Top UNESCO Official Endorses Chengdu's Practice of Sustainable Development
 
Jun 19, 2018
Category:

CHENGDU, China, June 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The 12th annual meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was held in Krakow and Katowice, Poland. Themed "Creative Crosscroads," and built on the idea of cross-sector cooperation among the UCCN members, the event started on June 12 and concluded on June 15.

The opening ceremony saw the attendance of more than 350 delegates representing the 180 UCCN members from 72 countries across the globe, including 40 mayors. Mr. Ernesto Renato Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture, when addressing the ceremony, expressed his appreciation to Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, for its strong support to the organization and great practice of sustainable development.

At the meeting, a delegate from Chengdu made a presentation on the city's "Eat. Clean. Care." initiative, and shared its experience of eco-energy retrofit in the catering industry.

Chengdu, having long been troubled by the environmental pollution in the catering industry, launched a city-wide eco-energy retrofit program a couple of years ago. Through the common efforts of local governments at different levels and industry practitioners, so far, most local restaurants have used clean fuel.

After the opening ceremony, Mr. Ramirez received an exclusive interview with gochengdu.cn, a major city portal website on Chengdu. He spoke highly of Chengdu's effort and achievement in the sustainable development, from which other cities can learn a lot.

"Chengdu contributes remarkable experience to the world which is highly helpful for the cities in South America and South Africa," said Mr. Ramirez.

He also expressed his great interest in what else Chengdu had done to improve its environment and ecosystem. He had planned to visit the city in August or September, he said.

Chengdu's "Eat. Clean. Care." initiative had been published on unesco.org, which says that "Chengdu's approach to reducing air pollution is praised for not only improving the environment and living conditions for the residents of Chengdu, but also for making vital steps in helping China achieve its goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

At a sub-meeting for the 12th annual meeting of UCCN, Chengdu shared its experience of building "Slow Villages" with the delegates from 26 UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy. It called on more cities in the world to join in a "Slow Village Co-building Plan," which promotes a rural development model focusing on environmental protection and bio-diversity conservation.

UNESCO attaches great value to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Chengdu's "Slow Village" program perfectly reflects the vision of UNESCO and provides a new model for other cities in China to revitalize rural areas. It was highly recognized by all the delegates at the meeting.

For more details, please visit www.gochengdu.cn.

Source: Gochengdu.cn

 
 
A Cultural Feast
 
Jun 17, 2018
Category:

Chinese opera is set to enchant the city with an upcoming festival and the soon-to-open Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon.

Few art forms can evoke the mystery and charm of ancient China as eloquently as Cantonese opera. In Hong Kong today, this centuries-old tradition of story-telling through musical theatre is enjoying a resurgence, with major events taking place in theatres, town halls and temporary bamboo stages; performances held at universities and schools, in streets and parks, and at private gatherings organised by local operatic singing clubs.

Audiences of all ages remain enchanted by the colourful costumes, distinctive voices and intricate gestures rich with symbolism that define this distinctive form of entertainment, which originated in southern China and has evolved over time into hundreds of distinctive regional performing styles.

Hong Kong's variation is recognised on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and to keep the tradition alive for generations to come, Cantonese opera has been incorporated into the music curriculum of primary and secondary education since 2003.

Various venues offer opportunities to enjoy a performance, including the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point, a vintage venue dedicated to Cantonese opera, and soon, the new Xiqu Centre due to open later this year as the first major performing arts venue of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Top-class Festival

The highlight of the year's operatic calendar is the annual Chinese Opera Festival, a two-month-long celebration of operatic culture performed by top virtuosi and maestros in the field. This year, the programme running from June to August covers genres that have been inscribed onto the List of National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, including Peking, Kunqu, Yue, Diaoqiang, Pingdiao, Puxian and Xiqin opera, as well as local Cantonese opera. Apart from the performances on stage, there will be guided appreciation sessions, talks and exhibitions.

Opening the festival this year is Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe's full-version performance of The Palace of Eternal Life. Led by Kunqu Opera virtuoso Cai Zhengren and supported by actors and actresses from different generations and cohorts, the troupe presents the everlasting tragedy of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty and his beloved woman Yang Yuhuan in a time of turbulence. Over a decade after its debut in 2007, this classic now returns with an all-star cast.

