October 3rd, 2011
04:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – An estimated 292,000 foreign maids live and work in this metropolis of more than 7 million people.  Most hail from the Philippines or Indonesia, work long six-day weeks from Monday to Saturday and many retire each night to the cramped rooms allotted to them in their own employers’ homes.

But on Sundays they break free.

On their one day off, and having few, cheap places to socialize in this dense urban jungle, they flock to the open and free spaces of Hong Kong’s downtown Central district – its parks, sidewalks and benches – and set up camp for the day. FULL POST

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September 22nd, 2011
12:53 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Care for some Japanese sushi, Spanish paella or Vietnamese pho for your next meal?

Or maybe just a steamy bowl of white rice to go with your Filipino adobo, Indian red curry or Indonesian beef rendang?

About one of every two people in the world relies on rice as a staple food, according to the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute.

So if the price of rice jumps, nearly half of the global population could be impacted.

HSBC noted Tuesday that the cost of the consumable commodity is rising – and will continue to do so.
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September 21st, 2011
12:45 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Asia may not be the elixir to the world’s economic ills but it sure seems to be the pill that’s pushing one luxury goods maker to some great highs.

On Tuesday, Italian fashion house Prada announced a stratospheric 74.2% rise in net income for the period from January to July 2011, compared to the same period in 2010.

In hard cash numbers, that’s more than $244 million banked from the first half of this year versus $141 million from the first half of last year.

Who are the people powering these profits?
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September 20th, 2011
04:27 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – The lights are out at Jinko Solar. After three days of sometimes violent protests, China closed one of the company’s solar panel manufacturing plants.

The place: the town of Haining, about a two-hour drive southwest of Shanghai.

The reason: residents allege Jinko’s plant caused a mass die-off of fish and a cluster of cancer cases, including leukemia, in the local populace. 

The admission: Jinko Solar now says pollutants, with fluoride levels exceeding normal limits, may have washed from its factory into a nearby river because of improper storage.

Anger first erupted on Thursday when more than 500 people gathered outside Jinko’s factory gates demanding answers. Some protesters broke into the company compound, overturning several cars and damaging buildings.

By Monday, local police said they had detained more than 20 people - some protesters for stealing and a handful of Jinko employees for destroying the camera of two local journalists - and local officials had forced the factory to go dark.
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September 19th, 2011
06:25 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – When you think of buying a tablet computer, what brand comes to mind?

Well, if a soft-white, backlit Apple logo popped into your noggin, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, a recent consumer survey shows a whopping 85% of consumers first think of the Cupertino-based company before other competitors.

Just 4% of consumers surveyed first envisioned Samsung’s Galaxy in their hand, according to a survey from Change Wave Research. A mere 2% first imagined buying RIM’s Playbook over other brands.

When comparing operating systems, nearly seven of every 10 tablets sold between April and June of this year were Apple iPads, according to IDC, a London-based research firm.  In percentage terms, that was a rise from 65.7% in the first quarter to 68.3% in the second quarter.
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September 13th, 2011
02:55 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – It’s a different world when a European country, in this case Italy, can’t rely on its own neighbors to help with financial support. It’s a different world when it can’t even rely on the world’s biggest economic power, a still sluggish United States, to help prop it up. And you know it’s a different world when Europe’s third-largest economy calls out to the cash-rich People’s Republic of China for help.

But that is what appears to be happening.

Italy has basically invited China to make “significant” purchases of bonds and other assets to help the European country out of its financial debt crisis. And the interesting thing is that China could do it – if it wanted. And in fact, it’s also come to light that Chinese investors and Italian government officials have made trips to each other’s capitals for “talks” over the past few weeks.
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August 31st, 2011
02:20 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – After being accused of laundering $92 million, Carson Yeung is now free to leave the country after a Hong Kong court reversed a June decision barring the millionaire from travel.

Against prosecutor protestations, the judge doubled Yeung’s initial bail amount from $500,000 to $1 million. That bail was promptly met and Yeung is now free to fly to London on September 15. His current schedule has him in Britain for four days.

The reason Yeung is going? The 51-year old former hairdresser is owner and majority shareholder of British football team Birmingham City. His defense lawyer, Clive Grossman, argued his client needs to take care of his business interests and can only best do that through in-person meetings.
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August 23rd, 2011
01:38 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – When the going gets rough, China gets going. After six months of attempted neutrality between Moammar Gadhafi loyalists and rebel forces, Beijing now appears to have chosen sides. This, as the end-game seemingly nears for Libya’s leader of 42 years, whose hold on power wanes by the day.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry now says the country “respects the choice of the Libyan people” and wants “to play a positive role in rebuilding Libya”.

The translation? Beijing thinks Moammar Gadhafi is about to be booted out and it’s switching allegiance to the folks that may eventually run the country.

Looking at this move through the prism of an oil-sprinkled lens, Beijing’s motivation comes into focus a bit more. China is the world’s second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. And Libya, at peak production, was pumping out a total of 1.5 million barrels a day. And 11% of that went where? You guessed it - China.

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August 19th, 2011
11:46 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – I’m a guy who pretty much looks to the bright side of things. You know, that “glass is half-full, silver-lining” kind of guy. But reporting profusely – almost manically – on the volatility of Asia-Pacific markets these past few weeks, I have this knot in my stomach that tells me things will get worse before they get better.

You see, right after the 2008 global financial crisis, Asia-Pacific markets made significant gains against their U.S. and European counterparts. Case in point, throughout 2009, the Dow rose about 15% while the main indexes in Australia, Hong Kong, Korea and China rose from 30% to 75%.
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August 18th, 2011
10:38 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Good economic news was lacking in Asia-Pacific this Thursday. With nothing to cling to, Japan’s Nikkei and Australia’s ASX 200 fell in morning trading. The Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite joined them down the slide in the afternoon. By the close, all major markets had fallen between 1% to 2%.

The strength of the Japanese yen hit export-related stocks hard, pulling the Nikkei down 1.25%. In early morning trade, the yen touched 76.41 to the U.S. dollar, creeping ever closer to its post-war record of 76.25. Toshiba and Hitachi were the biggest export losers all day, closing down 4% to 4.5%. As of 5pm Hong Kong time, the yen was trading at 76.61 to the dollar.
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