Category: Business - Original Written by George E. Curry
BEIJING (NNPA) – When Julia Wilson visited China for the first time in 2002, no one had to tell the former Los Angeles television reporter why China was known as “the Kingdom of Bikes.”
Wilson, who is CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Global Communications, said: “It was so different, especially with the bicycles. Imagine rush hour traffic – with bicycles. All of the bicycles would stop at the traffic light. It was a thing to behold. The cars were to the side because there were not many cars. Today, it’s the reverse and the cars have replaced the bikes.”
China is the world’s largest market for automobiles, making it “the Kingdom of Bikes” and “the Kingdom of Cars.” General Motors, despite entering the market after Volkswagen, is the best-selling foreign automaker.
Bicycles coexisting with automobiles, especially in urban areas, is just one aspect of life in China.
Lynne Coleman, who spent nine years as an administrator at international schools that cater to American expatriates in Beijing and Shanghai, gets excited when she reflects on her time in China.
“It is a place where I can dine on delicate fusion cuisine prepared by world-class French and American chefs, or choose a live snake for dinner and watch it killed, bloodied and cooked in front of me,” she said.
Her husband, Craig Trygstad, prefers reflecting on China’s rich history rather than its rich – and sometimes exotic – food.
“What I enjoyed most was getting to know the people,” said the former teacher. “And since I love history, it was great to be able to walk through so many of the sites I have read about –the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Soldiers, the harbor in Shanghai where Chiang Kai-shek’s army escaped to Taiwan as Mao’s forces chased them down.”
Carl Murphy, a 31-year-old Black businessman from Atlanta, speaks fluent Mandarin, is co-owner of a Shanghai nightclub, and operates a business with a close friend from Atlanta that assists U.S. entrepreneurs looking to do business in China.
“In major cities, you can eat foreign food every day, if you wish, live in the same areas as other foreigners, go to all English-speaking venues, and watch international news,” he said. “There are some foreigners I know who have been in China for almost 10 years and don’t speak the local language. Yet, many of their children are fluent. Some of them prefer to live in local housing, go to local Chinese restaurants every day and even befriend and date or marry Shanghai residents. It’s definitely a personal decision.”
Miles away from Shanghai, rural communities reflect another world.
“In 2006, it took about 40 minutes traveling by car beyond the Mu Tian Yu Great Wall visiting site west of Beijing to find yourself back a hundred years to a time and place where crops are harvested by hand and milled with a donkey,” said Lynne Coleman, a native of Lewiston, Idaho. “People have no indoor plumbing, the whole family sleeps on one kong (a concrete, horizontal chimney that provides some heat in the very cold winters) and three-room houses are heated with wood fires fueled by sticks gathered by hand and carried on the backs of residents.”
Many Chinese are moving away from such rural trappings to relocate to the city, where the per capita disposable income is more than four times that of rural communities.
“There are so many construction sites in Beijing, Shanghai and all over than when I was here before,” said Julia Wilson, whose company organizes tours to China, Brazil and other countries to help improve the image of African Americans abroad. “They are building so many apartments because you have so many rural people moving to the city for jobs. They have no place for these people to live.”
To slow China’s burgeoning population, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has adopted a one-child policy that restricts the right of parents to determine how many children they can have. In urban areas, couples are permitted to have one child and can apply to have a second if each parent was an only child. The policy is more relaxed in rural areas where couples can have a second child if the first one was a girl. Each person in a couple who violates China’s population control policy must pay a “social compensation fee,” which can be as high as 10 times a person’s annual income.
Some provinces have regulations that require women who violate the family-planning policy to abort their pregnancies. The other provinces insist on unspecified “remedial measures,” which in most cases leads to an abortion. Even with its strict population control, China is expected to grow to 1.4 billion people by 2020.
Of China’s current 1.3 billion people, 91.51 percent are Han. There are 55 ethnic minorities that total 110 million or 8.49 percent of the population, according to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. A book titled, The Ethnic Groups of China by Wu Shimin listed 18 ethnic minority groups with a population exceeding 1 million: Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uyghur, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Bouyei, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai and Li.
