Friday, January 19, 2018

China "New Belt' program ready for renovation - Harry Broadman

Harry Broadman
When China's president Xi Jinping baptized his edition of the former silk road, he called it "One Belt, One Road". That idea and its name went against the idea of the old silk road, which was an organic set of trade routes, says Harry Broadman, former PwC Emerging Markets Investment Leader, in the Gulf News. The centralized approach by Beijing does not appeal to all stakeholders, he says.

Harry Broadman:
Only after criticism was voiced by a number of countries that Beijing was looking to sign up that the OBOR labelling conveyed China’s aim for regional domination did Xi ordered the “One” to be dropped. However, by the time the change was implemented damage has been done. In May 2017, Xi held a Belt-Road gala, but less than half of the 65 partnering countries were represented by heads of state. At the close of the summit, Xi issued a “joint” communique, but it was signed by only 30 countries. Not an overwhelming endorsement. 
And in the beginning of December 2017, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar announced they cancelled or sidelined three major Chinese hydroelectricity Belt-Road projects worth nearly $20 billion due to unfavourable financing terms or irregularities in the sponsoring firms’ irregularities. 
As China continues to roll out its Belt-Road program it would do well to work in full collaboration from the ground up with proposed partner countries.
More in the Gulf News. Harry Broadman is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more experts on the "One Belt, One Road" initiative at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You need to understand religion to understand China - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, explains what five books you need to read to understand China in a Five Books interview. Not surprisingly, those five books also focus on religion, just like Ian's own bestseller. The search for a moral framework.

The Five Books Interview:
As you say, we can’t understand China without understanding religion, but up until recently, a lot of people would have found that statement strange, because many people – historians, ethnographers and journalists – largely ignored religion in China. It was considered to be an unimportant topic, even though it had been central to the question of how to modernize China over the past century. 
Reformers from Kang Youwei to Sun Yat-sen, and leaders such as Chiang Kai-shek – not to mention Mao Zedong – saw traditional Chinese religion as a key social ill that had to either be massively reformed or eradicated. This unleashed one of the most radically secularizing campaigns in history, with hundreds of thousands of places of worship, mainly traditional temples, destroyed. 
So in the 1970s one political scientist wrote—and I’m paraphrasing—of the astounding fact of our time that a nation with one quarter of the world’s population had no religious life as people had known it. At that time, all places of religion under Mao had been closed, and religion didn’t seem to be an important part of Chinese life. But that began to change at the end of the Mao era. Religion had been attacked for over a century, but in the reform era for roughly 30 years until the Beijing Olympics, there was a relatively laissez-faire policy toward it. There were moments of persecution, but by and large religion flourished on its own. 
Now we’re in an era where the state is actively picking losers and winners, and religion is back at the centre of a national conversation in China, playing a role in what kind of society and values does China have – what are the ideas, the beliefs of this rising superpower? Many Chinese are grappling with these questions, while the government is trying, in typical Chinese government fashion, to guide and shape it. But it’s a very messy complex question. 
Is religion filling what some people call the spiritual vacuum in China, as the nation figures out what its identity is in this newest incarnation? 
There are people in China who are looking for values and answers to basic moral questions. Some find it in humanism or in democracy or in human rights, but the government has largely made these taboo topics. We do have dissidents, for example, who think China needs to change to a more open liberal society and a more participatory political system. A lot of those moral issues could be solved by having a more moral government, one that doesn’t rely on coercion and violence to keep itself in power. But other Chinese also see a wider moral issue, that China needs some kind of a moral framework.
More in the Five Books Interview.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more speakers on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Will China be a global superpower by 2030? - Kaiser Kuo

Kaiser Kuo
Is China going to replace the US as the global superpower in the near future? No, says China watcher Kaiser Kuo in SupChina. "Even if China and the U.S. continue to grow at roughly their current rates, China’s per capita GDP won’t have overtaken that of the U.S."

Kaiser Kuo:
No, China will not likely be the sole superpower on earth by the year 2030. Even if China and the U.S. continue to grow at roughly their current rates, China’s per capita GDP won’t have overtaken that of the U.S. If Chinese military spending continues at its current rate of growth as a percentage of GDP, even if the U.S. cuts back, it will still dwarf China in military spending. By almost any measure of ability to project military power globally, China will still likely lag behind the U.S.: It won’t possess nearly so large a blue water navy, will lag behind the U.S. significantly in long-range bombers, and will still have a nuclear force only a fraction of the size of the U.S.’s. Culturally, it’s very difficult to imagine that in only 12 years, China’s share of global cultural mind space will rival that of the U.S. 
China has only begun to actually think of itself as a superpower. I think historians will look back and see 2008 as an important inflection point, and 2017 perhaps as the year that (with Trump’s inauguration in January and Xi’s “New Era” enshrined in the Communist Party’s constitution) China’s arrival as a superpower was generally acknowledged. The U.S. may appear to be in decline, but it has a long, long way to fall. Probably never before in human history has one polity held the preponderance of comprehensive power — military, technological, economic, cultural — that the U.S. has held from the end of World War II to the present.
More at SupChina.

