Archive for April, 2013


* Author Sam Geall on China’s Green Awakening

BusinessWeek: “Most of the headlines about China’s environment involve victims and villains. On one side are the regular people suffering from exposure to toxic rivers and contaminated food; on the other, greedy factory owners and recalcitrant officials. Not visible in that black-and-white picture are China’s emerging ranks of environmental activists—some full-time nongovernmental organization workers and others simply volunteers responding ad hoc to threats to their health and livelihood. China’s first environmental NGO, Friends of Nature, was allowed to legally register in 1994, and since then thousands more have followed in its footsteps.

The Tiger Leaping Gorge on the road from Lijiang to the logging town of Zhongdian, in northwestern Yunnan province, China

A new book edited by Oxford University lecturer Sam Geall, China and the Environment: The Green Revolution, traces the evolution of green activism in China. Geall is also executive editor of the online magazine In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he shared his perspective on civil society in an authoritarian country—and how technology changes the picture.

Who are China’s environmentalists? How would you characterize today’s green advocates?

Journalists and broadcasters founded many of China’s most prominent green NGOs—after all, they witnessed the scale of the unfolding environmental crisis. China actually has a long history of civil society, which was suppressed during the Mao era. But the past 20 years have seen a flourishing of green NGOs. Now there are thousands registered, and many more unregistered. Today all sorts of people get involved in China’s environmental campaigns, from university students and middle-class urban residents protesting against the construction of polluting petrochemical factories or incinerators, to villagers in the countryside angry about pollution ruining their crops and their health.”

via Q&A: Author Sam Geall on China’s Green Awakening – Businessweek.

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* Samsung Galaxy S4 lands on Bangalore, hundreds get in line

reutrs: ““I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting a couple of hours; I couldn’t get any sleep last night,” said Arif, an employee of UK retailer Tesco. He was near the front of the line of hundreds of people to line up at the UB City Mall in Bangalore to buy the new Galaxy S4 smartphone.

The phone went on sale at the Samsung store on Saturday, and Arif waited for about two hours for the privilege of spending 41,500 rupees, or about $763, on the new model, which comes with a 5-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera, and runs on Google’s Android platform.

Samsung is trying to increase its lead over Apple, a possibility for the South Korean company, considering the preference of many Indian shoppers for a good discount over products priced at the top of the line compared to their competitors. Both companies are now handing out discounts on some of their older models. The S4 also is competing with other phones on sale in India such as the HTC One and the BlackBerry Z10, not to mention Apple’s iPhone 5 — its primary rival.

Manu Sharma, Samsung India’s director for its mobile business, said Samsung is looking forward to selling more Galaxy S4s than previous phones in the line. The S3 has sold more than 50 million units since its launch last year, the Wall Street Journal reported in March.

Sharma also promised that there would be no supply problems that forced it to begin selling the S4 later than planned in the United States. The S4 is going on sale in the United States on Saturday as well, and warned that supply problems might strike there. Its reason for this? Better-than-expected demand, of course.

In Bangalore, crowd control was more of a problem than availability. People waited impatiently in a queue that snaked past a near-empty Apple Imagine store. Some people tried to shove and jump the queue, while some got into arguments with store guards who were trying to maintain order. For technology fans in India’s IT capital, arguing that it’s “just a phone” probably wouldn’t make much of an impression anyway.”

via Samsung Galaxy S4 lands on Bangalore, hundreds get in line | India Insight.


* Experts baffled by China-India border stand-off amid improving ties

SCMP: “It’s more than 5,000 metres above sea level, cold, inhospitable, uninhabited, with hardly any vegetation or wildlife in sight. Welcome to the icy desert wastelands of Daulat Beg Oldi, a forgotten pit stop on the Silk Road catapulted to overnight geopolitical fame as two nuclear neighbours vie for its possession in a dangerous game of tactical brinkmanship.

For two weeks now, Chinese and Indian soldiers have been standing eyeball to eyeball, barely 100 metres apart, at this easternmost point of the Karakoram Range on the western sector of the China-India border.

Both sides claim the land as their own in an unusually public show of mutual defiance that threatens to unhinge some of their newfound comity in an otherwise fraught relationship, and cast a shadow on Premier Li Keqiang‘s visit to India next month.

The trouble began when Indian media started reporting a “deep incursion” on April 15 in which a platoon of about 30 Chinese soldiers entered the Daulat Beg Oldi area in the Depsang Valley of eastern Ladakh in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Shrill media reports of Chinese incursions are not uncommon in India, where Sinophobia has been wired deep into the national psyche since a drubbing by China in a border war in 1962. Every time such reports appear, New Delhi’s stock response is that it’s a misunderstanding caused by “perceptual differences”. This time is no different.

