Monday, March 2, 2009

China's top advisory body to start annual session, with focus on global financial crisis

China's top advisory body to start annual session, with focus on global financial crisis,The Second Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will open Tuesday afternoon and last nine days, said spokesman for the session Zhao Qizheng at a press conference Monday.
The session's secretariat said political advisors have submitted 296 proposals as of 5 p.m. Monday, with economy, employment and infrastructure being the main concerns as the global financial crisis unfolded. Members of the CPPCC National Committee have shown great concerns about the economy. Some of them are optimistic about the goal of an 8-percent economic growth this year while others think it is difficult to realize, Zhao said. China can achieve the goal through its efforts, said Zhao. China must try all means to ensure stable and rapid economic development and strive for the target in order to ride through the crisis, as the country's political advisors all agree.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the 11th CPPCC National Committee, will deliver a report on the work of the CPPCC National Committee's Standing Committee over the past year, while Zhang Rongming, vice-chairwoman of the 11th CPPCC National Committee, will report how the suggestions and proposals from CPPCC members were handled since the last session, Zhao said. CPPCC National Committee members, coming throughout the country, are expected to discuss the report on government work by Premier Wen Jiabao, reports on the work of the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate, he said. During the session, the political advisory body will hold two press conferences on the proposals on how to achieve steady and relatively fast economic growth and the World Expo in Shanghai next year.
A total of 2,235 political advisors are expected to attend the session.

Chinese art dealer exacts revenge over 'stolen' bronzes

A wealthy Chinese art collector announced yesterday that he had sabotaged the auction of bronze rat and rabbit heads that were sold for €31m (£28m) in Paris last week despite furious objections by Beijing.

Cai Mingchao revealed that he was the anonymous telephone bidder who had bought the 18th-century animal busts, but that he would hold back the money to block the sale.

Mr Cai said: "What I need to stress is that this money cannot be paid. At the time, I was thinking that any Chinese would do this if they could ... I only did what I was obliged to."

Beijing failed last week in legal and diplomatic efforts to block the sale of the artefacts, which were part of an auction of the vast art collection assembled by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The bronze busts were originally among 12 animal heads that decorated a fountain at the Imperial summer palace in Beijing. The Chinese government insists that they were stolen by French and British troops when the palace was burned during the second Opium War, in 1860.

Mr Cai told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that he made the final €15.7m bids for each of the animal heads as part of a plan to sabotage the auction, devised by an association devoted to the recovery of looted Chinese art.

The refusal of a French court, and then the French government, to block the sale has provoked a further downward spiral in the already troubled relationship between Paris and Beijing.

Mr Cai's announcement is also a severe embarrassment for the auction house, Christie's, which had gone to extreme lengths to verify the credentials, and purchasing power, of those authorised to bid in the so-called "sale of the century". Mr Cai, one of the authorised telephone bidders, is an art collector and expert on ancient Chinese art.

He is the owner of Xinheart, an auction company in Xiamen, in southern China. He is also an adviser to the Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Program, a non-governmental body which attempts to repatriate important works of Chinese art.

In theory, Christie's could now organise another auction and order Mr Cai to refund any shortfall in the new sale price. In practice, that may be very difficult to arrange. A long legal, and diplomatic, wrangle is in prospect.

The Chinese government denied that it had played any part in Mr Cai's act of sabotage. Niu Xianfeng, the assistant director of the cultural recovery programme, told a press conference in Beijing that it was he and Mr Cai who had devised a plan to block the sale.

"This is an extraordinary method taken in an extraordinary situation, which successfully stopped the auction," Mr Niu said. He described Mr Cai as a "Chinese man whom everyone should admire".

Christie's said yesterday that they were aware of Mr Cai's comments but would not comment on any specifics of the case or any action they may take.



WELL I AM SNOWED-IN SO CAN'T GO OUT.............and I'm not even going to try to get to work.......................
A heavy snowstorm roared up the Eastern Seaboard and blanketed the Northeast on Monday with blowing, drifting, blizzard-like conditions, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights, shutting down thousands of schools and disrupting morning commutes for millions across the region.