Archive for ‘lunar new year’


Smartphone shipments to China hit six-year low in February: market data

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Smartphone shipments to China in February fell to their lowest in six years, market data indicated, as consumers continued to put off handset purchases amid a slowing economy.

Shipments to the world’s biggest smartphone market totaled 14.5 million units, down 19.9 percent from a year ago, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government-affiliated research institute.

That is the lowest since February 2013, when shipments to the China totaled 20.7 million.

Overall consumer purchases typically slow during February as the Chinese spend much of the month with family celebrating the Lunar New Year. But shipments this year fell more than usual as a slowing economy, exacerbated by a Sino-U.S. trade war, hurt demand for gadgets across the board.

Apple cited slowing iPhone sales in China when it took the rare step of cutting its sales forecast earlier this year. The firm then teamed up with China’s Ant Financial and local banks to offer interest-free iPhone financing in its first such move in the country as it looked to boost waning sales.

Several third-party retailers have also offered iPhones at discounted prices.

With smartphone sales expected to stay weak, companies like Chinese market leader Huawei Technologies have aimed to launch more expensive models to corner higher margins.

In 2018, Huawei’s market share of China’s $500-$800 device segment rose to 26.6 percent from 8.8 percent, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple’s share fell to 54.6 percent from 81.2 percent as it launched devices cracking the $1,000 price point, while others released competitive devices for less.

Source: Reuters


China exports saw biggest fall in three years in February

Men stand on a port in ChinaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Chinese exports saw the steepest fall in three years in February, adding to worries about growth in the world’s second largest economy.

Official data show exports from China plunged 20.7% from a year earlier, as its trade war with the US took a toll.

Imports fell 5.2% and the figures sent Asia stock markets sharply lower.

Economists caution the data for the first two months of the year can be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday.

The fall in exports was far bigger than the 4.8% drop forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Imports also saw a sharper than expected fall of 5.2% year-on-year, the data showed.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, Senior China Economist at Capital Economics said even accounting for seasonal distortions, the figures were “downbeat”.

“Tariffs are weighing on shipments to the US,” he wrote in a research note.

The US and China have placed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods since July, casting a shadow over the global economy.

Even though officials have sounded more positive about negotiations with the US recently, failure to achieve a deal would see tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods rise almost immediately and could see the US impose fresh tariffs.

Still, Mr Evans-Pritchard said “broader weakness in global demand means that, even if Trump and Xi finalise a trade deal soon, the outlook for exports remains gloomy.”

The data comes as Beijing this week unveiled $298bn worth of tax cuts to boost slowing growth.

Source: The BBC


Railway trips hit record high in China Saturday

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) — Railway trips in China hit a record high as travelers returned to work after the Spring Festival break, data from the national railway operator showed.

On Saturday, some 13.17 million passenger trips were made by rail, a daily record for the travel rush, up 38.8 percent year on year, according to the China Railway Corporation (CRC).

On Sunday, 12.2 million railway trips are expected to be made as the travel rush continues, the CRC said.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese went back to their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with their families.

The annual travel rush around the festival (chunyun) often puts the transport system to the test.

As more trains have been put into operation, railway transport capacity improved by 5.3 percent this year during the travel rush, according to the CRC.

The Spring Festival travel rush started from Jan. 21 and will last till March 1, with railway trips expected to hit 413 million in total, up 8.3 percent.

Source: Xinhua


China Airlines pilot punished after he’s filmed sleeping in cockpit

  • Middle-aged man seen taking a nap mid-flight said to be senior pilot with the Taiwanese carrier
  • His co-pilot who took the video has also been reprimanded

China Airlines pilot punished after he’s filmed sleeping in cockpit

23 Feb 2019

The video shows the pilot in the cockpit with his head down and eyes closed. Photo:
The video shows the pilot in the cockpit with his head down and eyes closed. Photo:

China Airlines, Taiwan’s biggest carrier, says it has punished a pilot after a video of him taking a nap in the cockpit mid-flight was posted online.

His co-pilot, who filmed the incident, has also been reprimanded, local television station SETN reported.

In the video, a middle-aged man in a pilot uniform and headphones appears to be asleep with his head down and eyes closed while in the cockpit of a Boeing 747.

The footage drew attention after it was shown in a report on Taiwanese TV network EBC on Wednesday. The man was identified as Weng Jiaqi, a senior pilot with almost 20 years of experience who was promoted to chief pilot last year.

Chinese airline Donghai suspends and fines pilot for allowing wife in cockpit

It was unclear when or on which flight the video was filmed, but the airline confirmed that Weng had reported his behaviour and been punished while his co-pilot had been reprimanded for “improper behaviour”, SETN reported.

