21/08/2015

China gets Chariots of Fire sequel up and running

The much-loved British film Chariots of Fire about the Scottish runner and missionary Eric Liddell is getting a sequel thanks to his many fans in China.

Ian Charleston as Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

Joseph Fiennes will play Riddell in a new movie filmed in China, co-written and directed by the Hong Kong director Stephen Shin with Canadian director Michael Parker.

It will be distributed by the Hong Kong-based Alibaba Pictures, who this morning also announced that they are to back the fifth Mission Impossible film.

Chariots of Fire, which won four Oscars in 1982, starred Ian Charleson as Liddell, a devout Christian who had to choose between his sport and religious beliefs at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Months before the Olympics took place, Liddell had to drop his plans to enter his preferred 100m race because the heats took place on a Sunday. Instead, he trained for the 400m and succeeded in taking the gold medal for Great Britain.

The Independent reports that the Chinese-born Liddell is regarded as a hero in China, partly for his sporting prowess but also for his actions in the Japanese internship camp where he died aged 43. Liddell was thought to have organised the smuggling of food in to prisoners.

Born in China to missionary parents, he returned to that country after his Olympic victory to continue his parents’ work. In 1934 he married fellow missionary Florence Mackenzie with whom he had three children.

Liddell remained in China after Japan invaded in 1937. In 1943, he was held in an internment camp in Weifang, and died of a brain tumour two years later, aged 43. In 2008, shortly before the Beijing Olympics, it was revealed that Winston Churchill had negotiated his release through a prisoner swap, which Liddell turned down so that a pregnant inmate could gain freedom instead.

China allows only 34 non-Chinese films to be shown in its mainland cinemas each year. Alibaba Pictures says that it “should” get such a release.

Such a focus on religion is unusual for a film in China, where the Communist government promotes atheism.

via China gets Chariots of Fire sequel up and running.

21/08/2015

India-Pakistan Talks Hang in the Balance Over Kashmir – India Real Time – WSJ

When rival neighbors India and Pakistan plan to meet, it often comes down to the wire – and this week is no exception.

Two days before Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz is scheduled to land in New Delhi for meetings with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, statements from India’s foreign ministry Friday morning cast doubt over whether the talks would actually take place.

The reason: another planned meeting between Mr. Aziz and separatists from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at a reception at the Pakistan High Commission on Sunday.

Through a series of tweets, a televised interview and a media statement, India hardened its stand against Pakistan’s decision to consult with Kashmiri separatists. The Kashmir region lies at the center of decades of enmity between India and Pakistan. Both countries administer parts of the territory but claim it in full.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said in a tweet posted on his verified Twitter TWTR -6.19% account on Friday: “India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Sartaz Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India,” referring to a group of Kashmiri separatists.

Pakistan says these men must be consulted before India and Pakistan hold discussions concerning Kashmir. India resists the involvement of groups that have clashed with the Indian establishment for decades, boycotting elections and stoking tensions in the Kashmir Valley. Security officials in New Delhi accuse them of facilitating militancy in the region and colluding with Pakistan-based terrorist groups.

If India cancels the hard-won meetings over the issue of Kashmiri separatists, it won’t be the first time. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off planned talks between the countries’ foreign secretaries after separatist leaders met with Pakistan’s ambassador to India, in defiance of New Delhi’s warnings not to do so. By cancelling the meet, Mr. Modi sought to set new ground rules of engagement between India and Pakistan – one Islamabad appears not to have been willing to accept.

Mr. Swarup repeated India’s concerns publicly Friday, taking a stand that could threaten the upcoming talks unless Pakistan yields. He said a meeting between separatists and Mr. Aziz “would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent” of an understanding between Mr. Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a meeting in July – when the NSA talks were firmed up — “to jointly work to combat terrorism.”

His statements are a second warning shot, after Indian authorities in Jammu and Kashmir temporarily detained separatist leaders on Thursday in an apparent signal of New Delhi’s objections. But Pakistan has so far given no indication it’s in the mood to compromise. Pakistani foreign ministry officials said the reception would go on as scheduled.

 

The meetings may also fall apart over another disagreement: What will the two sides talk about?

Pakistan has said the dispute over Kashmir will figure on the agenda when the countries’ top security officials get together. India says the meetings will focus only on terrorism.

India accuses Pakistan of harboring militants who launch attacks on India and wants to press Pakistan further to take stern action against such groups. Pakistan denies allegations it backs militants, saying it too is grappling with terror against its citizens.

