Category: Announcements

12/31/13

Permalink 09:06:39 am, by dacare, 379 words, 770 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News of China

Shenzhen to Hike Minimum Wage Levels

Shenzhen human resource officials announced last week that the city will raise its monthly minimum wage level by 13 percent to RMB1,808 from February 1, 2014, while its hourly minimum wage will be adjusted from RMB14.5 to RMB16.5.
The new minimum wage standards are expected to benefit about 936,000 workers in Shenzhen, according to the city’s human resources and social security bureau.
In China, local governments are required to raise their minimum wage levels at least once every two years as a matter of State policy. Shenzhen last updated its minimum wage levels in March 2013, raising the monthly minimum pay by RMB100 to RMB1,600.
In 2013, twenty-seven regions in China have adjusted their minimum wage levels including: Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangdong, Xinjiang, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing, Shandong, Fujian, Jilin, Liaoning, Hubei, Ningxia, Shanxi, Yunan, Anhui, Henan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Guizhou. Detailed information can be found in the chart below.

After the latest round of adjustments come into effect, Shenzhen will have the highest minimum wage in the country at RMB1,808, followed by Shanghai at RMB1,620. Shenzhen will also have the nation’s highest hourly wage rate at RMB16.5, followed by Beijing and Xinjiang at RMB 15.2.
The country’s Employment Promotion Plan provides that the minimum wage levels in China should grow by at least 13 percent annually through 2015, and the minimum wage levels in most areas should not be lower than 40 percent of the average local salary. Under such policies, minimum wage levels across the country have registered an average 12.6 percent annual growth rate from 2008-2012.
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12/26/13

Permalink 09:07:51 am, by dacare, 903 words, 605 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Retirement delayed as China confronts smaller workforce

China plans to raise the retirement age for the first time since the 1950s, as policymakers confront the prospect of a shrinking workforce that damps economic growth.

“The age will rise gradually,” Hu Xiaoyi, a vice minister of human resources and social security, said this month. China’s compulsory retirement ages, now 50 for most women and 60 for men, are likely in 2020 to be about five years higher than they are now, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Delaying retirement may be a more effective tool in alleviating labour shortages and driving growth than the easing of the one-child policy announced last month as part of the broadest policy reforms since the 1990s. More than three decades of population control are thinning the ranks of available workers, adding to constraints on expansion as President Xi Jinping’s government seeks to rein in debt-fuelled investment.

“I would think that a lot of people would want to voluntarily work longer if the policies are right,” said Chang Jian, China economist at Barclays Plc in Hong Kong, who formerly worked at the World Bank. “The government would get a lot more mileage from raising the retirement age than a partial relaxation of the one-child policy,” she said.

“Twelve of 18 analysts saw 55 as closest to the 2020 retirement age for women, with five saying 60 and one 65,” according to the Bloomberg News survey, conducted from 22 November to 27 November.

Men’s retirement

The retirement age for men is likely to rise to about 65, according to 14 respondents, while two said it would be closer to 70 and two said it would stay near 60, the survey found.

For women in white-collar jobs, the retirement age is 55, and there are other exceptions such as for heavy labour.

The working-age labor force in China declined by 3.45 million people last year, according to the government. The United Nations has forecast a drop of about 24 million in the population age 15 to 59 from 2015 to 2025, while people age 65 and older will increase by about 66 million.

Scarcity is helping push up labour costs, driving companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. to relocate production to countries including Vietnam.

Raising the male retirement to 65 by 2020 may help keep in the labor force some of what statistics-bureau data show were 41.5 million men age 47 to 51 in 2011. There were 51.5 million women age 37 to 41.

Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the central bank, said a higher retirement age won’t change China’s demographic structure and trends. At the same time, it’s definitely helpful for China’s labour supply, and therefore good for economic growth in the long run, Yu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview in Beijing.

Pension shortfall

Fourteen Chinese provinces faced a combined pension shortfall of 76.7 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) in 2011, according to a report by CASS, a state researcher, the official Xinhua News Agency reported in October.