Weng, who also supervises training, is a short-haul pilot to cities including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Okinawa and Seoul, according to the EBC report.

The China Airlines pilots went on strike on February 8, during the Lunar New Year holiday season. Photo: EPA-EFE
The China Airlines pilots went on strike on February 8, during the Lunar New Year holiday season. Photo: EPA-EFE
The incident comes after the airline last week reached a deal with the pilots’ union to

end a seven-day strike

over working conditions and benefits that forced the cancellation of more than 200 flights.

But China Airlines told EBC that the video was filmed before the pilots walked off the job.

The Taoyuan Union of Pilots began the industrial action on February 8, stranding close to 50,000 passengers and inflicting over NT$500 million (US$16.2 million) in losses on the carrier.

Under a deal signed on February 14, the union agreed not to strike again in the next 3½ years. In return, China Airlines agreed to the union’s main demand to increase the number of pilots on various flights to combat fatigue and improve safety.

Chinese pilots, cabin crew told no more smoking in cockpits on domestic flights

The carrier will roster three pilots on flights of more than eight hours – up from the present two – and will have four pilots on flights over 12 hours, up from three.

China Airlines president Hsieh Shih-chien said the staffing increases were expected to sharply add to the cost of the company’s operations, but the carrier agreed to the terms in the interest of safety.

Source: SCMP


Variety of folk activities staged in China to mark lunar new year



Performers present folk dance at a temple fair in Luquan District of Shijiazhuang, north China’s Hebei Province, Feb. 11, 2019.

Source: Xinhua


China border crossings up over Lunar New Year holiday – Xinhua

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Border crossings into and out of China during the Lunar New Year holiday rose 11 percent to 12.53 million this year from the same 2018 period, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday as the week-long holiday drew to a close.

More than 6.2 million arrivals were recorded, an increase of 9.5 percent, while there were over 6.3 million exits, up 12.5 percent, it said, citing data from the State Immigration Administration.

Chinese residents crossing the border for personal reasons made a combined 7.22 million entries and exits, an increase of nearly 16 percent over the previous year, Xinhua said.

The growth in border crossings during the country’s biggest holiday underscores the rise of Chinese tourism and comes in spite of a slowing economy.

Top overseas destinations for Chinese residents this Lunar New Year were Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Xinhua reported.

In 2017, Chinese people made 143 million international tourist trips and were the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.

The Lunar New Year holiday is one of China’s longest breaks and over 400 million people – more than a quarter of the population – had been expected to travel domestically for family reunions, according to Chinese travel agency Ctrip.

Source: Reuters


Hong Kong holds fireworks show to celebrate Lunar New Year



Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, south China, Feb. 6, 2019, to celebrate the Spring Festival. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

HONG KONG, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) — Spectacular flower patterns of fireworks roared above Victoria Harbor, followed by patterns of green “8” and yellow golden ingots, sending traditional blessings to locals.

It was the opening scene of the fireworks show in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The show started at 8:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, the second day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

A total of 23,888 fireworks lightened up the sky during the 23-minute show.

In one scene, a lot of fireworks went across the harbor with a racing speed effect, as if playing hide-and-seek.

“The scene symbolizes that we should set our goals for the new year and work hard towards goals with faith. Eventually, we will achieve the targets,” said Wilson Mao, CEO of a multi-media production company which designed the firework show.

Another scene echoed the approaching Valentine’s day. It displayed miscellaneous shades of strobes and waterfall-like movements to create heart-thumping effects and send blessings of everlasting love bond.

In the last scene, dazzling fireworks filled the sky with high intensity and lasted for 25 seconds, bringing the show to an end.

A Hong Kong resident surnamed Lo said he enjoyed the show, especially the powerful sounds of the fireworks.

Sharing his wishes for the lunar new year, Lo said he hoped “Hong Kong continues to prosper, and people have good jobs and stay healthy.”

Source: Xinhua


China’s inter-bank payment system passes severe test on Lunar New Year’s eve

BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — China’s inter-bank payment and settlement system passed a tough test on Lunar New Year’s eve as the Chinese zealously snatched lucky money in virtual red envelopes for good fortune.

China UnionPay, a leading payment network, processed inter-bank payment and settlement deals worth 261.7 billion yuan (about 39 billion U.S. dollars) Monday night, the Lunar New Year’s eve, up 81.3 percent from the same day of last year, Shanghai Securities News reported Tuesday on its APP.

The average response time for each deal processed by China UnionPay’s network was only 220 milliseconds, and no deals failed.

Citing sources with China UnionPay, the newspaper said the country’s inter-bank payment system had been “well tested in a reality check.”

