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China’s new tech soft power


Foreigners are tapping Chinese innovation to network and build businesses
International market: Foreign visitors to an expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous
region, evince interest in forestry by-products and pay for them using WeChat Pay. [Photo by Peng Huan / for China Daily]

China’s innovations impress foreigners, change startup game, boost confidence

The consumption power of more than 1 million foreigners working or studying in China is disproportionately bigger than their tiny share (0.07 percent) of the total population – and whizzes of the country’s homegrown tech ecosystem are sitting up and taking notice, as the economy transitions from export and investment-led growth to a consumption-driven model.

Manufacturers of gadgets, providers of technology-enabled services, and developers of intellectual property like innovative technologies are all vying to make life easier for the relatively small but monetarily significant foreigner community in China.

French engineer Sebastien Bernard, 37, will probably agree. He came to work and live in Beijing four months ago. The first thing he was asked to do by his friends and colleagues was to download and install WeChat, the all-in-one killer app, on his smartphone.

He complied, and his life is much the better for it, he said. As it transpired, Bernard was e-invited to join a WeChat group.

Initially, 15 foreigners chatted with each other and shared their life experiences on the e-group. Gradually, the group grew to a 200-member community of sorts that shared not just useful information like job links or party invitations but, wait for it, e-commerce discount coupons and weekend getaway packages.

Friendly advice sensitized Bernard to other treasures on WeChat. Among many other things, he learned to use the app to order food, book a taxi ride, buy movie tickets, and make digital payments for e-commerce.

Using Chinese apps, some of his friends even play online games, and borrow or lend money using e-credit channels that are redefining inclusive finance.

According to a WeChat report, by May 2017, foreigners in China sent 60 percent more WeChat messages than Chinese users on average per month. They also use WeChat audio calls 42 percent more than Chinese users.

Notably, foreigners in China are good at using different functions or features of WeChat. On average, they use emojis 45 percent more than Chinese users per day. Typically, a foreigner sends 10″red packets” – cash e-gifts – per month. Nearly 65 percent of foreigners who use WeChat use the app’s digital payment tool WeChat Pay.

“Here in China, having WeChat and Alipay accounts is like being plugged into the world. The apps include almost every conceivable service that can help make modern life easy,” said Bernard.

Agreed Yang Qiguang, 26, a researcher from Columbia University’s Tow Center who is pursuing PhD at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.  

“Chinese companies are creating a tech ecosystem that helps everyone, including foreigners, to work and live in a more convenient way.”

Forming social networks using e-tools has become integral to modern life, particularly in urban areas – and China’s tech ecosystem perhaps performs this function better than any other, by bundling consumption-related conveniences, he said.

“The tech ecosystem here facilitates people, including foreigners, to spend more. It is also boosting the confidence of both domestic and foreign companies operating in China. They know they now have powerful and reliable e-tools like apps to drive sales in a humongous market with more than 1 billion consumers,” he said.

That’s not all. Yang said China’s tech ecosystem is fostering entrepreneurialism. Even foreigners living in China are beginning to use Chinese apps to start up in a variety of fields, including technology, education and entertainment. All this business activity is a long-term positive effect for the Chinese economy, he said.

Yang could well have been speaking about David Collier, 52, a Briton who has founded four startups so far, respectively in the United States, the United Kingdom and China.

Rikai Labs, his WeChat-based e-learning business in China, helps Chinese users to master the English language through proprietary automated software. Collier said every seven years, a big platform shift comes along – from web to mobile apps; from apps to messaging platforms – that creates huge opportunities.

“We chose to base our business on WeChat because it provides a great platform for a knowledge service. You have to build your business where people are spending their time, and the biggest messaging platform of all is WeChat,” he said.

“Also, we can use WeChat payment for instant payment, QR codes for marketing purposes and to track user acquisition channels. Now with WeChat’s mini programs, we can add interactive games and other features.”

There’s more. Links to Rikai Labs and related content can be shared socially online. “It provides a very compelling platform with real-time features, social distribution, marketing hooks and monetization,” Collier said.

But risks abound too, he said. Platforms such as WeChat have become extremely competitive for startups. “If you don’t move at high speed, riding with WeChat is like taking the maglev.”

Data, however, suggest that foreigners appear to have an edge over Chinese users in exploiting the local tech ecosystem for small businesses and online social networking, which actually helps businesses directly or indirectly.

