Sep 30

China Watch Blog has learnt that http://www.change.org/ is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

For details contact:
Alex DiBranco
Senior Organizer, Women’s Rights, Change.org
551.206.8717 (mobile)
Skype: alex.change
Twitter: @alexdibranco

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that in face of the severe survival predicaments, China issued its first nation-level special plan for small and medium-sized enterprises last Thursday.

According to NewsGD.com, the Growth Plan for SMEs in the 12th Five-Year Program period (2011-2015) was released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at the 8th China International SME Fair held in Guangzhou.

A group of key projects and action plan will be launched, including building the public service platform network and improving SMEs’ capacity, according to Zhu Hongren, chief engineer at Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

According to the plan, the number of China’s SMEs will grow steadily in the next five years with an average annual growth rate of 8 percent.

There are five primary missions in the plan. First, to improve the capacity of establishing business and creating jobs; Second, to optimize the structure of SMEs; Third, to boost the development of the “new, distinctive, specialized and sophisticated” industries and the industrial clusters; Fourth, to upgrade enterprise management level; Fifth, to refine the service system of SMEs.

SMEs contribute to 60 percent of China’s industrial output and create 80 percent of the country’s jobs.

They are experiencing the greatest hardships this year and are at great risk of debt disputes. Shortages of electricity, capital and labor have led them to this predicament, and the soaring costs have made things worse.

Among the 60 small businesses and 10 industry associations interviewed by Xinhua in July in the costal provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong, as many as eight out of ten companies said they are suffering from operating difficulties more than ever before.

Thinner profits have made business owners reluctant to take orders, while a labor shortage, tightened electricity and money supply are impeding production. Many small businesses said they are faced with “the toughest time in the history.”

The Chinese government has made substantial efforts to support SMEs while simultaneously tightening its monetary stance to curb inflation this year.

To square the circle of curbing inflation while sustaining economic growth, the central bank and the National Development and Reform Commission have highlighted the necessity of encouraging financial institutions to support small and medium-sized enterprises while controlling total credit.

Hopefully, this newly released growth plan will get SMEs out of the predicaments and help SMEs to establish a modern enterprise system and credit system.

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Sep 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that WWF is inviting the public in Hong Kong to attend a Seafood Seminar on September 29, which will be held at 35 Garden Road, Central; where the global conservation group will kick-off the “Seafood Choice Initiative 2011” to raise public awareness towards the sustainability of seafood and create momentum for hospitality and catering businesses to tap into the sustainable seafood market.

Sustainable fishery is a way to alleviate the pressure to many threatened species and the ecosystem. At the WWF Seafood seminar, caterers, seafood suppliers, merchandisers and chefs will discuss the costs, benefits and challenges of sustainable seafood from different perspectives; and its benefits to the Hong Kong economy.

Please join WWF to discover more about sustainable seafood and its multi-faceted benefits on business, customers, and the world.

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Sep 25

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s inflation rate may accelerate to more than 6 percent year-on-year in June, which could bring the full-year consumer price index (CPI) for 2011 to as high as 5 percent, a government researcher said in remarks reported Sunday.

Zhang Zhuoyuan, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank in Beijing, was quoted as saying in a Global Times report that taming inflation would remain the priority in coming months. He called for faster steps to push real interest rates into positive territory and douse price pressures.

The People’s Bank of China has raised interest rates twice in 2011 and many analysts believe it may raise them again soon in an effort to control inflation.

“It will be very difficult for China to cap its annual inflation within 4 percent and the full-year CPI is likely to reach 5 percent,” Zhang was quoted as saying by State radio.

Beijing has set an annual inflation ceiling at 4 percent this year, but prices keep rising stubbornly and many economists have said it will be tough to achieve the goal.

Zhang said his inflation forecast for June also reflected the relatively low base of comparison of a year earlier.

He attributed the persistent inflationary pressure mainly to an excessive supply of money and credit over a long time, when Beijing rolled out a massive stimulus plan to shield the economy from the financial crisis.

