Archive for ‘China alert’

28/07/2015

Apple ‘fake factory’ raided in China – BBC News

A factory which allegedly made up to 41,000 fake Apple iPhones has been raided in China, with nine arrests.

iphone 6

The operation reportedly involved “hundreds” of workers repackaging second hand smartphone parts as new iPhones for export, with counterfeit phones produced worth 120m yuan ($19m).

The factory was discovered on 14 May but was revealed on social media by Beijing’s public security bureau on Sunday, according to reports.

The operation was set up in January.

It was led by a husband and wife team, on the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital, according to Beijing authorities.

They said they had been alerted to the factory by US authorities which had seized some of the fake phones.

The reports come amid an official Chinese crackdown on counterfeit goods, with authorities pushing firms to trademark their goods.

China has also agreed to work with the US authorities to try to stem the large quantities of fake goods flowing between the two countries.

The discovery of the factory comes four years after fake Apple stores were found in Kunming city, China.

Discovered by blogger BirdAbroad, the fakes were so convincing she said many of the staff themselves were convinced that they were employed by the US electronics firm.

via Apple ‘fake factory’ raided in China – BBC News.

28/07/2015

Confucius says, Xi does | The Economist

TWO emerging cults are on display in Qufu, a city in eastern China where Confucius was born. One surrounds the ancient sage himself. At a temple in his honour, visitors take turns to bow and prostrate themselves before a large statue of Confucius seated on a throne. For each obeisance, a master of ceremonies chants a wish, such as for “success in exams” or “peace of the country”. On the other side of the city the tomb of Confucius is the scene of similar adoration—flowers adorn it as if he were a loved one recently lost.

The other cult in Qufu surrounds the country’s president, Xi Jinping. People still recall with excitement the trip he made to the city in 2013. It was the first by a Communist Party chief in more than two decades; in fact, though Mr Xi has visited Qufu he has not, since becoming China’s leader, paid respects at the birthplace of Mao Zedong at Shaoshan in Hunan province. Today plates decorated with Mr Xi’s image are for sale in Qufu’s trinket shops. His beaming face is on display on a large billboard outside the Confucius Research Institute, together with a quotation from the modern sage: “In the spread of Confucianism around the world, China must fully protect its right to speak up,” it begins.

Since he came to power in 2012, Mr Xi has sought to elevate Confucius—whom Mao vilified—as the grand progenitor of Chinese culture. He did not go so far as to pay homage at the Confucius temple in Qufu, where Mao’s Red Guard mobs once wrought havoc (one of their slogans, “Revolution is not a crime”, still survives daubed on a stone tablet). Neither did his few published remarks include explicit praise for Confucian philosophy, which still raises hackles among party hacks brought up to regard it as the underpinning of “feudal” rule in premodern China.

To emperors, who were regular visitors to Qufu, Confucianism was practically a state religion. “Uncle Xi”, for all the mini-cult surrounding him, does not seem keen to be viewed as a latter-day emperor. But like leaders of old, he evidently sees Confucianism as a powerful ideological tool, with its stress on order, hierarchy, and duty to ruler and to family. Unlike the party’s imported, indigestible Marxist dogma, Confucianism has the advantage of being home-grown. It appeals to a yearning for ancient values among those unsettled by China’s blistering pace of change.

Though the party has quietly been rehabilitating Confucius for some time, under Mr Xi the pace has quickened. In February 2014 he convened a “collective study” session of the ruling Politburo at which he said that traditional culture should act as a “wellspring” nourishing the party’s values. Official accounts of the session made no mention of Confucius, but party literature made it clear that the values Mr Xi spoke of—such as benevolence, honesty and righteousness—were those espoused by the philosopher. In September Mr Xi became the first party chief to attend a birthday party for Confucius (who turned 2,565). China, he told assembled scholars from around the world, had always been peace-loving—a trait, he said, that had “very deep origins in Confucian thinking”. In May state media reported that the link between Marxism and Confucianism, which some might consider rather tenuous, was the “hottest topic” in the study of humanities in 2014.

