When the last steel beam was installed on the 632-meter-tall Shanghai Tower on August 3, a tower that has taken six years to build, it became the tallest skyscraper in China and the second highest in the world.
At present, China's passion for building skyscrapers is comparable to that of the United States 100 years ago. Among the top 20 highest buildings in the world, half are in China and among the top 100, 43 are in China.
Unlike other office buildings, skyscrapers are choosy about their tenants, mainly targeting businesses in high-end sectors such as banking, financial and professional services and technology. However, according to the global real estate service provider CBRE, only a few skyscrapers in Asia can meet the tenant requirements of those in Manhattan, New York City. In second-tier Chinese cities like Shenyang, Chongqing and Tianjin, skyscrapers are facing the risk of oversupply because such cities are only national rather than global financial centers and are therefore unable to attract adequate financial institutions to move in.
The CBRE report also points out that China's skyscraper construction may foster corruption. As the government owns urban land, real estate developers might bribe local officials in order to obtain the approval for purchasing plots.
Another problem with skyscrapers is that they have produced cities with similar looks. Many high-rise buildings lack connections with their surroundings and look isolated and out of place. If developers stay on this track, the original styles of cities are in danger of disappearance.
Under-the-Counter Cash Influx Into Macao
Caixin Century Weekly
In recent years, mainland gamblers have poured into Macao, the only city in China where gambling is legal. As the Chinese Government restricts the amount of cash outbound travelers take out of the mainland and the country's UnionPay card is not allowed to withdraw cash in casinos, gamblers normally purchase items from jewelry and watch stores using UnionPay and sell them to pawnshops to get cash back.
In 2013, Macao's gambling industry raked in $45 billion and in the first half of 2014, 83 percent of the region's fiscal revenue came from gambling taxes. Nevertheless, behind the fast-paced deve-lopment of the region's gambling industry is a massive money influx from the mainland.
This cash flow, made possible by illegal bogus transactions, has caught the regional government's attention. In res-ponse, the Macao Government recently rolled out a series of measures to regulate the gambling industry. For instance, it shortened the maximum period of stopover for mainland travelers from seven to five days, beginning July 1. It also banned jewelry stores on the casino floors from adding new point-of-sale (POS) machines. Since May, UnionPay has started to crack down on cross-border POS machines used on Macao casino floors, which have been helping gamblers access cash from UnionPay credit cards.
In February, revenue for the Macao gambling industry increased 40.3 percent over the same period last year. However, the growth rate slowed month by month later and fell to single digit in May and even negative in June. Alarm bells are ringing for the local gambling industry.
Though Macao has sought to diversify its economy for many years, no substantial progress has yet been made. Breaking Macao's over-reliance on gambling revenue is now an urgent need amid the Central Government's crackdown on corruption and money laundering.
Targeting Medical Service Agents
Intermediary agents who trick patients in line for registration at big state-owned hospitals in Beijing into going to smaller healthcare facilities, subsequently charging them higher fees, have long been condemned by the public. The city's police recently arrested 113 people suspected of such offences and detained 109 of them. The Beijing police have urged patients to raise alerts regarding such actions and to call the police if they have been scammed.
These intermediary agents are often employed by small and medium-sized private hospitals and receive high payment for attracting patients there. They pretend to show sympathy for the patients seeking treatment at public hospitals, lying that they or their relatives have contracted similar diseases and have been cured at the hospital they want to recommend. Some patients eager to seek treatment, which is not always readily available at big hospitals due to strained medical resources, easily fall into their traps.
It is time that health, public security and industry and commerce authorities made a concerted effort to crack down on the problem in accordance with laws and regulations. Furthermore, the hospitals funding agents should be held responsible, receiving punishment for fostering such illegal activities.