In recent days, Pakistan has stepped up efforts to draw attention to the Kashmir dispute, raising hackles in New Delhi. It pulled out of organizing a conference of Commonwealth countries that was scheduled to begin next month saying it didn’t want to host lawmakers from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Islamabad would “raise all issues during the meetings in India, including Kashmir.”

In an attempt to clarify its position, Mr. Swarup said in another tweet Friday that India has “sought confirmation of our proposed agenda for the NSA level talks” – a typically behind-the-scenes detail whose public declaration by Mr. Swarup points to the lack of trust and widening gulf between the two sides.

via India-Pakistan Talks Hang in the Balance Over Kashmir – India Real Time – WSJ.

20/08/2015

What Stands in the Way of Modi’s Digital India – The Numbers – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has grand plans to expand the reach of the Internet to his country’s most far-flung citizens.  But some big numbers stand in his way.

1.06 billion

The number of Indians who currently don’t have access to the Internet. India’s offline population is greater than that of China and Indonesia–home to the next two largest unconnected groups–combined.

1 million

The number of miles of fiber optic cable needed to connect 250,000 village clusters in India to the Internet, according to a committee set up to get the project into gear. The original plan estimated that 370,000 miles of cable would do the job.

1%

The proportion of clusters of villages that up to June 30 were fully connected to Internet services in community centers, hospitals and schools under the National Fiber Optic Network that was launched in 2011.

2013

The original deadline for completion of the network. The date has since been shunted back twice and now stands at 2019.

$11.2 billion

The revised budget for the fiber optic network. Almost four times what was originally planned.

via What Stands in the Way of Modi’s Digital India – The Numbers – WSJ.

15/08/2015

China Eastern to buy 15 Airbus jets for $3.6 billion | Reuters

China Eastern (600115.SS)(0670.HK), the country’s No.2 airline by market value, plans to acquire 15 Airbus (AIR.PA) jets for about $3.6 billion to meet booming demand for air travel.

The logo of Airbus Group, Europe's largest aerospace group, is pictured in front of the company headquarters building in Ottobrunn, near Munich February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Airbus is scheduled to deliver seven A330s in 2017 and a further eight in 2018, China Eastern Airlines Corp (CEA.N) said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange.

“The company is purchasing 15 Airbus A330 planes to help to replace older planes that will retire over the next few years. It will also help to meet rising passenger demand for mid and long routes,” China Eastern said.

China will be the world’s largest air passenger market by 2034, according to the International Air Transport Association, attracting interest from foreign airlines.

Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) is poised to become the first U.S. carrier to own part of a Chinese peer, announcing plans last month to buy a 3.55 percent stake in China Eastern for $450 million and gaining an “observer” seat on its board.

In a separate statement on Friday, China Eastern reported first-half net profit up sharply to 3.56 billion yuan ($557 million) from only 15 million yuan a year earlier, citing lower fuel prices and strong travel demand.

via China Eastern to buy 15 Airbus jets for $3.6 billion | Reuters.

15/08/2015

Modi’s Independence Day Speech – The Numbers – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second Independence Day speech on Saturday morning was peppered with numbers – most measuring the success of initiatives launched since he took office, and others earmarking targets that he hopes the country will reach in the future.

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some of the figures that Mr. Modi used in his one-and-a-half hour long speech at Delhi’s iconic Red Fort.

1.25 billion Indians

It was hard to keep count on the number of times Mr. Modi invoked the unified power of India’s 1.25 billion people during his speech. “This is Team India, a team of 125 crore Indians. This is the team that makes our nation and take our nation to new heights,” he said in the first few minutes, using the Indian unit, crore, for 10 million. Mr Modi said that advancements made by his government in the 15 months since he took office as prime minister, were the “achievements of Team India.” He even set a target for the team: to make India a developed nation by 2022, the year that India celebrates 75 years of independence from British rule.

425,000 toilets

All schools should have toilets with separate amenities for girls, Mr. Modi said during his speech last year, setting a one-year deadline for the target. In his address on Saturday, Mr. Modi declared that 425,000 toilets had been built in over 200,000 Indian schools in the past year. It wasn’t immediately possible to verify this claim. According to India’s federal human resource development ministry, by 2014, about 91% and 85% of government-run schools had separate toilets for girls and boys respectively.

2 million cooking-gas subsidies

Since January, 2 million Indians have forfeited their cooking-gas subsidies–offered to all households–under a campaign called “Give It Up.” The initiative, launched by the federal ministry of petroleum and natural gas, urged affluent Indians to give up the perk—amounting to about $4 on every cooking-gas cylinder—if they could afford to. The government hopes the plan will make gas available as a clean energy for the millions who still rely on firewood and biomass for cooking. The poorest section of Indian society receives only 15 percent of this subsidy, according to a 2014 report by Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a Delhi-based non-profit. On Saturday, a website for the campaign, givitup.in, showed that 2,101,977 people had voluntarily surrendered the subsidy.

