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发表于 2008-10-13 11:41:40 AM |显示全部楼层

China milk scandal companies apologize

13/10/2008 14.00pm

Three Chinese dairy companies have publicly apologized for their involvement in a toxic milk scandal that has killed at least four children and led to Chinese-made products pulled from shelves around the world.
Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Mengniu Dairy and Bright Dairy Group were found earlier to have produced milk contaminated with melamine, a compound used to cheat nutrition tests.
The scandal has savaged the companies' share prices and prompted Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks Corp to pull Mengniu milk from its 300-plus stores last month.
"I feel I have let everybody down. I have done so much, yet still done wrong," Monday's Beijing News quoted Mengniu's marketing chief, Zhao Yuanhua, as saying on state television.
Zhao and executives from Mengniu and Bright Dairy also promised consumers that their products prices would not rise despite higher costs of quality controls.
Chinese health officials last week said that nearly 10,700 infants and children were still in hospital after drinking toxic milk and formula. More than 36,000 children had left hospital after being treated.
The scandal has rocked faith in the safety of Chinese-made products, already under a cloud from a series of quality scandals involving food, drugs and toys last year, and prompted authorities to issue tighter rules governing milk production.
China's quality watchdog said a fourth round of tests on baby milk formula and other milk powder from dozens of local brands across 18 provinces had shown no new cases of melamine contamination, Xinhua news agency said in a separate report.
But the Ministry of Agriculture had decided to continue sending quality teams across the country to monitor the clean-up of milk stations and animal feed producers, it said in a notice on its website.
"Supervise and urge local authorities to investigate and punish the illegal use of melamine and other toxins, and other unlawful adulteration," the ministry said.

[ 本帖最后由 crcanial 于 2008-12-10 10:53 PM 编辑 ]

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发表于 2008-10-13 11:45:12 AM |显示全部楼层

China's communists approve key land reforms by Robert J. Saiget
Sun Oct 12, 5:00 PM ET

China's ruling Communist Party approved a major economic reform plan Sunday that will allow farmers to trade and mortgage their land rights and help bolster the nation's food security.

The move is part of a wider package of reforms aimed at reducing a gaping rural-urban income gap that has expanded during 30 years of capitalist market policies.

The package was approved at an annual meeting here chaired by President Hu Jintao of up to 500 members of the party's central and disciplinary committees and other key officials, according to a statement carried by Xinhua news agency.

The communique did not give specific details about the reforms. Beijing-based academic Russel Leigh Moses said policies approved by the party are traditionally placed before the National People's Congress, China's parliament, for approval at its annual session the following March.

"I don't think we will see anything specific until the NPC next year when they start to set out the legal framework and when we will be able to see more of the internal debate over the programme," Moses told AFP.

But in the final statement, meeting participants called for an end to rural poverty, improved food security, and the doubling of China's per capita rural income of 4,140 yuan (591 dollars) by 2020.

"The issues facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers are linked to the overall task of development facing our party and state," the communique said.

"We must solidify and strengthen the status of agriculture and place as top priorities the running of the nation and resolving once and for all the basic problem of food for hundreds of millions."

China must adopt a "cautious and flexible macro-economic policy" to address the ongoing international financial crisis, the communique said.

"We must depend on ourselves... add impetus to expanding domestic demand, especially consumer demand, and maintain a stable economy and stable financial and capital markets," it said.

Under the reforms, farmers would be able to trade, rent and mortgage their land use rights for profit in a land transaction market, Dang Guoying, a rural scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the China Daily newspaper.

"The move will speed up the country's urbanisation by bringing more farmers to the cities with the big farm contractors promoting modern farming in rural areas," it quoted Dang as saying.

Building large-scale industrial farms is seen as key to China's long-held policy of remaining self-sufficient in grain production and being able to feed its population of 1.3 billion people, state press say.

Most of China's farm plots are small and held individually at a time when hundreds of millions of farmers are leaving the land to seek better lives in the nation's quickly developing urban centres.

According to China's constitution all land is owned by the state, so the reforms under discussion are not expected to result in private ownership of land.

Although farmers have been leasing their land rights for years in many places, the party communique clearly acknowledged that many rural dwellers have been left behind in China's economic boom.

The rural focus of the ruling party meeting is also a nod to this year's 30th anniversary of China's opening and reform policies, which began in 1978 with policies returning collectivised farmlands back to individual farmers.

The 1978 reforms ended decades of China's disastrous experimentation with Maoist-style collectivisation that left the nation impoverished and backward.

While the market reforms have led to spectacular economic growth in the world's most populous nation, the income gap between China's 800 million or so farmers and the increasingly prosperous urban areas has also become a huge headache for policymakers.

The communique said both the Communist party and government needed to find new policies capable of stimulating the economy in a way similar to that seen in 1978.

"Only when the party places priority on resolving problems facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers... can we continue to develop rural productivity and maintain the comprehensive development of the rural economy," it said.

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发表于 2008-10-13 11:48:44 AM |显示全部楼层

China Communists seek to expand internal market
By GILLIAN WONG, Associated Press Writer

Sun Oct 12, 11:03 AM ET

China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday said it would seek to expand its massive internal market to counter the global economic slowdown that has reduced international demand for Chinese goods.

The party, led by President Hu Jintao, released a statement at the end of a four-day meeting of its Central Committee where it also approved a plan aimed at doubling rural incomes by 2020.

"We should step up efforts to boost domestic demand, particularly domestic consumption and keep the economy, the financial sector and the capital market stable," the party said in a statement released through the official Xinhua News Agency.

The party also recognized inherent "contradictions and problems" with China's economy and said all members should prepare for greater challenges as the global financial crisis unfolds.

China faces difficulties from high energy costs and inflation, but officials say the country has growth potential despite global uncertainties because of its large labor pool, vast domestic market and the increasing competitiveness of its companies.

Economists have cut China's growth forecasts to as low as 9 percent for the year, down from last year's 11.9 percent. That would be the highest rate for any major country, but Communist leaders want to keep growth robust to reduce poverty and avoid job losses, which could fuel political tensions.

