Monday, June 26, 2017

How to gain loyalty from China's consumers - Tom Doctoroff

Tom Doctoroff
China's consumers are perceived to be some of the most promiscuous in the world when it comes to picking brands. But there are ways to avoid this conundrum, says branding expert Tom Doctoroff at his LinkedIn page, using the Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index (BRI).

Tom Doctoroff:
China is bimodal. Premium brands, which are usually multinational, command high margins but narrow scale. While mass brands, which are usually domestic, sell at a lower price point, but have broad penetration. The white space in between is vast. By tapping into each of the above golden rules, brands can take advantage of this opportunity to become more relentlessly relevant. 
International companies can be more ruthlessly pragmatic by increasing accessibility without degrading cachet. Luxury brands, for example, can leverage sub-brands to expand reach. Armani appeals to different segments through Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange and Armani Jeans without diluting its master brand appeal. Premium brands can target youthful segments by expanding the range of lower out-of-pocket cost items. Gucci retail stores are already accessory meccas, with bags, sunglasses and mobile phone straps moving to the front of the stores. 
Local brands should pull themselves up to higher price tiers. They should define a single-minded proposition and brand purpose, then reinforce their commitment to distinctive inspiration and pervasive innovation. Shenzen-based drone brand DJI’s “future of possible” proposition and Starbuck’s “share the love” gifting app are great examples of the former. Baidu’s aggressive foray into artificial intelligence and Dyson vacuum cleaners’ breakthrough designs – wireless, bladeless, colorful – epitomize the latter. 
All brands, both local and multinational, should become more customer obsessed. Leading internet insurance brand Da Te Bao’s use of everyday language to simplify buying decisions and Ping’an’s “good doctor” app both signal respect for ordinary people. In the end, deep insight into the lives of consumers is the key to locking better, more profitable, growth.
More tips and tricks at Tom Doctoroff's LinkedIn Page.

Tom Doctoroff 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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The success of Fo Guang Shan - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Religious groups in China have had different degrees of success, depending on their relations with the authorities. Among the Buddhist Fo Guang Shan, has been the most successful, writes author Ian Johnson of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao in the New York Times. Has Fo Guang Shan changed China, or is China changing Buddhism, he asks.

Ian Johnson:
Fo Guang Shan is perhaps the most successful of these groups. Since coming to China more than a decade ago, it has set up cultural centers and libraries in major Chinese cities and printed and distributed millions of volumes of its books through state-controlled publishers. While the government has tightened controls on most other foreign religious organizations, Fo Guang Shan has flourished, spreading a powerful message that individual acts of charity can reshape China. 
It has done so, however, by making compromises. The Chinese government is wary of spiritual activity it does not control — the Falun Gong an example — and prohibits mixing religion and politics. That has led Fo Guang Shan to play down its message of social change and even its religious content, focusing instead on promoting knowledge of traditional culture and values. 
The approach has won it high-level support; President Xi Jinping is one of its backers. But its relationship with the party raises a key question: Can it still change China?
Fo Guang Shan is led by one of modern China’s most famous religious figures, the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. I met him late last year at the temple in Yixing, in a bright room filled with his calligraphy and photos of senior Chinese leaders who have received him in Beijing. He wore tannish golden robes, and his shaved head was set off by thick eyebrows and sharp, impish lips. 
At age 89, he is nearly blind, and a nun often had to repeat my questions so he could hear them. But his mind was quick, and he nimbly parried questions that the Chinese authorities might consider objectionable. When I asked him what he hoped to accomplish by spreading Buddhism — proselytizing is illegal in China — his eyebrows arched in mock amusement. 
“I don’t want to promote Buddhism!” he said. “I only promote Chinese culture to cleanse humanity.” 
As for the Communist Party, he was unequivocal: “We Buddhists uphold whoever is in charge. Buddhists don’t get involved in politics.”
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.

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Xi Jinping: more control on private companies - Paul Gillis

Paul Gillis
China is bringing more of its private companies to heel, both domestically and their international investments. Peking University accounting professor Paul Gillis sees it as an effort by president Xi Jinping to consolidate its power, he tells the VOA.

