Premier Wen Jiabao landed in Iceland on Friday, beginning a tour of northern Europe that will focus on Chinese investment in a region eager for funds but wary of China’s hunger for natural resources, Reuters reported. Wen also will visit Germany, Poland and Sweden for talks on investment and industrial projects.
Iceland expects a cooperation deal with Wen on developing energy resources in east Africa, where China is a large investor and buyer of raw materials. Reuters added that his trip has fueled European concern that China might be trying to exploit Iceland’s economic troubles to gain a strategic foothold in the North Atlantic and Arctic region, rich in oil and gas, gold and diamonds, iron and zinc.
About 100,000 people living in the Three Gorges Dam area could be relocated over the next three to five years, Shanghai Daily said, with massive landslides and Yangtze riverbank collapses expected to hit the area as the dam’s water level reaches capacity. The prospect of controlling or preventing geological disasters in the near future is not promising, the land-resources minister, Liu Yuan, was quoted as telling China National Radio.
A national island-protection plan released by China’s oceans agency forbids development of any of the country’s 1,020 islands designated for special purposes, according to Sina. Without official permission, all activities that could change the nature of the areas are strictly banned, as well as picture-taking, mapping and surveying.
Sixteen endangered finless porpoises have been found dead since the beginning of the year and, said Agence France-Presse, experts blame water pollution, climate change and other factors for pushing the “river pig” toward extinction. The freshwater cetacean lives mainly in the Yangtze River and two lakes linked to it – Dongting in Hunan province and Poyang in Jiangxi.
In collaboration with other Chinese institutions, scientists from BGI – a premier genome-sequencing centre – announced they have cloned the world’s first transgenic sheep, according to Asian Scientist. The animal, Peng Peng, has a gene associated with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, essential for healthy heart functioning and normal development of the brain, eyes and neurons. His birth, say researchers, means that in the future, people could absorb the acids by drinking milk or eating meat.
China’s food and drug safety watchdog withdrew the production licences of two medical-capsule producers in Zhejiang province, China Daily said, amid a scandal involving the manufacture of contaminated gelatin capsules. Licences of the Huaxing and Zhuokang plants were revoked for “grave violations of laws and regulations”, and other inquiries are under way.
Workers exposed to silica dust in mines and in pottery and gemstone factories are at higher risk of death from respiratory diseases and lung cancer than those employed in cleaner environments, Reuters reported Chinese-led researchers as writing in PLoS Medicine. Breaking new ground, the scientists also found heightened risk of cardiovascular disease in workers with long-term exposure.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
Domestic environmental laws should be extended to overseas operations, says former government environment economist Hu Tao