A case in point is Baopals, a startup founded by three expatriates. Call it the English Taobao, if you will. Baopals is anchored in Taobao and Tmall, the online shopping platforms owned by Alibaba Group, China’s tech giant.

Foreign visitors to an expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, evince interest in forestry by-products and pay for them using WeChat Pay. [Photo by Peng Huan / for China Daily]

In July 2015, Charlie Erickson, Jay Thornhill and Tyler McNew, all US citizens in their late 20s and early 30s, developed Baopals, a website that helps translate product information on the Chinese Taobao and Tmall into English. In one stroke, the trio thus opened up the astonishing world of Chinese e-commerce, or 800 million products, to non-Chinese consumers in China.

Baopals already boasts 40,000 registered users, with 16,000 of them joining last year alone, doubling the user count in 2017. A Baopals user buys 58 items on average per year, and spends about 2,500 yuan ($368) to 3,500 yuan annually.

In addition to English, the website has Korean and Russian versions, making e-shopping simpler for foreigners in China.

The website is going from strength to strength on the back of the trio’s innovations. It has introduced attractive sections like “The Cool, The Cheap& The Crazy”. It accepts Alipay, WeChat Wallet and China UnionPay for payments.

Although e-commerce destinations are dime a dozen in China, most of them are in Chinese, and cater to Chinese consumers, so Baopals stands out, said Thornhill.

“Even on Amazon China, the default language is Chinese. When you switch to English, you still see lots of content in Chinese. They just haven’t made the effort to serve China’s expat population properly,” he said.

That gap should spell business opportunities for those looking to start up, he said. “We are also changing the stereotype that Chinese goods are cheap products with low quality,” he said, adding that several products including Xiaomi air purifiers and Huawei products are very popular among foreigners.

According to Thornhill, Baopals’ revenue comes from service fee paid by shoppers. It charges a service fee of 5 percent of each item’s price, plus a small fixed fee based on the item’s price – 2 yuan for items priced below 30 yuan, and 8 yuan for items priced above 90 yuan. More than 2.3 million products had been sold by Jan 17 this year, a huge increase from the same period last year.

Given the experience in China, it is clear that homegrown technologies can succeed outside the mainland, he said. “This year is going to be a big year for Baopals, as we’ll be launching our global service. Expats leaving China can continue buying things they love here, and foreigners everywhere can discover the treasures of China’s online shopping.”

Agreed Yang from the Tow Center. China’s tech ecosystem, he said, provides foreigners on the mainland with well-rounded platforms to do business not only in China but across the world.

“It may take years for foreigners to build such infrastructure themselves. The time and energy saved during the process can be used for bolstering their own products and business.”

It’s not just small players such as Baopals that are drawing confidence from their success in China. Even e-payment giants such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, emboldened by their rapid adoption among foreigners in China, are confident of replicating their success worldwide.

Alipay has introduced its payment services, including departure tax refunds, at 10 major international airports in Japan, Thailand and New Zealand. Although the initial goal is to serve Chinese tourists traveling overseas, the larger plan is to roll out Chinese technologies worldwide and gain a global visibility and footprint.

So, it has struck cooperation agreements with local banks and companies in foreign markets, to provide e-payment services. For instance, its partners in Japan are Hida Credit Union and Kyoto Shinkin Bank, which helps attract Japanese users as well. Using such strategies, Alipay has accumulated more than 1 billion users in all, including 300 million outside China.

Sources:  China Daily/Asian News Network

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Why Huawei’s 5G technology is seen as a threat by the US


Reuters pic.

The term 5G stands for a fifth generation — to succeed the current fourth generation of mobile connectivity that has made video sharing and movie streaming commonplace.

The new technology will require an overhaul of telecommunication infrastructure.

The 5G will do more than make mobile phones faster — it will link billions of devices, revolutionising transportation, manufacturing and even medicine. It will also create a multitude of potential openings for bad actors to exploit.

The vulnerability helps explain the rising tension between the US and Huawei Technologies Co, China’s largest technology company.

Huawei is pushing for a global leadership role in 5G, but American officials suspect that could help Beijing spy on Western governments and companies.

“Huawei’s significant presence in 5G creates a new vector for possible cyber-espionage and malware,” Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that advises Congress, said in an interview.

By connecting whole new classes of products, 5G “creates new vulnerabilities”.

