SHANGHAI DAILY

Established beauty brands top

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
KANTAR Worldpanel’s latest ranking indicates that established beauty brands like L’Oreal Paris and Pechoin managed to draw new consumers to their brands while remaining the most chosen brands of Chinese consumers, said a recent report released during the 23rd China Beauty Expo. Pechoin has remained the top skin care brand for two straight years. It is also the only beauty brand in China with over 100 million purchases. Maybelline is number one in the makeup category. Smaller players such as One Leaf, Chando and Papa Recipe have done a good job finding new shoppers in niche sectors such as facial mask treatments. Chinese brands are also adding effective herbal elements to lure consumers who prefer to use products with natural ingredients Last year Chinese consumers’ spending on skin-care products and cosmetics climbed 17 percent and 29 percent respectively, against a total rise of 4.3 percent in the consumer goods market, said Kantar Worldpanel.

Co-working sector set for rapid expansion

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
CO-WORKING is among the fastest growing sectors by space absorption in China’s office market and domestic operators are playing a dominant role, a research released yesterday by Cushman & Wakefield showed. By the end of the first quarter, the number of co-working locations opened in key Chinese cities has surged to about 550 from a few venues just some years ago, according to the global property services provider. “The rapid growth of co-working offices has reshaped the office property market landscape in the country on the back of several solid fundamentals,” said Jonathan Wei, managing director and head of occupier services at Cushman & Wakefield China. “They include an influx of capital from corporate and venture capital firms, the rise of millennials and a new age of entrepreneurialism, more multinational companies seeking flexible lease terms and cost-saving options, as well as advanced technology spurring the co-working revolution.” It’s notable that in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, domestic operators now account for 79 percent of the market in terms of the number of locations, the research showed. But the co-working sector in China is still in its infancy with some city markets being very fragmented. In Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the number of operators running only one location is quite huge, while mature markets like Beijing and Shanghai have most operators operating multiple locations. As demand for co-working space heats up and more property developers join in, the co-working sector in China will consolidate with many small players losing out to those with larger networks.

SOEs’ profit rises faster in 1st 4 months

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
PROFIT growth in China’s state-owned enterprises accelerated in the first four months, data showed yesterday. Combined profits beat 1 trillion yuan (US$158 billion) for the January-April period, up 18.4 percent from one year earlier, according to the Ministry of Finance. The pace of growth quickened from the 16.7-percent rise registered in the first three months. SOE business revenue rose 9.7 percent to 17.5 trillion yuan in the first four months, while their operating costs grew 9.2 percent to 16.8 trillion yuan. By the end of April, their total assets reached 166.8 trillion yuan, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier, while liabilities climbed 9.2 percent to 108.5 trillion yuan. SOEs in sectors including iron steel, oil, petrochemical and coal posted large profit increases, while those in non-ferrous metals suffered significant declines.

More roads to open for autonomous vehicle tests

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI will open more roads for testing of autonomous vehicles and extend the length of roads for testing from 5.6 kilometers to 12 kilometers in coming months, the city’s government said. Automakers will be able to test intelligent and connected vehicles on more roads in Anting Town in Jiading District. By the end of this year, they are set to test their vehicles on 47 kilometers of public roads in Shanghai. The public roads set to open for testing of autonomous vehicles include Moyu Road S, Bei’ande Road, Boyuan Road, Anchi Road and Antuo Road in the district. Since the Shanghai government issued the first batch of road test licenses to three automakers — SAIC Motor Co, BMW and NIO — from March 1, there has been no road accident. The three automakers have accumulated about 10,000 kilometers of road tests. Through over two months of road tests, the automakers have enhanced their ability in machine learning and improved research and development of intelligent and connected vehicles. They have tested functions linked to identification and response to speed limit information, traffic light identification, identifying pedestrians and non-motor vehicles, lane keeping and other features. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization said the testing vehicles interacted with other vehicles, non-motor vehicles and pedestrians on public roads in the vicinity. Shanghai is also developing China’s first new road sign system to interact with intelligent vehicles that will be piloted in the testing area. By 2020, Shanghai hopes to become an innovation center for intelligent and connected vehicles. By 2025, it aims to become a world-leading city for intelligent and connected vehicle development. “The automobile industry is an important part of the real economy and Shanghai’s economic development. In the next phase, Shanghai will accelerate the development of intelligent and connected vehicles for road testing,” said Huang Ou, vice chairman of the commission. “The city will accelerate the development of road infrastructure (for such vehicles) and improve capability in data acquisition, storage and transfer.” The development of intelligent and connected vehicles “also helps Shanghai to build a global science and innovation center as well as promote Shanghai manufacturing,” Huang added. The Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission said the city is also going to open a public road for testing of autonomous vehicles in Lingang area in the Pudong New Area.

Qualcomm agrees on Chinese AI pacts

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
QUALCOMM Inc yesterday announced several AI cooperation agreements with Chinese partners including Baidu, NetEase and startup Thundercomm to enhance the market potential of the new technology in smartphones, intelligent home appliances and cars. Qualcomm, the world’s biggest mobile chip designer, also announced a new product line (Snapdragon 710) specifically for artificial intelligence, and the establishment of a new AI research organization. The market value of AI will hit US$3.3 trillion by 2021, according to Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s president. “AI will be essential to powering economic growth and industrial transformation,” Amon said. Qualcomm’s penetration into the AI sector brings industrywide influence as its chip technologies are used in almost all smartphones. It has also acquired NXP to expand business into the Internet of Things, which is stilling waiting for approval from Chinese regulators. Qualcomm is the latest industry giant to announce AI investment in China, following Microsoft, Dell, Tencent and Baidu. China has defined AI as a national “strategic” technology and plans to develop a core AI market worth over 150 billion yuan (US$22.66 billion) by 2020, according to the State Council. The corporation will cooperate with Baidu on the deep learning platform, in-device translation with NetEase, and an AI developer kit with Chongqing-based Thundercomm.

Prospects in cyber security

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
GERMAN safety standards firm TUV Rheinland is quintupling its cyber security management employees in China to meet the rapid growth in the Chinese digital economy, it told Shanghai Daily yesterday. The company now has 10 employees in the role in China as it just started a year ago, but “by the same time next year the figure will be 50, which is the same as we have in Germany,” said Urmez Daver, the company’s global head for industrial security business. Cyber security is a business developing in tandem with the growth of the Chinese digital economy whose market for equipment such as sensors is set to hit 541.2 billion yuan (US$84.8 bilion) by 2019, up from 331.5 billion yuan in 2016, according to a report by Beijing-based Zhiyan Consulting Group. “That has driven us to speed up efforts here,” Daver said. “We need tools to help ensure we are not monitored by others,” he added.

Equities in China post declines

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S equities markets ended lower yesterday, with the defense and military industry as well as electronics makers the top losers. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.45 percent to 3,154.65. The Shenzhen Component Index shed 0.63 percent to 10,564.13 points, while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext enterprise board dipped 0.41 percent to 1,838.40. Analysts cited the losses to a lack of favorable factors. Shenzhen-listed Jianglong Shipbuilding Co Ltd closed 5.26 percent lower at 18 yuan (US$2.82). But buoyed by the State Council’s plan to further deepen reform and opening-up in pilot free trade zones in three coastal areas, shares of Hainan-theme related companies rose. Hainan Ruize New Building Material Co Ltd saw its stocks surge by the maximum cap of 10 percent to close at 13.27 yuan.

FDI into Shanghai surges 41% in April

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI’S foreign direct investment surged nearly 41 percent in April, with the total contract value of Sino-foreign projects soaring by nearly twice the amount in the same month last year. The total FDI contract amount of 363 projects in the city jumped 40.9 percent from a year ago to US$3.95 billion last month, data from the Shanghai Statistics Bureau showed. Fourteen projects in the industrial sector attracted a FDI contract value of US$2.08 billion, up 11.5 times from a year earlier, while FDI in services fell 24.6 percent to US$2 billion to notch a bigger drop of 5.4 percentage points from March. But the FDI contract value in Sino-foreign joint ventures soared nearly 200 percent to US$2.08 billion, taking up 52.7 percent in newly-added FDI contract amount in the city, the bureau said. Shanghai’s foreign trade rose three percent to 259.27 billion yuan (US$40.63 billion) in April. Exports grew 5.4 percent to 103.08 billion yuan in April year on year, and imports added 1.5 percent annually to 156.19 billion yuan. Exports from state-owned enterprises in the city dipped 0.8 percent and imports shed 0.5 percent. Foreign funded companies, however, imported 9.3 percent more year on year and exported 2.8 percent higher from a year ago. In April, Shanghai’s exports to the US rose 1.2 percent to 22.84 billion yuan year on year. The city’s exports to the European Union, Japan and Hong Kong also all increased. The Consumer Price Index rose 1.4 percent annually last month in Shanghai, and the Producer Price Index grew 1.2 percent, flat from March.

High-tech auto solutions on show

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:01
A staff member of China’s Visionox shows Dynamic Flexible and Foldable Demo Automotive Interior Display Solutions during SID Display Week 2018 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Fed: one-third of US adults face financial worries

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
DESPITE an ultra-low 3.9 percent unemployment rate, about one-third of US adults faced financial insecurity last year and often struggled to pay unexpected expenses, a Federal Reserve survey found. For three in 10 adults, their monthly incomes fluctuated — often because their work schedules changed at short notice — and that caused about one in ten Americans to miss some bill payments, according to the report released yesterday. Forty percent of adults would have had to borrow money or sell something to pay an emergency expense of just US$400. The data suggest that financial security evades even many of those who are working. About one-third of US adults relied on “gig” work or side jobs last year to bolster their incomes. Fewer than four in 10 Americans think their retirement savings are sufficient, and a quarter have none at all, the Fed survey found. At the same time, the survey finds the improving economy is benefiting more Americans, at all education and income levels. Nearly three-quarters of US adults say they are either “living comfortably” or “doing OK” financially, up from 71 percent in 2016 and 10 points higher than when the annual survey began, in 2013. Just seven percent of adults said it was difficult to get by financially last year. That’s down by about half from 2013. And more Americans are asking for or receiving raises, a sign that the low unemployment rate is giving workers more bargaining power. Just over half — 52 percent — of adults said they received a raise last year, up from 46 percent in 2016. The increase was even larger for those with less education, likely reflecting widespread increases in state minimum wage levels. Nearly half of those with a high school diploma or less got a raise, up from just 38 percent in 2016. Still, separate government data show that the percentage of people getting raises remains below where it was before the 2008-2009 recession. Other findings from the report include: — For the first time, the Fed’s survey asked about opioids, and found that one-quarter of white Americans, and one-fifth of Americans overall, know someone addicted to opioids. Those exposed to opioid addiction are somewhat less likely to say that their local economy is good or excellent, the report found. — Just two-thirds of blacks and Latinos say they are living comfortably or doing OK financially compared with 77 percent of whites. Yet those figures have increased 12 points for blacks and Latinos since 2013 and 10 percent for whites. — Only 57 percent of unmarried parents say they are at least doing OK financially, compared with 76 percent of married parents. Married couples with no children are doing even better, with 84 percent saying they are at least doing OK. — Thirty-one percent of adults did some form of “gig work” in 2017, though that figure includes contract work such as house cleaning and child care. Sixteen percent engaged in online activities, such as online selling and working for ride-hailing services. Roughly 40 percent of gig workers did so to supplement their income from other jobs. And for more than three-quarters of gig workers, the extra jobs accounted for 10 percent or less of their family’s income, the report said.

Comcast eyes to top Disney’s US$50b offer for Fox

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
Comcast Corp confirmed for the first time yesterday it was preparing a higher, all-cash offer for the businesses that Twenty-First Century Fox has agreed to sell to Walt Disney Co. While the US cable operator said it was still considering its position, it said it was in advanced stages of readying an offer that would be “superior” and “at a premium” to Disney’s all stock offer. “While no final decision has been made, at this point the work to finance the all-cash offer and make the key regulatory filings is well advanced,” Comcast said. Sources familiar with the deal said at the start of May that Comcast was preparing bridge financing for a cash offer for the Fox assets, but yesterday’s statement is the first formal confirmation by the company it is ready to move. The same sources said Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts will only proceed with a bid if a federal judge next month allows AT&T Inc’s planned US$85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc to proceed. Disney in December offered stock then worth US$52.4 billion to buy Fox’s film, television and international businesses as it bids to beef up its offering against streaming rivals Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc. Disney shares have fallen nearly 3.3 percent since, reducing the value of the offer to just over US$50 billion. “It all depends on the AT&T and Time Warner deal,” said Brian Weiser, analyst at Pivotal Research. “If that goes through it is highly possible there will more than one bid for Fox.” Fox and Disney were not immediately available for comment. Comcast, owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, has also made a 22 billion pound (US$30 billion) offer to acquire the 61 percent stake in European pay-TV group Sky Plc that Fox does not already own. In doing so, it topped an earlier offer for the whole of Sky by Fox. A regulatory filing in April showed Comcast offered to acquire most of Fox’s assets in an all-stock deal valued at US$34.41 per share, or US$64 billion last November — just before Disney’s offer was agreed. After a sale, Fox’s remaining assets will include Fox News, Fox Business Network and sports cable networks.

Deutsche Bank to cut 10,000 jobs

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
GERMANY’S Deutsche Bank could cut up to 10,000 jobs as it looks to convince investors it is serious about returning to profitability, according to media reports yesterday. Citing “people familiar with internal bank discussions,” the Wall Street Journal reported that around one in ten employees at Germany’s biggest lender could be headed for the exit. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the reports. But a source familiar with the plans said the numbers reported by the WSJ were broadly accurate. Deutsche executives will face investors at the bank’s annual general meeting today. The gathering — often a stormy occasion in recent years as Deutsche has digested the toxic legacy of the financial crisis — comes weeks after chief executive John Cryan was ousted in favor of Deutsche lifer Christian Sewing in early April. Cryan, seen as a safe pair of hands who could clean up the bank after the breakneck expansion of the pre-crisis years, was handed the reins in 2015. But he reported three annual net losses in a row despite hacking back major financial and legal thickets. Investors were unsatisfied, driving the share price to below half its 2015 level by early 2018 and prompting supervisory board chairman Paul Achleitner to look for a new top manager. Sewing has vowed to refocus the bank on retail and corporate banking, with cuts to its share trading and other investment banking activities, especially in large markets outside Germany like the US and Asia. Shares in Deutsche Bank slipped 0.8 percent to 10.87 euros (US$12.73) after the news broke, outperforming a DAX index of blue-chip German shares that fell 1.63 percent.

Ctrip’s Q1 profit comes in better than expected

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
NASDAQ-LISTED Ctrip’s net profit came in better than expected in the first quarter as investment generated good returns and outbound tourism demand boomed, China’s biggest online tourism service firm said yesterday. The Shanghai-based firm's net profit rose to 1.1 billion yuan (US$170 million) in the first quarter from 52 million yuan a year ago Its operating profit, adjusted for non-recurring costs and stock options, grew eight percent from a year ago to 966 million yuan in the quarter. Its earnings per share rose to 29 US cents, beating analysts’ forecast of 15 US cents per share. Ctrip's revenue surged 11 percent from a year ago to 6.7 billion yuan in the quarter. Revenue from international air tickets took up 40 percent of Ctrip’s total air ticket income — one of the major engines for the company. In 2017, Chinese made over 130 million international trips and spent US$115.3 billion. Within the next five years, they are set make 700 million international trips according to industry insiders.

Automakers and consumers hail cut in import duties as milestone

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S decision to slash its automobile import tariffs has been welcomed by consumers and carmakers as another milestone in the country’s four decades of reform and opening-up. Beginning July 1, China’s average tariff rate on vehicles will be 13.8 percent, while that for auto parts will be 6 percent, lower than the average of developing economies and in line with China’s reality. Some foreign automakers like Audi have promptly reacted with plans to lower prices in order to benefit Chinese consumers. China’s automobile tariffs were significantly reduced to 25 percent by 2006 after its accession to the WTO in 2001, a relatively low rate for a developing economy. The 25-percent duties may seem high compared with automaking powerhouses like the United States, but it was necessary for the healthy development of China’s car industry, said Xu Haidong, assistant to the secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, adding that China remains a developing country. By 2010, China had fulfilled its tariff-cutting promises for WTO membership by cutting overall tariff levels from 15.3 percent to 9.8 percent by 2010, said Liu Shangxi, head of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences. The latest voluntary tariff cut will directly benefit economic growth and employment of car exporters, Liu said. “Many positive effects will be felt in the global economy.” Most of China’s car imports last year were from the United States, Germany, Japan and the UK. The auto tariffs cuts are important measures that comply with trade liberalization, as the world witnesses a broad reduction in automobile tariffs driven by economic globalization and global trade, according to Li Xuhong, a researcher with the Beijing National Accounting Institute. The Ministry of Finance said the tariff cut will enrich domestic market supply and meet the diverse needs of the people to provide more plentiful and affordable consumer experiences. China has been the world’s largest car market for nine consecutive years, with vehicle production and sales in 2017 reaching 29 million units and 28.8 million units, respectively, CAAM data showed. Last year, China imported 1.22 million vehicles, most of which were high-end sport-utility vehicles, to account for 4.2 percent of total sales, while domestic brands saw growing market share. Industry analysts expect the remarkable tariff cut to meet domestic demand for imported high-end cars, as rising income has led to a burgeoning market for luxury cars. Over 670,000 luxury cars were sold in China during the January-April period, up 22.3 percent year on year, data from the China Passenger Car Association showed. China’s domestically produced cars are more internationally competitive than they were five or 10 years ago, meaning that the country’s recent opening-up measures in the auto sector will have a smaller impact, according to Paul Gong, executive director of UBS Investment Research Asia Autos. The tariff cuts come after China unveiled a plan last month to phase out equity caps for automotive joint ventures in the world’s largest car market amid a broader push for further opening. “The development of China’s auto industry was enabled by the country’s reform and opening-up and economic globalization,” said Dong Yang, CAAM’s deputy head. Opening-up has been key to China’s economic growth over the past 40 years, and the future high-quality development of China’s economy can only be achieved with greater openness, as China promised at the Boao Forum for Asia in April that its doors will only open wider. The promise has quickly materialized in the form of landmark opening measures launched this year, including opening the carmaking sectors wider to foreign investors and introducing a plan to set up a free-trade port in Hainan Province. “China safeguards a multilateral trade system. Lowering auto import tariffs is a major step to expanding reform and opening-up,” the ministry said.