The VOA:
China is probing the loan practices of a group of big private sector conglomerates who have been on a high-profile global spending spree over the past few years. And although the review targets only a few of the country’s most politically-connected companies, some analysts see an attempt to increase government control over the role played by the private sector in foreign markets. 
"I think this is an attempt to change the direction (of) the role these Chinese companies play in the Chinese economy," says Paul Gillis, a professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. "To align them more closely with the policies of the government and to reduce the risks that actions of these private companies could end up having a shock effect on the economy as a whole."... 
Peking University's Gillis says it appears the Chinese government is coming to terms with how to effectively regulate private enterprises, companies that behave more aggressively than their state-owned counterparts. But he also sees the move as a further consolidation of power by President Xi Jinping, bringing companies more under the control of the central government. 
"I think many of the companies had a pretty favorable treatment from prior administrations, and I think Xi Jinping is less enamored of these large private companies than some of his predecessors were." 
Expensive acquisitions by companies like Wanda and Anbang have thrust China into the global spotlight. But the news and commentary that followed the companies' mega-deals has not always been positive.
More in the VOA.

Paul Gillis 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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Rules for self-driving cars getting up to speed - Mark Schaub

Mark Schaub
Tesla was the latest to announce the building of its car plant in Shanghai, but self-driving and electric cars are making many inroads in China. Shanghai-based lawyer Mark Schaub gives for Lexology an overview of the latest regulations to facilitate this trend. China seems to be late follow the latests developments, but catching up fast, he says.

Mark Schaub:
The scene seems set for rapid technological developments to revolutionize the automotive industry in a way similar to other products such as mobile phones. 
It seems clear that a major trend will be a transition from cars with advanced features to truly smart cars. It is likely that part of this trend will be that smart cars equipped with ADAS will become increasingly popular with the ultimate goal being intelligent automobile technology that allows for fully self-driving cars. This technology will go far beyond computer assisted driving. 
China seems to be aware of both the challenge and the opportunity. “Made in China 2025[10] includes intelligent Internet-connected cars as a key development goal. Further Made in China 2025 specifies that China will master technologies relating to intelligent assisted driving and establish preliminary autonomous R&D systems and support production systems for intelligent Internet-connected cars by 2020. Beyond this China has also announced its intention to master technologies for automatic driving, establish a complete autonomous R&D system, build a supportive production system and encourage industrial clusters of intelligent Internet-connected cars. All these goals have the overriding ambition of being able to have a fully upgraded, world class Chinese automobile industry by 2025. 
Steps have already been taken in this regard, by way of illustration in 2016 the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) commissioned a system proposal for intelligent Internet-connected cars. This draft has become the standard framework system for industrial discussions and will be issued to the public for comment once the industrial discussions have been completed.[11] 
Another example of China taking measures is that in July 2016, the National Technical Committee of Auto Standardization (NTCAS) issued the Notice of Conducting Surveys as to the Applicability of Mandatory Vehicle Standards for Intelligent Internet-Connected Cars (2016 NTCAS Notice). Of particular interest is that NTCAS sets in place a review of existing vehicle standards and relevant laws and regulations in China in order to identify how such regulations need to be adjusted so as to avoid restricting the implementation of such new technologies and also to create solutions to enable ADAS and automated driving technologies to be adopted in the marketplace. 
Another important measure is the China Automotive Technology and Research Center initiated China-New Car Assessment Program (C-NCAP). This program ensures that active safety measures are incorporated into the assessment system. On January 12, 2017, the official website of C-NCAP issued the draft C-NCAP Administration Rules (2018) for comment. This is another step by China that shows the increased importance placed on active safety, including AEB and will facilitate the development of ADAS in China. 
As mentioned above, one issue retarding the growth of ADAS in China is that the automotive refitting market for ADAS is currently conducted on a semi-underground basis due to unclear interpretation and enforcement of regulations. 
This issue has not gone unnoticed by the industry which has called for amendments to offending laws and regulations. The Automobile Refitting Committee of the Chamber of Automobile and Motorcycle Auxiliary Products, which is affiliated to All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, has proposed enacting Administrative Measures for Refitting of Motor Vehicles in 2013 and 2015. These proposals have received responses from MIIT, Ministry of Public Security and other ministries[12]. It is expected that the Chinese automotive refitting industry will be governed by new regulations in the near future – this bringing of the industry out of the semi-underground will promote further sustainable growth in the Chinese automotive refitting industry and this will naturally flow on to the ADAS industry. 
The Chinese authorities’ attention to the development of the smart car in China can also be seen in the joint issuing in April 2017 of the Auto Industry Mid and Long Term Planning. This plan was jointly issued by powerful departments such as MIIT, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Science and Technology. The plan stresses that China will strengthen its efforts in the break-through key technologies in respect on intelligent and Internet-connected cars and will also take various measures to foster such developments. These measures include organizing pilot areas, improving testing and assessment systems and updating laws and regulations. In addition, under this initiative, by 2020, the inclusion of DA (Driver Assistance), PA (Partial Automatic Driving) and CA (Conditional Automatic Driving) systems for new cars is slated to exceed 50% and inclusion of Networking Driver Assistance System are expected to reach 10%. The Networking Driving Assistance System will also lead towards the goal of developing intelligent transportation cities. By 2025, the inclusion of DA, PA and CA systems on new cars will reach 80% and 25% of these cars will be considered substantially or fully automatic driving cars.
Much more in Lexology.

