Posts tagged ‘Hangzhou’

08/10/2016

Chinese consumers: Revisiting our predictions | McKinsey & Company

In 2011, we tried our hand at predicting the ways in which, in the decade to come, Chinese consumers would change their preferences and behaviors.

This article takes stock of those predictions.

Why check in now? One reason is we’re about halfway to 2020. Another is a comprehensive new McKinsey survey, which follows nearly ten years of previous research that includes interviews with more than 60,000 people in upward of 60 cities in China. Along the way, we’ve bolstered our own team’s data on consumer preferences and behavior with a number of complementary analyses and models, including McKinsey’s macroeconomic and demographic studies of Chinese urbanization and income development. We’ve also interviewed academics to draw out the major trends shaping the course of the Chinese economy, such as its rapidly aging population, the growing independence of women in society, and the postponement of critical life milestones, such as marrying and having children.

We’ve done it all with the abiding belief that companies getting ahead of the trends can build their brands and offerings to fit a rapidly evolving set of consumer needs in China. Deeper and more nuanced understanding of Chinese consumers can help reveal fresh opportunities—for new entrants and incumbents alike—and signal those areas where established players may need to be more wary.

Looking back nearly five years on, it is plain that Chinese consumers are evolving along many, though not all, of the lines we’d predicted. While geographic differences persist, Chinese consumers are, on the whole, more individualistic, more willing to pay for nonnecessities and discretionary items, more brand loyal, and more willing to trade up to more expensive purchases—even as their hallmark pragmatism endures.

Evolving geographic differences

Much of the research we described five years ago highlighted the vast differences we found among consumers in China’s various cities and regions. Just as it was then, generalizing about Chinese consumers continues to be almost as difficult (and maybe as foolish) as it is to generalize about European consumers.

We predicted these differences would remain—and even grow more significant, especially in the consumption patterns and tastes that relate to discretionary items. To help companies better tailor their go-to-market approach, we grouped most cities in China into clusters based on their similarities, including their geographic proximity and the transportation infrastructure that connects them.

As the economic structure in each of the 22 biggest city clusters has evolved—and as each of them has been affected differently by the recent slowdown of China’s economy—significant differences, for instance, in consumer confidence, do indeed persist between these clusters.

For instance, some 70 percent of consumers in the Fuzhou–Xiamen city cluster, which lies on the coast across from Taiwan, said in our latest report that they are confident their income will significantly increase over the next five years. In that same report, the Byland–Shandong city cluster, which lies on the coast between Beijing and Shanghai, was comparatively pessimistic, with only 33 percent of its consumers expressing such confidence.

Furthermore, when our latest survey compared the consumers in the Shanghai area to those around Beijing and Hangzhou, certain spending attitudes also showed marked differences. For example, brand loyalty increased much faster in Shanghai (24 percent increase in three years versus just 7 percent in Beijing and 9 percent in Hangzhou), as did the willingness to pay for better or healthier products.

Growing discretionary spending

Despite geographic differences, there are broad similarities among Chinese consumers. These mirror the general trends economists have found among consumers around the world as economies develop. The general tendency is for consumers, as they earn more, to spend a lower percentage of their income on food, a little more on healthcare, and even more on travel and transportation, as well as on recreational activities. It was no great stretch then, in our report five years ago, to predict a significant shift in consumption from necessities and seminecessities into discretionary categories.

Sure enough, our new survey shows Chinese consumers following the anticipated pattern. When we asked how they plan to increase spending as their income increases, dramatically fewer consumers said they will increase it on food (46 percent in the latest survey, compared to the 76 percent who said they would do so three years earlier).

Responses trended slightly up for healthcare products (from 16 percent to 17 percent), and increased for travel (from 14 percent to 23 percent) and leisure (from 17 percent to 25 percent).

Aspirational trading up

In our previous predictions, we also argued that as the income of Chinese consumers grew, they would aspire to improve their quality of life by not only spending more on discretionary items, but also by shifting their spending to more expensive items in the same categories.

