China.Hawaii Chamber of Commerce ®
"Hawaii-China Guan Xi, We Get Things Done™" - Trade Advocacy Organization
USA Small Business Administration (SBA) Selected Johnson Choi/HKCHcc 2008 United States National Champion
Hong Kong, China & Hawaii Biz*
Do you know our dues paying members attend events sponsored by our collaboration partners worldwide at their membership rates - go to our event page to find out more! After attended a China/Hong Kong Business/Trade Seminar in Hawaii...still unsure what to do next, contact us, our Officers, Directors and Founding Members are actively engaged in China/Hong Kong/Asia trade - we can help!
Are you ready to export your product or service? You will find out in 3 minutes with resources to help you - enter to give it a try
(approximate $ exchange rates: US$1 = HK$7.8, US$1 = RMB$6.3)
China President Hu Jintao USA State Visit January 19 - 21 2011 http://www.b2bchinadirect.com/hujintaousavisit.htm
Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/index.html
Year of the Snake - February 10 2013 - Dance w/ Firework http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VoFfOglJuI
President Obama's Lunar New Year Message - Year of the Dragon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6gfkYAo5gE
Under the Hawaii State Law "Asian Lunar New Year Commemoration Week" The one week period following the day of the Chinese New Year shall be known and designated as the "Asian Lunar New Year Week of Commemoration in Hawaii". This week is not and shall not be construed as a state holiday. [L 2007, c 48, §2] click for more details
The Hong Kong Advantages under One Country Two Systems - when most of the world want to do business with China, there is only one place that China gives 100% backing - that is Hong Kong. Quoting the former Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Honorable Tung Chee-hwa "背靠祖國 - 面向世界" "backed by China and engaged globally". Whether you are an international business wanting to do business with China, or just wanting to get connected with Asia and the rest of the world - Asia's World City: Hong Kong is the right and smart choice.
TED: Martin Jacques Understanding The Rise of China 马丁·雅克：了解中国的崛起 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJiOXUHIOeA
Hong Kong Chief Executive Policy Address, please visit www.policyaddress.gov.hk The website contains all the documents and official video clips (including the recording of CE's presentation at the Legislative Council, press conference and TV forum, etc.).
Be sure to visit Hong Kong on your way TO/BACK from China http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/travel/visafree/
Hong Kong*: Dec 1 2013
Bid to increase development density of West Kowloon Cultural District (By Fanny W. Y. Fung) Michael Lynch, Chief Executive of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, says there is no contradiction in the new plan that seeks additional floor area - Chief Executive of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Michael Lynch - Half of the additional floor area being sought for the West Kowloon Cultural District will be used for commercial and residential purposes while the other half will be for art facilities, under the government's proposal to increase the development density of the site. Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Raymond Young Lap-mun, revealed the plan after the government announced that it would seek the Town Planning Board's approval to increase by 10 to 15 per cent the plot ratio of the arts hub, equivalent to a floor area of 70,000 to 100,000 square metres. The aim is to generate more income by selling extra space. At a meeting of the Legislative Council's Joint Subcommittee to Monitor the Implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District Project, lawmakers expressed concern over the proposed application for the relaxation of development density of the site. Chan Yuen-han, of the Federation of Trade Unions, demanded that the whole additional area, if approved, should be earmarked for more cultural facilities to meet arts groups' needs. Young maintained that it had always been the arrangement for the administration and the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to develop half of the site each, and therefore the proposed additional floor area should not be excluded from this arrangement. Helena Wong Pik-wan, of the Democratic Party, doubted the reasonableness of the authority’s seeking a new area to build retail, dining and entertainment facilities while eliminating these facilities from the original plan of the Xiqu Centre in the project. Chan Man-wai, executive director of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, replied that the reason for scrapping the proposed catering facilities in the atrium of the Xiqu Centre was due to unsuitability of the location. The authority's chief executive officer, Michael Lynch, defended the two decisions, saying there was no contradiction.
Carrie Lam 'happy to see re-emphasis on Basic Law' after Li Fei visit (By Tanna Chong) Chief Secretary Carrie Lam greets Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei in a luncheon with lawmakers and officials in Government House, Central 22NOV13 - Hongkongers are re-focusing on the Basic Law in their recent discussions about the city’s electoral reform, said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Friday. Lam announced on Friday morning the first round of reform consultation would start in a few weeks’ time. The exercise would not directly touch on the controversial public nomination proposal, she said. “I’ve noticed that after Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei’s recent visit to the city, the recent remarks on electoral reform have put greater emphasis on compliance with the Basic Law and the related decisions of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” Lam told the media. “This is a gratifying phenomenon.” During his three-day visit to Hong Kong last week, Li said the Basic Law put the right to choose candidates in the hands of a nominating committee – a remark widely interpreted as dashing pan-democrats’ hopes that public nomination would be allowed for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. “We hope to nurture the atmosphere for reform by outlining the constitutional and legal issues,” said Lam. “The consultation would not specifically comment on individual proposals.”
China*: Dec 1 2013
Heavy cargo flights taking off (By Zheng Jinran in Shijiazhuang) A 40-meter-long tram car is hoisted into an AN-225 cargo plane at Zhengding International Airport in Shijiazhuang on Friday before taking off for Turkey. The world's largest cargo plane will carry two green-energy tram cars from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, to Istanbul, making it the first air transport of high-quality, domestically built equipment of this scale to fly to Europe. The AN-225, measuring 84 meters long with an 88.74-meter wingspan, arrived at the airport and waited on the parking apron for the loading of the two streetcars, each weighing about 20 metric tons, on Friday. Compared to commercial planes, which have two engines, the AN-225 has six engines, allowing it to carry heavy loads, and can fly more than 15,000 km in a single flight. Transporting the streetcars from China to Turkey by air is much more time-efficient compared with traditional means on the sea or by rail, but loading the massive cars was a laborious task. Twenty-one employees from the AN-225's owner and Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov installed two giant tracks to guide the 40-meter-long tram cars into the plane and worked from 8 am to about 6 pm on Friday to complete the loading process. Inside the aircraft, the parallel tracks were fixed to the floor, and various other tethers were attached to keep the streetcars in place during the flight. The occasion marks the seventh time the enormous cargo plane has landed at Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport since 2006. The airport is the only one in the country approved to land the AN-225 by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. "We (the airport and Antonov) have established a good relationship through the flight," said Qin Guoqiang, manager of international freight at the airport. "Now we plan to further our cooperation by inviting the plane to stay at our airport when it's not transporting cargo." Qin said he is confident the plane will be useful for China as international exports — especially those of heavy equipment — continue to boom. The two tramcars were built in Tangshan, Hebei province, a city known for its manufacturing industry. The electric-powered streetcars can be used for at least 30 years without discharging emissions, making the cars the first Chinese-built, energy-efficient tramcar to be exported by air to the European market. "It shows that Hebei is transitioning from light industrial products, such as clothes, to high value-added products," Qin said. "The closer cooperation between the airport and the cargo company will fuel this type of growth."
China sends aircraft to patrol air defence identification zone (By Kristine Kwok firstname.lastname@example.org) Prospect of regular patrols raises tensions after Japan and South Korea both defy restrictions [The Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace over land or water in which the ready identification, location, and control of civil aircraft over land or water is required in the interest of national security. China's Defence Ministry announced its ADIZ over a vast area in the East China Sea on November 23, 2013, which covers the area around the Diaoyu islands, controlled by Japan and known as the Senkaku Islands. The establishment of this zone drew strong opposition from Japan, the US and South Korea, becoming a flashpoint in East Asian politics and security.] Bilateral strategic talks between China and South Korea take place in Seoul. South Korean Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo (right) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Guanzhong in Seoul. China sent several aircraft to patrol its air defence identification zone yesterday and said such missions would become regular events, raising tensions with countries that refuse to recognise the zone. Japan and South Korea both said earlier that they had defied China by sending military planes over the zone yesterday, and Japan said it would continue to do so in future. Those operations met no resistance from Beijing. Late on Tuesday the US sent two B-52 bombers over the zone. Air force spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke said China sent a KJ-2000 early warning aircraft and several Sukhoi Su-30 and J-11 jet fighters into the zone. Such patrols would become regular in the future "to strengthen the identification and surveillance of flying objects in the ADIZ", Xinhua reported. Shen said the patrols were defensive and aligned with international practice. The air force would remain on high alert and "adopt proper measures to respond to different threats in the air to firmly guarantee air security", Xinhua cited Shen as saying. A Chinese expert said Beijing would not resist or resort to military action unless it detected hostile intentions. Responding to rejection of the air defence identification zone by Japan and the US, the Ministry of National Defence said Japan had no right to judge China. "We would like to ask Japan to revoke its own ADIZ first. China will then consider this request in 44 years," ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said, referring to Tokyo's establishment of its air defence zone in 1969. Yang said China had conducted "timely identification" of the Japanese and South Korean aircraft and was "in full control" of the situation. On Saturday, China became the latest country in the region to establish an air defence identification zone. Regional countries responded with concern as the Chinese zone overlaps those of its neighbours, notably around the disputed Diaoyu islands that are claimed by China but controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkaku islands. Another concern is that China requires all aircraft, military and civilian, to inform its authorities of their route in advance. Analysts say China does not distinguish between aircraft flying through the ADIZ, which is not its airspace, and those flying towards Chinese airspace. The US only applies identification procedures to foreign flights that intend to enter its airspace. The Ministry of National Defence has said it would take "defensive emergency measures" if aircraft did not follow its instructions. Amid growing concern of a miscalculation, Chinese experts said the risks of confrontation remained low at this point. Xu Guangyu, a retired general, said a standard procedure responding to a foreign aircraft flying in the zone without prior notice would have the Chinese military first engaging in radio communication. "If you tell us who you are and that you are not here for hostile purposes, there is no problem," Xu said. "If you still don't respond, then that means you are not being friendly. We will send aircraft to follow and monitor you. And if we find out that you are heading to our sovereign airspace we will intercept." Just as Japan refuses to recognise China's zone, China refuses to recognise Japan's zone, which was first established in 1969 and expanded in 2010, and has sent military aircraft to fly through it without prior notification. Japan has reported it responded to a record number of Chinese incursions in its ADIZ in the first half of the year. Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, said the overlap over the disputed Diaoyu islands would force China and Japan to sit down and negotiate.
Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning anchors for first time at new base in Sanya (By Minnie Chan) Beneath the expansive decks of the aircraft carrier Liaoning, facilities enjoyed by the ship''s crew include a canteen, medical centre and brodcasting studio. China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has anchored for the first time at the country’s new carrier base in the South China Sea on Friday. Xinhua said the Liaoning carried out its first docking manoeuvre Friday morning at Sanya City’s naval harbour in the southern island province of Hainan yesterday morning. It said the carrier would conduct relevant experiments and trainings in the new base. The Sanya naval harbour is qualified for the docking and basic operation of an aircraft carrier, Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, told a regular news briefing on Thursday. Andrei Chang, who edits the Canadian-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly and has monitored China’s aircraft carrier project for 20 years, said it’s predictable that Liaoning would go to the South China Sea for harbour training and winter tests. “As a new carrier, it’s necessary for Liaoning to go to different bases for winter tests and harbour training because of different water temperature and water depth in different harbours,” Chang said. “Indeed, the Liaoning and other warships in its fighting group also need to test the solar equipment on board in varied weather and climate conditions,” said Chang. He said he expected the carrier to sail to the India Ocean to conduct more comprehensive naval drills in the coming months. The Liaoning left its home port of Qingdao, Shandong for the South China Sea on Tuesday, passing through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday. This is the first time the carrier has conducted a cross-sea training voyage since it was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in September last year. The carrier was escorted by two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang on its maiden trip to the South China Sea.
Japan is ‘prime target’ in China's new air zone: state media (By Agence France-Presse in Beijing) [The Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace over land or water in which the ready identification, location, and control of civil aircraft over land or water is required in the interest of national security. China's Defence Ministry announced its ADIZ over a vast area in the East China Sea on November 23, 2013, which covers the area around the Diaoyu islands, controlled by Japan and known as the Senkaku Islands. The establishment of this zone drew strong opposition from Japan, the US and South Korea, becoming a flashpoint in East Asian politics and security.] A pilot sits in the cockpit of a Jian-10 fighter jet at Yangcun Air Force base on the outskirts of Tianjin municipality in this April 13, 2010 file photo. Chinese state media on Friday identified Japan as Beijing’s “prime target” in its newly declared air defence zone, calling for “timely countermeasures without hesitation” if Tokyo defies it. However, other countries which have sent military aircraft into the air defence identification zone (ADIZ), including the United States and South Korea, should be largely ignored, the Global Times said. “We should carry out timely countermeasures without hesitation against Japan when it challenges China’s newly declared ADIZ,” the paper, which is close to China’s ruling Communist party, said in an editorial. China’s ADIZ which was declared on Saturday requires aircraft to provide their flight plan, declare their nationality and maintain two-way radio communication, or face “defensive emergency measures”. The zone overlaps those declared by Japan and South Korea, and includes airspace over East China Sea islands disputed with Tokyo. The move triggered US and Japanese accusations of provocation, and criticism from South Korea and Australia. Tokyo and Seoul said Thursday they had defied the zone with military overflights, showing a united front after Washington sent B-52 bombers through the airspace. China’s military sent several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft into the zone on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, after first patrolling it on Saturday. Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, said the move was “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices”. The Global Times editorial, headlined “Japan prime target of ADIZ tussle”, said: “If the US does not go too far, we will not target it in safeguarding our air defence zone. “What we should do at present is firmly counter provocative actions from Japan.” The paper, which often takes a nationalistic tone, added that Australia can be “ignored” as the two countries have no major grievances, and that Beijing has “no need to change its actions” towards Seoul, given that South Korea has its own “tensions” with Japan. Officials in China have previously accused the US and Japan -- which both have ADIZs -- of double standards, saying the real provocateur is Tokyo.
Hong Kong*: Nov 30 2013
Li Ka-shing, the politician? Tycoon says it was pipe dream (By Gary Cheung email@example.com) If he could start over, tycoon says he could have entered government, and gave advice for those currently in office - If he could have chosen another path, Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, says he might have joined politics. ”If I can start again, maybe I will choose to do politics,” he said. In the interview published yesterday by the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Media Group, Li also gave advice, saying governments should never exercise their power in a selective manner. “Hong Kong has many core values, such as an open and free market, and the rule of law, which do not come by easily. If there is any mishandling in governance, these [values] would be all gone,” he said. When it comes to alleviating the gap between the rich and poor, meanwhile, the tycoon said a “free lunch” approach was not the solution. “The only solution lies in providing a good education for our young generation,” he said. After drawing a poverty line at half the median household income, the government in September estimated that there were officially 1.31 million poor in the city. Alleviating the wealth gap has been the top agenda of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who took office in July last year after defeating election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen – who was backed by Li. Li continued to support the scandal-plagued Tang even during Li’s meeting with Xi Jinping, when he was thought have been asked to switch sides and support Leung. As for speculation that the Cheung Kong Holdings chairman was pulling investment from Hong Kong – selling assets in his electricity company and its retail unit to scout for more opportunities in Europe – Li called the notions a “laughing stock”. “I am not omnipotent. I can’t predict changes in politics nor can I influence politics. What I can do is use my intelligence to make decisions which are favourable to our shareholders,” Li said.
Cheung Kong and Hutchison will never leave Hong Kong. But their scale is another matter, says Li Ka-shing (By Peggy Sito firstname.lastname@example.org) Asia's richest man says it's a 'big joke' to accuse him of pulling assets out of city and mainland - 'I have done business internationally for more than 30 years. It is the first time I’ve heard comments about "pulling out assets" from Hong Kong', said Li Ka-shing. Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, has come out to defend himself after being accused by commentators of “pulling out of Hong Kong” following recent decisions to sell key assets of his flagship companies. “You accuse me wrongly. Today, I am striking back,” Li, 85, said in a 150-minute interview with Guangzhou-based Nanfang Media Group. He said such transactions occur in the normal course of business and it is a "big joke" to use them as evidence Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa are pulling their assets out of Hong Kong and mainland China. Li’s remarks followed widespread reports that he was moving his assets abroad after selling three commercial properties – one in Shenzhen, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing – for a total of 12.8 billion yuan (HK$16.2 billion). Hutchison had planned to sell its ParknShop supermarket chain but withdrew the plan after offers by prospective buyers were deemed insufficiently attractive. “Using [the asset sales] as an example of pulling out of assets is absurd,” Li said. Li said his group of companies spent HK$13 billion this year on overseas investments (in New Zealand and Holland) with a capital investment of HK$8 billion. “At the same time, we also invested HK$4 billion in our terminal business [in Hong Kong this year]. How can it be described as pulling out of assets … It is groundless,” Li said. “Sell high and buy low is normal business behaviour … I have done business internationally for more than 30 years. It is the first time I’ve heard comments about ‘pulling out assets’ from Hong Kong … Now that has spread to the mainland.” Li said: “We have investments in 52 countries in various businesses, including property. We have sold assets in different countries, in some cases making a profit of more than HK$100 billion. They did not make any criticism.” He cited his group’s investments in Singapore. “In the past 20-30 years, we have built up a very good relationship with the government. We have sold assets worth billions of dollars,” Li said. “We have not bought suitable sites in Singapore because of high land prices. Now we have fewer than 1 per cent of units [there] remaining unsold. We do not have any rental properties there. But we have never heard any criticism about ‘pulling out assets’ from Singapore.” Li said the easiest way to leave Hong Kong would be to move his companies’ domiciles from Hong Kong. But he said: “I will not move their domiciles from Hong Kong. Cheung Kong and Hutchison will never leave Hong Kong. But the scale [of their businesses] is another matter. I have the responsibility to protect shareholders’ interests.”
China*: Nov 30 2013
China tells Japan it would ‘consider cancelling air zone in 44 years’ (By Chris Luo email@example.com) Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, briefs reporters at a recent Beijing news conference. China’s defence ministry on Thursday hit back forcefully at Japan’s objections to its newly-established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea that covers long-disputed islets claimed by both countries. “Japan has absolutely no right to make irresponsible comments regarding China setting up the East China Sea ADIZ,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told media in a routine press conference, according to China’s Ministry of National Defence website. “We would like to ask Japan to revoke its own ADIZ first, China will then consider this request in 44 years,” Yang Yujun reportedly said when asked to comment on requests from Japan and the US to revoke the zone. Japan established its ADIZ 44 years ago in 1969. Tensions between China and Japan, the world’s second and third largest economies, have escalated over the past week after China set up its first ADIZ on Saturday in the East China Sea in an area covering Tokyo-administered islands. The Chinese ADIZ requires all aircrafts flying inside the zone to inform China of their flight plans and to maintain two-way radio communication. It has since triggered strong protests from several countries led by Japan and the United States. Both have said their aircrafts would not inform China of their flight plans when flying through the zone, and urged China to withdraw the plan. Earlier of this week, the US air force sent two B52 bombers into the zone in a show of force. Unnamed sources at Japan’s defence ministry claimed that Japanese military and paramilitary planes had flown thorough the zone without any resistance from Chinese jets, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Hong Kong*: Nov 29 2013
Henry Tang's wife Lisa Kuo fined HK$110,000 in illegal basement case (By Thomas Chan firstname.lastname@example.org) Wife of former chief secretary Henry Tang pleaded guilty to illegally building 'underground palace' - Henry Tang Ying-yen with his wife Lisa Kuo arrive at Kowloon City Court. Lisa Kuo Yu-chin was fined HK$110,000 on Wednesday over her illegal basement in Kowloon Tong in a scandal that derailed the chief executive bid of her husband Henry Tang Ying-yen. Kuo had already pleaded guilty during her trial at Kowloon City Court to starting construction of the basement without planning approval, while three other defendants in a separate trial had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Kuo originally faced two charges, but after she pleaded guilty to one charge prosecutors decided not to pursue the other, deciding that one charge was sufficient to reflect her guilt. The basement at York Road, widely dubbed “an underground palace”, was reported to be 2,400 sq ft with lavish facilities including a wine cellar, home theatre, gym and a Japanese bath. Henry Tang was the central government’s early favourite in last year’s election for chief executive, but fell from favour after media uncovered the illegally constructed basement. The exposé set off a media frenzy, with journalists besieging Tang’s home and cameramen bringing cranes to see into the property. At the time Tang said the house was his wife's property and that "it was my wife’s idea and I knew they were illegal. Since we were experiencing a low ebb in our marriage, I did not handle the matter swiftly. I take full responsibility for the incident.” The public widely criticised the 60-year-old politician for putting the blame on his wife, and he later lost the election to Leung Chun-ying, a defeat attributed largely to the basement and his earlier admission of infidelity. Tang accompanied his wife throughout the four court hearings, including Wednesday’s sentencing. He had earlier said: “I support my wife, so we are attending together.” In mitigation submissions, Kuo’s lawyer Gary Plowman said the Tang family had never lived at the house, and that the incident had inflicted tremendous pressure on his client. A special hearing had been earlier ordered by the court as Kuo disputed statements attributed to engineer Chezy Tang that she had insisted on pressing ahead with construction despite having been warned by the engineer that she needed the Building Authority’s approval. But the court ruled on Wednesday that the hearing was no longer necessary as Kuo had agreed with the amended case summary - which had removed the disputed sections - provided by the prosecution.
Property market in Hong Kong cooling? Tell that to the 4,500 people who signed up for 220 units at The Avenue (By Peggy Sito email@example.com) The buyer of the first flat at The Avenue paid HK$11 million for a 591 sq ft flat. Hundreds of prospective buyers packed the sales office of The Avenue in Wan Chai on Wednesday morning, kicking off the sale of the biggest high-end residential development on Hong Kong Island this year. Among them was a Hong Kong woman surnamed Lei, who bought a 591 square foot two-bedroom unit for HK$11 million at 11am. “I am very excited,” said Lei, who won in a ballot the right to be the buyer of the first flat. “The price is reasonable,” she said. She has not yet decided whether she will live in the flat or treat it as an investment. All eyes in the local property market are on The Avenue, as it has attracted the strongest initial buying response since the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance – which imposed strict rules on the disclosure of information about new properties to prospective buyers – took effect on April 29. About 4,500 applicants had committed to buy the 220 units available on Wednesday. By 2.30pm, all the flats were sold. Phase 2 of The Avenue, developed by Sino Land and Hopewell, will have 1,096 units. The average list price for the first batch of 220 units was HK$18,771 per square foot for buyers who paid in cash, about 20 per cent below the HK$23,500 going rate at J Residence, a nearby development.
Beijing to set up new think tank on Hong Kong affairs led by Chen Zuoer (By Gary Cheung and Jeffie Lam) Beijing will set up a high-level think tank next month to study Hong Kong affairs, including the Basic Law and political reform. The establishment of the National Association of Study on Hong Kong and Macau comes ahead of the Hong Kong government's launch of a public consultation on arrangements for the next chief executive and Legislative Council elections. It is expected to be headed by Chen Zuoer , a former deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. Academics including Professor Lau Siu-kai, former head of the Central Policy Unit, have been invited to join, while Basic Law Committee member Lau Nai-keung is an adviser. Professor Lau - tipped to be the association's vice-president - said he had been invited by a "mainland contact" a few months ago to join the think tank. "The establishment of the research association underscores the importance attached by the central government to Hong Kong issues. It recognises the need to make decisions on Hong Kong based on evidence-based research," Lau said. "In the first few years of the handover, the central government did not pay much attention to or earmark substantial resources for studying Hong Kong affairs. But it notes there are problems that need to be addressed in light of frequent interactions between the city and mainland." Lau said that unlike the Institute of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, the association would serve as a platform for exchanges among academics from Hong Kong and the mainland specialising in study on Hong Kong. "It may commission studies if there is a need," the professor said. The institute was set up by the central government in December 2003, five months after the 500,000-strong July 1 protest march forced the Hong Kong government to shelve the controversial national security legislation. One of its primary tasks is to study and plot strategy on constitutional development. The institute conducted studies on topics such as the legislative intent of the Basic Law, political reform and Hong Kong's legal system. Some were published in the institute's journal but it is understood that some sensitive ones were not. Chinese University sociologist Dr Chan Kin-man, a core organiser of the Occupy Central movement for democracy, said he expected the new think tank would focus not only on the looming political reform but also on the long-term political changes the city faces after 2017. But he said it must include scholars from across the political spectrum, not just pro-Beijing ones, "to get the whole picture of the real-life political situation". Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing urged the researchers to conduct studies in a fair, just and transparent way. Hong Kong University law professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, also a Basic Law Committee member, believed the association was established for the purpose of networking scholars in China who engaged in research on Hong Kong and Macau, instead of solely for the upcoming political reform.
China*: Nov 29 2013
South China Morning Post: ‘Hostile’ aircraft could be shot down in new air zone: Chinese air force general (By Chris Luo firstname.lastname@example.org) The Chinese guided missile destroyer No. 139 of the PLA Navy's North Sea Fleet fires a missile during a naval drill in the Yellow Sea on Oct. 17, 2013. Computer screens display a map showing the outline of China's new air defence zone in the East China on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Defence. A PLA air force general has warned that any foreign aircraft disobeying warnings and deemed to be “hostile” could be shot down in China’s newly-established air defence identification zone (ADIZ), Chinese media reported on Wednesday. China’s defence ministry last week announced its first “air defence identification zone” over a vast area of the East China Sea, covering islands that are also claimed by Japan. The act was seen as escalating tensions between two countries and has since triggered protests from Japan and “concerns” from the United States. “[The zone] provides communication and air force identification between countries, allowing them to identify whether the opposite side is hostile,” said National Defence University professor and PLA Air Force major general Qiao Liang. “But if the subject intruding into the zone disregarded any warning, our pilots have the right to shoot it down,” Qiao said in an interview aired on the China News Service website on Tuesday. Responding to the Japanese government’s protests that the new zone overlaps with theirs, Qiao said: “In reverse, we could also argue their zone is overlapping ours." However, during the interview Qiao also urged all sides to seek peaceful ways of dealing with issues regarding the ADIZ if possible. “It would be apparently irrational to fight a war over the ADIZ. Territorial disputes like this should be resolved through negotiation,” he said. Qiao’s comments were made public shortly before United States early on Wednesday morning announced that two of its giant B-52 bombers had flown over the zone without informing Beijing, an act seen as a challenge to China’s claim of the expanded air defence zone. The Chinese defence ministry on Wednesday said it had tracked and identified the US aircraft flying over the zone. Meanwhile, Qiao’s comments elicited mixed reactions from Chinese netizens. Many cast doubt over Qiao’s claim that the Chinese military was authorised to shoot down aircraft in the ADIZ. “The goal of the ADIZ is to establish early warnings and to contain the situation, not to intercept and shoot down enemy aircraft,” one blogger said. Another called into question Qiao’s authority on the issue. “He is barely a major general. His word does not count when it comes down to the decision of whether to start a war.” Others expressed concerns about whether Beijing was willing to play tough according to Qiao’s remarks, saying it would be embarrassing for China if it did not respond as he had claimed to potential provocative acts from the US or Japan. “I hope China’s defence ministry would do more than just lodge a protest if US or Japanese aircraft indeed carry out provoking acts,” a commentator said. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a newspaper known for its nationalist tone, also chimed in on the subject. “ADIZ is not equivalent to airspace. China could not possibly force the US and Japan to inform all of their flight plans in ADIZ, but neither will Chinese airplanes inform them when they fly through their own air defence identification zones,” he said on the Sina Weibo microblogging platform. More than 20 countries around the world have set up air defence identification zones. Japan, widely regarded as China’s arch-rival in Asia, set up its zone in 1969 and it is considerably larger than that of China. Qiao has made similar hawkish comments on foreign policy in the past. In 1999, he co-authored an influential book called Unrestricted Warfare in which he explored strategies for how a country like China could defeat a technologically-superior opponent through a variety of means including terrorist attacks. The publication elicited a considerable backlash from western experts who accused him of legitimising terrorism.
Brooklyn, Shanghai hook up (China Daily) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkeI_UU-9fY Shanghai's Putuo district and New York City's Borough of Brooklyn signed a friendship agreement on Tuesday to boost cooperation in the areas of economy, trade and culture. Cheng Xiangmin, Governor of Shanghai's Putuo District, exchange gifts with Marty Markowitz, president of Brooklyn Borough, at the signing ceremony of a memorandum on establishing friendly exchange relations, on Tuesday at the Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York. Peter Abbate, New York State Assemblyman, looks on. Cheng's gift is a Ruyi, a traditional decorative object symbolizing good fortune, while Markowitz's gift being a book named Brooklyn Bridge, symbolizing a bridge of friendship. "I am deeply impressed by the Brooklyn Bridge which was built in 1883. I am here today to build a new bridge — one of friendship," said Cheng Xiangmin, governor of the Putuo District of Shanghai, who headed a delegation of six district officials and five business leaders to Brooklyn. The Memorandum on Establishing Friendly Exchange Relations was signed with the aim of eventually enabling the two parties to form a sisterhood relationship, the agreement says. The two parties pledged, among other things, to further strengthen cooperation in the economic, financial and trade fields, and encourage relevant enterprises and institutions to strengthen information exchange and industrial cooperation, according to the document. The Putuo governor's visit cones after China's recent CPC Third Plenum, which set the tone for continued market reforms and a more open economy. According to A Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensive and Far-Reaching Reforms, a document approved by the meeting detailing the country's reform plan, China will deepen opening up and promote international cooperation and competition. "We will be competing economically; that's healthy for both of us," said Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president. "This is how we learn from each other. We invest in each other's country. We create jobs for both Shanghai residents and Brooklyn and New York residents and we both flourish together." Last month, Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group Co agreed to acquire a 70 percent stake in Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre residential and commercial real estate project, which is going to be a major economic force in the city, according to Markowitz. "I hope that in the future companies like Greenland will come to New York and Brooklyn, and not only make investments here, but also open manufacturing facilities. I'd love to see manufacturing facilities of Chinese companies here in Brooklyn," Markowitz said, "We'd love to help." While the two page memorandum denoted wide areas being targeted for cooperation, specifics were not included. But John Wang, president of New York in China Center, which helped organize Putuo's delegation to Brooklyn, warned against dismissing a broad message. "The purpose of the agreement really is to strengthen the contact between Brooklyn and Putuo," Wang said. "Though the agreement may be vaguely worded, the substance is the increasing contact and exchange that will result in a very concrete outcome." Wan Li contributed to this report
China says monitored US bombers' flight through ADIZ (Agencies) China's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday it had monitored the entire progress of two unarmed US B-52 bombers that flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea on a training mission without informing Beijing. "The Chinese air force monitored the entire course and identified (them) in a timely way, ascertaining that they were US aircraft," the ministry said in a statement on its website. "The Chinese side has the ability to effectively manage and control the relevant airspace," it added.
Aircraft carrier Liaoning begins drills in sensitive South China Sea (By Minnie Chan email@example.com) China's first aircraft carrier begins first battle formation training drills in the politically sensitive waters of the South China Sea - China's first aircraft carrier has set off for training exercises in the politically sensitive waters of the South China Sea. It is the first time the Liaoning has carried out drills in the area, parts of which are claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Beijing is currently embroiled in a diplomatic row with Japan after Chinese forces set up an air defence zone over the East China Sea over the weekend which includes disputed islands also claimed by Tokyo. The Liaoning was escorted by two guided missile destroyers, the Shenyang and the Shijiazhuang, as well as two advanced missile frigates, the Yantai and the Weifang as it left the port of Qingdao yesterday, a report posted on the PLA navy website said. The Liaoning has conducted more than 100 exercises and drills since it entered service in September last year, but almost all were conducted in the Yellow Sea near the carrier's home base of Qingdao. It is the first time the carrier has conducted a drill as part of a battle group. The report said the training mission was aimed at testing Liaoning's weapons systems. It did not say how long the drills would last. Previous missions have practised take-off and landing procedures. Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the Liaoning battle group had chosen the South China Sea due to its political sensitivity and because its deep water was ideal for big ships to operate. "The PLA's biggest naval base is at Sanya in Hainan , which is similar to the US' Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. The Sanya base could provide comprehensive support to Liaoning in the coming drills," Wong said. Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the exercises would involve a range of vessels and technology. "Today's vessels with Liaoning all have anti-submarine and air defence functions. The formation will be perfected after the submarines and other vessels join the group," he said. China bought the refurbished Liaoning from Ukraine in 2002. Earlier this month, the carrier completed a 19-day drill in the northern Bohai Sea, with engineers on board successfully dismantling and assembling the engine of the carrier-based J-15 fighter jet for the first time.
Hong Kong*: Nov 28 2013
'Record-breaking numbers' of HIV cases recorded in Hong Kong as gay men still at highest risk (Christy Choi firstname.lastname@example.org) With World Aids Day just a week away Hong Kong has released figures showing gay men are still at the highest risk of contracting HIV in the city. “We’ve had record-breaking numbers each quarter this year. It’s very likely the numbers this year will surpass last year,” said Dr Wong Ka-hing, consultant for the Health Department’s special preventive programme, as he released data for the third quarter’s new infection rates. “It’s also the highest among the MSM (men having sex with men) community.” The department recorded 153 new cases in the third quarter this year. 125 men and 28 women contracted the virus which can cause Aids, a disease which suppresses the immune system and makes a person weak and vulnerable to other diseases. 23 new cases of Aids were also detected. Around half of the new HIV cases were suspected to have been acquired through unprotected gay or bisexual sex, a quarter through heterosexual sex and two of the cases through drug injections. The causes of the rest of the infections were unknown or inconclusive. Dr Wong said that most of the infections were contracted locally, though for heterosexual couples around 35 per cent were suspected to have been contracted overseas. The rate of HIV infection in Hong Kong is relatively low, at around 0.1 per cent of the 15-49 year-old population. The global average according to the World Health Organisation is 0.8 per cent. Around 34 million people globally were estimated to be living with Aids in 2011. The number of gay men who are likely to develop Aids has been higher in recent years. Dr Wong could not confirm whether gay men were less likely to come forward to be tested because of social stigmas against homosexuality, as there was no empirical evidence. Although new HIV infections in homosexual men has been the most prominent issue of the virus since 2005, heterosexual couples should not be lured into a false sense of security, said Andrew Chidgey, chief executive of charity Aids Concern, in a letter to the South China Morning Post in September. Since the first case of HIV in Hong Kong, 2,446 cases of HIV have come about through heterosexual contact, compared with 1,836 due to homosexual contact, he said. Taking into consideration the new cases, the totals are now at 2,480 and 1,910 respectively. The third quarter of the year saw 153 new diagnoses of HIV infection and 23 new Aids cases. The same period in 2012 saw 140 new diagnoses of HIV infection and 17 new Aids cases. Wearing a condom during sex is the best preventative measure said Dr Wong, and urged those at most risk, namely sex workers, gay men, intravenous drug users and regular partners of those infected, to be tested every six to 12 months. HIV tests are available for free at the government’s Public Health Laboratory Centre in West Kowloon. Testing is also available at public social hygiene clinics as well as at private clinics. Although the department collects demographic data including gender, ethnicity, and route of transmission, all reporting is anonymous and voluntary. The government also has a free, anonymous and confidential hotline, 2780 2211.
China*: Nov 28 2013
Japanese airlines say they will obey China’s air zone rules over disputed islands (By Agence France-Presse in Tokyo) Governments register concern over imposition of air control zone by Beijing but airlines agree to conform to new rules - Japanese airlines on Tuesday said they would follow rules set by China when it declared an air control zone over the East China Sea, even as Tokyo said they should ignore them. All Nippon Airways (ANA) said that since Sunday it has been submitting flight plans to Chinese authorities for any plane that was due to pass through the area. Its affiliate Peach Aviation said it was doing the same “for now”. Japanese airlines haven’t changed flight paths, but they say they have started notifying China of flights entering the new zone. The affected flights are those to Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as Southeast Asia, depending on the weather. The announcements came after former flag carrier Japan Airlines said it was complying with demands Beijing set out on Saturday when it said it had established an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) where all aircraft were required to obey its orders. The zone covers the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus, where ships and aircraft from the two countries already shadow each other in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. “We have taken the measures in line with international regulations,” an ANA spokesman said. “Safety is our top priority. We have to avoid any possibility of the worst-case scenario.” Peach Aviation said it had taken similar steps. “We will continue submitting our flight plans to the Chinese side for now,” a spokesman said. Transport Minister Akihiro Ota insisted that the Chinese declaration was “not valid at all” and called on Japanese airlines to ignore it. On Monday, Tokyo called in Beijing’s ambassador to demand a roll-back of the plan which it said would “interfere with freedom of flight over the high seas”, but was rebuffed by Cheng Yonghua, who said Tokyo should retract its “unreasonable demand”. Under the rules aircraft are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to “respond in a timely and accurate manner” to identification inquiries from Chinese authorities. Australia on Tuesday summoned China’s ambassador to express concern over its imposition of the zone, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday, decrying the move as unhelpful in a region beset by tension. “The timing and the manner of China’s announcement are unhelpful in light of current regional tensions, and will not contribute to regional stability,” Julie Bishop said in a statement. “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday called in China’s ambassador to convey the Australian Government’s concerns and to seek an explanation of China’s intentions.” The area also includes waters claimed by Taiwan and South Korea, which have also both registered their displeasure at the move.
Chinese lunar rover named 'Jade Rabbit', to land on moon next month (By Patrick Boehler and agencies email@example.com) China’s first moon rover “Jade Rabbit,” named after a mythological animal living on the moon in an ancient Chinese tale, will be heading to the moon next month, Xinhua said. “China has chosen the name ‘Yutu’ [Jade Rabbit] for its first moon rover after a worldwide online poll challenged people to come up with names,” the state-owned news agency said. The name was announced at a press conference by Li Benzheng, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Chinese lunar programme, in Beijing on Tuesday. “Yutu is a symbol of kindness, purity and agility, and is identical to the moon rover in both outlook and connotation. Yutu also reflects China’s peaceful use of space,” Li, was quoted as saying. Chinese social media users welcomed the name on Tuesday. “I look forward to the jade rabbit visiting the moon palace, go Chinese aerospace!” wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, a service similar to Twitter. The name was chosen by some 650,000 people in the online poll. Some 3.4 million people took part in the vote. Other names included Qian Xuesen, a scientist known as “the father of the Chinese space programme,” and “Tansuo” or explorer. The Chinese space programme has previously resorted to mythology in christening its lunar probe Chang’e, which is named after the fabled lunar deity. Jade Rabbit is part of the Chang’e-3 lunar probe, which is scheduled to be launched with a Long March 3B carrier rocket early next month, due to land on the moon by the middle of December. China has previously sent two probes to orbit the moon, with controllers sending the first of them crashing into the lunar surface at the end of its mission. Chang’e-1, was launched in 2007. The next, Chang’e-2, began its journey three years later and after orbiting the moon it was sent on a mission into deep space to monitor an asteroid. That probe is expected to travel as far as 300 million km from Earth, the longest voyage of any Chinese spacecraft, Xinhua quoted an official as saying. The name comes from an ancient Chinese myth about a white rabbit which lives on the moon as the pet of Chang’e, a lunar goddess who swallowed an immortality pill. The rabbit’s first mention in Chinese literature dates back to the poem Heavenly Questions, allegedly written by the Warring States period poet Qu Yuan, said Dr Isaac Yue, an assistant professor at Hong Kong University who teaches Chinese mythology. “One line of the poem said that on the moon there is a toad and a rabbit. Later, there are additions to the myth, one of which is the rabbit making herbal medicine and being a companion of Chang’e,” he said. “The other one is a story of Buddhist origin, according to which the moon rabbit jumped into a fire so that the old man could eat its meat and recover.” “The moon rabbit has this cultural significance as a sacrificer for the good of something else,” he continued. “They already used the Chang’e motif, and between the toad and the rabbit it was clear that the rabbit would be more popular. “I couldn’t think of any better name.” Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the moon rover project, told Xinhua that the ancient beliefs had their origins in the marks left by impacts on the lunar landscape. “There are several black spots on the moon’s surface, our ancient people imagined they were a moon palace, osmanthus trees, and a jade rabbit,” he said. Beijing sees its military-run space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and growing technological might, as well as the ruling Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation. It has ambitious plans to create a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send a human to the moon, but its technology currently lags behind the expertise of the United States and Russia. China showed off a model of the gold-coloured moon rover, with six wheels and wing-like solar panels earlier this month. The vehicle can climb inclines of up to 30 degrees and travel up to 200 metres per hour, its designers said. However there are already concerns that the mission could harm an ongoing American moon mission. Nasa’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer - nicknamed Laddie - is already orbiting the moon measuring its exosphere. Clive Neal of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana told SPACE.com, an industry publication, that the Chinese mission could compromise the US measurements. US Congress barred Nasa scientists from coordinating with Chinese counterparts unless they are specifically authorised.
Hong Kong*: Nov 27 2013
Second Barker Road house sold for HK$538m (By Sandy Li firstname.lastname@example.org) The Opus at Stubbs Road. Swire Properties is offering a 5,409 sq ft unit on the 11th floor for HK$470 million. Despite cooling measures, buying interest in super deluxe houses is still keen with Hutchison Whampoa selling another house on the Peak for HK$538 million, its second deal within a week. The price tag for the 5,706-square-foot house plus two car parking spaces on 28 Barker Road represents HK$94,286 per square foot. Last week, the company sold a 6,863 sq ft house, also on Barker Road, for HK$740 million, or HK$107,825 per square foot, making it the city's third most expensive house. "The remaining five houses will be kept for leasing," said a spokeswoman at Hutchison. There are seven houses in the development with sizes ranging from 5,271 to 6,863 sq ft. Agents said the houses could be leased out for at least HK$1 million a month, or HK$200 per square foot. Last week's sale also encouraged other developers including Swire Properties and Henderson Land Development to put up their luxury homes for sale. Swire said it would offer a 5,409 sq ft unit on the 11th floor at Opus, on Stubbs Road in Mid-Levels, for public tender. According to the tender document, the reference price for the unit is HK$470 million, or HK$86,892 per square foot, which will be make it the most expensive apartment in Hong Kong if sold. The tender will close at noon on December 12. Last year, Swire sold a 5,444 sq ft unit on the ninth floor at Opus for HK$455 million, or HK$85,094 per square foot of saleable area, setting a record high for apartments in terms of per square foot in Asia. For the latest sale of the Opus unit, Swire will pay half of the extra stamp duty as an incentive to the buyer. Under the cooling measures, the stamp duty for residential properties worth more than HK$21.73 million will increase to 8.5 per cent from 4.25 per cent, if the purchase is for a second home. The stamp duty for the first home is 4.25 per cent. Assuming the Opus unit is sold for HK$470 million, the extra stamp duty will amount to HK$39.95 million, with the buyer paying HK$19.97 million under Swire's offer. Meanwhile, in a bid to capture the improved sentiment for top-end housing sector, Henderson has posted the sales brochure of the luxury residential project at 39 Conduit Road on the government website to prepare for launch in short term.
Parents blame influx of mainlanders for lack of discretionary primary places (By Johnny Tam and Shirley Zhao) Disgruntled local parents whose children missed out on securing a discretionary primary school place on Monday claimed the influx of children born to mainland parents had lowered their chances. Early in the morning on Monday, dozens of worried parents went to La Salle Primary School in Kowloon City to check if their child had been offered a place by the elite school at the discretionary stage. Flora Lee Man-ping, mother of her only son, said her son had not been successful in securing a place at the elite all-boys school. “There aren’t many children in this district. I don’t know why it’s so hard to get my son into this school - maybe children who were born to mainlanders have also started to apply for elite schools,” she said. She said her son was studying at an international pre-school but there were also many mainland children in her son’s class. “I have to get him to another international kindergarten after letting him study there for a month as more than half of his some ten classmates were Mandarin-speaking. I put him in an international school to train his English not his Mandarin.” The elite school admitted 90 pupils, 46 of which were offered a place because they had an older brother studying or had parents working at the school. In North district, Sheung Shui Wai Chow Public School admitted 79 out of 300 applicants. About 50 children were guaranteed a place at the school because they had brothers or sisters studying at the school. Principal Chan Siu-hung said there were only 30 of such children last year. Chan said this year there were more people applying for children as guardians instead of parents. Those children’s parents may live on the mainland and ask their relatives who live in the city to apply for their children. Kong Shan, whose daughter failed to get into the school during the first round of admission, said he was very disappointed. He said the competition had heated up this year due to more and more mainlanders applying for places for their children, who were born in Hong Kong. “It’s not like you have any choice,” said Kong. “The bigger the number of people is, the more intense the competition.” This year, 52,489 children applied for discretionary places at government and subsidised primary schools. However, only 22,187 were offered a place. Of the successful applicants, 10,722 were children who had siblings studying at the schools they had applied to, or parents working at those schools. Registration of successful children should be made on Wednesday or Thursday during school hours. Under the primary one admission system, each government or subsidised primary school may make designate about 50 per cent of its total primary one places as discretionary places. The remaining 50 per cent will be reserved for central allocation in January next year.