A group of activists protest on Saturday against an alleged incursion two weeks ago by about 30 Chinese troops in the Daulat Beg Oldi area in eastern Ladakh of Indian-administered Kashmir. Photo: AP

India and China do not have a real border marked out on the ground as they never got around to negotiating one. What they follow is an undemarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC), but each side has its own perception of where that line actually lies. As a result, it is not uncommon for patrols to stray into each other’s territory. Years of painstaking talks have gone into creating an elaborate mechanism to prevent such transgressions from snowballing, keeping the peace for 25 years.

What is different this time is that none of the standard operating procedures that comprise this peace mechanism seem to be working. These procedures include waving banners to alert the other patrol if it is on the wrong side of the LAC, and meetings between local commanders. This time, two flag meetings have been held but the stalemate continues. New Delhi insists Chinese troops have entered 18 kilometres into Indian territory and must leave. Beijing maintains its soldiers are on the Chinese side of the LAC and won’t budge. And, in an alarming show of strength, both sides have dug in, pitching tents to strengthen their claims.

The confrontation has sent diplomats into overdrive to calm tempers before Li’s India visit as both sides have set much store by the trip. Bilateral trade, barely about US$3 billion in 2000 following decades of shutting each other out after the war, has now reached nearly US$80 billion, making China India’s largest trading partner. The aim is to reach US$100 billion by 2015, with both sides looking for greater access to each other’s markets. They are also increasingly working together in other areas, ranging from environment to energy security.

Sino-Indian relations are developing very quickly. Li’s visit will be his first foreign trip after taking office, and is in a complete break with protocol, showing the importance China attaches to relations with India,” says Ma Jiali, an India expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing.

Li’s choice of India as his first port of call had created a burst of goodwill in India for its symbolism. Going by protocol, it was Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh‘s turn to visit Beijing this year to reciprocate for former premier Wen Jiabao‘s tour in 2011.”

via Experts baffled by China-India border stand-off amid improving ties | South China Morning Post.


* India foreign minister Salman Khurshid to visit China

BBC: “India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has said he will visit China in May amid tensions near the de facto border in the Himalayas.

Salman Khurshid

Mr Khurshid’s trip comes ahead of a scheduled visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India.

It comes at a time when India has asked China to withdraw troops it says have moved into a territory near the border.

China denies violating Indian territory. The two sides are holding talks to resolve the row.

“I believe we have a mutual interest and we should not destroy years of contribution we have put together,” Mr Khurshid was quoted by AFP news agency as telling reporters on the sidelines of a business event.

“I think it is a good thing that we are having a dialogue.”

Mr Khurshid said he would be visiting China on 9 May, ahead of Mr Li’s visit on 20 May for his first overseas trip, reports say.

India says Chinese troops erected a camp on its side of the ill-defined frontier in Ladakh region last week.

China has dismissed reports of the incursion as media speculation.

The two countries dispute several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962. Tensions flare up from time to time.

They have held numerous rounds of border talks, but all have been unsuccessful so far.

The BBC’s Soutik Biswas in Delhi says there has not been a fatality in skirmishes along the undefined India-China boundary since 1967, but the memories of the crushing defeat inflicted by the Chinese on India in the 1962 war have not faded from the minds of some Indians.”

via BBC News – India foreign minister Salman Khurshid to visit China.


The American military is using Chinese satellites

This just shows how inter-linked are the affairs of China and America.

China Daily Mail

American Troops AfricaU.S. forces are so heavily saturated with different communication devices that if not transmitted by satellite would cause serious problems.

Data flow is so great that there are no adequate available satellites. The Pentagon has quietly hired a Chinese satellite, APSTAR-7, through which will flow communications with the army in Africa.

Information about buying Chinese satellite transfers arose at a meeting of one of the sub-committees of the U.S. Congress.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Space Policy Doug Loverro said that the Pentagon had paid 10 million dollars for a one-year contract with the Chinese.

The hired satellite was launched in March 2012 and placed in geostationary orbit, which means it is constantly hanging over one point of the earth, more specifically the equator.

Due to the embargo of military technology, it is ironic that the APSTAR-7 is used by he Americans, who are the…

View original post 306 more words


China: Military license plates no longer allowed on luxury cars, more strictly controlled

Good idea!

China Daily Mail

China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Daily reported on April 28 that the Chinese Defence Ministry has published a statement that new military license plates have been issued as replacements of old ones, to enhance overall control of military license plates.

In an interview, the person in charge of military transport told the reporter that it aims to prevent:

  1. Fake plates
  2. Unauthorised issue of such plates. Military license plates are disallowed on eleven luxury brands and models, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, Volkswagen Phaeton, Bentley, Jaguar and Porsche, as well as those that cost more than 450,000 yuan ($72,400) or have engines larger than 3.0 litres
  3. Unauthorised use
  4. Being stolen
  5. Loss

All registered military vehicles must use the new license plates by May 1. By that time, the use of old ones will not be allowed.

