Forbes ranks Taiwan as the #11 most competitive country in the world

Awesome!!!  Happy for Taiwan!!!

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Why Japan & China can’t compete with America on Entrepreneurship

Japan and China are lagging far behind the US in global entrepreneurship, according to the recently released 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Index.

With a historical score of 85, the US tops the list of countries on the index, followed by Australia, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Taiwan, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Japan is to be found in the 33th and China in the 61 position.

That may come as a disappointment to some. China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies, respectively.

What can explain Japan’s and China’s entrepreneurial lag?

For Japan, the problem is mostly demographic, a shrinking pool of young talented individuals—a group that is usually engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Tight immigration policies and a conservative business culture add to the talent shortage, because they make it difficult for Japan to attract and retain foreign talent.

That’s certainly a sharp contrast to competing international talent destinations like the US, Canada, and Australia, and the other countries on the top of the index.

The trouble is that after two “lost decades” and a wave of reforms in Japan, things turned worse instead of better.

“Having lived and worked here for the past 30 years, I can say that things are going from bad to worse. It is incredible to see the insularity and inward looking attitude of mind of the younger generations of Japanese,” comments a reader in a previous piece of ours here.

“By and large, Japanese feel uneasy around foreigners in the work environment because foreigners bring a different type of ambition. One does get the feeling that Japanese under 40 or 45 have had it too easy and are unwilling to adapt to an already changed world, never mind a rapidly changing world.”

For China, the problem is more fundamental — entrepreneurship does not blend well with the country’s culture of Confucian conformity to existing norms.

Throughout China’s history, the established order paid little respect to inventors, entrepreneurs, and business pioneers, as has been discussed in previous pieces here.

Another factor that discourages entrepreneurship in China is a heredity system that passes family assets to all sons rather than to the oldest son, putting less pressure on younger sons to pursue independent professions or business opportunities.

Then comes the Communist legacy. In spite of reforms in the post liberalization period, Chinese enterprises generally lack the information, the freedoms, and the incentives to develop pioneering products, because they remain “units” within a central plan rather than “firms,” within a market economy.

Within this institutional framework, entrepreneurship begins with the supply side of the market, with resources — rather on the demand side with consumers, as is usually the case in market economies.

Such an approach may be rational from the perspective of Chinese planners who are in command of enormous resources and anxious to find some quick uses that will produce short-term growth. But it is irrational from the perspective of fast-moving global markets where consumers rather than central planners, who are at the center of the economic universe.

To be fair, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. Companies like Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Xiaomi, and Baidu , for example which have been consumer-oriented.  But their numbers aren’t sufficient to push China up the global entrepreneurship scale.

China officials taken on prison visits in warning against corruption


Chinese authorities have taken government officials and members of their families on tours of prisons as a “warning” against corruption, the official China Daily newspaper reported on Monday, citing the country’s top disciplinary body.

In China’s eastern Hubei province, 70 Communist Party leaders, senior officials and their spouses “visited ex-officials in the city prison and spent a day in jail as an educational warning”, the newspaper said.

President Xi Jinping has made weeding out corruption a top priority since coming to power more than two years ago, investigating and arresting senior government officials, military chiefs and business leaders.

The prison tours, which included visiting former colleagues and bosses imprisoned for bribery and abuse of power, were a blunt reminder from Beijing against corruption. The China Daily said photos of interrogations were hanging on prison walls for visitors to see.

“It’s a striking image to have watched the ex-officials showing their deep repentance while they serve their sentences in prison,” the paper quoted one Hubei official as saying.

The Central Commission of Disciplinary Inspection said the visits were organized to remind officials to “be aware of wrongdoing involving corruption”, the China Daily said.

It said this month some members of China’s armed forces were not taking the fight against corruption seriously. Some military officers have said graft is so pervasive it could undermine China’s ability to wage war.

She deserves our support

Detained ‘Anti-Corruption Heroine’ Attempts Suicide in China’s Guangxi

Detained 'Anti-Corruption Heroine' Attempts Suicide in China's Guangxi

A Chinese rights activist who pursued a long-running complaint over alleged official corruption in the southern province of Guangxi has attempted suicide in a police-run detention center following her trial on defamation and public order charges, her lawyer told RFA.

