Posts tagged ‘European Union’

01/12/2016

As Trump retreats, Xi Jinping moves to upgrade China’s global power play | South China Morning Post

With US president-elect Donald Trump threatening to build a wall on the Mexican border and force Asian allies to increase defence spending, Beijing is busy luring countries across the eastern hemisphere into its orbit.

President Xi Jinping, who is consolidating his power at home, is planning to host a big “One Belt, One Road” summit in China next year, sources close to the central government told the South China Morning Post, adding that the event would match, if not exceed, the scale of this year’s G20 summit in Hangzhou, which attracted about 30 state leaders.

China plans US$2 billion film studio and ‘One Belt, One Road’ theme park

At a time when established world powers are struggling with domestic problems, Xi sees a chance to push ahead with his oddly worded brainchild, a geopolitical push to extend Beijing’s influence to remote corners of the globe.

The belt and road initiative encompasses 65 countries including China, stretching through Southeast, South, Central and West Asia to the Middle East, Africa and East and Central Europe.

However, with globalisation facing increasing scrutiny and electoral scepticism in developed countries, it’s doubtful whether a one-party state with its own deep-rooted economic woes will be able to bind countries together through a programme viewed by critics as a Chinese plot to export its infrastructure and influence.

In addition, China’s shrinking foreign exchange reserves, the falling value of its currency and a tightening of central government control on big overseas investments have raised questions about whether there will be sufficient funds to grease China’s ambitions.

Hong Kong trade presence needed in ‘One Belt, One Road’ cities

The belt and road initiative was launched by Xi in 2013 as an attempt to boost connectivity between China and other countries along the ancient land-based and maritime Silk Roads through trade and infrastructure projects, including high-speed railway lines and energy pipelines. But the wave of populist, anti-globalisation reflected in Trump’s stunning victory in last month’s US presidential election has put its smooth implementation in doubt.

Previous Chinese infrastructure projects overseas, including energy- and resource-related ones in Africa, have triggered resentment in local communities, with Beijing accused of exploitation and failing to benefit local workers.

Even though an increasing number of key US allies, such as Canada and Britain, have joined the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), set up as part of the belt and road initiative, mistrust over Beijing’s efforts to extend its geopolitical influence are mounting.

James McGregor, greater China chairman of APCO Worldwide, a public relations and consulting firm, said the level of cooperation between Beijing and the incoming Trump administration would be crucial in determining the success of the belt and road initiative.

One of Trump’s policy advisers, former CIA director James Woolsey, has described the current Obama administration’s opposition to the AIIB as a “strategic mistake”.

How One Belt, One Road is guiding China’s football strategy

“Through OBOR and various diplomatic initiatives, China is seeking to lead peacekeeping and economic development efforts in the region,” McGregor said, referring to the belt and road initiative. “But this will be very difficult if the US and China are not aligned and working together in the region to help provide security and promote peace.“

So if Trump pushes an agenda of confrontation with China in regard to trade and security arrangements in Asia, China will have a more difficult time managing its investments in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.”

But Professor Wang Yiwei, from the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said Trump’s protectionist agenda, most notably with his vow to withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, would provide an opportunity for the belt and road initiative to “fill the gap in the market”.

“For a long time, countries around the world have been following America’s standards and development model. But now even the US itself has suffered from its system,” he said. “The US has not learned its lesson from the financial crisis – it has failed to adjust and reform its industries – and it is now blaming the problem on globalisation.”

Wang said that with the belt and road initiative, China was becoming more resistant to the risk posed by the incoming Trump administration and the anti-globalisation trend sweeping the West.“

[The belt and road initiative] is designed to counter the risk posed by the market in the West,” Wang said.

Long-term planning: China’s 21st century Silk Road strategy will take time to reap rewards

The decrease in America’s purchasing power in the wake of the financial crisis had caused the surplus production capacity in China, he said, and the belt and road initiative was a new way to boost China’s exports.