China lowered interest rates Wednesday in an effort to revive slowing economic growth and help struggling exporters.

The party said it aims to double the income of the country's farmers — currently around $590 per person a year — over 12 years to ease the growing and politically explosive gulf between the urban elite who have benefited most from China's two-decade-old economic boom and its vast poor majority.

The move also seeks to boost rural consumption levels by a "big margin" and eliminate poverty in the countryside by 2020, Xinhua said. China has an estimated 15 million people living in absolute poverty in the countryside.

State media reports ahead of the meeting said the committee would review an amendment to give 750 million rural dwellers more freedom to lease or transfer their land, but the final statement did not mention the issue.

Chinese economists hope the agricultural reforms will lead to larger, more efficient farms that are better able to meet the demands of the evolving economy while maintaining the country's self-sufficiency.

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发表于 2008-10-13 11:57:11 AM |显示全部楼层

Can China save the global economy?
Posted: Thursday, October 09, 2008 1:56 PM

Filed Under: Beijing, China
By Adrienne Mong, NBC News Producer

BEIJING – One of the very few light moments during the Sichuan earthquake last May occurred as a family in Xiang'e dug through the rubble of its fallen home. The wife paced around an earth-mover, looking agitated but not grief-stricken, and I guessed she was looking for a lost pet.  But when she began hopping up and down in excitement at the appearance of a mattress, I was momentarily stumped.

That is, until one of the men began tearing through the mattress lining.  

Before long the wife was beaming, having rescued and quickly tucked away several wads of rolled up 100-yuan notes.

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
A family digs for its savings in the aftermath of May's earthquake in Sichuan.  

One might chuckle at the scene, as I did, but this family represents one reason some commentators think China can save the global economy.

The argument(s)
The argument that China can bail out everyone – or at least the American economy – is actually two-fold.  

One strand argues that in the wake of double-digit national economic growth of recent years, China's businesses and consumers are well positioned to counter the dwindling spending in North America and Europe by picking up the slack in domestic consumption.  

"China has to make a transition from being export-oriented toward domestic consumption-oriented," said Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Beijing University. "Any large continental economy can't depend on external demand for its own growth."

The other strand has to do with China's reserves. With nearly $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and a massive sovereign wealth fund, commentators say, the Chinese can easily bail out the United States.  

This was certainly the rallying cry at last month’s World Economic Forum gathering of business leaders and policymakers from Europe and North America in the northern port city of Tianjin.  "China has a voice and has a wallet with a voice," intoned the CEO of a multinational company.

But both of these scenarios are unlikely, if not completely fanciful, say economists in Beijing.

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
Consumers of the last resort?   
Spending habits don’t change instantly
For one, the transition to a consumption-driven economy doesn't happen overnight. "We're really talking about a 5 or 10 or 15-year process," Pettis said. "The United States went through its own process, and it took a very, very radical, a very deep crisis, quite a long time ago."  

And China's household savers who sock away as much as 30 percent of their annual personal income, compared to the near-zero percent the average American family saves, are unlikely to change their spending habits any time soon.

"Since we began our economic reforms [30 years ago]," said Zhang Ming, an economist with the Research Center for International Finance in Beijing, "we haven't done a good job of offering social and welfare services." So families here in effect are taxing themselves by saving for their children's education, buying a home, medical care, and retirement.

More to the point, "Chinese consumers are steadily consuming more, but this is a long-term process that could only be propelled into a short-term global fix by a foolish leap into American-style lending practices," Andy Rothman, chief China strategist at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, wrote in a research note this week.

Corporations, meanwhile, will only spend or increase their investments if there is a reason to do so (hint: profit). But businesses have begun stockpiling inventories, because they can't find buyers, which sooner or later means they will need to start cutting back, too.

VIDEO: Economists discuss whether or not China can save the global economy

Can’t loan anymore money
As for whether Beijing will step up by loaning the U.S. more money, the notion is "nonsensical," said Pettis.  "It’s not really meaningful."

China already owns an estimated $1 trillion of U.S. debt – most of which is U.S. Treasury bonds and the rest in U.S. agency debt. "The U.S. credit crisis has led to losses in China’s own wealth," noted Zhang.  So where are they going to get more money for new loans to the U.S. – to buy more debt?

"The argument was that China already has almost $2 trillion. Yes, but those are already lent to the U.S. and European governments," argued Pettis. "So they can’t re-lend them. They would have to take the money back and then lend it, which is not a new loan."

Rumors of a China-led bailout have been so rife, in fact, that the central bank here, the People’s Bank of China, had to deny reports carried in Hong Kong newspapers that the government would buy up to $200 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries to ease the financial crisis in America.

Adrienne Mong / NBC News
China's reluctant consumers?  

Dealing with its own economic slowdown
"The question is, is it realistic to expect that one country, the size of China's economy, can hold up the rest of the world's economy?" asked Louis Kuijs, Senior Economist with the World Bank.  "I would have my doubts, simply because the size of China's economy is not yet large enough.  It's important to remember that [the Chinese economy] is still significantly smaller than Japan’s and not many people are looking at Japan as the country that can shoulder the rest of the world economy."

As far as the leadership in Beijing is concerned, the best China can do is to maintain its current growth trend, as Premier Wen Jiabao underlined at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin.  "Maintain China's strong, steady and fast growth and avoid fluctuations. This is the biggest contribution to the world economy under the current circumstances," he said.

Keeping economic growth steady is not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, given recent indicators, China is unlikely to do any rescuing apart from its own economy.

A confluence of factors means that the economic outlook here is less than rosy: growing inflation; slowing exports; a free-falling stock market (down more than 60 percent from its highs in 2007); and a hot housing market that’s cooled (the average rate of property prices on the coast slowed to 6 percent in August from 25 percent last November, according to China Reality Research studies).

Now add to the mix the widening financial crisis which has spread to Europe and parts of Asia.  