In necessity categories such as food, for example, we predicted consumers would be willing to spend more for healthier versions of the same products—for instance, that olive oil would grow much faster than less healthy (and less expensive) oils. In semi-necessity categories like apparel, we predicted people would buy more special-occasion and premium brands. We anticipated that the strongest beneficiaries of these changes would be in the more discretionary and aspirational categories, such as skincare and automotive. So what has happened so far?

Premium categories have really accelerated. Comparing cosmetics purchases between 2011 and 2015, 44 percent of consumers have traded up their purchases, compared with 4 percent who traded down. Even for rice, 25 percent of consumers traded up versus 3 percent who traded down. Automotive was not included in our survey, but sales data from the Traffic Management Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security in China suggest significant trading up. In 2011, 51 percent of the renminbi spent on cars by Chinese consumers were for autos cheaper than 100,000 RMB. These sales accounted for only 43 percent of the market. Cars selling for 100,000 to 250,000 RMB grew twice as fast with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent versus 9 percent. And cars with price tags between 250,000 and 400,000 RMB grew the fastest of all, with 23 percent CAGR.

Emerging senior market

In 2011, we observed a big generational difference between consumers in their late 50s and early 60s, who were very conservative spenders, and all of the age cohorts younger than them.

We predicted that by 2020, as the needs of consumers over the age of 55 changed along with their economic confidence, their spending habits would follow suit, making this age group worth pursuing by consumer-product companies. If anything, we underestimated the speed and force with which this trend would unfold.

By 2015, the 55–65 age group had started to shift even faster than the rest of the population. For example, 52 percent of the people in this age group showed a preference for premium products, compared to just 32 percent in 2012. They leaped from being the most conservative age group to the one most likely to trade up. Similarly, the preference for famous brand names among these older buyers jumped by more than 20 percent, fully closing the previous difference among cohorts. As Exhibit 1 shows, these older consumers don’t shy away from indulgences, and they have grown more likely to use the Internet to research their purchases, even if they still do so less often than younger consumers.

Chinese consumers in their late 50s and early 60s are shifting their buying behavior.

That said, the upper age group has remained more pragmatic and cost conscious than any other age group, as we discuss in the following section.

The still-pragmatic consumer

Back in 2011, even as we were predicting changes in the behavior and preferences of Chinese consumers, we also saw ways in which their essential pragmatism would likely stay the same. For instance, we anticipated that impulse buying would remain lower than in other countries and that value for money would continue to be an important consideration when choosing products and services. Interestingly, Chinese consumers across all age groups have, in some ways, become even more pragmatic. They’re now even more likely to compare prices across multiple stores, to be more price aware, and to stock up on promotions. That said, they’re now willing to buy more often on impulse (Exhibit 2).

The pragmatism of Chinese consumers has increased slightly across all age groups.

The individual consumer

We also predicted that as Chinese consumers aspire to a better life and trade up their purchases, they would become more discerning and gradually more individualistic. This would lead, for example, to a shift toward more healthy choices, more user-friendly products, and products and brands that better fit their personality. This could be a big opportunity for niche brands—and a threat to the mass-market brands that had won big in previous years by using scale and ubiquitous availability, supported by the trust gained by heavy advertising.

Our latest research certainly shows a decrease in consumption in categories deemed less healthy and a willingness to spend significantly more on health and more environmentally conscious categories. It also shows consumers are more likely to spend more to indulge themselves and more likely to try new technology. While their consumption choices have become more individualistic, though, it is important to note that family values continue to be at the top of their priorities (Exhibit 3).

Chinese consumers’ needs and values continue to center around family.

One area our predictions missed, however, was by anticipating that consumers, as they became more individualistic in their choices, might focus less on basic product reliability and safety. Perhaps in part because of a number of more recent food scandals, however, consumers seemed more concerned with these issues in 2015 than they were before.

