Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

22/10/2014

Airbus Helicopters expects China to become biggest market by 2020 | Reuters

Airbus Helicopters, the world’s largest civil helicopter maker, expects China and Hong Kong to become its biggest global market within six years as Beijing starts to lift restrictions on the use of low altitude airspace from 2015.

A general view of an EC145 helicopter being assembled at the Airbus production facility in Donauwoerth, Southern Germany October 9, 2014.    REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

The Airbus Group NV’s (AIR.PA) helicopter division expects to increase its annual sales in China to 150 units by 2020 from around 30-40 helicopters now, its China president Norbert Ducrot told Reuters.

Sales in the United States, the firm’s biggest market, average around 120-150 aircraft per year.

“The China market is very small with a big potential,” Ducrot said in an interview in Beijing. “I am pretty sure around 2020, China will be the first market for Airbus Helicopters.”

“Before (our customers) were mostly state companies, police and fire fighting, but now we can see the emergence of civil private helicopter operators,” he added.

China simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft late last year, but the fledgling market for helicopters and small aircraft has been constrained by the military’s control of low altitude airspace.

A dearth of small airports, maintenance facilities, mechanics and pilots have also hampered the sector’s growth.

Ducrot said he expects demand for helicopters and small aircraft to pick up gradually when China starts to open up its low altitude airspace next year.

As infrastructure improves and the military opens up more airspace by 2020, Ducrot estimates there will be 50,000 helicopters in China over the next 30 years. There are only about 330 helicopters currently in operation in China, including Hong Kong.

via Airbus Helicopters expects China to become biggest market by 2020 | Reuters.

19/10/2014

China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek

China does not have large independent labor unions, yet the world’s second-largest economy has witnessed an increasing number of worker strikes over the past year.

Police guard outside the Yue Yuan shoe factory after workers returned to work in Dongguan, China on April 28 following a two-week strike

According to an Oct. 14 report from the Hong Kong-based watchdog group China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the number of strikes and worker protests in the third quarter of 2014 was double the number of labor actions recorded in the same period last year: From July to September this year, the watchdog group recorded 372 strikes and worker protests across China, compared with 185 incidents over those months last year.

What’s more, the habit of organizing collective action—often through social media—is spreading beyond China’s traditional manufacturing hub of southern Guangdong province. While the number of strikes in Guangdong province has remained roughly the same, unrest has intensified in inland China. In 2013, Guangdong accounted for 35 percent of recorded labor actions vs. 19 percent this year.

Half of all recorded worker strikes and protests arose from disputes over late or unpaid wages—perhaps symptoms of economic troubles hitting manufacturers as well as tightening credit in China, according to CLB.

Also notable is the uptick in strikes led by construction workers, from just four demonstrations last summer to 55 this summer. Amid a slumping housing market, new home prices in August tumbled in 68 of 70 Chinese cities monitored by the government. As the CLB report explains, “Developers are saddled with declining sales, weaker credit availability, and continued pressure from local governments to buy land. In these situations, it is the construction workers who are always the last to be paid.”

China’s only official union is the government-linked All China Federation of Trade Unions, which lacks credibility with most workers. To date, it has only ever formally leant support to one worker strike, according to records reviewed by the liberal American Prospect magazine. Yet Chinese workers are increasingly organizing within their individual workplaces to press for higher wages, timely payments, and social security benefits. So far, these individual strikes have not coalesced into a broader, coordinated movement, which almost certainly would incur a speedy government crackdown.

via China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek.

19/10/2014

Made in Vietnam Looks Better and Better for Chinese Shirt Maker – Businessweek

In May, a long-simmering territorial dispute between China and Vietnam turned particularly hot. With Chinese and Vietnamese ships confronting one another in the South China Sea (known in Vietnam as the Eastern Sea), Vietnamese protesters furious with China went on a rampage at home. They attacked companies with Chinese workers or Chinese names, including businesses that were owned not by mainlanders but by companies from Taiwan or other places in Asia.

A TAL Apparel employee at the company’s factory in Hong Kong

Despite worries that the anti-Chinese violence would hurt Vietnam’s ability to attract investment dollars from overseas, the unrest hasn’t dissuaded a major Hong Kong-based manufacturer from making Vietnam its top focus for growth. TAL Group is one of the world’s biggest producers of menswear, selling shirts to brands such as Brooks Brothers, L.L.Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Burberry (BRBY:LN). One out of every six dress shirts sold in the U.S. comes from a TAL Group factory, the company says. Today, Vietnam accounts for only 12 percent to 15 percent of its production, but in two years that percentage should grow to 25 percent, according to TAL Chief Executive Officer Roger Lee.