Government officials note with pride that in an effort to integrate ethnic minorities into Chinese society, they have what amounts to an affirmative action program. But the 2011 State Department annual report on human rights notes, “Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admissions, access to loans, and employment. However, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.”
Although a communist country, laws on the books in China provide a remarkable array of individual and group freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, operation of a free press and the right to a public trial before an independent judiciary.
In practice, however, those “freedoms” quickly disappear when the state makes a broad claim of “subversion of state power” or contend an action goes against “the interests of the state,” according to the U.S. State Department.
By definition, communist and democratic systems of government are fundamentally different. And there is also sharp difference in how citizens in China and the U.S. view theirrespective governments.
Chen Xuelian, director of the Social Survey Research Office at the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics, said: “According to surveys, the U.S. people believe more or trust their local government more than the central government. In China, the public trusts the central government more than the local government.”
Jiang Haishan, vice president of the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong in Shanghai, said: “In your politics, in western philosophy, government is absolutely evil. You keep watch on that necessary evil. In China, for over 2,000 years, government has the responsibility to take care of the people – government is good. Traditionally in China, government is like parents. Parents have the responsibility to take care of their children. But at the same time, parents have the authority to discipline them.”
In addition to a reverence for the central government, Chinese have an unshakable respect for the family, a carefully structured unit where children learn their role and are taught respect for authority and where the father’s word is final and not subject to challenge.
“China is where family-level decisions and sacrifices are made, based on the good of the family and not what is best for the individual,” explained Lynne Coleman, the American educator who spent nearly a decade in China. “The worst crime for ordinary people is bringing shame on the family.”
Children are taught at an early age that they must care for their parents when they grow old. Government officials invariably dye their hair black because of the widespread belief that people with white hair should be cared for in the sunset of their life and not do heavy work.
The government does the heavy and intrusive work of closely monitoring its citizens..
“Authorities monitored telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e-mail, text messaging, and Internet communications,” the U.S. State Department human rights report stated. “Authorities opened and censored domestic and international mail. Security services routinely monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers, telephones, and fax machines.”
A.J. Liebling, the caustic press critic, is famous for saying, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”In China, all print and broadcast media is state-owned. Consequently, the State Department says, Chinese media is used “to propagate government views and [Communist Party] ideology.”
Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of the English-language China Daily, disagrees.
“The philosophical thinking is different between Chinese and people in the U.S.,” he said. “Chinese don’t believe in absolute press freedom. All media has to be responsible. We have our boss and we listen to our boss. That doesn’t mean that the boss intervenes in the daily operation of the newspaper.”
Sometimes that’s exactly what happens.
The “boss”boldly intervened when the Southern Weekly, a newspaper in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, ran a New Year’s editorial calling for greater respect for constitutional rights in China, which was quickly rewritten by Tuo Zhen, the Communist Party’s top propaganda official in the province. The replacement editorial in the newspaper, also known as Southern Weekend, praised the party’s policies. The censorship touched off a newsroom strike and rare public protests in China.
Even foreign publications can’t escape the government’s watchful eye.
When the New York Times ran a story last October disclosing that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family had amassed $2.7 billion, Internet access to the story in China was quickly blocked. Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, are blocked in China for various reasons, including the ability to be used as anti-government organizing tools.
Despite media censorship and ironclad government control, some foreigners sending email to China have been able to slip content critical of the government past the legions of censors. And despite a reluctance to speak out publicly, citizens often criticize their government in small, private settings.
Chinese are quick to note some positive aspects of their government.
“This country reserves seats for certain minorities at all levels of government,” said Alexander Tzang, former deputy president of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and special adviser to the China-United States Exchange Foundation. “We have reserved seats for non-Communists, for females, for minorities and so on. They are guaranteed seats. They don’t come by elections. That’s not really democracy. But if you look at it from another angle, is it better to have minority voices being heard more vividly? It is much more equitable representation.”
Many are hoping that Xi Jimping, the new general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, will keep his pledge to promote a more open society, including following China’s 1982 Constitution.
Xi, who was elevated several months ago along with six new members of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee Political Bureau, said: “The CPC should be able to put up with sharp criticism, correct mistakes if it has committed them and avoid them if it has not.”
Until that becomes a reality in China, as long as citizens and foreigners stay away from the sensitive topics of Taiwan, Tibet, the Falun Gong religious sect and criticism of the Communist Party of China, they can live what is considered a normal life in China.
“What I enjoy most about China is the open-mindedness of people,” said Carl Murphy, the Atlanta native now living in Shanghai. “The ironic thing is Chinese people are portrayed as a bit robotic and not being free-thinkers. The funny thing is that after living here, I can say the same thing about Americans, which was displayed worldwide for everyone to see during the presidential election.”
Craig Trygstad said, “In cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin or Chongqing, there is an energy and work ethic that is hard to miss. I sometimes felt like that energy – which you see in small furniture factories, in tailor shops and felt in bustling markets – is how you define capitalism. And that is when I would forget that we were in a Communist country.”
(This 4-part series is the outgrowth of a week-long African American Media Leaders Mission to China sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster a better understanding between the people of China and the United States. Neither the foundation nor government officials in China had any imput in these stories or saw them prior to publication. The 7-member U.S. media delegation was led by Cloves Campbell, Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant and chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The trip included visits to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.)
Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 13:32
Category: Business - Original Written by Donald James
Roland S. Martin, a nationally award-winning and multifaceted journalist, will be the keynote speaker when Ford-Employees African-Ancestry Network (FANN) hosts its 32nd Annual Black History Month celebration on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The event, “An Evening with Roland S. Martin,” will be held at the Adoba Hotel Dearborn (formerly the Hyatt Regency), 600 Town Center Drive in Dearborn. A VIP reception will be held from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. The program begins at 6:00 p.m.
For more than seven years, Martin has been considered as one of the nation’s most influential journalists, known for his fresh perspective for the 21st Century. He is a commentator for TV One Cable Network and host and managing editor of “Washington Watch with Roland Martin.” He is also a CNN analyst and senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Over the years, Martin has received such honors as the NAACP Image Award and CNN’s Peabody Award. Ebony magazine has listed him numerous times as “One of the 150 Most Influential African-Americans in the United States.” Martin is the former executive editor and general manager of the historic Chicago Defender, one of America’s most storied African-American newspapers. He is also a former radio host for WVON-AM in Chicago.
“We are extremely honored to have Roland S. Martin as our keynote speaker for our Black History Month event, says Gwen Moore, chairperson for FAAN’s Black History Month Program, whose corporate title at Ford is IT governess and special projects manager. “It means a lot because it’s very important that as we look to celebrate Black History Month with our employees, dealers, suppliers, and the community, that we bring in relevant people that have had a significant impact on shaping the African-American experience. Certainly, Roland S. Martin is a person who has done that.”
In addition to FAAN welcoming Martin, the organization will present FAAN’s Heritage Award to Dr. Violet T. Lewis, founder of the historic Lewis College of Business. FAAN will also present its Community Service Award to Dr. Iris Taylor, president and CEO of Detroit Receiving Hospital, as well as to Armond R. Harris, Terrence J.L. Thompson, and Shawn T. Blanchard, all of whom operate Run This Town, a Detroit-based fitness organization.
Established in 1983, FAAN is Ford Motor Company’s first employee resource group. The group’s mission is to promote an environment within Ford Motor Company which recognizes the value of diversity and attracts, develops and retains African-Ancestry employees to the fulfillment of company objectives. In addition, FAAN continuously reaches out to sponsor and facilitate community initiatives.
Previous FAAN sponsored Black History Month celebrations have honored such individuals as Smokey Robinson (songwriter and Motown great), Spike Lee (award-winning filmmaker), Donna Brazile (political strategist, adjunct professor and syndicated columnist), Martin Luther King III (former president and CEO of the King Center), Soledad O’Brian (CNN journalist), Hill Harper (actor), and many other prominent African-Americans.
Traditionally, FAAN’s Black History Month events are attended by hundreds of Ford colleagues, as well as business, community, civic, and educational partners.
