Posts tagged ‘United States’


Command and lack of control | The Economist

IF THE People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were a company, it would be about to lose its position as the world’s largest corporate employer. When troop cuts recently announced by Xi Jinping, China’s president, are completed in 2017, the ranks of China’s armed forces will have shrunk by 300,000 to 2m, putting it just behind Walmart, a retailer (see chart). It would still be by far the world’s largest military outfit.

When the downsizing was announced, at a big military parade on September 3rd, the cuts seemed no more significant than a round of corporate redundancies. Mr Xi’s own explanation—that they would help the PLA to “carry out the noble mission of upholding world peace”—also seemed to come straight from the gobbledygook of corporate obfuscation.

But recent commentary in China’s state media suggests that the reductions may presage something more: a long-overdue reform of the command structure of the PLA and a shift in the balance of the main military services. If so, one of the most important subsidiaries of the Chinese state is in for a shake-up.

The army has long been the senior service. Almost three quarters of active-duty personnel are soldiers. The navy and air-force chiefs did not have seats on the main institution for exercising civilian control over the armed forces, the Central Military Commission, until 2004. It was only in 2012 that an officer outside the ranks of the army became its most senior military figure. The army’s dominance is a problem at a time when China is expanding its influence in the South China Sea and naval strategy is looming larger.

Moreover, there has long been a split within the PLA between combat forces (which kill the enemy) and other operations (logistics, transport and so on) which are regarded as secondary. But in modern, high-tech warfare, non front-line services such as those responsible for cyberwarfare and electronic surveillance often matter more than tanks and infantry.

Embodying these outdated traditions is a top-heavy, ill-co-ordinated structure with four headquarters and seven regional commands. Many Chinese analysts argue that, as now constituted, the PLA would not be able to conduct modern information-intensive military operations which integrate all the services properly.

China has long talked about military reform. In late 2013 Mr Xi told fellow leaders that the command system for joint operations was “not strong enough”. It was duly announced that China would “optimise the size and structure” of the armed forces. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, said that a “joint operational command system” would be introduced “in due course”.

It now appears that these changes are under way. Mr Xi was recently quoted in PLA Daily, a newspaper, saying that “we have a rare window … to deepen [military] reform”. It is possible that Mr Xi’s anti-corruption purge, which has taken aim at two men (one now dead) who were once the country’s most powerful military figures, as well as 50 other generals, may have weakened opposition enough for change to begin.

The South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong, recently published what it described as a radical plan devised by military reformers. This would scrap three of the four headquarters, reduce the number of regional military commands to four and give a more prominent role to the navy. It remains to be seen whether Mr Xi will go that far. But there is no doubt that, in order to fulfil what he calls China’s “dream of a strong armed forces”, he wants a leaner, more efficient PLA. To China’s neighbours, that would make it even more frightening.

Source: Command and lack of control | The Economist


Leaving Las Vegas: Chinese state railway companies to build US high-speed link from ‘Sin City’ to LA | South China Morning Post

Work on joint venture for 370km high-speed line linking Las Vegas to Los Angeles could start in 2016 and is part of mainland’s pursuit of overseas high-speed rail deals

A consortium of Chinese state rail companies has teamed up with an American company to build a high-speed rail line in the United States, with work possibly starting as early as September 2016.

It is the latest push by Beijing to export its high-speed rail technology and tap lucrative offshore markets.

China Railway International USA and the private rail venture, XpressWest, said in a joint statement on Thursday that they would form a joint venture to accelerate the launch of a high-speed rail linking the western cities of Las Vegas with Los Angeles.

The deal marks the latest attempt in China’s increasingly aggressive pursuit of overseas high-speed rail deals after the country built the world’s longest network in less than a decade.

Beijing recently clinched contracts in Russia, although it has faced hurdles in Mexico and Indonesia because of bureaucratic reversals of decisions in those countries.

XpressWest, a private venture of a Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer, was given approval in 2011 to build and run the 370km high-speed line, according to its website.

The project has US$100 million in initial capital, the companies said in the statement, released at a government-organised forum before President Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit to the US. China Railway International USA is owned by a consortium made up of subsidiaries from the mainland state companies China Railway Group, CRRC Corp, China State Construction Engineering Corp and China Railway Signal & Communication Corp.

