Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

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.

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.

14/08/2014

Chinese Buyers Are Driving a Boom in Australian Real Estate – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Australian house prices are rising quickly and demand from China is increasingly driving the boom, according to a report by Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA.

The report, based on interviews with 50 industry participants in Australia, including major realtors, finds Chinese are now “driving the residential property market Down Under” adding that the “phenomenal investment” will continue for at least three more years.

CLSA says China is now the top source of foreign-capital investment in Australian real estate and anecdotal evidence indicates that foreign investment from China has continued to increase in 2014, having slowly accelerated over the last 5 years. The stock brokerage did not attempt to put a value on the investment.

CLSA said good education and a clean environment were driving demand from China.

“Australia offers both and we see no reason why its fundamental appeal will diminish,” it added.

There are currently only limited curbs on foreign buying of Australian property. Any newly built Australian property can be bought by foreigners . The purchase of existing properties needs the approval of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

Government data this week showed house prices nationally grew by 10% in the year-to-June 30, with Sydney prices racing at 15% over the same period.

The issue of Chinese investment in Australian housing investment has prompted concern among Australians about the potential to be frozen out of the housing market, especially the highly desirable inner city markets of Sydney and Melbourne.

A government investigation into the issue of foreign investment in Australian property is underway and will report its recommendations in October.  One of the limitations of the debate over the issue is that there is not reliable data on how much money is coming into property from overseas.

Australia’s central bank has been watching the rise in house prices but has so far downplayed the role Chinese money has had on prices growth. If house prices continue to climb, the reserve Bank of Australia might have to raise interest rates at a time when the economy is weak and unemployment at more than decade highs.

via Chinese Buyers Are Driving a Boom in Australian Real Estate – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

05/08/2014

Samsung Loses Top Spot to Micromax in India – India Real Time – WSJ

Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE -0.08% was dethroned as the top cellphone seller in India last quarter as local rival, Micromax Informatics Ltd., undercut and outsold the Korean company for the first time in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Micromax which was launched only five years ago, has taken the pole position in the Indian market—the second largest in the world in terms of handset sales—by undercutting the prices of Samsung and other international brands.

In the April-through-June quarter Micromax’s market share reached 17% of the Indian market compared to Samsung’s 14%, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, a research and consulting company based in Hong Kong.

Samsung, the world’s largest cellphone company by sales, is facing tough competition from Micromax and other Indian handset sellers. The South Korean company lost its top spot in terms of handset volumes as it has shifted its focus to smartphones and away from the less-expensive feature phones, said Neil Shah an analyst at Counterpoint.

Micromax has been more successful than most at targeting the Indian consumer. In the past five years it has come out of nowhere by investing heavily in advertising, distribution and developing a portfolio of relatively inexpensive handsets for Indians.

Samsung may be trying to claw back some of its market share. The company, last week, added three more smartphones to its “affordable” category of handsets priced below 10,000 rupees.

via Samsung Loses Top Spot to Micromax in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

17/07/2014

Chinese Searchers Are Rallied After Giant Yellow Duck Goes Missing – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Lost: one giant yellow rubber duck, last seen on a river in southwestern China.

A 54-foot tall inflated duck, the trademark creation of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, is on the run after disappearing from a river in China’s southwestern Guiyang city, where it was being displayed for locals.

On Wednesday evening, after floating peacefully for a couple weeks, the duck was lashed by a heavy storm. “The duck flopped over and was flushed away really quickly by the torrential flood. It disappeared right in front of me in several seconds,” Yan Jianxin, who helped coordinate the duck exhibition on behalf of a local company, told China Real Time.

In recent days, floods have hit cities in central and southwestern China, killing at least 32 and displacing tens of thousands. Still, given the size of the duck, some were surprised it too was susceptible.

“The duck itself weighed around one ton, together with its over 10-ton floating metal platform, and several steel wires fixing it to the bottom of the river,” said Mr. Yan. All those preparations, though, “didn’t stop it from being flushed away by the flood.”

So far, Mr. Yan’s duck hunt hasn’t achieved anything yet. But other locals have also joined in the search, with one local radio station urging people on Weibo to step up the hunt, saying, “If you live along the river and see an 18-meter tall big yellow duck, please call 5961027.”

“This never happened in the duck’s tour history,” said Yu-Mei Sung, marketing specialist from Blue Dragon, a Taipei-based art company which she said is responsible for facilitating the tour of Mr. Hofman’s duck throughout China.

“Mr. Hofman feels very sorry about what happened in Guiyang and he hopes people are safe and all the damage will be repaired very soon,” Blue Dragon added in a later statement.