China*: Nov 27 2013
COMAC lands on US soil (By Wang Jun in Newport Beach) COMAC America Cooperation unveil in Newport Beach, California on Nov. 23. From right to left: Jeff Malin, senior business development specialist at California Governor's Office; Liu Jian, Chinese consul general in Los Angeles; Jin Zhuanglong, chairman of COMAC and Ye Wei, executive director and president of COMAC America Cooperation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVObyFnndEQ&feature=youtu.be Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) launched its first overseas company COMAC America Corporation on Nov 23 at Newport Beach, California. It's a milestone for the Shanghai-based Chinese aircraft maker's move to go global. At the ceremony, COMAC chairman, Jin Zhuanglong said, before setting up its US operation, COMAC has already formed cooperation with 16 global suppliers, including GE, UTC and Honeywell. According to Jin, COMAC has been working with Boeing in areas such as emission studies in China, and has sent its employees to be trained in US universities. The company's overall goal, he saud, was to be an active part of the global aviation innovation force. "The launch today is an important step in realizing COMAC's goal of becoming a top-level world-class civil aviation company," he said. As the first wholly-owned overseas subsidiary of COMAC, the US operation is launched with a clear operation principle of "global management, local talent". In North America, the company will recruit aerospace specialists to provide services in engineering technology and management consultancy in the civil aviation industry. Other COMAC America functions will include business development in airworthiness certification, supplier management, marketing, customer training and staff training. COMAC launched its US operation prior to delivery of its two regional jets — the C919 and ARJ21. Jin said that COMAC is currently conducting air tests on the ARJ21 (Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century) and will deliver the first ARJ21 next year. The C919 jet is in the process of engineering development and scheduled for a first flight and delivery in 2015. Jin recognized huge potential in the civil aviation industry of China and US. "Since a solid foundation has been laid in the civil aviation industry between China and the United States, a more prosperous future lies ahead for both of us. We hope our two governments will make concerted efforts in creating a harmonious and mutually beneficial environment for business cooperation and further enhance communications and exchange in the industry," he said. Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles Liu Jian said at the ceremony that the first free economic zone in Shanghai and the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of CPC certainly show China's dedication to deep reform. "It will provide more space for China and Us cooperation," Liu said. Jeff Malin, senior business development specialist at California Governor's Office expressed appreciation for COMAC's $50 million investment in California and the jobs that would follow.
China's new air defense zone is in line with global practice: experts By Zhou Wa email@example.com United States uses same rules to control all flights nearing its national borders - Analysts have rejected criticism by Washington and Tokyo of Beijing's move to set up its first air defense identification zone, saying its establishment is consistent with international practices and can better safeguard regional flight security. China announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on Saturday. The zone covers the US military's training area in the East China Sea, analysts said. Beijing also issued related aircraft identification rules and a diagram for the zone. "Washington's criticism of China is groundless because the United States itself initiated such zones around the world, according to its domestic laws," Xing Hongbo, a military and legal expert, said on Sunday. The aircraft identification rules for the zone, which China issued, are also based on similar US regulations, he added. The US formally defined such a zone in the Code of Federal Regulations, which says, "No person may operate an aircraft into, within, or from a departure point within an ADIZ, unless the person files, activates, and closes a flight plan with the appropriate aeronautical facility, or is otherwise authorized by air traffic control." "On the issue of setting up such zones, the US is exercising double standards. There is no reason for Washington to blame another country for doing the same as it has done," said Fu Xiaodong, another military and legal expert. It is in line with international practices to set up such zones according to respective domestic laws, he added. Since 1950, more than 20 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, have set up air defense identification zones. Such zones extend beyond a nation's sovereign airspace. According to the aircraft identification rules, China will take timely measures to deal with air threats and unidentified flights, including identification, monitoring, control and disposition. "With the increase of normal and abnormal flights over the area, China needs to set up such a zone to remove possible insecurity factors. The establishment of the zone promotes good flight order in the region," Xing said. The White House, Pentagon and US State Department all voiced concern over China's move on Saturday, while Japan lodged a representation with Chinese acting Ambassador to Japan Han Zhiqiang, arguing that the zone covers Diaoyu Islands. Han rejected the representation. The White House said China's move increased regional tensions and affected US interests and those of its allies. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel criticized China's move, calling it a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region" and saying it "increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations". The Diaoyu Islands and surrounding waters belong to China, Xing said. But the US military in Japan frequently uses the airspace over the Huangwei Yu and Chiwei Yu islets of the Diaoyu Islands for training. The US has also carried out surveillance over Chinese territories for a long time, and the surveillance is taking place from very near to China's territories, according to analysts. That "makes China feel threatened", Xing said. "Japan set up its air defense identification zone in 1969 and later expanded the zone several times, including China's Diaoyu Islands into its air defense identification zone," said Fu. China's zone overlaps with that of Japan, but Fu said China and Japan can sit down to discuss the issue to seek a resolution, adding that it is Japan that refuses to admit that sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands is disputed. The US has always said that it does not taken a position on sovereignty issues in regional maritime disputes. But Hagel reaffirmed in his statement on Saturday that the Diaoyu Islands fall within the scope of the 1960 US-Japan security treaty. US Secretary of State John Kerry urged China not to implement its threat to take action against aircraft that do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing. The possibility of flight friction exists, but it is not because of the establishment of the zone, Xing said. "If all parties can coordinate with each other well, the establishment of the zone will help improve flight security in the region," he said.
Hong Kong*: Nov 26 2013
South China Morning Post - Hong Kong police stop-and-search tactics questioned after 1.6m spot checks last year (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) Hong Kong officers carry out four times as many stop-and-searches as forces in London, New York - Hong Kong police carry out four times as many identity checks and on-the-spot searches as their counterparts in New York and London, official figures show, even though the effectiveness of the procedure appears to be in sharp decline. Police in the city carried out 1,637,334 stop-and-search checks on pedestrians last year, according to figures released by the force. A further 345,917 people were stopped and questioned. Experts on criminal law say the frequent searches could lead those searched to doubt the credibility of the police, while activists said members of ethnic minorities, especially South Asians, were more likely to be stopped and searched. David Weisburd, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University in Washington, who co-authored a study published earlier this year that analysed millions of individual checks, said such actions were likely to have contributed to a reduction in crime over the last decade, but that they had unintended negative consequences. "Whatever the number, [stops and frisks] are a type of strategy that is likely to lead to long-term negative consequences in evaluations of police legitimacy," he said after studying the Hong Kong data. "And police legitimacy is a key issue for the police." The searches were four times as common as in New York - which has twice the crime rate of Hong Kong - and London, where the crime rate is 10 times as high. The population in these two cities is also about a million larger than in Hong Kong, which is generally considered to be one of Asia's safest cities. The checks can include verification of the person's identity, a check on the contents of their pockets and a body pat-down. Advocates of stop-and-search tactics point to Hong Kong's status as a free port and the inherent problem with illegal immigration that entails. They also insist it serves as a deterrent. One recently retired senior police officer with more than 25 years' experience said: "You have to remember that Hong Kong is a very easy place to get into for many people, from many different places. Illegal immigration has been and will continue to be a problem." The ex-officer, who declined to be named, said in some districts from time to time, a target culture develops around the number of stops and searches carried out. "It's amazing what a distorted view of a potential promotion can do," he said. The police figures also indicate searches in Hong Kong are less likely to detect a crime than in New York and London.In Hong Kong, only one in 113 searches resulted in the detection of a crime. By contrast, one in nine checks in New York led to the issuance of a summons, while one in 12 checks in London resulted in an arrest in 2011. "My initial impression is that these numbers are very large," Weisburd said. "I thought 700,000 in New York with 37,000 police was a very large number … incredibly large. It seems that Hong Kong is doing more." The Hong Kong figures also suggest that the city's stop-and-search strategy is becoming a less effective tool in the battle against crime. Labour Party lawmaker and minority rights campaigner Cyd Ho Sau-lan said Hong Kong should be proud of its low crime rate, but must not become complacent about street crime. "We must tackle the problems of the ethnic minorities through education. They lack educational opportunities, they lack job opportunities. Sooner or later, we will pay for this,'' said Ho, who is a member of the Legislative Council's security panel. Under section 54 of the Police Ordinance, police have the power to stop, detain and search anyone who "acts in a suspicious manner" or who an officer "reasonably suspects of having committed or of being about to commit or of intending to commit any offence". A police spokesman said there was "no legal definition of 'reasonable suspicion'". The force rejected comparisons with the two other cities, where studies have pointed to racial profiling as the key factor in deciding who was searched. Unlike London and New York, Hong Kong police do not record the ethnic background of people who are stopped and searched. "Police conduct stop and question and stop and search in accordance with existing laws," Hong Kong police said in a statement. "We do not target any specific ethnic groups." But Annie Li Man, of NGO Unison, said ethnic minorities from South Asia were much more likely to be searched. In England and Wales, a 2010 study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the police force used "stop and frisk" policies "in a way that is disproportionate and possibly discriminatory." In Paris, where police also do not collect data, a study last year showed that the odds of being checked were 5.18 times higher for black people than whites, and 9.93 times higher for Arabs. In New York, 91 per cent of all checks involved ethnic minorities last year, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Top Beijing Basic Law official dashes hopes of pan-democrats (By Jeffie Lam email@example.com) Right to nominate chief executive candidates rests with committee, not public, says Li Fei - Beijing's top official on Hong Kong's Basic Law finally discussed the burning issue of the public's right to nominate candidates for chief executive on the last day of his three-day visit. Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, reiterated that the mini-constitution put the right to choose candidates in the hands of a "nominating committee" - seemingly dashing the hopes of pan-democrats that public nomination will be allowed for the 2017 election. He also said there would be a limit on the number of candidates allowed to run. Li's first visit since taking over as the central government's top Basic Law official has been closely watched amid expectations he would set Beijing's bottom line on reform ahead of a consultation which are due to start next month. Political scientist Dr Ma Ngok said Li had left the Hong Kong government with little flexibility when it came to the consultation. "No democratic country would set a cap on the number of candidates," Ma said. "That is already a kind of screening." Beijing-loyalist lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung said he hoped Li's comments would allow people to "finally concentrate on discussing how the nominating procedure within the committee would work". Li had previously strayed away from the thorny issue of public nominations, but asked about it at a press conference yesterday, he said: "Article 45(2) … grants the right to nominate only to the nominating committee." The Basic Law stipulates that a "broadly representative" nominating committee should put forward candidates for chief executive. Li said on Friday that the committee would be made up much like the election committee that voted in Leung Chun-ying last year - split equally among four sectors. "There could neither be too few [candidates] to maintain fierce competition, nor too many, as voters would find it hard to make up their minds," he said. Asked whether the committee would filter out candidates who did not meet Beijing's requirement that the chief executive "love the country and Hong Kong", Li said it was an "imaginative question". "I believe both the committee and all Hongkongers would choose a chief executive that is trusted by the central government," he said. Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, said Li's comments would not stop its calls for public nomination.
China*: Nov 26 2013
South China Morning Post: China plays key role of broker in Iran nuclear deal (By Adrian Wan and Agencies) Beijing helps broker historic agreement with US that will curb Tehran's atomic program in return for easing of international sanctions - Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) gestures to other diplomats as they embrace following the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva. Beijing played the role of broker in a historic deal that Iran yesterday struck with six world powers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for initial sanctions relief. The agreement is the most significant development between the United States and Iran in more than three decades of estrangement between the nations. China is one of the five UN Security Council committee members who along with Germany negotiated the deal for Tehran to limit uranium enrichment to low levels. Analysts say China pulled off a delicate balancing act in the negotiations between Iran, seen by Beijing as a long-term partner, and the US. Hua Liming, the former Chinese ambassador to Iran, told state media that China acted as a helping broker. "When the two parties came across irresolvable problems, they would come to China, which would 'lubricate' the negotiation and put things back on track," he said. Beijing welcomed the breakthrough deal with Iran, saying it would "help safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East". "This agreement will help to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation system [and] safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Geneva. The US said the deal would halt advances in Iran's nuclear programme, including construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor that could yield plutonium, a vital ingredient in atomic weapons. It would neutralise Iran's stockpile of uranium refined to a concentration of 20 per cent, which is a close step away from the level needed for weapons, and calls for enhanced, more frequent UN nuclear inspections. While Iran could obtain access to US$1.5 billion in revenue from trade in gold and precious metals as a result of the easing of sanctions, its crude oil sales would still be limited to about one million barrels a day. US President Barack Obama said the deal cut off Tehran's potential path to a nuclear weapon. But Israel, Iran's arch-enemy, denounced the agreement as an "historic mistake". "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world's most dangerous weapon," said Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister. Jin Canrong , of Renmin University's school of international studies, said China played a supporting role in talks. "The US and Europe all had a lot of sanctions against Iran, which they are accusing of making nuclear weapons. China has been out of the dispute," he said. Xiao Xian , an expert in international politics at Yunnan University, said regional stability was in China's long-term interest because it would enjoy more secure natural resources from Iran.
Roar of the East being heard (By By KARL WILSON of China Daily in Sydney firstname.lastname@example.org) Geely's move helped it bypass one of those essential stages in corporate expansion, namely brand building and market recognition, by simply buying an established global company. New Asian players are gearing up to dominate the global corporate stage - When Chinese automaker Geely paid $1.8 billion for Swedish automobile giant Volvo in 2010, it represented another successful step-up by an Asian company onto the global corporate stage. It is not an isolated case but a developing trend. It has been estimated that by 2025 around 45 percent of the Fortune Global 500 companies will be Asian — many of them from China. The corporate landscape worldwide is changing and businesses from developing countries including China are showing they too can play at the game of mergers and acquisitions. Not mere vanity but cold calculations are at work in this process. "It makes sense," Ying Zhu, director of the Australian Centre for Asian Business at the University of South Australia, says. "No one outside China had ever heard of the automaker Geely before it took over Volvo." The Hangzhou-based carmaker was acquiring not only a brand, but also Volvo's technology and skilled workforce. The Swedish firm too had a lot to gain. "For Volvo, the door opened to a massive domestic market in China," Zhu says. "So for both sides it was win-win. It gave Geely a recognized global brand and a luxury-end brand it could take to its domestic market. For Volvo, it meant survival." French carmaker Renault and the Dongfeng Motor Group are already in talks about forming a joint venture which Zhu says is likely to have a similar effect on both companies as the Geely deal. According to the Fortune Global 500 estimates, between now and 2025, the number of global companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion will rise from 8,000 to 15,000. Most of the new companies will be from emerging markets, a lot of them Chinese. "The rise of emerging economies has presented multinational corporations with unprecedented market opportunities and the ability to tap into an increasingly skilled labor force," says a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute entitled Urban World: The Shifting Global Business Landscape. "But a related shift is just beginning to gather force that it has the potential to redraw the world's business map and rewrite the rule book on global corporate competition. "Emerging regions are not just a collection of new markets or a source of cheap — and increasingly skilled — labor. They are also giving rise to thousands of new companies that are quickly reaching significant scale — and changing competitive business dynamics around the world." The report warns that business leaders need to have a better understanding of this evolution so that they can prepare for the new wave of emerging competitors. Roland Hinterkoerner, head of corporate advisory for RBS Asia, says the 7,000 new global corporations suggested by the McKinsey report is a lot, but he is not sure if they will dominate. "I expect a lot of them will be from Asia … mostly Chinese. Even so, the numbers are an eye-opener to the future corporate landscape," he says. "We have seen similar (reports) in the past but from different perspectives. However, if you look at what is happening in the corporate world today, it comes as no surprise that companies, especially from China, will become a significant force globally." McKinsey describes the changing roster of the Fortune Global 500 as a "vivid illustration" of the growing trend. "Between 1980 and 2000, the share of companies on the list based outside developed regions stayed relatively flat, at 5 percent. By 2010, this share was up to 17 percent of the total. It has climbed further to reach 26 percent in 2013," McKinsey said in its report. "Based on projected growth by region, we expect the emerging world to account for more than 45 percent of the Fortune Global 500 by 2025. We also anticipate that roughly 120 of the names on the 2025 list will be based in the China region." Ganeshan Wignaraja, director of research with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) in Tokyo, says the rise of corporate China will have a profound impact on the international business environment, similar to the rise of corporations in Japan and later South Korea. "Although Japan had established corporations before World War II, everything had to be rebuilt from scratch after the war. So the capacity was already there and it just had to be rebuilt and a new generation trained," he says. "Fifty years ago, Japanese products had a reputation for being unreliable and inferior to those in North America and Europe. Today, that is no longer the case. Brands such as Sony Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Canon Inc, Nikon Corp, Toshiba Corp, Fujitsu Ltd and Sharp Corp are household names, not only in Asia but throughout the world." A number of South Korean brands have followed a similar trajectory, with Samsung Group, LG Electronics and Hyundai Motor Corp becoming household names with a reputation for quality products. Now, Wignaraja says, the same thing is happening with Chinese companies, although he admits that there has been a time lag in these firms acquiring the technical and managerial competence to penetrate world markets. "But you do have Chinese companies making their mark," he says. Hinterkoerner from RBS believes the Chinese auto industry will be on a par with the Japanese and South Koreans within 10 to 20 years, if not sooner. "China has all the ingredients for becoming a very successful automaker. For a start it has a very big home market that is expanding, a skilled workforce and is acquiring the R&D (research and development) needed to go to the next level," he says. "It won't be long before you see Chinese cars being sold in the European market, for example, much the same way as cars from South Korea. It is only a question of time." But it is not just the auto sector that Chinese firms are buying into. Last year, the State-owned Bright Food Group bought a majority stake in the British food company Weetabix Ltd. Then, in May this year, China's largest meat processor Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd agreed to buy Smithfield Foods Inc in the United States in a deal worth $4.7 billion. This was the biggest Chinese takeover of an American company to date, according to The Wall Street Journal. Zhu adds that "for the Chinese it is not a question of money, just price". As the global financial crisis has left many European and North American companies facing difficulties, Chinese companies with deep pockets are in a strong position. Does this mean the beginning of a decline of the Western-dominated corporate world? "That is one doom and gloom scenario I don't subscribe to," ADBI's Wignaraja says. "Will this mean the collapse of existing global giants and their replacement with new multinationals, many of them Chinese? I don't think so." Some large Western companies may disappear, he says, but that is just in the nature of business. "Some traditionally large industries such as oil and gas I think will still be dominated by Western companies, for the simple reason that the cost of getting (involved) is simply too high," Wignaraja says. While China also has large oil and gas companies, Wignaraja predicts that they are more likely to work together on joint exploration or development with leading players such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc or BP Plc, rather than supplanting them or buying them out. Aviation and the chemical industry are another two sectors where he believes that Western corporations will continue to dominate the global market. But in less complex industries it is more likely that Asian companies will catch up quickly, he says.
Beijing nod for Hong Kong financial companies (By Daniel Ren in Shanghai email@example.com) Financial institutions from city to be allowed to set up petty-loan business in Guangdong - Beijing has widened the access for financial institutions in Hong Kong to the mainland's finance sector, allowing them to set up petty-loan businesses in Guangdong province to tap rising consumer demand. In an attempt to attract more private capital to the finance sector and stoke domestic demand, the China Banking Regulatory Commission announced yesterday that it would expand the trial run of a reform launched in 2009. Under the new rule, financial institutions from Hong Kong and Macau will be allowed to establish consumer finance companies in Guangdong that can offer loans to mainland residents to buy consumer products from January. Applicants must have assets of no less than 60 billion yuan (HK$76 billion) and have at least five years of experience in consumer finance businesses. In 2009, Beijing picked Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu to start the implementation of consumer finance businesses on a trial basis. The firms cannot take deposits but are allowed to borrow money in the interbank market or issue bonds to raise funds. Under the new rule, consumer loan firms can be set up in 10 other cities including Guangzhou, Chongqing and Nanjing. Non-financial institutions that met the requirements would also be eligible for creating the businesses in the designated cities, the CBRC said. The consumer finance firms can extend loans of up to 200,000 yuan to an individual borrower after the new rule takes effect. At present, the maximum amount a single resident can borrow from these firms is equivalent to five times his monthly income. Industry officials said the liberalisation was symbolic rather than substantive. "It is a message that the regulator welcomes private and Hong Kong capital to participate in the finance sector," said Gan Hua, an official with China UnionPay, the mainland's sole domestic interbank card operator. "But credit cards will still play a dominant role in helping mainlanders expand their consumption." Meanwhile, sources said the CBRC would require banks to report detailed information on their holdings of wealth management products beginning next year. Wealth management products are short-term investment products that mainland banks market to clients as a higher-yielding alternative to bank deposits. They have become a crucial element of the country's shadow banking system, which analysts warn has contributed to excessive debt growth leading to a build-up of financial risk. Many of these products are recorded off-balance-sheet and are used to finance lending to risky sectors such as real estate developers and local governments, to which banks are otherwise discouraged from lending.
Hong Kong*: Nov 25 2013
Catch-22 situation looms over election for chief executive in 2017 (By Tony Cheung and Tanna Chong) Opponents of Beijing cannot be chief executive, but anyone legally qualified can run, says Li Fei - Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei addresses officials at a Government House lunch. Beijing's top Basic Law specialist says Hong Kong faces a dilemma: it cannot elect a chief executive opposed to Beijing, nor can legally qualified candidates be barred from running when the city chooses its leader by one-person, one-vote in 2017. Li Fei offered no pointers on how the Hong Kong government could square the two goals when he met officials and lawmakers at a Government House lunch. Instead, he warned that introducing universal suffrage without "taking objective conditions into account" risked plunging the city into chaos. Li, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, was expected to go some way toward setting a framework for the public consultation on electoral reform at the lunch, the centrepiece of a three-day visit that ends today. But he stuck largely to reiterating legal points. He spoke of the Basic Law requirement that a "broadly representative" nominating committee be formed to put forward candidates. He did not directly address the pan-democrat demand that the public get to nominate candidates. "All social classes and sectors [should] have a say in the nomination process," Li said. But Li said the mini-constitution also provided for anyone fitting legal requirements relating to age and residency to run for chief executive. In comments pan-democrats said raised the prospect of "screening", Li said: "The chief executive is accountable to the central government as well as Hong Kong. This means that the post must be taken up by a person who loves the country as well as Hong Kong - anyone opposed to the central government cannot [take it]." He warned that electing an opponent of Beijing would harm relations. "Unless objective conditions are taken into account, universal suffrage could lead to social chaos, economic turmoil and misery," Li said. Li called the discrepancy over patriotism the "key difficulty to be solved". "We must find a practical solution to the problem," Li said, adding that Beijing was "fully confident" Hong Kong could ensure its elected chief executive could "fit the 'love the country and Hong Kong' requirement". Li's remarks split the pan-democratic camp. Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who attended the lunch, believed Beijing had not ruled out public nomination. But People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip accused Li of snubbing the idea of public nomination. Beijing loyalist lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung said public nomination was unlikely to be adopted. And political scientist Dr Ma Ngok said Li's comment that the nominating committee must be made up equally of the business, professional and social sectors and politicians, could kill the idea of public nomination.
Pact is not just for trade, but peace: Ma (By Lawrence Chung in Taipei firstname.lastname@example.org) Taiwan president says services agreement essential to show economic resolve to world and ensure continued peace across Taiwan Strait - Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told Taipei-based correspondents that the time is not right for political talks with Beijing. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday vowed to push a cross-strait services trade pact through the legislature, saying it was essential if the island is to sign similar agreements with other countries. He also said that while timing was not yet right for political talks with the mainland, peaceful and amiable ties had to be maintained to prevent Beijing from attacking the island. Speaking to foreign correspondents in Taipei, Ma called on the Legislative Yuan, the island's parliament, to approve the cross-strait services trade pact that has been unresolved for almost six months. Only then could Taiwan show its sincerity in liberalising trade and access to its markets. "If the pact is not approved, other countries will start to doubt our resolve to implement [economic] liberalisation," Ma said, adding that further delays would discourage other countries from seeking free trade agreements with Taiwan. Taiwan recently signed free- trade agreements with Singapore and New Zealand, but their implementation is still subject to final approval by the legislature. Lawmakers of the pro-independence camp, led by the Democratic Progressive Party, have strongly opposed the passage of the pact since it was signed by Taiwan and the mainland in June. They say the agreement will seriously hurt the islands service industries. The pact is part of a series of follow-up accords of the landmark Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement, signed in 2010 to promote free trade between the one-time bitter rivals, which have mended fences since Ma became president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engaging Beijing. Meanwhile, Ma said Taiwan had never ruled out holding political dialogue with the mainland, but would prefer to settle economic issues first before dealing with the more difficult - and domestically divisive - political issues. The two sides have signed 19 agreements since 2008, he noted, and some of these - such as cross-strait mutual judicial assistance and a joint crackdown on cross-strait crime - involved some political elements. But for the "timing is still not right" for the two sides to conduct actual political dialogue or peace talks, he said. Ma said that, during his time in office, he had sought to improve cross-strait relations to achieve peaceful development and prosperity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. He believed such a policy was effective in maintaining peaceful relations. While Beijing had never ruled out retaking the island by force, he believed that institutionalising cross-strait reconciliation, increasing Taiwan's international value as a peacemaker in regional disputes and keeping an effective defence force that would react only if under attack were "three key defence strategies" to deter a "military adventure" by Beijing against the island. Pro-independence legislators, however, say that Ma's strategies are "self-defeating" and serve only to "hand over Taiwan" to the mainland.
China*: Nov 25 2013
South China Morning Post: China creates air defence zone over Japan-controlled islands (By Agence France-Presse in Beijing) Aircraft in the zone are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain radio communication with Chinese authorities - A view from a Chinese surveillance aircraft shows the disputed Diaoyu Islands claimed by China and Japan. Beijing on Saturday announced it was setting up an “air defence identification zone” over an area that includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China, in a move that could inflame the bitter territorial row. Along with the creation of the zone in the East China Sea, the defence ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military. Aircraft are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to “respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries” from Chinese authorities. The outline of the new zone, which is shown on the ministry website and a state media Twitter account, covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkaku to Japan and Diaoyou to China. “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions,” according to the ministry. The zone became operational as of 10.00am Saturday. Four Chinese coastguard boats briefly entered Senkaku waters on Friday, following multiple incursions at the end of October and start of November which revived tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said in late October that the repeated incursions were a threat to peace and fell in a “grey zone’ [between] peacetime and an emergency situation”. A few days earlier, the Chinese defence minister warned Japan that any bid to shoot down its drones would constitute “an act of war”. The move came after a report said Japan had drafted plans to shoot down foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored. Sino-Japanese relations have remained at a low-ebb for more than a year as a result of the dispute, which was revived when Japan nationalised three of the archipelago’s five islands in September 2012. Since that time, China has sent regular coast guard patrols to the islands, which are 200 kilometres northeast of Taiwan and 400 kilometres west of Japan’s Okinawa. / Statement on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (By Xinhua) The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China issued a statement on establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. Following is the full text: Statement by the Government of the People's Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone - Issued by the Ministry of National Defense on November 23 2013. The government of the People's Republic of China announces the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone in accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on National Defense (March 14, 1997), the Law of the People's Republic of China on Civil Aviation (October 30, 1995) and the Basic Rules on Flight of the People's Republic of China (July 27, 2001). The zone includes the airspace within the area enclosed by China's outer limit of the territorial sea and the following six points: 33o11'N (North Latitude) and 121o47'E (East Longitude), 33o11'N and 125o00'E, 31o00'N and 128o20'E, 25o38'N and 125o00'E, 24o45'N and 123o00'E, 26o44'N and 120o58'E.
Hong Kong*: Nov 24 2013
'Beijing's opponents cannot become chief executive', says Li Fei (By Tony Chueng Tony.email@example.com) Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, reiterates that chief executive candidates must back one-party system - Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei. People opposed to the central government cannot become the chief executive, a Beijing official reiterated in Hong Kong on Friday. Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, made the remarks as he addressed about 100 guests at a luncheon at Government House. “The chief executive is accountable to the central government as well as the Hong Kong SAR, this means that the post must be taken up by a person who loves the country as well as Hong Kong – anyone opposed to the central government cannot [take up the top job],” Li said. He warned that having a person opposed to the central government leading the city could deal a serious blow to the relationship between Beijing and the city, as well as Hong Kong’s stability. Li’s predecessor Qiao Xiaoyang made similar comments in March, sparking worries among pan-democrats that Beijing was hinting that pro-democracy candidates could be ousted during the nominating process. Pan-democrats have been advocating public nomination to alleviate worries about screening. Li did not mention the pan-democrats’ idea in his speech, but he suggested that candidates should be put forward by a nomination committee to ensure “balanced participation”. “So that all social classes and sectors have a say in the nomination process,” he said. “This could overcome possible discrepancies of other nominating methods.”
China's massive issuance of patents could help Hong Kong's ambitions to be intellectual property hub (By Anita Lam firstname.lastname@example.org) China has no shortage of inventors and granted 1.26 million applications for domestic patents last year. While Hong Kong may still lack the systems and manpower required for its quest to become the region’s trading hub for intellectual property (IP) assets, a booming demand for patent agents and lawyers in mainland China is helping the city’s professionals, industry veterans said. The pass rate for the practical examination to become a patent lawyer on the mainland is said to have jumped to more than 50 per cent from just a few per cent a year ago. “In the past, only a handful of our local patent lawyers passed the practical test on the mainland, but now it’s getting easier,” said Lewis Luk, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Patent Attorneys. “I think they are really short of people, in light of the booming IP demand.” China remained the world’s No 1 patent granter last year, approving 1.26 million applications for domestic protection – a year-on-year jump of 31 per cent – amid Beijing’s efforts to upgrade its manufacturing sector through research and development in technology. The State Intellectual Property Office said it is set to grant two million patents a year by 2015. Mainland inventors are also increasingly seeking patent protection outside China. The number of overseas patent applications they filed last year jumped 13.6 per cent to 18,627. China threatens to overtake technology-savvy Germany, which had only 228 more applications than China did last year, as the world’s third-largest filer of overseas patents, after Japan and the United States. Singapore, Shenzhen and Shanghai are all poised to take a slice of this fast-expanding market. While Hong Kong boasts an edge in the rule of law and its role as a financial hub over its mainland rivals, it lags behind Singapore in systems and manpower. For one thing, Hong Kong does not even have a system to grant original patents, which Singapore has had for years. The Hong Kong government set up a committee in March to enhance the city’s competitiveness in trading of IP products. It will consider steps including building a system that will allow Hong Kong to grant patents first hand. At present, patent applicants in Hong Kong must have their applications examined by patent offices in places such as Britain, Beijing or Europe. But with not enough professionals to do the job, Luk said, Hong Kong should consider outsourcing most of the assessment work to patent offices on the mainland. “An applicant seeking a patent for his invention in Hong Kong probably also needs such protection on the mainland,” he said. “So, by incorporating China’s patent office from the start, it would be easier for us to grant a patent that eventually will also be recognised by China.” Kwong Chi-keung, president of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association, said the suggestion resembles the model adopted by Singapore and is preferable for a place that is still developing systems and manpower for the service. But Hong Kong may already be falling behind its rivals in the IP stakes. Shenzhen, for instance, launched Asia’s first exchange for trading technology patents last year. The Trade Development Council said it would launch Hong Kong’s first online trading platform for IP assets early next month. The system will contain more than 20,000 patents and trademarks from 25 countries. Although no one can put a price tag on the size of the industry, a single invention could entail up to 30,000 patents – each with potential to trade on the open market for up to millions of US dollars. And patents make up just a fraction of the IP world: trademarks, franchises, designs and commercial secrets – from the recipe of a herbal medicine to the client list of a company – may all be up for sale.
Observatory warns of increased floods and more powerful typhoons (By Ernest Kao email@example.com) Climate change will also bring an increased risk of flooding as sea levels rise, Observatory says - The city should brace itself for increasingly powerful typhoons and more widespread flooding in the next few decades as the climate warms and sea levels rise, the Hong Kong Observatory has warned. Sea levels are expected to rise by 40cm on average by the middle of the century as temperatures increase by at least two degrees Celsius, Observatory meteorologists said. "Hong Kong is like a frog in water that is gradually being brought to the boil; people do not seem to be aware of the long-term effects of climate change," said Observatory assistant director Edwin Lai Sau-tak. Low-lying flood black spots such as San Tin and Shek Wu Wai in Yuen Long, and areas in Tai Po and North district, would be at higher risk of extreme flooding. By the end of the century, sea levels are forecast to rise by 80cm and temperatures by between three and six degrees, according to new Observatory data. Referring to the 2004 Hollywood movie The Day After Tomorrow, which portrayed a world suffering disasters brought on by global warming, Lai said: "I think The Day after Tomorrow actually happened yesterday." The Observatory sounded the warning based on an analysis of the latest report issued by the Geneva-based Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) a scientific body operating under the auspices of the UN. Government bodies should take into account the new data and review their risk assessments for infrastructure, buildings and drainage and flood control, the Observatory said. In April, weather officers will cast out to sea new floating sensors to obtain more accurate measurements of storm strength. The intensity of storms is expected to become much greater, Observatory officials said, although their frequency is not expected to increase significantly. Average daily temperatures in the city have risen 1.2 degrees since 1913, Observatory records show. Mean sea levels in Victoria Harbour have gone up by 29 millimetres per decade since 1954. The intergovernmental panel released its most comprehensive study on climate change last month. It said there was a 95 per cent chance carbon-intensive human activity had caused the rise in global temperatures in recent decades.
China*: Nov 24 2013
China’s typhoon aid to Philippines not a ‘political show’, report says (By Bryan Harris firstname.lastname@example.org) Official media reacts to criticism of China's aid to the Philippines, saying its measures are 'pragmatic and efficient', not a diplomatic failiure - Relatives of the crew of China's hospital ship the 'Peace Ark' react as it departs Zhoushan Island for the Philippines. A mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party has denied claims that Beijing’s disaster relief policies in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan amounted to a diplomatic failure. It even claimed that it has always been a virtue for China to extend help in a low-key manner. China’s actions are purely humanitarian and are not some form of “political show”, according to the article on Friday in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily. “Although China’s style of rescue is low-key, it is pragmatic and efficient. It demonstrates China’s long-running practice of being generous and willing to help, yet at the same time not showing off,” the article read. The comments come amid continued criticism from the international community about China’s response to the disaster in the Philippines. Following the typhoon, Beijing initially opted to donate US$200,000 in relief aid – a figure that was ridiculed by the international media. For many, the donation was not commensurate with China’s global economic clout and represented a dangerous precedent of linking humanitarian aid with political issues. Beijing is currently locked in an extended territorial stand-off with Manila over the sovereignty of a group of small islets in the South China Sea known as the Spratly Islands, or Nansha Islands in Chinese. The archipelago has been the source of prolonged diplomatic tension between the two nations. The first Chinese rescue team reached the Philippines on Wednesday – nine days after the storm had dissipated. On Thursday, the Chinese hospital ship, the Peace Ark, set sail for the Philippines in a bid to promote Beijing’s aid effort. The 14,000-ton vessel has 300 beds, eight operating theatres and the capacity to host about 40 major surgeries a day. The ship is to operate out of Samar province, but it is not yet clear how long it will remain there. An opinion piece in the Philippine Star earlier this week accused China of being “petty” and said Beijing missed an opportunity “to show amity and soft power” in its relief efforts. More than 5,000 people are dead or missing following the storm, with another 4.4 million currently homeless.
Oil pipeline blast leaves 22 dead in E China (Xinua) A leaky pipeline caught fire and exploded on Friday morning in the coastal city of Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, leaving 22 dead and 7 severely injured, local authorities confirmed on its verified official microblog. A fire broke out and the blast occurred around 10 am in the Huangdao district when workers were repairing a petroleum pipeline which broke and resulted in an oil leakage around 3 am, according to the official microblog service of the Qingdao government's publicity office. The pipeline is owned by Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner. Witnesses said more than 20 fire engines have rushed to the site.
China blasts US panel for 'cold war' thinking (By Agence France-Presse in Beijing) Foreign ministry challenges report to Congress saying PLA build-up altering security balance - China hit back at the US yesterday over a document that called Beijing's growing military a threat to Washington's armed dominance in Asia, accusing its authors of a "cold war mentality". China's military spending was soaring and the modernisation of the People's Liberation Army "is altering the security balance in the Asia-Pacific, challenging decades of US military preeminence in the region", the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its annual report on Wednesday. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters: "We hope this committee can stop this cold war mentality and do things that can boost mutual trust between China and the US." The Washington document said China was "rapidly expanding and diversifying its ability to strike US bases, ships and aircraft" throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including areas it could not previously reach, such as the US territory of Guam.
Quoting the Office of Naval Intelligence, it said that China would probably have 313 to 342 submarines by 2020 - including around 60 that could fire intercontinental ballistic missiles or cruise missiles against ships. Hong said China's military policy was "defensive in nature" and "within a reasonable range". Its sole purpose, he added, was "protecting our country". "China has always been an important force for peace and development in the Asia-Pacific," Hong said. US President Barack Obama has pledged to "pivot" US foreign policy to pay greater attention to Asia in light of the rise of China, which has increasingly tense relations with US allies Japan and the Philippines over territorial disputes. The commission called on Congress to fund shipbuilding to meet Obama's goal of stationing 60 per cent of US warships in the Asia-Pacific by 2020, up from 50 per cent. The clearest symbol so far of China's growing naval capabilities is the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which went into service last year. Song Xue, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy, said in April that "China will have more than one aircraft carrier". The US has 11 aircraft carriers, included the recently christened USS Gerald Ford, though the ship remains under construction amid huge cost overruns and delivery has been postponed until February 2016. The United States has reduced military spending as it seeks to control its debt following two wars and a recession. But the Republican Party, which has pushed Obama for greater cuts to social services, generally supports military funding.
Blueprint tightens EU links (By By LI XIAOKUN in Beijing and TUO YANNAN in Brussels email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) Premier Li Keqiang meets European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (left) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. They attended the 16th China-EU leaders' meeting, which worked out a blueprint for bilateral relations in coming years. China and the European Union announced a grand plan for cooperation until 2020 on Thursday and started talks on an investment protocol, mapping out the blueprint for the key relationship in coming years. They also vowed to discuss the feasibility of a free trade agreement and set the target for bilateral trade volume in 2020 at $1 trillion, nearly doubling the $546 billion recorded in 2012. The decision was made at the EU's first summit with China's new leadership, nearly a week after China announced a plan for sweeping reforms for the next decade. Observers said it is a historic moment for China's relations with the EU as both have decided to combine their targets. Premier Li Keqiang said of the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda, "The plan is unprecedented in its breadth of content, ranging from aerospace and counter-piracy to urbanization and energy." He made the remarks at a joint briefing also attended by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso after their 90-minute talks at the 16th China-EU leaders' meeting. At the start of the meeting, Li said he hoped that results can be achieved in the investment protocol talks. Van Rompuy told reporters that the two sides have made "a substantial step forward today by launching negotiations on an investment agreement, covering both investment protection and market access". "Our strategies need to be intertwined for the upcoming years to 2020 and beyond," he said, adding that an investment agreement can help avoid protectionism and promote investment, while assuring a level playing field. "Our summit today has been an important building block in the EU-China relationship," he said. Shada Islam, director of Policy Friends of Europe, a nonprofit think tank for EU policy analysis and debate, told China Daily the EU-China Summit "offers a much-needed moment of reflection and respite". Islam said the summit comes after a fraught year marked by tense exchanges over trade, and reciprocal accusations of arrogance, indifference and neglect. "China's newly announced reform strategies are conducive to a more constructive EU-China economic relationship, while aspects of the 'Chinese Dream' invoked by President Xi Jinping also open new avenues for cooperation. "Relations with China are an important test of the EU's ability to adjust to an emerging multi-polar world "There is no doubt — with trade worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) a day, the relationship between China and the EU is too big to fail, " Islam said. Zhao Jinjun, president of China Foreign Affairs University, said the blueprint announced after the Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China's 18th Central Committee offers new opportunities for the EU, China's largest trading partner. "The EU wants to take this chance to advance its economic cooperation with China," said Zhao, a former Chinese ambassador to France. Zhao Junjie, a researcher in European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing's newly announced urbanization ambitions offer a chance for cooperation. "China can learn a lot from the EU in that regard, especially in balancing social development and environmental protection. It can also introduce the EU's experience in the new-energy and traffic sectors to improve governance of large cities," Zhao said. At the summit, both sides agreed to keep their markets open, oppose protectionism and deal with trade disputes through dialogue. They also agreed to work more closely on transportation and infrastructure, cooperate on science and technological innovation, while developing new energy sources and materials together. Guy de Jonquieres, senior fellow at the European Centre for International Political Economy, a Belgian policy research think tank, said research and development spending in China reached $300 billion last year, second only to the United States. Chinese high-tech companies, such as information and communications technology solutions provider Huawei and PC giant Lenovo Group, represent the country's huge potential in innovation, he said. If the country wants to further develop its technology sector, it needs to provide more support to the private sector, de Jonquieres said. After the summit, the leaders witnessed the signing of three deals on energy, intellectual property rights and agricultural technology.
Hong Kong*: Nov 23 2013
Macau's casinos are expanding, but visa laws may cause staffing problems (By Bernice Chan email@example.com) Macau's casino scene is primed for further expansion, but an opaque visa system for foreign workers could lead to an acute manpower shortage, writes Bernice Chan - About 23,000 Macanese are employed as casino dealers. Macau's Cotai Strip, with its colossal, glittering casino-hotels, is primed for further expansion over the next few years. The corporations that developed the once-muddy causeway are anticipating the arrival of an even greater number of gamblers at their grand properties. Wynn Macau has plans to construct a Bellagio-like Wynn Diamond, while Galaxy Entertainment Group, Sands China and Melco Crown Entertainment all have expansion plans. With these developments comes the need for more employees to work in construction, hotels, casinos, and restaurants. But its low unemployment rate, coupled with an opaque visa system for foreign workers, has raised concerns about where these tens of thousands of employees will come from. Less than 2 per cent of permanent residents in the city of 570,000 are unemployed, thanks to government policies that give locals priority for job opportunities.There are two kinds of visas for overseas workers. Those with a tertiary education who are being hired at managerial level are granted a visa on an individual basis. But most visas, such as those for construction workers and waiting staff, are negotiated in bulk. But under the labour law, companies that hire foreign workers are also required to employ a number of local staff. So, as fewer than 7,000 Macau residents are classified as unemployed, the manpower shortage threatens to turn into a major crisis if the government doesn't act quickly, observers say. "Macau wants to promote tourism and wants to provide jobs for its residents. But Macau has a small population," says René J.M. Schillings, managing director of TOP Hoteliers Hospitality Executive Search. "They [the casinos] can't staff businesses with people from Macau alone - they need more people from the outside." The situation is problematic for businesses, he says. "The Macanese are not necessarily qualified for their positions, and in some cases they don't have to do any work. They are token employees and they know it - they hold a lot of power. But perhaps they cannot be blamed because these are the rules." The rules are murky. The government has never issued official guidelines on specific local-foreign quotas, except in the construction industry, where one local must be hired for each foreign worker. "The ratio is not stipulated in the law, and the government never announced the ratio for other industries [except construction], to allow for flexibility," says Jacinta Ho In-fong, managing director of JC Human Resources Consulting. "A lot of people don't know the ratio - in fact, none of us know." This opaqueness in the system has led to unsubstantiated accusations that the government favours casinos, and allows them to hire more foreigners. Macanese legislator José Pereira Coutinho, of the opposition New Hope party, agrees with this assertion, adding: "I'm not against labour importation, but companies need to be treated fairly. There are some companies that need to find three locals to get one foreign worker, and there are others using all imported labour. Whoever has connections can get labour." Ho, who previously worked as a human resources director for a casino operator, disagrees with Coutinho, saying casinos also face problems because the government believes that they have sufficient financial resources to pay locals a higher salary. "As a result, more local staff want to work in casinos," she says. "But it's not easy to hire the right people. Casinos have really high selection standards. For example, in a regular restaurant the waiting staff don't have to speak English, and perhaps they want someone young, pretty and smart. But while casinos offer higher salaries, they cannot compromise on staff who are not smart, don't speak good English and are not highly educated." The visa issue has hurt small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and people interviewed for this story report having seen many small businesses close. "SMEs have been hit hard since [former Macau chief executive] Edmund Ho's time. He announced special assistance to SMEs so that they might get faster approval [for visas], but there were no specifics," Jacinta Ho says. "Those not from Macau who want to start up businesses have even greater challenges. The owner may not get a work permit for himself," she says. Glenn McCartney is familiar with the situation. McCartney is an assistant professor of hospitality and gaming management at the University of Macau, and also owns the Irish Coffee House and Irish Bar. "Not only do we have a cautious government, but also high rents, which is one more wall for SMEs in Macau to climb," he says. "It's got to the point where it can take up to half a year from start to finish to get work permits for foreign staff; every extra week's delay impacts SMEs," McCartney says. He says the labour issue must be addressed, otherwise there will be even more gaps in the future. "There needs to be a strategic plan. The government doesn't have a tourism master plan where it looks ahead five to 10 years. It has to start the framework, to get in synch with what is happening today. "A lot of people have said Macau will need 15,000 people in the next three years, and I've even heard it might be up to 100,000. If you add 15,000 more hotel rooms, including casino tables, slots, front office and housekeeping, there has to be migrant labour," he says. "A lot of people are protesting for more protectionism, while the gaming industry faces the challenge of how they are going to staff their operations." Although there was a need for protectionism a decade ago, he says, it is now harming the industry. "We need people to have more skills, to be more competitive. The policy needs to be really looked at. Tourism is a political issue, but it should be looked at more scientifically." For example, there are 23,000 Macanese casino dealers and, McCartney says, this is a significant number of people locally employed at entry level. "They need to be promoted, but that means they need to be qualified, so they need to have executive training and knowledge. Ninety per cent of Macau's revenues come from the gaming sector. I don't see it changing in the next five years." In his November 12 policy address, Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on promised stronger supervision of the casino sector to expand job opportunities and boost upward mobility for Macau residents in the industry. Although he did not specify how this would be done, the Human Resources Office says the government is encouraging casino operators to adopt social responsibility measures such as providing professional training programmes for their local employees to improve their skills and career prospects. Presumably, working in a casino is not every Macau resident's ideal profession, but the work can come in handy. "Casinos are hiring university students who are permanent residents to work as casuals, as long as they are 21 years of age and over," Ho says. "They can work as promoters who give out fliers and approach players about joining loyalty programmes. Housewives who cannot commit to a full-time job work as waitresses in the restaurants." Ho says she recently came across a new development. "Today, I took a taxi to work and the driver asked me the route. He explained he was a part-time driver. I asked him what his regular job was. "He said he was an engineer technician at one of the casino hotels," Ho says. "He said he only works five days a week, so he uses one of his days off to drive a taxi part time."
