|What is growing almost as fast as the Chinese economy? Its elderly population… And the headache caused by financing the [non-existing] social security of 150 million people only starts for the government: in 2050, China will count almost twive as many people age 50 than below age 20.|
|In the meantime, entrepreneurs are trying to capitalize on this opportunity by selling cell phones with huge number pads and Internet sites with big characters to a niche whose annual income is estimated at around USD 50 billion (and bound to be multiplied by 10 until 2050) – one of the pioneers is Jialantu, a company based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which has developed a mobile phone tailor-made for seniors.|
|Then there are the online shops catering for the elderly (www.homeold.cn). Even the leading search engine (Baidu) is offering a special website for senior citizens, featuring larger font sizes and allowing users to navigate mainly by clicking rather than typing.|
For those who thought that WIMAX was dead in China, you can think again! China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced several WIMAX trial networks in August. This can come as a surprise since MIIT had outlawed WIMAX in 2008 on the grounds that it interfered with the uptake of the domestic 3G standard TD-SCDMA.
Part of the explanation may lie in the fact that the Chinese WAPI (Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) standard was given the green light to reapply for international recognition by the ISO – it had been rejected before on two counts. Part may also come from the fact that ISO has been encouraging China and the IEEE to work together to make WAPI compliant with existing international standards for local area networks.
Now that the horse-trading is finished, let’s see what the market will choose, provided there is no further “interference” in the process.
Chinese cities march on towards eco-friendliness!
After the much-touted project of Dongtan (now rumored to be a fiasco), it is now the turn of Baoding – a 1 million city, 140 kilometers south of Beijing – to make the news. The city is now the fastest-growing hub of solar, wind, and biomass energy-equipment makers in China. It counts more than 200 renewable energy companies and these eco-firms are soon to weigh as much as more traditional industries. The marketing-savvy mayor even came up with the slogan “Positive carbon city” as the carbon saved annually worldwide through the use of equipment made in Baoding outweighs the city’s own emissions.
The good news is that the eco-friendly trend seems to be growing. Chinese factories produce a third of the world’s solar cells and China will soon lead the world in wind turbines. Added to the desire to become the leader in electric cars and China may well be on track to achieve its target to have a proportion of renewables in the country’s energy mix of 20% by 2020, akin to Europe.
Ma Jun – one of the leading (and very charismatic) environmentalist in China – continues his crusade for a greener China. He tracks the pollution generated across the country via a website monitoring all discharges.
Very conscious that the current fine system is simply not working he has opted for a “name and shame” strategy that seems to bear fruits. Public opinion and multinationals buyers can indeed act as much more powerful incentives to control the behaviour of Chinese firms.
In addition to the bottom-up approach – citizen, associations and even firms can submit information about pollution – Ma Jun also uses a top-down approach by publishing a ranking of cities, thus putting pressure on local governments to improve their standing.