Add plenty of sage

Under Mr Xi the party has tweaked its ideological mantras to sound more Confucian. At the party congress in 2012 that marked Mr Xi’s assumption of power, slogans about “core socialist values” were distilled into 12 words, each formed by two Chinese characters and plastered all over Beijing and other cities. The ideas are a hotch-potch. Some are strikingly Western, such as democracy, freedom and equality. There is a nod to socialism with “dedication to work”. Others, such as harmony and sincerity, look more Confucian. Zhang Yiwu of Peking University notes a similarity with the “shared values” adopted by Singapore’s government in 1991. Authoritarian Singapore, where officials hold Confucianism in high regard, has been an inspiration to China, Mr Zhang says.

via Confucius says, Xi does | The Economist.

28/07/2015

Delta to buy 3.55 percent stake of China Eastern for $450 million | Reuters

Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) has agreed to buy 3.55 percent of China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd (600115.SS)(0670.HK), a move that would make it the first U.S. carrier to own part of a Chinese airline.

The deal may prompt Delta’s rivals to beef up partnerships with Chinese carriers in an effort to secure their place in a country that Delta expects to become the biggest market for travel from the United States.

Delta’s purchase challenges rival United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N), the leading U.S. airline for service to China. United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek said Thursday during an investor call that the airline would be “keenly interested” in exploring a Chinese joint venture once the United States and China negotiate an Open Skies agreement that would ease air route restrictions.

Atlanta-based Delta said it will invest $450 million in China Eastern’s Hong Kong-traded stock, which has nearly tripled over the past 12 months even as broader Chinese stock indexes have plunged.

Delta said it will get an “observer” seat on China Eastern’s board. The move may pave the way for Delta and China Eastern to seek approval to coordinate pricing and flight capacity.

However, larger tie-ups with antitrust immunity cannot happen until an Open Skies agreement is in place, which could take years. Currently, governments specify which airlines can fly which routes, and how often.

Chinese carriers have been “launching far too much capacity across the Pacific,” industry consultant Robert Mann said. “Everybody is looking for a stronger form of joint-venture partnership for the day when China and the U.S. have Open Skies.”

For now, Delta and China Eastern say they will invest in services so travelers have a seamless experience on the airlines, which share flight codes on 80 routes including subsidiary Shanghai Airlines. The partnership will grow Delta’s foothold in China Eastern’s Shanghai hub, a key market for business travel.

The transaction is subject to approval by each company’s board.

Delta is investing in foreign carriers, taking small stakes in one airline in Mexico and one in Brazil. It also owns 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd (VA.O) and has used its position to shift the UK carrier’s routes to Delta’s advantage.

via Delta to buy 3.55 percent stake of China Eastern for $450 million | Reuters.

27/07/2015

China Stocks Make Sharpest Daily Fall Since 2007 – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China stocks made their sharpest daily percentage decline since 2007, as worries mount that authorities are pulling back on its measures to prop up the market. As WSJ’s Chao Deng reports:

The Shanghai Composite Index ended down 8.5% at 3725.56, its second-straight day of losses and worst daily percentage fall since February 27, 2007. China’s main index is up 6% from its recent low on July 8, but still off 28% from its high in June.

The smaller Shenzhen Composite fell 7% to 2160.09 and the small-cap ChiNext Closed 7.4% Lower at 2683.45

Analysts say the selling came as investors fear the government is curbing its buying of blue-chip stocks—and could even be testing whether the market can support itself.

“The previous support from the government funds is apparently unsustainable,” said Jacky Zhang, an analyst at BOC International. “They may withdraw support today to test whether the market has recovered its resilience. The government wants to use state funds to stabilize the market, not to prop it back to 5,000 point overnight.”

via China Stocks Make Sharpest Daily Fall Since 2007 – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

22/07/2015

Airbus China plant plans to deliver first A330 plane in 2018 | Reuters

Airbus’ (AIR.PA) China plant is expected to deliver its first A330 wide-body passenger jet in 2018, one of the European planemaker’s Chinese partners said on Wednesday.

A worker uses a drill to screw bolts into the wing of an A320 plane that is under construction at the Airbus factory located in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin September 14, 2010.  REUTERS/David Gray

Airbus earlier this month signed an agreement to establish an A330 ‘cabin completion center’ in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin, where the firm already has a final assembly plant for smaller A320 jets.

The agreement was signed with the Aviation Industry Corp of China [SASADY.UL] and the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone. Airbus hopes the increased presence in China would lead to more demand for the profitable but ageing wide-body A330 jets.

In a statement posted on its website, the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone, said it expects construction of the plant to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2017, with the first plane to be delivered to customers in early 2018.

The plant will help further China’s goal of building its own jets to cater to what is expected to become the world’s biggest air transport market. Currently it depends mostly on imported jets from Airbus and Boeing (BA.N).