"I would be very surprised if a slowdown in world growth did not reflect very, very significantly on Chinese growth," Pettis said. "What we are hoping for is that domestic consumption grows to make up for reductions in export. That is still an open question, we don't know if that is going to happen or not. But, if domestic consumption doesn't grow significantly, I suspect we are going to see a slowdown of the Chinese economy."

And even though an economic slowdown here translates to single-digit GDP growth in the range of 8 to 9 percent (still considered impressive), this would mark the first time an entire generation of Chinese have experienced such a thing.

The last time the Chinese economy suffered was in 1997, around the time of the Asian financial crisis, Pettis pointed out, but that was before the nation saw the kind of wealth accumulation that exists now amongst the middle class.

Feeling their pocketbooks pinched might have serious political implications, too, especially coming on the heels of a Summer Olympics that bolstered popular sentiment for the government.

Indeed, "the next few months in China could be really interesting," said Pettis.

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发表于 2008-10-14 04:06:10 AM |显示全部楼层

Scores sickened as too many cooks spoil broth
China banquet guests rushed to hospital after rust remover added to pot
updated 9:05 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2008

BEIJING - Some 170 wedding banquet guests were rushed to hospital in north China when powdered rust remover was added to the pot instead of salt after they all decided it needed added flavor, Chinese media said.

In a bizarre coincidence, 61 wedding guests were taken to hospital with similar symptoms a day earlier after a duck-and-donkey-meat banquet in northwest China.

In the rust remover case, the bride's proud father invited 170 friends and relatives to the wedding banquet at a village in northern Hebei province on Friday, the night before the nuptials, the Beijing News said.

"All food was stewed in a big pot but after dinner started, all of them felt the taste was too bland," the newspaper said.

Someone added what he or she thought was salt -- several times. An hour later, the guests were being rushed to hospital.

"When I arrived at the hospital, the observation room was packed with people vomiting, with stomach pains and with diarrhea," a doctor was quoted as saying.

The symptoms were short-lived and all the victims were released by the next day.

A day earlier, 61 wedding guests suffered food poisoning at a banquet in impoverished Gansu province, local authorities said.

"Currently, 17 people have been discharged but 44 are still in the hospital. No one has died," Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying.

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发表于 2008-10-14 04:19:33 AM |显示全部楼层
China’s great leap forward...in space

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008 12:25 PM
Filed Under: Beijing, China

By Adrienne Mong, NBC News Producer

BEIJING – As if having 1.3 billion people on the planet weren’t enough, China has sent three men into space.
In the country’s most ambitious space mission yet, the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft launched on Thursday from China’s Jiuquan space center in the remote northwestern province of Gansu. It was manned by the three astronauts – or "taikonauts," as they’re called here – one of whom will attempt the country’s first spacewalk ever. It would make China only the third country to attempt it, after the U.S. and Russia.

It’s also the second stage of a three-step space development strategy, following up on missions that put taikonauts into orbit in 2003 and 2005. The Chinese hope Shenzhou 7’s spacewalk will help set the stage for building a space laboratory and, later, a space station.
But that’s not all. Many Chinese officials – including Ouyang Ziyuan, the country’s chief scientist for lunar exploration – reckon that now that they can send humans into space, it’s time for them to push on with exploring the moon and eventually perhaps even Mars.
A long-term view
Launching humans into space has ranked high among the dreams China as a nation has aspired to achieve – right up there with hosting an Olympics, building nuclear weapons, and mastering the Yangtze River. And so far, it looks like it’s on track.

For years, the government here has focused on building sophisticated satellite hardware and training hundreds of thousands of engineers and scientists. All this has been done with an eye to expand and strengthen China’s economy, develop its resources and pursue other interests – through space technology – in decades to come.
How much money the central government devotes to its space program is unclear. Much of it appears to be under the direction of the People’s Liberation Army – making information that much harder to obtain, as the army’s spending falls under the classified category of national security.

At a press event in Beijing previewing the launch, several researchers from the China Manned Space Engineering Office – which boasts more than 110 institutes, academies and other bodies dedicated to space research and development – went through a tightly-controlled script, explaining the program’s goals and detailing the Shenzhou 7’s mission step by step.  
Special attention was paid to the debut of the "Feitian" spacesuit developed by Chinese scientists with some assistance from their Russian counterparts. But when journalists asked about the cost of the mission or the overall program, the researchers balked.
‘Space race’
China’s space aspirations have aggravated suspicions and fears among neighbors like Japan and India, as well as others in the West. The headlines of Western media reports, in particular, tend to underscore the anxiety: "The New Space Race: China v. U.S.,""China Flexes Muscle in Space Race," and "The New Red Scare, Avoiding a Space Race with China."  

American national security experts maintain that U.S. space technology is still leagues ahead of China’s, but they also urge against complacency.  
At a congressional hearing in May 2007, Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese from the Naval War College said, "Chinese human spaceflight activities have taken a slow, incremental approach and still managed to create the perception that China is ‘beating’ the U.S. in a new space race. While far from true, what China has that the U.S. does not is top-down political will."
China has bottom-up support, too. With wall-to-wall coverage of the Shenzhou 7 launch, the Chinese are riding the crest of a wave of patriotism and pride that gathered momentum all year leading up to the Summer Olympics.  And with the National Day holiday just days away, the spacewalk is just one more feather in their modern nation-state cap.
"Of course, I’ll be watching tonight," said a Chinese friend.  "Getting a man up into space doesn’t happen every day. It’s really an achievement."
"The space story is really quite fun," enthused a fellow Western journalist. "It’s something that happened in America 30 years ago, and yet here we are, about to witness an amazing historic event. It’s like getting a second chance to witness history."
And it’s certainly being treated as an historic event here. Amid great fanfare leading up to lift-off, local media devoted hours to the personal stories of the taikonauts: Zhai Zhigang, who will be walking in space; Liu Boming; and Jing Haipeng.   
Zhai, a 42-year old former fighter pilot from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, was featured prominently in a documentary Wednesday evening.  A reporter from the state-run CCTV station could be seen interviewing the cosmonaut’s elder brother and father. When asked what they hoped for Zhai, the answer was as modest as the nation’s hopes have been ambitious.  
"I just want to see his space journey be safe and peaceful," said Zhai’s father on camera.  "And, of course, for him to return smoothly."

