China leads the way as world’s billionaires get even richer


The United States created 53 new billionaires in 2017, down from 87 five years ago
China produced around
two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s
ultra-rich soared by a record amount, a report said Friday.Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-china-world-billionaires-richer.html#jCp
China produced two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount – AFP

China produced around two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount, Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC said.

Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its “greatest-ever” increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to $8.9 trillion ($7.8 billion euros) shared among 2,158 individuals, said the report by Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC.

But Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at nearly double that pace, growing by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion.

“Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards,” said Josef Stadler, head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”

The report said China minted two new billionaires a week in 2017, among more than three a week created in Asia.

In the Americas region, the wealth of billionaires increased at a slower rate of 12 percent, to $3.6 trillion, with the United States creating 53 new billionaires in 2017 compared to 87 five years ago.

Currency appreciation saw European billionaires’ wealth grow 19 percent although the number of billionaires rose by just 4.0 percent to 414.

Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent’s wealth expansion, the study said.

It warned of lower economic growth in the United States and China if the trade war between the two countries escalates.

“US and Asia ex-Japan equities could fall by 20 percent from their mid-summer 2018 levels.”

Asia challenging US dominance

For China’s young billionaires “the country’s fundamentals of a huge population and rising technology will continue to offer fertile conditions for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” the study said.

It there were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2006.

“Today, only 30 years after the country’s government first allowed private enterprise, they number 373 – nearly one in five of the global total.”

It said 97 percent of them are self-made, many of them in sectors such as technology and retail.

Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs.

“In 2017, they equalled America’s level of venture capital funding for start-ups, registered four times as many Artificial-Intelligence-related patents and three times as many blockchain and crypto-related patents as their US counterparts.”

Ravi Raju, head of Asia Pacific Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, said Asia’s billionaires “are young and relentless. They are constantly transforming their companies, developing new business models and shifting rapidly into new sectors.”

The report said that globally, self-made billionaires have driven 80 percent of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years.
UP AND OUT OF POVERTY – Xi Jinping https://youtu.be/SYWz2bwCUEE

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© 2018 AFP /Phys.org

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September 17, 2014 

 

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Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-china-world-billionaires-richer.html#jCp

Asia’s billionaires see fastest wealth growth: report



September 17, 2014

Asia’s billionaires led by Chinese tycoons enjoyed the
fastest increase in their wealth this year compared to their peers in
the rest of the world, a report said Wednesday.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-china-world-billionaires-richer.html#jCp

 

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America vs China: odds narrowing


Leaders meet: A file picture showing Trump welcoming Xi to the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida during the latter’s visit to the US recently. Xi has a growing economy too behind him, whatever the hiccups. Trump only promises one, without any clarity or logic. – AFP

THE contrast could not be greater. While United States president Donald Trump raves and rants – and belts this or that person – China’s president Xi Jinping looks measured and assured as he offers a global future to the world.

Xi is no angel of course, as his political opponents would know, but his system conserves and protects him, as Trump’s would not. If only Trump were the leader in a centrally controlled political order – but even then his temperament would blow it apart.

Leadership, like politics, is the art of managing the possible. Trump does not understand this, and does not know how. Xi does, knows why, and knows how.

He has a growing economy too behind him, whatever the hiccups. Trump only promises one, without any clarity or logic.

His plan to boost the American economy, based primarily on slashing corporate tax from 35 to 15%, is likely to flounder in an American Congress seriously concerned about its causing the fiscal deficit to balloon.

Already Trump has had to climb down from trying to secure funds from Congress for his dreaded border wall with Mexico in order to avoid budgetary shutdown in September.

The stock market has fallen back from the boost to the price of banks and industrial products following his election. Interest now has returned to what might be termed “American ingenuity stocks” such as Google, Apple and Microsoft on Nasdaq – a proxy for much that is great about America, which Trump’s immigration and closed-door policies threaten to destroy.

Meanwhile Xi has been rolling out his “Belt and Road” plans – something he first envisaged at the end of 2013 – for greater world connectivity and development, committing funds from China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and engaging global financial institutions such as the World Bank.

Malaysia, for instance, will be an actual beneficiary with additional projects thrown in. China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner. But the US has not been a laggard, being Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner. And indeed the US remains the largest foreign investor in Malaysia, both new investments and total stock.