The technology holds great promise. Forests of gadgets will communicate instantly via millions of antennas. Cars will talk to each other to avert lethal crashes, factory foremen will monitor parts supplies and doctors can perform remote surgery as video, sound and data flow without delay.

Connections will be 10 to 100 times faster than current standards — quick enough to download an entire movie in seconds.

Yet, US national security officials see billions of opportunities for spies, hackers and cyber-thieves to steal trade secrets, sabotage machinery and even order cars to crash.

Citing security threats, the US has been pushing allies to block Huawei from telecommunication networks. The US Congress has banned government agencies from buying the company’s gear.

Why is the United States intent on killing Huawei? Look at the data below:

Huawei employs more than 10,000 Phd degree holders as well as many talented Russian mathematicians.

Do you know how many Huawei employees earn more than 1 million yuan (RM603,280) a year? More than 10,000 people.

Do you know how many Huawei employees earn more than five million yuan a year? More than 1,000 people!

In China alone, Huawei’s research and development expenditure is 89.6 billion yuan.

Among the Big Three, Alibaba employs 30,000 people, Baidu 50,000, Tencent about 30,000, leading to a total of 110,000; but Huawei’s global employees total 170,000.

Alibaba’s profit is 23.4 billion yuan, Tencent’s 24.2 billion yuan, Baidu’s 10.5 billion yuan, and their profits total 58 billion yuan, but 70% is taken away by foreigners. Since 2000, Huawei has earned 1.39 trillion yuan from abroad.

In taxes, Tencent pays more than seven billion yuan a year, Alibaba 10.9 billion yuan, and Baidu 2.2 billion. Huawei pays 33.7 billion yuan, which is more than the total of the earlier three firms.

Huawei is a high-tech company, and technology represents the true strength of a country.

In China, many companies can’t last long because there are always other companies ready to replace them, but Huawei is irreplaceable.

Huawei is a 100% Chinese company that has not been listed and does not intend to go public because of the susceptibility to be controlled by capital (which the United States can simply print money to do).

Huawei is the first private technology company in China ever to join the league of the world’s top 100. The Chinese should be proud of Huawei.
FMT NewsKoon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

The views expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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The price we pay to axe East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)


KUALA LUMPUR: Loss of jobs, harm to diplomatic ties with China, damage to the economy plus a RM20bil compensation are awaiting Malaysia if the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is cancelled.

The billion ringgit 688km long track linking Selangor, Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan is already 20% completed, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the trail of potential damage if the project set for completion in 2024 is axed now.

The Ayer Hitam Member of Parliament who issued an open letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Cabinet Ministers on the matter, said he earnestly hoped the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing the project.

The ECRL project whose construction contract was awarded to China Communications, Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and financed by China is a hot topic in the past few days, and its fate is expected to be made known officia­lly this week.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will be “impoverished” if the government proceeds with the ECRL project.

While not confirming that the project has been scrapped, Dr Mahathir said paying compensation is cheaper than bearing the cost of the project.

Below is Dr Wee’s letter in full:

An open letter to YAB Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers

The cancellation of the ECRL project and the bickering between two Cabinet ministers over the issue has become the talk of the town. I foresee this issue to be a hot topic in the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (Jan 30).

Whether the cancellation of ECRL was discussed in previous Cabinet meetings or not, I earnestly hope the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing this project.

Take a moment to consider factors such as the friendship between the people of both countries, jobs and economy, diplomatic ties and the reputation of Malaysia.

On the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, I can safely say that putting a stop to the ECRL project will harm the diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

If we put ourselves in China’s shoes, we will surely respond negatively as well if our overseas investment is treated as such.

A nightmare looms should China take any retaliatory action, such as reduce or even halt the import of commodities (palm oil in particular) from us.

If that happens, Felda, Sime Darby and other big corporations will be the first to feel the heat.

The livelihood of some 650,000 smallholders and their families will be directly affected.

From the economic perspective, the ECRL project is likely to boost the GDP growth of three east coast states by 1.5%.

It will also spur the development of the east coast, enhance connectivity between the east and west coast, and close the economic divide between the two coasts.

Through bridging the rural-urban divide, the overall development of Malaysia will be more balanced and comprehensive.

The rail link is 20% completed, with several tens of billions paid to the contractor.

On top of that, Malaysia will be penalised for cancelling the RM30bil loan from the EXIM Bank of China.

