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    1. A China More Just, Gao Zhisheng
    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
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    Will the Boat Sink the Water? Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    4.
    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
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    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Company’ Category

China: Sexual prematurity in babies- Dairy Companies Face New Questions

Posted by Author on August 12, 2010


By BRIAN SPEGELE, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 12, 2010 –

BEIJING— Mounting questions about abnormal hormone levels in several Chinese infants who demonstrated early signs of puberty have again put a Chinese milk supplier and New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. on the defensive about their products.

The latest issue comes two years after the 2008 milk scandal, in which at least six children died and 300,000 were sickened from milk that contained dangerous levels of melamine, an industrial chemical.

The Chinese company at the center of the latest questions, Nasdaq-listed Synutra International  Inc., insists it isn’t to blame for symptoms of sexual prematurity in babies, including breast growth. On Synutra’s website, it says the company has never added illegal hormones to its milk products, and questions links between its product and the babies’ signs of puberty.

“These claims are highly irresponsible and based on speculation instead of scientific evidence,” said the company’s chairman and chief executive, Liang Zhang. “As a well-known and trusted provider of infant formula in China, we are completely confident that our products are safe and our quality levels are industry leading.”

Earlier this month, parents and doctors in central China’s Hubei province began voicing concern that milk powder from Synutra had caused at least three infant girls to exhibit signs of puberty, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. This week, Ministry of Health officials said they were launching an investigation into the milk powder.

At a news conference on Tuesday, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Health said multiple factors could cause sexual prematurity, and experts couldn’t yet determine whether food was a factor, Xinhua reported.

In 2008, Fonterra, one of New Zealand’s largest companies, faced a wave of criticism in the aftermath of the milk scandal. Fonterra owned a large stake in one of the companies at the center of the scandal, the now-defunct Sanlu Group, but has flourished in China following Sanlu’s closing. Synutra recalled some of its products during the melamine scare…….(more details from Wall Stret Journal)

Posted in Business, Children, China, Company, Economy, Incident, Life, Made in China, News, People, products, scandals, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China: Sexual prematurity in babies- Dairy Companies Face New Questions

China’s Foxconn faces fresh suicide fears as 14th worker dies

Posted by Author on August 6, 2010


The Telegraph, 06 Aug 2010 –

The 22-year old woman died on Wednesday after falling from a dormitary building at its Kunshan plant in eastern Jiangsu province, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer said on Friday.

Thirteen Chinese employees have committed suicide this year at Foxconn plants and an affiliate by jumping from buildings, including 10 in the southern city of Shenzhen.

It was unclear whether the latest death was a sucide. The company said it was working with local authorities to investigate.

The suicides at Foxconn – which generates revenues of $40bn annually making everything from iPads to desktop computers and televisions – have put the spotlight on working conditions for millions of factory workers in China, the “workshop of the world”.

Protestors in May laid traditional Chinese funeral offerings at Foxconn’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Employment rights campaigers have also criticised the “military-style” regime at Foxconn’s Longhua plant in Shenzhen in particular, where 300,000 people work.

Company founder Terry Gou was earlier this year cleared by Chinese authorities of any wrongdoing in the period leading up to the suicides. He has said none of the suicides was directly work-related.

In June, Foxconn instituted two dramatic pay increases for its workers, designed, it said, attract better-qualified workers at a time when there are labour shortages across China’s manufacturing belts.

Following the latest rise, which will take full effect from October 1, the basic salary for production-line workers at Foxconn’s will have risen from 900 renminbi (£91.30) per month two weeks ago to 2,000 renminbi (£203).

The company employs more than 800,000 workers in China.

Telegraph

Posted in Business, China, Company, Incident, Life, News, People, SE China, Social, Worker, World | Comments Off on China’s Foxconn faces fresh suicide fears as 14th worker dies

Chinese Users Report Google’s “question and answer” Page Blocked

Posted by Author on August 2, 2010


By OWEN FLETCHER, The Wall Sreet Journal, Aug. 2, 2010 –

BEIJING— A new Google Inc. question-and-answer page for Chinese users was inaccessible in China on Monday less than two weeks after Google announced the service.

Users in China reported problems viewing the site, http://www.google.com.hk/wenda, but a Google spokeswoman said the company was having no technical problems.

“Google.com.hk has generally been available to users since we moved our search services there,” she said.

She declined to comment on whether Chinese authorities had blocked the question-and-answer service.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees the Internet industry, didn’t immediately reply to a fax requesting comment.

The access issues highlight concerns that Google could lose Chinese users and advertisers if some of its services are seen as not reliable. Uncertainty has clouded Google’s future in China since the company in March moved its China search service to Hong Kong over concerns about Chinese government censorship requirements.

Google launched the new service, labeled “beta,” on its Hong Kong site after saying last month it would end technical support for a similar service from mainland Chinese Internet company Tianya. Google at the time emphasized its intent to keep serving Chinese users…….(More details from The Wall Sreet Journal)

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Freedom of Speech, Google, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Social, Technology, World | Comments Off on Chinese Users Report Google’s “question and answer” Page Blocked

Foreign Companies Shy Away From China

Posted by Author on July 27, 2010


Oxford Analytica, 07.27.10 –

Foreign companies are becoming more concerned by what they see as barriers to market entry and unfair treatment in China. Furthermore, in a departure from past practice, prominent corporate figures have been making their criticisms known publicly. In the Financial Times China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming characterized China as a market that has become increasingly open, remains attractive to foreign investors, and is responsive to foreign concerns and good for the global economy.

