The Shanghai Gold Exchange plans to launch an international board in the pilot free trade zone to attract offshore yuan capital to invest in the Chinese mainland's gold market, a senior official said yesterday.
"We want to tap the opportunity from Shanghai's pilot free trade zone and launch an international board to attract offshore yuan to invest in the mainland," Xu Luode, chairman of the bourse, said at a precious metals forum in Shanghai yesterday.
The board will ensure that the onshore gold market correlates with the global market, said Xu, without disclosing a timetable for the launch.
Financial reforms in the free trade zone will allow free fund transfers between the zone and offshore markets for the first time, according to a directive issued by the People's Bank of China on Monday.
The Shanghai exchange will establish a system that publishes daily rates at which selected market participants are willing to lend gold in the mainland interbank market, which is similar to the Gold Forward Offered Rates by the London Bullion Market Association, according to Xu.
The world's biggest exchange for physical gold in Shanghai will also offer custody for the metal to retail investors.
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Wednesday issued 4G licenses to three Chinese telecom operators, marking the beginning of a new era in China's high-speed mobile network.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom received permits to offer fourth-generation (4G) mobile network services employing homegrown TD-LTE technology.
The ministry said the three companies have conducted large-scale tests of TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long-Term Evolution, one of two international standards, and their technology is ready for commercial service.
Zhang Feng, the MIIT's spokesman, said 4G technology will lower bandwidth costs and promise faster mobile broadband.
The ministry's figures showed that the Internet speed of 4G networks is 10 times that of 3G services, and allows mobile users to download a 7-megabyte music file in less than one second.
China Mobile said the rates for 4G services will be cheaper than those for 3G. In some cities where the company has launched the 4G network for trial commercial use, the tariff is 20 percent less than similar 3G network plans.
Li Yue, president of China Mobile, said the price of 4G smartphones will go down quickly following the approval of the 4G network for commercial use.
Now only a number of smartphone models in China are equipped with modules that support home-grown 4G TD-LTE technology, with their prices ranging from 350 U.S. dollars to 800 U.S. dollars.
Li said 4G terminals for as little as 150 U.S. dollars will be available on the market by the end of this year.
The MIIT also said Wednesday it will test a converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network at a later date.
China is the major promoter of the TD-LTE standard and is also a major owner of the standard's core patents. LTE FDD is the other international 4G
standard and is popular in Europe.
The MIIT said the convergence of the two standards is gaining momentum in the global telecom industry. A total of 10 converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD commercial networks have been established so far worldwide.
"China will issue licenses for LTE FDD when the condition is ripe," said the ministry.
Experts believe the commercialization of TD-LTE will create a new impetus for China's economic growth, as the country is home to the largest number of mobile phone users in the world.
The ministry's statistics showed that the 3G network contributed 211 billion yuan (34 billion U.S. dollars) to China's GDP in its first three years of commercial use.
"The 4G industry chain, which involves terminal manufacturing and the software sector, will further improve the services of China's telecom sector," said spokesman Zhang Feng.
Judging by the survey data, many Chinese workplaces are black holes of misery and despair.
Only 6% of Chinese employees said they are "engaged" in their jobs, according to a global Gallup survey released this month. China's numbers equal the numbers out of war-weary Iraq.
Workers across all income levels and industries were surveyed by Gallup in China, defined by Gallup to mean they were "psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations".
Out of 94 countries polled, only six countries scored lower rates of job engagement than China, including Tunisia, Israel and Syria. Unsurprisingly, 0% of Syrians admitted to being engaged at work.
In a related survey, China ranked near the bottom in a poll measuring job satisfaction among 22 Asian countries. Only 49% of Chinese respondents said they were happy in their jobs.
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that very few in China have the luxury of pursuing a career that truly interests them.
Even university graduates often feel they have no choice but to opt for positions with the government or state-run enterprises, since those jobs are thought to be stable and recession-proof.
That makes those who are happy at work in China a rare find indeed.
