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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Snakes and suitcases...

A year in review
Last year was a very generous year of gift giving it seems with many Chinese seemingly awash with cash and, in some cases looking to transport it out of China. Seizures were reported at airports in North America and a road checkpoint in France, while even within China bank staff at one bank in Henan province spent their time in the new year counting through a large mountain of low value bills deposited by one customer.  With the Year of the Snake soon approaching and awards season kicking into full swing, it seemed like a good moment to reflect on some of the achievements of 2012 and make some predictions.

China's latest export?
Intoducing the Moutai Awards"! 茅台奖!
Inspired by the longstanding favourite of Baijiu connisseurs (although since being banned at military banquets it has fallen in popularity as a luxury item), we now present our nominations for celebratory bottles of the oft-contaminated tipple to mark outstanding achievements (and notoriety) during the year.

Wedding of the year - At a price tag of approximately $150 million, the dowry given by Wu Duanbiao, a Fujian businessman to his daughter at the start of her 8 day marriage celebrations in December seemed to include everything but the kitchen sink, which presumably could have been manufactured by Wu's ceramics firm Fujian Wanli Group.

Scoop of the year - Although the Bo Xilai affair had readers worldwide captivated for many months and despite a commendable late effort by Bloomberg in exposing the complex web of connected Princelings ruling over China's Bureaucracy and Xi Jinping's family wealth, David Barboza of the New York Times stood out for his perfectly timed expose of Wen Jiabao's family business interests, on the eve of Wen's retirement.  Not only creating a lot of attention, it caused an immediate response from the Chinese authorities and was probably the reason for a number of recent measures, including the proposed removal of directors' personal details from the companies registry in Hong Kong (a key source for investigating officials' dealings) and the collapse of HSBC's exit from dominant insurer Ping An.  Special mention also to John Garnaut for his research into reshuffles of the Chinese military leadership prior to the leadership handover.

Broadcast of the year - Congratulations to the team at Sinica who delivered a highly insightful discussion on the eve of the party congress and leadership handover.  Featuring a heavyweight panel of John Garnaut, Patrick Chovanec, Jamil Anderlini and regular hosts Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn.  The explanation of the history of Bo Xilai and the leadership was very precise and revelations, including Bo's penchant for Sylvester Stallone, quite surprising!  A runner's up award for Max Keiser who over a number of broadcasts on Russia Today has been seeking to highlight China's buildup of gold reserves which could shock markets in 2013.

Most creative use of official resources - in a crowded field, Wusu City police chief Qi Fang stood out for his resourcefulness, in housing his twin mistresses and employing them in the city's police department.  Equal second place goes to Lei Zhenfu, who found time to star in a sextape, and Yang Dacai, a Work Safety official from Shaanxi province who managed to amass a collection of luxury watches on his official salary and keep smiling amidst the human and machine wreckage of several traffic accidents. Definitely hard work did not go unrewarded this year.

For services to architecture - Developers of the Meiquan 22nd Century building were a late contender, having commenced a Chongqing development due to be completed before the Zaha Hadid designed Wangjiang SOHO development (which it is a poor copy of) is finished.  Earlier in the year, plans announced for the completion of the world's tallest (and possibly ugliest building), Sky City in Changsha, in an unbelievable 3 months, were noteworthy, as was the world's largest, the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu.  But for sheer pointlessness the planners of the ghost town of Ordos in Inner Mongolia are the winner in particular because it was also able to be used this year as the world's largest skate park.

Most subsidised sector - Jury remains out on this one.  Railways seem to be the winner with about $104 billion announced for 2013 (following similar amounts in 2012).  Shipbuilding and solar were notable also.

Congratulations to our winners!  They or their representatives can get in touch for some fine baijiu tipple!
(c) Shenzen Standard
Coming up next - some predictions for 2013...!

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