Monday, December 31, 2012

8 Trends in China 2013 to Keep an Eye On

Happy New (Western) Year to you all!

Article below for those interested in predictions for China's development next year.


from NY Times, Dec 12, 2012.

WELL WIRED The number of Internet users in China is expected to pass 600 million in 2013.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
 WELL WIRED The number of Internet users in China is expected to pass 600 million in 2013.

The Bo Xilai scandal, an economic downturn and the leadership switch from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping made 2012 one of China’s most eventful years. It is hard to imagine that next year will be as exciting, but there will be change.
Here are eight likely trends for 2013:

SHIFT IN GROWTH The economy is rebounding after slowing sharply through the first three quarters of 2012. The recovery is mostly stimulus-driven and heavily weighted toward state-owned enterprises and large industrial companies. The 2013 official target for economic growth is expected to be set at 7.5 percent. The economy should meet it, although excessive debt, a bloated state sector, entrenched special interests, income disparity, rural-urban inequality and lagging corporate profits will remain problems. Expect increased emphasis on the quality of growth, urbanization and rural reform as well as some painful progress in rebalancing from overinvestment to consumption-driven growth.
NEW LEADER Xi Jinping has moved quickly in his first three weeks to project an image of change. The government faces a growing expectations gap with its citizens and needs to rebuild public confidence. Mr. Xi is talking a lot about the Chinese dream and the “great renewal of the Chinese nation” — nationalist concepts with significant appeal. Mr. Xi’s choice of Shenzhen for his first domestic inspection trip is a symbolic tribute to Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 southern tour that restarted reforms after 1989. Mr. Xi’s visit is most likely a signal that he is serious about pushing forward with changes. Expect renewed energy around overhauls, primarily economic and administrative but possibly some political ones.
CORRUPTION FOE Xi Jinping, China’s new party leader, has promised to be vigilant against graft.Vincent Yu/Associated Press
CORRUPTION FOE Xi Jinping, China’s new party leader, has promised to be vigilant against graft.

CRACKDOWN ON CORRUPTION The new leadership has begun a public crackdown on corruption. One relatively senior official and several minor officials have already fallen. Internet exposés brought down the minor officials, but there are reports that the Communist Party’s central disciplinary inspection commission has started new investigations into money laundering through Macau. Expect this antigraft campaign to ensnare more senior officials and to be the most effective in recent memory, yet ultimately stop short of addressing the systemic issues that have allowed corruption to flourish.
TROUBLE WITH THE NEIGHBORS China’s external environment is increasingly complex. Mr. Xi is likely to work hard on maintaining stable relations with the United States, while at the same time expanding China’s military capabilities and asserting its regional interests. China has unsettled its neighbors with its approach to the disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and the various islands in the South China Sea. Both issues look intractable, so a solution is unlikely in 2013. Expect a quickening arms race in Asia, increasingly nationalist rhetoric, continued tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines and growing risks of misunderstandings — and possible mishaps — as the various countries send more vessels into the disputed areas.
NOT EASY BEING GREEN China has some of the worst environmental problems in the world, and they increasingly pose a threat to social stability. The leadership is aware of the problems, and the report from the 18th Communist Party Congress included a section calling for improving the environment. Expect increased emphasis on clean energy, conservation and green growth, though the challenges are so huge that it is hard to be optimistic.
RISING ACTIVISM Environmental issues are leading to political activism. In 2012 China had several not-in-my-backyard protests involving thousands of people, many of whom mobilized online. Social media use, especially via smartphones, is rapidly expanding from urban to rural users and is making it much harder to cover up problems. The government now requires that all major industrial projects pass a social risk assessment before they begin. Expect more environmental protests as citizens become more aware of their rights and are emboldened to protect them.
INTERNET PRESSURE China has the most Internet users in the world. At some point in 2013 its population on the Internet will exceed 600 million people. China has a sophisticated Internet censorship and filtering system that is unlikely to disappear. But that does not mean the Internet will not pressure the government. Cheap smartphones with good cameras and 3G connectivity are proliferating, in large part thanks to Google’s Android mobile operating system.
China is expected to have several hundred million smartphone users by the end of 2013. The Internet is unlikely to bring change to the system, certainly. But all those smartphone-wielding, social media-savvy citizens will force a more accountable authoritarianism. Expect more scandals to break online and increasingly responsive, accountable government at all levels.
OVERSEAS INVESTMENT Chinese companies are going global, by expanding their operations overseas and by acquiring foreign firms. Yet Chinese investment is a contentious issue in the United States and other developed countries, and several deals failed in 2012 at the hands of regulators. Huawei, a Chinese networking and telecommunications giant, is effectively blocked from doing business in the United States because of security concerns.
Regardless, Chinese companies will continue to invest overseas, both to increase and to secure resources. Tencent, for one, is on the verge of becoming China’s first globally competitive Internet company.
Its WeChat mobile social networking application already has more than 200 million users and may give Facebook a run for its money in many developing countries. Expect growing overseas investment, increasing political scrutiny of Chinese deals and possibly invitations to WeChat from your social networking friends.
All in all, Mr. Xi appears to be a change-oriented nationalist. His energetic and straightforward style, his apparent commitment to fighting corruption and his determination to reinvigorate at least economic reform should buy the government time to tackle some of China’s difficult problems in 2013.

