Permalink 10:33:48 am, by dacare, 559 words, 8 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Time for image overhaul at Huawei

The booth of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd at an Internet conference in Beijing. The Kirin 920 chip of the high-tech giant is regarded as an announcement that the company is increasingly innovative and internationally competitive.

As the dust settles on China's high-tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's latest innovation, a new wonder chip, the Kirin 920, it is important to review the significance of this new product.

In the month since the Kirin 920 was announced, it has certainly captured the attention of the media. The tone generally has been one of admiration and respect for the chip in a market long dominated by the United States in general and US-based Qualcomm Inc in particular.

On a technical level, Huawei's Kirin 920 provides support for QHD displays, 4K video recording and a high-speed LTE category-6 platform. None of Huawei's global competitors, not even Qualcomm, can match this functionality.

Huawei's Kirin 920 announcement also signals that the company as well as other Chinese companies are increasingly innovative and internationally competitive.

Technical innovation is an absolute necessity to remain competitive both domestically and globally, but it is not sufficient by itself.

Huawei needs to match its impressive technical innovation record with equally impressive brand image creativity and innovation.

The high-tech industry, perhaps with Apple Inc as the only exception, is dominated by software and electronic engineering advances and specialists. As a result, brand imaging is often relegated to a "bolt on" added by an outside marketing agency.

Huawei, therefore, can step further ahead of its global rivals by matching its latest Kirin 920 innovation with a brand image overhaul and redesign.

The key to any successful brand image is the set of associations chosen that collectively form a powerful impression in the minds of the brand's target market.

Here, Huawei could demonstrate real innovation and some courage by choosing associations that evoke a powerful Chinese image.

Chinese history, rich in artistic imagery, is full of such associations.

It is important to stress what sort of brand image Huawei should target. Huawei already has an enviable worldwide reputation, for technical excellence and innovation, but high-tech consumers also value a brand that attaches itself to an important aspect of their lifestyle.

High-tech brands also need to be seen as lifestyle solutions and provide a certain amount of "personality" as well as effective technical delivery.

Huawei, like many of its global high-tech rivals, does not appear to have considered any sort of emotional brand personality, but now is the time.

But with China's 5,000-year history and an abundance of associations from which to choose, where should Huawei start?

Perhaps an effective starting point would be inside the typical high-tech global consumer's mind, where the company can uncover their knowledge and appreciation of Chinese history.

Such a starting point will undoubtedly lead to one of the nation's most famous literary works, The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, a brilliant novel that winds through Chinese history with a multitude of rich characters.

Huawei could "attach" some of the book's characters and images in order to build a brand with real personality.

Intellectual giant and masterful military strategist, Zhuge Liang, could feature prominently in any brand imagery and enable Huawei to begin to build an emotionally powerful, competitive brand.

Huawei continues to lead Chinese companies' international expansion with technical excellence and creativity, but it is brand image innovation that is much needed now.

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Permalink 01:55:03 pm, by dacare, 322 words, 33 views   English (US)
Categories: Opinion and View

Vietnam supervises recruitment of over 3,600 Chinese workers by Chinese contractor

State inspectors in southern Tra Vinh Province have requested that the Chinese contractor of a local thermal power project elaborate on its plans for the recruitment of over 3,600 Chinese workers by 2017, said Duong Quang Ngoc, deputy director of the provincial Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

The department’s Inspectorate has coordinated with the management unit for the Duyen Hai Thermal Power Plant III Project in inspecting the project contractor’s plan for the recruitment of foreign workers to ensure that they are employed only when Vietnamese candidates fail to meet the qualifications required for each job title, Ngoc said.

The inspection was made after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper published an article on July 7, questioning the local government’s approval of the plan, under which thousands of Chinese workers will be recruited for the project.

The article came after the provincial People’s Committee approved the plan based on the department’s proposal that was made after the contractor reported that no Vietnamese candidates met the required qualifications.

The Inspectorate now requests that the contractor, China Chengda Engineering Co., Ltd., report on its construction schedule and the plan for its use of workers for 2014 and each year to follow.

This plan must provide all details on the estimated number of employees to be recruited and their specific skills and qualifications.

When such recruitment plan is made available, the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs will examine it and if it meets applicable regulations, the department will approve and broadly publicize it nationwide through mass media, not only within the province as previously done by the contractor.

The department will also assign staff to supervise the process of recruitment under the approved plan to ensure that the recruitment of foreign workers is lawful.

Under the current recruitment plan of the contractor, the company will recruit 1,513 workers from now until the year’s end, and 2,162 others by 2017, including 1,528 technical workers.

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Permalink 10:21:37 am, by dacare, 633 words, 45 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

LinkedIn, WeChat planning closer cooperation

After launching a Chinese-language website in February, the Chinese branch of the world's largest professional networking company LinkedIn Corp is set to strengthen its cooperation with reigning mobile messaging application WeChat.