Kaiser Kuo is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more strategic experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What if your customers cannot pronounce your name - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
Chinese brands like Huawei and Xiaomi have not only legal problems to enter the lucrative US market, says business analyst Shaun Rein, author of The War for China's Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order. It would also help if potential buyers would be able to pronounce the name of the product they are expected to purchase, he tells the South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post:
Huawei isn’t alone. Xiaomi, aiming to revolutionise China’s consumer electronics along the style of Apple, is almost impossible to pronounce. Xiaomi literally means “little rice.” 
Or take Tsingtao Beer, arguably the most internationalised among China’s brewers, its distinctive green bottle often the only Chinese brand found anywhere outside mainland China. Its name, spelt in the Wade-Giles system for romanising Mandarin, is the name of its home base of Qingdao city in Shandong province
Chinese brands need to be “something that roll off the tongue easily” to succeed, said Shaun Rein, founder and managing director of the China Market Research Group in Shanghai. Names like Huawei or Xiaomi, which “haven’t created English names that Americans and western Europeans can memorise or pronounce easily” have a bigger problem breaking into the market, he said. 
Americans spent US$14,564 per person on retail spending in 2014, more than three times the per-capita spending by Chinese consumers in the same year. That underscores the attraction of the consumer market in the planet’s biggest economy, even if its population is a quarter of China’s size... 
There are exceptions. DJI, the world’s largest producer of recreational drones, is headquartered in Shenzhen in southern China. Its full name, spelt out, is Da Jiang Innovations, inspired by the Chinese adage “Great ambition has no boundaries”.
But the company rarely goes by its full name in English, preferring to obscure its origins. It has an estimated 75 per cent share of the world’s market for drones, with the US among its biggest market. 
“American consumers sees DJI and they don’t know its heritage,” said Rein. “DJI is easily memorised by Americans and I think that’s the reason why Alibaba and Tencent do reasonably well, at least in recognition by Americans investors. Because their English names are easily memorable.”
More in the South China Morning Post.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more strategic advisors at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

"Star Wars" lacks cult following in China - Ben Cavender

Ben Cavender
While many movie watchers even get fussy feelings when they hear the words "Star War", China is lacking such a cult following, explains branding expert Ben Cavender to CNBC. Movies that would be a hit elsewhere in the world, are just not working in China, he says.

CNBC:
While it's been suggested the Disney movie's late arrival in China could have contributed to its poor performance — meaning pirates would have already had ample opportunity to see the film — other "Star Wars" movies have also seen soggy receptions on the mainland. 
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which premiered on the mainland in January 2016, took in $52 million and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" recorded $30 million in the opening weekend, Variety reported
"[T]his is a franchise which has always struggled in China ... the cult following just doesn't exist," Ben Cavender, principal at consultancy China Market Research Group, told CNBC. 
He attributed the less-than-outstanding performance of "The Last Jedi" at the Chinese box office to the lack of "generational awareness" among Chinese consumers of the franchise... 
Disney also recruited popular Chinese singer Lu Han to star in a themed music video ahead of the mainland release of "The Force Awakens" back in 2016. 
This year, cast and crew members of "The Last Jedi" — including actress Daisy Ridley, actor Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson — attended a premiere at Shanghai Disney Resort some two weeks ahead of the film's mainland release to drum up support. 
Meanwhile, the relative popularity of the latest "The Ex-File" sequel could also be due to Chinese consumers becoming more attached to local "story-driven" films, Cavender said, citing the outperformance of "Wolf Warrior 2" last year.
More at CNBC.

Ben Cavender is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more branding experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

China's road ahead for self-driving cars - Mark Schaub

Mark Schaub
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has published last week an ambitious draft road map for the development of self-driving cars in the coming decades. Lawyer Mark Schaub summarizes the latest details of the fast-moving central planning office on the China Law Insight.