“A delayed retirement age, despite its unpopularity, is helpful for China’s economic growth and development by allowing people to work longer and making more efficient use of labour,” said Li Xiaoping, a Beijing-based researcher with CASS’s Institute of Population and Labour Economics.

“Letting people have more children, while more popular, may carry fewer economic-growth benefits because boosting the population alone doesn’t necessarily help expansion,” Li said.

Wang Yuanlong, a 42-year-old taxicab driver in Beijing, said that if the retirement age is raised to 65, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to make my pension contributions.

“It’s bad to think that I have to work every day when I am 65,” Wang said.

Support growth

Avoiding deeper declines in the labour force may help support economic growth that analysts forecast will slow. Expansion will decelerate to 7.4% in 2014 and 7.2% in 2015, according to median estimates of economists in a separate Bloomberg News survey this month.

China is also trying to sustain growth by encouraging some of the 600 million-plus rural residents to relocate to cities and better integrating the 260 million migrant workers who live in urban areas without getting full access to schools and other municipal benefits.

The Communist Party said last month that couples will be allowed to have a second child if either parent is an only child, instead of both parents. The party said it would consider raising the retirement age.

“Delaying retirement will slow the process of China’s labour surplus becoming a deficit,” said Zhu Haibin, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at JPMorgan Chase and Co. The shift will have a much bigger impact on the economy than the change in the one-child policy, because that will only start to affect the labour force in 20 years’ time, Zhu said.

Life expectancy

China isn’t the only nation grappling with the issue. The UK plans to raise the pension age to 66 from 65 by 2020 and may raise it to 68 by the mid-2030s. Australia’s pension age is scheduled to rise to 67 from 65 by 2023, and the government may need to increase it later to 70, the nation’s Productivity Commission said in a research paper last month.

“National average life expectancy in China was 72 for men and 77 for women in 2010,” according to government data. The highest was 82 for women in Beijing and Shanghai.

“The age of 50 or 60 is no longer regarded as old,” Yang Yansui, director of Tsinghua University’s Research Center of Employment and Social Security, said in Beijing. “The pension system just can’t be sustained if the pension access age is not extended.”

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12/17/13

Permalink 12:16:33 pm, by dacare, 447 words, 432 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News of China, Manufacturing & Industry

Production to slow down: HSBC

Workers assemble heavy equipment at a factory in Qingzhou, Shandong province. A preliminary reading of the Purchasing Managers' Index for the manufacturing industry edged down to 50.5 in December from 50.8 in November, the lowest level since October, HSBC Holdings Plc said in a report.

Preliminary manufacturing PMI shows weaker growth in December

China's manufacturing sector will likely see the slowest expansion in three months in December because of lower output growth, HSBC Holdings Plc said on Monday.

A preliminary reading of the Purchasing Managers' Index for the manufacturing industry edged down to 50.5 in December from 50.8 in November, the lowest level since October, the bank said in a report.

The production output sub-index slipped to 51.8 in December from 52.2 in November, pressuring the index.

Meanwhile, the new orders sub-index hit a nine-month high of 51.8 in December, compared with 51.7 in November, while the new export orders sub-index rose to 50.3 from 50.2 last month, suggesting stable market demand.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below that level signals contraction.

The official PMI data for December will be released on Jan 1 by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. HSBC will release its final PMI data on Jan 2.

Qu Hongbin, chief economist in China at HSBC, said that although December's preliminary manufacturing PMI reading slowed marginally from November's final reading, it still stands above the third quarter's average reading of 49.7.

The latest reading implies that the manufacturing sector's recovery, which started in July, is still holding up, Qu said.

He believes that China's GDP growth will stabilize at about 7.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist in China at Nomura Securities Co Ltd, said that the slowdown in the PMI data "suggests that growth momentum has started to weaken".

"This trend is likely to continue in the first half of 2014, as market interest rates keep rising and pushing up financing costs for enterprises," said Zhang.