The BBC's ongoing My Day series tracked a typical day in a selection of people across Asia who are immersed in rewarding jobs, including some from China - a maternity nurse and a jack of all trades designer.
The latest instalment in the series tracks the work of a Chinese genealogist. Huihan Lie runs the company My China Roots in Beijing, which traces family histories and tries to put them in the context of the time.
"With every project, you find things you weren't expecting to find and the client wasn't expecting to find," he says. "Really, every person has their own little quirks and personal stories."
We'll continue to add to this series over the next few months. If you have any suggestions of interesting careers you think we should track, please add your comments below.
E-commerce is considered an effective way to build a new competitive edge and avoid trade protectionism as it directly ships goods to consumers
As China's foreign trade faces rising costs at home and sluggish demand abroad, flourishing e-commerce services are expected to boost cross-border trade and change the image of Made-in-China products, experts said.
China's cross-border e-commerce companies are being confronted with challenges of credibility, varying standards, talent shortage and insufficient intellectual property rights protection.
Wang Kaiyuan, deputy director of the China International Electronic Commerce Center of the Ministry of Commerce, said at a forum on Nov 2 that the country should pay more attention to cross-border e-commerce services, which are developing in line with China's economic restructuring process.
"China's foreign trade is now facing a difficult time, not only because of a reduction in global demand but also because of rising trade friction and trade segmentation due to regional economic integration," Wang said.
Overall trade rose 6.2 percent year-on-year in 2012 and went up 7.6 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of the year, compared with double-digit growth in the past decades, according to the General Administration of Customs.
The autumn session of this year's Canton Fair - a barometer of China's exports - posted the lowest export volume since the fair's autumn session in 2009, suggesting weak overseas demand and a grim outlook for the world's largest exporter.
"Cross-border e-commerce will be an effective way for China to build a new competitive edge as it will directly ship goods to consumers and avoid trade protectionism," Wang said.
Li Xiaogang, chief engineer of the customs agency, said that cross-border e-commerce has great significance in expanding overseas demand and transforming the country's trade developing model, as well as upgrading China's economy.
"Boosting cross-border e-commerce, especially under the current circumstances, will help small- and medium-enterprises reduce costs and solve urgent challenges such as tax rebates," Li said.
In late August, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued policies to support the development of cross-border e-commerce. Those measures include increasing payment services, easing customs inspections and improving the tax rebate regulations.
Planning for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone also took into account the acceleration of cross-border e-commerce services as well as the trial of a supportive system including customs supervision, inspection and quarantine, tax rebates, and cross-border payment and logistics services.
Data from the ministry showed that the trade volume of China's cross-border e-commerce rose 25 percent to 2 trillion yuan ($328.4 billion) from 2011 to 2012. Experts estimated that the trade volume will hit 3.1 trillion yuan in 2013 and 6.5 trillion yuan in 2016, with annual growth of about 30 percent and accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country's overall trade volume.
Zhang Guofang, chairman of Qingdao Mingyue Seaweed Group Co Ltd, said that overseas orders for the second half of the year were significantly lower than in the first half due to rising costs for raw materials, labor and fees and taxes.
"We started our cross-border e-commerce services a couple of years ago, and the new business has brought us rewards and will be our major business model in the future," Zhang said.
"We've long been a processor and supplier of seaweed products for big overseas buyers. Good quality and low prices were the major competitiveness factors, but now we're becoming a manufacturer of new products, such as cosmetics made of seaweed and we directly sell them to consumers with the help of e-commerce services.
"As the company grows, we must have our own consumer products, our own brands and sales networks. It's not easy, but e-commerce is the way forward," he added.
Xu Cheng, administrative deputy director of Bosideng International Holdings Ltd and Shanghai Bosideng International Fashion Co Ltd, said that the down clothing producer started its e-commerce services in 2008. Sales surged from around 30 million yuan in 2008 to about 400 million in 2012 and are expected to hit 500 million yuan this year.
