Author Archives: Nbiz

Ivanka Trump In Africa For Women’s Economic Summit

Ivanka Trump arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Sunday for a summit on African women’s economic inclusion and empowerment.

In addition to attending the summit, the daughter of the U.S. president, who is also an advisor to her father, will meet with female workers in the coffee industry, and tour a female-run textile facility.

President Donald Trump signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum in February, establishing the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. W-GDP says it hopes to “reach 50 million women by 2025, through the work of the the United States Government and its partners.”

It was not immediately clear if the controversy that surrounds the U.S. president will follow his daughter to Africa. The president has not been kind in his remarks about Africa and its migrants.

“I don’t think people will have a good feeling” said Ethiopian journalist Sisay Woubshet, about the president’s daughter visit to the Continent.

Marakle Tesfaye, an activist, said, however, “I think she’s coming genuinely to empower women and it’s good that she’s coming because she will push forward our agenda.”

Trump is also scheduled to an make an appearance at a World Bank policy summit.

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Why Cryptocurrency Is Gaining in Philippines Despite 2018 Bitcoin Crash

Cryptocurrency exchanges are growing in the Philippines, despite a downturn last year in the value of the virtual currencies, due to growing popular demand and lenience among regulators.

Authorities in the developing Southeast Asian country have permitted at least 29 exchanges of cryptocurrency following three that the central bank said it approved this week, according to domestic media reports. 

That count, which is high for Asia, follows a total of 10 exchanges permitted by the central bank. The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in the archipelago’s far north has issued 19 additional permits, the zone’s website said in October. 

These exchanges feed into the development of a fast-growing financial technology, or fintech, sector in the Philippines, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Metro Manila.

“Fintech appears to be very advanced in the Philippines,” he said. Consumers, he said, “eventually look at the mobility of having it in mobile wallets, [which] gives them flexibility to use money.”

Uses for cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, most notably its standard bearer Bitcoin, became an investment vehicle in much of the world about a decade ago. But a 70% drop in Bitcoin prices last year weakened enthusiasm for crypto overall. 

​Filipinos generally pick more traditional investments such as equities, Ravelas said, but young companies are eyeing cryptocurrency to raise capital, a process called initial coin offerings. Seven in 10 Filipinos have no bank account, he added, so virtual currency gives those consumers a new option for making payments.

That population would be able to jump on a currency source that’s open to anyone and transparent because of its online transaction ledger called the blockchain.

Government support

The central bank governor may see the cryptocurrency trade as part of his bigger plan to advance the country’s electronic payment systems, analysts say.

Cryptocurrency “probably goes toward those efforts at facilitating electronic payments. I think that’s the key point,” said Christian de Guzman, vice president and senior credit officer with Moody’s Sovereign Risk Group in Singapore.

The 2016 National Payment Systems Act, among others, “bolsters the central bank’s capacity to foster the efficiency of payment systems as pipelines of funds in the financial market,” the authority’s governor Benjamin Diokno said in a speech last month.

The central bank and Securities and Exchange Commission are “working towards regulating cryptocurrencies to protect the Filipino people,” domestic Bitcoin and blockchain news website Bitpinas said in November. “This is a positive step towards adoption as this move will give users security and confidence in dealing with it.”

Said de Guzman: “A certain segment of the population is certainly very technically sophisticated.” 

First mover advantage?

The Philippines, though later than much of East Asia in picking up cryptocurrency, would eventually stand out if regulators embrace rather than restrict it.

China and South Korea have placed curbs on certain types of crypto trade. Both banned initial coin offerings in 2017, and China ordered the closure of cryptocurrency exchanges as part of that move. South Korea has at least 21 exchanges.

​Japan is widely seen as Asia’s most liberal place for cryptocurrency. That country, which has let 17 exchanges fully register, overtook China in 2017 as the biggest Bitcoin market in the world with 58 percent of the global volume. Japan declared Bitcoin legal tender in 2017.

The Philippines in its current groove should take a “first mover advantage,” said Kenneth Ameduri, financial analyst and CEO of the crypto-specialized news website Crush the Street in the United States.