A back-up duck order from an authorized Taiwan maker is on the way and is expected to arrive in two days, just in case the missing one is never found or is unrepairable when found, according to Ms. Sung.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Hofman’s duck has suffered hiccups in China. Last May, the giant duck deflated into a forlorn yellow puddle during its exhibition in Hong Kong, prompting an anguished outcry across social media around the world.

via Chinese Searchers Are Rallied After Giant Yellow Duck Goes Missing – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

01/07/2014

A dramatic decline in suicides: Back from the edge | The Economist

IN THE 1990s China had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Young rural women in particular were killing themselves at an alarming rate. In recent years, however, China’s suicides have declined to among the lowest rates in the world.

In 2002 the Lancet, a British medical journal, said there were 23.2 suicides per 100,000 people annually from 1995 to 1999. This year a report by a group of researchers from the University of Hong Kong found that had declined to an average annual rate of 9.8 per 100,000 for the years 2009-11, a 58% drop.

Paul Yip, director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong and a co-author of the recent study, says no country has ever achieved such a rapid decline in suicides. And yet, experts say, China has done it without a significant improvement in mental-health services—and without any national publicity effort to lower suicides.

The most dramatic shift has been in the figures for rural women under 35. Their suicide rate appears to have dropped by as much as 90%. The Lancet study in 2002 estimated 37.8 per 100,000 of this age group committed suicide annually in 1995-99. The new study says this declined to just over three per 100,000 in 2011. Another study of suicides, covering 20 years in one province, Shandong, found a decline of 95% among rural women under 35, to 2.6 suicides per 100,000 in 2010—and a 68% drop in suicides among all rural women.

Scholars suspect that the number of suicides is underreported in official figures (the official suicide rate nationally was 6.9 per 100,000 in 2012) and they make adjustments for that in their calculations. But in several studies, as well as in official data, the long-term decline in suicides has been marked across the spectrum, in rural and urban areas and among men and women from almost all age groups. The only notable exception is the suicide rate among the elderly, which declined overall but has crept back up in recent years, a worrying trend in a rapidly ageing society.

Two intertwined social forces are driving the reduction: migration and the rise of an urban middle class. Moving to the cities to work, even if to be treated as second-class citizens when they get there, has been the salvation of many rural young women, liberating them from parental pressures, bad marriages, overbearing mothers-in-law and other stresses of poor, rural life. Migrants have also distanced themselves from the easiest form of rural suicide, swallowing pesticides, the chosen method in nearly 60% of rural cases, and often done impulsively. The reduction in toxicity of pesticides has helped as well.

Jing Jun, a sociologist at Tsinghua University in Beijing, notes that the increase in migration to the cities fits with the decline in rural suicides (see chart). Since rural dwellers accounted for most suicides, so the national rate has fallen, too. In 20 years, as the population went from mostly rural to more than half urban, the official national suicide rate dropped by 63%.

Suicides among urban residents are also dropping, suggesting other causes, too. Chinese newspapers frequently carry dramatic photos of suicidal people being rescued from window ledges and rooftops (like the woman in our picture). But the University of Hong Kong researchers found that urban suicides had dropped to 5.3 per 100,000 between 2002 and 2011, a fall of 59%. The simplest explanation is that, in spite of concerns about pollution, food safety and property prices, living standards and general satisfaction with urban life have gone up. Mr Jing also believes that, as in the countryside, the atomisation of extended families has reduced the family conflicts that can lead to suicides.

via A dramatic decline in suicides: Back from the edge | The Economist.

08/06/2014

China taps tech training to tackle labor market mismatch | Reuters

China is waking up to a potentially damaging mismatch in its labor market.

Job seekers attend a job fair at Tianjin University November 22, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A record 7.27 million graduates – equivalent to the entire population of Hong Kong – will enter the job market this year; a market that has a shortage of skilled workers.

Yet many of these university and college students are ill-equipped to fill those jobs, prompting the government to look at how it can overhaul the higher education system to bridge the gap. The problem is part structural, part attitude.

While most liberal arts students are still looking for work after graduating this summer, 22-year-old Li Xidong is preparing to start a job as an electrician that he landed well before finishing three years of training at a small vocational school.

Li’s diploma may appear less impressive, but his coveted job in a tight labor market may hold the key to the employment conundrum in the world’s second largest economy. The machinery sector alone projects a gap of 600,000 computer-automated machine tool operators this year, media have reported.

“We’re trained as skilled workers, it’s quite easy for us to find jobs while still in school,” said Li, who is in the final stretch of a 3-year program at Hebei Energy College of Vocation and Technology in Tangshan, an industrial city 180 kms (112 miles) east of Beijing.

