20/12/2014

Chinese warm to Russia in the winter – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Chinese travelers have been flocking to Russia in recent days to cash in on the weak rouble.

Chinese warm to Russia in the winter

Bitter weather means that winter is usually the offseason for Russian tourism, and some Chinese travel agencies even stop selling tours to the country from October to June.

But this winter, the ailing rouble has stoked Chinese traveler’s enthusiasm for heading north.

Online travel agency Tongcheng Network Technology Share Co, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, recently launched winter tour services to Russia for the first time. The agency said it has received 113 percent more bookings in December than in November.

“The number of bookings and inquiries increased sharply as the rouble depreciated significantly,” said Liu Qing, chief executive officer of Tongcheng’s Outbound Tourism Department.

Ctrip.com International, the largest online travel agency in China, said inquiries about Russian tours rose by 100 percent month-on-month in December.

Dai Yu, marketing director of Ctrip’s Tourism Department, said winter tours to Russia are about 60 percent cheaper than summer ones and the cost has fallen further due to the weak rouble.

Group tours to Russia usually last for six to eight days, with recent prices quoted at between 5,000 and 8,000 yuan ($815 to $1,300), much lower than tours to Western Europe.

Zhang Jing, 32, from Beijing, said she plans to book a low-priced tour to Russia for her parents. “It is a good deal to go now,” Zhang said, adding that her parents will choose between leaving at New Year‘s or Spring Festival in February.

Travel industry insiders said Russia will be a popular choice for Chinese visitors during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday.

Some agencies have already sold Spring Festival tours, although most travelers will only make their plans in the next month.

Liu said, “We can’t estimate how many travelers will book tours for Spring Festival, but we have already seen a dramatic rise in bookings.”

China is the main source of tourists to Russia, with their numbers increasing by 10 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2014, according to the Russian tourism authority. The number of tourists from Russia, the third-largest source of inbound tourists to China, continues to fall and will worsen due to the weakening rouble.

via Chinese warm to Russia in the winter – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

19/12/2014

What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company

It seemed harder to prepare my “look ahead” this year. On reflection, I believe this is because political and economic leaders in China have clear plans and supporting policies that they are sticking to. You can debate the pace at which actions are being taken, but not really the direction in which the country is traveling. This means a number of the themes I highlighted for this year will remain relevant in 2015:

Improving productivity and efficiency will remain the key to maintaining profitability for many companies, given lower economic growth (overall and at a sector level) and the impact of producer price deflation on multiple sectors.

The impact of technology as it eliminates jobs in services and manufacturing will become even greater (but still not in government).

As a result, the government will keep a sharper focus on net job creation and the quality of those new positions. Companies will hire even more information technologists to keep up in the race to exploit technology better than their competitors.

The push to lower pollution, and now carbon emissions, will lead to even greater investment in domestic solar and wind farms, boosting the global position of Chinese producers.

High-speed-rail construction will continue domestically and increasingly abroad, as Chinese companies become the builder of choice for high-speed rail globally.

Beyond these, there are several additional themes that will be important in 2015. I describe them below.

via What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company.

19/12/2014

Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post

The former deputy chief of China’s Beijing Zoo – who claimed his 8 million yuan (about HK$10 million) fortune was earned from part-time jobs, including working as a taxi driver – was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Beijing court this morning.

Xiao Shaoxiang was jailed for life today after being found guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”. Photo: Xinhua

The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court found Xiao Shaoxiang guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”.

All his personal property would be confiscated, the Beijing-based newspaper, Mirror, reported on its official mainland microblogging Weibo website.

Prosecutors said six million yuan in cash, paintings and gold bullion from unknown sources were found in Xiao’s apartment – a cache worth a total of 8 million yuan, the court said during his trial in August.

He was charged with accepting bribes totalling more than 140 million yuan.

Xiao, 59, had denied all the charges during the trial.

He had defended himself by claiming that he had earned the money from moonlighting as an unlicensed cab driver after work at the zoo from 1991 to 1994.

via Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post.

19/12/2014

China to construct 7 mln affordable homes in 2015 – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China will begin construction of seven million apartments under the affordable housing program in 2015, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) announced on Friday.

MOHURD minister Chen Zhenggao revealed the target at a national conference on housing and urban-rural development. He said 4.8 million such homes should be completed next year.

The affordable housing program is aimed at providing cheap homes for eligible low-income earners. China began the construction of over seven million homes and completed 4.8 million in 2014.

