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魔鬼 WEARS PRADA: Even with Slowed Growth China Mints 40,000 New Millionaires

prada-front

China created 40,000 new millionaires in 2013, bringing the total to 1.09 million, according to a new study

CNBC reports: The growth of 3.8 percent is a bit of an improvement from last year’s 3 percent gain. But it’s still only about half the growth rate of 2010 and 2011, suggesting that China’s economic slowdown and the government’s crackdown on corruption is slowing its millionaire manufacturing machine.

“Beijing and Guangdong have the most millionaires, with 192,000 and 180,000 respectively, followed by Shanghai with 159,000.”caviar

[punditfromanotherplanet celebrates the sublime, guilt-free enjoyment of breathtakingly expensive luxury goods]

According to the Hurun Research Institute, the number of people in China with personal wealth of 10 million yuanor $1.6 millionin mainland China reached 1,090,000, up from 1,050,000 in 2012.

The number of people in China worth 100 million yuan, or $16 million, increased by 2,500 people to 67,000.

justcaviar[We also celebrate the scandalous pleasure of obscenely affordable luxury items]

The slower millionaire growth comes as sales of high-end luxury goods in China—everything from watches and wine to handbags and Lamborghinis—have also cooled. But Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, said this year’s millionaire growth was still solid.

“Although we have been seeing a slowdown in spending, the money is still very much there,” he said in the report. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rare Photos of 1900s Beijing Discovered

From Austrian Archive: Shaman Dancers, Tea Houses, Arms Traders, Urban Dwellers, Coolies and Suffragettes

When a relative of a long dead Austro-Hungarian navy soldier approached Gerd Kaminski, a China scholar in Vienna, in 2007, she pointed him towards a treasure trove of thousands of photos of Beijing, many of which were a century old.

Women demand the right to vote in this protest at the city's gates. Undated photo by Von Rostock

Women demand the right to vote in this protest at the city’s gates. Undated photo by Von Rostock

Kaminski, director of the Austrian Institute for China and Southeast Asia Studies in Vienna, worked his way through the photos and published a selection along with other photos he was given by descendants of Austrian diplomats and traders in imperial China.

A Tibetan Buddhist ritual dance, likely photographed at the Yellow Temple near the since demolished Anding Gate in northern Beijing, photographed by Von Perckhammer

A Tibetan Buddhist ritual dance, likely photographed at the Yellow Temple near the since demolished Anding Gate in northern Beijing, photographed by Von Perckhammer

“These photos give precious insights into daily urban life in Beijing a century ago,” he said. “Many of the buildings don’t exist anymore and traditions seen in the photos have been lost in time.”

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A woman’s feet disfigured by foot-binding, an ancient practice in which women’s feet were tied together to reduce their size. Undated photo by Von Perckhammer

[click here to view them as a slideshow]

Austrian arms trader Bruno Mueller seen with Chinese business partners in a photo taken in 1924 by his wife Lucy.

Austrian arms trader Bruno Mueller seen with Chinese business partners in a photo taken in 1924 by his wife Lucy. Mueller secretly sold Austrian arms to Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin in the early 1920s at a time when Austria was banned from exporting arms under its peace treaty obligations.

Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Erwan Rambourg’s ‘Bling Dynasty’

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In 2011, Erwan Rambourg was a six-year veteran of the luxury industry as an analyst for HSBC, based in Paris, a city that many high-end brands call home.

“The balance is story-telling. Luxury consumers are like kids. Brands are a dream, an aspiration.”

That year, he moved to Hong. While the brands were European, the consumption was shifting eastward toward China. “The reason I moved to bling-dynastyHong Kong was to try to understand better the trend and how the Chinese were consuming,” he said.

[Check out Erwan Rambourg's book "The Bling Dynasty" at Amazon.com]

After three years of observation, the 41-year-old Mr. Rambourg, who continues to cover the sector for HSBC, has put together his insights into the industry in a new book, Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of the Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Begun.

“If you get the impression that you’re the only one, that you’re unique and being the only one told the story, you’ll pay up. If you feel like everyone else, you won’t.”

He recently spoke with China Real Time about how China’s luxury consumption is different, why the corruption crackdown is a good thing and how Chinese and American consumers are becoming more alike.

“You have to develop the illusion or reality of scarcity.”

Edited excerpts:

Take us back to when you first arrived in Asia. What was the luxury landscape like?

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The luxury sector 20 years ago was driven by European consumers. Ten years ago, it was driven Japanese consumers, with the hope that Chinese consumers would eventually take over. Today, the Chinese are the key driver. In 2015, Chinese consumers will become 35% of luxury consumes.