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the death of maestro Cheng Yanqiu, one of the top four artists in the dan (female) role in Peking Opera and founder of the Cheng school, three full-length operas, namely Consort Mei, The Unicorn Pouch and Anecdotes about Empress Wu Zetian, will be performed by the Second Troupe of the China National Peking Opera Company with winner of Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre Li Haiyan as the lead. Li will exemplify the elegant style of the Cheng school.

After its debut in Hong Kong in 2013, the Xinchang Diaoqiang Heritage Protection and Development Centre of Zhejiang returns with the classic piece The Battle at Jiujiang, comedy The Old Water-carrier and five excerpts. In addition, there will be performances of Ninghai Pingdiao Opera.

Rare Stunts

Audiences will be introduced to the rarely performed shuaya (tusk stunt), the incredible stage skill on par with bian lian (face-changing stunt), and the quaintness, varied singing styles and deep-rooted tradition of Puxian opera, which preserves the traits of southern opera of the Song and Yuan dynasties. Fujian Puxian Theatre will bring The Imperial Scholar and the Beggar, Thrice Begging Fan Lihua and excerpts from its classic repertoire to showcase the unique beauty of this ancient art form.

Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe of Shaoxing will return with a range of performances, from gripping and action-packed to comedy. Wu Fenghua, national class-one performer and two-time winner of Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, will be joined by Wu Suying (Lu school), Chen Fei (Fu school) and Zhang Lin (Yin school) in these full-length operas promising a cultural feast for the eyes and ears.

It is widely believed that bangziqiang (clapper tunes) in Cantonese Opera owes its origin to Xiqin opera. In view of their close connection, interrelated stories from their repertoire are juxtaposed for comparison. In a separate programme, representative bearer of Xiqin opera Lu Weiping will lead the Haifeng Country Xiqin Opera Heritage Centre in performing excerpts from Xiqin opera, followed by a performance by local Cantonese opera artists Law Ka-ying, Wan Fai-yin and Cheng Wing-mui.

With renowned actor Yuen Siu-fai as the playwright and the lead, Cantonese opera The Return of Lady Wenji will feature a strong cast of veterans and current artists.

Extra Activities

Apart from the rich array of captivating performances, the festival organisers have also arranged a variety of extension activities including lectures, film screenings, artists' talks and exhibitions to facilitate the appreciation of Chinese opera from different angles. Separately, to mark the 60th anniversary of the debut of the Yue opera The Dream of the Red Chamber, Shanghai Yue Opera Group will present special guided appreciation programmes so audiences may feel the enduring charm of this masterpiece.

The Chinese Opera Festival is organised by the Leisure and Cultural and Services Department, with performances staged at various venues across Hong Kong.

 
 
Is Taiwan's Famed Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival an Environmental Plague?
 
Jun 15, 2018
Category:

This article is a reader’s contribution to Crossing. It explores the environmental pollution caused by the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, one of Taiwan’s most famous tourist attractions. What can be done to create a win-win situation for the environment and the tourism industry?

Sky Lanterns Have Put Taiwan on the Global Tourism Map

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival counts among a handful of events that have truly become world famous festivities, making Taiwan an international travel destination. The scene of these floating lanterns filling the sky might be the first impression many foreigners have of Taiwan.

There is a reason for this. Taiwan has long used sky lanterns, released into the sky to wish for good luck and blessings, in international image campaigns such as for the Taiwan Pavilion at Expo 2010, in the 2011 movie You're the Apple of My Eye, or the Tourism Bureau's promotional video Meet Colors of 2016. The faint glow, hopefulness, unity and grandeur featured in these images have become a strong advertisement for our country.

As a stark cultural image, sky lanterns represent the collective memory and generational scars on Taiwanese soil. On the other hand, Pingxi District has dedicated great efforts to Taiwanese tourism in a more substantive manner. During the period from 2010 to 2016, for instance, Pingxi District saw a total of 6,41 million visitors. In 2016, it was picked as the third most popular sightseeing spot in Taiwan by international travelers, beating the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

Moreover, the Sky Lantern Festival, which takes place once a year, has not only been voted as the world’s second-biggest New Year’s Eve celebration by the Discovery Channel, the American cable TV network CNN has included it on its list of 52 Things to do Around the World, while National Geographic Magazine and the travel guide publisher Fodor’s have both listed the festival as a must-see event.