Chen said China will also continue to push forward the shanty town renovation program extensively as “it can not only improve people’s livelihood but also spur economic growth“.

via China to construct 7 mln affordable homes in 2015 – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

19/12/2014

China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek

It’s getting a little easier to be an animal in China. The country’s fledgling animal-rights movement this week received a double boost, with a animal-welfare law in the works and a prominent zoo taking action to stop animal performances.

A tiger performs at Chongqing Safari Park in China

On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Global Times, the tabloid affiliated with the official Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, reported that that the National People’s Congress is moving ahead on a plan to pass landmark legislation to protect animals, both in the wild and in captivity. Lawmakers have just completed a draft of the proposal, Chang Jiwen, vice director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the newspaper.

There’s still a long way to go before the proposal becomes law: China’s parliament isn’t likely to take up the amendment until late in 2015. But given China’s track record, we should take progress wherever we can get it. Or, as the Global Times reported, “Shi Kun, director of the Wildlife Institute at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that China has long been criticized for not treating wild animals humanely, but with legal recognition of animal welfare, the country should be able to make progress on curbing phenomenon like overtime performance by zoo animals and harsh living conditions for wildlife on farms.”

via China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek.

19/12/2014

Xi Jinping Wins the Popularity Contest – Businessweek

A recent survey on the popularity of global leaders is providing rich fodder for the Communist Party of China’s propaganda machine. The study, which canvassed some 26,000 people in 30 countries on their attitudes toward 10 world leaders, shows President Xi Jinping was rated higher by the people of China than any other leader in the survey was rated by the people of his or her respective country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the highest-rated world leader in many fields,” China Daily reported on Wednesday, commenting on the study (PDF), which was published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and carried out by Japanese research firm GMO. “Chinese respondents showed the highest confidence in regards to how their leader handled domestic and international affairs.”

Among the national rankings, where people rate their own leader, Xi averaged 9 out of 10, higher than any other head of state, with 94.8 percent of Chinese expressing confidence about how he handles domestic affairs and 93.8 percent saying the same about international affairs.

Xi was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin (8.7), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (8.6), South African President Jacob Zuma (7), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (6.7). U.S. President Barack Obama came in seventh place, with only a 6.2 ranking. Just 51.7 percent of Americans were confident about Obama’s handling of domestic affairs, while 49.1 percent said the same regarding international affairs.

But while Xi’s high popularity is getting lots of attention in China’s party-controlled press, the possible reasons behind it are not. Leaders in countries that hold a high degree of state control over the media would naturally rate higher, the Harvard study says, a conclusion ignored by China Daily and other Chinese publications.

via Xi Jinping Wins the Popularity Conest – Businessweek.

19/12/2014

Chinese Banks Lure Deposits by Offering Goodies for Cash – Businessweek

Banks in the U.S. once gave away toasters and irons to lure depositors. Banks in China are upping the ante. With customers pulling out money and putting it into higher-yielding investments, they are offering Mercedes, iPhones, and daily deliveries of vegetables to sidestep interest rate caps and get people to stash some yuan in savings accounts.

Chinese Banks Offer Goodies for Cash

“Chinese banks are hemorrhaging their deposits,” says Rainy Yuan, an analyst at brokerage Masterlink Securities in Shanghai. China’s banks lost 950 billion yuan ($154 billion) of deposits in the three months through September, the first quarterly drop since 1999. In the first 11 months of the year, new deposits were 23 percent lower than in the same period last year, People’s Bank of China data show. Offering incentives to attract money is not the solution, Yuan says: “There is no fix for this. All the efforts they made to win savers back will only push up the costs, so it’s a losing battle to fight.”

Decline in new deposits in the first 11 months of 2014 vs. the same period last year

Savers seeking higher returns have been pouring money into online money-market funds offered by the e-commerce companies Alibaba Group (BABA) and Baidu (BIDU). One fund, Yu’E Bao, started last year by Alibaba affiliate Alipay, drew 535 billion yuan in its first 15 months of existence from 149 million customers, more than the populations of France and the U.K. combined. Users simply tapped a few buttons on their mobile phones to secure an annual rate of return that climbed as high as 6.8 percent before falling to about 4 percent recently.

Savers can also earn more on their money by moving to high-yield products, the fastest-growing part of the so-called shadow banking system. Households put 12.9 trillion yuan into high-yield trust products as of Sept. 30. Trust companies pool investor capital to put money in real estate and construction projects, or make corporate loans, and promise returns of more than 10 percent. Trust companies have seen assets under management rise more than tenfold since the start of 2009.