Facilities for cabin decoration, painting, and flight testing of the A330 series would also be established in the next 10 years, the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone said.

The agreement to build the A330 plant, which will be capable of fitting out 2 planes a month, came after China placed an order for 45 A330 aircraft worth at least $11 billion, together with provisional purchases of another 30 planes.

via Airbus China plant plans to deliver first A330 plane in 2018 | Reuters.

22/07/2015

Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ

If you’re living in China and have the vague impression that the skies have been bluer than usual this year, it’s not just wishful thinking.

According to an analysis released Wednesday by Greenpeace East Asia, China’s air is not as awful as it used to be. Among 189 cities examined by the environmental nonprofit, PM2.5 levels in the first half of 2015 were down an average of 16% compared to the same period last year. Only 18 cities saw their levels of PM2.5 increase.

Health experts say that small particles such as PM2.5 are particularly worrisome for human health, given their ability to creep deep into the lungs and aggravate heart or lung disease.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen a massive reduction on PM2.5 concentrations at a national level,” said Dong Liansai, Greenpeace East Asia energy and climate campaigner. In recent years, the frequent grey pall and onset of periodic “airpocalyses” have helped discourage tourism to Beijing and have spurred expats and locals alike to leave for more oxygen-rich environments.

In the country’s notoriously smoggy capital, residents have seen PM2.5 levels drop by 15.5%, with levels of sulfur dioxide – which can contribute to respiratory problems — experiencing a still more precipitous drop of 42.6%, the group said. The capital has been making a concerted push to clean up its skies, closing or relocating 185 firms in the first half of this year, according to the Beijing government. Since last July, the city has also shuttered three of its four coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Dong said the bump in clean air doesn’t appear to be just a blip. He credited more aggressive government standards on emissions and efforts to shutter its dirtiest factories. He also cited the government’s 2013 air pollution control plan, which mandates that by 2017, certain regions must reduce their PM2.5 levels by as much as 25% compared to 2012 levels.

Compared with the rest of the world, the Middle Kingdom’s air still ranks as wretched: the average PM2.5 level in the 385 cities ranked by the group was 53.8 µg/m3, more than five times the World Health Organization’s recommended annual mean.

To keep skies blue-hued for events such as last November’s APEC summit, the city periodically shuts down nearby factories and orders cars off the streets. Such a strategy has in the past paid health dividends for residents. A recent study found that women pregnant during the 2008 Beijing Olympics—when the Chinese government worked aggressively to keep air pollution down for a seven-week period—gave birth to heavier, and presumably healthier, babies.

via Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

13/07/2015

China says 75 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in June | Reuters

Nearly 75 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards in June, the environment ministry said on Monday, an improvement over the same month last year, as the country continues to wage “war on pollution.”

General view of downtown Shanghai on a hazy night January 25, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

Nineteen cities met air quality standards every day, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement on its website (www.mep.gov.cn), compared to five at the same time last year.

Air quality in the capital Beijing was subpar on almost 60 percent of the days in June and saw levels of PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers that can penetrate deep into the lungs – rise 11 percent compared to the same period last year.

Amid growing public disquiet about smog and other environmental risks, China said last year it would “declare war on pollution” and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial capacity and reduce coal consumption.

Last year, nearly 90 percent of China’s 74 big cities failed to meet air quality standards.

The state standard is 35 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter, but the government does not expect to bring the national average down to that level before 2030.

In April, the vice minister for environmental protection announced a two-year inspection campaign to root out fake air quality data and accused some local governments of manipulating the data to meet national standards.

via China says 75 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in June | Reuters.

13/07/2015

Tales of the unexpected | The Economist

WEIJIA is a typical Chinese seven-year-old. He loves riding his bike and anything to do with cars; he is a badminton fanatic and has lessons twice a week. In a few months’ time, however, he will become rather less typical. He will have a brother or sister—something most urban Chinese children lack.

His parents are taking advantage of a relaxation in November 2013 of the country’s strict family-planning rules. Couples are now allowed to have a second baby if one parent is an only child. After more than 35 years of often brutal enforcement of the one-child-per-couple policy, some had expected a mini baby-boom to follow. The National Health and Family Planning Commission estimated that the new rules would allow 11m more couples to have a second child (there were already exemptions for some). It thought that 2m of them would try in the first year. But by the end of 2014 fewer than 1.1m people had applied for the necessary permit.

