Modi pledges 800 billion rupees in relief and development for Kashmir | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged 800 billion rupees ($12.10 billion) in funds to bolster development and economic growth in Kashmir, a year after the worst flooding in more than a century destroyed half a million homes there.

Addressing several thousand people in a cricket stadium in the northern state’s capital of Srinagar, Modi said he wanted to go beyond helping flood victims. He promised to create jobs for Kashmiri youth by improving education and promoting industries, including tourism and cashmere wool.

“The biggest task at hand here is to find work for the youth of Kashmir and Ladakh … our youth should get the cheapest and the best education, and of global standards,” he said. Ladakh is another mountainous region in the north.

Saturday’s visit is Modi’s first this year to the disputed territory which has been plagued by militant violence for years. Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part.

Violence in India’s only Muslim-majority region has eased significantly from levels in the 1990s, when armed revolt against Indian rule erupted.

Kashmiris have been protesting against a lack of central aid for last year’s floods that the state government estimates caused $16 billion of damage.

Security forces in Kashmir detained nearly 400 separatists on Friday to prevent them from holding an anti-government protest march during Modi’s visit.

Hours before Modi’s rally, in footage screened on national television, police detained an independent parliamentarian, Engineer Rashid, for protesting with black flags.

Security was tight with paramilitary forces and sharpshooters deployed, while schools and colleges were shut. Internet services were suspended hours before Modi arrived.

In his 40-minute speech, Modi highlighted progress, promising improved road and rail networks, as well as branches of India’s prestigious management and technology institutes.

“Kashmir has suffered a lot … the dreams of several generations have been shattered, but I have the confidence that my Kashmir will rise again,” he said.

Comparing the devastation from the floods to that in his home state of Gujarat after an earthquake in 2001, Modi said: “thousands died … homes were destroyed … nobody believed we would be able to rebuild so quickly.”

India accuses Pakistan of backing the separatist militants fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies that saying it only offers diplomatic support to Kashmir’s suppressed Muslims.

Source: Modi pledges 800 billion rupees in relief and development for Kashmir | Reuters


Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters

China and Taiwan must not let proponents of Taiwan’s independence split them, China’s President Xi Jinping told Taiwan’s president on Saturday at the first meeting between leaders of the two sides since China’s civil war ended in 1949.

Ma Ying-jeou, president of self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, where anti-Beijing sentiment has been rising ahead of elections, called for mutual respect for each other’s systems and said Taiwan people were concerned about mainland missiles pointing their way.

The talks, at a luxury hotel in the neutral venue of Singapore, lasted less than an hour but were heavy with symbolism.

The two leaders shook hands and smiled in front of a mass of journalists when they met, with Xi wearing a red tie, the color of the Communist Party, and Ma a blue one, the color of his Nationalist Party.

Moving into a meeting room, Xi, speaking first and sitting opposite Ma, said Chinese people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had the ability and wisdom to solve their own problems.

“No force can pull us apart because we are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family in which blood is thicker than water,” Xi said.

In response, Ma said he was determined to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait and that relations should be based on sincerity, wisdom and patience.

Ma also asked Xi indirectly to respect Taiwan’s democracy.

“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life to ensure mutual benefit and a win-win situation across the straits,” he said.

China’s Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT), retreated to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists, who are still in charge in Beijing.

The mainland has never renounced the use of force to bring what it considers a breakaway province under its control.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Ma said he hoped Xi could pay attention to China’s missile deployment – the island has long fretted about batteries pointed its way – to which Xi replied that was not an issue about Taiwan, he said.

“I at least raised the issue, and told him that the Taiwanese people have questions and concerns about it, and hope he will treat it with importance,” Ma said.

Zhang Zhijun, the head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Xi told Ma that the biggest threat to the peaceful development of relations was pro-independence forces. “The compatriots on both sides should unite and firmly oppose it,” Zhang said.

Source: Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters


China-Taiwan Summit a Success for Singapore – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The choice of Singapore as the venue for Saturday’s historic meeting between the Chinese and Taiwanese presidents is a diplomatic coup for the famously neutral city-state.

The meeting is the first between China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, and the first time leaders from both sides have met since Taiwan and China split in 1949.

The decision to hold the summit in Singapore shows it maintains its reputation as a rare neutral ground in a region where tensions are rising, even after the death in March of the city-state’s widely-respected former leader, Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr. Ma said this week the summit is the product of years of diplomacy between the two sides, and that Singapore was chosen for its impartiality.

Singapore’s selection as host “further highlights Singapore’s role in international politics,” said Huang Jing, professor of U.S.-China relations and director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore. The meeting “gives Singapore a status that no other country except Singapore can match up to,” he said, adding that the city-state’s relations with both sides will likely improve as a result.

