Tag Archives: China

San Shan Bridge Unveiled for Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing’s ever-evolving landscape will soon see a futuristic, double-helix bridge named San Shan Bridge come 2022, when the city hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

Stretching out from across the city to the mountainous region of Zhangjiakou over the river Gui, the infrastructure – translated to “Three Mountains” – is part of the government’s efforts to provide more efficient transportation to the event location for athletes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Referencing the union of the five continents, just like the interlaced rings of the Olympic logo, the 452-meter-long bridge sees three sets of cross-connected structures that reflects its name. Each of these structures have a maximum span of 95 meters and are supported by high-strength steel cables that crisscross the bridge in an elegantly woven design. To facilitate movement, the bridge will also be separated into transportation and pedestrian sections via two strips of trees and bushes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Beijing and Vienna-based architecture firm Penda – whose portfolio includes the bamboo pavilion “One with the Birds” for Beijing Design Week 2015 – will work alongside global engineering consultants ARUP on the ambitious task. If ARUP sounds familiar, it is because the prolific firm has taken projects such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle to completion and are currently working on Apple Campus 2.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

However, the San Shan Bridge is but part of a larger city expansion scheme for the Chinese capital. Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019 (a future exhibition hub) and a more extensive transport system (11,700km of metro planned for 2050) will cater to the city’s aspiration of evolving into a supercity – the third largest in the world at that, with more than 21 million people.

BMW 1 Series Sedan Exclusively Sold in China

Unless you’re currently residing in China, you can forget about laying your hands on BMW’s latest 1 Series sedan. Well, by the German automaker’s estimation, only the Chinese market is ready for, and interested in, this extended wheelbase version of the 1 Series.

First revealed in Beijing, the baby four-door – built in conjuction with China’s BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd – is, quite simply put, the love child of Europe’s five-door 1 Series hatchback and the 2 Series coupe. According to BMW, the new car will fuse the best stylistic elements of both, plus incorporate a longer wheelbase for more spacious seating.

BMW 1 Series-china-

Otherwise, the entry-level Beemer is essentially a toned-down iteration of the Concept Compact Sedan and will be based on the front-wheel drive UKL platform, just like the current X1, 2 Series Gran Tourer and its MINI cousin. This means that the car will likely use BMW’s new modular four-cylinder engines. This 1 Series Sedan will also provide a stylistic platform of what you can expect from the 2 Series Gran Coupe, which BMW has been developing for a while now.

Luxuo David Beckham for Jaguar 2016

How British Car Brands Sell to China

Many British automotive marques are already forging reciprocal links with Chinese firms. Aston Martin is working with LeEco to develop an electric version of its Rapide super sedan and everyone from Jaguar to Bentley is also developing models with longer wheelbases and greater space for rear passengers, uniquely for the Chinese market.

But how do these storied British brands get the biggest and youngest car-buying market to fall in love with them within the next few years, when they’ve had over 60 years to become pin-up fixtures on children’s walls in Europe and the US?

Jaguar has already hired David Beckham as its sportscar ambassador to China, but, as football fans will tell you “There’s only one David Beckham” so it appears the long-term answer is to celebrate all that’s good about British motoring heritage by crafting a festival on a par with the Goodwood Festival of Speed and bringing it to the Chinese mainland.

The British Motorsport Festival (BMF), will open its doors to the public at the Goldenport track, Beijing, on October 1 and promises past, present and future cars from Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren, Morgan and Noble.

But more than simply trying to get car fans excited, the two-day event will be a proper family-inclusive lifestyle experience.

“The British Motorsport Festival is a unique blend of cars, fans and fun for the entire family. Our hope is that the British Motorsport Festival can help brands connect with fans to build lasting relationships,” said Jim James, BMF’s founder.

So the event promises racing, a ladies competition, go-karting and electric car racing for kids plus a vintage car show.

Alongside the festival the UK government is also assisting in setting up an annual motorsports conference, in partnership with Motorsport China, the first of which will be held in Shanghai on November 2. Because as with every country that starts to fall in love with cars, the urge to race tends to follow very quickly. But there are pitfalls that need to be avoided if it’s going to be done in a sustainable, profitable way.

“Motorsport in China is developing rapidly, and the goal of the Conference is to bring experts from the UK and China together to discuss best practices, build deeper relationships and ultimately to develop the industry to a world class level,” said Managing Director of Motorsport China, Steven Lu.

So the conference will bring together experts from every facet of racing from track development to team owners and specialist services companies under one roof.

Top Chinese Art Collector to Sell Works

One of the world’s leading collectors of Chinese art, Belgian billionaire Guy Ullens, is to give up his eponymous Beijing museum – among the capital’s top art centers – and sell his private collection, the organization said.

Ullens, a baron, is a foodstuffs magnate and longstanding Chinese art collector whose companies have included Weight Watchers.

His father and uncle were both diplomats at Belgium’s embassy in the country, and he is a friend of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

His non-profit Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), a mainstay of Beijing’s trendy 798 art district, exhibits both Chinese and international artists and has had more than four million visitors since it was founded in 2007, according to its website.

In a joint statement by the museum and the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Ullens said he will hand over UCCA to a new benefactor and sell off his own vast collection through private sales and auctions later this year.

“I have been a patron of the arts in China for over 30 years and have found this a hugely interesting and fascinating experience,” he said in the statement.