The increasingly loyal consumer

When our team first started researching Chinese consumers, nearly ten years ago, many of us were surprised by their fickle attitude toward brands. Fewer than half of consumers tended to stick with their favorite brands, compared, for example, with almost three quarters of US consumers.

As we debated this tendency while making our predictions, we wondered if, in the clash between pragmatism and individualism, brand loyalty would stay low, increase, or even decline. Ultimately, we decided it would increase as the emotional benefits of brands became more important to consumers and as increased choice and availability of branded products (online and off) would allow consumers to optimize for price and convenience without changing choices too often.

Our recent research confirmed the changes we anticipated. Consumers are now significantly less likely to buy a brand that is not already among their favorites, continuing the upward trend we observed in 2011 (Exhibit 4).

Chinese consumers are increasingly brand loyal and focused on just a few brands.

The modern shopper

Our 2011 predictions were bullish on e-commerce, predicting that Chinese consumers would adapt their channel choices even faster than has occurred in developed markets.

We estimated that by 2020, online consumer-electronics purchases would jump to 40 percent, from about 10 percent. More mainstream categories would rise to 15 percent, and some categories, such as groceries (now below 1 percent), could reach about 10 percent. These changes are occurring even as the enduring pragmatism and diligence of the Chinese consumer continue to be in place. Our latest research shows that consumers of all age groups are much more likely to collect information online, even on fast-moving consumer goods, than they were just three years ago.

In 2015, online food and beverages sales (excluding fresh) reached 7.2 percent: reaching our predicted 10 percent in five years looks very likely. The online share of consumer-electronic purchases, meanwhile, has reached a whopping 39 percent in 2015, and it now looks possible that by 2020 it will be about 50 percent of overall sales.


Looking from today’s perspective at our 2011 predictions, it is impressive to see the evolution of Chinese consumers—even as their most characteristic traits endure. Certainly, we’ll check in on their progress as we get ever closer to the year 2020. Making predictions may be difficult, especially about the future—as US Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra famously observed. But they can still provide valuable foresight for executives.

Source: Chinese consumers: Revisiting our predictions | McKinsey & Company

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07/10/2016

Keeping pure and true | The Economist

CHINA’S cities abound with restaurants and food stalls catering to Muslims as well as to the many other Chinese who relish the distinctive cuisines for which the country’s Muslims are renowned.

So popular are kebabs cooked by Muslim Uighurs on the streets of Beijing that the city banned outdoor grills in 2014 in order to reduce smoke, which officials said was exacerbating the capital’s notorious smog (the air today is hardly less noxious).

Often such food is claimed to be qing zhen, meaning “pure and true”, or halal, prepared according to traditional Islamic regulations. But who can tell? Last year angry Muslims besieged a halal bakery in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, after pork sausages were found in the shop’s delivery van. There have been several scandals in recent years involving rat meat or pork being sold as lamb. These have spread Muslim mistrust of domestically produced halal products.

In response, some local governments have introduced regulations requiring food purporting to be halal to be just that (though not going into detail of what halal means, such as the slaughter of animals with a knife by a Muslim). Earlier this year, however, the national legislature suspended its work on a bill that would apply such stipulations countrywide.

There is much demand for one. Local rules are often poorly enforced. Advocates of a national law say a lack of unified standards is hampering exports to Muslim countries. According to Wang Guoliang of the Islamic Association of China, the country’s halal food industry makes up a negligible 0.1% of the global market.

The government began drafting a national halal law in 2002. But Muslim communities in China have varying definitions of the term. Work on the bill was slow. Each year, during the legislature’s annual session in March, Muslim delegates called for faster progress. But there were opponents, too. Some scholars argued that the government should not regulate on matters relating to religious faith. Others said that by giving in to the Muslims’ demands, China would encourage them to press for more concessions and ultimately form their own enclaves run by sharia.

Such views may have given pause to China’s leaders. In April, at a high-level meeting on religious affairs, President Xi Jinping said religion should be prevented from interfering with the law. That month Wang Zhengwei, a Muslim official who had been pushing for halal legislation, was removed from his post as the head of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.

