July 31, 2009

Pakistan Minister Hints China $4 Billion Investment for Gwadar Pipeline

Pakistan "Minister for Investment" senator Waqar Ahmad Khan revealed today that China was likely to invest $4 billion (US dollars) in the envisioned pipeline from Gwadar port to the Chinese border probably connecting at the Karakorum highway area. Minister Khan presented a 5 year "National Investment Policy" for Pakistan of $75 billion in strategic investment much of it for infrastructure and energy. Details are expected at a cabinet meeting in Islamabad. No other details available at this time....

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TRADE WAR: China Takes on USA, EU at WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has established a dispute panel on Beijing's complaint about the USA's ban on Chinese poultry. The request was initiated some months ago and the WTO will now hear and investigate the matter. Readers will recall that the US Congress inserted the ban into Obama's big stimulus program. China is also challenging anti-dumping duties imposed by the EU on machine parts (bolts, screws, etc.) from China....

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July 30, 2009

Reunification Watch: First China-Taiwan Direct Private Investment

Newland Computer Holdings of Fuzhou, Fujian Province, has acquired the controlling stake in Taiwan based Dipu Tech in a cash deal approved by Chinese regulators. This small step is an example of the economic absorption method Beijing will use to slowly and inexorably blend Taiwan's economy with the mainland, the key process to eventual unification. It took 17 years (founding of the ShenZhen Special Economic Zone in 1980) to unite Hong Kong economically. It will most likely take much longer with Taiwan particularly if there is resistence from the USA....

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July 29, 2009

CSEC Tests Shanghai High

The giant IPO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSEC) tested investor appetite for domestic shares on the Shanghai Securities Exchange today and while CSEC's stock gained over 50% on its initial trading day the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 5% overall in late trading. Before the close the Shanghai Composite fell as far as 3,174 testing its new highs. Observers must remember that a 5% drop is not unusual for the often very volatile Shanghai exchange....

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China to Stock Additional 170 Million Barrels of Oil

Beijing's National Development and Reform Commission has approved an expansion of the Aoshan Strategic Petroleum Reserve site in coastal Zhejiang Province.

China finished the first phase of its strategic reserve program already this year, stocking 102 million barrels in four locations in Zhejiang, Shandong, and Liaoning provinces, all along China's vulnerable coastline. The second phase will move strategic locations inland and fill an additional 170 million barrels. Work is underway and the new locations are rumoured to be in Caofeidian, in northern Hebei Province, Shanshan, in western Xinjiang, Lanzhou, in Gansu Province, and Wanzhou, in Chongqing Municipality.

By building its strategic petroleum reserves some analysts maintain China causes price spikes in crude oil.....

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July 28, 2009

BYD to Issue Shares, Expand Production

Lithium battery maker and EV upstart BYD (part owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway) has filed to issue shares on the ShenZhen Stock Exchange and has major plans for expansion. The company says it will up production of autos by 75% in a year to around 700,000 units. BYD recently acquired a minibus maker, Hunan Midea Coach, and has an agreement for a factory in Xi'An.....

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Reunification Watch: Hu & Ma in Direct Communications

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou was reelected Chairman of the Kuomintang party and in congratulations Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a message directly to Ma and Ma responded in kind. Both emphasized working on peace and prosperity on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.....

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Obama's China Speech Emphasizes "Partnership"

The first Obama Administration China summit concludes today. The "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" takes USA-China relations a step further away from "strategic competitor" under W and back to the late Bill Clinton era (post 1996) view of China as a "partner."

The word "partner" or "partnership" is mentioned four times in Obama's largely complimentary speech. The speech gives clues to what Obama expects of China: 1) coordination on economic growth and recovery; 2) cooperation on alternative energy to reduce both nations' dependence on oil imports and air pollution; 3) coordination to stop nuclear proliferation, citing Korea and Iran in particular; and 4) cooperation in "confronting transnational threats" (terrorism) with Obama mentioning "increased ties between our militaries."

Overall, Obama's China policy - as defined by his speech - is refreshingly realistic and pays only lip service to ineffectual issues such as "human rights," "currency manipulation," and without one mention of Taiwan, a clear signal that his administration may be the first in over 60 years to not have a "Taiwan Straits Crisis".

Some key points Obama made:

"We can't predict with certainty what the future will bring, but we can be certain about the issues that will define our times. And we also know this: The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world. That really must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility that together we bear."