 

That worries the government, which has tweaked the rules not out of sympathy for lonely only children or for parents who want a spare heir, but because of a population crunch. The country is ageing rapidly. In 2012 its labour pool shrank for the first time in 50 years. In the largest cities the fertility rate—meaning the number of children an average woman is likely to have during her lifetime—is among the lowest in the world, at around one. For the country as a whole it is less than 1.6—far below the level of 2.1 needed to keep the population steady (see chart).

The one-child policy did not curb Chinese fertility as much as its boosters imagine. By the time it was introduced in 1979, the fertility rate had already fallen to 2.8 from 5.8 in under a decade, thanks to usually less coercive efforts to encourage fewer births. Ruthless enforcement of the new policy resulted in widespread forced abortions and infanticide. It inflicted misery on parents who wanted larger families. But its overall impact on births was limited. In most countries, rising affluence has led to fewer babies. India’s fertility rate fell steadily over the same period without such formal policies, even though its economy did not grow nearly as fast as China’s. In wealthy South Korea the birth rate has fallen to 1.3 children per woman, down from six in 1960.

China’s authorities have now changed tack, from relentlessly proclaiming the virtues of having only one child to encouraging eligible couples to “procreate legally”. But they should not be surprised that this is failing to achieve the desired effect.

Since the 1980s rural families whose first child was a girl have been allowed to try for another. More recently, couples who are both single children have been allowed to have a second. Yet the uptake has been low. Academics, including Cai Yong of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, conducted a study in 2007-10 in the coastal province of Jiangsu. They found that among 2,500 urban and rural women they surveyed who were entitled to have a second child, only 6.5% did so. Ethnic minorities (nearly a tenth of the population), have long been allowed to have two or more. But on average each ethnic-minority woman bears only about 1.5 children, according to a census in 2010.

Mr Cai believes that rising incomes have been a big cause of shrinking family size. “Development is the best contraceptive,” he says. Births would have plummeted even without the one-child policy, he reckons, though not as fast or as low. Families worry about the expense of having babies: good education and health care are increasingly pricey. A study by Credit Suisse in 2013 found that couples typically spend over 22,500 yuan ($3,600) a year to raise a child to the age of 18. That is more than three-quarters of the average annual disposable income per person of urban households. A government report in 2015 said that in the first five years of a child’s life, city parents spend twice as much as rural ones, even before the high cost of urban housing is included—particularly near the best schools (see article).

Chinese families want their offspring not only to get a good education, but also to gain an edge in the global jobs market. Hence Weijia’s parents spend nearly 15% of their annual income just on classes for him, including weekly English lessons. Over half of children under six take extra classes in addition to those at kindergarten, according to IResearch, a Chinese market-research company.

Grandparents help to reduce the cost of child care (they often live with their grown-up children). But since people marry and have children later than they used to, the age of live-in grandparents is rising too; fewer are sprightly enough to deal with two children. It has become so common in China to have only one child that society is no longer geared to handle multiple offspring: hotel rooms for two children cannot be booked online (parents must call); play vehicles in parks seat two adults and one youngster; toothbrush-holders in family bathrooms often have space for just three brushes.

Decades of propaganda about the benefits of single children have changed the way parents think, says Wang Feng of the University of California, Irvine. A belief that China has too many people is widely shared, as is a conviction that the country would have been far worse off without the one-child policy. Many Chinese are surprisingly willing to blame the country’s terrible traffic and its air and water pollution on overpopulation, rather than bad planning. Having just one child still has the whiff of the patriotic about it.

The government’s next step may be to allow all couples to have two children. There is much speculation that the country’s parliament will approve this next year. Family-planning bureaucrats still fret about what might happen if restrictions were to be lifted. But the same factors of cost and hassle will continue to suppress the birth rate, regardless of how fast the policy is adjusted. Growing numbers of young Chinese people now prefer not to marry or have children at all.

via Tales of the unexpected | The Economist.

12/07/2015

Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war | South China Morning Post

President Xi Jinping has officially invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a ceremony in September commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

Shinzo Abe speaks at the Japan Summit 2015 on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Beijing had been waiting for a reply since the invitation was made three weeks ago, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said on Friday following a BRICS summit.

Cheng said all leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – had agreed to attend the September 3 ceremony, which includes a military parade in Tiananmen Square.

