Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

04/04/2015

Stolen artefacts: Relics of plunder | The Economist

BEFORE it was removed from display earlier this month, a Buddha statue formed the centrepiece of an exhibition at Budapest’s Natural History Museum. Encased in layers of clay, enamel and gold paint was a monk, mummified 1,000 years ago. The origins of this Chinese relic, just one of millions scattered across the globe, many of them plundered, were misty until a village in south-east China claimed it—and demanded it back.

On March 6th Lin Yongtuan of Yangchun chanced on a photo of the statue while browsing online. He thought it looked like the statue of Zhanggong Zushi, a revered monk, stolen from the village temple in 1995. After reviewing the archives and faded photographs, the authorities agreed. They have pledged to secure its return. This will not be simple. It belongs to a private collector who acquired it in 1995 from another who bought it from a “sincere Chinese Hong Kong art friend”. But where there is a will, there may be a way.

In 2009 Christie’s, an auction house, sold two bronze heads despite Beijing’s open disapproval. The winning $38m bid came from an adviser to China’s national treasures fund—who refused to pay. Eventually the chairman of Kering, which owns Christie’s, bought the heads and gave them to the National Museum of China. They were repatriated in 2013—the very year Christie’s became the first Western auction house licensed to operate by itself in China.

via Stolen artefacts: Relics of plunder | The Economist.

11/03/2015

India’s Millionaires Have Been Leaving the Country in Droves – India Real Time – WSJ

India may have been minting millionaires at an unprecedented rate over the past decade, but it has also seen many of its seven-figured-citizens escape to other countries.

The latest Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report–which looks at the spending habits of the rich, the superrich and the “I have my own Boeing but forgot where I parked it,” rich—estimates that more than 43,000 Indian millionaires left the country to settle elsewhere in the past 10 years. That is second only to China, which saw a private-plane drain of more than 76,000 people, according to estimates from property company Knight Frank and immigration consultancy Fragomen.

While Indians tended to take their railway cars full of rupees to other English-speaking countries, government restrictions have slowed the flow of Indian millionaire money in recent years, said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank

“High net-worth Indians are a big part of the prime market in places like London and that has been slightly undermined in the last two years by the tightening of capital controls (in India) making it much more difficult to export capital,” he said.

China lost the most rich migrants as 76,200 of its millionaires left to settle in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S. and Australia. After the two billion-person emerging markets, the biggest losers in terms of millionaire migrants were France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and Indonesia. You wouldn’t think the rich and famous would be so anxious to leave Europe but apparently high taxes on the high earners encouraged many to leave.

In terms of the countries that attracted the most millionaire migrants, the United Kingdom was the leader by a huge margin. Around 114,000 rich folks from elsewhere settled in the quaint island nation during the 10 years through 2014. It was followed by Singapore, which attracted more than 45,000 new, rich citizens, the U.S., which welcomed 42,000 elite expats and Australia, which became home to 22,000 rich newcomers. Finishing up the list of the seven most-popular countries for millionaires to escape to, were Hong Kong, Canada and United Arab Emirates.

Despite the exodus, many of the people Knight Frank has dubbed “ultra-high-net-worth individuals” remained in India.

Last year, Mumbai was home to the most, with 619 UHNWIs, who Knight Frank describes as people worth at least $30 million. Delhi was a distant second with only 157 as wealthy, followed by Bangalore with 75, Chennai with 49, Hyderabad with 39 and Ahmedabad with 20. Kolkata was not mentioned in the report.

via India’s Millionaires Have Been Leaving the Country in Droves – India Real Time – WSJ.

11/03/2015

Chinese shoe factory workers strike over benefits | Reuters

About 5,000 workers have gone on strike at a shoe manufacturer in southern China over benefits, two activists and a worker said, marking one of the biggest work-stoppages in the country in months.

The company that owns the factory, Stella International Holdings Ltd, lists Guess? Inc, Michael Kors Holding Ltd, Prada SpA and Burberry Group PLC among its customers.

