Chinese moguls buy 22 jets
Businessmen in eastern China have ordered 22 planes in a multimillion-dollar deal that more than triples the number of privately owned aircraft in China, state-run media said yesterday. The orders, worth 133 million yuan (US$16.7 million), were placed in the past week at an exhibition organized by a flying club in booming Zhejiang Province, Xinhua News Agency said. The planes included four Cessna jets, four seaplanes and four helicopters from seven companies from China, Hong Kong, the US and Slovenia. The most expensive was a Dassault business jet that cost 60 million yuan, Xu Weijie, chairman of the Yueqing Flying Club, was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper. Xu said the entrepreneurs paid little attention to price tags and were more concerned about how soon they could get their purchases up in the air.
■ Web telephony
Google sued over VoIP
A small New York technology firm said on Friday it was suing search titan Google for up to US$5 billion for patent violation in the Internet telephony software used in Google Talk. Jerry Weinberger, chief executive of Rates Technology Inc (RTI), said he was the inventor of software that allows telephone calls to be placed over the Internet. He said 120 companies, including Lucent, Cisco, IBM, Yahoo and Microsoft, have paid RTI to use the technology for "Voice over Internet Protocol" (VoIP) calls. RTI filed suit in a Long Island federal court against Google two months ago because the search engine was using the technology without authorization, Weinberger said. "They told us to go to hell," the RTI boss told reporters. "They are the most arrogant company in the world."
Bush rejects quotas on China
US President George W. Bush on Friday rejected a request to place quotas on steel pipe imported from China, saying the cost to American consumers would outweigh the benefit to domestic producers. US pipemakers and a labor group, which strongly condemned the president's decision, asked the Bush administration to impose the quotas on certain kinds of steel pipe used primarily in construction. They argued that a surge in imports from China was disrupting markets. The International Trade Commission sided with the companies, and recommended that the US president provide them with relief. But Bush rejected that, saying it was not in the best interest of the US economy. Any relief, he said, would probably be ineffective because steel imports from other countries would probably replace those curtailed from China.
Thailand faces shortage
Thailand, the world's second-biggest exporter of sugar, is facing a "severe shortage" of the commodity and will crack down on hoarding and illegal exports to shore-up supplies, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday. The government will also fix domestic prices, the premier said in his weekly radio address. He said he has ordered an investigation into warehouses suspected of hoarding sugar meant for domestic consumption with the aim of selling overseas where prices are higher. Farmers and traders will have to accommodate lower prices, Thaksin said. Thailand experienced its worst drought for 40 years in the first half of last year and output may not recover until the 2006-2007 harvest in 12 months, the International Sugar Organization said on Nov. 7.