Domestic markets. As the era of manufacturing in China for export by multinational companies is coming to a close, and manufacturing in China for Chinese consumers is the growing incentive to be there. However, corporate executives are becoming increasingly concerned by what they say are barriers preventing their entry into the market.

Outspoken critics. General Electric (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt reportedly expressed concerns about China and uncertainty as to whether China wanted companies to be successful earlier this month. Immelt later expressed doubts about whether he had spoken as bluntly as reported, thereby triggering a media flurry within and outside China. Indeed, foreign businesses usually avoid talking openly about problems they have in China; backroom negotiation is preferred and press attention typically not welcome. However, Jurgen Hambrecht, chairman of BASF, and Peter Loescher, chief executive of Siemens, went further in breaking the unspoken rule when they met Premier Wen Jiabao, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on July 19. It is highly unusual for foreign visitors to criticize Beijing’s policies in front of senior Chinese leaders on a public occasion, yet both complained about the need to transfer technology to Chinese partners for deals to go ahead, obstructions put up against them in getting access to the Chinese domestic market, and intellectual property violations.

Response. China’s official news service, Xinhua, was quick to respond. On July 20 it highlighted that, contrary to negative assessments about China’s business environment, foreign direct investment (FDI) in China had jumped by 19.6% year-on-year in the first half. It noted how much promise Chinese companies saw in the ‘consumption boom’ China offered.

Less favorable regime. Part of the issue is that China has slowly reduced its favorable treatment for FDI, with tax breaks and other perks now largely phased out. While they still want foreign investment, provinces are becoming much more picky about the kind of investment on offer, and they have fewer policy tools to encourage investors to come.

Changed game. Furthermore, the game is changing. Investment has transformed regions such as Guangdong and Fujian into the world’s largest suppliers of items such as microwaves, electronic goods and toys. Labor disputes this year are the latest reminder of pressures that are pushing costs up, and there no longer appears to be the limitless pool of cheap labor that there once was. This has had a knock-on effect on prices.

Foreign manufacturers have also had to deal with the tougher employment regulations in the Contract Law of early 2008. Companies are caught in a quandary:

–China is no longer the cheap manufacturing base it used to be; but

–there is no easy alternative destination boasting factories on such a scale and good links to the international supply chain.

(By the Forbes)

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Investment, News, Politics, Social, World | Comments Off on Foreign Companies Shy Away From China

Motorola sues China’s Huawei for trade secret theft

Posted by Author on July 22, 2010


By Phil Wahba and Melanie Lee, NEW YORK/SHANGHAI, Reuters,Thu Jul 22, 2010 –

NEW YORK/SHANGHAI (Reuters)
– U.S. mobile phone maker Motorola Inc (MOT.N) has sued China’s Huawei Technologies Co HWT.UL for alleged theft of trade secrets, highlighting the fast-growing Chinese firm’s difficulty in shaking the nation’s reputation for piracy.

In an initial suit, filed in 2008, Motorola sued five of its former workers for allegedly sharing trade secrets with Lemko, which was also named in the suit and has a reseller agreement with Huawei.

In the amended complaint, filed on July 16 in a federal court in Chicago, Motorola claimed an engineer shared information about a Motorola transceiver and other technology with Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Motorola claimed a string of emails tagged “Motorola Confidential Proprietary” showed that “Huawei and its officers knew they were receiving stolen Motorola proprietary trade secrets and confidential information without Motorola’s authorization and consent,” according to the suit.

Huawei said the lawsuit was groundless.

“Huawei has no relationship with Lemko, other than a reseller agreement. Huawei will vigorously defend itself against baseless allegations,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Cases like these are hard to prove from an evidence point of view, said Connie Carnabuci, a technology, intellectual property expert and partner at Freshfields in Hong Kong.

“Cases involving misappropriation of proprietary information are usually very difficult cases to run,” Carnabuci said.

“This case is being brought in the courts of the United States, one thing interesting is that decisions of the U.S. courts are not enforceable in China,” she added.

Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola accused Huawei of various violations including threatened or actual misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty and usurpation of corporate opportunity…..(more details from Reuters)

Posted in Business, China, Communication, Company, Copyrights, Law, News, People, Social, Technology, World | Comments Off on Motorola sues China’s Huawei for trade secret theft

Two German Business Chiefs Criticize China

Posted by Author on July 20, 2010


By Andrew Willis, via The Business Week, July 19, 2010 –

Two of Germany’s leading industrialists publicly attacked China’s business environment during a meeting with the country’s premier, Wen Jiabao, over the weekend (17 July).

Jürgen Hambrecht, chairman of giant chemical company BASF (BASFY), and Peter Löscher, chief executive of industrial conglomerate Siemens (SI), added their voices to a growing clamour of criticism against Chinese rules that are seen as disadvantaging foreign firms.

Mr Hambrecht said foreign companies are frequently forced to transfer business and technological “know-how” to Chinese companies in exchange for market access.

“That does not exactly correspond to our views of a partnership,” he told Mr Wen at the roundtable discussion in the northwestern Chinese city of Xian, according to German journalists who attended the meeting.

The strong statements are particularly noteworthy due to their public nature and delivery during a meeting also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in China as part of a four-day state visit.

Mr Löscher voiced widespread complaints about draft Chinese public procurement rules which are intended to support “indigenous innovation,” a policy foreign companies fear could shut them out of lucrative government contracts.

The Siemens boss also called on China to remove investment restrictions in certain sectors, reported German daily Handelsblatt. At present, foreign companies can be required to form joint ventures with Chinese companies when setting up shop in China, as exemplified by the Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive company.