A staggering statistic not often recognised is that total American investment in Asean is more than its investment in China, Japan and India COMBINED!

The point, however, is that this position is being eroded. Trump’s policies are hastening this process. Abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) means there is no American strategic peaceful challenge to the Chinese economic juggernaut in Asia-Pacific.

Balance is important to afford choice. Absence of choice means serious exposure to risk. Price, quality and after-service standards are affected, not to mention a new geostrategic economic underlining.

Over-dominance by China in the region is a price not only countries in the region will pay, something that most probably is on Trump’s mind. It is a price that America too will sooner or later have to pay.

China’s Belt and Road proposition is not without its challenges, of course. India is deeply suspicious of the connectivity with Pakistan which cuts across India-claimed Azad Kashmir, about 3000km of it.

The link to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, in southwest Baluchistan on the shores of the Arabian Sea, is seen by India as a Chinese presence at the entrance to the Indian Ocean and a hawk eye on the Indian sub-continent. With the Chinese also in Sri Lanka, India is circumspect on China’s Belt and Road initiative.

There have also been commentaries on some uneconomic linkages which extend right across the English Channel.

All these reservations, however, do not take into account the benefit of connectivity to economies, the time it often takes to get those economic benefits and, most of all, the patience, persistence and long view of history of China and its leaders.

One of the most striking things about the Belt and Road map is that America is not there. Of course, Xi Jinping does not preclude America just as much as the US did not say that China was not permanently excluded from the TPP. And of course, in the Old Silk Routes and shipping lanes, the New World – America – had not been discovered.

But in their revival, led by now rising and then ancient China after 150 years of national humiliation to the present time, there is the irony that the last three quarters of a century of America world dominance is on course to be marginalised, if not supplanted, by the old Eurasian world centred in an ancient civilisation.

Trump does not seem to understand history. The art of the deal is purely transactional. Short-tempered and short-term gratification does not a strategy constitute.

So we have leader, system and economic promise distinguishing the two leaders – and the two countries.

Instead of America first, what we are seeing is Trump hurrying America’s decline relative to a rising China.

We are not seeing a world changed from people wanting to be like a kind of American to being people wanting to be a kind of Chinese. Actually, the Chinese people themselves want to be like a kind of American, with all that wealth, influence and power.

What we are seeing is China – not America – leading the way to that desired, if not always desirable, end. It is China that is driving the next phase in the evolution of world economic development.

Under Xi Jinping, China appears to be heroically moving towards an epochal point in its Peaceful Rise. With Donald Trump, America is being led backwards and inwards, with all the problems of its governance now all coming out. It is in grave danger of losing in the peaceful competition.

Not knowing how to play that game – certainly under its current President – there remains the danger of the status quo power lashing out against the rising one.

The Greek historian Thucydides observed: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.”

A Harvard professor has studied what is now called the Thucydides Trap and found in 12 out of 16 cases in which this occurred in the last 500 years, the outcome was war.

There are many potential flash points against the background of China’s rise – the North Korean Peninsula and the placement of THAAD missiles in the south, the South China Sea – where Trump may temperamentally find cause to lash out. This is the trapdoor he might take the world down because of failure to compete peacefully.

By munir majid – crux The Star

Tan Sri Munir Majid, chairman of Bank Muamalat and visiting senior fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is also chairman of CIMB Asean Research Institute.
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The world at a T-junction


Jan 20, 2017, marked the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump. Next week, the Lunar Year of the Monkey ends, ushering in the Year of the Rooster. This is where monkey business ends and the chickens come home to roost.

Trump’s election marks a watershed between the old liberal order and a new populist phase that is clearly a rejection of the old order. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer defined this change as “Goodbye to the West” – a concept that the US was committed to the defence of its allies, mostly Western Europe, Australia and Japan.

Trump has turned the old establishment on its head. Policy is not made by consensus, but by tweets. World thought leader Mohamed El-Erian, whom I had the great fortune to moderate at his keynote address to the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong earlier this week, argued that the world is at a T-junction.

The old order has come to a dead-end. It is not even at the cross-roads, where you have the option of moving forward. At a T-junction, you either move right or move left. Volatility and the range of possibilities have increased, because no one knows which policy and which rule will change with the next tweet.