AIIB president Jin Liqun said in early November that the AIIB was “on track” to meet its big first-year targets, including lending US$1.2 billion by the end of this year. So far it has lent US$829 million to six projects in Pakistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

China invested about US$14.8 billion in 49 countries of the 64 other countries along the Silk Road last year, or 12.6 per cent of the country’s total outbound investment, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The US and the European Union remain the top destinations for Chinese outbound investment, which totalled US$146 billion in the first 10 months of this year.

Whether Chinese companies will be as enthusiastic as they used to be about pouring money into overseas projects remains to be seen, with Beijing banning overseas investment deals of more than US$10 billion until September next year and cracking down on overseas mergers, acquisitions and real estate deals involving more than US$1 billion because of concerns about capital flight.

But economists, citing the unsustainability of a strong US dollar, uncertainty about Trump’s policies and China’s need to push ahead with economic reforms, said the restrictions were more of a short-term constraint than a permanent hurdle.

“Restricting outflows is a step back, but it will not alter China’s long-term direction of capital opening,” said Tim Condon, chief Asian economist at ING.

Professor Zhang Jiadong, a belt and road specialist at Shanghai’s Fudan University, said the impact of foreign exchange controls on the belt and road initiative would be limited.

“Forex controls will mainly affect the speed of approval, but will have little impact on infrastructure investments, which usually involve lengthy preparations for feasibility studies and financing arrangements,” he said.

State-owned enterprises, with their capital size and building expertise, are major participants in the initiative. Foreign exchange clearance is just one of many long regulatory procedures they have to navigate, and they usually needed approval from the state asset watchdog and financial backing from state-owned banks.

“Overall, OBOR investment represents only a small proportion [of their activities],” Zhang said.

Chen Fengying, an economist at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the foreign exchange regulator did not cover belt and road projects.

“Investment in OBOR countries is groundbreaking and needs more government support,” Chen said. “They should be encouraged, rather than regulated.”

The biggest difficulty faced by the belt and road initiative is the need to ease suspicions among countries such as India and Japan, another big investor in Asian development projects, about Beijing’s strategic intentions.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a forum in Beijing on Wednesday that China would be accommodative to the needs of different nations in pushing ahead with the belt and road initiative. The AIIB is regarded as a rival to the Japan-led Asian Development Bank and the US-headquartered International Monetary Fund.

Zhang Jianping, an expert on belt and road policy at the National Development and Reform Commission’s Institute for International Economic Research, said mistrust remained a hurdle for China.

“Just because the US withdrew from the TPP doesn’t necessarily mean that its economic power is in decline,” he said. “All the major global financial and investment standards and institutions are still led by the US and Europe. Any attempt by China to rewrite those rules is bound to meet scepticism from the West.”

Observers said investors’ top concerns were returns on investment and safety, and that made developed countries the top destination for market, technology and management expertise, rather than developing countries . They faced bottlenecks in terms of capital, talent and management expertise in belt and road investment, which usually involved labour-intensive manufacturing or resource projects.

Beijing is pushing to build dozens of economic cooperation zones, which will be used to facilitate bilateral trade and investment and potentially draw more private firms. However, more government guidance in terms of policy and financing is needed to help private Chinese firms better integrate into economic development plans in other countries.

Liang Haiming, chief economist at the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, said opportunities were opening up for China.

“The yuan’s depreciation against the US dollar will not affect China’s investment plans in OBOR countries,” he said. “The Chinese currency is actually strengthening against major Southeast Asian currencies.

“The capital flowing from emerging economies to the US will leave a good opportunity for Chinese capital to enter those countries.”

The Post’s annual China Conference in Hong Kong on Friday will bring business leaders and policy advisers together to share their latest insights on the business opportunities and challenges brought about by the belt and road strategy.