Derek Shen, president of LinkedIn China, said on Thursday that the professional networking site with more than 300 million members globally expects to roll out a service that can tie LinkedIn users' accounts to the ones they have on WeChat.

Shen, who joined the United States-based LinkedIn in January to assist the Internet giant in tapping China's professional networking market, declined to give a detailed description of the cooperation.

But he said his Beijing-based team is considering the possibility of allowing WeChat's more than 500 million users in China to log onto LinkedIn through their WeChat accounts or even communicate with LinkedIn users on WeChat rather than the traditional way of sending messages to users' registered email addresses.

"People have two identities. One is about their personal life; the other is about their professional life. WeChat has done a great job of enriching people's private lives. But the cooperation with LinkedIn can help its users build their professional identities," he said.

LinkedIn has made China one of its top priorities by creating a joint venture with Sequoia China and China Broadband Capital in January in an attempt to connect with more than 140 million Chinese professionals.

Compared with January, the number of LinkedIn's daily new users jumped 80 percent in July. The company reported that its Chinese users exceeded 5 million by the end of May.

Nearly 1 million of them use LinkedIn's Chinese language website, which was launched at the end of February.

Shen said he was satisfied with LinkedIn China's track record in its first six months in China and is hoping to boost Chinese user numbers to 10 million by early next year.

The push will not be through advertisements, however; rather, LinkedIn is planning to launch creative campaigns, including holding offline seminars jointly with top universities or MBA programs, to attract the attention of high-quality talent in China's biggest cities.

Statistics from LinkedIn showed that more than 60 percent of its users live in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. In addition, 42 percent of its users hold manager-level positions or above.

As a newcomer to China, LinkedIn is also planning to meet with some of the well-established players in China's professional networking market.

Tianji.com, a Beijing-based platform, boasts more than 18 million users. Founded in 2005, it said its user numbers have soared by an average of 500,000 per month over the past year.

He Miao, marketing director of Tianji.com, said that as the market matures, more and more Chinese are realizing they need a separate platform to meet the demands of building a career.

The key to running a successful professional networking system in China lies in localization, she said.

"People in the West are more open to contacting strangers online and exploring business opportunities through online connections, even if they don't know each other well," He said.

Chinese Internet users seldom contact those they do not know well. "They have to become friends first before doing business together. So we have to specially design products and features to improve the interaction and make them know each other better through our platform," she said.

Jin Xiaolei, an analyst with Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, said that teaming up with WeChat is a smart move for LinkedIn as more and more people have used the mobile messaging application as a tool for communicating work-related information.

"But digging deeper and meeting the demands of Chinese users requires a long-term commitment. It is still too early to tell what LinkedIn's future in China will be," she said.

"But what is sure is that the Chinese professional networking market is going to heat up, with LinkedIn serving as a good catalyst."

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Permalink 11:06:35 am, by dacare, 233 words, 48 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

SAIC signs deal on Internet technologies with Alibaba

Shanghai-based automaker SAIC Motor Corp Wednesday signed an agreement with Internet giant Alibaba Group on applying more Internet technologies to SAIC's future products, news portal tech.sina.com.cn reported.

The cooperation will enable SAIC to use Alibaba's "YunOS" operating system as well as its mapping and music services in the automaker's future products, according to the report.

Prior to the Wednesday deal, SAIC has already made efforts to bring the Internet to its vehicles.

SAIC in 2010 developed a vehicle system called inkaNet that enables car owners to get access to vehicle information on both personal computers and smartphones.

The system has reportedly been applied to most models of the company's self-developed Roewe brand.

Major carmakers and Internet companies have all been trying to tap into the opportunities in the development of "Internet of Vehicles," a concept that generally means making driving more intelligent using Internet technology.

Leading wireless operator China Unicom has cooperated with major domestic carmakers such as Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to provide 3G telecommunication services to their products.

China Unicom also signed a similar agreement with US premium carmaker Tesla in April.

"There will be more cooperation between Internet companies and automakers in the future as 'Internet of Vehicles' represents the future trend," independent auto analyst Zhang Zhiyong told the Global Times Wednesday.

Zhang also noted that "Internet of vehicles" means great opportunities for domestic carmakers and Internet firms.

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Permalink 10:41:10 am, by dacare, 795 words, 59 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Testing times for foreign fast-food chains

Meat scandal exposes loopholes in quality control and supervision

A meat supplier's practice of selling expired chicken and beef to top fast-food chains in China has highlighted loopholes in ensuring quality and safety in the food supply chain in the country, pushing companies to be more proactive in auditing and testing, experts said.

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration confirmed on Tuesday that the Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd was found in violation of the law, after five batches (5,108 boxes) of their chicken, beef and pork were discovered to have problems.