Mr Wen reportedly responded to the criticism by telling Mr Hambrecht to calm down, insisting that China remained committed to opening its economy. “Currently there is an allegation that China’s investment environment is worsening. I think it is untrue,” Mr Wen said.

But the comments from two of Europe’s leading industrialists come on top of a recent survey by the EU’s chamber of commerce in China which showed that foreign executives hold an increasingly gloomy outlook regarding China’s regulatory setup.

The increasing fears of discrimination led the EU chamber’s president Jacques de Boisseson to suggest firms may even consider pulling out of China altogether.

“Nobody should take for granted that European companies will continue investing whatever the business environment,” said Mr De Boisseson.

The Business Week

Posted in Business, Businessman, China, Company, Europe, Germany, Investment, News, People, Politics, products, Social, Trade, World | Comments Off on Two German Business Chiefs Criticize China

Google Web search engine ‘partially blocked’ in China

Posted by Author on June 30, 2010


AFP, June 30, 2010 –

WASHINGTON
— Google’s Web search engine in China was “partially blocked” on Wednesday, the deadline for Beijing to renew the Internet giant’s Chinese business license.

A Web page maintained by Google on the accessibility to its services in mainland China, google.com/prc/report.html, listed its Web search service as “partially blocked” as of Wednesday.

The service had previously been listed as “fully or mostly accessible.”

Other Google services such as Gmail, News and Images were “fully or mostly accessible.”

Google said Tuesday it would stop automatically redirecting Chinese users to an unfiltered search site in Hong Kong, a process it began in March in response to state censorship and cyberattacks it claims came from China.

Google said all mainland users would now be directed to a new landing page on google.cn, which links to the uncensored Hong Kong site.

Google’s change in tack in the world’s biggest online market was aimed at addressing Chinese government complaints about the censorship issue and came just before its Internet Content Provider license was up for renewal Wednesday.

“It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable — and that if we continue redirecting users, our Internet Content Provider licence will not be renewed,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said on the company’s official blog.

“Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like google.cn — so Google would effectively go dark in China,” he said.

Marsha Wang, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Google, said the company was still waiting for a response from the central government on the license issue.

“We will keep communicating with (the government) to see what information it will give us,” she told AFP.

China is the world’s biggest Internet market, with an online population of more than 400 million, according to official data.

AFP

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Google, News, Politics, Social, Technology, USA, World | Comments Off on Google Web search engine ‘partially blocked’ in China

China auto parts plant halts production due to strike from Monday

Posted by Author on June 22, 2010


June 22 (Reuters) – Japan’s Denso Corp (6902.T), a car parts maker affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), said on Tuesday its joint venture plant in Guangzhou, China has halted production since Monday morning due to a labour strike.

The plant, Denso (Guangzhou Nansha) Co Ltd, has also halted supply of its fuel injection equipment and other products to Toyota, Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and other carmaker clients since Monday, Denso spokeswoman Yoko Suga said.

The management and workers of the joint venture are currently negotiating on the workers’ demand for higher wages and better benefits, she said. (Reporting by Yumiko Nishitani)

Reuters

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Company, Event, Guangdong, Guangzhou, News, People, Protest, SE China, Social, Worker, World | Comments Off on China auto parts plant halts production due to strike from Monday

Supplier Strike Halts Toyota Plant in China

Posted by Author on June 19, 2010


By NORIHIKO SHIROUZU, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2010 –

TIANJIN, China—Toyota Motor Corp. suspended production at an assembly plant in China on Friday because of a strike at a supplier factory, as the impact of labor unrest escalates for the world’s largest auto maker in the biggest car market.

Hitoshi Yokoyama, a Beijing-based Toyota spokesman, said a shortage of certain plastic interior parts from the supplier plant, where workers have been striking since Thursday, began curtailing production at Toyota’s car plant in Tianjin Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, all three of its assembly lines had been idled.

Toyota doesn’t know how long the shutdown will last but is doing its best to resume work as soon as possible, Mr. Yokoyama said.

The Tianjin plant, which makes Corolla, Rav4 and other models and has capacity to produce 400,000 cars a year, is one of Toyota’s largest in China. It has assembly plants in three other Chinese cities—Changchun in the northeast, Chengdu in the southwest, and Guangzhou in the south.

The worker unrest at the Toyota supplier plant is part of a wave of labor action across China in recent weeks that also has hit Honda Motor Co. Honda resolved strikes at two supplier plants in the southern province of Guangdong that also temporarily halted production of vehicles…….(more details from Wall Street Journal)

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Company, East China, News, People, Social, Tianjin, Worker, World | Comments Off on Supplier Strike Halts Toyota Plant in China

Honda to Halt Production at Two South China Plants Over Strike

Posted by Author on June 9, 2010


By Takako Iwatani

June 9 (Bloomberg) — Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second- biggest automaker, said it will halt production at two car factories in China today as workers at a plant partly owned by affiliate Yutaka Giken Co. walked out demanding higher pay.

Honda doesn’t yet know whether the factories in Guangzhou, Guangdong province will resume operations tomorrow, Tokyo-based spokesman Yoshiyuki Kuroda said. Employees at Foshan Fengfu Autoparts Co. in Foshan, Guangdong, began the strike on June 7, forcing Yutaka Giken to close the factory, spokesman Kazuhito Anma said. A Xinhua News Agency report that the strike has ended is incorrect, he said.

Honda, which operates four car-assembly plants in China, agreed last month to raise pay by 24 percent to end a walkout at a wholly owned parts supplier in Foshan that halted its auto production in the nation for more than a week. Demands for higher wages are fast becoming an issue in China and companies need to get used to it, said Jun Ma, an economist at Deutsche Bank AG.