Carrie Lam defends decision to restrict attendance at Beijing officials’ luncheon (By Tony Cheung) Chief Secretary says 'venue’s constraint' prevents more lawmakers from attending event - Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor defended the government’s decision to only invite seven lawmakers to attend a luncheon with two Beijing officials on Friday, saying it is impossible to include more because of the “venue’s constraint”. Civic Party lawmakers Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Dennis Kwok are the only two pan-democrats attending the luncheon with visiting Basic Law Committee Chairman Li Fei and Vice-Chairman Zhang Rongshun. Tong and Kwok were invited in their capacities as Legco House Committee and Legal Panel vice-chairmen, respectively – along with the Legco president and four committee chiefs. “Because of the venue’s limitation, we cannot invite all 70 lawmakers, but we did not choose arbitrarily who, or which parties, can attend,” Lam said. “Lawmakers who cannot attend can be relieved that after we started our consultation in December, we will listen to all lawmakers and political parties. “I hope we can forge consensus based on the Basic Law,” Lam added. On worries that Li and Zhang’s visit could set the framework of the political reform before the consultation were launched, Lam said that the pair was only expected to explain legal points and the government would not touch on detailed proposals at the first stage of the public consultation exercise.
Gary Locke receives kind parting words from old foe Global Times (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) The Global Times, China’s leading nationalist newspaper, has decided to part with US Ambassador Gary Locke on good terms after he announced his resignation from the job he held over two tumultuous years. “From the perspective of both the US and China, Locke’s performance shouldn’t be given a low mark,” a commentary in the daily read on Thursday. The commentary, which appeared in both the English and Chinese language versions of the paper, was penned by Shan Renping, a pseudonym generally thought to be used by the paper’s editor-in-chief Hu Xijin. Hu’s paper has previously lashed out against the first Chinese-American US ambassador in Beijing after his relatively frugal lifestyle – he has been spotted flying economy class and using coupons to buy coffee – brought him widespread popularity among Chinese internet users, who compared his thriftiness with the privileges enjoyed by reclusive Chinese cadres. In September 2011, as Locke, a former governor of the state of Washington and secretary of commerce, was beginning his term in Beijing, Hu wrote in a weibo post that the ambassador’s popularity was an “unhealthy phenomenon”. “Why use imported materials to criticise bureaucratism [in China]?” he asked. The paper repeatedly criticised Locke for allegedly using “publicity stunts” of his frugality to gain influence with the Chinese public. “Some journalists like to romanticise what they see out of a lack of knowledge and may hold Locke up as a mirror for Chinese officials,” an editorial on Locke read in 2011. “It is not suitable to overly praise a foreign ambassador.” As Locke prepares to leave China, the outspoken editor argues that Locke was an ambassador whose legacy should lead to reflection in China. “Much of his unusual gestures and controversial image may have arisen from our own sensitivity and expectations,” the Chinese-language version read. “We may have no reason to blame Locke.” Meanwhile on weibo, the popular ambassador's departure is dominated by speculation over whether his decision to leave was linked to Beijing's hazardous levels of air pollution. During his term, the city's authorities caved in to public pressure and started releasing PM2.5-level air pollution figures. The American Embassy began releasing air-quality data in the capital in 2008. "During his time in Comrade Gary Locke overcame all kinds of difficulties and set backs, [...], and attracted the attention of relevant organs," real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi wrote in a microblog post, mocking party jargon for a job well done.
China*: Nov 23 2013
Lobsters [2,000 tons] lead way for Air New Zealand (By Charlotte So email@example.com) Air New Zealand has struggled to dominate the passenger traffic from China, despite its status as the national carrier. Rock lobsters have been frequent flyers in the past two years on Air New Zealand’s service from Auckland to Shanghai, the only destination it serves in mainland China. Since the start of last year, the airline has delivered more than 2,000 tonnes of live lobsters to Shanghai after a free-trade agreement between the two countries led to the scrapping of all tariffs on lobster exports from New Zealand to China. To cater to growing demand for the fresh catch, Air New Zealand deployed Boeing 777-300s – ample-bellied, cargo-friendly aircraft – alongside Boeing 767s on the Auckland-Shanghai route. The airline, which has been flying to the mainland for seven years, has adopted a more cautious approach to expansion there than other international carriers. It scrapped its service to Beijing last year, and its development plans could be seen as conservative, given that the number of mainlanders visiting the island nation has grown 25 per cent this year. “We’re learning to build the market in China, which is very similar to my previous job at Unilever,” Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said. “It is more important to get the model right in Shanghai before copying it to other mainland cities.” Luxon, a New Zealander, joined the airline this year after 20 years at the Dutch consumer goods firm, where he ended up as chief executive of its Canadian operations. After pulling its twice-weekly direct flights to Beijing in March last year, Air New Zealand has focused on Shanghai’s passenger and cargo markets, because the city is the most important mainland gateway for air cargo. It has no immediate plans to resume flights to Beijing. The airline is struggling to secure a dominant role in traffic between the two countries, despite its status as the national carrier. Out of the 230,000 mainland visitors and 28,000 Hong Kong visitors to New Zealand each year, it carries only about 30 per cent, with the rest choosing to fly with Cathay Pacific Airways, Australian carriers and newcomer China Southern Airlines. More than half of the mainland tourists visit both Australia and New Zealand, flying to Australia first, which partly explains Air New Zealand’s low market share. Promoting New Zealand as a standalone destination for mainland visitors was the top priority for Air New Zealand the airline’s top priority, Luxon said. Operating under the principle “if you can’t beat them, join them”, Air New Zealand teamed up with Cathay Pacific in a profit-sharing programme for flights between Hong Kong and Auckland in January. It is ground-breaking co-operation between two carriers belonging to different airline alliances. “It is not about taking market share from each other but growing the whole market,” Luxon said. Of the 83 million tourists leaving China each year, just 1.2 per cent go to New Zealand. Luxon said the partnership with Cathay was an outstanding success for both airlines, but it was difficult to extend their co-operation to mainland destinations through code sharing, because it would not be allowed by the mainland regulator. The Star Alliance, which Air New Zealand belongs to, would also forbid it, he said.
South China Morning Post Hong Kong: Dutch musician's 'racist' comments against Chinese go viral, draw ire (By Jeremy Blum and Patrick Boehler) Holland's Got Talent contestant Xiao Wang endures mockery on television - 30-year-old Xiao Wang, a PhD student in the Netherlands. A judge from Holland’s Got Talent, a popular singing competition television programme in the Netherlands, has come under fire for making multiple racial slurs against a Chinese contestant. In an episode that aired on November 17, Holland’s Got Talent judge Cornelis Willem Heuckeroth, a Dutch singer who goes by the name Gordon, cracked repeated jokes about Xiao Wang, a 30-year-old PhD student in economics and business who had come on the show to exhibit his singing skills in classical music. “Which number are you singing?” Heuckeroth asked after Wang explained that he would perform an aria from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto. “Number 39 with rice?” After Wang’s singing drew cheers and enthusiastic applause from the crowd, Heuckeroth said that the singer’s voice was a “surplise,” mimicking a stereotypical Chinese accent. “Honestly, this is the best Chinese I’ve had in weeks,” Heuckeroth added. “And it’s not a takeaway.” Heuckeroth, who also referred to Wang as “the People’s Republic of China,” voted for the 30-year-old to remain on the show as a contestant, but followed this praise with a sideways comment in Dutch that Wang looked like he belonged in a Chinese restaurant. Fellow judges Chantal Janzen, a Dutch actress, and Dan Karaty, an American choreographer, remained silent during most of Heuckeroth’s comments until Wang had left the stage. “You’re really not supposed to say things like that to people,” Karaty said. “That’s just awful.” Heuckeroth’s remarks are beginning to draw criticism from international media outlets, and the UK’s Daily Mirror described his jabs as “sensationally…casual racist jokes.” Both English and Chinese-speaking netizens have also lashed out at the television host through various social media outlets. “Xiao Wang’s performance was amazing and yet all that judge could see was his race,” wrote a user of popular internet forum Reddit, where conversation of the incident has attracted over a thousand posts. “It’s…downright depressing. As an Asian person, it’s kind of sad sometimes when [race] is all people see you for.” On Chinese social network Sina Weibo, bloggers compared Heuckeroth’s remarks to a recent controversial skit by US comedian Jimmy Kimmel. The skit, which contained a joke from a six-year-old who suggested that the US should “kill everyone in China,” inspired protests from many Chinese Americans, eventually resulting in multiple apologies from the comedian himself. “There should be protests and demonstrations to call for [Heuckeroth] to step down,” one Weibo user wrote. “Kimmel’s skit seems innocent in comparison to these remarks, and at least Kimmel was apologetic.” Eva Peters, a spokeswoman for the television broadcaster RTL4, declined to comment on the issue. The show is currently in its sixth season. Wang did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlcQ1xuRVoY
Rescue team lands in Manila (By Li Xiaokun in Beijing and Zhang Yunbi in Manila) Emergency team members from the Red Cross Society of China prepare to leave Beijing Capital International Airport for the Philippines on Wednesday. The first group of 17 members will help with disaster relief work two weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck, killing more than 4,500 people. China's first group of disaster relief team members arrived in the typhoon-hit Philippines on Wednesday. The 17 team members are due to be followed by the Chinese medical ship Peace Ark, one of the world's largest and best-equipped floating hospitals. The team from the Red Cross Society of China will head for the central Philippine city of Cebu on Thursday, with the death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan topping 4,500. "We hope this mission can alleviate the lack of medical care in disaster-hit areas in the Philippines and show the Chinese people's goodwill to the Philippine people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing on Wednesday. Hong said the government will send another 51-member emergency medical team and the Red Cross Society of China will dispatch 13 more people for disaster relief. He also said the Peace Ark medical ship will depart on Thursday. The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation will also donate 200 prefabricated houses worth 3.2 million yuan ($525,000), he added. Zhao Baige, vice-president of the Red Cross Society of China, saw off the first group of disaster relief team members at Beijing Capital International Airport. She said the team carried medicines, tents and quilts. Team members have considerable rescue experience and are well trained in medical and social work as well as psychological guidance, she said. All have taken part in rescue work after major natural disasters in recent years, including the magnitude-8.0 earthquake that struck Wenchuan in Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. Yuan Shan, head of the Blue Sky Rescue Team under the Red Cross Society of China, said each of his eight team members who arrived in Manila has taken part in more than 100 rescue operations. Chen Qinghong, a Philippine studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China's help to the Philippines has intensified in the aftermath of Haiyan. "Originally, the Chinese government had no idea that it would be such a catastrophe," Chen said. After Haiyan struck, the Chinese government and the Red Cross Society of China said they would each provide $100,000 for the Philippines. Last Thursday, China donated an additional $1.6 million in supplies. On Sunday, Beijing said it was ready to send rescue and medical teams. A cargo plane carrying tents and blankets landed in Cebu on Tuesday. "China has shown its humanitarian care as a responsible country, and it will not be affected by disputes in relations between Beijing and Manila," Chen said. Relations between the two countries have been affected by territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the way Manila handled a hostage crisis in 2010 in which eight Hong Kong tourists died. "China's assistance to Manila will help ease the tension to some extent and it can cultivate friendship between the two peoples," Chen said. Xu Liping, a Southeast Asian studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the fact that the medical ship is being sent to help the Philippines has nothing to do with politics. The 14,000-ton Peace Ark has 300 beds, 20 intensive care units, eight operating theaters and can handle 40 major cases requiring surgery a day. It recently returned from a four-month deployment in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, during which thousands of patients were treated. Xu said, "The interests of the typhoon-stricken people are above everything," adding that for now the two nations should put aside their disputes. He said smooth communication between Beijing and Manila is of great significance in ensuring the efficiency of the rescue work.
Liu helps launch Confucius center (By Chen Weihua and Cai Chunying in Washington firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong greets elementary school students from the Confucius Classroom at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School with Steven Knapp, president of George Washington University, looking on. The Confucius Institute, a non-profit educational institution that promotes language learning and cultural exchanges, unveiled its US center on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong. Xu Lin, director-general of Hanban, the non-profit agency that administers Confucius Institutes worldwide, was elated about the opening of the first regional center of the Confucius Institute.
China's GDP to overtake US in 2022 (By Yang Ziman) China's GDP is expected to exceed that of the United States in 2022, according to a report by Standard Chartered Bank forecasting the global economic outlook in 2030. The report, released on Thursday, said that the success of China's reform holds the key to its economy, which will grow at a rate of 7 percent between 2013 to 2020 and 5.3 percent between 2021 to 2030. Emerging economies, which account for 38 percent of the world's GDP, will see that share increase to 63 percent in 2030, it added, as the world trade volume will grow fourfold to $75 trillion by 2030. Urbanization and an expanding middle class, particularly in Asia, will be the major engine for the world economy. The aging population in emerging countries, however, may hinder development. For China, where the labor force is shrinking and therefore pushing up incomes, enterprises may find it more profitable to invest in high value-added products. Faster growth in the United States will be the prerequisite for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates, which will facilitate exports and push up commodity prices, the report said. In the long-run, Standard Chartered Bank predicts that 10-year US treasury yields will increase to 4.5 percent.
Hong Kong*: Nov 22 2013
Chairmen of Chevalier, EMN may face penalties for helping late tycoon Nina Wang (By Enoch Yiu) [Nina Wang, also known as Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, was the late chairwoman of Chinachem Group and Asia's richest woman. Born in September 1937, she took over Chinachem after her husband Teddy was mysteriously kidnapped in 1990 and built it into a major property developer. Teddy was never found and was declared dead in 1999. Wang died of cancer in 2007 with an estimated net worth of US$4.2 billion. Her will has been the subject of a court battle after her personal feng shui guru, Tony Chan, was accused of forging it in his favour.] Chevalier Group Chairman Chow Yei-ching. Three executives of listed companies may face disciplinary action for breaching the takeover code more than a decade ago by helping the late Nina Wang Kung Yu-Sum, once Asia’s richest woman, increase her holdings in a company without making a general offer to small shareholders. The Securities and Futures Commission on Wednesday said it has asked the takeover panel to decide whether to discipline Chevalier Group founding chairman Chow Yei-ching, his son Oscar Chow Vee-Tsung who is a director of a related listed company Chevalier International, as well as Joseph Leung Wing-kong, chairman of ENM Holding, for breaching the takeover code. The SFC alleged the trio helped Wang to secretly increase her shareholdings between 2000 and 2002 in ENM without making a general offer to all small shareholders as required by the code. The deal was only revealed when Chow senior brought the matter to the SFC’s attention after receiving a letter in late April last year from the joint administrators of Wang’s estate asking about the ENM shareholdings, which Chow kept for Wang for more than a decade. Wang passed away in 2007. The panel could impose penalties such as a reprimand or a “cold shoulder order” which would ban the executives from trading in the local markets for sometime. ENM, formerly known as e-New Media, sells fashion wear, operates resorts and makes investments. In 2000, Wang held 34.64 per cent interest of the company and was the largest shareholder of the company. Between 2000 and 2002, Chow acquired a total of 160 million shares of ENM, or 9.69 per cent of total issued share capital, on behalf of Wang at her request. Wang reimbursed him via his son and Leung. Chow held the shares via four British Virgin Island (BVI) companies until December 2009 and then split the shares equally to Oscar Chow and one of his daughters to meet the new BVI law requirement. Since Chow and Wang are considered as persons acting in concert, Chow’s purchase helped Wang to increase her stakes to 44.33 per cent, triggering the then mandatory general offer threshold of 35 per cent. The SFC said Chow’s purchase had acted as “warehousing” for Wang to escape her general offer obligation. SFC said the trio were closely connected as Wang and Chow were close friends and business partners for 40 years. Leung was also a trusted friend of Wang and since 1987 he has been a director of Chinachem Group, of which Wang was the sole beneficial owner.
China*: Nov 22 2013
China finally joins Philippine relief mission by sending hospital ship (By Reuters in Hong Kong) Peace Ark heads for typhoon disaster area after mainland blasted for tardy response to tragedy - The Chinese naval marine hospital Peace Ark is on its way to the Philippines. China is sending a state-of-the-art hospital ship to the Philippines following criticism that it was slow and stingy in its response to one of the world's biggest typhoons, which has killed at least 4,000 people. The Foreign Ministry confirmed the deployment of the 14,000-tonne Peace Ark as state television reported the arrival of the first batch of Chinese relief supplies in the Philippines. The Ark's exact area of operations and time of arrival have not been confirmed, but spokesman Hong Lei said it would set sail today. "We hope that this action can alleviate the current situation in the Philippines, which is lacking doctors and medicine, and reflect the Chinese people's friendly feelings for the people of the Philippines," Hong said. China's emergency medical rescue team of 51 people was expected to leave yesterday, Hong said, adding that the Red Cross Society of China was sending two batches of international rescue teams, with a first group of 16 having already left and a second group of 14 set to leave tomorrow. "China has always been concerned about the Philippines typhoon disaster," Hong said. Tension between China and the Philippines has risen in recent months over disputed claims in the South China Sea, with Manila taking Beijing to a United Nations court to challenge its historic claim to much of the strategic waterway. China's usually hawkish Global Times last week urged the deployment of the Ark amid criticism of Beijing's response by foreign commentators. China initially announced it was giving US$200,000 and then bumped that up by US$1.6 million. On Sunday, it said it was ready to send rescue and medical teams. In contrast, the United States has mobilised about 50 ships and aircraft in the disaster zone, with helicopters delivering supplies from an aircraft carrier. It has announced US$37 million in humanitarian aid. Armed forces and aid agencies are struggling to get help to devastated areas in the Philippines, where more than 4,000 people were killed and up to 4.4 million displaced. The Ark will join an international flotilla of naval ships now delivering food, water and medicine to victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which tore across the central Philippine on November 8, smashing just about everything in its path. The ship, outfitted with 300 hospital beds, eight operating theatres and a medical staff of 100, recently returned to Shanghai after an unprecedented four-month deployment to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, where it treated thousands of patients at several goodwill stops. A Chinese cargo plane carrying tents and blankets landed in the city of Cebu on Tuesday.
Gary Locke to step down as US ambassador to China in early 2014 (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) Gary Locke, the American ambassador to China, will be stepping down early next year, the American embassy said in a statement on Wednesday. The former secretary of commerce and governor of the state of Washington said he had informed US President Barack Obama earlier this month of his wish to leave his post to join his family in Seattle, Washington. The 63-year-old is the first American ambassador of Chinese descent to serve in the post. Locke had been confirmed unanimously by the US senate to succeed John Huntsman in June 2011.
China launches Yaogan XIX remote-sensing satellite (Xinhua) Yaogan XIX remote-sensing satellite is launched on back of Long March 4C carrier rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, Nov. 20, 2013.
Hong Kong*: Nov 21 2013
Snake soup: Hong Kong’s perfect winter warmer (By Bernice Chan email@example.com) Chau Ka-ling opens a wooden drawer and deftly picks out a big snake for an elderly customer. She puts it in a cloth bag and lets him hold it to feel its weight. The customer’s satisfied, so Chan takes the reptile from the bag and runs her thumbs along its body until she feels its gall bladder. A quick incision and she retrieves a small sac that she puts in a small bowl. Then Chau disappears into the kitchen, returning with the decapitated snake and turning it upside down to squeeze some blood into the bowl. She pierces the gall bladder sac and mixes it with alcohol before giving it to the customer, who downs it quickly with a satisfied grin. “I like to have it, when it’s in season,” he says. The gall bladder is said to improve virility, and to stop coughs. This is Shia Wong Hip, a well-known snake eatery in Sham Shiu Po. There is a steady flow of customers all afternoon for not only fresh snake gall bladder, but also snake soup that Chau makes in the evening and simmers overnight. As winter approaches, locals like to eat dishes that warm their bodies, and snake soup is just the ticket. Every batch is made with 30 catties of snake meat and bone, pork bones, two old chickens, Jinhua ham, black fungus, ginger, lemon leaves and mandarin peel. “The black fungus is for the blood, mandarin peel is to get rid of the gamey taste, lemon leaves for the smell,” Chau says. She encourages us to eat the soup while it’s hot: “When the soup is cold, it has that smell. Eat it now.” She serves herself a bowl, and in no time it’s empty. “I want an encore,” she says before downing another bowl.
Airport Authority member threatens to quit over delayed mall plan (By Olga Wong firstname.lastname@example.org) Politics behind feud that has delayed development, says developer - A possible successor to the Airport Authority chairman has threatened to quit the board in a simmering feud between the two men over a train depot linked to a shopping centre project. Property developer Vincent Lo Hong-sui confirmed yesterday that he tendered his resignation as chairman of the authority's infrastructural planning committee early this month. Lo, who is widely seen as a supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said he believed politics was at play over his failure to advance the commercial plan, meant to reduce tourism pressure downtown. "Hong Kong is very political today. It is very difficult to achieve something," Lo said. "I was psychologically prepared for it when I was appointed [in January]. But the difficulties are much greater than expected." Lo had been tipped to be the authority's next chairman before the incumbent, Marvin Cheung Kin-tung, was reappointed last month for another year. On the possibility of completing his three-year tenure, Lo said: "If I find I have become a stumbling block for the authority, it won't be a problem for me to quit the board." Cheung and Lo are at loggerheads over the big mall, to be built on a site now used as a temporary golf course between Terminal 2 and the AsiaWorld-Expo. The shopping centre will serve air travellers and visitors arriving via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, to be completed by 2016. It is also expected to fit in with planned development in north Lantau. Cheung has insisted on building a depot for a driverless electric train, planned for the future third runway, under the mall. Lo says this would reduce the commercial value of the land by billions of dollars. He said the "unco-operative management" had refused to show his committee the results of a study commissioned by the authority to explore development options. It meant the committee could not have a proper discussion of the issue and make recommendations to the board. Lo said an underground depot would pose construction difficulties above, but admitted that moving it away at this stage could delay an environmental impact assessment of the third runway by three to six months. The transport minister, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, said he hoped Lo could remain as chairman. He also said development of the third runway and the northern commercial zone should go ahead together. "Given the soaring demand for commercial land use and facilities, the development of the commercial zone will trigger a synergy effect with the airport."
China*: Nov 21 2013
First batch of Chinese aid arrives in Typhoon Haiyan-devastated Tacloban (By Raissa Robles and Agencies in Manila) Tents and blankets reach one of the worst-hit areas, after initial response was seen as meagre - Survivors bury an uncollected body on the side of a road in the devastated town of Palo, Leyte province. The first batch of Chinese aid has arrived in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines as multinational reliefs teams ramped up efforts to help desperate survivors 11 days after the storm hit. The 10 million yuan (HK$12.65 million) worth of tents and blankets, shipped by a China Eastern Airlines cargo plane on Monday, was handed over to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development. It was to be sent to Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas in Leyte province, Xinhua said. It is on top of the initial US$200,000 from the government and China Red Cross, which was seen as meagre compared to other major nations including the United States and Japan which donated millions of dollars and deployed naval ships and military personnel. However Filipino internet users thanked China for the donated goods, despite rifts between the two countries over tensions in the South China Sea. “Thank you, China” Chingkee Villasenor and Cielo Gebilaguin wrote on Twitter, while Inday Espina Varona praised the choice of aid as “very practical” and added: “People [are] hoping for further aid offers.” China does not have personnel on the ground, but has offered to send a medical team. Yesterday, the military commander of the storm-hit Visayas region, Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda, met representatives of nine “allied forces” – the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam – and divided the area among them to maximise relief efforts. “We already have the Americans in Samar and Leyte and Israeli doctors and relief teams in northern tip of Cebu,” Deveraturda said. “We’re planning to ask the British Royal Navy to concentrate on the western Visayas region to assess and deliver food, water and supplies to smaller islands.” President Benigno Aquino is now personally overseeing relief operations in Tacloban in one of Asia’s biggest humanitarian efforts, which could last months, if not years. The Philippines is facing an enormous rebuilding task from Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,982 people and left 1,602 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort. The massive destruction, which displaced four million residents, has led to the biggest influx of humanitarian aid in Asia which, as of yesterday, had topped US$295 million in cash and non-cash relief. The government said 24,770 personnel, 1,306 vehicles, 104 ships and boats, and 163 aircraft had been deployed. Eighty-eight medical teams, 43 foreign and 45 local, were in the region. Loan pledges from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank reached a combined US$1 billion yesterday.
Peng Liyuan attends evening party in memory of Russian composer in Beijing (Xinhua) Peng Liyuan(C), wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, poses for a photo with Russian artists after an evening party in memory of Russian composer Pyotr Chaikovsky held by Russian embassy in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 19, 2013.
Hong Kong*: Nov 20 2013
Stephen Chan hits back at Commercial Radio host Lee Wai-ling (By Tanna Chong email@example.com) Chief executive says critic had 'calmly accepted' his decision - The row over the abrupt replacement of outspoken government critic Lee Wai-ling on Commercial Radio’s morning prime-time talk show deepened as her boss said she had “calmly accepted” the arrangement. Commercial Radio chief executive Stephen Chan Chi-wan, who took the critic off the popular morning programme On A Clear Day , revealed details of his face-to-face and text exchanges with Lee last Friday, in which he received “no discontent” from Lee regarding her move to evening talk show The Tipping Point. “I told her of her new assignment in my office, which she accepted calmly. She asked me, with a smile, ‘Can I say no?’ “I said ‘no’,” said Chan after he hosted On A Clear Day on Tuesday morning. Lee accused Chan of “black-box operations” on Monday, referring to the same conversation discussed by Chan. While Chan said Lee had agreed on Friday morning to attend the press conference scheduled at 4pm to announce the new move , Chan said he had lost contact with Lee and had to issue an ultimatum, which Lee now sees amounting to a sacking threat. “Dear Wai-ling, please call,” Chan read out from his mobile phone, timed 2.39pm, adding he had also rung and left voice messages for Lee between noon and 2pm. “We would have no option but to end our contractual relationship.” Defending the text quoted by Lee as a threat, Chan said: “Management-wise I need to know if she was attending the press conference, and accepting the arrangement.” He added later texts from Lee suggested she agreed with the new programme arrangements. Lee is expected to respond later on Tuesday.
Manila makes first payout to Hong Kong bus tragedy victim (By Tony Cheung) Director of the Chief Executive's Office Edward Yau (left), Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok (second left), hold a meeting with the Philippine Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras (right). Three years after the deadly bus hostage crisis, Manila has for the first time given an undisclosed amount as a donation to bus hostage survivor Yik Siu-ling, to cover her surgical costs. Philippine Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras was in Hong Kong for the second time since October 21, to meet with director of the chief executive’s office Edward Yau Tang-wah and the security minister Lai Tung-kwok to discuss the demands of the victims’ families – including compensation, an official apology, punishment for the responsible officials and measures to safeguard tourists’ safety. In a press statement, Yik thanked the Philippine government for their care and donation. “I hope the central and SAR governments can continue to work hard and bring a reasonable resolution to the incident,” Yik added. She also extended her sympathies to the Philippine people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Filmmaker's debut exploring Hong Kong social issues hits international film circuit (By Edmund Lee firstname.lastname@example.org) Flora Lau Wan-man's Hong Kong and Shezhen-set project began with humble aspirations - It has been a whirlwind year for Flora Lau Wan-man. An independent filmmaker whose previous efforts consisted of short films and documentaries, the Hong Kong native has, in the space of a few months, gone from being a virtual unknown among local cinema watchers to a regular presence on the international film festival circuit. Boasting a star-studded cast and crew, Lau’s feature debut Bends is produced by luminaries Nansun Shi and Winnie Yu Tsang. It is headlined by established thespians Carina Lau Ka-ling and Chen Kun, shot by lauded cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and has taken its new director-scriptwriter to festivals from Cannes to Toronto; from London to Stockholm. Flora Lau’s Hong Kong and Shenzhen-set project began with humble aspirations – and a persistent struggle to secure funding. “When I started writing the story, I had a lot of questions about Hong Kong,” she said. Lau said the scriptwriting stage began about three years ago, a period in which she was splitting her time between Hong Kong and overseas. “I was curious to find out what Hong Kong means to me, and to other people. It’s a place that changes a lot; it’s already different to when I was growing up. And that evolved into the background of this story, which has two characters representing two different perspectives of Hong Kong.” The double-character study of Bends, while fictional, is based on real people. In the film, the lives of two characters from vastly different social backgrounds, both with personal problems, converge in the form of a daily working relationship.
New World Development achieves sales target of HK$10 billion (By Sandy Li email@example.com) New World Development has achieved its sales target for the financial year to June in just four months, generating more than HK$10 billion despite a downturn in the property market. Chairman Henry Cheng Ka-shun said the company had no plans to raise the sales target although it met its goal earlier than expected. The developer, one of Hong Kong's largest, had earlier said it was aiming at about HK$10 billion in sales for the financial year. A company spokesman attributed the performance partly to the strong sales at The Austin in Tsim Sha Tsui, a joint-venture luxury residential development between New World and Wheelock Properties. The Austin project has brought in nearly HK$10 billion from the sale of 575 units since it was launched in the middle of October. The project sold a 3,306-square-foot unit with a 2,087 sqft terrace for HK$137.9 million, or HK$41,700 per square foot, the highest price in the development by unit area. To increase sales, buyers of The Austin are being offered a 2 per cent discount if they sign a deal by November 30, a 3 per cent discount for New World Club or Wheelock Club members and a subsidy of up to 8.5 per cent on stamp duties. Cheng said the developer was not offering "dumping prices" but would provide subsidies on stamp duty as an incentive to bolster interest. Speaking after the firm's annual general meeting, Cheng said he believed the government was unlikely to withdraw in the short term the curbs to cool the market. "It is not the right time to lift the restrictive measures, given that home prices have declined slightly. But the government also does not want to see a drastic downward adjustment of prices," he said. Shares of New World dropped 0.55 per cent to close at HK$10.82 yesterday.
China*: Nov 20 2013
China reform pledges show Xi assuming Deng mantle, analysts say (By Agence France-Presse in Beijing) By claiming authorship of broad reform pledges after repeated conservative pronouncements, China’s President Xi Jinping is assuming the mantle of Deng Xiaoping, who oversaw both huge economic changes and the Tiananmen crackdown, scholars say. Days after the conclusion of a key gathering known as the Third Plenum, China’s Communist Party leaders unveiled a list of sweeping changes to economic and social policy. They included reforms to the country’s land ownership system, loosening controls over state-owned enterprises, relaxing the controversial one-child policy and eventually shuttering forced labour camps. The 22,000-word document explicitly declared Xi as head of the group charged with its drafting - a marked departure from previous administrations that suggests he is linking his own personal prestige to the planned changes, according to experts. “It was pretty surprising,” said Barry Naughton, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on China’s economy. “He said, ‘I was the head of the writing group.’ That’s a very strong and unambiguous thing to say, and there’s also the fact that he said it rather than leaving it unsaid.” In a story on Tuesday on the way the decision was drawn up, the official Xinhua news agency mentioned Xi 21 times, while Premier Li Keqiang was not named at all. Like Deng, the man who led China from 1978 to 1992 and launched the country’s boom following the death of Mao Zedong, Xi has made economic reform a top priority, experts say. Deng is viewed as having steered China politically further towards authoritarianism, but some scholars argue that he actually envisioned greater restructuring of the political system. Xi’s first year in office has seen a high-profile campaign to tackle graft and a revival of some Mao-era practices such as “self-criticism sessions” for public officials. “Xi Jinping in a way actually seems to think that he can take the current political system and instil it with a little more discipline and a little more mass supervision and a tough assault on corruption, and I guess combine that with economic reform,” Naughton said. “So, in a way, that’s more Dengist than Deng, because it’s a more active pursuit of the political side of it.” But Xi has also presided over a tightening of control over the press and public expression, particularly on China’s social media, and an unknown number of activists, even some campaigning on his signature issue of corruption, have been detained. Perry Link, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, and a renowned China scholar, cautioned that despite the attention-grabbing nature of the promises issued by the Third Plenum, they amounted to “language only”. “Just one example: the announcement that the reform-through-labour system will be abolished is designed to make the Chinese people and the world feel better about the party, to give it more ‘legitimacy’. “But the leaders can easily continue using the same system under a different name, if they like, or under no name at all. Whatever they put in pretty language, the hard fact is that repression has grown much worse in recent months. We need to watch actions, not words.” The pledges on the market, state enterprises and other aspects of the economy have been largely welcomed by analysts, with ANZ economists even raising the prospect of “a golden decade of sustainable growth and unparalleled prosperity”. But while the economic reforms pay heed to Deng, Xi’s stamping of his name on the reform document suggests he is seeking to accumulate power, contrary to Deng’s own admonitions, said Willy Lam, a Chinese politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Right now, it seems Xi Jinping has gathered more power in his hand than (former president) Jiang Zemin even at the height of his power in his last five years,” Lam said. “It’s very unusual,” he added. “And I think, presently speaking, it’s of course unhealthy for one individual have amassed so much power. “It goes against one of the major reforms of Deng Xiaoping, and that is to promote a collective leadership. That was the lesson that everybody learned from the Cultural Revolution.”
Change in energy mix encouraging (By Zheng Yangpeng and Jiao Xiaoli) China is sending "encouraging" messages on climate change issues, and the country has "a huge amount" to teach the world in this area, said Andrew Steer, president and chief executive officer of the World Resources Institute. Commenting on China's decision to push forward the liberalization of water, petroleum, natural gas and electricity prices after the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the head of the renowned environmental think tank and former special envoy for climate change issues at the World Bank said that he believes it's a good move. "It's a good thing because it will promote better efficiency in the use of resources. That's good for the economy, and generally good for the environment too," Steer said. But he added that market forces alone will not solve the problem. "When you move to a market economy, you can't assume that market prices will necessarily point to the right direction for the environment because environmental issues are outside the market," he added. "So you must put other mechanisms in place. For example, regulation, or pollution taxes that add to the costs of polluters, or subsidize energy from sources that don't cause pollution." A batch of reform plans for the environmental arena was unveiled on Friday in the full statement following the Third Plenum. Energy- and pollution-intensive products will be subjected to a consumption tax. The current environment protection fee will be converted into an environment tax. Audits on local natural resources are also expected to take place after local officials finish their terms, and the officials will be held accountable during and after their terms. Steer said that it's very important for local officials to be held accountable for the quality of life they create in their regions. "It's exceedingly important that governments of countries everywhere are not only interested in how many goods they produce, because the evidence is overwhelming that more goods do not make you happier" he said. He noted that following a 1.7 trillion yuan ($278.7 billion) program to fight air pollution, China has banned new coal-fired plant projects in three major metropolitan areas. These areas consume 28 percent of the country's coal and the banned projects represent 5 percent of the nation's newly built coal-fired plant capacity. The Chinese government invested 50 billion yuan this year in subsidizing renewable energy power generation. "Because of China, the cost of renewable energy became much, much lower than it was before. It's a great gift that China gave to the world. Look at the curve of renewable prices, it's so encouraging," he said.
Chinese Vice-Premier visits Chicago, speaks on reforms (By By Hu Haidan in Chicago firstname.lastname@example.org) Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong talks with Patrick M. Magoon, president & CEO, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on Monday morning. Liu started her US visit in Chicago and will go to Washington and New York later. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong attended the US-China University Presidents Roundtable at the University of Chicago on Monday during her visit to the United States at the invitation of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Liu said China-US relations stand at an important historic juncture of building on the past and preparing for the future. "I am visiting the US this time mainly to implement what our two presidents have agreed upon and co-chair with Secretary of State John Kerry the first High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange following the changes of administration in both countries," Liu said in Chicago, the first stop on her visit. "Since the launch of this mechanism in 2010, it has yielded remarkable results in six areas, namely education, science and technology, culture, sports and women's issues and young people," said the vice-premier. "With young people and innovation as its theme, this round of consultation will open up a new chapter for China-US people-to-people exchanges," Liu added. During the round table discussion, Liu also described the current state of education in China to more than 20 university presidents from both China and the US. She told a story to illustrate her confidence in building a new model of a major-country relationship between China and the US. The story dates back 100 years when a Chinese worker named Dean Lung worked as a servant for an American named Horace Walpole Carpentier. When Dean retired, Carpentier offered to do everything in his power to grant Dean's wishes to thank him for his decades of good service. Surprisingly, Dean only asked for one thing: he wanted to donate his entire life savings - $12,000 - to create a department of Chinese learning in an American university under Carpentier's name so that more Americans could get to know his country and his countrymen. Deeply touched by his request, Carpentier took out almost all the money he had to join Dean and founded what would later become the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. "Every time we revisit such historical episodes from the depth of our past, we are always filled with warmth and strength," said Liu. "I am confident that our universities - as long as they treat each other with sincerity and learn from each other - will deliver a better future for all." Participants in the roundtable discussed the relationship between contemporary universities and the government and society. As the first overseas visit by a Chinese leader since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Liu described reform plans to the US community. Liu said the Third Plenum had ushered in a new round of reform and opening-up in China. "China's reform is a strong force driving China's own development," said Liu. "We will rely on comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up to increase the creativity of society and realize the two centenary goals and the Chinese dream." Earlier on Monday, Liu visited Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, where Patrick M. Magoon, president and CEO of the hospital, hosted a tour, during which Liu spoke with patients and handed out stuffed panda bears as gifts to children. On Monday afternoon Liu met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who hosted a dinner the same evening followed by an NBA game, which Liu watched with NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and retired Chinese NBA basketball star Yao Ming. On Thursday Liu and Kerry will co-chair the fourth China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in Washington.
Hong Kong*: Nov 19 2013
Tsang and boss don't see eye to eye on popularity (By Jeffie Lam email@example.com) Comparing officials with lawmakers just doesn't add up, says Legco chairman - Jasper Tsang mused on the benefits of the democratic system. Unpopular lawmakers could not be compared with unpopular officials when it came to deciding their fate, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said yesterday. Lawmakers, unlike officials, were popularly elected and their fate was therefore in the hands of voters, he said. Tsang's comments came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said last week, when defending his disapproval rating of 63 per cent, that he would not call for lawmakers with low popularity ratings to quit. Tsang said the public had different expectations for lawmakers and officials. "Lawmakers are elected by the public. If lawmakers fail to fulfil the public's expectations and lose their trust, people can use their votes at the next election," he said. Leung was elected last year with 689 votes from the 1,193-member election committee. Tsang said that under the executive-led administration, responsibility rested with the government and thus people expressed their discontent with policies to the relevant officials. Speaking to a group of secondary students, Tsang said universal suffrage was the "best-selling" system in the world. "It might not guarantee the best person will be elected," he said. "But it gives voters hope every few years." Tsang also reiterated that no parties should be screened out of the chief executive race in 2017 because of their political stance. The veteran politician also said there was a dearth of high-level think tanks in the city. "It's said that [Leung's manifesto] was only brainstormed by a few people a few months before the election. It didn't go through thorough policy research," he said. Tsang also said he hoped the recent free-to-air TV licence row would not affect a planned central government liaison office lunch with lawmakers. Pan-democrats have accused the office of intervening in the city's affairs. They say the liaison office lobbied lawmakers to vote down the motion to invoke the Legislative Council's powers to probe the Exco decision on the licences. The liaison office has said it would invite all lawmakers to the second lunch after an unprecedented Legco luncheon in July. Tsang has told the office it would be best to hold the lunch before the end of the year, but he said yesterday he had heard no more about it from the office. Separately, Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong - who earlier urged Leung to conduct a thorough review of the process that led to a decision to grant only two free-to-air TV licences - told ATV's Newsline yesterday he would stand by his comment. However, he added: "I do admit that I'm being self-critical in saying we should review what we have done and see whether we can do better in the future."
Industry leaders warn of serious manpower shortage in Hong Kong (By Phila Siu firstname.lastname@example.org) City's workforce problem more serious than the government thinks, say representatives of three key sectors already facing labour shortfalls - Hong Kong is facing a far greater manpower shortage than reflected in official projections, according to industry leaders, who fear that government policies will fail to tackle the crisis. They say the shortfall amounts to tens of thousands of workers in three key sectors identified recently by the government and argue that the labour importation scheme is too rigid and time-consuming. It should either be reformed, or the government should set up a new scheme. Last month Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said construction, food services and homes for the elderly faced immediate manpower shortages when she launched a consultation to tackle challenges arising from the ageing population. Representatives from the three industries told the South China Morning Post they feared the government may not have grasped the urgency of the manpower problem. "I am very worried … if [the government] cannot see the problem the industry is facing, it may make a wrong decision," said Thomas Ho On-sing, president of the Hong Kong Construction Association and chief executive of Gammon Construction. Figures from the Census and Statistics Department showed there were 82,542 construction site workers across the city as of June, with 1,025 vacancies. A report last year projected that manpower demand would rise by 1.9 per cent on average each year up to 2018. But Ho said a survey by his association several months ago found a vacancy rate of 15 per cent - meaning a shortfall of more than 10,000 workers. "A cement mixer with no experience is getting paid HK$1,100 a day. If the demand for workers only goes up by about 1.9 per cent a year, why would they get paid this much?" he said. He said government expenditure on infrastructure projects had soared from about HK$20 billion in 2008 to HK$70 billion this year, which should have shed light on the pace of manpower demand. Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said the food services industry needed 24,000 workers on top of the 240,000 employed now. But the census figures said there were only 11,364 vacancies as of June. "In the past, a waiter got paid only HK$35 an hour. Now it is difficult to hire one even if you are offering HK$60," Wong said. He said the number of restaurants had been rising by about 5 per cent a year, and manpower demand should follow this pace. But that's a far cry from the government's projection of 1.3 per cent in the "accommodation and food services" sector. "The projection is too conservative. It's time for the government to be bold when it plans policies," Wong said. The chairman of the Elderly Services Association of Hong Kong, Kenneth Chan Chi-yuk, said the city's 500 homes for the elderly needed 5,000 staff on top of the 20,000 already working. Yet census statistics showed there were 2,102 vacancies as of June, up from 855 three years ago. Chan expressed concern that there was no projection for this industry in the 2018 manpower report. "I have always been worried. The government should pledge that a certain percentage of old people will be getting a place in subsidised homes. It needs long-term planning to tackle the problem," he said. The census department and the Labour and Welfare Bureau said in a joint reply that the statistical framework adopted in compiling the job vacancies followed international guidelines of the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation. They said some employers may not be recruiting because they believe they cannot find the right people. Such unfilled posts are therefore not regarded as vacancies, the reply said. As for the 2018 manpower report, it was compiled with reference to a wide range of statistics, including employers' views on their future manpower requirements collected from a survey, and extensive consultation with business, trade associations and academics.
China*: Nov 19 2013
China awaits word from Manila on offer to send typhoon relief teams (By Keith Zhai, Raissa Robles and Reuters) China awaits word from Manila on whether it will accept the offer, which comes on top of US$1.7 million in money and relief supplies - A woman at a Hong Kong mass for victims. China is awaiting official word from Manila after it offered to send rescue and medical teams to the Philippines, just over one week after a devastating typhoon struck the island nation. The Chinese government initially offered US$100,000 to help in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan but raised its offer by a further US$1.6 million on Thursday. Given its economic power, the pledges were criticised as meagre and seen as driven by a bitter feud with Manila about overlapping claims in the South China Sea. “In light of the current actual needs of the typhoon-hit areas, the Chinese government is ready to dispatch the emergency medical assistance team on humanitarian grounds,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. In Manila, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said China’s offer was appreciated. “We are promptly referring China’s offer to our senior officials in the Department of Health for a timely assessment of our current and future medical needs in the affected areas.” Beijing’s offer of aid has been dwarfed by contributions from the US, Britain and Japan. But presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang said they were not insulted that aid from China was not greater. “We are not in a position to say this is too small or too big. Whatever it is, we are grateful for the gesture,” he told the South China Morning Post. Zhuang Guotu, director of the Southeast Asian Studies Centre at Xiamen University, said China was slow to react because it lacked experience in dealing with international relief. He added: “China and the Philippines have no political trust, and their disputes in the South China Sea have left the relationship more strained recently.” He Maochun, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, said Beijing was waiting until a full picture of the disaster emerged. “It has to deal with domestic disaster relief and then consider its global duties,” He said. Haiyan also struck southern China, with seven deaths recorded in Hainan and Guangxi. Mainland internet users have objected strongly to Bejing providing aid. One user on Tianya.com, a popular online discussion forum, said: “The Philippines hates us no matter how much money we give to them. It’s better for our government to leave the donations to the poor kids who can’t afford to go to school.” That contrasts with Hong Kong, which saw a number of fund-raising activities over the weekend. Filipinos urged Hongkongers to give generously, while hundreds attended memorial services to seek comfort in prayer.
