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Over 90 percent of apps are collecting private data from users

Over 90 percent of mobile apps gained permissions to access users’ private information in the first half of 2018, according to a report recently released by the Tencent Research Institute and the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI), Xinhuanet.com reported.

Statistics indicate that about 99.9 percent of Android apps obtained private information from their users in the first six months of this year. The figure for iOS apps also rose dramatically from 69.3 percent in the first half of 2017 to 93.8 percent this year. Of them, game apps saw the biggest increase in gaining access to users’ private data, from 43.1 percent in the second half of last year to 88.9 percent in the first half of 2018.

As key data, location information was required by 89.3 percent of apps in the first half of 2017, and the figure saw an increase to 95.9 percent this year, said Hu Yanping, founder of DCCI, adding that apps requiring access to users’ contact data also climbed from 43.7 percent to 61.2 percent during the same period.

Although relevant laws and regulations have been introduced in China, many apps are still suspected of overusing their authorization to collect user data, said Zhou Ye, senior mobile security researcher of 360 Vulpecker Team.

Huang Xiaolin, a director of Tencent, also stressed that internet companies should self-discipline when it comes to the collection of information, usage of information and notification to the users.

US farmers suffer much from US wrong tariff policy

At-Large Director of the Illinois Soybean Association and soybean grower Austin Rincker shows the soybeans produced on his farm. Photo by Zheng Qi from People’s Daily

“The customer just left,” said Kraig Baumann, an American ginseng producer in Wisconsin, after he lost a potential buyer due to the recent tariff policies issued by the US government.

Baumann runs the largest American ginseng farm in Wisconsin that covers about 500 acres of land. He has been engaged in ginseng growing for 45 years, and his farm produces 250,000 pounds of the plant each year.

Baumann was still an ambitious man during an interview with the People’s Daily last November, saying he would expand overseas business. He also showed around the newly-built staff dorms to the journalist with pride.

He would print QR codes on the package of his ginsengs sold to China, and he said it was a special design for the customers on the other side of the ocean.

95 percent of American ginsengs of the US come from Wisconsin. Meanwhile, 85 percent of the state’s production goes to Asia, 80 percent of which ends up in mainland China and Hong Kong.

However, the current China-US trade dispute is placing huge impact on the state’s American Ginseng industry. “Imposing the tariffs brings no good to anyone,” said Baumann.

He introduced that their business was great with continuously growing export before the US adopted the tariff policy. However, the farmers now have to offer high discounts in order to retain their customers. As a result, the farmers are suffering losses and cannot afford to purchase new equipment and hire new employees, Baumann told People’s Daily. “It is disappointing,” he said.

Apart from the American ginseng industry, the cranberry growers in the state do not want the trade war, either.

A lorry loaded with soybeans on a farm in Illinois.

Photo by Zheng Qi from People’s Daily

Statistics released by the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) indicated that the US exports about 95 million pounds of cranberries, or 12 percent of its total production to the European Union (EU) each year. However, the EU is now levying extra tariff on the US plant as a retaliatory measure against the US government who increased import duties on EU steel and aluminum products.

In addition, 90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk is sold out-state after being manufactured into cheese. The milk price, which experienced a dramatic decline in 2014 from a record high, has already impacted many of the US dairy farms. Recently, the industry was further threatened after Mexico announced to slap a 25 percent of tariff on US dairy products as retaliation to the US steel and aluminum tariff policy. Mexico is the largest export market of the US dairy products, with nearly $400 million of imports last year.

Not a single state is spared from the damage, with the industrial Midwest and the agricultural heartland states hit especially hard, according to the latest research report by the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC). The report said that the increased tariff has caused damages to the whole US business world, from agriculture to industries, from Wisconsin to the rest of the states.

The US-initiated trade war will bring impact to over $1 billion worth of the export industry in Wisconsin, casting shadow on about 800,000 jobs in international trade. The damage will only become worse.

Although the US government recently announced an agricultural subsidy plan worth $12 billion to aid the domestic farmers and ranchers whose interests have been hurt by the trade disputes, it is only a makeshift.

