Archive for ‘China alert’

28/11/2014

Women still outnumbered in top jobs – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Despite China having one of the highest rates of female employment in the world, only a small percentage of women work in senior positions, said a research report released in Shanghai on Thursday.

Women hold less than 10 percent of executive level jobs in China and have only a 1 in 15 chance of reaching the chief executive suite, the report based on a study by Bain & Co said.

Only about 6 percent of CEOs and 8 percent of board directors are women, and only 27 percent of senior managers are female, according to the report.

The study in May surveyed 850 women who hold a variety of positions in more than 25 industries and 50 cities across China.

Disruption from family commitments is the top obstacle to women advancing in China.

“I wish to excel in my career and take good care of my family at the same time. Sometimes I feel that I might have been expecting too much,” said Meng Xiaoqing, a 25-year-old clerk who has been working for three years for a furniture maker in Shanghai.

Meng said she once aspired to become head of her department, but she dropped the plan because she “might not be able to handle more responsibilities and a household at the same time”.

China has introduced a series of gender parity policies and has promoted equal opportunities for women, but accepted norms and behaviors are somehow disconnected from these policies, said Jennifer Zeng, co-author of the study.

About 73 percent of working-age women in China are employed, compared with 67 percent in the UK, 66 percent in Australia and 62 percent in the United States.

Women tend to be as qualified as men when they enter the workforce, comprising 47 percent of university graduates in China, and they initially progress in equal numbers, holding 46 percent of professional positions, the report said.

“My observation is that enterprises have been investing heavily in improving gender parity, and female employees are better informed than ever about how to protect themselves when gender discrimination occurs,” said Liu Wei, a lawyer at Shanghai Shenda Law Firm.

The real challenge is for companies themselves to counter the prevailing stereotypes, differences in women’s and men’s leadership styles, as well as gender and organizational biases, Zeng said.

Neither men nor women seem to like female bosses, who are perceived as being detail-oriented to the point of micromanaging. As women move up in seniority, they are also more likely to be labeled “aggressive” and “less feminine”, and such stereotypes and labels can undercut women’s confidence levels and make it more difficult for them to work effectively with others.

via Women still outnumbered in top jobs – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

28/11/2014

China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China will soon have nearly as many drivers as the U.S. has people.

As of this week, the number of Chinese motor-vehicle drivers was poised to break past 300 million people, according to the country’s top law-enforcement agency, including 244 million licensed passenger-car drivers. The U.S., by comparison, has about 319 million men, women and children, and nearly 212 million licensed drivers.

Meanwhile, China has 154 million private autos, next only to the U.S., said the ministry. The U.S. government puts the number of cars and trucks there at around 240 million, suggesting China still has a ways to go before it can fill parking lots the way Americans do.

The numbers – a result of China’s wealth accumulation over the past decade as well as the rise a domestic car-manufacturing base – have all kinds of implications for the world’s No. 2 economy. The rise in the ranks of drivers could be good news for an industry facing slowing growth and overcapacity, though it also complicated Beijing’s efforts to wrap its arms around the country’s massive pollution problems.

First, the details: Chinese drivers are increasingly female, both older and younger, and new to the streets.

via China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

27/11/2014

Inheritance law: A lack of will power | The Economist

IN RECENT weeks China’s leaders have been talking up the need to enhance the rule of law. Their aim is to strengthen the Communist Party’s grip on power while at the same time ensuring that justice is served more fairly. This may improve the lives of some. Many people complain bitterly that courts often pay more heed to the whims of officials than to the law. But in the realm of death, it is the law itself that is the problem. The country’s statutes on inheritance remain little changed from the days when few had any property to bequeath. The rapid emergence in recent years of a large middle-class with complex property claims has been fuelling inheritance disputes. The crudity of the law is making matters worse.

