Posts tagged ‘Zhang’

25/07/2014

Ethiopia Vies for China’s Vanishing Factory Jobs – Businessweek

Ethiopian workers walking through the parking lot of Huajian Shoes’ factory outside Addis Ababa in June chose the wrong day to leave their shirts untucked. The company’s president, just arrived from China, spotted them through the window, sprang up, and ran outside. Zhang Huarong, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier, harangued them in Chinese, tugging at one man’s polo shirt and forcing another worker’s into his pants. Amazed, the workers stood silent until the eruption subsided.

Turning Ethiopia Into China's China

Zhang’s factory is part of the next wave of China’s investment in Africa. It started with infrastructure, especially the kind that helped the Chinese extract African oil, copper, and other raw materials to fuel China’s industrial complex. Now China is getting too expensive to do the low-tech work it’s known for. African nations such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tanzania want their share of the 80 million manufacturing jobs that China is expected to export, according to Justin Lin Yifu, a former World Bank chief economist who teaches economics at Peking University. Weaker consumer spending in the U.S. and Europe has prompted global retailers to speed up their search for lower-cost producers.

Shaping up employees is one part of Zhang’s quest to squeeze more profit out of Huajian’s factory, where wages of about $40 a month are less than 10 percent of what comparable Chinese workers may make. Just as companies discovered with China when they began manufacturing there in the 1980s, Ethiopia’s workforce is untrained, its power supply is intermittent, and its roads are so bad that trips can take six times as long as they should. “Ethiopia is exactly like China 30 years ago,” says Zhang, 55, who quit the military in 1982 to make shoes from his home in Jiangxi province with three sewing machines. He now supplies such well-known brands as Nine West and Guess (GES).

Almost three years after Zhang began his Ethiopian adventure at the invitation of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, he says he’s unhappy with profits at the plant, frustrated by “widespread inefficiency” in the local bureaucracy, and struggling to raise productivity from a level that he says is about a third of China’s. Transportation and logistics that cost as much as four times what they do in China are prompting Huajian to set up its own trucking company, according to Zhang. That will free Huajian from using the inefficient local haulers, but it can’t fix the roads. It takes two hours to drive 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the Huajian factory from the capital along the main artery. Oil tankers and trucks stream along the bumpy, potholed, and at times unpaved road. Goats, donkeys, and cows wander along, occasionally straying into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Minibuses and dented taxis, mostly blue Ladas from Ethiopia’s past as a Soviet ally, weave through oncoming traffic, coughing exhaust.

via Ethiopia Vies for China’s Vanishing Factory Jobs – Businessweek.

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22/05/2014

Serving the People: Chinese Law Student Opens Noodle Shop, Kicks Off Debate – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A Peking University law student who was worried about finding a job and set up a noodle shop last month has become a social media sensation.

Zhang Tianyi has won online praise for his entrepreneurial spirit – though the 24-year-old has attracted heaps of criticism that he is wasting his skills. But his effort has struck a chord with many college graduates who are also finding it hard to land a job.

This week he got an official pat on the back from a senior government official who hailed Mr. Zhang, likening him to hugely successful entrepreneurs like Jack Ma, who founded Alibaba and turned it into an e-commerce powerhouse.

“I’d like to try those noodles,” said Xin Changxing, vice minister of human resources and social security, speaking at a news briefing. “He’s innovating and looking for a market niche.”

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The law student who started all the online chatter, a native of the southern province of Hunan, is about to graduate from law school. But employment prospects aren’t looking so great so he teamed up with three fellow students and set up shop in a 37-square-meter basement of an office building in Beijing’s financial district.

Mr. Zhang told China Real Time that apart from his passion for hometown delicacies, he started his own business because he couldn’t line up a job in the legal profession.

“It’s difficult to find good jobs and the jobs we can find are not so good,” said Mr. Zhang who had a double major in English and law as an undergraduate.

Mr. Zhang said his shop serves up 4,000-5,000 bowls of noodles per day.

“We work from dawn to dusk, but we’ve learned a lot,” the law student said.

Most college graduates in China expect to work in white collar jobs, not in the kitchen serving beef noodles to white collar workers.

China’s market for factory jobs has remained strong even as the economy starts to show slower growth. But college graduates are having more trouble finding work as universities continue to crank out armies of graduates. The government expects a record 7.27 million college graduates in 2014, the State Council, or the cabinet, said last week. It has rolled out a series of measures, including loans and tax breaks, to encourage graduates to start their own business. (in Chinese)

via Serving the People: Chinese Law Student Opens Noodle Shop, Kicks Off Debate – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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01/05/2014

How Women Lost Out as China’s Property Market Boomed – Businessweek

In 2005, Zhang Yuan and her husband bought an apartment in Beijing for $30,000. Seven years later, in 2012, the same apartment was worth $317,000. Zhang, a professional woman in her 30s, and her husband both contributed money to the down payment and mortgage payments. Only her husband’s name appears on the property deed.