“I’m now in my 80s and need to look at how to hand over the stewardship of the UCCA and my art collection to younger patrons of the arts.”

Rumors of Ullens’ departure have swirled for years, but his PR company confirmed to AFP that the latest announcement, released Thursday, was the first time he had made a definitive public statement on the matter.

The baron’s private collection, estimated to include more than 1,000 pieces, has broken numerous auction records, the latest in 2013, when Zeng Fanzhi’s painting “The Last Supper” sold for $23.3 million at Sotheby’s — a record price for an Asian contemporary artist.

Chinese art prices have rocketed in recent years, fuelled by the country’s economic boom and its growing numbers of super-rich.

At the same time Communist authorities have stepped up cultural controls under President Xi Jinping, and some captions at UCCA’s 2013 exhibition of American artist Taryn Simon’s “A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters” were blacked out.

Revamped Peninsula Beijing Boasts Larger Rooms

For those who love sprawling hotel rooms with ample space for everyone’s steamers and trunks, The Peninsula Beijing may be your new home away from home. The hotel now boasts the largest luxury hotel rooms in the Chinese capital since they revamped their 525 rooms to actually create fewer rooms and suites – there are now 230. A small sacrifice really, for luxury. However, ‘small’ is definitely not the name of the game here.Peninsula-Beijing-renovations-master-bedroom

The smallest rooms start at 60 square meters (645 square feet), going against trend in the industry. That is to say, most hotels maximize space to earn as much revenue as possible by creating as many rooms as possible.

With a little inspiration from luxury yachts and a few cultural elements, guests can trust that the rooms are both comfortable and sophisticated. The rooms feature hues of cream while artworks from Chinese artists adorn the walls. Like most luxury yachts, the rooms are fitted with furnishings from luxury Italian designers and a few hand-finished pieces from local designers. Peninsula-Beijing-renovations-dining-room

The experience doesn’t stop there. Guests have full control of the lighting, temperature and can even order room service via the tablets that are found on the bedside and on room desks. The most luxurious suite in the hotel is The Loft that commands the top floors of the hotel. Spanning two stories, the suite has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide breath-taking views of the city below.

The hotel has created another tier of suites by combining 17 room to create living spaces that measure up to 165 square meters (1,883 square feet). The suites also come with large living and dining spaces, dressing quarters and a master bedroom.

Shanghai Seven-Star Waterfront Hotel Opens

Shanghai remains a favorite for new luxury outposts, be they stores or hotels, the latest of which is The Wanda Reign on the Bund. The over-the-top luxury hotel has opened on Shanghai’s waterfront, billing itself as the city’s first “7-star” hotel.

The Wanda Reign on the Bund opened to much fanfare recently, not only for being one of the most luxurious and opulent landmarks in Shanghai, but for the reputation of its owner Wang Sicong, the 28-year-old scion of a Chinese real estate baron who makes headlines for his spendthrift ways on nights out.

In keeping with his lavish tastes, the property was built to raise the bar in luxury hotel experiences. Set along the Huangpu River, the hotel is a museum of art and antique pieces by contemporary Chinese artists.

hotel_exterior_wanda_reign

The hotel tapped designer Laurence Xu – the first Chinese designer to join Paris Haute Couture Week – to create staff uniforms. Artistic motifs include magnolias and traditional Suzhou embroidery.

All of the 193 guestrooms are controlled via iPads, and are styled in Art Deco-themed esthetics that are available in two different styles: modern glamour in a beige color scheme, and darker, mahogany burl wood with magnolia details. Guest rooms and suites are outfitted with amenities by L’Occitane and Hermès.

The luxury is also in the details, with bedtime amenities that include a sleep fragrance, music and bedtime reading material.

For guests for whom money is no object, there’s also the Chairman Suite which spans 288 sq m (3,100 sq ft) and features a living room, dining area, adjoining pantry, bar, study, master bedroom sauna and massage bathtub. Guests also have access to butler service.

Dining options include the rooftop restaurant Marc, by Michelin-starred French chef Marc Meneau, and restaurants The River Drunk for classic Southern Chinese cuisine and The Japanese Restaurant.

A promotion has guest room rates at CNY3,000 ($453) a night.

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Monaco Grand Prix on Chinese Time with TAG Heuer

As if it wasn’t a star-studded enough event, TAG Heuer invited two Chinese superstars, rock-pop singer G.E.M. and actor Li Yifeng, to attend the prestigious Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix this year.

Both personalities boast millions of followers in their home country, and accompanied by the Chinese media, had the privilege of not only watching the race, but also to be greeted by the Ambassador of Monaco to China, Catherine Fautrier at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a private tour.

Monaco Formula One Grand Prix

As the world’s second largest economy, China passed the symbolic threshold of 300 billionaires this year, the average wealth of the 1,000 richest Chinese starting at $1.04 billion. Monaco has been keen on strengthening diplomatic relations, as seen from the appointment of ambassadors from both sides in 2006 and the construction of a Monaco pavilion within the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Earlier this year, Monaco reciprocated with the first-ever Chinese Festival in Monaco.