Today’s inheritance law was adopted in 1985 when divorce and remarriage were rare and international marriage nearly unknown. Few owned homes, cars or other valuable property. The law does at least grant men and women equal rights to their kin’s estates, but otherwise it is based largely on tradition. It is specific when it comes to handing down “forest trees, livestock and poultry” but runs out of steam when it comes to newfangled notions such as intellectual property; never mind domain names and digital photographs. A sweeping reference to “other lawful property” is its unhelpful attempt to cover all eventualities. What counts as property? By whose laws? The statute has no answers.

Modest changes were approved in 2003, but woolly areas remain such as in procedures for registering wills. This has led to rancorous court cases like one that last month attracted much public attention. It involved a disputed will and the embattled surviving family members of a famous calligrapher and his estate worth about 2 billion yuan ($326m).

Since the last revisions to the law, society has kept up its blistering pace of change. The divorce rate has risen in each of the past ten years. In 2009 divorces outnumbered marriages. Thus there are now ex-spouses and stepchildren among those squabbling over estates. China’s embrace of globalisation means that some assets (and indeed, clamouring relatives) are located in other countries.

China’s one-child policy has sometimes complicated matters. State media reported on a car crash in 2012 in which both parents died several hours before their sole child, a six-year-old girl. She automatically inherited their assets in that short interval but had no legal heir herself, meaning the assets went to the state instead of other kin.

At a meeting in October Chinese leaders expressed support for amending the inheritance law (though a long-mooted plan to introduce an inheritance tax still looks far from being put into force: the middle class does not want that). Yang Lixin of Renmin University in Beijing says that despite this resolve it could still be several years before the law catches up with reality. It is enough to send legal drafters to an early grave.

via Inheritance law: A lack of will power | The Economist.

27/11/2014

Higher education: A matter of honours | The Economist

FINE porcelain, Chinese-landscape scrolls and calligraphy adorn the office of Shi Yigong, dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Little about his ornamentation hints at Mr Shi’s 18 years in America, where, like thousands of Chinese students, he decamped for graduate study in the early 1990s. Mr Shi eventually became a professor at Princeton University but he began to feel like a “bystander” as his native country started to prosper. In 2008, at the age of 40, he returned to his homeland. He was one of the most famous Chinese scholars to do so; an emblem for the government’s attempts to match its academic achievements to its economic ones.

Sending students abroad has been central to China’s efforts to improve its education since the late 1970s, when it began trying to repair the damage wrought by Mao’s destruction of the country’s academic institutions. More than 3m Chinese have gone overseas to study. Chinese youths make up over a fifth of all international students in higher education in the OECD, a club mostly of rich countries. More than a quarter of them are in America.

Every country sends out students. What makes China different is that most of these bright minds have stayed away. Only a third have come back, according to the Ministry of Education; fewer by some counts. A study this year by a scholar at America’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education found that 85% of those who gained their doctorate in America in 2006 were still there in 2011.

To lure experts to Chinese universities, the government has launched a series of schemes since the mid-1990s. These have offered some combination of a one-off bonus of up to 1m yuan ($160,000), promotion, an assured salary and a housing allowance or even a free apartment. Some of the best universities have built homes for academics to rent or buy at a discount. All are promised top-notch facilities. Many campuses, which were once spartan, now have swanky buildings (one of Tsinghua’s is pictured above). The programmes have also targeted non-Chinese. A “foreign expert thousand-talent scheme”, launched in 2011, has enticed around 200 people. Spending on universities has shot up, too: sixfold in 2001-11. The results have been striking. In 2005-2012 published research articles from higher-education institutions rose by 54%; patents granted went up eightfold.

But most universities still have far to go. Only two Chinese institutions number in the top 100 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University includes only 32 institutions from mainland China among the world’s 500 best. The government frets about the failure of a Chinese scholar ever to win a Nobel prize in science (although the country has a laureate for literature and an—unwelcome—winner in 2010 of the Nobel peace prize, Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned dissident).

via Higher education: A matter of honours | The Economist.

27/11/2014

China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse – Businessweek

China’s government is seeking public input as it drafts a long overdue law to protect victims of domestic violence. In addition to shielding spouses from abusers, the law will address physical aggression against children and elders—all issues that are at once taboo and disturbingly common in modern China.