The development of the Chinese luxury market is often compared to that of Japan. But you see vast differences.

They’re considered similar by investors but the differences lie in culture and how the markets are built. First, gender: The Japanese market was centered on the office lady. These are secretary-types who were living with parents, allocating most of their income to their next handbag.

The Chinese market was built by men. The core consumer was male, businessman, a lot of corporate gifting, instead of self-purchasing.

Today, the core consumer in Japan is female and aging. The core consumer in China is diverse. You still have the businessmen, but you have the emergence of young, female shoppers and a whole diversity of consumer profiles you don’t see in Japan.

Currently in Japan, there’s a move away from luxury and brands. They’re looking for more holistic experiences: Instead of a handbag, they’re going to a spa. Read the rest of this entry »


Democracy in China: ‘The struggle for Hong Kong,’ or ‘The Great Leap Sideways’

Hong-Kong-lawyers

The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s

Chinese officials have called it a “leap forward” for democracy in Hong Kong. Yet their announcement on August 31st of plans to allow, for the first time, every Hong Kong citizen to vote for the territory’s leader has met only anger and indifference. Joy was conspicuously Xi-tall-Jinping-HTabsent. This is not because Hong Kong’s citizens care little for the right to vote, but because China has made it abundantly clear that the next election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, due in 2017, will be rigged. The only candidates allowed to stand will be those approved by the Communist Party in Beijing, half a continent away.

“Xi Jinping, the party chief and president, had the opportunity to use Hong Kong as a test-bed for political change in China. Had he taken this opportunity, he might have gone down in history as a true reformer. Instead, he has squandered it.”

At its worst, this risks provoking a disaster which even China cannot want. Democrats are planning protests. It is unclear how many people will join in, but the fear is that the territory’s long history of peaceful campaigning for political reform will give way to skirmishes with police, mass arrests and possibly even intervention by the People’s Liberation Army. That would disrupt one of Asia’s wealthiest and most orderly economies, and set China against the West. But even if, as is likely, such a calamity is avoided, this leap sideways is a huge missed opportunity not just for Hong Kong but also for the mainland. A chance to experiment with the sort of local democracy that might have benefited all of China has been missed. Read the rest of this entry »


Susan Rice: Diplomat Extraordinaire

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Report: China Establishes Space-Ops Military Branch

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 reports: China is moving forward with plans to create a fifth branch of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), one which will be dedicated to space operations, Japanese media reports.

Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun reported last month that Chinese-party officials submitted an official order for the PLA to go ahead with the establishment of an Aerospace Force, Zachary Keck of The Diplomat writes.

The space-branch would add to the PLA’s Ground, Air, Naval, and Second Artillery (nuclear and ICBM missiles) branches. It will come with the establishment of its own office run under the Party’s Central Military Commission.

In April, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping told military officers “to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities,” calling for a “new type of combat unit.” Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Plans Civil Disobedience Protest in October

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HONG KONG—The Hong Kong protest movement Occupy Central plans to launch a civil-disobedience campaign in early October to protest Beijing’s decision to effectively control who can run for the city’s top post, said a person close to the group.

“Many people, including professors who were previously against Occupy Central, are now in support of the movement, whether through direct participation or donations.”

– Chan Kin-man, a co-founder of Occupy Central

The group last week had indicated a loss of momentum following the announcement of the Chinese decision on Aug. 31.

The person close to Occupy Central said holding the protest a full month after Beijing’s decision was aimed at giving supporters ample time to “decide for themselves” whether to join the cause in a “coolheaded” fashion. The person said detailed protest plans were still being made.

The person denied that the timing was chosen to coincide with the weeklong holiday around China’s National Day on Oct. 1. That is traditionally one of the biggest shopping weeks of the year in Hong Kong, when a lot of mainlanders visit the city. Read the rest of this entry »


When Social Media Goes Sideways: Man Who Put Dog in Washing Machine Flees Hong Kong

Facebook post of the dog in the washer. Photo: SCMP

Facebook post of the dog in the washer. Photo: SCMP

“In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: ‘A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!'”

For South China Morning Post, Hazel Parry reports: A man being investigated over a Facebook post featuring photographs of a dog churning in a washing machine claims to have fled to the mainland. The man, who goes by the name of Jacky Lo, posted a status update yesterday in which he bragged that he was on his way out of Hong Kong as pressure mounted for him to be punished.

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Struggling: The trapped dog attempts to keep his head out of the water. Photo: SCMP

“In response to a comment underneath asking if the dog was dead, Lo answers: ‘Yes! Do you want to see it!'”

The post included a link to the online petition urging the police to bring him to justice, with Lo commenting: “Wanted?? This afternoon I’m going back to China. See ya later.”

