Tag Archives: China

9 Breathtaking Places You Need To See Before You Die

Tulip Fields, Holland.

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

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 Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan.

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Mendenhall Ice Caves, Juneau, Alaska.

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Bamboo Forest, Japan.

The Bamboo Forest and some great Twitter Lists to follow

Tianzi Mountains, China.

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Hang Son Doong, Vietnam.

A cascading waterfall in Hang Son Doong.

Lake Retba, Senegal.

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Zhangye Danxia Landform, China

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David Cameron Opens Sina Weibo Account to Repair China’s ‘Hurt Feelings’

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and a retinue of more than 100 business representatives — the largest-everBritish trade delegation to go to China — descended on Beijing Monday. Cameron met with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, discussing a multibillion-dollar free trade deal between China and the EU, as well as a separate one with just the UK that the British government says could generate up to £1.8 billion ($3 billion) per year for the economy.

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Cameron is also in China to do some damage control. Relations between the two countries have been cool since Cameron met the Dalai Lama last May, prompting the Chinese foreign ministry to claim that he had “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.” It didn’t hurt UK-China trade — British exports to China were 20% higher in the first three quarters of 2013 than in 2010 as a whole — but British officials think it could be boosted even more.

Thus, to assuage the hurt feelings of the Chinese, Cameron became one of the first leaders to open an account on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, joining Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Cameron also penned an editorial in a Chinese financial-news publication, Caixin, that called for ”a partnership of growth and reform that would help the achievement of the Chinese dream as well as long-term prosperity for Britain.”

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David Cameron’s Sina Weibo page. He has 158,172 followers. Sina Weibo

Cameron’s Weibo account already has more than 150,000 followers and thousands of comments on the six messages he’s so far posted — not bad for four days. But not all of the comments welcome his charm offensive. Responding to Cameron’s latest post on a ceremony for a £4.5 billion deal for British carmaker Jaguar Land Rover to provide 100,000 cars to China’s National Sales Company, one Weibo user said, “Now you’ve got the money. Go back and don’t see the Dalai Lama again.” Another blogger said, “If the 19th century belonged to the British empire and the 20th century was the US’s empire, than the 21st century must be the century of the Chinese empire!”

Cameron and his delegation have two more days to win over the Chinese public. In that time, analysts expect a deal announcing Chinese investment in British infrastructure projects. After meeting with Cameron, Li said China is interested in cooperatingwith the UK on its controversial high-speed rail project and more nuclear power. China Nuclear Corp, as part of a consortium led by Électricité de France, is building two nuclear reactors in the UK. Another Chinese firm is building a second financial district on the outskirts of London.

A single Bitcoin was worth $10 a year ago — today it’s worth $1,000

The value of a single Bitcoin surpassed $1,000 on popular Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox today.A year ago, it was worth $10.

The value of the crypto-currency has increased by more than 100X since then, and gone up by 500% since the beginning of November.

Saying we are in the midst of a Bitcoin boom is putting it lightly. No one knows how high it will go, but signs indicate that the value will just keep rising.

Many attribute the recent explosion of Bitcoin’s value to China. However there are other forces at work. Bitcoin started to attract attention from tech and mainstream media, telling stories of Bitcoin millionaires and generating a ton of buzz that brought Bitcoin in from the fringes of the hacker world.

Secondly, a crop of startups such as Coinbase are building wallets, exchanges, and mining machines that make it easier to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoins.

A couple days ago, a friend chose to pay me back by with a fraction of a Bitcoin rather than cash. That would never have happened a year ago.  As the friction of transacting with Bitcoin goes down, more people want to get involved, and the value goes up.

One of the arguments against Bitcoin is that it is not useable in the real world. That too, is changing.

More than 250 retailers are banding together in Bitcoin Black Friday, so you can make purchases using Bitcoin with almost no payment fees. Virgin Galactic recently announced that it would accept Bitcoin for space flights, and the first Bitcoin ATM in Canada has done nearly $1,000,000 in transactions in less than a month.

Bitcoin also got a big legislative win last week, in what the Washington Post described as a “Bitcoin lovefest.” The United States Department of Justice and Securities and Exchanges Commission argued in favor of Bitcoin’s viability in a Senate hearing, receiving support from Congressmen, senior figures from the Obama administration, and justice department and law enforcement officials.

The price shot up from $600 to $750 that day, and have continued to climb since.

MELTDOWN: BITCOIN CRASHES TO $576

Bitcoin fell from a high of $1,079 to a low of $576 today. This is according to data from Mt. Gox. Also, this represents a breathtaking 46% crash.

Currently, Bitcoin is back to the $700 level. This is still down a whopping 35%.

The sharp moves come in the wake of China’s clampdown on the controversial digital currency.

Earlier this week, the People’s Bank of China announced it was barring the country’s banks from handling the Bitcoin. (That Thursday announcement was followed by a 30% intraday crash.)

That was followed by this announcement from Baidu, aka “the Chinese Google”:

Due to the recent fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin larger unable to protect the interests of users, in response to the risk of state-controlled bitcoin spirit Baidu music accelerate decision to suspend with immediate effect from accepting bitcoin buy accelerate music services.

Horrific price volatility has been one of the biggest criticisms.

This week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch currency strategist David Woo initiated coverage of Bitcoin, assigning a $1,300 fair value.

