Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How a government critic got a WeChat account - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, interviewed the sociologist Guo Yuhua, a known critic of the government. One jewel in the interview on how she was able to open an account on WeChat, despite the governmental censorship, for the NY Review of Books.

Ian Johnson:
How did someone like you manage to open a public account on WeChat? 
I had such a hard time. I changed the name but nothing worked. Finally, I got in touch with someone from Tencent [the company that runs WeChat]. In recent years, I‘d done some research with them on the effect of the Internet on society. So I knew people from their research department. I asked, “why can’t I open a public account?” 
They said they’d look into it and got back to me and said, “You’re right, you really can’t.” I asked why and they said, “You’re restricted but let’s do it like this. You open the account and we’ll assign a person behind the scenes who will accompany you.” So I did as they said and when it started that person said, “I’m your first follower!” 
Your personal censor! Why does Tencent do it? What’s in it for them? 
They want to have readers. If it’s just boring stuff being published it’s not interesting for them, either. We had contact and they knew me. They know that my stuff isn’t extreme. It’s fairly academic. But the restrictions are still strict. For every five articles, two or three are cut. Sometimes, I have to argue with them—like over the Xi article—I say, “I can publish it in that academic magazine, so why not with you?” 
So that’s the way it is. The space gets smaller and smaller. If you want to publish your own work, it’s harder and harder. If you struggle, you might not have any [space]. But if you don’t struggle, you definitely won’t have any. So my motto is: “If you can say a bit more, say a bit more.”
More in the NY Review of Books.

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.

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How startups, blockchain can prepare for the future - William Bao Bean

William Bao Bean (right)
William Bao Bean, managing director of the Chinaccelerator, the first and longest-running startup accelerator program in China, supported in 2017 160 investments in startups. The blockchain is becoming increasingly a feature larger companies need, and where startups can help, he says in this interview.

William Bao Bean is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Why threatening China on trade does not make sense - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
The US administration, followed by retaliation from Beijing, is heading for a full-scale trade war. Financial analyst Sara Hsu explains why threatening China is only going to make the fallout worse, not better, as the White House seems to be clueless about how China will react.

Sara Hsu 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 the tense relations between the US and China at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Reform: not a key point in China's economic development - Arthur Kroeber

Arthur Kroeber
Is China moving ahead or stalling in economic reforms? That question is often asked by Western observers of the country, and a profoundly wrong one, says leading economist Arthur Kroeber, author of China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know® at the Asia Society. He blames his fellow economists for wishful thinking that is not helping to understand China.

The Asia Society:
So I think the position of [Chinese President] Xi Jinping is that reform is a game that the Chinese don't really have to play. The current balance in China has as much to do with optimizing the performance of the state sector than it does optimize the performance of the market. 
I think there was a lot of wishful thinking in the West that the universal laws of economics would inevitably force the Chinese state to liberalize the economy because otherwise, they wouldn't be able to forge economic growth. But China has shown that it's perfectly able to achieve six to seven percent growth annually with large state sector involvement, and as long as that keeps happening they won't be forced to do anything. 
The grand strategy for the U.S. and the West over the past three decades has been to integrate China into the global economy. Given the recent struggles of working-class people in the West, was this strategy, in retrospect, a mistake? 
Absolutely not. I think that this was absolutely the correct strategy. Having China as a constructive player in the global economy, with their interests aligned with peace and stability and not with stirring the pot, is a gigantic achievement. Only people who were willfully ignorant of the problems that existed before and willfully blind to the enormous benefits could make that kind of statement. 
However, bringing China into the global economy — which involved moving hundreds of millions of low-wage, poorly-educated workers into the manufacturing sector — was a huge shock and one of the things that contributed to the reduction of manufacturing employment and wage reduction in the U.S. 
To my mind, that's an understandable and practical cost of bringing China into the global economy, which was a massive achievement. But the U.S. has done a terrible, terrible job of helping people adjust to that trauma. The failure wasn't in the China policy. It was in the domestic policy. There could have been a lot more investment in education and infrastructure.
More at the Asia Society.

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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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Top-20 blockchain companies in China - Rupert Hoogewerf

Rupert Hoogewerf in Shenzhen
Over the weekend, the Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf presented in Shenzhen his latest report, together with Xiha Finance, on the top-20 blockchain companies in China, with Waltonchain as the winner, according to the Medium.com.

