Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is China a Copycat? - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
+Shaun Rein 
China veteran Shaun Rein is on a book tour for his latest one The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia. A report from the Business of Design Week 2014 at "Rein is born to be on stage, his speech is just enjoyable and enthralling."

Rein is born to be on stage, his speech is just enjoyable and enthralling. 
He starts his speech introducing his new book, the best-selling business guide ‘ The end of Copycat China”, and addressing the audience with “China is not innovating, gdp is dropping till several years, Chinese innovation happened hundreds of years ago, they have invented compass, banknotes, but what about the last 30 years?” Than he engage the audience asking if anybody can come up with some recent Chinese innovation.
What sounds like a strait accusation to China, suddenly turns into an analysis  of the state of the art and of the challenges at the base of China’s future. 
Regulation: The innovation development  has moved from USA to Europe, Japan, Korea, and now China. Development and innovation’s  history repeats itself. Charles Dickens in 1842 says  about Europe: “I spoke as you know, of international copyright ... my blood so boiled as I thought of the monstrous injustice”. 
China is facing a wide range of  limitations like Government censorship, regulation & copyright protection. He gives the audience a personal experience. Being american, he loves the food chain Subway, and see it as a homey, safe brand.  Unfortunately, he discovers that in the whole China, only a couple of dozens are original, all others are copies. Every year the Subway brand takes the case to Court, the Court admits the fraud, but nothing happens. 
Something is changing. Chinese are investing billions in brands and are asking out laud to the Government for regulation. 
Why is China changing now?   
Pollution: Pollution is a more and more severe problem and is changing how people think in China. They care more about health and travel than fashion. “Who care for a LV bag if I die for pollution”. The new business is moving towards heathy life. Escaping or staying home is the new trend, so traveling and home decoration are booming. 
Creativity: Nationalism is raising, 9 out of top 10 Alibaba sales are Chinese brands. Western brands must understand the transformation and truly do products for Chinese consumers, not just use Chinese models. In fact, more and more people are looking for Chinese brands to announce themselves, hence, Design is going nostalgic. The outcome is an emerging rush to art and craft industry, making products  ‘for Chinese made by Chinese’. 
Urbanization: The effect of industrialization is the migration of people from the countryside to the cities. This is a big issue for the Chinese Government. In the last decades, migrants have saturated any possible and impossible space in the cities. Now The Government has entered in action to correct and stabilize the situation. The political strategy rely on two main points, renovate and relocate.  People are relocated in satellite cities built by selected big developers with eco-friendly knowhow, and city centers, once cleared,  are entering a phase of transformation and modernization. 
Corruption crack down: The effect of corruption in the Chinese economy is no longer sustainable as it affects and delays  the development.  To face the change on salary e life cost, the Government is taking serious actions to crack down corruption as the only way to push companies innovating. China is evolving from ‘Copycat’ to ‘Innovation for China’ stage, small and big Chinese venture capitalists are investing in biotech and mobile and, ‘Invention  and Innovation is most about business innovation’, business can’t evolve in a corrupted environment. 
Once China will complete the ‘Innovation for China’ stage than will be ready to evolve into the ‘Innovation for the world’ final step.
  Shaun Rein

More at StylebyAsia 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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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Xi Jinping is turning a page, whether you like it or not - Arthur Kroeber

Arthur Kroeber
Arthur Kroeber
Much has been written about China´s slowing economic growth, its new outspoken foreign policy and general assertiveness. Xi Jinping´s project is on track, writes analyst Arthur Kroeber in the Huffington Post, and we better get used to it.

Arthur Kroeber:
In short, China is a successful authoritarian developmental state which is now rich enough to start setting its own rules rather than just accepting other peoples'. That is the Xi project. To recognize this fact does not require one to celebrate it, or to ignore the costs of the authoritarian strategy. So long as it insists on clamping down on information networks, China can never become a global technological leader or anything close to it. So long as it deprives citizens of political and civil rights considered basic in virtually every other middle- or upper-income country in the world, it will remain a cultural desert and its "soft power" will be stunted. These are real costs, and big ones. But they are costs the leadership has decided to bear, and it is a fantasy to think they will be punished for this decision not to emulate the liberal democratic ideal. China, to steal John Connally's famous phrase about the dollar, is its own country, and other people's problem. It will develop in its own way, on its own terms, and others will just have to work with it as best they can.
Much more arguments in the Huffington Post.