Source: As Trump retreats, Xi Jinping moves to upgrade China’s global power play | South China Morning Post

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10/11/2016

Theresa May promises ‘golden era’ in UK-Chinese relations – BBC News

Theresa May has promised to work for a “golden era” in the UK’s relations with China, as the country’s vice-premier visits London for talks.

Ma Kai‘s trip follows Mrs May’s decision after coming to power to delay approval of the part-Chinese-financed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

The project was given the go-ahead, after China warned that “mutual trust” was needed between the countries.

Mr Ma is meeting Chancellor Philip Hammond to discuss investing in the UK.

Speaking before the eighth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue got under way, Mrs May said: “I’m determined that as we leave the European Union, we build a truly global Britain that is open for business.”

As we take the next step in this golden era of relations between the UK and China, I am excited about the opportunities for expanding trade and investment between our two countries.”

‘Mutual benefits’

There will be an announcement that the Chinese contractor CITIC Construction is to invest £200m in the first phase of the £1.7bn London Royal Albert Docks project, headed by the Chinese developer ABP.

Philip Hammond promises ‘constructive’ US talks

And the UK will in turn invest up to £40m in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank based in Beijing, for a fund to help developing countries to prepare infrastructure programmes.

Mr Hammond, who is hosting the Chinese delegation at London’s Lancaster House, said: “The mutual benefits are clear. China is the world’s second-largest economy. UK exports to China have grown rapidly and Britain is home to more Chinese investment than any other European country.”

US President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to apply 45% tariff barriers to Chinese imports in an effort to protect free trade.

Mr Hammond told the BBC: “Britain’s always believed that the best way long-term to protect and promote prosperity is free markets and free trade.”

President Trump has just been elected by the American people. He will want to consult with his advisers, talk to officials and I’m sure we will have a very constructive dialogue, as we do with the Chinese, with the new American administration.”

He added: “It’s about getting the right balance in the global trading system, so that we can have the benefits of open markets, while being properly and appropriately protected.”

One of Mrs May’s first acts on becoming prime minister during the summer was to order a review of the project to build Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, part-financed by China.

Writing in the Financial Times in August, Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said: “If Britain’s openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built.”

Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more.”

The UK government approved Hinkley Point C in September, saying it had imposed “significant new safeguards” to protect national security.

Source: Theresa May promises ‘golden era’ in UK-Chinese relations – BBC News

10/11/2016

PM Modi heads to Japan to seal nuclear deal amid uncertainty over U.S. policy | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed to Japan on Thursday to seal a landmark nuclear energy pact and strengthen ties, as China’s regional influence grows and Donald Trump’s election throws U.S. policies across Asia into doubt.

India, Japan and the United States have been building security ties and holding three-way naval exercises, but Trump’s “America First” campaign promise has stirred concern about a reduced U.S. engagement in the region.

Such an approach by Washington could draw Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe even closer, said foreign policy commentator and former Indian ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar.

Officials in New Delhi and Tokyo said a deal that will allow Japan to supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology is ready for signing after six years of negotiations to find a way around Tokyo’s reservations about such an agreement with a country that has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India says the NPT is discriminatory and it has concerns about nuclear-armed China as well as its long-time rival Pakistan.

Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, has been seeking assurances from New Delhi that it would not conduct nuclear tests any more.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the two sides had reached a broad agreement on nuclear collaboration as early as last December and had since been trying to finalise the document.

A “legal, technical scrub” of the agreed text has now been done, he said, but added that he could not pre-judge the outcome of Modi’s summit talks with Abe over Friday and Saturday.

A Japanese ruling party lawmaker said the two sides will sign an agreement during Modi’s visit. A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment.

JAPANESE AIRCRAFT ALSO DISCUSSED

The nuclear agreement with Japan follows a similar one with the United States in 2008 which gave India access to nuclear technology after decades of isolation.

That step was seen as the first big move to build India into a regional counterweight to China.

India hopes to lift ties with the United States to a new height, Modi said in a message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday.

A final deal with Japan could also benefit U.S. firms.

