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POLITICAL ECONOMY
China bank loans pick up in September: central bank
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Oct 15, 2013


China's bank lending expanded in September, the central bank said late Monday, but analysts said policy easing might taper off as the government seeks to control inflation.

Domestic banks extended 787.0 billion yuan ($128.9 billion) in new loans last month, the People's Bank of China said in a statement, up from 711.3 billion yuan in August.

The September figure was well above market expectations of 674.5 billion yuan, according to a survey of 10 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.

Analysts said robust credit growth would pave the way for China to meet its 7.5 percent annual growth target but authorities could take measures to control bank lending to contain inflationary risk.

"Given the current growth momentum, the Chinese government could easily achieve its 7.5 percent growth target," Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Lu Ting wrote in a research report.

"But inflation will be edging towards the cap at 3.5 percent," he added.

Chinese inflation hit a seven-month high of 3.1 percent in September, data showed Monday, with analysts warning further upward pressure on prices would restrict the government's options to boost the economy.

"We expect the government to prevent further easing of credit policy, and could even take some measures to prevent credit growth from growing too fast," Lu said.

Beijing has introduced some measures to stimulate growth since late June, including a "mini" stimulus for rail and urban investment, tax cuts and looser monetary policy.

Figures from the central bank also showed China's foreign exchange reserves -- already the world's largest -- rose to $3.66 trillion by end-September, the biggest quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2011.

The figure was up from $3.50 trillion at the end of June.

Analysts said foreign investment has continued to flow into China despite worries over other emerging market economies, causing foreign exchange reserves to rise.

US group accuses Mattel over China labour violations
Shanghai (AFP) Oct 15, 2013 - A US-based labour rights group on Tuesday accused toy giant Mattel over a series of violations at supplier factories in China, including failure to pay adequate wages.

China Labor Watch said it had found legal and ethical violations at six plants Mattel contracts work to, according to a report based on worker interviews and undercover investigations.

Among the issues were under-compensation through failure to pay overtime and provide mandatory insurance, said the report posted on its website.

The campaign group put the value of what it called "wage theft" at the six factories at between $8 million and $11 million annually.

"One of the most alarming findings was the various methods -- many illegal -- that Mattel's factories use to reduce their workers' due wages and benefits," it said.

"Mattel's factories achieve cost reductions through the degradation of labour conditions... Workers at the bottom of the system are forced to bear the brunt of this burden."

Mattel, which is headquartered in the US state of California includes Barbie dolls and Fisher-Price toys among its brands, could not be immediately reached for comment.

But one of the contractor companies named in the report, Dongyao Toy Co. in southern China, denied any violations.

China Labor Watch said Dongyao, which is based in Dongguan, failed to pay weekend overtime and recorded excessive overtime hours of up to 100 hours per month.

"We have purchased all the social insurance required, paid all the salaries according to contract," a human resources official at the company told AFP.

"The workers who raised these complaints probably have some misunderstanding," said the official, who declined to be named.

In 1997 Mattel introduced global manufacturing principles in a commitment to responsible manufacturing, according to its website.

China Labor Watch said the company had failed to "rigorously" enforce that code of conduct.

China Labor Watch and its partner in the report Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France urged Mattel to respect the rights of Chinese workers.

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