More background on ADAS is here. 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 strategy experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Political risks haunt investors - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
Overseas investments by private Chinese companies have become under unprecedented scrutiny, causing a severe drop over the first quarter of 2017. Political analyst Shaun Rein has never seen such a political pressure before, he tells the South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post:
While there’s no suggestion of wrongdoing, the heightened scrutiny of the companies underscores Beijing’s new attitude towards overseas mergers and acquisitions by private companies. 
The number of major overseas asset purchases by mainland companies plunged by 80 per cent in the first quarter, as Beijing tightened controls on capital outflows and ratcheted up scrutiny into deal funding. 
“Investors right now have to be political experts as much as valuation and financial ones - the political risk now is the highest I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been in China,” said Shaun Rein, founder of China consultancy Market Research Group, based in Shanghai.
China experts said the latest administrative measures pointed to the Beijing’s commitment to reduce financial risks ahead of an important political meeting this autumn.
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.

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Why China is no.1 in e-commerce - William Bao Bean

William Bao Bean
Europe and America are getting the message: they are behind China in e-commerce. China veteran William Bao Bean tells an European audience at Medialaan in Brussels it is not about technology, but about the speed of adoption of the users.

William Bao Bean 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 e-commerce experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A bold move by Tencent's Pony Ma - Andy Mok

Andy Mok
Tencent's CEO Pony Ma is not very well known for his media appearances. So, when he joined the discussion about Hong Kong's future, it took political analysts like Andy Mok by surprise, he tells Bloomberg.

Bloomberg:
“The typical move is just to keep your head down ahead of July 1 and the Party Congress,” said Andy Mok, managing director for Beijing-based internet consultancy Red Pagoda Resources, referring to a leadership reshuffle later this year. “It could be that Tencent sees this as an internal strategic move to strengthen its dominance in gaming, finance, and it also creates a symbolic meaning of leadership,” he said, calling Ma’s effort “a bold move.” 
Ma’s emergence into the spotlight is highly unusual for a Chinese entrepreneur who shuns media appearances and interviews. He graces at most a couple high-profile events a year, at which he consistently refrains from extensive public pronouncements. It reflects how a new generation of Chinese tech tycoons are fast becoming de-facto ambassadors for their country. Jack Ma is among the most assured of his cohort, jetting around the world to plug his vision of helping small businesses thrive.
More at Bloomberg. Andy Mok 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 push for dominance - Ian Johnson on Howard French' latest book

Howard French
What is China up to is a question that is more often asked than answered. Journalist Howard French's book Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power certainly has not the most benign take on the country's ambitions. Fellow author Ian Johnson reviews the book for Chinafile.