India is in advanced negotiations with U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, to build six nuclear reactors in southern India, part of New Delhi’s plan to ramp up nuclear capacity more than ten times by 2032.

“Japan is keen to put aside it’s staunch non-proliferation principles and engage with the lucrative Indian programme,” said Manpreet Sethi, nuclear affairs expert at the Centre for Air Power Studies, a New Delhi think-tank.

But the agreement will still have to be ratified by the Japanese parliament, she said.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper said the main accord will likely be accompanied by a separate document stipulating that Tokyo will suspend nuclear cooperation if India conducts a nuclear test. Initially, Japan wanted that inserted into the agreement itself, but India resisted, it said.India has declared a moratorium on such testing since its last explosions in 1998.

The two countries have also been trying to close a deal on the supply of amphibious rescue aircraft US-2 to the Indian navy, which would be one of Japan’s first sales of military equipment since Abe lifted a 50-year ban on arms exports.

India’s Defence Acquisitions Council met earlier this week to consider the purchase of 12 of the planes made by ShinMaywa Industries, but failed to reach a decision.

An Indian government source said opinion within the military was divided over whether to buy the aircraft when it was struggling to find resources to replace ageing and accident-prone submarines and address a shortage of helicopters.

A Japanese defence source said Japan was considering a cost reduction, which would mean a price cut for India as well as for the Japanese navy which it supplies. A US-2 currently costs about 13 billion yen ($123 million).

Source: PM Modi heads to Japan to seal nuclear deal amid uncertainty over U.S. policy | Reuters

07/11/2016

Theresa May Says U.K. May Improve Visa System for Indians – India Real Time – WSJ

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday said the U.K. may make improvements to its visa system for Indians, as she sought to lay the foundations for a future trade deal once Britain leaves the European Union.

On a two-day trip to India focused on trade, Mrs. May, speaking alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the partnership between the U.K. and India was natural, since the countries have shared values and culture. But a key sticking point in U.K.-India relations has been Britain’s reluctance to loosen restrictions for Indians wanting to work or study in the U.K., and this will likely be a difficult point to settle in any free-trade negotiations.

“The U.K. will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the U.K.,” she said.

Mrs. May is unlikely to implement any changes that would result in big increases of Indians entering the U.K. She has said the June vote to leave the EU was underpinned by frustrations about rising levels of immigration and has pledged to reduce numbers.The U.K. is seeking to go beyond its traditional trading partners in Europe as it prepares to leave the European Union. While it can’t finalize trade deals while still a member of the EU, Britain is in preliminary discussions on trade with countries including Australia and India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Any deal is likely to take years to complete.

Source: Theresa May Says U.K. May Improve Visa System for Indians – India Real Time – WSJ

04/11/2016

The Economist explains: Why Britain is wooing India | The Economist

WHEN Britain eventually leaves the European Union it will prosper by trading farther afield. So argues Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, ahead of her first big bilateral trip abroad, a three-day visit to India, which begins on Sunday, November 6th. She talks of forging a “new global role” with this trade mission, hobnobbing with Indian leaders and championing free trade in general. The idea is to promote ties between small and medium businesses in the two countries. Yet creating a stronger economic relationship with India will prove much tougher than Mrs May and her colleagues expect.

On the face of it, the signs are good. India has nearly 1.3bn people. Many are emerging as middle-class consumers for the first time. The country is creating a single market for goods and services, reducing internal and external barriers to trade and tackling some corruption and bureaucracy. Its economy, worth over $2trn, is the fastest-growing large one in the world. It is likely to rattle along quickly for many years to come; by 2030, India could rank as the world’s third-largest. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, wants to make it less difficult for businesses to operate there, and to win more foreign investment and trade deals. British firms are already among the biggest investors. Now India is opening up for foreign activity in sectors that might suit British firms especially: notably in insurance, defence, railways and some retail. At the same time, large Indian firms—such as Tata, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Tata Steel—are in Britain. London has also become a base for Indian firms, for example in business consulting, that tap the wider EU market. A common language, shared cultural, historic, legal and sporting ties, plus the influence of the Indian diaspora in Britain, bode well for closer ties.