China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse

According to a 2011 study by the All China Women’s Federation, a quarter of women in China have been victims of some form of domestic violence. Yet for many years, spousal abuse was considered a private or family matter, making it difficult for victims to seek police intervention or professional counseling.

The problem of widespread domestic abuse first gained traction in Chinese news headlines in 2011 after Kim Lee, the American wife of a high-profile Chinese entrepreneur, posted photos of her badly bruised face on Weibo. She explained on the microblog that her husband, Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English language school, regularly hit her.

In 2013 the couple divorced, and Lee was awarded custody of their three children and 12 million yuan (nearly $2 million) in damages and compensation. Her decision to discuss the matter publicly helped ignite a national conversation.

According to Xinhua, the new “family abuse” law will require police to respond immediately to reports of domestic violence. It will also create mechanisms for victims to seek restraining orders against abusers. If a domestic violence case is heard in court, the draft law offers some guidance in sentencing, suggesting jail terms of up to seven years for serious offenders.

via China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse – Businessweek.

27/11/2014

China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters

When eight South Asian leaders gather for a summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, they will meet in a conference center donated by China to its cash-strapped Himalayan neighbor Nepal 27 years ago.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi watches a guard of honour upon his arrival for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 25, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

In the decades since it built the modernist brick and glass hall, China has massively stepped up its presence in South Asia, supplying ports, power stations and weapons.

China’s advance has been aided by bickering between India and Pakistan that stymies almost all attempts at integration in a region that is home to a fifth of the world’s population but has barely any shared roads, fuel pipes or power lines.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not welcomed Beijing’s renewed suggestion its status be raised from “observer” in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in which India is presently the only major power.

SAARC summits bring together leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Modi’s hope of using the group as a counterweight to China is unlikely to gain traction at the two-day Kathmandu meeting, with officials saying Pakistan is blocking deals to increase transport and energy connections.

Pakistan mooted the idea of upgrading China’s and South Korea’s status in the organization at a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on Tuesday. It was quickly rebuffed by India.

via China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters.

27/11/2014

China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters

China will take a “zero tolerance” approach to a wide range of environmental violations and has promised stronger action against regional governments that protect polluters or hinder inspections, according to a Cabinet document.

A man wearing a face mask stands on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong on a hazy day, in Shanghai November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Authorities across China have been ordered to take part in a comprehensive inspection program to be completed by the end of 2015, said the policy document that was released on the official government website late on Wednesday.

The program’s findings will be released publicly under a policy of enhanced transparency and accountability, it said, and any regional regulations that hinder enforcement of national environmental legislation must be annulled by June 2015.

The state of China’s air, soil and rivers has emerged as one of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest challenges, with an increasingly prosperous public unwilling to accept the environmental costs of rapid economic growth.

China declared a “war on pollution” this year and passed long-awaited amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving authorities added powers to monitor, fine and even imprison repeat offenders.

On Wednesday, the cabinet also approved draft amendments to China’s air pollution law that include unlimited daily fines if violators do not rectify problems, the China Daily newspaper reported. Polluters currently pay a one-off fine of up to 200,000 yuan ($32,595).

Enforcement remains one of the government’s main concerns, with the Ministry of Environmental Protection complaining last month that some regions preferred “form over substance” when it came to implementing new guidelines.

The ministry also criticized regional governments that failed to comply fully with industrial restrictions during this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.

(1 US dollar = 6.1360 Chinese yuan)

via China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters.

25/11/2014

Massive Himalayan hydropower dam comes on stream in Tibet | South China Morning Post

Tibet‘s biggest ever hydropower project has begun generating electricity, state-run media reported, the latest dam developed on Himalayan rivers to prompt concern in neighbouring India.

tpbje20141123187_46897531.jpg

The first generating plant at the 9.6 billion yuan (HK$12.1 billion) Zangmu Hydropower Station, which stands more than 3,300 metres above sea level, went into operation on Sunday, Xinhua said.

The dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River, known as the Brahmaputra in India where it is a major waterway, will be 116 metres high when completed next year, according to reports.

