Posts tagged ‘Taiwan’

20/01/2017

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen aspires to create ‘new era’ of peace with Beijing | South China Morning Post

Taiwan aspires to create a “new era” of peace with mainland China, which should set aside the baggage of history and have positive dialogue, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a letter to Pope Francis, adding military action could not resolve problems.

The issue of self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan has shot to the top of the international agenda since US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent in December by taking a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai.

Pope Francis hails ‘good’ relations with China after getting gift from Xi Jinping

That, along with subsequent comments by Trump that the one-China policy was up for negotiation, has infuriated Beijing, which views Taiwan as a wayward province, to be bought under its control by force if necessary.

Mainland China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party espouses the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing, and has cut off a formal dialogue mechanism with Taiwan.

In her January 5 letter to the Pope, released by her office on Friday, Tsai said upholding peace across the Taiwan Strait called for goodwill and communication.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen continues call for Beijing talks but refuses to accept ‘one China’ principle“

Based on many years of experience in cross-Strait negotiations during my political career, I am convinced that military action cannot resolve problems,” Tsai said.

“Taiwan and mainland China were once embroiled in a zero-sum conflict that caused tension in the region and anxiety among our peoples.In contrast, today people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy stable lives and normal exchanges under peaceful separate governance.

”China’s priests wary of Vatican’s Beijing olive branchTaiwan was committed to maintaining its democracy and the status quo of peace, but would not bow to pressure, she added.

“I urge the governing party across the Strait, together with the governing party in Taiwan, to set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue,” Tsai said.

The Vatican is one of only a handful of countries which still maintains formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, although the Pope is trying to heal a decades-old rift with mainland China where Catholics are divided between those loyal to him and those who are members of a government-controlled official church.

Tsai said she sought to live up to the Pope’s words on nonviolent action.

“As the first female president in the ethnic Chinese world, I aspire to live up to your words as I devote myself to enhancing the well-being of the Taiwanese people and creating a new era for cross-Strait peace.”

Source: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen aspires to create ‘new era’ of peace with Beijing | South China Morning Post

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21/12/2016

China seizes an underwater drone and sends a signal to Donald Trump | The Economist

IT WAS an operation carried out with remarkable cool. On December 15th, less than 500 metres away from an American navy ship, a Chinese one deployed a smaller boat to grab an underwater American drone. The object was then taken to the Chinese ship, which sailed off with it. Point deftly made.

The incident occurred in the South China Sea, in which China says the Americans have no business snooping around. By seizing the drone, it has made clear that two can play at being annoying. Mercifully no shots were fired. After remonstrations by the Americans, China agreed to give the drone back “in an appropriate manner”. It chose its moment five days later, handing the device over in the same area where it had snatched it. The Pentagon, though clearly irritated, has downplayed the drone’s importance, saying it cost (a mere) $150,000 and that most of its technology was commercially available. The drone was reportedly carrying out tests of the water’s properties, including salinity and temperature.

But it may turn into less of a game. Relations between the two nuclear powers, never easy at the best of times, are under extra strain as Donald Trump prepares to take over as president on January 20th. Mr Trump has already angered China by talking on the phone to Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and challenging China’s cherished “one-China” policy, crucial to which is the idea that Taiwan is part of it.

The capture of the drone took place on the outer perimeter of China’s expansive claim to the sea, about 50 miles (80km) from the Philippine port of Subic Bay, which was once home to a large American naval base (see map).

It appeared calculated to show China’s naval reach, with only minimal risk of any conflict—the American ship that was operating the drone, the Bowditch, is a not a combat vessel. Once in office, however, Mr Trump could face tougher challenges, exacerbated by China’s growing presence in the South China Sea: it appears to be installing weapons on islands it has been building there.

His two predecessors were each tested by a dangerous military standoff with China in their first months in office. With George Bush it involved a mid-air collision in April 2001 between an American spy-plane and a Chinese fighter-jet off China’s southern coast. The Chinese pilot was killed and the disabled American plane made an emergency landing at a Chinese airfield. There the crew of 24 was released after 11 days of painstaking diplomacy. The aircraft, full of advanced technology, was returned—in pieces—months later.

In March 2009 it was Barack Obama’s turn. According to the Pentagon, an American surveillance ship, the Impeccable, was sailing 75 miles from China’s coast when it was buzzed by Chinese aircraft and then confronted by five Chinese ships. First the Chinese forced it to make an emergency stop, then they scattered debris in front of the American ship as it tried to sail away. They also attempted to snatch sonar equipment it was towing. The Impeccable soon returned—this time in the reassuring company of an American destroyer.

