Archive for March, 2012

31/03/2012

* Chinese websites closed, six detained for spreading rumors

Xinhua: “Chinese authorities closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for “fabricating or disseminating online rumors,” the State Internet Information Office SIIO and Beijing police said Friday. The websites, including meizhou.net, xn528.com and cndy.com.cn, were closed for spreading rumors of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” which were fabricated by some lawless people recently, said a spokesman with SIIO. The rumors have caused “a very bad influence on the public” and the websites were closed in accordance with laws for failing to stop the spread of rumors, said the spokesman.

Beijing police also detained six people for allegedly fabricating and spreading the above-mentioned rumors, particularly through microblogging posts, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security. An undisclosed number of people who had disseminated similar rumors on the Internet were also “admonished and educated,” who have shown intention to repent, the police said.”

via Websites closed, six detained for spreading rumors – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

One wonders if there is “no smoke without a fire”?

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30/03/2012

* Apple hit by China Foxconn factory report

BBC News: “An independent investigation has found “significant issues” among working practices at Chinese plants making Apple iPhones and iPads. The US Fair Labor Association FLA was asked by Apple to investigate working conditions at Foxconn after reports of long hours and poor safety. The FLA says it has now secured agreements to reduce hours, protect pay, and improve staff representation.Apple said it “fully accepted” the reports recommendations. “We share the FLAs goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere,” it said in a statement.

The findings emerged as Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Foxconn facilities. Mr Cook toured Zhengzhou Technology Park, where 120,000 employees work, on Wednesday. A string of suicides at Foxconn last year put the spotlight on working conditions at its factories. Last month, the company announced it was to send independent inspectors from the FLA to audit the facilities.

The investigation – one of the largest ever conducted of a US companys operations abroad – found employees often worked more than 60 hours a week and sometimes for seven days running without the required day off. Other violations included unpaid overtime and health and safety risks. Average monthly salaries at the three factories ranged from $360 (£227) to $455 (£289).

Deutsch: Foxconn Logo

Deutsch: Foxconn Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Foxconn raised salaries by up to 25% recently. The FLA said Foxconn had agreed to comply with the associations standards on working hours by July 2013, bringing them in line with a legal limit in China of 49 hours per week. The company will hire thousands more workers in order to compensate for the move, Reuters reports.

The BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says the report has been much anticipated as embodying a new and transparent approach to an old problem: that of cheap but popular consumer goods manufactured in poor conditions in developing countries. However, he says, a telling line in the report is the one which notes that the Foxconn workers did not have true trade union representation. The authorities in China are very wary of unions and are likely to remain so. Before the report was released, labour unions expressed doubts that the company was committed to improving standards. “The report will include new promises by Apple that stand to be just as empty as the ones made over the past 5 years,”

SumOfUS.org, a coalition of trade unions and consumer groups, said.Foxconn employs 1.2 million workers in China to produce products for Apple as well as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and other companies.”

via BBC News – Apple hit by China Foxconn factory report.

Good news: Foxconn workers to be treated fairly under Chinese labour laws. Bad news: having incvreased pay by 25% recently and now having to increase it further, China’s 1.2 million workers at Foxconn (a Taiwanese company) better be prepared for layoffs in the medium term as Foxconn turn to countries with cheaper labour; and there are plenty of these around. The latter follows the “law of unintended or contrary consequences.”

30/03/2012

* Senior leader underlines infrastructure building in Xinjiang

Maps of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of Ch...

Maps of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China Español: Región autónoma de Xinjiang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Xinhua: “Senior Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang on Thursday demanded infrastructure be improved in the western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region through projects supported by central government.

Zhou, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China CPC Central Committee, urged authorities to give more support to the construction of major projects in the region, including irrigation systems, reservoirs, railways, electricity and natural gas schemes. Antiquated public facilities had created a major bottleneck constraining the regions development, Zhou said at a meeting attended by representatives from the National Development and Reform Commission, the central bank, and ministries of finance, railways, and water resources. These departments and a group of large state-owned enterprises and commercial banks have been tasked to assist the projects.

Three Uyghur girls at a Sunday market in the o...

