In these dark days even little victories generate big smiles. China auto makers are probably smiling the broadest today. Sales of passenger cars, buses and trucks in February increased 25% year-on-year to 827,600, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. China remains ahead of the US as the world’s largest auto market this year. Exporters may allow themselves a faint grin, after months of frustration – Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Beijing will cut export taxes to zero and offer other assistance to manufacturers in order to regain China’s share of global manufacturing. Executives at China Vanke, meanwhile, definitely have frowns on their faces. The company’s sales volume rose 150% in February but Vanke and other developers had to push prices down by the highest monthly margin ever to get buyers interested. This came on top of a 16.7% decline in profit for 2008. Finally, the Dalai Lama is downright bleak these days, saying that Beijing has created “hell on earth” in Tibet as he marked the 50th anniversary of his exile from the region. He said the repeated crackdowns by Beijing over the years had lead to countless deaths.
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