Posts tagged ‘United Kingdom’

06/12/2016

Beer Diplomacy: Another Investment Follows a Visit by Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ

After pulling a pint for Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, an iconic English pub has now pulled in Chinese investors.

The Plough at Cadsden was purchased by a London-based investment company that the broker, Christie & Co., described as a Chinese company. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The purchase, by SinoFortone Investment, came after Mr. Xi shared a beer with former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the pub.

Unknown is how his visit may have led to the purchase. But it is the latest deal to follow the Chinese leader’s movements.

On the same day Mr. Xi visited the pub, he also joined Mr. Cameron on a visit to the Manchester City soccer club, in the north of England. The following month a Chinese consortium said it had invested $400 million for a minority stake in the successful soccer club.

Closer to home, Mr. Xi’s patronage of the state-owned Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop in Beijing was followed by an announcement that the restaurant chain plans an IPO. The Plough, which describes itself as “probably the most famous pub in England,” is near Chequers, the country house retreat for British prime ministers. The pub “has become quite a tourist attraction for Chinese visitors” since Mr. Xi’s appearance, Christie & Co said.

SinoFortone Investment extolled the virtues of beer diplomacy, calling pubs “the best way culturally to link people from different countries and build friendships.” The company added that “The English pub concept is growing very fast in China.” SinoFortone has also invested £100 million ($1.28 million) in London Paramount Entertainment, a large theme park proposed for construction on the Swanscombe Peninsula in North Kent. The deal was announced while Xi Jinping was in the U.K.

Source: Beer Diplomacy: Another Investment Follows a Visit by Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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29/11/2016

How China Plans to Revamp Job Security – The Short Answer – Briefly – WSJ

China’s leaders are preparing to loosen job-security regulations as part of efforts to keep businesses afloat amid slowing economic growth. Here is what you need to know.

What Is China’s Labor Contract Law?

A broad set of standards on employment practices that took effect in 2008 after an unusually lengthy debate to safeguard worker rights and boost job security. Some businesses blame it for inflating wages.What Is Happening?The labor ministry has been consulting academics, lawyers and businesses on ways to revise the law to make it easier for businesses to hire and fire workers. The focus is on regulations related to open-ended contracts and severance pay.

What Is at Stake?

The law’s most contentious regulations include one that gives employees the right to request an open-ended contract after 10 consecutive years at a company or two consecutive fixed-term contracts. Another contested provision states that laid-off workers are entitled to one month’s salary for every year of employment.

What Is Next?

Observers say the government may publish draft amendments for public comment next year. They would eventually go to the rubber-stamp parliament for approval.

Source: How China Plans to Revamp Job Security – The Short Answer – Briefly – WSJ

25/11/2016

China breaks patent application record – BBC News

China-based innovators applied for a record-setting number of invention patents last year.

The country accounted for more than a million submissions, according to an annual report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo). It said the figure was “extraordinary”.

Many of the filings were for new ideas in telecoms, computing, semiconductors and medical tech.

Beijing had urged companies to boost the number of such applications.

But some experts have questioned whether it signifies that the country is truly more inventive than others, since most of China’s filings were done locally.

What is a patent?

A patent is the monopoly property right granted by a government to the owner of an invention.

This allows the creator and subsequent owners to prevent others from making, using, offering for sale or importing their invention into the country for a limited time.

In return they must agree for the patent filing to be publicly disclosed.

To qualify as an “invention” patent, the filing must contain a new, useful idea that includes a step – a new process, improvement or concept – which would not be obvious to a skilled person in that field.

Some countries – including China – also issue other types of patents:

Utility model patents. The ideas must still be novel, but it is less important that there is a “non-obvious step”

Design patents. These require the shape, pattern and/or colour of a manufactured object’s design to be new, but do not require there to be a novel technical aspect

Skewed figures

A total of 2.9 million invention patent applications were filed worldwide in 2015, according to Wipo, marking a 7.8% rise on the previous year.

China can lay claim to driving most of that growth. Its domestic patent office – the Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (Sipo) – received a record 1,101,864 filings. These included both filings from residents of China and those from overseas innovators who had sought local protection for their ideas.

