Posts tagged ‘Bill Gates’


When It Comes to Mandarin, Bill Gates Is No Mark Zuckerberg – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Two years ago, Bill Gates admitted one of his life regrets was never becoming conversant in any foreign language.

Mr. Gates, 61 years old, has made some progress. Over the weekend, he gave a 12-word welcome in Mandarin in an opening video for his new blog on Chinese social network WeChat.

“Hello,” he said in Chinese. “Welcome to my official WeChat account.”

Mr. Gates is the latest U.S. tech executive to risk ridicule by speaking publicly in Chinese, joining Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Uber’s Travis Kalanick. But his brief, accented remarks made clear that while he might rival Mr. Zuckerberg in entrepreneurship and philanthropy, the Microsoft Corp. founder is a less formidable challenger in Chinese oration.

“His Chinese pronunciation is not quite as good as Zuckerberg’s,” announced China’s official Global Times newspaper on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Chinese viewers online gave mixed reviews, with some encouraging his effort (“Great!”) and others panning it (“There appears to be a big difference between his Chinese and English”).

Mr. Gates had praised Mr. Zuckerberg’s fluency in Chinese as “incredible” in a 2015 Reddit question-and-answer session.“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” wrote Mr. Gates in the Reddit Q&A. “I took Latin and Greek in high school and got As and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get time to study one of these—probably French because it is the easiest.”

Mr. Gates’s attempt at Chinese was occasioned by the launch of his new WeChat account “gatesnotes.” In China, public figures often use WeChat official accounts to share their opinions and musings with fans. For foreign business leaders, WeChat has become a go-to option as both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. Mr. Gates’ new WeChat account appears to be a Chinese version of his English blog by that name.

Mr. Gates was an early adopter of Chinese social media, launching an account on microblogging platform Weibo in 2010, where he has posted sporadically. He now has 3.2 million Weibo followers compared with 33 million on Twitter.

The new WeChat account isn’t verified but claims to be the official account for Mr. Gates. It was set up by Bridge Consulting Co. Ltd., a Chinese joint venture of international health consulting company Global Health Strategies. Global Health Strategies lists the Gates Foundation as a client and donor on its website.

The WeChat account said Mr. Gates will use the space to share his thoughts on people he meets, books he has read and lessons learned, with topics ranging from health to energy and resources. It had drawn more than 100,000 views and over 9,000 “likes” by late Monday, although the only content so far is the welcome video and a note saying regular posts will begin Tuesday.

Bridge Consulting describes its mission as “shaping and promoting the images of international celebrities on Chinese social media”, according to a job ad posted by the company.

Andre Shen, a former media consultant with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in China, is listed as founder of the company, according to regulatory filings. Mr. Shen said in an email he had to check with Mr. Gates’s team in Seattle before making any public statements.

Chinese has become increasingly popular among U.S. entrepreneurs as they seek to get a foot in the door of the world’s biggest internet market. Facebook appears to be in the lead, with Mr. Zuckerberg giving bravura performances such as a half-hour-long speech in Mandarin in Beijing. Facebook Senior Vice President Vaughan Smith and incoming virtual reality chief Hugo Barra have also studied the language.

So far, Uber’s Mr. Kalanick is closer to Mr. Gates than Mr. Zuckerberg in Mandarin prowess, though he has peppered his English speeches in Beijing with the occasional Chinese phrase, like “Hello, students”, to cheers from the crowd.

Source: When It Comes to Mandarin, Bill Gates Is No Mark Zuckerberg – China Real Time Report – WSJ


China Sends Carbon Fight Into Orbit – China Real Time Report – WSJ

As the climate-change community watches whether President-elect Donald Trump will retreat from U.S. greenhouse-gas commitments, China signaled it is charging ahead, launching a satellite to monitor rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

The move comes after a week when a thick blanket of smog hung over much of northern China, forcing the government to shut schools and businesses.

The launch of the satellite known as TanSat, reported early Thursday by state media, marks a renewed effort by the world’s biggest emitter to better understand and track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. It also reflects the bigger role China aims to play in shaping the global response to climate change at a time the incoming U.S. administration voices skepticism about the Paris accord enacted this year to control and reduce carbon emissions.

“It’s a significant step in terms of being an indicator of China investing large amounts of resources and energy to understand the science behind climate change and carbon emissions,” said Ranping Song, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute in Washington.

