25/11/2014

China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters

China, the world’s biggest tobacco market, is considering a draft regulation that would ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising, the state-run Xinhua news agency has reported.

Girls stand next to a ''No Smoking'' sign at a park downtown Shanghai April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The draft, published by the legislative affairs office of the State Council, or cabinet, and open for public consultation, included plans to curtail smoking scenes in films and TV shows, Xinhua said in a report published late on Monday.

China faces a smoking-related health crisis, with more than 300 million smokers and hundreds of millions more exposed to second-hand smoke each year. However, cigarettes are part of China’s social fabric and advocates of tougher smoking regulations have faced difficulty pushing through controls.

The government’s heavy dependence on tobacco taxes has been a major impediment to anti-smoking efforts. Last year, the tobacco industry contributed more than 816 billion yuan ($131.70 billion) to government coffers, an annual rise of nearly 14 percent.

Sources told Reuters in September that intense lobbying by the powerful state tobacco monopoly had resulted in the weakening of controversial legislation that had meant to introduce a complete advertising ban.

The draft regulation would ban indoor smoking in public places and outdoor spaces in kindergartens, schools, colleges, women’s and children’s hospitals and in fitness venues, Xinhua said. The draft also prohibits selling cigarettes to minors through vending machines.

It urged civil servants, teachers and medical staff to take the lead in tobacco control, saying teachers and medical workers would not be allowed to smoke in front of students or patients.

via China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua | Reuters.

24/11/2014

China’s rich want to send children abroad for education – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

An overwhelming majority of China’s richest people are likely to send their children abroad for education, the United States and the United Kingdom being their first choices, according to a Hurun Report on education.

China's rich want to send children abroad for education

A Chinese student at the 2014 International Education Exhibition in Beijing on October 25, 2014. [Photo/IC]

The report said that some 80 percent of the country’s rich people have plans to send children abroad, the highest ratio in the world. By contrast, Japan has less than 1 percent and Germany has less than 10 percent of its rich people having such plans, said the report.

The rich people are most likely to send their children to the United States and the United Kingdom while other countries such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore, France and Germany attract most of the rest.

The report also found that the students tend to get younger. The average age of the millionaires’ children is 16 years old when they were sent abroad.

Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of the report, said ten years ago, Chinese rich people could only send their children to Canada and Australia because large number of Chinese people there. “Now, the Chinese rich people have a much broader social network, as a result of which they can find trusted people anywhere in the world and can rest assured sending children to any country.”

“Long time overseas study of these students can definitely do good to the globalization of China’s economy,” said Rupert.

via China’s rich want to send children abroad for education – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

24/11/2014

Property, manufacturing woes help trim China’s shadow banking | Reuters

A bid by China to rein in its “shadow banking” activity is producing results, thanks to slowing economic growth and tighter regulation.

One Chinese yuan coins are seen in this photo illustration taken in Shanghai April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

But some success for a policy drive to curb risky lending is not all good news for Beijing, as smaller companies may face even bigger struggles to find funding. A cut in interest rates, announced by Beijing on Friday, is unlikely to help them much.

Shadow banking includes off-balance-sheet forms of bank finance plus lending by non-traditional institutions, all of which is less regulated than formal lending and thus considered riskier.

At the end of 2013, China had the world’s third-largest shadow banking sector, according to the Financial Stability Board, a task force set up by the G20 economies. It estimated that Chinese assets of “other financial intermediaries” than traditional ones were then just under $3 trillion.

In the three months ended Sept. 30, the shadow banking portion of what China calls total social financing – a broad measure of liquidity in the economy – contracted for the first time on a quarterly basis since the 2008/09 financial crisis.

via Property, manufacturing woes help trim China’s shadow banking | Reuters.

24/11/2014

China’s Bluestar to buy REC Solar for $640 million | Reuters

China National Bluestar has agreed to buy solar panel maker REC Solar (RECSOL.OL) for 4.34 billion Norwegian crowns ($640 million), planning to combine it with another Norwegian asset it picked up in 2011.

Bluestar said on Monday it would pay a 15.9 percent premium to the stock’s last close in a deal unanimously recommended by REC Solar’s board of directors and would combine it with its solar grade silicon maker Elkem.

The deal comes nearly a year and a half after REC (REC.OL) spun off its solar panel arm, moving its headquarters to Singapore from Norway and effectively putting the company up for sale.

via China’s Bluestar to buy REC Solar for $640 million | Reuters.

22/11/2014

In China, 8,000 Teachers Go on Strike – Businessweek

For three days in November, 8,000 schoolteachers in China’s northern Heilongjiang province refused to enter a classroom. They were on strike, demanding that the city government honor a pledge made in January to raise their salaries and benefits.

An SVG map of China with Heilongjiang province...

An SVG map of China with Heilongjiang province highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s remarkable about this demonstration is that there is no equivalent of the American Federation of Teachers in China; independent unions in any industry sector remain illegal. And yet, from factory workers to teachers, Chinese citizens are increasingly using the toolkit of collective action to push for fair labor practices.

Earlier this year, the government of Zhaodong, a city of about 100,000 people, promised to raise teacher salaries and provide compensation for those forced to travel in snowy and inclement weather. (Heilongjiang is China’s northernmost province, bordering Siberia.) For almost 10 months, the promises went unfulfilled.

via In China, 8,000 Teachers Go on Strike – Businessweek.