Hong Kong*: Nov 18 2013
French wineries show diversity at HK International Wine & Spirits Fair (By Bettane and Desseauve) With more than 1,000 exhibitors and an expected 20,000 visitors, the sixth Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre is Asia's largest trade fair dedicated to wine. Wineries from Jordan, Lithuania, Montenegro and Morocco are represented for the first time this week but, unsurprisingly, France and Italy will have the largest delegations, with 150 exhibitors each. For French wineries, China has become the number one target market, with the hope that it will show growth similar to that of the US in the 1980s and '90s. "Asia is fundamental for us in terms of market growth because we can introduce our product and educate consumers," says Dominique Garréta, director of communications at Taittinger Champagne. Angélique de Lencquesaing, co-founder and managing director of Idealwine, a website dedicated to buying, selling and valuing grand cru wines at online auctions, will be present for the fourth time. She estimates that Asian clients are the top buyers of older vintages of grand cru wines in the auction market. The company opened an office in Hong Kong in 2012. "It was because of the demand of our local clients, since they often came to Paris to pick up their purchases," de Lencquesaing says. "The clients have evolved very quickly, and they search for very specific wines, especially wines from Burgundy. Our Hong Kong clients are a very educated group of people who have a remarkable desire to purchase these rare wines." Asia is the only market where significant growth is possible for European winemakers. The French and European markets are, for the French and Italians, solidly established and capable of withstanding the effects of the economic and financial crises, while the US is a vital, but volatile, market. So the mainland and Hong Kong markets have become extremely attractive to European producers. The Chinese market is virtually a requirement, though finding a way to get there, and dealing with the cultural differences, can be difficult. Hong Kong is the most obvious port of entry. There is no import duty levied on wines and there is agreement with the Chinese government that enables less stringent importation requirements. Hong Kong is also a free port, with very good storage facilities and excellent connectivity for air shipments. In short, the Hong Kong authorities' willingness to make the HKSAR a true "economic driver" has worked perfectly. "The ease of conducting business, the economy, the excellent logistics, the knowledge of the auction market, and its luxury image, were very clear to us," de Lencquesaing says. "The mainland remains a very complex universe for us, though, even seeing it from Hong Kong." The fair offers visitors a rare chance to see, understand and taste the great variety of wines made all over France which can be just as interesting as the classics. Our Wine Experience, in the French pavilion, showcases wineries representing this wealth of diversity. There are the Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux such as Pape Clément, La Tour Carnet, Domaine de Chevalier, Guiraud, Beychevelle, Hostens Picant, without forgetting Smith Haut-Laffite and Angelus, which are both offering an exceptional master class with tastings. There is Burgundy from Aegerter, Albert Bichot, Faiveley, Patrick Hudelot, Chateau du Moulin à Vent, and Dominique Laurent, Champagne from Charles Heidsieck and Veuve Fourny, and the Rhône and Languedoc from Chapoutier, La Gardine, and Chateau de Caraguilhes. It is a great display of French vitality. Public admission is tomorrow (admission HK$200) and visitors will be able to buy wine from exhibitors. Asia Wine Service and Education Centre will be running a seminar on looking for value in wine, while Debra Meiburg is offering a master class on matching wine with Cantonese cuisine (HK$350). Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve are wine critics and writers
Taiwan in last-ditch bid to rescue Gambia ties (By Agence France-Presse in Taipei, Taiwan) Gambia's red-blue-green national flag (right) flying outside the Diplomatic Quarter building in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan has sent senior diplomats to Gambia in a last-ditch effort to restore diplomatic relations after they were unilaterally broken off by the West African nation, officials said Sunday. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said officials including Richard Shih, the island’s ambassador to Gambia from 2008 through 2011, had arrived in Banjul. She denied to provide details. Local media said that since the Taiwanese officials had not been denied entry and were in contact with their Gambian foreign ministry counterparts, Taiwan’s foreign ministry believes that the Gambian government “has not shut the door to negotiations”. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced Thursday that “in strategic national interest” his government had broken off diplomatic ties with Taiwan after 18 years, catching Taipei totally unprepared. While Taipei expressed “shock and regret”, the surprise decision has prompted speculation about Jammeh’s motive. China, which has growing investments and influence in Africa, has denied it put pressure on Gambia, although it did say that support for “the peaceful reunification of China is an irreversible trend”. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his country had learnt of Gambia’s move from the foreign media. “Before that, we haven’t had contact with the Gambian side,” he said. Some scholars and politicians said Jammeh might use the drastic step, which reduces the number of countries recognising Taiwan to 22, to demand more aid from Taiwan as a condition for a change of heart. “Should it demand a lot, the rest of the allies might follow in its footsteps, then how could the government deal with them?” said legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party. Taiwan and China were separated in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing still claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. The two sides for years engaged in a bitter diplomatic tug-of-war, luring away each other’s allies with generous financial packages. But tensions eased markedly when Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party was elected president in 2008. He was re-elected in January last year. Taiwan’s opposition said the diplomatic setback marked the failure of Ma’s diplomatic truce with China.
China*: Nov 18 2013
Easing of one-child policy may not result in baby boom (By Associated Press in Beijing) A child looks at his reflection in a window in Beijing. China's Communist rulers announced an easing of the country's controversial one-child policy. Don’t expect a new Chinese baby boom, experts say, despite the first easing of the country’s strict one-child policy in three decades. Some 15 million to 20 million Chinese parents will be allowed to have a second child after the government announced Friday that couples where one partner has no siblings can have two children. But the easing of the policy is so incremental that demographers and policymakers are not anticipating an influx of newborn babies at a time when young Chinese couples are already opting for smaller families, driving the country’s fertility rate down to 1.5 to 1.6 births per woman. “A baby boom can be safely ruled out,” said Wang Feng, professor of sociology at the University of California Irvine. Wang noted that although Chinese couples where both parents have no siblings have for some time been allowed to have a second child, many have elected to have only one. “Young people’s reproductive desires have changed,” he said. Xia Gaolong and his wife are among those who will be allowed to have a second child as a result of the new policy, but he said he has no intention of giving his 10-year-old son a sibling. Xia, who runs a tour bus business in the thriving city of Nanjing in eastern China, said the high cost of living and fierce competition for schools and jobs would deter him from bringing another child into the world. “No way will I have another child,” said Xia, who is in his late 30s. “There are so many pressures in life in today’s society, and our children will face only more pressures.” Experts estimate that the new rules allowing couples where one partner is an only child to have a second baby will result in 1 million to 2 million extra births per year in the first few years, on top of the 16 million babies born annually in China. Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the figure could be even lower because of the growing acceptance of small families. In an unscientific survey on the Chinese-language social media platform Sina Weibo, more than 60 per cent of those who self-identified as being eligible for the new exemption from the one-child limit said they would have a second child. “A second child is absolutely necessary, and we thank the new policy,” said May Zha, 34, of Beijing, the mother of a 3-year-old. Zha said that her husband is an only child, making the couple eligible for the new exemption, and that they plan to have another baby as soon as possible. “Time does not wait,” she said. Still, experts say an onslaught of newborn babies is unlikely because couples will have different time plans for the second child, and not all intentions will become reality. The central government apparently does not want to see a spike in births, even regionally. Wang Pei’an, a deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said China is opting for the incremental step because a universal two-child policy would result in a major fluctuation in population, putting pressure on basic public services. Some demographers, however, have argued that even a reversal of the one-child policy would not result in a spike in births because of fundamental changes in the public’s reproductive behaviours. Faced with a growing population, China’s government began to implement birth planning policies in the 1970s and placed a de facto one-child limit in 1980. It eased restrictions four years later to allow many families to have two children — including couples who do not have any siblings and rural couples whose firstborn is a girl. Millions of Chinese families also have managed to have additional children by paying fines or — in recent years — by giving birth outside China. On Friday, three days after China’s top leaders concluded a meeting to hash out upcoming policies, Beijing announced the new exemption to the one-child policy, which will largely benefit urban couples. Though the limited easing in the policy is unlikely to address China’s demographic concerns, experts see it as a meaningful step toward reversing the strict family planning and returning reproductive rights to parents. “China is testing the water now,” Wang Feng said. “When they don’t see a baby boom, there will be more confidence to let the policy go altogether.”
Bringing China's best minds home to roost (By By ALFRED ROMANN in Hong Kong For China Business Weekly) On the face of it, the fact that more than three times as many Chinese students now go abroad to study compared with a decade ago does not seem to bode well for China's "brain drain" dilemma. But the tide may be turning. The number of students who return is four times higher now than a decade ago and the government appears to have a renewed eagerness to tackle the problem. In 2012, some 400,000 students went to study abroad, up from 120,000 in 2003. The Ministry of Education says 330,000 returned last year, up from 80,000 a decade ago. China still has a trade deficit of talent, but it is a much smaller deficit than at any time in decades. "The Chinese government thought about it as a serious problem after 1987," says David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who has researched the subject extensively and is now working on a book about returnees. In 2010, Zweig adds, the issue was taken over by the Coordination Group on Specialists of the Communist Party of China. The goal of this group is to coordinate the myriad efforts in place to bring back talent to China. Between 1990 and 2010, the Ministry of Education spent close to $98 million in seed funding for about 20,000 returnees. A program by the Chinese Academy of Science, launched in 1994, offers as much as 2 million yuan ($328,500) for research to returnees. In almost 20 years, almost 1,600 professionals have taken advantage of the plan. In 2008, China launched the Thousand Talents plan, through which the government tries to convince overseas Chinese to return. The plan offers top scientists and entrepreneurs as much as $150,000 in cash, office and laboratory space, housing allowances and school entry for children. Another program, the Medium- and Long-Term Talent Development Plan (2010-2020) aims to attract another 2,000 specialists in IT, biotechnology, aerospace, environmental protection, agricultural technology and transportation. China still has a huge imbalance with more developed Western countries, in particular the United States, says Wang Huiyao, director-general of the Center for China and Globalization, based in Beijing. It is not only about attracting students who have gone abroad to study, it is also about attracting more international students who can provide a booster shot of innovation and entrepreneurship. China is now offering more permanent residency permits to attract talent, taking a different approach to combat the ongoing brain drain. The number remains relatively small but it is growing. In 2012, authorities issued 1,202 permits, 83 percent more than a year earlier, according to Zheng Baigang, head of the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration at the Ministry of Public Security. The majority of the applications came from the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and Germany. But it is hard to tell how effective these programs truly are at bringing back top talent. There have been criticisms of poor management, particularly in city level programs. At times, "returnees" who have taken advantage of programs were already back in China but were enrolled to shore up the numbers. At other times, the people offered spots in these programs did not necessarily fit the bill. Quality can be an issue. The lower end of the talent spectrum tends to swell the ranks of the returnees. Weak students, often supported by their parents after they come back to China, return in droves. The best and the brightest are often hired in the US and Europe. Luring these candidates back is expensive. In a 2008 survey, Duke University in the US found that half of 637 returnees polled had five years or less of experience in the US. They were hardly top executives. The issue is made more pressing by the fact that business and investors regularly complain of shortages of top-tier talent, particularly high level executives or researchers across a variety of industries from logistics to biotechnology. Since 1978, more than 2.6 million students have left China to study abroad; only 1.1 million have returned, according to China's Ministry of Education. But as China grows, quality of life improves and salary levels rise, more students who left to study are coming back. In 2011, there were as many as 186,000 returnees, about 40 percent more than in 2010, according to the Ministry of Education. At the same time, a greater percentage of students who go out to study do so with the intention of returning once their studies are over, says Zweig. "Now it is about 50 percent of people going out who are coming back, but most of them are going for a one or two year (master's)," he says. That is not really brain drain. Brain drain, he explains, is when an entire graduating class at one of the top schools such as Peking University or Tsinghua University in Beijing goes out of China to do PhDs. And the tide may also be shifting among Chinese professionals who studied, trained and worked abroad. Some have returned, often lured back by the improving quality of life, increasing prospects and greater opportunities, particularly since the global financial crisis and the slowdowns in the US and Europe. Many of those who leave are finding that there are fewer opportunities than in China, says Huang Jing, professor and director of the Centre on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. "They don't have an advantage and the economies in the US and Europe are not doing as well," says Huang. "I would stick my neck out and say that the ‘brain drain' will become less of an issue."
Hong Kong*: Nov 17 2013
Hutchinson caps amazing comeback to win Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix (By James Porteous in Macau email@example.com) Briton fights back from an injury nightmare to hold off titleholder for an emotional triumph - Ian Hutchinson, racing for the first time in 18 months, leads Michael Rutter on the demanding Guia circuit yesterday. Twenty-nine operations, bone grafts, a battle just to save his leg - three years of agony were wiped out on Saturday as Ian Hutchinson capped an amazing comeback by winning the 47th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 34-year-old Englishman was on top of the world in 2010 when he completed a clean sweep of all five solo categories at the Isle of Man TT. But a broken leg suffered in a crash at Silverstone just three months later began an injury nightmare from which he is only now recovering. Remarkably, Hutchinson was racing for the first time in 18 months, having injured his left leg again last year, suffering a massive infection that required bone grafts and yet more hospital time. But he showed his recovery was complete, holding off defending champion and eight-time Macau winner Michael Rutter over the demanding Guia circuit. "I've always wanted to win the Macau Grand Prix so it's special just to win it anyway, but in the circumstances it's quite incredible how it feels," said Hutchinson, who insisted he never feared he would not be able to race again. "I've never, ever thought it's all over, I've just looked for ways round to make it happen again. It's taken a lot of hard work but to have this feeling now, every second I've spent training and doing what I've done to get here has been worth it." Hutchinson, on his seventh visit to Macau, started the race on pole, but Gary Johnson quickly took the lead, before being reeled in and overtaken by Rutter. With Rutter's experience and winning record over this track, it seemed that might be it, but Hutchinson got in front on the fifth lap then started relentlessly stretching his lead. When Rutter ran into trouble among backmarkers on the 12th lap it looked all over, and victory was confirmed when the race was stopped on the following lap after an incident elsewhere on the track. Rutter, who finished second ahead of Johnson, was the first to congratulate Hutchinson as they rode to the pits alongside each other before he arrived back in tears, mobbed by his team and fellow riders. "It's been a bit emotional, I've been through a lot in the last few years, and had a lot of days in hospital," said Hutchinson. "I would have done anything it takes to ride again - and I pretty much did have to do that. "It's one of the most special wins I've ever had with what's gone on over the last three years. Hopefully, now we can put everything with what happened with my leg behind us and continue where we were three years ago. "Another big part of this race was to get other people to believe in me fully. I know my team have had belief in me and other people around me, but I know deep inside they probably thought I couldn't come back and do it, so it was down to me to prove it before they could give me the full backing." Rutter admitted that if he couldn't make it a record-setting nine wins, the next best thing was to see Hutchinson complete his comeback. "It's awesome really, fair play to him. He's lying in hospital with his leg basically hanging off a year or two ago and he's come back to win in Macau - and we were doing quick times, it's not like we were going slow … I was well impressed with him. "He deserves it more than anyone."
Hong Kong entrepreneurs could win a slice of the bitcoin pie (By Danny Lee in Singapore firstname.lastname@example.org) While America wavers over use of virtual currency, entrepreneurs are keen to jump on gravy train, and city could cash in on boom - An influential digital currency evangelist says Hong Kong can grab a huge slice of the controversial multibillion-dollar bitcoin industry as US hostility towards virtual money increases. Roger Ver, 34, a bitcoin millionaire, told the South China Morning Post that efforts to disrupt the digital currency money market would be futile. "It's not stoppable. They can delay it within their own jurisdictions [states] but that's going to be incredibly short-sighted and damaging. "If the US government tries to restrict or clamp down, that just means there will be many more bitcoin businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore and all those Americans will miss out on all the opportunities." Tomorrow the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hear regulators articulate the risks and dangers of digital currencies, while fans try to convince lawmakers otherwise. Last month US authorities seized the illicit Silk Road website, and arrested its founder. For two years, critics including US Senator Charles Schumer had been pointing to the ease with which drugs and guns could be bought on the site using bitcoin. Ver made the comments before he addressed the faithful at the Bitcoin Singapore conference organised by Hong Kong-based investor Eddy Travia. Bitcoins began circulating in 2009 and have since become the most prominent of several digital currencies. The electronic money is transferred independently of traditional banks. Its total market capitalisation is about US$5 billion - only one thousandth the value of the global cash in circulation, says Johann Gevers of online payment platform Monetas. Hong Kong has plenty of room to play a bigger role as a virtual financial hub, according to those creating bitcoin services. One area is the remittance market to the Philippines and Indonesia, in which operators aim to send bitcoins instantly for a significantly smaller fee than traditional methods. Mainland Chinese are among the biggest bitcoin believers. The currency lets them avoid capital controls and move the equivalent of thousands of yuan outside the financial system. Anthony Hope, a former British government finance official now involved in virtual money compliance, said it was unlikely Hong Kong would rush to regulate bitcoins without following the US approach to regulation. "Asia will wait and see what happens on the US and EU side before it makes a very firm move. But what you see from the Hong Kong and Singaporean governments is realism … to attempt to make regulation as it comes." Consumer protection to prevent fraud and theft within the digital currency world would drive regulation, Hope said. Last month, Hong Kong-registered online bitcoin exchange Global Bond Limited (GBL) shut down, taking US$3.3 million of clients' money and affecting more than 1,000 people on the mainland. GBL launched in May. Police said 14 mainland victims claimed "they had made investments through an investment company registered in Hong Kong that ceased operation from October 26 and they suspected they had been deceived". Technology Crime Division officers are investigating. Zennon Kapron, from Shanghai advisory firm Kapronasia, said China would "make or break" bitcoins. He said the GBL case was not unique. Lo Ken-bon, managing director of Hong Kong-based Asia Nexgen Bitcoin Exchange, said the GBL saga would affect confidence in bitcoins and it showed there was still "a lot of risk" in the digital currency. But if investors are wary, it is not showing. The price of one BTC extended its bull run by more than US$110 as speculators, spurred on by a healthy Chinese appetite, piled in for a profit. Last night one BTC cost US$439 on Japan-based Mt Gox, the world's largest bitcoin exchange - up from US$315 a week ago.
China*: Nov 17 2013
China eyes property in the West (By Peggy Sito email@example.com) Deals by institutional investors expected to rise further as opportunities emerge in US, Europe - One of the biggest overseas property deals this year was Ping An's purchase of the Lloyd's of London Building for £260 million. Chinese institutional investors' outbound investment in real estate will continue to increase next year as buying opportunities emerge in the United States and Europe and international financial institutions dispose of their property assets. "I would expect outbound investment next year to rise [in value] again over this year. We will also see a large number of deals," said Alison Simpson, a partner at KPMG who advises infrastructure and property investors. Money flowing out of China into overseas real estate last year maintained the uptrend seen in past years. It rose 33 per cent to US$4 billion last year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. The real estate services firm estimates Chinese investment in commercial real estate globally would increase a further 25 per cent to US$5 billion by the end of this year. One of the biggest deals in this segment this year was the £260 million (HK$3.22 billion) purchase of the Lloyd's of London Building in Britain by Ping An Insurance in July. It was the first direct overseas property acquisition by a mainland insurance company. "[Next year] we will see an increase in large deals but we will also see more smaller transactions," said Simpson. "More and more state-owned enterprises from different sectors are looking to invest some of their capital overseas. One way of doing it is through looking into safe assets in the real estate sector." The economic environment in the US and Europe presented interesting investment opportunities, she said. "In addition, there might be opportunities in the secondary market, for example, from those financial institutions that had built up real estate assets themselves before the global financial crisis and still carry these on their balance sheets," Simpson said. "The valuation of these assets fluctuates every year and some financial institutions have found that [affects] their results. I expect to see them divest their [real estate] businesses." In terms of investment channels, Simpson said she believed it would be either through listed companies with real estate components such as a firm with a property development or management arm, or unlisted funds, or through direct investment in real estate assets.
Hong Kong*: Nov 16 2013
Hungary reopens its consulate in Hong Kong (By Kristine Kwok firstname.lastname@example.org) Budapest seeks to improve economic ties after closing the facility during global financial crisis - Hungarian diplomat Peter Szijjarto oversaw the reopening of the consulate in Central. Hungary reopened its consulate in Hong Kong yesterday after a four-year absence as the central European country seeks to improve trade ties with the city. The international financial crisis forced the country to close its Hong Kong consulate in 2009 as part of measures to cut government spending. With a vastly improved economy, Hungary is now re-establishing its diplomatic presence in Hong Kong in an effort to reverse a declining trade volume, the country's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations Peter Szijjarto said in an interview. Hong Kong is Hungary's fifth biggest trading partner in Asia. However, trade volume has dropped from US$1.7 billion in 2010 to US$1 billion last year. "Without a presence here, there is no way to enhance economic co-operation. That's why the Hungarian government made the decision to re-establish the consulate general in Hong Kong," Szijjarto said. Since taking power in 2010, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party have sought to increase economic and political relationships outside of the European Union. A key part of the government's foreign policy is to tap into economic opportunities in emerging powers around the globe. Orban previously said Hungary and the rest of Europe were losing ground in global competitiveness. In an attempt to redefine the country's foreign policy in the face of changing international dynamics, Szijjarto said Hungary would put a lot more emphasis on enhancing strategic co-operation with emerging powers including China, a policy termed "Eastern Opening". "In our new foreign policy strategy China plays a major role," Szijjarto said. "Hungary is a member of the EU and the Nato transatlantic relationship is important for us, but we want to stand on two feet." Before reopening the Hong Kong consulate, Szijjarto was in Beijing and Shanghai to promote trade and investment with those cities. Figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce show that trade volume between the two countries dropped by 12.9 per cent from US$92.6 million in 2011 to US$80.6 million last year. But Szijjarto said Hungarian exports to China increased by 16 per cent in the first eight months of this year. China, Szijjarto said, would play an important role in Hungary's ambition to export 33 per cent of the country's products outside of Europe. This week Hungary publicly backed the early ratification of the EU-Singapore Free-Trade Agreement. Hungary closed eight consulates around the world in 2009. Half of them have been reopened while the rest are expected to do so soon. There are about 150 Hungarian expatriates living in Hong Kong, according to the consulate.
China*: Nov 16 2013
CNPC buys oil assets in Peru (Xinhua) n April 2011, China National Petroleum Corp's first production well in Chad came on stream. Just four months later, a new refinery became operational near N'Djamena. By the end of 2011, CNPC had 22 projects in seven African countries, including Sudan, South Sudan, Niger and Chad. China National Petroleum Corporation will pay $2.6 billion for oil and gas assets in Peru, according to a press release from its listed unit PetroChina on Wednesday. CNPC, the country's largest oil and gas producer and supplier, will buy the entire shares of Petrobras Energia Peru S.A., which owns three oil and gas blocks in Peru, said the press release. The three blocks have an output of around 800,000 tons of oil equivalent a year, according to PetroChina. PetroChina said Peru is one of the countries in Latin America that has a good investment environment. It expects good economic returns from the acquisition. The project will help grow CNPC's oil and gas portfolio in Latin America and promote the sustainable development of its overseas business, PetroChina said.
A giant grouper is displayed in Dongguan, Guangdong province. The 2.65-meter-long fish weighed more than 340 kg and was caught near the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.
Hong Kong*: Nov 15 2013
Former Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama apologises for atrocities in China (By Kristine Kwok email@example.com) Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama has offered a personal apology for Japan's wartime atrocities in China and blamed tensions in the East China Sea on Tokyo. He also departed from the view of Japan's political establishment by criticising Tokyo's dependence on the US. Hatoyama made the remarks at a speech delivered at the City University of Hong Kong yesterday. Commenting on his visit this year to the memorial hall dedicated to victims of the massacre in Nanjing, the former prime minister said what Japanese troops did during the Nanjing massacre was not acceptable. "As a Japanese citizen, I feel that it's my duty to apologise for even just one Chinese civilian killed brutally by Japanese soldiers and that such action cannot be excused by saying that it occurred during war," he said. Hatoyama, 66, stirred controversy earlier this year when he told Chinese media that territorial sovereignty over the East China Sea was disputed, even though the Japanese government insists there are no disputes over the islands known as Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan. His remarks prompted Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera to label him a "traitor". Yesterday, Hatoyama said tensions over the East China Sea were a result of "signals sent to China by Japan". He did not elaborate on these "signals" but earlier this year he told Phoenix TV that it was "unavoidable that the Chinese side thinks Japan stole" the islands, a remark that Tokyo described as "outrageous". Hatoyama, of the Democratic Party of Japan, now in opposition, criticised the Japan administration for complicating strained relations between the two Asian powers by enhancing ties with the US. "Instead of trying to resolve the issue by sitting down with China, the current administration makes it very difficult; they move the relationship closer to the United States," he said. Jeff Kingston, director of Asia Studies at Temple University in Japan, said the mainstream view in Japan was that China was to blame for tensions in the East China Sea. "There are many Japanese who do recognise war responsibility, but given the spiralling down of bilateral relations, many Japanese feel threatened by China, [and] his remarks seem overly positive," Kingston said.
Consumer Council warns of toxic toys (By Ernest Kao firstname.lastname@example.org) Toxic plasticiser phthalates found in children’s products made of plastic and wood - Professor Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the Consumer Council’s publicity and community relations committee, displays toy samples containing extremely high levels of phthalates at a Consumer Council press briefing. More than half of young children’s toys tested by the Consumer Council contain traces of toxic plasticiser phthalates, a new report has found. Out of the 27 samples of toys and children’s products made of plastic and wood assessed by the council, 16 were detected to contain levels of phthalates – a chemical added to hard plastics to improve flexibility and durability. The seven toys, which included bathing toys, inflatable riding toys and at least one alphabet-puzzle board, were found to contain levels of phthalates hundreds of times above limits set by the European Union and United States. Children’s products containing more than 0.1 per cent of phthalates are banned in the EU and US, but at least four of the seven toy samples tested by the council had extremely high phthalate levels ranging from 28 per cent to 38 per cent. Tests on animals have shown that chronic exposure to phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys and reproductive system. Although toxicity levels in phthalates are not high enough to pose a direct health threat to adults, young children are at particular risk due to a tendency to chew or suck on toys. Council chief Gilly Wong Fung-han urged parents to check the labelling of toys carefully before purchasing and to wash them thoroughly before letting children play with them. “Parents shouldn’t let young children play with toys alone and they should make sure their children do not put the toys in their mouths,” said Wong. Despite now being under strict control in western countries, there is limited control and regulation of phthalates in products in Hong Kong. “From a scientific perspective, the danger of phthalates to humans is still up for debate … It is not too late for Hong Kong to enact stricter regulation,” said Professor Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the council’s publicity and community relations committee. The Legislative Council is considering amending the Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance to introduce control over phthalates in children’s products. Meanwhile, the council also warned consumers of a series of safety hazards in unbranded Christmas lights saying some were “probably too cheap to be true”. A joint test conducted by the council and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department on 17 Christmas lights – four unbranded and 13 branded – found all four unbranded sets of lights failed safety compliance regulations on electrical products. In some of the samples, only single insulation protection was provided in the wiring – a deficiency that could lead to overheating, melting, fire or even cause electric shocks to consumers.
China*: Nov 15 2013
Impatient Beijing subway commuters get the better of German fare machines (By Stephen Chen email@example.com) Superior foreign technology often fails when put to the test in China's different market conditions - Long queues form at a Beijing subway station during the morning rush hour, where European-made ticket machines can't cope with commuters in a hurry. German engineers assumed there would be two to three seconds between two tickets, but in China even half a second seems too long. European-made equipment which collects fares on the Beijing subway may be advanced, but is proving seemingly incapable of coping with Chinese passengers in a hurry. Several times a year, engineers have had to fly in from Germany to deal with various operational glitches, in particular the jamming up of the system, according to a manager with the company. "Our technical experts were puzzled why the machines, which have worked perfectly in Europe for years, failed in China all the time," he said, declining to be named due to business sensitivities. "They were shocked by what they found." In Europe, passengers keep a certain distance from each other and feed their tickets into the machine only after the person in front has passed through. But in China, impatient passengers follow closely behind each other and often insert their ticket before the gate opens for the person in front. "Our German engineers assumed there would be two to three seconds between two tickets, but in China even half a second seems too long," he said. The problem has proved tough to fix. Engineers not only needed to rewrite software code, but also redesign parts. So far the foreign technicians have not come up with an effective solution to counter the impatience of mainland passengers. As a result, in Beijing and many other Chinese cities, fare-collection equipment is often manned by subway employees who constantly remind passengers to back off or, when the machines fail, collect fares by hand. Public transport is one of the many sectors in China where foreign technology has stumbled. At the same time, pressure on multinationals competing in China has increased as local companies have sensed an opportunity to find products with a better fit for the local market. Zhang Yi, general sales manager with the Cheng Li Special Automobile Company, one of the largest Chinese producers of city maintenance vehicles, said that until recently mainland officials preferred buying overseas technology and brands. "Foreign companies have been making these vehicles for decades. There is no denying that their technology is more advanced in some areas," Zhang said. "And some officials felt that a fancy-looking street sweeper from a developed country would improve the city's image." But in the past five or six years, most Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have given up on foreign maintenance equipment. "Chinese streets are often littered with garbage that is much greater in size and quantity than in Europe or America," Zhang said. "This significantly shortens the lifespan of foreign sweepers, that is if they don't choke to death right away." Domestically produced machines may not have fancy technology or sleek looks "but they get the job done", he added. Another disadvantage of foreign products is price. Domestic vehicles often come at half or one-third of the cost of overseas competitors, and local replacement parts are cheaper and more readily available. "We have invested tens of millions of yuan a year on research and development to provide a speedy response to the requirements of customers. I don't think foreign companies can outdo us on this." Zhang said his company's vehicles had not only won battles in the domestic market, but were exported in rising numbers to Africa, Russia and Southeast Asia. "We are still kept out of Europe and America because our pollutant emissions exceed their environmental standards," he said. "But the problem can be solved. We will eventually enter these markets with our well-tested technology and down-to-earth prices." Professor Wang Xifu, director of the System Engineering and Control Research Institute at Beijing Jiaotong University's School of Traffic and Transportation, said China had relied on foreign technology and equipment for two decades since the 1980s for the sake of rapid economic development. "Back then, our priority was speed and we wanted to buy anything that could be used immediately," he said. "Our interest has gradually moved on to quality and the various issues of foreign technology have been exposed." Wang said 10 years ago China's research effort was still small, but now there were many researchers in almost every important field working to come up with technology that was globally competitive. "To overseas companies this is bad news," Wang said. Many foreign technologies did not work in China, due to a variety of reasons. Pig waste fermentation technology widely used in Europe and Japan did not work because Chinese pigs were fed so many antibiotics that their waste killed helpful bacteria, according to a report last year by the Guangdong agricultural authorities. German carmaker Volkswagen reportedly discontinued the use of a particular gearbox because Chinese traffic jams caused it to have frequent system failures. Waste-processing plants built with technology from developed countries were frequently overwhelmed by the huge amount of pollutants in Chinese rivers and urban drainage systems, according to mainland media reports. But Professor Cao Qixin, a robotics expert at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said China still relied on overseas technology in sensitive areas such as space projects. "Our researchers can come up with good ideas and superb designs, but turning them into products is another story," he said.
Yili looks to Italy for better milk (By Wang Zhuoqiong) Chinese dairy company Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co has formed a "strategic partnership" with Italian peer Sterilgarda Alimenti SpA, allowing Yili to upgrade its technology and improve the quality of its liquid milk. Yili announced the agreement in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It didn't give further details. Song Liang, a dairy industry analyst, said that collaboration with top global dairy producers will boost Yili's product quality and technology levels, as well as expanding its dairy resources. The Italian company is a specialist in filter membrane technology, which can remove harmful bacteria and impurities and keep milk fresh for four to eight months without preservatives. The technology also allows low-temperature sterilization, which maintains the nutritional value of the milk. Song said Yili and Sterilgarda Alimenti are likely to establish a joint venture and create their own brand of liquid milk. Having that brand would allow the JV to tap into the high-end market and raise the profit margin for liquid milk, which accounts for a large share of the dairy products consumed in China. During the first three quarters of 2013, Yili generated operating revenue of 36.5 billion yuan ($5.9 billion) and net profit of 2.52 billion yuan, up 82.7 percent. Song said that the financial results demonstrate Yili's resilience amid a tough environment this year for dairy companies, which have faced milk shortages that limited their output and raised production costs.
Hong Kong*: Nov 14 2013
What to do with Hong Kong's bountiful supply of garlic scapes (By Susan Jung) Fresh garlic stems are not only deliciously sweet when cooked, in Hong Kong they are also available almost year-round - Garlic scapes (also called garlic shoots) are usually considered a spring vegetable, but they are available most of the year in Hong Kong - probably because so much garlic is grown on the mainland. The scapes are long, slender, green stems that get trimmed off so that the plant's energy can be concentrated on growing the bulbs. Raw scapes taste very garlicky but, when cooked, they become sweet.
Hong Kong 'falling behind Singapore' in fight to attract top events (By Alvin Sallay firstname.lastname@example.org) Officials fear Lion City's new multipurpose sports hub will give regional rival a massive advantage - South Africa enjoyed success at the 2012 Hong Kong Sixes but the high-profile event won't be seen this year because an application to the Mega Events Fund was rejected. But cricket also needs a facility in the city capable of putting on international events. Top Hong Kong cricket officials lamented the government's lack of "dynamism" and support for sport, with Singapore looming as a potential rival to host international events once that city's new sports hub is up and running in April. "Singapore is really working hard to become the regional focus for so many sports, among them being a potential new headquarters for the International Cricket Council," said Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman Mike Walsh. "We do not seem to have that dynamic here." The Hong Kong Sixes was cancelled in October because the government's Mega Events Fund turned down an application for HK$5 million to back this year's tournament. While the loss of the high-profile event was a major blow, the game also needs a facility capable of putting on international events, even hosting top teams like England and Pakistan in one-day internationals in the same way Dubai does, and Singapore will do in the future. HKCA secretary John Cribbin, the local representative on the ICC, added: "They [the Singapore government] are much more serious about supporting sport than ours. They are more receptive to ideas [on how sport can help raise the profile of a city]." As the Hong Kong government still mulls the best way to finance its proposed HK$19 billion sports complex at Kai Tak, a leading ICC official has said Singapore is poised to become a prime centre for international cricket with the new hub capable of being calibrated to become a 35,000-seat cricket stadium that can host world-class events. "Location-wise Singapore is a good place. Its government is also keen to support cricket. The ICC board is seriously thinking about relocating to Singapore [from Dubai] and a decision will be made soon," said ICC vice-president Mustafa Kamal, who is to become the president in July. The ICC recently asked an international consultancy firm to carry out a feasibility study on moving its headquarters from Dubai. Singapore came top of the study, with its new sports hub - which includes a 55,000-seater stadium that can be turned into a cricket oval - a major factor. Once this state-of-the-art stadium is ready - it is designed to host day-night one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals with a retractable roof ensuring play at all times - ambitious Singapore Cricket Association president Tunku Imran has suggested "the city can become the capital of the cricket world". Imran also said: "It is an amazing development, very impressive, one that can offer a lot to the cricket world beyond Singapore". Walsh said unless Hong Kong got its act together quickly, the city was in danger of falling behind its regional rivals, not only in cricket but in other sports, too. "It looks like it will be a great addition to Singapore and the region and all credit to them for having the foresight to go ahead with it," Walsh said. "While we here have been 'umming and aahing' for the past several years over something similar for Kai Tak, they have gone ahead and done it." Apart from cricket, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union has also been lobbying for Kai Tak to be completed as soon as possible, especially with an eye on hosting some games of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Jonathan McKinley, deputy secretary for home affairs, recently revealed the financing model for Kai Tak was likely to be decided by next year. Work on the project is only expected to get under way in late 2015. The government has estimated once all the plans are in place, Kai Tak can be ready in three years with a completion date of 2019 - more than five years after the Singapore Sports Hub, by which time that city will have made huge inroads into becoming a true hub for the region. The Singapore hub will be the only stadium in the world that is custom-built to host soccer, rugby, cricket and athletics events in one venue.
China*: Nov 14 2013
Global talent lacking in China (By Yang Yao) Nation needs to offer incentives to attract foreign executives: experts - China needs to develop better policies to attract professionals from abroad to work in Chinese companies, helping to power the shift from "Made in China" to "Created in China", according to experts. "There are so many companies in China that need global talent, but there are only a few thousand available in the Chinese market," said Wang Huiyao, director-general of the Center for China and Globalization. According to his research, China needs 75,000 executive managers with global experience in the next five to 10 years, but there are only 3,000- to 5,000 people in the local market who meet the necessary criteria. Wang said that a new era has arrived in which Chinese companies are increasingly expanding and doing business overseas, a fact that calls for professionals and managers with international backgrounds. Last year, China's overseas investment reached $72.2 billion, and this year, China's foreign investment is expected to top $100 billion for the first time. According to Fortune Magazine's 500 Top Global Companies List this year, China has a record number of 89 companies listed, next only to the United States. "However, most of these companies are still domestic-oriented," said Wang. "For these companies that wish to get more market share globally, one of the key challenges is that they don't have enough global talent — particularly global executive talent." "China will need many more global executives and managers to cope with the rapid increase of Chinese companies, global investment and business activities," he said. Zheng Hong, HR manager with Hangzhou Hongsheng Beverage Group, the mainland's largest soft drinks company by sales, expressed the same wish. "We hope to create our own brand, which can influence and change consumption habits in the global beverage industry," she said. "But we are lacking innovative people who are capable of doing so." The fields most in need of professional talent from abroad include hi-tech industries, energy/natural resources, healthcare and life sciences, according to the 2013 Executive Search Industry Global Outlook Report, by the Association of Executive Search Consultants. "The senior executive talent shortage is the most visible this year in China," said Peter Felix, president of the New York-based global headhunting organization. Citing one example of the penetration of foreign talent into the Chinese business world, Felix said that around half of Lenovo's board of directors are American. "In order to retain this high-end group of talent, China needs to compete with other countries," he said. Liu Huaisong, chairman of Zhongguancun Talent Association, said that compared with Silicon Valley in United States where more than 40 percent of the companies are started by foreigners, Zhongguancun, China's "Silicon Valley", has a low proportion of overseas talent. Felix told China Daily that his organization, as well as the China Global Talent Society and Zhongguancun Talent Association, are joining forces to help Chinese high-tech companies search executives globally. "In this sense, China needs to create a whole package, including visa policy, education, retirement, legal system and also environment, to attract them," Felix said. However, there are tensions between the need for global talent and current social policies. Lin Lei, deputy head of human resources for Microsoft China, said that the issuing of visas is a big issue. "If there were more green cards issued to the senior executives, things would be easier," she said, citing the example of Zhang Yaqin, corporate vice-president of Microsoft, who was born in China but now holds a US passport. According to data from the Ministry of Public Security, China had only issued 4,752 green cards to foreign residents by the end of 2011.
Report shows jump in Chinese students going to the US (By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington and ZHAO XINYING in Beijing email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) A student gets advice about studying in the United States during the Beijing International Education Exhibition. More and more Chinese students have headed to the US for undergraduate and graduate study in recent years. Thanks to the rising family incomes, China continues to send more students to universities and colleges in the United States than any other nation. During the 2012/13 academic year, Chinese student enrollments increased by a hefty 21.4 percent annually to more than 235,000, according to the 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released on Monday. According to the report from the Institute of International Education, the number of international students enrolled in US establishments of higher education in the academic year rose 7.2 percent to more than 819,000. Of all international students in the US, 28.7 percent were from China. The rise in the number of undergraduate students from China was especially dramatic, increasing by 26 percent from the previous year. Consultants said the number of Chinese students pursuing undergraduate education in the US had increased rapidly mainly because of the growing Chinese economy, as the cost of a four-year education in the US for a Chinese child is typically more than 1 million yuan ($163,000). "As more families in China are becoming wealthy, an increasing number of Chinese parents can afford the high tuition and living expenses for their children to study for four years in the US," said Gao Yanding, founder of Yanding US-China Education, a consulting institute for Chinese students in the US. Gao also said the advanced teaching and management methods, as well as the well-established knowledge systems in the US universities are attracting more and more Chinese students and their parents. "The parents believe that in US universities, their children can get things domestic universities cannot offer," he said. The ages of the students is another factor parents have to take into account when considering sending their children overseas, Gao said. "Some Chinese parents don't want their children to study in the US too early, worrying that young kids cannot take good care of themselves, but when the children grow to 18 or 19 years old, it's time to let them go," he said. A breakdown of the figures shows that 39.8 percent of Chinese students in the US were undergraduates, while 43.9 percent were graduates. The remainder included 10.2 percent in optional practical training, a US policy for international students on F-1 visas to work in the US for one year after graduation to get practical training to complement their field of study. The report shows that students from the top three countries of origin — China, India and South Korea — now account for 49 percent of the total number of international students in the US. But China was the only one of the three showing a rise in numbers, as enrollments from India and South Korea declined. The number of Chinese students in the US started to grow in the 1980s. In the 1988/89 school year, the mainland beat Taiwan as the leading supplier and held that position until it was replaced by Japan in 1994/95. In 1998/99, China again became the leading source of foreign students for three years until it was replaced by India. But in 2009/10, China topped the list again and has held first place ever since. Life experience - Chinese students in the US said that one of the biggest attractions of getting an education there is the opportunity to experience something different in life. "The most attractive thing within the US education system is that it gives students a lot of freedom and many opportunities," said Sun Siyi, a senior student at Penn State University majoring in energy business finance as well as broadcast journalism. Sun said that choosing a double major in journalism after her sophomore year was a hard decision, because she only has two years left, and she hadn't taken any courses in journalism before. "But the US universities allow students to arrange their own study schedule. Students have lots of opportunities to do a double or triple major, take a gap year, extend their graduation time or choose to be part-time students while working," she said. Sun said the tuition fees at her university are about $32,000 and the living expenses are about $20,000 each year. She said her parents are able to handle the costs of her education in the US. "They are very supportive of my studies in the US," Sun said. "They only hope that I can gain more personal growth and broaden my horizons by learning from other cultures here."
Hong Kong*: Nov 13 2013
Chinese students flood Hong Kong universities' graduate programs (By Linda Yeung email@example.com) Proximity, good value and chance to obtain residency seen as reasons so many study in city - Some 99 per cent of students enrolled in Chinese University's Master of Science in finance are from the mainland. Places on graduate programmes at universities in Hong Kong are increasingly being filled by mainlanders, who are flooding popular courses with applications. Some 99 per cent of students enrolled in Chinese University's Master of Science in finance are from the mainland. There were 2,000 applications for the most recent intake of the programme, which costs HK$220,000. Of the students taking City University's Master of Science in applied economics, 80 per cent are from the mainland. Local enrolment is also on the decline for Baptist University's Master of Arts in communication course. This year there were 1,500 applications, mostly from the mainland, for about 150 places. Programme director Steve Guo said: "There has been a rapid increase in the number of applications from the mainland." Asked to explain why, he said: "Tuition here is relatively cheap compared to Australia, the UK and the US. Both Hong Kong and China also have similar cultures." Academic reputation aside, the city's proximity to the mainland and status as a free, cosmopolitan city are attractive factors. Another draw is that non-local graduates can stay in the city for one year to look for work and stand to gain permanent residency after seven years. "It is a cheaper way of gaining permanent residency than coming here through the government's capital investment entrant scheme," said Guo. Mainland students make up the vast majority of research postgraduate students in the city, numbering 4,586 in 2012-2013, up from 4,298 in 2011-2012, out of a total of fewer than 7,000, University Grants Committee figures show. While it is common for working professionals in Hong Kong to pursue a master's degree, the majority are drawn to one-year, full-time or two-year, part-time, coursework-based programmes that focus on practical disciplines, with few drawn to research degrees leading to a PhD. That has to do with the practical mindset of the city, academics say. The bleak job prospects at local universities for locally trained PhD holders also discourage graduates from furthering their studies in Hong Kong. Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, who represents the education constituency, has urged the government to provide incentives for students to pursue research-oriented studies. "This is important for the growth of a knowledge economy. [The government] should consider offering scholarships targeting local students. Many scholarships have been snapped up by mainlanders. We should nurture more local talent." But another legislator, Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, an associate professor in Baptist University's department of government and international studies, supports the idea of the academically minded going abroad. "They can then return to strengthen local institutions."
China*: Nov 13 2013
HK$12.6 billion in 6 hours: Chinese ‘Singles Day’ fuels world's largest shopping spree (By Chris Luo firstname.lastname@example.org) A staff member responds to customers' online questions at the headquarters of a Tmall online shop in Guangzhou ahead of the "Singles' Day" shopping promotion. China’s biggest online trading platform Alibaba Group was set to smash its own record for e-commerce spending on Monday after its annual sales promotion generated more than a colossal 10 billion yuan (HK$12.6 billion) in online transactions in just six hours. Taobao and Tmall, two major online shopping websites run by Alibaba, recorded a staggering 340,000 sales transactions being completed within the first minute of the annual online shopping spree starting at midnight on Sunday, with the total value in spending surpassing 100 million yuan, according to news portal Sina.com. Within the first hour, the websites recorded 6.7 billion yuan worth of completed online transactions. The International Finance News newspaper estimated that this year’s total in online sales could be somewhere between 50 and 80 billion yuan. By comparison, the International Business Times reported that online retail spending in the US on November 25, the country's biggest shopping day of the year known as ‘Black Friday’, last year recorded sales of US$1.04 billion (6.37 billion yuan, HK$8.06 billion). November 11, widely referred to as “double eleven” in China, a day attributed to and celebrated by single people due to the shape of the Arabic numerals ‘11/11’, has over the years gradually become the most important date in the shopping calendar when e-commerce companies compete for profits by holding sales promotions to attract bargain-hungry customers. A poll by Sina.com revealed that more than 60 per cent of respondents said they would shop online on “double eleven”, while only less than 15 per cent were certain that they could resist the sales. Of the respondents likely to shop for a bargain on “double eleven”, nearly 60 per cent said they would shop on the Alibaba platform, followed by electronic giant jd online shopping mall and Amazon, the latter two accounting for 19.5 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively. The two online shopping websites reported record-breaking sales of 19 billion yuan for last year’s shopping event on November 11, with Tmall pulling in 13.2 billion yuan and Taobao collecting 5.9 billion yuan. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and chairman, told the media before the sales that he expected this year’s transactions to top 30 billion yuan by the end of the day. The number of transactions and sales volumes for other e-commerce companies were not immediately available. It is unknown how much exactly Alibaba will profit from sales this year, but the media estimated a profit percentage of 5 per cent of sales, which would give Alibaba an estimated profit of at least 1.5 billion yuan. While Alibaba is well on its way to break its own sales record again this year, many attributed part of the success to Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Chinese media have focused on a meeting that took place just a week before the shopping spree where Ma, along with other entrepreneurs, was summoned for a meeting with Li on the subject of China’s economic outlook. “This is totally unimaginable for traditional businesses,” official Xinhua news agency cited Ma as saying when he spoke of how Alibaba has slowly cultivated the ‘Singles Day’ into an annual shopping event over the past four years by promoting sales across its online shops, allowing it to record a total value of sales of 20 billion yuan last year. When Li reportedly commented, “You have created a shopping spree,” many viewed it as an apparent endorsement of the promotion. “What an advertisement Premier Li has made for Alibaba,” one comment read on the news portal Sina.com.
