Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

16
Jan

By Jeongwen Chiang

Apple staff welcoming customers in the new Apple store at WangFujin business district in Beijing on October 20, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook expects China, the world’s most populous country, to become the No. 1 market for the company.

Equally heavyweight tech companies Google or Facebook can only watch with envy. It is not because of lack of effort that they are nowhere near the success of Apple in China. Their businesses are just too different.

The Chinese government’s tight control on freedom of information flow applies especially to the Internet. Web access is filtered on a regular basis. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked because the government deems them as potential hot spots for facilitating politically sensitive or socially inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, Google is operational in China but has to route all searches to its Hong Kong site, and the access is often interrupted. So, it is fair to say that the Chinese government is the reason why companies such as Google and Facebook are not doing well in China.

In contrast, Apple mainly sells hardware, so it has not run into any censorship problems.

Chinese consumers love electronic gadgets. Mobile phones are ubiquitous. Apple is doing incredibly well because its products are so much more attractive and pricy. The iPhone quickly become a status symbol product in Chinese social circles since its debut. Likewise, the iPad also joined the must-have list as soon as it was launched.

If someone wants to lubricate his “guanxi” — relationship — with an important person, these two products are often the gift of choice. Before the iPad reached China, a businessman in Shanghai told me that in the back of his car trunk, he had stocked at least 20 iPads, all bought in Hong Kong. “It is the most-loved present for government officials,” he claimed.

The social pressure of having an Apple product is strong, especially as the wealthy elites set the trend. If a middle class Chinese consumer cannot afford an expensive car or watch, sporting an iPhone may be just as good. Even the bad press surrounding Foxconn, the main manufacturer of Apple products, did not make too much of a dent on the company’s sales. Read more…

Jeongwen Chiang is professor of marketing and chair of the department of marketing at China Europe International Business School.

As published in www.cnn.com on January 15, 2013.

15
Jan

The west African nation becomes the eighth country in the last four years alone where Muslims are killed by the west.

By Glenn Greenwald

French troops board a transport plane in N’Djamena, Chad, bound for Mali.

As French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this west African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers – over the last four years alone – have bombed and killed Muslims – after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Phillipines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the west in that region). For obvious reasons, the rhetoric that the west is not at war with the Islamic world grows increasingly hollow with each new expansion of this militarism. But within this new massive bombing campaign, one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

First, as the New York Times’ background account from this morning makes clear, much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato’s intervention in Libya. Specifically, “heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya” and “the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic fighters who came back” played the precipitating role in the collapse of the US-supported central government. As Owen Jones wrote in an excellent column this morning in the Independent:

“This intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine. Tuaregs – who traditionally hailed from northern Mali – made up a large portion of his army. When Gaddafi was ejected from power, they returned to their homeland: sometimes forcibly so as black Africans came under attack in post-Gaddafi Libya, an uncomfortable fact largely ignored by the Western media. . . . [T]he Libyan war was seen as a success . . . and here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback.” Read more…

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian.

As published in www.guardian.co.uk on January 14, 2013.

14
Jan

Japan, Israel and Britain are facing big problems of their own just as the U.S. needs their help.

By Ian Bremmer

There are three big unfolding stories for international politics and the global economy: The next stage of China’s rise, the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and the redesign of Europe. The three countries with the most to lose from these trends are, respectively, Japan, Israel and Britain. They also happen to be America’s most reliable allies in the world’s three most important regions. As 2013 unfolds, the special relationships that these countries enjoy with Washington won’t protect them from the worst effects of these sweeping changes. That is also bad news for U.S. foreign policy.

The further expansion of China’s political, economic and military power leaves Japan in an increasingly tough spot. The broadening and deepening of China’s consumer market creates critical opportunities for Japanese companies, but Beijing’s new assertiveness, particularly on territorial disputes involving Japan, is fueling nationalist anger inside both countries. The risk isn’t that the two countries will exchange fire but that emerging frictions will undermine the exchange of everything else, reversing the momentum in a commercial relationship that has become especially important for the buoyancy of Japan’s economy.

In September, the battle over a string of contested islands in the East China Sea rattled Japan’s economy. A move by Tokyo to assert ownership of the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands ignited anti-Japanese fury inside China, and Beijing let protests burn longer and hotter than usual. In the process, Chinese protesters destroyed Japanese stores and products in several cities and launched boycotts of Japanese companies. That month, Toyota and Honda’s year-on-year sales in China were down, respectively, 49% and 41%.

