Archive for ‘Politics’

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

Japan and India vow to boost strategic ties during summit | Reuters

Japan and India agreed on Monday to strengthen strategic ties as Asia’s second and third biggest economies keep a wary eye on a rising China, and said they would accelerate talks on the possible sale of an amphibious aircraft to India’s navy.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before their talks at the state guest house in Tokyo September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi also agreed to speed up talks on a so-far elusive deal on nuclear energy cooperation, welcoming what they called “significant progress” in the negotiations.

“The two prime ministers reaffirmed the importance of defense relations between Japan and India in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them,” Abe and Modi said in a statement after a summit in Tokyo.

Modi, on his first major foreign visit since a landslide election win in May, arrived on Saturday for a five-day trip aimed at capitalizing on a personal affinity with Abe to bolster security and business ties in the face of an assertive China.

In a sign of their warm ties, the two leaders greeted each other with a bear hug when they met on Saturday in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto for an informal dinner. Modi is one of three people that Abe follows on Twitter, while the Indian leader admires Abe’s brand of nationalist politics.

“The 21st century belongs to Asia … but how the 21st century will be depends on how strong and progressive India-Japan ties are,” Modi told Japanese and Indian business executives earlier in the day.

“The 18th century situation of expansionism is now visible,” Modi said, referring to incidents such as encroachment of others countries’ territories and intruding in other countries’ seas, in a veiled reference to China, with which India shares a long disputed border.

“Such expansionism would never benefit humanity in the 21st century,” he said.

Sino-Japanese ties have also been chilled by a row over disputed isles, feuds over the wartime past, and mutual mistrust over defense policies as China seeks a bigger regional role and Abe loosens the constraints of Japan’s post-war pacificism.

Abe is keen to expand Japan’s network of security partnerships with countries such as India and Australia to cope with the challenge presented by China.

via Japan and India vow to boost strategic ties during summit | Reuters.

01/09/2014

Independence for Intelligence Bureau, tackling Maoism are Home Ministry’s biggest challenges

The Home Ministry is possibly the most crucial cabinet portfolio after the prime minister’s seat. Under Narendra Modi‘s leadership, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Rajnath Singh bagged the coveted spot on Raisina Hill, an appointment that was widely predicted during post-poll speculation in the capital, New Delhi.

Singh played the part of Modi’s right-hand man for much of the former Gujarat chief minister’s gruelling campaign. But Singh did much more than help with Modi’s election trail; he was effectively Team Modi’s chief executive, managing the power games and personality clashes erupting in the party and, above all, placating the old guard’s resentment toward Modi’s popularity and apprehension about their status.

For many days after the BJP-led National Democratic Front swept the election, Singh said that he would be glad to continue as the party president and was not angling for a cabinet berth. Yet he got possibly the most important cabinet position, besides the prime minister’s, and accepted it with great alacrity.

But many people did advise him against moving to Raisina Hill’s North Block, where the ministry is located, and to stay on as the party president, a position they said was more powerful than a cabinet berth. But Singh has his own political ambitions and the cabinet berth certainly has greater national prestige.

Today, it’s unclear why exactly Modi’s right-hand man is in the government, especially after Singh’s outburst last week following reports that his son had been upbraided by the prime minister for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for arranging police postings. The battle for that primacy is between Singh and Arun Jaitley, the finance minister who is doubling up as defence minister, both wily politicians who know how to navigate the BJP and its various spheres of influence.

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

26/08/2014

Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.

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’s Government Blocks Release of Film About Sikh Assassins Who Killed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s government has blocked the release of a film about the Sikh assassins who killed the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, saying it could pose a threat to law and order.

Theaters across northern India and select cities elsewhere were set to start showing the Punjabi-language movie, “Kaum De Heere,” which translates as “Diamonds of the Community,” on Friday.

The film tracks the transformation of Mrs. Gandhi’s killers – anointed as martyrs last year by Sikh religious authorities — from dependable bodyguards to assassins.

Mrs. Gandhi’s death sparked large-scale anti-Sikh riots, one of the worst episodes of communal violence in Indian history. Around 7,000 people, mostly Sikhs, are believed to have died in the rioting.

Leela Samson, chairwoman of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, said the movie “rakes up very old and strong sentiments” and sends a “wrong message to the youth that a particular ideology comes above the nation’s interests and that taking the law into your hands is permissible.”

She said that after officials from the Home Ministry, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and film review board watched the film Thursday, film regulators decided to withdraw their earlier approval for it to be shown in theaters.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday, the film’s producer, Satish Katyal, said the film was about the lives of the two assassins and the difficulties faced by their families.

“Nobody has been shown as being good or bad. There are no biases,” he said.

Mr. Katyal said it was unfair for the film board to reverse course just hours before the film’s release. If the government had any objections, he said, there was “ample opportunity to raise them before.”

