Apple has told a prominent Chinese environmental activist that it will soon launch independent environmental audits of at least two suppliers’ factories in China, the activist said.
The audits come as Apple faces mounting criticism about toxic pollution and factory injuries at overseas suppliers’ factories. The environmental reviews would be separate from an independent probe of working conditions at the China factories of Apple suppliers, including Foxconn Technology, that began last week.
Ma Jun, founder of The Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs, told USA TODAY Monday in a phone interview that Apple agreed to the independent audits in late January in response to two reports that IPE and other environmental groups released last year documenting hazardous waste leaks and the use of toxic chemicals at suspected Apple suppliers.
Apple’s image has taken a beating with the problems at Foxconn, so let’s see if this is a new trend.
China undervalues its currency in order to gain competitive advantage around the world. Everyone understands that and it needs to change, but the question in the United State is how to effectively change it. The Obama administration is taking the gradual approach:
The Obama administration on Tuesday declined to label China a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan compared to the dollar.
The decision angered some manufacturing groups, which have accused Beijing of artificially holding down the value of its currency to gain trade advantages. A cheaper yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive when they are shipped to the United States. It also makes U.S. goods more expensive in China. Both could increase the U.S. trade deficit with China, which is on pace to hit a record high this year.
The Treasury Department said the yuan has appreciated 12 percent against the dollar in the past 18 months, after adjusting for inflation. In addition, the department said in a semi-annual report that China promised at two high-level meetings last month to make the yuan’s exchange rate more flexible.
Still, yuan is “substantially undervalued” and its appreciation “is insufficient and more progress is needed,” the report noted. The department will “press for policy changes that yield greater exchange rate flexibility” and “level the playing field.”
This will likely end up being a campaign issue as Mitt Romney and other GOP candidates are hammering Obama over China. But progress is being made.
Las Vegas casinos used to feast on Asian gamblers. Often, these were the “whales” – otherwise known as high rollers – that the casinos would rely upon to rack up huge profits from their casino operations.
The popularity of casino games is huge. People love playing online and they also love the atmosphere of a casino. This has always been a hallmark of the Asian culture, and Chinese tourists were becoming a huge growth opportunity for the Vegas casinos.
But all of that is changing due to two very powerful forces. One was the financial crisis which decimated the Vegas casinos. Everyone was affected, including Chinese tourists. Now the crowds are coming back to Vegas, but there is still a problem as there are fewer Asian high rollers.
And that’s due to the second factor – the emergence of Macau in China as a gambling destination. The casinos there are bigger than those in Vegas and the gambling volume has surpassed Las Vegas. Chinese whales now can stay on their own continent and get the same kind of thrill from progressive jackpot slots or hours of blackjack. They don’t have to look to Vegas as the best option.
This trend is having a huge impact on Chinese tourism, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Is China fighting a losing battle with its ridiculous censorship crusade?
Authoritarian governments need to control information to control their population, so none of this nonsense is a surprise. Now the Chinese are extending this strategy to movies:
China has proposed a new law to ban film content which it deems to disturb social stability or promote religious fanaticism.
The Movie Industry Promotion Bill would also forbid foreign firms or individuals from filming without a government-sanctioned partner.
Correspondents say this is part of an overall tightening of China’s grip over its cultural industries.
China has long banned the screening of films deemed politically sensitive.
And some film-makers have steered clear of controversial issues likely to upset the authorities, observers say.
But this draft bill adds even more categories open to censorship. It states that films must not harm national honour and interest, incite ethnic hatred, spread “evil cults” or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror.
The Chinese are trying their best with this despicable strategy, but can this work in a modern world where we have social media and mobile phones? Have they seen what’s going in with the Arab Spring and now even in Russia?
For example, if people want mobile gambling apps, they are going to get them. But the same phones that permit this technology can also be used for social networking, sharing photos, videos and protest ideas.
A Chinese rock band hired by Puma, a leading sports lifestyle company, plays American music covers during a public marketing event at an international fashion mall in Beijing. Foreign companies hoping to do business in China often hire local musicians, celebrities and athletes to help promote their brand to the largest consumer market in the world.
China, represented by the red line, began the year ranked tenth in terms of app sessions, with 1.8% of all sessions tracked by Flurry. By April, China had climbed to fifth with 2.7% of all sessions, and, in July, overtook the United Kingdom to become the second largest country, with 5.4% of sessions. By the end of October, China had further grown to 7.3% of sessions. The U.S., which declined in sessoin-share over the year, finished in October with 47%. If both China and the U.S. were to continue along their respective trajectories, China could overtake the U.S. by the end of 2013, with both countries converging around 23% app session-share.
The implications here are huge. Of course from a business point of view, sellers of apps have a huge opportunity in China. But it’s also important from a cultural point of view. The Chinese government wants to control its population by controlling information, but mobile apps present yet another source of information. Like the despots in the Middle East, the dictators in China will have to face a more educated and informed citizenry, and that will cause them problems.
Executive Vice President Andy Palmer announces that Nissan will establish a global headquarters for Infiniti in Hong Kong from April 2012. This is a big move for the automaker and demonstrates the huge importance of the Chinese car market, particularly for luxury brands like Infiniti.
With all the massive growth in China, there are serious problems below the surface. The basic problem is that the huge national and local governments are corrupt and cronyism rules. This has led to huge real estate loans that make little sense.
Meanwhile, small businesses who legitimately need capital have to resort to a shadow banking system, and that poses a whole new set a problems. The Chinese government is trying to address the issue.
Risks stemming from China’s shadow banking system and private lending must be “strictly controlled,” and such loans will be curbed, the head of the nation’s banking regulator said.
Loans to local government financing vehicles and the real- estate industry, which also pose dangers for the banking system, can be managed, Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said at a conference.
The government and regulators have already implemented “effective measures” that will ensure the overall risks are “controllable,” Liu said, according to a transcript of his speech posted on the regulator’s website yesterday.
Premier Wen Jiabao last week pledged to support smaller companies after media reports highlighted a credit squeeze that has driven many businesses to the so-called shadow banking system to obtain loans. More than 80 businessmen in the eastern city of Wenzhou have disappeared, committed suicide or declared bankruptcy to avoid repaying debts to informal lenders, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Oct. 12.
The story in China is much more complicated than you would learn from conventional wisdom and simple headlines.
Tom Friedman writes often about China, and his latest column addresses current hot issues like currency valuation, manufacturing and trade. But this paragraph grabbed my attention:
But we also need to stop thinking that a middle class can be sustained only by factory jobs. Thirty years ago, Hong Kong was a manufacturing center. Now its economy is 97 percent services. It has adjusted so well that this year the Hong Kong government is giving a bonus of $775 to each of its residents. One reason is that Hong Kong has transformed itself into a huge tourist center that last year received 36 million visitors — 23 million from China. Their hotel stays, dining and jewelry purchases are driving prosperity here. The U.S. Commerce Department says 801,000 Mainland Chinese visited the U.S. last year, adding $5 billion to the U.S. economy. More Chinese want to come, but, for security reasons, visas are hard to obtain. If we let in as many Chinese tourists as Hong Kong, it would inject more than $115 billion into what is a highly unionized U.S. hotel, restaurant, gaming and tourism industry.
The United States needs to get beyond some of the over-zealous security restrictions imposed after 9/11 and let as many Chinese and other tourists come visit as possible. Tourism has helped to sustain Europe for years, and the U.S. needs to take advantage of this as well.