A closely-watched indicator of economic activity in China is showing an unexpectedly robust reading for September, according to an announcement on Tuesday. But is a real growth rebound underway, following several signs of a slowdown in the third quarter so far?
Hong Kong stock market investors appeared to reserve judgement, allowing the Hang Seng index to slip 0.49 per cent, or 118 points on Tuesday to 23,837. Economists and other survey-based indicators of Chinese economic activity reinforced the skepticism.
It looks like Laos, China’s tiny landlocked southern neighbour, is about to find out whether sharing a border with China is a good thing. Laos has two things China needs – natural resources such as potash and hydropower, and access to Thailand’s large and growing consumer market.
Perhaps that is why China is so keen to provide a $7.2bn loan to the small communist country for a long-awaited controversial high-speed rail project between the two.
For the tens of millions of Chinese who will journey back home next month for the Chinese New Year, fighting over the limited supply of train tickets is nothing new. But this year, the fight has moved online, and somewhat controversially.
With slowdown fears prompting calls in China for another investment push, rail spending is back in favour.
A government report has put some numbers on spending in 2012, and rail stocks have jumped accordingly.
All countries would like to be able to move people about quickly, cleanly and (relatively) safely. Hence the attractions of high-speed rail. The downside is that it is very expensive to build, and there can be tough political decisions over where to run the track.
With those concerns in mind, it comes as no surprise that China is the country building the most, despite the recent fatal crash. But which other countries are investing in high-speed rail? Chart of the week finds out.
The fatal train collision near Shanghai at the weekend may add to the challenges China faces as it plans to become a global force in high speed railway technology.
In Russia, where Beijing is angling for contracts to build high speed railways, officials had misgivings about alleged Chinese abuse of intellectual property rights even before the crash.