There is, of course, no difficulty in picking where Trump will move. Indeed, anyone who said Trump is unpredictable is wrong – he is very predictable.

He will do whatever is in his best interest, saying that it is in America’s interest. He will move right, because the populist sentiment has rejected the old leftist liberal order. Our only concern is – how far right will he go? Based upon the inclinations of his appointees so far, it looks pretty far right.

Trump’s election marks a very important juncture in Pax Americana. Two Democratic presidents marked the rise of the present American Exceptionalism – Franklin D Roosevelt (1933-1945) and John F Kennedy (1961-1963). The first brought in the New Deal to get America out of the Great Recession and then won the Second World War, confirming the new American order. The second inaugurated a more inclusive America, ushering global idealism of the American dream, providing aid, trade and culturally, an Age of Camelot.

New deal

Trump’s ascension signals the end of the rule-based era for the public good, with a new era of clear and present self-interest, changing allies and allegiances by the tweet. Allies and foes alike do not know how to react to this new Art of the Deal.

Crossing the river by feeling the stones is possible, when there are still some stones. But crossing the swamp where waters are murky with crocodiles and leeches will be much more complicated.

I was forced to dust off my copy of German historian Oscar Spengler’s Decline of the West, written between 1911 and 1922, to get a sense of how we should think about this era from a long-term historical perspective. Vastly simplifying his magnum opus, Spengler’s thesis is that when parlimentarian politics fail, history tends to replace disorder with great men like Julius Caesar or Napoleon.

Of course, one has to recognise that troubled times do not always get great statesmen, but may get little despots and decadent failures like Caligula or Nero, who eventually bankrupted Rome.

A significant minority of Americans voted for Trump because he argued that he could make America great again. But the irony is not that America is weak, but that America is strong and on the verge of achieving the strongest recovery among the advanced economies.

The perceived weakness comes from the insecurity of a significant majority of the working class that has become disadvantaged, not by globalisation, but by the benign neglect of the Washington/Wall Street elite who favoured themselves at the expense of the working class.

Globalisation has not failed. It is the high priests of globalisation trying to deflect the populist anger against anyone but themselves that created Trump. The same high priests are joining the Trump camp, cheering the markets for the greater suckers.

What are Asians going to do in this Trumpian Reality Show?

First, we need to distinguish the signal from the noise.

All the breast-beating at the Davos World Economic Forum this week was about how the caviar-champagne-forecasters got it all wrong. They were simply too self-congratulatory, self-referential and self-satisfied. They did not do the reality checks of simply looking at what was truly happening – the anger of the masses.

Second, despite the fact that the dollar is strong and will remain strong if Trump gets his economic policies right, the US is still funded by global savings – mostly from Asia. Asia remains the world’s largest and fastest growing region with the highest savings. What we need to do is to channel that savings to Asian markets, even as the US and European banks retreat home.

Third, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was always an empty promise because going forward, technology and moving manufacturing jobs back to the US will not create greater exports for US trading partners.

The Asian global supply chain is changing very fast from all points-to-one market (US) to point-to-point; South-to-South, because with more than half of world population and a growing middle class, the potential for global trade, investment and financial expansion is still in trade between India, China, Indonesia and all the emerging markets of the world.

If the US turns inward under Trump, then Asians need to heed Franklin Roosevelt’s wake-up call at his inauguration, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Under Trump, we have much to fear, but remember, it’s “his dollar, but our savings”. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis data showed that the US had net foreign liabilities of US$7.8 trillion or 41.8% of GDP at the end of the third quarter 2016. In the Year of the Rooster, this is not chicken-feed.

As America moves to a new T-(for Trump) junction, the choice is not between left or right, but between a Great America or a small-minded America.

Time for Asians to think and act for themselves.

By Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

 

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China, next global hub for higher education


With its varsities gaining better rankings, the most populous nation is set to become the world’s leading learning destination.

 

HIGHER education in China can perhaps be traced to the establishment of a Taixue (the Imperial Academy) in the capital city of China during the Western Han Dynasty (206BC to 9AD).

Before this there were no formal organised institutions of higher learning. Only private education was available. Thus taixue became the highest educational institution in imperial China.