Sky Lanterns, while no doubt beautiful, have triggered controversy over the environmental hazard they pose.

Looking back, many Taiwanese people haves experienced releasing sky lanterns to some extent. I sent my first sky lantern into the air when I was in fifth grade. Back then, my parents and I, each of us holding a brush, very cautiously wrote our deepest wishes on the thin, translucent rice paper. After finishing, we stood on both sides of the railway track, and once we let go, the sky lantern, containing a gently flickering flame, slowly rose up into the sky. At this moment, my face glowing as red as the lantern, we prayed for all our wishes to be fulfilled once they were high enough to be heard in heaven.

However, in the past few years, these sky lantern memories have begun to make me feel guilty since the environmental controversy regarding sky lanterns came to light. Many groups have come forward, charging that the lanterns, after falling from the sky, are generating an endless amount of waste for mountain towns, and that residual dyes and heavy metals could endanger the lives of animals in the mountains. Each year, when the Lantern Festival draws to a close, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival triggers an avalanche of criticism and dismay, and never-ending calls for a ban on the release of sky lanterns or even the abolishment of the festival itself.

Each time I see the deluge of comments left by readers under news articles, such as: “Why don’t we abolish such a bad custom?” or “I hope that the government prohibits their release sooner rather than later!” I can’t help but feel extremely sad. The sadness comes from the fact that I understand that all these people deeply love this piece of land and that their motivation is to make Taiwan a better country. Sky lanterns do have some bad effects. However, can it be that one side must be sacrificed if culture and progressive values clash with each other?

Sky Lantern Culture and Environmental Protection Should not be a Zero-Sum Game

I believe that in this day and age we don’t have to accept a “choose one or the other” zero sum game scenario when we face new challenges and value conflicts. More and more examples show that we can find compromises when facing these problems, as long as we are willing to use creative thinking in combination with modern technology – this is probably not a perfect or sufficiently thorough approach, but it is more hopeful than just maintaining the status quo forever.

Take for example the thorny issue of the “million square meter garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean” – How can several hundred thousand tons to several million tons of plastic waste and other garbage floating in the oceans be cleaned up? When everyone said this was impossible, a 19-year-old Dutch man, Boyan Slat, decided in 2013 to courageously tackle the challenge, proposing the concept of an “ocean vacuum cleaner” which was projected to clean up the great Pacific garbage patch in five years.

Another problem that has received widespread attention over the past decade is the “surplus food problem,” which German youngsters sought to solve with the help of the convenience of the Internet. In 2012 they founded the platform foodsharing.de, setting up a food saving map and food sharing model that have meanwhile been expanded to Switzerland and Austria. By 2016, the site had reportedly gotten 2,500 supermarkets and restaurants onboard to provide surplus food, as well as 15,000 registered users. Altogether, 4,000 tons of food have been saved from being thrown away, an astonishing result.

Getting back to Taiwan, we are facing environmental challenges regarding the sky lantern culture. Fortunately, we also have a bunch of young people who are willing to work to solve the problem. From 2016, a group of students at National Chiao Tung University formed a team to try to develop biodegradable, environmentally friendly sky lanterns to upgrade this Taiwanese cultural tradition and make it sustainable.

Expert Team Develops Zero Carbon Sky Lantern

Simply speaking, the environmentally friendly sky lantern developed by that team burns up completely in the air without leaving any waste. This means it will not become an environmental burden for the mountain towns, and flora and fauna in the mountains won’t be threatened by pollution as a result.

While the waste problem is solved, what about the carbon emissions caused by the burning of the sky lanterns?

Data show that one tree can absorb the CO2 emissions of about 8.6 sky lanterns in a year. Should mass production of the environmental sky lanterns go according to plan, a certain ratio of income per every sky lantern sold will be paid into a tree planting fund. The team plans to cooperate with the Wutong Foundation, entrusting experts with the selection of tree planting sites and looking after the newly planted saplings for over three years. It is hoped that the carbon emissions caused by the burning of sky lanterns can be balanced and absorbed as much as possible.

