Tag Archives: economy

Elysium, China and the Electric Car Question

China Elysium
China Elysium

 

On the long flight back from China to New Zealand recently, one of the films I watched was Elysium.  The sci-fi thriller probably won’t make my top-10 list, but some of the content felt disturbingly close to home.

 

Although earth in Elysium was depicted as a polluted and overpopulated Los Angeles in 2154, it had elements of the way China is going right now, as the air and water pollution seem to be getting worse every year.  The luxurious space habitat that the earthlings wanted to escape to, reminded me a little bit of New Zealand – although with slightly better looking inhabitants and a far superior health system.

 

A recent McKinsey poll in China, found air and water pollution to be Chinese consumers’ fastest growing concerns – 11% and 7% up on last year – and the forth and fifth biggest concerns overall.  Interestingly, the concerns were confirmed by a recent report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, claiming that Beijing was almost uninhabitable for human beings due to the pollution. Whether or not these claims are ‘exaggerated‘, as reported by Chinese state media, the pollution appears to be getting even worse, not better, based on both official reports and my personal experiences, particularly in Shanghai.

 

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Chinese in Greenland – Good News You May Not Have Expected?

I visited Greenland about 10 years ago, and it still ranks among the most fascinating places I have been to. It made quite an impression on me, keeping me curious enough to read the odd article I stumble across about the world’s largest island.   One article that recently caught my attention was that 2,000 Chinese workers would be shipped to the freezing land to build an aluminium smelter.

 

Chinese in Greenland
The Chinese in Greenland. Background by Gerald Zinnecker

 

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China’s One-Child Policy Shaping the Cars of the Future

While most of the world’s major economies splutter along, China’s blistering economic growth has businesses everywhere salivating for a piece of China’s increasingly wealthy middle class.

 

Everyone peddling something from adventures down the Nile River to skin-whitening face cream are redefining their strategies to get a piece of the Chinese pie. Even Porsche chose Shanghai for their world debut of the 4-door family wagon Porsche Panamera – its biggest launch in years.

 

Launch of the Porsche Panamera in Shanghai
Launch of the Porsche Panamera in Shanghai

 

But it seems ads with backdrops of Chinese skylines are for beginners, when you see the lengths the world’s biggest auto manufacturer is going to get their cars on Chinese roads…

 

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Art and Culture – China’s Missing Link?

With a history spanning 5,000 years, China is rich with cultural and artistic treasures – albeit not nearly as wealthy as it should be.

 

There’s no arts and culture killjoy quite like a Cultural Revolution. In just 10 years from 1966-1976, innumerable works of splendid art, antiques, architecture, books and paintings spanning millennia were destroyed by Red Guards. Countless Chinese artists were persecuted and people were encouraged to criticise their cultural institutions. Arts students, or any students for that matter, were shifted en masse from their universities, to raise pigs and grow grain in rural labour camps.

 

Chinese art and culture propaganda
Chinese Propaganda from 1967 translated to "Destroy the old world; Forge the new world." The worker is destroying classical Chinese text, music on vinyl, a crucifix and buddha.

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Who Wants to be a Billionaire in China? Early Death and Lack of Sex

Their mansion cellars are chock-full of the finest burgundies. Their gift cupboards, packed with luxury European goods. As they play real-life monopoly with central London property, their offspring purr around the cities in orange Lamborghinis. In this land of China, where the authorities have traditionally strived for a classless society with common property ownership, the number of US$ billionaires are growing like Jack’s beanstalk.

 

Billionaires in Beijing, China with their toys
Chinese Billionaire’s toys : the Lamborghini and Rolls in Beijing

 

As much of the world suffers through their financial crises, China’s rampant economic growth continues to pump out billionaires. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of Chinese billionaires grew 45% from 130 to 189, from 2010 to 2011, 43% to 271.  China’s tally is now second only to the United State’s 413 mega-wealthy.

 

But China’s actual Billionaire count could be more than double the official figures. Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher from Hurun Rich List 2011, estimates there are a further 300 ‘hidden billionaires’ lurking amongst China’s financial underworld.
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Rugby in China: The Chinese team will be playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup

In less than 20 days, New Zealand will be overrun with striped jerseys and empty beer vessels as the rugby world converges for the third largest sporting event on the planet, the Rugby World Cup

 

20 nations will be competing for rugby supremacy in the Nile River of rugby tournaments.  Yet in China, the world’s most populous nation, the dedicated following of the rugby will be limited to a few smoky expat bars and a handful of committed Chinese rugby heads (most of whom will be supporting the All Blacks)

 

Chinese rugby fans of the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup. Click here if you’re in China where You Tube Videos are blocked 中国橄榄球的人

 

Rugby: Banned by the Chinese Government

Rugby was once like a Class A drug in China, the bad boy of sports that was banned by the PRC National Sports Council who deemed “the meeting of sullied bodies in physical contact cannot be approved”.

 

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Yangtze vs Nile – Which river runs supreme?

I’ve lived beside four rivers in my life.  As a youngster, Wellington’s mighty Hutt River was my favourite spot for sitting in inner tubes and doing ‘bombs’ into.  Then there was Dublin’s River Liffey, the resting place of more pint glasses than any other river in the world.   Preparing for our paddle down the Blue Nile, I lived in Khartoum, Sudan where the Blue Nile and White Nile meet.  It was there I caught the bug for the world’s longest river.

 

Since moving to Shanghai on banks of the Yangtze River Delta, my fascination with rivers hasn’t tempered and I’ve become curious about how two of the world’s greatest rivers compare.

 

Yangtze River Compared to the Nile River
China’s enchanting Yangtze River and Africa’s magical Nile River

 

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Yiwu China Commodity City

I’ve never been a fan of shopping malls, that was before I went to Yiwu China Commodity City.

 

Yiwu City, about two hours by fast train from Shanghai, has the largest small commodity market in the world. In laymen’s terms that’s a massive mall where you buy large quantities of all the Chinese-made stuff you see in shops and markets all over the world.

 

And massive it is. 4.3 million square metres of floor space containing 62,000 booths representing factories and suppliers producing everything from 2011 Rugby World Cup balls to Hello Kitty socks.

 

Everything is for sale in bulk in Yiwu including NZ Rugby World Cup 2011 rugby balls
Everything is for sale in bulk in Yiwu including NZ Rugby World Cup 2011 rugby balls

 

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Who said China was a-changing?

When I was a youngster, China really scared me. I’d been told if everyone in China all jumped at the same time, the whole world would wobble. Although there hasn’t been a coordinated hop, China is without doubt, shaking up the balance of the world.

 

Curiosity has drawn Ellen and me to get in amongst China during this fascinating time in history. I was lucky enough to be working for an Internet company in North America during the dot-com boom, Ireland when the Celtic Tiger was roaring and New Zealand when microwave ovens were introduced, but nowhere has the rate of change been more apparent than in the Middle Kingdom.  This is the biggest boom in history.

 

The rate of change for almost everything in China is staggering; incomes (almost 300% since 2000), car sales (32% last year), the market for art (25% last year), number of billionaires (57% last year).  Even more impressive is the scale of it all – the rates are measured across 1.3 billion people!  And although developing countries have a low starting point to measure growth from, significant tracts of China are long past the ‘developing’ stage.  Shanghai, for example, now has a higher average GDP than parts of southern Europe.

 

suburban_beijing
View northwest to the suburbs of Beijing. This is not downtown, but the burbs, where shiny towers are popping up everywhere



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