We will have to repay the loan and compensation within a short period of time.

From my experience in administering engineering projects, any breach of contract will result in a hefty penalty. The compensation for cancelling ECRL could reach RM20bil.

Financial losses aside, scrapping the ECRL will also bring a negative impact to Malaysia’s reputation in the international arena and erode Malaysia’s trustworthiness.

Judging from my past experience dealing with China and its officials, as well as the friendly gestures displayed by China so far, I can conclude that China is willing to achieve a win-win solution instead of situation where both sides lose out.

The Malaysian government can consider restructuring the project timeline or reducing the project scale, which are alternatives that work in Malaysia’s favour while maintaining the amicable ties between Malaysia and China.

The government should also keep the small and medium enterprises in mind.

Business owners in 150 related industries, including tens of thousands of contractors who have taken a loan to purchase equipment, will suffer greatly should ECRL be cancelled.

China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with bilateral trade figures reaching US$100bil. Business linkages and people-to-people exchanges have also flourished over the years.

Products such as palm oil, bird’s nest, Musang King, white coffee, etc, are exported to China, while people from both countries visit each other for vacations and academic exchanges, benefitting Malaysians of all races.

All these have contributed to the income of various communities and brought in foreign exchange earnings for the country.

It takes years to build a bilateral relationship, and only seconds to destroy it.

The Malaysian government should appreciate our friendship with China and try its best to achieve mutual benefits and common prosperity with China.

Prioritise the economy and the livelihood of the people, and put an end to the political game to discredit your opponents.

For the sake of the people in the east coast as well as the whole of Malaysia, the government should not cancel the ECRL project.- The Star

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Penang Lang: Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, sad the demise of colourful language


槟城人(Penang Lang) – Home | Facebook

Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, too

DATUK Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article expressed my sentiments exactly (“Feeling lost in Penang”, On The Beat, Focus, Sunday Star, Jan 27; online at bit.ly/star_hokkien /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future).

I attended primary and secondary school at Convent Green Lane, and later went on to do my Sixth Form at St Xavier’s. Needless to say, I do not speak any Mandarin either. I, too, feel increasingly displaced in Penang, and am so sad to see Hokkien perceptibly fading away.

In preparing for my sociolinguistics class with undergraduates, I came across an interesting website by the Persatuan Bahasa Hokkien Pulau Pinang, speakhokkien.org. Others are concerned too.

(By the way, my class was studying concepts of language loss and language death, and I picked Penang Hokkien as a case to highlight the issue. In my demo, I spoke some and we all had a great big laugh – my personality inexplicably transforms when I speak Hokkien!)

One of the last bastions of Penang Hokkien could possibly be the Sg Ara market. During a visit sometime last year, I could still hear quite a bit of this beautiful dialect being spoken, to my great delight.

Thank you for highlighting the issue from a heartfelt personal perspective. I will include it in the reading list to help my students understand that language loss is not some abstract theoretical construct but is real and happening in our own backyard in Penang.

(By the way, wah ah boey khi bank gia ang pow long. Wah boh eng! Ah bo wah khi pasak bey kah ho :-)) (I haven’t gone to the bank to get ang pow packets. I am not free! Maybe it’s better that I go buy them in the market.)

JOY QUAH Kuala Lumpur The Star

Sad to see the demise of a colourful language

FIRSTLY, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article, “Feeling lost in Penang /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future ”.

I was sent a link to the article by an old Auckland University friend who now lives in Singapore.

I’m a “banana” still living in Auckland after 40 years. And like Wong, I get pretty lost in Penang whenever I return.

Being ex-Penang Free School, I never learnt Mandarin. I worked in Shanghai for a year-and-a-half and my colleagues there used to tease me, “You can’t read Mandarin? You can’t write Mandarin? You can’t speak Mandarin? You must be illiterate!”

Penang is now starting to feel like China.

I find it’s more common nowfor Chinese youngsters to converse in Mandarin than in Hokkien. I speak Hokkien to the hawkers and get told that I must be from overseas! The Penang sing-song Hokkien will soon disappear. It’s a shame.

Like Wong, I too avoid Penang during Chinese New Year – it’s just too hectic. My wife and I visit mid-year when there are no events, celebrations or festivals. This year, it’s May/June. Wonder if there’s durian around then!

Have a Happy New Year, Keong Hee Huat Chai!