Mrs May is thus right to reach out. But anyone expecting quick gains will be disappointed. One of India’s priorities, for example, is avoiding complications over a long-stalled free trade agreement with the EU, which has been under negotiation since June 2007. After 12 rounds of talks, some consensus has been found on issues including trade in rice, sugar, textiles and pharmaceuticals. It is not clear that India’s overstretched trade negotiators will see much benefit in being diverted to work on a deal with Britain alone, especially if that makes it harder to complete one with the bigger EU market. Even if they do decide to talk biltaterally, among the sticking points has been India’s 150% tariff on imports of whisky from Scotland. Future British negotiators would struggle to be more effective than their European counterparts at getting that scrapped. The biggest concern, however, is about Britain’s ever colder shoulder towards Indians who want to travel and study there. Under the Conservatives, Britain has in the past six years become less welcoming to foreigners, notably from South Asia, who hope to attend university and then work. Eye-wateringly expensive visas, increasingly hostile rules to get them, official talk of cracking down on foreign students in Britain, and graduates who lose the right to work after finishing a degree in Britain all leave Indians feeling unwelcome. Anecdotes abound of bright Indian students who win places at the best British universities but are refused visas to travel. Perceptions of generally rising xenophobia in Britain are discouraging to Indians too.

For Mrs May to win a warm welcome in India she needs to offer a message that is not only about investment and trade, but also sets out that Britain—in particular its universities—will again become more open to Indian visitors, migrants, students and their families. America is proving far more successful at attracting the highest-skilled migrants, especially software and other engineers. Other countries, including some in Europe, are rolling out policies to attract more Indian students to their universities. Yet Britain appears more hostile to migrants than it has in many decades. Within a few years, it is worth remembering, India’s economy will be bigger than Britain’s. Welcoming more exchanges of people, as well as encouraging higher levels of trade and investment, would make sense for both sides.

Source: The Economist explains: Why Britain is wooing India | The Economist

14/10/2016

Infosys cuts annual revenue target for 2nd time as U.S. election, Brexit weigh | Reuters

India’s second-largest software services exporter Infosys Ltd cut its fiscal-year revenue growth target for the second time in three months on an uncertain business outlook, sending its shares tumbling more than 5 percent.

Reporting a 6.1 percent rise in second-quarter net profit, Infosys said on Friday it now expected revenue to grow between 8 percent and 9 percent in constant currency terms in the fiscal year to March 31, 2017. Its previous revenue growth target, issued in July, was 10.5-12 percent, already lowered from the up to 13.5 percent it said it expected in April.India’s more-than-$150 billion software services sector depends on North America and Europe for the majority of its revenue. The impending U.S. presidential election and the implications of Britain’s ‘Brexit‘ move to exit the European Union have both weighed on spending by western clients.

Infosys had warned in August it was seeing some “softness” in business after the June Brexit vote in Britain.

Chief Executive Vishal Sikka said in a statement on Friday the revision took into consideration “our performance in first half of the year and the near-term uncertain business outlook”.

After falling as much as 5.3 percent after the guidance cut was announced, Infosys shares were trading 2.6 percent down at 0453 GMT in a Mumbai market that was little changed.

For its fiscal second quarter to Sept. 30, its consolidated net profit rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier to 36.06 billion rupees ($541.51 million), ahead of analysts’ estimates of 35.26 billion rupees. Revenue rose 10.7 percent to 173.1 billion rupees.The company said on Friday it added 78 clients during the three months to September, taking its total number of active clients to 1,136.

