Britain steps backward as EU faces decline: chaos but no negative impact, a windfall for children studying in UK


Britain steps backward as EU faces decline

The UK voted to leave the EU, with the Leave supporters beating Remain by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. The slight victory is likely to have opened a Pandora’s box in Europe, pushing the continent into chaos.

A lose-lose situation is already emerging. The British pound fell 10 percent at one stage on Friday. The euro fell 3 percent.

David Cameron announced he would quit as British prime minister. Scotland may start a new independence referendum.

There are also calls in the Netherlands and France for a similar exit referendum.

The UK is just over 300 years old. In its heyday it was known as an empire on which the sun never set, with colonies all over the world (Britain was the former imperial power – whose military forces repeatedly invaded China in the 19th century – and the rising Asian giant, now the world’s second-largest economy)

Now it is stepping back to where it was.

Britons are already showing a losing mind-set. They may become citizens of a nation that prefers to shut itself from the outside world.

The Leave advocates had been calculating whether their pensions were guaranteed or migrants were encroaching on their neighborhood. Bigger topics such as the country’s aspirations or its global strategy were overlooked.

Britain has been a special member of the EU. It has not joined the eurozone, nor adopted the Schengen agreement. France and Germany have been resentful of Britain’s half-hearted presence in the EU. In a sense, Britain’s exit may be a relief for both sides.

However, such relief is in effect a major setback for European integration. Such setbacks don’t happen in good times. Britain’s exit reflects the general decline of Europe.

The world’s center used to lie on the two sides of the Atlantic. Now the focus has shifted to the Pacific. East Asia has witnessed decades of high-speed growth and prosperity. Europe stays where it was, becoming the world’s center of museums and tourist destinations. Unfortunately, Europe is also close to the chaotic Middle East. Waves of refugees flood into Europe, coinciding with increasing terrorist attacks.

Europe is not able to resolve the problems it is facing. The public are confused and disappointed and extremism is steading.

The Leave grouping beat out the Remain supporters by only 4 percentage points, which could have resulted from some temporary reasons. Is it really fair to decide Britain’s future this way?

Such changes will benefit the US, which will lose a strong rival in terms of the dominance of its currency. Politically it will be easier for the US to influence Europe.

There is no direct political impact on Russia and China. For the Chinese people, who are at a critical time to learn about globalization and democracy, they will continue to watch the consequence of Britain’s embracing of a “democratic” referendum. – Global Times.

No negative impact from UK vote for Malaysia

 

Britain is still a hugely important economy in Europe, says Liew

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian property firms with developments in the United Kingdom say that their ventures will not be negatively impacted as a result of the June 23 referendum whereby British citizens voted to exit the European Union.

Eco World International Bhd executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that while the decisive win by the Brexit camp was unexpected, the group is optimistic that the results hold a silver lining going forward.

“Now that the results of the EU referendum are known, the long uncertainty which has caused many investors to hold back on decision making is finally over. Britain is still a hugely important economy in Europe with highly principled, professional and competent leaders,” he said in a statement.

Liew added that he has every confidence that the British government will do their utmost to take proactive measures to assuage post-Brexit concerns and move the UK forward on every front.

London’s position as a prime destination for global real estate investment is unlikely to change given that many of the fundamental drivers of demand are still intact. Chief among them are transparency of laws, sesurity and ease of ownership, and shortage of supply, among others, Liew noted.

EWI, which is en route to listing on Bursa Malaysia, has three projects in London, namely the London City Island Phase 2 in East London, Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms, and Wardian London facing the Canary Wharf. All three were launched last year.

“For EWI specifically, it should be noted that through our proposed initial public offering we will be raising equity in ringgit. Now that the sterling has dropped it means that the cost we have to inject into the UK to pay for the developments there will be lower,” he points out.

Meanwhile, in a statement reacting to the results of the UK referendum, Sime Darby Bhd, which is undertaking the Battersea Power Station project has reiterated its long term commitment to the venture.

“The results of the referendum is not expected to impact the viability of the project.

“We are confident the iconic development will continue to generate interest in the longer term and that London will continue to remain a key investment destination and financial centre,” it said.

Sime Darby has a 40% stake in Battersea. The other joint venture partners are SP Setia Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund with 40% and 20% respectively.

A research note by MIDF Research said global capital markets may take some time to adjust to the Brexit vote which could have adverse repercussions on businesses.

Its group managing director Datuk Mohd Najib Abdullah said that as a result of Brexit, the world is moving into a period of elevated uncertainty, with risk appetite plunging in a flight to safety and security.