"Cross-border e-commerce is still at an initial stage in China, but it will develop very fast as long as the trust problem is resolved," said Zhang Tianran, senior manager of Global Market Group, a global platform that connects Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers and consumers.
A survey made by the company that polled 20,000 buyers showed that they spent more than 85 percent of their time on the platform sorting out the right suppliers as China has more than 42 million companies, according to Zhang.
"Overseas buyers don't lack information, but their main issue is sorting. The key is the credibility of domestic suppliers. The credibility issue is the most important one to change the Made-in-China image," Zhang Tianran said.
In 2005, the group launched a standard known as the Global Manufacturer Certificate, joining hands with T0 5V Rheinland AG and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. The standard evaluates Chinese manufacturers on eight areas including effective quality control, standard social and environmental responsibility and professional research teams.
"As for the M2B business, which connects Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers, we now have 30,000 domestic manufacturers, mostly SMEs, and 1.08 million overseas buyers. The manufacturers are all the leading suppliers of different industries. When the buyers send us their full-year orders, we can get them the right suppliers within a week," Zhang said.
Unlike China's overall trade performance in the past two years, the trade volume of Chinese companies, especially small ones, engaged in cross-border e-commerce services has maintained fast growth, said Yang Jianzheng, director of the Institute for Economic and Trade at the School of Commerce of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, noting a survey of 1,009 trade companies in the spring session of this year's Canton Fair.
But most companies engaged in cross-border e-commerce services have low-level logistics capabilities and poor ability to use e-commerce platforms for effective network marketing, while they remain unfamiliar with electronic customs clearance procedures, Yang said.
"We don't have enough professional talent for cross-border e-commerce, which is a big challenge. In addition, it's more difficult to protect our IPR during online transactions," Xu from Bosideng said.
Li Wenkai, director of Ecovacs Robotics (Suzhou) Co Ltd, added that the advertisement costs on e-commerce platforms are also becoming higher.
Also, Ni Zugen, chairman of Lexy Electric Appliances Co Ltd, noted that consumer loyalty is not solid for brands that made their name in the e-commerce space.
Moving your entire life to a foreign country can be hard. Finding housing, schools, medical care, not to mention a decent job, are just a few of the hurdles expats face.
Now China hopes to entice more skilled experts to its shores, by making the task of relocating and securing a dream job that little bit easier.
The newly revamped Shanghai Employment Promotion Center (SEPC) has been modeled as a one-stop-shop for foreign job seekers.
With more than 430 of the world's Top 500 companies now based in Shanghai, one step is to attract experts in short supply.
China's economic hub Shanghai is home to more than 160,000 expats. In 2013, they again ranked Shanghai as the most attractive city in China.
But while Shanghai may wow with its good looks, it's the overall package expats are looking for.
The Shanghai pilot free trade zone, launched on Sept. 29, is China's latest move in expanding economic dealings with the outside world.
Once upon a time, Chinese bureaucracies like the SEPC were little more than a rubber-stamp department, drowning applicants in mountains of paperwork.
But, at its base in Shanghai, staff here are now trying to woo workers from all corners of the world, with the benefits of grabbing a job in the city.
Ding Feng, the center director, said the center is the first port of call for companies seeking a recruitment permit, a requirement for hiring foreign workers in China.
"Foreign job-seekers could get work visas with the recruitment permit and then apply for a foreigner employment permit," Ding said.
Documents here are in English, allowing foreigners with little knowledge of the language to register for employment or extend their visa.
"This is my first time and so far it seems to be very efficient," one American job seeker told Xinhua in the bustling service hall of the center. "The staff are very helpful."
Beyond the paperwork, the center has now extended its scope to helping expats utilize educational, medical and social networks.
It's all part of the government's recent endeavour to make their departments more service-oriented. The foreign employees, who are referred to as "foreign experts" in China, are among the target population of such services.
Rose Oliver from Britain is one of them. The 49-year-old works as a professor at Shanghai University." I found it more than just a bureaucratic-like agency," Oliver said.