Tesla slashes Model X price on tariff cuts

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
TESLA Inc has slashed up to US$14,000 off its Model X in China after Beijing announced major tariff cuts for imported automobiles, a potential sales boost for the US firm as the world’s largest auto market pivots toward electric cars. Tesla will cut prices of its Model S and Model X cars by just over 6 percent, a Beijing-based sales representative said yesterday. China said on Tuesday it will cut import tariffs for automobiles to 15 percent from 25 percent, a fillip for premium car brands like Tesla and BMW which import a significant number of vehicles. Tesla said on Tuesday that any of its cars sold in China would be subject to adjusted prices, even before the tariff change comes into effect on July 1. The price of a top-of-the-range Model X will be cut to 1.3 million yuan (US$203,830) but that remains above the US$140,000 cash pricetag before savings for the priciest version in the US — Tesla’s Model X P100D. The move by the California-based electric carmaker likely foreshadows wider price cuts for imported cars in China as foreign firms look to narrow a price gap with domestic rivals. Imports, however, only make up a fraction of the overall market and tend to be upper-end models. Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, said price cuts by foreign premium brands will likely force them to adjust the price tag for vehicles they produce locally in China. This in turn will gradually impact the price of more affordable, mainstream cars — even local Chinese brands. “With imminent price adjustments in the higher-end segment, that will over time lead to a pricing adjustment for the entire market,” Zhang said. Other carmakers, including Toyota Motor Corp and BMW, said after the tariff cut that they would look at adjusting their retail prices in China to provide competitive offers to consumers.

China set to be top in developing games

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
CHINA is expected to surpass the United States to become the world’s No. 1 region in game development “within the next two or three years," Epic Games said yesterday in Shanghai. The growing number of Chinese developers came from the booming game market which accounts for 25 percent of the world’s total, Epic’s chief executive Tim Sweeney said. “China is growing more rapidly than other countries (in terms of developer numbers),” Sweeney told Shanghai Daily in an interview. “It’s very likely to be the No. 1 within two or three years.” Globally, Epic now has over five million developers using its Unreal engine for game titles, with the top three regions being the United States, China and South Korea. Unreal-featured titles include PUBG Mobile published by Tencent, which is distributed and played globally. Chinese firms invest more in mobile gaming development and distribute both domestically and overseas. China’s mobile game market size hit 146 billion yuan (US$22.85 billion) in 2017, up 56 percent from a year ago. More than 88 percent of players are willing to pay, according to researcher CIC. Epic Games, which has investment from Tencent, develops game engines for mainstream and premium games on computers and consoles. Now it also offers more support for mobile game developers, especially those from China. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu are major areas for gaming, Epic said. New technologies including artificial intelligence, motion capture and facial recognition will soon be used in games, such as adopting personalized images in-game using facial and motion capture technologies. The game engine’s real-time rendering technology will also be used in other industries including architecture, film production and automotive. Epic and partners showcased demos during the Unreal Open Day held yesterday in Shanghai. The boundary of industries has started to disappear to create more “convergence” applications with a “multi-billion-dollar” market size, Sweeney said.

IPO consent rate rises as tighter rules implemented

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
THE approval rate for initial public offerings has risen 64.2 percent so far this month from a year ago amid the imposition of stricter regulations since 2017, the securities regulator said yesterday. By Tuesday, 104 companies were reviewed by the China Securities Regulatory Commis­sion’s regulatory body, with 52 applications approved and 38 rejected to give an approval rate of 50 percent. The CSRC said late on Tuesday that it has approved the IPO of Bank of Zhengzhou, making it the first Hong Kong-listed com­pany to return to the A-share market, as well as that of Huide Science & Technology. But Fujian Minhua Power Source was rejected by the CSRC from going public on the A-share market. Meanwhile, on the same day China Master Logistics canceled its IPO review as further audit or verification is required, and Zhejiang Titan voluntarily with­drew its application. The approval rate in April was 57.9 percent and the rate in­crease indicated a rising trend for IPO approvals. But the 64.2 percent approval rate fell from 84 percent in the same period last year as regulations on IPOs were tightened with the set up of the Issuance Examination Commission under the CSRC in September 2017.

Foxconn unit to sell shares today

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
A unit of electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn said it will launch an initial public offering in Shanghai today aimed at raising US$4.2 billion, in the biggest mainland debut in nearly three years. Taiwan’s Foxconn Industrial Internet, which makes electronic devices, cloud service equipment and industrial robots, will float 10 percent of its total shares, according to a prospectus filed late Tuesday with the Shanghai stock exchange. Taipei-based Foxconn, which is also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, a major supplier of components and assembler of products by international brands such as Apple and Sony. Foxconn Industrial Internet will issue 1.97 billion new shares at 13.77 yuan each to raise 27.1 billion yuan (US$4.2 billion). The IPO will be the biggest in China’s mainland since a market crash in 2015 and one of the largest ever for the country’s stock exchanges. In June 2015, Guotai Junan Securities raised over US$4.8 billion. Foxconn said it will use the funds raised to upgrade its smart manufacturing, build Internet platforms to connect factories and invest in cloud computing and fifth-generation communication technologies in its mainland factories. The IPO comes as the Chinese government is pushing to attract more listings on mainland markets by domestic technology companies. Analysts say that push is part of broader plans to become a global tech leader. Foxconn, which is one of China’s largest single employers, has around a million employees working at at its factories across the country, plus operations in more than 10 countries including Vietnam, Brazil and Mexico.

Bad day as China equities markets sink

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S stocks markets tumbled yesterday despite car parts firms roaring ahead on news that the country will cut auto import tariffs from July 1. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.41 percent to 3,168.96 to notch its largest single-day fall in around a month. The Shenzhen Component Index fell 1.25 percent to 10,631.12, while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext enterprise board shed 1.6 percent to 1,845.97. Shares of auto parts firms rose as they rode on the notice by the Ministry of Finance that China will cut import tariffs on cars and auto parts from July 1. Guangdong Dcenti Auto-Parts Stock Ltd Company surged by the maximum daily cap of 10 percent to 13.61 yuan (US$2.13). Zhejiang Yueling Co Ltd, which produces and sells aluminum alloy wheel design, increased to 9.86 yuan.

Foxconn to set up US$720m R&D center in Nanjing

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:01
FOXCONN Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics contractor, has planned to launch a new R&D center in Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, according to a contract signing ceremony in Nanjing. The 4.58 billion yuan (US$720 million) center in the China (Nanjing) Software Valley will focus on developing intelligent terminal devices and smart wearable products, the firm said yesterday. The center is part of a strategic cooperation deal signed by Foxconn and the Nanjing municipal government in September 2017 to collaborate in information technology, smart terminals and high-end equipment making.

Sony eyes extra 60% of EMI in US$2.3b deal

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
ELECTRONICS and entertainment company Sony Corp said yesterday it plans to spend US$2.3 billion buying an extra 60 percent of EMI Music Publishing, home to the Motown catalog and contemporary artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams. Sony already owns 30 percent of EMI so once the purchase from Mubadala Investment Co is finalized, it will own 90 percent of the company, CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said in a news conference at Sony’s headquarters. Mubadala is a government-backed investment fund controlled by the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, a seven-state federation that also includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai. Its holdings include semiconductor maker Globalfoundries, and stakes in General Electric Co, Washington-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group and numerous utility and energy companies. Outlining the company’s revamped strategy to strengthen both its hardware and its creative content, Yoshida said Sony plans to invest 1 trillion yen (US$9 billion) mostly in image sensors over the next three years. Image sensors are used in many products including medical imaging equipment, cameras, radar, sonar and autonomous driving safety systems. They transmit data that makes up an image by converting light waves into electrical signals. Yoshida said the company’s lead in sensors is crucial for evolving technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. The Tokyo-based maker of the Walkman portable player, Aibo entertainment robot and Bravia TVs has amassed know-how over the decades when it was leading in “analog technology,” said Yoshida, who was named president and chief executive in February. He said Sony’s CMOS image sensor excels in its speed, lighting range and absence of noise. Yoshida said the company’s main theme was “getting closer to people,” by connecting consumer services and content throughout its sprawling operations, which include the PlayStation game platform, music, films and home entertainment, still and video cameras, cellphones, computer chips and financial services. Yoshida said the initiative to beef up Sony’s content was also behind a deal announced earlier this month to acquire a stake in Peanuts Holdings, the company behind Snoopy and Charlie Brown. But Yoshida stopped short of giving numbers for profit goals, saying he was presenting a long-term vision rooted in Sony’s founding and ongoing philosophy of emotionally inspiring people. One area where he is counting on growth is the company’s TV content business in India, where the population growth is rapid and TVs are still catching on, he said. Sony, founded in 1946, has had its share of problems, sinking into the red in recent years. It struggled to adjust to the digital age and was hammered by competition from Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co and other nimbler rivals. Sony has sold off chunks of its business, including its Vaio personal-computer unit, to turn itself around. Its cellphone operations are still losing money, but executives vowed that will change soon.

Airbus says complying with WTO subsidies ruling

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
AIRBUS said yesterday it had taken steps to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling on subsidies for its A350 and A380 jets, which has seen the United States and Europe trade legal blows on behalf of Boeing and Airbus. The move comes days after the US won a partial victory against European Union support for Airbus at the WTO, clearing the way for possible US sanctions in a 14-year-old dispute over claims of illegal handouts for planemakers. The EU says it expects to strike a similar legal blow later this year in a parallel WTO case about US support for Boeing, raising the prospect of a tit-for-tat sanctions battle. Airbus confirms amendments to comply with WTO over subsidies The row threatens to exacerbate transatlantic tensions over US aluminum and steel tariffs, and the impact on European firms from the US decision to exit an Iran nuclear pact. But both sides agree any sanctions would not happen before 2019. In a rare public face-off between key strategists behind the long-running dispute, Boeing’s chief external lawyer in the case told BBC radio the US would be free to target any European products, not just aerospace. “The WTO will decide what the proper number is and ... give the US that authority,” Robert Novick, co-managing partner at US law firm WilmerHale, told the BBC Today program. “In parallel, the US will develop a list of products on which it might consider imposing counter-measures,” he added. Airbus’s chief in-house lawyer in the case said he expected a “devastating” ruling on US support for Boeing’s 777 and 787 jets when the WTO issues its final report on those this year. The dispute, with 5,000 pages of findings and tens of millions of dollars in legal fees, stems from claims that the world’s two largest planemakers benefited from illegal aid in the form of subsidized government loans to Airbus and research grants or tax breaks to Boeing. Airbus did not say how it would comply with the WTO ruling but a European Commission document said it would repay an A350 loan to the UK government this year and reduce the drawdown of other loans.

Tesla refutes report of ‘big flaws’

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has sought to play down a report identifying “big flaws” in its Model 3 sedan, admitting there is a braking issue with the vehicle but saying it will be fixed with a software update within days.Responding to a review by influential US magazine Consumer Reports which stopped short of recommending the car, Musk said in a round of tweets late on Monday that the magazine’s tests — which used two separately-sourced vehicles — had been of older versions of the car that had already been improved upon.The issue, which ate into gains for Tesla shares on Monday, came at a time when Tesla is dealing with reports of crashes involving its vehicles and growing scepticism over its finances.Tesla stock, down around US$100 since last September, gained around 1 percent yesterday, having finished almost 3 percent higher on Monday, helped by an easing of trade tensions with China which may aid its plans to produce there.“With further refinement, we can improve braking distance beyond initial specs. Tesla won’t stop until Model 3 has better braking than any remotely comparable car,” Musk wrote in exchanges with other twitter users.“Also Consumer Reports has an early production car. Model 3 now has improved ride comfort, lower wind noise & many other small improvements. Will request that they test current production,” he wrote.Production of Tesla Model 3s began in July 2017 and the first regular customers only received their cars in December after some Tesla employees.Consumer Reports said in the review on Monday that it had sourced a second privately-owned Model 3 to confirm initial results that showed the sedan braked slower than a full-sized pickup truck. The report did not mention the age of either car used in the testing.Calling the review “very strange,” Musk also said that the variability in stopping distance was due to an ABS (Anti-Skid Braking System) calibration algorithm.“The CR braking result is inconsistent with other reviewers, but might indicate that some Model 3s have longer braking distances than others,” he said.“If so, we will address this at our expense. May just be a question of firmware tuning, in which case can be solved by an OTA software update.”Analysts said the magazine’s story was a bad advertisement for Tesla.

China to slash import tariffs on cars

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
CHINA will cut import tariffs on cars and auto parts from July 1, the Ministry of Finance announced yesterday. Import tariffs will be cut to 15 percent from 25 percent for most vehicles from July 1, the ministry said in a statement. Import tariffs on auto parts would be cut to 6 percent from 8 percent. “Lowering auto import tariffs is a major step for China to further expand its reform and opening-up,” the ministry said. “It will also promote supply-side structural reform, accelerate the industry upgrade of automobile sector, meet diversified needs of Chinese consumers, and guide auto product producers to improve quality and efficiency.” After the reduction, the average tariff rates for vehicles and auto parts will be 13.8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The latest move will boost foreign car manufacturers, especially those companies which import premium and high-end vehicles to China. Some of the automakers said they welcome the new policy. Luxury carmaker BMW said the company “highly welcomes the government’s announcement.” “It’s a strong signal that China will continue to open up. This will certainly benefit the customer and boost market to an even dynamic level. We will review our manufacturer’s suggested retail price system and take active response,” the German carmaker said in a statement. Volkswagen’s luxury subsidiary Porsche told Shanghai Daily that it welcomes the tariff reduction policy. “We believe it shows the world a further open market of China. More importantly, Chinese customers will have the chance to enjoy an even optimized price and pursue more personalized options when buying a car,” the German carmaker said. Porsche said it has already started the evaluation process for the necessary price adjustment based on the new tariff policy. Japan’s Toyota said it would adjust retail prices for imported cars that benefited from the lower tariffs. A Yokohama-based executive at Nissan said: “Benefits are huge for our business, especially Infiniti,” referring to the Japanese firm’s premium brand. A Shanghai-based spokesman for Ford Motor said the US carmaker welcomed the new tariff policies, but declined to comment further. At the annual Boao Forum last month, China unveiled a series of plans that included easing foreign equity restrictions in the automobile industry and significantly lowering import tariffs on vehicles. “In manufacturing, China has basically opened up this sector with a small number of exceptions like automobiles, ships and aircraft,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the forum. “These industries are now in a position to open up. Going forward, we will reduce as soon as possible limits on foreign investment in these industries, automobiles in particular.” This year, China will ease restrictions on shares that foreign automakers can own in joint ventures of new-energy and special-purpose vehicle firms. In 2020, the country will relax foreign ownership limits in joint ventures that produce commercial vehicles. In 2022, China will scrap rules that limit foreign automakers to no more than two joint ventures with Chinese partners.

NYSE gets 1st female president

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
The New York Stock Exchange for the first time in its 226-year history will be led by a woman, Stacey Cunningham (shown in photo), who started her career as a floor clerk on the NYSE trading floor. She will become the 67th president of the Big Board. That means that two of the world’s most well-known exchanges will be led by women. Adena Friedman became CEO of Nasdaq in early 2017. Cunningham, who is the chief operating officer for the NYSE Group, becomes president on Friday, according to International Exchange, the NYSE’s parent company.

