Thursday, June 21, 2007


If Seattle has the worst suicide rate in the U.S. because of the weather, it really makes we worry for China. Although we have some beautiful blue skies around here sometimes, weeks like this make them hard to remember. It is a cross between humidity and smog, leaving very low visibility. Lots of people wear masks on the street in hopes to avoid some of the bad air.

This was on today's CNN page, I found it interesting if you want to take a look:

Turns out China has surpassed the U.S. as the world's worst polluter, by 8%, but promises to have it cleaned up by the Olympics. We can only hope. This stems from a a couple of decades of promoting fast development at all costs. It is only in recent years that the people and politicians are seeing the costs they have created and the amount of attention it stirs up in the international arena. There will always be an positive and negative side to everything. Measures will be put in place to protect the environment, as the once rock-bottom cost of doing business in China- the main attraction to investors- begins to increase in the form of regulations compliance, taxes, etc.


Anand said...

Hi Stephanie..

I am missing you guys.. I hope I am in Beijing right now... Take care..


Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Charlene said...

Stephanie, this article was in today's (25 June) "Wall Street Journal"

June 25, 2007



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Beijing Mystery:
What's Happening
To the Billboards?
Airport Road Ads Vanish
Or Are Being Covered Up;
Pitching Luxuries Offends
June 25, 2007; Page A1

BEIJING -- Until recently, the highway leading to Beijing's Capital International Airport was known as China's Golden Avenue. Billboards on the 12-mile stretch, prized because it is what visitors to the capital see first, were the most expensive outdoor advertising in China.

Not any longer.

In one of the most ambitious attempts ever to sanitize a city's image, cranes were recently sent in to dismantle many of the 90-odd billboards lining the road. Some billboards still standing have tin sheets tacked onto them, to conceal the ads.

Red Snail Lake Villas
In the suburbs of Beijing -- right by the Red Snail Lake and the Red Snail Temple, northern China's largest Buddhist shrine -- sits Red Snail Lake Villas.
The campaign appears to have started with a crackdown on the advertising of luxury homes popular among China's nouveaux riches. Now, as part of what city officials are calling a massive "urban reorganization exercise," the advertising ban has been extended across much of this vast city. The push has sent the advertising industry reeling, in a country where millions of dollars are spent cultivating brand consciousness among new consumers.

Banners and posters atop office towers, along highways and construction sites are coming down. Nothing is being spared -- not even ads for next year's Olympics.

Already, ads promoting luxury cars and cellphones have disappeared. Five billboards advertising Soho China Ltd., which builds premium condominiums and retail space, have been toppled, the company's spokeswoman says.

City officials want to prevent Beijing from becoming one very big Times Square. Because billboards have become an eyesore, Beijing wants to "reorder the urban landscape," says a city official.

Some giant ads are still up in the downtown area. Companies have until the end of this month to tear down whatever else is left or face fines. Outdoor ads are now officially allowed only outside the Fifth Ring Road encircling the city, several miles from the city center, according to advertising executives.

Even DaimlerChrysler AG, which jointly makes the Chrysler 300C sedan with an enterprise controlled by Beijing's city government, has been told its billboard touting the car must be removed from the Airport Expressway. "Outdoor advertising is part of our marketing mix in China for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge," says Trevor C. Hale, the Beijing-based spokesman for DaimlerChrysler. "We are looking forward to seeing the new guidelines, especially during the lead-up to the Olympics."

Beijing billboards face removal.
After posting edicts online that gained little attention, Beijing cranked up the momentum in the spring, when the city's mayor, Wang Qishan, took aim at billboards touting luxury villas and other housing.

"Many use exaggerated terms that encourage luxury and self-indulgence which are beyond the reach of low-income groups and are therefore not conducive to harmony in the capital," Mr. Wang said in remarks released to state media.

China's government is getting increasingly nervous about such outlandish display of wealth in what is still a Communist nation. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao urged builders to "focus on developing reasonably priced commercial housing for ordinary people" and said the American economic model will not suit China. Already, officials have clamped down on new land approvals and funding for fancy government buildings.

One of the first affected by the move was Red Snail Lake Villas, a luxury development northeast of Beijing that had advertisements all over town touting multimillion-dollar homes.

"Indulge your heart by spending a small indulgence on a villa," read the ads, written in Chinese calligraphy. Wang Xuejun, deputy general manager, had been forced to take down two 1,600-square-foot posters he put in Beijing's central business district promoting homes priced as high as $6 million.

Other fast-growing cities, including São Paulo, Brazil, have tried to purge advertising. Moscow, draped with billboards large and small, has repeatedly discussed restrictions since outdoor ads gained popularity in the 1990s. Government efforts have led to downsizing of some ads and the removal of certain billboards from prominent historic buildings like the Lenin Library. But the rules allow so many exceptions that Moscow remains one of Europe's biggest markets for outdoor ads.

Beijing hasn't issued licenses for new billboards since 2003 because of concerns about overcrowding. Still, demand for big ads soared along with the booming economy. So, ad companies have chosen to flout local regulations and plant ads all over the city.

There is massive confusion about Beijing's intentions. Some ad executives expect the city to establish a bidding system to rent out ad spaces. Advertising at bus stops, on buses, in elevators and on bulletin boards is still permitted -- for the time being.

"I just hope the government can come up with clear regulations soon. Everyone is waiting for them," says Jim Liu, managing partner at Portland Outdoor (China), an outdoor advertising specialist under WPP Group PLC.

With the new billboard ban extending across all of downtown, the entire outdoor advertising industry, worth some $171 million a year, feels imperiled.

Wang Yinping, who runs Beijing Huigong Advertising Co., says about 20 of his billboards have been taken down by government officials without warning. "I know my billboards didn't have permits, but I created jobs for people," he says. With no business for the past month, he has fired 14 workers, most of whom had been with him since he started the company in 2001. He has to take down dozens of other billboards by the end of the month.

Even ad agencies that have put up licensed ads are affected. Pan Jiayou says he took down 200 small billboards called lampbox ads that had permits but now are said to "disturb urban planning." Those ads promoted the Olympics and a "harmonious society," a slogan of the Communist Party. "The government wanted to widen some roads or build new buildings there," Mr. Pan says.

His own workers removed and sold the boxes as scrap metal, and they helped the government tear down other companies' illegal ads as "a form of public service," he says. Mr. Pan says he has had to lay off half his work force of 12 employees.

The billboard industry's losses may become a boon to others. Focus Media Holding Ltd., which has about 100,000 video screens in and around corporate towers and upscale apartment blocks, saw first-quarter revenue grow 75% over last year. "The cleanup of outdoor billboards" must have contributed to the growth, a spokesman said.