Zhou called for more financial support and administrative coordination to push forward these projects, which he said will help enhance the regions capability of self-initiated development, ensure sound economic and social development, and create more jobs. The projects should benefit Xinjiang by improving people’s livelihoods, promoting ethnic solidarity and maintaining social stability, according to Zhou. He also demanded efforts to avoid illegal land use, prevent excessive exploitation of resources and protect the environment in Xinjiang.”

via Senior leader underlines infrastructure building in Xinjiang – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

30/03/2012

* China driving US exports

China Daily: “The United States exported more than $100 billion in goods and services to China in 2011 and 30 states now count the country as one of their top three export markets.That’s according to a report released by the Washington-based US-China Business Council on Wednesday.

Between 2000 and 2011, US exports to China rose by 542 percent – going from $16.2 billion in 2000 to a record $103.9 billion in 2011 – while its exports to the rest of the world only increased by 80 percent. After the recent recession, the US exports to China regained momentum faster than the country’s exports to any other place in the world, the council said.”The annual report said China is the third most common destination for US exports, just behind Canada and Mexico, which border the US and have a free-trade agreement with it.

“Exports to China are vital to America’s economic health and create good jobs for American workers,” said Erin Ennis, vice-president of the US-China Business Council, which represents about 240 American companies doing business in China. Wang Haifeng, director of international economics at the Institute for International Economic Research, a think tank under the National Development and Reform Commission, said the export figures reveal a great opportunity. “The fact that a record was set in US exports to China, which shows the great potential of US exports, not only reduces the trade imbalance between the top two economies but also alleviates unemployment in the US and speeds up the US economic recovery,” he said.

Related articles: China’s Surprising U.S. Buying Spree – Businessweek (businessweek.com)via China driving US exports|Economy|chinadaily.com.cn.

There are some Cassandra’s who are concerned that in the foreseeable future, military conflict between America and China is inevitable. My personal view is that as more and more bilateral trade between America and China builds up, the chance of war between them becomes less and less probable. The two countries are so interdependent that war between them would be tantamount to ‘civil war’. You might say that has happened in most countries sometime in their past. You will be right. So I’m not saying peace is inevitable or forever, only that war is not inevitable and less likely.

30/03/2012

* More Chinese investments in India soon

Times of India: “China has committed to facilitating Indian exports into Chinese markets to address the yawning trade imbalance between the two countries. Chinese president Hu Jintao said this to Manmohan Singh in his hour-long meeting with the PM at the end of the BRICS summit on Thursday. This will be Hu’s last summit as Chinese president.

In return, the PM invited Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure projects in India. Chinese companies are kept out of several strategic sectors, but there is a significant change in the Indian government’s approach to Chinese investment.

With the two leaders kicking off a year of friendship celebrations, the overwhelming sense from the meeting was that the two nations are determined to get along, despite many difficulties and differences of outlook. Singh and Hu announced “expanded” foreign office consultations, and launched three new dialogues with China – on West Asia, Central Asia and Africa. India and China pursue markedly different policies in Africa, though with the same stated aims.”

via More Chinese investments in India soon – The Times of India.

Related page:

In the 50s, PM Nehru and PM Chou met and agreed Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful coexistence. The press coined a phrase Hindi Chini bhai bhai, meaning Indians and Chinese are brothers.  It looked like the slogan was reflecting reality until in the late summer of 1962, due to the long-standing border dispute (legacy of British Raj) Chinese tanks rolled over the Himalyas and reached the oil fields of Assam in the East and also in Ladakh in the west.  Since then matters have thawed. BRIC (and now BRICS) was invented. This news release is good news, at least for India and China.

29/03/2012

* BRICS flexing muscle – to set up joint bank, call for dialogue on Iran & Syria

Times of India: “Seeking to reinforce their growing economic heft with diplomatic clout, the BRICS grouping Thursday pitched for a bigger say in global governance institutions, including the UN and the IMF, and told the West that dialogue was the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syria crisis.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which comprise nearly half the world’s population and a growing share of global GDP, signed two pacts to spur trade in their local currencies. They also agreed to set up a working group for a joint development bank to promote mutual investment in infrastructure.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Presidents Hu Jintao China, Dmitry Medvedev Russia, Dilma Rousseff Brazil and Jacob Zuma South Africa ended the fourth BRICS summit by renewing the pitch for reforming global governance institutions and closer coordination on global issues.The five leaders stressed on the restructuring of the world order to accommodate emerging economies and developing countries and for promoting sustained and balanced global economic growth.”

via BRICS to set up joint bank, call for dialogue on Iran & Syria – The Times of India.