TAG Heuer and the F1 Grand Prix have had a long history, and great success. Stellar drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton are but a few TAG Heuer ambassadors who have taken the chequered flag. This year, the Swiss watch firm continues its legacy with Formula 1 by unveiling three new TAG Heuer watches at a world-exclusive launch in Monaco:

Red Bull Watch

CAZ1018.FC8213 THF1 SPECIAL EDITION RED BULL TEXTILE STRAP - PACKSHOT 2016

Bearing the team’s colors – midnight blue and red – the steel quartz chronograph reflects the DNA of TAG Heuer’s association with Formula 1 with a bezel sporting a tachymeter scale in matte blue aluminum. The special edition is available in two versions: a stainless steel bracelet or textile strap with red stitching, inspired by the racing car’s seat belts. Like every motor racing watch worth its salt, the quartz chronograph movement is accurate to a tenth of a second, and is displayed on the counter at 6 o’clock. Meanwhile, the symbolic black and white chequered flag of Formula 1 is engraved at the back of the case, together with the prestigious Red Bull Racing Team logo.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date, 1/10 second counter, chronograph hour counter, chronograph minute counter, running seconds counter
  • Movement: Ronda 5040D – Quartz chronograph
  • Water resistance: 200 meters
  • Strap: Triple-row brushed steel bracelet with brushed steel clasp, dual safety mechanism and extension for the motor races, or blue strap made from technical textile with red stitching.
Tag Heuer Connected in 18K Rose Gold

Barenia brun - or rose - chrono noir

Bearing the name of a luxury watchmaker with more than a century of history while innovating with smartwatches is no easy feat, but you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the latest upgrade for this smartwatch offering. For this special edition, Tag Heuer swapped the usual titanium for a more luxurious rose gold one. The latest lithium battery powers the water-resistant device and a sapphire crystal touchscreen ensures it stays scratch-free. While the watch comes with the same two-year standard warranty TAG Heuer offers its usual Connected Watches, customers have the option of exchanging the smartwatch for a mechanical watch should they decide to go old school.

Aquaracer 300M

WAY201A.BA0927 AQRC CALIBRE 5 BLACK CERAMIC - PR VIEW 2016

A sports chronograph first designed to meet the extreme requirements of professional water sportsmen, the Aquaracer is now an icon of TAG Heuer’s and has been reiterated countless times, each looking to better its predecessor. Aesthetic changes include engraved silver lacquer numerals on the ceramic bezel, as well as a bigger case, enlarged from 41mm to 43mm. Inside, the Calibre 5 automatic mechanical movement powers the timepiece with the promise of accuracy and reliability, and coupled with its 300m water-resistance, makes this robust timepiece the perfect companion for all kinds of extreme conditions.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Movement: TAG Heuer Automatic Calibre 5
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 300 meters
  • Strap: 3-row polished and satin-finished steel, with polished steel deployant buckle, safety push-buttons and diving extension

 

 

New Photos, Video of Tallest Glass-Bottom Bridge

If you are afraid of heights, look away now because this story is all about the world’s tallest and longest glass-bottom bridge. New photos have emerged of what’s poised to become, arguably, the world’s most dizzying glass-bottomed bridge in China. Scroll to the bottom of the article for the video.

Located in the national park that inspired the floating mountains of James Cameron’s film Avatar, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is not for the faint of heart, connecting two precipices 300 meters above the canyon floor. The transparent bridge spans 430 meters in length, 6 meters in width and can accommodate up to 800 people.

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Designed by Tel Aviv-based architectural firm Haim Dotan Ltd., the feat of structural and architectural engineering holds 10 world records including the world’s highest bungee jump. The bridge is meant to be “as invisible as possible,” work seamlessly with nature and give visitors the sense of floating in mid-air.

Zhangjiajie National Park is located in the northern part of Hunan province. The bridge is expected to open this summer.

Though the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge will claim several bragging rights when it opens, the one title it won’t hold is being China’s first glass bridge. Last fall, a glass walkway opened in central Hunan province at a more modest height of 180 meters.

More pictures follow,below the video:

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tallest longest glass bottom bridge China

 

Michelin Guide Announces Shanghai Edition

Having conquered the culinary world of Europe, Singapore and Seoul, the Michelin Guide has now set its sights on Mainland China. With a focus on Shanghai, the book is slated to be unveiled later this year.

Lauded as the ultimate restaurant guide – a handbook for foodies on the road if you will – its international director Michael Ellis said “The richness and quality of Shanghai’s culinary scene completely won us over.” He added that “The city is an economic and cultural crossroad, and its gastronomy is the result of a strong culinary heritage which makes the dining scene very exciting. Shanghai’s culinary scene range from popular to fine dining restaurants, and we are eager to discover the high quality of Shanghai’s gastronomy and starting the selection.”

Some say Michelin has been expanding into Asia to match rival Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, a spinoff of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Being based in Asia as we always have been, we wonder what took Michelin so long to get out here. Better late than never we suppose. Here is our earlier story on Seoul and Singapore.

The Michelin Guide Shanghai 2017, will be released later this year and will represent he 28th edition of the international collection.

 

 

Armani Supports Miaoran For Milan Fashion Week

Having a good eye for new fashion designers with potential, Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani has decided to host the label of Chinese designer Miaoran in the Armani/Teatro space as a part of Milan Fashion Week. This all comes into place as a part of his ongoing support program for fresh talent.

“Discovering new talents on the international scene is something interesting and stimulating, since it enables me to confront myself with very different stylistic ideas and creative visions” said Armani, in a report by WWD. Miaoran definitely fits that criteria to a key. His primary aim seems to be eschewing form and gender – creating ambiguous styles with oversized proportions. The designer picked up his skill by studying in Italy.