Gary Wong, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities, estimated that the XpressWest project was worth US$5 billion, which he said would likely offer the many Chinese companies involved little financial benefit.

However, it was significant as a deal because it would help open the undeveloped US high-speed rail market, Wong added.

“If this opens up the United States market for them, opportunities for future expansion will increase,” Wong said. “And if [their technology] is used in the United States, it will be easier for them to sell to other countries.”



What if the China Panic Is All Wrong? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s stock-market routs and economic deceleration are widely cited as the major trigger for the latest round of global market volatility. But what if the dominant narrative about China—that the world’s No. 2 economy is on the verge of falling off a cliff—is wrong?

It would mean the global market turmoil hitting equities, commodities and currencies is an overreaction. “We may have seen overshooting,” said Hung Tran, executive managing director of global capital markets at the Institute of International Finance, an industry group representing around 500 of the world’s largest banks, funds and other financial institutions. Even the head of the International Monetary Fund indicated as much earlier this week.

One of the chief problems is that it’s difficult to gauge China’s black-box economy. The country’s true growth is a guessing game given a number of statistical factors. That’s why growth forecasts show a range spanning several percentage points. Lombard Street Research, for example, estimates the economy will only expand by 3.7% this year, nearly half Beijing’s official growth forecast. Even if China’s economy is healthier than many now fear, uncertainty is oxygen for market volatility.

More clarity from Beijing about growth prospects and crisis-management plans would likely prove fruitful. That’s why the U.S. plans to press Chinese officials for greater details on their policy plans at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 largest economies late this week. Here are some of the arguments that might moderate market fears:

• China’s stock market valuation is a bad indicator of Chinese growth. “Investors should not get carried away by the collapse of the Shanghai Composite Index,” warns Melanie Debono from Capital Economics in note to clients, “not least because its performance often bears little relation to that of the economy, primarily due to wild swings in its valuation.” The market run-up in advance of the selloff was out of step with reality, says Nick Lardy, a China expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. That’s why he says there’s likely more to come in the Chinese market correction. Even after the rout, “The market was still trading at 39 times earnings. Give me a break, it’s still too high.”

• The devaluation of the renminbi likely isn’t Beijing scrambling to save the economy through competitive devaluation. Beijing’s depreciation was likely more about addressing a key concern for the International Monetary Fund as it considers whether to include the Chinese yuan in its basket of currencies that comprise its lending reserves than it was about reviving economic growth by juicing exports. On Aug. 11, Beijing changed the way it values the yuan, allowing markets to play a greater role in the exchange rate. Market pressure has long been for depreciation, so allowing the currency to be more market-determined would, in the near-term, naturally see the yuan move lower. Against a basket of global currencies, the yuan has appreciated over the last year by nearly 15%, accounting for inflation. That’s despite Beijing intervening for months to prevent the yuan from losing value. “So the fact that the yuan came down 3% to 4% is not going to make much difference,” said Ted Truman, a former top international finance official at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

GDP growth may not be nearly as bad as suspected. Economists such as Clare Howarth at Oxford Economics say that beyond official industrial production figures, data on car and cell phones sales are jacking up the risk that China’s growth stalls. But “critics are really overlooking the fact that the growth model has changed in China,” Lardy says. “The service sector is now the driver of growth. So the fact that industrial growth has slowed down quite a bit does not mean, as it would have meant 10 years ago, that the economy is falling off a cliff.” Based on electricity consumption, “I just don’t see any signs that the Chinese economy is experiencing a hard landing,” says Torsten Sløk, Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist. Joe Hockey, treasurer for an economy that is intimately tied to China, Australia, says market reactions have been overblown. “We’re confident about our understanding of the Chinese economy and we see over time huge opportunities for growth,” Mr. Hockey told the Journal.

• Rather than regressing to policies of old, China’s government has actually been showing signs of moving ahead with market reforms.

Source: What if the China Panic Is All Wrong? – China Real Time Report – WSJ


The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – India Real Time – WSJ

The lofty valuations of India’s consumer-focused startups like Flipkart and Snapdeal have gotten a lot of limelight lately, but the country’s up and coming software product technology firms are also growing rapidly, says iSpirit Foundation, a Bangalore-based technology lobby group.

