Profile of TV host Yang Lan

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 5: (CHINA OUT) TV host Yang Lan attends the opening ceremony of the LAN Club Shanghai on July 5, 2008 in Shanghai, China. The club, occupying a four-storey classical building at the Bund, is the second in a series launched by the South Beauty Group, a luxury club service provider in China. The club boasts its grand lobby, Chinese lounge, bars, and the exhibition hall. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Fast Company has a cool profile of TV host Yang Lan. She is one of China’s biggest celebrities and she’s aiming to become a media mogul.

She has sought to turn that fame into a full-fledged business empire. Yang has created new programming for TV — including one of the first shows targeting women — and set up sites on the burgeoning Chinese-language Web. She has bought print publications; she sells credit cards; she’s even hawking a co-branded jewelry line with Celine Dion. She and her husband, Bruno Wu, are one of China’s richest couples; Forbes has estimated their wealth at about $300 million. All of which has led the foreign press — and her own handlers — to rarely miss an opportunity to call her the Oprah of China.

It’s not a fair comparison: The clapping session is an apt metaphor for the ways in which the Chinese-media marketplace — and Yang herself — is fundamentally more constrained than the American. There are the constantly changing government regulations; television, says Jeremy Goldkorn of the Beijing media blog, “is the most tightly controlled of all Chinese media because it remains the one truly mass media. There are a huge variety of rules and restrictions on TV content, and they change regularly.” And there is her generation’s own worldview; China’s fortysomethings entered adulthood as their nation simultaneously opened up (under Deng Xiaoping, to get rich was seen as progressively more glorious) and closed down (Tiananmen Square in 1989 imprinted on their young minds that breaking the rules was not the path to glory).

Yang Lan, 42, has done wonders to achieve what she has so far, being careful to maintain her above-the-fray image while morphing with the fast-shifting landscape. “You do what you can do,” she says with a sigh in lightly accented, fluent English. Some of her ventures have succeeded — her interview show has been one of the past decade’s megahits — while others, including her Sun TV network, have been huge flops. Through it all, she has held on to her biggest asset: her fame. Liu Yingqi, vice president of China Life Insurance Co., which sponsors New Girl in the Office, says, “She’s the audience’s Yang Lan, society’s Yang Lan.” But the same country that has embraced her and elevated her to such success has also kept her from being the woman she wants to be — Yang Lan’s Yang Lan.

Good luck to her!


China is now the world’s second-largest economy

Chinese construction workers dig a ditch in front of new business complexes in Beijing August 16, 2010. China is now the world's second largest economy, after outperforming the Japanese economy in size and domestic product.  UPI/Stephen Shaver Photo via Newscom

China passes Japan.

Can the Chinese keep this up, or will we see a bubble in China?


Chinese concept train straddles the highway

Train that straddles highway.

One of the biggest problems facing crowded cities today is transportation. If there is no existing subway or train system, building one can be extremely cost-prohibitive, not to mention disruptive to existing transit systems. The Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company has an idea that could address the issue at a tenth of the cost of installing a subway. It’s a train that straddles the existing highway.

While the train looks intimidating at first, it’s actually quite smart. Unlike a subway, which puts trains underneath roads, Shenzhen’s design requires minimal infrastructure, using the above-ground routes already constructed. Presumably, it requires only tracks on either side of the road to operate, and would run on solar and grid electricity. The cost for building it is estimated at 10 percent that of building an equivalent subway.

China has already commissioned a test section of 115 miles of track in Beijing’s Mentougou district to begin later this year. It will be interesting to see how it works out.


Bribery in China

Bribery is a serious problem in China, but BusinessWeek reports that U.S. prosecutors, along with their Chinese counterparts, are stepping up enforcement.

U.S. prosecutors, empowered by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) to investigate allegations of bribery anywhere in the world, have been stepping up their activities in China, where a tradition of gift-giving in business often degenerates into serious graft. The FCPA bans U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials. It also applies to foreign companies like Siemens that list their securities on U.S. exchanges. Companies that violate the FCPA face millions in fines, and executives can go to prison. U.S. authorities have upped the number of bribery cases they pursued to a resolution around the world, from 11 in 2005 to 34 last year, according to Trace International, a nonprofit anti-bribery group based in Annapolis, Md. In a report released June 17, Trace pointed out that China, with 25 cases completed since enactment of the FCPA, fell behind only Iraq and Nigeria for the most international corruption prosecutions. Citing a World Bank estimate that more than $1 trillion in bribes are paid each year, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on May 31 called “combating corruption one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice.”

Chinese prosecutors, meanwhile, are getting more aggressive under their own antibribery laws, says Patrick M. Norton, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson who focuses on international mediation.

Slowly but surely, the game is changing.


Deadly landslides in China

Soldiers hold shovels after mudslides hit Zhouqu County in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province in this August 8, 2010 video grab. Mudslides engulfed the town in northwest China on Sunday, killing at least 127 people and leaving nearly 2,000 residents missing as rescue teams dug out crushed homes and sought to blast away debris clogging a river. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

Mudslides engulfed the town in northwest China on Sunday, killing at least 127 people and leaving nearly 2,000 residents missing as rescue teams dug out crushed homes and sought to blast away debris clogging a river.


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