Mr. Lee, Singapore’s first and longest-serving prime minister, earned the admiration of many national leaders, such as Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the U.S., during his 31-year tenure in the top job. Many foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, sought meetings with Mr. Lee to discuss international relations, both before and after he stepped down.

His son, Lee Hsien Loong, now heads a government that is keen to maintain Singapore’s regional relations. The younger Mr. Lee, although viewed as a competent and respected leader, has not inherited his father’s reputation for straight-talking, no-nonsense politics, and doesn’t yet have the leadership experience that drew his predecessor favor with other politicians in Asia.

Still, the younger Mr. Lee has worked to maintain diplomatic and economic relations with Singapore’s neighbors, sharing his father’s view that a small, multi-ethnic island surrounded by much larger countries is best served by fostering strong relationships, rather than by taking sides. It’s a position that is rare in a region brimming with diplomatic tension, as shown by current disputes such as the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Singapore, which Chinese ethnic majority and large Indian and Malay populations, is frequently chosen as a diplomatic hub, hosting Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings and other summits. It is also the annual venue for the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-profile international security conference.

The Shangri-La Hotel, close to the city’s central shopping district, was the venue of choice for Saturday’s meeting between Messrs. Xi and Ma. The National University of Singapore’s Mr. Huang said that allowed the Singapore government to maintain its policy on China-Taiwan relations by avoiding hosting the meeting in a government facility.

The city-state maintains a “one-China” policy on cross-strait issues, officially recognizing only Beijing as China’s capital. Lee Kuan Yew broke Singapore’s relations with Taiwan in 1990 to open them with China, although relations with both sides today are close. He also helped ease decades of tension between the two nations. In 1993, shortly after Mr. Lee stepped down from his post as prime minister to take an advisory role, Singapore hosted the first talks between representatives of China and Taiwan since the two sides clashed.

Source: China-Taiwan Summit a Success for Singapore – China Real Time Report – WSJ


India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ

India might be facing a slow recovery, but consumers aren’t deterred, putting the country at the top of a confidence survey of major economies.

India came first for consumer confidence among 61 countries in the July-September period in the online survey conducted by New York-based research firm The Nielsen Company.

The country’s positive reading, which measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, comes at a time when confidence declined in eight of the 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Indian consumers continue to declare a resilient outlook in the face of uncertainty in the broader economy,” said Roosevelt D’Souza, senior vice president, Nielsen India Region.

Despite weak economic indicators, a poor monsoon and volatility in the job market, Indians’ belief in the fundamental prospects of the country’s economic future appear unshaken and the proportion of consumers who see brighter days ahead are growing, Mr. D’Souza said.

The Indian central bank’s softer interest rate regime and lower inflation are also likely to brighten the prospects of further improvement in consumer confidence, the survey shows.

This might be good news for the economy and consumer goods companies, who reported slow growth in their revenues for the past few quarters because of lower purchases by rural consumers.

China, India’s bigger neighbor and the world’s second-largest economy, ranked ninth in the survey, while the U.S. occupied second place.

The U.S. showed the biggest quarterly improvement of 18 points in the consumer confidence index, but China showed a decline of one point. Its economy has been racked in recent months by an unexpected slowdown and stock market rout.

Other Asian countries that found a place in the top 10 are the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand.

Source: India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ


Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The sales are a significant rise compared with the three million phones the company said it sold in its first year of business in India.

Xiaomi aims to sell 80 to 100 million smartphones this year and has been valued by investors at $46 billion. But increasing competition at home, from companies who mimic Xiaomi’s business model of selling high-end phones at low prices, will make it tough to meet its sales target. So the five-year-old startup is setting its hopes on growth in India. Xiaomi found success in China by combining razor-thin profit margins on hardware with glitzy product launches that helped build its fanbase.

The closely-held company needs to prove that it can export its business model to other countries to continue to justify its high valuation.

Xiaomi introduced its first model, the Mi 4i, outside China, at a launch in New Delhi in April. In August, it said it would begin assembling its entry-level Redmi 2 Prime in India.

Xiaomi’s recent success in India shows that its model can work there, said the company’s Vice President Hugo Barra. Since January, sales in the South Asian country increased 45% quarter-over-quarter, on average.

The firm’s Indian office is tweaking Xiaomi’s model of Internet flash sales, designed to boost demand and cut costs. During the company’s sale for the Hindu holiday Diwali, items were sold for as little as a rupee. “Some people bought a Mi TV for one rupee,” Mr. Barra said. One rupee is equal to $0.02. The heavily discounted deals meant that Xiaomi spent nothing on marketing. “This is an idea the India team came up with that you will see reused in other markets,” he said. The company still faces challenges in India.

