Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Mooncake tax sparks uproar in China: reports [AFP/Google]

So, the mooncake, both a symbol for defiance against Mongol invaders and staple in Chinese celebratory food culture is about to get taxed. Apparently, the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau (I did not see an indication of this from visiting their website, however) are making employees pay a personal income tax on moon cakes offered by their employers during the Mid-Autumn Festival,  the second most important on China’s lunar calendar after the Chinese New Year – the result? Public dissastifaction of course mediated by China’s twitter and facebook hybrid Weibo – which found that 96 percent of users opposed the tax on the sweetmeat, and many Chinese said they would prefer not to receive them at all.

The moon cakes, which are Chinese bakery products traditionally eaten during the festival, are considered a non-cash employee benefit that are normally included with personal income, and consequently the tax might be imposed if total income exceeds the minimum personal income tax threshold…’ See – Moon cake tax proposal stirs debate (Global Times, August 29, 2011)

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Mooncake tax sparks uproar in China: reports
Source – Google News, published August 29, 2011 

BEIJING — A decision by Beijing authorities to impose tax on mooncakes, a delicacy given as gifts for the Mid-Autumn Festival, has sparked an outcry in the Chinese capital, reports said Monday.

The cakes — heavy pastries containing sweet lotus seed paste — will from this year be considered a non-cash benefit and subject to income tax, the Global Times said, citing the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau.

A poll conducted by the microblogging service Weibo found that 96 percent of users opposed the tax on the sweetmeat, and many Chinese said they would prefer not to receive them at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Google News, Government & Policy, Inflation, Lifestyle, Media, Population, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Foxconn suicides trouble China [Straits Times]

More deaths – again what price for capitalist gain? 12 attempted suicides, with 10 dead, and counting, this new economy model of outsourcing production work to countries with cheap-er labour is saddening. The cynic might say 12 is a small number amongst tens of millions of China’s internal migrant factory workers (and 800,000 Foxconn employees with 420,000 alone work in Shenzhen is a massive factory complex), but I beseech all to think – that’s 12 lines of families and future descendants wiped off the face of this planet for capitalist gains, big (cheap products made with low margins for the global economy) and small (a few hundred RMB of wages to feed families).

Let us hope the company learns quickly in preventing such future incidents.“The deaths have raised questions about conditions at Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high psychological pressure are the norm.”

In other news, read how Apple is now making Foxconn employees sign contracts where they promise not to kill themselves (just hours before this recent suicide). How preposterous. Read about it here in Google News (AFP). This is a true example of how the East and West should not be meeting.

For more, visit the Foxconn website and have a read what their business model is all about – “Speed, Quality, Engineering Services, Flexibility and Monetary Cost Saving.” Also, check out China Daily’s four-page reportage on the matter – it is big big news in China.
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Foxconn suicides trouble China
Source – Straits Times, published May 27, 2010

Beijing working with the firm on measures to tackle problem at plant

BEIJING: China yesterday expressed concern over a string of employee suicides this year at a massive electronics plant in the southern city of Shenzhen run by Taiwanese group Foxconn.

The company itself is taking extraordinary measures to safeguard its business and workers following the suicides. Measures taken include getting workers to sign letters promising not to kill themselves at its sprawling plant.

The Chinese Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said Beijing was working with the company to implement ‘effective measures’ after the apparent suicides of 12 Foxconn workers this year, 11 of them in Shenzhen and one in a northern plant. Ten of them have died.

‘We are deeply sorry for the Foxconn employees who jumped to their deaths,’ TAO spokesman Yang Yi told a news conference.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Google News, Migrant Workers, Social, Straits Times, Taiwan

Toyota President to visit China on Monday [Google News]

More signs of China’s power are visible here. And more signs how a world synergy has emerged. Not too long ago China was claimed to have almost single-handedly saved Volkswagen too, by purchasing close to a million taxis from the automaker. No one can afford to collapse. The impact transcends natures and cultures, and whilst the rhetoric might ring nicely in writing, so many livelihoods are at stake.

“If it wasn’t for China last year, a lot of the makers, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, would be staying in the red. China is probably their most profitable operation,” Christopher Richter, CLSA Asia Pacific Markets Auto Analyst.