Arthur Kroeber 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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Monday, December 15, 2014

My fascination with India - Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia
Zhang Lijia
India as a holiday destination raises different feelings among tourists, but author Zhang Lijia admits on het weblog she is fascinated by the country. She recalls her first stay in New Delhi, and how she encountered Anuj – a book seller in Delhi.

Zhang Lijia:
I met Anuj, the owner of Bahri and Son Bookstore in Khan Market on my second night in Delhi. When I reached the bookstore, I noticed the sign ‘closed’ on the door, though the light was still on. Just as I was about to leave, two people arrived, one Indian man in his early 30’s with wild curly hair and a middle-aged western woman. The man went inside and started to talk to the owner. He obviously knew the owner. I thought: why couldn’t I follow his suit? Inside the store, I found the owner, a man in his fifties with a handle bar moustache, sit on a high counter, doing his paper work. It seems to me he is the easy-going type and someone feels totally comfortable with himself and his position in the world. I told him that I was looking for a book about prostitution in Mumbai called The Beautiful Thing. The book owner chuckled: “how uncanny is this? You came to look for a book about prostitution in Mumbai and right in front you is the man who has just published a book on prostitution in Delhi.” The young man, named Mayank handed me a copy of his book, entitled Nobody Can Love You More: life in delhi’s red light district. We swapped name cards and chatted. When the owner heard I was a writer from China, he climbed down to join us. Holding my name card, he exclaimed: “I know you. I sold your books before!” Then he asked: “Have you got an agent?” I told him that the agency represented my last book didn’t exist any more. He clapped and said, with child like delight: “Now, we need to talk. May be I can serve you as your agent?” I know there are few literary agents in India and some book owners function as agents. But I told him that I wasn’t sure that I needed an India agent to present me. Still he asked: “How about lunch tomorrow? On me.” I said I had lunch plan already. “Then the day after tomorrow?” I agreed happily, especially the young writer was also going to join us. After the pair left, the owner, named Anuj, and I started to chat. It turned out that we have a few Indian writers as mutual friends/acquaintances. I love contemporary Indian literature, much better and richer than the Chinese. I guess the Indians have their own rich literary heritage and easy access to English language/education and there’s no censorship, not the same way as China anyway. Then he invited me to join him and his family for dinner. Why not, even though I had already had my dinner. That’s another thing I love about the Indians: they are often so warm, hospital and spontaneous. So I went to his house to meet his Canada-born Indian wife and their three lovely grown children. He took us to his favorite restaurant – a road side Chinese/thai restaurant where we enjoyed a hearty meal and even heartier laughs. 
Oh, the joy of travel!
More at Zhang Lijia´s weblog.

Zhang Lijia 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.

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Copycat China, review by Financial Professionals´ Post - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
+Shaun Rein 
Reviews and awards for Shaun Rein´s latest book The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia are flooding in, just in time to order your Christmas present. Today Bill Hayes the Financial Professionals´Post of the New York Society of Security Analysts look at Shaun´s recent book.

The Financial Professionals´ Post:
In response to more competition, higher costs, and changing consumers, Chinese companies are being forced to move up the value chain and become innovative. "There is so much competition in China that you can't just copy a concept. You have to differentiate yourself in order to win. So you are forced to innovate," Rein wrote. This has occurred despite a government bureaucracy that had no incentive to promote innovation. "Officials simply do not want to take risks that could endanger their chances of being promoted." In the past, they were evaluated on GNP growth. 
In a chapter called "End of Bling," the book describes how the Chinese consumer is moving away from simply chasing fashionable Western brands. They are going from "displaying status to quality of life," from "aspirational plays" as "they climbed up the social ladder." A big factor was the huge residential real estate boom from 2003 - 2008, "which could be the greatest wealth creator in the history of the world," which in turn (amongst other things) was spent on travel. In 2013, 113 million Chinese traveled abroad. This generation of Chinese travelers is "looking for local culture in more intimate settings," "places where other Chinese have not been." Currently "the new status symbol is sharing experiences on WeChat." The End of Copycat China is written in a fast moving, engaging style. This and the author's descriptions of today's China keep the reader's interest. The book is an extraordinary educational resource for financial professionals who want to be up-to-date on potentially profitable trends in China
More at the Financial Professionals´ 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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Friday, December 12, 2014

Violence in Hong Kong will hurt China – Victor Shih

Victor Shih
Victor Shih
Many expected a more violent end to the protests in Hong Kong, but not financial expert Victor Shih, he tells in the Institutional Investor. He was not surprised by the cautious approach Beijing displayed in Hong Kong.