Medium.com:
This is the first time in the history of the Hurun that blockchain technology has been embraced. As the starting point to enhance the value of the blockchain technology, blockchain projects have become the focus of this awards ceremony. Waltonchain, as the winner of the Hurun Blockchain Innovators 2018 award, was invited to attend the awards ceremony. 
More than 1,000 industry leaders from all over Asia gathered at the conference. These included blockchain practitioners, experts, investors and big names such as Huawei, Ant Financial and Xiaomi. The focus was on new trends and how to construct a brand-new blockchain ecosystem with a new mindset — thinking outside of the box. Some hot topics were innovative applications, future development trends and risks of blockchain. 
As the winner of the Hurun Blockchain Innovators 2018 award, Waltonchain was also invited to attend. Waltonchain CSO Welson Wong accepted the award on behalf of Waltonchain. It is a fact that, having its excellent technical strength, Waltonchain has already become a leader in the blockchain + IoT industry. 
At present, the blockchain industry is rife with chaos and hype. Fortunately there are projects that are consistently recognized for their solid foundations and what they have actually accomplished in the real world. The Hurun Blockchain Companies List focuses on the essence of “chains” and helps serve the real economy and energize the blockchain ecosystem. 
As a leader in blockchain + IoT, Waltonchain aims to promote the healthy development of blockchain technology and strives to build a brand-new business ecosystem.
More at the Medium.com.

Rupert Hoogewerf 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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Local messaging apps beat international competition - Matthew Brennan

Matthew Brennan
In China, Tencent's WeChat became the leading messaging app, but  - unlike many think in the West - it is not government censorship that kept international competition at bay, says WeChat expert Matthew Brennan in The National. Also in other countries, local messaging app prove to be stronger.

The National:
In its native China, Tencent is a household name responsible for an app that has become a part of daily life – it’s called WeChat (“Weixin” in Mandarin). 
“It’s the universal connector in China,” says Matthew Brennan, who is writing a book on the history of WeChat, and regularly gives presentations about the app. “It’s the pipework for information. Everyone uses it, and people open WeChat around 40 to 50 times a day.” WeChat has more than a billion users and has features such as messaging, video conferencing, a social news feed, e-commerce, payment functions, smart city apps and transport booking, and much more. 
Mr Brennan believes it’s a common misconception – reported recently in the likes of The Guardian newspaper in the UK for example – that WeChat came to dominate in China because of state censorship of Western social media like Facebook and Instagram. 
“If you look at Line in Japan, or Kakao in South Korea, or Zalo in Vietnam, it’s been strong local competitors in Asia that have won,” Mr Brennan says, referencing the dominant messaging apps used in different Asian countries. 
“It’s winner takes all, and WeChat won [in China],” he says. 
Tencent is the world’s fifth-largest tech company by market capitalisation, overtaking Facebook this year and sitting behind only Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon. It has flourished, mostly domestically, through the likes of WeChat, its app store and content provision with Tencent Video and Music, but in another important domain it has become a powerful player on a global scale.
More in the National.

Matthew Brennan 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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Monday, June 11, 2018

How China's Dead Sea Scrolls ended up in Washington - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
In a Washington mall, the Chu Silk manuscript - China's equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls - can be found. Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao describes how those precious relicts disappeared from China and ended up in the US, a journey now meticulously describes by the Chinese scholar, Prof. Li Ling of the Peking University for the New York Times. 

Ian Johnson:
Sitting in an underground storeroom near the Washington Mall is a tiny silk parchment. Written 2,300 years ago, it is a Chinese version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with text that swirls like the stars through the firmament and describes the relationship between humans and heaven. 
For decades, the ancient document, known as the Chu Silk Manuscript, has fascinated people seeking an understanding of the origins of Chinese civilization. But it has been hidden from public view because of its fragility — and the uncertain circumstances by which it ended up in the United States. 
Now, a prominent Chinese historian and archaeologist has pieced together its remarkable odyssey in a meticulously documented analysis that has caused a stir in the rarefied world of Chinese antiquities and raised broader questions about collectors who profit from pillaging historic sites. 
The 440-page study traces the provenance from tomb raiders who discovered it during World War II, to an antiques dealer whose wife and daughter died fleeing Japanese troops, to American spies who smuggled it out of China and finally to several museums and foundations in the United States.
The findings have put new pressure on the manuscript’s current owner, the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, to return it to China after decades of on-again, off-again efforts to sell it to Chinese institutions. According to people briefed on the discussions, the foundation is now in renewed talks with Beijing and indicated that it was willing to settle for a “finder’s fee.” 
Much more in the New York Times.

