Archive for August, 2013


China’s Rich Want Their Say on Policy Reform

BusinessWeek: “Pan Shiyi is a real estate tycoon whose company Soho China has built some of the most fashionable developments in the country. Pan has a political side, too, which he expresses in a blog followed by 16 million Chinese. After Pan posted a call for increased transparency on how authorities monitor pollution, the governments of Beijing and 73 other cities started releasing more daily pollution data. He was also invited to tour the offices of the environmental protection agency for Beijing after a heated online exchange with its spokesman.

He Di co-founded the Boyuan Foundation

Such an episode would have been unthinkable in China 10 years ago, given the tight censorship. But China now has an emerging business class that wants to influence the debate on pollution, economic reform, U.S.-China relations, and broader political change. Some, such as Pan and Lee Kai-Fu, ex-head of Google China (GOOG), use the Internet to spread their views. Others, including the founders of the Boyuan Foundation, take an institutional approach to reform and seek ways to engage the government. Most of these executive-activists back what’s known in China as universal values—the rule of law, free markets, and freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.

Lee’s two microblogs have more than 66 million followers, an audience nearly as big as the Communist Party’s membership. In between notes on his family, Lee points out cases of corruption and censorship and advocates greater freedom of expression. In the past half year, the government imposed a temporary gag on his social media activities after he criticized the state’s backing of a search engine run by the People’s Daily. (Lee is back blogging.) An army colonel has accused Lee of being an American spy.”

via China’s Rich Want Their Say on Policy Reform – Businessweek.

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To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America’s Trash Is Treasure

BusinessWeek: “Just before 8 a.m., Johnson Zeng eases his rented Chevrolet into a space in front of Cash’s Scrap Metal & Iron in St. Louis. He’s in the market to buy scrap metal he can ship to China, and this is the first stop of the day in the middle of a two-and-a-half-week road trip to regular suppliers that started in Albuquerque and will end in Spartanburg, S.C. But that, Zeng says, is nothing. “My last trip with Homer,” he recalls, referring to Homer Lai, the scrap importer in China’s Guangdong Province who provides him with most of his business, “we drove 9,600 miles in 26 days.”

To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure

The result? Millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars left the U.S. for China.

Zeng is one Chinese trader, in one rental car, traveling across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 other Chinese traders like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper.”

via To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America’s Trash Is Treasure – Businessweek.

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European Nations Woo Chinese Home Buyers With Visas

BusinessWeek: “Southern Europe’s cash-strapped governments are wooing wealthy home buyers from overseas by offering so-called golden visas to purchasers of high-end properties. Portugal, Greece, and Cyprus are offering temporary-residency permits to foreign investors, and Spain is about to kick off its program. The main targets are wealthy Chinese, who have been snapping up properties from Vancouver to London as Beijing tightens controls on real estate speculation on the mainland. Luis Hortelão, a broker with Re/Max in Lisbon, says his Chinese clients “know exactly what they want: a modern property to rent out during their absence and a visa to travel in Europe.”

Limassol, Cyprus

In Portugal buyers must pay a minimum of €500,000 ($670,000) for a property to be eligible for a five-year residency permit. A total of 102 visas has been granted since the program began last year, according to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, mostly to Chinese buyers. Edmund Zhao, a real estate developer from Hangzhou in eastern China, expects to receive his permit any day now after paying €700,000 for an apartment in the resort town of Cascais. Zhao must spend at least seven days in Portugal during the first year and 14 days every two years thereafter. His visa will also let him travel freely through the Schengen Area, made up of 26 European countries that have abolished immigration controls at their borders. “I want to move there with my wife and parents as soon as possible,” says Zhao, 38, who wants to send his future children to European schools.

Searches for Portuguese properties on, a Chinese real estate website aimed at international home buyers, rose more than threefold from January through April, says Andrew Taylor, its co-chief executive officer. Home prices in Portugal are less expensive than in some parts of China; €300,000 buys a 2,000-square-foot villa facing the sea, according to Wang Ning, a manager in the international property department at SouFun Holdings (SFUN), owner of China’s biggest real estate website. That amount buys a 730-square-foot apartment in central Shanghai.”

via European Nations Woo Chinese Home Buyers With Visas – Businessweek.