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发表于 2008-10-14 05:27:35 PM |显示全部楼层
is the liquid milk safe?

[ 本帖最后由 janetchow 于 2008-10-14 05:46 PM 编辑 ]

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发表于 2008-10-15 03:51:28 AM |显示全部楼层
原帖由 janetchow 于 2008-10-14 07:27 PM 发表
is the liquid milk safe?

It is not a matter of solid or liquid. It is a matter of this milk was added with Melamine or not.

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发表于 2008-10-15 03:55:17 AM |显示全部楼层

Zero chance of White House run: Hillary

October 15, 2008, 6:31 am

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton puts the chances of her running for president again at near zero - slightly higher than the chances she gives for becoming Senate majority leader or a Supreme Court justice.
In an interview aired in the US on Tuesday on Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel, the Democrat was asked the chances, on a scale of one to 10, that she would be the next majority leader in the Senate.
"Oh, probably zero," she said. "I'm not seeking any other position than to be the best senator from New York that I can be."
Being nominated to the Supreme Court?
"Zero," Clinton said. "I have no interest in doing that."
Running for president again?
"Probably close to zero," she said. "There's an old saying: Bloom where you're planted."
The former first lady, who was elected to the Senate in 2000 and re-elected in 2006, said she looked forward to working as a senator with a Barack Obama administration.

[ 本帖最后由 ozimex999 于 2008-10-15 05:56 AM 编辑 ]

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发表于 2008-10-15 04:01:01 AM |显示全部楼层

US to buy $US250 billion of bank shares

October 15, 2008, 6:22 am

The United States will buy up to $US250 billion ($A360 billion) worth of bank shares in the latest bid to end the financial crisis, as forecasters warned two key European economies were falling into recession.
After markets surged on the back of rescue packages in Asia and Europe, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson delivered his own shot in the arm by announcing nine large banks - including Citigroup , JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America - would give the government equity stakes in exchange for new capital.
The government will also temporarily guarantee bank debt and interbank lending and offer unlimited deposit insurance for many accounts.
The efforts are part of a $US700 billion ($A1.01 trillion) bank bailout announced last month. European nations announced their own 1.8 trillion euros ($A3.51 trillion) package after a weekend pledge by the world's wealthiest nations to use all available tools to save key financial institutions.
"Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do - but today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system," said Paulson.
"Government owning a stake in any private US company is objectionable to most Americans - me included. Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable."
A series of bank rescue packages were unveiled on Tuesday in which Germany alone included 400 billion euros ($A780.94 billion) in loan guarantees and 80 billion euros ($A156.19 billion) in fresh capital.
The Bank of Japan also announced new steps aimed at thawing frozen bank lending, offering unlimited dollar funds, as it left its super-low interest rates on hold at an extraordinary meeting.
The moves helped to fuel a powerful rally on Asia's biggest bourse, with the Nikkei soaring more than 14 per cent, its biggest-ever gain.
Australia launched a $A10.4 billion economic stimulus package which Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said was intended to address concerns that the crisis was moving beyond dramatic losses in share values to pose a threat to economic growth.
After experiencing the biggest rally on Tuesday in 75 years, Wall Street's rebound petered out Tuesday with stocks turning mixed and showing a small gain.
European stock markets closed with solid gains for a second straight day.
In London, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares rose 3.23 per cent, the CAC 40 in Paris added more than 2.75 per cent, while the Frankfurt Dax gained 2.70 per cent at the finish.
Some of the shine from the renewed financial market confidence was rubbed off by downbeat data highlighting how the turbulence had affected jobs and growth.
A new Bank of France forecast predicted growth would drop to minus 0.1 per cent in the third quarter, indicating the country was heading into recession after a 0.3 per cent contraction in the previous three months.
A group of German economic think tanks said that Europe's biggest economy was likely to grow at only around 0.2 per cent in 2009.
"In the autumn of 2008, the German economy is on the brink of a recession," the six institutes wrote in their latest economic outlook.
In London, figures showed Britain's inflation rate surged to a 16-year high-point of 5.2 per cent in September.
Ireland's economy will contract by 0.75 per cent next year, Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said as he delivered his budget.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the next few days would be "crucial" and urged EU leaders - who meet in Brussels Wednesday and Thursday - to take fast action to shore up banks and get them lending among themselves again.
Markets across the globe have been in a state of panic since the middle of last month when Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy after the US government refused to bail it out.
Banks and other financial institutions across the world have been hit by bad debts stemming from the granting of so-called sub-prime loans to home buyers in the United States who subsequently defaulted.
Evidence of the impact on jobs came as German automaker Daimler said it was to cut 3,500 jobs in the United States and Canada following a slump in demand, a day after Japan's Nissan announced 1,680 jobs were being axed in Spain.

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发表于 2008-10-15 04:12:13 AM |显示全部楼层

Fonterra opens charity for melamine victims

By melinda @ 13.10. 2008 9:17 AM

Fonterra is setting up a multi-million dollar project to help pregnant Chinese women and mothers in response to the poisonous milk crisis that has left tens of thousands of infants ill and at least four dead.

San Lu, a Chinese dairy company 43% owned by Fonterra, is one of more than 20 firms caught up in the scandal, in which the industrial chemical melamine was added to watered-down milk to boost protein levels.

Fonterra's CEO Andrew Ferrier said: "We're obviously shocked by the degree of tragedy and we think that this is one way we can make a gesture that will help over the long-term in infants and maternal mother health."

Fonterra will donate US$5 million to the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation over five years for a cooperative charity project to provide medical care and advice to pregnant women and the mothers of infants in rural communities.