In thanks to Armani, Miaoran called the opportunity a “huge honor for a young designer who comes from far away”. When June comes around, we’ll be able to see what interesting styles he has to offer, amongst the other offerings over at Milan.

Interview: Artist Wang Guangyi

Best known for his ‘Great Criticism’ series of paintings, which uses imagery of propaganda from the Cultural Revolution juxtaposed against household Western contemporary brand names such as Coca Cola, Google and Louis Vuitton, Wang Guangyi is undeniably one of the leaders of the new art movement that started in China after 1989.

Despite facing constant criticism for his works, Wang sees these criticisms as a motivation to step out of his psychological comfort zone, to make changes, and seek objects, which can come into effect in our contemporary society. Wang begins to think about the final form of artistic practice by creating works associated with great men, symbols and myths. These works involve no direct representation, but instead focuses on the exploration of the concept.

冷战美学, 2007

冷战美学, 2007

Born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in 1957, Wang Guangyi studied art within the context of the Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao Zedong in the 1970’s. Wang enrolled at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from the oil painting department of the academy in 1984. Wang currently lives and works in Beijing, China.

From 12 January to 12 February 2016, [email protected] presents ‘Image Correction’, an exhibition showcasing Wang’s aesthetic expression of the political paradox. Wang illustrates major historical events, which we are unable to ignore. Through his works, Wang considers this series as him “playing a serious game”. The works in his new series have strong connections with each other – specific, relevant and correlating.

Our friends at Art Republik spoke with Wang to find out more about his iconic works and living through the Cultural Revolution.

What is it like being an artist in China during, and then after, the Cultural Revolution?

For an artist, all the experience is meaningful that will enrich his art creation after that. About the Cultural Revelation, for me, there is sense of the aesthetic feeling in that chaos.

导师, 2011

导师, 2011

Tell us more about your series ‘Great Criticism’ and why you decided to stop that series?

There is no doubt that what my ‘Great Criticism’ series represents are the two different ways of brainwashing: fetishism and socialist utopian. I put these two kinds of images with totally different meanings together, which leads to a paradox of them. Probably there are peculiarities of transcendence and theology behind this paradox. After I’ve created the images, the cultural context has changed, there is now risk that the original meaning of these images have been wrenched. The sense of this risk is one of the reasons that I stopped making the works of ‘Great Criticism’.

You’ve noted in your works political and commercial brainwashing through propaganda in this world. Having achieved great success as an artist, do you think you have been affected by any kind of propaganda at all?

Of course, all things that people experience will leave marks.

导师, 2011

导师, 2011

How are you dealing with criticism and government scrutiny towards the political and religious depictions in your works?

As an artist, I am concerned more about the mysterious and unknowable things. I’m not interested in practical and specific issues.

Tell us more about your new series ‘Image Correction’.

In my view, there are complex historical elements in images, and these elements have formed very complex historical memories for an artist’s creation today. When the artist arouses this memory, there is no doubt that the memory will be unconsciously corrected as individual interpretation. When I myself correct massive idol-like images, they come to mind as negative film. Hence, image correction.

*For more information, please visit www.mocaloewen.sg

Story Credits

This article was originally published in Art Republik

ITA Channels Batman at Beijing Auto Show

With styling that boasts sharp geometric angles on a black exterior, the ITA Karlmann King seems to come straight from the domain of a certain fictional caped crusader. It was unveiled by ITA at the Beijing Auto Show and we present the facts here as the AFP reported them, despite conflicting reports on the name (ITA vs IAT) so take note search engine robots, we aren’t trying to game anyone! The domestic carmaker had indicated that they were planning to put the car into a limited production of 10 units globally, but it turned out to be just a working prototype for now. Even in that state though, its eventual price is slated as a jaw-dropping $1.85 million – an amount of money that you could use to buy four Bentley Bentayga SUVs, a Lamborghini Huracán and a Ferrari 488 Spider.

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The SUV is hand-built on a Ford F-450 pickup truck chassis and stands at six-meters long. The cabin is still a work in progress, but it retains the Ford pickup dashboard setup. The only difference is that it’s dressed up with Alcantara wrapping and gold accents. With seats for only four, the interior space feels like a limo, and to ramp up the luxury factor there are tables for rear seat passengers, a bespoke porcelain set for drinking tea, and a champagne cooler. In a nod to the Rolls-Royce starlight headliner, the roof liner is full of optic lights, and there’s so much wood you’d think you were in a log cabin.

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Though it seems only an eccentric billionaire like Bruce Wayne would want to get in on this, especially at that cost, China has no shortage of excessive spenders. Well, the current situation does not inspire confidence even in that… Still, this appears to be the strategy ITA is basing this model on – uniqueness and exclusivity, something which is extremely desirable among the rich over there. Whoever can find the spending power to splurge on this metal monster can well expect himself to be the envy of the roads.

Still, we have to wonder what that excessive price tag is about since there is nothing particularly special about this model. It is easily more than 20 times the price of a Ford F-450, which it basically is. Also, we aren’t sure if the maker is called ITA or IAT as the AFP source this story is built on calls it ITA but other sources, including Bloomberg call it IAT…

This story was built on an AFP base, is not Batman-shaped in any way, and is absolutely free for your entertainment.

