How hard do Chinese work?

Workers in China put in the hours

Recently, foreign media reported on the Chinese work ethic, such as The Guardian article “How hard does China work?” . (Photo/Screenshot)

Recently, foreign media reported on the Chinese work ethic, such as The Guardian article “How hard does China work?” on Oct. 6, suggesting Britons needed to pull up their socks and work hard “in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard”. On Oct. 8, Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao cites The Guardian’s statistics, saying the average Chinese worker puts in somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 hours each year.

The earliest survey data is published on Wall Street Journal last year. It claimed, citing official statistics that nearly 85 percent of migrants worked more than 44 hours a week, earning an average of just £270 per month.

China is one of the countries with the longest average working hours in the world, equivalent to the level of the countries such as the UK, Germany and France in the 1950s, according to data. In addition, survey data reflect the general working hours of European and American countries per capita is shorter than of developing countries.

According to figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,in 2013, working hours in Germany and France were 1,388 hours and 1,489 hours respectively, well below China’s per capital working hours at the same period. Compared to the UK average of 1,677 hours last year, the average Chinese worker put in 320 more hours last year.

Why do Chinese workers have to put in longer hours than their counterparts in European countries and the United States? Director of Research at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, Ding Li, said that China’s per capita level of work depends largely on the strength of the domestic economy.

Chinese workers have to work longer hours than their peers from the more developed countries, such as the UK and US, because in China the average wage is low, while the domestic prices are relatively high, noted celebrity financial expert Larry Hsien Ping Lang in 2013.

Last year, the labor market research center at Beijing Normal University released a report, noting employees in 90 percent of industries in China work over 40 hours per week. Those working in the construction industry, resident services, repairs and other services have a working week of over 49 hours and the longest hours in China are worked by those in hospitality and catering, racking up over 51.4 hours.

For more than half of all industry sectors, including accommodation and catering industry, employees do over four hours’ overtime per week.
In recent years, Chinese people pay more attention to health problems caused by growing pressure from work, such as fatigue, obesity and insomnia.

However, long working hours will persist for a certain time as Ding Li pointed out, because China is still at the developmental stage of chasing GDP growth and increasing total production.

By Gao Yinan (People’s Daily Online)  

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German Chancellor: Japan needs honesty to improve relations with victims of World War II

Angela Merkel: I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found

TOKYO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel waded into the fraught area of wartime forgiveness during a visit to Japan, saying that “facing history squarely” and “generous gestures” are necessary to mend ties.

Merkel was speaking in Tokyo on March 9 2015 ahead of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative views on Tokyo’s war crimes are under scrutiny, and as China and South Korea continue to call for more contrition.

“Germany was lucky to be accepted into the community of nations after the horrible experience the world had to meet with Germany during the period of National Socialism (Nazism) and the Holocaust,” she said.

“This was possible first because Germany did face its past squarely, but also because the Allied Powers who controlled Germany after WWII would attach great importance to Germany coming to grips with its past.

“One of the great achievements of the time certainly was reconciliation between Germany and France … the French have given just as valuable a contribution as the Germans have.”

Relations between Japan and its wartime victims China and South Korea are at a low point, with Beijing and Seoul both calling for Tokyo to do more to atone for its past.

Nationalists in Japan say Tokyo has apologised enough and that the constant references to WWII are covering flak for governments in China and South Korea seeking to direct popular anger elsewhere.

There were “great minds and great personalities who said we ought to adopt a policy of rapprochement … and without these generous gestures by our neighbours this would not have been possible,” Merkel told her audience.

The public lecture came on the first day of a two-day trip to Tokyo, her first in seven years.

Abe visited Germany last year.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Sunday said Abe would be welcome at Beijing’s commemorations of the end of WWII if he was “sincere” about history.

Beijing has not given a specific date for the parade but it regards Sept 3, the day after Japan signed its formal surrender to Allied forces on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, as victory day.

“It’s difficult for me as the German chancellor to give you advice on how to deal with part of your neighbourhood. But I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found,” Merkel said in response to questions.

Merkel’s visit to Japan is part of her swing through G7 member nations before Germany hosts the group’s next summit in June. She has already visited the other five nations.

The visit, her third to Japan in almost 10 years in office, is seen as a balancing act between Germany’s ties with Beijing and Tokyo. She has been to China seven times during the same period.

Thanking Japan for joining Western powers in imposing sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine, Merkel said: “Japan and Germany share common interests whenever the strengthening of the international rule of law is to be brought about.” — AFP

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China once again boasts world’s fastest supercomputer


The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project.

The Tianhe-2 relegated the US-developed Titan to second spot with a performance of 33.86 petaflop (quadrillions of calculations per second) in a standardized test designed to measure computer performance.

IBM’s Sequoia rounded out the top 3 in the TOP500 list.

