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News from China
Steady economic growth for start of the year
15th March 2018

 China’s economy showed steady growth in the first two months of the year, as industrial output and consumption grew at a faster pace, while growth in services and investment slowed slightly but remained stable.

 
Industrial output expanded 7.2 percent year on year over the January-February period, 1 percentage point faster than the pace of December, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed yesterday.
 
“The mining industry turned to positive growth and manufacturing developed at a faster pace,” said Jiang Yuan, senior industry statistician at the bureau.
 
“The high-tech sector showed a 11.9 percent year-on-year growth, which is 4.7 percentage points faster than the growth of industrial output, and consumer goods manufacturing also showed a rapid increase.”
 
Economists of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a note that improving performance in the state-owned enterprise sector helped to lift industrial production growth.
 
During January and February, fixed-asset investment grew 7.9 percent year on year, up 0.7 percentage points from the level of the whole year 2017 while falling by 1 percentage point from the same period of last year.
 
Infrastructure investment, which accounts for over 20 percent of the total fixed-asset investment, rose 16.1 percent year on year for the two months, slowing down slightly but remaining a steady growing trend.
 
Investment in property development rose 9.9 percent from a year earlier, up 2.9 percentage points from 2017 as a whole, the statistics bureau said.
 
Mao Shengyong, spokesman for the bureau, said the property market including the overall housing price is relatively stable, and real estate investment maintained a reasonable growth after a period of adjustment and control.
 
Sales of consumer goods showed active growth, with sales of products related to consumption upgrading soaring.
 
One of the main contributors to retail sales growth was auto sales. While the total volume of sales only saw modest climb, the average sales price jumped, indicating that the demand for cars is more quality-oriented, according to Mao.
 
Output of new-energy vehicles surged 178.1 percent year on year during the period, while industrial robots production jumped 25.1 percent, the data showed.
 
The Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 2.2 percent in the two months from a year ago, with the margin of increase up 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier.
 
Foreign trade in January and February rose 16.7 percent year on year to 4.52 trillion yuan (US$716 billion). Imports increased 15.2 percent and exports jumped 18 percent, the bureau said.
 
Mao said the data indicate a steady and better-than-expected economic growth in general, and the bureau is confident in achieving the goal of a 6.5 percent annual growth in 2018 and creating more jobs.
 
“The consumption upgrading, as a leading role, is enhancing its positive influence on economy,” Mao said. 
 
“And the growth of new kinetic energy is conducive to the steady development in economy and the optimization and upgrading of economic structure.”
 
Meanwhile, conditions for high-quality economic development have prospered, buoyed by the overall economic growth, he added. 
 
“But we still see challenges in extending this positive growth including the employment pressure especially in traditional industries,” Mao said.
 
ANZ pointed out that Sino-American trade tensions still pose a near-term risk to China’s growth momentum.
 
China’s power generation saw faster growth in the first two months, with electricity from clean energy sources expanding at a rapid pace, according to the bureau.
 
In January and February, power production rose 11 percent, 4.7 percentage points faster than the same period in 2017. The growth was also the highest since August 2013.
 
Electricity from thermal power plants, which accounts for 77 percent of all the power generation, jumped 9.8 percent, 2.8 percentage points higher than the same period of last year.
 
Electricity from hydropower plants climbed 5.9 percent, compared with a 4.7 percent decrease registered for the first two months of last year.
 
Nuclear, wind and solar power production surged 17.9 percent, 34.7 percent and 36 percent respectively. Coal output increased 5.7 percent to 520 million tons, compared with the 1.7 percent year-on-year decline in the first two months of last year.
 
Natural gas output rose 4.9 percent to 26.19 billion cubic meters, compared with the zero growth registered for the same period of 2017. Crude oil output dropped 1.9 percent, narrowing by 6.1 percentage points from a year earlier.
 
Amid the drive to restructure and optimize industry, the country aims to reduce overcapacity in traditional sectors such as coal iron, and steel while facilitating growth in emerging areas.
 
China plans to cut 30 million tons of ineffective steel capacity and 150 million tons of coal capacity this year.

Source: Shanghai Daily, March 15, 2018
Scenic railway laid in east China
13th March 2018

  railway threading through scenic spots in east China was completed Monday.

 
The 265-km long railway links Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, with Huangshan City in Anhui Province.
 
Dubbed the "Golden Tourist Railway," the Hangzhou-Huangshan railway makes a 1.5-hour trip between Hangzhou and Mount Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Travelers can hop on and hop off at the railway's stops to visit the picturesque Fuchun River, Tianmu Mountain, Thousand Islands Lake and the bamboo forest in Chun'an County.
 
Passenger services on the railway, which has a speed up to 250 km per hour, will be opened later this year.

Source: Shanghai Daily, March 13, 2018
Expert says China's economic, political development key to world stability
12th March 2018

 China's robust economic growth, broad international cooperation and steady domestic political situation are vital for the world's geopolitical stability, a Cuban expert has said.

 
Jose Luis Robaina, a scholar at Cuba's International Policy Research Center, told Xinhua in a recent interview that it is good for the world if China continues the path of stable development that stresses innovation and multilateralism.
 
"China plays an essential role in maintaining political and economic stability in the world," he said, adding that as long as China sticks to its current development model and foreign policy principles, "it will be a key factor in maintaining balance around the globe."
 
The expert spoke highly of China's remarkable economic growth, its increasingly active engagement in global affairs, the modernization of its armed forces, as well as the landmark achievement in lifting millions of people out of poverty.
 
"These characteristics are key to understanding where China is going," he said, adding that some Western countries tend to use economic cooperation as a leverage to foment political changes in other countries or compel them to make concessions.
 
Robaina appreciated China's commitment to high-quality economic growth, which the scholar hailed as a "smart move" by the country's top leadership.
 
"There is a central idea in the (government work) report that China is gradually moving to a high quality economy. A few years ago China's economic development was based on investment, export and foreign trade but it has begun to transform into one that focuses on domestic consumption and innovation," he said.
 
He also mentioned the 6.5-percent target for China's GDP growth in 2018, saying it is in line with the government's emphasis on the quality rather than quantity of its economic development.
 
The scholar also highlighted China's goal of lifting the rest of its poor above the government-designated poverty line by 2020, which he said is a goal that demonstrates Beijing's political will to build a prosperous society for the Chinese people.
 
He said "the whole (Chinese) population in general today lives better than ever before in many aspects," adding that China's poverty reduction efforts over recent years are "an unprecedented feat in history."  
 

Source: Shanghai Daily, March 12, 2018
China's Xiongan New Area welcomes foreign investment
6th March 2018
International companies which can meet the functional requirements of the Xiongan New Area are welcome, said He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission on Tuesday.
 
He told a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress, China's national legislature, that the planning and construction of the new area have stepped into a new stage.
 
An administration has been set up and talent recruited from across the country, He said.
 
"Projects from the world over, which can meet requirements of the non-capital functions from Beijing and high-quality development, are welcome," said He.
 
He noted that major infrastructure projects had begun in the new area, including the construction of a rail link with Beijing. Travel time between Beijing and Xiongan will be 30 minutes.
 
Afforestation in the new area started in the winter, He added.
 
Xiongan New Area, established in April 2017, is a new economic zone about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing in Hebei Province. It is the third new area of national significance after the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 6, 2018

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