Also in April, the Communist Party chief of Ningxia urged officials to “sharpen [their] vigilance” against the use of halal labels on products such as toilet paper, toothpaste and cosmetics. And the government of Qinghai province ordered the inspection of Muslim-only toilets and hospital rooms, as well as shops catering to Muslims, to make sure that halal symbols were being used only on food. Xinjiang, the far-western region that is home to the Uighurs, recently introduced an anti-terrorism law threatening punishment of those who “overextend” halal rules. Officials clearly worry that those who do so might be the same sort of people who embrace jihad.

Ismael An, a Muslim writer, says this is overreacting. “Supporters of the halal law are not the so-called extremists, because real extremists don’t make demands through legislation,” he says. On the internet, however, a small but vocal group of Islamophobes has been calling for a boycott of halal-certified products. They say the price of such goods factors in payments to Islamic groups that grant the certificates—they do not want to give the religion even indirect support. Ironically, it is the non-Muslim love of Muslim food that will ensure the campaign will not succeed.

Source: Keeping pure and true | The Economist

03/10/2016

China’s Yuan Just Joined An Elite Club Of IMF Reserve Currencies

China’s yuan joins the International Monetary Fund’s basket of reserve currencies on Saturday in a milestone for the government’s campaign for recognition as a global economic power.

The yuan joins the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and British pound in the IMF’s special drawing rights (SDR) basket, which determines currencies that countries can receive as part of IMF loans. It marks the first time a new currency has been added since the euro was launched in 1999.The IMF is adding the yuan, also known as the renminbi, or “people’s money”, on the same day that the Communist Party celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

“The inclusion into the SDR is a milestone in the internationalization of the renminbi, and is an affirmation of the success of China’s economic development and results of the reform and opening up of the financial sector,” the People’s Bank of China said in a statement.

China will use this opportunity to further deepen economic reforms and open up the sector to promote global growth, the central bank added.

The IMF announced last year that it would add the yuan to the basket, so actual inclusion is not expected to impact financial markets. But it puts Beijing’s often opaque economic and foreign exchange policy in the international spotlight as some central banks add yuan assets to their official reserves.

Critics argue that the move is largely symbolic and the yuan does not fully meet IMF reserve currency criteria of being freely usable, or widely used to settle trade or widely traded in financial markets. U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he will formally label China a currency manipulator if he wins November’s election.

China stunned investors by devaluing the currency last year and the yuan has since weakened to near six-year lows, adding to worries about already feeble global growth.

Some China watchers also fear that Beijing’s commitment to further market opening and financial sector reforms will fade after its diplomatic success, despite repeated reassurances from Beijing it will continue with the process.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Thursday the yuan was “quite a ways” from true global reserve currency status. The new IMF status recognizes the “enormous” change in China in the last 10 years that had made the yuan more open, but Beijing still had work to do to make its currency and its economy more market-driven, he said. “Being part of the SDR basket at the IMF is quite a ways away from being a global reserve currency,” he said.

Capital Economics said inclusion of the currency in the IMF’s SDR basket will have minimal impact on foreign demand for yuan assets, so “offers little support” for the currency.“

If anything, the risk is that official intervention to keep the renminbi stable ahead of its inclusion will subsequently be paired back, allowing for renewed deprecation,” it said in a research note.

The IMF on Friday fixed the relative amounts of the five currencies in the basket for five years, based on their average exchange rates over the past three months.

Source: China’s Yuan Just Joined An Elite Club Of IMF Reserve Currencies

28/06/2016

Pfizer to invest $350 million in China biotech hub, first in Asia | Reuters

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) will invest $350 million to build a biotech center in China, the latest in a series of moves by pharma industry giants to set up shop in the world’s no. 2 drugs market with the aim of securing faster approvals for their products.