Ian Johnson:
This opens what for me was the most interesting part of French’s book: a look at the origins of this idea and how it manifested itself historically. French is not a historical determinist, but he sees China’s push to Southeast Asia as a “march to the tropics” that began millennia earlier with Chinese civilization moving southward from its origins in north-central China toward the Yangtze River and then down to the area around modern-day Hong Kong and Yunnan. Chinese rulers and officials eventually came to see three peripheries: an immediate zone that could be conquered, such as the modern-day province of Yunnan and its many hill tribes; an intermediary zone including Vietnam, Burma, and Siam, which could be assimilated; and the further reaches of Southeast Asia, which could be occasionally conquered but were too remote for effective control. 
Vietnam and the people of what was then known as the Yue kingdom bore the brunt of this thrust to the south. After losing territory in present-day Guangzhou province (which is still known in China as Yue), Vietnamese rulers hunkered down in modern-day northern Vietnam and pushed south, conquering other peoples in what was essentially a mini-version of China’s imperialist mission. Vietnam’s rulers even had a Chinese-style name for neighboring Cambodia: “the pacified west.” 
China’s last great gambit south was in the Ming dynasty, from the 14th to the 17th centuries, when it initially sent armadas to the South China Sea and beyond, most famously under the eunuch Zheng He. Like the Great Wall, Zheng He’s exploits were largely forgotten in China until Westerners discovered him and saw him as a Chinese Columbus or Magellan. Chinese nationalists in the 20th century latched onto this, constructing a version of history that persists today—mainly that Zheng He was a peace-loving explorer who went to trade with the natives. 
In fact, the historical record is clear that Zheng He’s ships were designed not to explore but to carry large armies that fought and bullied local governments into surrendering booty. As French argues, this makes China a classic gunpowder empire that pillaged territories by using new technologies that its neighbors hadn’t yet mastered. 
What stopped China from more firmly controlling these areas—and essentially giving them their independence today—was domestic turmoil. The Ming court decided it was not interested in far-flung seas, instead concentrating on pressure from northern nomadic tribes that eventually conquered the Ming and set up the Qing dynasty in the mid-17th century. 
The Qing also had little interest in lands beyond their coasts, but they did create an enormous land-based empire that China mostly still possesses today, including control over Xinjiang, Tibet, large swaths of historically Mongolian territory, and the northeast of the country, none of which had been under long-term Chinese control until the Qing. (Only modern-day Mongolia is now an independent state.) 
This gives modern China a great land mass reaching deep into Central Asia—the equivalent, perhaps, of India controlling today’s Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Afghanistan. But paradoxically, even though China ended up with generous modern borders, it still suffers from what scholars call the “frustrated state” narrative: that it was a loser in history. In the 1920s and 1930s, influential writers like Liang Qichao bemoaned this loss. China, they felt, rightfully should have pursued Zheng He’s journeys and become a maritime empire. 
This mattered to China’s modernizers—and today’s rulers—because they saw the world as built on sea-based empires and trade. So in 1947, the Chinese government (the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek) came up with the “nine-dash line,” a crude demarcation of China’s claims to the South China Sea that seemed to have been drawn with little more than chutzpah and a magic marker. It delineated China’s claims to all of the sea right up to the coastline of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as if they didn’t exist and didn’t deserve their own coastal territorial waters. Zheng He had been there, and that trumped the centuries of kingdoms and empires in those countries. Their history didn’t matter. 
Unfortunately, this untenable claim is what successive governments have adopted and every schoolchild learns that this is China’s inalienable territory. At first China was hesitant and downplayed these claims—Mao didn’t care about these sorts of issues, while Deng was realistic enough to know that China was too weak to challenge its neighbors. But 40 years after Mao’s death and 20 years after Deng’s own passing, China is now strong and its neighbors are divided and weak. Hence the push to fulfill China’s historic mission and recreate the imagined lost empire of Zheng He
Much more at Chinafile.

Both Howard French and Ian Johnson are speakers at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need either of them at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.
Are you looking for more political experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list. Howard French at the Asia Society discusses the dangerous trends coming up for China

China: far away from the World Cup - Rowan Simons

Rowan Simons
China imposed a 100% tax for transfers of foreign players to loss-making soccer clubs - in fact all. A desperate measure that shows China is very far away from playing, less alone winning the World Cup, as president Xi Jinping wants it, says Beijing-based soccer expert Rowan Simons at Sky News.

