19/04/2014

Bank of China vice-president resigns over allegations of affairs | South China Morning Post

A vice-president of China’s fourth largest bank has resigned after he was investigated by the Communist Party’s top discipline body but cleared over suspicions of corruption, Chinese media reported.

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Wang Yongli, 50, a vice-president and executive director of the Hong Kong-listed Bank of China, had resigned from the bank effective on Wednesday, the bank said in a statement on Friday night.

Wang, who holds a doctoral degree in economics from China’s Xiamen University, had worked at the bank for 25 years and been vice-president for more than seven. He had been in charge of various key departments within the bank, including finance and IT, before being promoted to vice-president in 2006.

Wang was a hot contender for the bank’s top job when its former president Li Lihui retired at the end of last year, but lost out in the competition to fellow Vice-President Chen Siqing, who was named Bank of China’s president in January this year, reported Beijing-based Caixin magazine.

Caixin cited multiple sources as saying that a “lover” of Wang, who is married, had alerted the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to the fact that Wang, a Party member, had maintained multiple extramarital affairs in violation of party discipline.

The anti-corruption body then conducted months of investigation into Wang but found no evidence of “economic problems”, or corrupt behaviour involving money, said Caixin.

Wang was not charged with any crime, but was placed on a two-year probation within the Party as an internal disciplinary measure, it said.

Bank of China was the fourth largest bank in the mainland and 11th in the world with US$2,226 billion in total assets, according to a ranking by SNL Financial in December last year.

Wang is among the latest senior executives at Chinese state-owned firms to be investigated for romantic liaisons.

via Bank of China vice-president resigns over allegations of affairs | South China Morning Post.

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19/04/2014

India’s Mobile Marketers Try Phone Calls to Reach Rural Consumers – Businessweek

In many parts of the world, businesses relentlessly market to customers via their Web-connected smartphones, slipping pitches into everything from interactive games to graphics-laden productivity apps. Not so in rural India: To better reach the country’s 833 million villagers, Unilever (UL) is delivering free Bollywood music to their basic cell phones via old-fashioned phone calls.

In India, Mobile Ads Mean Phone Calls

Between the popular tunes and cheesy jokes presented during the 15-minute recorded programs served up by Unilever’s mobile phone music service, users listen to four product ads. Consumers are biting: In March, at least 2 million people subscribed to the free service available in two states, says Anaheeta Goenka, executive director of Lowe Lintas & Partners, the agency handling the campaign for the world’s second-biggest consumer company. The service expanded to Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, on March 31.

Companies from Unilever to PepsiCo (PEP) to Mondelēz International (MDLZ) are turning to mobile campaigns to win over consumers who live in locales where cable television or even newspapers may have limited reach. In a country where most people don’t live in big cities and 88 percent of phones aren’t smart, the tuneful approach makes sense because rural spending growth now exceeds that of India’s urban centers. And mobile phone ads cost less and are more targeted than mass media campaigns on the subcontinent.

via India’s Mobile Marketers Try Phone Calls to Reach Rural Consumers – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

India struggles with rebel threats during election – Businessweek

Indians cast ballots Thursday on the biggest day of voting in the country’s weekslong general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence over the plight of India’s marginalized and poor.

Nationwide voting began April 7 and runs through May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later. Among the 13 key states voting Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the center of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India’s 28 states.

With roadside bombings, jungle ambushes and hit-and-run raids, the rebels aim for nothing short of sparking a full-blown peasant revolt as they accuse the government and corporations of plundering resources and stomping on the rights of the poor.

via India struggles with rebel threats during election – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek

A little over a year ago, Xi Jinping embarked on his first foreign trip as China’s president, making stops in Russia and Africa. Over the past 13 months, his administration has focused unprecedented attention on strengthening economic and political ties in Africa, according to a new policy briefing by Brookings Institution scholar Yun Sun.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob on April 8 in Beijing

While China’s People’s Liberation Army has long maintained what Sun calls a “tacit operating principle of ‘no troops on foreign soil,’” last spring Beijing sent 170 combat troops from the PLA Special Force to accompany the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. In the past, only Chinese engineers and medical personnel had ever been dispatched to foreign soils under a UN mandate.