“I encourage everyone to come out and celebrate this Black History Month event with Ford-Employees African-Ancestry Network, says Moore. “It is going to be a fabulous affair for all.”
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 13:07
Category: Business - Original Written by Donald James
Some people just dream of success, while others wake up and make it happen. Count Eric Hardy as the latter.
As president and CEO of w3r, Hardy oversees a progressive information technology consulting and staffing firm that provides infrastructure, integration and analytical services and support to a wide-spectrum of national businesses and industries. Since its inception in 1995, the Southfiel-based company has experienced a 400 percent growth rate over the last five years. With offices now in Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C., w3r employs approximately 300 employees nationwide — and growing.
W3r’s “growth spurt” has not gone unnoticed. For the last six years, the company has been included in Inc. 5,000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies” in America. In 2012, Crain’s magazine listed w3r as one of the “Largest Minority Companies” in the country, ranking it No.21 with $25 million in sales. In addition, Ernst & Young, a “Big Four” accounting firm, also bestowed its coveted “Entrepreneur of the Year” award on the company in 2008 and 2009.
While it appears that w3r has always been successful in the eyes of the nation, Hardy, 39, remembers the early days of the company. “When my business partner, Patrick Tomina and I started the company in 1995, we were still in college at the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-D),” recalls Hardy. “We were basically running the company part-time, kind of like a hobby, and out the trunks of our cars. We later had office space that was given to us, while sharing an old building with another company on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, amid a festive atmosphere that included Congressional, state, and local elected officials, business leaders, company staff, and other well-wishers, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to officially unveil the company’s new Southfield world headquarters. Located at 1000 Town Center, Suite 1150, the beautiful and spacious corporate office is the culmination for a company that’s been on the upward move for 18 years. “Our new world headquarters represent a sense of reality that dreams do come true,” says Hardy. “This company has been blessed to have such a hard working and incredible staff of individuals to help make this happen. The ribbon-cutting ceremony just validates that w3r is doing the right thing. It’s just a proud moment for the company.”
A Detroit native, Hardy says he knew as a youngster that he would one day become an engineer. After his family moved to Birmingham, Michigan, Hardy graduated from Birmingham Grove High School, where he excelled in math. With an ever-developing love for information, research and technology, Hardy attended UM-D, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Barely 21 years old, he and 21-year-old Tomina partnered in 1995, before their UM-D graduation, to establish their technology consulting firm.
While w3r’s transition from car trunks to a Southfield skyscraper is a great story, the company continues to move forward to its next chapter. Under the visionary leadership of Hardy, Tomina (co-founder and CFO), Keith Echols (executive vice president), and several other company executives, w3r has amassed a bold, but attainable five-year plan that projects company revenues of $100 million.
While company growth is important to w3r, according to Hardy, it is also important that the company makes and keeps its commitments to this region. “For all of our awards, honors, and company achievements, what means a lot to us is being committed to help the community,” says Hardy, who also chairs the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce. “Through various community and civic sponsorship programs and projects, w3r certainly believe that there is a role for us to play in giving back to help and empower others.”
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 13:29
Category: Business - Original Written by Ellis Liddell
There is a theory on Wall Street that goes something like this: If you follow the crowd and buy the hot investment of the day, chances are you’ll be scooping up shares when most others are about to sell. This natural tendency to buy when everyone is euphoric can have you buying at the wrong time and not buying when you should.
Investors often jump into an investment at the wrong time because they are worried about what others are doing, instead of focusing on good old-fashioned fundamentals such as the company’s earning potential or its management.
History has continually shown us that when individuals make investments without the prudent basis for doing so, they often wind up losing money that can take many years to recover. We saw this in 1998-2000, when investors drove the Nasdaq composite over 5000 — only to see it fall to less than 2000 the following year.
History has also shown that when individuals avoid investments because the popular thinking is to steer clear of them, opportunities are often overlooked. We saw this in 1982, when interest rates were high and companies had a difficult time impressing analysts with their earning potential. That period proved to be the beginning of a bull market that lasted more than 15 yrs.
