Wall Street Journal: China Watch: Minimum Wage Hike, Bubble Trouble, an iPhone Stove?

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher.
A list of what The Wall Street Journal’s reporters in China are reading and watching online. (NOTE: WSJ has not verified these items and doesn’t vouch for their accuracy.)

From the Chinese-language press:

* Shanghai will raise the minimum wage (最低工资) to 1450 yuan ($230) per month starting April 1, up from 1280 yuan per month, the Evening News reports. The municipal government also plans to raise the low-income subsidy threshold more than 19% to 5160 yuan per year for rural residents living on the city’s periphery, the largest increase since 1993. Both moves come less than a week before the meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, where the country’s widening wealth gap figures to be an important topic. [Original story in Chinese| analysis in English from the China Labour Bulletin]

* Outspoken economist Mao Yushi (茅于轼) says in an interview with the Southern Metropolitan Daily that the bursting of China’s property bubble is all but inevitable and that prices could fall by as much as 50%. The reason: Vast numbers of apartments that are sitting empty, a situation Mao says is unique to China. “How could it not burst?” he asks. “You would have to have people living in all of these properties for the [problem of] empty homes to be absorbed. Is that possible. I don’t think it’s possible.” His solution, unusual considering Mao’s free-market leanings, is a tax on empty apartments — an idea he concedes would be difficult to implement. [Original interview in Chinese | English translation from China Media Project]

* The latest diversion for China’s new population of millionaires? Hunting big game in Africa. According to an article in the state-run Guangzhou Daily, a growing number of wealthy Chinese are growing intrigued by overseas hunting adventures (狩猎团), with about 100 having taken part in such expeditions to date. The number of newly minted hunters is “continually on the rise,” the paper reports, citing one American operator currently running tours with prices as high as 500,000RMB (US$79,000). Locations on offer include South America, Oceania, Europe and even the North Pole, where hunters are encouraged to take aim at polar bears

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