The 1,400 pound satellite will orbit more than 400 miles above the earth for the next three years, said Yin Zengshan, the TanSat project’s chief designer, according to Xinhua News Agency, and follows similar projects by the U.S. and Japan to track global carbon levels from monitoring in space.

The satellite—in development for nearly six years—collects independent carbon data. Loaded with sensitive equipment that reads changes in atmospheric CO2 levels to within 1%, TanSat will take carbon readings every 16 days.

As a result, it could help “double check” emissions data reported by countries world-wide, said Mr. Song. Emissions accounting today still largely relies on estimates from energy-consumption statistics. The satellite readings would be a source of independent data for Chinese policy makers.

China has been trying to raise its image in the global climate-change debate, wanting to appear active in aiding global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rather than serving as an obstacle. It has already pledged to peak and begin reducing its carbon emissions by 2030 as part of a deal reached with the U.S. in 2014. Yet it also comes against a more complicated backdrop today, with Mr. Trump’s incoming administration promising to boost production of polluting fossil fuels including coal.

Mr. Trump’s pledge ahead of the election to “cancel” the U.S. commitment to the global climate pact that entered force this year has worried Chinese officials. Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate-change affairs, has urged Mr. Trump to adhere to what China views as a global trend toward cutting emissions.

Under Mr. Trump, many in the U.S. environmental community fear funding for climate-change research could be hacked. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has even vowed to launch the state’s own monitoring satellite if budgets get chopped.

“If Trump turns off the satellite,” Mr. Brown said this month, “California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect the data.”

In effect, the Chinese satellite could help add more “eyes in the sky” for monitoring carbon levels in the atmosphere, and serve as a complement to the existing data already being collected by the U.S. and Japan. Xinhua quoted officials as saying China was prepared to share its new data with researchers world-wide.

“Since only the United States and Japan have carbon-monitoring satellites, it is hard for us to see firsthand data,” Xinhua quoted Zhang Peng, vice director of China’s National Satellite Meteorological Center, as saying. “The satellite has world-wide scope and will improve data collection.”

Source: China Sends Carbon Fight Into Orbit – China Real Time Report – WSJ


China plans hike in cigarette taxes, prices to deter smokers | Reuters

China is considering raising cigarette prices and taxes, a health official said on Wednesday, as the world’s largest tobacco consumer fights to stub out a pervasive habit.

A man flicks ashes from his cigarette over a dustbin in Shanghai January 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Aly Song

Smoking is a major health crisis for China, where more than 300 million smokers have made cigarettes part of the social fabric, and millions more are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Campaigners for tougher curbs face hurdles, but reforms of the tax system offer China an opportunity to rein in tobacco use, Yao Hongwen, a spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told a news conference.



“Our country is deepening reforms of the tax system,” he said. “We believe this presents a hard-to-come-by historic opportunity to implement a tax hike for tobacco control.”

via China plans hike in cigarette taxes, prices to deter smokers | Reuters.


Can Jack Ma’s Alibaba Fortune Jump-Start Chinese Philanthropy? – Businessweek

Harvard just announced its largest-ever donation: a $350 million unrestricted gift to its School of Public Health. The donor is Hong Kong-based Morningside Foundation, led by two brothers who earned their fortunes in real estate, private equity, and venture capital. One brother, Gerald Chan, earned a graduate degree from Harvard. The school will be renamed in honor of their late father as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jack Ma on July 15

Greater China is home to 358 billionaires (including 64 Hong Kong billionaires), according to the 2014 Hurun Global Rich List. Yet with a few exceptions—including the Harvard gift and Chinese tech titans’ recent fondness for the ice bucket challenge—a culture of domestic philanthropy has been relatively slow to take root. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet hosted a lavish 2010 dinner in Beijing intended to encourage the Chinese elite to embrace philanthropy, but several tycoons snubbed the Americans’ invitations and declined to open their wallets.

Now, at last, China has a powerful homegrown evangelist for philanthropy: Jack Ma. As co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which filed paperwork last week to raise as much as  $21.2 billion in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, he is one of China’s most respected and closely watched tycoons—and he’s publicly embracing a culture of giving.