An index capturing the 30 most-valuable Indian software product-makers has risen by 28% in eight months since Oct. 30, a report released by iSpirit, which puts together the index, said Thursday. These companies, as estimated by iSpirit, were worth a total of $10 billion at the end of June. “There has been an acceleration since 2010 in the pace of creation of B2B (business-to-business) companies,” the report said.

More In Technology The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Are You Addicted to the Internet? Take the Test Internet Addiction: How to Help Protect Your Children 5 Things to Know about Foxconn’s Ambitions in India Uber to Invest $1 Billion in India Indian techies and venture capitalists often rue that though Indians occupy top positions in global tech companies like Microsoft Corp.MSFT +3.55% and Oracle ORCL +2.05% Corp, the country hasn’t produced a major software firm up to the caliber of these multinationals.

In December, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneurship trade body, the Indus Entrepreneurs, launched a program to help grow a select number of Indian product companies to become worth a billion dollars or more each. To help garner attention for software-product makers, iSpirit created its index last year. For this, it considered more than 300 Indian companies that make and sell software or provide applications that support other businesses. The index doesn’t include technology outsourcing firms like Infosys Ltd.500209.BY +3.56% and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.532540.BY -0.08%, or consumer-oriented technology companies, like Flipkart and ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd.-owned Ola, a taxi-hailing application, which use technology to sell products to individuals. Companies included are firms like Bangalore-based InMobi Technology Services Pvt. Ltd., which competes with Google Inc.GOOGL +2.69% and Facebook Inc.FB +2.96% globally to provide a mobile advertising platform, and Delhi-based Wingify Software Pvt. Ltd, which analyses web-user data to enable companies to create more effective webpages.

Other companies are Capillary Technologies, which creates software that helps retailers manage customer data and counts shoemaker Nike NKE +1.91% and Pizza Hut among its customers, and Druva Software Pvt. Ltd., which provides data backup and other services to companies like Dell Inc. The index also has a few companies which have been around for more than two decades, such as Delhi-based Newgen Software Technologies Ltd, and accounting software-maker Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

These software companies have also caught the eye of international investors in recent years. “There’s a consistent amount of capital going in…I wouldn’t say it’s a flood,” said Dev Khare, managing director of Lightspeed India Partners Advisors LLP, a venture-capital firm. Mr. Khare volunteers with iSpirit and helped put together the report on technology firms. In rupee terms, the 30 most-valuable companies as estimated by iSpirit were worth 655 billion rupees ($10 billion) at the end of June, versus 375 billion rupees at the end of October. The composition of the index has changed, to include some companies whose valuations have grown rapidly since the fall. To be sure, these valuations pale in comparison to that of Indian consumer companies. Flipkart alone was valued at $15 billion in May following a round of capital raising, up from $10 billion in December. Mr. Khare said that though consumer-focused tech companies have gotten a larger share of investor capital in recent years, historically, both consumer and software-product companies have provided good returns to investors. Many of the new Indian software companies are creating products for the tech consumer companies, such as software to manage customers who buy online, or software to manage logistics. Two-thirds of the 30 companies in the iSpirit index are based in India, while others are domiciled in Singapore and Silicon Valley. Most of the companies sell their products to clients globally. “As the conditions become more favorable, more capital will flow into these companies as well,” said Mr. Khare.

Source: The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – India Real Time – WSJ


Why India Stands to Benefit From China Slowdown and Global Reaction – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s economy has been insulated from the turmoil in emerging markets by a long-standing handicap: It isn’t an export powerhouse. For years, growth in India has been fueled more by domestic demand—not, as in China, by manufacturing goods for sale abroad. Now India’s resilient consumer spending is an advantage as demand decelerates almost everywhere else. It is luring companies to produce in India and, the government hopes, can help spark a belated industrial revolution in the country of 1.2 billion.

Jayant Sinha, India’s minister of state for finance, said this week the Chinese slowdown and its world-wide fallout could provide a chance for India to “take the baton of global growth.” Mumbai’s benchmark stock index ended Wednesday down 1.2%, having slid 8.5% in total since the People’s Bank of China moved to devalue the yuan on Aug. 11. The rupee has lost 3.4% since then. India hasn’t been rattled as badly as Brazil, Russia or South Africa. Its international reserves are ample, and it isn’t highly dependent on foreign capital to fund imports.