The tally was more than that of Sipo’s Japanese, South Korean and US equivalents combined.

Applicants based in China filed a total of 1,010,406 invention patents – the first time applicants from a single origin had filed more than one million in a single year.

But they appeared to be reticent about seeking patent rights abroad.

According to Wipo, China-based inventors filed just 42,154 invention patent applications outside their borders – Huawei and ZTE, two smartphone and telecoms equipment-makers, led the way.

There was a rise in the number of medical tech patent filings from China

By comparison US-based inventors sought more than five times that figure. And Japan, Germany and France also outnumbered the Asian giant.

One patent expert – who asked not to be named – suggested the disparity between Chinese inventors’ local and international filings reflected the fact that not all the claims would stand up to scrutiny elsewhere.

“The detail of what they are applying for means they would be unlikely to have the necessary degree of novelty to be granted a patent worldwide,” he said.

But Wipo’s chief economist said things were not so clear cut.

“There is clearly a discussion out there as to what is the quality of Chinese patents,” said Carsten Fink.

“But questions have also been asked about US and other [countries’] patents.”

And one should keep in mind that China is a huge economy.

“If you look at its patent filings per head of population, there are still fewer patents being filed there than in the United States.”

Patent boom

Part of the reason so many applications were made locally was that China set itself a target to boost all types of patent filings five years ago.

Sipo declared at the time that it wanted to receive two million filings in 2015.

The government supported the initiative with various subsidies and other incentives.

Adding together China’s invention, utility and design patents, its tally for 2015 was about 2.7 million filings, meaning it surpassed its goal by a wide margin.

One London-based patent lawyer noted that Chinese firms were not just filing patents of their own but also buying rights from overseas companies.

“This all goes to show the growth of the telecoms and high-tech industries in China, and that these companies are playing a more significant role globally than hitherto,” said Jonathan Radcliffe from Reed Smith.

“The fact we are now seeing them suing and being sued for patent infringement in Europe and in the US on subject matter such as mobile phones and telecoms standards – and indeed seeing Chinese companies suing each other over here in Europe for patent infringement – shows that they have truly arrived.”

Source: China breaks patent application record – BBC News

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

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

23/09/2016

A glowing future | The Economist

UPON learning (via a terse government statement) that their bustling port city in eastern China had been tipped as the likely site of a plant to recycle used nuclear fuel, residents of Lianyungang took to the streets last month in their thousands. Police, whose warnings against demonstrations were ignored, deployed with riot gear in large numbers but only scuffled with the protesters, who rallied, chanted and waved banners in the city centre for several days. “No one consulted us about this,” says one woman who participated in the protests. “We love our city. We have very little pollution and we don’t want a nuclear-fuel plant anywhere near us. The government says it is totally safe, but how can they be sure? How can we believe them?” she asks.

Such scepticism is shared by many in Lianyungang, which already hosts a nuclear-power plant (pictured), and elsewhere in China, where the government plans to expand nuclear power massively. China started its first nuclear plant in 1994. There are now 36 reactors in operation, and another 20 under construction (see map). A further four have been approved, and many more are in the planning stages. Only one new plant has been built in America, in contrast, since 1994; four more are under construction. By 2030 China is projected to get 9% of its power from nuclear, up from 2% in 2012. In absolute terms, its nuclear generation capacity will have increased eightfold over the same period, to 750 billion kilowatt-hours a year, roughly America’s current level.

After disaster struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station in 2011, the Chinese authorities briefly halted this pell-mell rush toward the nuclear future, announcing a moratorium on the construction of new plants, urgent safety checks on existing ones and a prolonged policy review to decide whether nuclear power would remain a part of China’s energy strategy. The following year, however, the government resolved to carry on with its nuclear-energy programme.