As the UK is an important market for Malaysian exporters and an important source of foreign direct investments, any economic malaise from Europe will inevitably affect Malaysia in the longer term, Aboth directly and indirectly, MIDF said. – By afiq Isa The Star

Windfall for Malaysian parents of children studying in Britain 

Parents with children studying in Britain are heaving a sigh of relief because the pound has weakened following Brexit.

The ringgit closed at RM5.66 to the pound yesterday, a drop of 4.67% compared to a month ago when it was RM6.03.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman said tuition fees would be more affordable.

“For parents who couldn’t afford it initially, they may change their minds now,” she said when contacted.

She added that one should look at the positive instead of focusing on the negative implications.

A parent, who asked to be identified only as Auntie Chris, has a son studying biotechnology at Imperial College London, and said: “We are liquidating our accounts to take advantage of the drop in the pound, which is great news.”

She said her son, who is in his second year, planned to pursue his master’s in Britain after graduation but had put his plan on hold due to the strong pound.

“We asked him to work first, after graduating, due to the financial constraints but with the pound dropping significantly, going for his master’s may be back on the table,” she said.

Another parent, Azura Abdullah, said she did not expect her son’s tuition fees to increase any time soon.

Her son is a second-year law student at University of Exeter.

Some parents were fearful of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Despite the weakened pound, Azura felt the price of goods may increase in the short term because Britain could no longer leverage on EU trade deals, which could increase the cost of living there for her son.

“But we hope to offset this with the lower currency rate as the pound will devalue in the short to middle term,” Azura added.

Auntie Chris said she was worried that Britain’s decision may affect job prospects for Malaysians over there.

“If Britain goes into recession, it will affect job prospects for new graduates,” she said, adding that immigration controls may also be tightened following Brexit.

Chief executive officer and provost of the University of Nottingham Malaysia campus Prof Christine Ennew said parents should expect cheaper education.

“Students should be able to do more with their money in the UK, at least in the short term, say over the next couple of years,” she said.

Prof Ennew admitted that there could be some concerns over the issuing of student visas.

“However, Boris Johnson, one of the leading figures in the Brexit camp, has always been very supportive of international students and this should give some reassurance that the visa regime will not necessarily become harder for students from outside the EU,” she said.

She added that it was likely that EU students would be more affected than those from outside the union. – The Star

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British mediabarbariansneed lessons

 2016年5月13日 Chinese-language editorial (see below) published earlier today, the Global
Times said that “barbarians” in the British media had blown the …

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In spite of earnest pleas for the United Kingdom to remain, and
warnings of dire economic, political consequences of Brexit (or
Britain’s exit from the EU), the referendum was a matter of popular
choice, not a process dictated by reason and cool-headed analysis.

 

UK-M’sian partnership remains unchanged

Pound’s sudden dip a headache

Cameron out of No. 10 by October

Our students an anxious lot

M’sian developers unfazed by EU withdrawal

UK’s departure drives KLCI down

Stunned EU tells Britain to go quickly

Impact on Malaysia minimal in the long run, says Mustapa

Britain votes to leave EU

UK walks a tightrope in Brexit poll

If the UK votes to leave, it will become an Atlantic orphan and lose its special relationship with the EU.

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British media ‘barbarians’ need lessons


‘Barbarians’ in UK media should learn manners from 5,000 years of Chinese history

 

While the rest of the world is discussing unguarded comments made by Queen Elizabeth II saying that Chinese officials were “very rude” during Xi Jinping’s state visit last year, Chinese state media has only seen fit to author a single editorial on the subject.

Chinese-language editorial (see below) published earlier today,  the Global Times said that “barbarians” in the British media had blown the incident out of proportion and they could stand to learn some manners from 5,000 years of Chinese culture, via SCMP:

“The West in modern times has risen to the top and created a brilliant civilization, but their media is full of reckless ‘gossip fiends’ who bare their fangs and brandish their claws and are very narcissistic, retaining the bad manners of ‘barbarians’,” it said in an editorial.

“As they experience constant exposure to the 5,000 years of continuous Eastern civilisation, we believe they will make progress” when it comes to manners, it added in the Chinese-language piece, which was not published in English.

For its part, the Global Times simply shrugged off the Queen’s comments: “It is not surprising that there are off the record complaints. Chinese diplomats must have mocked British officials privately.”

The Queen mocked Chinese officials in private comments that were made public during a garden party in Buckingham Palace. The 90-year-old monarch spoke candidly with the officer in charge of security during last year’s state visit — which was said to have kicked off the “Golden Era in UK-China relations” — while a camera rolled nearby, picking up their conversation.

The video and the Queen’s remarks have made headlines across the world. However, the official reaction in China has been very muted. When asked by reporters at a regular Q&A session yesterday if that “Golden Era” still continues today, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang opted to neither confirm nor deny.