The Shanghai Composite Index’s 45 percent surge over the past six months has led people to shift money from banks to stocks. In the first week of December, Chinese investors opened almost 600,000 stock trading accounts, a 62 percent increase over the previous week, according to China Securities Depository & Clearing.

To stimulate the economy, China’s central bank on Nov. 21 announced a cut in benchmark interest rates for the first time in more than two years. That was offset by the central bank’s decision to raise the maximum interest rate banks can pay customers to 20 percent over the benchmark from 10 percent above it. Ping An Bank (000001:CH), China Citic Bank (601998:CH), and Bank of Ningbo (002142:CH) immediately alerted customers through text messages that they would offer the highest rate allowed.

via Chinese Banks Lure Deposits by Offering Goodies for Cash – Businessweek.

19/12/2014

Forget Wal-Mart: China Cuts Out the Middleman – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Wal-Mart and Amazon have become America’s main conduits for cheap, mass-produced goods from China’s factory floors. But who needs them anymore? As the WSJ’s Dennis K. Berman reports:

I am holding in my hands a men’s down jacket with fur trim, sent four days ago direct from a warehouse 67 miles west of Shanghai.

The $52.19 jacket won’t be confused for Prada. The fur appears to be “fur.” It came out of the box smelling like plastic and solvent.

Advertisement

What the jacket represents is far more interesting: It’s the final and direct link between China’s manufacturers and the global consumer. In the same way Chinese companies took over the production of goods, they are now increasingly capable of merchandizing those goods, using the Web and modern freight transport. Bentonville, you are being outsourced to China, too.

This is in part why China’s Alibaba has a $268 billion market capitalization. And it’s why United Parcel Service Inc. recently bought a company called i-parcel, to help U.S. suppliers penetrate the thickets of customs, fraud and language that still exist.

The jacket came via LightInTheBox , a Beijing company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Run by Chinese with deep experience in America, the site can shapeshift into 27 different languages, from Arabic to Bahasa to Swedish, and ship goods piecemeal all over the world. For the 12 months ending in September, LightInTheBox sold $349 million of merchandise, a 25% increase from the year earlier. It is still far from profitable, posting significant operating and net losses. Its stock has fallen 23% this year.

LightInTheBox got its start selling wedding dresses, and it’s now selling about 800 different designs for under $200. It sells 400,000 a year. For wedding dresses, “the manufacture price in China is less than $100, but the store price in the U.S. or Europe was thousands of dollars,” company co-founder and CEO Quji “Alan” Guo said in an interview. “That was a category where there should have been better availability, but it was not there.”

via Forget Wal-Mart: China Cuts Out the Middleman – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

18/12/2014

Birla Said to Plan $1 Billion Aluminum Exports: Corporate India – Businessweek

Hindalco Industries Ltd. (HNDL), owned by Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, is targeting a record $1 billion of aluminum exports by March 31 buoyed by rising U.S. and European demand, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Overseas shipments may triple to as much as 400,000 metric tons in the 12 months ending March 31 from the previous year, said two people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. The Mumbai-based company had exported less than half the target as of the middle of last month, the people said.

Stricter emission norms in the U.S. and Europe are prompting vehicle makers to choose the lighter alloy over steel, helping the owner of the world’s largest supplier of aluminum sheets to carmakers boost overseas sales and counter a domestic slowdown. The additional demand will aid Hindalco revive profit growth after five straight quarters of decline and find a market for its new capacity.

via Birla Said to Plan $1 Billion Aluminum Exports: Corporate India – Businessweek.

18/12/2014

India Power Lines to Get $1.2 Billion German Revamp With KfW – Businessweek

German state-owned bank KfW Group will spend 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to refurbish India’s electricity network for carrying more renewable energy from sources such as solar and wind.

KfW agreed to loan Power Grid Corp of India Ltd. 500 million euros to build new power lines and signed deals with India’s government for two loans totaling 125 million euros for grid projects in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, it said today in an e-mailed statement. The deals are part of a support package of 1 billion euros, it said.

“Demand for power in India is rising unremittingly,” said Norbert Kloppenburg, a KfW board member. “The expansion of transmission is the task of the moment because of the great potential of renewable energies.”

via India Power Lines to Get $1.2 Billion German Revamp With KfW – Businessweek.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers