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When is the Chinese New Year in 2011? 10/11/2010

Based on the lunar calendar, the New Year is always the first day of the first lunar month (this coming year it is on February 3, 2011) and lasts two full weeks ending on the fifteenth day with the full moon. Most people get at least one week off of work to spend time eating lavish meals and welcoming the new year; which means factories are usually closed during the first week of the new year (from February 3-10). The Chinese New Year celebration is actually the single largest annual migration of human beings, when China’s nearly 150 million migrant workers return home from the big cities to see their families. Be sure to take this into consideration when setting up production schedules and shipments as the New Year will have an impact on your factories. In addition, if you happen to be traveling in China during this time, you will find extremely crowded airports, train stations and hotels.

Seeing as how I was already doing the research, I decided to include a little history on the background of the holiday and where you should go to celebrate just in case you do happen to find yourself in China that week.

While Americans celebrate winter with turkey, sleigh bells and mistletoe, the Chinese celebrate their most important holiday with dumplings, fireworks, lanterns and parades. The New Year, also called Spring Festival, is arguably China’s biggest, most important celebration that has been celebrated for centuries and is deeply rooted in myth, legends and traditions.

The main focus of the celebration? Family and prosperity. A few days prior to the first day of the New Year, it is customary to clean and prepare for the celebrations, in efforts to “sweep away” the bad luck of the previous year and make room for the New Year’s good luck.

New Year’s Eve in China is full of parties with family and friends, firecrackers and lots of food. It is customary to serve dumplings to symbolize the coming of wealth and a new year replacing the old. Children are often given gifts of money and fireworks are often set off all over the cities.

Over the next two weeks, people spend time visiting families and catching up with relatives. Spring Festival ends on a high note on the fifteenth day, with the Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao. Lanterns are typically made by children who march through the streets beneath the full moon. Lantern shows, games and dancing take place all over China, but a few of the most notable celebration spots are in Hong Kong, Beijing ,and Shanghai, where the “lanterns” look more like huge, brightly lit floats.

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

If you are going to be in China, Hong Kong has a spectacular parade and fireworks show on the second day of the Lunar New Year. Starting at around 8pm in Victoria Harbor, the streets are lit up with colorful costumes, music, performers and floats. Following the parade is a magnificent fireworks show that continues into the night throughout the cities.

Chinese New Year in Beijing

Beijing’s impressive Lantern Festival is held every year in Longtan Park. As China’s capital, Beijing has extensive experience with putting on world-class Lantern Festivals, including the many performances for the Olympics Games in 2008, so you are in for a good show.

Chinese New Year in Shanghai

If you are going to be near Shanghai, head out to the Yuyuan Garden for a festive atmosphere with traditional sticky rice balls (the round shape represents wholeness and unity) and lanterns of all shapes and sizes.

You don’t have to travel to China to celebrate though; Chinatowns all over the world have celebrations as well. Here is a list of Chinatowns all over the world.

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China Energy: Goals for 2010 10/8/2010

"China Energy" Goals for 2010According to the China Daily Newspaper, China has made great strides to meet the energy consumption goals the Central Government has set for 2010. The mission is to cut energy use per unit of GDP by 20 percent by the end of 2010. The Minister of Industry and Information Technology of China, Li Yizhong said on Friday that they are on track to hit the mark in efforts to become a more green country.

This goal could affect where your company chooses to invest or start a business. Provinces heavy in highly consumptive and pollutant industries like steel, iron and cement production are being affected more than other regions. Areas with more of a balanced landscape of industries are having an easier time reducing overall energy consumption.

Some of the struggling provinces have received orders to shut down certain factories after the government ordered for more than 2,000 closures of inefficient, highly polluting factories nationwide in August.  According to Bloomberg, some specifically challenged cities have faced blackouts affecting businesses, homes, traffic signals and hospitals as the local governments strain to meet the proposed energy goals. The Central Government has been halting these outages as quickly as possible to encourage regions to meet the goal the right way.

China has also reduced its energy consumption and helped improve environmental conditions through the closure of some small thermal power plants and other energy-hogging projects and by slowing the growth of additional highly consumptive and pollutant projects.

Resources:

Guardian: China Electricity Blackouts

China Daily: China Energy Consumption Down

Bloomberg: Energy Intensity Targets

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China’s Canton Fair – October 2010 10/7/2010

Personally I’ve never been to the Canton Fair.  I’ve heard its quite an event and i have always wanted to attend.

Therefore, I’m excited that later this month I am going to attend the 108th Canton Fair  a.k.a. “China Import and Export Fair” in Guangzhou.    I’ll be there during Phase 2 for the Consumer Goods, Gifts, and Home Decorations show.

