Archive for ‘China alert’

01/09/2014

China imposes harsher punishment to ensure workplace safety – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China’s top legislature on Sunday adopted a revision to the Workplace Safety Law which imposes harsher punishment on offenders.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the revision through a vote at the bi-monthly legislative session held from Monday to Sunday.

The amendment further increased fines for enterprises involved in serious workplace accidents from the maximum of 5 million yuan (810,000 U.S. dollars) proposed in its original draft to 20 million yuan.

The quadrupled fine cap is stated in an added article which stipulates fines ranging from 200,000 yuan to 20 million yuan, depending on the losses incurred in the accident.

Under the old Workplace Safety Law, fines for enterprises violating the law were no more than 100,000 yuan or below five times the income earned from illegal operation.

Managers in charge of such enterprises who are found to have failed in their duty to ensure safety will also now be fined between 30 and 80 percent of their annual income corresponding to losses in the accidents.

This is a massive raise compared with the former law, under which managers faced fines between 20,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan.

The revised law states that managers responsible for “serious” and “extremely serious” accidents will be banned from serving as principals in enterprises in the same industry.

The regulation on work safety issued by the State Council in 2007 defines “serious accidents” as those causing 10 to 30 deaths, 50 to 100 serious injuries, or direct economic losses of between 50 and 100 million yuan.

via China imposes harsher punishment to ensure workplace safety – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

01/09/2014

State-owned enterprises: Fixing China Inc | The Economist

JIN JIANG is one of the world’s biggest hotel groups, managing five-star properties across China, a budget motel chain and a travel agency. It is also a state-owned enterprise (SOE), controlled by the Shanghai government. It has seen better days. The company’s best hotels played host to hundreds of foreign leaders in the past century, including Richard Nixon in 1972, when America and China began their historic rapprochement. But in recent years visiting dignitaries have opted for newer hotels over Jin Jiang’s musty rooms and tired furnishings.

When people think of Chinese state companies, they often have its giant banks or oil companies in mind. But most of the 155,000 enterprises still owned by the central and local governments are more akin to Jin Jiang: they are businesses that have little to do with the country’s economic or political priorities, and they have had a run of bad years, losing ground to private-sector rivals. That may be about to change. China is in the midst of the biggest attempt in more than a decade to fix the country’s brand of state capitalism, attempting to breathe new life into Jin Jiang and dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, more like it.

There are two main problems with China’s SOEs today. First, they have failed to comply with the government’s order to focus on what are deemed to be “strategic sectors” such as aviation, power and telecommunications. These are industries that the Communist Party believes it must dominate in order to maintain control of an increasingly complex economy. But fewer than half of state companies occupy these commanding heights. Some 80,000 are instead in the economic lowlands: they run hotels, build property developments, manage restaurants and operate shopping malls. The temptations to branch out have been too great: relative to their private-sector peers, they have benefited from cheaper financing from state-owned banks, favouritism from local governments in land sales and a lighter touch from regulators.

Second, despite these advantages, SOEs have given progressively less bang for their buck. Faced with mounting losses in the 1990s, China undertook a first round of drastic reforms of its state-owned companies. There were mass closures of the weakest firms, tens of millions of lay-offs and stockmarket listings for many of the biggest which made them run a little more like private companies. That initially paid dividends. SOEs’ return on assets, a gauge of their productivity, rose from barely higher than zero in 1998 to nearly 7% a decade later, just shy of the private-sector average. But over the past five years, their fortunes have ebbed. Profitability of state companies has fallen, even as private firms have grown in strength. SOE returns are now about half those of their non-state peers. For an economy that, inevitably, is slowing as it matures, inefficient state companies are a dangerous extra drag. Jian Chang of Barclays says that putting SOEs right is “the most critical reform area for China in the coming decade”.