Chinese students in US jump 21% (By Chen Weihua in Washington email@example.com) While enrollment from India and South Korea are both in decline - China continues to be the top source driving the growing and record number of international students in US universities and colleges. During the 2012/13 academic year, Chinese student enrollments increased by a hefty 21.4 percent to 235,597, compared with the 194,029 in the previous academic year, according to the 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange by the Institute of International Education (IIE). Overall, the number of international students enrolled in US establishments of higher education in the 2012/13 academic year rose 7.2 percent to 819,644 students, or about 55,000 more than the previous school year. Of all international students in the US, 28.7 percent were from China. The rise in the number of undergraduate students from China was especially dramatic, jumping 26 percent in the 2012/13 academic year. A breakdown shows that 39.8 percent of Chinese students in the US were undergraduates while 43.9 percent were graduates. The remainder included 10.2 percent in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and 6.1 percent in other programs. OPT is a US policy for international students on F-1 visas to work in the US for one year after graduation to get practical training to complement their field of study. Several other countries, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia, have also seen large increases. The report shows that students from the top three countries of origin - China, India and the Republic of Korea - now account for 49 percent of the total number of international students in the US. But China was the only of the top three with its numbers increasing, as enrollments from India and the ROK both declined. Aside from these top three, no other country accounted for more than 5 percent of the total, according to the report. The number of Chinese students in the US started to grow in the 1980s. In the 1988/89 school year, the Chinese mainland displaced Taiwan as the leading supplier and held that position until it was displaced by Japan in 1994/95. In 1998/99, China again became the leading source of foreign students for three years until it was replaced by India. But that top position has again been taken back and held by China since 2009/10. With a fast-growing economy and middle class, more and more Chinese families are able to send their children abroad. These 2012/13 data mark the seventh consecutive year that Open Doors has reported an expansion in the total number of international students enrolled in higher education in the US. There are 40 percent more international students studying at US colleges and universities now than a decade ago, and the rate of increase has grown steadily over the past three years. The report said the growth is likely to continue following a strong increase in the so-called "new international students", those enrolling for the first time in the fall of 2013. The new enrollment in 2012/13 went up 10 percent from the prior year, following a 7 percent increase in 2011/12. Growth of both enrollment and new enrollment had fallen since the economic slowdown of 2008. Despite the increase in recent years, international students still make up less than 4 percent of the more than 21 million students enrolled in US higher education. Besides India and the ROK, several other places of origin - such as Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan - also sent fewer students to US universities and colleges. The report suggests the decline was likely caused by a mix of global and home country economic factors, improving higher education opportunities at home and strengthening employment opportunities at home following graduation. International students contributed more than $24 billion to the US economy last year, through payment of tuition, housing and other costs, according to the US Department of Commerce. "International education promotes the relationship building and knowledge exchange between people and communities in the United States and around the world that are necessary to solve global challenges," said Evan Ryan, US assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs, during a conference call. "The connections made during international education experiences last a lifetime," said Ryan, who studied abroad herself in the early 1990s. "International students enrich classrooms, campuses and communities in ways that endure long after students return to their home countries. "We encourage US schools to continue to welcome more international students to their campuses and to do more to make study abroad a reality for all of their students," she said. The Open Doors report also found that during the 2011/12 academic year, 283,332 American students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of 3 percent from the previous year. However, the report did not count those who went for short-term and no-credit study abroad. Trailing Britain, Italy, Spain and France, China was the fifth destination for American students going overseas. Two percent more students studied in China during the 2011/12 year over the previous year. In all, 14,887 US students studied in China during the academic year, a rise of 2 percent from the previous year and accounting for 5.3 percent of the total US students studying abroad.
Thousands rally over Kimmel show remark (By Zhou Wa in Beijing, Chen Weihua in Washington and Kelly Chung Dawson in New York) Chinese-Americans and their supporters rallied at the American Broadcasting Company headquarters in Washington on Saturday to protest a skit the company aired. Protesters demanded a formal apology and that Jimmy Kimmel be fired or suspended. Chinese-American anger at 'kill' comment not an overreaction - Chinese-American anger over the Jimmy Kimmel show is not an overreaction and their protest raises concern about discrimination against Chinese and other minorities in the United States, analysts said on Sunday. Thousands of people, mostly Chinese, protested on Saturday in more than 20 cities across the US against an Oct 16 segment of late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live, in which a young boy suggested killing everyone in China to wipe out US debt. Instead of focusing on what the 6-year-old boy said, it is more important to ask why he said such a thing and how Kimmel should have responded, said Ruan Zongze, deputy director of China Institute of International Studies. "The joke went too far," he said. "ABC Television bears more responsibility than the boy for broadcasting what the child said. As an influential part of mainstream media in the US, it should have been aware that the boy's words would have a negative influence on American society, and it should have cut this clip when it edited the program," Ruan said. "Instead, ABC Television and the host, Kimmel himself, showed a tolerance toward the child's words. It shows that the network and the host share an idea of inequality between Chinese-Americans and other ethnic groups, whether they are conscious of it or not." 'Less sensitive' Compared with anti-Jewish or African-American events, other racism issues including the anti-Chinese one are less sensitive in the US, said Jin Canrong, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University of China. "The US political correctness on racism has not covered Chinese-Americans yet," he said. Anti-Chinese events have existed for a long time in the US, culminating with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. Although the US government officially apologized for that in 2012, discrimination against Chinese-Americans still exists. In consequence, many in the Chinese-American community are pushing for further action. On Saturday, hundreds of people, most from the Chinese-American community, gathered outside the ABC headquarters in Burbank, California. "I'm here today as a mom. All moms teach their children love, not killing," said Cao Lin, representing the Chinese-American women organizations in Southern California. In Washington, about 400 people rallied first in front of the Washington Monument and later the ABC office building, chanting "Shame on ABC" and "Fire Kimmel". Some even held posters equating Kimmel to Adolf Hitler. The protesters demanded ABC chiefs formally apologize to Chinese people worldwide and fire or suspend Kimmel. Stan Tsai, chairman of the board of the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said the fact that many parents are bringing their kids to the protest shows that they are deeply concerned that Kimmel's joke may cause racial discrimination against their children. In the Oct 16 show segment Kids Table, Kimmel discussed world issues with four children. When Kimmel asked the kids how the US should repay the country's $1.3 trillion debt to China, a 6-year-old boy replied: "Kill everyone in China." "That's an interesting idea," Kimmel responded. Both ABC and Kimmel later apologized. ABC issued a statement, saying: "We offer our sincere apology. We would never purposely broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of the Chinese descent or any community at large. Our object is to entertain. We took swift action to minimize the distribution of the skit by removing it from all public platforms available to us and editing it out of any future airings of the shows. Kimmel's on-air apology on Oct 28 and the ABC statement a day earlier were viewed by protesters as insincere. Kimmel also apologized to protesters outside his studio in Hollywood last week, but his reference to "cultural differences" that might have contributed to the misunderstanding of his humor only further angered advocacy groups. Protesters said an apology without admitting wrongdoing is not acceptable. Daniel Tassa, from Virginia, said the action taken by ABC is not enough. "It should fire Kimmel or at least suspend him from the air for a month," he said. The protests show Chinese-Americans have become more aware of pursuing equality with other ethnic groups and safeguarding their civil rights, said Su Hao, a professor on global affairs at China Foreign Affairs University. "Chinese-Americans used to be more focused on their own daily lives and care less about politics and their interests as a group. But this is now changing," he said.
Hong Kong*: Nov 12 2013
Hong Kong-based entrepreneur planning Asia's first bitcoin conference (By Angela Meng and Danny Lee) As digital currency hits record high, HK-based entrepreneur is organising the first Asian conference dedicated to the virtual system - Bitcoin was created in 2008 by anonymous hackers using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Eddy Travia will host the first Asian conference on bitcoin next week, in Singapore, with the digital currency hitting a record price of US$315 yesterday. Travia is keen to cater to a growing band of enthusiasts riding the bitcoin wave. The currency was US$123 on October 3 and has since risen nearly three-fold. "So many things have happened with it, it's happened so fast, so we need to show people what is going on," Travia said. Bitcoin - which can be used to pay for goods and services on the internet - was created in 2008 by anonymous hackers using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It went operational in 2009 and has skyrocketed in value on bitcoin exchanges since. The digital currency is used to buy everything from coffee to cocaine. Speculators, hobbyists, traders, and digital currency adopters looking for a decentralised, alternative store of wealth have invested in it. Much of bitcoin's recent rise has been attributed to interest on the mainland. CCTV broadcast a documentary about bitcoin in May, and Jiasule, the online security arm of internet giant Baidu, started accepting bitcoin for payment last month. Joining them is an array of retailers on the mainland and in Hong Kong. "We started accepting bitcoin a year ago" said Adam Lee, manager of a health and beauty business in Hong Kong. "With a phone, you can just show them a code and receive the bitcoin." He is, however, still waiting for his first customer to pay with the digital currency. Bobby Lee, founder and CEO of BTC China, the largest bitcoin exchange on the mainland, said most mainlanders were not using bitcoins to pay for things but rather buying them as an investment. Germany has declared bitcoin a "unit of account" and the US has recognised it as a "virtual currency". Still, for legal purposes, bitcoin is not backed by a major currency, leading some to the conclusion that all the talk about the "digital asset" has led to a bubble. Zennon Kapron, managing director of mainland-based financial research firm Kapronasia, said that as acceptance of bitcoin grew, an appropriate level of value would be realised. "The rise in the past week is based largely on speculation and not the drive towards a proper value of the currency … it still has a ways to go before we hit a proper valuation." A Hong Kong Monetary Authority spokeswoman said: "The liquidity and value of transactions in the secondary market is extremely volatile and unpredictable, with no guarantee in relation to the amount of goods and services that can be exchanged." Beijing has not established a stance on bitcoin. Bobby Lee said: "We feel this is an area that eventually will get regulated, and we look forward to working with the government to make that happen." There is concern about the volatility and stability of bitcoin. Japan-based Mt Gox, the world's largest bitcoin exchange, experienced a massive security breach in 2011 that caused the price of a bitcoin to drop to one US cent. More recently, US authorities seized more than 144,000 bitcoins worth some US$28 million from online drug marketplace Silk Road. "Let's cross our fingers that there's not a big scandal where a big exchange closes down and wipes out the bitcoins of many people," Travia said.
Mission impossible? One Hong Kong family’s attempt to go zero-waste (By Christy Choi firstname.lastname@example.org) Claire Sancelot with the mixed compost in her home at her zero-waste household at Bel Air. It began about three years ago. A mound of dirty nappies and used baby wipes was driving Claire Sancelot and her husband mad. Since then the 37-year-old economist and mother of three young children has been on a mission to reduce waste. “We only produce around half a bucket of waste every week, and we’re a family of six and a dog,” Sancelot said. It’s a significant drop from just three years ago, when the family, which includes a live-in helper, was throwing out five to seven bags of rubbish a day. Hong Kong produces about 13,400 tonnes of waste a day, or 1.36 kg per person, 40 per cent of which is food waste. The charity Oxfam estimates that a three-person household eats 1.12 kg of food a day, and throws out almost as much. “We realised all this consumption was unsustainable,” said Sancelot who runs an ethical women’s clothing line in the city, but decided that was not enough, and the key was to avoid consumption altogether. Sancelot rarely shops; instead she scours online boards for second-hand women’s designer clothing, children’s clothes and books, and refuses packaged products, preferring to take her own bags and reusable containers to markets and restaurants. “You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to have a lot of space, or to be a hippy to be zero-waste,” she said. As she pulled out the rubbish bin hidden under the kitchen sink to show the Post last week, the bin was empty except for a ramen noodle wrapper. There was no whiff of decomposition so common in kitchen bins, as all the vegetable peelings and leftovers had been siphoned off into compost containers by the laundry room. “It’s really in the kitchen and the toilet that the most waste is generated,” said Sancelot, walking through her brightly painted, clutter-free apartment. Sancelot has been documenting her family’s experiment on her blog Hong Kong Green Home; showing experiments with compost, posting tips on going paperless and giving hints on making French toast from stale bread. “You save money, you save space and you save time once you’ve got the infrastructure in place,” she said. “For someone who follows my blog, they could be where I am in six months if they wanted.” Hers is part of a growing movement of green-living blogs and communities that are looking to reduce their impact on the environment, and bring together local vendors. Sancelot has created a network of organic and local vendors providing for about 30 households in her apartment complex. “I’m sure Julien hates me right now. I’m giving him too much work,” she said, talking about Julien Ki, an organic farmer based in the New Territories who brings her fresh produce once a week. Take a tour of Julien Ki's farm. She’s also linked up with a local soap producer and is looking to add locally made organic skincare and laundry detergent to her shopping basket. “I used to think it was harder in Hong Kong to be as green as we are in Australia, but Claire’s gone and done it. We don’t really have an excuse anymore, said homemaker Nicole Serje, who is also trying to reduce waste. “It’s been most valuable finding out places to get products and trying to find locally made produce.” The Sancelot household also has a strict “no gift” policy, unless it’s edible and without packaging. But she admits getting to where her family is now wasn’t easy. The amount of waste she saw made her constantly angry, anti-social and prone to preaching. Now she says, she won’t write anything negative in her blog, and it’s up to people to decide what works for them. “Sometimes I think she’s like the little boy sticking his finger in the dike [to stop the flood], but someone’s got to do it,” said her husband Prasad Padmanaban. “It’s the right thing.”
China*: Nov 12 2013
Brand China in leading role on Transformers set (By LIU WEI email@example.com) Director Michael Bay attends a ceremony for the shooting of Transformers 4 in Chongqing on Oct 30. More Chinese brands will feature in the new Transformers movie than in the three previous films in the franchise, a top executive at production company Paramount Pictures said. Rob Moore, the vice-chairman, told China Daily the latest movie features a variety of Chinese brands placed in the storyline. "This certainly goes hand in hand with the amount of time that we were in Chinese locations," Moore said. "Having those products certainly reinforces the fact that this is Chinese culture and that there is a lot of story-telling happening there." He would not say how many Chinese brands are in the film, but sources have confirmed that the products include drinking water, a car and a duck-meat snack. Moore is aware that an improper placement could trigger controversy. Some Chinese audiences were offended by the placement of a brand of milk in the third Transformers movie, as that company was involved in a food safety scandal. But Moore is confident that with cooperation from Chinese partners, including the Movie Channel affiliated to the State Film Bureau, the placements in the latest movie will not cause offense. "Working with our Chinese partners really helps us to ensure we are giving an accurate picture of China," he said. "The Chinese locations, actors and environment all look very natural and consistent with Chinese culture. As people start to learn more about China, and now that there is a lot more sharing of information, we will do much better." In addition to product placement, there are many other Chinese elements in the action blockbuster, which will be released in the United States in June. Director Michael Bay has used many Chinese locations for the movie, including the Great Wall, a luxury hotel in Beijing, the city of Tianjin, and Wulong in the southwest of the country, known for its mountains. He has also filmed on the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Bay said the Hong Kong scenes will comprise one-third of the film’s length, while those in Wulong will last for two-and-a-half minutes. The shooting in China was completed on Monday. Another location outside the United States was used for the movie, but Moore is giving nothing away, saying only that it is a "very cold place". The film also features a host of Chinese actors, with Bay saying that actress Li Bingbing, who starred in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, will appear in the movie for 30 minutes. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a 2011 historical drama movie based on the novel of the same name by Lisa See. Some of the Chinese actors in the new Transformers film appear in supporting roles, including four newcomers to the industry selected from a reality TV show organized by the Movie Channel. Three female farmers played impromptu roles in the scenes shot in Wulong. Despite the heavy involvement of Chinese elements in the film, it is not an official co-production, meaning it is not exempt from the country’s annual quota of 34 imported films, and its revenue share should be no more than 25 percent of the gross earnings. The film is widely expected to be a box office hit. The previous Transformers movie, which was screened in China in 2011, earned 1.09 billion yuan ($179 million), making the country the highest-grossing overseas market for the film. Moore thinks it is possible the new film may even equal the success of Pacific Rim, the 2013 US science fiction monster movie, which has grossed more in China than in North America. "In terms of the popularity of this franchise and its expansion in the Chinese market, it is certainly possible," he said. Asked if there will be a special version of the movie for Chinese audiences, as in the case of Iron Man 3, Bay said there will be only one version worldwide.
[DISNEY ABC TELEVISION - "KILLING ALL CHINESE" 「殺光中國人」JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW: Chinese Americans protest Kimmel joke in NYC By KELLY CHUNG DAWSON of China Daily in New York Protestors gather outside ABC-TV's headquarters in New York City to protest a skit on the Jimmy Kimmel show, on Nov 8, 2013. Approximately 300 protesters gathered outside ABC-TV's headquarters in New York on Friday in response to a segment last month on the late-night television show Jimmy Kimmel Live, in which a young boy joked about killing everyone in China to erase US debt. Although both ABC and Kimmel have apologized for the Oct 16 skit, various Chinese American advocacy groups are pushing for further action, including firing the host and taking steps to prevent such future incidents. "Today we stand here to protest not only the Jimmy Kimmel Kids Table Show, but also ABC's lack of a sincere, public apology for Jimmy Kimmel's misguided decision," organizers said in material distributed at the protest. "You should hold yourselves accountable for teaching our children that killing others is an acceptable practice." Kimmel's on-air apology on Oct 28 is viewed by the groups to be insincere because his defense of his actions was delivered in a light-hearted fashion, organizers said. That apology came one day after a written statement from ABC executives was released through the pan-Asian American political advocacy group 80-20 Initiative. In the letter, ABC stated that it "would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large." ABC promised to pull the clip from its website and delete it from any repeat broadcasts. Kimmel also apologized to protesters outside his studio in Hollywood on Oct 30, but his reference to "cultural differences" that might have contributed to the misunderstanding of his humor only further angered advocacy groups. "We do not treat it as a joke," said Chunyan Li, a professor in accounting at Pace University and one of the organizers of the protest. "And I do not believe that we misunderstood the joke. We do not share his sense of humor." More than 100,000 people have now signed a petition at WhiteHouse.gov, reaching the threshold for the number of signatures needed for an official response from the White House. Beixin Lin, a professor in accounting at Montclair University, attended the protest with her son. She believes that Kimmel and the network need to release statements that do more than apologize for offending the Chinese community. "They said, 'We apologize for upsetting anyone,' but they never admitted that what they did was wrong," Lin said. "We think that's unacceptable. Hiding behind a joke is a cowardly way of dealing with the matter." Lin's son Timothy, 11, expressed a belief that Americans feel comfortable joking about Chinese people because Chinese are less likely to fight back. Chinese Americans are perceived to be successful, but still face discrimination, Lin said. "Asians are successful in professional areas in medicine, research and education, IT, but we think that second-and third-generation Chinese need to be in more diversified areas so we can fight for our rights more," said Lin. "This happened because people don't respect Chinese, and they know they can joke about us because we don't do anything, we won't fight. So I'm very happy about the turnout today."
Hong Kong*: Nov 11 2013
Developer Bonds Group buys old Kowloon City buildings for HK$242 million (By Olga Wong firstname.lastname@example.org) Bonds Group gains right to redevelop three old buildings in Kowloon City – the first project under Urban Renewal Authority scheme - Three old tenements in Kowloon City were auctioned off for HK$242 million yesterday, marking the first successful redevelopment project facilitated by the Urban Renewal Authority under a two-year-old scheme. The 64-year-old properties at 67-71 Lion Rock Road were sold to a developer, the Bonds Group of Companies, at its opening bid. Two potential buyers made no attempt to bid for the buildings. "The price was about 10 per cent higher than I had expected," Bonds chairman Anson Chan Yiu-cheung told the South China Morning Post. "But I still wanted the buildings as I think the new service offered by the authority is meaningful to us and to society. The extra stamp duties imposed by the government to curb flat prices are apparently a reason no one was willing to compete for them." Anson Chan was referring to a service, launched in 2011, in which the authority co-ordinates among owners of dilapidated buildings to reach consensus on redevelopment and organises an auction for them to sell their property to a developer that will take up the project. At least half of the owners must apply for the service for the URA to step in. Staff members try to persuade other owners to agree on auctioning their property for redevelopment. The authority also hires an independent surveying firm to provide advice on a suitable market price. Owners of each lot pay a total of HK$20,000 for the service and the authority receives 1 per cent from the sale price in return. At least 90 per cent of the owners must agree to redevelopment for the auction to take place; in this case, there was 100 per cent agreement. The three lots involve a total of nine people who own nine flats and three ground-floor shops. Some are investors, and one owns the whole block at No71. The scheme appeals to owners of sites smaller than 400 square metres, which are not accepted under a demand-led scheme in which owners apply for redevelopment undertaken by the authority. Chan said the URA's service was more transparent and credible than that provided by private property buying agents, who tended not to be upfront about the selling price and sometimes hid their interests by acquiring the properties in the name of another company. The project was a strategic move as the Bonds Group had two other developments in the same district, near where Kai Tak new town was emerging along with new transport infrastructure, he said. Chris Chow, who bought a flat more than 10 years ago as an investment, said he was satisfied with the price. He said most of the owners were elderly and had been spending more than HK$100,000 each year maintaining their properties and complying with repair orders issued by the Buildings Department. URA managing director Iris Tam Siu-ying said the service aimed to speed up redevelopment and to cope with rapid ageing of urban neighbourhoods. Only four of the 11 applications received since 2011 were eligible, the authority said. Two of the four failed to achieve majority consensus, while the remaining project, located in North Point, had yet to reach 90 per cent agreement.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST HONG KONG: White House to respond to petition against Jimmy Kimmel's ‘Kill everyone in China’ show (By Patrick Boehler email@example.com) Chinese Americans and students attend a protest against the "kill everyone in China" skit on Jimmy Kimmel's talk show in Houston on November 1. A petition in the US demanding the cancellation of a popular television show has reached the necessary quorum to force a response from the White House. More than 101,000 people have signed the petition calling for the cancellation of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! after a segment featured six-year-old children suggesting “everyone in China” should be killed as a way to deal with US treasure debt. China is the biggest holder of US treasure bonds, with debt amounting to US$12.7 billion or US$4,040 for every US citizen, according to US Treasury data in August. The late-night show triggered protests outside ABC’s headquarters, where angry Chinese-Americans held placards likening the 45-year-old comedian to Adolf Hitler. On Thursday, another group of around 400 mostly ethnic Chinese demonstrated outside his office, according to CCTV. Both ABC and Kimmel apologised repeatedly for the segment. The White House petition will be the third related to China to receive a response, and the second to reach the quorum of 100,000 signatories, which obliges the US executive to reply. It reached the threshold about two weeks ahead of a one-month deadline set by the White House. The first China-related petition to reach the threshold in May demanding the extradition of a murder suspect to China has yet to receive a response. An earlier petition on making Lunar New Year a national holiday, which collected almost 40,000 signatories, and another to increase processing capacity for non-immigrant visas, which gathered less than 9,000, received replies. The petition was initiated by a person with the initials CZ living in Cedar Park, in central Texas. Video: Animators in China to Jimmy Kimmel: Why you shouldn't 'Kill the Chinese' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM3xYfxMQeA
U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrives in HK - The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington sailed into HK waters for port visit.
China*: Nov 11 2013
China to loan Pacific island nations US$1b (By Reuters in Beijing) China to build medical facilities in Pacific island region and invest in green energy projects - Vice Premier Wang Yang shakes hands with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during their meeting at the second China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Co-operation Forum in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Thursday. China will provide a concessionary loan of up to US$1 billion to Pacific island nations to support construction projects, state media on Friday cited Vice Premier Wang Yang as saying, a part of the world where Beijing and Taiwan compete for influence. Wang made the announcement at a forum with Pacific island nations in the southern city of Guangzhou, the official Xinhua news agency reported. It provided no other details on the loan. China will also build medical facilities in the region and send medical teams as well as invest in green energy projects, Xinhua cited Wang as saying. The meeting was attended by representatives from Micronesia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue and Fiji, the news agency added. The Pacific has traditionally been a site of competition for diplomatic recognition between China and Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own. In the region, Taiwan maintains formal ties with Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Taiwan has also supported development projects and provided loans. However, China and Taiwan have maintained an unofficial diplomatic truce and not tried to court each other’s allies in the developing world since they signed a series of landmark trade and economic deals in 2008, ushering in improved ties. Just 23 countries recognise Taiwan, almost all impoverished countries in Central and South America, Africa and the Pacific. Those that recognise Taiwan range in size from the Vatican to Paraguay.
China's exports rebound more than expected in October (By Reuters in Beijing) China’s export growth rebounded by more than expected last month, adding to a run of indicators suggesting that the economy has found its footing as Beijing prepares to lay out its reform agenda for the next decade. Exports increased by 5.6 per cent from a year earlier, the Customs Administration said on Friday, beating market expectations for a 3.2 per cent rise. Imports rose 7.6 per cent against forecasts of an 8.5 per cent rise, leaving the trade surplus at US$31.1 billion. An upswing in exports adds to positive figures in surveys of the manufacturing and services sectors in October, though conflicting estimates in those surveys for new export orders pointed to a mixed outlook for trade. “Combined with the better export data in Korea and Taiwan, China’s export numbers suggests some – although not yet decisive – improvement in global demand momentum,” Louis Kuijs, an economist with RBS, said in a note. The export growth followed last month’s surprise 0.3 per cent contraction. Attention will now turn to inflation and activity figures on Saturday, which will give a clearer overall picture of the health of the economy. Data since mid-year has shown the economy has regained some momentum after a protracted slowdown. A Reuters poll shows inflation is expected to rise to an 18-month high, retail sales and M2 money supply growth rates are seen edging up slightly, while investment and factory output tick down. China’s leaders have repeatedly said they are reshaping the economy so it is driven by domestic demand rather than exports and investment. Reforms to push that are expected to be unveiled at the Communist Party’s third plenary session, a meeting of China’s top 200 politicians from Saturday to Tuesday. Exports have been a drag on the economy so far this year, subtracting 1.7 per cent from growth in the first three quarters. Weak global demand, a stronger yuan currency and rising labour costs have taken their toll on sales of Chinese goods abroad. Exports directly create about 30 million jobs and add a further 100 million in related industries, according to official estimates.
Chinese keep buying US real estate (By Michael Barris in New York firstname.lastname@example.org) Chinese investors will continue to pour money into US commercial real estate deals despite China's recent economic slowdown, according to a report. "At the moment, we've seen no evidence - seen nothing that says there will be a slowdown (in deals)," said Steve Blank, senior resident fellow for the Urban Land Institute (ULI), during a question-and-answer session at the release of the ULI's "Emerging Trends in Real Estate" report in Chicago on Thursday. "The people who have the capital and are interested in investing in the United States seem to be able to operate independently of the general economy," Blank said in reply to a question from China Daily at the presentation broadcast live on the Internet. The study, jointly produced by ULI, a nonprofit research organization, and accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, said the US real estate recovery will gain momentum in 2014, as investors shift their focus to secondary markets. The report also kept San Francisco on top as a market to watch, but moved up Houston from number five to number two based on the city's investment and home building prospects. Miami, benefiting from South American investment, moved to eighth from 12th while Washington, the source of investor federal-government "fatigue", plummeted from 8th to 22nd, according to the report. New York slipped two places to number four amid growing concern that pricing is too high. Based on interviews with more than 900 real estate executives, including developers, investors and financial firms, the report included "China's moderating growth" among headwinds facing the industry in 2014. Other problems are a "stubbornly high' unemployment rate, uncertainty over government regulation and fiscal policy, a likely increase in the cost of both equity and debt capital, and economic uncertainty in Europe. Blank said that even as China's GDP growth rate has declined in the past two years to a single digit percentage from a double-digit figure, "we had increasing amounts of capital from Asia interested in investing in the United States". Chinese investment in US and other overseas real-estate markets has grown as China's leadership maintains residential-property curbs aimed at holding down skyrocketing prices. Last month, Shanghai-based Fosun International - the investment firm headed by billionaire Guo Guangchang - agreed to pay $725 million for One Chase Manhattan Plaza, a high-profile 60-story office tower in New York's financial district. In June, a group led by real-estate tycoon Zhang Xin acquired a 40 percent stake in the most expensive US building - the General Motors office tower in midtown Manhattan. In July, Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Group acquired a downtown Los Angeles site for a $1 billion hotel-office-residential project. In February, Shenzhen's China Vanke Co announced a $620 million luxury high-rise condominium project in San Francisco with New York-based Tishman Speyer Properties LP. The report sees investor demand for commercial real estate picking up along with the economy next year, even if interest rates rise. "The steady economic recovery and job creation has created tailwinds that have propelled the commercial real estate market forward, and momentum of this recovery seems powerful enough to weather spikes in interest rates that may be inevitable," said Mitchell Roschelle, PwC's national real estate practice leader. Commercial-property lenders are expected to ease restrictions imposed after the 2008 credit crisis, with a rise in financing seen for 2014. The commercial mortgage-backed securities market ranks at the top of the survey for expected change in availability, according to the report.
Hong Kong*: Nov 10 2013
French wineries show diversity at HK International Wine & Spirits Fair (By Bettane and Desseauve) With more than 1,000 exhibitors and an expected 20,000 visitors, the sixth Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre is Asia's largest trade fair dedicated to wine. Wineries from Jordan, Lithuania, Montenegro and Morocco are represented for the first time this week but, unsurprisingly, France and Italy will have the largest delegations, with 150 exhibitors each. For French wineries, China has become the number one target market, with the hope that it will show growth similar to that of the US in the 1980s and '90s. "Asia is fundamental for us in terms of market growth because we can introduce our product and educate consumers," says Dominique Garréta, director of communications at Taittinger Champagne. Angélique de Lencquesaing, co-founder and managing director of Idealwine, a website dedicated to buying, selling and valuing grand cru wines at online auctions, will be present for the fourth time. She estimates that Asian clients are the top buyers of older vintages of grand cru wines in the auction market. The company opened an office in Hong Kong in 2012. "It was because of the demand of our local clients, since they often came to Paris to pick up their purchases," de Lencquesaing says. "The clients have evolved very quickly, and they search for very specific wines, especially wines from Burgundy. Our Hong Kong clients are a very educated group of people who have a remarkable desire to purchase these rare wines." Asia is the only market where significant growth is possible for European winemakers. The French and European markets are, for the French and Italians, solidly established and capable of withstanding the effects of the economic and financial crises, while the US is a vital, but volatile, market. So the mainland and Hong Kong markets have become extremely attractive to European producers. The Chinese market is virtually a requirement, though finding a way to get there, and dealing with the cultural differences, can be difficult. Hong Kong is the most obvious port of entry. There is no import duty levied on wines and there is agreement with the Chinese government that enables less stringent importation requirements. Hong Kong is also a free port, with very good storage facilities and excellent connectivity for air shipments. In short, the Hong Kong authorities' willingness to make the HKSAR a true "economic driver" has worked perfectly. "The ease of conducting business, the economy, the excellent logistics, the knowledge of the auction market, and its luxury image, were very clear to us," de Lencquesaing says. "The mainland remains a very complex universe for us, though, even seeing it from Hong Kong." The fair offers visitors a rare chance to see, understand and taste the great variety of wines made all over France which can be just as interesting as the classics. Our Wine Experience, in the French pavilion, showcases wineries representing this wealth of diversity. There are the Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux such as Pape Clément, La Tour Carnet, Domaine de Chevalier, Guiraud, Beychevelle, Hostens Picant, without forgetting Smith Haut-Laffite and Angelus, which are both offering an exceptional master class with tastings. There is Burgundy from Aegerter, Albert Bichot, Faiveley, Patrick Hudelot, Chateau du Moulin à Vent, and Dominique Laurent, Champagne from Charles Heidsieck and Veuve Fourny, and the Rhône and Languedoc from Chapoutier, La Gardine, and Chateau de Caraguilhes. It is a great display of French vitality. Public admission is tomorrow (admission HK$200) and visitors will be able to buy wine from exhibitors. Asia Wine Service and Education Centre will be running a seminar on looking for value in wine, while Debra Meiburg is offering a master class on matching wine with Cantonese cuisine (HK$350). Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve are wine critics and writers
HKUST edges out local competition in global universities poll (By Shirley Zhao email@example.com) The University of Science and Technology has worked its way up a global study ranking graduates' employability. HKUST finished 18th in this year's Global Employability Survey, up 30 places from last year, making it the second best in Asia after the University of Tokyo, which placed 10th. No other Hong Kong university ranked in the top 50. Conducted by French human resources consulting firm Emerging and German market research firm Trendence, the survey covers 150 universities listed by more than 2,700 recruiters from 20 countries as the institutions they believed produced the best graduates. The study found that employers valued graduates with good communication skills, teamwork and the ability to work under pressure. About half of those polled said their ideal university should teach practical know-how, combine theories with practice and impart social skills. Employers also considered personality the most important factor in whether an employee succeeded within an organisation. "Our graduates are known to be hard-working and modest," said university vice-president Eden Woon Yi-teng, adding that the institution's exchange and internship programmes gave students the chance to learn about communication and teamwork in different environments. Joseph Luc Ngai, a director of consultant McKinsey and Company's Hong Kong branch, said his firm did not favour graduates from any one university, but appreciated HKUST graduates for their international perspectives. "Internationalism is often what global firms need," he said. Jeremie Plane, a Frenchman who received his degree in global business and marketing from HKUST yesterday, said the university gave business students a chance to take technology courses. "It pushes people out of their comfort zone," he said. The United States, Britain, Germany and China were the top four countries that the recruiters polled said produced the best graduates. Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge ranked top three, respectively. Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong were ranked 71st and 115th, respectively, while the mainland's Peking University and Fudan University made the top 50. The National University of Singapore placed 49th.
Deloitte says government surplus for fiscal year will top HK$29b (US$3.75 billion) Accounting firm Deloitte's latest estimate notes fall from last year, but says property cooling measures will only make small dent in figures - A government budget surplus of HK$29.9 billion is expected for this fiscal year, despite an estimated HK$2 billion drop in land premium revenues due to property cooling measures, a leading accounting firm says. Deloitte's latest estimate of the surplus was HK$34.9 billion less than the HK$64.8 billion surplus recorded for the last fiscal year, and contrary to the forecast of a HK$4.9 billion deficit made by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in February. The accounting firm also expects the special stamp duty and the buyers' stamp duty - two measures introduced by the government in October last year to stabilise soaring property prices - will lead to a HK$2 billion decrease in land-premium revenues in the second half of the fiscal year. Taking into account an estimated HK$30.8 billion increase in government expenditure - including social welfare and infrastructure - Deloitte expects the government surplus for the period from last month to March to fall by HK$32.8 billion from last fiscal year's HK$122.8 billion, to HK$90 billion. Deloitte's estimation was based on the actual deficit of HK$60.1 billion from April to September, plus the projected surplus of HK$90 billion in the second half of the fiscal year, producing an estimated net surplus of HK$29.9 billion. "The property cooling measures have led to a drop in the transaction of flats, which somehow also affected the land-bidding activities of developers. They tend to be more conservative now," said Deloitte partner Yvonne Law Shing Mo-han. But, she added, the extra stamp duty would not contribute much to total income. "These measures are seen as tools to curb property speculation, not as a major income source for the government," Law said. Deloitte also had comments on a public engagement exercise on population policy launched last month by the government to garner opinions on solutions to the city's low birth-rate and ageing population. The company urged the government to double the tax allowance for children to HK$140,000 in the year of birth to encourage residents to have babies. It also called on the administration to introduce a tax deduction for employees' medical insurance premiums. This would allow a 150 per cent deduction on health insurance premiums paid by employers under their profits tax. "The practice may alleviate government spending and the reliance on public health care," Law said. Deloitte also proposed lowering the existing profits tax rate from 16.5 per cent to 16 per cent to attract more foreign investment and reduce the tax burden on small and medium-sized firms.
Hong Kong Masters showjumping set for Mega Events Fund boost (By Alvin Sallay firstname.lastname@example.org) The US$1 million meet looks likely to receive a similar sum from the government fund set up to help major sporting and cultural events - Top-ranked Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia is expected to compete at the Longines Hong Kong Masters showjumping event in February. The US$1 million Longines Hong Kong Masters showjumping event in February could be boosted by a similar - or larger - sum by the Mega Events Fund. A top official revealed on Thursday that an application had been made for a multimillion-dollar handout from the government fund established to help major sporting and cultural events. It is believed the Tourism Commission's MEF is set to approve funding of HK$10 million for the three-day event, which will attract the world's top show-jumpers and their horses for the second successive year. I'm confident we will be supported as we want to make this event a part of the Hong Kong sports and social fabric - The MEF has recently rejected requests from the Hong Kong Golf Open and the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes for funding. In October, the latter event was cancelled due to lack of funds. "We have applied for funds from the Mega Events Fund," Matthieu Gheysen, vice-president of EEM Asia, confirmed. "We applied last year too, but sent in our proposal too late. This time I'm confident we will be supported as we want to make this event a part of the Hong Kong sports and social fabric." Gheysen refused to say how much money the organisers, working through the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, had asked for. But he said it would help to pay for the costs of flying 64 horses from Europe to be used by the world's top 25 showjumpers at the event from February 21-23 at AsiaWorld Expo. MEF rules do not permit funds to be used for prize money. It has been used in the past to pay appearance fees for golfers and cricketers. "We don't pay any appearance fees for our riders as they are all invited and turn up to compete for the prize money, which at US$1 million is huge. But it is very costly transporting horses across the world. You roughly need HK$150,000 per horse to fly them down and back again and we have asked the government to be involved in this and other aspects like helping raise the profile of the event," Gheysen said. Held for the first time in March this year, the Hong Kong Masters attracted seven of the world's top 10 riders. Among those expected in February will be Britain's London Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher, world number one Christian Ahlmann of Germany and top-ranked woman rider Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia. "We will have a better idea of who will turn up once next month's opening leg in Paris is over as by then the riders will have to confirm their participation. But we are confident of another top-class field," Gheysen said. Once again the event will be in the CSI (Concours de Saut International or International Jumping Competition) 5-star category - riders and horses will jump hurdles of the Olympic height of 1.60 metres - with world-ranking points up for grabs. Two Hong Kong riders will also be invited to participate and that decision will be made by the local federation. Raena Leung Hou-ling and Kenneth Cheng Man-kit took part in the inaugural event. Organisers will increase the capacity at AsiaWorld Expo, adding an extra 1,000 seats to the public tribune while also increasing VIP tables from 75 to 100. "We were surprised at the response we got this year when more than 20,000 people turned out over the three days. We are now adding capacity to cater for 30,000 spectators, public and VIPs, over the three days. The plan is to make this event a major part of the sporting and social calendar in Hong Kong," Gheysen added.
Italian luxury chocolate brand Amedei tests the market with a pop-up store (By Euan McKirdy email@example.com) Cecilia Tessieri, founder of Amedei, at her workshop in Tuscany. Amedei recently launched a pop-up store in Hong Kong. Hongkongers have a reputation for enjoying the finer things in life, and high quality chocolates are no exception. Even a price rise of up to 40 per cent this year for the raw materials for chocolate failed to dent local demand for the luxury product. High-end brands Godiva and Jean-Paul Hévin have been wooing local consumers for years. And now an Italian company, Amedei, is hoping to join them. Amedei, based in Tuscany, recently launched a pop-up counter in City'super at Harbour City. The venture is a bellwether for the brand's latest expansion - if successful, Cecilia Tessieri, owner and founder of Amedei, envisions a permanent outpost in the city in the future. Tessieri says Hongkongers' tastes have improved in recent years. "This city is like London - it's an international place and people here are attracted to quality. They are looking for the perfect chocolate. It is a universal product." Godiva's chef Philippe Daue agrees. "Hong Kong and China are becoming more sensitive to quality," he says. "People are more exposed to high-end chocolates through their travels and their consumption, and they are becoming more sophisticated and demanding." Local consumers are eating chocolates that are not as sweet, he says, which allows chocolatiers to enhance the natural flavours of the ingredients. "Some bold [flavour] combinations are on the market," he says. "This is changing because consumers are more aware of the products, the origin of the ingredients and have higher expectations." As a result, the sourcing and provenance of ingredients, and developing relationships with growers, have become more important for top chocolatiers. Although high-end chocolatiers tend to collaborate more with South American suppliers, 70 per cent of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, and problems ranging from disease to political instability are leading to shortages of cocoa butter and higher prices. Leading chefs are working with chocolatiers to develop new products, including multi-Michelin-star Alain Ducasse, who has opened a chocolate laboratory in Paris. "It's not only the beans but the processes," says Tessieri. "It's possible to have a little shop and, at the same time, work on an industrial scale. It's about taking those artisanal skills and applying them to large-scale industry." Hong Kong has a tradition of gifting and this helps the luxury chocolate market, says Hévin. Chocolatiers are capitalising on the city's sense of occasion by creating seasonal or holiday-themed collections for Christmas or Lunar New Year, for example. Hévin says sharing is central to his lifestyle, so having chocolate as a pleasure to share is important to him. "Through my creations, with my theme collection that I create every year, I try to satisfy this essential aspect of chocolate," he says. The city's pastry chefs find chocolate a great ingredient to work with. "Chocolate is very versatile and combines with many other luxury products, such as wines, liquors, high quality fruits and nuts, premium teas and coffees," says Daue. "Hong Kong is the perfect place to bring together the best of all worlds at a high level of quality, and people are aware of that." Tessieri describes her dark chocolates, which did well at this year's Academy of Chocolate awards in London, as "very elegant". "There is a movement around the world for eating and drinking better, but less, and I think [quality] chocolate fits this philosophy," she says.
Murray Building, set to be hotel, sells for more-than-expected HK$4.4 billion (By Yvonne Liu firstname.lastname@example.org) Wheelock Group pays HK$4.4 billion forformer government building in Central which will be converted into aluxury hotel - The 44-year-old Murray Building in Central, the former headquarters of various government departments, was sold for HK$4.4 billion yesterday, 35 per cent higher than market expectations. The Lands Department announced the project had been awarded to Harbour Centre Development, the Wheelock and Company hotel and property investment arm which owns the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel. The land price was about HK$13,535 per square foot, above market expectations of up to HK$10,000 per sq ft. Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, said it was difficult to get a hotel site in a prime location. "Even if we have a new development area such as the West Kowloon Cultural District, there is no site for large-scale hotel development," he said. "The Murray Building is in Central and accessible from core districts such as Admiralty. If developers have confidence in the hotel industry, naturally they would offer a higher price for Murray Building." Land lease restrictions require the winning bidder to maintain the exterior structure of the 27-storey building in Cotton Tree Drive. The developer will be allowed to use up to 70 per cent of the gross floor area for hotel rooms and the remaining 30 per cent for entertainment and retail purposes. Li said the average room rate for high-end hotels in Central was HK$3,000 to HK$4,000 a night. "The hotels in Central are targeting business travellers," he said. "It is true that the weak global economy has affected business travellers' spending in hotels. But the economy has up and down cycles. With back-up from the mainland, the outlook for Hong Kong's hotel market remains optimistic." Thomas Lam, the head of research and consultancy for greater China at property consultant Knight Frank, said: "Hong Kong is facing a shortage of hotels. There is a lack of new supply of five-star hotels in the next few years," He said existing five-star hotels were fully occupied during the peak season, while the occupancy rate was about 70 to 80 per cent at other times. That was higher than the average occupancy rate of 70 per cent in Macau and 60 per cent on the mainland. Knight Frank said the average room rate for a five-star hotel had risen by more than 5 per cent in the first half of the year and was expected to rise by a further 3 per cent in the second half. Meanwhile, Swire Properties outbid 16 developers to win a commercial site in Kowloon Bay for HK$2.64 billion, and Sino Land acquired a residential site in Sai Kung for HK$850 million.
Swiss report backs theory Yasser Arafat was poisoned (By The New York Times in Jerusalem) Team's tests on the remains of Palestinian leader reportedly support suspicions his death in 2004 was the result of poisoning by radioactive polonium - Palestinian presidential guards at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's grave in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Nine years of mystery and intrigue surrounding the death of Yasser Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle, took a contentious turn on Wednesday with the publication of a forensics report by Swiss scientists that lends support to the theory that Arafat died of poisoning with radioactive polonium-210. Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic television channel, reported the findings of the Swiss team and posted what it said was a copy of the team's 108-page report on its website. The news channel has been instrumental in advancing the theory that Arafat was poisoned with polonium, a radioactive element that became widely known following the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who became a critic of the Russian government. He died in London in 2006 after drinking polonium-contaminated tea. The University of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, said it had been approached by a reporter for Al-Jazeera English on behalf of Suha Arafat, Yasser Arafat's widow, in January last year. Providing a travel bag containing personal effects that Arafat had taken with him to the French military hospital where he died, Al-Jazeera commissioned a forensic examination. The Swiss institute found "an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210" in Arafat's belongings and recommended further testing. Those results led to an exhumation a year ago. Along with the Swiss, Russian and French teams were assigned to test the remains in an effort to resolve questions about Arafat's death in November 2004 at age 75, given the suspicions among his supporters and others that he had been killed by agents of Israel or by Palestinian rivals. The latest Swiss report, dated November 5, said that, taking into account analytical limitations such as the time elapsed since Arafat's death, its findings "moderately support the proposition" that the death was the consequence of polonium poisoning. Last month the head of the Russian team told the Interfax news agency that Russian experts had found no traces of polonium in Arafat's remains. Soon after, the Russians denied having made any statement. The French investigators had not yet released any findings, lawyers for Arafat in Paris said. In an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, Suha Arafat, who had received a copy of the Swiss report, said its findings proved that her husband had been assassinated. "I am mourning Yasser again," she said. She said she would not stop fighting until the perpetrators were brought to justice, but added, "I don't know who did it." Suha Arafat's relations with the current Palestinian leadership are notoriously hostile. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday that the Swiss report had been received by the special Palestinian committee investigating Arafat's death and that the Russian team had handed in its results on November 2. There was no indication of when the French results were expected. Ghassan al-Shaka'a, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee, said it was now confirmed that Arafat was poisoned, but that "we need to know who planned, who instigated, who implemented" the alleged killing.