Mark Schaub:
The Draft Strategy sets out the goal for China to establish independently controllable technology innovation systems for intelligent vehicles. These systems will include break-through key technologies, testing appraisal technology and development of a cross industrial ecosystem. 
In this regard China’s plans includes the development of a network of road and facilities for intelligent vehicles, including infrastructure, wireless telecommunications networks for vehicles to cover the whole enormous country, establishment of a nationwide basic mapping system for vehicles and big data cloud computing platforms for intelligent vehicles. In comparison the UK government has recently announced funds in its budget for autonomous cars including hi-tech projects, research on artificial intelligence, for electric car charging points and to boost clean car sales – but no funds earmarked for the development of the physical infrastructure to enable mass autonomous driving.[3] 
Crucially, the NDRC recognizes that not only physical infrastructure is required but also legal infrastructure. The NDRC states China will eliminate legal barriers for market access to intelligent vehicles, issue regulations on autonomous vehicle road testing on public roads and strengthen research for autonomous driving systems and clarify legal liability in respect of traffic accidents, amend China’s road traffic law to allow for intelligent vehicles, adjust China’s laws and regulations to allow for mapping for intelligent vehicles, establish intelligent vehicles safety management system, strengthen vehicle cybersecurity and protect privacy. 
NDRC has set 15 days for public comment on the Draft Strategy. This period will expire by 20 January 2018. 
The Draft Strategy notes the development of intelligent vehicles is a matter of significance for China and that it is essentially a now or never chance to allow China to overtake global incumbents in the auto industry and taking a leadership role.
More at the China Law Insight. Mark Schaub is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more experts on innovation at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Monday, January 08, 2018

Making maps: key for self-driving cars - Mark Schaub

Mark Schaub
Map makers have always found legal restrictions by the Chinese government as a barrier 0n their way. But now the country wants to become a leader in self-driving cars, Shanghai-based lawyer Mark Schaub expects fast changes in the legal bureaucracy for maps, he tells at China Law Insight. Restrictions for foreign investors might stay in place, he fears.

Mark Schaub:
China does face a dilemma – on the one hand it has a strong interest in tightly regulating surveying and mapping activities but on the other hand it has a strong ambition to become a world leader in autonomous cars. 
We expect that autonomous cars is so important that China will indeed make necessary change as to how it regulates surveying and mapping laws or at least their practical implementation in regards to HD maps. 
One example of China’s efforts in this regard is the 2017 revision to the Surveying and Mapping Law which required a unified national system of continuously operating reference stations (CORS). The CORS system is able to provide accurate positioning to the centimeter or even millimeter level. In May 2017, the national CORS system was put into operation – this is a fundamental step in providing the accurate positioning data needed for HD Maps in China. 
In addition, the 2016 NASG Notice also notes that the authority is speeding up the study and formation of policies on autonomous driving maps. In a news conference held by NASG in 2017 it was announced that the authority will strongly support the development of autonomous driving in China and has been actively conducting research on relevant policies and map processing technology. 
However, we are less optimistic about the restrictions on foreign investment being relaxed anytime soon. We would anticipate that these will remain in place so that foreign companies interested in the China market or needing to serve the China market as part of a global strategy will need to find an accommodation within the current framework – either a joint venture or cooperation.
More in the China Law Insight.

Mark Schaub is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more strategic speakers at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Meeting controversial artist Qiu Zhijie - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Author Ian Johnson of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao meets controversial artist Qiu Zhijie for the New York Review of Books.Before the interview, Ian Johnson puts Qiu and their first meetings into perspective. Here is the introduction of the interview.

Ian Johnson:
One of China’s most influential artists is forty-eight-year-old Qiu Zhijie. A native of southern China’s Fujian province, Qiu studied art in the eastern city of Hangzhou before moving to Beijing in 1994 to pursue a career as a contemporary artist. At the time, contemporary art was illegal in China and artists often lived in villages on the outskirts of town, held underground exhibitions, and were patronized almost exclusively by foreigners. 
Qiu quickly made a name for himself as one of China’s leading artists, creating one of the most famous images of that era: a picture of himself from the waist up, shirtless, against a white wall with an enormous red character, 不, or “No,” painting across his face and torso. Another was a video of him copying a classic piece of calligraphy, the fourth-century Preface to the Poems Collected from the Orchid Pavilion, one thousand times until it became illegible. More recently, he has embarked on major conceptual art projects, such as an exploration of the suicides that take place at a major bridge that for decades was a symbol of Communist self-reliance, and dozens of enormous idea mapsthat juxtapose mythology, politics, and social critique. 
I got to know Qiu in 1999 when I wrote about the controversy surrounding an influential exhibition called “Post-Sense, Sensibility, Alien Bodies & Delusion.” Held in the basement of an apartment block, it was a backlash against the political pop art of that era, purposefully creating art that couldn’t be sold or collected: a human cadaver encased in a block of ice, for instance, or dead animals nailed to the wall. Disgusted, the authorities closed the show the day it opened—a response reminiscent of the one that greeted the Guggenheim’s current major retrospective of Chinese art, with authorities forcing the museum to remove live animals from several exhibits. 
Qiu’s work features prominently in the Guggenheim show. He was the only artist commissioned to make an original work, one of his idea maps; his Orchid Pavilion calligraphy is also on display. 
Unlike prototypical dissident-artists such as Ai Weiweiwho have shunned China’s art establishment and work mainly abroad, Qiu is now firmly part of the Chinese art establishment. He teaches at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the most influential art school in China, as head of the Department of Experimental Art, and curated the Chinese pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale. Last month, I met Qiu at his studio in the eastern suburbs of Beijing, where we talked about the challenges of maintaining artistic integrity inside the system, censorship, how he lectures on Communist Party ideology, and the Party’s transformation to a party of nationalism.
The interview in the New York Review of Books.