Opening-up powers China’s energy sector

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
WITH the startup of its second ethylene cracker in south China this month, the cooperation between China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Shell Petrochemical Company entered a new stage. The 1.2-million-tonne project has more than doubled the capacity of the company’s Nanhai petrochemicals complex, thus supporting this 50/50 joint venture between the CNOOC and international oil giant Shell in meeting the growing Chinese market. “The expansion project demonstrates great synergies between CNOOC’s engineering, construction, and management capabilities, and Shell’s advanced technologies in chemicals,” said He Zhongwen, president of CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co Ltd. The project also offered a demonstration of how international cooperation has driven development of China’s energy industries, which, like many other sectors, have benefited greatly from the country’s opening-up efforts in past decades. Foreign energy enterprises have played an important role in the investment, design, construction, and management of China’s energy projects, said an unnamed official from the international cooperation department of National Energy Administration. Since 2012, China has signed more than 100 cooperation agreements with other countries, set up 56 bilateral energy cooperation mechanisms and participated in 29 multilateral ones, which have brought a number of influential projects as well as advancement in energy investment, technologies, equipment, and services. “Without participation in the international market, China is not able to bring on its transformation toward clean, low-carbon energy in the new era,” said Bai Jun from the Institute of International Energy of the National Development and Reform Commission. Besides partnerships with foreign energy enterprises, China has also boosted energy imports to satisfy domestic demand and improve its energy structure. In the first quarter of this year, China imported 20.61 million tons of natural gas, surging 37.3 percent year on year, while oil imports went up 7 percent to 110 million tons. The import increase came amid China’s domestic shortage in natural gas supply since last year as the country needs more clean and high-quality energy to fuel economic development while protecting environment. “It is necessary for China to fill the demand-supply gap in the domestic energy sector through international cooperation,” said Jing Chunmei, a researcher at China Center for International Economic Exchanges, noting that China still faces issues of insufficient and imbalanced energy supply. Zhou Dadi, a senior researcher at the Energy Research Institute under the NDRC, said that further opening up of the energy sector would make up China’s energy shortage and diversify energy supply. Meanwhile, China could improve its energy development and management via means of energy technology exchange, he said. Energy experts also believe that China’s continued opening-up efforts will bring benefit to the global energy sector as the country is exploring all ways of cooperation with energy-rich partners. For foreign investors, China’s steady expansion in both the energy industry and energy demand means a vast and stable market, they said. In 2017, China imported 1.51 million tons of liquefied natural gas and 7.6 million tons of crude oil from the United States. Meanwhile, with natural gas pipelines under construction, China is expected to obtain up to 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia annually upon project completion. “Furthering international cooperation on energy is bringing tangible benefits to all parties involved,” said Nur Bekri, head of the NEA. China will further open up the energy sector, expand international energy cooperation in all ways, facilitate energy trade and investment, keep improving the business environment, and help build a more open, stable, and sustainable global energy market, the unnamed NEA official pledged.

China mulls green financial tools

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
China is leveraging financial tools to help green its society and economy.China may introduce an ESG reporting mechanism for listed firms to require more transparency in disclosing information related with environment, social and governance issues, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on Monday.The CSRC will also mull developing new commodity futures such as carbon emission permit futures to aid air pollution control and counter climate change.The watchdog will focus more on environmental issues when reviewing IPOs or mergers, while more support will be offered to enterprises in green businesses to help them enter and grow in the capital market. In addition, pilots for green corporate bonds will be expanded as part of efforts to promote green finance.The CSRC’s statement came just days after China held a tone-setting meeting on environmental protection, which aims for a fundamental improvement in the quality of the environment, and basically building a Beautiful China by 2035.Green finance designed to encourage more private capital into green sectors and stem investment that might pollute the environment is considered to be one of the key approaches to this end. China announced in 2016 that it will establish a national green finance mechanism, becoming the first country worldwide to make such a move. It also helped push green finance to be included on the G20 agenda.The country decided last year to turn five provincial regions into pilot zones to explore replicable ways to boost green finance. China now is one of the world’s largest issuers of green bonds, which can ease financing demand for medium-and-long-term green projects as banks are limited in offering such services. Data from the Climate Bonds Initiative showed that China issued green bonds worth US$4.4 billion in the first quarter of this year, ranking second globally. “The CSRC’s key target is to reduce financing costs for green firms, and we have abundant means to achieve that goal,” CSRC vice chairman Fang Xinghai said in April.The Shanghai Stock Exchange rolled out a three-year plan last month with detailed measures to develop green finance such as expanding green bonds, green investment, and international cooperation. Lan Hong, a senior researcher in green finance at Renmin University of China, said he sees rapid development of direct green financing tools like green funds and green securities as current credit-led green capital supply might not be enough to meet surging demand.The green capital supply should also be used for the growing green lifestyle demands like green buildings, transport, energy and tourism, Lan added.

New link may divert funds from A-shares

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
THE Shanghai-London Stock Connect, set to open later this year, may divert liquidity from A-shares in China, UBS Securities said in a report yesterday. The stock connect lets companies from China sell global depository receipts in the UK and enables London-traded companies to list similar securities in Shanghai, the London Stock Exchange recently said in a presentation. Chinese companies wanting to list in London need to be already listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and worth at least 20 billion yuan (US$3.14 billion) before they can trade on the LSE's Shanghai Board through Chinese depositary receipts according to details on the stock link disclosed by LSE. “A-share investors could be potentially interested in the London listing of companies traded by CDRs,” the report said. But UBS “foresees a limited impact from the Shanghai-London Stock Connect on A-share market liquidity, since most global investors can trade via the Hong Kong Connect scheme." Separately, Gao Ting, head of China strategy at UBS Securities, noted the average northbound daily net inflow rose to three billion yuan in the past two weeks, perhaps due to investors anticipating the inclusion of A-shares into MSCI indices from June 1.

Renewable energy use rises 10.8%

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S consumption of renewable energy rose 10.8 percent annually last year as the country increased generation and distribution networks, the National Energy Administration said yesterday. The consumption of renewable energy covering solar, wind, biomass and hydropower totaled 1.67 trillion kilowatt-hours in 2017. These energy sources accounted for 26.5 percent of China’s total energy consumption, up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. The higher consumption was due to increases in generation and distribution, with renewable energy generation reaching 1.70 trillion kilowatt-hours last year, taking up 26.5 percent of China’s total energy generation. More households were able to access renewable energy because China’s 12 ultra-high voltage power lines distributed 190 billion kwh of power last year, up 10 percent from 2016. Northwest provinces and regions such as Qinghai, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia consumed most solar and wind power, as the renewable energy accounted for over 18 percent of total energy consumption in these areas. The upgraded distribution also helped Hebei and Hunan provinces post significant growth in renewable energy consumption last year.

Chinese equities end mixed after 2-day rise

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
CHINESE shares closed mixed yesterday after a two-day gaining streak. Both main board indices opened lower. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.02 percent to 3,214.35 points. The Shenzhen Component Index closed flat at 10,765.81 points. Aiyingshi, a Shanghai-headquartered chain store that sell baby products, surged by the maximum cap of 10 percent to 74.54 yuan(US$11.68). Shares of Fibocom Wireless Inc, a Chinese wireless module maker and Internet of Things solution provider, gained 10 percent to 49.89 yuan after US President Donald Trump was reportedly working on lifting the seven-year sales ban on ZTE.

Chinese banks need to reshape models

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:01
FACING challenges from stringent regulations and disruptive technologies, Chinese banks need to reshape and transform their business models for asset management and wealth management, McKinsey & Company said in its latest banking report. From 2012 to 2016, China’s asset management market saw a 42 percent annual compound growth rate for assets under management. Among them, banks’ wealth management products are a core driver for growth, with an annual compound growth rate reaching 75 percent, the quarterly report of the consulting firm said. However, the growth rate fell sharply to below 8 percent in 2017 due to tightened supervision. China’s central bank unveiled new rules in April to better regulate the country’s fast-expanding asset management industry, which will pose great challenges for the sector, said McKinsey. Compared with global leaders in asset management, McKinsey noted that domestic banks’ investments in their asset management segment is generally “insufficient.” Meanwhile, digital technology is overturning banks’ traditional way of doing business. McKinsey predicts that by 2025, income from asset management and wealth management for traditional lenders will decline by 18 percent under the impact of financial technology, thereby leading to losses in return on capital of up to 30 percent. In addition, more non-bank institutions will encroach on the market share of old players. “China’s banking industry is in a unique era, full of challenges but also containing great development opportunities,” said John Qu, senior partner at McKinsey. Qu suggests that to cope with these challenges, Chinese banks should strengthen their investment and consulting capabilities, build more professional teams, give full play to the advantages of having such big customer bases and collaborative potential among different business lines, and embrace new technologies. In wealth management, three home-grown lenders are among the top 25 private banks in the world.

Demand lifts CNPC’s gas supply

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
China National Petroleum Corp’s natural gas supply has risen over 15 percent from a year ago by April amid robust growth in demand, the company said yesterday.The oil and gas giant has been expanding gas production, distribution and storage “as its domestic demand has been rising since the first quarter,” CNPC said on its official website.The company didn't unveil specific figures on the demand, but said the rise in demand was due to falling prices of natural gas from the start of the year. In contrast prices of its substitutes such as coal have risen.The most traded natural gas contract for June delivery closed at US$2.85 per million British thermal unit on May 18, down 21.5 percent from US$3.63 per million British thermal unit on January 29 — which is the highest level since the start of the year — at the New York Mercantile Exchange.The British thermal unit measures the heat energy amount in fuels. One cubic foot of natural gas produces approximately 1,000 BTUs.Meanwhile the average price of steam coal domestically was 612 yuan (US$96) per ton by May 11, up 21 yuan per ton from the prior week and up 46 yuan per ton from a month ago, according to sxcoal.com, a coal industry consultancy.To ensure sufficient supply “in winter time when demand peaks,” CNPC has raised domestic commercial gas production by 2 percent annually over the first four months to around 30.5 billion cubic meters, while its import of gas from overseas has surged 28.9 percent from a year ago.In mid-December China’s liquefied natural gas prices grew 6.4 percent when demand surged amid the country’s rapid shift to cleaner energy from coal.CNPC’s gas storage has also jumped 32.6 percent annually to 1.49 billion cubic meters by April, “which is to help us get ready in case there is shortage of supply in winter.”

Tie-ups for agile treasury management

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
Chinese companies should ensure their treasury management business stay agile in the digital era and offer multi-dimensional value by partnering with banks and other professional institutions, says a white paper done by China Merchants Bank and EY.The scope of treasury management includes commercial banking products, domestic and cross-border payments, professional risk mitigation for international trade, and the provision of trust, agency, depository, custody and related services.The rapid development of technology has spurred Chinese firms to do business differently and this calls for their cash management to be adapted, said Shi Shunhua, president of corporate banking at Shenzhen-based CMB.To cope with the ever-changing business models and a challenging external environment, companies should become more agile in their cash management by working with external partners, the China Corporate Treasury Management White Paper 2018 said.Banks and other professional institutions will help firms develop their money management capabilities in data operation, financial resources integration, technological innovation, organizational operation and talent cultivation, the white paper said.

Shanghai index ends at new high

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
CHINA shares gained yesterday, with the key Shanghai share index closing at a two-month high. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.64 percent to a new high of 3,213.84. The Shenzhen Component Index rose 0.87 percent to close at 10,765.35 points, and the Nasdaq-style ChiNext enterprise board advanced 1.40 percent to 1,862.48. Shares of chemical and environment protection companies rose strongly. Shares of Pengyao Group, a Jiangsu-based water treatment enterprise, surged by the daily maximum cap of 10 percent to close at 25.47 yuan (US$3.99) per share as the company rode on news that President Xi Jinping told a national conference last week that China would fight against pollution and push ecological civilization to a new level.

China reiterates stringent rules on property to stay

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
China’s top property market watchdog reiterated over the weekend that it will maintain tight regulation of the real estate sector.Local governments should stick to real estate market management goals and not loosen regulatory measures, according to a statement on Saturday by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, citing notices of market speculation in some cities.This is the second time that the ministry has voiced its concerns and stance over the real estate market in 10 days. The ministry arranged talks on May 9 with senior government officials from Chengdu and Taiyuan on property market regulation after official data showed that both cities saw prices of new and second-hand houses rise year on year in March. The ministry stressed on Saturday that “houses are for living in, not for speculation” and urged the officials to take specific measures to ensure stable and healthy development of the local property market by stabilizing housing prices and rent as well as reducing leverage.First-and-second-tier cities are asked to finish a five-year housing development plan by the end of this year, while a crackdown will be imposed for spreading misleadingly speculative information via social media platforms.Local governments that fail to rein in runaway housing prices will be held accountable, the ministry said.It also recently met with senior government officials from another 10 cities, including Xi’an and Haikou, on real estate market management.“The new measures mean housing market regulation is upgrading from tailored policy-making to the evaluation of the effects of regulation,” said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with Centaline Property.Official data showed last week that on a yearly basis, new housing prices in China’s first-tier cities declined further in April compared with March, while price growth slowed in second- and third-tier cities.However, 58 of the surveyed 70 cities saw month-on-month rises in new housing prices, especially in second- and third-tier cities.Zhang observed that many cities saw housing prices rise after they lowered household access qualifications to attract more professionals to work in the cities.Over 50 cities have rolled out preferential policies, including housing subsidies, as local governments try to attract more talented professionals to invigorate local economies.Local governments such as Chengdu have adjusted their policies to contain housing market speculation after being warned by the central government.Moody’s observed in a report that Hainan Province has introduced the strictest measures so far this year following an announcement by the central government that it would support the establishment of a free trade zone on the island.Hainan launched a campaign on Sunday to lure big companies to set up regional and international headquarters on the island, while real estate developers are excluded from the list of qualified enterprises.The government might not relax its controls over the next 6 to 12 months as it continues to halt a rise in property prices, according to Moody’s.

Japan posts rise in trade surplus with US in April

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
JAPAN’S politically sensitive trade surplus with the US edged up in April, government data showed yesterday, after Tokyo warned it may take retaliatory measures against US tariffs. Japan logged a surplus in April of 615.7 billion yen (US$5.6 billion) with the US, up 4.7 percent after a 0.3 percent decline the previous month, as demand for cars and construction machinery increased, according to finance ministry data. The fresh data comes after Tokyo informed the World Trade Organization it had the right to impose tariffs worth 50 billion yen on US goods — equivalent to the impact of the US tariffs newly imposed on Japanese steel and aluminium products. The European Union has made it clear that it does not for now intend to use the countermeasures, but that its notification to the WTO leaves all options on the table as a June 1 deadline for Washington to retract its tariffs approaches. On Sunday, Washington and Beijing said they had agreed to avoid a potential trade war and back off from imposing tariffs on each other. US President Donald Trump sparked fears of a trade war in March when he decided to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminium imports, targeting China and also its allies, including EU countries and Japan. Marking a departure from a decades-long, US-led drive for open and free trade, Trump has claimed that massive flows of imports to the United States threaten national security. While Washington has granted Europe and other allies a delay until the end of the month from imposing the controversial levies, Japan remains on the list of countries facing the tariffs. Japan had taken a conciliatory approach, attempting to win exemptions through dialog. The trade row has cast a shadow over the relationship between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump, who have forged otherwise close ties. Japan’s overall trade surplus jumped 30.9 percent to 626 billion yen in April, higher than market expectations of a 440-billion yen surplus, the ministry said. Exports rose 7.8 percent due to growth in demand for cars, ships and chip-making equipment, while imports also grew 5.9 percent year on year. The yen was on average 4.2 percent higher against the dollar in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the ministry said. The costs of importing crude oil expanded, while imports of power-generating machinery also rose, the ministry said.

Weakness lingers in new housing market in Shanghai

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
WEAKNESS extended in Shanghai’s new housing market last week amid sluggish momentum among both home buyers and real estate developers, latest market data showed. The area of new homes sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, dropped 21.5 percent to 94,400 square meters during the seven-day period ending on Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday. The city’s outlying Qingpu remained the best performing district, although it also took a plunge. About 13,200 square meters of new homes were sold there, down 39.5 percent from the previous week. Jiading District and Nanhui in the Pudong New Area followed closely with weekly transactions both hovering around 11,100 square meters, a decrease of 25 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively, according to Centaline data. “Buying sentiment fell for the third consecutive week and seven-day sales of new houses dropped below the 100,000-square-meter threshold for the first time in four weeks, evidence that the market was not likely to rebound,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline. The average cost of a new home climbed 3.9 percent from a week earlier to 48,822 yuan (US$7,645) per square meter, according to Centaline data. Across the city, a residential development in Wujing, Minhang District, which sold 5,800 square meters, or 65 apartments, for an average price of 46,467 yuan per square meter, emerged as the most popular project last week. A housing development in Pudong came in second in the top 10 list after selling 5,104 square meters, or 35 units, for an average of 79,448 yuan per square meter. On the supply side, only about 22,800 square meters of new houses from one project were launched into the market, a plunge of 87.3 percent from the previous seven-day period. Since April, a total of 11,200 new housing units spanning 32 projects have been released into the local market and around 3,500 units out of that were sold, according to a separate report released yesterday by Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency.