All San Lu products had been recalled and the government had stopped all production. Ferrier said Fonterra was involved in discussions on the future of San Lu.

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发表于 2008-10-16 03:52:22 AM |显示全部楼层

Recession fears drive stocks sharply lower
October 16, 2008, 4:45 am

LONDON (AFP) - Mounting fears that global financial turmoil will now spark a recession in Europe and the United States rattled investors and sent share prices plunging on Wednesday.

Market analysts said that while extraordinary efforts by governments to shore up shaky banks may have boosted confidence earlier this week, they are now seen as unlikely to head off a US and European recession.

Sentiment on Wednesday was shattered by an unusually bleak report on US retail sales, which represent the bulk of US economic activity, and a key manufacturing index.

Most analysts now say that a US recession appears virtually certain as a crippling credit crunch and housing meltdown drags down the rest of the economy despite the 700-billion-dollar rescue plan approved by Congress that will include 250 billion dollars offered to banks to help restore credit flows.

In Brussels, European Union leaders gathering for a summit warned that the financial crisis was far from over and the real cost to jobs and growth was only now becoming clear.

"We are facing a major threat," said Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, as he entered the talks. "We have to be careful in the coming weeks."

"We are living in unprecedented times and we need an unprecedented level of coordination," EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters before leaders from the 27 EU member states began a closed-door session.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.37 percent at 8,997.10 points in midday trade while the tech-heavy Nasdaq had fallen 3.23 percent to 1,721.55.

Fueling the fall was a Commerce Department report that US retail sales slumped 1.2 percent in September, the sharpest drop since August 2005 and weaker than market expectations.

"There can be no doubt now that the economy is in recession," said Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics. "It will be there a while."

"People have dropped shopping. This happened even before the total meltdown in the stock markets. What is ominous is that the declines in spending were broad-based," said Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors.

Meanwhile the New York Fed's Empire state index of factory activity in the northeastern region crashed to minus 24.6, its weakest reading ever.

In line with Wall Street, leading European stock markets plunged 6.0-7.0 percent at the close of trade.

The London FTSE 100 index of leading shares shed 7.16 percent to 4,079.59 points while in Paris the CAC 40 fell 6.82 percent to 3,381.07 points. The Frankfurt DAX gave up 6.49 percent at 4,861.63 points.

There were declines of 5.93 percent in Brussels, 5.06 percent in Madrid, 5.58 percent on the Swiss Market Index, 5.33 percent in Milan and 7.56 percent in Amsterdam.

Russian stock markets shed around nine percent, with investors driven away by pessimism about sharply falling oil prices as well as the disappointing global economic outlook.

The benchmark index on the dollar-denominated RTS exchange slumped 9.26 percent to close at 788.98 points, while its counterpart on the ruble-based MICEX dropped 8.67 percent to 689.71 on a day interrupted by suspensions.

The trading day began with big losses in much of Asia

Hong Kong closed down 5.0 percent, Seoul slid 2.0 percent and Sydney ended 0.9 percent lower. But Tokyo added 1.06 percent, building on Tuesday's record 14 percent gains.

In fresh action to spur the flow of credit, which has all but dried up as debt-laden banks stopped lending to one another and to businesses, the European Central Bank unveiled new measures to make it easier for eurozone banks to borrow dollars and Swiss francs.

In the case of dollars, the bank said it was widening the kinds of collateral it would accept from banks and broaden the terms of longer-term loans to them.

A second ECB statement said the ECB and the Swiss National Bank had agreed to exchange their currencies in a deal that would also allow the ECB to loan Swiss francs to eurozone banks for one-week periods.

Recent initiatives by governments and central banks to support their financial sectors did appear to be easing tension on key interbank markets.

Two interbank lending rates, Libor and Euribor, continued to fall back after plans were announced by European authorities to commit 1.7 trillion euros to shore up struggling banks.

The lower rates were an indication that banks were becoming less reluctant to lend money among themselves. Their skittishness over the past few weeks, when they were weighed down by soured mortgage-related debt, contributed to an acute credit crisis that threatened the health of the global financial system.

The three-month London inter-bank offered rate (Libor) in dollars fell sharply to 4.5500 percent on Wednesday from 4.6350 percent on Tuesday.

The three-month Euribor rate, the benchmark in the eurozone, dropped to 5.168 percent from 5.235 percent.

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发表于 2008-10-16 03:56:22 AM |显示全部楼层

McCain faces make-or-break debate

October 16, 2008, 6:05 am

Republican John McCain , needing a dramatic turnaround to his waning White House hopes, vowed to unmask his rival Barack Obama as a radical sympathiser at their third and final debate in New York later on Wednesday.

On its front page, the New York Daily News featured a caricature of a gun-toting McCain emerging from a Wild West bar under the headline "Last Chance Saloon".

McCain, who was down a whopping 14 points in one new poll as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades, talked tough heading into the last presidential debate before the November 4 vote.

At the weekend, McCain promised supporters he would "whip" his Democratic opponent's "you know what" during the evening debate starting at 1200 AEDT at Hofstra University on Long Island.

Tuesday, as he issued the latest version of his plan to end the financial tumult, the Arizona senator vowed to bring up Obama's links to 1960s radical turned Chicago education professor William Ayers.

"It's not that I give a damn about some old washed-up terrorist and his terrorist wife," McCain, 72, told KMOX radio in Saint Louis, Missouri.

"What I care about and what the American people care about is whether he (Obama) is being truthful with the American people."

Senior McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace told NBC television Wednesday: "We've never been interested in negative attacks for the purpose of negative attacks. But the truth has to stand on its own tonight."

However, as millions of voters fret about possibly losing their jobs and health care, the perils of a negative strategy from McCain are clear as Obama, 47, builds up a commanding lead in several polls.

A New York Times-CBS News poll late Tuesday had the Illinois senator ahead of McCain by the huge margin of 14 points, 53 to 39 per cent, compared to a lead of just three points before last week's second presidential debate.