As authorized by the People’s Bank of China, China UnionPay handled only a portion of the country’s inter-bank payment and settlement needs during the Spring Festival, which mainly involves the Wechat red packets launched by Tencent and Baidu red packets.

Giving cash in red envelopes (hongbao) is a traditional practice during the Spring Festival and it has been shifting online thanks to the promotion of mobile payment in which people use apps to send, snatch and draw virtual hongbaos on their smartphones.

The digital red envelope race during the Chinese New Year holiday has become a new tradition since Tencent made a splash in 2014 with the hongbao service on its popular instant messaging app WeChat, drawing millions of new users for its mobile payment service.

The race has been particularly fierce this year, as more tech giants lavished lucky money to attract mobile users.

Chinese artificial intelligence giant Baidu, for instance, took the lead this year by preparing a record high of 1.9 billion yuan (281.7 million U.S. dollars) for digital red envelopes after becoming the exclusive red envelope partner of the China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala, the most-watched annual show on Chinese New Year eve.

Alibaba continued its game of collecting five blessings to share the lucky money of 500 million yuan, while Weibo prompted users to retweet certain posts to share 100 million yuan. Many firms put 2,019 yuan into red envelopes as the biggest prize.

Tencent also rolled out a specific hongbao service for firms to give red envelopes to their employees in its latest efforts to boost services for corporate customers.

Douyin, a leading Chinese short-video platform, jumped onto the wagon by partnering with the CCTV gala and launching a red envelope game worth 500 million yuan in total, in an effort to encourage users to send short-video new year greetings to expand on its already 500-million-plus monthly active users.

Compared to the everyday needs for inter-bank payment and settlement, the Spring Festival holiday is much more demanding as a larger amount of deals under more diverse trading scenarios need to be processed concurrently, according to sources with China UnionPay.

Apart from red packet deals, online and offline payment concerning dining, transportation, shopping in department stores, currency conversion, cross-border withdrawals and remittance, centralized receiving and payment and other kinds of deals saw a substantial growth during the holiday.

To cope with the demand, China UnionPay said it had established one-for-one real-time communication and response mechanism with key commercial banks and payment institutions and monitored the transaction processing under all sorts of trading scenarios.


Rail travel demand remains robust on Lunar New Year’s eve

BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) — China’s railway system continued to see a surge in passengers on Monday, the Lunar New Year’s eve, as Chinese rushed home for family gathering.

Chinese railway network is expected to see 5.48 million trips on Sunday, up 3.6 percent year on year. Nearly 270 extra trains will be put into service to meet the booming travel demand.

About 9.3 million train trips were made on Saturday, up 5.4 percent year on year.

The Spring Festival travel rush started from Jan. 21 and will last till March 1, during which railway trips are expected to hit 413 million in total, up 8.3 percent from a year ago.

Air travel demand also boomed in recent weeks. From Jan. 21 to Feb. 3, China Eastern Airlines sent almost 2 million passengers, up 8 percent year on year.

According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, the Year of the Pig starts on Feb. 5, and the public holiday associated with it lasts from Feb. 4 to 10.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese return to their hometowns for family gathering during the holiday.

Source: Xinhua


Year of the Pig: Is it really a problem for Muslims?

Malay teachers in Kuala Lumpur pose at a Chinese calligraphy event in conjunction with the upcoming Year of the PigImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMuslim teachers attend a Chinese calligraphy event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to mark the Year of the Pig

Communities around the world are gearing up to celebrate the lunar new year, which this time ushers in the Year of the Pig.

New Year celebrations usually mean the animal is depicted everywhere – in decorations, toys, gifts and advertising.

But the pig, the last animal on the Chinese zodiac calendar, is considered unclean by Muslims and a sin to consume. So does this cause problems for people celebrating lunar new year in Muslim-majority countries in South East Asia?

Like most Chinese-Malaysian families, the lunar new year is serious business for the Chow family, who live in the sleepy town of Batu Pahat in Johor, Malaysia.

This year is particularly significant because Chow Yoon Kee, his wife Stella and their daughter were all born in pig years.

“We will display lots of lucky pig ornaments at home and of course, have our relatives, friends, workers and neighbours over to visit, no matter what race or religion. Celebrations are for all,” said Mr Chow, a floor manager at a local biscuit factory.

He isn’t worried about his celebrations offending fellow residents as he believes there is no sign of new year controversy.

“There was a lot of fuss last year,” he recalls, when it was the Year of the Dog, also seen as impure animals by some Muslims.

A Muslim woman walks past a golden canine statue ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur's ChinatownImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMalaysian authorities trod cautiously last year, being careful not to overdo the canine decorations

Malaysia is multicultural but the official religion is Islam, and there have been increasing reports of intolerance towards activities and actions considered insulting to Muslims.