Travel Frog to hop to US$19m in sales

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
ALIBABA said the local version of the popular leisure game “Tabi Kaeru: Travel Frog” is expected to generate at least 120 million yuan (US$19 million) of derivative sales after it officially launched the Chinese version of the game earlier this month. Alibaba Pictures vice president Wu Qian said its entertainment business and licensing unit aims to connect licensed merchants of derivative products with its online retail platform. The e-commerce giant inked an exclusive deal with the game’s Japanese developer Hit-Point Co in April to integrate localized elements and style into the game. Currently about a dozen licensed merchandise products are already available on Alibaba’s retail platform, including tailor-made postcards from China Post and daily consumer goods such as grain and oil made by COFCO’s grains and cereals business group. A total of more than 100 types of merchandise are in the design and manufacturing stage. Developer Takasaki Yutaka from Hit Point said both parties aim to extend their product reach through online and offline channels. The local version has created a new face for the original game and serves as a boost for the merchandising of the frog figures. “We’ll be aiming at expanding the commercial market size for ‘Travel Frog’ in China and we’re already working with more than 30 partners, including contract manufacturers, to reach out to more potential clients and gamers through our platform,” Alibaba’s Wu added. By the end of March, the game had been downloaded more than 16 million times by Chinese iPhone users, and although the initial buzz of the game is gradually fading away, the e-commerce giant is looking for opportunities in merchandising and co-branding activities.

Chip plant ready for operation

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
A 38.7 billion yuan (US$6.1 billion) 12-inch wafer plant, Shanghai’s biggest investment in a semiconductor project, is expected to start trial production at the end of 2018. Equipment started moving into the plant yesterday, and once testing is done the chip plant will be able to start trial production at the of 2018. The plant, which started construction at the end of 2016, is located at the Kangqiao Industrial Park in the Pudong New Area. In 2022, its monthly capacity will hit 40,000 12-inch wafers. The state-owned Huahong Group-invested plant adopts 12-inch production process technology — the most advanced technology standard in the domestic chip industry. The plant will serve local chip designers and meet demand for “national security” chips, said Huahong in a statement yesterday.

AR in over 80m Oppo phones

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
MORE than 80 million Oppo smartphones will support augmented reality by the end of this year as the company taps consumers’ surging demand for AR in playing games and traveling, it said yesterday. Oppo, one of the world’s top 5 smartphone brands, predicted that over 80 million Oppo phones will feature AR by the end of 2018, up from 30 million by the first half of this year. AR is the latest technology that is used in games, advertising, tourism and home decoration industries. The first batch of AR applications includes games from Tencent and NetEase and new online shopping services by Tmall and JD.com, said Oppo, which has formed an AR platform by partnering SenseTime and Zhejiang University. AR, along with 5G and artificial intelligence, will become one of “must-have” features in smartphones, Wang Wei, Oppo’s product manager, said during a conference to debut a new version of the R15.

Industrial chain for blockchain emerges

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
A complete industrial chain for the blockchain sector has emerged in China with hundreds of companies adopting the technology, according to an official white paper released on Sunday. By the end of March, there were 456 blockchain technology companies in the country, forming a complete industrial chain, including hardware manufacturing, platform services, security services, industrial technology application services, investment and financing, media and human resources services, said the white paper released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. “The industry is developing rapidly with more and more entrepreneurs and capital entering the market,” the white paper noted. Last year marked the peak of industry development with 178 new companies being established following the rapid popularization and maturity of the technology, it said. As a result, investors flocked into the market with nearly 100 equity stock investment deals in 2017, the most in recent years. In the first quarter of 2018, there were 98 equity investment deals. The white paper said the industry is still in a nascent stage. More projects are under way as rapid industrial expansion continues, said Yu Jianing, the white paper’s author, who expects industry development to reach a new peak in 2018. Blockchain is a digital ledger system that uses sophisticated cryptographic techniques to create a permanent, unchangeable and transparent record of exchanges to trace each transaction.

GE merges rail unit with Wabtec in US$11.1b deal

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 18:01
General Electric will tie its train engine division to the railroad equipment maker Wabtec in deal worth about US$11 billion as GE CEO John Flannery continues to break off parts of the conglomerate.Wabtec CEO Raymond Betler will lead the combined company and its chairman, Albert Neupaver, will be executive chairman.Under the deal announced on Monday and approved by the boards of both companies, General Electric Co will get US$2.9 billion in cash. The deal is expected to close early next year.GE plans to split-off the company after it closes the deal, essentially giving Wabtec shareholders ownership, with 49.9 percent of the new company. GE shareholders will hold a 40.2 percent stake and GE will own 9.9 percent.The combined company will have more than 23,000 locomotives globally.Based on Wabtec’s stock price on April 19, the last unaffected trading day prior to media speculation regarding a potential transaction, the value of the transaction is approximately US$11.1 billion, the companies said.When adjusted for the net tax step-up value of US$1.1 billion accruing to the combined company, the transaction value is US$10 billion. The transaction is expected to be tax free to the companies’ respective shareholders.GE’s transportation business, which generated revenue of US$4.7 billion last year, manufactures freight and passenger trains, marine diesel engines and mining equipment, among other products.Flannery took over at GE just about a year ago and has vowed to accelerate the company’s transformation from a sprawling conglomerate. Flannery, who headed GE’s health care unit, is focusing on health, aviation and energy.Earlier this year after GE’s surprise charge of US$15 billion to make up for the miscalculations of an insurance subsidiary, Flannery said, “All options on the table, no sacred cows.”Flannery plans to shed business units worth over US$20 billion in the near term, and Wall Street appeared heartened by the prospect of partially carving off the rail business.

Much to gain from opening-up of finance sector

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
THE opening-up of China’s financial market will bring ample benefits, and it is a necessary step for the country’s economic transition, according to experts. Opening-up in the banking and insurance sectors will help optimize the allocation of financial resources, so that they can better serve the real economy, said Chen Wenhui, vice chairman of China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. Over the past 40 years, foreign investment has helped with the development of China’s banking and insurance sectors in terms of corporate governance and risk management, Chen said at the Tsinghua PBCSF Global Finance Forum, which opened on Saturday in Beijing. China has ample room for further opening-up. At the end of 2017, the total assets of foreign-funded banks accounted for only 1.32 percent of total assets of China’s banking industry, far behind the over 10 percent seen in many developed markets and other BRICS economies, according to Chen. In the process of further opening-up, China should also improve its risk control mechanisms and regulatory framework, he said. The CBIRC is stepping up efforts to roll out detailed opening-up measures, including easing restrictions on foreign investment and expanding the business scope of foreign-funded banks. The regulator will continue to maintain a tough stance against market irregularities, and create a healthy environment for further opening-up, Chen said at the forum themed “Financial Reform, Opening-up and Stability in the New Era.” China has unveiled a package of opening-up policies in the financial sector regarding market access, business scope and infrastructure, said Zhu Min, former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The country’s more open position will help promote reform of financial institutions and financial efficiency, he said. Internationalization of China’s financial sector is necessary as the country’s regulatory strength is still incommensurate with its market heft, he added. “A modern supervision and regulation system can only be established with an open market,” Zhu said.

LG Group chairman dies of brain disease

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
THE chairman of LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, who helped transform South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate into a global brand, passed away yesterday after a battle with a brain disease. Koo, 73, had been ill for a year, LG Group said in a statement. Koo had been fighting a brain disease and had undergone surgery, said a group official who declined to be identified. “Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established three key businesses — electronics, chemicals and telecommunications — led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said. LG Group also established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and to begin the process of succession. The country’s powerful family-run conglomerates are implementing generational succession amid growing calls from the government and public to improve transparency and corporate governance. LG Corp, a holding company of the conglomerate, had said on Thursday its longtime chairman was unwell and it planned to nominate his son to its board of directors in preparation for a leadership succession. Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group’s controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp and currently heads LG Electronics’ information display unit. He joined the finance division of LG Electronics in 2006 and has been involved in several businesses such as appliances, home entertainment and group strategy, LG said. The late chairman adopted Koo in 2004 from his younger brother Koo Bon-neung after his only son died in a car accident. The change at the helm is not expected to be disruptive to the group’s business, one analyst said.

Guitar nets US$500,000

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
A guitar that played a key role in Bob Dylan’s artistic evolution from folk music to rock fetched a half million dollars at an auction on Saturday. The guitar, a 1965 Fender Telecaster that belonged to Robbie Robertson, Dylan’s guitarist, was used by Dylan, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, Julien’s Auctions said on Saturday. It had been expected to fetch between US$400,000 and US$600,000. The guitar marked the singer’s path from folk stylings like “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (1964), to electric rock, like his 1965 hit “Like a Rolling Stone.” Other famous guitars went under the hammer on Saturday: George Harrison’s first electric guitar, a US$40,000 Hofner Club 40, and a Fender Telecaster rosewood guitar made for Elvis Presley in 1968, priced at a cool US$115,200. More than 40 years after his death, Elvis items still fetch a handsome price. A heavily decorated Elvis belt, which he wore during a concert in Hawaii in 1972, sold for US$354,400. A star-shaped diamond ring donated by Elvis to an admirer at a concert in 1975 brought in a sparkly US$100,000. The sale also included show costumes that belonged to artists from Elton John, to Britney Spears and Michael Jackson.

Carrefour Le Marche launches

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
FRENCH retailer Carrefour yesterday launched its innovative Carrefour Le Marche in Shanghai as it extended its partnership with Tencent Group. The smart shop, the first of its kind for Carrefour, features smart technology such as self-payment through the WeChat app, artificial intelligence for facial recognition to guarantee payment security, and self-checkout machine. Le Marche means “market” in French. Although it is half the size of regular Carrefour supermarkets at only 4,000 square meters, the Le Marche store offers a wider range of popular products, especially imported food. “Le Marche is an innovation as China has become a laboratory to try out a new format of retailing,” said Carrefour China President and CEO Thierry Garnier. Garnier said two Carrefour Le Marche outlets will be opened in Shenzhen, where Tencent is headquartered, in the next several months.

Over 100 turboprop planes sold

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
CHINA has delivered more than 100 domestically-produced MA60 and MA600 turboprop planes, including 57 to overseas customers, according to the developer on Saturday. Developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China Xi’an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd, the MA60 and MA600 turboprop aircraft are designed to operate regional commercial flights. The MA60 was the first short-range regional turboprop aircraft made in China in line with international airworthiness criteria. It was designed for short airstrips. The MA600 is an upgraded version of the MA60. The manufacturer is now developing the MA700 whose maiden flight is set for 2019. Designed to be a high-speed turboprop regional aircraft, the MA700 has received 185 orders of intent from 11 domestic and foreign customers.

Postal business soars with help of drones

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
Yang Daxue gets up early and goes to the post office in town to watch the drone take off.“I have only seen it on television, and I never expected that we would use drones to deliver mail here,” said Yang, a shop owner in Weicheng Township, in Qingzhen City of southwest China’s Guizhou Province. “It flies and delivers mail really quickly.”Weicheng in Guizhou is surrounded by lush green mountains making transport in the area very difficult.To make mail delivery easier, local postal authorties have resorted to drones to help with mail delivery for Yingyan, Yinqiao, Maixiang, Xingguang and Lianhuasi, five of the most remote villages of the town, as part of the pilot program.The multi-rotor drone, more than a meter in diameter, consists of six propellers. A green box, bearing the China Post logo is lodged underneath the aircraft.Taking off every Monday and Thursday, the drone is capable of transporting newspapers, letters and packages up to a total of 4.4 kilograms with a single battery charge.Many residents in the township have never seen a drone, and every flight draws a big crowd.The unmanned aircraft’s takeoff and landing spot is located on the rooftop of the China Post branch in Weicheng, operated by Wang Hua, a postman at the branch.“In the past, sending letters to these five villages could take a whole day,” Wang said.Although the villages are not very far away from the branch in terms of distance, Wang said his deliveries on motorcycle were often delayed by dangerous traffic conditions such as steep paths and sharp bends in the road.“Not to mention getting covered with ice during the winter and getting muddy on rainy days,” he said.“Such deliveries have been shortened to less than two hours thanks to the drone, which follows designed routes and is operated via a smartphone application,” Wang said.Wang now lays a red-and-blue parking apron on the ground, loads the drone with mail and parcels, scans the QR code on the drones battery and on the aircraft with his smartphone, and taps the “launch” button before the drone takes off.According to Wang, technicians with the drone’s manufacturer in the eastern province of Zhejiang monitor and measure the real-time wind speed at the back-end. In the case of weather disruption, the drone will deviate from the route, land at a pre-arranged place and return automatically.At a maximum speed of 12 meters per second, the drone is capable of flying up to 100 meters above the ground within 10 seconds, and takes slightly more than one hour to finish its route.To finish the set route with the 10-minute flight distance from one village to another, the battery needs to be replaced with a fully charged one when the drone arrives in each village, “like a relay,” Wang said.A WeChat group has been established so that the drone’s caretakers from the five villages can inform each other about its whereabouts.Wen Bing is one of the drone’s caretakers in Yingyan Village. Upon receiving the takeoff notice, she checks the real-time flight position on her smartphone, and lays out the parking apron on the village square.After the aircraft lands, she quickly takes out the mail and parcels, loads the drone with a fully charged battery, and scans the QR codes before the drone flies to its next destination.The drone usually delivers newspapers and letters to Wen, but pairs of shoes are occasionally sent by villagers working in other provinces. “It would take two hours to walk to the township and fetch them if it were not for the drone,” she said.The branch post office offers postal services to more than 80,000 people living in 30 villages in the townships of Weicheng and Anliu with only three postmen, said Chen Zhongxiang, postmaster of the branch.Chen, whose father was also a postman of the township, is glad to see that the drone guarantees the safety of both the postmen and mail, while reducing the postmen’s workload. “I remember as a kid, my father would often go out to deliver mail for days, whether it was rainy or windy,” Chen said. “At that time, postmen like my father walked or rode on horses to send mail.”Chen was a postman for seven years himself, so he can relate to the postmen. “We might add more flights if the pilot program goes well, but the traditional ways of postal delivery have not yet been replaced due to the drone’s payload limitation,” Chen said.“My biggest wish is that the drone can deliver heavier packages,” said Wen Bing, the drone caretaker. “I hope that with the drone, online shopping will be much more convenient for the villagers.”

