URBAN inflation touched 17 per cent on an annualised basis and retail sales leapt by 25.4 per cent compared with 1992, according to official figures. AFTER three consecutive years of trade surplus, Chinese economists predict a deficit of ''several billions of US dollars this year, if the national economic growth rate is larger than 10 per cent''. THE People's Insurance Company of China plans to establish four group companies in Hongkong, Europe, Southeast Asia and North America in the 1990s. AVIATION exports from China are expected to exceed US$550 million this year, according to Mr Liu Hengjun, a senior official of the Ministry of Aerospace Industry. THE People's Bank of China increased interest rates on fixed deposits by 2.18 percentage points, bringing the average savings rate to 9.07 per cent, still well below inflation in cities, which is running in excess of 15 per cent a year. THE government announced that it was drafting new regulations to attract much-needed foreign investment to its sluggish mining industry. The regulations were intended to provide a favourable investment climate while protecting Chinese sovereignty overits mineral resources, according to Mr Zhang Wenju, the vice-minister of geology. SHANGHAI has become China's largest telecommunications manufacturing centre, with total output last year valued at US$597.5 million. THE Ministry of Power and Industry announced plans to increase the country's electrical production capacity - now about 165 million kilowatts - by 75 to 85 million kilowatts in the next five years. THE first set of regulations covering the issuing and trading of stocks in China were made public by the State Council. FORTY Taiwanese airline officials visited Shanghai this month to discuss the possibility of opening direct air-links between Taiwan and China. The delegation included executives from Taiwan's flag-carrier China Airlines, Eva Airways, Far East Transport Corp, Foshing Airlines and Makung Airlines. SOME 30 per cent of listed firms in Taiwan announced plans to invest an estimated US$1.3 billion, in China. A report in the United Evening News said 90 per cent of publicly listed companies indicated they would invest in China and about 90 companies have done so. Under current rules, enterprises are permitted to invest in the mainland, but through companies in third countries with prepared capital. Some 8,000 Taiwan enterprises have channelled an estimated US$3.8 billion to China, with or without government approval, for various investment projects. THE vice-governor of Hebei province, Mr Chen Liyou, led a 40-member delegation on a promotional tour of Hongkong during the month to meet local businessmen and to seek investment in a series of infrastructure, industrial and property projects in the province. US GIANTS like Nike and Coca-Cola have quashed fears of a mass exodus by corporate America in the wake of jeans giant Levi Strauss' decision to quit the mainland over concerns about human rights abuses. IN AN effort to protect worker's rights the government announced this month that it was drafting legislation to set a nationwide minimum wage now that companies have been given the right to decide their own payrolls, according to a report in the ChinaDaily.