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Toyota’s president to visit China on Monday
Source – Google News, 01 March 2010

TOKYO — Fresh from a grilling by U.S. lawmakers, Toyota President Akio Toyoda will speak Monday in China about his company’s quality problems, seeking to boost confidence and ease consumer worries in the world’s biggest auto market.

Toyoda, who testified at a U.S. Congressional hearing last week about the spate of global recalls plaguing Toyota Motor Corp., will speak to reporters at a Beijing hotel, company spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.

The number of vehicles being recalled in China is small compared with the 8.5 million vehicles recalled worldwide since October for sticky gas pedals, faulty floor mats and glitches in braking software.

But Toyota has ambitious plans for growth in China, where it and its global rivals are finding growth that was stagnating even before the recall crisis in traditional American and European markets.

The flood of recalls in the United States has shaken confidence in Toyota’s reputation for top-grade quality. In China, the company announced a recall of 75,552 RAV4 sport-utility vehicles in late January due to the gas pedal problem.

Toyota has said its plans to expand in the Chinese market are unchanged, with its sales in the country expected to rise to 800,000 vehicles this year, up from 709,000 in 2009.

China’s overall vehicle sales soared 45 percent last year to 13.6 million, overtaking the U.S. as the world’s biggest auto market.

After answering questions by lawmakers last week, Toyoda visited with dealers and went to Toyota’s largest North American assembly plant in Kentucky. He is not scheduled to appear at a Toyota hearing Tuesday by a U.S. Senate committee.

Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, has made no public appearances in Japan since speaking in Washington, although media reports say he has returned. Toyota’s policy is to never comment on the whereabouts of its top executives, saying such details are confidential.

Toyoda’s haste in moving on to China, despite the limited number of recalls there, appears to reflect the company’s eagerness to restore the reputation for high quality that is its key advantage there.

So far, China’s state-controled media have made only muted comment on the recalls issue. The problem is mainly viewed as a precautionary example of potential pitfalls for China’s nascent domestic car industry.

“It is a wake-up call (for the Chinese). This is not easy, this is a major challenge to get the product right and keep customers satisfied,” said John Bonnell, a J.D. Power analyst in Bangkok.

Toyota got a relatively late start in China, after fitful efforts to break into the market early on in tie-ups between its subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co. and a state-run automaker, Tianjin Automobile Industry Holding Co.

Only in May 2006 did Toyota roll out its first made-in-China Camry, in a partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group, based in the affluent southern Chinese market near Hong Kong. Toyota also has a partnership with FAW Group, another state-owned automaker based in northern China.

“There is no question but that the Chinese market will overtake the Japanese market,” Yoshimi Inaba, now Toyota’s top North American executive, declared as the Guangzhou factory opened.

Since then, thanks partly to hard times brought on by the global financial crisis, China has overtaken both Japan and the U.S. to become the No. 1 market.

While the Camry proved a big success in China as elsewhere, both global rivals and Chinese upstarts have also been gaining ground — maneuvering to capture the small car market that Toyota has eschewed in favor of bigger, more expensive sedans.

For all the automakers, China and other fast-growing emerging markets are providing growth and profits to offset losses in their traditional market.

“If it wasn’t for China last year, a lot of the makers, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, would be staying in the red. China is probably their most profitable operation,” said Christopher Richter, an auto analyst with CLSA Asia Pacific Markets in Tokyo.

In any market, though, Toyota is facing an uphill struggle to mollify both consumers and regulators.

In Japan, Toyota has recalled 223,000 vehicles for hybrid models, including the Prius, for braking problems. But the company has a major stake in its home market and as the world’s biggest automaker, is viewed as a role model not just for automakers but for Japan as a whole.

Japanese Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, appearing at a nationwide broadcast news show Sunday, complained that Toyota’s “corporate culture” reflected a reluctance to be forthright on recalls.

“The company is not taking the problem as seriously as it should,” he said, saying the company’s quality chief, Shinichi Sasaki, came to explain the problems to the ministry only after being asked to do so.

Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Shanghai contributed to this report.

Filed under: Automotive, Economics, Google News, International Relations, japan

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