Abe had told aides he was willing to visit China, the Asahi newspaper reported.

However, fearing a domestic backlash, he was considering a visit either before or after the ceremony, it said.

A Japanese government source said Abe hoped to talk with Xi on repairing the damage caused by territorial disputes and differing perceptions of history.

Jiang Yuechun , a professor at the China Institute of International Studies, said Abe’s hesitation was understandable.

“If Abe decides to attend the ceremony, it would be a good opportunity to help his country get rid of its historical burden [as an invader]. It would also be a chance to [turn back] Sino-Japanese bilateral ties,” he said.

“Of course, it’s impossible for the two countries to remedy the breach even if Abe does meet Xi, because there are so many problems left by history that have hindered the relationship, such as maritime disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and fishing rights. It will take time to solve these by rational communication.”

Whether Abe’s trip goes ahead could depend on the content of a statement he is expected to make regarding the war anniversary and China’s activities to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas. China has urged Abe to include a full apology and note that Japan was engaged in a war of aggression.

Recent speeches by Abe had reflected on Japan’s “wrongdoing” but “offered no apology”, said Sun Cheng, director of the East Asia International Studies Centre at the China University of Political Science and Law.

Sun said the attitude of the US would be key to pushing Japan into an open apology “because Tokyo cares more for Washington’s [approval] than for China’s or South Korea’s”.

To lay the groundwork for Abe’s visit, Shotaro Yachi, the head of Japan’s National Security Council, was planning to travel to China this month to hold talks with Yang Jiechi , the mainland’s top diplomat, a Japanese government source said.

Abe and Xi held talks last November in Beijing and this April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences.

Observers say Beijing hopes to improve its relations with Tokyo before Xi’s visit to the United States in September, while Abe is eager to bolster his domestic support by repairing ties with Beijing amid deliberations on controversial security bills.

Meanwhile, Japan has proposed sending its foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, to Russia from August 31 to September 1. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Japan within the year.

via Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war | South China Morning Post.

12/07/2015

13 Million Guangdong Migrants Could Gain Permanent Residence By 2020 – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Faced with a persistent influx of rural workers, China’s most populous province plans to allow more migrant residents to settle permanently in its cities, in its latest effort to ease decades-old curbs on rural-urban migration.

Under new guidelines published this week, Guangdong authorities aim to grant local household registration to roughly 13 million migrant workers by 2020, allowing them to access public services—spanning housing, health-care, social security and education—that are typically reserved for urban residents.

Guangdong has often taken the lead in efforts to liberalize the hukou system, a national household-registration regime that curbs rural-urban migration by tying benefits like health care and pensions to a person’s place of birth. Experts say the system forces many rural migrants to live as second-class citizens in urban areas, aggravating social inequality while fueling tensions between locals and outsiders.

Hukou reforms are a pressing matter for Guangdong, a southern Chinese manufacturing hub that hosts the country’s largest transient population. Among its roughly 110 million residents, more than 24 million are migrants from other regions, while another 10.6 million have relocated within the province.

“Reforming the household-registration system will speed up our province’s urbanization process, and facilitate the coordinated development of the Pearl River Delta region,” Peng Hui, deputy director-general of Guangdong’s public security department, told a news briefing this week.

As part of the reforms, provincial officials will aim to “equalize” the provision of public services and ensure “balanced” economic development between rural and urban areas, according to the new guidelines.

China has used the hukou system since the 1950s to keep people from moving to the cities and forming the sort of slums that plague other developing nations. In recent decades, however, rural migrants have increasingly bucked the system to seek better opportunities in urban areas, without approval to live there.

Beijing, for its part, has since changed tack and pushed to urbanize its population of nearly 1.4 billion people, of which about 45% still in live in rural areas. But experts say the government must speed up its dismantling of the hukou system, warning that social tensions could fester and even boil over in the coming decade as China’s “floating population” of more than 250 million continues to expand.

Last year, Beijing pledged some changes to the hukou system, with restrictions to be lifted first in small towns. More stringent requirements will remain on those who want to live in larger cities, which are generally more attractive to migrants.

 

Guangdong’s plan follows a similar approach. Provincial officials say they plan to “fully liberalize” settlement rules in small, county-level cities and so-called “administratively designated towns,” where migrants with legal and stable places of residence will be allowed to apply for permanent residency.

via 13 Million Guangdong Migrants Could Gain Permanent Residence By 2020 – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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