Sky News:
China's president, Xi Jinping, a self-avowed football fan, has said his ambition is for the country to host - and ultimately win - the World Cup. 
But on current form, it would be a huge achievement just to qualify for it, with the national team currently languishing 82nd in the FIFA world rankings, below Benin and the Faroe Islands. 
Rowan Simons, who founded the Beijing grassroots network, Club Football, has been trying to build a football culture in the country for the last three decades. 
"China came to this very late," he said, "It started with a professional league, but it didn't do any of the development work that took over 100 years of building up a football culture, it still needs to do that. 
"China has to start the same way every other country did - and that's kids coming out to play, falling in love with the game, and then contributing to it by their participation throughout their lives."
More at Sky News.

Rowan Simons 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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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Online-to-Offline (O2O): learning from China - Tom Doctoroff

Tom Doctoroff
Blending online and offline operations has become an art in China, where the West can learn from, argues marketing expert Tom Doctoroff, on his LinkedIn Page. In Europe and America are offline retail operation declining, while that is not needed, he things.

Tom Doctoroff
In America and Europe, O2O delivers largely functional benefits such as convenience. In China, however, O2O is one of the most dynamic – and, for consumers, satisfying -- areas of commercial innovation.   Offline and online blend into holistic, rewarding experiences. Outstanding examples abound. 
Suning, the appliance retailer, has partnered with Alibaba, combining the latter’s online retailing assets with the former’s physical stores and distribution facilities to turn purchasing of consumer electronics into themed experiential “zones” – for example, “gaming command centers” and “kitchens for fine cuisine.” And “cloud stores” merge e-retailing with brick-and-mortar shops. Large screens display and sell products unavailable on-site. 
Ping’an Insurance Group’s “Good Doctor” app liberates citizens from China’s sclerotic medical system. Seventy million have downloaded the service that provides diagnosis and treatment support, appointment booking, and consultations with doctors through text, pictures and video. 
China’s embrace of online-to-offline is partly driven by the country’s unique commercial landscape. Characteristics include: a non-responsive and oligopolistic service sector that fuels demand for innovative O2O solutions; low credit card penetration that catalyzes development of online payment systems; cheap labor costs for inexpensive delivery; ubiquity of quick response (QR) codes – thanks, WeChat! – that propel “retail-tainment”; and the Communist Party’s active push of growth through digital transformation of an “Internet Plus” economy. 
Chinese psychology is also a critical factor in the spread of O2O. 
Most fundamentally, O2O provides reassurance to China’s safety-seeking population. Non-individualism militates against institutional protection of economic interests. There are no impartial commercial courts or consumer protection bureaus. So the ability to “kick the tires” before virtual transactions are finalized is comforting. 
In China, a country that reveres the concrete, anything nebulous is suspect. Operational scale, on the other hand, buoys spirits. Aversion to virtual transactions was mitigated only after Alipay, the payment system operated by Alibaba, became universally accepted. 
The flip side of self-protection is the need to feel in control. That’s why dao jia (door-to-door) – even more consumer-centric than O2O because service is “whenever, wherever” -- is so popular. The tracking capabilities of Ele.me, a food delivery service, makes the America’s order-and-pray Seamless app feel prehistoric.  Pizza delivery crews riding GPS-enabled bicycles minimize China’s national trust deficit. 
Finally, the Chinese are shrewd bargain hunters who demand value, not just low price.  Wei Long, an online spicy snack retailer, recently opened high-tech, screen-enabled restaurants inspired by Apple stores. Vivo, China’s third largest online mobile phone brand, now operates hundreds offline stores with “selfie centers.” Celebrity photo ops can be broadcast to the world on social media platforms. 
Yes, O2O is “strategy with Chinese characteristics.” But, as Western brand builders elevate transactional efficiency into multi-dimensional experience, it’s finally time to look to China for new ideas.
More in Tom Doctoroff's LinkedIn page.

Tom Doctoroff 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 e-commerce experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

The good and the bad among P2P platforms - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
P2P service Yirendai tries to move up in the financial food chain by turning to wealth management. Most P2P platforms are not able to do so, says financial analyst Sara Hsu to the South China Morning Post. But Yirendai could be the exception, she adds.