While Xiaomi says it sold three million phones in its first year in India, market leader Micromax Informatics Ltd. says it sells three million phones a month. While the Chinese company relies mostly on online sales to cut costs, the majority of Micromax’s sales are in brick-and-mortar retail outlets, where most Indians still shop.

It remains unclear how much India can help bolster Xiaomi’s balance sheet. While smartphone sales are booming in India, the market is still tiny.

Xiaomi’s Mr. Barra says the company will slowly add to its catalogue of products in India, which currently includes phones and a handful of accessories like headphones and a fitness tracker. In China, Xiaomi sells everything from water purifiers to power strips.

Next up could be the company’s line of Internet routers, Mr. Barra said, which includes a model with six terabytes of storage.

“We are looking at bringing the router family to India,” he said. But don’t expect the smart bathroom scale to show up in India right away, or even the company’s newest gadget: a cut-price Segway-like device. “We carefully select things that will sell in India in good volumes. We have to be thoughtful and plan carefully.”

Source: Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s announcement last week that it will let all couples have two children ended one of the most contentious birth restrictions in history–the one-child policy.

Implemented in 1980 to rein in explosive population growth during the Mao Zedong era, the one-child policy and its enforcement had myriad consequences, including forced abortions and sterilization. It placed the burden of elderly care on single children and fueled a gender imbalance. Some researchers also say a new generation of only children – or “little emperors” — are more pessimistic and less competitive than older generations with siblings. Now, the Chinese government is shifting course to offset the effects of a rapidly aging population and to avert labor shortages.

China Real Time spoke to Mei Fong, author of the book “One Child: The Past and Future of China’s Most Radical Experiment” and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, about the one-child policy and the unwinding of it. The book will be published in hardcover in January, but a digital edition was released Tuesday, Nov. 3. Below are edited excerpts of the interview: Mei Fong

Many couples say that despite changes in the policy, they will not have two children. What can the government do to promote births?

There was a recent Internet survey [on Chinese website Sina of 180,000 respondents who were asked if they wanted a second child] saying that 43% of people don’t want children. But there’s a difference of what people say and what they will do. A lot of people ideally want to have two so that they can have both a boy and a girl. The problem is that the one-child policy wasn’t the sole reason people weren’t and aren’t having children. For urban residents, the idea of having just one has been ingrained in them. It’s a social and economic decision and it would take a major mind shift to think of anything else.

People consider it almost it irresponsible to divert resources from any child.

One of the things that demographer Cai Yong said that has always stuck in my mind is that people are too rational for the business of having children.

Who are the likely candidates to have more children?

It’s the rich ones who will add a child. Wealthy people have been traveling to the U.S. for fertility services and U.S. passports , though it’s unclear how many. I know of one couple in Shanghai who had three children by going to the U.S. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

But it’s hard to make generalities about China. It’s a big place and we all know someone who has had a second child or third child.

Will that mean that a two-child policy will create a bigger upper class? And what will be the consequence? One of the things that the one-child policy has created already is an inequality gap. The spectrum hit the middle class, because the people above the middle class can afford to pay for it, while the ones below were often exempt. The one-child policy is adding to the class-struggle issues. It’s the rich people who have and will have bigger families. They’re the ones that can afford fertility treatment, because fertility is a major problem. They could always afford to pay the penalties [for having more than one child].

Several years ago, there was a study that said China’s single children, its little emperors,  were less competitive and less empathetic than those with siblings. Do you see that changing? I have some doubts about that because there have been many different studies on this. But certainly, they do seem to give themselves more pessimistic labeling, like diao si [roughly translated as loser], than others.

Source: Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … It’s the World’s First Chinese Superheroine – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Move over, Supergirl: A new superheroine is coming to town.

A Shanghai-based film studio is joining forces with Stan Lee, the former head of Marvel Comics, to create the world’s first English-language film starring a Chinese female superhero, amid a surge of cinematic girl power at home and abroad. Fundamental Films, a Chinese film production and distribution firm, recently announced that it will partner with Mr. Lee to co-produce “The Realm of the Tiger,” a superhero film featuring Chinese actress Li Bingbing as its yet-to-be-named main character.

Mr. Lee, who is 92 and chairman emeritus of Marvel, co-created a slate of the most well-known superheroes in the world, including Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men. “We believe making female superhero films and other female-led action and sci-fi films will become a global trend in the future,” said Cheng Jiaqi, president of Fundamental Films. “A female superhero will help this Chinese story stand out.” More local studios are making female-friendly films in recent years in an effort to court China’s growing crowds of women moviegoers.