The earliest taixue education was based on legalist and Confucian ideals and philosophies, but later it evolved into one that was mainly Confucian-based when Emperor Wu (141BC to 87BC) decided to adopt Confucianism as the state doctrine. Imperial University was the first Confucian-based institution established in 124BC.

The taixue system later evolved into what was known as Gouzijian (Directorate of Education or National Central Institute of Learning). This occurred during the Western Jin Period (265 to 316).

Under the gouzijian system, higher education was stratified and segmented.

The system of admission and enrolment of students to these different levels and segments was based on social standing.

This traditional system of higher education was in place for the next 2,000 years before it underwent structural reforms into “modern universities” that we know of today.

In the late 19th century, several traditional institutions of higher learning sought permission from the Emperor to “modernise”.

However, Peking University is generally regarded as the first “modern university” in the country.

This was in 1898 and the term daxue for such institutions was adopted.

The university was first known as the Imperial Univer-sity of Peking before it became the present Peking University.

The reformation came about when events that took place in China in the mid-1800s opened up the country to the rest of the world.

Varsities closed

Even so, these new centres of learning experienced a period of great turmoil during China’s Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1969.

In the early months of the revolution, schools and universities were closed.

Though the revolution was officially over by 1969, its activities however continued until 1971 and most universities did not reopen until 1972.

From the 1980s onwards, higher education in China underwent further reforms.

In 1995, Project 211 was initiated to raise research standards of about 100 universities by the 21st Century, hence the term Project 211.

Project 985 launched in May 1998 by President Jiang Zemin, initially targeted 10 universities. They were given the necessary support to make them all world-class institutions. The number of such universities has now gone up to 39.

The project has also resulted in the creation of what is known as the C9 League of universities. The aim is to create a league that is equivalent to the Ivy League of the United States.

The C9 universities are Fudan University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Nanjing University, Beijing University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology of China, Xi’an Jiaotong University and Zhejiang University.

China spends about 4% of her GDP on education and currently spends about US$250bil (RM1.03tril) a year on human capital development.

There are about 2,900 universities and colleges in China with a total enrolment of some 37 million students. Close to 380,000 international students from 203 countries studied in China in 2014.

The bulk of them were from South Korea, the US, Thailand, Russia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, France and Pakistan.

Currently only about 10% of foreign students receive Chinese government scholarships and the rest are mainly self-funded.

However this is expected to change as China aims to attract 500,000 international students by 2020 and providing more scholarships is a way to support the target.

The 2016 Higher Education System Strength Rankings (by Quacquarelli Symonds – QS), placed China at eighth worldwide with China’s strongest score being in the economy metric.

The eighth place ranking is the highest for Asia with South Korea and Japan placed at the ninth and 10th position respectively.

The first seven places were taken by the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, France and the Netherlands respectively. Malaysia is placed 27th, behind Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

This ranking is an assessment of the overall education system strength and flagship university performance, alongside factors relating to access and funding.

Also, according to the QS World University Rankings of 2015/16, of the world’s top 800 universities, four of the top 100 are in China.

They are Tsinghua University (ranked 25), Peking University (ranked 41), Fudan University (ranked 51) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (ranked 70) with Tsinghua being third in Asia after the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (ranked 12th and 13th respectively).

Tsinghua is even ahead of universities in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xiamen University, placed 17th in China, fell in the 401-410 band.

For Malaysian public universities, Universiti Malaya (UM) is placed 146 while Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is ranked 289. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is at 303 while Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 312 and Universiti Putra Malaysia, 331. None of Malaysia’s private universities appeared in the list.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2015-2016, two universities in China made it to the world’s top 100 out of the 800 listed.

The two were Peking University (ranked 42) and Tsinghua University (ranked 47), with Peking being ahead of universities in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Tsinghua was ahead of even the best in South Korea.

The best Malaysian university listed was UTM, placed in the number 401-500 band, similar to that of Xiamen University which has a branch campus in Sepang, Selangor.

Most of the British universities with branch campuses in Malaysia are within the world’s top 200.


Research performance

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Jiao Tong World University Ranking, ranked 500 universities worldwide based mainly on their research performance.

For 2015, four universities in Japan did better than those in China.

The top university in Japan was the University of Tokyo (ranked 21) while the top four in China, according to alphabetical order, were Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Tsinghua and Zhejiang University. They were placed in the number 101-150 band.