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Pricey dollar puts South Africa, Australia on Indian tourists’ maps

Reuters: “When Aparupa Ganguly visited South Africa in 2007, the country’s topography and wildlife made such an impression on the communications professional that she couldn’t wait to come back. Ganguly got her wish six years later – thanks to a stable rand.

Foreign-bound Indian travellers such as Ganguly are realizing that holidaying in countries such as South Africa and Australia offers value for money as their currencies have been largely stable in recent weeks and haven’t appreciated as much against the rupee, when compared to the dollar or the euro.

Data shows the South African rand and the Australian dollar have gained around 10 percent since May, compared to a near 30 percent surge in the U.S. dollar which hit a record high above 68 per rupee on Wednesday.

Ganguly, who accompanied her husband on a business trip to South Africa this month, bought the rand at about 6.2 per rupee and travelled across the Garden Route, a scenic tourist area on the country’s south-eastern coast.

“If the rand would have really gone up, I wouldn’t have accompanied him,” said the 35-year-old  who spent around 230,000 rupees ($3,380) on her trip this month.”

via India Insight.

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Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz sees double-digit growth in China market

Reuters: “Daimler AG‘s Mercedes-Benz expects to see growth of up to 15 percent in China’s luxury car segment this year, a senior executive said, and is trying to grab a bigger share of that market by expanding into the inland-west and smaller cities.

People looks at Mercedes-Benz cars during the the 15th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The company plans to open 75 new dealer outlets this year, nearly half in third- and fourth-tier cities, said China sales head Nicholas Speeks, as part of a broader turnaround plan to reverse its recent struggles in the world’s biggest auto market.

“We are a little bit lagging behind our principal competitors in terms of outlets opening,” Speeks told reporters at a news briefing to outline the German brand’s strategy at the Chengdu auto show on Friday.

“In the past we have been concentrating on Beijing, Shanghai (and other major markets along China’s coast). We recognize one of our shortcomings is the fact that we need to expand our dealer network.”

The network expansion is a key component of Daimler’s (DAIGn.DE) strategic plan to invest 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) in China over the next two years.

It aims to boost sales of Mercedes-Benz cars by a third to more than 300,000 cars a year by 2015, from this year’s forecast sales of 230,000 cars.

If achieved, the target would make China Mercedes-Benz’s biggest market globally. Currently, China is the brand’s No. 3 market behind Germany and the United States.

Speeks said China’s economy remained “fairly healthy”, despite a slowdown in growth.

China’s overall car market was expected to grow about 10 percent, year-on-year, this year, he said. “I think the premium car market will exceed that. It will be solid double-digit growth this year.”

Asked to define that, he said: “13-15 percent growth – somewhere in that ball park.””

via Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz sees double-digit growth in China market | Reuters.


Chinese Students Bolster U.S. College Budgets

NY Times: “Washington Monthly’s annual college issue usually has some fascinating material, and this year is no exception. One example is an article by Paul Stephens on the sharp rise in foreign students on American campuses (to more than 764,000, an increase of roughly 200,000 in less than six years, he says, citing data from the Institute of International Education and the State Department). Many are from wealthy overseas families paying full tuition — and helping to bolster college budgets.

Where are the students coming from? By this reckoning, the bulk of the net increase — more than 160,000 of the 200,000 — has come from China.

Washington Monthly

Mr. Stephens writes:

While administrators promote the diversity and global perspectives these new students bring to campus, it’s clear that such high-minded goals are not the only motivation for enrolling large numbers of foreign students. With state spending on higher education declining sharply over the last five years — it’s down an average of 28 percent nationwide — out-of-state and international students who pay full tuition (and sometimes even additional tuition) have kept these institutions in the black. As state assemblies have cut back, the people of China have picked up the tab.

