Can Hong Kong build a ‘Silicon Harbour’? Nah, probably not

phil muncaster

hong kong skylineI might be back in London now but I’m still keeping one eye on the East. My latest for IDG Connect is a piece on whether Hong Kong can really lay claim to the title “Silicon Harbour”, given its dubious track record of under-investment and the increasing strength of rival Asian cities including Tokyo, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Singapore.

Well, as always, the jury’s still out. There are a lot of good things going on in Hong Kong, as this upbeat infographic shows. It’s politically stable, safe from most natural disaster and you can use the internet freely (unlike in mainland China). It’s also well connected internet-wise and relatively cheap, as Frost & Sullivan analyst Danni Xu told me: “enterprises in Hong Kong using 100 Mbps Ethernet Point-to-Point (P2P) per month are paying only one third the price of a similar set up in Singapore”.

“However, despite these advantages/benefits, Singapore remains…

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How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China – Businessweek

CHINDIA ALERT: You'll be living in their world, very soon

Question: What are Chinese consumers looking for in an online shopping experience? What would you describe as the main reason websites aimed at Chinese consumers fail?

How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China

Answer: News about Chinese tech companies making their way to Wall Street has been raising awareness about the vast potential Chinese market for U.S. small businesses. China is definitely interested in American-made goods. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your website is appealing to these new customers.

First, as I discussed recently, you need a website in Chinese. Make sure the site is created by a native Mandarin speaker who can convey the culture of your brand without a clunky verbatim translation that will fall flat, says James Chan, president of Asia Marketing & Management.

The main obstacle to selling online in China is the pervasive fear of being cheated or of buying a pirated product. “You need to find…

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Asia banks turn to ‘diplomats’ as regulatory burden bites

Financial Crime Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Banks have a new buzzword to describe their strategy in Asia: diplomacy.FCA - Singapore

Stung by regulatory probes into allegations ranging from the hiring of the offspring of senior state officials in China to rate manipulation in Singapore, and grappling with reams of new rules brought in after the global financial crisis, firms are going on a charm offensive with the region’s regulators and governments.

Executives brought in to head banks’ businesses in major Asian financial centers are now expected – by management and regulators themselves – to devote more time to building their relationships with financial watchdogs.

“Regulators have become major stakeholders – as important as big corporate clients – so firms are recognizing how key they are for business,” said Judy Vas, regulatory leader for Ernst & Young’s financial services business in Asia.

Barclays recently promoted its Asia head of tax, Li Li Kuan, to become country…

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China will have to be known for high quality products

The Way I See It - Mark Kolier

Chinese quality Last summer I wrote about the idea that few Chinese companies have embraced a dedication to making best-in-class products.   In my many visits to factories in China over the past five years I was almost universally asked about quality control and how it might be implemented. I quickly realized that in most cases the Chinese factory was not really interested in better quality since it would result in higher cost that those companies were unprepared to invest.

Almost all the Chinese companies I have visited are no closer to successful exportation of their products to the U.S. The main reason is that being the lowest cost provider does not work any more in a country where annual percentage wage increases are consistently in the double digits.

Shaun Rein of China Market Research wrote about this in his book ‘The End of Cheap China’ two years ago.   Not only has…

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Ten things Hong Kong does better than anyone else



Home of Bruce Lee, divine DIM SUM, LOFTY BUILDINGS, LOFTIER REAL ESTATE PRICES and —–in spite of all those buildings —–easy access to incredible stretches of great outdoors. 

It has been more than 15years since the British handed Hong Kong over to Chinese rule, but little has changed.  Hong Kong remains a COMPETITIVE & INDEPENDENT CITY, consistently ranked as one of the World’s Best Places to live.

(1) TONAL TALENTS : —– The language has a total of 6 to 9 tones, depending on where you are hearing it, compared to English’s zero tones.  No other Asian language comes close ( there are 4 tones in Mandarin, 5 in Thai and 6 in Vietnamese).  To add to the complexity —and fun— of the language, Cantonese is a dialect with new slang invented everyday and many words aren’t used in written communication.

(2) STAYING ALIVE :—–The city not only has…

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A book “Clusters and Economic Growth In Asia” provides insights into the development and transformation of various clusters and industrial sectors in East and Southeast Asia.

Economic Sociology and Political Economy

The volume edited by Sören Eriksson (Jönköping University, Sweden) deals with a number of important issues including the increasing relevance of cluster policies and the need to understand them in the context of the institutional and structural transition of newly industrializing East Asian economies. The autors also investigate the role of information and communication technology in economic growth, an emerging biomedical cluster in South Korea, an industrial agglomeration of Taiwanese electronics firms in China, and different sectorial and regional growth models in China. The book moves on to study the technology intensity of FDI in Vietnam and the implications for economic growth and emerging clusters, as well as the origin and characteristics of foreign technology transfer in a Chinese aircraft industry cluster. Other interesting cases from countries such as Indonesia, Japan, Singapore included.

To the book (Open access to the 1st chapter)

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Building a brand in Asia

Scott Whitaker

Building a brand is a daunting task, but if you are good at what you do you have probably build a reliable, well known brand in your country.

But that all goes out the window when you come to Asia.  Even if you are well know in your country you are a nobody in Asia.  And in a region that holds a very large portion of the worlds population you will have to put a lot of work in to build a recognizable brand that will stand the test of time.  So here are some very quick tips:

Be different, but not too different

People in Asia are early adopters.  They like new things and they are willing to pay more to get the latest thing before their neighbors.  But if you are too different you lose touch with the core values of people and in a homogeneous society that…

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