The need is clear. Despite slowing economic growth, energy consumption per person is projected to rise dramatically, with no plateau in sight before 2030. Pollution from coal-fired power plants, China’s main source of electricity, causes widespread respiratory disease and many premature deaths each year, a source of persistent public anger. China has also made ambitious promises to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. If it hopes to meet such targets, it will need to embrace nuclear, “because the only other truly reliable 24/7 source of electric power is coal,” says Zha Daojiong of Peking University.China’s utilities are also keen. The state-owned firms that run all the country’s nuclear plants are thought to earn a good return on their investment (their accounts are too murky to be certain), in part because their official backing allows them to finance new reactors very cheaply, and in part because regulators have fixed power tariffs in a favourable manner. One estimate put the return on nuclear assets between 2002 and 2012 at 7% a year, compared with 3% for coal- and gas-fired plants.

China even harbours ambitions to export its growing expertise in nuclear power. After relying first on Russian designs, and more recently importing American and French ones, China has also developed indigenous nuclear reactors. A recently approved deal with Britain, valued at $23 billion, will see China help finance a French-designed nuclear-power station and possibly build one of its own design later.

But China’s nuclear push has its critics. These include those who live near proposed nuclear facilities. Many, like the protesters in Lianyungang, are happy to have the power they need to run their air-conditioners but want to keep the unpleasant parts of the operation far from their doorsteps. Chinese now has a word for NIMBY: linbi, a fusion of the words for “adjacent” and “shun”. The government has repeatedly backed down in the face of public demonstrations, twice agreeing to relocate a uranium-enrichment plant, for example. It has also put the decision about the reprocessing plant in Lianyungang on hold.

Yet attitudes to nuclear power may be less hostile than in many Western countries. A study published in 2013 found an even split between supporters and opponents of expanding China’s nuclear-power industry. Compared with their counterparts in the rich world, Chinese citizens showed much greater “trust and confidence in the government” as the manager of nuclear policy and operations, the emergency responder in case of accidents and the provider of reliable information about the industry. The lead researcher for that study, He Guizhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says that even protesters like those in Lianyungang are not implacably opposed. “Their message is not really that you can’t build these things no matter what, but that we are concerned about safety, especially after Fukushima, and we demand that you take safety seriously,” she says.

It appears this message is getting through. Early this year the government acknowledged in a white paper that its system for responding to a nuclear accident had “certain inadequacies”. In April officials revealed plans to draft a national nuclear-safety law. In May officials announced 600m yuan ($91m) in funding for six new nuclear-emergency squads, which would be ready for action by 2018. In August—on the same day that protesters marched in Lianyungang—China conducted its first “comprehensive nuclear-security emergency drill”. This week the government said officials must consult locals before settling the location of new nuclear facilities.

Deborah Seligsohn of the University of California, San Diego, says that because China’s nuclear-power industry is centrally run and limited to a handful of companies, authorities are able to keep tight control over safety standards, and that they have not hesitated to slow projects down when seeing signs of strain. Supervision, however, falls to several different agencies and levels of the bureaucracy. The burden of inspecting and managing the growing number of plants, she says, could be better handled by a more independent regulator in charge of its own budget.

In July China Energy News, a newspaper, reported that “quality problems” with domestically manufactured pump-valves were forcing some plants to shut down unexpectedly. (Most plants have since switched to imported valves.) More alarmingly, regulators this month revealed that a radiation-monitoring system at the Daya Bay nuclear-power station, which is within 50km of the huge cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, had been turned off inadvertently for three months before anyone noticed. Since no radiation leaked, the government deemed the oversight an event of “no safety significance”—one of several such lapses this year. The residents of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, presumably, would not see it in quite the same way.

Source: A glowing future | The Economist

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

15/09/2016

Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

The British government said on Thursday it was giving the green light to a controversial new nuclear project at Hinkley Point after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the proposals for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the government’s agreement,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said in a statement.

Beijing calls for British nuclear project financially backed by China to proceed.

“Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.”

The board of French state-owned power company EDF approved its participation in the project in southwest England on July 28, only for Britain’s new government under May to announce hours later that it wanted to review it.China has a one-third stake in Hinkley Point and analysts have warned that Britain would have risked its relations with the world’s second-largest economy if it cancelled the costly deal.

Source: Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

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

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