Archive for ‘Chindia Alert’

25/07/2014

Ethiopia Vies for China’s Vanishing Factory Jobs – Businessweek

Ethiopian workers walking through the parking lot of Huajian Shoes’ factory outside Addis Ababa in June chose the wrong day to leave their shirts untucked. The company’s president, just arrived from China, spotted them through the window, sprang up, and ran outside. Zhang Huarong, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier, harangued them in Chinese, tugging at one man’s polo shirt and forcing another worker’s into his pants. Amazed, the workers stood silent until the eruption subsided.

Turning Ethiopia Into China's China

Zhang’s factory is part of the next wave of China’s investment in Africa. It started with infrastructure, especially the kind that helped the Chinese extract African oil, copper, and other raw materials to fuel China’s industrial complex. Now China is getting too expensive to do the low-tech work it’s known for. African nations such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tanzania want their share of the 80 million manufacturing jobs that China is expected to export, according to Justin Lin Yifu, a former World Bank chief economist who teaches economics at Peking University. Weaker consumer spending in the U.S. and Europe has prompted global retailers to speed up their search for lower-cost producers.

Shaping up employees is one part of Zhang’s quest to squeeze more profit out of Huajian’s factory, where wages of about $40 a month are less than 10 percent of what comparable Chinese workers may make. Just as companies discovered with China when they began manufacturing there in the 1980s, Ethiopia’s workforce is untrained, its power supply is intermittent, and its roads are so bad that trips can take six times as long as they should. “Ethiopia is exactly like China 30 years ago,” says Zhang, 55, who quit the military in 1982 to make shoes from his home in Jiangxi province with three sewing machines. He now supplies such well-known brands as Nine West and Guess (GES).

Almost three years after Zhang began his Ethiopian adventure at the invitation of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, he says he’s unhappy with profits at the plant, frustrated by “widespread inefficiency” in the local bureaucracy, and struggling to raise productivity from a level that he says is about a third of China’s. Transportation and logistics that cost as much as four times what they do in China are prompting Huajian to set up its own trucking company, according to Zhang. That will free Huajian from using the inefficient local haulers, but it can’t fix the roads. It takes two hours to drive 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the Huajian factory from the capital along the main artery. Oil tankers and trucks stream along the bumpy, potholed, and at times unpaved road. Goats, donkeys, and cows wander along, occasionally straying into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Minibuses and dented taxis, mostly blue Ladas from Ethiopia’s past as a Soviet ally, weave through oncoming traffic, coughing exhaust.

via Ethiopia Vies for China’s Vanishing Factory Jobs – Businessweek.

25/07/2014

What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s census data consistently shows two things: the country’s inexorably expanding population and its deep preference for sons over daughters.

A new United Nations study takes a deep look at how parents keep choosing boys over girls, despite laws that seek to block the use of ultrasounds and other pre-natal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child.

India’ child sex ratio – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991.

India’s sex gap “demonstrates that the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” said Lakshmi Puri, an Indian who is a U.N. assistant secretary general.

Here are five significant takeaways from the U.N. study, written by Mary E. John, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Improvements in the Overall Sex Ratio are More Nuanced Than You Think

Since 1991, the number of women per 1,000 men has been rising, though it remains far below normal. In 1991, there were 927 women for every 1,000 men. In 2011, the year of the most recent census, that number had risen to 943. The U.N. study argues that much of the improvement isn’t because fewer girls are being born and surviving into adulthood. In India, in the past, women had a shorter life expectancy than men – unlike the situation in most of the rest of the world. That has changed. Indian women now outlive men, in part because of lifestyle changes and “diseases that take a greater toll on” men.

via What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/07/2014

Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

By some measures, China’s Internet dwarfs that of the United States.

China has the world’s largest Internet population with 618 million users, well over twice as many as in the U.S. China also has the world’s largest online retailing industry, with e-commerce giants like Alibaba that sprawl far larger than the likes of eBay EBAY +1.08%.

