Cooperation was the loose theme of today’s China news (bear with us just a bit here). In the spirit of mutual helpfulness, China, Russia, Japan, the US and North and South Korea got together in Beijing on Monday to resume the dormant six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. Efforts this time around will concentrate on how to confirm the Democratic People’s Republic’s nuclear declaration. A different round of talks on cooperation – between Chrysler and Anhui-based carmaker Chery on jointly produced autos for the US and Chinese markets – were scuttled by Chrysler’s woes at home, where it is asking Congress for US$7 billion in loans.
Chinese steelmakers are asking iron ore miners to cooperate with them by cutting their prices by 82% in January, an amount the China Iron and Steel Association feels is commensurate with drops in steel prices domestically (though few others do). The Hebei Higher People’s Court dealt a blow to uncooperative citizens seeking to sue notorious dairy producer Sanlu over infant sicknesses and deaths due to melamine-tainted milk powder. The court rejected the case brought forth by 63 victims’ families seeking US$1 million in damages, telling the plaintiffs that the ongoing investigation of Sanlu meant their case couldn’t be accepted yet.
The government is considering cutting business tax – separate from the more prominent enterprise income tax and value-added tax – as part of its continuing fiscally led bid to boost the economy. Microsoft, looking for its own boost, needs to win back Chinese users, who are freshly smarting from a recent Windows update that turned screens of pirated versions of the software black a few months ago. The software giant has apparently obliged critics, who at the time blamed widespread piracy of Windows and Microsoft Office on their prohibitively high prices for most Chinese people, by slashing prices of both programs considerably. We will see if Chinese users and internet bars – some of which have been making the switch over to a Chinese Linux-based platform – will cooperate.