USA raises tariffs on inexpensive Chinese solar panels

This Wednesday, the United States Department of Commerce issued a ruling to set tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels ranging from 18% to 250% for different solar panels manufacturers. China protested against the new tariffs on Thursday claiming that they make export of solar panels to the USA unprofitable.

Solar Panel

A US-German company SolarWorld and a group of other companies complained and initiated the tariffs change. Some manufacturers claimed China’s subsidies are an unfair advantage for the Chinese solar panel manufacturers, and challenged whether China’s economy is a free market.

Wang Shuai, a spokesman for the Yingli solar energy company, commented that 30% tariffs are unprofitable. He claimed that in the solar industry, gross profit margins are about 10 percent. “A tax rate of 30 percent is the same as 200 percent. Both of them mean the door is closed for exporting to the United States. No one does business to lose money.”

The tariffs would not go into effect until the International Trade Commission confirms the Chinese pricing hurts the U.S. solar industry.

The tariffs occur as the Chinese solar panel manufacturers have reported losses this year of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to AP.

South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet

Troops in South Korea attacked a passenger jet Saturday after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft. The Asiana Airlines plane was out of range and escaped undamaged; the 119 on board were unharmed.

Soldiers fired 99 rounds, including two blanks, from their K2 rifles at the Airbus A321 as it approached Incheon International Airport on a flight from China. That airport serves Seoul and is 25 miles (40.2 kilometres) from the border between the two Korean states.

An Asiana A321, Image: Ellery Cheng.

 The plane’s route is disputed. One aviation controller said that the plane was “flying normally” and “did not deviate from its normal route,” a claim with which Asiana agrees. However, Yonhap reports that the South Korean marines who attacked the aircraft say it was off-course. A Marine Corps official said the shooting lasted ten minutes as the plane flew over Jumun island. The marines fired from nearby Gyodong.

Relations between the two Korean countries have been tense since the end of open hostilities in the 1953 Korean War. The South Korean military has recently used photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s family for target practice, with the north threatening retaliation. South Korean media claimed yesterday that the south has US-built missiles capable of reaching the northern capital, Pyongyang, and blamed the north for twin bombings that killed 50 people last year.

The troops opened fire with K2s, but the jet was out of range. Image: W:User:Kahuna028.

South Korean troops have been told by Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin to fire at attacking North Koreans without waiting for or seeking instructions. “Don’t ask your commanders whether to fire back or not. Take actions first and then report afterwards,” he said on the front line in March. The South Korean military was criticised in November for a slow response to the north’s shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which killed four.

The two marines who attacked the plane yesterday had recently been told that the North was increasing military action due to heightened tensions. As a result of the incident, increased training on aircraft identification will be performed. Asiana said they were unaware of the attack until contacted by the military and asked if the jet had been hit.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim remains the world’s richest man

According to Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaire list released yesterday, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim is the world’s richest person for the second year in a row, with a net worth of US$74 billion. American Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp is again listed in second place with US$56 billion while investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is third.

Carlos Slim, the world's richest man

China added the most new billionaires to the list with 54 while Russia added 31. The US came in third, with 23 new billionaires; American Mark Zuckerberg, chairman of Facebook, more than tripled his net worth to US$13.5 billion, placing him in Forbes’ 52nd spot.

Although the US is home to 413 billionaires, more than any other country, the changing distribution of global finances is evident. Today, due to the increasing wealth of emerging nations, just one in every three billionaires is American, a decline from ten years ago when Americans numbered one in every two. Brazil, Russia, India and China together accounted for more than 108 new billionaires. Last year, New York was home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, while this year Moscow is home to 79, which beats New York’s current number of 58.

Forbes lists a world total of 1,210 billionaires whose combined wealth is US$4.5 trillion, an increase from last year’s total of US$3.6 trillion.

Leaked cables cause Australian concern

Leaked diplomatic cables between Australia and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have raised alert from the Australian Government after claims that they may affect relations with China. The documents were released by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks. The cables between the then prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, revealed that China may be forced for integration into the international community. The secret documents also contained information of a conversation between Clinton and Rudd in Washington. In the interview, Rudd stated that China was “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet.

Kevin Michael Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Former Prime Minister of Australia.

The sensitive documents may place a strain on diplomatic relations between Australia and China. Despite this, Kevin Rudd reassured the public that the “robust” relationship between Australia and China wouldn’t sustain any substantial damage to the relations between the two countries.

At the heart of the leaks is Australian founder, Julian Assange. Wikileaks have now released 821 of their promised 251,287 US diplomatic cables. The cables are being released on a stage-by-stage basis. Earlier this week, Assange was arrested on suspicion of rape in London under a Swedish arrest warrant.

China finds USD 100 bn mineral deposits in Tibet

China continues to strike it rich in Tibet as geologists discovered 102 types of mineral deposits in over 3000 mine beds with an estimated value of about USD 100 billion.

Chromium, One ounce worth of ultra-high purity chromium crystals.

So far, over 3,000 mine beds, deposits or mineralised sites with as many as 102 types of mineral were discovered in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Chinese official media reported, quoting officials from the regional bureau of land and resources.

The mineral resources in the Himalayan region have an estimated potential value up to 600 billion yuan (USD 100 billion), it said. Among the variety of mineral reserves, Tibet is reported to have large chromium and cuprum (copper) far higher than other regions of mainland China. Twelve other mineral reserves rank among the top five across the whole country.

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