($1 = 66.5919 Indian rupees)

Source: Infosys cuts annual revenue target for 2nd time as U.S. election, Brexit weigh | Reuters

03/10/2016

How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

The internet fails to reach millions of women in the small towns and villages of India, so Google is trying to deliver it to them — by bicycle.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has built an army of thousands of female trainers and sent them to the far corners of the Subcontinent on two-wheelers, hoping to give rural woman their first taste of the web. Each bike has a box full of connected smartphones and tablets for women to try and train on.

The idea is to give people who have never even sent an email a better understanding of how being connected could improve their lives. Families that can afford to be online often chose not to be because they do not see the value. Meanwhile women are sometimes blocked by their families from new technology.

ENLARGEA web trainer who is taking part in Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.‘s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Bhagwati Kumari Mahawar got her very first taste of the internet just a month ago.

The 19-year-old used a smartphone Google brought to her remote village in the desert state of Rajasthan to search for designs of mehndi, the elaborate henna designs Indian women get on their hands and feet. Then she looked up information on how to sew a blouse.

ENLARGEBhagwati Kumari Mahawar in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

“I really wanted to learn,” she said, sitting in the shade near the Google bicycle and a water buffalo.In the project, called Internet Saathi, Google partnered with local philanthropy Tata Trusts to show women in rural India how to connect to the web.

Instructors are trained in how the web works, and then are given bicycles with large boxes on the back containing internet-enabled devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system. The newly equipped “saathis” — or “partners” in Hindi — then cycle from village to village providing instruction to their peers.

“I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not,” said the instructor who helped Ms. Mahwar get online, 30-year-old Kamla Devi Mahawar, who is unrelated to her pupil.

She never used the web until she began her Saathi training ten months earlier, but since then has enjoyed showing women how to search for information like recipes and stitching guides, and showing them how to use voice queries if they are unable to type in text.

ENLARGEWomen look at cell phones as part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: NEWLEY PURNELL/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In a demonstration, she sat on the ground while half a dozen women circled around her, watching as she searched for images of nearby temples and forts. Some women want to learn how to use Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service, while others simply want to make phone calls, she said.

Since the program’s launch last year, about 9,000 guides have helped reached 1 million women, Google said, noting that the program fits its mission of helping expand internet access globally.

India is an increasingly important commercial market for the Mountain View, Calif. search titan given its nascent internet economy.

While the country is home to more than 1.2 billion people, consultancy McKinsey & Co. reckons some one billion people still lack regular web access. More online consumers in the years ahead could mean more users of Google’s services, like its search engine, email and Android.

A bike used by an instructor who teaches women how to use the web, part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Last week, at an event in New Delhi, Google executives said they are expanding their efforts to reach Indians with products and features like a new version of its YouTube app designed to work even on India’s often sluggish mobile networks.

Asked how her work with others could be made easier, Ms. Mahwar, the trainer, was quick to point out that better web connectivity is key.

“The internet doesn’t work half the time,” she said. Fixing that “would help a lot.”

Source: How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

15/09/2016

Censors clamp down on China’s ‘Traingate’ – BBC News

In Britain the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn became embroiled in a very public argument with a rail company about whether or not he was able to get a seat on one of its trains – a controversy that quickly acquired the nickname ‘Traingate’.

Now China is experiencing its own Traingate moment, but in this case the official whose behaviour has come under scrutiny seems to be getting help to minimise discussion of his actions.

Chinese government censors are reportedly censoring mentions of Pan Changjie, the Deputy Commander of the People’s Armed Police Force, who it is claimed used his rank to secure first class seats on a high-speed train.

It’s alleged that Pan compounded the offence by refusing to let a passenger sit in her reserved seat during a journey from Tangshan to Dandong. To make matter worse, Communist Party officials are not allowed to travel first class, and so the incident has enraged some online users.

Anjing_BerBer says Pan refused to get out of her reserved seat

However, most posts that mention Pan appear to have been swiftly taken offline.

The allegations surfaced when a woman with the social media handle ‘Anjing_BerBer’ blogged about her experiences of travelling on the same train as Pan and his colleagues on 6 September.