The Canton Fair takes place twice annually; once in the fall and once in the spring.  The first fair was held in April of 1957 and it has become a major international event over the last 50 years.  With 11 million square feet and more than 55,000 booths, it is China’s largest trade fair.  I’ve heard it’s quite impressive, attracting more than 200,000 overseas buyers every year.  I’ll be sure to provide a trade show review after attending…..stay tuned!

If you are headed to the fair, I thought it might be helpful to list out a few resources that might help with travel to Guangzhou, etc.:

Hope to see you there!

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Warren Buffet Bullish on Investing in China; Not Worried About Currency 10/6/2010

Warren Buffet, on a recent trip to China noted he continues to seek additional investment opportunities in China.  When asked about his concerns over recent U.S. legislature regarding Chinese imports and the valuation of the Chinese RMB he noted that when they originally started eyeing investments in the region “the subject of currency never came up and that would continue to be the case today.”

I found a great video on You Tube courtesy of Bloomberg, but unfortunately they disabled the embed function.  Please click on this link, or click on the picture above.

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Is Hong Kong really part of China? 10/5/2010

Hong Kong Map We hear about Hong Kong and China together in the news all the time and we know that they are intertwined, but are not exactly sure to what extent. To help shed some light on this, I did some research (and relied on testimony from a Hong Kong native on our staff), and below I present a concise and factual overview of Hong Kong and its relationship to China .

Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire in the mid 1800’s and remained a colony until 1997. On the 1st of July of that year, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As part of the rules of the transfer, Hong Kong was allowed to retain a large amount of autonomy, or self-governance, for fifty years (until July of 2047).

Hong Kong is now considered a Special Autonomous Region (SAR), which has a separate legal system, taxation policy, parliamentary system and business guidelines than that of mainland China. Hong Kong even has its own currency, the Hong Kong Dollar, which can’t be used as legal tender in mainland China. Perhaps the biggest distinction of all? It is a free-market economy and is now considered one of the freest economies in the world; In 2008 Hong Kong generated a GDP of USD 223 Billion and utilized USD 63 Billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

This paired with the sophistication of Hong Kong’s logistics and transportation industry, has made it a particularly enticing place to companies looking to invest in China. Extensive investment promotions are available to foreign companies looking to invest.

Hong Kong definitely operates as its own “mini-country”, but continues to remain part of China through its sovereign ties. What will happen in 2047?…I guess we will have to wait and see.

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Industrial Parks in China 10/4/2010

China is home to literally thousands of industrial parks.  While mostly concentrated along China’s eastern coast from Dalian in the north to Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south, Industrial Parks of all sizes can be found throughout the country.  As the Chinese government has been trying to attract more investment in China’s western and interior provinces, Industrial Parks are becoming increasingly more common in these areas as well.

As you consider various different locations within China, it is important to remember that not all industrial parks are created equal, and it’s important to make physical site visits to inspect infrastructure, access to logistics, etc., before making a commitment.  In China you will find that many Industrial Parks are better suited for (sometimes designed specifically for) certain types of industries.  This is also important to take into consideration – you don’t want to be the only electronics manufacturer surrounded by a bunch of folks in heavy industry.

China Industrial Park Resources

To help you with your search, I have compiled a list of resources to assist your China Site Selection Process:

  1. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council published an online list of Industrial Parks in China
  2. China Industrial Zone (ChinaIndZone.com)
  3. Right Site Asia
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Do I need a visa to go to China for business? 10/1/2010

If you are a U.S. citizen the answer is Yes.  The good news is that visa requirements have been relaxed some in recent years, and you don’t necessarily need a letter of invitation to obtain a China Business Visa.

A comprehensive list of requirements and FAQ’s are available on the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America website (yes this is the longest name of any embassy in the world).

How much does a China Visa cost?  According to the embassy website:

Number of Entry

American Citizens

Citizens of most other countries

Single Entry

$130

$30

Double Entry

$130

$45

Multiple Entry for 6 Months

$130

$60

Multiple Entry for 12 Months

$130

$90

Multiple Entry for 24 Months

$130

$90

I personally recommend using a Visa service – I have been using Perry Visa for years and have always had a great experience with them.  As with most countries, I recommend giving yourself ample time to allow for any unexpected delays in the Visa Processing process.

Another Important note:  Other minimal processing, notarization and passport fees may apply. Rushing services are also available at an additional cost. Visa policies and procedures change regularly so be sure to check back if it’s been a while since you last looked.

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