The meat supplier, wholly owned by Chicago-based food company OSI Group LLC, sells meat to nine fast-food chains, including McDonald's Corp and KFC parent Yum Brands Inc, coffee chain Starbucks Corp and Burger King Worldwide Inc.

The involved brands have halted using products from Husi. McDonald's and Yum said they will resume purchases when they can ensure the food complies with laws and standards. Neither said what suppliers they would use in the meantime.

The scandal came as multinational food producers and retailers have expanded their outlets and factories aggressively in China, one of their most important markets.

Yum, the parent company for KFC and Pizza Hut, has opened 6,387 outlets in China so far, and it had a market share of about 5 percent in 2013.

McDonald's has 2,000 outlets, which accounted for 2.6 percent of the fast-food market last year. About half of Yum's revenue and 35 percent of its operating profits came from the Chinese market last year.

But their rapid expansion was not accompanied by a similar improvement in managerial capacity and training, resulting in continued food safety scandals, said Zhao Ping, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, which is under the Ministry of Commerce.

Fast-food chains, which have developed quickly in China in recent years, many through franchising, have been weak in implementing the industry standards and ethical principles that they follow in developed markets, she said.

"Multinationals should require their operations in China to follow the same standards in terms of food safety as in developed markets," Zhao said. "It is an excuse for food producers to lower their standards only because local regulations are loose and food safety and security awareness are weaker."

Companies should invest in internal training and set up appraisal systems that involve food safety issues, she said.

Zhao said fast-food restaurants are also responsible for unsafe food purchased at their outlets, because they should have supply chain controls at their logistics centers that deal with this issue before products are shipped to the stores. Even when products are labeled as qualified, fast-food chains should send samples for third-party testing.

The latest incident is "a wake-up call for Chinese consumers, who have long believed that foreign fast-food brands follow higher standards than domestic ones", Zhao said.

These fast-food brands should be prepared to lose a number of loyal customers, she added.

The incident is not a simple case of negligence by an individual company but an exposure of the systemic risk in the food supply chain, which damages consumer trust and brand loyalty, she said.

Ben Cavender, an analyst at Shanghai-based China Market Research, said the reason why it appears that multinational food companies are involved in more misconduct in China than in other markets is because most of the markets are not as big or fast-growing as the market here in China.

In many ways, suppliers in China are still "professionalizing" their operations and do not always hold same standards that apply in Western Europe and the United States, he said.

Because of all these issues, it is difficult for foreign-invested suppliers to maintain quality and offer consumers safe products the way they should, even though the supplier situation has improved a lot, he said.

Hu Min, leader of the professional team of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing and its specialized committee for purchasing and supply chain management, said that food safety testing standards and frequency should be improved at all stages of the logistics and supply chains.

In recent years, many international retailers have learned a lesson and put more resources into food testing to prevent food safety scandals.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc came under the spotlight early this year after a supplier's donkey meat was found to contain fox meat. It also came under fire for selling expired duck meat in 2011.

Walmart China said the company will increase its investment in food safety to more than 300 million yuan ($48.6 million) between 2013 and 2015, focusing on Increasing supplier audits and tests for suppliers.

It will increase DNA testing on meat products and spend more on facility audits and inspections of primary producers. The number of facility audits and inspections of primary producers was up 50 percent in 2013 compared with a year earlier, it said.

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Permalink 10:07:22 am, by dacare, 266 words, 69 views   English (US)
Categories: Investing in China

Shanghai unveils measures to bolster VC

Shanghai announced new measures to encourage private investment in small and micro companies, the latest move to boost venture capital in the city.

The local government said in an online statement yesterday that it is striving to build Shanghai into an international venture capital center.

By 2017, the city is expected to accumulate an additional 100 billion yuan (US$16 billion) in capital for investing in innovative companies. The city also forecasts attracting an extra 1,000 venture capital professionals and 100 influential venture capital firms in a bid to help start-up companies receive the guidance they need.

The city's Venture Capital Investment Guidance Fund increased 1 billion yuan annually in the past three years. The fund invests in targeted sectors and also serves as a guide for privately owned funds. District and county-level governments are encouraged to establish similar funds.

Shanghai plans to simplify foreign investment procedures in domestic venture capital firms by piloting a foreign exchange settlement trial.

State-owned enterprises are also being encouraged to form VC firms.

The new measures are part of the government's efforts to support small and micro companies in Shanghai. Apart from direct financing solutions, Shanghai has also encouraged banks to lend money to cash-strapped small companies.

Executive Deputy Mayor Tu Guangshao's said earlier this week that Shanghai will improve fundraising services for small and micro companies.

There were about 370,000 small and micro enterprises in the city as of the end of 2013. They accounted for 97.1 percent of incorporated companies and provided 54 percent of the city's jobs.

Elsewhere, the People's Bank of China's Shanghai Headquarters agreed to loan 1 billion yuan (US$161.1 million) to Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank.

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