Beijing's central business District is home to high-end housing

At the time the young couple bought their home, Zhang wasn’t thinking much about legal formalities. Men—still regarded as the ostensible heads of households in China—have commonly registered property in their own names.

Since China’s Supreme Court issued a new interpretation of the country’s Marriage Law in 2011, Zhang’s has had second thoughts. The law now stipulates that if a couple divorces and only one person’s name is on the deed, that person—usually a “he”—walks away with full ownership of the marital home.

Since she took two years off work to care for her young child, Zhang has had trouble climbing back onto the career ladder. Today she worries more about money—and her financial dependence on her husband.

According to a 2012 Horizon Research and IFeng.com survey of homeowners in China’s leading cities, men’s names appear on property deeds for marital homes 80 percent of the time, while women’s names appear on just 30 percent of them. “The law is so unfair to women,” Zhang told sociologist Leta Hong Fincher, author of a new book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China.

The upshot, as Fincher’s book argues, is that China’s women have a claim that is tenuous, at best, to the country’s burgeoning real estate wealth. “Chinese women have largely missed out on what is arguably the biggest accumulation of residential real-estate wealth in history, valued at around 3.3 times China’s [gross domestic product], according to figures from the bank HSBC,” she writes. “That amounted to over $27 trillion at the end of 2012.”

via How Women Lost Out as China’s Property Market Boomed – Businessweek.

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10/04/2014

Chinese Communist Party banquets cut by half in 2013 under Xi’s austerity drive | South China Morning Post

A new study has revealed the impact of President Xi Jinping’s belt-tightening measures, with the number of official banquets falling by as much as 50 per cent last year.

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Zhang Zhongliang, director of the statistical education centre of the National Bureau of Statistics, showed that Xi’s year-long campaign not only cut down expenditures but also freed up time by “setting officials free” from such obligations.

Zhang read out some findings of the study on the effects of Xi’s eight-point austerity directive at the Beijing-based Communication University of China, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday.

He said county-level officials, who typically spend the most time at banquets among all ranks of government, on average attended 12.2 official banquets per week last year, compared to 18.2 per week in 2012.

Zhang said county engagements dropped by one-third, while provincial and national-level officials saw the number of banquets drop by half.

This gave civil servants an average of 30 minutes more with their loved ones, Zhang said.

It was not reported whether the survey was based on reports from bureaus or monitoring by third parties.

At least six different sectors were directly affected by the crackdown on official parties, mainly the catering, tobacco and wine industries, the study said.

Zhang said the catering industry’s growth dropped to 3.8 per cent last year from 8.8 per cent the previous year. The total sales of luxury wines in the mainland market plunged 40 per cent in the same period.

Zhang said these measures partly contributed to a slowdown in the country’s economy but it was “a price that must be paid” to root out corruption.

Extravagance among party cadres drove up consumption in the short-term, but would distort supply and demand in the long run, he said.

via Communist Party banquets cut by half in 2013 under Xi’s austerity drive | South China Morning Post.

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13/12/2013

Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou faces billion-yuan lawsuit over children | South China Morning Post

Top Chinese film director Zhang Yimou is facing a billion-yuan lawsuit after violating the country’s controversial one-child policy, state media reported on Friday.

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Zhang’s case has brought renewed debate over what critics say is the selective enforcement of China’s late-1970s family-planning law, which restricts most couples to one child but is frequently flouted by the wealthy and well-connected.

Two lawyers filed a lawsuit Thursday in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi, the hometown of Zhang’s wife, suing the director of Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern for a total of one billion yuan (HK$1.26 billion).

“The rich have become increasingly audacious by violating the family planning policy just because they are rich enough to pay the fine … and they take an extra share of resources from society,” one of the lawyers, Jia Fangyi, said in a statement reported by state-run newspaper China Daily.

“It’s unfair to the poor and those who strictly follow the national policy,” he added

The two lawyers are claiming 500 million yuan in “compensation for public resources” and another 500 million yuan in punitive damages, the China Daily said.

Zhang, one of China’s best-known filmmakers and the director of the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had faced rumours for months that he had fathered as many as seven children with several different women.

Amid increasing pressure – including a Nanjing newspaper’s publication last month of a front-page “wanted” poster seeking information on his whereabouts – Zhang finally issued an apology on Sunday through his studio’s microblogging account.

He acknowledged that he has two sons and a daughter with his current wife, as well as another daughter with his ex-wife.

Chinese media reports have speculated that Zhang could face a penalty as high as 160 million yuan (over $25 million), but authorities have not released any figures.

via Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou faces billion-yuan lawsuit over children | South China Morning Post.

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