Posts tagged ‘United States’


Electricity: Generational shift | The Economist

MUCH of what China has achieved in the past three decades—its impressive economic growth, the rise of its global stature and the considerable improvement of living standards for hundreds of millions of people—is attributable to one decision: ditching the Maoist model of central-planning that had shackled the economy. Yet some important industries have yet to embrace the market. Power generation is one. As China struggles to reconcile its soaring energy demand with its need to clean up an increasingly toxic environment, reform is becoming more urgent.

China knows it must reduce its reliance on dirty coal and increase its use of (more expensive) renewable energy. Of the new power-generating capacity that China built last year, renewables such as wind and solar power for the first time accounted for more than the share made up of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

China wants to satisfy the surging electricity demands of its increasingly urban population and to keep its industries running smoothly. It does both reasonably well and blackouts are rare. But officials fret about how grumpy—and vocal—people are becoming about the poisonous air that envelops so many Chinese cities. (An annual international marathon race, pictured above, took place in Beijing on October 19th in air that was nearly 14 times more polluted than the safety limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.) China is aware that its standing abroad will partly depend on its efforts to limit carbon emissions. This will involve weaning itself off coal, which supplies nearly 80% of its energy.

Progress is being hampered by a largely unreformed power industry dominated by large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which operate under a mix of rigid planning, secrecy and poor regulation. Power suppliers have too little incentive to compete on price, efficiency or greenness. Two international NGOs, the World Wildlife Fund and the Energy Transition Research Institute, describe the SOEs that control all transmission and distribution and most non-renewable generation as “unregulated corporate monopolies”. Their bosses are usually appointed by the central government, but they often ally with regional leaders to resist oversight by a variety of largely toothless regulators.

One problem is China’s system for “dispatch”; that is, determining which power sources will supply electricity to the grid at any given time. A report by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), an American NGO, notes that in most countries dispatch decisions are made in order to minimise costs (including environmental ones). In China regulations would appear to encourage a similar approach: grid-operators are supposed to give priority to electricity supplied by more efficient and greener producers. In practice, grid-operators are more inclined to help coal-fired plants recoup the cost of their investments. Both sides are members of a cosy club of energy-related SOEs. Even if the grid-operators were to try to stick to the rules, they would struggle. Coal plants can easily conceal how much they waste and pollute.

Generators of wind and solar energy thus find themselves handicapped by more than just the high cost of their technologies. Much of China’s most cleanly produced energy is wasted. For wind power, rates of “curtailment”, or energy generated but not taken up by the grid, have improved in recent years as grid systems have become better able to cope with the technical challenge of handling such unsteady sources of power. But the rate still stands at about 10% nationwide. In Britain it was less than 2% between 2011 and 2013.

The government launched pilot reforms in five provinces in 2007 to encourage more efficient dispatch, but they achieved little and have not been expanded. Max Dupuy of RAP’s Beijing office says the scheme met opposition because of its failure to compensate coal-fired plants for the revenue share lost to clean producers.

via Electricity: Generational shift | The Economist.


China’s Rising Wages and the ‘Made in USA’ Revival – Businessweek

It wasn’t long ago that China was the cheapest place on earth to make just about anything. When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the average hourly manufacturing wage in the Yangtze River Delta was 82¢ an hour. Oil was $20 a barrel, so no matter where you were ultimately selling your Chinese-made goods, it didn’t cost much to get it there.

A technician prepares a VIPturbo Modem at the SRT Wireless satellite communications manufacturing plant in Davie, Florida on Aug. 18

China’s still cheap, but it’s nowhere near the deal it was just a few years ago. Workers in the Yangtze make almost $5 an hour today, and oil costs about $85 a barrel. Suddenly the benefits of making things in China aren’t so apparent, especially if you’re selling those things to consumers in the U.S. A new survey by Boston Consulting Group found that 16 percent of American manufacturing executives say they’re already bringing production back home from China. That’s up from 13 percent a year ago. Twenty percent said they would consider doing so in the near future.

American manufacturing’s increased competitiveness against China is a story that’s been told for a few years now, giving rise to the term “reshoring.” But it’s not just China that the U.S. is gaining against. For companies making goods for sale in the U.S., Mexico has long been the place to go—and that’s slipping, too. The BCG survey shows that the U.S. has passed Mexico as the place where companies are most likely to build a new plant to make things to sell in the U.S.

via China’s Rising Wages and the ‘Made in USA’ Revival – Businessweek.