In the long term, they expect to collaborate with environmental technology engineering to conduct a complete carbon footprint calculation and assessment to truly understand the environmental impact of sky lanterns. Furthermore, they will invite expert consultants and a certification body to develop a carbon footprint management plan to achieve carbon neutrality under the international specification PAS 2060. Finally, they will allocate a certain amount of funds to buy enough carbon units to reach carbon neutrality by offsetting all of the greenhouse gas emissions caused during the entire sky lantern lifecycle, from procurement of raw materials to its release into the sky. They hope to keep promoting sky lantern culture and environmental sustainability from a professional, scientific perspective.

Environmental Sky Lanterns not Mere Fundraising Tool but Opportunity to Take Taiwanese Culture to a Higher Level

The late film director Chi Po-lin once said: “Why do so many people love sky lanterns? Seeing a wish lantern brings hope to people’s hearts. Sky lanterns are very comforting, and important for passing on our cultural heritage, too. I really don’t think that this event should be completely eradicated.”

Establishing a culture and developing it is definitely a lengthy and arduous process. Any progress constitutes precious and important national assets. As times change, a growing number of customs and cultural traditions will probably be challenged by modern values. When we face such situations, we should not wantonly abolish or discard them, but rather seek to find sustainable possibilities for harmonious coexistence. We should take advantage of emerging technologies and use creative thinking to find balanced approaches to improvement – We should seek a new high ground with regard to many similar controversies, imagining more possibilities.

We should lead this land forward while at the same time preserving our precious traditional culture.

By Hsin-rung Teng/Contributing Reader

Translated from the Chinese Article by Susanne Ganz

Edited by Shawn Chou

Photo / Shutterstock

 
 
Taiwan's Education Ministry Launches Online Learning Initiative, Huayu 101
 
Jun 13, 2018
Category:

TAIPEI, Taiwan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced the launch of an online learning initiative called “Huayu 101”, a brand new online Mandarin learning material, at the end of May in Taipei, Taiwan.

Professor Chang Yuhsin from the University of Taipei, the designer of “Huayu 101”, has more than 20 years Mandarin teaching experience. In order to provide easier learning experience, he and his team collect key phrases that people should learn for basic survival. The contents of “Huayu 101” include accommodation, shopping, food ordering, traffic, emergency help, etc. It’s useful for foreign students and travelers those stay in Taiwan, and can be applied to other Mandarin-speaking regions.

To attract and motivate young people to learn Mandarin in Taiwan, MOE works with Logan D. Beck, a hotshot youtuber, to produce 2 videos of promoting Mandarin learning and Taiwan’s culture. The first video, “Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage” had reached 50,000 views within a night and it's over 150,000 hits now. In the press conference, Beck and Mr. Liu, a known rice cake seller, have shown the usage of “Huayu 101” with living drama of night market.

In response to the global demand for Chinese language education, Taiwan’s Chinese language education sector is vigorously looking outward and international marketing. This led to planning and implementing the Eight-year Chinese Language Education Promotion Plan (2013–2020). Under this plan the Office of Global Mandarin Education was set up to integrate the resources and results of Chinese language education in Taiwan. In order to promote Mandarin learning in Taiwan, MOE invited the Ministry of Transportation and Communication's Tourism Bureau and the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to be co-organizers, and integrated tourism and Chinese-learning resources to create a brand new study-tour model, "Mandarin On-the-Go" in Taiwan. Anyone who is interested in programs above is welcomed to check the information on the official website.(https://ogme.edu.tw/Home/tw)

Contacts
OGME (Office of Global Mandarin Education)
Kuo-Ning Chi, +886-2-2391-1368 ext.1360
c1360@csd.org.tw

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
Forest database key for Việt Nam
 
Viet Nam News
Jun 09, 2018
Category:

Farmers prepare seed trees to sell to the market in the Cao Bằng northern mountainous provinces. Experts said a forest resource database was needed as the software was not only effective for State management but also useful for future scientific research on forestry development. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyết

Viet Nam News - HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese people can control their own forest resources, ensure food security and diversify their income by using Management Information System for Forest Sector in Việt Nam (FORMIS).

Hà Công Tuấn, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development made the statement at the forum on information and forest resources database held in Hà Nội on Wednesday by Việt Nam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the support from the FORMIS phase two project.