Porsche Cayman Boosted to 718 in Beijing

When the Cayman came out in 2005, it was seen as a ‘lower-tier’ model, if such a thing can be said for a marque like Porsche. This was probably a reaction to the Cayman’s accessibility than anything else. Over time, Porsche has tailored it into a model more than able to hold its own. Now, at the Beijing Auto Show, the 718 (a similar uplift was done on the Boxster) is the version of the Cayman that keeps itself affordable, while still providing the best specs. The car will go on sale September, and will cost €51,623 (a price sitting below the Boxster), while the special S variant will cost €64,118.

First thing to note is the exterior, which features sharpened lines and a redesigned nose for larger air intakes. The sills are etched deeper and the side vents are bigger and boomier. There’s a new diffuser and exhaust design on the back. All this keeps in with a keener and more developed muscularity to the whole frame.

On the other hand, like the Boxster, the Cayman’s had its insides turned-out as well. The flat-six has been swapped out with a more environmentally adequate (no internal combustion engine could be called eco-friendly) flat four-cylinder turbocharged unit. Rest easy though, speed freaks, because the car is even faster than before. The base 2-liter model offers 300hp, a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 275km/h when specified with Porsche’s PDK paddle-shift transmission. If you want a slightly sportier thrust, the S version will have a 2.5-liter engine and a variable geometry turbo, delivers 350hp, a 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 285km/h via a PDK transmission. This speed combines with sharper steering, wider rear wheels for grip, an upgraded suspension, and a powerful braking system as standard.

Porsche-Cayman-Interior

On the interior tech front, the Cayman sports an infotainment system with all the latest gen features, such as extensions for smartphones, and access to Apple CarPlay as well as Porsche Car Connect. For those that want to tick all the option boxes, they can add the Sport Chrono Package and the active suspension management system – their controls are now mounted on the steering wheel as a rotary dial, just like on the 918 Spyder hypercar.

All this bodes well for the Cayman, at least on paper. When it ships, we’ll see whether the verdict is justified.

 

This story was written in-house, with an AFP story as the source and AFP images.

Future Alternatives: What’s Next For Chinese Cars?

With the Beijing Auto Show ongoing this week, some of the important questions being talked about involve solving some huge problems attached to the idea of transport – such as the issue of pollution, or how to fix China’s road congestion. Electric cars and driverless cars may be the next big thing in the Chinese automobile scene but quite a lot of work is needed to get these measures off on the right track.

Electric Measures

Everyone has a general picture of Chinese smog and air pollution as a big problem but fixing it has always been quite rough. China’s government, though, is turning to electric cars as the key to solving the health crisis. Only one percent of the cars owned by the huge populace are actually electric cars, but that accounts for much. The country already took the number one spot for electric models last year with some 247,000 “zero emission” cars sold — quadruple the number in 2014 — according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. To incentivize drivers, the government is giving up to 55,000 yuan subsidies ($8,500) for each car, and electric cars are even exempt from traffic restrictions in China’s congested major cities.

Yet, while electric cars are more popular worldwide, particularly high-end brands like Tesla, the hefty price tags and restricted driving range means it’s still a niche market. Their evolution has been mainly state-subsidised, as in Norway, which has the world’s highest penetration at 17 percent of new sales in 2015. Still, the sizable market in China tantalizes many manufacturers.

Jean-Francois Belorgey, an expert with consultancy EY, predicted that by 2020, up to 750,000 electric cars will be sold in China every year. “China is perhaps the one place in the world where the automobile industry can achieve the economy of scale needed to bring down costs,” he said. In the meantime, the government is aiming for the loftier goal of at least five million rechargeable cars on the roads by 2020.

Both domestic manufacturers and foreign manufacturers are already planning their models and releases. One of these, on the domestic front, is market leader BYD, which also makes the Denza brand in a joint venture with Daimler. France’s Renault plans to release its Fluence ZE in China in 2017, and PSA group will be showing a unique C-Elysee electric sedan at the Beijing show that is due next year. Chinese companies have also provided funding for Western firms’ development projects, including Britain’s Aston Martin and the US’s Faraday Future, which sees itself as a possible competitor to Tesla.

Still, this isn’t the end of the problem. Ben Scott, an expert of electric cars with IHS, noted that it was merely “moving the CO2 from the exhaust pipe to a power plant somewhere” and, although it addresses the issue of “the concentration of particles”, it helps way less for the greenhouse effect. As long as power is still generated in carbon-intensive ways, the problem will still stick.

Drive Less

While many people would argue that the joy of the car comes from the control of the ride, the larger and more pragmatic Chinese populace are less particular about that. According to a survey by Roland Berger consultants in 2015, which found 96 percent of Chinese would consider an autonomous vehicle for almost all everyday driving, compared with 58 percent of Americans and Germans. We’ve heard, seen and perhaps experienced the horror stories of the accidents, often captured on Youtube and propagated on social media, and that probably accounts for the appeal – better safety through autonomous technology.

Still, the road has many flaws, especially because of large questions looming about the technology itself. “If you have someone jumping out in front of an autonomous car, does the car have to choose between killing that person, or swerving and crashing and killing the passenger?” asked Robin Zhu, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. Quite a paradox worthy of Isaac Asimov himself, if you ask me. Yet, Chinese businesses are ready to jump into the fray, taking the same path as companies like Google, BMW, Volvo, and Toyota.