Wei Yani was forcibly evicted from her home in 2006 to make way for the U.S.$4.2 billion Longtan Hydropower Station, the second-largest in China, straddling the Hongshui river in Guangxi’s Tian’e county. But local people said they had never received the right amount in compensation, accusing local officials of embezzling their money.

Wei began a complaints procedure to recoup the lost funds that lasted for years, and led to her incarceration in a “re-education through labor” camp on two occasions.

Wei was detained again by police in Beijing at the start of 2014 after she continued to press her complaint with the central government, bringing her back to her hometown and charging her with “defamation,” and “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”

Her detention and subsequent trial prompted a campaign by more than 30,000 local people for her release. A verdict has yet to be announced.

Volatile mood

Her lawyer, Shang Baojun, said Wei had been in a volatile mood during the April 9 trial, and had already signaled her intent to take her own life.

“According to the announcement that came out of the detention center, Wei tried to commit suicide and was taken to hospital for emergency treatment,” Shang told RFA.

He said that, during the trial: “Wei Yani made this clear to me when she gave me two documents that were to serve as wills.”

“In order to prevent such a tragedy, the judge said that he would report it to his superiors, but I don’t know if they did report it or not,” Shang said.

“Now, this has happened anyway, which is a very regrettable outcome,” he said, but gave no details of Wei’s current state of health, nor how the attempt had been made.

One of the letters given to Shang was written for Wei’s daughter Lan Xianfei, who is currently a migrant worker in Nanning.

However, repeated attempts by the family to contact Lan were unsuccessful, Shang said.

“I think she had lost all interest in living and she couldn’t take it any more,” he said. “They had persecuted her for her long-running rights activism, and she was facing sentencing.”

“She and her ex-husband only had one daughter, who holds a huge amount of prejudice towards her, and basically they don’t have anything to do with one another,” Shang said.

“She didn’t get any support from her relatives here, either, so she was feeling pretty low.”

‘Miscarriage of justice’

Fellow Longtan evictee Yang Shaohui said the case against Wei was a “miscarriage of justice.”

“The local government here is pretty corrupt, and the central government never really got to the bottom of it or dealt with it properly,” said Yang, who was among thousands who signed a petition to call for Wei’s release.

“She is an anti-corruption heroine who exposed a scandal involving more than a billion yuan (U.S.$161 million) on behalf of the evictees of Tian’e county,” he said. “She was framed.”

“The fact that she had already written her will shows that she couldn’t stand the injustice and the loss of her freedom any longer.”

He said the people Wei had fought for had little money, and scant means to pursue an appeal on her behalf.

“We couldn’t save her,” Yang said. “That’s why she was so sick of this society.”

More than 1,000 of Wei’s supporters showed up outside the court buildings in Guangxi’s Hechi city ahead of her trial, only to be blocked by rows of police who confiscated their cell phones and detained anyone who argued.

Attempted suicides are growing increasingly common among disgruntled petitioners, many of whom are forced evictees, and most of whom pursue complaints against local officials for years or even decades with no result.

In June 2014, five people were taken to a Beijing hospital after they drank pesticide in a suicide pact to protest their forced eviction.

Chinese New Year TV extravaganza uses WeChat in an amazing way to give out $80M in cash

China’s state TV extravaganza for Chinese New Year’s Eve is getting a social media twist this year – and also a pile of cash. The gala entertainment show is giving away RMB 500 million (US$80 million) in cash to viewers via social media such as WeChat and Weibo.


The TV show – which lasts for nearly five hours – will trigger the cash handouts, in the form of virtual versions of the traditional “red envelope” money-filled gifts, at three points during the broadcast. When the host says it’s time, users of WeChat in China can shake their smartphones vigorously to be in with a chance of winning a portion of the cash available.

This interactive giveaway ties in with WeChat’s existing Shake feature, which is usually used to find fellow users of the messaging app nearby.


WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, explains on its news portal that the money actually comes from corporate sponsors. The largest single handout will be RMB 4,999 (US$800), but most people are likely to get only small change.

I tried it for myself when I saw the “shake” icon pop up on screen:

Chinese TV show uses WeChat in an amazing way to give out $80M in cash

That was my cue to shake it off, shake it off:


Chinese TV show uses WeChat in an amazing way to give out $80M in cash

Bingo! I won something:

Chinese TV show uses WeChat in an amazing way to give out $80M in cash

Er… Well, I managed to win the princely sum of RMB 3, which is about US$0.45. It’s from a random company I’ve never heard of before whose logo appears at the top of the virtual red envelope. That gets added to my existing WeChat Payment account.

