Not a happy time for Chinese corporate profits. Earnings at China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) fell 43.7% year-on-year in January and February as the weight of a slowing domestic economy and a recession-hit external economy took their toll. It’s not exactly AIG (although who’s to say how the kickbacks bonuses work in some parts of the state sector), but the Ministry of Finance said the 8.1% decline in SOE revenues was the first in many years. Bank of China (BoC) is also feeling the pain, with a massive 59% drop in fourth-quarter profit overshadowing a still distinctly ropey full-year return of 14% in 2008. BoC has been dogged by bad news recently: In addition to the slowing domestic market, the bank has seen its foreign strategic investors run for the hills and its proposed purchase of a stake in French private bank Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild put on hold by wary Chinese regulators. Then there is the matter of US$2.59 billion in US subprime securities on its books. Meanwhile, China Telecom’s very own subprime asset – its personal handyphone system, which is being wound down on Beijing’s orders – made a US$3.5 billion hole in the company’s 2008 balance sheet. This contributed to a 96% year-on-year decline in net profit. Once again, it’s not exactly AIG, but it’s not great.