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Archive for November, 2007

Free Rice

This is absolutely nothing to do with China… except that Chinese eat rice, that is.  If you have a few minutes to spare (or to procrastinate), do visit www.freerice.com.  Donate some rice to UNICEF while you test your vocabularies! 

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 A friend from Beijing is in town this week… and as always, we have interesting conversations sharing different perspectives.  One analogy he used I find extremely relevant.  China’s emergence is like a new player joining your poker table.  You need to spend time to observe and understand their behavior, their sentiments.  Make small bets, test him/her out.  If you go all in with the assumption they behave like everyone else, you’d quickly end up broke.

So true. 

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Expensive Pork

Here are the October stats which was released last week:
– YoY CPI: 6.5%
– YoY Food Prices Increase: 17.6%
– YoY Non-Food Prices Increase: 1.1%
– YoY Pork Prices Increase: 54.9%
China’s poor spends 1/3 of their income on food

This has become a critical problem.  With China’s large peasant class, and increasing discontent with the widening economic gap, the government will need to act fast to make sure that the lives of China’s poor are also improving (albeit at a much slower speed).  One can never underestimate the power of the peasants.  Or rather, the power of the survival instinct. 

According to the article in CNNMoney, “An official of China’s top planning agency, the cabinet’s National Development and Reform Commission, said in October that the government would considering investment curbs and other unspecified “measures to adjust prices.”

 This is rather troublesome since I’d have thought that “investment cubs” raise prices rather than reducing them. 

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Art Page

Launching an Art page where I will post emerging Chinese artists who catch my eyes.  Well, most of these are not quite “emerging” anymore if you consider their market prices… but then again, most are still in their 30’s, and at most 40’s.  So long way to go. 

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Here are some pictures I took at the Asian Contemporary Art Fair in NYC this past weekend.  Quite a nice show – last day today!   

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Baidu launches its finance site: stock.baidu.com.  I can’t figure out how to get a screenshot on here, but here’s one of the datatables.  For China “concept” stocks.  Bascially a lot of the tech stocks. I’ve denoted the first three as an example.

Do you notice anything strange in the display? Yes, the colors are reversed!  I presume because Red = Luck for Chinese…  Why green (rather than, say black) is chosen for stocks in decline is a mystery.  Other than perhaps to tease the rest of us? 

 And boy, it’s not a good day for the Chinese market!

 中国概念股
百度 (Baidu) 365.97 -7.35%
新浪 (Sina) 50.34 -7.77%
搜狐 (Sohu) 53.76 -8.62%
网易 19.31 -13.33%
盛大网络 36.93 -5.06%
携程网 61.68 8.02%
前程无忧 22.22 3.88%
金融界 33.40 -10.43%
UT斯达康 3.00 -2.28%
分众传媒 59.58 -6.98%
新东方 77.05 -4.29%
如家 39.41 1.29%
e龙 9.92 -3.12%
第九城市 32.00 -3.24%
空中网 4.88 -4.31%

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Yahoo’s Conundrum

Yesterday was likely the worst day of Jerry Yang’s life.  He attended a hearing whereby Yahoo is blamed for handing over information which helpd put political dissidents to jail.  According to NYT’s article, during the hearing, Wang was asked to apologize to a weeping mother of a journalist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

I started asking myself whether I’d have done what Jerry did if I were in his shoes (I’d assume for a moment that he’s the one who made thed decision).    I certainly do not want to be in the position of putting a dissident in jail.  On the other hand, I can think of a hundred justifications for me to hand over the information.  In fact, practically, I’m not sure whether Yahoo China really had a choice – if I were the head of Yahoo China, I’m certainly not courageous enough to go to jail for not complying with the government’s request…

The only way to avoid getting into sticky situations like this would be to avoid China altogether.  If you do get into China business, be prepared that sometime in the future, you might end up between a rock and a hard place.  As my Chinese friends always say, everything is “complicated”. 

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