“We want free trade. Any aid program, no matter how massive, is nothing but band-aid,” said Bill Gordon, a soybean grower in Minnesota. He believes that the best way to stop the trade war from hurting the US economy is to put an end to the trade war.

President and CEO of USCC Thomas J. Donohue recently published an article, saying that the Trump administration has slapped billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on imports from around the world, provoking retaliatory actions from other nations and boomeranging back to hit US businesses and consumers.

He also stressed that the cumulative effect of the retaliatory tariffs could eventually stunt the economic progress of the US.

“We like neither trade war nor tariff war. It will affect everyone’s life.” Many Americans expressed their concerns about the trade war. From agricultural to manufacturing industry, all walks of the US society have felt the impact of the tariffs.

 

Renminbi exchange rate mainly determined by market: central bank

Both appreciation of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan from 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, as well as its devaluation since the second quarter of this year were driven by market supply and demand, China’s central bank clarified in its second-quarter report on monetary policies issued on August 10.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has almost withdrawn its “regular” intervention in the foreign exchange market, which can be evidenced by the changes in the official foreign exchange reserve and the central bank’s yuan funds outstanding for foreign exchange, the report added.

China has been making its exchange rate reform market-oriented, giving more play to the decisive role of market in exchange rate formation, and staying away from competitive currency devaluation.

The central bank highlighted that as the exchange rate is mainly determined by market supply and demand, the central bank will not take the exchange rate of Chinese currency as a tool to cope with external disturbances such as trade disputes.

Instead, China maintains a managed floating foreign exchange mechanism that is market-based and adjusted in reference with a basket of currencies, said the report, adding that as the market-oriented exchange rate reform proceeds, the rate will be more flexible.

Currently, China’s economic fundamentals are able to basically stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate at a reasonable and balanced level, the PBOC wrote in the report, explaining that China has reaped positive results in economic restructuring in recent years, thanks to its supply-side structural reform, as well as efforts to streamline administration and delegate power to lower levels, and give play to market mechanisms.

In addition, the emergence of new growth drivers, strong economic resilience and a balance in international payments have also strongly supported the stabilization of the exchange rate of the yuan, it pointed out.

In the next phase, the central bank will continue to deepen the market-oriented exchange rate reform to maintain flexibility of the yuan exchange rate, give play to the role of price in market supply and demand, and promote self-balance of the foreign exchange market.

In addition, in view of pro-cyclical fluctuations that may occur in the foreign exchange market, the central bank will continue to use existing experience and sufficient policy tools to take further effective measures to make counter-cyclical adjustments when necessary, noted the report.

It will also give full play to the regulating effect of the macro-prudential policies so as to keep the yuan’s exchange rate basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level, the central bank added.

Chinese smart phone brands to take over half of global market share

Chinese smart phone makers are expected to take 54 percent of the global market share this year through continuous overseas expansion, according to the latest research by TrendForce, a global provider of market intelligence on technology industries.

Chinese brands achieved rapid growth in the past few years, and have even broken the market pattern which was previously led by South Korean and American manufacturers, said analyst Yao Jiaxiang from TrendForce.

One of every three smart phones sold today comes from China. This conclusion was reached by a market survey organization based on the shipments of major smart phone makers between 2015 and 2017. The organization said that nine of the top 12 smart phone manufacturers were Chinese.

Chinese smart phones accounted for 42 to 45 percent of the global market share in 2017, according to major data research companies. However, the figure exceeded 50 percent in the first half of 2018 thanks to the overseas expansion of Chinese companies. Their shares were especially high in India, Russia and Europe.

One Plus, an emerging Chinese phone maker, achieved a 40-percent share in India’s high-end smart phone market, followed by Samsung who secured 35 percent. Apple was in third place with only 14 percent of the market.

However, this was just the beginning for Chinese phone makers regarding their overseas expansion. Rajeev Nair with Strategy Analytics said that in addition to India, the performance of Chinese suppliers in the whole of Southeast Asia was remarkable in the first quarter of 2018. They accounted for over a third of the region’s market share while the figure was just less than a quarter a year ago.

Yao attributed the success of the Chinese brands to their pricing strategies that attach high importance to cost-efficiency.

However, focusing only on pricing strategies will not be enough to help Chinese enterprises in the global market long-term.