On October 19, 1987 the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22% in one trading session, the worst trading day since October 1929. However, that day brought tremendous buying opportunity. Despite that decline to 1738 points, the Dow closed at 10,159 on March 31, 2001 — for an annualized growth rate of 13.97%.
At the end of 1994, a year in which stock and bond markets both struggled because of the higher interest rates, the common thinking was that 1995 was a bad year for the financial markets. If you took that advice, you would have missed out on one of the stock market’s best years.
In response to market downturns, some investors shift a greater percentage of their assets to money market funds. Time and time again, this strategy has proven to be a mistake.
Keep in mind that the stock market has experienced nearly twice as many bullish periods as bearish periods over time.
When times get tough for stocks, maintain your confidence in their long-term growth potential and use these simple strategies:
■ Reduce your cost by averaging down. If one of your stocks declines in value, but the underlying business is still sound, consider buying more shares. You will reduce your overall cost basis.
■ Stay diversified. Keep your assets spread among investments likely to perform differently under the same market conditions. Profits from appreciated investments will help offset losses from any losing investments.
■ Stay focused on your long-term goal. Don’t try to avoid the downturn by jumping out of the market. No one can accurately predict when it will rebound.
When considering investing, seek professional advice.
Ellis Liddell is president of ELE Wealth Management, LLC in Southfield, Michigan. He is also the author of “Wealth Management: Merging Faith with Finance.” He can be reached at (248) 356-6555 or through his website: www.elewealth.com.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 13:14
Category: Business - Original Written by Damon Autry
Nailah Ellis (pronounced ni-E-luh) recalls as a youngster the reaction people had after tasting the homemade tea her father prepared during holidays or at family gatherings. Their animated glee was a dead giveaway that, indeed, the beverage was truly something special.
It began with Ellis’ great-grandfather, who was a master chef on Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line shipping fleet. He developed the recipe for the tea and eventually passed it down to her father with the mandate that the recipe was to be sold and not told. In other words, take the recipe to market. Ellis’s father never got around to doing so, although he did share the formula with her. A series of unfortunate decisions landed him in prison, so Nailah, who always longed to be an entrepreneur, decided the family tea would be her entrée into establishing her own business.
The 25-year-old Detroit native started her endeavor, Ellis Island Tea, four years ago by brewing the tea in her kitchen — a process that took her hundreds of tries to perfect. Ellis’s venture hasn’t always been easy, but she points to the discussions with her mother as helping her discover the infinite possibilities of life in general, and her business in particular.
“My mother always told me to do whatever it takes to be successful,” Ellis said. “She told me to create lemonade out of lemons, to never take no for an answer and to create my own reality.”
It was recounting those pearls of wisdom from her mother that aided Ellis in molding her entrepreneurial mindset, particularly in light of what others initially thought about Ellis Island Tea. “People laughed at me,” she said. “They said, ‘you think you’re going to come out here and start a beverage company and compete with Pepsi and Coke?’ But I persevered, in spite of being told no at almost every turn when I was trying to get into stores. I used what my mother taught me and figured it out and found ways to get that ‘yes.’”
Part of Ellis figuring it out did, in fact, involve doing whatever it took to be successful, much like her mother insisted. Not having a particular roadmap to follow to attain entrepreneurial success, she simply used her gut instincts. When Whole Foods broke ground on its first store in Detroit, Nailah Ellis was there.
She met with and presented to several Whole Foods executives and convinced them to further demonstrate their desire to invest in the rebirth of Detroit by ensuring locally-made products are on their shelves. They agreed, and now Ellis Island Tea will soon be available in two local Whole Foods locations.
Ellis is even trying to penetrate into Whole Foods’ regional account, which could place Ellis Island Tea in 147 Whole Foods stores throughout the Midwest.
To accommodate her growing venture, Ellis will soon move her production operation into a 3,000 square foot warehouse in the city. “There are no beverage production facilities in Detroit, so that’s why it’s important that I bring it into the city,” she said.
You can find Ellis Island Tea in all Westborn Market locations, Soupdive in Southfield, Honeybee Market in Mexican Village, the Hudson Café downtown and the Mobil service station on Woodward and Forest.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 09:15
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