- - Sunday, December 11, 2011

CHINA

Beijing pledges more opportunities for trade

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao said Sunday that China doesn’t intentionally pursue a large trade surplus and that it will focus on expanding imports in the coming years.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Mr. Hu said China’s ultimate aim is to have balanced trade and that total imports will exceed $8 trillion in the next five years, bringing “enormous opportunities” to businesses around the world eager to sell to hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers.

Mr. Hu was speaking at a forum to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

Other economies are looking to China to help drive global demand, but its high trade surplus has meant that fewer of the gains are shared with other countries.

China imported goods worth $1.39 trillion last year, but imports are on the rise, reaching $1.43 trillion in the first 10 months of 2011.

SOUTH KOREA

Huge Christmas trees allowed near border with North

SEOUL — South Korea will allow Christians to light two more towers shaped like Christmas trees near the tense border with North Korea despite strong opposition from Pyongyang, an official said Sunday.

The South Korean government allowed a Christian group to light a massive steel Christmas tree near the border last year for the first time in seven years, as tensions flared in the wake of two deadly attacks blamed on the North.

That tree will be lit again this month, and a Defense Ministry official said South Korea has decided to allow Christian groups to light two other Christmas trees near the border.

The decision is meant to help guarantee freedom of expression and religion, the official said.

North Korea’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said Sunday that lighting the first tree was a form of psychological warfare and would trigger an “unexpected consequence.”

IRAQ

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