The company’s commitment to Vietnam isn’t limited just to making garments. TAL is also investing in a new business to make textiles in the country. “We believe in Vietnam,” Lee says.

via Made in Vietnam Looks Better and Better for Chinese Shirt Maker – Businessweek.

04/10/2014

Meet the Hong Kong teenager who’s standing up to the Chinese Communist Party

Joshua Wong Chi-fu is Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy student leader.

Political movements often conjure images of passionate university-goers championing progressive views they learned on campus. But the long, storied history of Hong Kong’s student-led political movements is taking a different turn: The most prominent student leader of the territory’s pro-democracy protests is only 17 years old.

Sporting heavy black glasses and a bowl cut, Joshua Wong Chi-fung doesn’t exactly cut a menacing figure. But his activism against what many in Hong Kong perceive to be the Chinese Communist Party’s encroachment onto their freedoms has already attracted Beijing’s attention. Mainland authorities call him an “extremist.” A party document on national security identifies Wong by name as a threat to internal stability. Pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong, meanwhile, accuse him of working for the US Central Intelligence Agency to infiltrate Hong Kong schools. (Wong denies the charges.)

Joshua Wong’s fight against ‘brainwashing’

Wong got his start in 2011, when he and fellow students founded a group called “Scholarism,” which they thought was catchier than the direct translation of the Chinese, meaning “scholarly trends.” Wong and Scholarism rose to prominence in 2012, when the Hong Kong government tried to roll out Communist Party-approved “patriotic” education in Hong Kong’s public schools, to replace civics classes. The curriculum included textbooks like one titled “The China Model,” which characterised China’s Communist Party as “progressive, selfless and united,” and criticized multi-party systems like Hong Kong’s while avoiding major (unflattering) events – notably, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacres of 1989 – reports the New York Times (paywall).

One Hong Kong journalist likened the move to a Trojan horse that dissolved Hong Kong’s identity; Wong called it “brainwashing,” an attempt to require students to “develop an emotional attachment to China,” as he put it in this video by the South China Morning Post (paywall). In Sep. 2012, Wong and Scholarism mobilized more than 120,000 people to demonstrate (paywall) against the education programme, including a slew of students who went on hunger strike. Within days, the Hong Kong government scrapped the plan for mandatory implementation.

Wong’s next battle: ‘universal suffrage’

But Wong and Scholarism knew that as long as Hong Kong lacks representative government, both the education issue and the Chinese government’s failed 2003 attempt to impose US Patriot Act-style rules on Hong Kong would eventually resurface. So they began researching the controversy that’s now galvanising the Umbrella Revolution: universal suffrage.

This issue is really confusing – and, as even Wong admits, “really boring.” The background goes something like this: Hong Kong is governed by what’s called the Basic Law, which legal scholars from the then-British colony and the mainland wrote up prior to the 1997 handover. The law promises Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” until 2047 (after which, it is assumed, it will merge with the People’s Republic of China for good). It also indicates, although vaguely, that the ultimate objective is for the chief executive and the congress to be elected by universal suffrage by Hong Kong’s seven million people.

That’s not how it is at the moment. Hong Kong’s chief executive is currently chosen by an “election committee” made up of 1,193 members selected to represent “functional constituencies,” such as business and labor groups. Beijing controls who is on the committee, and, in turn, whom the committee elects; the committee also decides who runs. Ultimately, since the Chinese government still has to officially “appoint” the chosen candidate, it has veto power over the chief executive.

In 2007, the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, promised that by 2017, Hong Kong’s chief executive “may be implemented by the method of universal suffrage.” Some in Hong Kong read that to mean by 2017, they’d have fully democratic elections. But the NPC, evidently, had something else in mind: that each and every Hong Kong citizen would be allowed to vote – but only for one of three candidates selected by the (Communist Party-picked) “electoral committee.”

via Meet the Hong Kong teenager who’s standing up to the Chinese Communist Party.

03/10/2014

Hong Kong protests: No exit | The Economist

IT IS a challenge unlike anything Chinese leaders have seen since Tiananmen Square in 1989; a city roiled by days of unauthorised protests led by students demanding democracy. On October 1st, the 65th anniversary of Communist rule in China, anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong, which had begun nine days earlier with class boycotts, swelled to include well over 100,000 people. Protesters, conveniently armed with the umbrellas that have become their rallying symbol, endured downpours of rain to jeer the territory’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, as he presided over the raising of the national flag. A few raised their middle fingers towards it.