State Department statistics on F-1 student visas issued to applicants from four selected nations.State Department statistics on F-1 student visas issued to applicants from four selected nations.

via Chinese Students Bolster U.S. College Budgets –


Arijit Banik

Senior Manager, Economics, Pension Monitoring & Hedging at RBC Investor Services


China-India joint anti-terrorism training planned

Xinhua: “China and India will launch joint anti-terrorism training between the two armies within 2013 in southwest China, a spokesman announced on Thursday.

The training, set in Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, has been arranged in accordance with the two armies’ annual military exchange plan, Ministry of National Defence spokesman Yang Yujun said at a news briefing.

The joint training is aimed at increasing mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation and preserving regional peace and stability, Yang said.

Experts from both sides have had two rounds of consultations on the date, assignment and scale of the forces to be involved in the training, he said. “The two defence ministries are keeping in touch on details of the training.”

Yang also slammed comments at the briefing that attempted to provoke tensions between China and India, saying, “It is groundless and shows a lack of good will to use weapons equipment as a pretext to drive a wedge between China and India.”

His remarks were in response to comments alleging India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier obviously targets China and ignites the fiercest arms race the world has ever seen in Asia.

“China and India are partners and close neighbors. Getting along well with each other and achieving co-development is in the fundamental interests of the two peoples,” the spokesman said.”

via China-India joint anti-terrorism training planned – Xinhua |


Bo Xilai on trial: Settling scores

The Economist: “IN A heavily guarded courthouse in the eastern city of Jinan, the trial began on August 22nd of a politician who was once one of China’s most powerful figures. Bo Xilai, who is 64, has been accused of receiving bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power. His downfall in March 2012 caused the greatest political shock of its kind in decades.

That the trial is under way at last is a sign that Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader eight months after Mr Bo disappeared from public view, is confident that he can handle its ramifications. Mr Bo, like Mr Xi, is the son of one of Mao Zedong’s fellow revolutionaries. He remains popular in the parts of China where he has served, including as Communist Party chief in the 29m-strong region of Chongqing in the south-west. He is an icon of diehard Maoists and members of the “new left” who decry China’s move towards money making. Handling Mr Bo’s case without upsetting powerful families and arousing public ire (whether of Mr Bo’s fans or of the many Chinese who are aggrieved at widespread official corruption) has been Mr Xi’s challenge. As the trial began, dozens of supporters gathered nearby. Police dragged several away.

Mr Xi and his colleagues wished to choreograph the proceedings—which at the time of going to press were expected to last just a day or two—with great precision. But Mr Bo, with a characteristic feistiness, queered the pitch from the outset. He denied a charge of bribery involving payments of more than 1.1m yuan ($180,000) from a businessman in the north-eastern city of Dalian. His response to the other charges, including millions of dollars in other kickbacks, are not yet known. Foreign journalists were barred from the trial.

The allegations, even if disagreeable to Mr Bo, would have been tailored to suit all factions—including, to some extent, his own, for Mr Bo had powerful backers, including within the security forces. Speculation has also centred on whether the state tried to secure Mr Bo’s co-operation by promising not to go after his 25-year-old son, Bo Guagua, who was expensively educated in Britain and is now studying in America. The younger Mr Bo may hope one day to to avenge his father’s downfall.

via Bo Xilai on trial: Settling scores | The Economist.


India Rupee Gains 3.5%, Pulls Shares Sharply Higher

WSJ: “India‘s rupee rose 3.5% Thursday, erasing most of the currency’s losses in the previous session when it hit a record low, helped by a central bank step to reduce dollar demand in the spot market.

The sharp rupee recovery also pulled local stocks higher, with the Bombay Stock Exchange‘s S&P BSE Sensex index closing 2.3% up at 18401.04 points. On the National Stock Exchange, the Nifty index gained 2.4% to end at 5409.05 points.

The rupee was at 66.55 to the dollar in late Asian trade Thursday, compared with the record low of 68.80 it hit late in the previous session.

The Reserve Bank of India said late Wednesday that it would sell dollars to the country’s three state-run oil refiners through a designated commercial bank, shifting the bulk of the refiners’ demand for dollars away from the open market. Oil refiners are India’s biggest buyers of dollars, which they use to pay for crude-oil imports.”

via India Rupee Gains 3.5%, Pulls Shares Sharply Higher –

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