"[T]he United States and China share mutual interests. If we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit and the world will be better off"......

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July 24, 2009

SABIC-Sinopec Refinery JV on Schedule

Earlier this month Beijing's all mighty National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC) gave the green light for a 50/50 joint venture between Saudi-owned SABIC and Beijing controlled Sinopec to run an expanded refinery in Tianjin. The refinery has been undergoing a multi-billion dollar expansion since 2006 and should go online in September. It includes capacity to produce 1 million tons of ethylene per year and could some day process up to 300,000 barrels of petroleum derived products per day for the greater Bohai Gulf area and north China region....

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Reunification Watch: Quemoy Demilitarized as Sea, Air Links Begin

Airlines in China and Taiwan are awaiting approvals for regular passenger services to replace the current charter flights. When the green light is given, 270 passenger flights a week will link Taiwan with most major cities in China. Cross straits flights are expected to begin at the end of August. By sea, passenger-cargo service has begun from Fuzhou, Fujian, to Keelung, Taiwan, with Xiamen, Fujian, to Kaohsiung, Taiwan on the way.

Meanwhile the island of Quemoy or Kinmen is removing its old beach barricades, a legacy of the many battles in the 1950s between "Communist" China and "Nationalist" China and its backer the USA. The demilitarization of Quemoy/Kinmen comes in time for a mass swim planned for August 15 between Xiamen and the island!

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July 23, 2009

Chery to Merge, Rebrand, IPO

Chery, China's most talked about automaker, will at last sell shares with a planned IPO this year. No details or date available but Chery did confirm the company is performing due diligence in preparation for an IPO. Reports are Chery may merge with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co or JAC as part of Beijing's direction to consoliate the car making business. The new conglomerate would be called Da-An Motors. Of greatest interest - will there be a foreign IPO to follow?....

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The Cherkizovsky Chinese Pogrom

A delegation from Beijing including a Deputy Commerce Minister is in Moscow this week to discuss the crackdown by Moscow city and Russian police on Chinese traders at the giant Cherkizovsky market. Cherkizovsky is a huge wholesale market located outside central Moscow. Russian authorities claim it is a center of Chinese smuggling and have confiscated all Chinese goods and deported 150 Chinese nationals. Chinese in Moscow say it is a pogrom and fear their merchandise - valued up to $5 billion (US) - will be confiscated. Unraveling this mess will be key if recent talk of promoting Russia-China trade is anything other than words....

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New US China Ambassador Promises "Robust Engagement"

Senate confirmation hearings are underway today for the appointment of Jon Huntsman, Jr., Republican Governor of Utah and former national co-chair of John McCain's 2008 campaign, as ambassador to China. Senators present, including McCain, have nothing but positive words for Huntsman who is expected to be confirmed as soon as next week.

Ambassador to China is a plum assignment and largely ceremonial. The pattern is to retain the previous administration's ambassador (typically someone with strong business connections) until a chosen successor is found. Huntsman is somewhat unusual because his background is all politics although he does have experience in the US Trade Representative office. He will be officially tasked to push Beijing on the usual topics such as "human rights" and the new Obama emphasis on "global climate change". Will he also communicate closely with occasional China hawk John McCain?.....


July 22, 2009

COMAC ARJ21 Passenger Jet Flies to Xi'An

Late last week the 3rd and longest flight test of China Commercial Aircraft Corp. (COMAC)'s ARJ21 regional narrow body passenger jet was completed between the Shanghai assembly plant and an aerospace center in Xi'An where the ARJ21 will be further refined. COMAC says it has 208 orders for the plane and we will be on pace to deliver 30 in 2011 and 50 in 2012. The first airline set to receive the ARJ21 is Kunpeng Airlines, a regional division of Shenzhen Airlines, formerly part-owned by the troubled Mesa Air Group of Arizona.

Production of the ARJ21 is the first step in China's desire to become a competitor in the global aerospace industry. The ARJ21 competes directly with Embraer of Brazil and Bombadier in Canada. The later stage of the planned evolution is for Chinese big aircraft to be a "big 3" alongside Boeing and Airbus. Development of China's aerospace industry is a win for global business. The ARJ21 supply chain includes many American firms such as GE, the engine supplier, and Goodrich, United Technologies, Rockwell-Collins, Honeywell, Eaton Aerospace, and Alcoa, among others....

