Hold on to your hats, we’re in for a bumpy ride – it’s official. What with the disappointing corporate earnings reports and downward revisions of growth forecasts, you might have noted that China’s economy is not as buoyant as before. Now Premier Wen Jiabao has weighed in, warning that “this year will be the most difficult in recent years” for economic development. The comments came in a 14,000-character policy overview published on Sunday in a Communist Party publication. I think we can safely assume Wen was not out trick or treating on Friday night, although he might have been listening to disappointing verdicts on the Canton Fair, which is widely seen as an indicator of international demand for Chinese goods.
Over at the dairy scandal, the government tone was intended to be more reassuring. Following reports last week that Chinese farmers sprinkle melamine in their animal feed like it was parmesan on Bolognese sauce, the Ministry of Agriculture said it had banned the use of the chemical over a year ago and punished hundreds of miscreants since then. Nestle was also seeking to draw a line under its involvement in the scandal, stressing that consumer safety was its top priority. Similar noises were made by Asia Resources Holdings, which withdrew an intravenous fluid made by one of its subsidiaries over fears that the product might be responsible for children falling ill in Fuzhou.
Oh, and do you remember the veritable commercial gold mine that was the Beijing Olympics? Some advertisers disagreed – ad spend during the Olympic month of August was well below forecasts.