Legco bid for HKTV licence probe defeated (By Tanna Chong and Lai Ying-kit) The motion to invoke special powers to investigate the HKTV licence saga was defeated in the Legislative Council late Thursday afternoon following two days of debate. The motion, raised by information technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok, was passed by directly-elected lawmakers in the geographical constituencies, but was rejected by legislators representing functional constituencies. For a lawmaker’s motion to pass, it has to pass in both constituencies. The debate resumed earlier on Thursday after legislators spent hours discussing Mok’s motion until late on Wednesday night. On Wednesday night thousands of protesters demonstrated their support for an investigation. On Thursday, hundreds of protesters, HKTV staff and supporters, protested outside the Legco building at the government headquarters complex to voice support for Mok’s proposal. Mok had attempted to invoke special powers to look into why the government rejected Hong Kong Television Network’s application for a free-to-air TV licence, while approving the applications from iCable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company. Mok had wanted to exercise powers under the Legislative Council’s powers and privileges ordinance to force the government to produce all papers, books, records or documents involved in the vetting and approval of TV licence applications. HKTV staff union leader Yeung Chi-ho said Thursday’s defeat did not mean their campaign to press the government to fully explain on its licence vetting process was over. "The government probably feels that public opinion [for an investigation] is not strong enough yet. We will step up our campaign," he said, adding that the union would study what action to take next. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung said on Thursday the government had already fully explained the rationale behind its decision to rejection HKTV’s application.
HK warns Manila to take actions over hostage crisis (By Xinhua) Manila bus hostage survivors Chan Kwok-chu (right) and Yik Siu-ling answer media questions in a 2011 file photo. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Tuesday that the city government would take necessary actions, unless substantial progress is made within one month by the Philippine side. Leung made the statement at a media session before the Executive Council meeting Tuesday morning. Leung said his government will carry on with the talks and urge the Philippines to make a concrete and timely response. "The objective is to work out a satisfactory response to the four demands of the victims and their families. We have seen some progress but we still have a long way to go. I fully understand the disappointment among the victims and the families, which is shared by the community at large," Leung added. He said his government has held official discussions with the Philippine government and the City of Manila separately, since his formal meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia a month ago. Leung also said motions for sanctions against the Philippines from Legislative Council members will be debated on Wednesday. Eight Hong Kong tourists died after a dismissed policeman took a busload of tourists hostage on August 23, 2010. A botched police rescue attempt prompted him to open fire on his hostages before he was himself gunned down. Following the hostage crisis, Hong Kong demanded an apology from the Philippine government, compensation for the families of the victims, punishment of the officials responsible, and improvement for tourist safety. The Philippine president has consistently refused to make an open apology, saying it is against the Philippines' culture to apologize for any mistake by individuals.
China*: Nov 10 2013
More action urged on housing aid abuses (By Langi Chiang email@example.com) With the mainland's affordable homes schemes plagued by cheating, analysts call for authorities to impose stiffer penalties to deter offenders - Concerns among mainlanders have made shortcomings in the affordable housing schemes a sensitive political issue. The mainland needs to intensify a crackdown on abuses in its massive affordable housing schemes, industry observers say, even as it steps up efforts to build more homes for the poor in order to maintain social stability. President Xi Jinping last week endorsed a plan by the former government to build 36 million affordable homes between 2011 and 2015 under a variety of schemes to accommodate families priced out of the real estate market by soaring prices. The mainland finished building 4.1 million units in the first three quarters of this year, after building 5.9 million last year and 4.3 million in 2011. While some observers are sceptical about the figures, mainlanders are more concerned about the misallocation of such homes, fearing taxpayers' money is helping to make rich families even richer in some cases and widening the wealth gap. "The main issue is the low penalties for illegal conduct," said Wang Xiaopeng, a senior official at the China Real Estate Association, a government think tank. "The authorities must step up law establishment and enforcement." A report by the National Audit Office showed that 108,400 unqualified families were granted affordable apartments or cash subsidies last year, and that 5.8 billion yuan (HK$7.3 billion) of funds designated for affordable housing funds were misused. Media reports in the past few years have highlighted a number of people who owned good cars but were still allocated affordable homes, and others who rented out their units instead of living in them, as they are obliged to do. Analysts said it was crucial to get the distribution right in affordable housing programmes that mobilised trillions of yuan in funds and enormous resources. Although many cities are deep in debt, the mainland managed to invest 820 billion yuan in affordable housing schemes in the first three quarters of this year. The authorities hope that increasing the supply of cheap homes will bring down housing inflation and stem complaints about soaring home prices. They plan to supply 415 million square metres of land for the construction of affordable homes this year - 27.5 per cent of the total land supply for residential property use. "We must ensure fair distribution and [the programmes] must benefit people who really need to be subsidised," Xi told top officials last week during a study of the affordable housing schemes. "We must hold those illegal occupants accountable in line with laws and regulations." Premier Li Keqiang, who built his political reputation pioneering the renovation of overcrowded and dilapidated shelters for mine workers, has also repeatedly described fair distribution as the "lifeline" of affordable housing schemes. However, the mainland still lacks a national law governing its affordable housing schemes. The harshest punishment is a fine of 5,000 yuan and the barring of disqualified occupants from future applications. There is also no firm timetable for the introduction of such a law. "We shall watch what they (the authorities) do, not what they say," Wang said, adding he was optimistic the situation would improve in the next few years.
Politicians court US-Asians amid anti-China sentiment (By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York) Supporters of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe celebrate as they see on TV that McAuliffe is leading in the polls during his election-night event on Tuesday at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Virginians narrowly elected McAuliffe, a Democrat, over Republican Ken Cuccinelli to succeed Republican Bob McDonnell. Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and politicians are increasingly scrambling to reconcile a need to appeal to them with a lingering anti-China sentiment that reached a climax in the 2010 midterm elections. In that year, at least 29 candidates ran advertisements featuring imagery and messages related to China's economic rise at the supposed cost of US jobs. The most infamous advertisement featured a Chinese professor speaking in subtitled Mandarin to a classroom of the future, recounting America's downfall: "Of course, we owned most of their debt — so now they work for us," the professor said to a room full of laughing Chinese students. But in 2012, nearly 4 million Asian-Americans voted in the general election, representing a 91 percent increase from 2000. According to a Pew study, Asian-Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants in the US. Asian votes are increasingly important to a politician's success, in an atmosphere that still often blames China for a lack of jobs. In this year's elections, the two gubernatorial candidates and one mayoral candidate who won the three places polled by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund — New York City, Virginia and New Jersey — all did major outreach in Asian communities, said Glenn Magpantay, director of the fund's democracy program. Bill de Blasio, Terry McAuliffe and Chris Christie spent significant time attending events, meeting with community leaders and doing phone-bank outreach among potential Asian-American voters, he said. While it's difficult to prove the link between a rising awareness of the Asian-American electorate and the marked decrease in anti-China messaging in this year's political campaign strategies, the GOP in particular has become more cognizant of the need for culturally sensitive campaigning, said James Lai, an associate professor of ethnic studies and political science at Santa Clara University. When 72 percent of Asian-Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2012, the GOP realized a need to appeal to minority populations, he said. "The white vote isn't enough anymore," he said. "There used to be no deliberate differentiation between anti-China messaging and Chinese-Americans, but GOP leaders are thinking more about whether Asian-American voters will be negatively impacted." An increasingly active social media culture that's more likely to publicize political missteps has also contributed to more nuanced attitudes toward the handling of foreign policy and race in politics, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside and the overseer of the National Asian-American Survey. "There's a new norm today and a greater sensitivity toward not making connections between Asian-Americans and foreign policy toward China," he said. "If something is clearly shown to be related to a foreign country, politicians can get away with more — but if a link is made with people of that culture living in the US, you're more likely to see push back." In 2010, Ohio US Democratic Representative Zack Space ran an ad in which he accused Republican rival Bob Gibbs of being a "free trader" who had contributed to 91,000 jobs lost in the state to China. The advertisement featured images of San Francisco's Chinatown, in an overt attempt to bring the threat closer to home. That type of ad would be less likely to run today, Ramakrishnan said. Still, advertisements in this year's off-cycle election have included clumsy attempts to use Asian imagery for unclear purposes: In South Pasadena, California, City Council hopeful Philip Putnam ran print advertisements featuring an image of himself standing among rows of Terracotta Warrior statues under the slogan "Not Like the Rest of the Crowd." In a city where Asian voters comprise 35 percent of the population, the potential implication of his message is that his whiteness sets him apart. In Virginia, where voters of Hispanic, black and Asian backgrounds helped win the state for Obama in 2008 and 2012, the Republican National Committee ran a 30-second advertisement on a Korean-language cable station last weekend targeting Terry McAuliffe for having links to a company currently under federal investigation for allegedly defrauding Asian investors. The advertisement, which was part of a $90,000 push to reach Asian-American voters across print, TV and radio in various Asian languages, was an attempt to improve negative perceptions of the Republican candidate, a previously vocal anti-immigration hard-liner. The disconnect between what the Republican National Committee hopes to project and what individual Republican candidates actually represent has proved to be a problem, Ramakrishnan said. Although the Democratic party has generally demonstrated more awareness of the minority vote, candidates on both sides of the aisle have made major missteps, including an incident earlier this year in which the pro-Democratic group Progress Kentucky pointed fingers at Senator Mitch McConnell's Chinese-American wife, former secretary of labor Elaine Chao, for supposedly persuading him to move American jobs to China. The current trend toward softened anti-China messaging is not necessarily permanent, Magpantay said. "Even today, when there is a backlash against culturally insensitive campaign messaging, it's generally not from the demographic the candidate is trying to reach," he said.
China vows to cooperate in global fight against ivory smuggling: FM (By China Daily) Customs officials in Xiamen, Fujian province, make an inventory of smuggled ivory on Monday. Details of two smuggling cases, involving nearly 12 metric tons of ivory worth 603 million yuan ($98.8 million), were disclosed on Monday and became the largest ivory smuggling cases in China. China firmly opposes ivory smuggling and will continue to work with the international community to protect wildlife, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at the ministry's daily news briefing in response to a question about three Chinese citizens apprehended in Tanzania who had a considerable amount of ivory in their residence. China has paid close attention to the case, Hong said. The Chinese ambassador in Tanzania immediately checked the information and made a statement strongly condemning poaching and ivory smuggling and promising cooperation in fighting the crimes, Hong said. He noted that the embassy called on Chinese tourists to abide by the law and stay away from ivory smuggling. Media reports said 706 elephant tusks, weighing 1,800 kg, were seized on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from the house of three Chinese garlic traders. On Monday, the three traders were named suspects. Spokesman Hong said the Chinese government firmly opposes elephant poaching and ivory smuggling and has taken measures including lawmaking, integrated law enforcement and international cooperation, which have curbed the ivory trade, Hong said. China will continue to work with the international community in this regard, he said. The international trade in ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the sharp shrink in the African elephant population in the 30 years before 1980s. But as elephant tusks and other body parts are often used in Asia and the Middle East for ornaments, as talismans, and for use in religion, there have been markets for smuggled ivory. Xiamen custom said on Monday that it caught two ivory smuggling gangs in the past two years, and seized 11.88 metric tons of elephant tusks and ivory products totaling 603 million yuan ($98.8 million). Agence France-Presse also reported that a Chinese man was arrested in October at Zimbabwe's main airport trying to smuggle ivory out of the country. The report quoted Zimbabwe's wildlife authorities saying that the 34-year-old man was trying to board a flight to Malaysia carrying 17 raw pieces of ivory and several of worked ivory, which included bangles, chopsticks and beads weighing 113.9 kg, worth roughly $28,250.
US, China team up for wildlife (By DENG XIANLAI) The US and China, the world's two largest markets for wildlife products, are joining efforts to combat wildlife trafficking — one of the most lucrative forms of transnational organized crime — which generates an estimated $7 billion to 10 billion annually. While the US portrays itself as a leader in stopping the killing of endangered species worldwide, it also recognizes that this is a global issue that calls for international partnerships, according to US officials. "I think we have good discussions going on with China and we are looking forward to continuing them," Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, said during a news briefing in Washington on Tuesday. "We are also looking forward to really thinking about the steps we can take that will make a difference." On the same day in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was questioned at a news briefing about the three Chinese citizens arrested in Tanzania who had a considerable amount of ivory stock-piled in their residence. Hong said China firmly opposes ivory smuggling and will continue to work with the international community to protect wildlife. According to media reports, a total of 706 elephant tusks weighing nearly two tons were found last Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the house of three Chinese garlic traders. The case follows a recent report by Agence France-Presse that a Chinese man was arrested in October at Zimbabwe's main airport trying to smuggle ivory out of the country. China, among other Asian countries, has deep cultural ties to ivory, a commodity that is associated with status and prosperity and is often carved into delicate works of artistic ornamentation. China's General Administration of Customs told the media recently that it cleared up an ivory smuggling case in which 2,154 elephant tusks weighing 8 tons were confiscated. The case was the biggest of its kind ever in China. One of the hottest destinations for smuggled wildlife body parts is Xiaman, a city in Southeast China's Fujian province which is historically the ancestral home of many overseas Chinese doing business in Southeast Asia, an area where ivory trafficking is rampant. According to statistics from Xiamen Customs, two ivory smuggling gangs were caught in the past two years, with 13 tons of elephant tusks and ivory products worth nearly $100 million seized. "The Chinese government firmly opposes elephant poaching and ivory smuggling and has taken appropriate measures, including new laws, integrated law enforcement and international cooperation," Hong said. Facing a worldwide trafficking of endangered species that is becoming very sophisticated, highly organized and syndicated, China has joined the international community to strengthen cooperation. At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok, Thailand this March, China accepted a joint proposal offered by the US on Asian turtle conservation, which marked the first ever proposal of its kind between the two countries. "I think that reflects a growing recognition that the US and China as two leading economic powers in the world need to work together if we are going to achieve conservation for [endangered] species," said Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Services, who also attended the news briefing in Washington. In Washington in July, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats and Zhao Shucong, head of the Chinese State Forestry Administration, met to discuss illegal wildlife trafficking and review the two countries' efforts to combat it. "In recognition of the economic and security consequences of the burgeoning illicit trade networks, the two nations committed to pursue more effective mechanisms for cooperation," the State Department announced. "The US is working in conjunction with its foreign partners — like China, Thailand, Vietnam, and countries where people are seeing this large and growing demand for these species — to reduce the demand for the illicit wildlife products," said Ashe. Acknowledging that bilaterally the two countries had "talked quite a bit", Jones mentioned that the US also had a memorandum of understanding with China on the logging issue, which was "often linked to wildlife trafficking because…you are really talking about the habitat where you find these wonderful animals".
Hong Kong*: Nov 9 2013
Hong Kong second to New York as city with most billionaires (By Tiffany Ap firstname.lastname@example.org) Hong Kong has 75 US-dollar billionaires who reside and primarily conduct their business here. The global billionaire population this year reached a record 2,170. The average billionaire has four homes worth nearly US$20 million each, an art collection worth US$14 million and is most likely to live in Europe, the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census shows. But New York topped the list as the city with most billionaires, 96. Hong Kong came in second: 75 billionaires reside and primarily conduct their business here. Moscow was a close third, with 74. “There’s really no such thing as an ‘average’ billionaire, but as we look at numbers, the average billionaire has a net worth of US$3 billion, cash equivalents of US$545 million, an average of 2.1 children, is 63 years of age and possesses luxury assets and personal holdings of US$136 million,” Mykolas Rambus, chief executive of Wealth-X, said in Hong Kong on Wednesday. “It’s also worth noting that 15 per cent of billionaires have four children or more.” The census was the first comprehensive global study of billionaires. The global billionaire population this year reached a record 2,170 – “far more ever than identified or understood,” Rambus said. The study defined a billionaire as someone with a net worth of US$1 billion or more. It counted individuals, as opposed to families, who have direct control and access to their wealth. It categorised them geographically based on where their primary businesses are held. “The centre of gravity has shifted from west to east,” Rambus said. He said Asia will overtake North America in the number of billionaires in 2018. Meanwhile, Europe, which has 766 billionaires, who hold an aggregate net worth of US$2 trillion, is still home to the largest number of ultra-wealthy. By country, however, the United States has the most billionaires, 515, three times more than second-place China, which has 157. Germany, with 148 billionaires, was third.
Smithfield owner Shuanghui hires banks for up to US$6b Hong Kong IPO (By Reuters) Shuanghui International Chairman and CEO Wan Long. China's Shuanghui International Holdings has hired banks for a Hong Kong IPO, seeking to raise up to US$6 billion in what could be the region's largest stock offering in four years. China’s Shuanghui International Holdings, which bought US pork producer Smithfield Foods this year, has hired banks for a Hong Kong IPO, seeking to raise up to US$6 billion in what could be the region’s largest stock offering in four years. An IPO would allow Shuanghui to pay down debt borrowed for the US$4.7 billion Smithfield purchase and provide an exit for investors such as CDH, one of China’s biggest and oldest private equity firms which has long aimed to sell its stake in the company. The potential deal size is subject to change. While one source familiar the matter said it could go as high as US$6 billion, another said it was more likely to be in the US$3-4 billion range. “The IPO will give a platform for existing shareholders to cash out of their investments, but it will have limited impact on the operations of the company,” said Anson Chan, an analyst at KGI Securities. “But the IPO will be a milestone in Shuanghui’s journey from a local company to an international food company, which underscores the maturing of China’s food industry,” he said. Chan currently does not rate the company. The listing, expected in the second quarter of next year, would follow an up to US$5 billion IPO for the Hong Kong electricity business of tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Power Assets Holdings. Both deals would be a major boost for the Hong Kong stock exchange, which has seen public offering volumes drop over the last two years. Shuanghui has tapped BOC International, Citic Securities International, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered and UBS to lead the IPO, sources familiar with the matter said. The news was first reported by IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication. The bank line-up is not final, one person familiar with the plan said. A representative for Shuanghui said in an email the company would not comment on any enquiries related to a possible IPO. US$20b company - Plans for an IPO by Shuanghui were first revealed in July when sources said the combined Shuanghui-Smithfield company would have a value of about US$20 billion. The Smithfield purchase was the largest ever acquisition of a US company by a Chinese firm, bringing together the world’s biggest hog producer and China’s largest meat processing company – Shuanghui-owned Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development. Including debt, the deal was valued at US$7.1 billion. Bank of China and Morgan Stanley together provided US$7 billion of loans to finance it. Despite political opposition in the United States, the deal closed in September, allowing Shuanghui to directly sell Smithfield pork goods across China to meet the country’s huge demand for the product. Together Henan Shuanghui and Smithfield garner about US$18 billion in annual revenue, based on their last year’s sales figures. China’s CDH Investments owns 33.7 per cent of Shuanghui International through several funds and has been invested in the company since about 2005. The meat processor also counts New Horizons, founded by Winston Wen, the son of China’s former premier Wen Jiabao, as a private equity investor. New Horizons owns 4.2 per cent. Goldman Sachs’ main investing arm has a 5.2 per cent stake, public filings showed. Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings has a 2.8 per cent holding. An exit from Shuanghui would be reminiscent of CDH and Goldman’s Hong Kong IPO of Nanjing-based China Yurun Food Group in 2005, a similar but smaller producer of fresh and frozen meats, including pork. Hong Kong stock exchange rules require one year of ownership before a merged entity can list, though companies can apply for a waiver to seek an earlier deal. IFR said the IPO is expected in the second quarter of next year. At US$6 billion, the IPO would be the biggest in Asia Pacific since AIA Group’s US$20.5 billion listing in October 2010. As part of the Smithfield acquisition, Shuanghui also inherited a 37 per cent stake in Spain’s Campofrio Food Group. It has since scaled back that holding to avoid making a forced takeover under local regulations, although some analysts believe it could make a takeover bid in the future.
De Blasio easily wins New York City's mayor race; Chinese voters show up at polls (By AMY HE in New York email@example.com) On Election Day, Margaret Chin, New York City Council (center in red) with the Chinese American Voters Federation and management from Confucius Plaza, a polling site in Manhattan's Chinatown. Democrat Bill de Blasio easily defeated Republican Joe Lhota on Tuesday with a projected 62 percent of the vote to become New York City's first new mayor in 12 years. In his concession speech, Republican opponent Joe Lhota urged his supporters to back de Blasio in solving New York's problems. De Blasio's victory was expected as polls showed him leading Lhota, the former head of the city's bus and subway transportation department, by 45 points last week. De Blasio, the city's former public advocate, will be the first Democratic mayor of the nation's largest city since 1989. He succeeds Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who held the job for 12 years. De Blasio's campaign centered on what he called "a tale of two cities" theme: the wealthy and those living at or near the poverty level. He decried what he said was income inequality, called for increasing taxes on the rich to improve the city's school system and expanding affordable housing. The New York Times, which endorsed de Blasio's candidacy, said his campaign resonated with voters. "Nearly half of likely voters said Mr de Blasio's greatest strength was his ability to understand the needs and problems of people like them," a Times' story said last week. Meanwhile, Chinese American Margaret Chin was uncontested in her re-election as the District 1 representative to the New York City Council. Chin, a Democrat, was elected in 2009 to represent Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. Her campaign this year called for creating affordable housing in the Seward Park area near Chinatown, as well as more funding for public parks and plazas. In her first term, Chin spearheaded the creation of a Business Improvement District in Chinatown, which takes fees from businesses for extra sanitation efforts. On Election Day morning, Chin greeted residents at Confucius Plaza, a housing cooperative and a voting site in Manhattan's Chinatown, encouraging them to vote. "In New York City and the United States, democracy is about participation. For the Chinese community, if we want our voices to be heard, we have to come out and vote," Chin told China Daily. Voter turnout for the Chinese community is often low, which Chin said she attributes to a number of factors. It takes a long time to become a citizen with the right to vote, she said, and Election Day being on a workday makes it difficult for people to vote unless they submit absentee ballots. Chin said her campaign encouraged voters to send in absentee ballots if they could not make it to the polls. Chin said that having Chinese American John Liu as candidate for the mayoral race earlier in the year helped drive the Chinese vote, but she added that the community should be voting regardless. "What we want to encourage our community [to do] is that it doesn't matter if there's a Chinese candidate or not," she said. "Every time there's an election, you go out and vote, because every vote counts and that's important." Lester Chang, a coordinator at the Confucius Plaza polling site, estimated that about 1,200 people would vote there, compared to the 1,400 he said voted in the presidential election last year.
Taking risks in a firestorm (By By Liu Wei) Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau promotes his new movie Firestorm in Beijing. He is the leading actor, producer and co-investor of the movie. Showbiz sensation star Andy Lau is well known for his acting and music career, but as Liu Wei discovers, he is also an ambitious film producer who is willing to take risks, physical and financial. In his new film Firestorm, to be released on Dec 12, 52-year-old movie star Andy Lau jumps from the 11th floor of a building in Central, the business center of Hong Kong. It is a stunt he managed to pull off despite his acrophobia — he even hates roller coasters. "I don't know why people pay others to get scared,' he jokes. The film, the directorial debut of former scriptwriter Alan Yuen, had Lau finding himself doing a number of hair-raising stunts, such as rushing among the hustle and bustle of Central, holding a machine gun. The singer and actor known as the "heavenly king" of the Hong Kong entertainment industry does not have to do the stunts himself, but he loved the script and as producer and co-investor he was conscious of keeping costs down. "To use stunt men means more money. I would rather use it on protecting our actors," he says. The film's other investor is Bill Kong, an established producer behind the success of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou's Hero. This is not the first time Lau has supported a new director. With 146 films, more than 100 albums and 300 concerts, Lau is no doubt a show business all-rounder, but he is also a producer with a philanthropic bent. He initiated the Focus: First Cuts project in 2005 and has invested in more than 10 projects of young directors. Some of them have been very successful, such as mainland director Ning Hao, who received 4 million yuan ($640,000) from Lau to direct Crazy Stone. The black comedy grossed 20 million yuan and was the most acclaimed domestic film of that year. Ning is now a household name.
China*: Nov 9 2013
Factories going green, efficient (By WEI TIAN and LI FANGFANG in Shanghai) Advanced manufacturing equipment is on display at the 15th China International Industrial Fair, which opened on Tuesday in Shanghai. China will make efforts to widen its technology achievements in high-end manufacturing. Pressure on resources to force change - Greener growth and energy efficiency will be the key words for the future development of China's manufacturing sector in the face of growing pressure on resources and costs, a senior industrial official said on Tuesday. "At the moment, 70 percent of Chinese cities couldn't meet the new standard for air quality, while water and soil pollution are becoming a more serious issue," said Su Bo, vice-minister of industry and information technology, during the 15th China International Industrial Fair in Shanghai. Meanwhile, he said, some manufacturing sectors are losing their competitiveness to Southeast Asian countries because of a diminishing demographic dividend, with the country nearing an reflection point regarding population growth. "In this context, green and low-carbon growth will be the direction of the future development for the country's high-end manufacturing sector," Su said. According to data from the China Center for Information Industry Development, China contributes 20 percent of the world's total industrial output. The country employs 100 million, or one-third of the world's total workforce in its manufacturing sector. The amount is 10 times larger than that of the United States. But Hu Chunmin, a researcher with the China Center for Information Industry Development, said China's manufacturing sector is big but not strong. One problem is in the utilization rate of capacity. The number is 78 percent in the US and 85 percent in Japan, but generally below 75 percent in China, meaning more than a quarter of the country's industrial capacity is idle, Hu said. But at the same time, China's energy consumption as a share in global volume climbed from 6 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in 2010. As such an unsustainable development model continues, Hu estimates that China's industrial output growth will see a slowdown in the next three to five years. Worldwide, countries have been actively investing in renewable energy and new materials, such as shale gas exploration in the US, which has turned the country from an oil importer into an exporter. But Su said the development of high-end manufacturing in China couldn't be carried out overnight and the country should focus on basic industrial research to improve its competence in material, core components and technologies. "For example, aircraft engines couldn't be developed without years of research and experiments." Su also said China would make efforts to widen its technology achievements in high-end manufacturing and encourage big corporations to go overseas for a bigger presence in the global value chain. "China is in transition from a 'manufacturing factory' to a 'manufacturing force' by focusing on making valuable products instead of low-priced, mass-produced goods," said Marc Wucherer, president of Siemens China Industry Sector. With regard to improving resource efficiency, Wucherer said that manufacturing enterprises should consider it at the equipment level first, such as energy-saving for high-efficiency motors and frequency converters. "Enterprises should think longer-term, focusing on resource efficiency improvements for the entire industrial chain, from product design, production planning, production engineering and production to services," he said. Siemens has brought to the Shanghai fair a solution integrating current technologies and innovations based on its "digital enterprise platform", where all processes in product development and manufacturing have been optimized in a virtual environment prior to production. Therefore time, labor, equipment and raw materials used will be significantly reduced. Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB's new chief executive officer, strongly advocates smart technology for intelligent upgrading for China's next level of urbanization and industrialization. "Smart technologies are the best way to realize intelligent upgrading to the next-level intelligent infrastructure and industry, supporting China to maintain its competitiveness," said Spiesshofer. As the "world's factory", China has gone through the initial stage of industrialization and faced the challenges of globalization, urbanization, environmental issues, a rising standard of living among the Chinese and new industrial development.
Autumn harvest for citrus farmers (By China Daily) Citrus farmers sort and grade fruit in Rong'an county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Citrus groves cover about 8,100 hectares in the county.
Hong Kong*: Nov 8 2013
Hong Kong's low-profile DFS brand now ready to go global (By Tiffany Ap firstname.lastname@example.org) Philippe Schaus, the chairman and chief executive of DFS Group, says it is wrong to generalise mainland shopping habits. Most people would not guess that DFS Group is a home-grown brand, let alone that it is the largest luxury retailer of cosmetics in Hong Kong. But it was here that the duty-free pioneer opened its first store in 1960. The company has always maintained a low profile and media-shy co-founder Robert Miller rarely talks to the press. But the first part is changing as the company rebrands its DFS Galleria stores into a new concept called T Galleria. In the past few years, the company has repositioned its city outlets as luxurious destinations on par with any upmarket department store, although still friendly to their core customer base of travellers. It has been rolling out the new name since September, first in Hawaii and then in Hong Kong last week. "I think the [branding] focus has been a lot on the internationalisation of DFS, whether it was the opening in Abu Dhabi or the new outlet in Terminal 4 of JFK airport and maybe it was a bit of an oversight to communicate in Hong Kong that this is a very large retailer that is actually based here," chief executive Philippe Schaus said. "It was a well hidden secret, but we are very proud of our Hong Kong roots." DFS has two store models: airport and city. In the early days, city stores were simply extensions of the airport outlets. Customers would shop before they got to the airport and the goods, bought at duty-free prices, could be collected after they had gone through security. However, in a VAT-free city such as Hong Kong, DFS sells at the same prices as any other retailer. The company hopes that the new name T Galleria will remove any confusion that its shops are only for people with a boarding pass while staying true to its travel retail roots. The "T" in T Galleria stands for traveller. The company is focused on serving customers in their home language and maintains a global refund policy, enabling a customer to return a product at any of its stores worldwide and be reimbursed in their own currency. While many retailers have only recently turned to the needs of the travelling Chinese shopper, a rapidly growing demographic, DFS has a strong head start. Schaus said it was important to understand that the profile of the Chinese shopper was highly variable, and because of that he did not think in such terms. Besides the vast size of the nation, there was a huge variance in the level of sophistication of customers because of the rapid opening up of the mainland. "First thing to understand, there is not a Chinese shopper," he said. "Contrary to us Westerners, in China there has been very high economic growth for the past 15 years. "We were working on creating a dedicated men's area in Macau, so we formed focus groups with male mainland customers. It was several groups, each of 30 or 40 year olds. The conclusions we got were radically different, everything from the attitude they had towards luxury, the type of products they were looking for between these two age groups, much more different than if you had done a study in North America or Europe. "People have gone through different phases of economic and political reform. There are those during the Deng Xiaoping era and before that those whose parents were in the Cultural Revolution. There are differences based on education - those who were able to go to university, those who were born 20 years ago know nothing of all of that, who grew up with the internet and technology, maybe they are spoiled a little bit. We cannot generalise anything. Even what I'm saying now is generalisation and I shouldn't do that." Is the company concerned about alienating locals given the tourist shopper in Hong Kong is so strongly, and often negatively, associated with mainlanders? The T Galleria store at Chinachem Plaza in Tsim Sha Tsui East, for instance, sees almost no local customers. The clientele are mainland tour groups. Crowds often linger outside the store entrance, littering shopping brochures on the ground. Schaus admitted the area outside the storefront could be improved, which the company was working on with the tour operators, but he said its other two stores - in Canton Road and Causeway Bay - and Hong Kong in general, offered multiple environments to shop in. "From our perspective, a customer is a customer," he said. "There are moments of the day, if you take Canton Road where there is a lot of traffic in the stores. Then that's not the right place or the right time of day, and it's not just the case in our stores. The beauty of Hong Kong is there are so many places to shop … Chinachem is essentially a PRC customer. In Canton Road and Hysan Place, there is a mix, but predominantly a tourist business of all nationalities." Business has grown 350 per cent since 2004 and DFS has just won three major concessions at the airport, but its ambitions do not stop there. Schaus and his team are eyeing an entirely new continent: Europe. "The vision of DFS is to move from a regional player to a global player," he said. Europe is a key focus because American visas are more difficult to acquire. Given that the group's majority stakeholder is the world's largest luxury conglomerate, LVMH, DFS has a significant advantage in the European market. "We are absent today in the entire European continent and it is one of the most promising in terms of travel retail," Schaus said. "It will be quite interesting. We are a Hong Kong-based retailer that has a majority shareholder who is French, but we have no operations in Europe and are now studying how to open there. "To just look at Chinese travellers, they say that there are 80 million Chinese travellers overseas today. We expect the number to double in the next seven years. That is just one nationality. You will also have other emerging market nationalities. "We believe we are in a business that has inherent growth opportunities and that if we continue doing a good job of it, we will have a positive outlook."
20 firms line up for year-end IPO rush (By Ray Chan email@example.com) Cinda and Qinhuangdao Port are among listing hopefuls seeking a combined HK$30 billion as sentiment improves before key party meeting - Hong Kong's listing market is on course for another year-end rush, with about 20 companies planning to launch share offerings. The listing hopefuls aim to raise at least HK$30 billion in total, including Cinda Asset Management's US$2.5 billion offer and Qinhuangdao Port's US$500 million plan. This will bring the amount of capital raised for the full year to about HK$100 billion. Cinda, one of the mainland's four non-performing asset managers, is expected to undergo a listing hearing with the Hong Kong stock exchange tomorrow. Its long-planned share sale is being marketed as an investment story for "counter-cyclicals in the midst of the economic slowdown". The city's equity capital market has steadily recovered from a hiccup in late June as investors switched into risky assets such as equities and derivatives at the expense of traditional fixed-income products. That has been given an impetus by the United States Federal Reserve's decision to keep its cheap-money policy in place and continue to fuel its US$85 billion monthly bond-buying program. Meanwhile, the third plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee is expected to set the tone for a string of reforms that could buoy the market. The four-day session is being billed as important as the one in December 1978 that marked the start of market-oriented reforms under Deng Xiaoping. "Expectations for a comprehensive policy agenda in the plenary session have laid the ground for relatively buoyant sentiment over new shares," said Edward Au, a partner at Deloitte. He projected Hong Kong would move up a spot to third in this year's global league table for initial public offerings. Ted Osborn, a Hong Kong-based partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers specialising in bad debt, sounded a note of caution yesterday, saying Beijing was likely to bring in outsiders, including foreign investors, to resolve the mounting debt situation at local governments. Osborn said one emerging problem was that some loans given to middle-ranking officials were being "overvalued", generating unmanageable risks to smaller city commercial lenders. Raymond Yeung, a senior economist at ANZ Banking, concurred with Osborn, saying China faced liquidity and maturity mismatch risks rather than an insolvency issue. Shuanghui International is to follow up its record-breaking acquisition of US pork producer Smithfield Foods with a US$5 billion flotation of the combined company in Hong Kong next year. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Shuanghui had recently mandated six banks as sponsors for the IPO, including BOC International, Citic Securities International, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
China*: Nov 8 2013
Tycoon Pan Shiyi swamped with petitioners as he's named Beijing's legal ombudsman (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) Shortly after the Beijing real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi announced his appointment as a legal ombudsman for the city, petitioners have converged on his office to plead their cases. Pan, the chairman of Soho China and an internet celebrity with 16 million followers on Sina Weibo, said he found several people claiming to be victims of miscarriages of justice blocking the entrance to his office when he went to work on Monday. Given his new status as a legal ombudsman, he was entitled to make comments on their cases and refer his views to the Beijing High Court, he wrote in weibo post. “From now on, every time something comes up, petitioners will go to your house, just like they are always going to Yu Jianrong’s,” commented Liao Rui, a lawyer in the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, referring to a well-known scholar of rural governance at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Responding on weibo on Tuesday, Pan said several legal practitioners had volunteered to assist him in reviewing the cases. “Alone, I’d be at a loss,” the 49-year-old real estate magnate wrote on his microblog. Pan was appointed one of 300 “special ombudspersons” for the Beijing High Court late last month, starting a five-year-long tenure as an outside adviser on court proceedings. The role was established in 1998 and is being exercised by hundreds of people in Beijing, albeit without visible influence on courts. Miscarriages of justice have become a hot topic in China after a series of retrials earlier this year freed several men wrongfully given life sentences for murders they didn’t commit in Henan and Zhejiang province. Over the last few months, several senior judges have called on courts to make greater efforts to prevent miscarriages of justice. Most prominently, Shen Deyong, the executive vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court wrote a strongly worded commentary in April in which he argued that he’d rather see a criminal walk free than an innocent person convicted. For judges handing out wrong rulings, “the professional stigma cannot be washed away in a lifetime,” he wrote. China’s conviction rate in criminal trials stood at 99.9 per cent in 2009, according to the latest China Yearbook. As local courts are subordinate to local governments in China, petitioners often seek redress in provincial capitals and in Beijing. Pan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday morning.
US media under attack for 'double standards' on terror (By By ZHAO YANRONG email@example.com) Experts have criticized US media outlets for their unbalanced coverage of terrorism after a car crashed and exploded in Tian'anmen Square, saying such coverage could damage the national interests of the two countries. Using different standards to define terrorism in the two countries will hinder cooperation in the fight against terror, they said. US media, including CNN, questioned the characterizations of the attack in front of the Tian'anmen rostrum in central Beijing on Oct 28. The vehicle plowed through a crowd, crashed and caught fire, killing five people and injuring another 40. Chinese police have identified the crash as a violent terrorist attack, and five suspects have been detained. The attack was "carefully planned, organized and premeditated", police said. Inside the car were Usmen Hasan; his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim; and his wife, Gulkiz Gini, from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. An article published by CNN from Sean Roberts, an associate professor and director of international development studies at George Washington University, criticized China's ethnic and religious policy and expressed his sympathy for the terrorists. The article, which appeared three days after the attack, called the crash in Beijing a "cry of desperation" and blamed it on the conflicts between China's Han and Uygur ethnic groups. Yu Tiejun, secretary-general of the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Peking University, said the report reflects a double standard in reporting on terrorism. "When the Western media made such comments, they should have thought about the Sept 11 attack. If we had said it was not terrorist activity, when the Twin Towers collapsed and the Pentagon was damaged, what would the US people have felt about such comments?" Yu said the square is a site with special meaning for Chinese people. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square has witnessed many important moments of China's development. The five killed in the attack include three people in the jeep, a Filipino female tourist and a male tourist from Guangdong province. The 40 injured people included tourists from the Philippines and Japan. "Every country has ethnic issues, but an ethnic problem is not terrorism. The attack killed and injured so many innocent people. Can they still use ‘an ethnic issue' as an excuse?" Yu added. Alessandro Rippa, a PhD candidate in social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, insisted that the attack should be called what it was: terrorism. "We are constantly reminded of this when something happens in Boston, London, Madrid or any other Western city. Media run stories on the victims, their backgrounds, and how they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why hasn't this been the case with Monday's attack in Beijing?" Rippa said in his article, published in The Diplomat on Sunday. Meng Jianzhu, chief of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the instigator behind the scenes is a terrorist group — the East Turkistan Islamic Movement — which is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations. Denying the existence of terrorism in the attack is harmful to the US' interests, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations and director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China. "The US media and government should be very clear that the ETIM is connected with al-Qaida. They attack China, and there is the possibility that they will attack the US in the future," Shi said.
Hong Kong*: Nov 7 2013
Hong Kong diners are missing out as fishermen sell their best hauls at sea (By Charley Lanyon firstname.lastname@example.org) The finest fish are wriggling out of reach of local restaurateurs and wholesalers as fishermen sell their hauls at sea, writes Charley Lanyon - Workers at Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market. The best fish rarely make it that far. Chefs add the finishing touches to a giant dish of steamed fish heads with hot peppers in Changsha, Hunan. A fish vendor in Kowloon City. Empty fishing traps at Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market. Fresh seafood features prominently in Cantonese cuisine and Hong Kong certainly loves its fish, especially live reef fish such as grouper and humphead wrasse. Chefs at high-end seafood restaurants routinely pay top dollar for the best specimens. Japan is perhaps the only place in the world better known for its fondness for seafood. However, the size and quality of catches being sold in Hong Kong has declined markedly in the past decade. Much of that stems from severe overfishing in surrounding waters, but another major cause is that the supply is being siphoned off. Mainland buyers often meet Hong Kong fishing boats while they are at sea, then snap up the best of the catch before the locals even get a look at the haul. The practice of selling catches to the highest bidders at sea is an open secret to people in related businesses, and one that chefs and seafood sellers in Hong Kong are powerless to do anything about. "In Hong Kong, people negotiate hard for a better price, but mainland and Japanese boats just say, 'Hey, here's the money'," explains a seafood importer who does not want to be named. Local fishermen welcome this offshore trade because "there's more money and less hassle", he says. Mainland and Japanese buyers are able to offer far higher prices than their counterparts in Hong Kong, which helps make up for the smaller catches they are getting. "You shouldn't be shocked. It's pure business." The effects of this off-the-books business are easy to see in the restaurants and markets of Hong Kong. "It's been common knowledge for the past few years, but you never actually see what's missing - due to mainland consumption," says chef David Lai, who runs the On Lot 10 and Bistronomique restaurants. "The most tangible signs may be the steady rise in prices." To the seafood importer, however, the most noticeable changes are at the table: "At lavish banquets, the centrepiece is often an enormous grouper or locally caught lobster. But in recent decades those centrepieces have shrunk considerably. You now have to settle for more portions of smaller fish." This can be tough for some Hong Kong diners to swallow; as the importer points out: "In [Chinese] banquets, it's all about size." Lai and other chefs of Western restaurants have also felt the pinch. "Certain species such as the yellow croaker, which is in high demand due to its popularity in traditional Shanghainese recipes, command stratospheric prices that normal Hong Kong people can't afford," he says. Getting his hands on a large specimen can be almost impossible. "Anything above one catty, or 600 grams, is considered big, and the largest ones can be worth many thousands of dollars. These fish are rare, and they automatically go to the mainland." Even well-known restaurateurs such as Lai can be at a disadvantage when securing the finest morsels: "Once in a while my fish people will call me in the morning to ask whether I want to buy some rare fish they caught or found. Basically, I have three seconds to say 'yes' or else they end up going north," he says. "We get first right of refusal because we are loyal customers and we always pay cash and don't waste time bargaining." It's is a huge change from when fishermen such as Cheng Hing plied the seas during the 1970s. While Hong Kong was taking off, China was still a centralised economy with relatively poor living standards. Mainland fishermen were required to sell what they caught to the state at set prices, but it wasn't long before more daring souls were quietly selling choice picks from their catch to Hong Kong boats. "It was a total reversal [of the current situation]," says Cheng, whose family has been fishing for generations. In the past, Hongkongers were able to pay more. Nowadays, "it's the Chinese boats that approach Hong Kong fishermen [out at sea] and try to buy their catch right there for a higher price," he says. Cheng, who became a wholesaler after his fishing days, says sales of frozen and chilled seafood are regulated by the Fish Marketing Organisation, but the trade of live fish falls into a grey area. "So, from a business perspective, Hong Kong fishermen are happy because they don't have to use expensive fuel to return to Hong Kong and waste time on government procedures to sell their fish." It's much more convenient for the fishermen, who can continue trawling instead of coming ashore to offload their haul before going out to sea again, he says. Convenience aside, most Hongkongers simply don't have the spending power to compete with wealthy mainland consumers. "Hong Kong people have to accept it because they're poor these days compared with the Chinese," says the importer. Lai agrees: "We live in a capitalist society driven by supply and demand, and we can't pretend to have it both ways ... In the '60s and '70s Hong Kong was the land of opportunity, and people did so well that there was a saying to describe it - 'eating shark fin with rice'. Who are we to judge?" Of course, it's not only mainlanders who are snatching up the best seafood, including hand-picked diver scallops. "There are huge diver scallops caught by Hong Kong fishing boats all the time, but Hong Kong only ever gets the second-largest ones because Japanese fishing boats buy all the big ones first," the importer says. In any case, he points out that the notion of provenance for seafood is flawed and mainly used as a marketing gimmick. If a fish is described as Japanese, that just means it was brought to market on a Japanese boat, not caught in Japanese waters. Trading fish at sea is common among many nations, though local barrister Lawrence Lau suggests the practice treads risky legal waters in Hong Kong. "Buying marine livestock in Hong Kong waters for seamen's personal supply and consumption is not an issue," Lau says. "However, if the vessel is buying such livestock for reselling for profit, then it has to acquire a business permit from the Immigration Department, as these Chinese seamen are doing business in Hong Kong, not just in transit. Not to mention the vessel or the enterprise needs a business registration here for taxation purposes." Even if fishermen sell their catch outside Hong Kong waters, they could still find themselves in legal trouble. "The act of conveying marine livestock acquired in Hong Kong out of Hong Kong waters is an act of exporting. You need to file a manifest with Customs and Excise. Also, the [seafood] may require hygiene clearance before leaving the port." However, Chinese President Xi Jinping's high-profile drive against excessive spending by officials is starting to hit fine-dining habits on the mainland. Just as Xi's anti-corruption crackdowns have dented sales of luxury goods in Hong Kong, so too have they curbed mainland appetites for expensive, status foods such as wagyu beef, shark fin and abalone. Initial reports suggest this has benefited local seafood stalls. "Hell, yes, I've noticed a change," says the importer. "You see a lot nicer seafood. Right now everything is back on the market." Lai wouldn't go that far, but he concedes that the central government's recent austerity drive is denting luxury consumption significantly. But declining fish populations as a result of overfishing around the world may soon make any gripes over lack of access to choice morsels a non-issue. "Prosperous societies in the developed world ought to look in the mirror for a reality check," Lai says. "We have consumed more than anyone in the history of the world, and in the process damaged the environment and exhausted natural resources." According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Hong Kong consumed 500,403 tonnes of seafood in 2009. This worked out to 71.6kg of seafood per person - about 3.9 times more than the global average of 18.4kg per capita and twice the per capita consumption on the mainland. "It is an absurd notion that any resources are ours and that we need to be protected," the chef contends. "The environment needs to be protected everywhere. If anything, we should lead the effort in conservation rather than consumption."
