Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce firm, recently smashed global records for its ‘Single’s Day’ promotion on 11th November 2015, selling $14.3 billion worth of merchandise in just 24 hours. This is the equivalent to 120,000 orders placed every minute, covering both online spaces such as Taobao and Tmall as well as 180,000 brick and mortar sites across 330 cities in China. The numbers are staggering, but they also show a problem with the sheer scale of selling—how to ensure the quality and authenticity, of goods. Alibaba is now tightening the screws on fake goods being sold on its platforms, but can it stay one step ahead of counterfeiters?
The days of double-digit growth in China are long gone now. And as China shifts to a new economic model, the term ‘the New Normal’ is often used to describe this supposedly more sustainable economic growth. The consensus is that the New Normal will usher in a steadier, stronger, more sustainable economy led by consumption and services. But when you break it down to a granular level, what does the term really mean? More importantly, what does the New Normal mean for the level of economic growth being pursued in China? What implications does it have for rebalancing the economy and different industries?
Dating back to 1953, China’s system of Five-Year Plans has long been dismissed as anachronistic, but it remains crucial to guidance of the economy. Five-Year Plans occupy a central place in China’s complex system of governance. For just as China’s economy has reformed and adapted in the last 37 years, so too has the planning framework. There are clear signs that planning will remain an indispensable component of Chinese economic and political development for years to come.
In China a healthy gaming culture centered around PC games, and more recently, mobile games, is thriving. Despite a historic decision by China’s Ministry of Culture in January 2014 to lift its 14-year ban on video game consoles, foreign console companies Sony and Microsoft have largely failed to woo China’s 517 million gamers. In July 2015, Niko Partners estimated that fewer than 550,000 of Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One, combined, will be sold in China by the end of the year, a pittance compared to the profits made by both PC and mobile gaming. Both companies are trying to make headway in this potentially fruitful market.
If there’s one activity that unites China’s subway commuters, it’s huddling over their smartphone screens to watch the latest local, South Korean or Western TV shows downloaded or streamed from one of China’s many video websites. They’re part of a wider trend where more and more consumers are heading online to find their entertainment, and government statistics show music and video are the fourth and fifth most popular uses for the internet, respectively. But for all the prodigious growth, monetizing the interest has been a different matter. That is largely due to a pervasive culture of free, on-demand content, but that may be set to change.
The heady days of double-digit economic growth rates are now history in China, and even achieving 7-7.5% growth is unthinkable. The stock market has been on a roller coaster ride. The Renminbi has fallen dramatically and the trade numbers are down too. Li Wei, Professor of Economics at CKGSB, feels that to solve this China must implement structural reform. The downside: it will be painful. The upside: the Chinese economy will be better off in the long run.
A common view of China’s central planning is that it has failed; since China grew faster when its reforms replaced planning with markets, the sooner China gets rid of Five Year Plans the better. This view is rather simplistic. Evidence shows that the Five Year Plans have played an important role in China’s progress. It was the fastest way for China to mobilize capital and labor for industrialization. And when China transitioned from a planned to a market economy and the two worked in parallel, it maintained employment, livelihoods, infrastructure and the supply of basic goods, hence a stable foundation for the nascent market economy.
Everyone knows that China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are in dire need of reform. However, it seems the government wants to take its time through the reform process. The State Council’s recently released guideline document on SOE reforms hasn’t set any deadlines or quantifiable targets. Rather it seems to stress upon the importance of not rushing through or forcing any immature reforms. There’s a reason for that. Any attempt to speed up implementation of reforms at Chinese SOEs can have devastating consequences. We explain why.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) in possession of industrial assets must be in want of reform. China’s reforms have released many assets into private ownership, but large blocks remain in corporations linked either to the central government or to a local government via chains of corporate ownership. The State Council’s latest guidelines on the reform of state-linked enterprises envisage more private ownership, some mergers, and a greater role for state asset management companies. But would that ensure better corporate governance?
In a bid to improve the environment, the Chinese government is considering imposing a pollution tax. But how exactly should it determine the tax amount?