The Institutional Investor:
The cost of violent repression would be steep for China, says Victor Shih, associate professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on China´s financial sector. Chinese companies have relied on Hong Kong as their primary offshore funding source, with nearly half of the 1,500 companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange based in China. Banks in Hong Kong have lent "hundreds of billions of dollars" to Chinese companies over the years, he adds. "Any violent resolution to the Hong Kong protests will cause the crashing of all these assets, resulting in major losses to the Chinese elite and state enterprises," says Shih, who was born in Hong Kong. "I suspect this has a lot to do with the cautious approach that Beijing has taken so far."
More in the Institutional Investor.

Victor Shih 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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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nervous HK rich seek backup after protests - Wei Gu

Wei Gu
+Wei Gu 
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong might be fizzling, but its richer residents have started to look for alternatives, writes WSJ wealth editor Wei Gu in the Wall Street Journal. High home prices, costs of living and pollution add to their worries.

Wei Gu:
Immigration demand has been subdued in recent years after a rush to leave the city in the 80s, prior to 1997, when the U.K. gave Hong Kong back to China. But it has crept up in recent years due to skyrocketing home prices, high costs of living and pollution. 
Eugene Chow, an immigration lawyer at Chow Kong & Associates, said some of the unhappy middle class people are looking for a way out. “A client told me he didn’t want to raise his children in this increasingly polarized society,” said Mr. Chow.
According to calculations by Hong Kong Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, the cost of raising a child from birth to college graduation in Hong Kong averages about 5.5 million Hong Kong dollars (US$710,000) for a middle-class family. (A recent calculation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the average cost for a middle-class family to raise a child up to college age was $245,340
Hong Kong’s average home price is equal to 14.9 times gross annual median household income, making it the least affordable city globally in a Demographia survey. 
“Lot of frustration has been built in Hong Kong, Occupy Central sparked interest even more,” said Denny Ko, an immigration lawyer at PrimAsia Metropolis Immigration Consulting Ltd, adding that Taiwan has been an attractive destination for middle class Hong Kong people who want an easy place to live nearby.
More at the Wall Street Journal.

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"Blind massage", a movie review - Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia
+Lijia Zhang 
The movie ´Blind Massage´ (Tui Na) by the director Lou Ye has been winning a range of awards, including a nomination for the Golden Bear in Berlin. Author Zhang Lijia visited the movie with her friend Elke, and was impressed, despite some flaws, she writes on her weblog.

Zhang Lijia:
The movie is packed with interesting characters. There is Little Ma who lost his eyesight and his mother in a childhood accident. At the poular he has a big crash on the girlfriend of a colleague. To stop him to ‘explode’, his friend introduces him to a massage paulour (brothel) where he falls in love with a working girl. 
There’s jolly boss Sha Fumin who is into dancing, poetry and other his spiritual pursues. He falls in love with the most beautiful girl in the parlour named Du Hong. But Du is in love with Little Ma. 
There’s the handsome guy Dr. Wang, who nearly bleeds himself to death in order paying back his brother’s debts. 
A young girl Jin Yan is going blind slowly but surely. Before the darkness falls, she desperately tries to secure love and grab a man with open eyes. 
The movie raises some interesting questions: what is beauty when you can’t see? Boss Sha becomes obsessed with beautiful Du Hong because clients always make such comments. Du rejects him because she doesn’t think his obsession with her is love. 
I also like the part when Du Hong leaves the parlour in the end. I thought she is going for Boss Sha after he raises money to pay for her operation when she hurts her hand. The level-headed girl knows that gratitude and love are different things. it doesn’t always lead to love. 
The problem with the movie is that the cast is too big. So it doesn’t have the time or space to explore the characters with depth therefore explaining to the audience their motivation a little better. For example, I don’t understand why Dr. Wang would cut himself on the chest. To earn his dignity as claimed? It’s not his debt. Jin Yan wins the heart of the man too easily. The film doesn’t have time to show her desperation: how she reads every romantic book available as described in the book. 
Quite a few scenes are melodramatic, such as Dr. Wang’s self-injury, Jin Yan’s wailing after she is first rejected by her love interest; (her stuffing orange into her mouth is a more effective way to show her frustration) and Boss Sha’s spitting blood. 
And all the characters are good-hearted people, which make them lack of dimensions. In the end, it is a good movie, especially by Chinese standard. It certainly moved me (which is not too difficult). At first I tried not to cry. When I heard Elke sniffing, I allowed my tears to flow. I also found part of dialogue, in Nanjing dialect, endearing.
More at Zhang Lijia´s weblog.

