollars in annual revenue.
The purchase of Flender will help Siemens expand its equipment for wind power companies, an industry that Siemens entered last October.
It is the second purchase this month for Siemens after a 967 million US dollars acquisition of a US medical technology company.
China Power Taps HK Market Via Venture
China Power and the Hong Kong digital media firm Vertex have formed a joint venture to challenge Hong Kong's two dominant power suppliers.
Tens of millions of dollars have been earmarked for the joint venture's startup stage.
China Power will own 70 percent of the joint venture and Vertex the remaining 30 percent. Named China Hong Kong Power, it will build generation facilities on the mainland to supply the Hong Kong market.
The partners believe Hong Kong can lower its tariffs by sourcing cheaper electricity from neighboring Guangdong.
Vertex chairman Steven Poon expects the joint venture to start distributing electricity late this year.
The city's electricity market is now dominated by CLP Holdings Limited and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited.
TEDA Special Report No.2
Anchor: Now turning to our special series of reports on TEDA, or Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area. CRI's Tim Stoney takes a look at how local government tries to better serve enterprises in the high-tech zone.