According to a Reuters poll of 22 economists, China’s CPI in May may have accelerated to 5.4 percent from 5.3 percent in April.

The National Bureau of Statistics will publish monthly economic indicators, including the CPI, for May tomorrow.

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Sep 23

China Watch Blog has learnt that of the more than 10 suspects arrested and charged in fraud cases since the beginning of the year in Jing’an District, prosecutors have found that more than 70 percent of the victims were females.

Jiu Guang Dept store at west Nanjing road

Online chatting has become a typical way for suspects to approach female victims, no matter their age. Lonely older people were more likely to be cheated by “friends” their own age, prosecutors were quoted as saying in a Shanghai Daily report.

Liu Hao, a 19-year-old Anhui Province native, was charged with fraud after he swindled more than 60,000 yuan (US$9,284) from two women in their 20s he met through a chat program. Liu pretended to be a rich Singaporean in chat rooms, claiming that he owned properties in Hong Kong and was doing real estate business in Shanghai, according to prosecutors.

Lured by Liu’s handsome appearance and family background, the two victims, Zhang Hui and Wang Sui, started relationships with Liu, during which Liu took 50,000 yuan from Zhang and 10,000 yuan from Wang based on various lies. Prosecutors said Liu had only a primary school education and all he learned about Singapore was from the Internet.

In another case, a 41-year-old woman, surnamed Jiang, was defrauded of 90,000 yuan by her boyfriend whom she knew from a website.

“Women are easy victims in fraud cases because they tend to rely on people and easily trust them,” said Liu Bosong, a prosecutor. He warned women to be aware and check the stranger’s identity before lending money to their “lovers.”

The elderly, who live separately from their children, were as vulnerable as young women in investment and telecommunications fraud cases, prosecutors said.

Suspects got familiar with targeted victims often by offering petty favors.

In one case, a real estate agent got 50,000 yuan from a retired woman surnamed Zhu in June to pay for his gambling bills. The suspect had been a cross-age friend of Zhu for more than two years, and convinced her she was putting money toward the purchase of an apartment.

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Sep 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that Google recognizes the newly independent nation of South Sudan on Google Maps after a call for action on Change.org, which has become a very powerful force that the world is seeing.

Google has separated South Sudan from Sudan on Google Maps after more than 1,600 Change.org members called on Google and other major online map service providers to recognize the newly independent nation of South Sudan by marking it on their web maps.

South Sudan became an independent, sovereign nation on July 9th, 2011 after nearly 99% of the population voted in favor of independence. The referendum followed 50 years of civil war and brutal conflict which resulted in over 2 million deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people.

Six weeks after his home country gained independence, John Tanza Mabusu, a journalist from South Sudan currently living in Washington, DC, launched a petition on Change.org calling on online mapping services to update their maps to include the new country.

“The inclusion of South Sudan will give the people of that new nation pride and a sense of belonging, as citizens of a sovereign nation on the map,” said Mabusu. “I’m hoping that now that Google has officially recognized South Sudan on their maps, the other major online mapping services will quickly follow suit. The people of South Sudan fought long and hard for their independence and suffered greatly. It’s time these maps reflect their efforts and catch up.”

While South Sudan can now be found on Google Maps, it is still missing from Yahoo!, Microsoft and National Geographic maps.

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Sep 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Guangdong province received a boost, for what it is worth, with the launch of a new business alliance today (Sep 22), amid worries of increasing problems for them to stay afloat in the global economy.

Guangzhou

The alliance, which co-founders include IT giant Intel China Ltd, the Guangdong SME Informatization & Innovation Service Center, China Minsheng Bank’s Guangzhou Branch and Chinese bank card group China UnionPay’s Guangdong branch, helps businesses in the province gain access to much needed financing as they face growing difficulties to remain competitive.

Guangzhou building

Under the arrangement, SMEs will be able to use a high-tech payment system that links them to a network so that banks can determine their credit history and business activities to help them gain better access to loans and funds.