Ma joined Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai earlier this year in establishing a personal philanthropic trust to be “funded by share options granted by Alibaba … for approximately two percent (2%) of Alibaba’s equity,” according to a statement. The trust will focus on the “environment, medicine, education, and culture.” In Ma’s words, “Alibaba was founded 15 years ago with a mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere’ and a set of principles and values that emphasize our responsibility to society. Giving back to society is deeply embedded in Alibaba’s culture.”

The total value of the fund will depend on the performance of Alibaba’s upcoming IPO. If the company is valued at $120 billion, or more, the charitable trust will be worth at least $2.4 billion.

via Can Jack Ma’s Alibaba Fortune Jump-Start Chinese Philanthropy? – Businessweek.


Philanthropy: China’s Carnegie | The Economist

“THE problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth,” wrote Andrew Carnegie in 1889. More than a century later, the citizens of supposedly Communist China could hardly disagree. Carnegie, one of the wealthiest men of America’s Gilded Age, soon set about giving his money away, and on April 24th Jack Ma, one of the wealthiest men of China’s Gilded Age, suggested he would start to do the same. Mr Ma and Joseph Tsai, co-founders of Alibaba, an online marketplace, announced the creation of philanthropic trusts that could be worth as much as $3 billion. “Somebody has to do something,” says Mr Ma of China’s environmental and health-care problems. “Our job is to wake people up.”

It is easy to be cynical about this. The gift is a move taken straight out of a Silicon Valley public-relations playbook, ahead of Alibaba’s expected initial public offering this year, which could value the company at $150 billion. But it could still have a remarkable effect not just on China’s fast-expanding class of super-rich, but also on its government.

China’s wealthy are a notoriously stingy lot. When two of America’s best-known philanthropists, Bill Gates, who has advised Mr Ma, and Warren Buffett, visited the country in 2010, a meeting they held was notable for the number of Chinese tycoons who stayed away. Of 122 billionaires around the world who have signed the Giving Pledge promoted by Messrs Buffett and Gates, promising to give away half their wealth by the end of their lives, not a single one is Chinese, even though China now has 358 billionaires, one-fifth of the global total.

The main reason for this is fear: many have made their money in the shadows of a supposedly socialist country, so few of China’s rich are keen to identify themselves publicly. China’s princelings, related to the leadership, are often the least enthusiastic of all, especially when the regime of Xi Jinping, China’s president, is condemning corruption, albeit selectively. Having made his money more publicly, Mr Ma may be an exception, but his foundation still adds pressure on other Chinese tycoons. Mr Xi should help, by publicly applauding Mr Ma and by making all donations tax-deductible.

It is also a prompt for Mr Xi to promote civil society. With its countryside teeming with poor children needing education and old people needing health care, the regime has decided to give non-governmental organisations (NGOs) more freedom to operate, under party scrutiny. Mr Xi needs to let them play a larger, more independent role. This highlights the party’s central dilemma: it is scared of allowing independent groups of citizens to flourish and help solve problems, and yet that is exactly what China needs. As long as civil society is kept weak, China’s social problems will get worse. Passing a new charity law, stalled for years, to clarify charities’ legal status would be a useful step in the right direction.

The question for Mr Ma is how far he is prepared to nudge the regime in this direction. His public stance is, sensibly, that he wants to work with the government, not confront it. But the areas he is likely to focus on—education, health care and the environment—matter enormously, and technology can spur political change. Mr Ma recently launched kits for smartphone users to crowdsource data on poor water quality across China, a sly dose of insurrection. Carnegie became famous not just for the money he gave away and the example he set to other philanthropists, but for the way he prompted the American government to embrace education, civic programmes and social reform. Mr Ma’s money and example can do the same for China, if only the Communist Party will allow it.

via Philanthropy: China’s Carnegie | The Economist.

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U.S. engine maker backed by Bill Gates forms second China venture | Reuters

The FAW subsidiary, First Auto Works Jingye Engine Company, is investing more than $200 million in the venture, BEM (Shanxi) Co, which aims to begin building an advanced engine designed by EcoMotors in 2015 in China’s Shanxi province.

Image representing EcoMotors as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

FAW’s manufacturing partners in China include Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and General Motors Co (GM.N).

It is the second China venture for EcoMotors, a suburban Detroit startup, which announced a similar deal last April with China’s Zhongding Power. The privately held Chinese firm plans to ramp up production this year in Anhui province, supplying engines for use in commercial and off-road vehicles.