MICHAEL ONG Auckland, New Zealand The Star

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A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future


Children admiring a Hokkien glove puppet theatre performing ‘Journey to the West’ on a portable wooden stage at the Little Penang Street Market.

 

Its decline has been progressive, but Penang’s Hokkien heritage is at its closest to death’s door as 2019 takes off. 

LAST week, I returned to my hometown, Penang, to celebrate Chinese New Year. The family reunion meal with my father (who turns 94 this year) and (87-year-old) mother is an annual event I always look forward to.

It’s not possible to have my brothers (now in their mid-60s to 70 years old), their wives, children and grandchildren with us at the family event every time, but we get as many of them as we can. I have made it a point to host these pre-CNY meals because for the last few years, I have avoided being in Penang during the first two days of the actual celebrations.

That’s when Penang island’s roads get choked up and traffic comes to a complete standstill, the city desperately dealing with the homecoming of Penangites and tourists, especially during the second day of CNY.

The temperature on the island during the CNY season always seems to spike and at times, the scorching heat is almost unbearable. And that’s another reason why I withdraw from the otherwise lovely island during this festive period. As much as I yearn for my Penang hawker fare, I don’t want to jostle for a plate of char koay teow with tourists. But on this recent trip home, it hit me that I have become a stranger in my proud Hokkien-speaking island. The loss of the distinct northern-accented Hokkien has been apparent in the last few years but now it looks like its death may come sooner than feared.

It’s worse for a “banana” like me – a term to denote a person of Chinese origin who can’t speak or write Chinese, and instead, identifies more with Western culture. The term is derived from the fruit, which is “yellow on the outside, white on the inside”.

Those like me are regarded a disgrace to the Chinese-speaking community because I can’t read or write Chinese or speak Mandarin.

Their horror turns to disgust when I confess that I can’t even write my name in Chinese.

My decade of education was at St Xavier’s Institution, a Catholic establishment, and despite the religious background of the premier school, it had a liberal and open- minded culture that moulded most of its students, and this, us former students are enormously grateful for and proud of.

The multi-ethnic mix of the school’s population also means we had real friends from all races, developed and tested over a decade. So we always felt sorry for those who studied in Chinese, Tamil or Islamic-based schools then, because we felt their set up was mono-ethnic. And no matter how much the products of these schools claim they had friends from other races, we know they didn’t have the deep ties or bonds that those of us in English-medium schools developed.

Fast forward to 2019! Just like The Last Of The Mohicans – the James Fenimore Cooper historical novel realised in the 1992 movie about the last members of the dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans – it dawned on me last week that I could well be among the Last Of The Bananas in Malaysia.

At the Air Itam wet market, I asked for the price of the thee kuih, or kuih bakul, in Hokkein and the stall keeper, in turn, replied: “Oh, nee yau (you want) nian gao.”

A few steps away, another trader was loudly hawking ang pow packets, which, in previous times, would be referred to as “ang pow long” (red packets), but this time, I was hearing “hong bao feng”.

By the time I sat down at a coffee shop, the waiter was already taking down my order, again, in Mandarin, and quoting prices in that language, too. It was no longer “kopi” but “ka fei” now.

If there’s one clear feature that separates Penangites from the rest of the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, it has always been the melodious Hokkien, with its rich sprinkling of Malay words that reveals its nonya-baba linguistic roots.

Penangites – at least from the older generation – are fiercely proud of their Hokkien, as it completely differs from the one spoken in Singapore, Taiwan or Xiamen in China, and even that in Melaka or Johor. Call us smug, snooty or parochial but we sometimes dismiss the Hokkien spoken elsewhere as somewhat crass and unrefined.

Only the Hokkien spoken by the Chinese in Medan closely mirrors Penang Hokkien, presumably because of the proximity between the island and the Indonesian city.

Whether rightly or wrongly, or plainly out of ignorance, Penangites feel the sing-song delivery is easier on the ears.

Words such as balai (police station), balu (just now), bangku (stool), batu (stone), cilaka/celaka (damn it), campur (to mix), jamban (toilet), gatai/gatal (itchy) gili/geli (creepy), sabun (soap) and kesian (pity), are an integral part of the Penang Hokkien dialect.

If the person is not from Penang, then he or she is likely from Kedah, Perlis or Taiping in Perak, to be able to converse in the northern-accented Hokkien. Which brings me to my point: As the daily use of the dialect is rapidly being replaced by Mandarin, I am feeling the impact the most. It is worse for the “bananas” who are feeling lost and out of place – in their home town.

