Rags to Riches
Zhou Qunfei, Chairwoman of Lens Technology, is expected to become the richest woman in China with the upcoming IPO of her company, which primarily supplies firms such as Apple and Samsung with protective screen glass, among other products.
Zhou's life embodies the classic rags-to-riches story. She was born in 1970 in a small village in central China's Hunan Province and started working as a factory girl in Shenzhen-based Berne Optical in her 20s. She left Berne and founded Lens in 2003 in Shenzhen, and four years later relocated the business to her native province. Now, Lens and Berne occupy the top two positions within the ranks of major screen glass suppliers of top-level mobile brands in China.
Zhou holds approximately 90 percent of the stake of Lens Technology, based in Liuyang, a share reportedly worth 46.6 billion yuan ($7.52 billion).
Liu Fang, a seasoned air-safety official with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), was elected the first female secretary general of the ICAO, the UN's aviation arm, on March 11. In addition, she became the first Chinese to hold this position. Previously, she was director of the organization's Bureau of Administration and Services.
Liu, 53, is fluent in English and has a good command of French. She holds a PhD in international law, and is well versed in air and space law. Before joining the ICAO in 2007, Liu served in the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Liu will officially assume office on August 1 for a three-year term. The ICAO, founded in 1944 and headquartered in Montreal, Canada, sets safety standards and rules for air transport. It has 191 members, and in 2013, China was re-elected a Part I member of its Governing Council, a category denoting states of chief importance in air transport.
"We hope that our cross-Straits counterparts will join us in paying tribute to history."
Fan Liqing, spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, saying on March 11 that Taiwan representatives are welcome to attend commemorative activities for the 70th anniversary of victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression to be held later this year
"The disclosure of military information has not kept apace with the rapid development of the Internet and the surging demand from the public."
Major General Qian Lihua, a national political advisor who once headed the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, suggesting a bridging of the information gap between the public and the People's Liberation Army on March 11
"With half of the Chinese population gaining access to the Internet and the boom in the mobile Internet, the Internet has produced a growing influence on many sectors."
Robin Li, Chairman and CEO of Chinese-language search engine Baidu.com, speaking about the potential impact of China's newly proposed Internet Plus strategy, which will integrate the mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of things with modern manufacturing, on March 11
"Our principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once."
Abbas Araqchi, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, recently declaring a nuclear agreement is possible only if the imposed sanctions against the country are all lifted simultaneously
Online Drug Sales
Although e-commerce is thriving in China, online pharmacies are developing slowly owing to strict government controls. Notably, the online sales of prescription medicine are forbidden. The situation is about to change as it was reported earlier this year that authorities were planning to open up online sales of prescription medicine in the near future. If the policy is finally put in place, e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and JD.com will be able to wrest sales from hospitals.
However, the reality is that hospitals have long held a predominant position in the area of pharmaceutical sales in China. The majority of patients buy medicine from the same hospital in which they have had a consultation. They tend to drop in at pharmacy stores only occasionally to purchase over-the-counter medication. Drug sales account for over 45 percent of the income of public hospitals in China, far exceeding the international average of 15 percent.
Although health authorities require hospitals to permit freedom of choice for patients with regard to where they buy medicine, hospitals have been able to find ever more ingenuous ways to keep the prescription in house. Another problem is the matter of changing people's habits, as most of them are used to buying pharmaceutical products directly from hospitals in order to save time and trouble.
Although facing multiple obstacles, e-pharmacies are nonetheless expected to play a significant role in the lowering of medicine prices and the promotion of fair competition in the medical drug market.
Since its foundation, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has placed much importance on nurturing aircraft pilots from an early age. From 1996 to 2003, centers dedicated to the early training of aircraft pilots were established in 44 high schools across China and produced over 1,100 qualified pilots ready to serve with the PLAAF.
These training centers gathered together students who were roughly qualified to become pilots and steeped them in paramilitary management. However, problems with these centers were gradually exposed over time, exemplified by a decline in the number and competence of pilots they sent to the Chinese national air force.
In order to cultivate qualified PLAAF pilots, the country started a pilot scheme entitled the Teenager Aviation Class in 2011. Almost 100 students who had passed several rounds of written tests, an interview and a physical examination enrolled at five such classes in high schools in locales such as Changchun in Jilin Province and Wuhan in Hubei Province, to receive aviation education and training.
Three years later, 39 of these students were recruited by the PLAAF Aviation College of Changchun. The Teenager Aviation Class will be further expanded this year. Over 10 high schools plan to recruit a sum total of 1,000 students for this program. The PLAAF is hoping that the new program will furnish it with a greater number of competent pilots to satisfy the increasingly higher levels of demand in the profession.
The Prodigal Sons and Daughters Return
The government will take a series of measures to encourage migrant workers to return to their hometowns and start businesses of their own, Yang Zhiming, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, said at a recent press conference.
In the past few decades, a large number of farmers have left their hometowns and migrated to cities to work. Although this trend has accelerated the progress of industrialization in China, it has also put huge pressures on the environmental capacity and resources of cities and caused many economic and social problems. In addition, the unidirectional flow of labor from rural to urban areas has resulted in labor shortage and lowered productivity in the former.
Migrant workers who return to their hometowns to start businesses will contribute to balanced development between urban and rural areas. However, this brings into question how prepared rural areas are with respect to welcoming back their prodigal sons and daughters. After years of hard work in cities, migrant workers have accumulated a wealth of experience and capital which can be employed toward starting companies; however, this is far from enough in and of itself. A sound environment for starting businesses, the availability of resources, and the presence of business opportunities are also indispensable.
Local governments should bolster construction of infrastructure in rural areas, through measures such as improving telecommunications and roads. They should also roll out more favorable fiscal and tax policies for migrant worker-turned entrepreneurs and offer them training programs.