The “umbrella revolution”, as the movement has been dubbed, is the nightmare Communist Party leaders in Beijing have long feared from Hong Kong and the “one country, two systems” arrangement it has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997. It is the first large-scale student-led protest for democracy to erupt in any Chinese city since 1989. And it presents unusual challenges. The authorities in Hong Kong are reined in by a legal system bequeathed by the British; they cannot, as officials commonly do in mainland China, handle unrest with a combination of astute bargaining, thuggish violence, ruthless treatment of ringleaders and tight controls over media and the internet. Xi Jinping, China’s president, is constrained by a desire to keep Hong Kong stable and prosperous: a botched response could badly damage one of the world’s wealthiest economies and China’s image.

But if the protests continue far beyond the public holiday on October 1st and 2nd, leaders in Beijing will doubtless become impatient for tougher action. On October 1st the party’s newspaper, the People’s Daily, called on Hong Kong residents to support “resolute” action by the police against the demonstrators, who it said would “reap what they have sown”. The party does not want Hong Kong’s protests to fan dissent elsewhere. Chinese censors on the mainland have been working hard to make sure they do not (see article). So too have China’s police, who have rounded up dozens of activists on the mainland for expressing sympathy with the protests. Some tour groups have reportedly been denied permits to go to Hong Kong on their usual shopping extravaganzas. Despite the party’s efforts, however, news of Hong Kong’s defiance is spreading in China.

The protesters’ main demand is that the people of Hong Kong be allowed to vote for any candidate of their choosing in elections for the post of chief executive in 2017 (the first in which citizens would have such a vote). Mr Xi has made clear he does not want any Western-style democracy within China’s borders. The current election plan, which China proposed on August 31st, calls for candidates to be screened by a committee stacked with party supporters.

Several protest movements have converged to challenge this. Until recently the best-known was Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which is modelled on Occupy Wall Street and named after an important business district in the heart of Hong Kong. But even Occupy Central’s leaders, who teach at local universities, wondered whether they could muster meaningful numbers. Then came the students, both from universities and schools, thousands of whom began boycotting classes on September 22nd. On the evening of September 26th the police inflamed their passions by arresting Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old leader of a movement called Scholarism, which two years ago led successful protests against an effort to introduce party-backed “patriotic” teaching in schools. Mr Wong was released on September 28th, but in the early hours of that day Benny Tai, one of the leaders of Occupy Central, announced that its protest, which had been scheduled for October 1st, would begin immediately.

via Hong Kong protests: No exit | The Economist.

02/10/2014

Hong Kong’s protests: A tough test for China’s leaders | The Economist

IT IS a most unusual sight on Chinese soil, and most unsettling for leaders in Beijing. On September 28th and 29th tens of thousands of demonstrators surrounded government offices and filled major thoroughfares around Hong Kong, braving rounds of tear gas from riot police to call for democracy and demand the resignation of Leung Chun-ying, the territory’s Beijing-backed chief executive. One image broadcast and shared around the world, of a lone protester holding his umbrella aloft in a cloud of tear gas (pictured above), has given the non-violent protests a poetic echo of “tank man” from the crackdown at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Umbrella man

It also captures precisely what Communist Party leaders in Beijing fear from Hong Kong and its special status under the “one country, two systems” arrangement it has enjoyed since the territory’s handover from Britain in 1997. Not only are its people willing (and allowed by law) to challenge their government openly, but they also could become an inspiration for protests elsewhere in China. The spread of news and images of the protests has been blocked or heavily censored on the mainland, but as the protests carry on, the risk of contagion rises. In that sense this marks one of the most difficult tests of Chinese rule since Tiananmen.

Compounding the difficulty is the lack of a middle ground. The protesters’ main demand is that the people of Hong Kong be allowed to vote for any candidate of their choosing in elections for the post of chief executive in 2017 (the first in which citizens would have such a vote). President Xi Jinping has made clear he will have nothing resembling full Western democracy within China’s borders. The current election plan, put forward by the central government on August 31st, gives the central government an effective veto over nominees to ensure that Hong Kong remains firmly under its control.

Several protest movements have converged to challenge that control. Until recently the best-known movement had been Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which is modelled on Occupy Wall Street and named after an important business district at the heart of Hong Kong. But even Occupy’s leaders wondered whether they could muster meaningful numbers.