“People will be involved in the management and alleviation of poverty by sustainable use of timber and other forestry products, contributing to localities’ economic development,” he said.

The development of the Management Information System for Forestry Sector – Phase II (FORMIS II) project is financed by the government of Finland, the Trust Fund for Forests and the Government of Việt Nam.

Implemented by VNFOREST, the project aims to develop a fully integrated management system for sustainable management of forest resources at maps.vnforest.gov.vn.

The software is free to access. Up-to-date information on forest resources and forest coverage development will be used for decision making in the forestry sector at all levels and for statistical purposes.

The project’s key aims are to create information standards and information sharing mechanisms for the sector, to develop and maintain a centralised IT platform and portal within VNFOREST, to create capacity for forest related information management and to set up a forest information centre within VNFOREST.

Tuấn said this was the most modern software on forest resource database. The software is not only effective for State management and the building of forestry strategy but also useful for future scientific research on forestry development.

The database should be popularised so that data could be fully exploited, he said.

In addition, it should be open source because it didn’t only serve the forestry sector, but other sectors and the whole society can access and use the data, Tuan said, adding that people could evaluate data themselves.

According to Nguyễn Bình Minh, deputy director of the project, the database of forest resources includes national forest inventory data of all 60 provinces with forest coverage, poverty alleviation and results of forest protection efforts.

Data on forest changes would be updated annually by forest rangers from district level. It consists of information on the causes for changes in forest coverage, incidents like forest fires and exploiting activities, he said.

Tapio Leppanen, chief consultant of the project, said the database was the achievement of the whole country.

It was hoped that it would be updated and used effectively and everyone could access the database, he said.

The system would help improve efficiency and cost effectiveness in forest management and planning by reducing the cost of collecting data on forest inventory, he said.

He also said that the openness of the database would help strengthen its feasibility.

Participants at the forum agreed that that the software should be updated and provide accurate information. Therefore, it was necessary to improve the capacity of local officials, information processing and policies for software development, they said. — VNS

 
 
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China is Now the Second-largest Art Market in the World
 
May 27, 2018
Category:

China overtook the United Kingdom in 2017 as the second biggest art market after the United States.

That's according to the latest Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, which looks at trends in the art industry.

Market Growth

The US, China and the UK are the three largest markets for art. Together they accounted for 83% of total global sales last year.

The US was by far the largest market, accounting for 42% of sales. China was in second place with 21%, and the UK in third with 20%.

It’s not the first time that China has leapfrogged the UK in the art market, but it’s only managed to beat the US once.

Billionaire Buyers

The global art market increased by 12% in 2017 after two years of declining sales. In the US sales rose by 16% to $26.6 billion; in China by 14% to $13.2 billion; and in the UK by 8% to $12.9 billion.

It was also the year when the most expensive work of art ever was sold. Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism bought Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at Christie’s for $450.3 million.

China’s growing share of the art market is being fuelled by the rise of its mega-rich. In 2016, the number of Chinese billionaires rose by nearly 25% to 637, compared with 537 US billionaires and 342 European billionaires.

While the US is home to most of the world’s top collectors (it has 42 names on the list), Asian, and especially Chinese, art collectors are becoming increasingly active. There was just one Asian billionaire on the list of top collectors in 2006, compared with 14 a decade later.

Notable purchasers have included Joseph Lau, who bought one of Andy Warhol's Mao Zedong portraits for $17.4 million in 2006, and Wang Jianlin, one of China's richest men, who paid $28.2 million for a Picasso. Former taxi driver turned billionaire Liu Yiqian famously paid $170.4 million for a Modigliani painting in 2015.

Future Growth

The report predicts that US sales are likely to decrease as a result of the US tax reform, which closes a legal tax loophole. Until the end of last year, investors could sell their art tax-free as long as the proceeds were used to buy new art. This is no longer the case. Knowing this change was coming prompted a boom in activity in the art market by US collectors, and is likely to also lead to a drop in sales this year.

Meanwhile, the report says that “buoyant wealth dynamics in Asia and strong local markets” mean that Asia’s share will likely increase.

“The performance of today's growing and globalized art market is a fascinating reflection of wider economic trends and highly correlated with GDP and high net worth populations,” says the report.

