The Year of the Horse

March 13, 2014


China celebrated the Year of the Horse with weeklong holidays but reduced the quantity of fireworks so as not to aggravate the already choking air pollution. Chinese Central Television’s Spring Festival Gala is a four hour variety show. The gala features “wholesome family entertainment” – with a not-so-subtle patriotic message. There were more than 700 million people watching the show around the globe including us in Philadelphia. Today’s satellite TV and internet technology make this fairly easy to do. The Year of Horse officially began on January 31. Happy Year of Horse!

The horse is one of China’s favorite animals. It provided reliable transportation for people before the automobile – which was not very long ago. So, traditionally, the horse has been a symbol for both traveling and speedy success. The Chinese love horses. Besides names like Gu and Li and Zhang, you may often hear the family name of “Ma” as well. Ma in Chinese characters means horse. Horses like to compete. They pursue freedom with passion and leadership. Most Chinese don’t use horses for farm work. Instead they use the ox. This is because Chinese have higher expectations for horses. Horses can help humans to win battles. Sitting on horseback implies that the person is from a noble or high ranking family. So people born in the Year of the Horse (it is said) tend to care about how they appear in the world – their dress, demeanor and speech.

Much like we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas here, the Chinese New Year means family get-togethers. That is the top priority for all Chinese whenever possible. This year a total of 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made during the Chinese New Year holiday as workers head home in the world’s largest human migration and return. Officials anticipate 200 million more journeys will be made than last year and warn there will be significant strain on the transport system, with some travelers as usual struggling even to get a ticket. The railway system is expected to see 258 million passenger trips, up 7.9 percent from a year ago.

China’s huge population is often a big problem for Beijing – transportation, job opportunities, education, health care, power supply, food supply, water supply, retirement social benefits, and … you name it. How to you keep the world’s largest nation relatively stable and content. And this “problem” is also why China’s 1.3 billion population means great market opportunities for companies like GM, Ford, Apple, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, GSB, McDonald, Pizza Hut, Coke, Budweiser, Disneyland, Hollywood, “Ivy League” universities, United Airlines, Holiday Inn and thousands more U.S. companies. This year will provide new opportunities for many U.S. businesses, but things also continue to change fast in China. It’s not the same place that it was even a few years ago. We wish all our friends the best of luck in the Year of the Horse! Below is some of the latest news from various sources for your information.

China’s economy grows 7.7 percent in 2013
China’s economic growth decelerated in the final quarter of 2013 and appears set to slow further, adding to pressure on its leaders to shore up an expansion as they try to implement sweeping reforms. The world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.7 percent over a year earlier, down from previous quarter’s 7.8 percent, data showed Monday.

China’s manufacturing index falls in January
China’s official gauge of its manufacturing sector slipped to a five-month low in January, confirming a slowdown in factory activity in the world’s second largest economy. The monthly purchasing managers’ index (PMI) declined to 50.5 in January after recording 51 in December and 51.4 in November, according to the government’s National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. Any figure above the 50 mark indicates expansion of manufacturing activity while anything below that signals contraction.

Foreign direct investment in China rebounds 5.3 percent in 2013
Overseas investment into China rose 5.3 percent last year, bouncing back after declining in 2012 for the first time in three years. Foreign direct investment (FDI), which excludes financial sectors, totaled $117.59 billion last year, the commerce ministry said. The figure is up from the $111.72 billion posted in 2012, when it skidded 3.7 percent in the face of economic weakness in developed markets and a growth slowdown at home.

Leave a Reply