22/11/2014

So What Does Obama’s Immigration Reform Mean For India’s High-Skilled Workers? – India Real Time – WSJ

President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms unveiled Thursday in the United States bring little sunshine for those in India’s technology outsourcing industry who are waiting for him to boost the number of skilled-work visas or H-1Bs.

The president’s reform plan bypassed Congress to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

To be sure, the reform measures also contained minor benefits for businesses with workers from overseas. “We will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed,” said Mr. Obama in a prime-time address in the U.S.

But that means very little for India’s outsourcing firms that have long been lobbying to increase the number of H-1B visas so they can send more Indian programmers and engineers to their clients in the U.S.

Indian software exporters such as Tata Consultancy Services 532540.BY +0.35%, Infosys and Wipro send thousands of skilled Indian workers to the U.S. every year to cater to the technology needs of their clients.

The immigration reforms bill, introduced last year, sought to triple the number of H-1B visas available to 180,000 a year but was pulled after many lawmakers argued that the changes would result in an influx of illegal immigrants. It is still uncertain when the reform bill will be considered again.

As a result, industry and market watchers weren’t expecting the president to make any path-breaking changes to increase the number of skilled-worker visas issued annually. In fact, most of the changes announced are on expected lines.

via So What Does Obama’s Immigration Reform Mean For India’s High-Skilled Workers? – India Real Time – WSJ.

22/11/2014

China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters

The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday. The Chinese companies will be able to operate the projects as profit-making entities, according to the deal signed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to China earlier this month.

At the time, officials provided few details of the projects or the financing for the deal, dubbed the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The deal further cements ties between Pakistan and China at a time when Pakistan is nervous about waning U.S. support as troops pull out of Afghanistan.

Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends. Their ties are underpinned by common wariness of India and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in South Asia.

via China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters.

21/11/2014

Four regions to scrap urban-rural ‘hukou’ distinction – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

In a long-awaited reform, four Chinese provincial regions have removed the rural/urban distinction in the household registration system, or “hukou“, making things fairer for residents, chinanews.com reported.

Four regions to scrap urban-rural '<EM>hukou</EM>' distinction

The four regions are Henan, Heilongjiang and Hebei provinces and Xinjiang Ugyur autonomous region, said the report.

The regions stipulated there will be no more rural hukou and urban hukou, with both rural and urban dwellers registered as “residents”.

They are the first provinces to put into action a State Council document on reform of China’s household registration system, which was released on July 30, urging officials to scrap the urban-rural distinction.

Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province said the distinction was removed since Nov 1 this year, and people can now change their hukou at local public security stations. For example, dwellers with a “rural hukou” can change it for one that just reads “resident”.

Southwest China’s Guizhou province and East China’s Jiangxi province also introduced drafts of reform plans, and the public’s feedback is being solicited on the drafts.

Guizhou’s draft schemes propose that from Jan 1 next year, households will no longer be labeled as “urban or rural” but as “collective households or family households”. The collective households refer to those who register under an organization, such as a workplace.

Set up in 1958 in order to control mass urbanization, China’s hukou system effectively divided the population in two – urban households and rural households.

Under the system, rural citizens have limited access to social welfare in cities and are restricted from receiving public services such as education, medical care, housing and employment, regardless of how long they may have lived or worked in the city.

via Four regions to scrap urban-rural ‘hukou’ distinction – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

21/11/2014

China Stocks Up on Oil While It’s Cheap; Tanker Companies Profit – Businessweek

With oil prices off about 30 percent since June, China is importing record amounts of crude to build up a strategic reserve. Cheap fuel is giving tanker companies their best profits in years.

via China Stocks Up on Oil While It’s Cheap; Tanker Companies Profit – Businessweek.

21/11/2014

China Plans to Move Factories Abroad to Cut Smog – Businessweek

Even as northern China, including Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province, continues to suffer from hazardous air—“people with respiratory issues are advised to stay indoors or wear protective masks,” the official English language China Daily advised earlier today, Nov.20—some relief may be on the longer-term horizon.

The Baosteel Group Corp. facilities in Shanghai, China

Chinese authorities in Hebei province, one of China’s largest steel-producing regions, announced they plan to relocate steel, cement, and glass factories overseas over the next decade. The many industrial factories that surround Beijing and Tianjin are known to be a major source of the lung-choking smog that periodically smothers much of northern China. Hebei province alone produces 200 million tons of steel annually, or about one-quarter of China’s total production.

“The initiative comes at a time when local steel, cement, and glass producers are struggling, with sluggish growth in the world’s second-largest economy crippling demand for their products. In many cases, it has led to severe overcapacity,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported Nov. 19.

By 2017, according to Hebei authorities, Hebei plans to move 5 million tons of steel production capacity, the same amount for cement, and 3 million “weight boxes” of glass production (a weight box is roughly 50 kg, the paper explained). Much more will be moved in the following six years, through 2023, including 20 million tons of steel, 30 million of cement, and 10 million weight boxes of glass production, Xinhua reported.

While steel manufacturers will be encouraged through unspecified preferential policies to relocate some production in Africa and Asia, cement and glass producers will go to those two regions, as well as South America and Central and East Europe.

“Hebei is a major source of industrial pollutants blamed for the notorious choking smog that often spreads to neighboring regions like Beijing,” Xinhua reported.

via China Plans to Move Factories Abroad to Cut Smog – Businessweek.

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