The Twitter-esque Weibo doesn’t have such a “shake” feature, so its users have to click a link at the allotted times to try win some red envelopes.

The TV cash giveaway is a new aspect to the online cash flow that’s started happening in China in the past couple of years as people use the epayment features of Weibo and WeChat to gift cash to their buddies. More recently, the tech companies themselves have been giving away cash directly to users as a way of winning hearts and minds as Tencent (which runs WeChat) battles Alibaba (which runs Alipay and also supports Weibo) over online payments.

How a Florida Shopping Mall Ended Up in the Hands of a Chinese Fugitive


The Fashion Mall hasn’t much lived up to its name. Already faltering a decade ago, the South Florida shopping mall has since been hammered by a hurricane, vacated by its tenants and put into bankruptcy, all the time, it turns out, being partially owned by a fugitive from China.

Busted plans to redevelop the dilapidated mall have featured in a lawsuit between its Chinese investors. Du Zhenzeng, a steel baron from northern China, sued his naturalized American business partner, Wei Chen, for using their business “as his personal piggy-bank” to fund a flashy lifestyle that includes a Bentley and yacht trips, according to testimony in that lawsuit.

In a court hearing in October in Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Du’s lawyers said he invested nearly $160 million in the mall development project. Mr. Chen said the funds Mr. Du promised never materialized.

Then, last month, new troubles arose. Back in China, Mr. Chen is known as He Yejun, according to court and immigration records, and that name appeared on an Interpol list released by Chinese investigators of 100 wanted fugitives, mostly officials and executives, who had fled abroad. Mr. He is accused by prosecutors of misappropriating 1 million yuan, then about $120,000, from the brewery that he ran before fleeing to the U.S. in 1999, according to the Interpol notice.

In the midst of a full-throttle campaign against corruption at home, China’s government is trying to show transgressors there is no refuge abroad. Some on the wanted list have lived many years overseas, with the U.S. a favored destination, creating new lives and hiding their old ones.

Mr. Du said he didn’t know of Mr. Chen’s past until reading the news of the Interpol list and recognizing the photo of Mr. He. In a telephone call to his home in Aventura, Fla., Mr. Chen referred questions to his lawyers and hung up. Three lawyers whom public documents say represented Mr. Chen or his businesses didn’t return calls, while a fourth said he doesn’t know if Mr. Chen is Mr. He.

Mr. Chen and Mr. He share the same birth date, Feb. 24, 1959, as listed on Florida voter-registration records and divorce records filed in the U.S. and the Chinese arrest warrant. A lawyer who previously worked for Mr. Chen in Florida, Pamela Anselmo, testified in Florida state court last year that Mr. Chen previously went by the name He Yejun. U.S. immigration records in the citizenship application of Mr. Chen’s wife, Huang Hong, identify him with two names: Wei Chen and He Yejun.

The State and Justice departments declined to comment on whether China has requested the return of Mr. Chen, and federal prosecutors in Florida declined to say whether they’re investigating.

Huang Hong, who is wanted by the authorities in China for allegedly misappropriating funds. China’s anticorruption agency in April named her, alongside He Yejun, among a list of 100, as a wanted Chinese fugitive. The agency said she fled China in 1998 and likely went to the U.S. ENLARGE
Huang Hong, who is wanted by the authorities in China for allegedly misappropriating funds. China’s anticorruption agency in April named her, alongside He Yejun, among a list of 100, as a wanted Chinese fugitive. The agency said she fled China in 1998 and likely went to the U.S. PHOTO: CHINA’S MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SECURITY
The Obama administration has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with China in its hunt for fugitives, and the most-wanted list is causing discomfort for some. U.S. prosecutors in March indicted another official on the wanted list, a former director of a massive government grain-storage facility in central China.

Troubles at the Fashion Mall have been apparent for years to people in and around Plantation, a city of 85,000 people between the Everglades and Fort Lauderdale. The mall gradually emptied after Hurricane Wilma slammed into it in 2005, driving Macy’s Inc. and the other tenants to close there.

The city levied roughly $50,000 in fines for its unkempt exterior and ordered the developer—companies owned jointly by Mr. Chen and Mr. Du’s steel company—to seal its parking structure to discourage the homeless from settling there. Meanwhile, the city leaders waited for the redevelopment.