“I think the Philippines understand that it’s going to be a very big deal to be involved with cryptocurrency, because it’s going to happen no matter what, and if they’re the ones to treat this capital best, the capital is going to flow there and the other jurisdictions are just going to completely miss out,” Ameduri said.

The Philippines might eventually look harder at the role of cryptocurrency in falsifying tax payments and paying for illegal drugs, de Guzman said. Taxation and drugs are already sticky issues without crypto.

Exchanges contacted for this report declined comment.

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Malaysia Pulls About-Face Ahead of China’s Belt and Road Forum

In a twist, China has announced that it has persuaded Malaysia to resume a canceled rail project worth $10.7 billion. The sudden about-face by Kuala Lumpur, which had earlier rejected the Chinese-funded project, will be a big boost for China ahead of a Belt and Road Forum in Beijing later this month, say analysts.

China is hosting its second annual Belt and Road Forum from April 25 to 27 in Beijing. The event is likely to include the heads of state and governments of 40 different countries and officials from 60 others as Beijing tries to win more support for the trillion-dollar infrastructure and investment plan known as the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI.

In recent months, the initiative has faced tough challenges as Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Malaysia canceled or reduced the size of previously negotiated deals. Although Malaysia is back on board, it has forced China to accept a 30 percent reduction in the price of the project.

The reworked deal with Malaysia highlights how China is trying to face up to widespread criticism about the financing costs of its projects and concerns expressed by experts and government leaders around the world that the projects are nothing but diplomacy debt traps.

“I think China is trying to make changes. But it is trying to do too much too quickly and with too much skepticism facing it. No wonder it’s having a torrid time,” said Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.

Analysts said it is likely that the forum will be mostly about optics, but some real deals could be finalized. Given the heavy criticism about the projects, there will be high expectations from participants, which Beijing has said will include 40 heads of states and governments.  

“They will presumably want something more than mere protocol. Even the promise of deals is better than none at all,” Brown said.

Analysts add that, despite the criticism of the plan, which has been loud at times, the BRI has been able to attract dozens of foreign governments and has been backed by institutions like the World Bank because it is offering to build much-needed infrastructure and help foot the cost.

“The reason so many countries are interested in BRI is because China is offering something no one else is and there is genuine demand for what BRI represents,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.

Still, it has not been easy for Chinese leaders to wade through the skepticism and sometimes strong opposition to the program from the United States’ and China’s neighbor, India. Critics see BRI as China’s attempt to impose financial imperialism on economically weak but strategically located countries. Many have also raised questions because of the lack of transparency surrounding the projects.

Recently however, there have been signs China is modifying the program to suit the needs of its customers, particularly those like Malaysia and Italy, which are not as desperately in need of Beijing’s financial largesse and deep pockets. Italy recently joined the BRI bandwagon after visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping provided the kind of assurances Rome sought.

“Chinese regulators realize they need to be pragmatic if these projects are to be successful, especially where there is local pushback on political and societal levels,” said Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based consultancy firm Trivium China.

There are still serious questions about the kind of changes that Beijing is ready to make. Some analysts believe that China might offer better financial terms and stop its practice of flooding foreign projects with Chinese workers; however, they say Beijing is unlikely to make changes in crucial areas like the transparency of deals and Chinese companies involved in overseas projects.

“Beijing could make the terms of deals public, which would be a major signal of change, but no indications of that happening soon,” said Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Greater transparency would constrain Beijing’s ability to funnel cash through BRI projects to its friends in high places,” he said.

There have been problems even in places where Chinese projects have proven to be successful in terms of implementation. For instance, Chinese companies have ensured the commercial success of the Greek port city of Piraeus. “But its political impact is mixed. Greeks might welcome Chinese investment, but they don’t want China’s environmental or labor practices,” Hillman said.

The U.S. recently described BRI as a “vanity project” and announced it would not send a high-level delegation to the forum. Analysts are wondering if the U.S. will stay away from the meeting altogether.

