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People & Points
Print Edition> People & Points
UPDATED: April 14, 2008 NO.16 APR.17, 2008

New Hands on Financial Reins

Visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson met with China's newly appointed Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Beijing on April 2. Wang replaced his predecessor Wu Yi to take the reins of China's trade and financial affairs in March.

As President George W. Bush's special envoy, Paulson made a two-day trip to Beijing to bolster the fourth session of Sino-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue set for June in Washington, D.C.

During the talks, Wang said that the Chinese Government is attaching great importance to constructing a mutual-beneficial cooperative pattern between the two countries, and is willing to tackle thorny economic problems in joint efforts with the U.S. side, plagued by the side effects of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Paulson was happy to work with the new point man of the Chinese economy, whom he called a friend. "We know each other, we trust each other, and we communicate with each other, which means we won't lose time," he told the media during an exclusive interview with China Daily. In fact, the two have known each other since the 1990s, when Wang, then President of the state-owned China Construction Bank, consulted Goldman Sachs, where Paulson was chairman, for its commercial restructuring.

The 60-year-old Wang is no stranger to challenges. As vice governor of southern Guangdong Province in the late 1990s, he dealt effectively with the biggest ever debt-restructuring case after bankruptcy of two state-owned investment companies in the province. In addition, his quick countermeasures against the SARS outbreak in 2003, days after taking on the role as Beijing mayor, proved his enormous capabilities in handling public crises. Paulson described him as a man of positive attitude facing difficulties and is quite efficient in running problems.

24 Reasons for Torchbearer's Happiness

As part of the Olympic flame's round-the-globe journey of peace and harmony, 34-year-old torchbearer Bai Jian, an ordinary physical education teacher from northeast China's Liaoning Province, was in London on April 6 proudly holding high the sacred flame. Bai is known in China for his generosity to 24 orphans and poor children for more than a decade.

Bai, who remains single, adopted 24 children in 2004 after graduating from the Shenyang Institute of Physical Education and given them a warm home. As early as 1995, he began to support junior high school students when his income was merely 193 yuan (about $37 then) per month and has to date funded more than 60 poor students to prevent them from dropping out of school.

As a father, Bai's biggest hope is to see his children become university students. As an educator, his biggest dream is to see students from his school become Olympic champions.

When asked about the opportunity to become a torchbearer, modest Bai said it was his children who had made it possible. "I should thank my kids, because it is them who are giving me an opportunity to enjoy my role as a father, and making their poor dad the richest man spiritually in this world," he said.

"I think that what everybody forgets is that the athletes of 2008 are not the athletes any more of the 1970s or the 1980s. I think the athletes nowadays have enough of an opinion to decide whether to come to the Olympics or not."

Hein Verbruggen, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Coordination Commission for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, in response to reports about a Games boycott as suggested by some politicians in the West

"If you care about the human condition, really then a richer China is better."

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, when asked at a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Miami on April 4 whether he regarded China's growing influence in Latin America as a threat

"Russia has understood that if you can't beat them, then you must join them."

Alexei Malashenko, an analyst from the Moscow Carnegie Center, telling the Agence France-Presse, after U.S. President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin claimed progress toward resolving their dispute over a planned U.S. missile defense system in Europe at their swansong summit on April 6

"It is now clear that the current turmoil is more than simply a liquidity event, reflecting deep-seated balance sheet fragilities and weak capital bases, which means its effects are likely to be broader, deeper, and more protracted."

The International Monetary Fund, predicting in its semiannual Global Financial Stability Report released on April 8 that the worldwide losses stemming from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis could hit $945 billion as the impact spreads in the global economy

"They show a clear lack of leadership on bringing much-needed funding to poor countries."

Jeremy Hobbs of British charity Oxfam International, blaming rich countries for having broken promises made to substantially increase assistance to developing countries, when the Group of Eight industrialized nations agreed on April 5 to send a "strong message" to back growth in poor countries, and cautioned themselves to meet donation pledges

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