Some days seem to have more than their share of bad news. Five kidnapped Chinese oil workers in the Sudan were executed yesterday, presumably by a group that wants China to abandon its oil projects in the country. Justin Lin, the World Bank’s chief economist, projected that China’s economic growth will slow to between 8 and 9% next year, with longer-term growth figures down 2 to 3% from the delirious double-digit heights of recent years. Growth (in net profits, that is) is also down for 645 mainland-listed mainland companies from the second quarter this year to the third, despite the fact that their profits collectively rose 30.1% over the first nine months of the year from the same period last year.
Other falling objects include the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets, which both dropped considerably yesterday, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index suffering its biggest single-day drop in 10 years and closing at its lowest level in more than four years. If there’s one thing that the Chinese government knows can keep an economy running, it’s massive infrastructure spending. The State Council has allocated US$292 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) for railway construction projects that will extend the country’s rail network by 22,000km (or 28%) by 2010 and another 20,000km in the following 10 years.
Not everyone is looking down, though: Toyota is happy enough in China that it is building its seventh mainland factory, in Changchun, to turn out Corolla sedans, and new deposits of gold and iron ore were discovered in Shandong province.