The report goes on to say that 2017 was a bumper year despite continued political volatility in many regions, thanks to robust growth in global wealth, improved global economic performance, and stronger confidence in the market.

By Alex Gray

 
 
Advancing Maternal Health Care in the Philippines
 
May 07, 2018
Category:

Clinics gain accreditation and reimbursement from national health program

April 2018 — Throughout Estela Tudio’s first pregnancy in 2013, she worried about medical expenses. Estela, a homemaker in Bayambang — a town in the Philippines’ northern region of Luzon — and her husband, Almar, who earned $6 (300 Philippine pesos) per day as a tricycle driver, could not afford birth at a hospital. So Estela gave birth at home.

Giving birth at a facility with a skilled attendant greatly increases the chances of survival for both mother and baby. The Philippine Government has been seeking ways for low-income families to access this critical health care, including by subsidizing the cost of joining PhilHealth — the national health insurance program.

USAID helped build the foundation for PhilHealth in the 1990s.

Families insured by PhilHealth can receive affordable treatment at any accredited hospital or health clinic, which are reimbursed by the insurance program. Reimbursement funds are used to maintain daily operations, pay workers’ salaries, and make improvements to buildings. But many clinics in the region lack the workforce and services needed for accreditation.

In response, USAID’s LuzonHealth project partnered with the Department of Health in 2013 to build health workers’ skills and improve operations of over 350 hospitals and clinics. In the Bayambang health clinic, USAID helped train midwives in emergency obstetric and newborn care. The midwives also learned to counsel parents seeking family planning services and safely administer or dispense their chosen method.

Meanwhile, USAID helped the clinic identify and resolve the gaps in administrative requirements that were holding them back from getting accredited. For example, the project standardized the clinic’s hiring practices to boost efficiency and transparency. As a result of the Bayambang health clinic’s diligent work, it is now accredited with PhilHealth.

Today, women in Bayambang can safely and affordably give birth at the clinic. Couples can receive family planning and counseling services, too. When Estela became pregnant with her second child in 2017, she received regular prenatal care and delivered her baby with a skilled birth attendant.

“I was happy that I could give birth here and afford all of this care!” she said.

Meanwhile, the facility claimed reimbursements from PhilHealth amounting to $30,000 (1.5 million Philippine pesos) last year. This additional income helps the clinic expand and sustain its work.

“We are continually improving our services and providing for more people’s health needs,” said Dr. Paz Vallo, Bayambang’s municipal health officer.

Since 2013, USAID’s five-year LuzonHealth project, in partnership with the Research Triangle Institute, has been working with the Philippine Government to reduce maternal and infant deaths and help couples access quality family planning services. Of the 364 public birthing facilities that USAID has partnered with in Luzon, 80 percent are now accredited and receive reimbursements from the Philippine Government.

SOURCE / USAID

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
Three Vietnamese Cities Added To Proposed ASEAN Smart Cities Network
 
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Apr 26, 2018
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Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang in Vietnam will be part of the network of smart cities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) proposed by Singapore, the city state’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on April 25.

“I visited all three cities during my two visits to Vietnam last year and was very impressed with their rapid urban development. Their inclusion in the smart cities network will add to ASEAN’s vibrancy,” Lee said..

The smart cities network, which aims to better connect digital infrastructure and services like e-payments across the region, is Singapore’s flagship initiative as the chair of ASEAN this year.

The three cities in Vietnam are among 26 proposed by the ten ASEAN members. However, more details are not yet public.

Singapore is keen to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience and innovation by developing e-commerce regulation and technology infrastructure and boosting cyber security in the region. ASEAN’s digital economy is forecast to hit $200 billion by 2025, according to a joint report by Singapore’s state fund Temasek and Google last year.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the State Bank of Vietnam signed a co-operation agreement on mutual support of the development of financial technology solutions.

Singapore has sealed similar agreements with Australia, Britain and Middle Eastern countries. The government has offered tech firms powerful incentives to settle in the city state in a bid to establish itself as a fintech hub and a “smart nation.”