But a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute argues that enterprise use of the Internet is still lagging in China and that the country’s businesses will need to catch up in this area to unlock economic gains.

“The Web is just beginning to penetrate many Chinese businesses – and the most sweeping changes are yet to come,” said the report, which was published this week.

MGI estimates that increased adoption of Web technologies like cloud computing and big data by China’s enterprises can add 0.3 to 1.0 percentage points to China’s GDP growth rate. By 2025, it could translate to annual economic gains of between 4 trillion yuan ($645.5 billion) and 14 trillion yuan, the research firm said.

China’s Internet has outpaced the U.S. among consumers. Alibaba’s online shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall have nearly twice as many active buyers than the U.S. site eBay. Jonathan Woetzel, one of the MGI study’s authors and a partner of the firm, told The Wall Street Journal that Chinese consumers spend more time shopping online and make more purchases than their American counterparts.

“China’s consumer generation has shown up at the same time as the Internet,” he said. “They have the money, but the offline shopping platforms like malls haven’t been built up fast enough to accommodate their expectations and needs. So more of them shop online.”

But when it comes to China’s businesses, they still lag in use of Web technologies, he says. The typical Chinese company spends 2% of revenue on IT, half of the international average, according to an MGI survey of CIOs. The enterprise cloud adoption rate in China is 21% compared to 55%-63% in the U.S.

Some sectors that stand the most to benefit in China include the financial services, health care and automotive industries, MGI says. Big data can help financial firms manage risks and reduce non-performing loans, while remote monitoring of chronic diseases can save costs for the health care industry.

via Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

25/07/2014

India’s human development index in 2013 improved slightly from the previous year

India’s human development index in 2013 improved slightly from the previous year, while it ranked 135 out of 187 countries, according to the 2014 UNDP Human Development Report.

This is only seven positions ahead of Bangladesh, but well behind Sri Lanka, which is at 73. Nepal and Pakistan fall in the low development category, at 145 and 146 respectively.

The human development index is derived from a measurement of life expectancy, education, and income indices and is used to rank countries into four tiers of human development: very high, high, medium and low.

The report, released on Thursday morning, shows that India’s index is 0.586 out of a maximum of 1. India’s index was below the average of 0.614 for countries in the medium human development group.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

24/07/2014

China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020 | Reuters

China plans to extend a railway line linking Tibet with the rest of the country to the borders of India, Nepal and Bhutan by 2020 once an extension to a key site in Tibetan Buddhism opens, a state-run newspaper reported on Thursday.

Tibetan railway bridge

Tibetan railway bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

China opened the railway to Tibet’s capital Lhasa in 2006, which passes spectacular icy peaks on the Tibetan highlands, touching altitudes as high as 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level, as part of government efforts to boost development.

Critics of the railway, including exiled Tibetans and rights groups, say it has spurred an influx of long-term migrants who threaten Tibetans’ cultural integrity, which rests on Buddhist beliefs and a traditional herding lifestyle.

The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said that an extention to Shigatse, the traditional seat of Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest figure, the Panchen Lama, would formally open next month.

That link is scheduled for its own extension during the 2016-2020 period to two separate points, one on the border of Nepal and the other on the border with India and Bhutan, the newspaper cited Yang Yulin, deputy head of Tibet’s railways, as saying, without providing details.

China has long mooted this plan, but the difficulty and expense of building in such a rugged and remote region has slowed efforts.

Tibet is a highly sensitive region, not just because of continued Tibetan opposition to Chinese control, but because of its strategic position next to India, Nepal and Myanmar.

The Chinese announcement coincides with a drive by India, under its new prime minister Narendra Modi, to consolidate its influence with its smaller neighbors.

via China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020 | Reuters.