The facility in eastern Hangzhou region – Pfizer’s first biotech center in Asia – is expected to be completed by 2018, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

Global “Big Pharma” is increasingly looking for smart ways to tap China’s healthcare market, estimated by consultancy IMS Health to be worth around $185 billion by 2018. From investing in China facilities to acquisitions, licensing deals and joint ventures, the aim is to seek an edge in dealings with domestic regulators and government.

John Young, group president for Pfizer’s essential health division, said in the statement that the Hangzhou facility should “help support China’s aim to increase the complexity and value of its manufacturing sector by 2025”.

Pfizer said it would “work closely” with local regulators to bring the drugs “to market as soon as possible”. The center will mostly on biologic drugs – made from living micro-organisms rather than chemically synthesized – and lower-cost ‘biosimilars’, of generic versions of biologics.

Pharmaceutical executives have long complained about the slow process of getting drugs to market in China, while others have run up against regulatory roadblocks. Pfizer had to close its vaccine business in the country last year after a license for its top-selling vaccine Prevenar was not renewed.

China’s overall healthcare spending is set to hit $1.3 trillion by 2020, but drug market growth has slowed to a low single-digit percentage pace from over 20 percent just four years ago as branded generics have lost their shine and Beijing has looked to drive down prices to keep a lid on costs.

Source: Pfizer to invest $350 million in China biotech hub, first in Asia | Reuters

28/01/2015

Car ownership tops 154 million in China in 2014 – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China added a record 17 million new cars on the road in 2014 as car ownership reaches 154 million, said the Ministry of Public Security on Tuesday.

Strong demand for cars has helped the automobile replace the motorcycle as the main method of transportation. Cars made up 58.6 percent of total motor vehicles, a sharp rise from 43.9 percent five years ago.

The number of people obtaining driving licenses also ballooned from 219 million in 2013 to 247 million as of the end of 2014, said the ministry, adding 29.7 million drivers have fewer than one year’s driving experience.

Of the 35 cities which have more than one million cars each, ten have more than two million cars, including Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

The ministry said the number of passenger cars has reached 117 million, 90 percent of which are private cars. Beijing has the highest private car penetration, with 63 private cars for every 100 households, while the average is 25 private cars for every 100 households.

Carmakers have enjoyed strong sales over the years, with more middle-class customers placing orders for their first cars. But with frequent traffic jams, it is yet to be seen whether cars can still ride the booming tide in the years to come. More local governments have begun to limit car use, among them eight cities have quotas for new car plates.

via Car ownership tops 154 million in China in 2014 – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

26/01/2015

Urbanisation: The great sprawl of China | The Economist

IN ANCIENT times, Beijing built towering city walls that helped to prevent undefendable sprawl. These days it builds ring roads, stretching built-up areas ever outwards. Near Langfang, a city halfway between the capital and its giant neighbour Tianjin, diggers dip their heads and cement mixers churn, paving the next circular expressway. When complete, the 900km (560-mile) Seventh Ring Road will surround Beijing at such a distance that most of it will run through the neighbouring province of Hebei, to which Langfang belongs, rather than the capital itself. Parts of it are 175km from Beijing’s centre (see map).

The Seventh Ring Road (really the sixth, but for obscure reasons there is no First Ring Road) is emblematic of modern Chinese cities: giant, sprawling and dominated by cars. Even before it is completed in a year or two (and its use assessed), another, even longer, orbital is being plotted. Like many of China’s infrastructure projects, the new road displays engineering prowess. The country’s successes in urban planning are less evident.

Breakneck urban growth has propelled China’s rise in the past three decades. Migration from the countryside has helped expand the urban population by 500m—the biggest movement of humanity the planet has seen in such a short time. Over half the population is now urban. Some live in the basements of apartment blocks, or in shacks built in courtyards. But Chinese cities have mostly avoided the squalor of many developing-world ones.

The result of this urban growth is not just that China has many large cities—more than 100 of them have more than a million people—but that some are supersized. At the end of last year the government at last acknowledged the special nature of these, introducing the term “megacity” to describe those whose populations, including that of their satellite towns, exceed 10m. Of the 30 cities worldwide that match this definition, six are in China: Shanghai (23m), Beijing (19.5m), Chongqing (13m), Guangzhou (12m), Shenzhen (11m) and Tianjin (11m). A further ten Chinese cities contain 5m-10m people. At least one of these, Wuhan, will pass 10m within a decade.