Until recently, however, few analysts thought that China had the desire or the ability to get back into the muck of SOE reform. Companies under the central government, such as PetroChina, the country’s biggest oil producer, were believed to be strong enough to resist the changes that would erode their privileges. At the provincial and municipal levels, local officials were thought bound to government-owned companies by ties of power, patronage and money. China was not expected to sit entirely still: gradual deregulation of interest rates and energy pricing was placing indirect pressure on state companies to operate more efficiently. But a direct, frontal assault on them of the kind waged by Zhu Rongji, then prime minister, in the 1990s seemed out of the question. Even when the party unveiled a much-ballyhooed reform plan last November and vowed to target SOEs, there were doubts about how far Xi Jinping, China’s president, could go. People close to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), the agency that oversees China’s biggest SOEs, say that it was still dragging its feet at the start of this year.

But a flurry of announcements in the past few months shows that reforms are getting on track. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner, is close to selling a $16 billion stake in its retail unit, a potentially lucrative opening for private investors. CITIC Group, China’s biggest conglomerate, is poised to become a publicly traded company by injecting its assets into a subsidiary on the Hong Kong stock exchange, for $37 billion. After its initial reluctance, SASAC announced reforms at six companies. They are to experiment with larger private stakes and greater independence for directors.

via State-owned enterprises: Fixing China Inc | The Economist.

01/09/2014

India Outpacing China’s Oil Demand – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s oil demand has grown faster than China’s so far this year, highlighting slowing energy demand in the world’s most populous country and fueling expectations that India may pick up the slack over the medium-to-long term. The pace of India’s demand also reflects optimism about India’s economic growth under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In absolute terms China is Asia’s largest oil consumer, having burned 10.76 million barrels a day of oil and accounting for 12.1% of global oil consumption in 2013, according to BP PLC. The second-largest oil consumer in Asia is Japan, though its oil consumption has been declining as its economy has matured.

India ranks third at 3.7 million barrels a day and accounted for about 4.2% of global oil consumption in 2013.

India’s oil demand has shown steady growth through July at an average of 3%, or 101,000 barrels a day. China’s oil demand has declined at an average of 0.6%, or 62,000 barrel a day, in the same period, Barclays PLC analyst Miswin Mahesh said.

Indian oil demand growth has “organic, domestic, economic activity-linked factors still driving it,” he said. Mr. Mahesh expects the south Asian country’s oil demand to accelerate to 210,000 barrels a day next year, spurred by healthy construction activity, government-financed industrial projects and strong growth in car purchases.

China’s oil-demand growth, on the other hand, remains uncertain, with a large portion of its imports this year going into strategic stockpiling instead of consumption. Its oil demand fell into negative territory in July and its oil imports declined for the first time this year.

“This surprise drop in crude imports further supported our view that [China's] full-year oil demand could be weaker than current market expectations,” Thomas C. Hilboldt, head of Asia Pacific oil research at HSBC Holdings PLC said last week.

The disparity of the demand drivers in India and China is also telling.

The bulk of oil demand in both countries is for diesel, the most widely consumed liquid fuel in Asia. China’s diesel consumption has shown a sharp decline because of its industrial slowdown, while India’s diesel demand rose sharply in the last few months because of power shortages and delayed monsoon rains.

Despite this, the extent to which Indian energy demand can compensate for China’s decline remains doubtful.

Markets are looking for the next emerging-market economy to take over as China moves into its post-industrial phase. Yet India has a fundamentally different economic structure and growth model, Janet Kong, head of market analysis at BP Singapore’s trading division pointed out last week.

“It’s very much a service-oriented economy…not relying on a lot of infrastructure investments or manufacturing,” she said.

The manufacturing sector in India has underperformed for many years, contributing to about 15% of gross domestic product and 12% of employment, compared with 25% or more of GDP in countries like China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the Asian Development Bank’s 2014 report. Meanwhile, China is transitioning from an industrial economy dependent on exports to focus more on domestic consumption.

via India Outpacing China’s Oil Demand – India Real Time – WSJ.

30/08/2014

Houses in Shanghai are not built, they’re printed[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn

A Chinese company recently built 10 full-sized houses using a giant printer.