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July 21, 2009

Peace Mission 2009 Underway

Joint China-Russia war games begin July 22 in Manchuria. Called "Peace Mission 2009" the games will begin with consultations and strategy sessions in the Russian Far East capital Khabarovsk and then move to Jilin province for anti-terrorist operation exercises involving several thousand troops and Russian and Chinese air power. The first two "Peace Mission" war games were conducted under the guise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO no longer attempts any military alliance, thus the war games are just between Russia and China.

Although unrelated to the war games, the Chinese have revived their plan to produce a Chinese style C-130 transport plane. China has already produced a large number of Y-9 aircraft, modeled on the former Soviet An-12 transport. Each new Y-9 will be able to carry 132 paratroopers or 25 tons of cargo....

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Nuctech's Namibia Adventure

A corruption scandal in Namibia includes a Chinese national with links to a tech firm headed until last year by the son of Chinese President Hu. In typical heavy handed fashion Beijing attempted to quash news stories through web filtering yesterday only to add more grist to the rumour mill surrounding the controversy.

Namibia used a new anti-corruption law to investigate and arrest a former Namibia government official, her business partner, and a Chinese man named Yang Fan. At the heart of the scandal is a trading company called Teko Trading set up by this alleged gang to funnel monies received by the Namibian government but originating from a $12.8 million (US dollars) loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. The money was for purchase of THSCAN container inspection scanners made by the Nuctech Company of Beijing. THSCAN scanners are used to inspect containers arriving at ports around the world including Los Angeles, Singapore, and many important ports. The money siphoned by Teko Trading was used for brand new Toyota autos and to pay off house loans and other purposes.

The connection to Hu Jintao is tenuous at best. Hu's son Hu Haifeng was head of Nuctech but left a year ago for a more senior position in the parent company. Info on the happenings in Namibia originate from stories by AP reporter Max Hamata, based in Namibia, and the Affafrica.com websites. AllAfrica.com, Inc., is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has teamed up in the past with USAID programs.

More interestingly, the Namibia-Nuctech deal gives a glimpse into how Beijing uses trade finance to facilitate exports and support to Chinese firms....

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July 20, 2009

Shanghai Bubbly

Beijing's decision to uncork the IPO genie may be hindering the sale of short term debt. Three times in the past 2 weeks or so China's Finance Ministry has failed to sell all its 6-months bills despite higher yields. The Wall Street Journal rightly, I think, attributes the auction shortfalls to IPO frenzy. What remains to be seen is whether renewed excitement in Shanghai shares will inflate another bubble. Already the Shanghai Composite is back up above 3,000 for the first time in over a year....

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July 17, 2009

More Angola Oil for China in Marathon Sale

Marathon Oil, one of America's oldest and most innovative oil companies, will sell 20% of Angola block 32 to the Chinese oil majors CNOOC and Sinopec in a deal valued well over $1 billion (US). The offshore block already has many successful exploration wells. Angola is a leading supplier of crude to China....

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July 15, 2009

Chinese Mergers & Deals for July 15, 2009

Via Reuters:


** China's Ministry of Commerce played down reports that it is at odds with the economic planning agency over a controversial deal for a little-known Chinese company to buy GM's Hummer unit.

** CNOOC, PTT PCL, ENI, and Osaka Gas are among companies that submitted indicative bids for a 20 to 35 percent stake in InterOil's liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, sources said.

** ZTE Corp said it had won 34 percent of China Mobile Communications Corp's third-round 3G network expansion tender.


CNOOC Offers 17 Offshore Blocks to Foreign Cooperation

China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is offering 17 blocks for joint foreign development. Most of the offshore blocks are in the east South China Sea in the Pearl River basin (image at left shows locations).
The head of CNOOC, Fu Chengyu, told Dow Jones the company was interested in cooperation "instead of mergers and acquisitions" in response to the reports that the company might buy all of Repsol's Argentina assets....

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July 14, 2009

1st USA-China "Strategic & Economic Dialogue" Set for July 27-28

The new fangled US-China Strategic AND Economic Dialogue, the Obama administration's twist on the W and Hu founded Strategic Economic Dialogue, will meet July 27 and 28 in Washington, DC, and include a joint press conference on its final day. The group will include Treasury Secretary Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Washington and Dai Bingguo and Wang Qishan for Beijing....

