In Crackdown on Energy Use, China to Shut 2,000 Factories 

By KEITH BRADSHER of the New York Times: HONG KONG — Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China promised to use an “iron hand” to improve his country’s energy efficiency, and a growing number of businesses are now discovering that it feels like a fist. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology quietly published a list late Sunday of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by Sept. 30.

Energy analysts described it as significant step toward the country’s energy efficiency goals, but not enough by itself to achieve them. Over the years, provincial and municipal officials have sometimes tried to block Beijing’s attempts to close aging factories in their jurisdictions. These officials have particularly sought to protect older steel mills and other heavy industrial operations that frequently have thousands of employees and have sometimes provided workers with housing, athletic facilities and other benefits since the 1950s or 1960s.To prevent such local obstruction this time, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site that the factories on its list would be barred from obtaining bank loans, export credits, business licenses and land. The ministry even warned that their electricity would be shut off, if necessary. Read more

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