Houses in Shanghai are not built, they're printed

The detached, one-story houses now standing in the Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Park, in the city’s Qingpu district, look like ordinary buildings. But they were “printed out” in less than a day with “contour crafting“, commonly known as 3-D printing technology.

‘Mirror’ perfect fit for shoppers  Four huge printers measuring 32 meters long, 10 meters wide and 6.6 meters tall were used to make the houses, which were built layer by layer.

“It’s not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly,” said Ma Yihe, inventor of the printers, who is also president of the Shanghai Winsun decoration and design company.

“Unlike traditional construction, the new technology doesn’t produce any waste,” said Ma, who has been working in the 3-D printing construction industry for 12 years.

The materials used to make the houses are a mixture of quick-drying cement and recycled industrial waste, which help lower construction costs by up to 50 percent. For the moment, the company is keeping the recipe for the cement a secret.

Meanwhile, the houses can withstand just about any safety test, Ma said.

via Houses in Shanghai are not built, they’re printed[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn.

26/08/2014

China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek

During a stint in the U.S. Army, Dennis Schenk worked alongside canine rescue units in the aftermath of a hurricane. He fell in love with dogs and decided he wanted to make them his career. He eventually got certified as a dog trainer by the International Association of Canine Professionals and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and in 2009 moved to China. Now he’s flown around the country by clients who pay him 500 yuan ($81) an hour to train their dogs to come and sit, and to treat them—the pets, not owners—for anxiety and aggression.

"Building a Beautiful Home for Your Pooch" (left); "The Most Beautiful Tail"

Cat and dog lovers are a relatively new breed in China. Up until the 1980s, keeping pet dogs was illegal in Beijing, because pets were considered to be a bourgeois affectation. Restrictions were loosened in the 1990s and early 2000s. (A height limit on dogs is still in place.) By 2012 the city had more than 1 million registered pet dogs, now served by more than 300 pet hospitals, according to the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association. China has become the third-largest pet market in the world, after the U.S. and Brazil, according to Euromonitor International, and is home to 27 million dogs and 11 million cats.

Maoist rhetoric hasn’t disappeared entirely. In early August the Communist Party-run People’s Daily ran an editorial decrying pet ownership as a “crude and ludicrous imitation [of a] Western lifestyle”—and argued that uncollected sidewalk poop disrupts “social peace and harmony.” In some cities, unwanted puppies are dumped on the street and become strays. The local press has reported cases of auxiliary police officers beating strays to death.

via China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek

In his book Citizen Canine (PublicAffairs, 2014), science writer David Grimm links the rise of the 19th century and early 20th century movement opposing “animal cruelty” in the U.S. to the then-novel practice of keeping dogs and cats as inside pets, enabled by such recent inventions as flea and tick medicines and kitty litter.

Dogs that were rounded up in Nanjing, China

China is still a place whose newspapers report that government employees beat unregistered dogs to death on the street and bury alive stray mongrels seen as nuisances. Meanwhile, China’s rising urban middle-class is increasingly embracing pet ownership, spending 7.84 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) on pet care in 2012. Beijing alone is home to more than 1 million pet dogs.

Deborah Cao, an expert on Chinese law at Griffith University in Australia, sees growing pet ownership in China as helping to create a base of middle-class support for anti-animal cruelty campaigns in the country. “There is much greater public concern today in most Chinese cities, especially among young and educated people,” she says. “That is what I called the emerging grassroots animal liberation movement. … I think it has to do with more people having pets, having more contact with animals. And for some it is related to spiritual beliefs, such as Buddhism.”

In a country where citizen groups face intense government scrutiny and often harassment, a recent series of volunteer (or even ad hoc) animal-rights campaigns has made headlines—and scored some surprising victories. Partially in response to citizen-led anti-animal cruelty campaigns, on June 30 China’s Food and Drug Administration ended requirements for mandatory animal testing of domestic cosmetics.

via Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Celebrities who endorse ads for products they don’t try may need to start being a guinea pig in China.