Marine report into Lamma ferry disaster will not be kept secret, says transport chief (By Lai Ying-kit email@example.com) The results of an on-going internal Marine Department investigation into last year’s Lamma Ferry collision will be made public and disciplinary proceedings will be taken where appropriated, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said on Tuesday. Cheung was speaking one day after families of the victims said the government would not disclose the results of an internal investigation conducted by the Marine Department. They made the remarks after meeting Under-secretary for transport and housing Yau Shing-mu. Cheung said on Tuesday that the investigation results definitely would be released, but that some parts of the report would be withheld because the details would be used in any civil servant disciplinary hearings that might follow. The information to be released would include the number of public officers who would face disciplinary proceedings, and how they failed in their duties, he said. “I will release the investigation results in an appropriate way,” he said. “We will make public as many details as possible without affecting disciplinary proceedings,” Cheung said. Cheung added that a six-member panel in charge of the investigation was working full-time on the probe but it would take some time to finish as it had to go through approved plans for ship layouts and documents dating back to the 1990s. He expected his bureau would receive a report from the panel in the first quarter of next year. On the evening of October 1 last year, 39 people died after two ferries collided off Lamma Island. They were on their way to see a fireworks display to celebrate the national day of China.
CY Leung threatens 'substantial' sanctions against Philippines in hostage row (By Tanna Chong firstname.lastname@example.org) Chief executive Leung Chun-ying has pledged sanctions against the Philippines if no substantial progress is reached in negotiations for compensation regarding the Manila hostage tragedy. “We will take substantial actions unless progress is made within one month,” said Leung ahead of Tuesday morning’s Executive Council meeting, referring to negotiations. In a Chinese statement made immediately after, he used the word equivalent to “sanction”. “But we cannot reveal our planning of the talks now. We will go on striving for progress,” he said. The Legislative Council is going to discuss a members’ motion to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines for its reluctance to issue apologies and compensation to victims and their families of the hostage tragedy three years ago, which left eight Hongkongers dead. One of the biggest points of contention is the families' demand for a personal apology from Philippines President Benigno Aquino.
China*: Nov 7 2013
Chinese animators demand ‘sincere’ apology from Jimmy Kimmel (By Vicky Feng email@example.com) A Chinese animation demanding yet another apology from Jimmy Kimmel after his “kill everyone in China” comment caused outrage, has gone viral in the country he offended. The US comedian has since apologised twice in public for the remark made by a six-year-old child on his late-night talk show aired on US television network ABC on October 16. But for Liu Gangqiang, one of the eight people who worked on the animation, those apologies were not enough. “His [Kimmel’s] apology is not sincere,” he said. “It seems like he still doesn’t respect Chinese,” said the 25-year-old project manager of a social media company. “So we decided to make an animation to express our demands for a sincere apology.” Liu, who was an international politics major and has many friends studying and working in America, said he thought the Chinese community’s response to the incident was not strong. He hoped the animation could open up a rational and equal discussion among Chinese and Americans. “We even dreamed about screening the animation in Times Square in New York,” said Liu, “then it will be an honour for all Chinese.” Liu’s company worked with an animation company called Weishi to produce and publish the video. Weishi produced the three-minute clip titled “Undying Chinese”, the animated counter-attack on Kimmel, which has since gone viral. It has drawn around 900,000 views after Liu posted it on Sina late last week. State media including CCTV have shared the video widely. The animation in accented English takes a humorous look at why the US should not try to kill any Chinese by looking back at earlier invasions of China and the country’s importance as the world’s factory. There has been speculation online that the animation is sponsored by the Chinese government, but this has been denied by the producers. Weishi was also responsible for another viral video last month, which compared the China’s political system with that of America.
'Most dangerous woman in China' under fire after criticising corrupt journalists (By Amy Li firstname.lastname@example.org) Journalists across China have thrown themselves into a heated debate about corruption in the media industry after the arrest of Chen Yongzhou, the Guangzhou-based New Express reporter who admitted to accepting bribes and publishing articles containing false accusations. Hu Shuli, the outspoken editor-in-chief of Caixin Media and a well-respected veteran journalist, often called “the most dangerous woman in China”, waded into the debate this week with a scathing editorial, dividing opinions further. By blasting the prevalent “rent-seeking” practices among China’s journalists in an editorial for Caixin Weekly published on Monday, Hu urged media professionals to uphold journalistic integrity and steer clear of future scandals. "To see journalistic privileges such as reporting the facts and the media's watchdog power being traded for money, as exposed by the Chen Yongzhou incident, it makes one extremely sad," Hu wrote. "This scandal is a self-inflicted wound on the media industry." Hu's take-no-prisoners approach has apparently angered some of her media industry colleagues. They have since published various commentary articles and blogs in retort, blaming her for missing the "bigger picture" of the industry’s struggle with increasing censorship, especially in a time when newspapers, amid an onslaught from new media, have seen a dive in profits following a national economic slowdown. Some went further, accusing Hu of currying favour with the Communist Party and siding with the "evil forces" of government censors in their effort to silence journalists. Chen Yongzhou was taken away by policemen from Changsha, Hunan, on October 18, and accused of “fabricating facts” and “damaging the commercial reputation” of Changsha-based Zoomlion, one of China’s largest makers of construction equipment. He made a public confession in a CCTV programme a week later, admitting to taking bribes. China’s reporters rallied for Chen’s release after his detention, criticising the police force for abusing its power. In her editorial, 60-year-old Hu voiced concerns about "questionable police behaviour" and the role of Zoomlion in Chen’s arrest, but devoted most of the piece to attacking the rampant corruption in the industry as revealed by Chen’s confession. Warning that the scandal cost Chinese media much of its hard-earned credibility, Hu urged journalists to practice self-discipline and report only “independently and truthfully”. “Rent-seeking is not attributable to a misbehaving individual,” Hu wrote, “It is a stubborn illness affecting a considerable number of news organisations and reporters.” Among those who disagree with Hu, Zhou Haiyan, a journalism professor at Nanjing University, said that “rent-seeking” itself was only a by-product of a system that created opportunities for such behaviour. Analysing the arrests of outspoken opinion leaders Xue Manzi and Wang Gongquan, which preceded Chen’s arrest, Zhou condemned the Chinese government's campaign to smear and discredit its critics, saying it jeopardises freedom of speech and impairs judicial independence. Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said while he understood Hu’s concerns, it was not practical to rely just on “morality” to wipe out corruption in the industry. Zhan also argued that when being barred from “seeking rent”, media should also be granted the legal power to monitor and criticise the government. “Rights and obligations come together,” Zhan wrote. In a phone conversation with SCMP.com on Tuesday, Zhan said eventually it will take the rule-of-law to cure Chinese media of corruption. He also said he agreed with Hu because corruption has become prevalent in media organisations in the country and need to be addressed. "We should know that reporters are not forced into accepting bribes, they do have a choice," he said. The controversy triggered by Hu’s piece took her by surprise, Hu admitted on her Weibo on Tuesday. Yet she reiterated her views in the comment section of her article on Caixin’s website. “It’s true that only a trial should decide whether or not Chen is guilty, “ Hu wrote, “But the fact that he accepted bribes has been exposed, and we have to get to the bottom of it.”
15th China Int'l Industry Fair kicks off in Shanghai - A visitor tries to operate a robot during the 15th China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2013.
Ancient currencies exhibit in E China (China Daily) A series of ancient Chinese coins are on display in an exhibition held in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, where a variety of ancient currencies including banknotes in trillion denomination, stamp-like paper currencies and 'huangsongtongbao' coins, were unveiled, Nov 3, 2013. Over 1000 kinds of paper currencies and old coins from home and abroad were on show.
Biden headed to East Asia (By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington email@example.com) As US Vice-President Joseph Biden prepares for his second trip to China in a little more than two years, how the two largest economies handle their relationship in the Asia-Pacific region has again become a hot topic. The White House announced on Monday that Biden will visit Japan, China and the Republic of Korea in the first week of December. And in Beijing, the vice-president will meet with key Chinese leaders to consult on global and regional issues of mutual interest. Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, said implementing the agenda items agreed upon at the 5th Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) should be a high priority. During the S&ED held in Washington in July, the two countries pledged to cooperate more in a wide range of economic, trade and security fields. The talks came just a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama met in Sunnylands, California, where they vowed to build a new type of major country relationship and defy the historical rivalry between a rising power and an existing one. The two countries also agreed to start formal negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty. While the US sees this as a potential opening of the large service sector in China, China believes such a deal will better protect the increasing Chinese foreign direct investment in the US. Biden, who last visited China in August 2011, has a good personal relationship with Chinese President Xi. He accompanied Xi when he visited the US in February 2012 as China's vice-president. Biden will be the most senior US official to visit China after the upcoming third plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress on November 9-12, where a number of economic reform measures that show the country's direction in the next decade are expected to be announced. As in all recent high-level meetings between the two countries, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been a key topic. Glaser said there should be a clear understanding reached on what steps Pyongyang must take for Six-Party Talks to resume, following Chinese envoy Wu Dawei's visit to Washington and the subsequent US-Japan-ROK meeting on the issue. Other diplomatic efforts to restart the Six-Party Talks are under way, with ROK's nuclear envoy Cho Tae-yong in Washington on Monday to meet US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies. Cho will also visit China this month. Last week, Kim Hyong-jun, vice-foreign minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) visited Beijing to talk with Chinese officials about resuming talks. The DPRK has repeatedly expressed its willingness to resume talks without preconditions. But both the US and ROK insist that DPRK should first take meaningful steps to denuclearize before any talk could resume. China has urged the US to show more flexibility to first restart the Six-Party Talks, which have been suspended since 2008. The talks involve DPRK, ROK, China, US, Japan and Russia. While China and the US have seen more cooperation on the Korean Peninsula, the two countries still don't see eye-to-eye on the US pivot to Asia policy. Glaser said she hoped both sides will exchange views on development on their policies toward the Asia-Pacific region. "China should explain its just-held high-level meeting on periphery diplomacy and Biden can provide an update on the US rebalancing to Asia," Glaser said. Some analysts believe Biden's trip to the three East Asian nations is intended to emphasize the US commitment to its pivot to Asia policy. Obama's cancellation in attending two Asia summits and visiting four Asia nations last month — due to the impending threat of the government shutdown — has been regarded as a setback in Obama's commitment to the region. The US has found itself in a dilemma over the Diaoyu Islands territorial dispute between China and Japan. Tensions have been high since the Japanese government nationalized the islands late last year and refused to acknowledge that a dispute over the sovereignty of the islands even exists, something that deeply upsets many Chinese. The White House said Biden will discuss with key leaders in Tokyo a broad range of issues, focusing on progress towards a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, seeking further momentum on key alliance goals and discussing a range of regional and global challenges. Hugh White, a professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University and a former senior defense official in Australia, described the US pivot to Asia policy as a failure. He said the US should take China seriously and replace the pivot with a policy that works, calling for the US to share power with China in Asia. White expressed his concerns over a possible trajectory of rivalry between China and the US. He said Australia does not want to choose between its relationship with the US and its relationship with China, and he believes the whole of Asia thinks the same. "There is no good future for Australia unless we can preserve the relations we have with the US, and the relationship we've developed with China and develop them further in the coming decades," he said at the Kissinger Institute on China and the US at the Wilson Center on Friday.
Hong Kong*: Nov 6 2013
TV industry still divided over HKTV’s licence rejection (By Tony Cheung) Three weeks after the government’s controversial decision, veterans familiar with the television industry remained divided over whether officials made the right choice in denying Hong Kong Television Network’s (HKTV) application for a free-to-air licence, while approving that of i-Cable and PCCW’s subsidiaries. On Sunday, Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong cited the view of the government’s consultant that, based on existing advertising revenue, the market could “barely support” two new players, in addition to TVB and ATV – and “it is extremely likely that someone would fail” in a competition among five licence holders. This view is supported by veteran broadcaster Robert Chua Wah-peng, who estimated that in a five-horse race, an operating loss of HK$5 billion would have to be shared by the stations (based on HK$10 billion operating costs for the five stations and an estimated HK$5 billion TV advertising spend). But Peter Lam Yuk-wah, vice-president of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, questioned Exco’s and the consultant’s assessment. Advertising revenue “should increase” when new players were added to the market, and television stations also relied on other sources of income, including fees incurred from licensing or selling their productions overseas, Lam said. In an article published on the Post on Tuesday, Chua, who was a founding executive producer of TVB, wrote that he would have “recommended that the government award one free TV station licence instead of the two they did”, as viewership “will continue to fall as people turn to the internet for entertainment”. Chua said while he “gives [HKTV chairman] Ricky Wong full points for his passion and his self-confidence in wanting to operate a free station”, he feared that in a more fiercely competitive market and “with lower budgets, TV stations can only produce lower quality and low-taste programmes.” Analysts also questioned whether HKTV had been too “aggressive” by pledging to spend HK$1 billion on original content and offer 30 free channels. That criticism was echoed by pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po, which quoted a source on November 1 listing eight reasons, including lack of financial sustainability, to explain why HKTV’s bid was denied. It also accused HKTV of “failing to meet the basic requirement as it has no plan to start an English channel”. Lack of financial sustainability was also cited by New People’s Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun on Monday as the main reason the government rejected the HKTV application. Tien said officials told him that the consultancy’s report rated i-Cable and PCCW’s subsidiaries and HKTV on four main principles - financial, technological and production ability, and programme strategy and investment. “[Officials] believe that the most important principle is [whether] a television station could operate in a financially sustainable manner, and for that principle, the consultancy report rated HKTV with the lowest score [among the three applicants], which then also gave it the lowest overall score,” Tien said. However, in a column published on the Sky Post on Monday, HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay dismissed earlier criticism that his company lacked “financial stability”. “We have more than HK$2 billion in cash. We have no debt,” Wong said. “We have been making profit over the last five years – we are very stable financially.” Wong also said in the column that HKTV had always been planning to start an English channel and said it was wrong to question the viability of his application based on planned expenditure. “As a businessman, if I were to spend HK$2 billion on production, I would certainly secure the source of income first – for example, by [selling programmes] overseas,” Wong wrote. To resolve the month-long argument, Chua recommended that Wong continue producing programmes “while waiting for the opportunity to apply to takeover of the ATV free TV licence that is due to expire in 2015, or sooner if the government cancels its licence because of a breach of conditions.” “I cannot see how ATV can be allowed to renew their free-to-air TV licence when it expires in 2015 with their incredibly poor track record and dismal performance over the past few years,” Chua said. Lam suggested that the government should review the performance of i-Cable and PCCW’s subsidiaries in a year’s time, which will be a good opportunity to re-consider granting a licence to HKTV.
China beats Hong Kong and Singapore to be ranked best destination for expats (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) HSBC survey reveals Chinese mainland was No 1 destination of choice for expats in 2013 - The Chinese mainland has overtaken Hong Kong, Singapore and the rest of the world as the destination of choice for expats, according to a new survey by HSBC. The mainland rose from 7th spot in the bank’s similar survey on purely economic conditions for expats last year to 1st in this year's overall ranking. In terms of economic conditions, the mainland ranked second globally after Switzerland this year. Hong Kong fell from 4th to 10th place overall and came 19th in terms of economic conditions. Singapore, which topped last year’s ranking, came third overall after the mainland and Germany. The survey of about 7,000 expats in 37 countries showed that Asia has widened its appeal for expatriates, offering higher average salaries than anywhere else. Expats in Asia made US$74,000 (HK$574,000) on average last year, compared to $64,000 elsewhere, the bank said. See the full report here - The decision by expats to move to China is still mainly driven by economic factors, the survey showed. Seven in ten expats moved to the mainland because of better job opportunities, whereas only four in ten emigrated to Hong Kong to move up the career ladder. In terms of quality of life, the mainland beat the SAR this year in almost every category in the survey, including disposable income, diet, commute, accommodation and the weather. While the mainland ranked second after Brazil in terms of ease of integration, Hong Kong stood at a low 28th rank globally. However, Hong Kong still beat the mainland on core matters of childcare, healthcare, entertainment and work culture. Almost half, 49 per cent, of the expats surveyed living in the mainland said they enjoyed a better work-life balance than in their home country. Despite frequent reports about hazardous air pollution, 45 per cent of expats said life in the PRC has made them more active in sports. The large majority of expats in the mainland, 86 per cent, made an effort to learn the local language in China, in contrast to 60 per cent of those expats living elsewhere, according to the survey. Hong Kong still stood out as an attractive destination for families, ranking eleventh globally. Almost six in ten said childcare in the SAR was better than in their home countries, and slightly more than five in ten said education was better in Hong Kong. Germany, Singapore and France were ahead of the SAR in terms of the best places to raise a family. One reason for the increased appeal of the mainland over Hong Kong could be the comparatively inexpensive cost of living. According to a study earlier this year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, life in Hong Kong was more expensive than in all major Chinese cities. However, a study of compensation packages for expats by the human resources firm ECA International later in the year found that Hong Kong was ranked as cheaper to live in than Beijing and Shanghai. An HSBC spokesperson dismissed criticism over the sample sizes, saying those in China and Hong Kong considerably exceeded their minimum sample of thirty. Because of changes in methology, the company refrained from making year-on-year comparisons, she said. Commenting on a wider trend, the spokesperson said expat wealth has been gradually heading east over the last six years. "This year, Asia not only emerged as the expat social hub with 35 per cent agreeing that they enjoy a more active social life since relocating, compared with the global average of 26 per cent - the highest out of any region, Asia is also home to among the highest paid expats in the world," she wrote in an emailed statement.
China*: Nov 6 2013
Premier Li Keqiang endorses private entrepreneurs, promises further reforms (By Chris Luo email@example.com) Premier Li Keqiang (right) talks with Ma Yun (left) and Li Shufu during a meeting to discuss China's economic development. In a rare show of public support for the country’s burgeoning private enterprises, Premier Li Keqiang praised Jack Ma Yun, founder and chairman of the country’s largest internet-based e-commerce firms, and vowed that “extensive and deeper reforms” would be made. “It is not only that the government trusts private entrepreneurs, it also relies on them,” Li was reported as saying during a conference held in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The conference reportedly took place last Thursday but the details were not made public until Monday. “We ought to place a high emphasis on an innovative economy … so China’s economy can progress on a steady and sustainable course,” he said. The aim of the conference was to evaluate present economic trends and to map out an economic plan for next year, the third such plan since Li took office. Private entrepreneurs Ma and Li Shufu, head of automotive maker Geely Holding Group, were among the 10 speakers at the meeting. In the meeting Ma said business transactions completed using his company’s services were expected to generate over 10 per cent of the nation’s entire retail sales. He also boasted that the nine million online retailers currently using his company’s services provided at least 10 million jobs, the report said. Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer online shopping website under Alibaba, has gradually promoted November 11th over the past few years as a sales day when most of the shops offer discounted products. “You have generated a shopping spree”, Li said. Vice-premiers Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong and Ma Kai also took part, underlining the importance the government attached to the meeting. Li also highlighted the importance of further reforms that China needs to undertake. “[The process of] reform may be gradual, but it is determined,” Li said. “China’s reform has entered ‘deep water’, it will touch on vested interests … but the government must forge ahead without hesitation …” Li’s remarks might help to support a possible future Alibaba IPO in Hong Kong. Ma’s plan to list Alibaba on the Hong Kong stock exchange failed after the Securities and Futures Commission found the company’s unique partnership structure unacceptable. Ma has since expressed interest in a future potential HK$100 billion deal. “We didn’t do enough to make Hong Kong people understand what kind of company Alibaba is, nor have we done enough to understand Hong Kong,” he was previously quoted as saying.
Hong Kong*: Nov 5 2013
Profit margins for Hong Kong developers shrinking (By Peggy Sito firstname.lastname@example.org) Discounts and stamp duty refunds by the Cullinan have drawn a significant response from buyers. Developers of recently launched high-end flats have achieved brisk sales by using innovative pricing strategies such as stamp duty rebates as well as more traditional discounts. Analysts are split on whether these policies presage a dramatic fall in prices, but they agree on one thing: developers' profit margins are being squeezed. Evidence of the shrinking margins can be seen in the narrowing gap between the prices of new homes and those in the secondary market, Barclays said. The premium of primary or new home prices to secondary prices fell to just 4 per cent in the third quarter from 17 per cent last year, according to Barclays. "We found that the key ingredient driving volume was that the primary average selling prices matched or were slightly less than secondary prices," said Barclays analyst Paul Louie. The firm expects a drop in prices of at least 30 per cent by the end of 2015. Louie pointed to Sun Hung Kai Properties undercutting secondary prices early last month when it released 181 flats at The Cullinan at an average price of HK$29,097 per square foot of saleable area. Once rebates and discounts were factored in, the net effective price was HK$25,024 per sq ft, 21 per cent below transaction prices in the secondary market. The Cullinan attracted strong demand for those flats and subsequent batches of units despite later price rises. Barclays said overall pricing for The Cullinan appeared to be 9 per cent below the secondary market level. At The Austin, Wheelock and New World Development also undercut secondary market prices to launch the first batch of flats on October 26. The headline price was HK$22,875 per sq ft, but analysts said effective prices averaged below HK$19,000 per sq ft after discounts and rebates. The developers had sold 372 flats at The Austin by yesterday, when the headline price for the latest batch of 107 was raised to an average HK$25,369 per sq ft. Some analysts, such as Alfred Lau of Bocom International, take a glass half-full approach, saying the good response indicates prices will not fall sharply. "Sales have improved even as developers gradually increased prices. Why do developers need to slash prices further?" Lau said developers' profit margins had fallen to about 30 per cent from 35 per cent at the start of the year, before cooling measures in February. Barclays said some major developers' profit margin for their Hong Kong projects was below 20 per cent based on current prices.
Exco chief says TV decision reflected 'cautious' approach to local market (By Tony Cheung and Candy Chan) With Legco set to vote, convenor suggests that HKTV application may have been rejected due to fears about overcrowded free-to-air market - Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong has given the most detailed account yet of why Hong Kong Television Network's (HKTV) application for a free-to-air licence was rejected - three days ahead of a crucial vote by lawmakers on the issue. Lam said the government had taken a "cautious" approach in denying HKTV's application while approving those of subsidiaries of i-Cable and PCCW. He cited the view of the government's consultant that, based on existing advertising revenue, the market could "barely support" two new players, in addition to TVB and ATV. His remarks come amid a tug of war between the government and HKTV staff for the support of lawmakers ahead of a Legislative Council vote on Wednesday that could force an investigation into the contentious licence decision. "If three new players are being added to the market, in a competition among five licence holders, it is extremely likely that someone would fail," he said on a Commercial Radio show. Dismissing arguments that the government should leave it for a free market to decide if any player should close, Lam said: "A television station is different from a cha chaan teng, after all. "It employs at least a thousand people, including many professional and technical personnel. The investment could also amount to … hundreds of million [dollars] a year. Therefore Exco's overall conclusion is that it is better to do it cautiously." Media reports have said that consultants had identified the beleaguered ATV as the most likely station to fail in the face of greater competition. But without naming any player, Lam stressed that the consultants' view was only one of the Executive Council's many considerations in decision-making. "The Exco did not consider protecting existing players … [nor] the interest of individual applicants," he said. Commenting on information technology lawmaker Charles Mok's bid to invoke the Legco (Powers & Privileges) Ordinance to launch an inquiry into the government's deliberations, Lam suggested this could be inappropriate as it would expose "sensitive commercial information". A majority of both directly elected and functional constituency lawmakers is needed for Mok's motion to be passed. While the vote among directly elected lawmakers seems sewn up in favour of the motion, it is still four votes short of the number required from functional constituency lawmakers. Ma Fung-kwok, representing the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, revealed that while he remained undecided about how he would vote, he might consider taking the matter to court. "If the government failed to give a proper explanation over the denial of a free-TV licence to HKTV, and the Legislative Council couldn't invoke the Legco (Powers & Privileges) Ordinance, I would consider filing a judicial review," Ma said. Meanwhile, Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay should consider buying ATV to show his station's programmes.
China*: Nov 5 2013
Export woes may spur yuan rethink (By Victoria Ruan in Beijing email@example.com) Gains in the currency have made Chinese goods uncompetitive abroad at a time when Beijing counts on trade to ease the pain from reforms - Beijing may be about to begin a rethink of its currency policy in an effort to give the country's struggling exporters the flexibility they need to cope with a raft of painful economic reforms. The steady government-approved appreciation of the yuan has driven the currency to within a whisker of six to the US dollar, a level that broad swathes of industry complain makes Chinese products uncompetitive abroad. That is bad news for Beijing policymakers, who are just beginning to see signs of economic stability returning in recent data after growth dropped to a three-year low in the second quarter. Economists like Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Lu Ting say a further rise against the dollar in the yuan - the level of which is based on a central parity rate set each day by the central bank - could undermine export competitiveness. The problem for the government is that it needs trade to strengthen to take some of the strain off reforms that are required to rebalance the economy and reduce a growing dependency on the investment-led spending that now underpins growth. A big part of the currency problem is that much of the yuan's appreciation this year has been tied to a rebound in the dollar from multi-year lows. Zhang Monan, deputy chief of the economic forecasting department of the State Information Centre, a unit run by the National Development and Reform Commission, said that under the existing exchange rate system, the yuan had moved in tandem with the greenback while being unable to reflect changes in the values of the currencies of the mainland's other major trading partners. So the information centre had urged the leadership to overhaul the mechanism to set the yuan's value with reference to a basket of currencies, Zhang told the South China Morning Post. "The yuan may be overvalued if it rises further to breach six per dollar. China's industrial structure has yet to be upgraded, and its productivity can hardly support a significant appreciation of the yuan," Zhang said. "China's economic development needs a stable currency. Over-appreciation would inflict dramatic blows to exporters, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. Industrial competitiveness would diminish." Analysts are concerned that yuan appreciation does not match economic fundamentals in the world's second-largest economy, where growth has slowed from a peak of 14.2 per cent in 2007 to 7.8 per cent in the third quarter of this year. It does not bode well for exports, which fell 0.3 per cent year on year in September and remain hostage to fickle demand in a sluggish global economy. UBS Securities research concludes the mainland has been "losing steam, or even losing some ground", in its two biggest trade markets - the European Union and the United States. In the long run, though, analysts say the mainland's export competitiveness cannot just rely on the value of the yuan. Beijing must stimulate domestic consumption and move up the industrial value chain to maintain growth momentum. The upcoming meeting of the Communist Party's top leaders this weekend - just as key data on trade, inflation, industrial production and fixed-asset investment is due to be released - is expected to lay out a roadmap of reforms, with an overhaul of the financial sector widely anticipated to be a core focus. Stephen Roach, a professor at Yale University and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, believes reforms should leave the mainland committed to "an increasingly flexible and ultimately convertible [yuan]".
Business is buzzing for online sales of sex toys in China (By Joanna Chiu firstname.lastname@example.org) With China expected to overtake the US in online spending this year, university graduates have found success by abandoning traditional career paths to start internet sex-toy companies. When Chris Wu was studying abroad at the University of Leeds, she said she loved to go to high-end sex-toy shops to admire the "beautiful" products. After she returned to Beijing with a master's degree in public relations, she was disappointed that sex shops at home sold "low quality products that lacked design". "That was when I first wanted to start my own sex-toy shop," the 33-year-old said. "But I felt I needed more experience, so I worked at a PR company for five years and then started the business three years ago." Wu now employs six staff, and her online store has been profitable for the last year-and-a-half. Her sleekly designed homepage proclaims that TOIs Intimacy Boutique was "established with the conviction that sensual pleasure and fulfilment are paramount to a well-lived life". Another young entrepreneur, Li Chengze, decided to start his online sex shop, called Xiao Ye, after working in the advertising industry for a year and seeing the potential of the online sex-toy market. "Demand is huge because most people prefer the privacy of shopping for sex toys online," said the 26-year-old graduate of the Chengdu University of Technology and former journalist. Li launched his business in Guangdong last October and is already receiving hundreds of orders each month. Private businesses have proliferated in China since the early 1990s, and China's first sex toy shop opened in Beijing in 1992. The demand for the toys is now so high that vibrators can be bought over the counter at many convenience stores. But Wu complained that the best of China's manufactured toys were exported, leaving low-quality goods to flood the domestic market, with many containing cheap plasticisers linked to breast cancer and other diseases. A 25-year-old executive assistant from Shanghai who shops for sex toys on Taobao, an online marketplace operated by Alibaba, said she preferred the convenience of online browsing. "I'm actually not embarrassed to go into sex shops, but I can find a much better variety of products online," said the woman, who preferred not to be named. An Alibaba spokeswoman said there were currently more than 2,500 sex-toy companies using the e-commerce platform and nearly 50 per cent were companies with no more than 10 staff. Dr Lucetta Kam Yip-lo, a gender and sexuality specialist at Hong Kong Baptist University, said that sex businesses were no longer taboo and most Chinese would see Wu and Li simply as smart businesspeople. "They are living in an increasingly sex-positive society," she said. "Many of the sex-toy shops are run by the government, and there's been an emergence of new sexual activities such as partner-swapping and group sex parties among both homosexual and heterosexual communities in China." Earlier this year, nude model Zhang Xiaoyu launched a sex toy modelled after her own vagina and buttocks. It was the first celebrity-endorsed "branded" sex product in China, although the trend has long been popular in Japan. The toy is available for purchase on the popular online adult retailer Xmeise.
Transit policy a hit in Guangzhou (By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou) Tourists have a local-style breakfast during a 72-hour visa-free stay in Guangzhou in August. From August through October, more than 500 foreign visitors had taken advantage of the policy. Guangzhou has seen a steady rise in the number of airline passengers who availed of the city's 72-hour visa-free transit policy since it was launched on Aug 1. Australia accounts for the largest number, according to the exit-entry authority of the Baiyun district where the airport is located. By Oct 29, 534 foreign visitors had enjoyed a 72-hour visa-free stay in the capital of South China's Guangdong province. The number of users climbed from 96 in August to 166 in September, an increase of 73 percent. The exit-entry authority of Baiyun district received an average of 10 requests for a 72-hour visa-free stay every day in October. Altogether, 239 Australian passengers have had a 72-hour visa-free stopover in Guangzhou since August, almost half of the total number of foreign visitors benefiting from the new visa policy, said Zhang Rui, a media officer from the exit-entry authority of Baiyun district. The policy is also popular among tourists from the US, Canada, Russia and New Zealand, Zhang said. China Southern Airlines, the major carrier based at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, launched an Airbus A380 service to Sydney and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to Auckland, New Zealand, last week. The new services are expected to reinforce the "Canton Route", an air bridge connecting Europe, Asia and Australia and attract more airline passengers from the Oceania region to make a stopover in Guangzhou. Christine O'Maley, a Sydney-based public relations executive for the airline, hopes that Guangzhou will become the next hotspot for stopovers between Oceania and Europe. "Australians often fly to the UK to visit friends and family. It's a long flight of 24 hours so most passengers will choose to make a stopover to have a rest and explore a new city," O'Maley said. "Popular stopover choices have been Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. And Dubai has become a new favorite as Emirates has vigorously tapped the market in Australia in recent years. "We are strengthening promotions of China Southern Airlines and Guangzhou's visa-free transit policy in Australia," added the PR executive, who accompanied 11 journalists from major media outlets in Australia and New Zealand on their weekend trip to Guangzhou. The visitors from Oceania enjoyed a two-day tour of the city. They tasted dim sum, visited historic sites, including the Chen Clan Academy and the Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum, soaked in the atmosphere at the city's new landmark Canton Tower and strolled through markets and parks. Adrian Schofield from Aviation Week based in New Zealand was amazed by Guangzhou and thinks it's a pity that not many New Zealanders know about the city or the 72-hour visa-free transit policy. "China Southern Airlines' Boeing 787 service to Auckland is New Zealand's first Boeing 787 service, which will effectively enhance the airline company's publicity in the country and the company can help promote the Chinese city and the visa policy to New Zealanders," Schofield said. Tourist agencies in Guangdong province expected the 72-hour visa-free policy to spur inbound tourism, but they haven't seen a significant growth in the number of foreign visitors in the past three months. Fang Fang, vice-general manager of the inbound tourism department of GZL International Travel Service, a major agency in the province, said that the agency has received around 80 foreign tourists who made a stopover in Guangzhou on a 72-hour visa-free transit since Aug 1. Only a few of them took advantage of the visa policy's ability for tourists to travel to other cities in Guangdong province. "The tourism authority and China Southern Airlines should make good use of the data they've collected and visit those big international transit passenger origins to host promotional events," the manager said. Beijing and Shanghai introduced the visa-free policy in January. Chengdu in Sichuan province offered the same visa-free transit in September, and Chongqing will carry it out from November.
Hong Kong*: Nov 4 2013
Mainland Chinese get round the firewall by using virtual private networks (By Stephen Thompson) Many mainland Chinese use VPNs to obtain information, protect their communications or hide their real identities from internet snoops - China has developed a huge parallel internet sheltered by an electronic firewall known as the Great Firewall of China which blocks, filters and slows traffic on the internet. This significantly obstructs and impacts business, foreign trade and academic, social and cultural exchanges. However, virtual private networks (VPNs) have allowed Chinese web users almost unimpeded access to the internet with the additional benefit of anonymity. IT professionals there are among the heavy users of VPNs simply because they know how to do it, and because techie sites such as Github are blocked by the firewall, as are chats on Twitter and file sharing on Bittorrent. Technology companies such as Tencent give all employees full access to the internet. In early 2010 Agence France-Presse reported an estimated 150,000 Twitter users in China. Paradoxically, whereas in the US or Europe one is more likely to hear people say that they can only access Facebook at home because it's censored at work, in China, you are more likely to hear people say, "I can only access Facebook at work" because it's censored at home. VPNs work by encrypting and anonymising data traffic between computers, so that neither the content, sender or destination of data packets streamed over the net are readable by the firewall. Businesses routinely rely on this resulting anonymity for secure communications, as do hackers for hacking, software pirates for file sharing, porn aficionados for viewing porn, academics for collaborating on Google docs, mass online gamesters for gaming, gamblers for gambling, organised criminals for hiding their identities and dissidents for reading, commenting and "spreading rumours" . VPN hides your real Internet Protocol (IP) address. If you are in China and connect to a VPN server in another country it substitutes your IP with another IP address from that country, so that you can view online TV, books or other content normally restricted. If you visit China often you will be concerned about keeping in touch with the world via social media. If you have offices with a broadband connection in the mainland and Hong Kong you can set up a secure VPN between the places. With the authorities increasingly able to block free wall-jumpers such as freegate, many internet users on the mainland are turning to VPNs, which are also sold on Taobao.com. Companies are now offering VPN services for only 15 yuan (HK$19); these are advertised for games players but work like all VPNs. VPNs are ubiquitous on the mainland. Hackers use VPNs to cover their traces. Academics use them to share documents on Google drive; photographers use them to upload to Picasa; and foreigners use VPNs for Facebook, YouTube, Gmail and Google drive. Many businesses use VPNs to secure their internal communications from eavesdropping by competitors, one reason why the authorities have pulled back from closing down VPNs. Foreign investors in China are known to be heavy users of VPNs and many might leave if they could not maintain privacy with VPNs. Journalists, too, hide their stories and sources, and some news bureaus might move from Beijing to Tokyo or Hong Kong if their VPNs were pulled. The beauty of having a VPN service is that you can also use it on your mobile phone and tablet. Both Android and iOS come with built-in VPN support. Of course, VPNs are not the complete answer to data security. Since the dawn of history, cryptographers and code breakers have been locked in battle, with each advance in encryption soon defeated by the code crackers. So it is probably better to assume that nothing is really secure and can at best only delay decryption of your data. (How long does it take a supercomputer to crunch a tough equation these days?) If you want data to be really secure, keep it in your head, where it degrades progressively and completely after a few decades.
Report: Australia and US 'spied on Indonesia during UN talks' (By Agence France-Presse in Sydney) Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has said the reported spying activities were "just not cricket". Australia and the United States mounted a joint surveillance operation on Indonesia during 2007 UN climate talks in Bali, a report said on Sunday in revelations likely to exacerbate strained ties with Jakarta. The Guardian newspaper’s Australian edition cited a document from US whistleblower Edward Snowden showing Australian spy agency the Defence Signals Directorate worked alongside America’s National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the phone numbers of Indonesian security officials. Australia’s relationship with close neighbour Indonesia is already under pressure after reports last week that Canberra’s overseas diplomatic posts were involved in a vast US-led surveillance network. Missions in Indonesia, as well as embassies or consulates in China, were reportedly used to monitor phone calls and collect data, sparking demands for an explanation from Jakarta and Beijing. The Guardian said the 2007 operation at the United Nations climate change conference was not particularly successful, with the only tangible outcome being the mobile phone number of Bali’s chief of police. “The goal of the development effort was to gain a solid understanding of the network structure should collection be required in the event of an emergency,” according to an account of the mission included in a 2008 weekly report from the NSA base at Pine Gap in Australia, one of the agency’s biggest overseas bases. Summing up at the end of the operation, the NSA, according to the Guardian, said: “Highlights include the compromise of the mobile phone number for Bali’s chief of police. “Site efforts revealed previously unknown Indonesian communications networks and postured us to increase collection in the event of a crisis.” While largely unsuccessful, the operation is hugely embarrassing for Australia. At the time, Kevin Rudd was the country’s newly elected prime minister and he attended the summit - his first high-profile international foray - at the personal invitation of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Both leaders agreed then to work together to advance ties. The latest allegations are another blow to ties between the two countries, which have been tested by new Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hardline policies on trying to stop asylum-seekers who board boats in Indonesia from arriving in Australia. Last week Abbott said of the spy network reports: “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official, at home and abroad, operates in accordance with the law and that’s the assurance that I can give people at home and abroad.” The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not comment on the latest revelation. “As a matter of principle and long-standing practice, the Australian government does not comment on intelligence matters,” a spokeswoman said. Widespread reports of NSA spying based on leaks from fugitive intelligence analyst Snowden, including that the agency was monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, have already sparked a major trans-Atlantic rift. After last week’s claims in the Sydney Morning Herald, which amplified earlier revelations by German magazine Der Spiegel, China’s foreign ministry demanded the Australian side “make a clarification”. Jakarta summoned Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty for an explanation on Friday while Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa described the reported spying activities as “just not cricket”, saying his government was “obviously deeply concerned”.
China*: Nov 4 2013
Xi: China to be more involved in global affairs (By Zhao Yanrong email@example.com) President Xi Jinping reiterated China's adherence to the path of peaceful development and its vow to never seek hegemony on Saturday, adding it will assume more international responsibilities and participate more in international affairs and system reforms. President Xi Jinping meets with foreign members of the 21st Century Council in Beijing on Nov 2, 2013. Xi made the remarks in Beijing, when he met the foreign participants of a meeting of the 21st Century Council, a top global think tank. He said China is a constructive agent in promoting world peace and development, and will continue to learn from advanced development concepts and other countries' experiences to harmoniously develop with other nations. "Understanding China" was the theme of the conference, which lasted from Friday to Sunday. It is intended to discover how China will develop in the coming decade and discuss its development road and global governance role. Xi said the meeting enhanced mutual understanding between China and the world. The nation has made remarkable achievements in development but remains the largest developing country. He noted China's development has a long way to go. Solving development problems and improving people's livelihoods remain the country's top priorities. China's economic growth is steadily improving. In the first half of this year, China's GDP increased 7.6 percent compared with the same periods last year. An in the third quarter this year, the growth was 7.8 percent compared with last year. Xi said China is experiencing the transformation of its development mode and economic structural adjustment. He is confident there are sufficient factors to support China's sustainable and healthy economic development. Premier Li Keqiang attended the opening ceremony of the conference on Friday afternoon. Li said China will expand its opening up, deepen comprehensive reform and create a peaceful and stable international environment. He expects the 21st Century Council to play a bigger role in strengthening cooperation between China and the world. More than 40 council members gathered in Beijing, including former heads of state, top intellectuals and business leaders. The council arranges two-day discussions on China's policies, economy, diplomacy and defense. The council said in a media release: "With its growing overall strength, China is playing an increasingly important role in restructuring the international political and economic order. Better understanding between China and the rest of the world is not a choice but a necessity." State Councilor Yang Jiechi addressed China's diplomacy at Saturday morning's conference meeting. "China's diplomacy is at a new historical starting point, and China will firmly pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and strive for new progress in win-win cooperation with other countries," Yang said. He noted reform is gaining global momentum as international cooperation is deepening. The global system is at a critical evolutionary point, while China stands at the juncture of national renewal, he said. The country is linked to the world system. Yang said: "Development and changes at home and abroad have put forward new and higher requirements for China's diplomacy, which now stands at a new historical starting point. Over the past year, President Xi and other Chinese leaders have made a good beginning on the diplomatic front through a series of successful major diplomatic initiatives." China will actively converge its interests with others'; respect all countries' independent social-system and development-path choices; engage a more active opening-up strategy in economic cooperation; and promote regional and global security cooperation, featuring equality, transparency, openness and inclusiveness, he said. Yang said the nation hopes to work with the United States to enrich the new major-country relationship model, which stresses non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Meanwhile, the country will upgrade its strategic coordination with Russia, tap cooperation potential with the European Union and enhance cooperation with other emerging economies and regional powers, he said. Yang said China's neighboring countries have always been a priority on its diplomatic agenda. "Developing countries are the foundation of the conduct of our diplomacy," he said. Yang said China will place justice above all else in its cooperation with developing countries to help them grow faster.
Premier Li meets prominent Chinese Americans (Xinhua) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang poses for a group photo with Chinese Americans from the Committee of 100 Friday in Beijing on Nov 2, 2013. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with a group of Chinese Americans from the Committee of 100 Friday in Beijing, a press release from his office said Saturday. During the meeting, Li praised the efforts of the Committee of 100 to enhance the relationship between China and the United States, said the release. Stressing the significance of people-to-people exchange, Li encouraged the Chinese Americans to make efforts to help the American people understand "a true China." With China and the United States being the largest developing country and the largest developed country respectively, it will benefit the whole world that the bilateral ties grow in a healthy and stable way, said the premier. Li said China and the United States are mutually complementary economically, which means the two countries "can absolutely achieve win-win reciprocity." He also urged all countries in Asia and the Pacific region to pursue neighborliness and treat each other equally in order to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the region. The Committee of 100 is a group of prominent Chinese Americans with the mission to pool their strengths and experience to address important issues concerning the Chinese American community as well as issues affecting China-U.S. relations.
Hong Kong*: Nov 3 2013
Dim sum issues reflect diversity (By Jasper Moiseiwitsch firstname.lastname@example.org) Yuan offerings from Canadian province and Thai developer cover both sides of the risk spectrum - IDEO Q Ratchathewi, a Bangkok high-rise project developed by Ananda, which issued one of the new bonds. Two offerings in Hong Kong's offshore market for yuan-denominated debt signal that a gentle maturing of the three-year-old sector could still be a wild, high-risk ride for the uninitiated. The Canadian province of British Columbia yesterday closed a 2.5 billion yuan (HK$3.2 billion) sale of a one-year bond that pays a coupon of 2.25 per cent. It was the first foreign sovereign-backed issuer to use the so-called dim sum market, and its triple-A rating put it in the top tier of safety for investors. At the other end of the spectrum, Thai property developer Ananda Development was selling a perpetual dim sum bond with a 9.5 per cent coupon. Both the issuer and the bond were unrated. Analysts say the two transactions are clear indications that yuan-denominated debt is becoming an increasingly acceptable asset class to all manner of investors and issuers - whether in the safety of a sovereign bond or the high-yield end of so-called junk bonds. "The dim sum market was previously limited to Chinese corporates and large multinationals, but it's definitely becoming more diversified. We will see more sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and Asian corporates using the market," said one investor who had considered the Ananda deal. The Canadian bond launched with guidance at the 2.35 per cent area and was priced at 2.25 per cent. The fact that the province was raising a moderate amount of money in an unusual currency at a short tenor suggested the deal was more about building trade relations than funding. "The province of British Columbia is very keen to promote itself as the link to China from within Canada," said James Fielder, the head of HSBC's local Asia-Pacific currency syndicate, which ran the bond deal. "They have been most actively investigating the use of yuan bonds to try to increase financial and economic ties with China." Ananda's deal is more a push into the speculative realms - the polite term for the jargon of junk bonds - of what dim sum debt can offer. Banks launched the offer with no specific size, only stating on the term sheet that it would be of "benchmark" proportions. That typically implies a deal in excess of 500 million yuan. With a market cap of US$269 million, the issuer is small and unknown to local investors, and the firm only listed on the Bangkok stock exchange in December last year. An investor who looked at the Ananda bond, but declined to buy, said he could get better value in the secondary market. Existing three-year B-plus-rated dim sum bonds from mainland property developer Future Land currently yield 9.75 per cent, and another three-year dim sum bond from property developer Powerlong yields 9.6 per cent. But the fact that the firm is trying to tap dim sum investors is seen by some as a sign that the burgeoning market for yuan-denominated debt is getting to the stage where it has enough traction to start developing more exotic offerings. Such high-yield deals are typically irresistible to private banking clients, who have bought US$22 billion of Chinese property bonds in the year to date, all but one of which was rated investment grade by Moody's or Standard & Poor's. Moreover, the private banks tend only to be comfortable recommending investments when the issuer is covered by the bank's research department, and not many banks cover Ananda. Barclays, CLSA and CIMB are leading the bond.