Fundamental Films said it would invest more than half of “Realm’s” total budget of “tens of millions of dollars” and will be involved in developing, producing and distributing the film, which is targeted at both Chinese and global audiences. The film’s plot and shooting timeline have yet to be finalized. The company is looking for a Western director to helm the project, which will be based on a script by Alex Litvak, one of the writers behind the 2010 action-adventure film “Predators.” The company said the story is based on an original idea from Mr. Lee.

The project is still pending the approval of China’s state film authority for official co-production status, which would help the film circumvent the import quota of films for release in China. Co-production is often deemed the “Holy Grail” for Western filmmakers seeking to tap China’s market—but often such projects don’t pan out as expected due to problems including mismatched expectations and gaps in communication.

Thanks to the booming Chinese film market, Hollywood studios have started to include Chinese elements to lure local audiences and win over the censors’ hearts. An increasing number of Western films have featured Chinese actresses, including Ms. Li, who appeared in the latest installment of Paramount’s “Transformers” last year. But often, their only token involvement draws online mockery at home.

Superhero films – both foreign and domestic – are generally well received in China. “Pancake Man,” a modest-budget domestic comedy about an actor making a film about a superhero, grossed nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($190 million) this summer. A string of movies based on the Monkey King, a character from the classic Chinese novel “Journey To The West,” has also grossed high at local theaters.

More Chinese filmmakers are also seeking power from the West. Huace Group, a leading local studio, in September signed a four-film development deal with Hollywood producer Michael Uslan, producer of the “Batman” movies. Zhao Yifang, president of Huace, told China Real Time that the company plans to build China’s superhero franchise by working with Mr. Uslan in the future.

Source: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … It’s the World’s First Chinese Superheroine – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Prepare for Takeoff: China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s first large passenger jet rolled off the assembly line on Monday after years of delays, bringing Beijing’s dream of developing a rival to Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE closer to reality.

As WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports: Still, the single-aisle C919 airliner won’t be delivered to airlines for at least another three years, highlighting the difficulties

China has faced in becoming a global player in aviation. Developed by the state-run Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. (Comac), the twin-engine jet was initially set for its first flight in 2014, ahead of commercial deliveries starting in 2016. Production setbacks forced Comac to extend its deadlines repeatedly. Company executives say flight testing should start next year, with deliveries expected in 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.

Thousands of guests, including government officials and aerospace executives, witnessed the C919’s rollout at an assembly plant near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, according to Chinese state media.

Source: Prepare for Takeoff: China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet – China Real Time Report – WSJ


The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company

India has a larger relative economic value at stake from advancing gender equality than any of the ten regions analyzed in a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

If all countries were to match the momentum toward gender parity of the fastest-improving countries in their region, $12 trillion a year could be added to global GDP. What’s more, India could add $700 billion of additional GDP in 2025, upping the country’s annual GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points (exhibit).

Our new report, The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India, reveals that about 70 percent of this “best in region” potential would come from raising women’s participation in India’s labor force by ten percentage points between now and 2025, bringing 68 million more women into the labor force—70 percent of them in just nine states. This will require bridging both economic and social gender gaps. To determine this, we have created a measure of gender equality for Indian states: the India Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex. Our analysis shows that scores vary widely, and India’s challenge is that the five states with the lowest gender inequality account for just 4 percent of the female working-age population; the five states with the highest inequality account for 32 percent.

Eight priority actions can help accelerate progress, including education and skill-building, job creation in key sectors, corporate policies to promote diversity, and programs to address deep-rooted mind-sets about the role of women in work.

Source: The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company


What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s latest move to scrap its one-child policy buoyed property developer stocks Friday on hopes it could provide a boost to housing demand.

All Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children, Chinese official media said Thursday, after a meeting of top officials. While a timetable hasn’t been established, there are prospects that an increase in the size of Chinese households could raise demand for larger homes.

Shanghai housewife Tracy Li said she and her husband will be looking for a larger home once their two sons, one aged four and one who is almost a year, get older. They currently live in a two-bedroom apartment in Shanghai’s Minhang district. Like many Chinese parents, she doesn’t think it’s necessary for each child to have their own room but want to be able to accommodate grandparents, who in China are frequently deeply involved in childcare.

“When the children are older, it’s not too good for them to share a bedroom with their grandparents when they come over,” said the 34-year-old Ms. Li, who asked to be referred to by her English, rather than her Chinese, name. Finding a home in a good school district will take some time, said Ms. Li, who wants to move before her oldest son reaches school age.

Source: What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ


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