The film opens with the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, the daughter of independent India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Mrs. Gandhi, like her father, led the Congress party.

While she was premier, Indian security forces attacked alleged Sikh militants inside the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site, in a raid dubbed Operation Blue Star. Hundreds of people were killed.

Soon after, Mrs. Gandhi was killed by two Sikh bodyguards, touching off a spasm of religious violence. Senior Congress politicians have faced trials, some of which are ongoing, for inciting mobs and fueling the conflict.

“There will never be any justification for the attack on the sanctity of Sikhs and the targeting of an entire community,” said Avtar Singh, head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Sikhism’s highest authority.

The party has attempted to reconcile with the Sikh community. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh, apologized for the riots when he came to power.

via India’s Government Blocks Release of Film About Sikh Assassins Who Killed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – India Real Time – WSJ.

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.

21/08/2014

Cognac Makers Are Feeling the Hangover from China’s Corruption Crackdown – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Worldwide sales of cognac dipped in 2013 after several years of heady increases, according to new industry data. The culprit? China’s ongoing battle on corruption.

The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the main industry group for the fortified wine from southwestern France, said earlier this week that sales of the drink slipped 6.7% by volume and 10.2% by value during the 12-month period ending July 2014. Exports to the Far East region, which includes Southeast Asia, China and Japan, fell by about one-fifth in the past year in both volume and value, the BNIC reported.

The industry group said the loss in the Far East region was directly related to a slowdown in the Chinese market, which was a large consumer of the more expensive bottles of the famed French eau de vie. China’s ongoing crackdown on corruption and excessive spending by government officials and state-owned company employees has cribbed spending on lavish entertaining – one reason some economists are predicting as much as a 1.5% dip in GDP growth this year.

The weak sales results are a stark contrast from two years ago, when China was the promised land for cognac makers. Sales hit a record high in 2012 in China when the country was knocking back the special brandy, clinking glasses at banquets and karaoke bars alike. Regarded as a status drink, many Chinese imbibers often sprung for the most expensive bottles and exchanged them as gifts. The world’s most expensive bottle was auctioned in Shanghai in 2011.

But the party has crashed. Owners of major cognac brands, such as Remy Cointreau SARCO.FR -0.74% (which owns Remy Martin cognac), reported a sobering 30% decline in sales during the last quarter of 2013.

Cognac is hardly the lone liquor getting caught in the corruption crackdown. Sales of baijiu, China’s notoriously fiery grain alcohol, and whisky are down, too.

China’s largest wine importer, ASC Fine Wines, said its sales stalled in 2013 as the anti-graft campaign drastically reduced sales of the most expensive bottles. Earlier this week, the company told the Journal it has since slashed the average price of its wines by 32% in a bid “to stimulate more demand for these wines through more attractive pricing.”

The Chinese are still drinking, they insist, just not splurging.

via Cognac Makers Are Feeling the Hangover from China’s Corruption Crackdown – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

21/08/2014

Bosses at China’s state-owned enterprises face pay cuts of up to 50pc | South China Morning Post

Officials in charge of China’s state-owned enterprises face pay cuts of up to 50 per cent and new job descriptions under a reform plan approved by President Xi Jinping.

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Xi said at a meeting on Monday that China needed to speed up reform targeting the salaries of top executives at SOEs. He also approved a seven-year overhaul of their management structure.

Sources say the reform plan involves two steps.

The first is to cut the salaries of top executives at major SOEs, particularly those in finance and banking. Some may have to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

The second step is to gradually change their job responsibilities. The government-appointed officials will probably join the board of directors. The day-to-day operations will be handled by senior managers recruited from outside, with salaries in line with international standards.

The new model will be similar to that of the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong. As the major shareholder, the Hong Kong government appoints three representatives to the board of directors to ensure the firm follows its policy direction. The day-to-day operations, however, are run by top managers hired through an open recruitment process.

The reform is to address public discontent over the ambiguous status of top SOE managers, particularly those in charge of the so-called central enterprises directly under the State Council. Most of these top executives carry a vice-ministerial or ministerial-level ranking that comes with perks and privileges. At the same time, they are paid like top Western business executives and earn many times more than their fellow officials.

There has been criticism that the high salaries are unwarranted because many SOEs operate as monopolies or near-monopolies.

An executive of an energy industry SOE said the head of a central enterprise in his field could make one million yuan (HK$1.26 million) a year. Those working for banking and finance central enterprises could earn more.

Jiang Jianqing, the chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was paid nearly two million yuan in 2013. In comparison, the annual salary of some ministry-level party cadres is about 200,000 yuan. Yet some top executives point to their counterparts in the West and complain their incomes are too low.

via Bosses at China’s state-owned enterprises face pay cuts of up to 50pc | South China Morning Post.

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