“They’d come in with plan after plan, but nothing ever came of it,” Plantation Mayor Diane Bendekovic said. “There was one excuse after the other. It was usually that the funding hadn’t come through.”

Mr. Chen’s path to Plantation began before he was Mr. Chen. As He Yejun, he was general manager of Tangshan Haomen Group, a brewer that was headquartered in the northern China industrial city of Tangshan.

He briefly figured in an earlier scandal; he had his photo taken with then-President Bill Clinton and other Chinese visitors to the White House in 1994 in an episode that became part of an inquiry into Chinese money in U.S. political campaigns. Mr. He wasn’t accused of improper donations to the Clintons. The man who introduced Mr. He and the other Chinese officials to the Clintons, American entrepreneur Johnny Chung, born in Taiwan, pleaded guilty in 1998 to funneling illegal contributions to the Clinton re-election campaign as well as other Democratic candidates.

In 1995, Mr. He had a falling out with a girlfriend and then became romantically involved with the brewery’s accountant, Huang Hong, according to an arrest warrant issued in 1999 by provincial prosecutors. The warrant said Mr. He transferred the 1 million yuan from the company to bank accounts of the former girlfriend and her father to keep them from bothering him.

Mr. He and Ms. Huang married in 1998, and she moved to Florida with their daughter. Mr. He later joined them, changing his name to Wei Chen, according to immigration documents. Immigration authorities denied Ms. Huang’s application for citizenship in 2010, ruling that her divorce from Mr. Chen in 2000 and remarriage to an American citizen in 2003 were ruses to gain citizenship. Florida property records show that Mr. Chen and Ms. Huang together bought a condo in Aventura, Fla., last year for $2.2 million. Ms. Huang couldn’t be reached for comment.

After working as a waiter in a restaurant, Mr. Chen turned to real estate, according to his court testimony. He scouted the rundown Fashion Mall and in 2004 bought the 830,000 square foot mall for $37 million, state property records show. The money came from Tangshan Ganglu Iron & Steel Co., Mr. Du’s company, according to his attorney.

Mr. Du was looking to invest in a sizable U.S. real-estate project to take advantage of an immigrant-investor program and put his teenage son and daughter into an American high school, according to his court testimony. A friend introduced him to Mr. Chen, who also hailed from Tangshan.

The deal that resulted gave Mr. Du, through his company, Ganglu, a majority stake in a partnership with Mr. Chen to redevelop the mall, Mr. Du said during the same court hearing. Over several years, Mr. Chen scooped up adjacent land parcels through their partnership, a total of 32 acres. Mr. Du, however, testified in court that Mr. Chen invested none of his own money in the partnership, always using Ganglu’s money and taking out loans to assemble the 32-acre project.

By last year, Mr. Du still hadn’t received his U.S. passport and, according to his court testimony, was growing suspicious about the mall’s lack of progress despite multiple recapitalizations that totaled at least $160 million. He confronted Mr. Chen at his home in Aventura but got conflicting answers about the partnership’s finances.

He hired auditors and then tried to fire Mr. Chen, who produced a document that said he couldn’t be removed without his consent and that was signed by Mr. Du. October’s trial in Florida state court the 17th Circuit Court in Broward County centered on that document, which Mr. Du said was forged.

“This is my company,” Mr. Du testified. “It’s impossible (that) I would authorize him to (have) this kind of power.”

Under questioning, Mr. Chen said he paid himself a $400,000 salary in 2013 from the partnership. Among his assets were a condominium in Aventura worth $2 million, plus the Bentley, and a yacht slip at the Aventura Marina. Mr. Chen told the court in October that he sometimes used a 70-foot yacht named Nesya though he says he didn’t own it.

The court ruled in October that it wasn’t Mr. Du’s signature on the document granting Mr. Chen authority over the project, but didn’t determine whose signature it was. Within days, Mr. Chen put Fashion Mall into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires liquidation.

In March, private-equity firm Encore Capital Management acquired the Fashion Mall at a bankruptcy auction for $37.7 million to redevelop the site into apartments, offices and an open-air shopping center.

A U.S. bankruptcy trustee is determining which of the unsecured claims against the property merit repayment and whether to sue to recoup funds from elsewhere. Mr. Du’s company has registered a claim of $48.7 million; Mr. Chen has filed an individual claim of $454,400.