It will have a total generating capacity of 510,000 kilowatts.

“The hydropower station will solve Tibet’s power shortage, especially in the winter,” Xinhua quoted an official from Tibet Electric Power Company as saying.

India has previously expressed concern about damming the Brahmaputra, one of the largest Himalayan rivers and a lifeline to some of India’s remote, farm-dependent northeastern states.

India’s Foreign Ministry last year urged China “to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas” of the river after state media reports that China planned several more dams there.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said yesterday that New Delhi had been aware the dam was “coming up”.

“The Chinese have told us that it should have no implications for us,” he said.

Dam construction in China has been blamed for reduced flow and sudden flooding on the Mekong River, which flows into Southeast Asia, claims Beijing has denied.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters: “The hydropower stations China builds will not affect the flood prevention and ecological system of downstream areas.”

via Massive Himalayan hydropower dam comes on stream in Tibet | South China Morning Post.

25/11/2014

India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek

For a senior Afghan diplomat sitting in India’s capital, it’s easy to explain how a region with a quarter of the world’s people can account for only five percent of global trade.

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping

“India and Pakistan need to overcome their problems,” M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission at Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi, said in an interview ahead of this week’s meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC. “Summits happen, leaders come, there’s all this consensus and declarations announced. But unfortunately it doesn’t happen in reality.”

As leaders of eight SAARC countries meet in Nepal this week for the first time since 2011, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more reasons than ever to turn the bloc into a regional force to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. Doing so will require him to overcome differences with Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.

So far, things aren’t looking good. Modi’s government scrapped talks with Pakistan in August, which was followed by the worst border fighting between the countries in a decade. At the same time, China has promised SAARC nations part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund to finance infrastructure investments.

“SAARC won’t be able to counter China’s influence,” said Nishan de Mel, executive director and head of research at Colombo-based Verite Research Pvt., a policy research group. “China tends to have an approach that isn’t too demanding and isn’t politically difficult for the partner country and where the partner country will tend to see benefits quite quickly. India’s approach tends to be more hard-nosed.”

via India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek.

25/11/2014

China’s Railroad Ventures Abroad Project Soft Power – Businessweek

Last week state-owned China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) signed a lucrative contract with Nigeria to build an 870-mile coastal railroad from Lagos to Calabar, two of the West African nation’s leading cities. The price tag: $12 billion. That makes it the largest single overseas engineering contract awarded to any Chinese company, according to state-run Xinhua newswire.

Chinese and Venezuelan construction workers build an elevated platform at China Railway Engineering Corporation's (CREC) Tinaco-Anaco railway project in Los Dos Caminos, Venezuela in 2012

Beijing hopes many more deals will follow. In recent months, Chinese leaders on overseas missions have often bragged of the country’s prowess in building railroads, including high-speed bullet trains.

In May, Li Keqiang made his first diplomatic trip as China’s premier to Africa, visiting Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and Kenya. At the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he said he envisioned a bright future for the continent when African capitals would be connected by high-speed rail. And China, he added, according to Xinhua, could “help make this dream come true.”

In early November, a consortium of Chinese companies led by CRCC won a $3.7 billion contract to build a bullet train in Mexico; that contract was canceled a few days later due to suspected corruption on the Mexican side. But the aborted deal is still a sign of overseas demand for China’s rail technology.

Nor are rail deals limited to developing nations: In October, Boston’s transit authority signed a $567 million contract with China’s CNR Corp. to build 284 subway cars.

In addition to stimulating domestic manufacturing demand for steel and rail equipment exports, China’s leaders hope the flurry of railway deals will have soft power benefits as well. The Nigerian railroad will be “a mutually beneficial project,” as CRCC Chairman Meng Fengchao told Xinhua. He pledged to hire at least several thousand workers from Nigeria; in the past, Chinese companies have been criticized for bringing in Chinese workers to complete large engineering projects, thus denying work opportunities to local populations.

via China’s Railroad Ventures Abroad Project Soft Power – Businessweek.

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