Qiu Zhijie (by Ian Johnson)

(The New York Review of Books is mostly hidden behind a firewall, but was this time free available for us. If you run into a firewall, you will have to wait till China File offers free access next month.)

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request.

Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

Why the sex industry boomed in China - Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia
Author Zhang Lijia of Lotus: A Novel, a book on prostitution in China, divided into the current sex industry and explains to Brave Media why it boomed. Earnings can be ten times as high compared to a factory job, she says.

Brave Media:
What kinds of women did you encounter through your research? Had most of them moved from villages into urban areas in search of work, like the protagonist in your novel, Lotus? 
They are usually migrant workers, from the countryside; something has gone wrong in their life, they are uneducated, unskillful, and of course there’s the temptation of money. In the vast majority of cases, women enter the trade of their own accord, but often driven by desperate poverty or something gone wrong: domestic violence, dumped by the husband, or falling pregnant as a single mother… 
How much more does prostitution pay in comparison to, say, a factory job? 
It’s huge. It could be ten times more. 
The sex industry has developed rapidly in China in recent years. Why is that? 
For many reasons. First, the growing wealth. We have a saying in Chinese: ‘once you have clothes to wear and your stomach is full, you start to think about sex.’ Of course in China for a long time people didn’t have enough to eat. 
And also relaxed social control: before, if you had a mistress or an extra marital affair, you probably ended up in a labour camp. China for a long time was sexually repressed. Now there’s freedom. I think some of the old attitudes towards women, which had been suppressed by Mao, have made a comeback. STDs are growing fastest among older men of above 55 or 60… They’ve probably now got some money, and felt they’ve missed out on something, and they are not switched on to how to protect themselves. They belong to the generation that believes that a decent woman shouldn’t have an interest in sex. 
Also, prostitution has become part of the business deal. For example I have a friend who is from Nanjing; he has a cushy job and his company does high end products, green energy, high tech stuff. According to regulations, such a company enjoys 15% of a tax deduction. But in order to get that, they have to invite tax bureau officials wining and dining. But these days wining and dining is not enough… Prostitution has become the lubricant of business. It’s very common. 
But the fundamental reason is the growing income gap between men and women. Many of my friends find it hard to believe, because within their circle they meet many very capable, high achieving young women. Sure. The reform brought lots of opportunities to both men and women, especially educated urban women. But overall China has shifted from a planned economy to the market economy, and women have shouldered too much of the burden in cost. 
When a company has to let off workers, women are always the first to go, and it’s so much harder for them to find jobs. Female graduates – before, they were allocated jobs. Women of child-bearing age are often refused. And sometimes when women get pregnant, they sack them. Sometimes they force them to write, ‘I promise I will not get pregnant,’ otherwise they will not get hired. UN Women did a research: women in the city earn 67.3% of what men make, and in the countryside only 56%. That has driven some of the most vulnerable women to take up prostitution.
More in Brave Media.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Economic optimism for China's 2018 - Arthur Kroeber

Arthur Kroeber
Economists seldom all agree when it comes to China's economic future, but there is a widespread optimism about the expected country's performance for 2018, tells leading economist Arthur Kroeber, author of China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know®, to the South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post:
Optimism about the year ahead, albeit cautious, is gaining ground but there are persistent worries about China’s debt mountain and the threat of trade disputes with the United States and Europe. 
Gavekal head of research Arthur Kroeber said talk of China risking a “Japan-style lost decade” of economic stagnation was banished after Beijing engineered a property and infrastructure stimulus last year. 
“This credit-fuelled surge raised predictable worries that China was flirting with financial meltdown. But impressively, Beijing spent most of 2017 cracking down on financial risk, sharply cutting the growth in shadow lending – with zero impact on economic growth,” Kroeber wrote in an article published on Friday. 
Kroeber said it was his bet that China could easily maintain growth while containing financial risk for at least one more year.
More at the South China Morning Post.

Arthur Kroeber is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Market economy eroded gender equality - Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia
Women have been bearing most of the burden of China's shift from state economy to market economy, says author Zhang Lijia of Lotus: A Novel, on prostitution in China, at the BBC World Service. Despite a lot of advantages, women suffered severe setbacks. State owned companies let women go at 45 years of age, and getting hired at the sexist job market has been harder than ever, she adds. "Some refuse to hire women at a child-bearing age."

You can hear the audio here.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau, Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you interested in more stories by Zhang Lijia? Do check out this list.