23/07/2014

China’s Next Great Water Project Uproots More Than 330,000 – Businessweek

China’s track record for forced relocations that accompany large infrastructure projects is dismal. Many of the 1.3 million people relocated during the construction of Three Gorges Dam in the 1990s and early 2000s were moved from ancestral villages and farmland, where they could profitably grow crops, to newly (often shoddily) built apartments, with no job training or employment help. The result: vanished earnings and increased social dislocation.

A child standing next to his family's possessions as residents in central China's Henan province make way for the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in 2010

So far, it appears that the relocation of more than 330,000 people during the ongoing construction of the South-to-North Water Transfer Project is somewhat better planned, although still deeply flawed. Beijing News looked at the fate of approximately 70,000 people relocated from homes in Hubei Province for the construction of the middle leg of the project, which aims to redirect water from China’s lush south to its arid north. The local government seems to be more aware of the importance of protecting migrants’ livelihoods, but that awareness hasn’t yielded simple solutions.

“It isn’t easy to tell people they must leave their homes,” Gufang Yan, a staffer at the Nanzhang Bureau of Immigration, told the newspaper. “Nobody gave us information about how to find a job; we did not know anything about recruitment,” said a man named Chen Yan, who was relocated for the project four years ago. He eventually managed to find work near his new home repairing cars, and he learned on the job.

via China’s Next Great Water Project Uproots More Than 330,000 – Businessweek.

22/07/2014

Armed bandits demand water in dry northern India – Businessweek

Armed bandits in drought-stricken northern India are threatening to kill hundreds of villagers unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day to the outlaws in their rural hideouts.

Since the threats were delivered last week, 28 villages have been obeying the order, taking turns handing over what the bandits are calling a daily “water tax,” police said Monday.

“Water itself is very scarce in this region. Villagers can hardly meet their demand,” officer Suresh Kumar Singh said by telephone from Banda, a city on the southern border of central Uttar Pradesh state and caught within what is known in India as bandit country.

Though the number of bandits has declined drastically in recent decades, they are still common in the hard-to-reach forests and mountains of the Bundelkhand region. Banditry dates back some 800 years in India to when emperors still ruled.

The area is cut off from supply lines, leaving the bandits reliant on surrounding villages. Since 2007, it has been starved for rain, with the yearly monsoon bringing only half the usual number of 52 rainy days a year.

“A few bandits are still active in the ravines,” Singh said. “They ask for water, food and shelter from the villages.”

via Armed bandits demand water in dry northern India – Businessweek.

22/07/2014

BRICS Summit: A Show of Economic Might Is Nothing to Fear – Businessweek

As Brazilians were recovering last week from the World Cup, the country held another global event: the BRICS summit, a gathering of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The outcome was no doubt more pleasing to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff than her country’s soccer performance. The countries agreed to set up a $50 billion “BRICS bank” to invest in development projects in the developing world, alongside a $100 billion pool of reserve currencies earmarked as “a kind of mini-IMF,” according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. It was a strong statement of the grouping’s growing global economic heft and a challenge to the order established by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

China President Xi Jinping being welcomed by President Rousseff at Planalto Palace in Brasilia

Some in the West have perceived that challenge as a threat. The U.S. has veto power over major decisions at the International Monetary Fund. Without European or American backing, it is almost impossible to get a loan through the World Bank. The North Atlantic powers will have no such say in the operations of the BRICS bank, another sign that the global balance of economic and financial power is shifting.

The BRICS do pose a threat, but their own development bank isn’t it. The more worrisome risk is that the BRICS won’t grow as quickly as they have in the past, that the grand plans hatched in Brazil will dwindle along with the economies supporting them. If pessimistic forecasts of Asian and Latin American economic performance turn out to be justified, that’s no reason for cheer in Washington or Brussels—collapsing growth in the developing world would be terrible news for the West.

via BRICS Summit: A Show of Economic Might Is Nothing to Fear – Businessweek.

22/07/2014

China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan | Reuters

The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in U.S. coffee chain Starbucks, Burger King Worldwide Inc and others, as well as McDonald’s products as far away as Japan.