Both China ventures will build EcoMotors’ OPOC engine, which is more compact than conventional gas and diesel engines of similar power. It is also said to be cheaper and to deliver higher fuel economy and fewer emissions.

via U.S. engine maker backed by Bill Gates forms second China venture | Reuters.

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Microsoft Names Satya Nadella as CEO – India Real Time – WSJ

Microsoft Corp. has named company veteran Satya Nadella as its next chief executive, an appointment that comes as the software giant faces competition across all fronts of its business.

The company also said founder Bill Gates, who previously was chairman, moves to a new role on the board as technology adviser and will devote more time to the company, supporting Mr. Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. John Thompson, who was formerly the lead director, will become chairman.

Mr. Nadella’s naming to the post, effective immediately, makes him the third CEO since the Redmond, Wash., company was founded in 1975. He succeeds Steve Ballmer, who in August announced his plans to retire. Mr. Ballmer was originally handed the reins in 2000 when founder and college friend Bill Gates stepped aside after 25 years.

The appointment of Mr. Nadella, who is 46 years old and leads the Microsoft division that makes technology to run corporate computer servers and other back-end technology, will be considered a safe choice. He has signaled a desire for continuity, telling directors that, as CEO, he hopes to lean on Mr. Gates, according to several people familiar with the matter. Little in Mr. Nadella’s public history at Microsoft suggests he will break from the company’s pattern as a fast follower, rather than a trend setter.

via Microsoft Names Satya Nadella as CEO – India Real Time – WSJ.

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Reimagining India | McKinsey & Company

India’s rising economy and burgeoning middle class have earned it a place alongside China as one of the world’s indispensable emerging markets. But what is India’s true potential? And what can be done to unlock it?

Reimagining India

In Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower, McKinsey brings together leading thinkers from around the world to explore and debate the challenges and opportunities facing the country. The book’s contributors include CNN’s Fareed Zakaria; Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates; Google chairman Eric Schmidt; Mukesh Ambani, the CEO of India’s largest private conglomerate; Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria; and Nandan Nilekani, cofounder of Infosys and chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, as well as a host of other leading executives, entrepreneurs, economists, foreign-policy experts, journalists, historians, and cultural luminaries.

As the foreword notes, “While McKinsey consultants have contributed a few essays to this volume, Reimagining India is not the product of a McKinsey study; neither is it meant as a ‘white paper’ nor coherent set of policy proposals. Rather, our aim was to create a platform for others to engage in an open, free-wheeling debate about India’s future.”

via Reimagining India | McKinsey & Company.


* Toilets Become a Battle Cry in India

NY Times: “You could be forgiven for thinking that safety is the top concern for travelers brave enough to venture on Indian railways. It’s not. Unclean toilets appear to be their main grouse, according to a recent survey.

Across India, toilets appear to be the new battleground on which wars are being waged, whether it’s about hygiene, austerity, gender equality or corruption.

On India Ink, we’ve previously written how sanitation is a dump in India, with more than half of all households having no toilet facilities.

Even Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest people, has made his new mission to “reinvent the toilet.” “One of my ultimate dreams now is to reinvent the toilet — find a cheaper alternative to the flush toilet that does not require running water, has smell characteristics better than the flush toilet and is cheap,” he told the Times of India newspaper.

But it’s mostly the women in India who are paying a price for toilets -– literally. On Thursday Jim Yardley wrote in The New York Times that unlike men, many women in Mumbai often have to pay to urinate –- an injustice that has started a “Right to Pee” campaign.

Toilets have also been flushed into the austerity debate last week, when India’s Planning Commission ran up a 3 million rupee, or $54,100, bill for renovating the toilets at its headquarters, a move viewed by some as lavish and a drain on public funds. That was followed by news that the western state of Goa had given 2 million rupees, or $35,700, to build a single air-conditioned toilet in the constituency of the former chief minister of the state.

Think that raises a stink? In India, where the government is reeling with corruption scandals, the innocuous toilet made a brief swirl when many reportedly went missing. According to an April report in an Indian daily, the Telegraph, the federal government says it delivered about 87.1 million toilets to households across villages over the last decade. But the census shows that only about 51.6 million had toilets in 2011. That’s a case of 35 million missing toilets.”

via Toilets Become a Battle Cry in India –

Another example of discrimination against women in India.  See:

See also: Will India overtake China in 25 years?

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