Pay Hong Kong voters for casting ballots, Silent Majority pressure group urges (By Jeffie Lam email@example.com) Group set up to take on Occupy Central says low turnout at elections damage democratic development and lead to polarisation - Compulsory voting or cash handouts for casting a ballot can boost turnout and help make Hong Kong's politics less polarised, the campaign group Silent Majority says. The group, formed in August to oppose Occupy Central's plan for a pro-democracy civil disobedience campaign, says the city's low voting rate is an obstacle to its democratic development. But a political scholar linked to the pan-democratic camp has cast doubt on its ideas. An analysis by the group found that some 5.5 million Hongkongers were eligible to register as voters, yet just 3.47 million had done so. A mere 1.83 million - one-third of those eligible - cast ballots in last year's Legislative Council poll. "If only one-third of the people cast their votes … we highly doubt that the election results reflect the true public will," said Professor Francis Lui Ting-ming, an economist at the University of Science and Technology and an adviser to the group. Chinese University political scientist Dr Chang Chak-yan, a co-founder of the group, believes mandatory voting will increase the legitimacy of those who are elected and help quell further divisiveness and radicalism. "Radical parties are exhausting all means to attract votes, but [under compulsory voting] it will be of no use to them to fight, as the majority of people do not support violence," Chang said. A system in which voters were rewarded, perhaps with handouts of HK$500 to HK$1,000, would be better than punishing those who failed to vote, Lui said. "It will only cost the government about HK$2 billion per election," Lui said. But City University political scientist Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, said Silent Majority was confusing the concept of "compulsory voting". "Compulsory voting means people would be fined if they failed to vote," Cheng said. "That's the case in Australia. Giving cash handouts only increases people's incentive to vote." The problem in Hong Kong, he said, was that the people living in middle-class areas were less likely to vote than those in working-class communities, as they did not depend on the government and believed they could solve problems themselves. "I just don't really know how much you have to offer these well-off people to encourage them to cast ballots," Cheng said. Speaking in a personal capacity, rather than as an alliance representative, Cheng said he did not support the practice. Australia, Singapore and Brazil are among more than 20 countries with compulsory voting laws. In Singapore, voters who fail to cast ballots are barred from future elections unless they pay a fine or provide a valid reason.
China*: Nov 3 2013
Movie director Feng leaves his marks at Hollywood ceremony (By WANG JUN in Hollywood) Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang left his handprint in cement outside the TCL Chinese Theater on Friday. Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang left his handprint in cement outside the TCL Chinese Theater on Friday as groups of Chinese onlookers snapped photos of entertainment stars' names on the Avenue of Stars. "Hollywood is a place of sunshine, beach, dreams coming true and endless creativity and innovation," Feng said at the ceremony. "I'm honored to join the people who have left their handprint at the theater." Feng is the first Chinese film director to cement his hand and footprint at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre. Formerly Grumman's Chinese Theatre and Mann's Chinese Theatre, it has been home to many movie premieres since 1927 as well as Academy Awards ceremonies. Among the theater's most distinctive features are concrete blocks set in the forecourt, bearing the signatures, footprints and handprints of popular film personalities from the 1920s to the present. Feng's handprint celebration inaugurated the three-day ``Beijing Film Panorama in America'' from Nov 1 to Nov.3. The TCL theater will screen several of his films with English subtitles throughout the festival. The Beijing-born Feng is a highly successful and visionary film director whose comedic films have consistently topped box office charts in China over the last 20 years. He recently broke that mold by making drama or period drama films, such as the well-regarded Back to 1942, which was shown at the TCL theatre Friday afternoon. Feng received a certificate of recognition from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and the representative of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Los Angeles is the entertainment center of the world,'' Antonovich said. "The theater we're in today is very historic, beginning in 1927. Famous Hollywood stars, directors, producers left their handprint and signature at this facility, including Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Clint Eastwood, among others." "The TCL Chinese Theater brings the world of entertainers together. China and the United States have a great partnership. We need to continue that and have more cooperation between us," he added. Feng's actress wife Xu Fan and other entertainment stars, including Tang Guoqiang, Zhang Guoli and Deng, joined the celebration.
Hundreds in US protest against ABC's offensive skit (Xinhua) Chinese Americans and students attend a protest against the "kill everyone in China" skit on Jimmy Kimmel's talk show on the ABC network in front of the ABC's building in Houston, the United States, Nov 1, 2013. Hundreds of demonstrators, mainly from a large Chinese community living in Houston, the fourth largest US city, gathered Friday outside ABC's local office building to protest the offensive skit the company aired, in which a kid suggested Americans should "kill everyone in China" as a way to solve US debt problem. More than 500 people gathered Friday noon outside ABC's locally-operated TV station KTRK near downtown Houston. Many wore red T-shirts reading "Teach Kids to Love, not to Kill." The crowds shouted slogans like "Shame on ABC", "Boycott ABC", "Fire Kimmel", referring to comedian Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the improper talk show skit. Many protesters held banners reading "Killing Chinese is No Joke", "Kill Debts, Not People", "Teach Kids Killing Today, School Shooting Tomorrow", "No Fake Apology", the latter alluding to Kimmel's recent apology on his show, which "lacked substance or sincerity" in critics' view. Before a 30-minute march, representatives of the protesters handed a letter to KTRK's Vice President Tom Ash to demand a formal apology from ABC and Kimmel's dismissal. The one-page long letter read: "We are extremely disappointed and upset on the fact that such an inappropriate program was broadcasted on the media network with worldwide viewers. ABC is obviously preaching mass slaughter and genocide. This skit is sending a horrible and irresponsible message to the young generation..." One of the protesters, Lu Jun, originally from Shanghai and now a US resident, told Xinhua that people could not afford to treat the "kill everyone in China" skit too lightly. "With such a big viewership, ABC is an influential TV network. This offensive skit may appear trifling, but it could have worrisome impact if not dealt with seriously. I hope our protest can send a message not only to ABC but also to the US media as a whole," he said. In the ABC's show "Jimmy Kimmel Live", aired on October 16, Kimmel asked children on how the United States should deal with the government shutdown and the debt owed to China. One of the children commented that the United States should "kill everyone in China." Critics said that Kimmel was wrong for not stopping the comment and failing to explain to the children that it was not the right idea, and even worse the ABC failed to remove the comment from the show. The offensive comment has sparked indignation and protests from the Chinese community. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities have seen rounds of protests.
Hong Kong*: Nov 2 2013
Google and Yahoo outraged that the NSA tapped its cables (By The New York Times in Washington) Google and Yahoo reacted with anger as reports emerged that the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart had apparently tapped the fibre-optic cables connecting overseas servers of the two technology giants and were copying vast amounts of e-mail and other information. In partnership with the British agency known as Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the US spying agency used weak restrictions on its overseas activities to exploit major US companies' data to a far greater extent than previously realised, The Washington Post reported citing NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. NSA collection activities abroad face fewer legal restrictions and less oversight than its actions in the United States. Google and Yahoo said that they were unaware of government accessing of their data links. Sarah Meron, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said the company had not co-operated with any government agency for such interception, and David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, expressed outrage. "We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links," Drummond said. In an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday, NSA director general Keith Alexander was asked if the NSA had infiltrated Yahoo and Google databases, as detailed in The Washington Post story. "Not to my knowledge," he said. "We are not authorised to go into a US company's servers and take data. We'd have to go through a court process for doing that." It was not clear, however, whether Alexander had any immediate knowledge of the latest disclosure in the report. In a separate statement, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the NSA had "multiple authorities" to accomplish its mission, and "the assertion that we collect vast quantities of US persons' data from this type of collection is also not true". The GCHQ had no comment on the matter. Companies such as Google that operate internet services - including e-mail, online document and photo storage and search queries - send huge amounts of data through fibre-optic lines between their data centres around the world. Those data centres are kept highly secure using heat-sensitive cameras and biometric authentication, and companies believed that their data flowing among the centres was secure. The NSA could physically install a device that clipped on the cable and listened to electric signals or insert a splitter in the cable through which data would travel, said Nicholas McKeown, an expert in computer networking and a professor at Stanford University in the US. Or, he said, someone with remote login access to the cable's switch or router could also redirect data. The Washington Post said that under a system codenamed MUSCULAR, GCHQ was storing data taken from the interception in a rolling three- to five-day "buffer", during which the two agencies decoded it and filtered out information they wanted.
Color Run organiser hits a red light in Hong Kong (By Darren Wee firstname.lastname@example.org) Beijing and Taipei have hosted charity event, but officials here reject event after months of talks - It's the new charity run that's sweeping the world, but the Hong Kong government is not rushing to join in the fun. Beijing and Taipei hosted their first Color Runs this summer and Guangzhou is preparing for a sold-out race tomorrow. However, an application to the Hong Kong government to stage a race - in which participants run five kilometres with no winners or prizes while spectators pelt them with coloured cornstarch - was turned down. Organisers, who have confirmed that the race will also be held in Shenzhen, said the rejection by Hong Kong followed a seven-month application process. Government officials gave no reason for refusing to grant permission. The news was broken on The Color Run Hong Kong Facebook page, which has racked up more than 10,000 likes. The race started in Utah in the United States last year and has spread to more than 100 cities. The Color Run is a for-profit event, but a donation is made to charity after every race. Last month the organisers wrote on Facebook: "We are jumping through all the hoops as required by the many areas of government and are hoping to have the formal approval as soon as it will be granted to us." In July they wrote that they were "facing massive regulatory issues" and had submitted a "lengthy" application to seven government agencies. They added that the race was set to take place in May next year and that they aimed to raise HK$1 million for charity. Nearly 200 Hongkongers left comments on Facebook expressing disappointment, but few were surprised by the government's decision. Jeff Pierce wrote: "Typical HK. Lame government doesn't allow any fun or creative ideas." Michael Cheung wrote: "On what grounds was it rejected? Did they say anything other than 'due to various factors'?," referring to the explanation the government gave for rejecting HKTV's bid for a free-to-air television licence. Kelvin Lui wrote: "Beijing has Color Run, Taipei has Color Run, but Hong Kong, Asia's self-styled world city and capital of dynamism and grand events, doesn't have Color Run. The Hong Kong government never gives reasons!" A few commenters speculated that the race was rejected due to lack of space or environmental and health concerns. Taiwanese green groups warned the cornstarch could harm the environment and doctors said the powder could cause respiratory tract infections if inhaled. Taipei city government fined the organisers NT$70,000 (HK$18,450) after cleaners swept the powder into a river. IMG Worldwide, which organises The Color Run in Asia, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
China*: Nov 2 2013
With diplomatic 'partnerships', Beijing seeks global ties that can bend (By Teddy Ng email@example.com) China's preference for 'partnerships' that allow more room for manoeuvring than conventional treaties also has drawbacks - President Xi Jinping with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak after their economic summit in Kuala Lumpur last month. As China extends its reach on the global stage, it has shown a reluctance to formalise alliances with other nations, preferring instead to manage ties through "partnership arrangements" - a diplomatic tool that carries its own strengths and disadvantages, experts say. These arrangements, which are in place with 54 out of the 172 nations with which China has diplomatic ties, are often vague and confusing to observers. Unlike alliance and security treaties, they do not clearly spell out the obligations of the nations involved, but do offer some degree of flexibility in how ties can be managed. "The partnership arrangement is more like a vision that says the nations involved are aiming to become partners," said Jia Qingguo, a professor of international affairs at Peking University. "But the implementation of such arrangements has become a problem because very often the nations involved have no clear idea of what steps should be taken to improve bilateral ties," Jia said. The tool has steadily gained prominence since the 1990s, when China began to step up its diplomatic efforts as it grew more economically powerful. They came under the spotlight early last month when China elevated its ties with Indonesia and Malaysia to a "comprehensive strategic partnership" during visits to the two nations by President Xi Jinping. The arrangements can be divided into five main types: a co-operative partnership, comprehensive co-operative partnership, strategic partnership, comprehensive strategic partnership and comprehensive strategic co-operative partnership. Wang Qiaorong, a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said the differences among the terms were not explicitly defined. The lowest level generally means the two nations involved will strengthen co-operation on bilateral issues, such as trade. For example, Beijing calls its ties with Singapore a "friendly co-operative partnership". If bilateral ties are upgraded to the strategic level, the two nations will co-ordinate more closely on regional and international affairs, including military ones. In the recent joint statement issued by China and Indonesia, both nations pledged mutual support to strengthen their positions in multilateral platforms, such as the G20, and leaders of the two nations vowed to maintain regular contact. A partnership agreement usually indicates a certain level of trust has been achieved. For example, Japan is not one of China's 54 partners because of territorial disputes over the East China Sea and historical disagreements about the second world war. But the agreement does not guarantee the two sides involved will see eye to eye on all key issues. "By going into a partnership agreement, both nations are aspiring to become closer, but can still be divided on some major issues," Wang said. A comprehensive strategic co-operative partnership is generally regarded as the highest level of bilateral relations for China. But its ties with the United States are a special case. Beijing and Washington vowed to build a "constructive strategic partnership" in 1997. This was followed in 2011 with a pledge to build a "co-operative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit". This past June, Xi and US President Barack Obama agreed to elevate ties to the vaguely defined "new model of major nations' relationship". Jia Xiudong, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said China usually refrained from downgrading its bilateral ties with other countries even if tensions flared up. Relations between China and the Philippines remain defined as a strategic co-operative partnership - which the two nations agreed upon in 2005 - even though they are locking horns over sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. Pang Zhongying, an international relations professor at Renmin University, said many nations involved in partnerships with China were not as close as the agreements implied. Russia, a comprehensive strategic co-operative partner, often presents a united front with China on a wide range of issues, such as how the international community should handle the Syrian civil war. But the same situation is not commonly seen with other nations. Other countries' relations with the US often affect how closely they will align themselves with China. "China hopes to build relations that are close to the level of an alliance by being a partner," Pang said. "But at the end of the day, it is still not an alliance, and the relationship is not treaty-based." But Wang said there were merits to partnership arrangements, because the nations involved were not bound by a treaty and were free to act on their own needs.
UC-Davis' new dorms lure students (By Chen Jia in San Francisco firstname.lastname@example.org) For Fiona Wang, a Chinese housewife who is researching California colleges for her high school daughter, UC-Davis ranks in her top three choices for a special reason - its fabulous dorms. "I noticed this university in the news said it has upgraded its dorms to attract more foreign students," she told China Daily. "I take that as a safety and comfort promise for my only child. "It might be a little bit of an exaggeration that they use words like luxury to describe student dorms, but I still appreciate the university's efforts to show us a tangible return on a hefty educational investment," she said. The current construction project Tercero North will provide about 1,200 beds at a construction cost of $88 million, Andy Fell, a UC-Davis spokesman, said. "The project is set to open in the fall of 2014. "We guarantee places in dorms to all first-year and transfer students, but they do not have to take it," Fell said. In order to get an edge in the stiff competition for international students nationwide, UC- Davis also recently upgraded the 16,000-square-foot Cuarto Dining Commons at a cost of $7.9 million, according to the Sacramento Bee. It said the dining hall features "made-to-order items,ice creamfrom Gunther's creamery and even organic milk". "If you are paying more, you absolutely want much better. Many Chinese parents have high expectations about living spaces for their children who are heading to US colleges at a younger age," said Zhang Meng, senior manager of a Beijing-based overseas agency. Zhang had told his staff to highlight local media's description of the new dorms for Chinese parents, such as "boast spacious study lounges with flat-screen TVs and rooms with large wardrobes" and "students also get multiple bathrooms on each floor for increased privacy, complete with seven-day custodial services". Two years ago, the university Chancellor Linda Katehi announced an ambitious plan for luring out-of-state and foreign students to its campus.As of fall 2012, UC-Davis had enrolled 309 international students among 5,208 freshmen and 279 international students among 2,888 transfer students, according to the university. Though no separate statistics about the number of Chinese students are available, sources said the building spree at UC-Davis is part of a push by US universities nationwide to compete for Chinese students from rich families in view of the nearly 200,000 Chinese students enrolled in American colleges in 2012. "There's definitely competition," Bob Morse, director of data research at US News & World Report, told the Sacramento Bee. "Schools are trying to attract international students who pay the full sticker price." However, Fell argues that the Sacramento Bee story "created a misleading impression", because "UC-Davis welcomes students from China and around the world," he said, "these new dorms are for all our students, both domestic and international. All our dorms are built and maintained to a similar high standard that is typical for US colleges."
Freer RMB movement 'can answer US claims' (By WEI TIAN in Shanghai) Hastening financial reform and a freer pricing mechanism for the renminbi are possible responses to the United States' call for faster appreciation of the Chinese currency, experts said. In a recent report to the US Congress, the Department of the Treasury said that China, along with other major trading partners, has "not manipulated" the exchange rate between its currency and the dollar. The same conclusion was reached in the 10 previous reports issued since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The report acknowledged measures taken by China this year to loosen capital controls and free up channels for cross-border capital and investment, along with the establishment of the Shanghai free trade zone, which is expected to liberalize interest rates, capital account opening and currency convertibility. But it insisted that "the renminbi is not appreciating as fast or by as much as is needed". "The report is correct in that China does not manipulate its currency, but less so about the need for faster yuan appreciation," said He Weiwen, a co-director of the China-US/EU Study Center at the China Association of International Trade. "Whether a currency is undervalued can only be tested by the market, not by the economic situation of another country," He said. Although the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, sets a reference rate for the renminbi on a daily basis, the real exchange rate is now mainly determined by massive renminbi trading in the domestic and offshore markets, he said. The reference rate of the renminbi against the dollar was 6.1425 on Thursday, the fourth consecutive day that the renminbi had depreciated. The renminbi has appreciated 12 percent in inflation-adjusted terms against the dollar since June 2010, when China moved off its peg against the dollar, and about 45 percent since China initiated currency reform in 2005. The range of renminbi appreciation against the dollar was wider than the real effective exchange rate of the renminbi against the currencies of all relative trading partners, which has appreciated about 15 percent since June 2010 and 38 percent since 2005. Chinese authorities reaffirmed their commitment this year to reforming the exchange rate mechanism. At the fifth US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July, China pledged to continue its exchange rate reform by increasing the flexibility of the renminbi exchange rate and letting the market play a bigger role in exchange rate formation. China "needs to disclose foreign exchange market intervention regularly … and to promote exchange rate and financial market transparency", the US report said. He Weiwen said that such statements about China are nothing new. "It is merely eclecticism to maintaining good trade and economic relations with China but at the same time satisfying the Congress." Under the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, the Treasury Department was asked to report "whether countries manipulate the rate of exchange between their currency and the United States dollar for purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustment or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade". "Facing such accusations, we could only focus on our own businesses, via pushing forward financial reform and market-led pricing mechanism of the renminbi," He said. But Lu Zhengwei, chief economist of Industrial Bank Co, said the valuation of the renminbi faces a dilemma: The currency is already overvalued in domestic market, which weakens the real economy, yet still is under pressure by the US to appreciate. A research note from UBS AG said that emerging markets have seen their currencies appreciate significantly against the dollar in recent years, but such a trend will not continue in the next two years. UBS estimated the exchange rate of the renminbi against the US dollar will stabilize at 6.10 at the end of 2014 and 2015.
Hong Kong*: Nov 1 2013
Lawmakers Gary Fan and Claudia Mo take disingenuous stand on housing 范國威和毛孟靜議員房屋的虛偽立場 (By Alex Lo email@example.com) Do we need to review our long-standing policy of one-way permits for mainlanders settling in Hong Kong? Yes, absolutely. Does its quota of 150 daily permits have an impact on our housing supply? Probably. But is it the root cause of our chronic housing shortage? Absolutely not; and it is disingenuous for pan-democrat lawmakers Gary Fan Kwok-wai and Claudia Mo Man-ching to suggest it is. In a controversial advertisement the pair ran last month in several local newspapers and one in Taiwan, they called for changes to the decades-long policy. In defending their ad yesterday, Fan said the policy was at "the root of the housing problem". Any fair-minded person knows housing is a complicated and long-standing problem with myriad causes. Chief among these has been the government's high land premium policy to keep revenue up and taxes down. It can do it because it owns all the land in Hong Kong. The ultra-low-interest environment - sometimes reaching negative real interest rates in the past few years - helped fuel the property bubble and priced many people out of the market. The Leung Chung-ying administration aims to provide 470,000 flats over the next decade, an ambitious target unlikely to be met. This is because we have voluntarily handicapped ourselves. Officials are unwilling to take on indigenous villagers to reverse the small house policy. The public doesn't want any development in country parks. Everyone is afraid to ask the People's Liberation Army and the central government to cough up land from underused barracks. Sea reclamation is controversial and the rezoning of industrial, government and public land is difficult. Given our trouble, our default position is to blame mainlanders for trying to take up space in Hong Kong. But even if we scrap all permit quotas, it's unclear what impact that might have on housing supply. But it would be against every humanitarian principle as most permits go to mainlanders seeking family reunion in Hong Kong. It's hard to avoid the impression that Fan and Mo are just exploiting populist resentments against mainlanders.
Marketing chain DCHL vows to refund customers (By Lo Wei and Phila Siu) DCHL to return HK$67,000 to each registered buyer, but gives no specifics and makes no mention of paying back remaining money - Mainland sales agents for DCHL protest in Causeway Bay. An Asian chain running a controversial multilevel marketing scheme in Hong Kong has agreed to refund its customers after a series of protests and negotiations, but has yet to give details on when and how it would do so. Yesterday, about 80 mainlanders who negotiated with Digital Crown Holdings HK (DCHL) registered for a HK$67,000 refund each, said a member of an alliance against the health and beauty products distributor. The alliance has organised several protests this month, claiming its members were tricked into buying products such as wine, jewellery, cosmetics and fragrances that had almost no resale value. They had to spend at least HK$67,000 each time, and some had made purchases up to 16 times. Those gathered at the company’s Causeway Bay centre yesterday were asked to register and told that the management would decide later on when and how they would get their money back. The chain did not say if it would refund the rest of their purchases, said a man who identified himself as a volunteer with the alliance but not a customer. “It’s totally unacceptable to me,” said the man, who wanted to be known only by his surname, Peng. “The company operated against the rules. But most of them are accepting this offer first. They have waited for three days, and this is a bit of hope for them.” There were about 20 others who joined the previous protests, but they returned to the mainland yesterday, he said, adding that it was unfair for those who missed out on the registration. At the centre yesterday was a Shenzhen customer, who wanted to be known only by his surname Zhong. He said he spent HK$300,000 on products such as jewellery and fragrances. “The company persuaded me to join the business by telling us that I could never get rich doing what I used to do,” he said. “They told me a lot of people became rich in this business.” Zhong said that to finance his purchases with DCHL, he borrowed money from his family, friends and even loan sharks. He had no idea how he would repay his debts, he said. “Even if the company is eventually willing to pay me back all the money, it just cannot compensate me mentally,” he said, adding that some of those lured into joining the scheme were as young as 18 years old. A Guangzhou customer, Xu Meikwan, said he also spent HK$300,000 on DCHL products. “The company brainwashed me by saying that some people who used to be very poor made big money through the company,” he said. The chain’s customers said they were recruited to become individual distributors during “brainwashing” sessions in Hong Kong where they were told they would be rewarded through a complex bonus system according to their seniority. DCHL is allowed to operate in Hong Kong under a law that permits multilevel marketing, but such tactics are banned across the border as pyramid selling.
China*: Nov 1 2013
Far horizons beckon as agencies eye Chinese (By Zhao Lei and Li Yingqing in Kunming) The China International Travel Mart attracted exhibitors from 102 countries and regions to the four-day event this year. Overseas tourism destinations are expecting more Chinese travelers and taking measures to attract them, according to participants at China's most influential travel industry event. "The number of Chinese tourists coming to Indonesia increases every year but we still lag behind Malaysia and Singapore in this regard," said Iyung Masruroh, an official with Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. "We received 686,000 tourists from China in 2012 and expect 820,000 for this year." She was speaking at the China International Travel Mart, which concluded on Sunday in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Organizers said the Kunming mart is Asia's largest travel fair and drew exhibitors from 102 countries and regions with more than 1,000 foreign buyers mainly from South Korea, Russia, the United States and Europe. "We know our connectivity with China is not as good as Thailand's or Singapore's but we are very optimistic because Chinese people are already aware of our tourist destinations," Masruroh said, adding her country has geared up its efforts to bring more Chinese tourists with a host of "charm offensives". Masruroh said her task at the mart was to promote Jakarta, Bandung and other tourist destinations other than Bali, an island province in Indonesia that already has the largest number of Chinese travelers in the nation. Itay Friedjung, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office in Beijing, said his office invited 11 companies, including tourist agencies, hotels and even diamond merchants in Israel, to take part in the mart. "Israel is far from China, but with the globalization of the tourism industry and direct air links, Israel has become accessible to Chinese people." Friedjung said the Israeli government sponsored Lu Chuan, a well-known Beijing director in his new movie, Old Cinderella, which is a romantic comedy and will be screened around China at the end of this year. A number of scenes in the movie are set in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. "We are also strengthening cooperation in civil aviation between the governments that will allow more airlines and more places in China to open direct flights to Israel." For small nations, integrating their resources and extending a unified image seems a natural choice. "We have a uniqueness compared to many other places that have Chinese travelers, such as Japan and Thailand, when it comes to natural scenery," said Alisi Lutu, marketing officer with the South Pacific Tourism Organization, which has 17 members, including the Cook Islands, Nauru and Tonga. She said her region can offer activities most Chinese might not have tried before, such as swimming with whales. "The South Pacific is also very popular for Chinese newlyweds, both for the ceremony and enjoying the honeymoon," she said. The South Pacific Tourism Organization has launched a road show in Beijing and Shanghai and promoted local attractions to Chinese tourism agencies. Countries that already have a steady stream of Chinese tourists are also striving to ensure market growth. "Italy is now the No 1 recipient of Chinese tourists in Europe and the trend is that more and more Chinese people will come to see our country," said Autilia Zeccato, director of the Italian Government Tourist Board in China. "My office in Beijing is also working with our embassy to improve the visa issuance procedure to facilitate Chinese tourists." Lee Woo-joo, from the Liwu Tour travel agency in South Korea, said tourism operators in his country have begun to diversify their products and itineraries to attract Chinese travelers. "The number of Chinese tourists sightseeing in South Korea this year is expected to see a slight fall due to a host of reasons so we are thinking of new ways to bring them back," he said. Chinese tourists will embark on more than 90 million journeys by the end of this year, according to Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourist Administration, who also estimated that an unprecedented 100 million trips will be achieved by Chinese next year.
Chinese Coast Guard patrols Yongle Islands (China Daily) A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel patrols territorial waters surrounding the Yongle Islands in Sansha city, South China's Hainan province, Oct 29, 2013. The vessel has been on patrol in waters encompassing Jinqing Island and Yagong Island, offering supplies to local fishermen.
SUNY recruits students in China (By YU WEI Yuwei12@chinadailyusa.com) Hopeful Chinese students visit with representatives from SUNY at the American state-wide university system's roadshow in China. As the US remains the top choice for Chinese students' overseas study, State University of New York (SUNY) — the largest comprehensive state-wide university system in the US — is stepping up its efforts to attract its share of students from China. From Oct 17 to Nov 5, SUNY is conducting its fourth annual recruiting road show in nine Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Beijing. Several campuses of SUNY — including Potsdam, Buffalo, Albany, Brockport, Fulton-Montgomery, Cobleskill, Old Westbury and Oswego — have joined the fair this year, as school officials answer questions and do on-site interviews of interested students. "SUNY conducts these recruiting events because we are very interested in having more qualified Chinese students attend our sixty-four campuses," said Mitch Leventhal, vice-chancellor for global affairs at SUNY. Founded in 1816, SUNY has grown to include 64 individual colleges and universities that were either formerly independent institutions or directly founded by SUNY. According to Leventhal, of SUNY's 20,838 international students last year, 4,753 — or 23 percent — were from China, making it the No 1 country of origin among international students at SUNY, followed by South Korea. EduGlobal, a China-based student recruitment firm that co-organized SUNY's recruiting event this year, said SUNY's diverse majors and high-quality teaching resources have attracted a number of outstanding international students in pursuit of advanced studies. "During the two week roadshow, SUNY has interacted with hundreds of students," said Kirsten Louise Feddersen, manager of international recruitment at SUNY. "We do anticipate that the outreach will lead to more students applying and enrolling at SUNY campuses." "The SUNY-sponsored recruitment event is one of several recruitment activities we participate in in China over the course of a recruitment cycle," said Timothy Lee, director of undergraduate admissions at SUNY Albany. "Last year we attended well over 100 events and meetings in China and we currently plan to do the same this year." Lee said his university participated in the program to support SUNY's efforts to attract talented well-prepared Chinese students to the largest, most comprehensive state higher educational system in the US. "As is the case with most selective US public research institutions, China continues to be the University at Albany's top source of enrolling international students, with over 100 Chinese students registering in the Fall and Spring 2013 terms," he said. About 194,029 Chinese students were enrolled in US schools for the 2011-12 academic year, an increase of 23 percent from the previous year and holding the spot as the top source of international students on US campuses for the third year in a row, according to the Institute of International Education. California remains the top US state for hosting international students, followed by New York and Texas. About 102, 789 international students were studying in California in the 2011-12 school year — an increase of 6.5 percent from the previous year, the report said. According to the University of Southern California (USC), for the tenth year in a row, USC accounted for more international students than any other American institution of higher education and China was the largest source of international students there, with a record 2,515 enrolled last year. The University of California, Berkeley accepted 1,228 Chinese applicants for the 2012-13 academic year, making China the origin of the largest number of international graduate students there. "We anticipate a slight increase in the number of Chinese students compared to the 2012-13 year, particularly at the undergraduate level," Anne De Luca, associate vice-chancellor for admissions and enrollment at Berkley, told China Daily. After its own road show, SUNY will continue its recruitment efforts in China by joining the 2013 China Education Expo, which will open in Beijing on Nov 2 and stop in Xi'an, Wuhan, Shanghai and Chengdu. Sponsored by China Education Association for International Exchange, the education expo is expected to welcome more than 600 overseas schools from 43 countries this year. More than 90 American universities will take part.
Hong Kong*: Oct 31 2013
Building safety inpectors plan strike over manpower shortage (By Lai Ying-kit) Police close a section of Nathan Road near Soy Street in Mong Kok after after a cable holding a huge neon sign snapped, leaving it hanging precariously over the road. A group of Buildings Department workers are planning to go on strike on Thursday to protest against a shortage of manpower. The workers are responsible for inspecting building safety and demolishing dangerous structures. The Association of Government Technical and Survey Officers, which is organising the one-hour strike on Thursday at lunchtime, said the department had been severely understaffed for the past two years. The planned strike comes after the department reduced the number of contract workers by 300 while launching new a new territory-wide, check-up scheme, the association said on Tuesday. The association is demanding that the department hire 500 additional survey and technical officers to deal with the increased workload. The announcement of the strike comes one day after a cable holding a huge neon sign in Mong Kok snapped, leaving it hanging precariously over Nathan Road, disrupting traffic in the busy district for more than six hours. The nightclub responsible for the sign was ordered to remove it by the department in October last year. But the club operator ignored the order, prompting a warning to be issued in August. Liu Fuk-hing, a representative of the association, said the neon sign in Mong Kok was only one of many potentially dangerous structures where no action had been taken even though removal or maintenance orders had been issued. He said that this problem was a result of the shortage of manpower. He estimated that there were about 50,000 such cases to date. “Some of the cases have remained untouched for more than 10 years,” Liu said. “The situation is very bad.”
Ex-policeman denies assaulting pair at Alpais Lam rallies (By Stuart Lau firstname.lastname@example.org) Yeung Chi-wai pleaded not guilty to three counts of common assault at Kwun Tong Court - Supporters and opponents of primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze clash at Mong Kok on August 4 this year. A retired policeman in court on Tuesday denied attacking a protestor and a journalist during competing rallies sparked by the case of a teacher who swore at police officers. Yeung Chi-wai, 58, pleaded not guilty to three counts of common assault at Kwun Tong Court. The alleged assaults took place on August 4, the day supporters and opponents of teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze both staged rallies in Mong Kok, after a video of Lam abusing policemen over their handling of a Falun Gong protest went viral online. Police supporters came face-to-face with Lam’s backers in Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok, the street where Lam was recorded arguing with police. The prosecution told the court that police had videoed Yeung as he dragged protestor Wan Ka-sing from behind after seeing him make a certain, unspecified hand gesture. The court did not hear which protest Wan was participating in. Amid the tussle, Yeung then hit the chest of photographer Lo Kwok-fai as he fell to the ground while trying to take pictures of the scene, causing Lo to fall to the ground. Yeung assaulted Lo again later that day, the prosecution said. The former police officer had remained silent when interviewed under caution, the court heard. When asked by Principal Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung what his occupation was, Yeung initially replied: “I’m retired.” Lin pressed on, asking: “What about before?” Yeung paused, silently, as prosecutor Esther Mak Wai-ling said: “The defendant is a retired police officer.” Yeung asked for a “longer time for trial” but the magistrate told him a trial date had yet been fixed because he was still not legally represented. Yeung was told to hire a lawyer before his next court appearance on December 9. Six witnesses, including the two victims and other journalists, would be available for testimony, the prosecution said. Yeung was released on HK$5,000 bail, on condition that he does not leave Hong Kong or interfere with witnesses.
Film finds a hip-hop-tai chi connection (By CAROLINE BERG in New York email@example.com) Up-and-coming Hong Kong filmmaker Adam Wong Sau-ping (left) and film curator for the Asia Society La Frances Hui speak at a news conference on Friday before screening Wong's summer hitThe Way We Dance at the Asia Society in New York City. The odds were against him from the beginning. Adam Wong Sau-ping was a little-known Hong Kong film director; he made a dance movie, which is not a popular genre in the region; and his cast was not studded with even one star. "When [The Way We Dance] was released in Hong Kong, it was initially not doing so well in the box office," La Frances Hui, film curator for the Asia Society, said at a press conference in New York on Friday. "Word of mouth kept spreading, and people began to fall in love with this film." Released in Hong Kong theaters on Aug 2, the film's returns were sluggish at first, but by a month and a half later it had earned more than double its $272,000 budget, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The Way We Dance — Wong's third feature length film — is based on Hong Kong hip-hop culture. Wong said he was inspired to write the story after spending nights on campus at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he was teaching as a visiting lecturer, and he encountered a group of street dancers practicing outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, according to a Twitchfilm.com article. "It's not like those gangster films or martial arts films that you are more familiar with [from Hong Kong]," Hui said. "I wouldn't say that all of them are dancers in Hong Kong, but you will see the local culture, traditional things and contemporary things, as well as young people and older people." The surprise summer hit came stateside for two special screenings over the weekend, first at New York's Asia Society on Friday and then to close out the four-day Boston Asian American Film Festival on Sunday. The post-screening question and answer session at the Asia Society will be available for viewing on its website. The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETONY), sponsored the two events, in partnership with the Asia Society and Asian Cinevision for the New York screening, and with the Boston Asian American Film Festival, a production of Asian American Resource Workshop in Boston. The film programs form part of the cultural programs to celebrate HKETONY's 30th anniversary. The production of The Way We Dance was supported in part by the Hong Kong Film Development Fund, which aims to engage local upcoming directors, nurture talent and promote long-term development of Hong Kong's film industry. The film's total budget was just under $684,000. "I think many Hong Kong people are accustomed to making films on a low budget," Wong said with a laugh. "Because I started my filmmaking career as an independent film director, making this movie on a low budget was nothing new to me." Wong said another thing Hong Kong people are good at is mixing different things together to invent something with their own style, whether that is blending coffee and tea to make a new drink, or in his case for The Way We Dance, bringing together the opposing forces of hip hop dance and traditional Chinese tai chi. "When I was conceiving my story, I knew that conflict is a main mechanism of pushing forward a story, so I thought, ‘What is the opposite of coolness?' " Wong said. "Then I thought of tai chi because maybe it will give young people the impression that it is something old-fashioned that doesn't belong to this age, so I thought these two things mixed together must be very interesting." Wong was born in Hong Kong in 1975, and before graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Fine Arts Department in 1998, he spent a year as an exchange student in the US at the University of Iowa in 1996, where he began making short films and videos. "I think it was my study in America which made me realize how Hong Kong movies are great and how Hong Kong movies are strange to Americans," Wong said. Wong said he encountered many questions during the years he spent hunting for investors for The Way We Dance. People he met were skeptical about how a Hong Kong-based hip-hop movie would sell and how it would compare to Hollywood counterparts, like Step Up. "I knew I had my own unique Hong Kong style and way of making this dance movie, and it turned out to be welcome in [the city]," Wong said at the press conference on Friday held at HKETONY. "So, I want to see how the American audience, who is supposed to be more familiar with hip hop dance, how they will react to my film." The film's lead and debut actress Cherry Ngan has been nominated for the 50th Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan for Best Actress, and Shing Mak is nominated for Best Action Choreography. The film also received the Audience Award at this year's Fukuoka international Film Festival and Wong has been commissioned to write a sequel. "You don't see very much hardship in the reality of The Way We Dance," Wong told China Daily. "In the sequel, I will tell more on that side."
China*: Oct 31 2013
High-powered Nicaraguan canal delegation quietly visits mainland China (By Patrick Boehler firstname.lastname@example.org) Observers say switch of diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing not in the mainland’s interest - A top-level Nicaraguan delegation - headed by the president’s son - travelled to mainland China and Hong Kong last week to discuss what could be the world’s largest waterway project, the South China Morning Post has learned. The 21 politicians, academics and leading businessmen were hosted by HKND, the Hong Kong-based developer established only last year, which has been tasked by the Nicaraguan government to build a US$40 billion (HK$310 billion) canal through the Central American country. Laureno Facundo Ortega Murillo, the son of Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega, led the group, which travelled to Beijing, Wuhan, Xuzhou and Hong Kong. Young Ortega is also a presidential adviser on foreign investment and, according to Nicaraguan press reports, his mediation was instrumental in completing the canal deal. He declined to be interviewed for this article when approached by the South China Morning Post through intermediaries. The Hong Kong-based company’s chairman Wang Jing, 41, insisted that his momentous canal project is strictly commercial; “I hoped this visit was relatively low-key,” he told the Post. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing was also keen to clarify earlier this year that the canal project was not government-backed. Those plans do, however, have diplomatic implications. Nicaragua is one of just 23 countries currently recognising the Taiwan-based Republic of China (ROC) as the seat of China’s legitimate government. The visit to the mainland of the Nicaraguan delegation took place only three weeks after Nicaragua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Santos Lopez caused consternation in Taipei when he referred to Taiwan as “China-Taiwan” in a statement. The fear in Taipei is that the government in Nicaragua’s capital Managua, wooed by economic might and technical capability, may switch allegiance to Beijing. Delegation member Francisco Telemaco Talavera Siles, president of the National Council of Universities was more forthcoming. “We are in a special moment in China and in Nicaragua. We are starting a new historical phase that is going to see closer relations,” he told the South China Morning Post on Saturday. “This project opens [up] the possibility of closer relations with the government and people of China.” While insisting the delegation was not official, Arturo Jose Cruz Sequeira, Nicaragua’s former ambassador to the United States, told the Post that the visit was a sign that ties with Beijing are improving. “Without a doubt, trade [and] investment are huge components of the relationship. If the canal project goes ahead, the presence of China in all of its manifestations is going to be self-evident.” Since the canal project met with street protests and a legal challenge at the Supreme Court in Managua by representatives of indigenous and creole community groups earlier this year, Wang’s greatest challenge has been to win over sceptics in Nicaragua. HKND’s purpose of sponsoring the trip was to seek support among Nicaragua’s business community for the canal project, members of the delegation told the Post. The delegates included a member of parliament from the ruling party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, and the head of the nation’s chamber of commerce, Cosep. “We have doubts [over] whether it is technically possible, [over] the environmental impact and [over Wang’s] economic capacity,” said Telemaco. “But now we are convinced that in China we have [found] the technical capacity [and] the economic capacity.” “There is no doubt in my mind that the canal is going to be good business,” Ramiro Gurdian Ortiz, a former head of Cosep and current head of Banpro bank, told the Post. “The companies here [in the mainland] are capable of building the canal.” HKND has hired a team of engineersfrom the state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) to plan and design the canal, the Post reported earlier this year. The Nicaraguans visited 4th Institute, a CRCC subsidiary, which is in charge of designing the canal, and the corporation’s 11th Bureau, responsible for building the canal, in Wuhan as part of the trip, a HKND employee said. The delegates also visited the Three Gorges Dam, China’s largest civil engineering project, which was designed by the same group of engineers. “We were able to see infrastructure comparable in size and in complexity to what is going to be [required for] the canal,” said Diego Cesar Vargas Montealegre, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua. “I did not realise until I saw it,” said banker Gurdian after viewing the dam. “[The CRCC engineers] know that the prestige [of building the project] is going to be theirs.” In addition, the Nicaraguans met with representatives of XCMG, the third-largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the mainland, and with soybean trader VV Group, both in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province. Construction of the canal is expected to begin by the end of next year and be completed by December 2019. Wang said he was confident the project was on track. In a longer conversation with the Post on Sunday, he repeatedly stressed that that the project was a private one and his company did not follow government orders. Observers say that while the project is likely to bring substantial contracts to mainland contractors, it isn’t in Beijing’s interest to see Nicaragua switch sides. “While I believe that development of the canal will eventually result in Nicaragua changing its diplomatic recognition, […] I don’t think it makes sense for it to happen in the near future,” said Evan Ellis, the author of China in Latin America: the Whats and Wherefores. “From a Chinese perspective, it would unnecessarily call further attention to the PRC role in the canal project, and would unnecessarily complicate China-Taiwan rapprochement.” “The list of Latin American countries who want to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC is long,” Antonio C. Hsiang, from the Centre for Latin American Economy and Trade Studies at the Chihlee Institute of Technology in Taiwan, wrote in an email. “Honduras already downgraded its relationship with Taiwan by sending only a charge d’affaires, instead of an ambassador. In terms of Nicaragua’s relations with China, it depends on Beijing, not Managua!”
Bird's-eye view of Shanghai free trade zone - The Shanghai pilot free trade zone has seen 208 newly registered enterprises since Oct. 1, 2013, the local authorities announced Monday.
Chinese and Brazilian navy warships participating in a joint drill on October 26, 2013.
Women's congress aims to close income gap, lift status (By Yang Yao) Delegates from around China attend the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women's Congress in Beijing on Monday. The congress is expected to draw up a blueprint for the economic advancement of Chinese women in the next five years. The widening income gap between men and women was the main point for discussion among delegates on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women's Congress. "More efforts are needed to give women more opportunities and resources, to improve their abilities in administrating national and social affairs, and to help them play a more important role in cultural development," Song Xiuyan, vice-president of the All-China Women's Federation, said at the opening ceremony. The congress is expected to draw up a blueprint for the economic advancement of Chinese women in the next five years. "We will try our best to promote gender mainstreaming in the policymaking process," she said. Though promoting gender equality was written into the Party's administrative program at the 18th CPC National Congress last year, the ever-widening income gap remains a problem. According to three national surveys by the National Statistics Bureau, economic inequality between men and women has grown in the last two decades. Surveys show that in 1990, the annual income of female urban dwellers was about 77.5 percent of that of their male counterparts. The ratio declined to 70 percent in 1999 and 67.3 percent in 2010. The situation in rural areas is worse. The ratio was about 79 percent in 1999, but in 2010, it dropped to 56 percent. "Gender inequality has become imminent, which is a direct result of discrimination," said Zhou Haibin, an official with the International Labor Organization. "The idea that men are the breadwinners and women are in charge of domestic affairs is more or less entrenched in people's minds, leading to inequality in employment, promotion and income," said Zhou. Bias in the workplace - Wang Ling, 26, who holds a master's degree, said she is lucky to have gotten her dream job in a wind power company in Shanghai, but she is assigned to do "less important and supportive work" as her boss is worried she can't handle many business trips. Some of her male classmates have been offered jobs in key posts at the same company. In 2009, the Center for Women's Law and Legal Services at Peking University surveyed 3,000 women over a year and found that 25 percent of women were denied a job simply because they are female. A human resources worker at a State-owned company surnamed Shen, and who refused to disclose her full name, told China Daily that her employer would, without any doubt, choose a male candidate over an equally qualified female candidate. Moreover, they are willing to lower their standards in order to hire more men. "I know that women are, more often than not, more capable than men; but they can only work for about five years before they get pregnant," she said. "We need more stable labor forces. It sounds cruel, but that's the reality. I am a female as well, and I empathize a lot with the girls, but biology determines everything, and there is not much I can help with." The survey also found that more than 15 percent of the women interviewed said that their income is lower than their male colleagues who do the same work, and 11 percent lost their jobs during pregnancy or after their babies were born. Chen Shujuan, a consultant with a private company in Beijing, experienced several miscarriages before she got pregnant this year in February. For health reasons, she had to ask for a longer maternity leave of 14 weeks. However, when she asked her boss, he told her she was too weak to handle the work and not to come back. Zhang Yuling, a technical writer with a US software company based in Wudaokou in Beijing expressed her frustration as a working mother. "I'm an employee, but also a daughter, a wife and a mother. Everyday, I'm busy fulfilling my different roles, responding to different tasks, both at work and at home," she said. "I never really have time for myself." The 36-year-old businesswoman said that currently, she felt stuck in her career path. "The future seems bleak," she said. Building a network - Inspired by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, a group of female professionals in Beijing are organizing regular seminars and networking events to help other women in the workforce learn new skills and encourage self-growth. One of the organizers Charlotte Han, 25, said that the meetings are an effective way to acquire social resources as participants are all open, sharing and helpful. "It helps me to see things out of the box. It is a support network outside of the workplace and family," she said. "I also have access to a career mentor." The All-China Women's Federation has been advocating the economic development of women for more than 60 years. According to Song, in the last five years, the federation has lobbied the government to give an interest subsidy for small loans for female entrepreneurs. The total of loans from the government has reached 151.48 billion yuan ($24.89 billion), and the total interest subsidy is up to 7.76 billion yuan. The small loan policy has encouraged more than 3 million women to start their own businesses, creating millions of job opportunities. Song also said the federation would lobby the congress to establish a gender equality evaluation mechanism for a fairer social status for women in policymaking and execution.
*News information are obtained through various sources: South China Morning Post, The Standard, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Hong Kong Government, Asia Society, Wall Street Journal, China Daily, Xinhua, World Journal, The Singtao Newspaper, TVB, CCTV Stations in China and others that are deemed reliable, but not guaranteed