Sep 30

China Watch Blog has learnt that reaching a speed of 416.6 km per hour, a new high-speed train linking Shanghai and Hangzhou set a fresh world record of train speed during its trial operation on Tuesday morning.

At an average speed of 350 km per hour, the high-speed train is expected to cut in half the existing travel time to 40 minutes to cover the 202-km journey between the two cities.

The train connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang province, is expected to start official operation in late October, according to State broadcaster China Central Television.

“The new record of 416.6 km per hour shows that China has achieved a new milestone in high-speed train technologies,” Zhang Shuguang, deputy chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways, was quoted as saying.

Liu Yulei, a China National Radio reporter who experienced the trial run, said she felt like she was flying when the train reached its peak speed.

Currently, China has 7,000-km of high-speed railway lines, the most of its kind in the world.

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Sep 29

China Watch Blog has learnt that a law expert is of the opinion that innovation and the resulting intellectual property (IP) will increasingly serve as a core element of China’s economic development, and that China’s rule of law will be the catalyst of efficiency and effectiveness in the administration of managed socio-economic change.
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“Innovation and IP will play a key role to reform China’s science and technology research and development,” said law expert Richard L. Thurston, who is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. (TSMC), a leading semiconductor manufacturer worldwide and has its headquarters in Taiwan, China.

“The focus of IP innovation is all about assets, and over time, that will enable China’s economic development,” Thurston said in a keynote speech delivered at John Marshall Law School in downtown Chicago.

He also noted that China is serious about its sustainable law reform, but not on the same basis nor for the same reasons as in the United States.

He believed that China will continue to reform its legal system and enforce its IP laws domestically, while modifying its IP system accordingly.

Meanwhile, he predicted that China’s companies will prioritize strategic IP portfolio development, seek to take the lead in the world in the years to come, and actively enforce their IP both at home and overseas.

Thurston also commented on China’s current priority. “China is focusing more and more on research and development … China is committed to protecting those assets with its evolving IP system,” he said.

The law expert, who cited recent statistics to explain his views, said: “In 2009, 543.3 billion yuan were spent by China on R&D, a 17.7 percent increase over 2008. In 2009, China had 976,686 patent applications, of which 877,611 were domestic. In 2009, China had 314,573 new inventions, of which 229,096 were domestic.”

By the end of 2009, of 1,520,000 total patents registered in China, 1,193,000 were domestic, he said, adding that: “All of these numbers reflect China’s focus on innovation and R&D.” The law expert also touched on China’s law reforms. “There have been many initiatives in law reforms — for example, the ongoing creation of many new arbitration commissions such as in October 2008, the creation of the Shanghai IP Arbitration Court with 24 professional consultants and arbitrators,” he said.

“The rule of law is crucial to China’s drive for greater scientific and technological innovation,” he said.

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that the sales value in the food industry reached around 2.8 trillion yuan, up 26 percent from the same period of last year.

Wang Wenzhe, former president of the China National Food Industry Association (CNFIA), which held its sixth national congress in Beijing on Monday.said the profit amounted to 176.7 billion yuan and the country’s food industry has four major problems.

First, the scale of enterprises is small and has low industrial concentration.

Second, there is a low level of industrialization. The proportion of industrialized food is less than half of total consumption, which is lower than in developed countries.

Third, the industry’s independent innovation capacity is low, as evidenced by the slow speed of development of new products and upgrades of products. The current value of new products accounts for only about 4 percent of the total and companies rely on imports for 60 percent of advanced equipment. In addition, there are large gaps in the comprehensive utilization of resources compared to the international advanced level.

Fourth, food safety problems are still prominent mainly due to the contamination of food materials, drug residues and biological pollution. In addition, some enterprises ignore relative regulations and manufacture fake food.

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that the value of Hong Kong’s total goods exports and imports in August grew 36% and 28.4% year-on-year, the Census & Statistics Department says.

The value of total goods exports, comprising re-exports and domestic exports, grew 36% over a year earlier to $290.1 billion, after a year-on-year increase of 23.3% in July.

Within this total the value of re-exports rose 36.3% to $283.9 billion in August while the value of domestic exports rose 23.2% to $6.2 billion.

Concurrently, the value of goods imports rose 28.4% over a year earlier to $302 billion in August. A visible trade deficit of $11.9 billion, equivalent to 3.9% of the value of goods imports, was recorded.

For the first eight months of the year the value of total goods exports rose 26.4% over the same period last year. The value of goods imports grew 30.4%.

A visible trade deficit of $220.6 billion, equivalent to 10.2% of the value of goods imports, was recorded in this year’s first eight months.

Meanwhile, total exports to Asia as a whole grew 40.7% in August, compared to last year. Particular strong increases were registered in the values of total exports to Thailand (+58.8%), Vietnam (+55.2%) and the Mainland (+44.7%).

Significant increases were also recorded in the values of imports from all major suppliers, especially Singapore (+38.1%), the US (+35.2%) and Japan (+34.9%).