“China’s choosing Africa to dispatch combat troops for the first time does suggest Beijing’s rising interests,” writes Sun, as well “enhanced commitment and [a] direct role in maintaining [the] peace and security of Africa.” China has also “dispatched a total of 16 fleets and escorted more than 5,300 ships and vessels” around the Gulf of Aden, in effect taking responsibility for maintaining the security of key shipping lanes.

via In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

Sustainable Design Is a Given in India – India Real Time – WSJ

“Architecture should be ethical and show empathy toward the human condition,” said Bijoy Jain, whose firm Studio Mumbai received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture from L’Institut Francais D’Architecture in 2009. The Indian modernist—known for blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, and creating oases of peace from local stone and wood—studied in the U.S. and worked on the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He established his practice in 1996, building a compound that houses dozens of the craftsmen he employs near his own handsome but humble residence in the countryside of Alibag, not far from central Mumbai.

Mr. Jain’s home was recently part of “Where Architects Live,” an installation at the global design fair Salone del Mobile in Milan that re-created the residences of world-renowned talents including Zaha Hadid, Daniel Liebeskind and Shigeru Ban. Mr. Jain said he sees his live-work complex as a laboratory for new ideas and a standard-bearer for old traditions. “There’s a lineage of carpentry and masonry, building with high skill and great efficiency that’s specific to India, and I am transferring that ideology to projects around the world,” said the globe-trotting architect, 49, who is working on projects in Switzerland, Spain and Japan and will teach a semester at Yale this fall. Mr. Jain spoke to us about sustainable design, how he’d blow $20,000 and the most beautiful restaurant in the world.

via Sustainable Design Is a Given in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

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19/04/2014

A Panda Watches TV in China: Caption Contest Winners – China Real Time Report – WSJ

How many words is a picture really worth? In an ongoing feature, China Real Time is asking readers to dream up captions for a recent news photo. This week, a giant panda munches bamboo while contemplating a TV screen in Yunnan Province.

UPDATE: We have our winner via Twitter

First runner up is from “Glen” in the comments:

“A rerun! Dang it!”

And the best of the rest, also from the comments section:

Slim: “Chinese TV really IS as bad as everyone says! How can I stream House of Cards?”

Saif Ali: “Hmm, the camera adds 10 pounds.”

_____________________________________

via A Panda Watches TV in China: Caption Contest Winners – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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19/04/2014

Audi expects to sell half million cars in China this year | Reuters

Volkswagen‘s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury division Audi plans to sell about half a million cars this year in China, the world’s biggest auto market, and raise the number of its Chinese dealers to 500 by 2017.

The company logo is seen on the bonnet of a Audi car during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The German automaker hopes its car sales will exceed 500,000 this year, executives told reporters on Friday before the Beijing auto show, which opens on Sunday.

Foreign auto makers, such as General Motors Co (GM.N) and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), and domestic players such as SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS) have been competing aggressively in China, where rising affluence is boosting car ownership.

“This country has an increasing number of mega cities,” Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said, naming Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as examples. “In these three areas, there are as many people as, for example, in Germany.”

In 2013, Audi sold 488,000 vehicles in China and a total of 492,000 including Hong Kong. Executives said it aimed to take advantage of the increasing popularity of SUVs and rising demand for compact premium cars.

China’s auto market is expected to grow 8-10 percent this year, easing from last year when it expanded 13.9 percent to 21.98 million vehicles.

Audi is stepping up efforts to unseat German rival BMW (BMWG.DE) as global luxury-car sales leader.

via Audi expects to sell half million cars in China this year | Reuters.

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19/04/2014

Chairman of China Resources removed from office – Sports – Chinadaily.com.cn

Song Lin, chairman of state-owned China Resources (Holdings) Co., Ltd, has been dismissed from office for suspected serious discipline and law violations, authorities said Saturday.

Song was also removed from his office as the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of the enterprise, said an official with the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.

The case is being handled according to relevant procedures, the official said.