Source: Why India Stands to Benefit From China Slowdown and Global Reaction – India Real Time – WSJ


India’s Hard-Working Expat Army – The Numbers – WSJ

Compared with expatriates from other countries, expats from India are younger, better-educated, harder-working and much more likely to be male. A new survey of people working far from home by the expat social group InterNations also suggests Indian expats are much more likely to pick a partner from home and less likely to settle in the country in which they currently work. While there is debate about exactly how expats differ from other migrant workers, any definition would have to include many of the millions of Indians who help run companies, build software and erect buildings across the globe. Indians have proven to be the highest ranked group of migrants to the U.S., in terms of education and pay. Indian-born leaders now run everything from Microsoft Corp. to Google Inc.

The InterNations survey of 14,400  self-declared expats living in 64 countries  offers some interesting insights into what India’s world-wide web of non-resident road warriors looks like. Here are a few numbers from the survey.

80% Around 80%, or four out of five, Indian expatriates who responded to the InterNations survey are male. That’s really lopsided. The average for all countries combined in the survey was about 47% male.

36.5 years Indians that took part in the survey were 36.5 years old on average. That is younger to the broader expat populace, which had an average age of 40.9 years. 45.2 hours Indian expats said they worked an average of

45.2 hours a week. While that is probably not enough overtime to get you to the top of Google like Sunder Pichai, it’s 3.2 hours more than the average expat.

92% More than 90% of those surveyed had a college degree or higher. On average only 83% of the world’s expats graduated from university. Data on Indians enrolled in U.S. schools show they are often more likely to go for advanced degrees. The education of globe-trotting Indians is also seen in their language abilities.

Close to half (48%) of the people surveyed said they could speak four or more languages. 9 out of 10 Compared with other expatriates,

Indians were much more likely to pick a partner from home. Around 89% of Indians in the survey said they were with someone from their home country. On average, expatriates around the world are usually more likely not to choose someone from home. Only 43% of those surveyed said they had a partner from their countries of origin.

12% Nearly a quarter of expats say they would consider settling in the country where they are currently working. For Indian expatriate workers, however, the number is just around one in eight.

Source: India’s Hard-Working Expat Army – The Numbers – WSJ


China Shakes Markets with Yuan Move – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China devalued the yuan by nearly 2% on Tuesday in a surprise move that shook markets around the world and appeared to be a response to sharply weaker exports and plummeting factory prices in a softening economy. The central bank described its action as a new way of setting the daily parity or reference rate – a rate it sets for the currency against the dollar –  to better reflect market rates.  (The markets get a chance to trade the currency around that rate, but not by much. The yuan can go up or down only 2% from that crucial central rate.)

So far this year, the parity rate has hardly budged against the dollar even though the latter has been rising steadily against other currencies. That has made China’s exports more expensive in many markets just as the world’s second largest economy is slowing.  The People’s Bank of China says it will now pay more attention to the market levels when it sets its parity rate. It also called the move a “one-time fix.”

Economists are hotly debating the significance of the move, in part because it seems to be speaking to many different audiences. It will help the struggling export sector, which has stalled amid weak global demand. Exports in July, for example, sank more than 8% and they were down nearly 1% for the first seven months of the year.

At the same time, it was essential for the People’s Bank of China not to alarm domestic and foreign investors to avoid triggering a wave of capital outflows. Investors tend to dump a weakening currency and move their assets into other currencies. Thus, the PBOC said the move was a one-time reform effort to bring the yuan more in line with the markets.

Finally, the central bank may also have had the International Monetary Fund in its sights. The yuan is up for possible inclusion in international agency’s Special Drawing Rights, a basket of currencies that serves as a global reserve. Too big a move might have damaged Beijing’s case that the yuan is a suitable candidate for addition to that basket of currencies, analysts said.

via Economists React: China Shakes Markets with Yuan Move – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Delta to buy 3.55 percent stake of China Eastern for $450 million | Reuters

Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) has agreed to buy 3.55 percent of China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd (600115.SS)(0670.HK), a move that would make it the first U.S. carrier to own part of a Chinese airline.

The deal may prompt Delta’s rivals to beef up partnerships with Chinese carriers in an effort to secure their place in a country that Delta expects to become the biggest market for travel from the United States.

Delta’s purchase challenges rival United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N), the leading U.S. airline for service to China. United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek said Thursday during an investor call that the airline would be “keenly interested” in exploring a Chinese joint venture once the United States and China negotiate an Open Skies agreement that would ease air route restrictions.