”To keep good workers, the company has to raise pay,” said Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based analyst at Advanced Research Japan. There is a labor shortage in Guangzhou because companies including Honda, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. have expanded factories there, Endo said……. (more details from the Bloomberg)

Posted in Business, China, Company, Guangdong, Life, News, People, SE China, Social, Worker, World | Comments Off on Honda to Halt Production at Two South China Plants Over Strike

Foxconn Implements Second Pay Raise to Stop Suicides

Posted by Author on June 7, 2010


By: Brian Heater, PC Magazine, 06.07.2010 –

Twelve workers from Foxconn’s southern China plant have committed suicide this year. The plant manufactures the iPhone, among other products. Steve Jobs addressed the issue last week during a talk at the D8 conference in California, calling it “troubling,” but he added that the plant “is not a sweatshop.”

Last week, the company announced that it will raise pay rates 30 percent across the board, in light of the spate of suicides. This week, Foxconn announced it will issue a 66 percent performance-based raise for employees who get good marks on a three-month evaluation.

“This wage increase has been instituted to safeguard the dignity of workers, accelerate economic transformation, support Foxconn’s long-term objective of continued evolution from a manufacturing leader to a technology leader, and to rally and sustain the best of our workforce,” Foxconn’s founder Terry Gou said in a statement.

PC Magazine

Posted in Business, China, Company, Guangdong, Life, News, SE China, Shenzhen, Social, Worker, World | Comments Off on Foxconn Implements Second Pay Raise to Stop Suicides

Foxconn symbolizes China economy’s wider structural problems and industrial unrest (2)

Posted by Author on June 2, 2010


By Craig Stephen, The Market Watch, May 31, 2010 –

<< Previous

(China’s wider problems)

While Shenzhen was set up as China’s first Special Economic Zone thirty years ago, media reports describe Foxconn’s operations there as operating something like an independent kingdom with officialdom rarely regulating it. Given that the company reportedly provides more than 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) in taxes annually to the city’s coffers, it’s understandable if there is a hands-off approach.

Arguably Foxconn symbolizes wider structural problems in China’s economy: It’s unbalanced and overly focused on exports and investment spending, and lacks domestic-led consumption.

At the root of weak consumption is low wages. According to a survey released by the All China Federation of Trade Unionists (ACFTU) last week, almost one-quarter of Chinese employees had not seen a salary rise in the past five years. The workers at Foxconn got a base monthly salary of 950 yuan, which is in line with the minimum wage set by Guangdong government — although a 20% pay rise was announced on Friday.

The low level of wages is also borne out by looking at the make-up of China’s gross domestic product, where the share of company profits is rising and wages shrinking.

According to the ACFTU the proportion of China’s GDP that goes towards wages and salaries has continued to shrink since 1983, having dropped from 65.5% in 1983 to 36.7% in 2005. Meanwhile the proportion of returns on capital in GDP had risen by 20% in the 27 years through 2005.

This may be good news for equity investors in the short run, but it hardly looks like a sustainable model of development.

The Foxconn controversy also came in a week when workers in Honda’s (HMC 30.40, +0.36, +1.21%) (JP:7267 2,764, -6.00, -0.22%) four mainland factories were shut after parts makers went on strike seeking a pay rise, paralyzing the Japanese auto maker’s production.

The risk is that Foxconn is just the tip of the iceberg, and China could be entering a new phase of industrial unrest. Other imbalances in China’s economy, such as feel-bad rising prices of food and housing, are exacerbating tensions.

We should acknowledge not all factories are bad stories. Huawei, China’s largest telecom equipment vendor, is also based in Shenzhen, and is held up as model operator with its impressive, campus-like facilities. Making modern telecom equipment is more sophisticated than assembling mobile phones, of course.

The mainland authorities, manufacturing companies and international brands face a difficult challenge to quell labor unrest and better share the spoils of China’s growth.

Dealing with the cause — better pay and conditions — looks to be a better start than simply asking workers not to jump. (END)

The Market Watch

Related:
Foxconn symbolizes China economy’s wider structural problems and industrial unrest (1)

Posted in Business, China, Commentary, Company, Economy, GDP, Investment, News, Opinion, Politics, products, Social, Trade, World | 1 Comment »

Foxconn symbolizes China economy’s wider structural problems and industrial unrest (1)

Posted by Author on June 2, 2010


By Craig Stephen, The Market Watch, May 31, 2010 –

HONG KONG (MarketWatch)When employees are asked to sign a pledge not to kill themselves (later retracted) and safety nets outside dormitories are erected to prevent suicide jumpers, something is badly wrong.

And this is not a Second World War concentration camp we’re talking about — rather, it’s a factory making some of the coolest brand-name gadgets in the twenty-first century.

The spate of suicides at Foxconn’s  (HK:2038 5.77, -0.08, -1.37%) mammoth industrial complex in Shenzhen, China has everyone looking to attribute blame, from the Taiwanese owner Hon Hai Precision Industry (HNHPF 8.39, -0.11, -1.26%) to the global brands such as Dell (DELL 13.11, +0.02, +0.15%) , Apple (AAPL 261.80, +0.97, +0.37%) and Nokia (NOK 10.10, +0.08, +0.80%) , which outsource their assembly there.

There is plenty of shame to go round. All have gone along with China’s economic model proscribed by the one-party state and the apparent productivity miracle. Economists generally like to describe the unbalanced growth or structural imbalances in China’s economy. Could it be much worse, and is the world’s factory workshop rotten at its core?