Malaysia’s top university, according to ARWU, was UM, placed in the number 301-400 band, while USM, the next best, was placed in the number 401-500 band. Xiamen University was placed in the same band as UM.

In a span of about 120 years, from having only one “modern” university, there are now about 2,900 universities and colleges in China. Several are world-class and are ready to compete with the best in the US and the UK.

Within the next decade, two universities in China may be ranked among the world’s top 10.

To achieve this, the government is going to great lengths to attract leading scholars, especially overseas Chinese scholars, to take up academic appointments at its leading universities.

Many universities in China are not only focusing on developing technologies that are competitive, but are doing so in areas like business education. Improvements have been by leaps and bounds.

Under such a scenario, what effects would the above have on world higher education in general and the trend of higher education pursuits by the global Chinese diaspora in particular?

It is an open secret that China encourages successful overseas Chinese to return to China to help in its development.

Even though the country is now the world’s second largest economy, there are still many spheres that need to be developed before China can claim to be at par with developed nations of the West.

One strategy would be to attract the best foreign students to study in China.

Upon graduation, these students can then be enticed to stay on to help develop the country.

Even if the graduates decide to return to their home country, their positive experiences while in China and the local Chinese network of friendship (guanxi) that the students have established are assets that will to some extent, influence their home countriesfavourably in their dealings with China.

Having foreign students on campus also has the added benefit of excha-nge and enrichment of experiences and ideas between local students and those from different parts of the world.

Such a strategy is not new as it has been practised by countries of the West even though these countries have their own bright students.

That is one reason why the West is now so strong and advanced, especially in the area of science and technology.

This approach of attracting the best foreign students can only be successful if an excellent system of higher education is in place, and China is doing just that.

As a start, China is also increasing the number of scholarships for foreign students.

For example during the 18th ASEAN-China Summit held in Kuala Lumpur last November, China’s Premier Li Keqiang made a commitment that China will increase the number of government scholarships for Asean countries by a thousand over the next three years.

Incentives

On a global scale such efforts may not seem much, but China might introduce innovative incentives to attract the best foreign students to its shores.

The country might just be waiting for the right moment to do so.

Like all other projects launched, once a decision is made and the time is right, China would go all out to implement the idea in a big way.

The soft power strategy outlined above, if introduced, would have a greater impact in countries with a large overseas Chinese population – especially in countries where these students are marginalised with limited access to higher education.

Together there are close to 27 million overseas Chinese living in the Asean region. This is about half the total number of overseas Chinese worldwide.

China may have the edge over the West in attracting these overseas Chinese students as many of these students would be familiar with China’s culture and language.

However it must also be highlighted that presently in China, some university courses are already being taught in English.

From the economic perspective, the cost of higher education in China is relatively cheap compared to those in the West.

Depending on the programme of study, the location of the institution, the type of accommodation sought, and the food consumed, the cost can be as low as US$4,000 (RM16,000) per year.

However it can also be at US$10,000 (RM40,000) per year, making it less affordable to those from poorer nations.

Nonetheless, even now, , studying in China is already a good option.

Doing so not only allows one to receive a world-class education at an affordable cost, it also provides the opportunity for one to establish vast professional and business networks.

These networks are certainly beneficial in a world that has predicted that China would be the largest global economy and a superpower in the not too distant future.

By Dr Lim Koon Ong

The writer is a former Universiti Sains Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor, and is presently an emeritus professor there.

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Showtime for China’s E-commerce giant, Alibaba world-wide


Alibaba_Chinese_logoAlibaba, China’s eCommerce giant, has quickly come onto everyone’s radar as it presents the possibility of being the largest tech IPO ever. According to the New York Times, the company is expected to go on the market at a value of roughly $200 billion – larger than US tech companies Amazon, eBay or Facebook. This week, we bring you articles to explain who Alibaba is and what you can expect from them in the future.

Two weeks, three continents, and 100 meetings. That — and founder Jack Ma celebrating his 50th birthday on the road — is what it will take for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to pull off the largest initial public offering in U.S. history.

