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To Smoke or Not to Smoke...
That Might be the Question...
But Then It Might Not
If Access Asia had a crisp pound note for every time China had muted a 'smoking in public spaces' ban we'd have about thirty quid!! Not a lot, but a whole load of fags in China!! And so here we are again... at the smoking crossroads... will they, won't they?
The arguments are familiar - the people who want to get their hands on the taxes ciggies bring in don't like bans, while, surprise surprise, the fag companies don't like them either. But then there's the Ministry of Health, which is getting pounded by the WHO and lobby groups around the world on smoking bans, and which also has to pick up the not inconsequential tab for all those smoking related diseases.
According to the BBC, "Almost a quarter of China's population smoke and more than one million people die every year from smoking-related illnesses. That accounts for one fifth of people world-wide who die from smoking, according to the World Health Organisation." Just a quarter - at times it can feel like everyone smokes.
But there's a missing sum in the equation (if indeed equation are made up of sums?) as so often in China - what do the people think? We know health activists are in favour, we know confirmed smokers are usually (but not always) against. But there are no reliable polls; not much open discussion.
And then there's the other hoary old point that always has to be made when a law comes along that many, those old chain smoking cadres for instance, will feel doesn't apply to them - enforcement. Who's going to enforce this law? Will we have more of the Little Napoleons, as we do on street crossings and in parks, blowing their whistles (and some of those guys really have non-smoker lungs!!) at the 'little people", but looking the other way when the "connected" capos spark up. Not much harmonisation occurring there then.
China recently ducked out of its anti-smoking obligations as agreed with the WHO at the last moment. Now it has another chance to crack down on smoking in May - will they, won't they??
Access Asia Report News
Rather than any particular sector report, this week we want to advertise, promote and unabashedly flog on any street corner we won't be moved along from about our new report format. Ye Gads! you all decry. Access Asia has gone all "branding" and "repackaging" on us! Essentially, yes, but with a practical reason behind it. Our reports, which those of you who have ever bought one (hint, hint!) will already know, are quite detailed and in-depth. That depth of knowledge and research comes with a price. But not everyone wants so much depth or detail, nor perhaps do they have the budget in all cases for a full report purchase.
Aware of this, we have been doing some market testing on a trimmed-down version of key titles in our sectoral report arsenal, and we are finding that our new "Essential Numbers" reports are finding a market. OK, we admit that "Essential Numbers" is not a very sexy brand name, but it does reflect the main thrust of the idea. It does, if you like, exactly what is says on the tin, to paraphrase the Ronseal advert strapline.
From now on and evermore, all Access Asia sectoral reports will be published in two formats - the big book version, as they are now, as well as our "Essential Numbers" version, which will focus on the market numbers, the core tables and trend analysis, without all the more detailed background stuff, that although pertinent, is unnecessary to some of our more clued-in customers. The new report format will be shorter and cheaper, but with the same core sector size and growth figures included.
As ever, if you feel the need to flex your credit card on some superior China consumer market research, in Big Book, Essential Numbers, large-print-for-the-near-blind, or whatever, let us know by return e-mail...
Rogue Haibao Alert...
Now They're Taking Our Jobs!!
Now it's gone too far! After milking all the easy, stand-around-and-do-nothing-but-wave jobs during the Toxic EXPO, now the rogue Haibao's are stealing jobs that should be done by honest migrant workers for extremely low pay and no respect whatsoever from the Shanghainese snobs. But here they are, working illegally at a car wash directing cars towards an environmentally unfriendly washing machine. The evil blue bastards!!! Taking the food from another man's mouth!!
News From Pyongyang...
Kim's Got a Special Kind of Magic
A little bit of magic is coming to Pyongyang. From Monday, April 18 to May 8th, with performances twice a week, the Pyongyang Circus will present a 'large sized' magic show in Pyongyang's May Day Stadium. Have no doubt it will be kitschy, it will be a bit crap, but it will be unmissable. The magic show coincides with the anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung (April 16th 1912) - what better tribute to a great leader than a few card tricks?
According to the press releases (sent to Koryo Tours - who can take you there courtesy of their own little bit of magic): "Aircraft and a large bus will suddenly disappear, elephants and other heavy animals appearing mysteriously, motorcycle performing fantastic skills, magicians floating in the air as if in a gravity-free space-all these will be presented in one large-scale artistic image." And, apparently: "The magic will be led by Kim Chol, North Korea's answer to American magician David Copperfield." You mean Claudia Schiffer married a North Korean!! Kim Chol is apparently very cool. He's vice-chairman of the Magicians' Association of Korea - though some may ask, for such a great show why aren't we getting the chairman?
Kim Chol does 'revolutionary magic' (of course, what else!) and his major party piece is a trick called 'A Rich Catch of Catfish'. The mind boggles, while the jokes write themselves:
· Any chance Kim Chol could make Kim Jong-il disappear?
· How about magicing up some catfish for everyone in North Korean who's hungry tonight to eat?
· And his most requested trick in Pyongyang? Can you make me disappear and then reappear in Seoul?
We couldn't magic up a picture of Kim Chol, but they say he's a lot like David Copperfield
China Books News...
Just When You Thought it was Safe Go to Back into the Bookstore
Oh lordy! Remember when some plonker decided to inflict the made-up word 'Chindia' upon us all? God that was really painful! There have been others equally painful, but not quite as viral. 'Chinpreneurs' was a small but nasty outbreak (entrepreneurs, but also party hacks with no interest in democracy). We were rather hoping that the days of such MBAitis horrible word concoctions had passed the way of all flesh, but no. The highly educated, overachieving, 'leader of tomorrow' (remember they once said that about a young army colonel called Gadaffi), boyish looking Yinglan Tan is wandering the streets of disgusting grammar town.
His new book may be excellent, but if you expect us to open a book with the title Chinnovation (oh how the marketing department at Wiley must have agonised over whether to go with one 'n' or two!!). Also, we thought that after our own Fat China book's rather spoofish sub-title 'How Expanding Waistlines are Changing a Nation' (which was sadly taken as serious by most of our McKinseybot type readers with the obligatory large consultancy required humour bypass) we thought we'd done with crass subtitles. But no, young master Tan has triumphed. Wait for it, wait for it... "How Chinese Innovators are Changing the World".
Yes, the world is changing in so many way - most of them Chintastic!
As one friend, equally Chinbored with such titles, put it "how long now before the term ChINDovation hits us in the chops?" Chinese and Indians leveraging their synergies to think out of the box and forge a new paradigm of cross-cultural innovation strategies that will leave us all gasping for breath or begging for mercy in a matter of months.
Flagships Aren't What They Used to be Sadly
One has to say that in the crowded world of Shanghai luxury those Giorgio Armani flagship stores are not what they used to be. Quite honestly, this Armani flagship at the arse end of Hongkou is just shabby! Come on Giorgio, surely you can spring for a decent coat of paint?
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