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
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Company Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Contact Imran Saddique
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E-mail imran@insideinvestor.com
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Top MLM companies choose Thailand as event hub for business and distributor development activities
 
Apr 19, 2018
Category:

The growth of Thailand's direct selling industry seen by top MLM companies as a key factor that makes the country a hub for their corporate’s events. Later this year, more than 40,000 top distributors from overseas-based MLM companies will be coming to convene in Thailand. Meanwhile, TCEB is confident that the rising trend of the MLM business will drive the incentive sector in MICE industry to hit a revenue target of 22,000 million baht at the end of the fiscal year 2018.

Mr. Scott A. Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer of Jeunesse Global, an international multi-level marketing company, said that the company will organise the Jeunesse Expo World Tour 2018 in Thailand this year. The event, which will be held under the theme ‘Thrive’, is to take place in Bangkok during 20-23 September 2018 at the IMPACT Arena and Hall 1-2 IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center. This event is the annual celebration for Jeunesse Corporate and Jeunesse Distributors to revel in the spirit of our joint accomplishments. With more than 12,000 attendees from the Asia Pacific Region and India, the Jeunesse Expo World Tour 2018 will be a key platform that gives our distributors opportunities to get an update on the Year 2019 marketing trends, key business-building tactics, and learn about our new products. In addition, it provides an interactive platform in a high-energy environment which will inspire distributors and strengthen their business network.

“Jeunesse Global is rapidly growing in the Asia Pacific countries. We are experiencing a tremendous growth which is almost 100% increase in every market. With the fact that Thailand recorded the highest growth in the region and the country is the first market that we launched our intensive marketing campaigns, we choose Thailand as the venue for our annual convention in the Asia Pacific for the 2nd consecutive years. With the incentive and in-kind supports from TCEB, we confident that the Jeunesse Expo World Tour 2018 in Thailand will be a memorable and endearing success,” said Mr. Scott A. Lewis.

Mr. Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya President of TCEB, said that “TCEB is pleased to welcome these top incentive events to Thailand. All of the attendees are top distributors, they are all champions. By having these top distributors to convene and develop the business strategies in Thailand, it will undoubtedly benefit their Thai members and the country’s direct selling industry. In the same time, these events will promote and emphasise the awareness of Thailand’s MICE industry as well.”

In the fiscal year 2017, Thailand welcomed 1,276,411 MICE travellers which generated 104,641 million baht of revenue to the country. Of these figures, 259,901 were travellers who joined conventions in Thailand and generated 24,478 million baht in revenue. Meanwhile, 271,793 were incentive travellers and helped contribute 16,696 million baht in revenue. Thailand’s top five incentive markets are China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia respectively.

“With TCEB’s continuous campaigns and the strong awareness of Thailand as a business and leisure destination, TCEB foresees that Thailand will welcome 285,000 incentive travellers which generate 23,940 million baht in revenue to the country by the end of the fiscal year 2018”, said Mr. Chiruit.

Having these top MLM’s events to take place in Thailand helps to emphasise the country’s position as the destination for global incentive events. They give opportunities for Thailand’s MICE industry to showcase the capability to the event’s hosts, international delegates, and organisers which will also increase a chance for the country to be re-selected as the host venue for their future events. The upcoming incentive events which will take place in Thailand this year are: the Herbalife North Asia Extravaganza 2018 with 10,000 attendees which will be held 7-10 June at the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center; the 2018 JM Top Incentive Seminar Thailand with 3,500 attendees which will be held during 6-10 May in Pattaya; the Yofoto’s seminar with 4,000 attendees which will be held during 4-10 June in Bangkok and Pattaya; and the Infinitus’s seminar with 10,000 attendees which will be held during 6-16 June in Bangkok and Pattaya. It is expected that there will be more than 40,000 delegates who join the incentive events in Thailand this year.

###

For further information, please contact: Corporate Communications Department

Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization)

Ms. Kwanchanok Otton Tel: + 662 694 6096 Email: kwanchanok_o@tceb.or.th

Mr. Issara Rotchanakuson Tel: + 662 694 6181 Email: issara_r@tceb.or.th

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No Longer an Asian Tiger
 
Apr 19, 2018
Category:

Taiwan has muddled through an extended period of relatively low growth, stagnant wages and outflows of talent to other countries. The central bank recently revealed why this is happening relative to some of Taiwan’s neighbors.