“The U.S. has made its position clear. It opposes the BRI. Attendance under the current circumstances with the trade war unresolved would be odd,” Brown said.

Haenle said he believes the U.S. should engage with the BRI along with its friends and partners.

“The U.S. is right to point out the flaws in the Belt and Road Initiative, but if it wishes to see them corrected, it must also put forward its own alternatives and refrain from knee-jerk reactions,” he said.

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No Breakthrough Expected in EU-China Summit

Top EU leaders meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang this week at a summit in Brussels, but their hopes of winning solid commitments on trade look set for disappointment.

Brussels is trying to beef up its approach to the Asian giant as it shows little willingness to listen to longstanding complaints about industrial subsidies and access to its markets, and as fears grow about growing Chinese involvement in European infrastructure.

But the half-day summit on Tuesday is on course to fizzle out with little to show in terms of agreements, with European sources saying it looks highly unlikely a final joint statement will be agreed.

EU officials say China is unwilling to give binding commitments on their key demands, including the inclusion of industrial subsidies as part of World Trade Organization reform, and they are reluctant to agree the kind of anodyne declaration of good intentions pushed out after last year’s summit in Beijing.

The European Commission last month issued a 10-point plan proposing a more assertive relationship with Beijing, labelling China a “systemic rival” — a move welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron as a belated awakening.

But while the EU’s 15 trillion euro market gives it significant economic clout, it struggles to maintain unity among its 28 members on issues of foreign policy, allowing China to pursue one-on-one deals with individual countries.

“When economic policy intersects with foreign policy and security, the EU lacks the will and capacity to act strategically,” Philippe Legrain, visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute, wrote in an analysis for Project Syndicate magazine.

“Apart from France and the UK, which is leaving the EU, member governments lack a geopolitical mindset.”

This most striking recent example came last month when Italy became the first G7 nation to sign up to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), a massive network of transport and trade links stretching from Asia to Europe.

Concerns have been raised about the way the BRI saddles countries with Chinese debt and leaves key infrastructure nodes owned by a potential strategic rival, though Beijing insists the initiative is a “win-win” arrangement.

Former Greek finance minister and scourge of the EU, Yanis Varoufakis, said Europe only had itself to blame if Mediterranean countries turned to China.

“We created a vacuum and the Chinese are filling it. The Chinese are coming in because there is a dearth of investment in this continent… We are failing to generate investment that would give our business the opportunity to compete with them,” he said in Brussels last week.

‘The summit has already taken place’

Macron’s own China initiative last week — hosting President Xi Jinping for a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — may also have been a double-edged sword for the EU.

The meeting in Paris gave the EU — through its two most powerful members — the chance to press its concerns directly with the paramount Chinese leader.

But analysts say it also seriously undercut this week’s summit in Brussels, where Li will hold talks not with heads of government but with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk.

“The China summit has already taken place. It is not Europe for China without France and Germany in the same room,” Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the ECIPE Brussels think tank, told AFP.

“Xi has already spoken. Xi has already shaken hands with his counterparts so by default the summit has already taken place. In a sense, they only bring out Li for Europe or when something bad is going to happen and somebody needs to take the blame.”

At the same time, Lee-Makiyama warned, Europe risks being left playing catch-up if ongoing U.S.-China trade talks result in a deal between the world’s two biggest economies.

“China is going to probably offer us some watered down version of what they gave to the Americans, but that also means that we have to give something,” he said.

But while Tuesday’s meeting may not yield a breakthrough in the EU’s complex relationship with China, European officials insist it still has value in keeping up the pressure.

“There is broad agreement within the EU that it is important to communicate to China that we are at a point where we want to see… concrete steps forward on their willingness to work with us at the WTO,” an EU diplomat told AFP.

“What is important is that we give a signal to China that the EU is partner but also a competitor and requires Beijing to make some steps.”

 

 

 

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Hiring Rebounds as US Employers Add a Solid 196,000 Jobs

in the United States rebounded in March as U.S. employers added a solid 196,000 jobs, up sharply from February’s scant gain and evidence that many businesses still want to hire despite signs that the economy is slowing.

The unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent, near the lowest level in almost 50 years, the Labor Department reported Friday. Wage growth slowed a bit in March, with average hourly pay increasing 3.2 percent from a year earlier. That was down from February’s year-over-year gain of 3.4 percent, which was the best in a decade.

The employment figures reported Friday by the government suggest that February’s anemic job growth — revised to 33,000, from an initial 20,000 — was merely a temporary blip and that businesses are confident the economy remains on a firm footing. Even with the current expansion nearly 10 years old, the U.S. economy is demonstrating its resilience.

At the same time, the economy is facing several challenges, from cautious consumers to slower growth in business investment to a U.S.-China trade war that is contributing to a weakening global economy.

Stock futures rallied after Friday’s jobs data was released at 8:30 a.m., and bond prices rose as well, with yields slipping.

So far this year, U.S. job gains have averaged 180,000 a month, easily enough to lower the unemployment rate over time, though down from a 223,000 monthly average last year.

Last month, job growth was strongest in the service sector. Health care added 47,000 jobs, restaurants and bars 27,000 and professional and business services, which includes such high-paying fields as engineering and accounting, 37,000.

Manufacturers cut 6,000 jobs, marking their first decline in a year and a half. The weakness stemmed from a sharp drop in employment at automakers, likely reflecting layoffs by General Motors. Construction firms added 16,000.

The overall economy is sending mixed signals. Most indicators suggest slower growth this year compared with 2018. That would mean hiring might also weaken from last year’s strong pace.

Consumers have shown caution so far this year. Retail sales fell in February, and a broader measure of consumer spending slipped in January, potentially reflecting a waning effect of the Trump administration’s tax cuts. Businesses have also reined in their spending on industrial machinery and other equipment and on factories and other buildings.

And in Europe and Asia, weaker economies have reduced demand for U.S. exports. Europe is on the brink of recession, with its factories shrinking in March at the fastest pace in six years, according to a private survey.

The U.S. trade war with China has weighed on the Chinese economy, which has hurt Southeast Asian nations that ship electronic components and other goods that are assembled into consumer products in China’s factories.

Economists now forecast that the U.S. economy will expand roughly 2 percent to 2.5 percent this year, down from 2.9 percent last year.

Some positive signs for the economy have emerged in recent weeks: Sales of both new and existing homes rose in February after declining last year. More Americans are applying for mortgages now that rates have fallen.

And some of the weakness in spending earlier this year likely reflected delays in issuing tax refunds because of the government shutdown. Refunds largely caught up with their pace in previous years in March, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said, suggesting that spending may as well.

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Pompeo Cautions NATO Allies: China’s Outreach Has ‘National Security Component’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told visiting NATO foreign ministers Thursday that the 29 country alliance must alter its approach to developing threats, singling out Russian aggression and China’s “strategic competition.” Pompeo cautioned his NATO allies that there is a risk the U.S. will not be able to share information in the same way it could if there were not Chinese network supplier systems operating inside of their networks. VOA’s diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

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Despite Further Talks, No US-China Deal Yet   

The U.S. president and the vice premier of China confirmed on Thursday that while significant progress has been made, there is no new trade agreement yet between the world’s two largest economies. 

“We’re certainly getting a lot closer,” Trump said sitting at his desk in the Oval Office with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He alongside him.

Announcement of a deal could come in “the next four weeks, maybe less, maybe more” and at that time, something “monumental could be announced,” he said, adding, “We are rounding the turn. We’ve made a lot of progress.” 

Liu, speaking in English, praised the direct guidance of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, adding: “Hopefully, we’ll get a good result.”  

Trump said if a deal can be reached, then he will hold a summit with Xi.

“If we have a deal, there will be a summit,” he said. “I look forward to seeing President Xi. It’ll be here.” 

Intellectual property protection, as well as certain tariffs remain under discussion, Trump confirmed.  

“Some of the toughest things have been agreed to,” he added. 