For the first eight months of this year, significant year-on-year rises were registered in the values of total exports to all major destinations, particularly India (+44.2%), Taiwan (+38%) and the Mainland (+32.9%).

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that a poor man has to sign a prenuptial agreement before his rich mother-in-law agrees to let the man and her daughter get married.

Wuhan Evening News reported that the man, 28, surnamed Zhang, comes from an impoverished region in Bijie, Southwest China’s Guizhou province and now works in Wuhan, Hubei province. Three years ago, he felt in love with a girl, surnamed Yang, from Fuyang in East China’s Anhui province.

Yang’s parents are both civil servants and are financially well-off. Despite the continuous objections of her parents, Yang refused to dump Zhang and insisted on getting married in October this year.

Seeing no hope of breaking up the relationship, Yang’s mother had to give up but required Zhang to sign a written contract, with many stipulations.

Zhang must move to Anhui province to develop his career otherwise he needs to pay 100,000 yuan ($14,900) as compensation. He also must pay one million yuan if he has an extramarital affair.

According to the contract, Zhang must also cook dishes to Yang’s taste and be responsible for washing, cutting and cooking vegetables as well as cleaning dishes.

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that the Chinese government will encourage private investment in the healthcare sector, and related rules are likely to be released by the end of October.

According to a National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) statement on Sunday, private capital can find its way into hospitals and community health services.

Meanwhile, private medical institutions can apply to be part of the nation’s medical insurance system, and their employees will be provided training and welfare just as in government-controlled institutions, the China Daily reported.

The nation will strengthen financial support for healthcare system reform and help private companies increase service quality, said Chen Yongjie, an expert at the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

Local governments should treat private medical companies and State-owned institutions equally when it comes to allocating government capital, according to the NDRC report.

Additionally, private companies will get financial support if they invest in the healthcare sector, especially if the services provided are of high value.

Many private companies are expecting help from the government, as they face problems such as lack of professional facilities and very high operational costs, said Xu Weirong, the vice-executive secretary of the Zhejiang Federation of Industry and Commerce.

Hospitals that also provide medical insurance services are not very profitable. Private hospitals are also taxed on par with government-controlled ones. Therefore, without adequate subsidies from the government, it will be hard for private hospitals to operate cost effectively, said the director of a Shanghai-based private hospital, declining to be quoted by name.

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Sep 26

China Watch Blog has learnt that Beijing will levy anti-dumping duties of between 50.3 percent to 105.4 percent on imports of US chicken products from September 27.

According to the Ministry of Commerce in an online statement, citing the results of an investigation initiated one year ago, claimed that the US chicken industry has dumped broiler products into the Chinese market and caused substantial damage to the domestic industry.

“The ruling is that there is a causal relationship between the US dumping of broiler products and the losses suffered by domestic businesses,” the statement said.

The tariff rate for products China imports from Tyson Foods Inc and Keystone Foods LLC is 50.3 percent and that for Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is 53.4 percent, according to the statement.

Sanderson Farms Inc and 31 other American companies face duties of 51.8 percent. Other US producers face a 105.4-percent duty.

The anti-dumping measures will be applied to the products for five years, according to the statement.

The move comes after China imposed anti-subsidy duties ranging from 4 percent to 30.3 percent on US chicken products in late August for five years, after it concluded US producers had received improper government subsidies and hurt the domestic industry.

In 2008, US exports of chicken products to China rose 12.34 percent year-on-year to 584,300 tons.

About 305,600 tons of US chicken products landed in China in the first half of 2009, up 6.54 percent year-on-year and representing 89.24 percent of China’s total chicken product imports.

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Sep 26

China Watch Blog has learnt that experts have their suggestions on how to avoid burnout at mid-career, but many young executives have also chosen to solve it their own way.

The middle ground is the way to go, according to Li Xu, medical director of Beijing Psychen-Chestnut Global Partners Inc. Young executives have to seek a balance between professional and private lives, and they must choose to be more active outside of work. They should also establish a support network of family or friends to see them through rough patches.

Employers, too, are being encouraged to keep communications open, so young executives have clearer, more manageable goals and are allowed to build up self-esteem and self-respect as they clamber up the rungs.

Psychiatrist Tian Chenghua says burnout is not recognized as a mental disorder but is more a psychological state when workers feel emotionally or physically exhausted. As a result, efficiency may lower and productivity drops. Patients who come to him describing burnout are simply asked to slow down.

Zhang Xichao, a professor of psychology with Beijing Normal University, elaborates: “When people suffer burnout, they may fade at the workplace because they can no longer function properly. There is no more passion.” Zhang agrees that burnout is not a disease, but more a negative attitude that is hard to correct. His solution is simple.

“Once they stop working, the problem will be solved.”

Zhang may have a point, like in the case of Wen Wen, 28, who gave up her job at a fashion magazine in Shanghai nine months ago to become a full-time housewife when she could no longer take the pressure at work. Now, she travels and takes cooking lessons and is much happier for it.