The South China Morning Post:
“Most Chinese P2P companies are ill-equipped to expand into other financial services such as wealth management services,” said Sara Hsu associate professor at the State University of New York. 
“However Creditease and its subsidiary Yirendai are better positioned to expand into other areas since they have very carefully developed, strong risk control practises already in place,” said Hsu. 
“Similar to other large e-commerce players in China, such as Alibaba and Tencent, Creditease collects large amounts of data that it uses to analyse customer credit worthiness.” 
Of course, wealth management is quickly turning into one of the most competitive areas of China’s finance industry, so as well as larger P2Ps, a number of other investment platforms, challenger banks, and international private banks are already targeting this space, as well as China’s traditional banks.
More in the South China Morning Post.

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 fintech experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

What works in China, might not work elsewhere - Jeffrey Towson

Jeffrey Towson
Whether bike-sharing is heading for a success or just a financial sinkhole is still unclear, despite a giant surge in VC funding. But Beida business professor Jeffrey Towson, a bear in this industry, is sure that it will not work outside China, because of the rather special situation in China, he tells the South China Morning Post.
The South China Morning Post:
Jeffrey Towson, an investment professor at China’s elite Peking University, views the booming industry slightly differently, calling it a new wave of “digital disruptors” in access and convenience: a living example, he adds, of “making it easy and making it now” for consumers. 
“This is only possible in China,” he added, “because of the arrival of smartphones, mobile payments, and a very dynamic mobile app ecosystem. 
Wilson Chow, the technology, media, telecommunications leader of PwC in China and Hong Kong, agrees completely with Towson, but adds the nation’s tech-led stampede for sharing, isn’t really about saving money, it’s more to do with convenience.
More in the South China Morning Post.

Jeffrey Towson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch fons.tuinstra@china-speakers-bureau.comor fill in our speakers' request form.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Trump's dramatically changed view on China - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
US president Trump called during his election campaign China a currency manipulator and announced a 45% import tax on Chinese goods, but instead came up with a 100-day plan to work out friendly relations. Political analyst Sara Hsu discusses how the 100 day plan is developing, and why Trump changed his viewpoint.

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 political analysts at the China Speakers Bureau. Do check out this list.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

China's geopolitical adventures in Africa - Howard French

Howard French
Unlike the remembrance of the former colonial forces in Africa, China's current geopolitical adventures into the continent "Africans’ view of China “is still positive, but not as exuberant as it was”. says Howard French, author of China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa to Today Online.

Today Online:
Mr Howard French, whose book China’s Second Continent charts the experience of about one million Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled in Africa, agrees. “Africa has been a field where China can try various things in a very low-risk environment,” he says. “Africa has been a workshop of ideas that now have a much bigger scale and strategic significance.” 
A few numbers illustrate the shift. In 2000, China-Africa trade was a mere US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion). By 2014, that had risen more than 20 times to US$220 billion, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, though it has fallen back because of lower commodity prices... 
Mr French says Africans’ view of China “is still positive, but not as exuberant as it was”. People welcome the infrastructure, he says. But they insist their governments should not be taken for a ride, either by overpaying, accepting shoddy work or allowing Chinese companies to use all their labour and materials. 
Africans resent it, he says, when corrupt governments inflate the price of projects — as has been alleged with the US$4 billion Mombasa-Nairobi railway, inaugurated this month — to make space for kickbacks. 
Still, he adds, Chinese companies have become more attuned to such issues than critics suggest. 
A decade ago, they thought that dealing with the government was enough. Now, they realise they also need to engage civil society and international non-governmental organisations on issues from local skills to the environment. 
Chinese companies like to be seen to be transferring skills. 
Huawei, which earns 15 per cent of its global revenue in Africa, trains 12,000 students in telecoms a year at centres in Angola, Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. 
According to Johns Hopkins researchers, 80 per cent of workers on Chinese projects are African, even if many are in low-skilled jobs such as trench-digging. 
“I give the Chinese a fair amount of credit,” says Mr French. “They have been mounting quite a steep learning curve from almost no knowledge to becoming very sophisticated players.”
More at Today Online.

Howard French is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Are you interested in having him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more experts on China's outbound investments? Do check out this list.

More talks by Howard French on Africa at IDA.
 

Stormy times ahead for China - Howard French

Howard French
A relative slow growth, a rapidly aging population in an unprecedented demographic transition, and no serious social safety net. Author Howard French of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power calls at the Asia Society the next 10, 15 years the most dangerous for China.

Howard French 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 Howard French? Do check out this list.