170 million bank accounts

Mr. Modi said his push to widen access to financial services for the poor through a program called Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana—or the Prime Minister’s People Money Scheme, announced in his Independence Day speech last year, had shown progress. He said 170 million new bank accounts have been opened under this program and that the total amount deposited in the accounts amounts to 200 billion rupees ($3.07 billion.) The amount reflects “the richness of the poor,” he said. The government said in April that 135 million new bank accounts were opened in the eight months since the scheme launched.

65 billion rupees

That’s the amount of unaccounted, or “black money,” sitting in international accounts held by tax-avoiding Indians that has been declared to authorities in the past two-and-a-half months, Mr. Modi said. In July, following new legislation aimed at combating tax avoidance, and combating so-called “black money,” the government opened up a three-month window for law breakers to disclose their foreign assets and incomes, pay due taxes and settle the steep penalties imposed for evading taxes, to avoid prosecution. The punishment for stashing “black money” to evade taxes is 10 years in prison.

18,500 villages

Despite a number of ongoing campaigns, Mr. Modi didn’t shy away from setting another target: to provide electricity to 18,500 villages that don’t have power supply in the next 1,000 days.

via Modi’s Independence Day Speech – The Numbers – WSJ.

15/08/2015

Modi Uses Independence Day Speech to Hit Out at ‘Termite-Like’ Graft – India Real Time – WSJ

At the end of a week in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to push broad measures aimed at boosting the economy through Parliament, the Indian leader sought in an Independence Day address to draw attention to his efforts to make the machinery of government more efficient and less corrupt.

In a 90-minute speech delivered from the ramparts of New Delhi’s Red Fort on Saturday, Mr. Modi didn’t focus on sweeping policy changes or big, new plans. Instead, he spoke of trying to enforce change in the Indian government bureaucracy, a system he characterized as riddled with “termite-like” graft and inertia and accustomed to inordinate delays.

“What government doesn’t make big declarations?” Mr. Modi said. “The test is whether we are able to implement the promises we make. We have stressed a new work culture.”

Under attack from political opponents who have tried to portray him as pro-business and anti-farmer, Mr. Modi didn’t once mention his “Make in India” campaign to encourage foreign and domestic investors to set up factories in India, nor did he directly address weeks of opposition protests that stalled a major tax overhaul in Parliament.

via Photos: Modi Uses Independence Day Speech to Hit Out at ‘Termite-Like’ Graft – India Real Time – WSJ.

14/08/2015

‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post

A man in eastern China has invented a “suit” for cars he claims protects them from water damage during the floods that regularly inundate the mainland’s coastal cities, an online newspaper reports.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. Photo: SCMP Pictures

More than 3,000 vehicles were flooded when Typhoon Soudelor hit Taizhou in Zhejiang province on August 8, Thepaper.cn reports. One photo of the storm that has drawn particular interest online shows a car wrapped in a heavy, water-proof material.

The man behind the idea is Huang Enfu, a businessman who deals in car parts. “News about damaged cars during urban floods regularly appears. Our costal city often sees such floods. That’s why I invented the suit,” Huang was quoted as saying.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. A car owner puts the suit down in an empty space, parks the vehicle over top, pulls the sides up and zips it closed.

Huang said he spent more than 1.6 million yuan (HK$1.93 million) and two years coming up with the idea. He has patented the design and sells them for between 1,500 yuan and 2,500 yuan

Residents in mainland cities have long complained urban sewage systems cannot cope with heavy rainfall during the wet season. Drains easily become overloaded and the water levels on flooded main streets can quickly rise past people’s waists.

Huang says his invention will even allow a properly zipped-up car to float if the water levels become too high. Owners can secure the car suit by tying the four attached ropes to a stationary object.

via ‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post.

13/08/2015

Politics Gets in the Way of Modi’s India Overhaul – India Real Time – WSJ

Political calculations and parliamentary gridlock are putting the brakes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s already-incremental plans for economic revitalization 15 months after Indian voters gave him an overwhelming mandate for change.

Following nearly a month of partisan bickering, lawmakers ended a parliamentary session on Thursday without passing a centerpiece of Mr. Modi’s agenda—a constitutional amendment to replace a thicket of differing state taxes with a more business-friendly nationwide levy.