Business-style matchmaking: How recruitment is changing

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
In 2011, Wang Yi, a Chinese product manager working at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, told his wife that he wanted to move back to China.Wang, who received his doctoral degree in computer sciences at Princeton University, brought home with him some keen insights about why so many Chinese who go to the US don’t achieve their ambitions there.“There is something wrong with our traditional English teaching model,” Wang said. So, in 2012, he set up a technology-driven education platform called Liulishuo to try to help remedy the problem.For entrepreneurs and professional talent like Wang, China is now regarded as fertile ground to advance their careers or start up their own businesses. On the 40th anniversary of China’s opening up to the outside world, the nation has produced the second-largest global economy and become a global leader in innovation. With that progress, demand for specialized talent has become a pressing concern. Market landscape About 20 years ago, when executive search firm Bólè Associates was established, its main aim was to recruit professionals for multinational companies doing business in China, according to David Chan, chief executive officer of the company. The headhunter was looking for people with international backgrounds, who could “culturally” assimilate into global firms. Today, that strategy has radically changed. Chan told Shanghai Daily that the firm is recruiting more Chinese who were educated and worked abroad but now want to return to the motherland. Yang Junfei, team leader for technology, media and telecommunications at Bólè, said the firm’s clients include the likes of Xiaomi, a Chinese mobile phone maker that ranks fourth in the world in terms of shipments, and Toutiao, a popular news-gathering provider. The new buzzword in personnel recruitment is “growth hackers,” a term coined in 2010 to describe people who cut across traditional business operations like development, marketing and sales to help companies, especdially startups, achieve the fastest growth possible.Zhu Yuhuan, Bólè’s senior marketing manager, said growth hackers are in high demand, particularly in technology companies. Pete Chia, president of BRecruit, a firm specializing in jobs for middle- to senior-level professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, said the speed of development in China and the focus on “made for China” are changing consumer habits and pushing multinational companies to adapt to new trends.“This is quite different from my own homeland, Malaysia, where most people still take pride in buying imported goods,” he said. Recruitment efforts mirror changes in the Chinese economy.Ten years ago, when the Chinese government was trying to create as many jobs as possible to weather the global financial crisis, BRecruit was mainly focused on recruitment for lower-cost industries. The name of the game back then was outsourcing. “Everything was outsourced,” said Chia, noting that the Zhangjiang area in Shanghai and the northeastern city of Dalian were two popular hubs for that business.When China was still an export-driven economy, Chia’s team mostly helped companies like Siemens and ABB recruit junior workers and more entry-level engineers. In 2012 and 2013, as China’s economy stabilized, companies began looking to value-added services. “Localization” was the watchword across almost every industry, Chia said. Companies were looking for people who understood the local market and had a research-and-development mindset. Take the retail fashion industry as one example. It formerly sought employees who could smile at customers and take their money. Now it needs people who can connect with local consumers, tell them the stories behind niche brands and give advice on what fashion trends would suit a particular customer. “This kind of hiring is different,” Chia said. “The industry needs people who are passionate about their job, know the market and can manage customer relationships.” The battleground for recruitment has shifted online in the past two decades. Guo Tao, general manager of Zhaopin.com’s Shanghai branch, said their firm first went digital in 1997 and was able to ride the dot-com boom. Today, it is one of the top three online recruitment platforms in China. Guo said the employment landscape in China changed dramatically after the “iron rice bowl” or lifetime job security system in China was broken. That created tremendous movement in the job market. Recruitment has broadened from newspaper ads and job fairs to online sites. Guo predicts that mobile phones will be the dominant job search engine in the future. Still, online recruitment activity remains low. Only 20 percent of the 430,000 companies registered with Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce report that they look for new employees via the Internet, according to Guo, who added that many companies still rely on internal referrals and headhunting agencies. The talent gap Last July, China unveiled an ambitious plan to build a 1 trillion yuan (US$157.3 billion) artificial intelligence industry by 2030. To do that, the nation needs to fill a huge talent gap. Artificial intelligence is one sector where demand will grow significantly, Bólè’s Chan predicted. But about 70 percent of China’s talent pool for advanced technology industries is now residing in other countries, primarily the US and India.The State Council, China’s cabinet, unveiled a guideline this month to promote the development of “Internet Plus healthcare.” Zhao Huili, vice president of human resources at We Doctor Holdings Ltd, a leading technology healthcare solutions platform in China, said the online health services industry is about to “enter the fast lane.” She said the industry is in dire need of talent that crosses the line between traditional medical management and Internet operations, big data and artificial intelligence.Overseas credentials Bólè’s Chan said Chinese who have studied or worked abroad are needed to fill employment gaps on the mainland.Chan himself is something of a returnee. He was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Australia. He came to work on the mainland in 2011.“We tend to have a bit of ‘glass ceiling’ in terms of very senior-level Chinese people,” he said. “If you look at those occupying very senior positions, most of them tend to be non-Chinese internationals.” He added that the decision whether or not to return to China for professionals working abroad, as in California’s Silicon Valley, often revolves around lifestyle considerations. “Government is on the right track,” said Chan, noting that big cities like Shanghai have incorporated lifestyle incentives into recruitment programs for overseas talent. As a father of two boys, Liulishuo’s Wang admitted he was concerned about lifestyle and schooling for the children. Then he learned from a classmate that the Yangpu District in Shanghai was sponsoring a very supportive environment for returned overseas Chinese. With the help of that program, Wang moved into a nice three-bedroom apartment earmarked for professional talent and received preferential treatment for his sons’ education. He also received venture capital to help get his business started. In terms of hiring professionals, Chan said Chinese firms get high marks for their willingness to adopt incentives and other benefits to attract talent. But when it comes to retaining talent, their success rate is less stellar. “This all comes back to culture, expectation, strategy and commitment,” he said.He advises Chinese companies that are expanding very quickly to improve their internal organizational structures and focus more on the nurturing and career development of executives. BRecruit’s 2018 Salary Watch survey shows that the top three reasons people in general industries change their job are the platform, the culture and the salary. In a break from the past, many job candidates are now willing to work for domestic companies if they are given the right incentives, said BRecruit’s Chia.To compete, global firms also are changing their strategies for retaining talent, he added.

Job market adapts to the needs of a technological age

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
Matching job-seekers with companies needing employees through online platforms worked well when the trend began, but digital recruitment began to show some cracks as users greatly multiplied. “This is a pain point in the industry,” said Guo Tao, general manager of Zhaopin.com’s Shanghai branch.He said that the platform now has more than 600,000 corporate subscribers and 120 million active individual users. Both sides are complaining about inefficiencies in the system. As a result, Zhaopin.com plans to expand its research and development force and adopt state-of-the-art technologies like big data and artificial intelligence to provide better matches and even advice to users. The company is repositioning itself as a “career development platform” which will guide prospective job applicants in their career decisions.“We are aiming to provide more products and more channels to three main target groups: college students, white-collar workers and senior executives,” Guo said. Zhaopin.com used to rely on its advertising and sales team for revenue. Now it wants to strengthen the services it provides to users.“Recruitment, after all, is a low-frequency thing,” said Guo. “We not only hope customers will come to us for help when they want to change their jobs, we also want to be able to predict when that decision might occur.”The platform plans to provide advice to their users on improving job skills based on their search footprints. It also aims to operate online communities. BRecruit, a firm specializing in recruiting middle- to senior-level professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, said one of its clients, an auto company in Nanjing, was looking for new “creative” talent but it had no benchmark to measure what it meant by creativity.“We could ask candidates whether they could design the next generation of cars, but nobody knows exactly how those cars will look like,” said Pete Chia, BRecruit’s president. Because it is a new and emerging sector, candidates don’t necessarily possess relevant experience, so BRecruit needs to look for people who are keen, have the potential to adapt and are willing to work hard in vanguard jobs. The recruitment sector follows the changing trends of industries. Hiring in the past was a lot simpler, Chia said, because the job requirements of company clients were relatively straightforward. But now clients themselves often don’t know what types of people they need to hire. Recruitment firms must offer consulting services and solutions for clients. BRecruit used to segregate its team by industries and work in a vertical way. Now it is building cross-functional teams and encouraging consultants to work in clusters that cut across industries. Further reforms At the recent Boao Forum for Asia President Xi Jinping promised that China will do more to open access to its markets. Chia said the new policies are very “bold and good” and more foreign investment will follow soon.David Chan, chief executive officer of recruitment firm Bólè Associates, predicted that deregulation of financial services, for example, will require more talent in areas such as asset and wealth management. Returning Chinese with expertise in finance will find golden new opportunities, he said.And for non-Chinese, who used to need big pay incentives to come to China, working on the mainland now is more regarded a big step up the career ladder. “Today, if your CV shows that you have worked in China, it will be a big boost for a career,” Chia said. Chia said he sees “endless possibilities” for those seeking work in China.“If you are good at singing, you can stream your music live and make a lot of money today,” he said, by way of one example. Economic development in China’s second-tier and third-tier cities is also a big plus in driving the jobs market. To ride the trend, Bólè established a new business called Single Specialization Team last year. The company said it’s aimed at companies that need speed of operational execution, especially in cutting-edge sectors.Second-tier cities like Chengdu and Wuhan are betting big on industries like gaming and e-learning, which have a big demand for talent, according to Yang Junfei, a team leader at Bólè.Zhaopin.com’s Guo said his company is now working with local governments like Chengdu to implement recruitment initiatives.In early May, Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province, released new recruitment polices that include housing subsidies and other incentives. Startups, an emerging engine of the local economy, are eligible for up to 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million) in financing.“The competitiveness of provinces and cities boils down to the quality of talent they can attract,” said Guo.

Startups elbow into electric auto industry

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:01
China is not only the world’s largest auto market but it is also the most advanced in the field of electric cars. Small wonder that so many startup companies are hoping to benefit from national policies favoring green cars. The startups are hoping to gain a foothold by rolling out electric car models with intelligent and connected features inside the vehicles. For them, an electric car is a smart device on wheels.“This year will be a crucial one for these startups,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association. “According to plans of these enterprises, a number of new models will be unveiled his year. Some of the companies, such as Shanghai-based NIO and VM Motor Technology Co, have even entered the stage of actual production.” The startups are raising eyebrows among Chinese consumers and industry insiders alike. They are pioneering new technologies and trying to define what consumers want in a cutting-edge vehicle.“In the past, most people around me paid attention to traditional car manufacturers during the Beijing Auto Show,” said Cheng Yujia, a friend of mine who studies at the School of Automotive Studies of Tongji University. “But this year, they are discussing Chinese electric startups and are eager to get a look at their vehicles.”According to Caixin Global, an estimated 20 electric-vehicle startups have been launched since 2014. The first 10 out of the gate reportedly secured investments totaling more than 50 billion yuan (US$7.9 billion).China began issuing permits allowing non-traditional automakers to manufacture electric cars in 2015. It’s part of a national policy to encourage non-polluting cars and help reduce smog in major cities.Bolstered by such strong government backing, more startups are appearing. With government subsidies and a rising consumer acceptance of electric vehicles in large cities, it’s considered a promising sector.After much initial consumer skepticism, sales of electric cars are becoming more robust. In the first four months of this year, China sold 225,310 electric cars, nearly a 150 percent surge from the same period a year ago. That compares with the 4.8 percent growth rate in the overall auto industry.The country wants to see electric vehicles dominate the roads in the future.Compared with traditional car manufacturers, electric car startups are often more innovative when it comes to interactive functions between drivers and vehicles, and features such as automated driving and connectivity to the Internet. These technologies are helping make electric cars more attractive to consumers, especially a young generation hooked on everything digital.Chinese electric car startups NIO and Future Mobility Co are among the companies betting on technology inside the vehicle.NIO has applied self-driving technology to its electric sport-utility vehicle called the NIO ES8. NIO Pilot, its autonomous driving assistant system, is Internet-connected and equipped with 23 sensors. The system includes a highway pilot, a traffic jam pilot and automatic emergency braking. Drivers can interact with the vehicle through a voice-activated artificial intelligent assistant named Nomi to broadcast music, close the windows and navigate to a destination. Last month, Future Mobility Co showcased its smart electric sport-utility vehicle called the Byton Concept. It comes equipped with multiple screens, including a touch screen that replaces the central console in traditional cars. The touch screen automatically adjusts brightness according to changes in light, and it enables content to be shared with other passengers in the car.Face-recognition cameras allow the driver or passenger to unlock the door. The car also recognizes driver and passenger preferences to auto-adjust seat angles, entertainment options and other information. Autonomous driving features are applied on the model.Smart features and technology are the trump cards for electric car startups. However, some industry insiders also point to constraints for these firms.The startups face competition from the traditional carmakers like Volkswagen, Ford and BMW, which are muscling into the electric car space. These auto giants have made new energy vehicles a high priority in their future development plans in China.“The automobile is a very complicated business, involving all aspects of supply chain, manufacturing, sales and after-sales services,” said Zhang Xiaofeng, an independent market analyst. “For all of those aspects, traditional car manufacturers have certain advantages because they have been in the business for so many years. Electric startups still lack that level of experience.”Cui said manufacturing electric vehicles involves huge upfront costs. “The competition is only going to get fiercer in the future,” he said. “Electric car startups will need to accelerate their development pace, and not many of them will be able to survive with a mass production scale of cars.” For electric car startups, there’s also the challenge of turning what is now consumer curiosity into concrete sales. They need to build brand image and cultivate buyer loyalty.According to a recent survey by consulting firm J.D. Power, the startups are in a weaker position than traditional automakers.The survey of 2,710 Chinese consumers found that only 9 percent would consider buying startup brands, while 46 percent said they prefer traditional car brands. The remainder of the respondents said they would look at both before making any decisions.

FDI into mainland falls 1.1% to US$9.3b in April

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
FOREIGN direct investment into China’s mainland fell in April but the FDI inflow edged up in January to April, with capital going into high technology industries growing rapidly. FDI declined 1.1 percent year on year to 59.24 billion yuan (US$9.3 billion) last month, and the number of newly-set up foreign companies in the mainland rose 39.5 percent year on year to 4,662, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed yesterday. In the first four months of this year, the total number of newly-formed enterprises funded by foreign investors jumped by 95.4 percent to 19,002, while foreign funds that were actually used added 0.2 percent from a year ago to 286.78 billion yuan. Gao Feng, a ministry spokesman, highlighted the rapid growth capital invested in high-tech manufacturing. “The high technology industries posted a 20.2 percent year-on-year rise in actual use of foreign investment in January to April, accounting for 20.8 percent of the total FDI amount,” Gao said. “FDI in the high-tech manufacturing sector increased heftily by 79.5 percent from the same period a year ago to 29.6 billion yuan.” Pharmaceutical manufacturing, electronic and telecommunication equipment manufacturing, and the medical instrument making industry posted year-on-year FDI growth of 31.1 percent, 70.7 percent and 513.6 percent respectively, the data showed. Around 30.11 billion yuan were actually invested in high-tech services during the four months, with research and development and designing services growing 14.3 percent from the same period last year. Investments from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the UK and Macau grew 53.6 percent, 57.2 percent, 7.6 percent, 63.2 percent and 77.3 percent respectively from a year ago, Gao pointed out. “FDI from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 57.7 percent, and investment from countries along the Belt and Road was up 57.2 percent in the first four months from the same period of last year,” Gao added. FDI in China’s central regions surged 47.2 percent from a year earlier to 21.12 billion yuan and the western regions lured 19.31 billion yuan, up 20.6 percent, according to the ministry. China’s outbound direct investment in the four-month period grew steadily, up a robust 34.9 percent to US$35.58 billion, according to the ministry. Chinese enterprises have invested US$4.67 billion in countries along the Belt and Road from January to April, an increase of 17.3 percent from the same period last year, the ministry said.

Home-sharing services to hit US$7.9b

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
China’s market for home-sharing services is expanding rapidly, with the transaction volume expected to reach 50 billion yuan (US$7.85 billion) by 2020, a report showed.The number of tenants is likely to exceed 100 million while the number of shared homes will exceed 6 million by 2020, according to a report by the State Information Center, a State Council think tank.In 2017, transactions in the country’s home-sharing market totaled 14.5 billion yuan, up 70.6 percent year on year. Around 7,600 tenants had the option to choose from 3 million shared-homes that are registered on Airbnb-like short-term lodging providers.Chen Chi, CEO of industry leader Xiaozhu.com, said that there is still ample room for the home-sharing market to develop, and the whole industry needs to work together to improve user experiences. The growth was supported by a surge in financing. Home-sharing service providers across China received a combined US$540 million in financing last year, up 180 percent year on year.Amid government efforts to encourage innovation, China’s sharing economy has seen rapid expansion in the past few years.

Local debt stays within official cap

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S local government debt balance stood at 16.61 trillion yuan (US$2.6 trillion) at the end of April, well within the official limit, data from the Ministry of Finance showed. The country’s top legislative body has decided that the upper limit for local government debt this year should be 20.99 trillion yuan. China issued local government bonds worth 301.8 billion yuan in April and 521.3 billion yuan in the first four months, all for debt swaps and refunding. China has made bond issuance the sole legal way for local governments to raise debt amid efforts to forestall systemic financial crisis, Finance Minister Xiao Jie said in March. In the first four months, China’s fiscal revenue rose 12.9 percent year on year to 6.9 trillion yuan, the ministry said. China cut its fiscal deficit target to 2.6 percent of GDP for 2018, down by 0.4 percentage points from that in 2017, the first drop since 2013.

CNPC to replace Total in Iran project

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC will replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out over renewed US sanctions against Tehran, Iran’s oil minister has said.“Total has said that if it doesn’t get an exemption from the United States to continue its work, it will begin to pull out of the deal,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted as saying by his ministry’s Shana news service. “If that happens, the Chinese firm CNPC will replace Total.”Total started the US$4.8-billion South Pars 11 project in July 2017, two years after Western powers signed a nuclear deal with Tehran prompting the return of many businesses to Iran.But earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the deal, and warned companies that they face sanctions if they do business with Iran.The French group said on Wednesday it has US$10 billion of capital employed in its US assets, and US banks are involved in 90 percent of its financing operations, making Total highly vulnerable if targeted by any US action.By contrast, Total said it had spent less than 40 million euros (US$47 million) on the Iranian project, which it runs with its partner Petrochina and which is dedicated to the supply of domestic gas inside Iran. Zanganeh said on Wednesday that were CNPC, which was part of the Total deal, unable to carry out the work in South Pars due to US sanctions it would fall to Iran’s Petropars. Iran possesses the second-largest gas reserves on the planet, after Russia, and the fourth largest oil supply.

Slashing time to set up firms

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
THE Chinese government has demanded local authorities to halve the time required for starting businesses as part of efforts to improve the business environment and encourage entrepreneurship. The amount of time required to start a business in municipalities, sub-provincial cities and provincial capitals should be cut from an average of 20 workdays to within 8.5 workdays by the end of this year, said a document from the General Office of the State Council. The measure will also be launched in Dalian, Qingdao, Ningbo, Xiamen and Shenzhen, with other areas also required to see positive progress, the document said. The target will be met nationally in the first half of 2019. “The procedures that a new firm needs to go through to be operational should be streamlined, making it simpler to submit applications, register a business, carve common seals, apply for invoices and manage social insurance,” the document said.

Enjoying VR sensation

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
Two men try a VR cabin that conveys a sense of touch and movement yesterday at the 21st China Beijing International High-tech Expo. The four-day event has drawn over 1,600 companies from 14 countries and regions. High-tech products such as underwater gliders will be shown.