The Chinese e-commerce company is weighing a plan to start marketing the share sale to investors on Sept. 3, with management traveling across Asia, Europe and the U.S. before an initial public offering in the middle of the month, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The schedule, put forth by banks managing the IPO, would have meetings begin in Hong Kong and Singapore before executives travel to London and eventually host their first U.S. event in New York on Sept. 8, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. The timeline has Alibaba targeting a Sept. 16 trading debut, the people said.

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The investor meetings — called a roadshow — will give Alibaba the opportunity to answer questions from the world’s biggest fund managers and build demand for its shares. With Alibaba and selling shareholders expected to raise as much as $20 billion, the IPO has the potential to be the largest in the U.S. The company’s official price range is expected to be revealed on Sept. 2.


Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., speaks at SoftBank World 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

 

Monday Pricing

For trading to start on Sept. 16, Alibaba would have to set a final price the day before — a Monday. It is uncommon for companies in the U.S. to price IPOs on a Monday, in case news over the weekend negatively impacts market sentiment in the final day of the deal.

The plan is tentative and could change, although Alibaba wants to avoid debuting near the Jewish holiday the following week, one of the people said.

With six financial advisers already managing the sale, Alibaba plans to name additional banks that will have smaller roles on the deal, according to people familiar with the matter. The company will also update investors with earnings from the quarter through June, those people said.

Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. are the most senior banks on the IPO. Alibaba may end up using more than 20 financial advisers in total, one person said.

Shares of Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank Corp. (9984), Alibaba’s largest shareholder, rose 2.4 percent at the close in Tokyo. Florence Shih, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Alibaba, declined to comment.

Birthday Celebration

At $20 billion, Alibaba’s sale would edge past Visa Inc.’s $19.65 billion IPO in 2008 as the largest in U.S. history, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Alibaba plans to divide executives into two separate teams, which will lead to about 100 meetings in total, according to the people. The teams will mostly be together for the larger group meetings, while separating to meet with individual investors, they said. The company hasn’t yet determined who from management will be attending each meeting, the people said.

In the U.S., Alibaba will also visit with investors in Boston, the Mid-Atlantic region, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the people said.

On Sept. 10, when Ma celebrates his birthday, investor meetings will be held in New York, they said.

Alibaba is waiting until September to begin marketing the share sale as it seeks regulatory approval of its prospectus, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. The company, which originally targeted an early August trading debut, is holding off to avoid rushing the deal as it continues discussions with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the person.

Discounted Valuation

The Chinese e-commerce operator may set its set its IPO value at $154 billion, or 22 percent below analyst valuations, in a move that could avoid repeating Facebook Inc. (FB)’s listing flop, according to the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg last month. The same analysts give Alibaba an average post-listing valuation of $198 billion, the survey shows.

Alibaba said yesterday it will sell its small-business lending arm to the company that already controls payments affiliate Alipay, separating itself from the last of its major financial units ahead of the IPO.

The sale takes financial and regulatory risk relating to the operations off of Alibaba’s balance sheet, while increasing the pool of profits the company can generate from them, the filing shows. The agreement also lifts a $6 billion cap, under certain conditions, on funds that Alibaba could receive if Alipay or its parent company go public, the filing shows.

By Zijing Wu and Leslie Picker Bloomberg

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Malaysian Minister admits poor education system, students are below par


Minister admits poor education system, says blueprint is the answer

Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh has admitted that Malaysia’s education system was below par as shown in global rankings, and cited Putrajaya’s National Education Blueprint as the solution.

Education Min_IDRIS-JUSOH“It is vital to assess and compare our education system against the international standards. Out of 74 countries, Malaysia ranked in the bottom third in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2009+.

“This is below the international and OECD average,” said Idris, referring to member states in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Primary and secondary school education standards need to improve, particularly so in bridging the gap between urban and rural areas… at the higher education level, we continue to face challenges mainly in the area of graduates’ ability to be employed,” Idris (pic) said in his speech at the 18th Malaysian Education Summit in Petaling Jaya, today.

Idris said the Education Blueprint, launched in September last year and formulated with the help of 55,000 stakeholders, would benefit Malaysia as international education standards continued to rise.

He added that another blueprint for the higher education sector was currently being prepared to among others, to empower university governance, democratise access to higher education and improving employability of graduates.

He also said a “war room” was being planned to ensure that the higher education blueprint, to be launched by year’s end, would be carried out smoothly.