Felicia Sonmez from The Wall Street Journal also asked if China thinks that the video was released on purpose. “I think you should refer your question to those who put the footage on the website,” Lu replied, though that question was later deleted from the official transcript of the briefing.

Meanwhile, a report on the Queen’s comments carried by BBC World News was blanked out in China.

Last October, both sides declared that the state visit was “very successful.” The Queen herself said that it was “a milestone in the unprecedented year of co-operation and friendship between the United Kingdom and China.” Prime Minister David Cameron said that the trip had managed to drum up $58 billion in Chinese investment.

With those economic ties in mind, the Global Times sees the Queen’s comments as very minor. “The Sino-UK relationship will not be influenced by this. The Golden Era is based on profound interests,” the editorial said.

Of course, the Queen wasn’t the only one to make an epic political gaffe this week. While talking to Her Royal Majesty and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Buckingham Palace, David Cameron boasted about the quality of attendees he has arriving at an anti-corruption summit in London later in the week, seemingly unaware of the cameras that recorded him saying:

“We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.”

He went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”

The Global Times editorial took a jab at these twin blunders, writing: “But among the Western countries, Britain is one of those that gets caught with its pants down and exposes itself most often.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment, following Cameron’s remarks, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged the UK to return assets stolen by corrupt officials. “I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of the assets,” Buhari said at the anti-graft event.

Many have argued that while Cameron’s comments may have just been foolish, the Queen’s comments were publicized in order to cause chaos in improving UK-China relations, as an indirect attack against Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. The Global Times was quick to reject this claim, saying that “if they had deliberately done so, that would have been truly crude and rude.”

Meanwhile, others have pointed to Queen Elizabeth’s umbrella as the true mastermind behind this whole fiasco, The Daily Telegraph reports:

Sources told The Daily Telegraph that the reason the Queen’s comments were audible on the TV footage was because her clear plastic umbrella, which she uses to allow people to see her while sheltering from the rain, had acted like the cone in a loudspeaker, amplifying her voice towards the microphone.

“If she had been holding an umbrella made of fabric, it wouldn’t have happened,” an insider said.

“But because it’s plastic, it reflects the sound like a satellite dish.” – SCMP

 

社评:英媒爆炒女王私话,八卦术折服全球

英国女王伊丽莎白二世10日在白金汉宫花园举办下午茶会,与伦敦警察署女警官德奥丝有一段私聊。女王的摄影师把它拍了下来,后来不知怎么着漏了出去,英国媒体一顿爆炒。

德奥丝是去年中国领导人对英国国事访问时安保工作的“警方首席指挥官”,视频中她向女王抱怨中方与她打交道的官员“粗鲁”,做得“不合外交礼仪”。女王应和了她。英国媒体对这段视频如获至宝,不仅有些当“头条”报,还分别向英中外交部以及英王室问询态度和反应。

英国王室和外交部的回应都是:中国领导人对英国的国事访问获得圆满成功,各方通力密切合作,确保了国事访问的顺利进行。中国外交部也做了类似表态,强调访问的成功,以及双方对两国工作团队的努力给予了高度认同。

西方媒体最喜欢报花边消息,而英国王室和英国政府似乎中招的时候最多,经常被媒体揪住小辫。就在同一天,卡梅伦首相同女王和大主教等的私聊也被拍了视频,卡梅伦当时聊得很嗨,称尼日利亚和阿富汗“可能是世界上最腐败的两个国家”,而尼阿两国领导人12日、也就是今天将参加伦敦举行的国际反腐败会议。

国家关系越亲密,官员们打交道越多,彼此“有看不顺眼的时候”应当说很正-常,“自己人”私下抱怨几句也没啥大不了的。中国外交官私下里想必也奚落过英国的官僚们。中国互联网上的评论是公开的,去年女王曾被中国网民比喻成“西太后”,卡梅伦被比喻成“李中堂”,当时编排他们的段子红遍中国网络社区。

然而中国外交官们做事严谨,很多西方大国也搞得跟“外交无小事”似的,媒体很难逮住官员们议论他国的“私话”。在这方面英国即使在西方国家中也是最经常“露内裤”和“走光”的之一,跟它有一拼的是美国,白宫最近几届的主人似乎都有“忘记关麦克风”的时候。

不可想象英国官方故意把这些视频漏出去,因为相信他们知道一旦故意那样做,才是真正的粗鲁和无礼。那是很不文明的市侩做法,自尊的英王室大概更会重视那样的底线。

然而“整个英国”还是有些嬉皮士,英媒对八卦的迷恋似乎到了要让一切都“腥”起来的程度。看在这个国家对人类近代史贡献颇丰的份上,让我们主动为它做个解释吧:人都会有毛病,伟大的国家也是一样。