Many members of the online discussion groups on douban.com say they finally plucked up courage and stopped working. Some say they have done it several times.

Dropping out of the rat race is not all negative. Some executives who quit have channeled their energy into a more positive mode by volunteering with charity groups.

Li Zhiyan, director of Social Resources Institute, a non-government organization (NGO) on corporate social responsibility, finds many highly paid professionals who used to work long hours join the NGOs because they could find no personal fulfillment at work.

“They see themselves accomplishing more by working for the poor and disadvantaged groups,” he says.

Ling Hui, senior program officer with Youchange Volunteer Support Center, says about 10 to 20 percent of its volunteers say they have experienced burnout. Some recuperate by working part time with the NGO, while others have turned full time.

More companies are recognizing this need for fulfillment outside of work and are arranging for employees to do volunteer work. In the process, management is finding the process actually encourages team building and their extra effort makes employees appreciate their bosses more.

Burnout will happen in any job, and the only way to avoid the stress is to go in with the correct attitude, no matter at which level of management.

For the employees, it is managing expectations of both the job and themselves. And for the employers, it is recognizing the stress at the different levels of management and finding the best ways to harness the positive and avoid the negative.

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Sep 25

China Watch Blog has learnt that Beijing’s traffic problems seem to be worsening, and last week, it took taxi driver Liu Chunwang two hours to drive his passenger 4 miles (7 kilometers).

“I’ve never experienced a worse situation,” the 28-year-old Liu, who has been navigating the Chinese capital’s roads for four years, was quoted as saying in a China Post report. “It was such a short distance but there was nothing I could do.”

Traffic congestion is nothing new to this metropolis of more than 17 million people but, in recent months, the gridlock seems to be reaching new highs, as surging auto sales put more cars on Beijing’s streets. A bout of heavy rain left the city virtually paralyzed recently, with more than 140 bottlenecks reported.

An average of 1,900 new cars has been sold every day this year, bringing the number of vehicles in Beijing to 4.5 million as of July. At the current rate, the Beijing Transportation Research Center estimates that car ownership will reach 7 million by 2015, which it says would bring average driving speeds in the city to a crawl of 9 miles (15 kilometers) per hour.

“As China’s economy and the urbanization process developed rapidly, traffic jams in metropolitan areas were bound to happen,” said Guo Jifu, head of the research center, noting that Beijing’s population is growing by half a million people a year.

Beijing added 415,000 vehicles last year and is on track to add more than 600,000 this year — an amount equal to the total number of vehicles in Hong Kong, Guo said.

“In Beijing, the number of cars that families own, the growth rate of car ownership and the intensity of the usage of cars are all higher than those of foreign cities such as New York and Tokyo,” he said. “When the traffic load reaches a certain level, a light disruption like an accident could destabilize the system and amplify the disruptive effect.”

The city is currently in the midst of one disruption with another one coming up: the three-day Mid-Autumn festival began on Wednesday, and it will be followed by the weeklong National Day holiday starting Oct. 1.

The warnings were dire ahead of this week’s holiday: Traffic police said roads would be clogged for at least seven hours, starting at 3 p.m. Then came word that rush hour had begun at 1 p.m. as motorists left work early to get a jump on the traffic.

China’s traffic woes came to international attention last month with a monster traffic jam that lasted 10 days and extended along a major highway for 60 miles (100 kilometers) to the outskirts of Beijing.

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Sep 24

China Watch Blog has learnt that Google’s new trademark policy will see advertising costs spiral, counterfeits rise, brand owners damaged

Last week Google announced it would be rolling out a new trademark policy in the UK (to replicate that of the US). Matthew Whiteway, Client Services Director at Greenlight, a specialist search and social marketing consulting and technology firm, says this will have severe implications for advertisers, user experience and brand owners.

According to Whiteway, not only do brand owners now risk losing sales to unauthorised sellers and counterfeiters, they will see spiralling costs in their pay per click (PPC) campaigns. In one case, a well known brand has already seen its brand cost per click (CPC) increase 104% in one day alone, as a result of the sheer number of unauthorised and counterfeit sellers now bidding and using its trademarked terms in its ad copy.

Previously, Google had amended its trademark policy allowing any advertiser to “bid” on a company’s trademarked terms. Whilst some advertisers initially saw this as an opportunity to pinch traffic from competitors, in reality, due to Quality Score implications, very few actively bid aggressively on competitor terms.

Google’s new trademark policy goes one step further. It allows advertisers to actually display the trademarked keyword in their ad copy (providing they are a reseller, provider of components or for informational purposes). The rationale behind the change in policy is a little unclear.

However, Google appears to be distancing itself from any form of trademark owner complaints, stating it is simply a “provider of space for advertisements” and that any trademark complainants should be made directly with the advertiser.

The new trademark policy does therefore have some serious implications, not only for the advertiser, but for the user experience too. Google prides itself on delivering the most relevant, user friendly experience out of all the search engines in the UK and US.

However, a search on Google for “UGG Boots” now delivers some very confusing adverts.

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