Frustrated Multinationals Look to Trim China-Based Staff – Businessweek

Slightly less than half of European companies operating in China plan to expand their mainland-based workforce in the next year—down from 61 percent in 2012, according to a recent survey by the European Chamber of Commerce. A quarter of these entities are looking for other ways to trim costs in China, and 51 percent believe doing business in China “has become more difficult” over the past few years.

The workshop of Bernard Controls, a French business that manufactures electric components in Beijing

Business isn’t typically bad—61 percent said their China operations were profitable—but it’s less spectacular than in past years. That’s due in part to China’s economic slowdown, in part to real and perceived hostility against foreign companies in China, and in part to problems or layoffs in their home offices.

American companies expressed similar concerns in a recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Fully 60 percent of U.S. businesses said they felt “less welcome” in China than in the previous year. Anticorruption and pricing probes in wide-ranging industries have seemingly singled out foreign companies, from Microsoft (MSFT) to Abbott Laboratories (ABT), as targets. Almost half of those surveyed said they thought the pattern of harassment was deliberate.

via Frustrated Multinationals Look to Trim China-Based Staff – Businessweek.


Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia | Reuters

Australia, Indonesia and South Korea skipped the launch of a China-backed Asian infrastructure bank on Friday as the United States said it had concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders.

China's President Xi Jinping (R) meets with the guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Takaki Yajima/Pool

China’s $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB) is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, both of which count Washington and its allies as their biggest financial backers.

China, which is keen to extend its influence and soft power in the region, has limited voting rights in these existing banks despite being the world’s second-largest economy.

The AIIB, launched in Beijing at a ceremony attended by Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei and delegates from 21 countries including India, Thailand and Malaysia, aims to give project loans to developing nations. China is set to be its largest shareholder with a stake of up to 50 percent.

Indonesia was not present and neither were South Korea and Australia, according to a pool report.

Japan, China’s main rival in Asia and which dominates the $175 billion Asian Development Bank along with the United States, was also not present, but it was not expected to be.

Media reports said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put pressure on Australia to stay out of the AIIB.

However, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Secretary Kerry has made clear directly to the Chinese as well as to other partners that we ‎welcome the idea of an infrastructure bank for Asia but we strongly urge that it meet international standards of governance and transparency.

“We have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the AIIB proposal as it currently stands, that we have also expressed publicly.”

In a speech to delegates after the inauguration, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the new bank would use the best practices of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

“For the AIIB, its operation needs to follow multilateral rules and procedures,” Xi said. “We have also to learn from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and other existing multilateral development institutions in their good practices and useful experiences.”

via Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia | Reuters.


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.


China, Vietnam pledge to ‘address and control’ maritime disputes | Reuters

China and Vietnam have agreed to “address and control” maritime disputes, state media said on Friday, as differences over the potentially energy-rich South China Sea have roiled relations between the two countries and other neighbors.

Chinese coastguard ships give chase to Vietnamese coastguard vessels (not pictured) after they came within 10 nautical miles of the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Martin Petty

Ties between the Communist countries sank to a three-decade low this year after China deployed a $1 billion-oil rig to the disputed waters which straddle key shipping lanes.

Vietnam claims the portion of the sea as its exclusive economic zone, and the rig’s deployment sparked a wave of violent protests in Vietnam.

The two countries should “properly address and control maritime differences” to create favorable conditions for bilateral cooperation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan.

“Thanks to efforts from both sides, China-Vietnam relations have ridden out the recent rough patch and gradually recovered,” the official Xinhua news agency cited Li as saying.

Xinhua said Dung agreed and endorsed boosting “cooperation in infrastructure, finance and maritime exploration”.

The comments were a reiteration of earlier pledges by leaders from the two countries.

China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh, on Friday in Beijing, Xinhua reported, during which both sides agreed to “gradually resume” military ties.

The two leaders vowed that the countries’ militaries would “play a positive role in properly dealing with their maritime disputes and safeguarding a peaceful and stable situation”, the news agency said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to be rich in deposits of oil and gas resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the waters where $5 trillion of ship-borne goods pass every year.

