After restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014, the Obama Administration has been striving to cultivate normalization between the two countries.  The president visited the island nation in March – the first sitting U.S. President to do so in 88 years.  A year earlier, a high-level U.S. delegation also visited to discuss telecommunication and Internet infrastructure and equipment, with hopes of playing a major role and profitable contracts in the Cuban wireless market.  

Gallant efforts, but no cigars!  The Chinese are already a few steps ahead. 

Cuba turned to China for its Internet connectivity and equipment, at least in the short foreseeable future.  U.S. telecommunications companies also may have been given the cold shoulder because the U.S. had historically tried to undermine the Castro regime in that area.  China’s President Xi Jinping visited in July 2014 and signed 29 bilateral agreements in areas of finance, agriculture, industry, telecommunications, oil and energy.  

Besides, China and Cuba have much in common: both are communist countries; both are at a critical point in terms of reform and development.  The two countries have witnessed rapid growth of economic and trade ties in recent years.  In fact, Cuba had increasingly courted Chinese trade and investments to shore up its fragile economy.  China has been Cuba’s second-largest trading partner since the 1990s.  (The number one spot belongs to Venezuela.)

By Zhang Chunyan, China Daily , August 18

Depreciation of China's currency offers opportunities for economies in Europe

Last week's depreciation of the yuan stoked fears that European exports to China could be hit.  As the euro and the pound strengthened, concerns started to grow that companies selling goods to the second-biggest economy in the world would see their trading margins shrink.

By Pang Zhongying. China US Focus, April 1 

It is quite unexpected that so many developed Western nations have joined other Asian nations in an enthusiastic response to China’s Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, an initiative that calls for the establishment of a multilateral financial institution to assist in infrastructure construction across Asia.  The China-threat-theory-addicted Western media once again became excited, alleging that the development “signals the end of the American century and the inception of an Asian century” and that “China is enjoying its own Bretton Woods time.”

 By Chang Wang and Joe Pearman, contributors

Editor’s note: Most business articles written these days that focus on China concentrate on doing business in China; they discuss the country’s regulatory scheme, operational protocols, or business etiquette.  This conversation instead focuses on doing business with China and the Chinese people, describing some of the ins and outs of interacting with Chinese individuals or firms in the contexts of cross-border communications and negotiations.  Through this conversation, the authors hope to help the business community become aware of the miscommunication that stems from the “parallel universes” the American and the Chinese inhabit, to expose the hidden rationales underscoring the official narratives of Chinese history, and to reveal cultural and linguistic misunderstandings that frequently occur during the process of finding “common ground.” 

For the purpose of this conversation, “China” and “Chinese” are narrowly used: “China” refers to mainland China, not including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan; and “Chinese” refers to the Han ethnic people who live in mainland China.

Chang Wang, a native of China, is the chief research and academic officer at Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.  Joe Pearman, a native Minnesotan, is an undergraduate student majoring in business at the University of Minnesota. 

By Elaine Dunn

After a strong performance in 2013, sales of new homes in China fell 11 percent in May and 23 percent in the first six months of 2014 from a year ago, indicating a sustained downturn in the housing market.  The average new home prices in 70 cities fell 0.15 percent month-on-month in May.

A survey by a real estate firm showed sales of new homes in 40 big cities fell to 89.6 million square meters in the first half of this year, compared to 116.3 million square meters in the same period last year.

By Elaine Dunn

Bitcoins have taken a beating ever since the late-February bankruptcy filing of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange.  From a peak value of $1,145.25 in December 2013, it’s fallen approximately 60 percent to $350 early-April, but has rebounded to $505 Easter weekend.  

At a trading rate of 10,000 bitcoins per hour, China bitcoin trading far exceeds any other country.  However, with renewed clampdown on the virtual currency from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), Chinese bitcoin exchanges are once again bracing themselves for another blow to their survival.

Compared with the current decree, PBOC’s December 2013 warning for financial institutions to stop dealing in bitcoins is lame.  On March 27, PBOC was said to have notified banks and payment companies to close bitcoin trading accounts by April 15.  This new directive prohibits clearing, account opening and other services for bitcoin exchanges.  As a result, bitcoin prices dropped more than 10 percent that day.

Ancient Chinese bronzes are no longer alien to Western eyes. Fine Chinese bronzes and ceramics, often used in ceremonial and ancestor-worship rituals, command extraordinary prices these days. Auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams have raked in record-breaking prices for Chinese bronzes recently. Bloomberg reported a 3,000-year-old bronze ritual food vessel sold for US$12 million in London in October 2013. In Hong Kong, also in October 2013, a gilt-bronze seated Buddha sold for US$30.5 million at Sotheby’s. In March 2013, Christie’s collected US$1.26 million for a 5.5-inch bronze vessel from the Shang Dynasty and a circa 1700 8-inch pear-shaped vase with blue underglaze for US$3.82 million.

Lee, Li and Long, China’s Bitcoin players

By Elaine Dunn

One evening in March 2013, in an unassuming establishment called Cheku Café (车库咖啡厅) in Beijing’s tech district, young university and tech types gathered in anticipation to discuss the night’s event: that an American student named Jake Smith asked

CAAM Horizweb2

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