Bosch’s China sales rise 24% in 2017

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
BOSCH posted a nearly 24 percent jump in sales in China last year amid rapid growth in the country’s new energy vehicle market and accelerated industrial upgrading, it said yesterday. However, the German engineering and electronics company sees sales to grow moderately in China in 2018 “due to rising geopolitical risks and economic uncertainties caused by trade tensions” between China and the US. The group expects sales to grow only 2-3 percent annually in China this year, Bosch’s sales totaled 113.4 billion yuan (US$17.8 billion) in China last year, up nearly 24 percent from a year ago. China remains Bosch’s largest single market outside its home, taking up over 60 percent of sales growth in Asia Pacific, said Peter Tyroller, a management board member at the company. Although China’s auto market grew at the slowest since 2012 overall, sales of new-energy vehicles soared 53.3 percent to 777,000 units last year, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. “That has bolstered our performance last year as mobility remains the key sector of our business in China,” Tyroller said. Bosch’s industrial technology and smart city businesses also grew rapidly as China quickened its upgrading in manufacturing and consumer industries last year, according to Tyroller.

Falling home sales propel OnePlus abroad

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
ONEPLUS, a Chinese smartphone startup, will boost global expansion as it seeks to overcome declining sales in the domestic market, the company said in Beijing yesterday. OnePlus’ revenue totaled 10 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion) in 2017, with over 70 percent coming from overseas markets, said Chief Executive Liu Zuohu during a conference to launch its new flagship OnePlus 6 in Beijing. The startup boasts a 44 percent market share in the segment for smartphones costing between US$400 and US$600 in the United States. OnePlus also captures over 50 percent of the Indian market for smartphone models priced at over US$400, according to Liu. China’s smartphone sales totaled 91 million units in the first quarter of 2018, down 21 percent year on year, according to researcher Canalys. OnePlus launched its new flagship OnePlus 6, priced from 3,199 yuan, in Beijing yesterday. To attract high-end consumers, its Avengers-branded limited edition of OnePlus 6 costs 4,199 yuan.

5G industry alliance founded

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:01
A 5G industry alliance comprising 16 companies was founded in Shanghai yesterday — World Telecommunications Day. The alliance, which focuses on ultra high-definition video transferred on 5G networks, groups companies to encourage them to develop new applications for future 5G services, which are set to be commercially available in China in 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday in a statement. The 5G technology, offering 20 to 50 times faster speed compared with 4G networks, creates new applications and business opportunities in drones, the Internet of Things and super-high video streaming, analysts said. The major members of the “5G Plus 8K” alliance includes Oriental Pearl, China Telecom Shanghai branch, BesTV and Foxconn. The alliance will develop high-speed 5G and super high-definition video up to 8K technology, the current highest ultra high definition in digital television and digital cinematography. Oriental Pearl and Foxconn will produce 8K content while BesTV and Shanghai Telecom will broadcast programs based on 5G networks to create an “8K Ecosystem.” China Telecom has started 5G trial networks in six cities nationwide including Shanghai. It is testing 5G in areas in Zhongshan Park. China Mobile is also testing 5G in the city in areas in Hongkou District.

Red tape will be cut back for foreign-funded companies

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA will streamline procedures for the establishment of foreign-funded companies to promote trade and facilitate investment. Measures will be taken to dramatically reduce the time foreign firms need for business registration, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang yesterday. Effective on June 30, foreign firms will see much easier business filing and registration as the procedures will be finished paperless and free of charge and needs no presence in person. To facilitate the implementation, banks, customs, taxation and foreign exchange agencies will share business information and coordinate management. China has been pushing for easier access for foreign investment, with an array of favorable policies rolled out this year. More than 35,000 foreign-funded businesses were set up on the Chinese mainland last year with direct investment hitting an all-time high of 878 billion yuan (US$140 billion). The meeting also decided to establish an e-platform for accessing inter-connected government services at the national, provincial and city levels. All government services items will be put on this platform unless the laws otherwise stipulate or for confidentiality reasons. No less than 90 percent of the services items offered at provincial level and 70 percent at city and county levels will be available online by the end of 2019. A series of measures will be also be rolled out to reduce logistics costs by more than 12 billion yuan this year. Land use taxes will be halved for logistics firms that rent land for warehouses from this month to the end of 2019. Vehicle purchase taxes of trailers will be halved during the next three years from July. Expressway toll stations at provincial boundaries will be gradually removed.

Rising Chinese passion for wine whets mouth-watering prospects

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S growing thirst for wine has spawned a new crop of connoisseurs, inspired prize-winning domestic producers and even attracted a top international tasting competition. More than 300 experts from around the world gathered at a luxury hotel in Beijing last weekend to taste 9,000 wines from some 50 countries. After sniffing, tasting and spitting the various vintages, they recorded their notes on touchscreen tablets for the 25th Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which awards coveted gold and silver medals that producers can then tag on their bottles. To avoid any risk of bias the bottles were all wrapped in opaque plastic and the results will be announced later this month. Dynamic market “Why have we come to China? Because it is the most dynamic market in the world,” said Baudouin Havaux, the competition’s president. “In terms of consumption it is incredible, this country is growing at a crazy speed.” The Chinese drink 1.46 billion liters of wine per year — on average almost one liter, or more than one bottle, per person — according to a study by Vinexpo, an organizer of international wine fairs. China ranks fifth in the world for wine consumption after the US, France, Italy and Germany. But this figure is expected to increase by 18.5 percent between now and 2021. Over the next five years, China is expected to become the world’s second-largest consumer of wine, behind only the US. “I think gift-giving and status are still the biggest factors” driving wine purchases, said Canadian wine taster Jim Boyce. “A lot of people also drink red wine because of the perceived health benefits. But there is also a growing niche of consumers who drink wine for taste, for pleasure and for experience.” “People simply have more money now to enjoy something like wine,” said the expert who is based in China, where the disposable income of urban Chinese doubled between 2009 and 2016. Wine was more a symbol of “prestige” five years ago, agreed Havaux. “It was important to leave the price tag on the bottle to show that it is very expensive,” Havaux said. “But young people are beginning to grow interested in the product itself.” Among them is Kang Yi, a 30-year-old interpreter. “I discovered wine when I was studying in Paris. Especially rose, champagne and riesling. When I came back to China, I joined a wine-tasting club.” Beijing-based Zhou Hewei, who works in insurance, admitted she used to buy wine for dinner parties “without really knowing much about it.” “Until the day when a friend who had studied wine at university opened a website. She wrote articles about grape varieties, terroirs... I learnt a lot and began to buy more and more bottles.” As a result of this growing passion, China in 2017 imported 750 million liters of foreign wine, according to customs data — 20 percent up on the previous year. Foreign wines make up 50 percent of all sales in China, according to experts. “The quality of Chinese wine has been steadily rising for a decade now,” said Boyce, who has tasted more than 1,000 Chinese wines since 2005. “We see the best Chinese wines are winning hundreds of medals overseas. And just overall, I think most people would say they taste a lot better than they did a decade ago.” The arrival of e-commerce has changed the landscape for Chinese wine lovers, Boyce added. “Ten years ago, Chinese people would probably get their wine at a retail shop, and it would be mostly big Chinese brands and red Bordeaux. “And then the Internet came along, and the smartphone came along, and suddenly consumers had thousands of choices, from lots of countries,” he said. “This put a tremendous amount of pressure on the local companies to get better, because those companies were focused more on marketing than on quality.” Chinese wine producers have responded by gaining more experience, training overseas, and buying in better equipment. But their production costs remain high, as many are forced to bury their vines in winter to prevent them freezing. “Lots of wine estates are improving their quality and winning medals in major competitions,” said Eva Xie, a Chinese taster and wine critic. They are making their presence felt at the competition. “In 2017, 30 percent of Chinese wines tasted at the Concours de Bruxelles were medalists, which is above the average rate of 25 percent,” said Havaux. “That is impressive.”

US posts increase in industrial production in April

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
COLD weather and strong mining activity combined with a solid showing by manufacturing firms to drive a jump in US industrial production in April, the Federal Reserve said yesterday. Even the sharp decline in production of cars and auto parts was not enough to dampen the strong start to the first quarter, according to the data. Total industrial production rose 0.7 percent compared to March, slightly better than economists expected, and was 3.5 percent faster than April 2017. The output gain in March was revised higher, also to 0.7 percent, but the prior months were revised downward, meaning the production gain in the first quarter of the year was 0.6 percentage points lower than previously reported. Still, the April data reflected broad strength across nearly all sectors and bodes well for growth in the second quarter. The “below-normal temperatures” last month drove a 1.9 percent increase in utilities, which included a 10 percent surge in gas due to the strong demand for heating, the report said. Mining output rose 1.1 percent, and was 10.6 percent higher than the same month of 2017, fueled on gains in oil and gas extraction, which offset the decline in coal mining. The key manufacturing sector posted a 0.5 percent output rise, which included gains of over one percent in machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment and appliances, and aerospace and transport equipment. However, motor vehicles and parts shed 1.3 percent, the first decline since November, even while production was over three percent above April 2017. Wood products was the only other category that fell over one percent. Total industrial capacity in use in April rose to 78 percent, the highest since March 2015 but still nearly two points below the long-run average, the Fed said.

Mobility services to see fewer cars bought

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
THE prevalence of new mobility services such as ride-sharing and public bike rental might drive some Chinese consumers away from buying a vehicle of their own, a study by Bain & Company shows. The widespread availability of very easy mobility services would lead to 23 percent of car owners and 21 percent of potential car owners from purchasing a car, according to the study. “Given newly available transportation options, the formidable traffic congestion and the financial costs of car ownership, more Chinese consumers are turning their backs on buying cars,” said Pierre-Henri Boutot, a Bain & Company partner and a leader in its Performance Improvement practice. Also under 50 percent of the survey participants now equate owning a car to improving one’s social status, the survey said. The popular bike sharing was used by 73 percent of respondents, and e-hailing followed with 62 percent of participants having used the service, the survey said. “Chinese consumers adopt new practices as soon as they are introduced and bring them into the mainstream,” said Raymond Tsang, partner with Bain & Company and a co-author of the report. “With technology integration, government support and the emergence of new options such as B2C car sharing, China’s mobility industry is likely to continue on its upward trajectory.” Bike sharing has grown over fivefold and e-hailing fourfold in the last three years, according to Bain. The survey of nearly 2,000 Chinese consumers revealed that 60 percent of them raised their mobility frequency in the past two years.

Robots show off dance moves

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
Robots dance during the second World Intelligence Congress in north China’s Tianjin yesterday. The three-day conference focuses on new development and policies in AI and participants including tech firms like Baidu, Alibaba, JD.com, Microsoft, Huawei, and iFlytek are taking part.

Prices of new homes in China stay stable in April

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
PRICES of new homes remained stable across China in April, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. New home prices in Beijing and Shenzhen edged up 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, from March, while those in Shanghai and Guangzhou both shed by 0.1 percent from a month ago. On an annual basis, prices in the four first-tier cities continued to drop, ranging from 0.2 percent to 2.2 percent, according to the bureau, which monitors home prices in 70 major Chinese cities. “In the 15 hottest cities, new home prices were little changed for another month with minor increases being recorded on both a monthly and yearly basis, as rein-in measures to curb speculation remained strictly enforced,” said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at the bureau. Eight of the 15 cities, including first-tier and key second-tier cities, saw new home prices rise by 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent from March. Year on year, new home prices in five of the 15 cities gained between 0.4 percent and 1.1 percent. Notably, the number of cities where new home prices grew month on month rose by three to 58 in April, the most since the second half of 2017. Seventeen of the 58 cities saw prices rise 1 percent and above month over month, compared to five cities in February and three in March, the bureau's data showed. In the pre-occupied home market, prices in first-tier cities fell 0.1 percent from March. They were flat in second-tier cities and added 0.1 percentage point in third-tier cities. New home prices in Dandong, a northeastern city on the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea gained 2 percent in April from a month ago, the largest increase among all Chinese cities. It was followed by Sanya and Haikou in Hainan Province, where new home prices both rose 1.9 percent from March. During previous years, rocketing housing prices, especially in major cities, had fueled concerns about asset bubbles. To curb speculation, local governments have passed or expanded their curbs on house purchases and raised the minimum downpayment required for a mortgage. Property development investment grew 10.3 percent year on year for January-April, a dip from 10.4 percent during the first quarter, said the bureau. The pullback in property development investment and housing sales growth was normal, bureau spokesperson Liu Aihua said on Tuesday, adding that she expected the property market to keep stable development as China continues to impose measures to curb home buying to contain speculation. This year’s government work report reiterated that “houses are for living in, not for speculation.”

Growth in solar power generation charges ahead

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S solar power generation growth exceeded other power sources over the first four months as the country continues to upgrade its energy structure, the National Reform and Development Commission said yesterday. From January to April, solar power generation in China surged 26.4 percent from a year ago, faster than the 7.3 percent annual growth for coal power, 6.5 percent for nuclear power and 22.6 percent for wind power. But generation of hydropower fell 2.6 percent amid shrinking water flow in main dams, the top economic planner said. “Although solar power accounted for less than 2 percent of China’s overall electricity generation last year, it is surpassing other sources in growth as China is taking great efforts to boost its use and supply,” said Alex Liu, analyst for energy and public utilities at UBS. China’s newly-installed clean energy accounted for 74.3 percent of the total nationwide from January to March, according to the China Electricity Council in a recent report. The central government has called for provinces nationwide to ensure the consumption of wind and solar power takes up at least 8 percent of total energy use, “above the figure of less than 6 percent last year,” Liu said. China has installed 10 gigawatts of solar power in the first quarter, “comparing to the 4 gigawatts in the same period of last year,” Liu said.

Stocks decline on trade tensions and profit-taking

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI stocks dipped yesterday as investors took profit of companies that are to be included in the MSCI indices while worries continued over tensions in global trade. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.71 percent to 3,169.57 points, ending a two-day rebound. While news of the inclusion of 234 A-shares in the MSCI China index boosted the domestic market yesterday, “a round of profit taking however dragged down today’s market,” said Shen Meng, director of domestic investment bank Chanson & Co. Gu Yongtao, strategic analyst at Cinda Securities, said domestic investors’ anticipation of which stocks would be included differed only slightly from the MSCI announcement. Investors then took profit of the stocks they have long been buying, Shen said. Kweichow Moutai Co, a liquor maker to be included in MSCI indices on June 1, lost 1.15 percent to 734.52 yuan (US$115.35) after gaining 7.13 percent over the past two weeks. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, another stock to be included in the indices, gave up its gains on Tuesday and fell 1.48 percent to 6.00 yuan yesterday. Worries of a possible trade war between China and US “also weighed on the market as huge uncertainties remain, making investors wary before the upcoming next round of trade negotiations,” Shen said. The US and China are “still very far apart” on disputes over trade, said US Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, yesterday. Shanghai’s drop echoed declines in Hong Kong and Tokyo amid rising geopolitical worries triggered by news that North Korea abruptly called off talks with Seoul and threatened to withdraw from a planned summit with the US in Singapore next month.

360 shares surge 3.1% on plan to raise US$1.7b

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:01
SHARES of the 360 Security Technology surged yesterday after China’s biggest cyber security firm announced a plan to raise 10.8 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) by private placement to invest in AI and big data. The investment will cover nine projects that include cyber security research, online search, artificial intelligence and big data, Shanghai-listed 360 said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The exact pricing has yet to be finalized. The plan is still pending approval from shareholders and the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Shares of 360 surged 3.1 percent to 37.9 yuan, compared with the 0.71 percent drop of the Shanghai stock index yesterday. Cyber security is more than just a technology problem as it is a “giant security” covering national security, society development and urban management, Zhou Hongyi, chairman of 360, told an IT forum yesterday. AI and intelligent systems still have loopholes, which require more investment and upgraded technologies to improve them, Zhou added. Among the nine projects, 360 will invest in Internet of Things sector covering car communications and smart watches designed for children. In April, 360’s net profit surged 80 percent in 2017 in their first annual fiscal report after listing domestically. 360 is China’s biggest online security firm with 550 million active monthly users.

MSCI to include 234 A-shares in leading indices

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S top liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China will be among 234 Chinese A-shares that will be included in MSCI’s main indices, the New York-based company said yesterday. Their shares will be added to MSCI's global and regional indices, including the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index, from June 1. These stocks will represent an aggregate weight of 0.39 percent in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index when included in June. MSCI, the world’s top stock-index compiler, unveiled on Monday the final list of Chinese shares that will be included in its benchmarks at the close of May 31. That means investors will need to buy yuan-denominated stocks for the first time if they want to closely track the benchmark gauges, opening China’s huge equity landscape — with its big swings and unique idiosyncrasies — to the pension and mutual funds that track MSCI’s gauges. The list consists mostly of bluechip stocks, with the majority of companies in the financial, consumer and medical sectors, including Kweichow Moutai Co, ICBC, BOC and China Construction Bank, and brokerages like Guosen Securities. The inclusion will help China’s financial market open wider to the world, with inflows of foreign investment expected, analysts said. “The inclusion of A-shares in the MSCI indices is likely to increase the participation of foreign institutional investors,” said Ma Lei, portfolio manager at Fidelity International. “In the medium to long term, this will help make the A-share market more sophisticated and raise its market liquidity. Also, the market will become increasingly driven by fundamentals instead of short-term market factors,” he added. “As the A-share market has a free-float market capitalization of US$3.4 trillion and a daily average transaction volume of US$75 billion, the inflow brought by the inclusion will not have a major impact in the short term,” said Gao Ting, a UBS Securities analyst. On June 20, 2017, MSCI first announced the partial inclusion of A-shares in the MSCI China Index, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and the MSCI ACWI Index. China has improved market access for global asset managers, enabling foreign investors to buy shares on the Shenzhen stock exchange, MSCI said, after rejecting for three years China’s previous application for inclusion. Foreign investors have already started increasing their holdings of Chinese stocks ahead of the inclusion. Data showed that overseas investors have been adding positions of A-shares via the stock connect programs, with net inflows of funds from Hong Kong to the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges reaching 38.7 billion yuan (US$6.1 billion) in April. “This showed the growing appeal of the A-share market to foreign investors,” Gao said. “The MSCI inclusion will boost market sentiment.” China recently announced a series of opening-up measures, including increasing the daily quotas for the mainland-Hong Kong stock connect programs and letting foreign brokers hold a majority stake in securities joint ventures.