On Monday, an updated draft of the Central Party’s advertisement law submitted to lawmakers said that celebrities who are paid to be spokespeople for products, should try the product before they represent it, according to state media. The goods and services celebrities endorse need to be “based on facts,” the draft says.

False endorsements have been a big problem in China and across Asia. In 2006, Hong Kong actress Carina Lau was sued after she endorsed a luxury Japanese skincare cream, which she said could reduce wrinkles by 50% after a month of use. Later, it was discovered that the cream contained harmful chemicals, including toxic metals chromium and neodymium, and that some consumers had adverse reactions to the cream. (The Japanese skincare brand, SK-II, was fined 200,000 yuan, or about $32,500, for false advertising.)

More recently, Jackie Chan endorsed one of Bawang International’s anti-hair loss herbal shampoos. After a Hong Kong-based magazine revealed that the shampoo contained a substance that may cause cancer, Mr. Chan responded. “I have always been very careful with what products I endorse. But there are some media who are specifically gunning for me and a few other artistes, I am not sure why, as though it is better that we all just died.” .(For its part, Bawang said its products had passed quality tests and that many shampoos and cleaning products contain small traces of carcinogens.)

The revision comes on the heels of last year’s revised Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Consumers, which states that celebrities who appear in misleading commercials, and the media that broadcast the ads, are legally liable.

Monday’s updated law reinforces celebs’ legal liability and says their “illegal income” can be confiscated if they stump for false advertising. They could also face hefty fines.

But it isn’t exactly clear how the law will be enforced or whether the government can actually monitor whether celebrities actually try out the products they promote.

via China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

22/08/2014

India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist

For those readers really interested in China AND India, this is a ‘must-read’ article.  I’ve only extracted the first part.  For full article go to – India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist.

FEW subjects can matter more in the long term than how India and China, with nearly 40% of the world’s population between them, manage to get along. In the years before they fought a short border war, in 1962, relations had been rosy. Many in China, for example, were deeply impressed by the peaceful and successful campaign led by Mohandas Gandhi to persuade the British to quit India. A few elderly people in China yet talk of their admiration for Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali writer who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913. And though Nehru, India’s first prime minister, was resented as arrogant and patronising by some Chinese leaders, the early post-war years saw friendship persist and some popular respect for him too. In China, for example, books on India were then easily available—unlike today.

The past half-century has produced mostly squabbles, resentment and periodic antagonism. India felt humiliated by its utter defeat at the hands of Mao’s army in the 1962 war. China’s long-running close ties to Pakistan look designed to antagonise India. In return India is developing ever warmer relations with the likes of Vietnam and Japan. An unsettled border in the Himalayas, periodic incursions by soldiers into territory claimed by the other side and China’s claim—for example—that India’s Arunachal Pradesh is really a part of Tibet, all suggest that happier relations will be slow in coming. Even a booming bilateral trade relationship is as much a bone of contention as a source of friendlier ties, given India’s annoyance at a yawning deficit.

One glimmer of hope, in theory, is that ordinary people of the two countries might start to understand each other better as levels of education, wealth and interest in the outside world all grow. As tourists, students and business types visit each other’s countries, perhaps they will find that they have more in common than they believed. In fact, judging by a sharp and well-crafted memoir by an Indian journalist who was posted in Beijing for four years, ignorance and bafflement are likelier to persist.

Reshma Patil was sent by the Hindustan Times, a large Indian newspaper, to Beijing in 2008, one of only four Indian print journalists in the country (by contrast Chinese media groups had 16 correspondents in India). Her account of time there, “Strangers across the border; Indian encounters in boomtown China”, is revealing for its detail and anecdote, but also for its broadly damning conclusion about the state of ties between the countries: “extreme ignorance and nationalism illustrate their mutual relations”, she says.