“His latest remarks have brought more criticism online, with people calling him a ‘weak bully’, ‘shameless’, ‘sick’ and a ‘monster’.”

The pictures, which show a small white dog submerged in water and being spun around helplessly in the washing machine, have sparked outrage, with about 14,000 people signing the petition.

In his post, Lo comments in Chinese: “A super quick way to wash a dog: soak, clean, and dry. All done. Clean and quick!”

He then add a smiley icon and the words “feeling content” in English.

Hong Kong police said they were investigating the case as one of suspected animal cruelty. Read the rest of this entry »


Journalists Detained in China

With the detentions of employees of a business news website, China is increasing oversight of journalists; above, a Beijing newsstand. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

With the detentions of employees of a business news website, China is increasing oversight of journalists; above, a Beijing newsstand.  Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

BEIJING— Brian Spegele reports: Police detained at least two editors and other employees at a major Chinese business news website and placed them under investigation for suspected extortion, state media reported, as the government steps up its scrutiny of journalists.

“Authorities have issued a series of orders in recent months to enforce greater control over media by demanding reporters heed the government line.”

[Also see - Journalists Ordered to Learn 'Marxist News Values', Uphold Principles of Communist Party]

State broadcaster China Central Television said two editors from the 21st Century Business Herald website were among eight people placed into custody Wednesday. At least two public-relations companies were also facing scrutiny as part of the investigation, CCTV said.

[More - CCTV broadcasts fresh bribery claims against baby formula firm Dumex]

Police in Shanghai, who are leading the investigation, didn’t answer telephone calls seeking comment.

The news website, in a statement posted to its microblog account, said it would “actively cooperate with public security organs in their investigation work.” Guangdong Twenty-First Century Media Co., a major Chinese publisher of business newspapers and magazines and controller of the site, declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Dog Bitten by Albino Cobra, Highly Venomous Snake Still on the Loose


China to Mass Produce Industrial Robots

stepped-future

SHENYANG (Xinhua) — China’s first industrial robot production line is expected to start operation in the northeastern city of Shenyang this month.

“China became the world’s largest industrial robot market in 2013 with 37,000 industrial robots sold in the country, accounting for 20 percent of the global market.”

SIASUN Robot and Automation Co. Ltd. will be the first to jump start China’s industrial robot production with an annual capacity of 5,000. Their facilities will produce robots applied in welding, hauling, assembling, stacking, grinding and polishing, according to Qu Daokui, the company’s CEO.

ROBOTS_B_400

“Rising labor costs and aging population have prompted the application of industrial robots in China”

He said the production line is undergoing tests and the exact date of operation is yet to be announced. The application of robots has expanded from the high-end industries such as automobile and electronics manufacturing to traditional industries, including metal processing, bathroom hardware, food and drinks, said Qu, who is also director general of China Robot Industry Alliance. Read the rest of this entry »


FONG FLASHBACK: ‘Prettier, Tastier Jell-O': Fragrant, Foral Osmanthus Jelly

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fong-flashBACKOne of the many things I love about being in HK is the discovery of novel flavors. Like osmanthus! Its fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers (native to east Asia) are often dried and gently folded into florally nuanced desserts like osmanthus jelly, which also often contains wolfberries (goji berries – so it must be healthy!) and usually serves as a finishing touch after a belly-swelling dim sum session. Think of it as a refined, prettier, tastier Jell-O…(read more)

THE FONG REPORT

pundit from another planet

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Democracy Movement Losing Mojo

HK-cop-bridge

A police officer looks out over a highway in Hong Kong’s Central district on Sept. 1. Hong Kong activist group Occupy Central says some of its support is weakening.  Bloomberg News

HONG KONG—Chester Yung and Isabella Steger report: A co-founder of the activist group at the center of threats to paralyze Hong Kong’s business district with anti-Beijing protests adopted a somber tone on Tuesday, saying its goal of securing a representative voting system in the city was “close to failure.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure.”

– Chan Kin-man, one of Occupy Central’s co-founders

Chan Kin-man said some of its support is waning after Beijing’s decision on Sunday that effectively allows China to determine who can govern Hong Kong. The group had led a pro-democracy charge demanding popular input on candidates in Hong Kong’s next elections.

“Many people in Hong Kong are being pragmatic…We need to sustain our civil society.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure,” said Mr. Chan. He said he only expects a few thousand people, below the number originally expected, to join planned sit-in protests.

Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Museum Boom


Journalists Ordered to Learn ‘Marxist News Values’, Uphold Principles of Communist Party

mao-propaganda

Journalists, Teachers and Students Told to Back Party obamao-vert

No, no, it’s not about the Obama administration, or White House reporters and network news divisions, though it’s understandable to think so.