In late 2017, Academia Sinica sociologists published a study called “Unfinished Miracle: Taiwan’s Economy and Society in Transition” that detailed several factors behind Taiwan’s inability to sustain its economic miracle. (Read: Chronicling a 20-Year Decline)

On April 2, Taiwan’s central bank followed up with its own appraisal of why Taiwan has fallen behind among the four Asian Tigers – referring to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – using several indicators to explain the country’s economic decline over the past 20 years.

In terms of economic growth, Taiwan grew at an annual rate of 2.7 percent from 2008 to 2017, the same as Hong Kong but trailing Singapore’s 4.4 percent and South Korea’s 3.1 percent. In the previous 10 years from 1998 to 2007, Taiwan grew at an average annual rate of 5 percent, compared to 3.9 percent in Hong Kong, indicating a bigger decline more recently than the other three economies. The country’s relatively low growth rate has contributed to Taiwan’s stagnant wages and persistent brain drain.

Two major weaknesses resulted in the 2.3 percentage point drop in economic growth from one decade to the next, according to the central bank. The first was a plunge in private consumption.

In a comparison of the four Asian Tigers’ economies during the two separate decades – from 1998 to 2007 and 2008 to 2017 – the central bank found that private consumption’s contribution to growth in the second 10 years was down 1.01 percentage points in Taiwan, the most of any of the four economies. Private consumption’s contribution in Singapore and South Korea was also down, but by less than a percentage point, and it actually rose in Hong Kong, serving as a pillar of growth in domestic demand.

Population Migration Taking Toll

The central bank attributed Taiwan’s weak domestic demand to several factors: slow wage growth, low birth rate and aging population, and the increasing number of people heading overseas to work. In 2016, there were 728,000 Taiwanese citizens working abroad, up 66,000 from 2009, according to estimates by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

More white collar talent moving overseas has meant fewer relatively well-off people consuming at home, inevitably taking a toll on domestic consumption.

“Stagnant wages are the main factor [in weak private consumption],” the central bank report asserted.

Presiding over his first central bank board meeting in March, new central bank governor Yang Chin-long said there was clearly a disconnect between Taiwan’s labor productivity and wage growth, with labor productivity growing more than 110 percent since 1994 but real wage growth rising less than 30 percent during that time.

Low wages have also captured the attention of legislators. Kuomintang lawmaker Tseng Ming-chung lamented that 34 percent of salary earners make less than NT$30,000 a month and another 32 percent make between NT$30,000 and NT$40,000. In other words, 5.93 million people representing more than 60 percent of Taiwan’s workforce earn less than NT$40,000 a month.

The central bank has offered some solutions to boosting wages, including calling on companies to raise wages, promoting a “minimum wage law,” increasing the rate of unionization, and having the government take a cautious approach to increasing statutory benefits to avoid limiting companies' ability to raise wages.

Those benefits, considered as “non-salary compensation,” include companies’ steadily rising contributions to social insurance programs, such as for health insurance, labor pensions and labor insurance.

Companies Saving, not Investing

The second major weakness identified in the central bank report has been a decline in fixed investment’s contribution to growth, embodied by banks’ high excess savings rate.

At the end of last year, former central bank governor Perng Fai-nan criticized the inaction of companies, saying that since 2009 they have saved far more than they have borrowed to invest, bloating Taiwan’s excess savings – defined as gross savings in excess of gross investment.

From 1998 to 2007, companies had negative excess savings, central bank statistics show, indicating that companies were eager to borrow and invest. But from after the global financial crisis to 2016, companies built up more than NT$500 billion in excess savings, leaving banks flush with cash and worried about their inability to lend it out.

In looking at other countries, though Singapore’s excess savings rate appears high, it has remained steady and generally reflects government savings from high budget surpluses. The excess savings rate is falling in Hong Kong but rising in South Korea, though at a much slower pace than in Taiwan, signaling Taiwan’s lack of investment momentum.

Taiwanese companies’ conservative approach to investing has plunged them into a vicious cycle and eroded their international visibility relative to Chinese enterprises. The country must find a way to embolden companies to invest and innovate while also coming to grips with its social welfare policies, labor issues and population policies if it hopes to once again experience a sustained period of higher growth.

By Pei-hua Lu
Translated from the Chinese article by Luke Sabatier