Most entertaining, from an Indian point of view at least, are her accounts of Chinese ignorance about India. She visits a centre in Beijing devoted to learning cricket in case it ever becomes an Olympic sport (it is called shenshi yundong, or “the noble game”), whose players have never heard of Indian stars, or of the cricket world cup, and who appear to prefer playing ping pong. During numerous forays to universities she finds students learning foreign languages who routinely dismiss India as dirty, poor and irrelevant. A wide misapprehension, she says, is a belief that India is Buddhist. Officials and journalists tell her that India suffers from an “inferiority complex”, that it is so backward (“naked…children piss on the streets”) that there can be “nothing to learn” from the country. She suggests that one Indian drink, the mango lassi, has become popular in China, but otherwise the Chinese she meets mostly have little interest in Indian products or culture. Indian traders are famously stingy. Its brands, such as those of big outsourcing firms, are poorly understood or assumed to be of low quality. Persistent racism towards dark-skinned Indians is broken in only one case, by the head of a Chinese modelling agency who says he is fond of Indians who can pull off a “Western look”.

India meanwhile makes pitifully little effort to correct Chinese misunderstandings. As well as few journalists, India had only 15 diplomats based in Beijing during Ms Patil’s time, most of them inactive. Only two had any economic expertise, and most only started learning Mandarin after their arrival in the country. A big Indian business lobby group had a single representative based in Shanghai. She estimates that only a few hundred Indian businesses, in any case, are active in China (with even fewer Chinese ones in India), and few of the Indian ventures are led by Mandarin-speakers or local hires. As an example of ignorance, she mentions a Chinese business reporter who has never heard of Infosys, a $33 billion Indian IT firm. India’s low profile in China, she argues, “prolongs the shelf-life of anti-India propaganda”. For if most Chinese are merely ignorant, many are troublingly nationalistic where their neighbour is concerned.Ms Patil dismisses annual exchanges of a few hundred students each as a hopeless affair.  Sometimes India ships a low-cost dance troupe to China. Most such exchanges of students, journalists and others end up in mutual frustration; a failure to communicate; and terrible hunger among vegetarian Indians horrified by Chinese cuisine.

via India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist.

22/08/2014

As China becomes, again, the world’s largest economy, it wants the respect it enjoyed in centuries past. But it does not know how to achieve or deserve it

Extract from long article – well worth reading in full.  CHINA’S FUTURE | The Economist.

MATTHEW BOULTON, James Watt’s partner in the development of the steam engine and one of the 18th century’s greatest industrialists, was in no doubt about the importance of Britain’s first embassy to the court of the Chinese emperor. “I conceive”, he wrote to James Cobb, secretary of the East India Company, “the present occasion to be the most favourable that ever occurred for the introduction of our manufactures into the most extensive market in the world.”

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In light of this great opportunity, he argued, George Macartney’s 1793 mission to Beijing should take a “very extensive selection of specimens of all the articles we make both for ornament and use.” By displaying such a selection to the emperor, court and people, Macartney’s embassy would learn what the Chinese wanted. Boulton’s Birmingham factories, along with those of his friends in other industries, would then set about producing those desiderata in unheard-of bulk, to everybody’s benefit.

That is not how things turned out. The emperor accepted Macartney’s gifts, and quite liked some of them—a model of the Royal Sovereign, a first-rate man o’ war, seemed particularly to catch his fancy—but understood the whole transaction as one of tribute, not trade. The court saw a visit from the representatives of King George as something similar in kind to the opportunities the emperor’s Ministry of Rituals provided for envoys from Korea and Vietnam to express their respect and devotion to the Ruler of All Under Heaven. (Dealings with the less sophisticated foreigners from inner Asia were the responsibility of the Office of Barbarian Affairs.)

“We have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country’s manufactures”

The emperor was thus having none of Macartney’s scandalous suggestion that the Son of Heaven and King George should be perceived as equals. He professed himself happy that Britain’s tribute, though admittedly commonplace, should have come from supplicants so far away. But he did not see it as the beginning of a new trading relationship: “We have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country’s manufactures…Curios and the boasted ingenuity of their devices I prize not.” Macartney’s request that more ports in China be opened to trade (the East India Company was limited to Guangzhou, then known as Canton) and that a warehouse be set up in Beijing itself was flatly refused. China at that time did not reject the outside world, as Japan did. It was engaged with barbarians on all fronts. It just failed to see that they had very much to offer.

