Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 5, April 16 - 22


Daqing To Run Dry
Pumps at China’s biggest and most strategic oilfield, Daqing, will run dry within three years due to decades of heavy exploitation, the state-run Liberation Daily reports.

The northeastern oilfield accounts for nearly one-third of the country’s annual crude oil output of around 160 million tons.

Quoting a recent staff representatives’ meeting at Daqing, the report says the ratio of reserves to extraction speed had fallen below the warning line.

"More than 8,000 wells are still pumping oil," it says.
"After three years, under current economic and technical conditions, no well will be able to," it warned, referring to the prohibitive cost of extracting oil from deeper, less accessible parts of the reserves.

Water content in oil extracted at Daqing has been greater and greater in recent years, forcing more and more strenuous efforts to maintain production levels, the report says.

"Production costs are continually rising," it says, citing increasingly frequent breakdowns of the outdated equipment in use.
Since it began production in 1960, Daqing has extracted 1.5 billion tons of crude oil.

The oilfield has topped 50 million tons of output for 23 consecutive years, the newspaper says, describing the feat as a "miracle" even by world standards.

Hacking NATO
NATO admitted that Yugoslav hackers broke into its Internet home page and jammed its e-mail system with 2,000 messages a day.


Nato’s spokesman says service on Nato’s home page was "erratic to say the least" since early April. "Some hackers in Belgrade have hacked into our website," he told a news conference in Brussels. "At the same time our e-mail system has been saturated by one individual who is currently sending us 2,000 e-mails a day. We are dealing with macro viruses from Yugoslavia in our system." A senior Nato diplomat says Belgrade’s offensive was clearly well-organized and prepared. "'It ranges all the way from organized ethnic cleansing to messing up our website."

Kids R Us
Foreign couples adopted 200,000 mainland children from 1992 to 1998, the China News Service reports. Ninety percent of the couples were rich and well-educated, the semi-official agency says. Chinese people adopted 700,000 children during the period.

The adoption law, introduced in 1992, was amended at the National People’s Congress last month to make adoption easier. The revised law means couples will be eligible to adopt even if they have the child they were allowed under the one-child policy. Because of the policy, many daughters were given up for adoption due to an age-old preference for sons, the agency says. Handicapped children are also often handed over for adoption.

WTO Update
Sino-US talks on China’s admission to the WTO have produced key market access commitments by Beijing in agriculture, industrial products, high technology and services, US officials say.

President Bill Clinton and Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji failed to reach a final accord on terms of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), despite down-to-the-wire bargaining last week that the two said did yield substantial progress.

U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky says Chinese commitments include full participation in the three global accords negotiated in the WTO since the Uruguay Round of global trade liberalization talks: the Information Technology Agreement; the Basic Telecommunications Agreement and the Financial Services Agreement.

In the agricultural sector, Beijing committed to reducing immediately upon accession to the WTO its overall tariffs to 17 percent and to 14.5 percent for US priority products.

Tariffs are to drop from 45 percent at present to 12 percent in 2004 for beef, 20 to 12 percent for pork, 20 to 10 percent for poultry, 40 percent to 12 percent for citrus, 40 percent to 13 percent for grapes, from 65 to 20 percent for wine and from 50 percent to 12 percent for cheese.

In parallel to the market access accord, China also agreed to lift immediately, with the signature of three bilateral accords, "unjustified" sanitary and phytosanitary bans on wheat, citrus fruit and meat.

In the industrial sector, China is to cut average tariffs gradually from the 24.6 percent average in 1997 to 9.44 percent.Top US trade officials expressed confidence Washington and Beijing will complete a trade deal that will help clear the way for China to join the World Trade Organization by the end of the year.

"I have every confidence we will get back together with our counterparts quickly, hopefully with a complete resolution," Barshefsky says.

Despite intense round the clock negotiations by trade officials, the two sides failed to complete a deal when President Bill Clinton and Premier Zhu Rongji met at the White House. But the two leaders vowed to continue talks and complete an agreement by the end of the year.
"I do think we are very, very close. Both we and the Chinese believe we will be able to bridge the remaining gaps," Barshefsky says.

"I believe this is going to get done. I absolutely believe it," Secretary of Commerce William Daley says. He led a business delegation on a trade mission to China earlier this month.

The key, he says, is to complete China’s WTO entry process by the end of the year when WTO ministers will meet in Seattle, Washington, to launch a new round of global trade liberalization talks.

Zhu, the first Chinese premier to visit the United States in 15 years, wanted to return home with a completed WTO deal. He expressed disappointment at a news conference with Clinton saying the gaps remaining were not that large and blamed the political climate in Washington for the failure to complete the deal.

"If you want to hear some honest words, then I should say that now the problem does not lie with a big difference or big gap, but lies with the political atmosphere," Zhu said.

Administration officials acknowledge that the climate in Congress is not very positive, but insist there are serious issues that still need to be resolved in the negotiations on banking, securities, audio visual industries and textiles.

Clinton is expected to rely heavily on support from the business community to sell China’s WTO entry to Congress.

"Once they begin to analyze this deal and the agriculture people, and the banking people, and service sector people, and the auto people and others begin to see what’s in the deal, they will be in there saying this is a good deal," Daley says.

CITIC Head Arrested
China confirmed, nearly a year after his detention, that former China International Trust and Investment Corp (CITIC) vice-chairman Jin Deqin has been arrested for embezzlement.

Xinhua news agency quoted a Supreme People’s Procuratorate statement as saying Jin had "used his official post to embezzle tens of million of yuan in an abominable crime and grave plot".

"Jin Deqin is a senior cadre with more than 60 years as a Communist Party member who ignored national law and government and party discipline to commit the odious crime of large-scale embezzlement, causing grave economic damage and extremely bad political impact," the statement says.

China’s cabinet and Communist Party stripped Jin of all official and party posts, Xinhua says in the first confirmation of the banker’s arrest since Hong Kong media reported his detention on April 28, 1998.

The state-run agency gave no more details on the charges against Jin, who resigned as honorary chairman of Hong Kong’s CITIC-controlled Ka Wah Bank on April 15, 1998.

Hong Kong media said last year Jin had been detained for misusing Ka Wah Bank funds, including making a US$8 million loan to his son.

The arrest makes it highly likely that Jin will go to trial and face charges that could lead to a lengthy jail sentence. China has on occasion executed officials for economic crimes.

    Previous Stories...

April 9 - 15, 1999

April 2 - April 8, 1999

March 26 - April 1, 1999

March 19 - 25, 1999


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