The logo of a Starbucks coffee shop is seen in New York June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

McDonald’s Corp and KFC’s parent Yum Brands Inc apologized to Chinese customers on Monday after it emerged that Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, had supplied expired meat to the two chains.

On Tuesday, Starbucks said some of its cafes previously sold products containing chicken originally sourced from Shanghai Husi, a firm that was shut down on Sunday by local regulators after a TV report showed staff using expired meat and picking up meat from the floor to add to the mix.

A Tokyo-based spokesman at McDonald’s Holdings Co (Japan) Ltd said the company had sourced about a fifth of its Chicken McNuggets from Shanghai Husi and had halted sales of the product on Monday. Alternative supplies of chicken have been found in Thailand and China, he added. The company’s shares briefly fell as much as 1.4 percent to a 15-month low before closing down 0.4 percent.

China’s food watchdog said it ordered regional offices to carry out spot checks on all firms which had used Shanghai Husi products, and would inspect all of parent OSI’s sites around China to see if enough has been done to ensure food safety. It said the case could be handed over to the police.

The regulator’s Shanghai branch said in a statement on Tuesday it had demanded production, quality control and sales records from OSI. It added it already ordered McDonald’s to seal over 4,500 boxes of suspected meat products and Yum’s Pizza Hut to seal over 500 boxes of beef.

Fast-food chain Burger King and Dicos, China’s third-ranked fast food chain owned by Ting Hsin International, said they would remove Shanghai Husi food products from their outlets. Pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc said on its Weibo blog that it had taken down all meat products supplied by Shanghai Husi and cut ties with the supplier.

via China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan | Reuters.

21/07/2014

China and the Arctic: Polar bearings | The Economist

CHINA does not loan out its pandas to just anyone, so a deal in April for two of the bears to head to Copenhagen zoo raised some eyebrows in Scandinavia. Some commentators suggested that this was all about the Arctic and especially about Greenland, which Denmark partly administers, and its mineral resources.

Certainly China is interested in the Arctic. On July 11th its icebreaker, Xue Long (“Snow Dragon”), embarks on the country’s sixth Arctic expedition, with 65 scientists on board. A new 1.3 billion yuan ($210m) icebreaker will soon be launched, and last December a China-Nordic research centre was opened in Shanghai.

New freight opportunities interest China along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as ice recedes. In 2010 four ships took the route. Last summer 71 vessels did so. Each ship that takes the route must, at certain points, be accompanied by an ice-breaker, so it is unclear how soon the NSR will be suitable for mass transit, if at all.

Some climate models predict the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by the middle of this century. The route cuts the distance between Rotterdam and Shanghai by 22% and Yang Huigen of the Polar Research Institute of China has predicted that 5-15% of China’s international trade will use the NSR by 2020. But Linda Jakobson, of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, says that is a “rather optimistic assessment” and that talk of the NSR as a new Suez Canal is overblown. Weather conditions and environmental sensitivities will make the route a difficult one.

As for energy, China is one of the biggest investors in mining in Greenland. A deal with Rosneft, a state-controlled Russian company, will explore offshore Arctic fields for oil. But the undersea resources in the Arctic are largely within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the littoral states (notably Russia), so if China wants to look for energy it will have to do so jointly.

Meanwhile, other relationships have thawed. A rift with Norway over the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to Liu Xiaobo, a detained Chinese activist, is healing. But the new Chinese presence is not without concerns. Huang Nubo, a tycoon, recently bought 100 hectares (250 acres) of land in northern Norway and has bid for a plot on the island of Svalbard, where China has a research station. He aims to develop a resort for Chinese tourists. Mr Huang had similar plans in Iceland in 2011, but local protests quashed them. A Norwegian newspaper has called him a “suspected imperialist”. Perhaps Norway is in need of some pandas.

via China and the Arctic: Polar bearings | The Economist.

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