“We believe Bitcoin can become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money transfer providers,” wrote Woo in a 14-page note to clients. “As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth, in our view.”

Here’s a Bitcoin price chart from Clark Moody:

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Shanghai Tower (650 meters)

Raskalov and Russian photographer Vadim Mahora broke into and climbed the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower, soon to be China’s tallest and the world’s second tallest skyscraper at 632 meters (2,074 feet) high. Although the tower will eventually boast the world’s fastest elevators (reaching 40mph), the pair had to climb the 120 flights of stairs by foot (taking them about two hours); they then spent another 18 hours sleeping and waiting for the weather to clear. The staggering resulting images show not just the dizzying heights, but also fantastic views of the adjacent Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center (together, the trio of buildings that are re-defining the Shanghai skyline).

Bitcoin bounces back in China to top $1,000

ILLUSTRATION - Bitcoins photographed at the oline coin dealer 'BitcoinCommodities' in Berlin, Germany, 28 November 2013. Bitcoin is an open source peer-to-peer electronic money and payment network. The coins carry a numerical code called private key that provides the bitcoin with it's value. Bitcoins can be used for digital payments or are bought and sold at a variable price against the value of other currencies. Photo: JENS KALAENE

Bitcoin has bounced back in China, helping to push the virtual currency back above $1,000 a unit, as exchanges devise work-around solutions to the regulatory crackdown last month.

When Chinese regulators banned financial institutions from doing business with Bitcoin exchanges last month, the move was thought by many to spell the end for the virtual currency in China. Would-be buyers were told they would no longer be able to transfer cash onto exchanges via digital payment platforms, in effect making it impossible to buy Bitcoins.

“In the darkest hours we thought everything was going to come crashing down and the game was over,” said Bobby Lee, co-founder of BTC China, one of the country’s top exchanges.

But China’s Bitcoin brigades have defied that gloomy outlook to start the new year much as they left off 2013 – with a dominant share of global transactions in the virtual currency.

In the US, Bitcoin received a further fillip after Zynga, the provider of online social network games, said it would begin a pilot programme to accept the virtual currency.

Players of FarmVille 2, a farming simulation game, CastleVille, ChefVille, CoasterVille, Hidden Chronicles, Hidden Shadows and CityVille, will have the option to make in-game purchases using Bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s survival in China has helped push the currency back above $1,000 a unit, about double its value just a few weeks earlier. This resilience is testament to the agility of the leading Chinese exchanges. Faced with the crackdown on third-party payment systems, the exchanges have all devised work-around solutions, some in legal grey areas.

One exchange, BTCtrade, has continued using a third-party payment provider even though the central bank banned such links with Bitcoin exchanges. A customer service representative for the exchange said its payment provider had yet to receive a formal notice from regulators and so remained active.

Other exchanges have looked for loopholes. Huobi, a Beijing-based exchange, allows users to make direct deposits in its own corporate bank account or even the personal one of Li Lin, its founder, with the company then brings the money onto its trading platform.

“We are a company and we have a business selling a product, and we need to settle accounts. This is totally legal. Yes, we can’t co-operate with payment providers but we can still conduct our own business,” Mr Li said.

OkayCoin has tried both approaches. It has worked with 95gateway.com, a small payment provider still willing to do business with Bitcoin exchanges, but this payment company has struggled to cope with the volume of transactions. At the end of December, OkayCoin created a corporate account similar to that of Huobi to handle deals. “For the two weeks that funds could not be added to our exchange, it was as painful as sitting on a thorn. The days went by like years,” it said in a statement on its website when unveiling the new corporate account method for transferring funds.

The competitive landscape in the Chinese Bitcoin market has changed dramatically as a result. BTC China, which became the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange by transaction volume in November, saw its share of the global market plunge from more than 30 per cent to less than 5 per cent virtually overnight after it stopped users from making new cash deposits.

Huobi, its rival, quickly plugged that gap, and then some. It has hosted 58 per cent of global Bitcoin transactions over the past seven days, according to Bitcoinity, a website that tracks the virtual currency.

BTC China is beginning to fight back. It has opted not to use the corporate account transfer method out of concern that regulators might deem this to be the same as using a third-party payment provider. However, it has created a voucher system that allows people with money on the exchange to sell the right to that cash to people who want to buy Bitcoins.

To regain transaction volume, it also unveiled a new market maker incentive this weekend that allows people dealing in Bitcoins to earn a small fee.

“We want to find a viable way to align our business with what the government wants to see,” BTC China’s Mr Lee said. “We are trying to compete fairly, without crossing the line in terms of ethical and legal boundaries.”

Yet the resurgent Bitcoin optimism in China still faces one major hurdle. By banning financial institutions from dealing with Bitcoin, the central bank has made it all but impossible for the virtual currency to be used in transactions for goods and services. Unlike social gaming company Zynga and other international companies that accept Bitcoin as a payment option, China’s big internet companies have stopped using the virtual currency. Yet even on this front, China’s Bitcoin enthusiasts see a sliver of hope.

“In the short term, using Bitcoin for payment or as a currency is clearly not allowed,” said Mr Li of Huobi. “But in the long term, it will depend on the government’s perspective, and that will be shaped by lots of other factors, including the stances of other countries.”