The woman said she had bought a first class reserved seat. But she described how, when she boarded the train, she found Pan in her seat, surrounded by a group of officials. She asked him to move, but said that he refused, and said warningly, “We’re from the Beijing Armed Police.”

She took her phone out to film him but describes how she was “blocked and threatened by black-clad Special Police“. However, she managed to take a picture of Pan and some of his colleagues playing cards on the train, while she was forced to stand for most of the journey.

The woman’s post with the photo was removed from the social media platform Weibo, a fact she noted in a later post. “My published article was ‘automatically’ deleted. How strange! There might be someone who has a guilty conscience,” she wrote.

“My published article was ‘automatically’ deleted. How strange! There might be someone who has a guilty conscience.”

No media in mainland China have mentioned the alleged incident and a search of Pan’s name on leading search engine Baid brings up news reports only from as recently as August.

Posts on Weibo that mention Pan have been quickly taken offline by government censors. According to censorship-monitoring website Free Weibo, “Pan Changjie” is currently one of the top 10 censored search terms.

Source: Censors clamp down on China’s ‘Traingate’ – BBC News

08/09/2016

A 16-year-old British girl earns £48,000 helping Chinese people name their babies – BBC Newsbeat

Beau Jessup, a British A-level student from Gloucestershire, came up with the idea after a family visit to China.

They were out for a meal with friends when she was asked to give an English name to a newborn baby.

In China it is considered important to have an English name for future study or business with the UK.

‘Special Name’ requires the user to pick five of the 12 personality traits which they most hope their baby will grow into

In China they name their child based on the elements and Beau wanted a similarity between how they pick their Chinese name and how they pick their English name.

And she does this by assigning personality traits to each English name.

They also select the gender of the baby and pay the equivalent of 60p.

The three chosen names are then shared with family and friends on We-Chat, China’s WhatsApp equivalent, to help make the final decision.

Each suggestion is printed on a certificate with its meaning and an example of a famous person with that name.

Beau says that when she was first asked to name her father’s friend’s baby, she was surprised.

“I’m not really qualified or relevant enough in that baby’s life to be the person to give it a name.

“But after hearing of some of the “embarrassing” names, Beau decided she needed to act.

There was someone called Rolex

“There are quite a few examples where people have gotten the names wrong.”

Beau explains that the Chinese are fascinated by western culture but their access to it is restricted by the government in China.There isn’t open access to the internet so they can’t use standard baby naming websites that people may use in the UK.

“Being exposed to luxury items and things like Harry Potter, Disney films and Lord of the Rings means they use those for reference.

“I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella.”

Amelia and Oliver were the most popular baby names in England and Wales in 2015

That’s according to the Office for National Statistics which released the complete set of data last week.

But Beau doesn’t know which names are the most popular on her website, and she’s “happy about that”.

“It is called ‘special name’ and it’s based on individual preference and what they personally want their child to be.”

Beau says it’s quite strange to know she’s named more than 200,000 babies

“It’s nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a baby’s life.”The site’s success has been a pleasant surprise.

“I wanted to do it just to see if an idea could turn into more than just simply an idea.”

And I never expected it to become more than just a small project because I never really considered myself very academic.

“It is obviously a nice surprise, but it is definitely a surprise.”

Source: A 16-year-old British girl earns £48,000 helping Chinese people name their babies – BBC Newsbeat

05/09/2016

Britain, India to look at ways to retain strong trade ties after Brexit | Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed on Monday to look at ways to retain strong trading links after Britain leaves the European Union, a British official said.

“The Indians said they wanted to look at how we could continue to have a strong trading relationship and there was agreement that as we prepare to leave the EU, we should be exploring what that looks like,” the official said.

Prime Minister Modi said that we had always been an important partner for India and nothing about leaving the European Union would change that.”

The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Source: Britain, India to look at ways to retain strong trade ties after Brexit | Reuters

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