“Seventy percent of our class found work and some others are starting their own businesses,” Li noted, as he waited for a friend at a recruitment fair in the capital, where fewer than a third of this year’s university graduates had found work by end-April.

The government has said it plans to refocus more than 600 local academic colleges on vocational and technical education – replacing literature, history and philosophy with technology skills such as how to maintain lathes and build ventilation systems. Course curricula will be tailored to meet employers’ specific needs.

Pilot programs will be launched this year, and 150 local universities have signed up for the education ministry’s plan, the official Xinhua news agency has reported.

via China taps tech training to tackle labor market mismatch | Reuters.

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06/06/2014

China frees three activists after Tiananmen anniversary | Reuters

China released on Thursday three activists who had been detained for a month for attending a meeting to commemorate the military suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, their lawyers said.

A police car guards in front of a giant portrait of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

The activists were freed a day after the 25th anniversary of the bloody crackdown, marked by tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong, even as Chinese authorities sought to whitewash the event in the mainland.

Two of their peers remained in custody.

via China frees three activists after Tiananmen anniversary | Reuters.

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16/05/2014

More than 1,000 Hongkongers cancel Vietnam trips in wake of rioting | South China Morning Post

More than 1,000 Hongkongers have cancelled their trips to Vietnam as the anti-Chinese riots show no sign of easing in the country.

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The Hong Kong tourists had joined 45 tour groups that would have been departing between today and May 26.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council, said today that tour operators believed risks might grow, although sightseeing spots on their itineraries were currently safe.

Chinese nationals cross from Vietnam into Cambodia at a checkpoint in Binh Duong province. Photo: Reuters

He said 14 tour groups with 350 Hongkongers are now in Vietnam and they are asked to report to the council of their situation every day. There has been no report of any trouble so far, said Tung, and the tour groups are expected to return to the city by next Tuesday.

Violence against Chinese companies in Vietnam turned deadly yesterday, with the Hong Kong government upgrading its travel alert from amber to red.

Xinhua reported that at least two Chinese had been killed in riots over the establishment of an oil rig in the disputed Paracel Islands two weeks ago.

Another 10 Chinese were said by Xinhua to be missing and more than 100 hospitalised.

via More than 1,000 Hongkongers cancel Vietnam trips in wake of rioting | South China Morning Post.

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14/05/2014

Hong Kong Retailers Say They’ll Stop Selling Ivory – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The window for buying ivory in Hong Kong is narrowing.

Three local sellers of everything from dinner wear to curios said on Wednesday that ivory was no longer welcome on their shelves. Wing On Department Store said it would stop selling ivory products in July, while Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium said it stopped selling ivory on May 7 and Chinese Arts & Crafts ( HK) Ltd. said it stopped in March.

The notices — given in letters from the three companies released on Wednesday by conservation groups — came just a day before Hong Kong plans to burn a 30-ton stockpile of seized elephant ivory.  Their moves “send a clear message that the consumption of ivory is rapidly becoming taboo in Hong Kong society,” said Alex Hofford, director of Hong Kong for Elephants, a local lobby group.

Representatives of the three companies attended a press conference on Wednesday to announce their new stance but left before taking questions. A call to Wing On wasn’t immediately returned. A Yue Hwa representative declined to comment further. A spokesman of Chinese Arts & Crafts said the ivory the company once sold was legal.

Nearly 100 elephants are killed every day for ivory trinkets — bracelets, statuettes and other decorative items sold illegally around the world, according to Hong Kong for Elephants. Wildlife experts estimate the African elephant population stand around 420,000 to 650,000 and could be wiped out in 10 to 15 years if nothing is done to ease the problem.

The groups argue that the slaughter of African elephants continues largely to meet the rising demand for tusks from newly affluent Chinese consumers.  The price of ivory in China was 15,000 yuan ($2,478) per kilogram in 2011, more than triple its price in 2006, according to data from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Wildlife conservation groups Wednesday urged the Hong Kong government turn its post-burning attention to the city’s 117.1 metric ton legal stockpile of ivory still in circulation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong for Elephants also called upon the city’ s government to legislate a permanent ban on ivory sales.

The Hong Kong government’s burning plans followed China’s, which in January pulverized six tons of illegal tusks.

In a recent official visit in Africa, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also vowed to combat poaching and ivory smuggling.

“Changes are afoot for the better for elephants. This is an extraordinary encouraging moment for the global effort to reduce ivory demand in Asia,”  said Iris Ho of Humane Society International, an organization that works on animal protection.

via Hong Kong Retailers Say They’ll Stop Selling Ivory – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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