When I first visited Shenzhen a good sixteen years ago it was grey and drab with a few cars on the streets. Begging children clamped themselves to my legs to stop me walking.

Today, its population has soared to 17 million and its downtown roads are packed with cars and sport utility vehicles, while its hotels and shopping malls can match anything in Hong Kong.

But if you are a migrant factory worker living in a cramped dormitory, you are likely to have missed this progress. Migrants are locked out from enjoying health, education and housing benefits available to Shenzhen residents.

Foxconn stands out as the largest factory complex, with over 300,000 living and working in a city within a city. I doubt Mercer ranked this destination on its global quality of life index.

China’s wider problems

The dozen worker suicides this year have become a public relations nightmare not just for Foxconn and its clients, but also for the mainland government which sets the rules. Beijing would much rather see the spectacle of its glitzy Shanghai expo in the headlines instead of the international media focusing on the ugly underbelly of its economy.

When former Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping opened up socialist China to capitalism, he tried to juggle the contradictions with a new path, famously saying, “Poverty is not socialism. To be rich is glorious.” He also added: “Let some people get rich first.”

Eighteen years after Deng’s famous South China inspection tour, if he were alive today, he would surely recognize something has gone wrong. (to be cont’d)

Marketwatch.com

Posted in Business, China, Commentary, Company, Economy, GDP, Investment, News, Opinion, Politics, products, Trade, World | 1 Comment »

Google ditches Windows on security concerns after China hack

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010


By David Gelles and Richard Waters in San Francisco, The Financial Times, May 31 2010 –

Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns, according to several Google employees.

The directive to move to other operating systems began in earnest in January, after Google’s Chinese operations were hacked, and could effectively end the use of Windows at Google, which employs more than 10,000 workers internationally.

“We’re not doing any more Windows. It is a security effort,” said one Google employee.

“Many people have been moved away from [Windows] PCs, mostly towards Mac OS, following the China hacking attacks,” said another.

New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system. “Linux is open source and we feel good about it,” said one employee. “Microsoft we don’t feel so good about.”

In early January, some new hires were still being allowed to install Windows on their laptops, but it was not an option for their desktop computers. Google would not comment on its current policy.

Windows is known for being more vulnerable to attacks by hackers and more susceptible to computer viruses than other operating systems. The greater number of attacks on Windows has much to do with its prevalence, which has made it a bigger target for attackers.

Employees wanting to stay on Windows required clearance from “quite senior levels”, one employee said. “Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval,” said another employee.

In addition to being a semi-formal policy, employees themselves have grown more concerned about security since the China attacks. “Particularly since the China scare, a lot of people here are using Macs for security,” said one employee……. (mor details from The Financial Times)

Posted in Company, Computer, Economy, Google, News, Software, Technology, World | 1 Comment »

9-day strike at all 4 Honda China factories– Labor Unrest May Signal New Phase in China Economy

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010


By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, May 29, 2010 –

FOSHAN, China — Add another entry to the list of worries for the global economy and financial markets: labor unrest in China.

Rapidly rising industrial wages are beginning to allow China’s workers to share in their country’s rising prosperity. The question is whether these gains can be maintained and even increased without disrupting supply lines to companies around the world, and without discouraging much future investment by Chinese and global companies alike.

The biggest eye-opener for multinationals in China recently has been a nine-day-old strike at a sprawling Honda transmission factory here in Foshan, about 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong.

The strike, which has forced Honda to suspend production at all four of its joint venture assembly plants in China, has shown that Chinese authorities are willing to tolerate work stoppages at least temporarily, even at high-tech operations on which many other factories depend.

Chinese policy makers are trying to let wages rise to create the foundations of an economy driven by domestic demand, without derailing the export machine that has produced the world’s strongest economic growth over the last three decades.

Even before the strike, manufacturers and buyers of low-cost products were already actively seeking alternatives to China, like Vietnam and Cambodia, said Richard Vuylsteke, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“They’re looking very seriously, and we’re seeing that in apparel and footwear,” he said. “A lot of our members are seeing appreciating wages.”

Honda has been making increasingly generous offers — or perhaps desperate offers — to settle the strike. The company has already offered increases in total compensation of close to 50 percent, according to crumpled-up copies of the offer provided by striking workers.

Roughly half of the 1,900 workers are recent hires from high schools and vocational schools who are paid training rates of just 900 renminbi, or $132, a month, pay slips showed. More experienced workers at the three-year-old factory earn up to 1,500 renminbi, or $220, a month.

Honda’s offer would raise total compensation for trainees to $202 a month, including benefits like a new food allowance; older workers would get slightly smaller raises. The strikers rejected the offer because nearly half of the raises consisted of increases in benefits that might be revoked later. The strikers are demanding an extra 800 renminbi a month, or $117, all in cash.

Takayuki Fujii, a Beijing-based spokesman for Honda, said Saturday evening that negotiations were continuing, but he declined to provide details……. (more detals from The New York Times)

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Dark side of China electronic surge: 3 lessons to learn

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010


Leo Lewis, The Australian, May 31, 2010 –

LIKE laws and sausages, consumer electronics have joined the list of things best not to see being made. Behind our shiny iPhone or cutely-packaged Nintendo games console is a process that reeks of exploitation, drudgery and, as we can now see, despair.

The spate of suicides at Foxconn’s plant in Shenzhen has provided an alarming education and raises a perfectly timed red flag over the US-China currency debate. China has been forced to acknowledge that the real story behind its growth figures is, in many cases, a degrading one.