For now, feuding between Mr Trump and China is less nail-biting. In Twitter messages, Mr Trump bashed China for taking the drone and later said China should keep it. Chinese media have in turn bashed Mr Trump. One newspaper said he had “no sense of how to lead a superpower”. Global Times, a nationalist newspaper in Beijing, said that China would “not exercise restraint” should Mr Trump fail to change his ways once in the White House. He would be wise to study the form.

Source: China seizes an underwater drone and sends a signal to Donald Trump | The Economist

06/12/2016

Tsai says call with Trump does not reflect US policy change | South China Morning Post

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday her phone call with US president-elect Donald Trump should not be interpreted a significant shift in American policy, and stressed that both sides saw the value of maintaining regional stability.

“Of course I have to stress that one phone call does not mean a policy shift,” she told a small group of American reporters in Taipei. “The phone call was a way for us to express our respect for the US election as well as congratulate president-elect Trump on his win.”

Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-Wen initiated phone call with Donald Trump, says island’s presidential spokesmanTrump’s phone call with Tsai broke four decades of diplomatic protocol, alarming some commentators who feared it could spark a dangerous confrontation with Beijing.

Others though, especially US Republicans, have welcomed it as a sign Trump will not be bullied by Beijing, and believe the United States should offer more support to Taiwan’s democracy.

Sources in Trump’s team said the call was planned weeks in advance to establish the incoming president as a break from the past, although vice-president-elect Mike Pence described it as a “courtesy” call, not intended to show a shift in US policy on cross-strait ties.

Tsai echoed that line. “I do not foresee major policy shifts in the near future because we all see the value of stability in the region,” she said.Beijing has reacted with relative calm to the call, lodging what it called a “solemn protest” with the US government, but also underlining that its economic and diplomatic relationship with Washington depended on the US acceptance of the one-China principle, which recognises Beijing as the sole representative of the Chinese nation.

Beijing blocks Taiwan from taking part in almost all international bodies. Tsai’s office said she had told Trump during the phone call that she hoped the United States “would continue to support more opportunities for Taiwan to participate in international issues”.

Reacting to criticism of the call, Trump himself pointed out that the United States sold billions of dollars of arms to Taiwan.

Beijing has already increased the pressure on Taiwan since Tsai’s election, upset that she has not publicly endorsed the “one China” principle – although she consistently expresses the need for dialogue.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi appeared to blame Taiwan for the phone call, calling it a “petty” move, and the nationalist Global Times tabloid initially recommended that Beijing should continue to talk to Trump but punish Taiwan.

Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior non resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, wrote that this could include renewed efforts to deny Taiwan access at various multilateral organisations, the stealing of diplomatic allies, punitive economic measures and more intense or frequent military exercises aimed at Taiwan.

If that happens, the domestic support Tsai had received for her call could be countered by greater tensions with Beijing, he said, “What remains to be seen is what kind of ally Taiwan will have in Washington if and when such a shift occurs in the Taiwan Strait,” he wrote in The National Interest.

On Tuesday, there were also signs of growing concern in Beijing that Trump’s constant criticism of Beijing in his speeches and on Twitter might actually mean something. His latest salvo – complaining about China’s currency and trade policy, and its actions in the South China Sea – sparked a frustrated response in the Global Times.What does Donald Trump’s phone call with President Tsai mean for future US arms sales to Taiwan?

“Trump’s China-bashing tweet is just a cover for his real intent, which is to treat China as a fat lamb and cut a piece of meat off it,” it wrote. “China should brace itself for the possible fluctuations of the Sino-US relationship after Trump is sworn in. We must confront Trump’s provocations head-on, and make sure he won’t take advantage of China at the beginning of his tenure.

”The Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily took a more measured line, arguing that dialogue was vital to maintaining friendly relations and correct some of Trump’s “inaccurate” criticisms of Beijing.

“Trump’s recent demeanour has proved people’s doubts on his inexperience in diplomatic relations. In fact, Trump is not that ignorant on China and China-US relations, he has some sensible understandings and his own take on matters. But the problem is that Trump’s rhetoric shows that he only knows one side of China and China-US relations,” it wrote in a front-page editorial on its overseas edition.

“At the present, the peaceful transition of China-US relations is the key task that both countries face. It depends on joint efforts, not just good wishes from one side.”

Source: Tsai says call with Trump does not reflect US policy change | South China Morning Post

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

01/01/2016

‘The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

In late 1948 and early 1949, toward the end of the Chinese civil war, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek transported across the Taiwan Strait hundreds of thousands of valuable Chinese artifacts which are now stored in Taipei’s National Palace Museum. Along with its Palace Museum counterpart in Beijing – more famous as the Forbidden City – the museums serve as one of the most poignant reminders of the division of China.