In retrospect, a more active interest in extramural matters might have been advisable. China was unaware that an economic, technological and cultural revolution was taking place in Europe and being felt throughout the rest of the world. The subsequent rise of colonialist capitalism would prove the greatest challenge it would ever face. The Chinese empire Macartney visited had been (a few periods of collapse and invasion notwithstanding) the planet’s most populous political entity and richest economy for most of two millennia. In the following two centuries all of that would be reversed. China would be semi-colonised, humiliated, pauperised and torn by civil war and revolution.

Now, though, the country has become what Macartney was looking for: a relatively open market that very much wants to trade. To appropriate Boulton, the past two decades have seen the most favourable conditions that have ever occurred for the introduction of China’s manufactures into the most extensive markets in the world. That has brought China remarkable prosperity. In terms of purchasing power it is poised to retake its place as the biggest economy in the world. Still home to hundreds of millions mired in poverty, it is also a 21st-century nation of Norman Foster airports and shining solar farms. It has rolled a rover across the face of the moon, and it hopes to send people to follow it.

And now it is a nation that wants some things very much. In general, it knows what these things are. At home its people want continued growth, its leaders the stability that growth can buy. On the international stage people and Communist Party want a new deference and the influence that befits their nation’s stature. Thus China wants the current dispensation to stay the same—it wants the conditions that have helped it grow to endure—but at the same time it wants it turned into something else.

Finessing this need for things to change yet stay the same would be a tricky task in any circumstances. It is made harder by the fact that China’s Leninist leadership is already managing a huge contradiction between change and stasis at home as it tries to keep its grip on a society which has transformed itself socially almost as fast as it has grown economically. And it is made more dangerous by the fact that China is steeped in a belligerent form of nationalism and ruled over by men who respond to every perceived threat and slight with disproportionate self-assertion.

via CHINA’S FUTURE | The Economist.

22/08/2014

India to Unveil First Warship to Deter Chinese Submarines – Businessweek

India will unveil its first home-built anti-submarine warship tomorrow in a move to deter China from conducting underwater patrols near its shores.

CHINA-MILITARY-NAVY-ANNIVER

Defense Minister Arun Jaitley will commission the 3,300-ton INS Kamorta at the southeastern Vishakapatnam port. The move comes a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the largest indigenously built guided-missile destroyer and vowed to bolster the country’s defenses so “no one dares to cast an evil glance at India.”

India is playing catch-up to China, which built 20 such warships in the past two years and sent a nuclear submarine to the Indian Ocean in December for a two-month anti-piracy patrol. The waters are home to shipping lanes carrying about 80 percent of the world’s seaborne oil, mostly headed to China and Japan.

“As China grows into a naval, maritime power, it will be more and more active in the Indian Ocean,” Taylor Fravel, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies China’s ties with its neighbors, said by phone. “Of course, it will not be due to some hostility or targeted at India, but because of its economic interests in the Indian Ocean, as a lot of trade passes through. Such a presence will certainly raise questions in India, but it need not necessarily be a cause of major conflict.”

Warship Plans

India has lacked anti-submarine corvettes in its 135-warship fleet for more than a decade now, with the decommissioning of the last of the 10-ship Petya-class of 1960s-vintage Soviet corvettes in December 2003. It plans to build 42 more warships, including three more anti-submarine corvettes, over the next decade, according to Rear Admiral A.B. Singh, an Indian navy official.

About 90 percent of Kamorta’s components are local, with the hull developed by Steel Authority of India Ltd., medium-range guns by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) and torpedo launchers by Larsen & Toubro Ltd, India’s largest engineering company. The ship is two years behind schedule, according to Commodore B.B. Nagpal, the navy’s principal director for naval design.

via India to Unveil First Warship to Deter Chinese Submarines – Businessweek.

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