Emerging Markets Roundup: China


By Thomas Clouse

China announced plans last month to reduce its wealth distribution gap through a series of measures—such as raising minimum wages, loosening lending and deposit rates and increasing spending for education and affordable housing.

In January, China released its Gini coefficient, a measure of wealth distribution, for the first time in 12 years. The Gini coefficient ranges in value from zero to one, with zero representing equal distribution of wealth. China’s reading was a relatively high 0.474.

China’s most popular search engine, Baidu, reported that revenue grew more slowly in 2012 than in 2011. Its fourth-quarter revenue and operating profit rose by 41.6% and 24.0% respectively, down from 82.5% and 80.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, announced that he would retire in May.

Tension among China and its neighbors escalated with the Philippines formally filing charges against China with the United Nations over conflicting territorial claims. China questioned the jurisdiction of the UN to decide such matters. In a separate dispute, Japan accused China of targeting a Japanese warship with radar used for weaponry.