相信中英关系不会受到此次事件的影响,两国间“黄金时代”是由深厚利益打造的,而在这两个历史悠久的国度里,理性都有着不可撼动的地位。

中国已经站在拥有了全球影响因而树大招风的位置上,世界上的秘闻奇事层出不穷,但那些能跟中国沾上边的,就更容易被发现出来,炒成“一件事”。中国人终将会见怪不怪,耳根子也会越磨越硬。

西方自近代以来走到了前面,创造了辉煌文明。但那里媒体不管不顾的“八卦狂”们既张牙舞爪,又很自恋,似乎留了些“蛮夷”的不文雅。然而我们同样相信,在与东方五千年文明的不断接触中,他们会进步的。

国际新闻_环球网

 

 

HSBC to freeze salaries, hiring in 2016 in battle to cut costs


 

Video: https://youtu.be/Q4V8L-98LVY  

Why Refusing a Pay Cut May Get You Fire?

HSBC Holdings Plc will impose a global hiring and pay freeze as part of its drive to cut as much as $5 billion in costs by the end of 2017.

The measures, which affect the consumer and investment banking businesses, were outlined in a memorandum received by employees on Friday, Gillian James, a spokeswoman for the bank, said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. Europe’s largest bank, which will release full-year earnings on Feb. 22, is mulling whether to move its headquarters away from London, partly because of the tax burden and tougher regulatory scrutiny.

“This is in line with HSBC’s moves to lower operating costs,” said Richard Cao, a Shenzhen-based analyst at Guotai Junan Securities Co. “HSBC can’t escape from the global economic slowdown and worsening asset quality like other global banks.”

HSBC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver, 56, in June outlined a three-year plan to pare back a sprawling global network by shutting money-losing businesses and eliminate as many as 25,000 jobs as he seeks to boost profitability. Barclays Plc extended a freeze on hiring new staff indefinitely in December, while European lenders including Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG are cutting thousands of jobs to shore up earnings.

The moves were reported earlier by Reuters.

The shares fell 1.6 percent to 484.25 pence at 10:10 a.m. in London, extending losses this year to about 9.6 percent. They dropped 12 percent in 2015.

Under its three-year plan, the London-based lender is seeking to reduce the number of full-time employees by between 22,000 and 25,000. In the U.K., the bank may eliminate as many as 8,000 jobs.

As part of its focus on more profitable markets, HSBC is reviewing its operations in Lebanon and may exit the Middle Eastern country, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. The bank is closing its Indian private-banking business, people familiar with that move said in November.

HSBC is close to concluding an eight-month review into the best location for its headquarters, with Hong Kong seen as the leading candidate city. The lender is likely to stay based in London due to the vast logistics of relocating, Martin Gilbert, chief executive officer of Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, told Bloomberg Television in January. Aberdeen is one of the British bank’s biggest shareholders.- Bloomberg

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China-Britain bilateral relations in Golden Era


Putting economics first

Despite Britain’s role as the closest US ally, its leaders have surprised the world by surging forward in relations with a rising China.

FOR centuries, relations between Britain and China have been undulating, rising rather more than declining.

In that time, Britain has been more ­anxious to penetrate Chinese markets and forage for what China has to offer than the other way round.

The Queen and Chinese president Xi Jinping are driven by carriage along The Mall to Buckingham Palace Photograph: POOL/Reuters

The super-gala treatment that President Xi Jinping and Mrs Xi received in London ­during the week was not necessary to prove the point, but it helps. There was Xi, royally seated next to the Queen, in the gold-trimmed horse-drawn royal carriage parading through London and shown on television screens around the world.

The visiting presidential couple also lodged at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence, during their trip. Clearly, this was no ordinary state visit.

The Queen called the visit “a defining moment”, Prime Minister David Cameron called it “a golden era”, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called it “a golden decade” for their bilateral relations.

An array of gilded items were spread among the vast gilt-edged dining chairs for Xi and his host, the Lord Mayor of London, at the second banquet after the Queen’s.

Gold, the auspicious colour in Chinese culture, went well with the red of the carpet and the Chinese flag.

And Britain was only too happy to oblige.

This was Xi’s first state visit, coming a full decade after his predecessor’s, Hu Jintao’s. But British leaders had been somewhat more proactive.

Only a few years ago, hiccups in relations occurred after British officials stumbled over such sensitive issues for China as the Dalai Lama. After the ruffles were smoothed over came the slew of mega business deals.

Britain wanted to ensure those deals were on and Xi’s state visit would seal them, so Osborne was dispatched to Beijing last month. To make doubly sure he made a side trip to Xinjiang, the alleged epicentre of China’s human rights violations, to talk trade rather than human rights.