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ChangAn Auto to Build Cars in South Africa

Chang'an Auto or Chana will build an auto plant in South Africa and invest approximately $80 million (US dollars). The plant will be the final phase of a multi-phase plan to capture at least 4% of South Africa's car market. The car assembly plant would be the first such venture in 40 years in South Africa. Currently the company imports cars in a joint venture with a South African importer and has around 20 dealerships....

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July 13, 2009

CHL, CHU Choose ERIC for 2G/3G Expansion

Swedish telecom major Ericsson (ERIC) will supply equipment and services to China Mobile (CHL) and China Unicom (CHU) in agreements valued at $1.7 billion (US). China Mobile will roll out using China's homegrown TD-SCDMA standard and China Unicom will expand coverage and services for GSM/WCDMA.....

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China Gets Ecuador Oil in Multi-Billion Dollar Deal

PetroChina will extend a billion (US) dollars in credit to Ecuador and anothher billion in a 4 year security to be arranged according to Dow Jones reports. The deal would give the Chinese oil major around 96,000 barrels per day of crude. Additionally, a Sino-Ecuador joint venture - SinoHydro-AndesJV - will build a hydroelectric plant valued at $2 Billion.....

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July 10, 2009

EU Backs Down on Chinese Steel Pipe

Word from the G8 summit is the European Commission will end the anti-dumping duties on steel pipe products from China imposed in April. A similar move from the Obama administration is doubtful as the Democratic Party yields to the demands of American steel unions and companies....

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USA-China Trade Up in June

The pace of decline in Chinese exports and imports overall continues to slow and trade with the USA was up. America's trade deficit with China increased by almost a billion US dollars to $17.5 billion for the month of June....

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July 09, 2009

Chinese Biotech Firm Readies Swine Flu Vaccine

Sinovac Biotech (symbol SVA) a bio pharmaceutical based in Beijing has been given the green light to prepare is brand name vaccine for H1N1 virus, PANFLU. The company began work on the vaccine just a month ago when it received the virus from the USA. The Chinese central government will stockpile the vaccine in time for the fall/winter flu season....


Thailand Courts Beijing for Railways

Following a meeting between Thai PM Abhisit and the head of the China Railway Engineering conglomerate, the deputy Thai PM will lead a delegation including the Transport Minister to Beijing to discuss Chinese investment in double track and high speed rail projects planned by the national government of Thailand. Most will radiate from Bangkok and many are planned primarily for tourism development. But a larger strategy is to create logistics hubs and further integration with the Chinese economy....

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China Bids on Argentina's Oil Industry

Two Chinese oil majors, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNCP) and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) may gang up to enhance a multi-billion (US) dollar offer for the Argentina assets of the Spanish Repsol energy company. CNCP has offered $14.5 billion for the assets that include exploration and production rights to all oil & gas blocks in Argentina, the country's major oil refinery, and around 1,600 petrol stations.....

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Pak-China Trade Moves Forward

Although western media continues to imply that Xinjiang is a swirl of chaos, business marches on. Just prior to the agitation in Urumqi and to a much lessor extent Kashgar the 5th Central & South Asia Commodities Fair concluded in Kashgar, the historical "gate to China."

Participation was down dramatically from last year despite subsidized event space for Pakistan. But Pakistani business interests are committed. The Pakistan delegation is asking their federal government to pay a Chinese consultant to determine market access and the Pakistan government is pushing forward with improvements on the Pakistan side of the Karakoram Highway to Kashgar....

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July 08, 2009

Big Muddy

Is the Obama surge in Afghanistan drawing in Chinese troops? Over the past few weeks a series of interconnected events have severely impacted the security of China’s western borders.

Just three short weeks ago the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit at Yekaterinburg, Russia, got press for a collective thumbing of the nose at the US dollar. The gathering gave the appearance of defying American hegemony not only in Central Asia but globally.

But a week later the Kyrgyzstan parliament and president unanimously gave the USA continued control of an air base to support the expanding AF-PAK conflict. The following day (June 23, 2009) Kyrgyzstan battled militants allied to the Taliban on its own turf. Later that week in the run up to President Obama’s surge in Afghanistan - an increase of 21,000 troops under the new commander in Afghanistan USA Gen. Stan McChrystal - special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke spoke of “spillover” and the commander of NATO in Europe said they could not stop militants from moving into Central Asia as a result of the surge.