There are three important practical lessons to be drawn from the deaths. The first is places like Foxconn must, sadly, exist if we want cheap electronics.

The punishing hours, the 350,000 employees squeezed into one vast complex, the pseudo-military discipline, the mind-numbing silence of the shop floor, these are all things that we can deplore, but which belong on the conscience of anyone who has ever made a call from a mobile phone, sent an e-mail or snapped a friend on a digital camera. Which is to say, all of us.

The glitzy myth of electronics has also been punctured: Foxconn exists because electronics manufacturing is no longer the work of artisan specialists. This company has done to technology what McDonald’s did to lunch.

The second lesson is that Foxconn represents the China that Beijing would prefer the country not to be. From the outside, the country looks export-led – one of the main reasons that China’s failure to allow its currency to rise against the dollar has drawn so much condemnation in Washington. The reality is rather different, and Foxconn usefully demonstrates why.

Take the 30-gigabyte iPod, one of the many Apple devices that depend on Foxconn. When it first went on sale in the US, it sold in the stores for $US299. It left the factory in China with a value of $150, but only $7.50 of that value was actually created in China. The remainder belonged to the other Asian countries (Japan, Taiwan) where the components were made.

According to analysis by CLSA Securities, globally, workers received $1.06 billion in earnings from iPod-related jobs, or about $25 per iPod sold. Chinese workers received only about 2 per cent of the global pay cheque, or 55c per unit sold. As it looks to its future, China desperately wants to be Apple, not Foxconn.

But the third and most critical lesson of Foxconn is that significant parts of the US rhetoric on China’s currency policy are misguided. The Obama administration is under relentless domestic pressure to “do something” about the undervalued Chinese currency, the yuan, and to prod China into letting it rise. Attention has turned to the timing of Washington’s decision to officially label China a “currency manipulator”, a meaningless slur given that 50 countries around the world peg their currencies to the US dollar.

Beijing, knowing that its economy is primarily driven by domestic investment, is probably keen for the yuan to appreciate but will not allow itself to appear bullied into doing so. But Foxconn kicks away one of the main struts of those angrily demanding that Beijing allow the yuan to rise: many of those manufacturing jobs that China is supposedly stealing from the US are not jobs that Americans could countenance doing themselves.

An attempt to run a plant like Foxconn in the US would be disastrous and that is why the jobs were outsourced there in the first place. Even if the yuan rose by 40 per cent against the dollar, it is hard to imagine mass-market electronics assembly jobs moving back to the US.

The currency scuffle between Washington and Beijing is in a lull, but could flare-up again at any moment: When it does, America must look at Foxconn for a sense of how the trade world really works.

Via The Australian

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Foxconn China Factory Death: Suicide or Foul Play?

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010


By Luo Ya and Sonya Bryskine, Epoch Times Staff, May 31, 2010 –

(Excerpt)

Further Questions

The suicides have stirred controversy and speculation over issues that go beyond work conditions.

In a recent article published in New Epoch Weekly, Taiwanese attorney Winifred Tung pointed out that in the case of the ninth suicide, the woman who allegedly jumped from a building had been stabbed four times, and a knife was found at the scene.

Tung questioned if this alleged suicide was actually “suicide” and if the other cases might have involved foul play.

Reports by Chinese media also revealed that Foxconn admitted to making workers do 80 hours extra of overtime per month, while the local labor laws only permits 36 hours.

However, following the claims Foxconn sued Wang You and Weng Bao of China Business News, the journalists responsible for revealing these practices, for $3.8 million and filed a successful court ruling to have the journalists’ assets frozen.

International pressure from Reporters Without Borders and inquiries from Apple Inc. itself later pushed Foxconn to reduce the demand to a symbolic 1 yuan ($US 0.12) and withdraw the request to freeze the journalists’ assets.

The Epochtimes

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Inside China’s suicide factory Foxconn- “They are never able to relax their minds”

Posted by Author on May 28, 2010


By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai, telegraph.co.uk, May 27, 2010 –

While Apple
has risen to become the world’s largest technology firm, Foxconn, the maker of almost all of its devices, appears to have broken under the pressure of keeping up with new orders.

Two more workers attempted to commit suicide on Thursday by jumping from the top of dormitory buildings at its giant Longhua factory, according to sources at the site. Both survived and are currently hospitalised.

On Wednesday night, just hours after the chairman of Foxconn assured hundreds of reporters that the plant was under control, a 23-year-old man killed himself.

So far, at least 16 people have jumped from high buildings at the factory so far this year, with 12 deaths. A further 20 people were stopped by the company before they could attempt to kill themselves.

The hysteria at Longhua, where between 300,000 and 400,000 employees eat, work and sleep, has grown to such a pitch that workers have twisted Foxconn’s Chinese name so that it now sounds like: “Run to your Death”.

Terry Gou, the 59-year-old billionaire who founded the company, yesterday turned his plane around on the way to Taiwan to return to the plant. In a meeting with his senior management, Mr Gou allegedly said that he would not now leave the factory until the suicides stop.

In addition, the company is said to be considering a radical plan to move 60,000 people, or 20pc of its workforce at Longhua, to other sites in western China to be “closer to their homes” in the hope that this will calm the situation.

Inside the facility, workers were busily stringing nets between dormitory buildings to try to catch any further jumpers. “It is a clumsy solution, but it may save lives,” said Mr Gou. The company, which also makes dozens of electronic goods for the likes of Dell, Sony and HP, is also now blocking windows and locking doors to roofs and balconies.

An undercover team of seven Chinese investigators infiltrated the Longhua plant one week ago and told The Daily Telegraph that the trigger for the mass suicides is “inside the factory” rather than any personal or social impetus.