The TOP500 project, started in 1993, issues a list twice a year that ranks supercomputers based on their performance.

There was little change in the top 10 in the latest list and the only new entry was at number 10 – the Cray CS-Storm, developed by Cray Inc, which also developed the Titan.

The United States was home to six of the top 10 supercomputers, while China, Japan, Switzerland and Germany had one entrant each.

The United States remained the top country in terms of overall systems with 231, down from 233 in June and falling near its historical low.

The number of Chinese systems on the list also dropped to 61 from 76 in June, while Japan increased its number of systems from 30 to 32.

– China Daily/ Asia News Nework


Mercedes-Benz under monopoly investigation in China

MercedesA Mercedes Benz hood ornament is pictured at the Jacob Javits Convention Center during the New York International Auto Show in New York April 17, 2014. [Photo / Agencies]
German automaker Mercedes-Benz Shanghai office has been searched by anti-monopoly officials on Monday, China Finance Information reported Tuesday.

Investigators, sent by China’s antitrust regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission, visited the automaker’s Shanghai office and inspected several office computers, the report said.

It also said that almost all the staff there was questioned and several top management leaders were questioned until 21:00 pm.

The unexpected probe reportedly targets Mercedes-Benz’s car price policies and price floor imposed on dealerships in China, said the report quoting people familiar with the matter.

The company has not confirmed the news yet. But an insider said to China Daily website that it is preparing a statement on the issue.

Under pressure from Chinese antitrust regulator’s monopoly concerns, Mercedes-Benz was the first to officially reduce the cost of after-sales for its major models by launching its Start Maintenance Menu earlier on July 1.

Covering both smart cars and Mercedes-Benz models, including the A-, B-, C-, E-, GLK-, M-, R-, and S-Class, the cost of maintenance will be cut by 20 percent on average and the reduction for some specific models could be as much as 50 percent.

Then on Sunday, the German automaker announced that it will cut the prices of spare parts by an average of 15 percent in after-sales maintenance for all models from Sept 1.

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Deals mark close relations between Germany and China

Video: German Chancellor meets Chinese Premier, major deals signed

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• Volkswagen aims to establish two plants in Qingdao and Tianjin with an investment of $2.7 billion.
• Airbus Group will sell 123 helicopters to Chinese companies for general aviation.
• Air China and Lufthansa are in talks that could lead the German and Chinese carriers to form a revenue-sharing joint venture.
• The two countries are planning a joint pilot project concerning Passive House, an energy-efficient method of construction, in Qingdao.
• China will take part as a partner country in the 2015 CeBIT, the world’s leading expo for information technology, in Hanover.

China and Germany will strengthen exchanges in the financial sector and upgrade longstanding cooperation in manufacturing with a slew of deals signed on Monday.

Beijing will grant Berlin an 80 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) quota under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors plan to accelerate the internationalization of the Chinese currency, reinforcing Frankfurt’s status as a yuan clearing center in Europe, in addition to London and Paris.

A high-level financial dialogue will also be set up to boost financial cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang said at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

President Xi Jinping told Merkel during their meeting, “The series of agreements you have signed during your visit to China will bring new impetus to bilateral ties.”

Xi suggests the two countries take bigger steps in their cooperation, with manufacturing industry as the core.

Merkel said Germany would improve its investment environment and attract more Chinese investors.

She is accompanied by a high-profile business delegation including executives from Siemens, Volkswagen, Airbus, Luft-hansa and Deutsche Bank.

Apart from the financial deal, the countries also signed deals on automobiles, aviation and telecommunications.

China approved London joining the RQFII plan in October, granting investors the right to use the yuan to buy up to 80 billion yuan worth of mainland stocks, bonds and money market instruments.

It later granted Paris the same quota in March.

Luxembourg is also lobbying Beijing for the same treatment after it signed an agreement with China’s central bank for yuan clearing arrangements on June 28.

Li Jianjun, a financial analyst at Bank of China’s International Finance Research Institute, said the competition for offshore yuan centers among major European cities is a healthy feature of cooperation.

“The renminbi is still at the initial stage of internationalization. We are expanding the offshore yuan pie and setting up a global network with overseas financial markets. Allowing qualified foreign institutional investors to use the yuan will benefit China and other countries,” Li said.

Chinese leaders are likely to take Frankfurt as a core center for renminbi clearing services in continental Europe, while establishing secondary yuan clearing sites in Paris and Luxembourg, Li said.

“We cannot cover a wide range and a large amount of renminbi-related businesses with only one center,” Li said. “With Frankfurt as a leading offshore yuan-trading city, we will create a nice layout for renminbi internationalization in Europe.”

In the first five months of 2014, Germany’s direct investment in China reached $810 million, or 30 percent of the $2.69 billion investment in China by all members of the EU, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2013, two-way trade between the countries reached $161 billion, taking up almost one-third of total China-EU trade.