Asked to make a comment by the president about the status of the negotiations, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was more cautious, replying, “We’ve made a lot of headway. We’re working very hard,” but “there are still some major, major issues left.” 

Responding to questions from reporters, Trump said, “We’ve never done a deal like this with China,” predicting the agreement could be “the granddaddy of them all” and “a tremendous thing for the world.”

He also described it as potentially “epic” and “historic.” 

The two countries had originally hoped to reach an agreement by March 1, but negotiations have extended well beyond that date.

“The relationship with China is very strong, probably the strongest it’s ever been,” Trump declared. 

Liu had met Wednesday in Washington with Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

For months, the economic superpowers have engaged in a reciprocal tariff war, with both countries imposing levies on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s exports, which could be eased or ended with a deal. 

Officials familiar with their negotiations say an agreement could give Beijing until 2025 to meet its commitment on U.S. commodity purchases and allow U.S. companies to wholly own businesses in China.

“Nobody thought these talks would be easy, but as they enter these final stages, we’re encouraged by the continued progress towards detailed text on both structural and enforcement issues,” said Linda Dempsey, National Association of Manufacturers vice president of International Economic Affairs, following Thursday’s Trump-Liu meeting.

“Manufacturers in the United States have long been harmed by China’s unfair trade practices. That is why we believe negotiations must result in an innovative, enforceable bilateral trade agreement that levels the playing field for manufacturers in the United States,” Dempsey added.

Trump’s meeting with Liu came just days after a Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, was arrested trying to enter the U.S. president’s Atlantic oceanfront retreat in Florida, and detained after she entered the compound claiming she was there for what turned out to be a non-existent event.

She was charged with illegal entering and lying to U.S. agents. The U.S. Secret Service, which protects Trump and his family, said she was carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive, thumb drive containing computer malware and two Chinese passports.

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New North American Trade Deal Faces Hurdles in US Congress

U.S. lawmakers of both parties say hurdles remain for approving a new trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico, rejecting President Donald Trump’s call for prompt votes on a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

Last year, the administration made good on one of Trump’s main campaign promises – negotiating a replacement for NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, with a new trade accord, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California made headlines Tuesday demanding changes to the pact to strengthen enforcement provisions and announcing the chamber will not vote on the accord until Mexico approves and implements tougher labor standards.

“No enforcement, no treaty,” Pelosi said at a Politico event, adding, “It’s a big issue, how workers are treated in Mexico.”

Senate Democrats echoed the speaker.

“There’s still work to do [on the USMCA]“ Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen told VOA. “I agree with Speaker Pelosi that Mexico needs to fully enact the labor rights reform measures. There are also a number of issues on the environmental front, and we need to make sure we have an effective enforcement mechanism.”

“We’re waiting to see whether or not the proposal will have a lot more fortified enforcement provisions, that’s my top concern,” Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said. “That’s always been a major concern of trade agreements generally. That’s why I have always been an aggressive skeptic, and I remain so.”

Democrats are not alone in expressing reservations. Forty-six House Republicans wrote a letter to the White House opposing language in the USMCA proposed by Canada to protect the rights of LGBT sexual minorities.

“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” conservative Freedom Caucus members said in the letter.

Devil in the details

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he, like all lawmakers, needs time to assess the USMCA’s impact on economic sectors in his state.

“Trade deals are generally difficult to get votes on because, the bigger they are, the likelier there are individual industries affected by some detail of the deal – Florida included, with our vegetable growers [who complete with Mexico],” Rubio said.

To go into effect, the USMCA would have to be approved by legislatures in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Some on Capitol Hill railed against any delay.

“It would be a killer, a big mistake” the Senate’s number two Republican, John Thune of agriculture-rich South Dakota, told VOA. “That’s a very carefully negotiated agreement we got signed, sealed and delivered. Now it’s just a function of signing off on it. And we just need to get it done.”

Thune added, “Any attempt to go back and rewrite it is a non-starter.”

Thune’s impatience matches that of the White House, which is pressing Congress to act on the USMCA as soon as next month to get the vote out of the way before the 2020 U.S. election cycle fully heats up, at which point trade votes could be even more dicey.