Zhang Lijia 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.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Prada has to reinvent itself - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
+Shaun Rein 
Prada is still drawing large queues at outlets in Asia and Europe, those queues are one third smaller than they used to be. Branding expert and author Shaun Rein sees Prada has more problems with Chinese customers than the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, he tells in CNBC.

Shaun Rein, managing director at China Market Research Group, believes Prada's challenges in the mainland run deeper than Beijing's anti-extravagance campaign. 
On one hand it doesn't have the brand loyalty among wealthy mainlanders, who favor brands like Chanel or Hermes. And on the other hand, it's out of reach for the middle class. 
"It's not going to be easy for Prada," Rein Said. "They are going to have to look at their product mix, target younger, female customers who are typically more optimistic and spend more, and push their Mui Mui brand rather than Prada."
More in CNBC.

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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Did Pyongyang attack Sony? - Paul French

Paul French
+Paul French 
High-end cyber unites, attacks on Sony, threats with nuclear weapons. North-Korea has not been short of themes for Hollywood new movies, but Pyongyang watcher Paul French doubts whether Kim Jong-un likes recent movie releases, he writes for Reuters.

Paul French:
It seems Kim Jong-un doesn’t like the new Seth Rogan movie, The Interview. Not surprising really, it’s a comedy about a fictitious plot to assassinate him. Now Sony Pictures has been the subject of a massive cyber-attack disrupting the company’s communications system and leaking upcoming movies – no more rogue DPRK nukes to keep us awake at night, but rather illicit downloads of a new version of Annie
North Korea has, unsurprisingly, been accused of mounting the attack and, equally unsurprisingly, denies it. But they may be on shaky ground. Last summer, when the movie’s plot was first announced, Pyongyang immediately responded, called on the U.S. government to ban the film and threatening a “merciless and resolute” response. In what may be a first for the United Nations, the secretary general was personally informed, by the DPRK’s ambassador, that a rom-com was an ‘act of war.’ The UN has declined to get involved in debating mild comedy... 
So they don’t like The Interview at all, they don’t like Seth Rogen much, and it won’t be playing at the regional multiplexes in Manpo, Hamhung or Wonsan because no American films will be playing in these towns and there are no multiplexes anyway. But do they hate it enough to cyber-attack Sony Pictures? 
Pyongyang says no, but there’s a lot of reasons to think yes. North Korea certainly has substantial cyber-warfare resources developed both in-house and, probably, with the help of the Chinese military and helpful hackers. As South Korea’s technical capabilities, brands and software engineering have become world class, so the North has had to try and keep up. While this has not meant a computer in every home (or even more than a handful in every town), a broadband nation or any North Korea conglomerate the equivalent of an LG or a Samsung, it has meant a highly developed military cyber-attack unit. The North is constantly prepared for war with the South and rendering Seoul electronically “dark” is a vital component of this. Additionally, cyber warfare suits the economically distraught DPRK – hi-tech cyber warriors with laptops don’t need masses of gasoline the way tanks, warships and fighter jets annoyingly do. That Sony is the American entertainment subsidiary of the Japanese parent may well have encouraged any decision to do a little cyber mischief making – Pyongyang remains in a state of insult slinging and perpetual tension with Tokyo. An American company with a Japanese parent embarrassed and rendered impotent electronically – a double whammy for the North.
More at Reuters.

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