Starbucks makes biggest-ever acquisition in China
China / July 28, 2017

Starbucks is buying out its joint venture partners in China for $1.3bn (£994m), marking the coffee chain’s biggest-ever acquisition. The all-cash deal will see Starbucks buy the remaining 50% stake it does not already own, in the firm’s fastest-growing market outside of the US. It will then gain full control over 1,300 stores in the Chinese provinces of Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The announcement was made ahead of its quarterly profit release on Thursday. Starbucks said net income fell 8.3% to $691.6m for the three months to July, which only just matched market expectations. The company also announced plans to close all 379 of its Teavana stores by the middle of next year because they have been “persistently underperforming”. About 3,300 jobs will be affected. Starbucks had bought the tea brand for $620m in 2012 but says it will continue to carry the products in its main Starbucks stores. Starbucks shares fell 5.5% to $56.24 in after-hours trading. Chinese dreams The latest quarterly results are the first under new chief executive Kevin Johnson, who took over from co-founder Howard Schulz in December. The world’s largest coffee chain is being affected by a reduced footfall in America’s malls and high streets….

Hong Kong-China train station could apply mainland law
China / July 27, 2017

Hong Kong’s government has unveiled a controversial plan which would allow Chinese mainland law to apply in the territory for the first time. It’s part of attempts to streamline operations at the new Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which will open next year, costing just under $11bn (£8.45bn). Under the new plan, passengers will be able to undertake border clearance procedures for both Hong Kong and China successively in one building in West Kowloon, Hong Kong. And it will be mainland law which will be in force in parts of the terminal, even though it’s on Hong Kong soil. The government says that will be more convenient for passengers, but opponents say it could violate Hong Kong law. How do people normally move from Hong Kong to the mainland? For those travelling overland, the process is similar to most border crossings between countries. At the busiest land crossings, passengers must first clear immigration and customs in one physical jurisdiction, then walk or be driven a fair distance to clear immigration in the other jurisdiction. Hong Kong immigration procedures are handled on undisputed Hong Kong territory, and Chinese immigration procedures are handled in Shenzhen, which is the mainland. So what will…

Activists ‘held for Liu Xiaobo memorial’
China / July 26, 2017

At least four men have been detained by Chinese police after publicly commemorating the death of Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, an activist says. The seaside memorial, which took place on 19 July, was part of a widely shared international campaign on social media mourning the dissident’s death. Wei Xiaobing, He Lin, Liu Guangxiao and Li Shujia are being held at a Guangdong detention centre, activist Hu Jia says. Another activist who took part, Wang Xin, was missing, he added. “The detentions are illegal,” Mr Hu told BBC News. “There is no Chinese law that sanctions the punishment of a person who memorialises a death, no matter who that person was.” The four men had been informed by police that they had allegedly disrupted public order, said Mr Hu, who is a long-time Beijing-based activist and a member of the Freedom for Liu Xiaobo Action Group. Last week, the group organised a global social media campaign asking supporters of Liu Xiaobo to post photos of an empty chair next to the sea with the hashtag #withliuxiaobo. Mr Liu, an academic who became a pro-democracy campaigner, was represented at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 2010 by an empty chair because…

China rising political star facing corruption probe
China / July 25, 2017

Chinese authorities say they are investigating a top politician once seen as a candidate for the highest ranks of the leadership. Sun Zhengcai was the Communist Party chief of a major metropolis, Chongqing. Before his abrupt removal from office earlier this month, he was a strong contender to rise to the elite seven-member committee that rules China. But now China’s anti-corruption body says it is investigating him for serious violations of discipline. The move comes ahead of a key Communist Party meeting in the autumn when those tipped to succeed the current president and premier – who according to convention will step down in 2022 after 10 years in power – are expected to be revealed. Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel Mr Sun is the youngest member of the Politburo, the 25-member body subordinate only to the seven-member Standing Committee. He is the first serving Politburo member to be investigated since Bo Xilai, a charismatic high-flyer who also served as Chongqing party chief until he was jailed for corruption in 2013 amid a scandal over the murder of a British businessman. ‘Shadowy world’ – Analysis by Celia Hatton One of the world’s most important elections is happening right now,…

Justin Bieber banned from China for ‘bad behaviour’
China / July 24, 2017

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has been banned from performing in China, according to Beijing’s Culture Bureau. In a statement, the ministry said it was not appropriate to allow in entertainers who have engaged in “bad behaviour.” “Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer,” it added. The statement was issued in response to a question recently submitted by a user of the bureau’s website. “We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer beloved by the public,” the statement said. Analysis By John Sudworth, BBC Beijing correspondent To its list of hostile foreign forces – one assumes ranking somewhere below the Dalai Lama and Taiwanese separatists – China has added the name Justin Bieber. The news came in a statement from the Beijing municipal culture bureau, answering a question from a fan about why, with the singer about to embark on an Asia-wide tour, no venues have been scheduled in mainland China. Justin Bieber is indeed “talented at singing” came the reply, but nonetheless it would not be appropriate to allow him to perform, because of what it called…