China’s slowing economy, rising costs and the spread of social media have driven an increase in strikes. Last year, the number of strikes more than doubled to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group.

The strike at Stella’s Xing Ang factory in the city of Dongguan started on Sunday with workers unhappy about not receiving housing assistance, said Liu Zai, who added she had not received the funds in eight years at the factory.

“We want an explanation. Why haven’t they paid this for so many years?” she said by telephone.

Liu and two activists said all of the factory’s workers, about 5,000 people, were on strike. On Wednesday, most were forced to return to their workplace but were still refusing to work, Liu said.

via Chinese shoe factory workers strike over benefits | Reuters.

06/03/2015

China’s Fosun buys 5 percent stake in British travel group Thomas Cook | Reuters

China’s Fosun International (0656.HK) has bought a 5 percent stake in Thomas Cook Group (TCG.L), deepening its foray into Europe’s tourism sector and potentially helping the British company to compete with travel leviathan TUI Group (TUIT.L)

Fosun paid 92 million pounds ($140 million) for the Thomas Cook stake and will seek to double its holding in the world’s oldest travel group to 10 percent, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday.

News of the investment, which the companies said came after two years of talks, sent Thomas Cook shares soaring by as much as 22 percent in morning trade. At 6.20 a.m. ET the shares were up 18.8 percent at 143 pence.

Thomas Cook said that it expects the tie-up to enhance earnings in the financial year to Sept. 30, 2016, assuming plans under the partnership are implemented in 2015.

One of the plans is to explore collaboration opportunities with Club Mediterranee (CMIP.PA), the French holiday company Fosun bought last month, where it is seeking to turn around a business that is struggling in Europe and move more aggressively into fast-growing markets such as China.

via China’s Fosun buys 5 percent stake in British travel group Thomas Cook | Reuters.

04/03/2015

Colombia detains China Cosco Shipping vessel over illegal arms | Reuters

Colombian authorities detained a vessel operated by China’s largest shipping group for illegally transporting thousands of cannon shells, about 100 tonnes of gunpowder and other materials used to make explosives, the attorney general’s office said.

The Da Dan Xia, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd, was headed for Cuba when it was stopped on Saturday in the northern port of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, after the materials were detected during an inspection.

The cargo was listed in the records of the 28,451 deadweight-tonne ship as grain products. The captain of the Hong Kong-flagged vessel had been arrested, the attorney general’s office said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the ship was carrying ordinary military supplies to Cuba and was not in violation of any international obligations.

“It is completely normal military trade cooperation. At present, China is communicating with Colombia on this matter,” Hua said.

A Cosco Shipping official in the firm’s Guangzhou head office said the ship was operated by the company but added she was unaware of the incident. Cosco Shipping is part of the state-backed China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) conglomerate.

via Colombia detains China Cosco Shipping vessel over illegal arms | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Don’t Wear Pig T-Shirts in Dubai: Xinhua’s Official Online Guide for Chinese Tourists – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s numerous fans of the novel “Cloud Atlas” will be familiar with author David Mitchell’s adage: There ain’t no journey what don’t you change you some.

As many in the world’s most populous country pack their bags this week and leave on jet planes for horizons far, authorities here are hoping that Chinese travelers, too, will transform – specifically by becoming more mannerly international travelers.

After a series of embarrassing recent incidents, China’s state-run media Xinhua recently did its part to help citizens discern good behavior from bad by publishing an online guide to overseas etiquette. “Who wants to be labeled uncivilized by foreigners?” asks the Xinhua article, published a few days ahead of this year’s Spring Festival Holiday.

To avoid that, the piece offers advice to travelers, including items tailored to specific destinations.

Doing Dubai? Don’t talk about pigs. And don’t wear items of clothing that have images of pigs on them. (Thanks for the fashion tip Xinhua.)

On Safari in Kenya? Please, get permission before posing and saying “cheese!” next to Masai warriors. And keep your hands off that ivory.