The biggest drivers of these protests have been university students and secondary school students, thousands of whom boycotted classes last week. On the evening of September 26th the leader of the secondary school students, 17-year-old Joshua Wong of Scholarism, was arrested—a move that, along with the use of pepper spray by police, was credited with swelling the popularity of the protests over the weekend (Mr Wong was released on Sunday). In the early hours of September 28th Benny Tai, one of the leaders of Occupy Central, announced that its protest, which had been scheduled for October 1st, China’s national day holiday, would begin immediately.

Mr Leung has shown no sign of bending. On the afternoon of September 28th, at a press conference held inside the government headquarters while thousands of protesters surrounded the building, Mr Leung repeated his endorsement of the election plan. It calls for chief executive candidates to be screened by a committee stacked with Communist Party supporters (he was elected by a similar committee in 2012, collecting 689 votes along with the derisive nickname “689”). Mr Leung acknowledged that the plan may not have been the “ideal” that some wanted, but he called it progress nonetheless. He said it had given Hong Kong citizens the “universal suffrage” they had been promised. Mr Leung said he welcomed “rational” dialogue but that the government would be “resolute” in dealing with the “unlawful” demonstrations. Asked whether the Chinese army would ever be used, Mr Leung expressed his confidence in the police. The tear gas canisters began flying shortly afterward, surprising protesters who exclaimed variations of “are you kidding?” and “shame on you”. Many donned goggles and unfurled umbrellas to protect themselves against the gas, while some raised their hands and yelled, “don’t shoot”. The protests did not become violent, but they grew and spread to other areas. The calls for Mr Leung’s resignation became louder.

via Hong Kong’s protests: A tough test for China’s leaders | The Economist.

01/10/2014

Hong Kong democracy protesters and officials mark uneasy National Day | Reuters

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday, some of them jeering National Day celebrations, as demonstrations spread to a new area of the city, ratcheting up pressure on the pro-Beijing government.

Protesters sit under umbrellas at a main street at Mongkok shopping district after thousand of protesters blocked the road in Hong Kong October 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

There was little sign of momentum flagging on the fifth day of the student-led protest, whose aim has been to occupy sections of the city, including around the Central financial district, in anger at a Chinese decision to limit voters’ choices in a 2017 leadership election.

Many had feared police would use force to move crowds before Wednesday’s start to celebrations marking the anniversary of the Communist Party’s foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Those fears proved unfounded.

The crowds have brought large sections of the Asian financial hub to a standstill, disrupting businesses from banks to jewelers. There were no reports of trouble by mid-afternoon on Wednesday, but witnesses said the number of protesters was swelling.

Riot police used tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges at the weekend to try to quell the unrest but tensions have eased since then as both sides appeared prepared to wait it out, at least for now.

Protests spread from four main areas to Tsim Sha Tsui, a shopping area popular with mainland Chinese visitors on the other side of the harbor. It would usually do roaring trade during the annual National Day holiday.

Underlining nervousness among some activists that provocation on National Day could spark violence, protest leaders urged crowds not to disturb the flag-raising ceremony on the Victoria Harbour waterfront.

Proceedings went ahead peacefully, although scores of students who ringed the ceremony at Bauhinia Square overlooking the harbor booed as the national anthem was played.

via Hong Kong democracy protesters and officials mark uneasy National Day | Reuters.

17/09/2014

Is China Ready to Step Up and Invest in India? – India Real Time – WSJ

While Chinese companies have been great at peddling their products in India, they have been surprisingly reluctant to invest here. China has invested less in India than even Poland, Malaysia or Canada have.

President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to India starting Wednesday is likely to include some massive pledges to try to remedy this imbalance.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan recently, Japan pledged to invest $35 billion in India. President Xi is expected to try to eclipse Japan’s promises, possibly pledging $100 billion in investment according to some local reports. His meetings with Mr. Modi are predicted to lay the groundwork for a wave of Chinese money to build industrial parks and bullet trains.

Annual trade between India and China has galloped to $66 billion from $3 billion 14 years ago, something that underscores the rise of Beijing as the global manufacturing hub and India’s growing appetite for everything from phones to machinery from China.

While the trade relationship between the two countries has bloomed, foreign direct investment from China has not. According to Indian government statistics, the country has received a total of around $400 million from China in investment in the last 14 years. Even if you add the $1.2 billion of direct investment India received from Hong Kong, China is still well behind the $22 billion in foreign direct investment from the United Kingdom, $17 billion from Japan, $13 billion from the Netherlands and $1.9 billion from Spain.