Last week, ahead of the Beijing Auto Show opening on Monday, two self-driving Changan cars made a mountainous 2,000 kilometre (1,200 mile) journey from Chongqing in the southwest to the capital in the country’s first long-distance autonomous vehicle test. Another Chinese Internet giant, LeECO, is also venturing into autonomous technologies, unveiling Wednesday in Beijing an electric car that can park itself and be summoned to its owner’s location via smartphone. And late last year Baidu tested China’s first locally designed driverless vehicle, a modified BMW, with a 30 kilometre ride through the streets of Beijing.

The ready market is also bringing in interested parties from the outside, with top companies aiming to refine their driverless technologies. Swedish manufacturer Volvo, owned by China’s Geely since 2010, this month announced plans to test drive up to 100 of its vehicles on Chinese roads this year. Changan, a partner of Ford, is set to roll out commercial autonomous vehicles for motorways from 2018, while mass production of driverless city cars is projected to begin in 2025. The ultimate prize, notes the analysts, will be when mass transport firms such as taxi-hailing giant Uber, or its Chinese rival Didi, can deploy huge fleets of robot taxis.

On the logistical side of things, analysts are less optimistic. Production costs were still too high to make a robot taxi fleet viable, BCG’s Mosquet said. “There are still many questions to be resolved” before fully autonomous vehicles can be put into public use, said Jeremy Carlson, a senior analyst for HIS, pointing to an inadequate infrastructure and “chaotic traffic situations” on roads shared with cyclists and pedestrians.

In the push towards the future, though, it may be hard to stop moving. The only way to face the various hard-hitting issues within the country is an open mind, and a will for innovation.

Beijing Auto Show Blows Hot and Cold

The global car industry is going through a roller coaster ride right now, with sales peaking in many markets yet many of the biggest players find themselves embroiled in scandals. As the Beijing Auto Show opens April 24, the industry faces both more sobering news and exuberant breakthroughs. According to consulting firm McKinsey, auto sales growth is projected to grow in China by just five percent annually over the next five years. China is the world’s number one auto market so if things pan out as McKinsey say they will, there will be much pain to go around.

The bright spot though is hinted at in the image we used above. That is the new concept car from LeSee, the automotive division of Chinese tech firm LeEco, and it is packed with impressive high tech offerings, including a one-piece glass roof, from windscreen to rear window. The BBC says it makes a Tesla Model S look “downright ordinary.” Before we go back to the doom and gloom, the other bit of interesting news here is that LeEco is the major investor backing Faraday Future, the US-based start-up we reported on here.

“After years of double-digit growth, China’s auto market is slowing down. A cooling economy is one of the primary factors in the deceleration of what remains the world’s largest market for automobiles,” McKinsey said.

Domestic and international carmakers face increasingly cutthroat competition for consumers whose preferences have become “more practical”, it said.

The anti-corruption campaign under President Xi Jinping has reduced the appeal of luxury cars, it added, and “significant numbers” of consumers believe they can meet their transport needs by leasing, co-owning, or renting vehicles.

“There’s no sign of momentum,” said Michael Dunne, CEO and strategist at Dunne Automotive in Hong Kong. Competition is growing and “the China profit machine is slowing”, he said.

Competition for market share has become more intense as Chinese carmakers have improved their offerings, particularly in the surging SUV segment, where sales leaped by over 50 percent in the first quarter of 2016 as consumers opted for bigger cars on the country’s hair-raising roads.

Namrita Chow, principal China analyst at IHS automotive, said that international manufacturers can no longer “overlook the Chinese brands, saying, oh they don’t have what it takes to be a competitor. Those days are gone.”

Indeed, LeEco is a prime example of what Chinese firms are bringing to the table, or promising to at any rate. LeEco and Aston Martin announced a partnership February that will allow the British automaker to build its own fully electric ride, likely based on the Rapide saloon.

If nothing else, this illustrates that fears of a slowdown are offset to some extent by opportunities created by the rapidly changing industry, analysts said.

GM China president Matt Tsien said earlier this year that the global giant “expects the automotive industry to change more over the next five to 10 years than in the past 50 years”.

General Motors’ president Dan Ammann pointed to “the inevitable march toward autonomous vehicles” as an opportunity, saying: “We think self-driving cars have the ability to significantly make roads safer”.

More than half of over 3,500 consumers surveyed by McKinsey wanted to upgrade their cars and report co-author Paul Gao told AFP: “The growth is still solid. Five percent out of a big base still makes China a very attractive market.”

 

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report and various news reports, including the BBC report cited. The image featured is from the AFP.

Italian Wines on the Rise

As he swirls a glass of yellowy green wine made from the trendy pecorino grape, Fabio Centini purrs with enthusiasm.

“I hadn’t even heard of this grape 15 years ago,” the Italian-born chef-restaurateur from Calgary, Canada tells AFP between slurps at a tasting of top pecorinos from the Offida area of the Marche region.

“But it is exactly what my customers want. People are looking for new varietals, new experiences.”

Centini is one of 55,000 industry professionals from 141 countries gathered in Verona this week for VinItaly, a giant showcase for the best the country has to offer the world’s wine lovers.

The 50th edition is the biggest yet and crammed aisles speak volumes about the buoyant state of a sector that employs 1.25 million people and produces more wine than any other country.