The next phase of competition is a battle among the strongest, so it is a test for enterprises’ capability in globalization, said Zhao Ming, president of Honor, the leading smart phone e-brand under Chinese tech giant Huawei.

“Those who make better products and comply with global business rules will go further, and those who go further finally win the game,” Zhao noted.

China’s new retail market expected to hit 1.8 trillion yuan in 2022

China’s new retail market is expected to hit 1.8 trillion yuan ($264 billion) in 2022, continuing to play its role as a major driver in consumption growth.

It is estimated that this sector will see a compound growth of over 100 percent in the next few years.

The concept of new retail was created by Jack Ma, executive chairman of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, in 2016. His idea has been broadly accepted over the past two years.

New retail’s contribution to economic growth was first confirmed by a twice-yearly economic report of eastern China’s city of Hangzhou, which is also the base of Alibaba. The report said that new retail accelerated the fusion of online and offline businesses, which meant the city’s three major appliance markets and ten major supermarkets saw a growth of 22.9 percent and 10.6 percent in sales volume respectively.

The online-offline integration will enjoy huge potential in the digital era, and will inject new energy to consumption growth and economic development, said Zhang Xinhong, director of the Sharing Economy Research Institute under the State Information Center.

On one hand, new retail is driving consumption upgrade; while on the other, consumption upgrade is also contributing to the rise of new retail.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, final consumption contributed 78.5 percent of economic growth in the first half of 2018. Last year was also the 14th year in a row that China has seen a double-digit growth in total retail sales of consumer goods.

At present, more and more capital is flowing into this rising sector, and e-commerce and tech giants in China are all planning new strategies centered on this concept.

For instance, e-commerce platform JD acquired Yihaodian, Walmart’s e-commerce marketplace in China in 2016, and is planning to open over a million convenience stores across the country in the next five years.

A report on new retail showed that the sector received as much as 155.5 billion yuan in investment from 2017 to the first quarter of 2018. 505 investments were made during this period with each of them averaging 366 million yuan, 1.6 times the industry average.

China launches traceability management platform for NEV batteries

China launched an integrated traceability management platform for batteries of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) on July 31, which experts believe will help promote recycling of numerous batteries in China, Xinhuanet.com reported.

Statistics indicate that China has now produced more than 2.1 million NEVs. As China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of these batteries, recycling them has become an issue. Improper disposal of the batteries will not only damage the environment and cause a potential safety hazard, but is also a waste of resources.

Implementing traceability management is a major measure to achieve recycling of these batteries, said Xin Guobin, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Xin added that the platform will also help to confirm the responsibilities of users in the recycling process, through functions such as information collection and management.

To ensure the platform runs smoothly, the ministry also issued a temporary provision on traceability management of the batteries, which will take effect on August 1.

In addition, Xin disclosed that the ministry will take further supporting measures to encourage battery recycling.

China has previously selected many provinces to pilot battery recycling, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shanghai and Guangdong.

South Africa to introduce new visa policies for Chinese tourists

The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

South Africa will introduce new visa policies to attract more Chinese tourists, said South African Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom in a recent pre-recorded video message.

South Africa and China both agreed to ease their visa policies, signing many bilateral agreements at the 10th BRICS summit held in Johannesburg on July 25-27.

The minister disclosed that the new policies will allow Chinese tourists holding a valid passport and a Schengen visa, U.S. visa or Australian visa to enter the country without the need to apply for a separate South African visa.

In addition, the minister explained that the country will strive to reduce its crime rate, to make a friendlier destination for Chinese tourists.

“South Africa is working hard to increase its share of China’s huge tourism market and hopes to increase the share tenfold in the next five years.”

Tourism Deputy Minister, Elizabeth Thabethe, emphasized that tourism has played an important role in South African economic development, and development of tourism is sure to benefit both countries.

South African tourism from the BRICS countries grew by 6.1 percent during 2017, Chinese tourists making up the largest portion of that increase. Tourism is becoming the driver of South Africa’s economic growth, the deputy minister noted.

China launches traceability management platform for NEV batteries

China launched an integrated traceability management platform for batteries of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) on July 31, which experts believe will help promote recycling of numerous batteries in China, Xinhuanet.com reported.