The news came after the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced earlier that Song was under investigation.

via Chairman of China Resources removed from office – Sports – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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17/04/2014

Why China Needs to Let More Companies Go Bankrupt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China needs to let more companies go bust.

That was the message from several executives at a real-estate conference in Shanghai on Thursday, as the latest string of loan defaults among real-estate developers and a small construction firm have some people talking about bankruptcy more freely.

It’s crazy that China hasn’t had a major bankruptcy in recent years, said Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hong Kong-listed property developer Hang Lung Group.

Although the country has a bankruptcy code somewhat similar to that in the U.S., it’s rarely used. Borrowers sometimes flee rather than try to work out problems under bankruptcy law, and there are few judges, administrators or lawyers who specialize in the field.

Last month, property developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co. couldn’t repay nearly $600 million of loans. Local officials in Fenghua, the eastern city where the developer is based, are worried that a bankruptcy could hurt the city’s reputation and have said they’ve set up a task force to deal with the outstanding debt and remaining land assets.

On Wednesday, a Shenzhen-listed shipbuilder said property firm Nanjing Fudi Property Developing Co. has failed to repay 105.4 million yuan ($16.9 million) loan, including interest.

While China has seen developers default before, government officials have arranged bailouts for troubled firms that allow their underlying financial problems to fester. On Thursday, analysts argued that authorities have to be willing to address the other option: Let the companies go broke, and send a warning to markets, even if it leads to some financial turmoil in the near term.

Mr. Chan argues that real-estate firms declaring bankruptcy isn’t a social problem. “Another firm takes over the land or project, and no one has to be fired.”

Developers and government officials must be “forced to accept reality,” he said.

To be sure, the developer isn’t saying massive waves of bankruptcies are the way to go either. This is acceptable as long as not too many companies go broke at the same time and doesn’t result too much disruption, Mr. Chan added. In other words, they don’t want a “Lehman Brothers” moment.

“That’s why we prune trees,” said John Allen, chief executive officer of private investment firm Greater China Corporation in a later speech. “Bankruptcy is one of the healthiest things around. You want to get rid of the weak players.”

via Why China Needs to Let More Companies Go Bankrupt – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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17/04/2014

Non Residents Are Stakeholders in India’s Future Too – India Real Time – WSJ

Conversations in Mumbai are usually about the elections these days – be it at roadside food stalls or in the boardrooms of India’s financial capital.

The stakes, after all, are high: following a period of robust growth, the country’s economy has slowed considerably in the past few years – largely because of (depending on who you talk to) the global crisis, policy paralysis, corruption and such. Inflation too is a massive concern.

The need of the hour, most agree, is a secular, stable and investment-friendly government that helps create prosperity for India’s multitude, and not just for a few seen close to the powerful.

That in essence is also the main topic of discussion some 2000kms to the west of the city – for non-resident Indians in Dubai, a fast growing regional financial hub.

Back in the 70s and 80s, hordes of Indians left the country in search of better opportunities – many of whom came to the oil-producing Middle East countries. The tech boom of the 90s provided them another global opening, though by then economic reforms at home were also taking effect – helping drive growth and creating more and better-paying jobs in the next decade.

Many Indians still look abroad for livelihood, but have increasingly channelled a big chunk of their earnings back home in search of returns. And why not? Even global investors are happily betting on the country’s future.

India topped the global list for remittances in 2013 – receiving some $70 billion, according to a World Bank report last week, underscoring its importance as an important source of foreign exchange. To be sure, remittances last year were “more than the $65 billion earned from the country’s flagship software services exports,” the World Bank noted.

That the country has been among the leading recipients of remittances over the past few years is not surprising, given that some 25 million Indians (variously classified) live abroad and, in several cases, continue to have strong familial ties back home.

The importance of Indians living overseas and their contribution to the country has been recognised on various platforms – such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which has been held every year since 2003 to “mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India,” according to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

The ministry says these conventions facilitate the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people for “mutually beneficial activities”. Simply put, Indians living overseas are increasingly participating more actively back home.

But they – the millions of NRIs – still can’t vote from foreign locations and choose a government of their liking in the country’s general elections.

via Non Residents Are Stakeholders in India’s Future Too – India Real Time – WSJ.

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