China critics condemned that move. But it paid off for Britain in Xi’s high-powered four-day visit and all that it represented and contained.

On Tuesday, China’s Central Bank issued its first offshore renminbi bond in London. On the same day, Cameron appointed Chinese tycoon Jack Ma to his business advisory group. The next day, deals were signed amounting to £40bil (RM260bil), generating nearly 4,000 jobs in Britain. And this was only the beginning.

Critics tend to underrate the importance of business success for both Britain and China. They are perhaps the most enduring of the world’s major trading nations, Britain historically and China in the past and the future.

Even before becoming “the workshop of the world”, Britain had embarked on a glo­bal empire that would span centuries. It lost its sparkle after the Second World War and decolonisation.

British interest in East Asia had centred on China, particularly trade with China. Even its presence in Borneo – Brunei, Sabah (British North Borneo) and Sarawak – were only as a staging post for trade with China on sailing ships and steamships.

The British phrase “not even for all the tea in China” is a measure of one’s resistance to temptation. And tea was only one of many traded items from China.

With the colonial period, parts of China were tugged and torn by European, Russian, US and Japanese imperial powers. China fought and lost two “opium wars” and suffered unequal relations with Britain.

Then they agreed on the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. But even decades before that date, the buzz in Britain was what would happen to Hong Kong after the “handover”.

Hong Kong had long been known as the world’s classic capitalist enclave, while in the 1990s the West still regarded China as a communist state.

Hong Kong was in quiet panic, as celebrities and stars worried what would happen to them and their work under communist rule.

Many contemplating migration purchased homes abroad from Vancouver to Kuala Lumpur. Jackie Chan bought a luxury condominium in Damansara Heights.

At the time, an Englishman from off the streets in central England put that crucial question to me: What would happen after China “takes over” Hong Kong? I replied that Hong Kong would instead take over China in many ways that mattered. Soon after 1997, Deng Xiaoping’s credo of “it’s glorious to be rich” was abundantly clear throughout the land, often excessively so.

In time, anxieties over the handover were soothed, and it ceased to be an international issue. After moving to the United States and working in Hollywood, Chan returned to Hong Kong and even began work in China itself. His trajectory has been instructive and symbolic. So his presence as an invited guest at a reception for Xi in London’s Lancaster House on Wednesday evening said it all.

While London and Beijing are only too happy to see their relations on the upswing again, their critics have been at work. They have called Britain’s grand welcome for Xi fawning and embarrassingly servile.

Western criticism comes from two broad angles: the US and Europe. Both are not without their own self-interests.

In the European Union, Germany has been an early and the most extensive investor in China. Then earlier this year, Britain stole a march on all other Western countries by signing up as an early co-founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). After that, other US allies joined in: several EU countries including Germany, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The US, which tried hard to stop the trend, had only Japan and Canada as recalcitrant holdouts for company.

Many Western and pro-Western countries are happy enough to do business with China in the lead, in the process helping China grow. This is despite strategic thinkers knowing that the AIIB is also a means for extending China’s reach through Central Asia and Russia to the West.

This takes the form of the infrastructure-­heavy Maritime Silk Road and the One Belt, One Road projects offering connectivity between East Asia and Europe. They possess both economic and strategic advantages.

US critics of Britain’s close partnership with China have something of an identity crisis. They have a long list of complaints against Beijing, yet they cannot stop their own corporations doing increasing business with China.

Worse still, the glittering welcome accorded to President and Mrs Xi in London compares too favourably with the one in Washington just weeks before.

Beyond some formal diplomatic niceties, President Obama reportedly threatened to impose sanctions on China. He also remains committed to the largely military “rebalancing” in China’s backyard, while keeping China at bay with the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal dividing East Asia.

Whether the British or US approach to working with China is better, and for whom, also depends much on which is more enduring. Britain had presided over a global empire for centuries. China, a global superpower before, has millennia of experience to draw on.

Both countries share the approach of making trade their primary purpose, with any political or military posture being secondary to protect those economic interests.

The US in contrast opts for a forward military posture abroad, with any economic interest secondary by comparison. And despite Pax Americana being only 70 years old, it is already showing signs of wear.

By Bunn Nagara, who is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia – The Star

Open, inclusive partnership exemplary for development

China’s President Xi Jinping and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron attend a joint press conference in 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain, Oct 21, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

President Xi Jinping’s pledge that China and the United Kingdom will build a “global comprehensive strategic partnership” in the 21st century will bring China-UK relations to a new level and endow their ties with a significance that goes beyond the bilateral scope.