"It is more than an office that facilitates visas. They are actually concerned with expats' working lives, their lifestyles and the quality of life they have in China."
Oliver said it's the department's personal touch which has helped her to "have real exposure to Chinese culture".
One such personal touch are the cultural events run by the center which provide foreign experts with knowledge about living in China.
Huang Weimao, vice director of the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Foreign Experts Affairs, said streamlining all-important social security services was another vital role. The SEPC is under the jurisdiction of the bureau.
"We have close contact with expats, to give them help with obtaining child education, medical care and even housing," Huang said.
Its help is appreciated by expats like Oliver. "They provide a lot of security."
"When we have problems, I contact Huang. We don't necessarily have daily contact. But at least there is the knowledge that they are there if you need them," Oliver said.
Besides basic medical insurance, the bureau has coordinated with a state-owned company to offer tailored medical services for expats. "Foreigners tend to have higher requirements," Huang said.
The offerings of assistance have been expanded as part of the Expats Residence Law. The law, which took effect on July 1, grants foreign workers with a bachelor degree or above, equal access to investment, government jobs, schooling, and an all-important driver's license.
Russian biologist Philip Khaytovich works in a joint scientific research center established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Germany's Max Planck Society.
"Before it was not clear what to do with us, because there was no legal framework to deal with foreigners, like how to provide social insurance," Khaytovich said. "Now it changed."
Khaytovich is part of China's "1,000 Foreign Talents" program, used to recruit scientists from around the world.
"I was fortunate to get into the talent program, as it provides generous support for our work. "I think this can make China a very attractive place for research."
The Bureau is responsible for the program's talent recruitment. And as the Top 500s are on the look-out for executives and managerial experts, the Bureau is helping them to do that.
Right now Huang is head-hunting experts in the ship-making, automobile, electromechanics and new materials industries.
As part of not only luring but securing expat workers, China has plans to introduce a long-term visa, to replace the working visa, which must be renewed annually.
"A lot of expats are willing to stay for a long time," said Oliver. "They aren't just coming for a year or two. "They are coming to make a life here."
Huang put it just another improvement in the pipeline. "Foreign experts require a flexible visa policy," Huang said. "The creation of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone provides a new chance for change."
Despite being the tender age of just 40, Khaytovich has already considered retiring in China. "How to deal with foreigners when they retire?" Khaytovich said. "If someone like me works here for a long time, maybe they will stay in China for the rest of their life."
The new residence law for expats has allowed foreigners to collect a pension, but Huang still admits new provisions may take some fine-tuning.
"Old-age services for elderly foreigners may prove to be new challenge for the bureau in coming years," Huang said.
Over 50 percent of respondents in an online poll have voted to keep the seven-day Spring Festival and National Day holidays.
This shows that there is a strong desire in China for people to have longer holidays than currently, a tourism expert told the Global Times Monday.
Nearly 3 million people voted online to choose from three different holiday proposals for 2014 from China's holiday authorities.
The schemes, while leaving the total number of 11 public holidays unchanged, offered options for the October 1 National Day Holiday of three, five or seven days, while leaving the Spring Festival break unchanged.
Fifty-four percent voted for the seven-day October holiday, while 27.9 percent preferred the five-day break and 18.1 percent voted for three days.
"The survey results reflect the public's desire for longer holidays," Zhang Shangzheng, a tourism professor with Anhui University said Monday.
"People prefer longer holidays for family visits or tourism to faraway destinations."
China's public holidays are too short compared to more developed countries, he noted.
Some of those who chose to keep the seven-day October break said that it was simply because there was no better choice.
Others want a return to the seven-day May Day Holiday, which was dropped in 2008 in favor of the current system of several shorter holidays throughout the year.
Many appealed to lengthen the Spring Festival holiday and to increase the total number of public holidays, the Legal Mirror reported.
The paper claimed to have an "anonymous insider" that said the final results of the holiday scheme will be published a week later.
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