Figures from the central bank showed that new loans came in at 625 billion yuan ($103 billion) in November due to stronger retail and short-term corporate loans, rebounding from 506 billion yuan in October. Off-balance sheet lending saw a broad-based recovery to 377.9 billion yuan in November from 184 billion yuan in October but was still below the August-September levels.

A report from Barclays Capital said that short-term bill issuance has increased, as rising funding costs have probably led companies to rely more on short-term financing.

According to the NBS, industrial output growth in November slowed to 10 percent year-on-year from 10.3 percent in October, which may indicate that the GDP growth rate in the last quarter may be at 7.6 to 7.8 percent, compared with 7.8 percent in the third quarter and 7.5 percent in the second, analysts said.

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12/12/13

Permalink 09:24:44 am, by dacare, 353 words, 550 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News of China

Agency releases 2014 holiday plan

The national body responsible for deciding China's holiday dates has released the national holiday schedule for 2014, provoking mixed reactions from the public.

The schedule, issued by the General Office of the State Council on Wednesday, links official holiday periods with weekends, thus extending the number of consecutive days workers can take off.

The new arrangement means that Spring Festival and National Day holidays will be extended to seven-day breaks. Meanwhile, the Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day, Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival will become three-day holidays. However, New Year will be celebrated as a one-day holiday.

Excluding the attached weekends, there will be 11 official days of holiday through 2014, a figure similar to previous years.

"I was hoping the total number of national holidays would increase. It is really disappointing that it didn' t go up at all," said Cheng Jia, 30, from Beijing.

Another Beijing resident, Wei Bo, 59, said: "I do not see much difference between the schedule for 2014 and previous years, except for the arrangement for Spring Festival holidays. According to the new schedule, we will still have to work on Chinese Lunar New Year' s Eve — the time we are supposed to have our family reunion. This is so inhumane."

Also on Wednesday, the State Council released amendments to the National Annual Leave and Memorial Days regulation dealing with national holidays. Enacted in 1949 and amended several times, it stipulates the specific days and lengths of national holidays.

This year' s amendment changed the Spring Festival to the first three days of the first lunar month of each year. According to a previous amendment to the regulation made in 2008, the three-day Spring Festival started on the last day of the lunar year.

Cai Jiming, director of the Center for Political Economy at Tsinghua University, who leads a team researching holiday system reform, was also involved in the 2008 amendment.

He said the change will bring inconvenience to people who are asked by employers to work till the last minute.

His team had proposed to expand the Spring Festival from three days to four days, but the proposal was not adopted by the government.

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10/30/13

Permalink 09:30:09 am, by dacare, 480 words, 595 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News of China

Taiwan asked to cooperate with free trade zone

The mainland and Taiwan adopted 19 joint proposals at the Ninth Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, one of which encourages the island to cooperate with the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The proposal, announced by John Chiang, vice-chairman of the Kuomintang, calls for cooperation between a pilot free economic area in Taiwan and the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as well as with three other pilot economic areas in eastern Fujian and Jiangsu provinces.

The free economic zones established by the two sides should cooperate and learn from each other to achieve common development, according to the proposal.

The Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which began operating in late September, is a 28.78-square-kilometer district billed as a test site for deepening market-oriented reforms.

Wu Poh-hsiung, KMT honorary chairman, said during his speech at the closing ceremony on Sunday he was delighted that both Taiwan and Shanghai have planned or established free trade zones and pilot free economic areas.

"We anticipate that the mainland and Taiwan will also consider cooperation opportunities in this field to give us more power to create a prosperous future," he said.

The forum, a key platform for communication between the mainland and Taiwan, ended on Sunday in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

With closer cross-Straits economic cooperation, the two sides should explore ways to keep pace with the Asia-Pacific region's economic integration, participants at the forum said.

The 19 proposals, which also cover cross-Straits cooperation in technology, finance, agriculture, education and tourism, are important and achievable, said Zhang Zhijun, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief. The proposals reflect an urgency from both sides of the Taiwan Straits to stay competitive within international economic and scientific fields. The proposals will also provide a useful reference point for policymakers, said Zhang, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office.