Alarmed by China’s military rise and growing assertiveness, Vietnam has broadened its military relationships in recent years, most notably with Cold War-era patron Russia but also with the United States.

Beijing has told Washington to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea and let countries in the region resolve the issue themselves.

via China, Vietnam pledge to ‘address and control’ maritime disputes | Reuters.


A pocket guide to doing business in China | McKinsey & Company

A pocket guide to doing business in China

McKinsey director Gordon Orr goes behind the trends shaping the world’s second-largest economy to explain what companies must do to operate effectively.

October 2014 | byGordon Orr

China, a $10 trillion economy growing at 7 percent annually, is a never-before-seen force reshaping our global economy. Over the past 30 years, the Chinese government has at times opened the door wide for foreign companies to participate in its domestic economic growth. At other times, it has kept the door firmly closed. While some global leaders, such as automotive original-equipment manufacturers, have turned China into their single largest source of profits, others, especially in the service sectors, have been challenged to capture a meaningful share of revenue or profits.

This article summarizes some of the trends shaping the next phase of China’s economic growth, which industries might benefit the most, and what could potentially go wrong. It also lays out what I believe it takes to build a successful, large-scale, and profitable business in China today as a foreign company.

via A pocket guide to doing business in China | McKinsey & Company.


Survey shows 10 problems of Chinese society – China –

Twenty-four percent has cited the credibility deficit of the government as a main reason behind the lack of trust in Chinese society, according to a survey conducted by People’s Tribune, a magazine of People’s Daily.

Survey shows 10 problems of Chinese societyThe survey finds more than 80 percent of respondents think of Chinese society as “sub-healthy” and 40.4 percent  believe that a crisis of credibility is sickening society.

The “symptoms” are, in order, distrust in “whatever the government says”, “distrust between people’, “doubt over food and medicine safety” and distrust in “doctors’ professional ethics”.

A lack of faith is the most recognized problem in the survey. When asked to choose which group suffers the most from the symptom, more than half of the respondents chose government officials. In a report of the People’s tribute, the choice was referred to a recent case of the self-styled “qigong master” Wang Lin, who claimed to have supernatural powers. He has been put under the spotlight after his photos with many government officials and celebrities were published online last summer.

The superstition in officialdom mirrors corruption in the government, the report said. In terms of the reason behind the loss of faith, some 50 percent of netizens cited “unethical behaviors have gone unpunished”, while 20.8 percent blame the “mercenary” market economy.

Extreme, violent and anti-social behaviors have been chosen by nearly one third of the netizens as another major illness of society, with the “disadvantaged groups” as the most obvious example. “The growing social inequality and feeling of deprivation” have been cited as the main causes.

The full list of responses of the survey

1 Lack of faith

2 “Bystander attitude”or being indifferent

3 Anxiety over work, life and future

4 Habitual distrust

5 Ostentatiousness

6 Reveling in scandals

7 Hedonism

8 Extreme, violent and anti-social behaviors

9 Addiction to the Internet

10 Masochism, complaints about the Party and state system

via Survey shows 10 problems of Chinese society – China –


Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View

China may be Africa‘s biggest trading partner and one of its biggest investors, but you wouldn’t know that from the size of its contribution toward fighting West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

China: big on investing, not so much on humanitarianism. Photographer: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty ImagesIn fact, the contrast between its assistance and that of the U.S. is instructive: Today, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would raise the total of U.S. personnel now in Africa dealing with Ebola to 3,000; the U.S. has committed more than $175 million in aid. With much fanfare, China has said it will increase the number of its medical personnel in Sierra Leone to 174 and raise its total amount of assistance to roughly $37 million.

I know, I know: Relative to the U.S., China remains a poor country, and its growing willingness to extend humanitarian assistance outside its borders is a good thing. But consider this: China has close to 20,000 citizens working and living in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Setting aside U.S. money flowing into Liberia’s lucrative shipping registry, China’s investment in those three countries dwarfs that of the U.S. (In fact, China’s trading relationship with Africa overall is twice that of the U.S.) It recently signed deals for iron ore mining in the region that collectively run into the billions of dollars.

via Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View.


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.


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