Japanese policy makers know they must hedge bets on trade with China by bolstering ties elsewhere in Asia. But Japan remains dangerously exposed over the long term to its dependence for growth on Chinese markets. New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand U.S.-Japanese security ties, and Washington can help defend Japan’s interests in the East China Sea. But it can’t protect Japanese companies doing business in China from the fallout over growing frictions in Chinese-Japanese relations—and that is the greatest immediate threat to Japan’s future. Read more…

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a research and consulting firm on global political risk.

As published by The Wall Street Journal on January 11, 2013 (a version of this article appeared January 12, 2013, on page C2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Three Troubled Allies, One Superpower).

11
Jan

The case of the student gang raped in Delhi reveals how deep-seated misogyny remains in Indian society. Even as women are encouraged to study and join the work force, prejudice is rampant. It is time for change.

By Kishwar Desai

India has been transfixed by the Delhi gang rape which took the life of a young woman in December. Mass protests have resulted and the country has set up a fast track court to try the alleged perpetrators.

In the past few weeks, something has happened in India that we never thought possible: We have seen an unprecedented show of solidarity and anger over the horrific gang rape of a 23-year old woman, who later died of her injuries. The brutal killing of this nameless student — an ambitious young woman from a small town who worked hard to train as a physiotherapist and was a role model to her two younger brothers — moves us because she was one of us, a sister, a daughter and a wife.

For years, I have been writing about rape and abuse, about the killings of female fetuses, of girls and of women in India. But when I heard about it happening right in the middle of Delhi, in the heart of our capital, on a public bus, it felt like it happened to me. Fortunately, I have never had to experience rape myself. During my growing up years, however, I of course experienced molestation and verbal abuse by males. And even as a working woman it was part of my life — as it is part of any woman’s life in India. Friends of mine have experienced much worse, and they have been traumatized by it.

The young woman has been called “Nirbhaya”, the fearless, by the press, and she has become a symbol of India’s terrible misogyny. India’s middle class has held protest meetings and candle light vigils in many cities all over the country. The anger, despite reassurances from the government, refuses to die down. Even more unexpected has been the sight of young men pouring onto the streets, expressing their personal sorrow over escalating gender violence, as this emerging “superpower” becomes increasingly unsafe for women.

The response from the government has been slow and callous, with its clumsy attempt to squash the protests. This lack of empathy within the ruling coalition, and its inability to understand or comprehend the betrayal that Indian women feel today has left many aghast. Read more…

As published in www.spiegel.de on January 10, 2013.

10
Jan

Mammon’s new monarchs

Written on January 10, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Asia, Culture & Society, Foreign Policy, Globalization & International Trade

The emerging-world consumer is king

Intelligence agencies seldom take a sunny view of the world. Yet the latest report from America’s National Intelligence Council (“Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds”) is rather cheerful. The council frets about threats ranging from cyber-sabotage to nuclear holocaust (in a brilliant piece of understatement it warns that “Russia could become a very troublesome country”). But it argues that the most important trend in the coming decades will be the growth of the global middle class.

Britain, where the industrial revolution began, took 150 years to double its income per head. America took 30. China and India have pulled off the same feat in a fraction of the time and on a larger scale. The result is an explosion in the number of people who can afford middle-class luxuries, such as a nice home and a good start for their children.

The council is not alone in thinking that, despite the threat of bubbles and hard landings, the new middle class is the future. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that there will be nearly a billion middle-class Chinese and Indians—some 320m households—by 2020. McKinsey & Co, another consultancy, points out that consumption tends to follow an “S” curve. When people’s income hits a certain point, demand for consumer goods surges. It later levels off: a family’s first fridge is a colossal blessing, but two would make the kitchen seem crowded.

Western companies ask: how can we appeal to the new kings and queens of consumerism? And how can we compete with sharp-elbowed rivals from the emerging world? Dozens of books and articles have tried to grapple with these questions. Two stand out: “The $10 Trillion Prize” by Michael Silverstein and three colleagues at BCG and “What Chinese Want” by Tom Doctoroff, of J. Walter Thompson, a marketing company. Read more…

As published in www.economist.com on January 5, 2013.

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