Posts tagged ‘China’

26/08/2014

China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek

During a stint in the U.S. Army, Dennis Schenk worked alongside canine rescue units in the aftermath of a hurricane. He fell in love with dogs and decided he wanted to make them his career. He eventually got certified as a dog trainer by the International Association of Canine Professionals and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and in 2009 moved to China. Now he’s flown around the country by clients who pay him 500 yuan ($81) an hour to train their dogs to come and sit, and to treat them—the pets, not owners—for anxiety and aggression.

"Building a Beautiful Home for Your Pooch" (left); "The Most Beautiful Tail"

Cat and dog lovers are a relatively new breed in China. Up until the 1980s, keeping pet dogs was illegal in Beijing, because pets were considered to be a bourgeois affectation. Restrictions were loosened in the 1990s and early 2000s. (A height limit on dogs is still in place.) By 2012 the city had more than 1 million registered pet dogs, now served by more than 300 pet hospitals, according to the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association. China has become the third-largest pet market in the world, after the U.S. and Brazil, according to Euromonitor International, and is home to 27 million dogs and 11 million cats.

Maoist rhetoric hasn’t disappeared entirely. In early August the Communist Party-run People’s Daily ran an editorial decrying pet ownership as a “crude and ludicrous imitation [of a] Western lifestyle”—and argued that uncollected sidewalk poop disrupts “social peace and harmony.” In some cities, unwanted puppies are dumped on the street and become strays. The local press has reported cases of auxiliary police officers beating strays to death.

via China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek

In his book Citizen Canine (PublicAffairs, 2014), science writer David Grimm links the rise of the 19th century and early 20th century movement opposing “animal cruelty” in the U.S. to the then-novel practice of keeping dogs and cats as inside pets, enabled by such recent inventions as flea and tick medicines and kitty litter.

Dogs that were rounded up in Nanjing, China

China is still a place whose newspapers report that government employees beat unregistered dogs to death on the street and bury alive stray mongrels seen as nuisances. Meanwhile, China’s rising urban middle-class is increasingly embracing pet ownership, spending 7.84 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) on pet care in 2012. Beijing alone is home to more than 1 million pet dogs.

Deborah Cao, an expert on Chinese law at Griffith University in Australia, sees growing pet ownership in China as helping to create a base of middle-class support for anti-animal cruelty campaigns in the country. “There is much greater public concern today in most Chinese cities, especially among young and educated people,” she says. “That is what I called the emerging grassroots animal liberation movement. … I think it has to do with more people having pets, having more contact with animals. And for some it is related to spiritual beliefs, such as Buddhism.”

In a country where citizen groups face intense government scrutiny and often harassment, a recent series of volunteer (or even ad hoc) animal-rights campaigns has made headlines—and scored some surprising victories. Partially in response to citizen-led anti-animal cruelty campaigns, on June 30 China’s Food and Drug Administration ended requirements for mandatory animal testing of domestic cosmetics.

via Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Celebrities who endorse ads for products they don’t try may need to start being a guinea pig in China.

On Monday, an updated draft of the Central Party’s advertisement law submitted to lawmakers said that celebrities who are paid to be spokespeople for products, should try the product before they represent it, according to state media. The goods and services celebrities endorse need to be “based on facts,” the draft says.

False endorsements have been a big problem in China and across Asia. In 2006, Hong Kong actress Carina Lau was sued after she endorsed a luxury Japanese skincare cream, which she said could reduce wrinkles by 50% after a month of use. Later, it was discovered that the cream contained harmful chemicals, including toxic metals chromium and neodymium, and that some consumers had adverse reactions to the cream. (The Japanese skincare brand, SK-II, was fined 200,000 yuan, or about $32,500, for false advertising.)

More recently, Jackie Chan endorsed one of Bawang International’s anti-hair loss herbal shampoos. After a Hong Kong-based magazine revealed that the shampoo contained a substance that may cause cancer, Mr. Chan responded. “I have always been very careful with what products I endorse. But there are some media who are specifically gunning for me and a few other artistes, I am not sure why, as though it is better that we all just died.” .(For its part, Bawang said its products had passed quality tests and that many shampoos and cleaning products contain small traces of carcinogens.)

The revision comes on the heels of last year’s revised Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Consumers, which states that celebrities who appear in misleading commercials, and the media that broadcast the ads, are legally liable.

Monday’s updated law reinforces celebs’ legal liability and says their “illegal income” can be confiscated if they stump for false advertising. They could also face hefty fines.

But it isn’t exactly clear how the law will be enforced or whether the government can actually monitor whether celebrities actually try out the products they promote.

via China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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 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.