Administration officials have sought to reassure wavering lawmakers that their concerns can be addressed in side agreements with Canada and Mexico, rather than reopening negotiations on the pact itself.

Pelosi rejected such assurances.

“We’re saying that enforcement has to be in the treaty,” the House speaker said. “[I]f you don’t have enforcement, you ain’t got nothing.”

Enforcement is key

American business and labor groups are weighing in, as well.

“This agreement right now, for it to be voted on, would be premature,” Richard Trumka, president of America’s largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, told Bloomberg TV. “The Mexican government has to change their [labor] laws, then they have to start effectively enforcing them, and then they have to demonstrate that they have the resources necessary to enforce those laws, because if you can’t enforce a trade agreement, it’s useless.”

The U.S. Farm Bureau, by contrast, urged swift implementation of the USMCA.

“Farmers know a good deal when we see one,” Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall wrote in a statement. “Without USMCA, our most critical markets hang in the balance. Both Canada and Mexico have already signed another deal that does not include the United States.”

The USMCA would replace NAFTA, a pact implemented under the Clinton administration in the 1990s. NAFTA has been credited with vastly expanding trade in North America, but also blamed for accelerating the pace of manufacturing job losses in the United States.

Trump repeatedly blasted NAFTA as a disastrous trade deal for America during his successful 2016 campaign — a view Pelosi and other Democrats have echoed.

“I, myself, voted for NAFTA the first time,” the speaker said at the Politico forum. “I do think I was burned by it. I don’t think it lived up [to its promises].”

 

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China Tech Workers Protest Long Work Hours in Online Campaign

Joyce Huang contributed to this report.

BEIJING – An online campaign protesting the long hours Chinese high-tech employees work has gone viral on the Internet in China. At the same time, it is putting an uncomfortable light on the labor practices of China’s biggest high-tech firms.

The campaign known as 996.icu may have been small when it started on Microsoft’s code sharing website Github.com, but now, it is the second highest bookmarked project on the open source collaborative site. It has also spread quickly on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, where it is a hotly discussed topic. One posting alone had more than half a million views.

Chinese programmers came up with the ironic name 996.icu to draw attention to a work schedule reality and problem. The name is a pithy way of saying if you work the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six-day-a-week work schedule, you’ll end up in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

And while the campaign takes aim at some of China’s biggest tech firms and includes a blacklist that details labor practices, organizers have been careful in their approach to addressing the problem.

“This is not a political movement,” the campaign said, in a bullet point outline of its principles and purposes. “We firmly uphold the labor law and require employers to respect the legitimate rights and interests of their employees.”

Beyond guidelines

China’s labor law states that employers can request employees to work overtime for an hour or even three hours a day, but no more than 36 hours of overtime in total over a month’s period.

Clearly, 72 hours a week, goes far beyond that guideline. Labor activists and lawyers, note however, that companies have many ways of getting around the law.

 

According to 996.icu, the 72-hour work week schedule has long been practiced in “secret,” but recently more companies have been openly discussing the arrangement.

The campaign notes that in March, e-commerce company J.D. Com said it had begun adopting 996 or 995 work schedules for some departments. Other companies made similar pledges at the beginning of the year.

 

Commenting on its 996 work schedule, J.D. Com said that it was not a mandatory policy, but that all of its employees should be fully committed (to their work).

Tougher times

Tech companies have always pushed their employees very hard and that has been a problem for many years, said Geoffrey Crothall, of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin.

What’s interesting about the anti-996 pushback is that wages in the tech sector were always much higher than anywhere else, he said.

“But now people are being laid off, people are not getting the same kind of bonuses, they are not getting the same pay increases that they are used to and so people are saying I am not getting paid as much, why should I work as hard,” Crothall said.

How big the movement’s impact will be remains to be seen. Crothall said it is still too early to say whether the campaign will be a game changer or short-term phenomenon.

Game changer?