28/03/2012

* President Hu arrives in Delhi ahead of BRICS summit

The Hindu: “Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in New Delhi Wednesday on a two-day visit to participate in the BRICSsummit

BRICS summit participants: Prime Minister of I...

BRICS summit participants: Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, President of China Hu Jintao, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and to hold wide-ranging bilateral talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The Chinese President is accompanied by a high-profile delegation comprising Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, senior ministers and business leaders.

Mr. Hu will meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday before participating in the BRICS summit on Thursday. Mr. Hu, along with the presidents of Russia, Brazil and South Africa, will attend a banquet hosted by President Pratibha Patil in the evening.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with the Chinese President on Thursday, on various issues including bridging the trade deficit and fast-tracking the new confidence-building measures. The two leaders are expected to declare 2012 as the year of India-China friendship and unveil initiatives to bolster cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts.

India is expected is to raise the issue of huge imbalance in bilateral trade which has exceeded $70 billion, with the surplus heavily in China’s favour.”

via The Hindu : News / National : Hu arrives in Delhi ahead of BRICS summit.

28/03/2012

* Chinese Vice-Premier Li meets Apple CEO

China Daily: “Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday that China will strengthen intellectual property rights protection and continue to transform its economy, when meeting CEO of Apple Tim Cook in Beijing.”To be more open to the outside is a condition for China to transform its economic development, expand domestic demands and conduct technological innovation,” Li said.

He said that trade and economic cooperation together are an “important cornerstone” for the cooperative partnership featuring mutual respect and reciprocity that China and the United States are endeavoring to establish.The vice-premier called on multinational companies to expand cooperation with China, actively participate in the development of the western part of China, pay more attention to caring for workers and share development opportunities with the Chinese side.

Cook said Apple will strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the Chinese side and conduct business in a law-abiding and honest manner.”

via Vice-Premier Li meets Apple CEO Tim Cook|Economy|chinadaily.com.cn.

27/03/2012

* Major Chinese industrial companies profits drop 5.2 pct

Xinhua: “Profits for Chinese chemical producers, automakers and other major industrial companies fell 5.2 percent in the first two months of 2012 from the same period a year earlier, China’s statistical authority said Tuesday.

Total profits for the largest industrial companies, or those with annual revenues above 20 million yuan 3.17 million U.S. dollars, stood at 606 billion yuan during the first two months, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement on its website.The data highlighted the impact of the sluggish global economic recovery on Chinese companies, especially state-owned enterprises, as exports have slowed due to waning external demand.

The data also represents a significant drop from a 34.3-percent increase registered in the first two months of 2011.”

via Major Chinese industrial companies profits drop 5.2 pct – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

Is China’s economy heading for a hard landing?  If so, it will exacerbate the recession in developed nations.

26/03/2012

* Indian Govt orders probe into allegation of bribe by Army chief

Times of India: “The government on Monday ordered a CBI inquiry into the allegation made by Army chief Gen V K Singh that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe by a lobbyist. A CBI probe was ordered by defence minister A K Antony in the wake of the Army

General V K Singh at a function at St. Paul's ...

chiefs allegation, defence ministry officials said.

Earlier, both houses of Parliament were adjourned till 2pm after the opposition MPs created a ruckus over the disclosures made by the Army chief. Terming Gen Singhs allegations as “serious”, Antony told reporters outside Parliament, “We have to handle it…I have taken action.” When asked if the Army chief had informed him about the bribe offer, he said, “Parliament is in session.”

In an interview to a newspaper, the Army chief alleged that an equipment lobbyist offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore, which he had reported to the Defence Minister. He said the lobbyist offered him the bribe in order to have a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles of a particular make cleared for purchase. “Just imagine, one of these men had the gumption to walk up to me and tell me that if I cleared the tranche, he would give me Rs 14 crore. He was offering a bribe to me, to the Army chief. He told me that people had taken money before me and they will take money after me,” Gen Singh said.”

via Govt orders CBI probe into allegation of bribe by Army chief – The Times of India.

Wow, bribery at the highest levels!

Related page: https://chindia-alert.org/china-2011-roundup/india-2011-roundup/

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