“The facilities at Foxconn are fine, but the management is poor,” revealed Zhu Guangbing, who organised the investigation. “Hundreds of people work in the workshops but they are not allowed to talk to each other. If you talk, you get a black mark in your record and you get shouted at by your manager. You can also be fined.”

He said Foxconn had lost tens of thousands of workers during the financial crisis and had been stretched to the breaking point by the volume of new orders, as products such as the iPad enjoyed monumental success.

“The machines keep moving and the staff have to keep up. The workers need practice to become really efficient, and with a heavy churn of new staff, they cannot adapt. In the past three months, the factory has been losing 50,000 staff a month because workers are burning out,” he said. “Even the engineers and the training staff have had to man the production line,” he added.

“Because Foxconn has had a large number of big orders, the workers are reduced to repeating exactly the same hand movement for months on end.

The workers we have spoken to say that their hands continue to twitch at night, or that when they are walking down the street they cannot help but mimic the motion. They are never able to relax their minds,” he said.

Overtime last year was an average of 120 hours per month per worker, bring their weekly hours up to 70 hours, above the maximum level set by Apple in its guidelines to suppliers. In the wake of the suicides, the company has now reduced the time to 80 hours per month, and is now considering raising its basic wage of 900 yuan (£90) a month by between 50pc and 100pc.

Longhua lies 30 minutes from the southern city of Shenzhen and is ringed with heavy security. Its sheer size is intimidating. “I once went to the west gate rather than the south gate,” said one contractor. “I had to drive around to the right entrance and it took half-an-hour”.

Inside, workers get free meals and accommodation in giant tower blocks. There is a complimentary bus and free laundry. Touch-screen computers around the campus allow each worker to check his current status – how much he has earned that month and how many hours he has worked.

There are free swimming pools, and tennis courts and 500 LED screens beam out exercise programmes across the site, as well as bulletins from Foxconn TV. Clubs organised by the company offer chess, calligraphy, mountain climbing or fishing.

Foxconn says that 8,000 people a day apply for jobs at its factory, drawn by the company’s blue-chip reputation, its prompt payment of wages and benefits and its training programme.

However, workers complained that they simply did not have the time to enjoy the facilities on offer. “The workers we spoke to said they never used the swimming pools, and anyway there are only two among the 300,000 workers, and they are said to be quite dirty,” said Mr Zhu.

Lin Fengxiang, a 23-year-old villager from Maoming, Guangdong, said: “I know why all those people jumped. In here, nobody gives a damn about you. Too bad I’ve already got one foot on this boat. It’s hard to get off now.”

telegraph.co.uk

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The dark side of China’s enduring dream

Posted by Author on May 26, 2010


By David Pilling, The Financial Times, May 26 2010 –

“They were 16 years old, on the loose in one of China’s most chaotic boomtowns, raising themselves with no adults in sight … They missed their mothers. But they were also having the time of their lives.” Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang

Not everybody is having the time of their life. This week, a 19-year-old worker at the Foxconn electronics plant near the sprawling factory city of Shenzhen in southern China became the fourth employee in two weeks, and the ninth this year, to leap to his death. Two more failed in the attempt. The spate of suicides, coupled with an undercover investigation into conditions at the Foxconn plant by Southern Weekly, a Guangzhou-based newspaper, has shone a spotlight into the darker crevices of China’s factory system. Last week, nine professors of social science wrote an open letter to Foxconn in which they questioned the very sustainability of China’s role as the workshop of the world.

Few people have heard of Foxconn, in spite of the fact that the Taiwanese company employs an army of 300,000 workers at the Longhua plant where the suicides occurred. But most have heard of Apple’s iPad, just one of dozens of electronic devices churned out by Foxconn staff. They also know about Sony, Dell and Nokia, some of the companies whose game consoles, digital cameras, mobile phones and computers are assembled by the company under contract. Foxconn workers – who earn roughly $75 for a 60-hour week – are well acquainted with these brands, though few, if any, can afford them.

The Southern Weekly sent a 22-year-old reporter undercover to work at the Foxconn plant just north of Shenzhen, the city conjured into life by Deng Xiaoping, whose 1992 southern tour declared China open for international business. In addition to the factory floors, where many employees – wearing identical white coats and white caps – sit or stand at their workstations for 12-hour shifts, the city-sized complex has dormitories, shops, restaurants and even its own fire brigade. Now it has a suicide hotline. Southern Weekly’s reporter found staff dulled by the monotony of repetitive tasks, even walking and eating to the rhythm of the rumbling machines.

Factory Girls, Leslie Chang’s brilliantly reported book about female migrants, also makes grim reading at times. Many factories treat their employees as fodder, refusing to employ people because they are too short, too ugly, too old – 30 is over-the-hill – or simply come from the “wrong” province. They rush through orders, even if that means workers are not properly trained on machines that can – and sometimes do – slice off a finger. They demand employees work long hours, though most are only too happy to do so because of the overtime pay they receive. They often keep back a month of pay, lest their workers find a boyfriend, or a better job, in another factory……. (more details from The Financial Times)

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10th worker at China’s iPad factory commits suicide

Posted by Author on May 26, 2010


By Clifford Coonan in Beijing, independent.co.uk, 26 May 2010 –

The Foxconn factory in the southern Chinese boom town of Shenzhen is so vast that walking around its outer perimeter takes two hours. Its workers turn out components that are supplied to big Western electronics brands including Nokia, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. And it is here that most of the parts for Apple’s iPhone, and the much-awaited iPad, which goes on sale in the UK this week, are manufactured.

