CHINA


At China’s mid-October National People’s Congress, Hu Jintao kept his position as president and made a clear attempt to further consolidate his power. Premier Wen Jiaobao clung onto his position as well, despite some criticism lately concerning economic policies. There were some changes in the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, one of whom will be groomed to eventually take over the presidency from Hu Jintao. Competing factions within the highest levels of the party could complicate President Hu’s attempt to bring the party more fully under his control, though.

While the party was playing politics, it was business as usual in the rest of China. Shenhua Energy raised 66.6 billion yuan ($8.9 billion) in its recent Shanghai IPO, the largest to date on China’s domestic stock markets. Shares of the state-owned energy giant almost doubled in price during their first day of trading on October 9. China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer and meets almost 70% of its energy needs through coal-related energy sources. Shenhua’s IPO beat the previous domestic IPO record set only weeks before by China Construction Bank (CCB), which is also listed in Hong Kong.

China’s wealthiest citizens doubled their fortunes in the past year, according to Shanghai-based group Hurun Report. The group ranks annually the number of individuals with fortunes of at least 800 million yuan ($107 million). According to their research, the number of billionaires in China, in terms of US dollars, has increased from 15 last year to 206 this year. Mainland China now has the world’s second most billionaires, behind only the US.

China finally joined the rest of the world in condemning the use of violence to silence protesters in Burma and calling on the Burmese government to release political prisoners and enter discussions with opposing political leaders. China, which has strong trade ties with Burma, had previously vetoed measures condemning Burma but agreed to the measure after reducing the severity of some of the terms. Many view the situation in Burma as a test of China’s increasingly powerful regional role.


Tom Clouse