BMW licensed for autonomous driving

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
Shanghai has granted BMW a licence for self-driving car testing, setting up the German luxury brand to become the first foreign automaker to test autonomous vehicles on the road in China.As global car giants race for an advantage in the world’s largest car market, the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology awarded the two licences for BMW’s 7 Series sedans on Monday, the regulator said. Since the city started issuing the testing permits in March, local state-owned automaker SAIC and Chinese electric vehicle startup NIO have logged over 6,000 kilometers of driving without incidents, the commission said. But the licences do not give carmakers access to all of Shanghai’s streets. Instead they have a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road to drive up and down, Xinhua news agency said. The autonomous car market is ramping up in China as local upstarts, technology behemoths and foreign automakers go head-to-head to produce what many expect to be the future of transport.Alibaba and its rival Baidu recently predicted that self-driving vehicles will hit the road in the country within three to five years, and both have invested big to be at the forefront of the shift.

Chinese shares rise on MSCI’s inclusion news

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
CHINA stocks rose yesterday as investors were cheered after MSCI said it would include 234 Chinese A-shares in the MSCI China Index. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.57 percent to 3,192.12 points, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.72 percent to 10,747.99 points and the Shenzhen-based startup board ChiNext rose 1.48 percent to 1,858.01 points. Global index provider MSCI said yesterday that the 234 China A-shares will represent aggregate weight of 1.26 percent and 0.39 percent respectively in the MSCI China Index and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The A-shares to be included in MSCI's indices from June 1 are Kweichow Moutai, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Guosen Securities. MSCI said any stock that was halted from trading for over 50 straight trading days would not be included in its index. The MSCI news marked a key development in the opening of China’s market to overseas investors, said Chen Guo, chief strategic analyst at Essence Securities. (Song Yingge)

Didi cars to self-drive in public in US

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S drive-sharing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co was approved by California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its self-driving vehicles. A list posted on DMV’s website showed 53 pieces of Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits had been permitted as of last Thursday. Didi was the latest to join the group, which includes both technology and automotive companies. Didi Senior Communications Director Liang Sun was quoted by The Wall Street Journal on Monday as saying that the company had been testing autonomous vehicles in a closed internal environment for a while and it is finalizing its plans to begin US road trials which will be made in a “prudent and safety-first” manner. Didi last year opened its main research facility in Mountain View in California, 860 kilometers north of Los Angeles, to focus on developing artificial intelligence, including autonomous driving. The approval from the California DMV is Didi’s first license for testing on public roads in the US. Many Chinese companies including Baidu, Faraday & Future, and Changan Automobile, have also started testing in the state.

Startup aims to double revenue in 2018

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
XGIMI, a Chengdu-based startup offering home theater projectors, aims to double revenue to 3 billion yuan (US$476.2 million) this year as the company taps booming demand arising from consumption upgrade and sets it sights to grow internationally from this year. The revenue target this year will be an increase from 1.3 billion yuan in 2017, the startup said. In the first quarter of this year, Xgimi’s revenue jumped 101 percent year on year. Xgimi, which sells products in 127 countries and regions, has also identified globalization as the firm’s core strategy this year, Zhong Bo, chairman and CEO of Xgimi, added. Xgimi plans to work with Google and Amazon to boost overseas sales, which will take up half in the long term and 10 percent in 2018, he said. Xgimi also said it would cooperate with Baidu to establish an artificial intelligence lab to offer conversational AI services to provide customized services for users.

Race on for Europe’s electric car charging

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
CHARGING an electric car away from home can be an exercise in uncertainty — hunting for that one lonely station at the back of a rest-area parking lot and hoping it’s working. In Europe, some of the biggest automakers are out to remove the anxiety from the electric car consumer experience and encourage sales of electric vehicles by building a highway network of fast charging stations. The idea is to let drivers plug in, charge in minutes instead of hours, and speed off on their way — from Norway to southern Italy and Portugal to Poland. Much is at stake for the automakers, which include Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Ford. Their joint venture, Munich-based Ionity, is pushing to roll out its network in time to service the next generation of battery-only cars coming on the market starting next year. They’re aiming to win back some of the market share for electric luxury car sales lost to Tesla, which has its own, proprietary fast-charging network. Despite a slower than expected start, Ionity CEO Michael Hajesch said in an interview he’s “confident” the company will reach its goal of 400 ultra-fast charging stations averaging six charging places each by 2020. The idea is “to be able to drive long distances with battery electric vehicles, across Europe and to have the same experience at each station, meaning a very easy and comfortable customer journey,” Hajesch said during a conversation at the company’s Munich headquarters near the 1972 Olympic stadium. The idea is to break electric cars out of the early adopter niche, in which they are charged slowly overnight at home and used for short commutes. “The sites we are looking for are really the A-sites,” he said, “directly at the autobahn. Not down the road, not driving five kilometers into the next industrial area and finding a charging station somewhere, without light, or any amenities around, but right at the autobahn.” “If you’re going from Hamburg to Munich, because it’s a weekend trip to friends, typically you do not have much time,” he said. So what counts will be “the speed of recharging your vehicles, and at the same time finding maybe some amenities: maybe a coffee, getting a newspaper or whatever.” Ionity opened its first station last month at a rest stop off the A61 highway near the small town of Niederzissen, about 50 kilometers south of Bonn in western Germany. The six high-speed chargers are operating in “welcome mode,” meaning they’re free until May 31. After that, Ionity plans to charge for the power, which it seeks to obtain from renewable sources. Ionity has agreements for some 300 sites, working with fueling station and rest stop landlords. More charging availability is what it will take to get an environmentally aware car buyer like Rainer Hoedt to choose a battery-only vehicle. The 58-year-old Berlin geography teacher is a proud owner of a Mitsubishi Outlander, a plug-in hybrid that combines internal combustion with a battery he can charge overnight. The battery-only range of 50 kilometers lets him drive emissions free for daily trips at home. But a family vacation journey of more than 200 kilometers to the Baltic Sea was a different story. Hoedt had to drive on internal combustion before finding a lone charging station as he approached his destination, using the goingelectric.de website. “It was right next to the highway, there was one charging station and we were lucky that it was free,” he said. But he couldn’t find a charging station he could use by the seashore. On the way back, he was able to charge at a rest stop, but only by asking a non-electric car owner to move his vehicle away from the lone charging pole. A battery-only car would have never made it home. And he couldn’t use one to visit his cousin 650 kilometers away in Rosenheim. “I looked at the option... The infrastructure is still so bad, I just don’t want to risk that I get stranded,” he said. “Once the infrastructure gets better, that might be my next car.” Tesla has shown how charging infrastructure can drive vehicle sales. It has 1,229 stations with 9,623 fast chargers in Europe alone, where it has cut into Mercedes and BMW’s sales of luxury cars. But it has its own proprietary plug. Ionity is using the CCS plug backed by the European Union as a common standard for all. In both the US and Europe, the situation is roughly similar: More chargers available in jurisdictions where government strongly backs electric vehicles, such as California, Norway or the Netherlands. Elsewhere, chargers get can harder to find for long stretches along rural highways. Volkswagen, which agreed to invest in low-emission driving to settle charges it cheated on diesel emissions, is building 300 highway charging sites in the US by June 2019 through its Electrify America unit. Japan has 40,000 charging points, exceeding its 34,000 gas stations, according to Nissan — but many of those are private garages. Ionity is counting on the large 350-kilowatt capacity of its publicly available chargers — almost three times the 120 kilowatts per vehicle of Tesla’s Superchargers. No car currently on the market can make full use of 350 kilowatt charging capacity. But they’re coming: in 2019 Porsche plans to introduce the Mission E. Porsche says that the sleek, low-slung sports car will take 15 minutes to charge for 400 kilometers more driving. (AP)

China’s new home sales expand by slower pace

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
NEW home sales in China continued to expand by a slower pace in the first four months of this year, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. About 3.06 trillion yuan (US$482.2 billion) worth of new homes, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, were sold between January and April, a year-on-year rise of 9.5 percent, the bureau said in a statement posted on its website. The growth rate slowed from the 11.4 percent expansion in the first quarter. The area of new homes sold in the first four months edged up 0.4 percent from the same period a year earlier to 366.67 million square meters, decelerating from the 2.3 percent increase registered in the first three months, the bureau said. “As tightening measures were rolled out intensively in March and April in various parts of the country, new home transactions either expanded at a slower pace or shrank at a faster rate,” said Zhao Baogen, an analyst at Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co. “In general, the eastern part of the country, where the strictest rein-in policies remain in place, suffered larger setbacks while the central, western and northeastern parts of China all recorded slower growth.” The inventory of new homes continued to shrink. Newly-built homes available for sale as of the end of April fell 24.5 percent from the same month a year ago to around 285.22 million square meters, the bureau’s data showed. That dropped from 291.67 million square meters registered as of the end of March. Investment in housing development, which took up 69.7 percent of total real estate investment in the first four months, jumped 14.2 percent year on year to around 2.13 trillion yuan, up 0.9 percentage point from the first quarter.

US retail sales climb moderately

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
US retail sales rose moderately in April as rising gasoline prices cut into discretionary spending, but consumer spending appeared on track to accelerate after slowing sharply in the first quarter. The Commerce Department said yesterday that retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month after surging 0.8 percent in March. Last month’s increase in retail sales was in line with economists’ expectations. Retail sales in April increased 4.7 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after adding 0.5 percent in March. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Consumer spending braked sharply in the first quarter, growing at its slowest pace in nearly five years, amid delays in processing tax refunds. Economists also say clean-up efforts in the wake of back-to-back hurricanes in late 2017 had pulled forward spending into the fourth quarter. While consumer spending is picking up, the rise could be limited by gasoline prices, which have risen about 31 cents per gallon this year. The gasoline price rise, if sustained, could blunt the impact of lower income taxes on consumer spending. Gasoline prices are near $3 per gallon, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration. With crude oil prices rising after President Donald Trump’s decision last week to pull the United States out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and vow to put tough sanctions on Tehran, gasoline prices are likely to remain elevated. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at a pedestrian 1.1 percent annualized rate in the first quarter. The economy expanded at a 2.3 percent pace in the January-March period. In April, auto sales edged up 0.1 percent after rising 2.1 percent in March. Receipts at service stations added 0.8 percent, reflecting higher gasoline prices, following a 0.3 percent gain in March. Sales at restaurants and bars fell 0.3 percent, the largest drop since February 2017. Americans also cut back on spending on hobbies as receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores dipped 0.1 percent last month, matching March’s drop.

IMF: Europe not doing more to cut debt

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
EUROPEAN economic growth is strong, mainly thanks to domestic demand, but governments are not taking sufficient advantage of the good times to reduce their debt and implement reforms, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday. The IMF forecast that growth in advanced European economies, mainly the eurozone, would slow to 2.3 percent this year from 2.4 percent in 2017 and then decelerate to 2 percent in 2019. The European Commission forecasts the same growth slowdown. “Amid the good times, however, fiscal adjustment and structural reform efforts are flagging,” the IMF said. “With economic prospects continuing to improve in the short term but medium-term prospects less bright, policy-makers should seize the moment to rebuild room for fiscal manoeuvre and push forward with reforms to boost growth potential,” the IMF said. Despite the strong growth, some of the biggest eurozone economies like France, Italy or Spain have been slow to further reduce their budget deficits toward a balanced position while others, like Belgium, are increasing the shortfall. “In many economies, policy-makers should strive to bring fiscal deficits within range of balance over the next few years,” the IMF said.

Nude painting sold for US$157.2m

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
A stunning nude that is the largest painting produced by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani sold for US$157.2 million in New York on Monday, becoming the fourth most expensive work of art sold at auction. Painted a century ago, Modigliani’s masterpiece “Nu couche (sur le cote gauche)” fetched the highest price in Sotheby’s history and was the star single lot in the May art auction season in New York. Modigliani follows Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso as the third highest-selling artist at auction. Monday’s sale failed to eclipse the US$170.4 million paid for another Modigliani nude at Christie’s in 2015. Nearly 147 centimeters wide, the picture was the cover star of a recent retrospective at the Tate Modern gallery in London. Modigliani reinvented the nude for the modern era, and when his series of paintings were first exhibited in 1917, they were considered so shocking that police closed the show in Paris. Bidding was restrained, lasting three to four minutes and opening at US$125 million before auctioneer Helena Newman brought the hammer down at US$139 million. The final price includes a buyer’s premium. The price chalks up a healthy profit for its seller, who bought the picture in 2003 for US$26.9 million.

Chinese bid for EDP rejected

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
Portugal’s electricity company EDP yesterday rejected as too low a takeover bid by its current largest shareholder, Chinese energy behemoth Three Gorges.Energias de Portugal, one of the country’s largest businesses, said in a statement it would comment at a later date on the other terms of an offer put forward by the Chinese giant on Friday.“Notwithstanding, the executive board of directors considers that the price offered does not adequately reflect the value of EDP,” the statement said.If Three Gorges finally succeeds in fully acquiring EDP, it would mark a significant move as China’s steps up its overseas investment drive. EDP’s share price already jumped 9.3 percent on Monday on the Lisbon stock exchange on the news of the bid. And the share continued to climb yesterday, adding another 1.82 percent at 3.46 euros (US$4.10).Three Gorges, which already owns 23 percent of EDP and is now aiming to take full control, is offering EDP shareholders a price of 3.26 euros per share, a 4.8-percent premium over the closing price on Friday. The Chinese group has also launched a takeover offer for EDP’s renewables branch, EDP Renovaveis, at 7.33 euros per share, while the unit’s shares were changing hands at 8.06 euros yesterday.The Portuguese financial press cited analysts and investors as saying they also viewed Three Gorges’ offer as being too low.

Economy maintains steady growth

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S economy showed steady growth in April, with a much higher-than-expected industrial output buffering impacts from slower growth in retail sales and fixed-asset investment. The industrial output rose 7 percent last month from April 2017, and 1 percentage point higher than the rise in March, according to data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The growth beat market expectations of around 6.4 percent, and was 0.5 percentage points higher than April 2017. For the January-April period, industrial output grew 6.9 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the first quarter. The improvement last month was led by the utilities sector, whose growth rose 3 percentage points to 8.8 percent year on year. Growth in the manufacturing and mining sectors also rose. “China’s economy grew generally steadily last month with stronger vitality and greater efficiency,” said Liu Aihua, spokeswoman for the statistics bureau. Despite the positive overall growth, the economy still faces growing external uncertainties and acute problems of unbalanced and inadequate domestic development, Liu said. Asked about the trade frictions between China and the United States, she said the possible influence on the Chinese economy has not been fully reflected in the short term. Fixed-asset investment in the January-April period cooled to grow at the lowest pace since 2000, rising 7 percent year on year — 0.5 percentage points slower than the first quarter. Liu said the softening in fixed-asset investment was partly due to the rapid growth at nearly 20 percent last year. Also, government measures on stricter regulations for financing also led to the slower growth. Indicators in the real estate sector largely cooled last month. The growth of funds for property investment, a leading indicator for investment, slowed further by 1 percentage point to 2.1 percent year on year in the first four months, compared with the January-March period. “The rebound in property investment growth in early 2018 ended, as financial deleveraging, the credit strain from recent credit defaults and widening credit spreads weigh on property developers,” said Nomura’s economist Wendy Chen. Retail sales growth was also weaker than market expectations, moderating to 9.4 percent year on year in April from 10.1 percent in March. By category, growth in catering and commodity retail slowed to 9.6 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. “Consumption and investment had provided solid support to the better-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter. In contrast, April’s soft data may suggest growth momentum to moderate in the second quarter,” said Betty Wang, senior China economist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. In April, the job market remained steady, with the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas at 4.9 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from March and 0.1 percentage points lower than last April, according to the statistics bureau. The urban surveyed unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 4.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from March and down 0.2 percentage points year on year. Since last month, the bureau has regularly released the monthly surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas to help the government to improve macro-control and provide information for formulating employment policies. The surveyed urban unemployment rate was first introduced in 2014 to better reflect the job market and serve as a supplement to the registered urban unemployment rate compiled by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Earlier data showed China’s economy grew 6.8 percent year on year in the first three months of this year.