“I know the responsibility is great, I cannot shoulder the burden alone. But we must keep on listening, we have to keep deliberating to ensure that Malaysian education is at par ‎at least with other countries.

“But that’s not good enough for me.‎ I want Malaysian education to be better than other countries in the world,” Idris told some 200 delegates comprising academics and education stakeholders.

On Tuesday, the annual QS University Rankings: Asia 2014 revealed that Malaysian universities lagged behind those from neighbouring Singapore and Hong Kong.

The National University of Singapore topped the list of Asian countries, but the University of Malaya was placed at the 32nd spot. Other local universities in the top 100 include Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in the 56th place, Universiti Sains Malaysia (57), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (66) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (76).

Malaysian public universities last month were left out of the latest ranking of the annual Times Higher Education (THE) Top 100 Universities under 50 years old.

Four Asian universities were ranked among the top 10 of the world’s young universities, including South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology which took the top spot, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (3), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (4) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (5).

Malaysia, however, failed to get on the list for the second year running. In the first rankings list in 2012, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was ranked 98th.

Malaysia was also absent from the Times Higher Education World Reputation rankings list which was released in March, losing out to other Southeast Asian countries.

Malaysia’s continuous failure to feature in any university rankings despite a huge education budget every year has not gone down well with the opposition, which has taken Putrajaya to task for the miserable performance.

The Education Ministry received RM38.7 billion in 2013 and has been allocated a total of RM54 billion this year – the biggest allocation yet.

Contributed BY ANISAH SHUKRY, The MalysianInsider

Malaysian students are below par, says Idris

Malaysian students are below par when compared with their contemporaries in other countries, acknowledged Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

Although literacy rates were rising in Malaysia, it was vital to assess and compare the Malaysian education system against international standards, he added.

“Out of 74 countries, Malaysia ranked in the bottom third in the Programme for Interna­tional Student Assessment (Pisa) 2009+. This is below the international and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average,” he said during the 18th Malaysian Education Summit yesterday.

“Primary and secondary school education standards need to improve, particularly so in bridging the gap between urban and rural areas. Though Malaysia has achieved commendable results in terms of providing access, we have to now ensure that access comes together with quality education of international standards.”

Meanwhile, at the higher education level, he said that the challenge was producing knowledgeable, competent and globally competitive human capital.

“Employers in Malaysia face a major problem when it comes to having fresh graduates fill out vacancies,” he said, citing poor command of English as one of the reasons.

The solution to this is the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) 2012-2025, which was launched last September, as well as the soon-to-be-released National Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015-2025 (Higher Education Blueprint).

Idris said the MEB offered a vision of the education system and students’ aspirations that Malaysia both needed and deserved and outlined 11 strategic and operation shifts that would be required to achieve that vision.

“The need for the Education Blueprint is justified in the context of raising international standards; the government aspiration of better preparing Malaysian children for the needs of the 21st century; and increased public and parental expectations of education policy,” he said.

“We have had international experts from the World Bank, Unesco, and OECD to work with our national partners to evaluate the performance of our national education system in the development process of the Education Blueprint. Overall, more than 55,000 stakeholders were consulted in its formulation.”

“The Higher Education Blueprint will also be introduced in order to ensure consistency with the primary and secondary education system, and allow for seamless progression in terms of educational offerings, opportunities and advancement,” he added.

The Higher Education Blueprint will address challenges such as empowering university governance, democratising access to higher education and improving graduate employability.

contribute by Jeannette Goon The Star/Asia News Network

Here’s The New Ranking Of Top Countries In Reading, Science, And Math:

The OECD is out with new global rankings of how students in various countries do in reading, science, and math. Results of the full survey can be found and delved into here.

You can see below how Asian countries are obliterating everyone else in these categories.

The United States, meanwhile, ranks below the OECD average in every category. And as the WSJ notes, the US has slipped in all of the major categories in recent years:

The results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which are being released on Tuesday, show that teenagers in the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.

Here are the top countries

OECD_Pisa screen shot 2013-12-03

Sources: Business Insider.com
 
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The hypocrisy of some nations


Hypocrites_US-Russia-ukraine

Video:U.S. Hypocrisy? Telling Russia To Stay Out of Ukraine

Double standards are on display as Western leaders attack Russia regarding Ukraine, while they themselves commit or endorse worse aggression on other countries.