Statistics indicate that China has now produced more than 2.1 million NEVs. As China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of these batteries, recycling them has become an issue. Improper disposal of the batteries will not only damage the environment and cause a potential safety hazard, but is also a waste of resources.

Implementing traceability management is a major measure to achieve recycling of these batteries, said Xin Guobin, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Xin added that the platform will also help to confirm the responsibilities of users in the recycling process, through functions such as information collection and management.

To ensure the platform runs smoothly, the ministry also issued a temporary provision on traceability management of the batteries, which will take effect on August 1.

In addition, Xin disclosed that the ministry will take further supporting measures to encourage battery recycling.

China has previously selected many provinces to pilot battery recycling, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shanghai and Guangdong.

 

UAE to boost worldwide Mandarin fever

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced that it will introduce Chinese classes in 100 schools next year and will roll out further measures to encourage students to learn Chinese in the future, Xinhuanet.com reported.

Students and parents in the UAE believe that as China becomes an important exporter of knowledge and technology, learning Chinese will bring tangible benefits.

The UAE encouraging students to learn Chinese is the epitome of worldwide “Mandarin fever”.

The strong interest in Chinese culture including Chinese characters, Chinese traditional medicine, films, TV dramas and Chinese food all boost the enthusiasm for learning Mandarin.

Peruvian girl Piura said once you have mastered the skill, writing Chinese characters is as enjoyable as creating a piece of art.

Thomas from Mexico explained that his interest in Chinese traditional medicine made him overcome the linguistic barrier. Now, he can not only read medical books written in ancient Chinese, but has also translated the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, an important ancient Chinese medical text, from Chinese into his mother tongue.

Many young Vietnamese people are also fond of learning Chinese, as they want to understand Chinese TV dramas without subtitles, hoping to talk freely with their Chinese idols one day.

The optimism surrounding China’s growing economy is also a factor that creates a global ambition to learn Mandarin.

Halse has already been to China for business and learned the language by chance. It is his Chinese proficiency that allowed him to become the first Indian employee at the Indian branch of China’s largest steel producer, Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd.

“I used to be a rural youth. It is learning Chinese that has totally changed my fate.”

Apart from being fond of Chinese culture and optimistic about China’s economy, another reason why foreigners are learning the language is that they believe in Chinese concepts.

The Chinese concept of harmony in diversity and inclusion lays the foundation for jointly building the Belt and Road to achieve win-win results through cooperation, which is well received by Belt and Road countries.

“China is a multicultural country that is very friendly to people all over the world,” said Marisa Mortier, a graduate student of the department of sinology in the University of Leuven in Belgium, adding that people from different countries and cultures should communicate more, try to understand each other more and work together to create a better future.

Topline India Office Inaugurated Today at Delhi

Topline group opened its doors to global expansion by launching their first international office in New Delhi, India today. The company – Topmind Communication Pvt Ltd is a subsidiary of the Topline Group.

Key people present for the formal inauguration were Michael Song, Chairman & Founder, Topline Group; Yan Han, Chairperson International Business; Sagar Joshi, Country Manager, Topmind Communications, and Ritu Kaul, Chief Strategy Officer & Director- Research & Insights.

The office inauguration was a formal yet simple affair with a ribbon cutting followed by a celebratory cake.

Speaking at the launch, Chairman & Founder Michael Song said he was elated at the launch of this new venture and looked forward to seeing how Topline China and Topmind India can come together to offer distinctive services to drive business growth for clients.

The cutting edge digital expertise of Topline China combined with the experience and expertise of the Indian team will drive business synergies towards a differentiated product and service offering for the Indian market. Topline will, for the moment, continue to provide a critical environment for enhancing as well as expanding operations in their India office.

Topline Group is one of the fastest growing public relations and marketing communication firms in China with more than 300 professional staff across offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Chongqing cities, servicing such leading brand names as Huawei, Tencent, Sogou Technologies, VIP.com, Ping An Group, CITIC Bank, DBS Bank of Singapore, Mondelez and SABIC of Saudi Arabia, Huntsman of US and Voith of Germany in a range of industries spanning smart devices, Internet, financial, banking and other B2B sectors.