China depends on its cities for economic growth and innovation. But it is failing to make the most of its largest conurbations. Medium-sized agglomerations of 1.5m-6.5m are outperforming bigger ones in terms of environmental protection, economic development, efficient use of resources and the provision of welfare, says McKinsey, a consultancy. Residents are beginning to question whether their quality of life, which for many has improved by leaps and bounds, will continue to do so. The giant cities are polluted, pricey and congested. Average travel speed in Beijing is half that in New York or Singapore.

Most of China’s cities share the legacy of a central-planning mindset in which all life and work was centred on a single “work unit”. Cities were “built as producer centres rather than consumer ones”, says Tom Miller, author of “China’s Urban Billion”. Their planning focus was on industry; not commerce, services or even community. The work units are gone but the tradition of dehumanising architecture persists. Most new developments are built on giant blocks 400-800 metres long.

China has swapped its socialist dream for an American-style one of cars and sprawling suburbs. The number of cars has increased more than tenfold in the past decade, to 64m. The combination of superblocks and car-lust often adds up to a giant jam. Large blocks mean fewer roads to disperse traffic. Guidelines require a main urban road every 500 metres and an eight-lane road every kilometre. In the case of Beijing, a ring and radial system was also created, with the aim of providing speedy road access in and out of town, bypassing city traffic and linking satellite towns. Not a bad idea, except that workplaces have remained concentrated in the centre. The expressways funnel traffic into gridlock.

The ill-defined ownership rights of farmers have encouraged the sprawl. Officials can expropriate rural land easily and at little cost. Doing so is far cheaper than redeveloping existing urban areas. Industrial land is heavily subsidised, so factories have remained in urban areas rather than move to cheaper sites on city outskirts. The amount of land classified as urban has more than doubled since 2000—40% of new urbanites became so when cities engulfed their villages.

Sprawl has resulted in populations becoming more thinly spread. China’s megacities are less dense than equivalents elsewhere in the world (see chart). Guangzhou could contain another 4m people if it was as packed as Seoul in South Korea; Shenzhen could be larger by 5m. Extending outward takes a toll: slow commutes from far-flung suburbs increase fuel consumption and cut productivity.

Massive spending on infrastructure has hugely improved connections within and between cities. Since 1992 China has spent 8.5% of its national income on infrastructure each year, far more than Europe and America (2.6%) or India (3.9%). Yet city residents still complain. Subways are often built as engineering projects, with stops at set distances, rather than where people want them to be, says Sean Chiao of Aecom, an infrastructure firm. Buses, metros and rail networks are poorly integrated because separate agencies manage them.

via Urbanisation: The great sprawl of China | The Economist.

11/12/2014

Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek

China’s overburdened healthcare system is ripe for reform, and leading technology companies see opportunities in becoming part of the solution.

A Chinese nurse adjusts the infusion rate for a patient at a hospital in Xiangyang city, central China's Hubei province on Jan. 20, 2014.

Take the current system of booking time to see a physician, which is both inefficient and abusive. In order to see a doctor at a leading hospital in Beijing or another major Chinese city, a patient must queue up starting at around 5am and wait in line for several hours just to book an appointment for later that day. Sometimes the patient has the option of buying a hospital slot, typically at an exorbitant fee, from a professional scalper.

In July, Alipay, the popular e-payment system launched by Alibaba Group, began a pilot project to allow patients to book appointments at select hospitals through a smartphone app. A handful of hospitals in Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Kunming, Wenzhou, and Nanchang now participate. It sounds like a simple and intuitive step that should have been tried long ago; notably it’s a technology company, not a medical institution, that’s leading the change.

via Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek.