Led by a boom in sales of prosecco, which has surpassed champagne to become the world’s favorite bubbly, exports of all forms of Italian wine hit a record 5.4 billion euros ($6.2 billion) last year, up more than five percent on 2014.

The trend looks like continuing. A Mediobanca survey found 92 percent of producers anticipating higher sales in 2016, underpinned by investment which grew 18 percent overall last year and by 37 percent in the surging sparkling sector.

Strength in Diversity

It is all a far cry from the days when Italian wine was synonymous internationally with straw-wrapped bottles of chianti of variable quality and sometimes questionable provenance.

“They have taken out a bit of the monkey business,” says Centini, a VinItaly regular since 1990. “There was a time when you didn’t always know what was in the bottle.”

Although recent growth has been led by sparkling wine and strong sales of easy-drinking pinot grigio and other competitively priced varietals, there has also been an awakening of interest in Italy’s indigenous red grapes.

These include aglianico, negroamaro, nero d’avola and primitivo (which shares its DNA with zinfandel) from the south and Sicily, and montepulciano from the central region of Abruzzo, where producers have been quietly picking up international awards in recent years.

The sheer variety can be baffling for consumers and a shortage of strong producer brands is seen as a weakness on global markets.

But Italian wine expert Andrea Grignaffini says diversity is becoming a strength.

“Often the same grape gets made in a different style in different parts of the country, even in the same zone. It is complicated even for us Italians to understand.

“But that’s Italy. And the industry is moving so fast now, fashions change. When the moment of one wine passes, it is good to have others to take their place.”

Change is also afoot at the top end of Italian wines with producers in Tuscany and Piedmont battling to catch up with the Asia-driven gains of France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy.

International critics have recognised a major leap forward in terms of the quality and consistency of the best brunellos, chianti classicos, barolos and barbarescos since the 1980s.

“Better than France”

But Stephanie Cuadra, of leading Tuscan estate Querciabella, said Italy’s fine wine champions also had to be able to transmit “a sense of origin, a sense of place,” in the way that Burgundy, where tiny parcels of land are classified on the basis of minute variations of soil and micro-climates, has done very successfully.

“In terms of fine wine, we are an obvious alternative to France and as palates mature in emerging markets they become more curious, it is a natural evolution,” Cuadra said.

Moves towards officially recognising sub-zones in Italy’s leading wine areas have got bogged down by local battles over re-classifying areas in a way that will inevitably produce winners and losers.

While insisting that Italy’s wines are better than their French rivals, even Prime Minister Matteo Renzi acknowledges that the French have done a better job of selling their wines on global markets.

French wine retails at prices that are 120 percent higher on average than Italy’s output and total Gallic export earnings are some 60 percent higher.

“In the last 20 years, Italy has let too many opportunities slip by in this sector,” Renzi said during a visit to VinItaly on Monday.

The flipside is that there is still plenty of room for growth, particularly in Asia, which accounted for only 3.4 percent of Italian exports last year. Italian producers are noticeably underperforming in China, which increased imports by 60 percent overall in 2015 but by only 15 percent from Italy.

That was one reason why Renzi’s guest at VinItaly was Jack Ma. The Alibaba boss told his audience that the Internet could provide a digital bridge linking Italy’s 300,000 producers with what is potentially the biggest wine market in the world.

“China will be home to half a billion upper-to-middle-class consumers in the next 10 years,” Ma said. “You must reach out to them where they are.”

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Energies Unleashed: Singapore Art Exhibition

Opera Gallery Singapore, is proud to present ‘ENERGIES UNLEASHED – Katrin Fridriks & Liu Jiu Tong’ from now to 1 May 2016. Through their works, this exhibition explores the pictorial vocabularies of energy and movement in various stages of metamorphosis. Applied through visual manifestations of suspended movement – both physical and metaphysical – Katrin Fridriks and Liu Jiu Tong seek stillness within incessant changeability.

Katrin Fridriks (b. 1974) is an abstract painter from Iceland, currently living and working in Paris and Luxembourg. Addressing the political atmosphere of her remote home country and the controversy of scientific innovation, her explosive works are striking in their dynamics of color and movement. Maintaining a liquid-like viscosity on the canvas, Fridriks’ paintings are surreal and incessant, resulting in striking and energetic works that entrance the viewers down to the finest details. Using vivid and explosive strokes to create her works, Fridriks’ works of abstract expressionism are as emotional as they are intelligent.Energies-Unleashed-Art-Republik-Katrin-Fridriks

By concentrating the ‘explosions’ in the centre of her paintings, Fridriks confers a sense of mastery to them which cannot be attained in all-overs, where the paint covers all parts of a canvas in a similar pattern. Here all the energy is concentrated in an epicentre, a centre of gravity. Many of Fridriks’ works indeed look like they had a source of energy at their heart rather than having a form being imposed on them from the outside. The feeling that her paintings emerge from the centre contributes to the feeling of self-containment they evoke.

Liu Jiu Tong (b. 1977) was born in Suide, a province in the highlands of northwest of China. He graduated from the Art Institute of Xi’an and was influenced by the ancient and majestic styles of ChangAn art. He went on to work in Beijing before moving to Shanghai, where the multicultural spirit of the city was an important influence to his style. The international cultural changes he witnessed enabled his art language to evolve, and his works are integrated with both Western technique and Eastern artistic concepts. As he was also heavily influenced by the Shanghainese way of life, his artworks are presented with the tensions and lively rhythms of life.