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 stories by Ian Johnson at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.
 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Retaliatory action in the trade war - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
Financial analyst Sara Hsu discusses retaliatory action in the trade war between China and the US at CrossTalk on RT. Russia and Brazil are ready to fill in the gaps the US might leave in supplies for China.

Sara Hsu 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 the trade war between China and the US? Do check out this list. 

Why China will not sell off its US treasuries - Arthur Kroeber

Arthur Kroeber
More than once selling US bonds in the hands of China has been suggested as a powerful tool in the trade war with the US. But selling those treasuries does not make sense, says economist Arthur Kroeber, author of China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know® in the South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post:
In spite of policy and political uncertainty under the Trump administration, the liquidity and security that US Treasuries offer continues to be unrivalled by any other form of asset. 
Arthur Kroeber, co-founder and research head of Gavekal Dragonomics, said a Beijing sell-off of US Treasuries, which was utterly unlikely, would only make Beijing look reckless and foolish – the last thing Xi would want as China seeks to play the “good guy” in contrast to the unpredictable Trump. 
In addition, a big sale from China of US Treasuries in the open market would mean China would have to buy replacement assets, but none constituted a viable alternative, Kroeber said. 
It is not surprising then, that during the three rounds of trade talks between Beijing and Washington, neither Beijing nor Washington publicly made China’s holding of Treasuries as an issue for negotiation.
More in 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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Monday, June 04, 2018

Why the WTO has to rethink China's position - Harry Broadman

Harry Broadman
China's accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO) was hailed as an important step of the now second-largest economy into the global trade community. But those illusions are over, says trade expert Harry Broadman to Gulfnews. "China has forfeited its right to be treated as a WTO market economy."

Harry Broadman:
At its roots, China isn’t a market-based economy. It’s separation of business and government remains ephemeral; private property rights are still fuzzy, and rarely protected; identification of the beneficial owner(s) and who has ultimate control over decisions within some of the country’s key enterprises is opaque. The large state-owned banks hold little check, if any, over the large backbone state-owned enterprises to whom they lend and often never pay off debts owed.
Communist Party officials occupy some of the most senior positions in the enterprise and financial sectors, including most recently naming the country’s top banking regulator as the party chief and deputy governor of the Central Bank; and foreign investors must transfer technology to Chinese firms if they wish to invest in the country.
At the same time, Trump’s insistence on handling China in a US go-it-alone manner is just plain wrong-headed. We know from his many statements that anything but negotiating on a bilateral basis is anathema to him — a man whose career was built on doing one-off real estate deals in New York. But international trade negotiations are far more nuanced and complex.
Rather than using the “power of collective action” and building a coalition of other major trading powers — many of whom like the US have been exposed to China conducting trade inconsistent with prevailing international norms — Trump’s efforts will have him falling flat on his face.
What’s needed is a fundamental alteration of the treatment of China within the WTO framework — that is, if the WTO is to have any further meaning and survive. It’s finally time to call a spade a spade.
And, it’s also high time for the US to change its trade tactics towards Beijing. It needs to form a coalition of WTO members who make it clear that it really is Beijing’s choice to decide the type of economy it believes China’s population wants.
But that as of now, China has forfeited its right to be treated as a WTO market economy and it has three options: renegotiate its WTO Accession; gracefully exit the WTO; or diplomatically be shown the WTO door.
More at Gulfnews.

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.

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China's policy change of its automotive industry - Mark Schaub

Mark Schaub
China has not only been leading the way to develop self-driving cars, it has also been are the forefront of legal changes needed to allow those cars into society. The Shanghai-based lawyer Mark Schaub gives an overview of the new regulations the government has been introducing at the China Law Insight.