So many shops and merchants avoided using images of dogs in fear of offending Muslim communities.

But Mr Chow feels local authorities have overlooked the feelings of the Chinese community, who actually celebrate the holiday.

“Malaysia is a country made up of many races, it isn’t just Malay Muslims. We have Chinese and Indian communities too, as well as other religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism so we should be respecting each other’s beliefs and celebrations.”

But he adds that “the spirit of censorship” did not seem to carry on into the pig year.

Pig decorations for the upcoming Lunar New Year in Chinatown, SingaporeImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThat’s some pig! Celebrations are under way in Chinatown, Singapore

Each animal of the Chinese zodiac is believed to have its own unique traits and qualities. Those born in the year of the pig are said to be intelligent, compassionate and loyal.

Does it matter if one’s zodiac animal isn’t welcome?

“There’s absolutely no reason to worry,” said Kuala Lumpur-based Feng Shui consultant Joey Yap. He told the BBC there didn’t seem to be any sensitivities around celebrations in Malaysia this year, compared to last.

A woman at a shop selling Lunar New Year decorations in Jakarta, IndonesiaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionRed decorations galore in Jakarta’s Chinatown

“Pigs will be fine,” he said, adding that whether you display objects or not “does not affect one’s personal luck”.

“Colours, emblems; they all aren’t important. In reality, one’s luck all boils down to one’s actions, so embrace positivity,” he said.

‘The first pigs Muslims can eat’

Even though it’s the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the lunar new year is a national holiday in Indonesia. Public celebrations are widely accepted – lanterns, colourful parades and performances are often seen in many cities.

Merry Olivia in Jakarta said her Muslim friends welcomed the image of pigs.

Pig shaped cookiesImage copyrightDAPUR MAMA LOE
Image captionBaker Valeria Rita says her special cookies were a holiday hit with Muslim customers

“I grew up with many Indonesian Muslims so I know pigs will not make them feel uneasy,” she said, adding that the creatures looked more “festive” than other zodiac animals.

“If you compare pigs with snakes, pigs are more adorable so people would rather buy decorations embellished with them. Not many people in Jakarta like snakes.”

Baker Valeria Rita was rolling out special treats in time for the new year: pig shaped cookies with sweet pineapple jam fillings.

She said the response had been really good. “Orange or tangerine is a popular symbol for the lunar new year. This year, we decided to create pig-shaped treats and the quota for pre-orders was full within two weeks.”

Many of her customers are also Muslim.

“They buy my cookies for Chinese colleagues and friends who celebrate the holiday. Some also order for themselves because they like the pigs,” she said, sharing a joke made by her best friend, also a Muslim. “My goodies were the first pigs Muslims are allowed to eat.”

‘I don’t want to offend’

But it’s a different situation for 24-year-old Rangga Sastrajaya, from Bogor city. He bought pig toys and decorations but remains cautious in displaying them openly as he feels many Indonesians still do not accept cultural diversity.

“I could wear pig shirts or display pig-themed decorations at home but I will be quite careful in showing them off in public because I do not want to offend anyone,” he admitted.

A man rubs his hands on a sculpture of a pig for good luckImage copyrightAFP
Image captionWill the new year spirit provoke widespread resentment among conservative Muslims?

But there are those who condemn the festivities. Forum Muslim Bogor (FMB), a conservative Islamic organisation in West Java, released a letter demanding the cancellation of festivities. They said it was “inappropriate” for Muslims because it could “undermine Islamic faith”.

Their actions follow other groups like Pemuda Pancasila (PP) and the Malayan Persatuan Forum Komunikasi Pemuda Melayu (PFKPM), who previously condemned the celebrations by Chinese communities.

Ahok in the Mako Brimob prisonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionIn 2017 Chinese-Christian Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was jailed for blasphemy against Islam

Analyst Thung Ju-Lan from the Indonesian Institute of Science considers such sentiments the “impact of intolerant and political narratives”, the same kind which rocked Jakarta two years ago.

Massive protests took place against former governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent who was found guilty of blasphemy – a trial seen as a test of Indonesia’s religious tolerance.

“It is the impact of the gubernatorial election in Jakarta, in Ahok’s case. The same sentiment has been spreading,” she told the BBC.

“The problem of intolerance continues because we have narrow understandings of what is actually happening. The more we do not understand, the more intolerant we are.”

In the case of celebrating the lunar new year, many Indonesian Muslims feel it is “more religious than cultural”.

But one politician has spoken out in defence of the Chinese community. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin encouraged beliefs of people from different cultures, faiths, and traditions to be respected.

“Regardless of what people understand about such celebrations, I invite all to respect tradition,” he said.

Source: The BBC

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