18/08/2014

Drought in Northeast China Is the Worst in 63 Years – Businessweek

Southern China is a rice-growing region, while the northeast is the country’s wheat and corn-growing “bread basket.” This summer the northern province of Liaoning is suffering the worst drought in 63 years, according to the local meteorological bureau: The province has seen the lowest precipitation since the government began keeping records in 1951. The dry summer threatens immediate drinking water supplies and autumn harvests.

A farmer stands at the bottom of the Zhifang Reservoir, near Dengfeng, China

The agricultural research service Shanghai JC Intelligence predicts that China’s corn yields may drop 1.5 percent this year, which could drive up domestic corn prices and compel farmers to use alternative grains for animal feed.

(China also imports from the U.S., but since last fall, Chinese inspectors have rejected an increasing number of shipments found to contain unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMO) varieties.)

Other regions have also suffered under the drought, including the northern provinces of Inner Mongolia and Jilin, and central Henan province. In Inner Mongolia, 300,000 people have faced drinking-water shortages, according to state-run Xinhua newswire. More than 270,000cattle have also gone without water. Xinhua reported economic losses to the poor northwestern province total $37 million so far.

Harvests of soybean and barley may also be hurt by the drought, as well as livestock health.

via Drought in Northeast China Is the Worst in 63 Years – Businessweek.

15/08/2014

Rule of law: Realigning justice in China | The Economist

IN JULY Zhou Qiang, the president of China’s Supreme People’s Court, visited Yan’an, the spiritual home of the Communist Party in rural Shaanxi province, to lead local court officials there in an old communist ritual: self-criticism. “I have grown accustomed to having the final say and often have preconceived ideas when making decisions,” one local judge told the meeting. “I try to avoid taking a stand in major cases,” said a judicial colleague. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”

In China’s judiciary such shortcomings are the norm. But change may be coming. On July 29th it was announced that the party’s Central Committee, comprising more than 370 leaders, will gather in October to discuss ways of strengthening the rule of law, a novelty for such a gathering. President Xi Jinping, who is waging a sweeping campaign against corruption, says he wants the courts to help him “lock power in a cage”. Officials have begun to recognise that this will mean changing the kind of habits that prevail in Yan’an and throughout the judicial system.

Long before Mr Xi, leaders had often talked about the importance of the rule of law. But they showed little enthusiasm for reforms that would take judicial authority away from party officials and give it to judges. The court system in China is often just a rubber-stamp for decisions made in secret by party committees in cahoots with police and prosecutors. The party still cannot abide the idea of letting a freely elected legislature write the laws, nor even of relinquishing its control over the appointment of judges. But it is talking up the idea of making the judiciary serve as the constitution says it should: “independently … and not subject to interference”.

In June state media revealed that six provincial-level jurisdictions would become testing grounds for reforms. Full details have not been announced, but they appear aimed at allowing judges to decide more for themselves, at least in cases that are not politically sensitive.

There is a lot of room for improvement. Judges are generally beholden to local interests. They are hired and promoted at the will of their jurisdiction’s party secretary (or people who report to him), and they usually spend their entire careers at the same court in which they started. They have less power in their localities than do the police or prosecutors, or even politically connected local businessmen. A judge is often one of the least powerful figures in his own courtroom.

“It’s not a career that gets much respect,” says Ms Sun, a former judge in Shanghai who quit her job this year (and who asked to be identified only by her surname). The port city is one of the reform test-beds. “Courts are not independent so as a result they don’t have credibility, and people don’t believe in the law.” She says people often assume judges are corrupt.

Career prospects are unappealing for the young and well-educated like Ms Sun, who got her law degree from Peking University. The overall quality of judges has risen dramatically in recent decades, but there are still plenty of older, senior judges with next to no formal legal training. Seeing no opportunity for advancement after eight years, Ms Sun left for a law firm and a big multiple of her judge’s salary of about 120,000 yuan ($19,000) a year. She says many other young judges are leaving.

It is unclear how much the mooted changes will alleviate these concerns. Those Shanghai courts that are participating in the pilot reforms (not all are) are expected to raise judges’ pay. They are also expected greatly to reduce the number of judges, though younger ones fear they are more likely to be culled than their less qualified but better connected seniors.

The most important reforms will affect the bureaucracies that control how judges are hired and promoted. Responsibility will be taken away from the cities and counties where judges try their cases, or from the districts in the case of provincial-level megacities like Shanghai. It will be shifted upwards to provincial-level authorities—in theory making it more difficult for local officials to persuade or order judges to see things their way on illegal land seizures, polluting factories and so on.

Central leaders have a keen interest in stamping out such behaviour because it tarnishes the party’s image. But many local officials, some of whom make a lot of money from land-grabs and dirty factories, will resist change. With the help of the police they will probably find other means to make life difficult for unco-operative judges. And provincial authorities are still likely to interfere in some cases handled by lower-level courts, sometimes in order to help out county-level officials.

via Rule of law: Realigning justice | The Economist.

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