A man dresses as his dead sister to help his grieving mum
China / July 21, 2017

A video about a man in his fifties who has been dressing as a woman for 20 years “to help his mentally ill mum cope with the death of his sister” is being widely shared on Chinese social media. Pear Video’s film about the unnamed man has received over 4.2 million views on Weibo alone and is also being shared by major news portals. The video shows the man from Guilin in the Guangxi region, tending to his elderly mother whilst wearing a traditional cheongsam dress. He told Pear Video that he started dressing as a woman after his mother began to show signs of mental illness following the death of her daughter. He added that his mother was immediately convinced that her daughter had come back. “She was so happy, so I kept doing it,” he said. “I’ve basically been living as a woman ever since,” he added. “I don’t own any men’s clothing.” In the video his mother refers to her son saying: “She is my daughter. When my other daughter died she became my daughter.” The man said he is not concerned about what people think because he is “doing it for his mother”. “Why would I…

US and China emerge from trade talks without agreement
China / July 20, 2017

The US and China have wrapped up contentious trade talks in Washington without agreement. The two sides did not issue a joint statement or action plan after the meeting and cancelled scheduled press conferences. The US was critical of China’s trade surplus and demanded “more fair” trade arrangements. Separately, US President Donald Trump indicated that tariffs on Chinese steel were still a possibility. Massive trade surplus In his opening remarks to the annual US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross criticised China’s $347bn (£266bn) trade surplus with the US, saying it was not the product of market forces. In a brief statement after the talks, Mr Ross and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered few details and little indication of any progress on contentious issues. “China acknowledged our shared objective to reduce the trade deficit which both sides will work cooperatively to achieve,” the statement said. Image captionSteel from China coming into the US has been a point of contention Steely resolve on tariffs The contentious issue of steel tariffs was expected to be a difficult topic at the talks, but the two sides did not issue any statements on this. The US blames Chinese excess capacity for…

UK ‘now less appealing’ to rich Chinese
China / July 19, 2017

The UK has slipped down the list of preferred destinations for Chinese millionaires considering moving overseas, a report suggests. While the US remains the favourite place to settle, Canada now ranks second pushing Britain into third spot. The survey found around half of those millionaires quizzed were mulling a move abroad. Pollution, education and the falling value of the Chinese yuan depleting savings were all reasons given. The study by Huran Report and Visa Consulting Group surveyed 304 Chinese individuals with a net worth between $1.5m and $30m. About half were based in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen. “Education and pollution are driving China’s rich to emigrate,” said Huran Report chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. “If China can solve these issues, then the primary incentive to emigrate will have been taken away.” Image captionHigh levels of pollution is a major reason many wealthy Chinese want to head overseas Currency concerns The report had no details on why the UK had slipped behind Canada. Los Angeles was the favourite destination for wealthy Chinese followed by Seattle, San Francisco and New York. London ranked 14th. The strength of China’s currency, which fell to an eight-month low last November, is clearly playing on the…

Why China censors banned Winnie the Pooh
China / July 18, 2017

The blocking of Winnie the Pooh might seem like a bizarre move by the Chinese authorities but it is part of a struggle to restrict clever bloggers from getting around their country’s censorship. When is a set of wrist watches not just a set of wrist watches? When is a river crab not just a river crab? Inside the Great Firewall of China of course. Winnie the Pooh has joined a line of crazy, funny internet references to China’s top leaders. The Chinese name for and images of the plump, cute cartoon character are being blocked on social media sites here because bloggers have been comparing him to China’s president. When Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe endured one of the more awkward handshakes in history netizens responded with Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore shaking hands. And then there was the time President Xi popped his head out of the roof of his special Red Flag limousine to inspect the troops – a photo appeared online of a toy Winnie the Pooh popping out of his own little car. It is not only that China’s censors will not tolerate ridicule of the country’s leader, they do not want…

Racist AirBnB host fined for refusing Asian
China / July 14, 2017

A racist AirBnB host who discriminated against an Asian guest has been fined $5,000 – and told she must attend a course on Asian-American studies. Tami Barker cancelled Dyne Suh’s booking, telling her in a message: “One word says it all. Asian.” The fine was imposed due to a new agreement between AirBnB and California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). It lets the DFEH examine hosts that have had discrimination complaints. AirBnB is a service that allows normal members of the public to rent out spare rooms, or entire properties, to travellers. The measures followed research and anecdotal evidence that suggested certain races find it more difficult to book rooms than others. Image captionAirBnB has acknowledged it faces a challenge to combat racial discrimination on the service The fine and demand to attend a course, as well as community service with a civil rights organisation, marked the first time the landmark agreement has been used to punish an AirBnB host. “The host walked into this mediation with an attitude of contribution,” Kevin Kish, director of the DFEH, told the BBC. “That opened the door to a lot of creative thinking.” Cancelled Ms Barker cancelled Ms Suh’s booking shortly…