Beijing’s Palace Museum, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in October, was established shortly after the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, was forced from his palace, where he had been allowed to stay even after the Chinese republic was founded in 1911.

Intellectuals at the time wanted to set up a Chinese museum along the lines of the great museums in Europe.

Today, millions visit both museums each year, crowding around artifacts such as the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-Shaped Stone in Taipei.

Among the visitors are huge tour groups of mainland Chinese tourists, as the Taipei government continues to liberalize travel policies for its neighbor amid a broader detente.

This week, a branch of the National Palace Museum housing exhibits from around Asia was inaugurated in the southern Taiwanese city of Chiayi.

In his book “The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums,” Hong Kong-based writer Mark O’Neill details the treacherous history of how some of China’s most precious artifacts were rescued from the invading Japanese imperial army in the 1930s and later transported to Taiwan, and the powerful symbolism of the museums.

Source: Writing China: Mark O’Neill, ‘The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

07/11/2015

Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters

China and Taiwan must not let proponents of Taiwan’s independence split them, China’s President Xi Jinping told Taiwan’s president on Saturday at the first meeting between leaders of the two sides since China’s civil war ended in 1949.

Ma Ying-jeou, president of self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, where anti-Beijing sentiment has been rising ahead of elections, called for mutual respect for each other’s systems and said Taiwan people were concerned about mainland missiles pointing their way.

The talks, at a luxury hotel in the neutral venue of Singapore, lasted less than an hour but were heavy with symbolism.

The two leaders shook hands and smiled in front of a mass of journalists when they met, with Xi wearing a red tie, the color of the Communist Party, and Ma a blue one, the color of his Nationalist Party.

Moving into a meeting room, Xi, speaking first and sitting opposite Ma, said Chinese people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had the ability and wisdom to solve their own problems.

“No force can pull us apart because we are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family in which blood is thicker than water,” Xi said.

In response, Ma said he was determined to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait and that relations should be based on sincerity, wisdom and patience.

Ma also asked Xi indirectly to respect Taiwan’s democracy.

“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life to ensure mutual benefit and a win-win situation across the straits,” he said.

China’s Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT), retreated to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists, who are still in charge in Beijing.

The mainland has never renounced the use of force to bring what it considers a breakaway province under its control.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Ma said he hoped Xi could pay attention to China’s missile deployment – the island has long fretted about batteries pointed its way – to which Xi replied that was not an issue about Taiwan, he said.

“I at least raised the issue, and told him that the Taiwanese people have questions and concerns about it, and hope he will treat it with importance,” Ma said.

Zhang Zhijun, the head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Xi told Ma that the biggest threat to the peaceful development of relations was pro-independence forces. “The compatriots on both sides should unite and firmly oppose it,” Zhang said.

Source: Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters

06/11/2015

India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ

India might be facing a slow recovery, but consumers aren’t deterred, putting the country at the top of a confidence survey of major economies.

India came first for consumer confidence among 61 countries in the July-September period in the online survey conducted by New York-based research firm The Nielsen Company.

The country’s positive reading, which measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, comes at a time when confidence declined in eight of the 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Indian consumers continue to declare a resilient outlook in the face of uncertainty in the broader economy,” said Roosevelt D’Souza, senior vice president, Nielsen India Region.

Despite weak economic indicators, a poor monsoon and volatility in the job market, Indians’ belief in the fundamental prospects of the country’s economic future appear unshaken and the proportion of consumers who see brighter days ahead are growing, Mr. D’Souza said.

The Indian central bank’s softer interest rate regime and lower inflation are also likely to brighten the prospects of further improvement in consumer confidence, the survey shows.

This might be good news for the economy and consumer goods companies, who reported slow growth in their revenues for the past few quarters because of lower purchases by rural consumers.

China, India’s bigger neighbor and the world’s second-largest economy, ranked ninth in the survey, while the U.S. occupied second place.

The U.S. showed the biggest quarterly improvement of 18 points in the consumer confidence index, but China showed a decline of one point. Its economy has been racked in recent months by an unexpected slowdown and stock market rout.

Other Asian countries that found a place in the top 10 are the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand.

Source: India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ

14/08/2015

‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post

A man in eastern China has invented a “suit” for cars he claims protects them from water damage during the floods that regularly inundate the mainland’s coastal cities, an online newspaper reports.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. Photo: SCMP Pictures

More than 3,000 vehicles were flooded when Typhoon Soudelor hit Taizhou in Zhejiang province on August 8, Thepaper.cn reports. One photo of the storm that has drawn particular interest online shows a car wrapped in a heavy, water-proof material.