Mark Schaub:
China is embarking on bold moves to re-shaping its auto industry policy. This follows recent announcements in relaxation of key restrictions on foreign investment in the auto sector. 
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is the body tasked in China with laying the direction for industrial policy. On May 17, 2018 the NDRC circulated the draft Administrative Rules on Auto Industry Investment (“Draft Rules”) to local governments and industry stakeholders for comment. The Draft Rules when passed will replace the current car industry development policy that has been in place since 2004. 
In short the Draft Rules reform the China approval system for auto investment projects by delegating more authority to local governments, expressly prohibit any new production capacity for fossil-fuelled vehicles and raise the threshold for establishing electric vehicle manufacturing companies. 
The Draft Rules set 25 May 2018 as the deadline for feedback from local governments and industry participants.   Accordingly a tight timeline and sorry if you missed it! This does, however, hint that feedback will be limited and that NDRC has clear ideas as to the direction it intends to take. Generally, longer feedback periods are granted... 
The Draft Rules continue and extend existing policies in place. 
On the one hand China has announced relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment in auto sector with a 5-year transition plan and also reducing import tariffs on autos to 15% from 25% and on auto parts to 6%. 
On the other hand China is clearly putting in place policies to allow it to have a strong domestic auto market in which it will compete head to head with international competitors. This future competition will be in respect of NEVs and autonomous cars. 
The Draft Rules are expected to be officially issued within 2018 but their impact on the China’s auto industry will reach into the next decade.
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.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

How China's stock markets are different - Ann Rutledge

Ann Rutledge
China's is officially heading for more reforms of its financial markets. But their stock markets are still a very different creature compared to the stock markets elsewhere, says financial analyst Ann Rutledge in Knowledge@Wharton.

Knowledge@Wharton:
Indeed, China’s “top-down approach to market building” stands in contrast to the private sector’s way, where companies use assets and resources within their control guided by institutional market knowledge, says Ann Rutledge, adjunct associate professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 
The key for foreign firms is to understand the raison d’etre of China’s securitization market, Rutledge says. It’s not about creating a market for its own sake but hitting another milestone towards modernization in service of its national goals. “Money is good but the needs of the people and the state come first.” 
Not to be overlooked is China’s desire to control its currency and one reason for its inward focus, Rutledge says. But its quest to internationalize the renminbi — where the currency is widely held by investors outside of China for use in payments, settlements, investments and reserves — has slowed down sharply since 2014 due to changes in economic conditions, BNP’s Lo says. It was once a high policy priority in facilitating China’s financial liberalization.
More at Knowledge@Wharton.

Ann Rutledge 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.

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Getting China's political aspirations right in marketing - Shaun Rein/Tom Doctoroff

Tom Doctoroff
International airlines, ignoring Taiwan is part of China, according to China, were the latest to get into hot water with their marketing. But China's sensitivities are nothing new, say Tom Doctoroff and Shaun Rein to OZY. It makes sense to let your China marketing vet by some China veterans, says both.

OZY:
Most companies targeted appear to have tried to accommodate Chinese demands by apologizing and amending references to Taiwan, for example, to read “Taiwan, China.” 
“There’s a lot of fear. Companies are all trying to figure out if anything they’ve done is wrong,” says Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research Group, a Shanghai-based consultancy. “They are looking at their websites … not just their own but also their suppliers’,” he adds. 
The White House waded into the dispute in early May, calling Beijing’s demands “Orwellian nonsense,” and stating that Beijing’s demands were “part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.”... 
Tom Doctoroff, a partner at Prophet, a U.S.-based marketing consultancy, says Beijing’s intervention has so far been just a “minor irritation” to multinationals. “China has always been extremely sensitive when it comes to its territorial integrity,” he says. Recent events underlined the importance of making sure that marketing and other materials were vetted by staff with knowledge of the Chinese market, Doctoroff adds. “China is a market with a completely different worldview from the West … it’s imperative that how you go to market is localized,” he says.
More in OZY.

Tom Doctoroff and Shaun Rein are speakers at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need one of them at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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The critical trade relationship between China and the US - Wang Haiyan

Wang Haiyan
Political analyst Wang Haiyan discusses the critical relationship of trade between China and the US, after US president Donald Trump imposed new tariffs in a surprise move in the ongoing trade war between the first and second world economy.

Wang Haiyan 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 the ongoing trade war between China and the US? Do check out this list.