In his talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, Xi described the upgraded China-UK partnership as opening up a golden era for an enduring, inclusive and win-win relationship that will enable the two sides to jointly create an even brighter future for their relationship.

The noticeable improvement in China-UK ties has been the result of the strong political will from both sides to transcend their differences and shore up mutual respect, reciprocal cooperation and mutual learning.

During Xi’s ongoing visit to the UK, the two sides have signed a number of intergovernmental and business deals worth about 40 billion pounds ($62 billion), including an eye-catching agreement that means China will partly finance a UK nuclear plant.

This nuclear project will be China’s first in the West, and according to Cameron, it will create thousands of jobs in the UK and provide reliable, affordable energy to nearly 6 million homes when operational.

Such fruitful results show China and the UK are substantiating their cooperation with concrete deals. And as Cameron has said, a strong economic relationship can withstand frank disagreements on some other issues.

With the UK pledging to be China’s best partner in the West and China looking to build a golden decade with the UK, the two sides have set a good example in developing ties between a major developing country and a major Western power.

Xi has stressed the open and inclusive nature of the China-UK comprehensive strategic partnership, which means the stronger bond between Beijing and London does not target any existing alliance or partnership the two have forged with other countries.

Under the principle of voluntarism, the partnership can be expanded to include other partners so as to bring benefits to more countries.

The quick reconciliation and warming of bilateral ties would not have been possible if the two sides had not deepened their mutual understanding, built mutual trust and committed to reciprocal and meaningful interaction.

We have every reason to believe China and the UK will continue to build on the current good momentum in their relations, which will not only cater to their interests but also contribute to the common prosperity of the entire world. – China Daily

Xi trip success narrows divide with West
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In the 1950s, China’s stated aim was to surpass the industrial achievements of the UK, which however failed. Decades later, the UK welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping with pomp and pageantry and announced the two countries were entering a “golden age.” China has roughly overtaken the UK in gross GDP, although the living standards of the Chinese still lag far behind the British.

During Xi’s stay, China and Britain signed contracts worth 40 billion pounds ($61.62 billion). London will become the top offshore yuan center apart from Hong Kong. The UK also adopted measures to relax visa rules for Chinese tourists. These combined give people more faith in the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the UK.

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The embrace of China and the UK with open arms primarily proves that the West’s economic alliance designed to counter China does not exist or has been overthrown. Economically, the West has more noncompliance than consent across the board to challenge China. Militarily, the West has NATO at the core, but inside it is still not united enough to pressure China. China’s military pressure mainly comes from the US-Japan alliance, which is trying to involve smaller countries around China to enhance the deterrence. As China’s economic development has bolstered its military might, it has increasing confidence in safeguarding the country’s security.

The UK seems to have distanced itself from the Western group that may threaten China and explicitly wants to befriend us. As an important member of the Western world, the UK’s decision to usher its ties with China into a “golden age” has symbolic significance.

But when it comes to ideology, the old divide comes up again between China and the West. Over political and values conflicts, countries like the UK, Germany and France, which endeavor to advance their bonds with China, return to the Western formation.

The external ideological pressure is one of the thorniest issues for China currently, and has huge influence on China’s domestic values debate.

Common values have been the prominent bond in the West after WWII, but it is definitely not omnipotent. The divergence on values is the biggest difference between China and the West, which requires mutual respect and will to accept. We often feel the West is arrogant and aggressive in terms of ideology, which may partly come from a sense of insecurity due to internal divergences.

The UK mirrors our own changes and informs us that the times when the outside world united to counter China have ended or never existed. But there is still a long road before disputes on ideological issues between China and the West can be solved. Yet we have more achievements and hopes in this regard than difficulties and uncertainties. Compared with the huge pressure from the West in the past, we have gone so far and clearly know our future path. – Global Times

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Sino-UK ties herald golden time with West


  • Buckingham Palace prepares for Xi Jinping visit

    President Xi Jinping’s visit will also receive a warm welcome from the British Monarchy. Queen Elizabeth the second, who has met with some of the most famous leaders in recent history, is expected to greet President Xi at Buckingham Palace.

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Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 was a turning point in Sino-UK relations. For 18 months, Beijing gave London the cold shoulder, while at the same time developing cordial relationships with Germany and France. The low ebb in bilateral ties happened when Europe was deeply troubled. Although China had struggled with Germany and France over the same problem in 2007 and 2008, by 2012, China was much stronger and was deemed more influential. Now, China has become more attractive to Europe than ever, and that has served to transform the foundation of China-EU relations.

