Chinese have welcomed the arrival of the Year of the Snake
with raucous celebrations, setting off a cacophony of
firecrackers in the streets and sending fireworks blazing
into the sky to bring good fortune.
China's ruling Communist Party has unveiled an older,
conservative leadership line-up that appears unlikely to take
the drastic action needed to tackle pressing issues like
social unrest, environmental degradation and corruption.
Chinese inflation hit a 29-month low in June but still people
are complaining about the rising costs of food and high
housing prices. Business editor Dene Mackenzie was in China
last week and reports on the economic situation of New
Zealand's second-largest trading partner.
The growing importance of China to the New Zealand economy
was emphasised in a release yesterday by Auckland
International Airport, which showed a sharp growth in Chinese
visitor numbers in the current financial year.
China has denied allegations that its firms had exported
banned goods to North Korea, after Japanese media reported
that Chinese-made missile transporters were sold to Pyongyang
in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.
China's most senior diplomat has vowed to deepen ties with
North Korea and praised its young leader Kim Jong-un, despite
an international outcry over Pyongyang's recent rocket launch
and the possibility of a third nuclear test by the isolated