The man behind the idea is Huang Enfu, a businessman who deals in car parts. “News about damaged cars during urban floods regularly appears. Our costal city often sees such floods. That’s why I invented the suit,” Huang was quoted as saying.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. A car owner puts the suit down in an empty space, parks the vehicle over top, pulls the sides up and zips it closed.

Huang said he spent more than 1.6 million yuan (HK$1.93 million) and two years coming up with the idea. He has patented the design and sells them for between 1,500 yuan and 2,500 yuan

Residents in mainland cities have long complained urban sewage systems cannot cope with heavy rainfall during the wet season. Drains easily become overloaded and the water levels on flooded main streets can quickly rise past people’s waists.

Huang says his invention will even allow a properly zipped-up car to float if the water levels become too high. Owners can secure the car suit by tying the four attached ropes to a stationary object.

via ‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post.

26/05/2015

Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters

Taiwan proposed a peace initiative on Tuesday to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea that it says will reduce tensions that have put Beijing at odds with its neighbors and the United States.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou arrives at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, Taiwan, April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The South China Sea Peace Initiative announced by President Ma Ying-jeou called on claimants to temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources.

Ma’s plan is similar to a 2012 proposal for the East China Sea, which allowed Taiwan and Japan to jointly fish in the contested waters.

However it appeared unlikely the plan would be accepted by China, which claims most of the South China Sea and has rebuffed earlier attempts at multilateral negotiations.

“We believe Chinese people on both sides of the Strait have a duty to jointly protect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and safeguard the stability of the South China Sea region,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, when asked about the plan on Tuesday.

China views self-governed Taiwan as a renegade province.

Taiwan has so far played a marginal role in disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed sea.

Ma’s remarks in a keynote speech at an international law conference in Taipei were the most public comments by Taiwan since the United States, its biggest ally, raised concerns over the speed and breadth of China’s land reclamation in the area.

“We demand that freedom of navigation and overflight be respected in the South China Sea,” said Ma, who urged a peaceful resolution “before a major conflict breaks out”.

Taiwan normally maintains a low-key approach to such issues but has coast guard and military facilities in the area, including an airstrip and soon-to-be-completed port on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Abu, the largest natural land mass in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

“I believe the mainland side understands the spirit and principle of our South China Sea peace initiative,” Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin told reporters after Ma’s speech.

The rival claims by Taiwan and China go back to before they split in a civil war in 1949 after the defeated Nationalists fled to the island from the Communists.

via Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters.

27/01/2015

Apple supplier Foxconn to shrink workforce as sales growth stalls | Reuters

Is this the beginning of the end for off-shoring manufacturing?

Taiwan‘s Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, will cut its massive workforce, the company told Reuters, as the Apple Inc (AAPL.O) supplier faces declining revenue growth and rising wages in China.

Employees work inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in the southern Guangdong province in this May 26, 2010 file photo.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Under its flagship unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (2317.TW), the group currently employs about 1.3 million people during peak production times, making it one of the largest private employers in the world.

Special assistant to the chairman and group spokesman Louis Woo did not specify a timeframe or target for the reduction, but noted that labor costs had more than doubled since 2010, when the company faced intense media scrutiny following a spate of worker suicides.

“We’ve basically stabilized (our workforce) in the last three years,” Woo said. When asked if the company plans to reduce overall headcount, he responded “yes”.

Revenue growth at the conglomerate tumbled to 1.3 percent in 2013 and only partially recovered to 6.5 percent last year after a long string of double-digit increases from 2003 to 2012.

That decade saw the firm ride an explosion of popularity in PCs, smartphones and tablets, largely driven by its main client Apple, but now it is feeling the effects of falling growth and prices in the gadget markets it supplies, a trend that is expected to continue.

Growth in smartphone sales will halve this year from 26 percent in 2014, according to researcher IDC, while PC sales will contract by 3 percent.

Similarly, the average smartphone will sell for 19 percent less in 2018 than last year’s $297.

“Even if technology is improving, the price will still come down,” Woo said. “We’ve come to accept that, our customers have come to accept that.”

Automation will be key to keeping labor costs under control in the long-term, Woo said, as the company pushes to have robotic arms complete mundane tasks currently done by workers.

But Woo noted that company chairman Terry Gou‘s previously stated goal of 1 million robots was “a generic concept” rather than a firm target.”

via Exclusive: Apple supplier Foxconn to shrink workforce as sales growth stalls | Reuters.

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