WORLD attention has focused on Ukraine recently. With President Victor Yanukovych making his exit and a new government formed, events shifted to Crimea, with accusations that the Russian military took over the region.

Yanukovych, resurfacing in a Russian town, said he left as his life was at risk, the new regime is illegitimate, and he is still the president.

Sizeable crowds in Crimea (many of whose population are ethnic Russian) are showing anti-Kiev and pro-Russian feelings and the Crimean Parliament had decided to hold a referendum on whether to remain in Ukraine or break away and be part of Russia.

Western leaders have attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged invasion of Crimea.

The Russian argument is that it has not invaded, that in any case it has a legitimate interest in Crimea due to historical links and the ethnic Russians who live there have asked for protection against the new and illegitimate Kiev regime.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of Russia’s position and actions, it is clear that there has been a long historical Russian-Crimea-Ukraine relationship. The complex condition requires a correspondingly complex solution.

The rhetoric of some Western leaders is aggressive. They accused Russia of violating sovereignty and international law, among other things.

The United States plans to ban visas for selected Russian officials, followed by sanctions on Russian banks, freezing assets of its companies, and possibly trade measures.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have accused Putin of making use of false claims for its invasion, that Crimea is in danger.

“This is the 21st century and we should not see nations step backwards to behave in a 19th or 20th century fashion,” said Kerry. “It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve.”

Obama said “Russia cannot with impunity put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognised around the world”, adding that Russia is “on the wrong side of history”.

Listening to the American leaders lecturing Russia in their self-righteous tone, one is struck by the double standards and hypocrisy involved.

They don’t seem to realise how they have violated the same principles and behaviour they demand of Russia.

It was after all the United States that invaded Iraq in 2003, massively bombing its territory and killing hundreds of thousands, on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction.

The UN Security Council would not give the green light. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Many experts considered the war against Iraq a violation of international law, a view also expressed in a media interview by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in 2011 found former US president George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide as a result of their roles in the Iraq war.

The United States also waged war in Afghanistan, changing the regime, resulting in thousands of deaths. In Libya, the US and its allies carried out massive bombing, which aided opposition forces and led to the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Even now there are sanctions and the threat of military action against Iran on the suspicion it wants to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has denied.

In contrast, the US turns a blind eye on Israel’s ownership of nuclear weapons. And when Israel conducted the blanket bombing of Lebanon and Gaza in recent years, with thousands of deaths, there was no condemnation at all from the US, which has also blocked UN Security Council resolutions and actions on its ally.

The US has also come under attack from human rights groups for its use of drones against suspected terrorists but which has also killed many civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council published a Special Rapporteur’s report which detailed the deaths of civilians caused by US drone attacks, and raised many questions of possible violations of international human rights law.

All these actions were done in the 21st century, which adds to many other actions in the 20th century.

It’s thus remarkable that Obama and Kerry could with a straight face accuse Russia of not acting in a 21st century manner, and being on the wrong side of history.

There appears to be still one law for the most powerful, and another for others. The former can invade and kill, while lecturing self-righteously to others.

Whatever one thinks of Russia’s action in Crimea, it should be noted that no one has been killed because of it, at least not yet. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands or millions, who have died and suffered from past and present wars of the US and other Western countries.

Though much of the mainstream media also takes the establishment view, some Western journalists have also pointed out their leaders’ hypocrisy.

In an article, “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy in Ukraine,” the well-known American journalist Robert Parry remarked: “Since World War II, the United States has invaded or otherwise intervened in so many countries that it would be challenging to compile a complete list …

“So, what is one to make of Secretary of State John Kerry’s pronouncement that Russia’s military intervention in the Crimea section of Ukraine – at the behest of the country’s deposed president – is a violation of international law that the United States would never countenance?

“Are Kerry and pretty much everyone else in Official Washington so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realise that they are condemning actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin that are far less egregious than what they themselves have done?”

Parry concludes that the overriding hypocrisy of the media, Kerry and nearly all of Official Washington is their insistence that the United States actually promotes the principle of democracy or, for that matter, the rule of international law.

Global Trends – By Martin Khor

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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