“Intel hopes this is the beginning of a much broader effort across China … SMEs are a crucial part of China’s economy. Helping SMEs grow and innovate for the future is important to all of us,” said Douglas Cougle, managing director of Intel China. “Intel and our partners are taking a step in that direction by collaborating together in this alliance to connect SMEs into the financial system … SMEs will be able to gain access to funding they so desperately need.”

Huang Yuezhen, head of the Guangdong SME Informatization & Innovation Service Center, said the new alliance will provide a platform for businesses in the region to use better technology to boost their efficiency and use IT to stay competitive in the new business environment.

“We hope this platform offers one solution to SMEs’ problems,” he said.

Many SMEs in Guangdong, an economic powerhouse of the Chinese economy fueled by low-cost manufacturing, have been faced with rising overall costs and a widening gap in their working capital. Authorities have refuted claims of SMEs experiencing bankruptcies in the province and maintained that their general situation is stable.

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Sep 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that Hong Kong has again been ranked by the Fraser Institute as No. 1 in the world for Economic Freedom, holding this No. 1 ranking for more than three decades.

HK's economy to forge ahead

Speaking at a gala dinner co-hosted by the Fraser Institute and the Lion Rock Institute, Chief Executive Donald Tsang, said: “We’ll do our best to make it No. 1 for the next three decades, too. We are never complacent in this.

“This recognition from the Fraser Institute highlights our long-standing commitment to free and open markets. This philosophy has served our city well – in good times and in bad, in times of stability and great upheaval.

The Fraser Institute last held its gala dinner here in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis. In fact, it was in the same week that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the US – a decision that only deepened the sense of gloom that was being felt in world markets at that time.

“Three years on, we are still feeling the aftershocks of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. Some economists are predicting a double-dip recession, which I am sure we all hope does not eventuate, but for which we must be well prepared,” Tsang said.

“In such testing times, it is important for an externally-oriented economy such as Hong Kong to remain true to our philosophy. That means strong fiscal discipline, low taxes, open markets, free flow of information, goods and capital, clean government and a level playing field for business,” he added.

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Sep 22

China Watch Blog wishes to inform readers that our website will be shutdown between 6am to 9am (HK time) for emergency maintenance on Sep 23, 2011. Our news service will resume after 9am.

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Sep 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that anti-fraud professionals will gather in Singapore for expert training and professional networking at the 2011 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference, to be held between October 23-25 at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort.

Prominent officials including Aedit Abdullah, Chief Prosecutor, Economic Crimes and Governance Division (Singapore); and Mark Steward, Executive Director, Enforcement Division, Securities and Futures Commission (Hong Kong) lead the list of experts who will share their insights and best practices in the fight against fraud.

Other keynote speakers include James D. Ratley, CFE, President and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE); and Peter Coleman, Executive Director, Forensic Services, Singapore & Southeast Asia, Deloitte & Touche Financial Advisory Services.

The event kicks off with a pre-conference, “Effectively Using Social Networks and Social Media in Fraud Examination,” and includes main conference tracks with focused subjects including “Fighting Intellectual Property Fraud” and “The Global Challenges of Bribery and Corruption.”

With educational workshops, a panel discussion, and networking opportunities throughout the conference, the ACFE urges auditors, anti-fraud professionals, accountants, compliance officers, security and law enforcement professionals, solicitors and anyone whose job involves the detection and/or prevention of fraud to attend.

Results from a fraud survey conducted by the ACFE lend a sense of urgency to the training. The recent “Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse: Asia-Pacific Edition” found that the median fraud loss for organisations in Asia is about US$300,000 – significantly higher than the global median loss of US$160,000, according to a survey of Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) who investigated cases between January 2008 and December 2009.

Corruption was the most commonly reported scheme, appearing in more than half of the Asia-Pacific fraud cases in the study. Survey respondents also estimate that the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud, which is consistent with the study’s worldwide estimate.

It is against this backdrop that professionals from nearly 20 countries will gather at the ACFE conference, the largest event of its kind in the region. Early registration for the conference lasts through next Friday, September 30.

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