At that debate, McCain jabbed his finger and spat out "that one" instead of naming Obama. But the Democrat kept his cool, and snap polls gave him a second victory after his assured performance in the first debate in late September.

CBS said 21 per cent of respondents now had a less favourable view of McCain in light of his Ayers-related character attacks on Obama and his choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate.

Nearly seven in 10 cited the economy as their top concern in a survey by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg that showed Obama was ahead by nine points, 50 to 41 per cent.

" Senator Obama is going to use the debate to discuss his plan for the economy. That's what he's been doing for weeks," Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"And while McCain has promised to bring up Bill Ayers to distract voters, every minute that he spends continuing to ignore the economy and the middle class is a minute wasted," she said.

Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn were part of a group of anti-Vietnam War militants called the Weather Underground that bombed government buildings in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

McCain says the professor was instrumental to Obama's political rise from the mid-1990s, a claim dismissed by the Democrat's camp as wildly exaggerated. It says the pair were only loosely connected in Chicago charitable work.

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发表于 2008-10-16 03:58:54 AM |显示全部楼层

Japan detects pesticide in China beans

October 15, 2008, 4:54 pm

Japan ordered on Wednesday retailers to pull frozen beans from China off the shelves after a woman fell ill eating a product which had 34,500 times the legal limit of pesticide, officials said.

Japan's health ministry instructed retailers and importers nationwide to suspend sales of frozen green beans from a Chinese supplier.

A ministry official said the woman felt numb in her mouth on Sunday after eating a dish using the beans, which she had bought at a Tokyo supermarket.

She went to hospital and was released with no apparent health problems after an overnight check, he said.

The ministry ordered sales of the beans to be halted "until the cause of the incident becomes clear," the official said.

It is the latest health scare surrounding food from China, where four children died recently after consuming milk tainted with an industrial chemical.

The Tokyo metropolitan government conducted tests on the beans on Tuesday and found they had 34,500 times the pesticide residue level permitted by the Japanese government.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said the government had informed the Chinese embassy in Tokyo of the case.

"It is too early to determine" whether the beans were contaminated in China, said Kawamura, the government's spokesman.

The importer, Tokyo-based Nichirei Foods, said it sourced the beans from a company called Yantai Beihai Foodstuff in eastern Shandong province.

"We conducted an inspection on a sample of the beans before importing them but did not detect pesticides," a Nichirei Foods spokesman said.

The beans were grown in Heilongjiang province in northeastern China where there was no record of any use of pesticides, the importer said.

The woman bought the frozen beans at a branch of the Ito-Yokado supermarket chain in Tokyo's middle-class Hachioji neighbourhood.

"We checked bags of the same product but didn't find any holes or any abnormalities," the manager of the supermarket told reporters in televised footage.

Food safety has turned into a major political issue in Japan , which imports 60 per cent of its food - the highest rate of any rich country.

Ten people suffered pesticide poisoning in December and January, and thousands of others reported feeling sick after eating frozen dumplings imported from China. One girl went into a coma before recovering.

Japan and China, who have been working to repair sometimes rocky relations, have held meetings in a bid to find the cause of the pesticide contamination.

China's image as a food producer has suffered in recent months because of a scandal over milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Four Chinese children are known to have died and at least 53,000 made ill after consuming the melamine-laced milk, leading to import bans being imposed by countries around the world.

[ 本帖最后由 ozimex999 于 2008-10-16 06:00 AM 编辑 ]

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发表于 2008-10-17 04:04:11 AM |显示全部楼层

China vows to help cash-strapped Pakistan

October 17, 2008, 5:48 am 8 am

BEIJING (AFP) - China vowed Thursday to do what it could to help cash-strapped Pakistan avert financial disaster as Islamabad's leader continued an official visit aimed at rustling up crucial Chinese investments.

The promise came as Premier Wen Jiabao met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari , who is on his first official visit abroad after being elected in September.

"As a long friend of Pakistan , China understands it is facing some financial difficulties," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

"We're ready to support and help Pakistan within our capability."

Zardari met Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on Wednesday in a meeting in which the two sides pledged to strengthen decades-old ties and signed 11 bilateral agreements, one on unspecified economic cooperation.

The Financial Times newspaper has reported, without citing sources, that Zardari would seek a soft loan of between 500 million and 1.5 billion dollars from China to help Pakistan avoid looming bankruptcy.

However, Qin offered no specifics on the form that Beijing's financial help would take.

China's state news agency Xinhua late Thursday released the full text of a joint statement between China and Pakistan which covered economic cooperation and foreign policy issues but was short on details.

" Pakistan appreciated the strong support and assistance provided by the government and people of China to Pakistan in its economic development," the joint statement said.

Pakistan's ambassador to China, Masood Khan, said earlier this week in an interview with Pakistan television station Geo an agreement on a civilian nuclear pact with China could be reached during the trip.

But Qin declined to give any details on the agreements made so far.

"I'm not aware of the specifics of the deals signed," he said.

China's foreign ministry had earlier confirmed the nuclear issue would be discussed but gave no specifics.

The joint statement quoted by Xinhua highlighted the importance of Pakistan -China ties.

" Pakistan stressed that (the) Pakistan -China relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and friendship with China represents the common desire of all Pakistani people," it said.

Zardari inherited nearly empty government coffers and huge security problems from Islamic extremists.

The global financial crisis has pushed Pakistan closer to the brink and reports, denied by Islamabad , claim the country faces bankruptcy as soon as February.

If a nuclear agreement were signed, it would come after the United States last week agreed with India, Pakistan's rival, to allow sales of civilian nuclear technology to New Delhi for the first time in three decades.

China has long been one of Pakistan's closest regional partners, with Beijing looking to Islamabad as a counterbalance to India.

[ 本帖最后由 ozimex999 于 2008-10-17 06:05 AM 编辑 ]

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发表于 2008-10-17 04:08:50 AM |显示全部楼层

Don't get cocky: Obama warns supporters

October 17, 2008, 5:58 am

LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire (AFP) - Barack Obama warned supporters against "cocky" complacency Thursday, before plunging into the 19-day home stretch of the White House race with snap polls awarding him yet another debate victory.