The same applies to coral: It belongs in Fiji and not on auntie’s shelf in Fujian province.

Vacationers from the People’s Republic have acquired a reputation for being unruly at times, and have lately made global headlines by attacking flight attendants, fighting in airplane aisles and opening emergency doors in non-emergency situations. Recent incidents have led China to consider establishing an air-passenger blacklist that would ban travelers who continually misbehave.

A relative newcomer to overseas vacations, China has been quick to catch the travel bug. According to the China National Tourism Administration, more than 100 million Chinese ventured abroad in the eleven month period ending November last year. By contrast, in 1998 that number was just 8.4 million. In a recent report, Hong Kong brokerage CLSA said it expects the total number of Chinese outbound travelers to hit 200 million in 2020.

via Don’t Wear Pig T-Shirts in Dubai: Xinhua’s Official Online Guide for Chinese Tourists – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

16/02/2015

China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters

China will prosecute a former vice-chairman of China’s top parliamentary advisory body for graft, including taking bribes and selling “ranks and titles”, the government said on Monday, the latest senior figure to fall in a deepening anti-corruption campaign.

Su Rong attends a group discussion during the National People's Congress in Beijing March 6, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer

Su Rong had been one of the 23 vice-chairmen of the largely ceremonial but high-profile Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference until authorities began an investigation last year.

Su abused his power over personnel appointments and the operation of unidentified companies and took “an enormous amount of bribes”, said the ruling Communist Party’s graft-fighting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

He “abused his power and caused great losses to state assets”, it said in a statement, without providing details.

“As a senior party official, Su Rong disregarded the party’s political rules … wantonly sold ranks and titles, led the official ranks astray and damaged the atmosphere in society,” the statement said.

His influence was “abominable” and he had been officially stripped of his title and expelled from the party, it said.

Details of Su’s case have been handed to judicial authorities, it said, and he will face prosecution in court.

Su previously served as Communist Party boss for the poor inland provinces of Jiangxi and Gansu.

Chinese media ha

via China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters.

14/02/2015

Jack Ma Tells Alibaba Staffers: No Red Packets This Year – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Instead of handing out envelopes of cash to Alibaba’s employees this Lunar New Year, Jack Ma is distributing a huge reality check.

Chinese companies typically hand out red envelopes – known as hongbao – stuffed with money to employees on the eve of the big Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Wednesday. Alibaba Group would seem to be good for a similar reward, given its $25 billion initial public offering bonanza in September.

But in a post on his personal microblog site Friday, Mr. Ma said such rewards are reserved only for exceptional results.

“The reason for not distributing red envelopes is that in the past year, Alibaba Group has not had exceptional results and not had any special surprises,” said Mr. Ma, the company’s founder and executive chairman. “The success of becoming listed should not be a surprise as it was the result of all of Alibaba’s employees’ work over 15 years. But aside from going public, objectively speaking, we haven’t been that satisfied with our results in 2014 that we should distribute red envelopes.

“We must objectively and calmly see our own results, rationally regard external views and not let ourselves be lost in illusory fame,” he said.

Ouch.

via Jack Ma Tells Alibaba Staffers: No Red Packets This Year – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

28/01/2015

China plans to set 2015 growth target at ‘around 7 percent’ – sources | Reuters

China plans to cut its growth target to around 7 percent in 2015, its lowest goal in 11 years, sources said, as policymakers try to manage slowing growth, job creation and pursuing reforms intended to make the economy more driven by market forces.

The growth target, which is set to be announced by Premier Li Keqiang at the annual parliament session in March, was endorsed by top party leaders and policymakers at a closed-door Central Economic Conference in December, said a number of people with knowledge of the outcome of meeting who spoke to Reuters.

The target, which is in line with market expectations, has not been previously reported.

“This year’s economic growth target will be around 7 percent, but the 7 percent should be the bottom line,” said one of the sources, an influential economist who advises the government.

via Exclusive: China plans to set 2015 growth target at ‘around 7 percent’ – sources | Reuters.

