China, one of the world's consistently big importers of paper, says it can meet demand for some popular varieties at least through the rest of this year.
A number of paper mills were forced to cut production in the first half due to sharp increases in the price of timber and pulp. That made it hard to sell higher-priced paper."The upward movement on the international newsprint market greatly affected China's paper imports," said the China Paper-making Association.
Output of domestically produced newsprint and relief block paper for textbooks can meet domestic demand, it said, without explaining exactly how.
China produced 390,000 metric tons of newsprint in the first six months of this year, up 20 percent from the corresponding period of 1994, government figures show. The country made 700,000 tons of newsprint in 1994 and imported some to make up a shortfall.
Huang Runbin, senior engineer with the paper association, said China's demand for newsprint is expected to be 750,000 tons this year.
Last year's output of relief block paper was 850,000 tons, of which between 250,000 and 300,000 tons went for textbooks.
Mr. Huang said the supply of relief block paper "will be enough" to print textbooks before the new school term begins Sept. 1. He didn't give figures for production or demand.
China has maintained annual growth of 7 percent to 8 percent in paper output for the last several years, though exact output is hard to find because of differing statistics.
The paper association says the country turned out 21.8 million tons of paper last year, ranking third after the United States and Japan. The stationery committee of the China Association of General Merchandise put the figure at 18.2 million tons, ranking fifth.
Whatever the output, per capita consumption is only 37 pounds (according to the papermakers) or 28 pounds (the stationery group). That contrasts with a world average of around 97 pounds, including 770 pounds in the United States and Japan and 660 pounds in Hong Kong.
Demand is rising rapidly - as in so many others spheres - with higher incomes and economic reforms. Looser state controls have seen the number of publications mushroom, especially in big urban centers.