SCMP says that the Defence Ministry’s statement “said that…

View original post 482 more words


* China’s retrieval of lost relics needs time

China Daily: “Two bronze animal heads looted from a Chinese royal garden 149 years ago will soon be returned to China, beaming in a ray of hope despite the difficulties the country faces in bringing its treasure trove of cultural relics home.

English: Looting_of_the_Yuan_Ming_Yuan_by Angl...

English: Looting_of_the_Yuan_Ming_Yuan_by Anglo-French forces in_1860 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The family heading French luxury goods retailer Pinault said on Friday in Beijing that it will donate the rat and rabbit busts back to China for free.

The Pinault family is the majority shareholder of PPR, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Puma, and Pinault Group Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault has just concluded a two-day visit to China with French President Francois Hollande.

Cao Yuming, director of the administration office of the Yuanmingyuan, or Old Summer Palace, from which the two pieces were looted, said the move should encourage the return of more Chinese relics.

Cao described the planned donation as “an observation of international convention, a token of friendship and conducive to bringing more relics home.”

He also said an exhibition of the two pieces is likely to be held in the Yuanmingyuan once approved by the state cultural relics authorities.

The busts were among 12 animal head sculptures that formed the zodiacal water clock decorating the Calm Sea of Yuanmingyuan of Emperor Qianlong(1736-1795).

They were taken by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

But the two became the center of an international tug-of-war when they were auctioned for $39.6 million in Paris in 2009.

China has repeatedly opposed this auction. A Chinese businessman made the winning bid and then refused to pay on the grounds that the heads belong to his native country.

Five of the 12 bronze animal fountain heads in Yuanmingyuan have returned thus far, and the Pinault donation will take the number to seven. But the whereabouts of the five others remains unknown.

China, along with other countries to have lost cultural relics, is making efforts to repatriate such prized possessions, a drive which has generally received a positive response and support from the international community.

But more efforts are needed. UNESCO believes there are at least 17 million Chinese cultural relics abroad, far exceeding the number in the country’s own museums.”

via China’s retrieval of lost relics needs time |Society |

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* China Haidian may buy more watchmakers after Corum


Corum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reuters: “China Haidian Holdings (0256.HK) may not stop at this week’s acquisition of Swiss watchmaker Corum as it seeks a foothold in high-end timepieces popular with Chinese consumers.

Chinese appetite for Swiss luxury watches has exploded in recent years, boosting sales at industry leaders Swatch Group (UHR.VX) and Richemont (CFR.VX).

But growth, particularly in top-end watches, has ground to a halt as the Chinese economy loses steam and a crackdown on giving expensive gifts as favours hurts demand.

China Haidian, which bought Swiss watch brand Eterna in 2011, said on Wednesday it was acquiring Corum Watches for 86 million Swiss francs ($90.8 million) to develop its Swiss brand portfolio and attract more Chinese customers.

“We may consider additional acquisitions in the future to grow our business if an opportunity arises,” Hon Kwok Lung, chairman of China Haidian, said on Friday in written answers to questions from Reuters.

He said no purchases were planned for now.

Hon said China Haidian wanted to use its retail network in China to help distribute and market Corum watches in China, as it did with Eterna.

Eterna has said its revenue grew in 2012, but product and market development costs brought it a net loss of HK$69.28 million. It expects Eterna to break even in a couple of years.”

via China Haidian may buy more watchmakers after Corum | Reuters.


* China agrees $8bn Airbus plane deal

BBC: “China has agreed to buy 60 planes from European firm Airbus, in a deal worth $8bn (£5.2bn) at list prices.

French President Francois Hollande and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands

It is the first such deal since the European Union suspended the inclusion of foreign airlines in its controversial Emissions Trading Scheme.

China had voiced its opposition to the scheme, which charges airlines for the carbon they emit.

Last year, Airbus had alleged that China blocked firms from purchasing its planes amid the row over the scheme.

The deal was signed as part of a series of agreements during French President Francois Hollande’s two-day visit to China.

It includes an order for 42 Airbus A320 aircraft and 18 A330 planes.”

via BBC News – China agrees $8bn Airbus plane deal.


* Turkey becomes partner of China, Russia-led security bloc

One day Europe may well come to regret not wqelcoming Turkey into the EU.

Reuters: “NATO member Turkey signed up on Friday to became a “dialogue partner” of a security bloc dominated by China and Russia, and declared that its destiny is in Asia.

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the Global Alcohol Policy Symposium in Istanbul April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“This is really a historic day for us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty after signing a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev.

“Now, with this choice, Turkey is declaring that our destiny is the same as the destiny of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries.”

China, Russia and four Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – formed the SCO in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.”

via Turkey becomes partner of China, Russia-led security bloc | Reuters.

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