Atlanta-based Delta said it will invest $450 million in China Eastern’s Hong Kong-traded stock, which has nearly tripled over the past 12 months even as broader Chinese stock indexes have plunged.

Delta said it will get an “observer” seat on China Eastern’s board. The move may pave the way for Delta and China Eastern to seek approval to coordinate pricing and flight capacity.

However, larger tie-ups with antitrust immunity cannot happen until an Open Skies agreement is in place, which could take years. Currently, governments specify which airlines can fly which routes, and how often.

Chinese carriers have been “launching far too much capacity across the Pacific,” industry consultant Robert Mann said. “Everybody is looking for a stronger form of joint-venture partnership for the day when China and the U.S. have Open Skies.”

For now, Delta and China Eastern say they will invest in services so travelers have a seamless experience on the airlines, which share flight codes on 80 routes including subsidiary Shanghai Airlines. The partnership will grow Delta’s foothold in China Eastern’s Shanghai hub, a key market for business travel.

The transaction is subject to approval by each company’s board.

Delta is investing in foreign carriers, taking small stakes in one airline in Mexico and one in Brazil. It also owns 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd (VA.O) and has used its position to shift the UK carrier’s routes to Delta’s advantage.

via Delta to buy 3.55 percent stake of China Eastern for $450 million | Reuters.


Indian Companies Invest Billions, Create Thousands of Jobs in the U.S. – The Numbers – WSJ

As India attempts to thaw its business environment and attract the interest of foreign companies, a hundred Indian firms have together made investments worth more than $15 billion in America, according to the findings of a new survey by the Confederation of Indian Industries and audit firm Grant Thornton International Ltd.

The findings, which were released in a report titled “Indian Roots, American Soil” on Tuesday, suggest that Indian companies in the U.S., most operating in the information-technology sector, have created thousands of jobs there and show a growing interest in hiring more American workers in the next few years.

Indian outsourcing companies in the U.S. have in recent months been criticized for depending too much on foreign staff — H1-B visa holders – instead of hiring locals.

The 100 Indian companies surveyed are spread across all 50 U.S. states, the report said. Here are the main numbers from the report.


The survey says Indian firms have created more than 91,000 jobs in the U.S., most of them concentrated in New Jersey, where they have hired over 9,000 people. In California, more than 8,000 people work for Indian companies.

$15.3 billion

The total value of tangible investments – for example in real estate or equipment — made in the U.S. by the surveyed companies. Texas has received the largest amount — almost $3.85 billion from 17 Indian companies, most in the information-technology and telecom sectors. The report didn’t give a timeframe for these investments.


The percentage of surveyed companies that do information-technology business is 40%. The report also highlights the emergence of Indian companies in the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors, which each accounted for 14% of the firms surveyed.


That’s the proportion of companies in the survey that plan to make more investments in the U.S. in the next five years. California, New Jersey, New York and Texas are the “most promising states for expected future investment,” the report said.


The forecast for hiring local U.S. employees is also encouraging, the survey reveals. Almost 90% of the companies responded positively when asked if they foresaw hiring locally in the coming five years.

via Indian Companies Invest Billions, Create Thousands of Jobs in the U.S. – The Numbers – WSJ.


China says 75 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in June | Reuters

Nearly 75 percent of China’s big cities failed to meet air quality standards in June, the environment ministry said on Monday, an improvement over the same month last year, as the country continues to wage “war on pollution.”

General view of downtown Shanghai on a hazy night January 25, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

Nineteen cities met air quality standards every day, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement on its website (, compared to five at the same time last year.

Air quality in the capital Beijing was subpar on almost 60 percent of the days in June and saw levels of PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers that can penetrate deep into the lungs – rise 11 percent compared to the same period last year.

Amid growing public disquiet about smog and other environmental risks, China said last year it would “declare war on pollution” and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial capacity and reduce coal consumption.

Last year, nearly 90 percent of China’s 74 big cities failed to meet air quality standards.

The state standard is 35 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter, but the government does not expect to bring the national average down to that level before 2030.

In April, the vice minister for environmental protection announced a two-year inspection campaign to root out fake air quality data and accused some local governments of manipulating the data to meet national standards.

via China says 75 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in June | Reuters.


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