Yesterday, Li Hai, a 19-year-old employee of the firm, jumped from the top of the building in Shenzhen to his death. It brought the number of suspected suicides at the factory this year to 10. There have been another two attempted suicides.

All of the deaths have been of youngsters between 18 and 25 years old. Li Hai had only been working at the plant for 42 days. The incidents have prompted intense soul-searching in China, about conditions in its factories and the social cost of breakneck economic development.

Foxconn, one of the world’s largest manufacturers  of electronic equipment, is huge. The chefs slaughter 6,000 pigs a day to feed the company’s nearly 400,000 workers in this giant industrial complex, spread over 1.2 square miles.

But the Taiwanese owners now face a major problem. Li Hai’s death, and those of his colleagues, have raised questions about working conditions in Chinese factories, with labour activists alleging that long hours, low pay and high pressure make for an unbearable working environment……. (more details from www.independent.co.uk)

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10th suicide at Foxconn shows an ugly side of the consumer electronics industry in China

Posted by Author on May 25, 2010


Jared Newman, PC World, May 25, 2010 –

Two recent Foxconn worker suicides
, the ninth and 10th this year, present a harsh reality to the Chinese electronics manufacturer and its American tech partners, including Apple, Dell, and HP: fixing the problem will be difficult, if not impossible.

The deaths of 19 year-old Li Hai and a 21 year-old worker three days earlier, as reported by the Associated Press, shows an ugly side to the consumer electronics industry. Groups like China Labor Watch lay blame on inhumane working conditions at the factory. Foxconn says it will improve living standards for its employees by hiring psychiatrists, monks, and entertainers, the New York Times reports. But neither a band-aid factory measure or a good dose of outrage will fix the factory’s culture.

First, consider that the number of suicides is only perceived as high. The employee suicide rate at Foxconn is higher than ever this year at 10 out of an estimated 300,000 employees (says AP) or 420,000 employees (says the Times). That’s still lower than China’s annual suicide rate of 14 out of 100,000 people, reported by the World Health Organization, and is on par with average statistics for people of university age in China, says the Telegraph.

Even if there were no suicides, Foxconn would still have a culture problem, as seen by an undercover account of life at Foxconn, published in Chinese newspaper Southern Weekend and translated at Engadget. The reporter, Liu Zhiyi, doesn’t decry the long working hours as atrocious; he actually praises them as a way to make more money. Nor does he cite any human rights abuses. But what Zhiyi notices is that workers enter the factory intending to save up and start their own business, or go to college. Those dreams become impossible to achieve amidst the long hours and low pay, and the revelation is devastating.

What’s the solution, then? Pay higher wages? Maybe, but it’s low costs that attract American companies to begin with, and who’s to say that a higher wage would be enough to help workers plan an exit from factory life? Besides, Foxconn’s net profits have been up and down, puncturing the argument that company’s being too greedy. Foxconn can keep trying its band-aid measures and human rights groups can keep decrying what happens at the factory, but neither effort is enough.

PC World

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9th Foxconn employee jumps to death in China

Posted by Author on May 21, 2010


AFP, May 21, 2010 –

BEIJING — A 21-year-old employee of Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn jumped to his death Friday in southern China, state media said, as officials confirmed the January suicide of a worker at a plant in the north.

The incidents bring to nine the number of Foxconn employees who have apparently committed suicide by jumping from a building since the start of the year, the state news agency Xinhua said.

Two others suffered serious injuries in similar falls.

The incidents have highlighted concerns about the difficult conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially those at Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, minimal pay and significant pressure are the norm.

In the south, a man identified as Nan Gang, died early Friday after jumping from the fourth floor of a Foxconn factory building in Shenzhen, a special economic zone bordering Hong Kong, Xinhua reported.

Officials at Foxconn — whose clients include Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard — were not immediately available for comment on the report.

Investigators have ruled out foul play, and police have said the death was a suicide, Xinhua reported……. (more from AFP)

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China’s new secrets law to suppress free speech and may force Microsoft, Yahoo to follow Google out

Posted by Author on April 29, 2010


by Mike Elgan, IT World, Apr. 29, 2010-

The Chinese government today made sweeping changes to its state secrets law that directly affects Internet companies operating in the country. The amended law goes further to force these companies to help the Chinese Communist Party suppress free speech and censor the Internet.

The law requires that the transmission of “state secrets” over the Internet be stopped by these companies if they “discover” it. The companies are also required to keep records of such transmissions (e-mails, blog posts, text messages and so on) and report them to the Chinese government.

The law effectively requires all Internet companies operating in China — including Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo and others — to serve as agents of the Government’s internal security apparatus.

What is or is not considered a “state secret” by the law is determined by Communist Party officials. For example, if Falun Gong supporters protest, and some blogger writes about it, that might be considered a “state secret,” and Microsoft would be required to report it.

American Internet companies who operate in China have come under some pressure after Google announced its departure from the country. Microsoft was especially vocal after the Google announcement that it would obey all Chinese laws.

What will companies do? My prediction: They’ll do nothing until their hands are forced by events. It’s a near certainty that information the Chinese government considers “state secrets” will be “transmitted” via Microsoft or Yahoo services, and via Cisco equipment. The American companies will no doubt try their best to not know what’s being communicated, but the Chinese government may actually force them to monitor communications somehow.

In the wake of Google’s brave stand against censorship, it will be interesting to see if a larger exodus of foreign companies isn’t forced by aggressive abuse of Internet companies by the Chinese government.

Read more about the amendments to China’s state secrets law.

– from the IT World

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