China is Germany’s largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

Merkel’s visit, her seventh trip to China, came only four months after the last meeting between leaders of the two nations. President Xi Jinping visited Germany in March.

Before flying to Beijing, Merkel stopped at Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

Merkel said she felt the dynamics and development of southwestern China in Chengdu, where urbanization is urgently needed to catch up with coastal cities.

“China’s vigor stays not only on the coastline but also in the central and west area,” she said.

Sebastian Heilmann, president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, said in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle: “Germany provides China with products it needs for industrialization, for example ,machines, specialty chemicals and electronic goods. On the other hand, Chinese consumer goods with very reasonable prices are in high demand in Germany.”

Ren Baiming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, said Germany, as well as the European Union at large, need a driving force from the outside for growth, and the fast-growing Chinese market meets that need.

Wu Jiao contributed to this story. – By ZHAO YINAN and JIANG XUEQING (China Daily)
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WW2 D-Day remembered in Normandy France; China praises Germany, slams Japan for denial of its brutal history

China praises Germany, slams Japan

(Reuters) – China used the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings on Friday to praise Germany for its contrition over its wartime past and slam Japan for what Beijing views as Tokyo’s continued denial of its brutal history.

China has increasingly contrasted Germany and its public remorse for the Nazi regime to Japan, where repeated official apologies for wartime suffering are sometimes undercut by contradictory comments by conservative politicians.

Ties between the two Asian rivals worsened on Dec. 26 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Tokyo’s past militarism because it honors war criminals along with millions of war dead.

“Germany’s sincere remorse has won the confidence of the world,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing, when asked about the D-Day anniversary.

“But in Asia on the Asian battlefield, the leaders of Japan, which caused harm and which lost the war, are to this day still trying to reverse the course of history and deny their history of invasion,” Hong added.

“What Japanese leaders are doing has been widely condemned in the international community. We again urge Japan’s leaders to face up to and deeply reflect on the history of invasion and take real steps to correct their mistakes to win the trust of its neighbors in Asia and in the international community.”

Japan’s government and Abe himself have repeatedly said that Japan has faced up to its past sincerely.

–  (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Japan urged to correct mistakes as D-Day remembered

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) — China on Friday urged Japan to reflect on its aggression past and correct mistakes with practical actions, as international D-Day commemorations were held.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing, “We again urge Japanese leaders to face up to and remember its aggression past, correct mistakes with tangible actions and win the trust of Asian neighbors and the international community.”

Among international commemorations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day being held, one was in Normandy, France.

Hong said as far as the Second World War is concerned, Europe has turned over a new page. Quoting an old Chinese saying, he said, “Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.”

Hong said, “Germany has won world respect by sincerely apologizing for its wrong-doing.

“Yet leaders of Japan, a defeated country in World War II, are still attempting to deny its past and challenge the post-war international order, thus their acts are widely condemned by the international community.”

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In the southern English naval base of Portsmouth, which was the departure point for troops heading to Sword Beach, one of the main landing points, British Royal Marines acted out military exercises for thousands of veterans who gathered on Thursday to make the crossing for the commemorations.

While over in northern France, 300 soldiers from the US, UK, Canada and France parachuted in tandem over the village of Ranville, and World War II planes flew over Utah Beach. Thousands of Allied troops flew or parachuted onto the German-occupied French soil during the early hours of June 6th, in 1944, catching the German army by surprise. But the price was high, nearly 4,500 were dead by the end of the day.

With many D-Day veterans now in their 90s, this year could be the last time that many of those who took part in the battle, will be able to make the long journey back to Normandy and tell their stories. The main D-Day ceremony will be held in Ouistreham, a small port that was the site of a strategic battle on D-Day. Some 18 heads of state are expected to attend the commemorations.

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Dawn of a new superpower

When the world continues to discuss China’s impact even when there are other issues to consider, China has clearly ‘arrived’

CHINA’S unrelenting growth is continuing to fuel speculation about the implications of its spectacular rise for the rest of the world.

Its irrepressive re-emergence as a major world power shapes and colours private discourses, academic analyses and bilateral and multilateral discussions, whether or not intended originally to discuss China.

It permeates strategic discourses behind closed doors, casual coffeeshop talk and everything in between. The recent Germany-Malaysia Security Forum in Kuala Lumpur, sponsored by Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS) and organised by ISIS Malaysia, was an example.

Germany’s political foundations like the KAS are affiliated with their respective political parties, and with the KAS it is with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rightwing Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

It is significant that even with a conservative CDU government, Germany has no qualms about the rise of China. German delegates instead looked constructively ahead to an even more prosperous China with which to work, above and beyond any ideological differences.