This is about China and Hong Kong.

For China Digital Times posts this:

As part of the Xi administration’s ongoing restriction of press freedom in mainland China and Hong Kong, the All China Journalists’ Association has ordered journalists to learn “Marxist news values” and uphold the principles of the ruling Communist Party. Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reports:

All-china-journalists-association

The guidelines by the All China Journalists’ Association, published by state news agency Xinhua, are aimed at both traditional and online media and are another sign of Xi’s politically conservative agenda.Marx-TV

The association said journalists “must learn to master Marxist news values”.

“Let us hold high the banner of socialist core values,” the report said, using the party’s term for orthodox beliefs.

[...] Early this year, Chinese journalists also had to pass a new ideology exam to keep their press cards. They were required to do a minimum 18 hours of training on topics including Marxist news values and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. [Source]

The appointment of Lin Zhibo, an editor at the People’s Daily, as dean of Lanzhou University’s journalism school reflects the increasingly active role that the Party is playing in the training of journalists. Damon Yi and Amy Qin at The New York Times report:

Mr. Lin’s appointment has thrown the spotlight on recent efforts by local offices of the Communist Party Propaganda Department to use personnel appointments as a way to forge partnerships with journalism schools and to assert greater ideological control over the training of future opinion shapers.

[...] An earlier iteration of the Propaganda Department and journalism school joint model, or buxiao gongjian in Chinese, is the “Fudan Model,” which dates back to 2001 when Fudan University in Shanghai restructured its journalism school in close cooperation with the local propaganda authorities. Read the rest of this entry »


Pro-Democracy Update: Back to the Drawing Board for Hong Kong Election Reform?

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.  Associated Press

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2014. Associated Press

WSJ’s Jeffrey Ng reports:  Beijing’s plans to allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader—albeit only from among prescreened candidates and effectively denying an open vote—will need approval of two-thirds of the city’s 70-member strong legislature.

What happens if the reform package gets voted down?

By constituting a bloc of more than a third, the city’s 27 pro-democratic legislators hold the veto on any such plans. On Monday, these legislators voiced their disapproval by interrupting a speech by a senior Chinese official, chanting slogans while holding up banners condemning China’s decision as “shameful,” before storming out of a briefing session on political reform. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Panic of August 2014’s Hong Kong Pepper Spray Extravaganza

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Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung is dragged away by security guards as he protests against Li Fei, deputy general secretary of the National People’s Congress standing committee. Reuters

“The police started using pepper spray on us without any warning. We are here to protest in a peaceful manner.”

– Kit, a social worker and activist

HONG KONG—Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Monday said police used pepper spray against demonstrators outside a news conference given by a top Chinese official on Beijing‘s decision on how the city should elect its leader.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner.”

– From Beijing’s ruling Sunday

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, gave a briefing at the AsiaWorld-Expo, near Hong Kong’s airport, to explain the decision to chaotic scenes of protests both inside and outside the venue.

Outside, a 21-year-old social worker identifying himself only as Kit said he and four others in his group of activist were pepper-sprayed by police. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Hopes Crushed

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China's legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, on Aug. 31. Associated Press

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China’s legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s leader, on Aug. 31.    –  Associated Press

From this weekend’s WSJ opinion pages:

The people of Hong Kong can plead or protest for democracy all they want, but they can only hold a sham election for Chief Executive in 2017. That was the ruling of 20140831 HK 05China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on Sunday.

“The threat to Hong Kong’s capitalism comes not from democracy, but from the cronyism and erosion of the rule of law that are infiltrating from the mainland.”

Moderates on both sides of the political spectrum in Hong Kong had urged compromise. They proposed nomination procedures that would satisfy Beijing’s concerns while still allowing the free election that China promised in 1997 when it made the city a self-governing special administrative region for 50 years.

“The tragedy for both Hong Kong and China is that the conflict is unnecessary.”

Beijing not only rejected these ideas, it seems they were never seriously considered. The Communist Party insists on absolute veto power over the choice of candidates. The result will be more frustration in Hong Kong.

“The city is manifestly ready for democracy, which would give Beijing fewer headaches rather than more.”

Since the handover from British rule, the city has suffered under mediocre leaders weakened by their lack of a popular mandate. This has angered parts of the population, particularly the young, and some are promising acts of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Fong Flashback: Extra-Golden, Puckered, Crunchy-Topped Paradise

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…Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside…(read more)


A Sea of Phones Illuminating Tamar Park, Connecting the Executive and Legislative Hearts of Hong Kong


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