Zhang said both sides should seize opportunities to cooperate in order to increase advantages in global economic, scientific and technological competition.

"I truly hope relevant authorities from both sides turn these proposals into feasible policies and measures," Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said at Sunday's closing ceremony.

Yu urged both sides to overcome difficulties and seek opportunities to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties and realize China's rejuvenation through cooperation.

Sun Zhaolin, deputy head of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce, said it's advisable for the mainland and Taiwan to first reach a consensus on cooperation within the free trade zones before discussing details of cooperation.

In the proposals, participants urged both sides to expand financial cooperation by further opening their financial markets, jointly maintain stability in markets and build financial institutions on both sides to enhance exchanges. Participants also called on the two sides to promote cooperation in such sectors as culture, film, publishing, education, agriculture, medicine, as well as tourism and youth exchanges.

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09/25/13

Permalink 02:04:17 pm, by dacare, 636 words, 446 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News of China

Shanghai elderly open to house-for-pension plan

More than 70 percent of elderly people in Shanghai are open to a house-for-pension program, a survey showed, despite a recent public outcry against the idea raised in a central government document.

According to the Shanghai investigation team under the National Bureau of Statistics, the program was supported by 73 percent of respondents as a possible means to ease the burden on elderly people in an aging society where people are choosing to have fewer or no children.

Under the program, an elderly person who owns a property could deed the house to an insurance company or bank, which would determine the value of the property and the applicant's life expectancy, and pay out a fixed amount of money every month.

The survey of 2,248 residents aged from 60 to 79 who have lived in Shanghai for more than one year found only 27 percent of respondents were firmly against the idea, the bureau's investigation team said in a report.

Those against the program cited various reasons including the possibility of family disputes, and that they don't need the program because their children will care for them in their old age.

Respondents in rural areas said the program is impossible because the land used for building rural houses cannot be traded.

Earlier this month, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a document promising a complete social care network for people over the age of 60 by 2020.

The house-for-pension program, together with other policies such as encouraging private investment in elder care services, is dedicated to serving the world's largest population of elderly.

But the proposal drew wide criticism, with many suggesting that it shows the government is preparing to pay less attention to elder care services.

Experts said those respondents who said yes to the idea would not necessarily utilize the program.

"Intuitively, it is impossible to have such a high rate of people accepting the idea," said Feng Jin, a professor at Fudan University's Economics School.

"If you casually ask them, they may say yes to the program. But when they are requested to make the decision to mortgage their houses for a pension, it will be a different thing," she added.

In the United States, where a similar program has been in place for more than 20 years, only 2 percent of people aged 65 or above have mortgaged their houses for a pension, according to Feng.

In Hong Kong, only 11 percent of property owners accepted the idea, based on a survey in 2000 of 1,867 Hong Kong residents aged between 49 and 59.

A pilot program to test the idea by China Citic Bank in Shanghai proved unsuccessful because it did not comply with market demand, Feng added.

Yang Lei, founder of Huoban Jujia Homecare Service, said some elderly people showed interest in the program when she raised it.

All were childless or had children who had settled overseas, she said. "They accept the idea because they don't have a person to inherit their property," she added.

It is reasonable therefore that some oppose the idea in order to leave their house to their children, she said.
Wang Xiuzhen, 64, a retired worker, said a clear no to the proposal. "We are not Westerners. Asian culture promotes that you need to leave some heritage for your children."

The Shanghai survey also found 87.5 percent of respondents agreed with the concept of "raising sons to help in old age", and 67.3 percent supported the traditional concept of the family supporting its elderly members.

The respondents expected the authorities to provide more beds at care centers, improve community-based caring services and enhance the service level of those engaged in the sector, the survey found.

By the end of 2012, Shanghai had 3.67 million people aged 60 or older, accounting for 25.7 percent of its total registered population, according to Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. Shanghai also has millions of migrants who are not registered in the city.

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