The key goal of the anti-996 campaign is to get employers to buy into the movement by attaching an Anti-996 license to software to show their support for labor standards. A push that reportedly is already gaining some traction.

Going forward, getting the campaign to move from online to offline will be a big challenge.

 

It is also unclear how long the debate online will be allowed to continue in China’s tightly controlled cyberspace. Already, internet users have reported that some Chinese-made browsers are blocking access to the 996.icu page on Github.

 

A post on Zhihu.com, a Chinese question and answer website that asked what the electronics chain Suning’s view was on the debate was shut down. Earlier posts remain, but a message at the top of the discussion page reads: “this question has been closed for infringing on company rights.”

Chinese state media seemed to voice support for the concerns of young high-tech workers and long work hours.

An editorial in the state-run China Youth Daily newspaper portrayed young tech workers as being besieged by the 996-work week. The piece argued that it was time for labor regulators to get more actively involved. It also noted that the 996-work week was not just a problem facing high-tech employees, but something workers in other sectors face as well.

 

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British PM Scrambles to Avoid Chaotic Brexit Finale

Britain’s government redoubled its efforts Thursday to win over the main opposition party in a last-gasp bid to avoid a chaotic exit from the European Union next week.

The latest round of talks came after lawmakers tried to safeguard against a doomsday ending to the 46-year partnership by fast-tracking a bill Wednesday night seeking to delay Brexit.

May is racing against the clock in a desperate search for votes that could push her ill-loved divorce deal with the other 27 EU leaders through parliament on the fourth attempt.

May’s spokesman said there would be “intensive discussions over the course of today”, noting the “urgency” of the situation.

Britain’s latest deadline is April 12 and resistance to May’s plan remains passionately strong.

But increasingly weary EU leaders — tired of Britain’s political drama and eager to focus on Europe’s own problems — want to see either a done deal or a new way forward from May before they all meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

Her European counterparts will decide whether to grant May’s request to push back Brexit until May 22 — the day before nations begin electing a new European Parliament.

One alternative is to force her to accept a much longer extension that could give Britain time to rethink Brexit and possibly reverse its decision to leave.

The other is to let Britain go without a deal on April 12 in the hope that the economic disruption is short-lived and worth the price of eliminating long-term Brexit uncertainties.

‘Sense of resignation’

May dramatically ended her courtship of her own party’s holdouts and resistant Northern Irish allies by turning to the main opposition Labour Party this week.

The premier met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday for a reported 100 minutes of talks both sides described as “cordial” but inconclusive.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday welcomed the cross-party effort to resolved the deadlock.

“It’s time for decisions,” he tweeted.

But May’s decision to hear out Corbyn’s demands for a closer post-Brexit alliance with the bloc that includes membership in its customs union has enraged Britain’s right-wing and seen two junior ministers resign.

One senior minister said May had no other choice.

“It’s very simple — there’s nowhere else to go,” the unnamed cabinet minister told the news website Politico.

“There’s a sense of resignation about her that ‘we get this through and I take the flak’.”

Pro-European members of May’s team also insisted that it was time to compromise on long-standing political beliefs for the benefit of safe resolution of Britain’s biggest crisis in decades.

“Both parties have to give something up,” finance minister Philip Hammond told ITV.

“There is going to be pain on both sides.”

Competing visions

May and Corbyn have competing visions of Britain’s place in Europe and neither has shown much willingness to compromise in the past.

Corbyn said late Wednesday that he did not see “as much change as I expected” from May.

The Times newspaper quoted an unnamed government source as saying that May’s office thought it more likely than not that the negotiations would fail.

May has resisted the customs union idea because it bars Britain from striking its own independent trade agreements with nations such as China and the United States.

And Corbyn is under pressure from Labour’s pro-EU wing to push for a second referendum that would pit May’s final deal against the option of staying in the bloc.

Corbyn has shied away from backing another vote due in part to his own sceptical view of Brussels.

The Labour-backing Mirror newspaper said May and Corbyn would let their teams negotiate Thursday before deciding on whether to meet again face to face Friday.

 

 

 

 

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