Despite his young age, Liu’s artworks have been exhibited in many prestigious international shows such as: the International Contemporary Art Exhibition of Paris and the ninth Contemporary Art Exhibition in Milano. In particular his painting ‘Distant Traveler’ was nominated for the seventh International Price Arte Laguna. A great number of his works have been published in the Sotheby and Christie’s catalogues.Energies-Unleashed-Art-Republik-Liu-Jiu-Tong

For ‘ENERGIES UNLEASHED – Katrin Fridriks & Liu Jiu Tong’, the works of Fridriks feature infinitely expanding color splashes across finely crafted surfaces. Including subtle influences of Japanese calligraphy and almost imperceptible line details, Fridriks’ artworks depict the natural interconnectivity of different elements that can or cannot be directed and controlled.

Interplaying the abstract and the figurative, Liu’s unrestrained landscapes are inspired by renowned Chinese poets of the Warring States and Tang Dynasty. Eluding to form, Liu expresses a lyricism swathed in tenacious layers of paint, vigorously applied and condensed onto canvas like a fleeting moment trapped between open fingers.

Through the spectacular works of these two artists, they reflect on the beauty of movement captured in the present moment.

*For more information, please visit www.operagallery.com

Volvo Ocean Race Sails for Hong Kong in 2018

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, will see the sailing event visit Hong Kong. Over the course of nine months and 40,000 nautical miles (74,080 km) the fleet of sailing yachts will stop off at more than 11 host ports.

“For 43 years the Volvo Ocean Race has visited the majority of the world’s most prestigious and iconic ports, with one obvious exception and that port has possibly the most wondrous waterfront in all the world,” Jon Bramley, the event’s director of news said at a press conference in the city.

Come February 2018, the participants will be visiting the site of the former Kai-Tak airport that is now an ocean cruise terminal, during the 13th edition of the race for up to two weeks. Other cities hosting the race that starts in 2017, include Alicante, Spain; Newport, Rhode Island; Auckland, New Zealand; Capetown, South Africa and well as Lisbon, Cardiff and Gothenburg before finally ending in the Hague, Netherlands.

The route has yet to be confirmed by organizers where competitors will spend weeks at sea between ports piloting their identical 65ft monohulls through treacherous waters. The seven teams made up of members from 19 nationalities including China, Ireland, Argentina and Antigua participated in that edition of the race will survive on a diet of freeze-dried food and a maximum of four hours of sleep a day.

US Cruise Liner Sets Sail for China

China’s population of 1.3 billion seems to hold great promise for the US-based cruise liner Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCL), who announced Tuesday they were to venture into China next year with a ship tailor-made for the market there. The Norwegian Joy plans to go into service in March 2017, where it will be based at Shanghai and Tianjin ports, and provide services geared towards Chinese tastes like food options, casinos, mahjong rooms, as well as duty free shopping. The 20-deck liner will have a capacity of 3,900 passengers and joins 12 other liners that have homeports in China, nine of them foreign-owned

The country’s burgeoning middle class spells a large potential for rising demand, noted Steve Odell, NCL senior vice president and managing director for the Asia Pacific. Data from the Cruise Lines International Association reported that China accounted for about 50 percent of the cruise trips within Asia that same year. Cruise operators are eager to grab a slice of the Chinese market, which could grow to nearly $10 billion in cruise package sales by 2018 from around $6.8 billion in 2013.

Odell has plans running already, with an office open in Singapore for the Southeast Asian market. “If you think of things on the macro scale, there’s a lot of confidence that (ships) going to China (are) going to get filled up. What will happen probably is that there’ll be a lot more pressure on price than before, but that is normal supply and demand economics,” he said. Further data showed that about 2.2 million, or 10 percent, of the 23 million passengers who made cruise trips worldwide in 2014 came from Asia, with this figure only set to rise.

Odell notes that they’re “still in the… infancy of developing a cruise market in China”. Hopefully, this development will lead in to further and more interesting developments for the Asian industry.

Bang & Olufsen: New Major Shareholder from China

Chinese billionaire Qi Jianhong, is now the biggest shareholder in Danish company Bang & Olufsen. His stock in the brand that produces luxury stereo systems and TVs is now held through two companies that he owns. Sparkle Roll Group Ltd. BVI and Sparkle Roll Holdings Ltd.BVI now own a total stake of 18.7% in the company.

Negotiations of the purchase by China’s 422nd richest man who has a net worth of 8 billion Yuan, came after a drawn out sales process by other shareholders. With bleak results that resulted in no strategic buyers and one suitor — who eventually bought the stakes, the successful sale was unconfirmed up until Wednesday. His purchase of 5.67 million shares at a price that is 14% higher than the closing price, now allows management to shift its focus on turning the fate of the company around and in turn increasing sales.

While revenue at the upmarket consumer electronics firm is far from shabby, the company reported a net loss for December to February. The net loss is attributed to the high-cost of the electronics where a television can set you back nearly $8,000 at a time when prices of flat screen sets continue to take a dive. The healthy sales is thought to be due to the strong performance of B&O PLAY — a line of standalone, portable products targeting a generation that listens to music on smartphones instead of home hi-fi systems.

This article was written in-house based on an article in Bloomberg Technology.