Bill Bishop publishes the daily Sinocism China Newsletter from Beijing. You can follow him on Twitter @niubi and Sina Weibo @billbishop

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Market in the grounds of a Temple

Everyone knows about the Panjiayuan Market (see blog Nov 2010), but there is a smaller market which is also interesting and less touristy, Baoguosi Market.  The best day to go is Thursdays.

Now it may look as if you're going in to another temple (oh no not another one, I can hear some of you say!), and you would be right, but the grounds have been taken over by many, many sellers of all sorts of "antiques".
It's best to go as early in the morning as you can. If you haven't had breakfast you can join the other keen buyers for some noodles .....
....or the famous "jian bing", a kind of freshly made pancake Chinese style.
Once you're inside you'll see all kinds of things on sale, some very cheap like the lucky dip items below.
It's not as crowded as Panjiayuan but smaller in size.
and the temple buildings and trees make a nice environment for strolling around.

 There was only one foreign tourist the day I went, and that was a client of mine!
We  met a familiar person greeting us....
he was all over the place....the poster reads Long Live Chairman Mao!
The old red badges are now collectors' items, and come in all shapes and sizes.
This one is big enough to fit on your mantelpiece.
 Then there are some more valuable items such as this cloisonne clock.
 How do you like this old locomotive which acts as clock, barometer and temperature gauge?
 Not quite sure what these animals are, probably a pair of Chinese dragons.
 Another unusual clock!

And finally definitely not an antique.....can you see what it is?...yes, a model of London sights in honour of the 2012 Olympics.

There's still time to come and do some Christmas Shopping!
Season's Greetings to you all and your families, talk again next year!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Weird and wonderful papercuts by Siberian butterfly

This blog is not for young children!
Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends!
I went to an unusual art exhibition held earlier this year in Beijing, combining traditional papercutting with erotic fantasies of the artist. I think I don't need to say anything else, just let your imagination go wild as the pictures speak for themselves. If you think you see some naughty bits, it's either all in the mind, or really there, or both! I don't think I'll be giving any of these to my mother.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More views of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Chinese are very entrepreneurial, and can make money doing all sorts of business....
However, I'm not sure how well this company is doing with its design projects. they are recycling used mobile phones, iPads, etc, probably to make some cheaper imitation ones. Be warned! 

Of course there are plenty of shopping malls and pedestrian streets, this one is in Causeway Bay.

The subway system is super efficient, so it's so easy and fast to get around.

I like this shop window which is promoting travel around the world!

No explanation needed....cheaper than Beijing!

You probably also recognise some famous brand names in these street signs on Nathan Road, but did you notice the one from Beijing? I was very happy to see this Chinese medicine store.

A mammoth exhibition in a shopping mall has people queuing up.

And even more queuing up at the local Apple store...even before iPhone5

A touch of history...the old Central Pier which was relocated to this new location.

And for those of you from UK, a touch of old England! Soho's in London, right? Yes but here it means "SOuth of HOllywood (Road)".

.........looks familiar?

Time for afternoon tea.....if you haven't got time to wait for a table at the Peninsula, or the money, try the Portobello in Soho!

 A streetside altar you would not find in Soho London!
........and coils of incense. 

  ....and worship of gold!

My friend's son was getting married, and they had a traditional village banquet with 60 tables...yes Hong Kong is not just a big city, there is country side too.Traditional red everywhere.

Traditional red cheongsam (qipao) worn by thebride, who did not have a traditional ethnic background.


is good food for many Chinese...a hotpot of all kinds of meats and seafood, delicious!

and more food.....

Family toast...note the band in the background

 Finally for our departure, the peace and quiet of Chep Lap Kok International airport, although it is one of the top ten busiest airports in the world. Same architect as for Beijing's Capital Airport. This is the downtown check-in which is so convenient.