It doesn’t help that many of the present Penang state and federal leaders aren’t from Penang, having been born and raised in either Melaka, Johor or Selangor.

The Penang Monthly bulletin, in its May 2017 issue, dramatically headlined the situation: “Penang Hokkien on life support”.

In an interview with the publication, Penang Hokkien Language Association secretary Ooi Kee How lamented that “our creativity, our cultural identity, will decline. A lot of innovations will disappear, because different languages shape the way we think differently.”

But the wide use of Mandarin and the decline of the dialects is not just endemic to Penang. Cantonese is spoken less in the Klang Valley, too, and is suffering the same sad fate as northern Hokkien. The random stranger who calls up, irritatingly “inviting” us to take up a loan having been “specially selected”, speaks to me in Mandarin because it’s assumed I can speak the language since I have a Chinese name. Likewise, the sales staff who stops us at the shopping mall also speaks to me in Mandarin, likely led by the same deduction.

So, as a “banana” who thinks and dreams in English, I am starting to suffer from anxiety. I am embarrassed by my inability to communicate in an important language – with huge economic value – and worse, the national language of my ancestral country.

At the rate, the Chinese language is being used, even by non-Chinese, I fear that I will be regarded illiterate in future. “Bananas” in the past ridiculed and mocked the Chinese-educated for not being able to speak English sufficiently, or roll their tongues well enough to produce the “r” sound, but now, it looks like the tables have turned on the “bananas”, instead.

A whole generation of Malaysian Chinese has been educated in Chinese schools, at least at primary level. It has been widely reported, from various surveys, that up to 90% of Chinese parents send their children to Chinese primary schools, and the balance to national medium schools.

As I have written here before, this is unlike the experience of the older generation of Penangites like me, now in their 50s, who attended schools using English as a medium of instruction. In the absence of Mandarin, we spoke mainly Hokkien and English, but people in their 30s and 40s are more comfortable conversing in Mandarin, and certainly not English.

Then there is the huge impact of Chinese TV shows, especially on Astro. They are entirely in Mandarin – with shows from mainland China and Taiwan – and Hokkien, which is spoken in a manner closer to that used in Melaka, Johor and Singapore.

It’s no surprise that the sales staff at malls also expect the Chinese community to speak Mandarin, and understandably, they will begin the conversation in Mandarin – because you are expected to know the language.

There is also the impact of China as the new economic powerhouse of Asia, if not the world. Mandarin has become the dominant language with economic value, and certainly prestige. That’s how it is now, but this may well come at the expense of a rich heritage.

The harsh reality is that the unique “sing-song” style of Penang Hokkien might no longer be heard decades from now if this frightening trend continues. Even worse, what’s certain is that the “bananas” will be history very soon.

Well, what can I say, except to wish you “xin nian kwai le” (happy new year) and “gong xi fa cai” (may you attain greater wealth) this festive season!

by Wong Chun Wai On The Beat

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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Davos Special: The Belt and Road Initiative 

The Belt and Road Initiative has been generating a lot of excitement at Davos. It will direct investment in infrastructure across Asia over the coming decade, but the ambitious project faces challenges in tackling debt, supporting sustainable  development and uniting a fractured international community. How can the government and private sectors harness the risks to guarantee the 1.5-trillion-U.S.-dollar investment will succeed in kick-starting development and growth? Our diverse panel reflects the global outlook of the project. We have Xu Niansha, chairman of the China Poly Group; Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s minister of finance; Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, and Wang Yongqing, vice chairman of the All-China  Federation of Industry and Commerce. #Davos2019 #BeltandRoad

 

Chinese VP calls for structural reform to address global imbalances

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan on Wednesday called for further development as a solution to addressing imbalances in the process of economic globalization.Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA

 


Exclusive with China’s top SOE watchdog, executives at WEF 2019

 — World Insight with Tian Wei talks to the Chairman of State-owned Assets  Supervision and Administration Commission of China on the sidelines of the Davos forum. He shared his thoughts on the speed and depth of reforming China’s state-owned enterprises.– Tian Wei also put her finger on the pulse of reforms inside China’s top state-owned enterprises in exclusive interviews with the top executives of China’s Poly Group and China Energy. #WEF

 

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