 

The Indian leader, worried about political opposition and a backlash from rural voters, also effectively abandoned efforts to win approval for another development measure—legislation that would have made it easier for the state to acquire land for infrastructure and industry, government officials, some ruling party and opposition lawmakers said.

Mr. Modi shot to prominence with a landslide electoral victory and impassioned vows during visits to world capitals to reset India’s economy. But blocked by the opposition and reluctant to take risky political steps, his liberalization project is languishing.

“The slowdown in the reform momentum has taken away the type of optimism we saw when Modi was elected in 2014,” said Chua Han Teng, an India specialist at London-based BMI Research. “It hurts investor confidence.”

via Politics Gets in the Way of Modi’s India Overhaul – India Real Time – WSJ.

12/08/2015

ChemChina, Camfin to launch tender offer for rest of Pirelli | Reuters

An investment vehicle controlled by China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) said it will launch a mandatory tender offer for remaining shares in Pirelli (PECI.MI) after on Tuesday taking control of the Italian tyremaker through a deal struck in March.

A Pirelli's tyre is pictured at the headquater in Milan, March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino

ChemChina in March agreed to become the majority owner of the world’s fifth-largest tyre manufacturer as part of a 7.3 billion euro ($8 billion) deal.

On Tuesday, Marco Polo Industrial Holding, a company created to facilitate the Chinese takeover, concluded its acquisition of a stake in Pirelli from Italian holding company Camfin, triggering the mandatory takeover bid.

A Camfin spokeswoman said the tender offer was expected to be launched in September.

State-owned ChemChina holds a 65 percent stake in Marco Polo, with the remainder in the hands of Camfin investors, who include Pirelli boss Marco Tronchetti Provera, Italian banks UniCredit (CRDI.MI) and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI), and Russia’s Rosneft (ROSN.MM).

The tender offer will be launched at 15 euros per share with the goal to acquire all of Pirelli’s share capital and de-list the tyremaker from Milan’s stock exchange. Marco Polo also decided to launch a voluntary tender offer on Pirelli’s savings shares.

In a separate statement, Tronchetti Provera, who will remain Pirelli’s chief executive, said Camfin would invest more than 1 billion euros in the tender offer and will keep a central role in the tyremaker’s future shareholder structure, along with ChemChina.

He reiterated the Chinese investment would boost the company’s international growth, particularly in the industrial tyre sector.

“In this segment, the integration with ChemChina will allow immediate growth in volumes and market share that Pirelli alone would have taken years to achieve,” he said.

via ChemChina, Camfin to launch tender offer for rest of Pirelli | Reuters.

12/08/2015

India’s Smartphone Market Is Booming – Especially at the Low End – India Real Time – WSJ

Xiaomi Corp., which announced Monday that its some of its phones are now being assembled at a factory in India, isn’t the only Chinese smartphone maker with its eye on the subcontinent.

With the Chinese economy slowing and demand for smartphones picking up in India, Chinese handset makers including Lenovo Group Ltd.0992.HK +1.70%, Huawei Technologies Co. and Gionee Communication Equipment Co.  are looking to produce and sell more phones in the world’s second-most-populous nation.

But Indian consumers prefer cheaper phones than their Chinese counterparts. Roughly half of smartphones sold in India for the three months ended in June cost less than $100. In China, these low-end smartphones accounted for about 20% of the market over the same period, according to research company International Data Corp. IDC predicts the average selling price of Indian smartphones will fall to $102 in 2018 from $135 in 2014.

The $100 Galaxy J1 and other inexpensive handsets drove sales for Indian smartphone market-leader Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE 0.00%, helping to increase its share of sales to 23% of the smartphones sold during the quarter ended June 30. In other markets, including China, sales are driven by its flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, which sell for around $600 and $700, respectively, in the U.S.

Smartphone penetration is growing rapidly. While Internet penetration levels in India resemble China’s numbers from six years ago, smartphone penetration is only four years behind, according to a Credit Suisse report. The skyrocketing growth has even caught the attention of Apple Inc.AAPL -5.49%, which recently started offering financing to make its iPhones more accessible to Indians.

That might be bad news for smartphone manufacturers who operate on already razor-thin margins, but it’s potentially good news for Indian consumers and the Indian economy.

It also helps explain why contract manufacturing giant Foxconn says it intends invest billions of dollars setting up factories in India, and why Xiaomi recently announced its first made-in-India smartphone, the $107 Redmi 2 Prime. Changes to tax rules now make it cheaper to manufacture electronics in India. It also shortens the supply chain, meaning phone-makers can get their products to consumers faster and reduce inventory costs.

via India’s Smartphone Market Is Booming – Especially at the Low End – India Real Time – WSJ.

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