The UK has shown its adept diplomatic skills while re-calibrating its relationship with China. It was the first European nation to announce that it had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, an international financial institution proposed by China. This decision thawed the previous discord. Since then, the UK has committed itself to turning London into the biggest offshore yuan center other than Hong Kong. Cameron has received Ren Zhengfei, president of Huawei, one of China’s biggest telecommunications companies. He also invited Chinese companies to invest in a new nuclear power station project. Such actions have set examples in Europe.

As an old empire, the UK has declined, but its foundation is solid. With a special relationship with the US, London knows how to communicate with Washington over China issues.

London making a friendly gesture to China shows that Western countries are trying to redress their deep-rooted political prejudices and explore more potential to develop relations with China.

To a large extent, London’s friendliness toward China stems from the pursuit of more benefits, but it shows that the spillover of China’s development in many respects has become an irresistible attraction. Nothing can guarantee that country-to-country relations will develop on a certain course without having to worry about derailment. So far, historical experience has shown us that the bond of interests is one of the most reliable mechanisms that can maintain a reciprocal bilateral relationship.

China and the UK need each other. As the US is becoming weaker in exporting interests to Europe, China is providing more opportunities to the UK, while China also needs a Western country to set an example for a new China-West relationship.

It must be noted that political and ideological misunderstandings will remain a challenge for both sides. How to deal with them is a long-term issue.- Global Times

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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HSBC Bank to cut 50,000 jobs in major overhaul: slash investment bank and shrink risk!


HSBC Holdings PLC will eliminate as many as 50,000 jobs through 2017 by shrinking its global reach as Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver seeks to cut annual costs by about $5-billion (U.S.) to restore profit growth.

Europe’s largest bank plans to reduce full-time employees by 22,000 to 25,000, or about 10 per cent, it said in a presentation to investors on its website on Tuesday. A further 25,000 positions will be cut through the sale of its Turkey and Brazil operations. The bank left its target for return on equity, a measure of profitability, at more than 10 per cent.

Gulliver, 56, is looking to restore investor confidence in a bank battered by a series of scandals and surging compliance costs. Since taking over in 2011, he’s announced more than 87,000 jobs cuts, exited about 78 businesses and reduced the number of countries the bank operates by 15 to 73.

“HSBC is a big bank to move and they’re definitely moving in the right direction,” said Chris White, who helps oversee about 3.9 billion pounds ($6-billion), including HSBC shares, at Premier Fund Managers Ltd. in Guildford, England. “A lot of it feels like it was broadly as expected.”

The shares were little changed at 619.6 pence at 9:30 a.m. in London. They are up about 1.9 per cent this year, trailing a 6.9 per cent gain at Standard Chartered PLC, the other U.K. bank generating most of its earnings in Asia.
 

U.K. Cuts

Just months after taking over, Gulliver announced some 30,000 jobs cuts to trim costs by as much as $2.5-billion. In the latest round, as many as 21,000 of the cuts will be lost in a push for digital banking, automation and branch closures. In the U.K., up to 8,000 jobs will be cut, Gulliver said.

Under his plan, the CEO plans to cut risk-weighted assets by about $290-billion, including a reduction at the securities division to less than one-third of the group’s RWAs, and target a return on equity of more than 10 per cent by 2017. The bank cut its ROE target to 10 per cent in February from as much as 15 per cent. In 2014, it had an ROE of 7.3 per cent.

At the investment bank, HSBC plans to cut RWAs by a net $130-billion, or 31 per cent, while “keeping costs flat.” The global banking and markets division had a 6 per cent profit gain in the first quarter, as revenue from foreign-exchange rose.

Asia Focus

The savings program will cost $4-billion to $4.5-billion through 2017, according to the statement.

“We recognize that the world has changed and we need to change with it,” Gulliver said in the statement. “I’m confident that our actions will allow us to capture expected future growth opportunities and deliver further value to shareholders.”

HSBC, founded 150 years ago in Hong Kong, will also sell operations in Turkey and Brazil, while stepping up investment in Asia, expanding asset management and insurance and focusing on places including China’s Pearl River Delta and areas including the internationalization of the yuan.

Jonathan Tyce, a senior banks analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said that while it’s a “good cost number,” the short list of disposals “may have surprised a little.”

“Margins are higher” in Asia,” Tyce said in an interview on Bloomberg Television from London on Tuesday. “Everybody’s all over Asia. This is all about improving capital efficiency. You can completely understand the motivation.”

HSBC Fines

With his strategy update, Gulliver is seeking to convince investors that he’s the right man to lead HSBC. At Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s largest lender, co-CEO Anshu Jain announced his resignation on Sunday, just two months after presenting a strategic update that investors considered too weak.

“Gulliver is not an idiot,” said Chris Wheeler, an analyst at Atlantic Equities in London. “This is quite the opposite to Deutsche Bank as there is tonnes of granularity of where the cost cutting will come, how they’re achieving it and why they’re getting out of countries.”