Underway now in the surge is “Operation Khanjar” which aims to push the Taliban out of the Helmand and Kandahar regions of Afghanistan. As soon as it began uprisings occurred throughout the region from Ingushetia to Chechnya to Xinjiang and beyond, even as far flung as Bangladesh.

The riots in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, appear to be economic not unlike last year’s brief tumult in Lhasa, Tibet. Numerous videos and photos capture only gang violence by young men and boys overturning private cars and buses and looting Chinese owned liquor stores (do Uyghurs drink?), tobacco shops, and restaurants, and the random killing of people on the street. Mobs are easily bought. The riots bear the hallmarks of classic PSYOP operations at worst or political interference at best. The predictable response from Beijing is a de facto martial law with troops and security forces in the area on alert. Perhaps this was the intent all along.

As recently as 2007, the SCO held massive war games in a show of cooperative power. But today, according to the group’s UN charter the SCO is focused primarily on all things business and “making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region” is not a top priority.

There has been no coordinated reaction to the events of the last few weeks by the SCO let alone any collaboration on a military response. The SCO has to date failed to answer the NATO/USA challenge.

What remains now is how far will Obama’s war in Afghanistan go in pushing out “the bad guys” into Central Asia and whether it will result in the USA once again fighting a proxy war along China’s borders. Is America in the Big Muddy again?

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July 06, 2009

Do Uighers "Yearn for Independence"?

News of the "bloodiest civil unrest since Tiananmen" in far western Xinjiang Autonomous Region, specifically the capital city Urumqi, comes primarily from two sources: western media (AP and British tabloids) and the Uyghur American Association based in Washington, DC. Dig deeper and most quotes and opinion on the street violence in Urumqi comes directly from the Uyghur American Association itself. The group supports something called the "Uyghur Human Rights Project" which is paid for by US taxpayer dollars. The Uyghur American Association is in fact the sixth largest recepient of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) grants on China.

The NED is Ronald Reagan's private diplomacy organization run from its inception in 1984 by a man named Carl Gersham. The NED supports 4 Uygher dissident groups. The amount of money and number of groups supported by NED in Xinjiang has been growing steadily for years and far exceeds the NED's efforts in neighboring Tibet.

Any news reports taking at face value information from the Uyghur American Association should be read CRITICALLY.

Incidentally, reports are that the unrest may have "spread" to Kashgar where one report quoted an eyewitness saying that there was shouting but "no violence."

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July 02, 2009

Second HK Bank to Issue Yuan Bonds

Hong Kong based Bank of East Asia will issue Y4 billion worth of Yuan denominated bonds (over half a billion US dollars) in an offering to be revealed next week. Last week HSBC was the first non-Chinese bank in the financial hub to issue Yuan bonds. Readers will recall the 'run' on the Bank of East Asia as the Panic of '08 began....

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July 01, 2009

Kashgar's Wrecking Ball

Kashgar in far western Xinjiang Autonomous Region may well become the most important logistics hub in western China someday. Work is already underway to at some point in the medium to long term connect the city with the Gwadar port in Pakistan. It is a city of the future and an important area to watch as China acts out its version of 19th Century America's 'manifest destiny'.

As they say in China you have to tear down the old to build the new often with good results all 'round. But sometimes the very essence of a place is lost in the process. This writer was saddened by the crass demolition and rebuild of the ancient shopping area south of Qian Men gate in Beijing. An interesting, if dilapidated, collection of buildings and narrow alleys was replaced with a garish Hong Kong meets Hollywood fakery that destroyed all its original charm.

Kashgar is busy redeveloping its old city - a huge tangle of old buildings and alleys built around extended family homes connected to shops and businesses organized around central courtyards, an urban form as old as Eurasia itself - into modern highrise blocks with plumbing and electricity for all. Beijing wants no repeat of last year's Sichuan earthquake catastrophe with its collapsed buildings and massive fatalities. An added feature -- whereas before you had to meander a block to find a certain shop, the new developments will feature streetside shops and markets....

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China Leads World in EV Production, Infrastructure

According to some new reports, China containes 90% of the world's electric vehicles - including electric bikes. Beijing claims China is the global leader in exported electric vehicles and a report by an American cleantech research firm says China will be the world leader in charging stations by 2015....

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