Following late Wednesday's third and final debate before the November 4 election, the Democrat said here that Republican John McCain was obsessed with maligning his character instead of thrashing out "the issues that matter."

Obama, 47, invoked the trauma of his primary defeat in New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton in January, which came as euphoria and expectations exploded around his campaign after a stunning lead-off victory in the Iowa caucuses.

"We are 19 days away from changing this country. But for those who are getting a little cocky, I have two words for you: New Hampshire," he told a rain-soaked rally of 4,100 people in the toss-up state.

"I learned right here that you can't let up or pay too much attention to the polls," said Obama, who is in a dominant position in national and state surveys.

"We've got to keep making our case for change. We've got to keep fighting for every vote, we've got to keep running through that finish line. This election is too important to take anything for granted."

The front-running Democrat largely dodged a fierce barrage of attacks from a feisty McCain in their last debate clash before the foes began blitzing battleground states ahead of the election in just under three weeks.

The pair were set late Thursday to both attend a dinner in New York to raise funds for underprivileged children. Each was to deliver remarks at the white-tie event, but partisan sniping was not expected to be on the menu.

Most snap polls after the debate gave Obama a clear victory, as he stayed cool under a broadside of McCain attacks on his character and policies, designed to rescue the Republican's flagging campaign.

The Gallup daily tracking poll Thursday offered McCain a glimmer of hope, putting Obama's lead at six points at 49 to 43 percent, down from seven points a day before.

The polling was conducted too early however to reflect voter response to the debate.

At his own rally in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, the 72-year-old McCain said he "did pretty well" at the debate in Hofstra University, New York.

"But let's have a little straight talk: the real winner last night was Joe the Plumber," he said, invoking Ohio man Joe Wurzelbacher, who has become a media darling after crossing swords with Obama on tax policy in Toledo.

"He won and small businesses across America won, because the American people are not going to let Senator Obama raise their taxes in a tough economy," McCain said.

" Senator Obama told Joe that he wanted to 'spread his wealth around'. America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by spreading the wealth; we became the greatest nation by creating new wealth."

Obama derided McCain's repeated invocation of Joe the Plumber during the debate as he promised to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans earning less than 250,000 dollars a year.

"He tries to pretend there's a plumber he's fighting for. How many plumbers do you know making a quarter of a million dollars a year?" the Democrat said in New Hampshire.

"Last night, Senator McCain said that (President) George Bush won't be on the ballot this November," he added at the rally.

"I'm not running against George Bush, I'm running against all those policies that you support, Senator McCain .

"Because in three debates and over 20 months, John McCain hasn't explained a single thing that he would do differently from George Bush when it comes to the most important economic issues we face today. Not one."

McCain used the debate to make his most effective attempt yet to frustrate Obama's efforts to link the Arizona senator with the unpopular legacy of his fellow Republican, Bush.

" Senator Obama , I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago," McCain said, proclaiming his record of bucking the Republican line in contrast to Obama's inexperience.

But in a CNN poll, 58 percent of respondents said Obama won the debate compared to 31 for McCain, with 70 percent saying Obama was more likeable. A CBS poll scored the debate 53-22 percent for the Democrat.

McCain, battling to resuscitate his campaign as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades, also savaged Obama's ties to 1960s radical William Ayers and said his tax plans amounted to "class warfare."

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发表于 2008-10-17 04:13:31 AM |显示全部楼层

Banda's dad shocked by Madonna divorce
October 17, 2008, 6:09 am

The father of the Malawian toddler adopted by pop megastar Madonna and her British film director Guy Ritchie said he is shocked at news of their divorce but wants her to keep the child.

"I am shocked but not too sad. I only met Madonna and her husband once in court when we were signing the first documents for adoption in 2006," Yohane Banda told AFP on Thursday by telephone from his village of Mchinji, 110 kilometres from the capital Lilongwe.

"As I have always said, Madonna loves the child, and I want to encourage her to keep loving the boy despite the divorce," he said.

"I allowed my son to be adopted in order to escape poverty. If he was still here, he could have probably died," he added.

The couple adopted David Banda when he was 13 months old, after the poor and illiterate Yohane Banda brought his son to an orphanage. The mother died shortly after giving birth.

He said he hoped the divorce will not disturb the three-year-old's upbringing.

"Madonna and her husband were a lovely couple when I met them. We only met once and I didn't have time to know them better," he said.

Madonna and her husband in May won final approval from a court in Malawi to permanently adopt David from one of the poorest countries in Africa, after an initial 18-month temporary custody order.

Madonna's spokeswoman said Wednesday that she and Ritchie would divorce after seven-and-a-half years of marriage.

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发表于 2008-10-20 03:57:04 AM |显示全部楼层
Chinese oil workers kidnapped in Sudan

October 20, 2008, 6:07 am

Nine Chinese oil workers have been kidnapped near Sudan's disputed central oil district of Abyei, the Chinese embassy said, with a Sudanese driver also feared missing.

"Nine Chinese oil workers, they are kidnapped," an embassy spokesman told AFP, asking not to be named. "We're still looking into the issue. We're taking the necessary steps."

He said the kidnapping happened on Saturday and the embassy was in crisis talks following the incident.

"We're now in a meeting with our ambassador," he said. "We have contacts with the Sudanese authorities to identify and localise the kidnappers."

He said the missing were three Chinese engineers and six other workers employed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in South Kordofan, a state which includes the disputed oil district of Abyei.

They were snatched about midday local time while "on the road", he said, "probably by armed men". He said the group's Sudanese driver had not been taken.

However, a diplomatic source in Khartoum said one Sudanese driver had been kidnapped and one released during the incident in Heglig in South Kordofan.

Heglig lies near the line separating the former warring parties of north and south Sudan, in the Muglad Basin where most of Sudan's proven oil reserves are found.