24/01/2015

China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek

Few Chinese leaders are as revered as Deng Xiaoping. His late-1970s modernization drive led to an unrivaled run of high-speed growth. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has big reform ambitions of his own, often evokes the memory of the paramount leader, who died in 1997. In 2012, shortly before he assumed the top government job, Xi signaled his own liberalization agenda by retracing Deng’s famous tour in 1992 of southern Guangdong province to promote economic reform. Last August, in a speech marking the 110th anniversary of the revolutionary leader’s birth, Xi, like his predecessors, recycled Deng-era slogans such as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Is China Coming Down to Earth?

Deng’s legacy as the architect of Chinese modernity rides on a record of 10 percent average annual growth from 1980 through 2012. Xi oversees an economy that’s decelerating and that grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest performance since 1990, when it grew 3.8 percent. The International Monetary Fund predicts that Chinese expansion will steadily decline to 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2016, when archrival India is expected to eclipse China at 6.5 percent. All of which raises a question unthinkable a few years ago: Is the China growth miracle winding down for good?

China’s transformation from an agrarian backwater to a $9.2 trillion economy with globally competitive companies, including Xiaomi, Huawei, Baosteel, and Alibaba, has been remarkable. And plenty of countries would be thrilled with 6 percent growth. Yet China is also home to income inequality on par with that of Nigeria and Mexico, a rapidly aging populace, and a world-class environmental crisis. Years of politically driven investment with diminishing returns have led to too much debt and industrial overcapacity, as well as ghost cities with unfinished hotels and absurd ambitions. (You can soon visit Tianjin’s replica of Manhattan, provided you like your replica cities free of actual humans.) Loose credit conditions contributed to an unsustainable six-month, 63 percent stock price increase, prompting regulatory authorities on Jan. 19 to order the nation’s three biggest brokerages to stop adding new margin-trading accounts. The Shanghai Composite index tumbled 7.7 percent on Jan. 19, the biggest one-day drop since the financial crisis in 2008.

The total debt of the world’s No. 2 economy is roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of GDP

China’s investment spending binge is packing less of a punch than it used to, according to the World Bank. From 1991 to 2011, it took $3.60 of investment to generate $1 of GDP growth. At the end of 2012 it required $5.40. Meanwhile, the country’s total debt—government, corporate, and household—is now roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of total gross domestic product. “We’ve got the biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen, and credit is continuing to grow [about] twice as fast” as the Chinese economy, says credit analyst Charlene Chu, a partner with Autonomous Research Asia in Hong Kong. Chinese officialdom is keenly aware of the problem. The growth model that delivered productivity spurts in the late 1990s—powered by reforms of state-owned enterprises and new technology brought in by foreign investors after the country’s admission into the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s—has lost its edge. As early as 2007, China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao described his economy to the National People’s Congress as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.”

Michael Pettis, a finance professor at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, says the Chinese experience has much in common with Brazil in the 1960s, the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and Japan in the 1980s. All resorted to what economists call the financial repression of households to accelerate development. Family savings were channeled primarily into bank accounts with regulated and below-market deposit rates. Banks then recycled the capital into low-interest loans for businesses to build factories at home and to export abroad.

When it works, and it did stupendously for China, the economy hits the fast lane and incomes grow so fast that consumers don’t mind getting low returns on their savings—or being ruled by an unaccountable one-party state. Unfortunately, research by Pettis shows, “every investment-led growth miracle in the last 100 years has broken down.”

Xi and Premier Li Keqiang are trying to avoid that fate by guiding China onto a more sustainable path that would bolster the role of consumer spending (about 34 percent of GDP, vs. 68 percent in the U.S. in 2013, the World Bank reports) and shift the economy to a more services-oriented model. They say they’ve mapped out more than 300 reforms that over time will reduce state intervention in the economy and energy price controls that favor manufacturers; the changes will also improve the social safety net and encourage market-driven deposit rates to get Chinese families saving less and spending more.

via China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek.

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