22/10/2014

Boeing and Chinese partner to make jet fuel from ‘gutter oil’ | Reuters

Aircraft makers Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp of China have launched a joint pilot project to turn used cooking oil into jet fuel.

Their plant, based in the southeastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, will be able to convert just under 240,000 litres a year of used cooking oil into fuel, Boeing said in a statement.

The project will allow the two aircraft makers to test the viability of producing biofuel using the cheap and widely available form of cooking waste, referred to in China as “gutter oil“.

Boeing and its Chinese state-owned partner estimate that 1.8 billion litres of fuel could be produced in China a year using gutter oil.

In February, the Civil Aviation Administration of China granted a subsidiary of state-owned behemoth Sinopec Corp a licence to produce jet fuel from used cooking oil.

Gutter oil has long been a public health concern in China due to its widespread use in restaurants. Used cooking oil can contain toxic compounds and is often considered insanitary.

Chinese media reported in 2010 that crime rings were collecting used cooking oil from sewers and drains, rebottling it and selling it as new.

Over the past two years, dozens of people have been given lengthy prison sentences for the scam, which has made many Chinese in major cities sick. Last year one man was sentenced to life in prison for making and trafficking gutter oil.

via Boeing and Chinese partner to make jet fuel from ‘gutter oil’ | Reuters.

30/07/2014

China’s 1 Percent vs. America’s 1 Percent – Businessweek

A new study by Peking University’s Social Science Research Center pulls back the curtain a bit on China’s überwealthy. The richestpercent of Chinese households control more than a third of the country’s wealth, according to the July 26 study.

Most of that is tied up in real estate. In 2012, the study says, real estate accounted for 70 percent of all household wealth in China. (The bottom quarter of households, tellingly, control just 1 percent of China’s wealth.) The outsize reliance on real estate as an investment vehicle for both individuals and enterprises is troubling, given widespread concerns about a property bubble. In June, apartment prices fell in 55 of China’s 70 largest cities, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. In the southeastern city of Hangzhou, property prices dipped 1.7 percent that month.

But how do China’s rich stack up against America’s? The U.S. Internal Revenue Service analyzes income, not household net wealth, and in 2012, America’s richest 1 percent took home 19.3 percent of household income. But incomes rose almost 20 percent for the top 1 percent, whereas they inched up just 1 percent for the bottom 99 percent.

via China’s 1 Percent vs. America’s 1 Percent – Businessweek.

26/04/2014

China’s Pollution Police Are Watching – Businessweek

At 7 a.m. on a recent March morning, Xu Xiaoshun hops behind the wheel and turns the key. His Chang’an Leopard truck puffs out some black smoke and shivers to life as Xu begins his daily gamble. Every morning, including weekends, he leaves the one-room apartment he shares with his wife, drives almost 10 kilometers (six miles) to a market, picks up construction materials, and delivers them to job sites in and around Hangzhou, a city of 8.8 million. Often, his route takes him through areas of the city where his truck is banned because of its dirty emissions. “This truck isn’t allowed on some roads,” Xu says as he steps on the gas. “But when an order comes, I must take a risk.”

China's Pollution Police Are Watching

As air pollution in China becomes a national crisis—only three of the 74 cities monitored last year had acceptable air quality, according to a March report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection—Hangzhou and other cities have declared war on dirty cars and trucks. High-emission vehicles such as Xu’s must display yellow stickers on their windshields. (Cleaner cars are marked with green ones.) In Hangzhou, yellow-tagged cars and trucks are banned from the city’s main areas from 6 a.m. to midnight.

About 13 percent of China’s 224 million vehicles had yellow labels as of 2012, but they accounted for more than half of carbon monoxide emissions and more than 80 percent of airborne particulates, government statistics show. Cities across the nation must meet a national goal of forcing all yellow-label vehicles off the roads by 2017. In Hengshui, one of China’s most polluted cities, officials have mandated a phaseout of diesel-powered vehicles more than nine years old, triggering grumblings from owners in online forums.

via China’s Pollution Police Are Watching – Businessweek.

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