Ali Yousuf, director of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, told AFP Sudanese forces were scouring the area of the kidnap, inside the "Block 4" oil field, but "no contact has been made with the kidnappers".

The diplomatic source said members of the Arab Messeria tribe had carried out the kidnapping because they want a greater share of the region's oil revenue.

The Messeria were also blamed for the kidnapping of four Indian oil workers and their Sudanese driver in the same area in May. All five managed to escape or were released unharmed, the last one in July.

In the past, Darfur rebels have kidnapped foreign oil workers from Sudanese oilfields, often targeting Chinese companies because of their strong ties with Khartoum, although all of those abducted eventually emerged unscathed.

In October 2007, Darfur rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement attacked an oilfield run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium involving China's CNPC.

In 2004, Darfur rebels from another group, the Sudan Liberation Army, kidnapped two Chinese engineers working on water projects in the western region, which neighbours Kordofan.

One of the engineers escaped and the other was released unharmed after less than two weeks.

Abyei and surrounding areas are prey to sporadic violence between tribes aligned either with the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum or with the administration in the south despite a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war.

Under a roadmap for peace agreed in June, joint patrols are supposed to be restoring security in Abyei after May fighting flattened the area's main town and killed at least 89 people.

The violence was seen as the biggest threat to the fledgling peace process that ended 21 years of civil war between north and south in 2005 after more than 1.5 million people were killed.

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发表于 2008-10-20 04:00:46 AM |显示全部楼层

McCain concedes possibility of defeat
October 20, 2008, 5:54 am

Republican White House candidate John McCain , who has seen his standing in the polls sink in recent weeks, evoked the prospect of his own defeat but said he would not be "feeling sorry for himself" if he lost.

Asked on Fox News Sunday whether he had considered the possibility of losing on November 4 to his Democratic rival Barack Obama , McCain said: "Oh sure. I mean, I don't dwell on it.

"But look, I've had a wonderful life. I have to go back and live in Arizona, and be in the United States Senate representing them, and with a wonderful family.

"I'm the luckiest guy you ever interviewed.... Don't feel sorry for John McCain , and John McCain will be concentrating on not feeling sorry for himself."

According to a national poll average compiled by independent website Realclearpolitics, Obama leads McCain by five points, 48.9 per cent to 43.9 per cent.

And Colin Powell, who served as President George W Bush's secretary of state, dealt McCain's hopes a crippling blow on Sunday when he endorsed Obama.

McCain brushed the rebuff aside, saying Powell's endorsement "doesn't come as a surprise" and cited the support of other former secretaries of state, including Henry Kissinger and James Baker.

McCain also said he would not let himself get derailed by critical reports about him or, in the case of a New York Times report on Saturday, his wife Cindy McCain .

"I just want to go on with this campaign," McCain said. "Most Americans want in these difficult economic times to see who has a plan of action for getting our economy out of the ditch, helping working families, men and women.

"I think I made a very good point of that, that I have that plan... I think it's being reflected in the polls.

While some polls show Obama extending his lead into double digits - a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday had Obama ahead by 14 points, 53 to 39 per cent - recent days have seen McCain claw back a few points in national poll averages.

McCain, 72, acknowledges he is trailing Obama, 47, but said he relishes the chance to make a shock comeback.

"I'm very pleased where we are. And I love being the underdog," he said, even allowing a lighthearted moment: "You know, every time that I've gotten ahead, somehow I've messed it up."

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发表于 2008-10-20 04:05:42 AM |显示全部楼层
S. Korea pledges $130 billion to avert meltdown

updated 6:09 a.m. ET Oct. 19, 2008

SEOUL - South Korea announced on Sunday a package worth over $130 billion to rescue its markets dragged down in the global financial crisis, offering a state guarantee on foreign debt and promising to recapitalize financial firms.

Asia's fourth-largest economy has looked one of the region's most vulnerable to the credit crunch with its banks struggling to find the dollars they need to pay debt and as frightened investors hammered down the won to its lowest in over a decade.

The country's top three economic planners told a joint news conference that on top of the guarantees worth $100 billion, they would also inject $30 billion to banks and exporters and help smaller firms get some 12 trillion won ($9 billion) in loans.

"The government has decided to join in global coordinated efforts to stabilize financial markets and we'll continue to provide pre-emptive, decisive and sufficient measures to this end," South Korea's Finance Minister Kang Man-soo told reporters.

The past fortnight has seen a storm of market support measures from financial authorities around the globe ranging from interest rate cuts to bank nationalizations.

"We believe providing the government guarantee on banks' foreign exchange dealings is the strongest step to save our foreign exchange reserves," Kang said.

They also said they would announce this week a separate set of measures to help the local construction industry, among the hardest hit sectors as the global turmoil is seen pushing domestic economic growth to its slowest in over a decade.

Analysts generally welcomed the measures, saying they should help soothe investors and boost local markets, adding they expected the central bank to trim interest rates as early as next month to stimulate sagging domestic demand.

"It seems the government knows what challenges they are facing and how to deal with them," said Hong Sun-young at Samsung Economic Research Institute.

"The government has sent a strong signal to market players in a panic that they will stand as lender of last resort in a crisis."

Sunday's steps come as countries around the world are scrambling to contain the fallout from a 14-month-old credit crisis and a global economic downturn which threatens to be the most serious slump since the 1930s Great Depression.

Recession fear
Bond market analysts said the central bank could sharply cut interest rates at its next policy meeting on November 7, which would bring its first back-to-back rate cuts since the dot-com bubble bust swept through the world economy in 2001.

The Bank of Korea cut the benchmark interest rates early this month by a quarter of a percentage point to 5.0 percent, marking the first rate cut in nearly four years and after eight increases in a row since late 2005.

The global crisis has dried up dollars available to emerging economies and raised fears about the ability of heavily-leveraged South Korean banks to meet their external debts.

The won has lost about a third of its value against the dollar so far this year to hit its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis 11 years ago, and foreign investors have sold off a record 30 trillion won of local shares.

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