A Malaysian delegate privately remarked that Germans had been trading successfully with China for centuries. China had been a major world power then and, after a period of isolation and internal upheaval, it is becoming a major world power again.

Countries East and West that have had similarly positive experiences with China feel the same. Those that might have upset China through war, invasion, occupation or squabbling over tiny islets might feel differently, but exactly how an unprovoked China would perceive them today is another matter.

A larger conference in Berlin some years ago attended by delegates from various countries, and sponsored by Germany’s Defence Ministry, was similarly positive about China. At that time, Merkel’s government comprised her CDU, the equally rightwing Christian Social Union (of Bavaria) and the left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SPD) of her immediate predecessor, Gerhard Schröder.

Since then, Merkel’s CDU-led coalition had substituted the SPD with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a centrist party that became another right-of-centre party. That Germany’s formal posture towards a rising China has not changed indicates that its positive outlook on China is deep-seated and enduring, unaffected by political ideologies in Germany or China.

Nonetheless, some classic questions about a rising China and its impact on Asia and the world linger. These tend to refer to developments such as the increasing defence expenditure of countries in East Asia.

Other slick assumptions are that Asean countries are “hedging” against China, and the world has moved from the Westphalian concept of national sovereignty to that of “responsibility to protect”. The former is untested and the latter is still disturbing.

It is easy to make a superficial connection between these issues and a rising China, and then to conclude that there is an arms race in the region, and the arms race must therefore have resulted from a region alarmed by China’s rise.

These points had been raised erroneously 20 years ago, and they will still be raised 20 or more years from now. The problem with these simple-minded assumptions is that they neglect both the key details and the big picture.

All countries spend continually on defence, routinely preparing for contingencies from any quarter and not just to arm against any particular threat. This happens everywhere all the time, regardless of the prevailing strategic situation in a country or region.

A Malaysian delegate explained that it was part of the normal course of running defence establishments, when countries need to renew their ageing arsenals or when they become more developed and can afford to spend more. It might be added that defence procurement is the most lucrative industry in the world, so it easily acquires a logic and a momentum of its own.

However, at a time when Philippine and Chinese officials have had uncomfortable brushes with each other over the disputed Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea, blips in national defence budgets may appear suggestive.

But alarmist presumptions about regional threats and the need to “arm” against them can easily acquire a logic and a momentum of their own as well, however unjustified. At the same time, some parties may be hoping to see conflict in the region to profit from it through the arms trade, strategic leverage or recruitment of allies.

Such a prospect militates against this region’s collective interests and several of its abiding realities.

First, the political stability and economic prosperity of countries in East Asia depend on the stability and propensity for growth in the region as a whole. Injury to the region’s prospects also hurts individual national prospects.

Second, the countries in East Asia, particularly those of Asean, are clearly dwarfed by China. No amount of individual “arming” can address the gulf in national defence capacities between them and China.

Third, Asean countries are still unable to act as one militarily even if by doing so their collective clout can achieve some “balance” with a hulking China. Age-old border issues, disputed maritime territory and other niggling bilateral concerns have prevented any sense of an Asean security entity from developing until now and for the foreseeable future.

Fourth, the immature presumption that smaller countries in East Asia can always bank on the US for protection is both mistaken and dangerous, because that notion becomes very destabilising whenever it is proven untrue.

The notion of a US acting as a countervailing force against China derives only from those instances when US and indigenous concerns coincide in ways that are dissimilar to China’s. When US and East Asian interests diverge, as they will at certain points, the regional strategic picture will change.

US-China joint interests have grown tremen­dously and will continue to grow. They may already have surpassed the shared interests between the US and East Asia minus China.

The US itself is the sole superpower with an agenda and priorities of its own. Beyond a limited convergence of interests with other countries, it will not deign to act as a servant or bodyguard of smaller nations.

China remains inundated with domestic problems of its own. These span pressing social, administrative and environmental concerns as well as restive provinces and an economy running out of steam.

Meanwhile, it has witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union that had suffered excessive arms expenditures, and a troubled US economy weighed down by overspending on foreign wars. Pragmatic Chinese leaders today would know better than to repeat those mistakes.

Modern China’s success also depends considerably on a peaceful East Asia that has enabled it to boost its exports worldwide. And since the regional peace has also been maintained by a US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, China as its greatest economic beneficiary might perhaps be asked to help pay for that presence.

When I mentioned that to Martin Jacques, the British academic and author of When China Rules The World, he chuckled. But that is a modern-day reality that a country like Germany may be able to understand.

Clearly, not all Western views of a rising China are created equal. The differences between the German and US views are interesting, and they become more telling when Germany is a leading country and the strongest economy in Europe.

Perhaps that has something to do with Germany not having to “guard” its status as the sole superpower in the world.

Behind The Headlines By Bunn Nagara


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