It’s not that China doesn’t invest abroad. According to data from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, China was the third biggest source of foreign direct investment last year, having invested more than $100 billion in other countries. In the seven years to 2012, it invested more than $25 billion in the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations alone.

Chinese investment has tended to focus on the resources sector to power its economy. Much of it has gone into getting control of oil, natural gas and coal in Africa, Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere. India has not attracted much of this investment as it is a net importer of resources and has a heavily regulated energy sector, said Rajiv Biswas, economist for IHS.

“China wants to increase investment in India and wants Chinese companies on the ground there,” Mr. Biswas said. “Most of it will be in manufacturing and infrastructure space.”

Chinese companies may also be looking to move some of their manufacturing to India as they struggle with rising wages at home, said Ajay Sahai, director general and chief executive at Federation of India Export Organization.

If India can’t find better ways to fix its trade imbalance with China, New Delhi may want to increase taxes on some imports such as auto-components and pharmaceuticals to encourage Chinese companies to set up factories in India, he said.

“This will not only raise Chinese investment in India but also help in fixing the trade imbalance,” said Mr. Sahai.

via Is China Ready to Step Up and Invest in India? – India Real Time – WSJ.

16/09/2014

Almost Half of China’s Rich Want to Emigrate – Businessweek

Even as the number of Chinese millionaires grows, the number of those aiming to leave China is getting ever larger.

A shopper at Lee Gardens mall in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong

About half of China’s wealthy are considering moving to a new country within five years, says a just-released report by U.K.-based bank Barclays. The survey of more than 2,000 individuals around the world, all with personal wealth over $1.5 million, showed Chinese are more eager to emigrate than the very well-off in any other region.

Forty-seven percent of rich Chinese planned to move abroad in the next half-decade. That compared with 23 percent in Singapore and 16 percent in Hong Kong. One-fifth of rich Brits intended to emigrate, while only 6 percent of Americans and 5 percent of Indians had that plan, reported the South China Morning Post today, citing the report.

Not surprisingly, given China’s high-pressure, exam-based school system, bettering children’s education and improving their future job prospects were named as the main reasons to emigrate by 78 percent of respondents. A better economic situation was mentioned by 73 percent, while health care and social services were cited by 18 percent; the U.S. and Europe were the favored destinations.

“The reality is that most ultra-high net worth individuals in China are probably making money in China right now,” noted Liam Bailey, head of residential research at London brokerage Knight Frank, in the report. “So, for business reasons, they need to be relatively close. That might prevent some of them going further afield.”

via Almost Half of China’s Rich Want to Emigrate – Businessweek.

11/09/2014

Can Jack Ma’s Alibaba Fortune Jump-Start Chinese Philanthropy? – Businessweek

Harvard just announced its largest-ever donation: a $350 million unrestricted gift to its School of Public Health. The donor is Hong Kong-based Morningside Foundation, led by two brothers who earned their fortunes in real estate, private equity, and venture capital. One brother, Gerald Chan, earned a graduate degree from Harvard. The school will be renamed in honor of their late father as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jack Ma on July 15

Greater China is home to 358 billionaires (including 64 Hong Kong billionaires), according to the 2014 Hurun Global Rich List. Yet with a few exceptions—including the Harvard gift and Chinese tech titans’ recent fondness for the ice bucket challenge—a culture of domestic philanthropy has been relatively slow to take root. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet hosted a lavish 2010 dinner in Beijing intended to encourage the Chinese elite to embrace philanthropy, but several tycoons snubbed the Americans’ invitations and declined to open their wallets.

Now, at last, China has a powerful homegrown evangelist for philanthropy: Jack Ma. As co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which filed paperwork last week to raise as much as  $21.2 billion in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, he is one of China’s most respected and closely watched tycoons—and he’s publicly embracing a culture of giving.

Ma joined Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai earlier this year in establishing a personal philanthropic trust to be “funded by share options granted by Alibaba … for approximately two percent (2%) of Alibaba’s equity,” according to a statement. The trust will focus on the “environment, medicine, education, and culture.” In Ma’s words, “Alibaba was founded 15 years ago with a mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere’ and a set of principles and values that emphasize our responsibility to society. Giving back to society is deeply embedded in Alibaba’s culture.”

The total value of the fund will depend on the performance of Alibaba’s upcoming IPO. If the company is valued at $120 billion, or more, the charitable trust will be worth at least $2.4 billion.

via Can Jack Ma’s Alibaba Fortune Jump-Start Chinese Philanthropy? – Businessweek.

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