My work: China takes a bite out of Apple

Posted: January 2nd, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

An Apple store on East Nanjing Road in downtown Shanghai, courtesy of Flickr user SimonQ錫濛譙

Business has turned ugly for multinationals and foreign businesses in general operating in China. After the financial crisis, many looked to China for salvation but the business climate for them has soured in the past couple of years. They have become an easy target for authorities looking to send a message to various industries, with a number of foreign firms such as GlaxoSmithKline and Danone swept up in a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign that is increasingly defining Xi Jinping’s presidency to date. Other firms to have received tough treatment include Apple, whose humiliating apology in 2013 for offering inadequate warranties I wrote about for Al Jazeera English. Read the rest of this entry »

My work: China enters deep waters

Posted: January 1st, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Since I wrote this for Al Jazeera English in March 2013, China’s growing deepwater ambitions have ratcheted up tensions in the South China Sea. Last year China’s main offshore energy explorer CNOOC launched its first deepwater natural gas project in the South China Sea, and then triggered a months-long maritime standoff with Vietnam by towing its biggest oil rig into Vietnamese waters.

CNOOC, owned and controlled by the Chinese central government, sees the underexplored, tempestuous deep waters of the South China Sea as a source of future oil and gas production growth. Its existing fields are mature and are in decline. Venturing further afield is the company’s best hope.

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My work: Chinese media expands Africa presence

Posted: January 28th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

China Daily at Shanghai news seller

This piece for Al Jazeera English, published on 24 January 2013, examines how the growth of China’s state media in Africa is changing journalism and perceptions of the continent. Available after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

My work: Energy-hungry China seeks shale gas supremacy

Posted: December 24th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Hydraulic fracturing operations by Anton Oilfield Services in Sichuan province, southwest China, courtesy of Anton Oilfield.

Al Jazeera English published the following article on its website on 13 December 2012. It investigates the formidable array of environmental, technical and geologic challenges confronting widespread development of shale gas in China. The article after the jump.

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What metrics measure the Middle Kingdom?

Posted: November 1st, 2012 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The flag of the People's Republic of China flying over Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. Credit to xiaming from Flickr

Toothpaste, pet food and tyres are a handful of exports from China that have had their provenance questioned in recent years. Add to that list the country’s impressive GDP figures, which have telegraphed two decades of extraordinary economic growth. Read the rest of this entry »

My work: Analysts unmoved by China’s latest shale gas auction delay

Posted: September 2nd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The story after the jump was written by me and James Byrne for Interfax Natural Gas Daily, a digital publication that reports on the global gas industry. The story was published on 21 August 2012 (subscribers only) and looks at the setbacks to China’s latest auction of rights to prospect for shale gas, which is a form of natural gas found in shale rock deep underground.

China is believed to have the largest recoverable reserves of shale gas worldwide, enough to last nearly 200 years at the country’s rate of gas consumption in 2011, but the method of extracting shale gas – hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ – is environmentally contentious.

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China’s masters of the universe

Posted: February 1st, 2012 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The Sunday Times published a story (paywall) on the weekend about China’s top 10 most powerful figures in the country’s state-owned business sector. The figures sit atop of a diverse range of business empires that have two major things in common: they are owned by the government, and hold a near monopoly in their industry. Several of the heads are also so-called princelings, the offspring of Communist revolutionaries that helped found modern-day China in the 1940s and whose families continue to wield enormous political power. In February 2011, Xinhua reported that the Chinese government directly controlled 121 companies worth roughly $3.65 trillion through the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

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Chinese media’s global ambitions, on show in Libya

Posted: August 14th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

As NATO continues to strike Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, behind the scenes lurks China with an altogether different show of strength. Pay attention to the microphone flags of news agencies attending this press briefing on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking oil price hikes underscore government’s confidence

Posted: August 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Courtesy of yewenyi from Flickr

The jug of cooking oil may not occupy pride of place in your kitchen, but in China it has become an unlikely gauge of the country’s economy. The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal (subscriptions required) both reported Wednesday that a major producer of cooking oil in China, Wilmar International, had raised the retail price of its products by 5%.

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The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts on staving off China’s environmental apocalypse

Posted: March 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Courtesy of Bert van Dijk from Flickr
Late on in The Matrix film, there is a scene when Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith theorises to the captured Morpheus that humans are a disease, a “cancer of this planet”. This is a tad much for Jonathan Watts, Asia environmental correspondent for the Guardian newspaper. He downgrades us to locusts instead. Read the rest of this entry »