HSBC has come under pressure to reduce costs and reverse a decline in profit after a year that saw the bank being fined for manipulating currency markets and embroiled in a tax-avoidance scandal in Switzerland.

The bank last week agreed to pay 40 million Swiss francs ($43-million) to close an investigation by Geneva prosecutors into allegations of money laundering at its Swiss private bank.

‘Extreme Solutions’

In February, Gulliver pledged that underperforming units would face “extreme solutions” after full-year earnings fell 17 per cent and the lender scrapped four-year-old profitability targets, citing a tougher regulatory environment.

HSBC is among the hardest hit by regulator scrutiny, with the Bank of England forcing the largest lenders to separate their consumer from riskier investment banking activities by 2019. It’s also been hurt by an increasing bank levy, costing lenders about 5.3 billion pounds over the next five years.

The bank said earlier this year that it’s reviewing whether to re-domicile from London because of rising tax and regulatory costs. It will complete its headquarters review by the end of 2015, according to the statement.

“It would be a mistake that HSBC flees the country,” Bill Blain, a strategist at Mint Partners, said in an interview with Jonathan Ferro on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “This is actually a pretty good place for banks to be.”

Source: Blomberg News

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

HSBC to cut 50,000 jobs, slash investment bank and shrink risk by $290 billion

HONG KONG/LONDON: HSBC will shed almost 50,000 jobs and take an axe to its investment bank, cutting the assets of Europe’s biggest lender by a quarter in a bid to simplify and improve its sluggish performance.

HSBC said it will shrink global banking and markets division to less than one third of HSBC’s $2.6 tn balance sheet from its current level of 40%. 

The bank said on Tuesday about half the staff cuts will come from the sale of businesses in Brazil and Turkey. The other half will come from cutting about 10 per cent of the remaining 233,000 staff by consolidating IT and back office operations and closing branches. About 7,000-8,000 cuts are expected to be in Britain, or one in six UK staff.

The cuts will leave HSBC with about 208,000 full-time equivalent staff by 2017, down from 295,000 at the end of 2010 and 258,000 at the end of 2014, although the bank said it will be hiring in growth businesses and its compliance division.

The cuts are part of a second attempt by Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver to boost profits since he took the helm at the start of 2011. The previous effort was foiled by high compliance costs, fines, low interest rates and sluggish growth.

“Slaughtering the staff is not necessarily the solution unless management makes the bank considerably less complex,” said James Antos, analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia.

HSBC shares in London opened 0.9 per cent higher at 625 pence before slipping back to underperform both the FTSE 100 index
and European banking stocks slightly.

HSBC said it will cut its assets on a risk adjusted basis (RWA) by $290 billion by 2017. That will include a reduction of a third, or $140 billion, in global banking and markets (GBM), its investment bank. That means GBM will account for less than a third of HSBC’s balance sheet, down from 40 per cent now.

Investors had been calling for more radical cuts at the investment bank, which Gulliver ran for five years but where returns have suffered in tough market conditions.

“The cuts provide significant headroom for the group to fund asset growth in Asia and absorb RWA inflation, whilst protecting its ability to pay a progressive dividend,” said Gurpreet Singh Sahi, analyst at Goldman Sachs.

COST SAVINGS

The bank lowered its target for return on equity to greater than 10 per cent by 2017, down from a previous target of 12-15 per cent by 2016. Gulliver said he will push through annual cost savings of up to $5 billion by 2017. It will cost up to $4.5 billion in the next three years to achieve the savings.

HSBC confirmed the planned sale of its businesses in Turkey and Brazil, adding it would keep a presence in the latter to serve corporate clients. It aims to overhaul underperforming businesses in Mexico and the United States to improve returns.

The bank said it was also targeting growth in Asia by expanding its insurance business and its presence in China’s Pearl River Delta region.

Some analysts said the changes did not go as far as hoped, though others said the asset reduction plan was a substantial shift.

“The market is likely to respond positively on the move with investors having a much clearer idea of HSBC’s direction going forward,” said Steven Leung, a sales director at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.

The bank also set out 11 criteria it will use to evaluate whether to move its headquarters from London to Asia, likely Hong Kong. They include factors such as economic growth, the tax system, government support for the growth of the banking system, long-term stability and an ability to attract good staff.

HSBC said it would complete the review of the possible move by the end of the year.

The bank also has to separate its British retail banking operation, which is to be based in Birmingham in central England. The “ring-fenced” bank will account for about two thirds of UK revenues, or $11 billion, and will have some 26,000 staff, or 57 per cent of the total in the United Kingdom.  – Reuters

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