China and US move closer over ZTE

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA appreciates the United States position on the Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said yesterday. US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working together to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast,” and the US Commerce Department has been instructed to work on the issue. In response, Lu said China is keeping in close contact with the US on details and issues that the American side is concerned about. Earlier yesterday, Lu announced Xi’s special envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, will visit the US from today to Saturday for economic and trade consultations. Liu, also chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue, will visit at the invitation of the US administration. He will continue to hold consultations with the US economic team headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on economic and trade issues between the two countries, Lu said. “China stands ready to work with the United States to promote positive and constructive results in the forthcoming consultations,” the spokesman added. In his Twitter message with regard to ZTE, Trump said he has instructed the US Commerce Department “to get it done.” ZTE, one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, was forced to suspend its main operations worldwide after the US Commerce Department prohibited American companies from exporting products to it in mid-April. Following the exports ban, ZTE said it was making active communications with relevant parties to seek a solution to the issue, and stressed that it attached significant importance to export control compliance. The Chinese public and government are concerned about the fate of the company, which hires some 70,000 people across the globe. The incident also triggered in China extensive discussions about the necessity and urgency to develop a reliable domestic chip industry. The ZTE ban is also expected to cause sizable losses for the companies’ key American suppliers in both revenues and jobs.

Xerox halts Fujifilm merger and picks new CEO after settlement

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
US photocopier and printer maker Xerox has announced it was terminating a merger with Fujifilm and appointing a new chief executive after entering into a settlement with activist shareholders who had contested the takeover. In a statement on its website, Xerox cited “material deviations” in the audited financials of an existing joint venture known as Fuji Xerox that is controlled by Fujifilm. The move follows a lawsuit by powerful shareholders Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, who together owned more than 15 percent of the group and had vigorously opposed the merger announced in January. Xerox added that Jeff Jacobson had resigned from his role as the company’s CEO, along with five board members who were replaced by five new members. In Tokyo, Fujifilm disputed Xerox’s “unilateral decision.” “We do not believe that Xerox has a legal right to terminate our agreement and we are reviewing all of our available options, including bringing a legal action seeking damages,” the Japanese firm said in a statement. The company called on the Xerox board of directors to “reconsider their decision.” The new board will be chaired by Keith Cozza, who is the current CEO of Icahn Enterprises, while its new CEO is set to be John Visentin. Xerox said the board would convene to “evaluate all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.” “Over the past several weeks, the Xerox Board has repeatedly requested that Fujifilm immediately enter into negotiations on improved terms for a proposed transaction,” the firm said. “Despite our insistence, Fujifilm provided no assurance that it will do so within an acceptable timeframe. “The Xerox Board believes that the transaction cannot reasonably be expected to be completed under these circumstances, particularly given the court’s injunction of the transaction and the lack of shareholder support for the transaction on current terms, as well as the unresolved accounting issues at Fuji Xerox.” The conflict was the latest involving a big company and a high-profile shareholder activist, in this case Icahn, a battle-tested billionaire who has aggressively challenged companies since the 1980s. Icahn and Deason had in late April won a temporary injunction against the merger after a New York judge agreed the deal prioritized the interests of the Xerox CEO over that of the company’s shareholders. In early May, Xerox announced Jacobson would be stepping down before reversing its decision two days later. Reacting to the news, Icahn said: “We are extremely pleased that Xerox finally terminated the ill-advised scheme to cede control of the company to Fujifilm. “With that behind us and new shareholder-focused leadership in place, today marks a new beginning for Xerox.” Under the terms of the merger Fujifilm would have held 50.1 percent of Fuji Xerox while current shareholders would have received a special cash dividend of US$2.5 billion. Deason and Icahn were also unhappy about a secret 2001 deal between Xerox and Fujifilm which contained a clause that prevented the Xerox board from seeking another buyer.

Chinese bourses acquire 25% of DSE

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
A Chinese consortium comprising the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday signed an agreement with Bangladesh’s Dhaka Stock Exchange to acquire a 25-percent stake in the country’s premier bourse and became its strategic investor. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved DSE’s proposal to sell 25 percent of its stake to the Chinese consortium. The BSEC approved DSE’s strategic partnership, fixing each of 450,944,125 shares at a price of 21 taka (25 US cents), the regulator said on its website. DSE’s hunt for a strategic partner came as it became a demutualized stock exchange on November 21, 2013. SZSE and SSE received DSE’s tender invitation in July 2017. A DSE official told Xinhua earlier that taking into account all the aspects, the proposal of the Chinese consortium was the best offer by value and technical support. The bidding process also involved Indian, US and Turkish exchanges. A statement released by the Shenzhen bourse said the Chinese consortium’s bid to become strategic partner of DSE would support the development of the Belt and Road initiative and cooperation along the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. It said the Chinese bourses would cooperate with DSE on trading technology, market and product development. Founded in 1954, DSE is Bangladesh’s premier bourse and had 303 listed companies with a market capitalization of US$44 billion by the end of 2017.

Fiscal revenue keeps growth of double digits

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
China’s fiscal revenue maintained double-digit growth in April due to steadily increasing tax income, data from the Ministry of Finance showed yesterday.Fiscal revenue rose 11 percent year on year to 1.85 trillion yuan (US$291.6 billion) last month, with tax revenue up 14.6 percent to 1.66 trillion yuan, according to the ministry.Non-tax revenue dropped 12.9 percent to 190.6 billion yuan due to continued government efforts to reduce administrative fees and other charges to relieve the burden on businesses.In the first four months of the year, fiscal revenue went up 12.9 percent year on year to 6.9 trillion yuan, the data showed.During the period, value-added tax revenue rose 18.4 percent, while corporate income tax increased 13 percent. Revenue from value-added tax and consumption tax on imported goods grew 15.8 percent.In April, fiscal expenditure expanded 8.2 percent year on year to 1.47 trillion yuan, the data showed.Fiscal spending in the first four months increased 10.3 percent from a year earlier to 6.6 trillion yuan. Spending on social security and employment gained 10.9 percent, while that on education climbed 7.1 percent.With the economy on a firm footing and fiscal revenue increasing, China lowered its fiscal deficit target to 2.6 percent of GDP for 2018, down by 0.4 percentage points compared with 2017, the first drop since 2013.

Electricity usage grows 7.8% in April

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S electricity consumption picked up in April with a 7.8 percent year-on-year growth, official data showed yesterday. Electricity consumption stood at 521.7 billion kilowatt-hours last month, said the National Energy Administration. The 7.8-percent gain was faster than the 3.6-percent growth in March. In April, electricity use in the service and agriculture sectors both rose 10.8 percent on-year, with the industrial sector climbing 7.2 percent. Total electricity use from January to April totaled 2.1 trillion kilowatt-hours, up 9.3 percent from the same period last year. The new data was unveiled a day before China releases a slew of key economic indicators for April, with analysts expecting a broad recovery in industrial output, investment and consumption in the world’s second largest economy.

JAL plans budget carrier

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
This file picture shows Japan Airlines passenger planes at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Japan Airlines yesterday announced plans to launch a budget airline, hoping to take advantage of an expected expansion in the nation’s low-cost market ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

China sees wider opening as strategic for economy

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
Wider opening-up is a strategic choice for China as the country shifts its growth model to pursue high-quality development, experts said.China recently announced a series of opening-up measures including allowing foreign brokers to hold a majority stake in securities joint ventures.Following the announcement of the measures, foreign investors are racing to expand their presence, with big names including JP Morgan and Nomura applying to set up holding firms in the country.Attracting foreign investment is very much in line with China’s supply-side structural reform, which calls for higher-quality resources, said Yang Changyong, a senior researcher from the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research.Since China began reform and opening-up four decades ago, foreign investment has created an important boost for economic growth.Foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland rose 7.9 percent to 878 billion yuan (US$138.6 billion) in 2017, an all-time high, official data showed.As China transitions from high-speed growth to high-quality development, the quality of foreign investment should also be improved, Yang said.The service sector, which accounts for an increasing share of the economy, has much potential for further opening-up, as China could make good use of foreign expertise in areas including health care and education, according to Yang.Easing foreign equity restrictions in manufacturing sectors such as automobiles and aircraft is also in accordance with the country’s goal to optimize resource allocation and increase the supply of high-quality goods, he said.To attract more high-quality investment, China should create a more encouraging environment, with mechanisms such as the negative list approach to be pushed forward, he said.China has also pledged to enhance the protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with its commitment to the World Trade Organization and aimed at improving the socialist market economy, Yang said.Expanding imports, another key policy initiative in the opening-up pledge, is the right choice for China as it aligns with the trend of consumption upgrading, said Li Dawei, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research.

JP Morgan seeks new 51%-owned broker

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
JP Morgan Chase & Co has applied to the China’s securities regulator to form a new securities company in which it will hold a 51 percent stake, the US bank said yesterday.The application is part of the US bank’s package of initiatives, including the appointment of a new chief executive officer for China, to further grow its onshore business in the country.The bank’s corporate & investment bank unit has submitted an application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission to establish a new, fully-integrated securities company in which it will hold 51 percent. The bank said it will raise its stake to 100 percent as allowed by regulations over the next few years.The banking giant’s asset and wealth management business is also seeking to raise its 49 percent stake to majority interest in China International Fund Management Co, a joint venture of JP Morgan Asset Management Ltd and Shanghai International Trust Co, according to a latest statement from the lender.“We will hire people, lend to businesses, support the development of markets and strengthen communities through philanthropic initiatives,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JP Morgan Chase.He added these developments are important for China, the US and global commerce, and an “encouraging sign” for the world’s two largest economies.The bank also said yesterday it has appointed Mark Leung as the CEO of China. Leung will be responsible for managing onshore and offshore activities in the country, helping to bring JP Morgan’s global network and resources to the country.In a 21-year-long career with JP Morgan, Leung has worked in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Most recently, he served as the co-head of global equities & prime services.The bank is also looking to double its research coverage of all China-listed companies, and to sharply raise its recruitment of talented graduates from Chinese universities.

BRI seen ‘positive’ for global cooperation

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S Belt and Road Initiative can be a “positive force” by encouraging global cooperation when the world is troubled by trade protectionism, officials said yesterday during the first Shanghai Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative. “The Belt and Road Initiative has created strong growth impetus for the global economy, in particular those along the route,” said Jin Xin, director of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies. “It has become the most popular and the most active public platform in the world for cooperation, and will continue to serve as a positive force.” China’s trade with countries along the Belt and Road route increased 11.6 percent in the first four months, 2.7 percentage points faster than China’s trade growth with all countries, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The BRI, raised by President Xi Jinping in 2013, should encompass broader cooperation by promoting more interaction with all countries on the route, said Shi Yinhong, a professor at Renmin University of China. Officials attending the forum, hosted by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and co-organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Silk Road Think Tank Association, included Angus Mackay, director of Division for Planet under the UN institute, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to China Janan Mosazai, and former Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to China Georgi Peichinov.

Banks help index to end higher

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI stocks edged up yesterday as investors sought consumer and banking shares as China aims to boost domestic demand, analysts said. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.34 percent to 3,174.03 points, led by liquor and household appliances shares as well as banks and brokers. Domestic leading liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co gained 3.40 percent to 742.41 yuan (US$117.18), while China Merchants Bank Co added 2.46 percent to 30.82 yuan. Ma Wenyu, strategic analyst at Shanxi Securities, said China aims to boost domestic demand amid rising trade tensions with the US. The government’s policies to alleviate poverty “helped increase domestic residents’ expenditure on consumer goods, especially on food, clothing and medicine,” said China Merchants Bank Co in a report. Banks also rose yesterday amid a government effort to increase liquidity in the financial system, Ma added.

Hon Hai unit plans share sale

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
FOXCONN Industrial Internet, a subsidiary of Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, said it plans to issue 1.97 billion shares in its initial public offering in the A-share market. In a prospectus filed to the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday, the tech giant said it would raise capital to fund eight new projects, including 5G, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. The total investment for the eight projects will reach 27.3 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion). The IPO price is yet to be disclosed, and Foxconn Industrial Internet said the funds raised beyond the planned investment will be used to replenish working capital. The exact amount of capital raised will be determined by the company’s actual demand, capital market conditions, and regulatory requirements, said the prospectus.

Tesla drives into Shanghai to capitalize on car reforms

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:01
THE American electric carmaker Tesla has set up a new company in Shanghai, as China prepares to scrap rules on capping foreign ownership of new-energy vehicle ventures. Tesla has been in protracted negotiations to set up its own plant in Shanghai, helping to bolster its position in China’s fast growing market for electric cars and to avoid import tariffs. The US company’s Hong Kong subsidiary registered Tesla (Shanghai) Co last Thursday with a registration capital of 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million), filings on the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System showed yesterday. The company’s business scope will include technology development, service, consultation and transfer of electric cars, spare parts, batteries, energy-storage equipment and photovoltaic products, according to the filing. The company will also engage in wholesale, commission agency, import and export business, as well as providing supporting services, electric car display and product promotion business, according to the information published on the website of the national enterprise credit information system. Huang Weifang, an official from Lingang Management Committee of the Pudong New Area in Shanghai, said the city government “is supportive on the innovation and development of new-energy vehicles and optimistic on Tesla’s development in China.” “The city government and Tesla maintain good communication with each other. Both parties hope to accelerate the development of China’s new-energy vehicle sector,” Huang added. “The company registered recently in Shanghai is to meet Tesla’s business development needs in China.” The new company lists Zhu Xiaotong, Tesla China general manager, as its legal representative, and Tesla Motors HK Ltd as the sole shareholder. During an earlier interview with Shanghai Daily, Zhu said China is the second-most important market for Tesla after the United States and is a significant market for new-energy vehicles. Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for further details of Tesla (Shanghai). Tesla currently imports all the cars it sells in China from the US. It has other wholly owned firms registered in China focused on sales and research and development. China has said it will scrap limits on foreign ownership of new-energy vehicle ventures this year and all automotive ventures by 2022, a major policy shift in the world’s biggest car market that has capped foreign ownership at 50 percent for over two decades. Analysts have said the main beneficiaries of looser ownership rules would be new-energy vehicle makers like Tesla, which has been keen to maintain control of its own plant and protect its technology rather than cede a 50 percent share. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Inc, said earlier this month that the US company will announce a China location for a new “gigafactory” that will produce batteries as well as vehicles. The automaker reported a less-than-expected net loss of US$784.6 million on revenue of US$3.4 billion in the first three months of this year.

A ‘cute’ bear sells a treat for summer

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
One of the ice creams captivating consumer interest as summer approaches is Bright Food’s Little White Bear, an 8-yuan (US$1.25) ice cream bar that comes in cheese, strawberry yoghurt and vanilla flavors. Despite a price nearly triple that of other Bright Food ice creams and popsicles, Little White Bears are designed to attract young consumers, according to Li Weitao, assistant general manager of the Shanghai Yimin No.1 Food Factory that produces the bars.“By raising the price of ice cream, we have a better chance of gaining a foothold in convenience stores and online shopping channels,” he said. Due to relatively high operating costs, convenience stores are more motivated to sell snacks and beverages with relatively high gross margins, leaving little space for desserts or ice creams costing less than 5 yuan. Jessie Xie, a Shanghai resident in her late 20s, said she wasn’t even aware that Little White Bear is actually a local brand.“Bright Food popsicles have always had the most down-to-earth packaging and are usually hard to find in convenience stores,” she said. “Little White Bears come in cute packaging, which is certainly a surprise.” Bears are generally regarded as “cute,” but there are limits to associating them with ice cream. According to a report out of Canada last week, a private zoo in the province of Alberta got into hot water by posting images of a park employee taking a bear cub to a drive-thru window of a Dairy Queen outlet for some hand-fed ice cream. The images went viral, and the zoo was charged with failing to notify Fish and Wildlife officials that the bear was being taken outside zoo confines.Bright Food isn’t going to such extremes, but it is betting that the image of a cute bear will appeal to younger consumers, even beyond their taste for ice cream. The cartoon image of Little White Bear has found its way into the merchandise realm as stuffed toys and smartphone pouches. The company said it hopes to build an income stream from such derivative products, similar to the way Disney parlayed its cartoon figures. Little White Bear bars are made from imported dairy ingredients, and the company isn’t afraid to experiment with innovative flavors. Some analysts have suggested that Bright Food might join hands with coffee shops to offer cold drinks or desserts that play on the image of Little White Bear. Beyond its new product, Bright Food is adding natural ingredients such as lotus seeds, oatmeal and the herb Job’s tears to its existing popsicle range. Over the years, Bright Food’s time-honored products have included green bean and red bean popsicles, costing 1.5 yuan each. Its signature product, the ice brick, is basically a stick-less block of frozen, sugary cream that hasn’t changed its packaging design for the past decade. Nostalgia for old familiar favorites may work a treat with older consumers, but the young seem to prefer what is new, interesting and unusual when it comes to frozen desserts.Bright Food has started a partnership with JD.com’s online grocery delivery arm and Alibaba’s fresh food market Hema to market its new ice cream bars. It’s also negotiating distribution deals with some local convenience chain stores. The ice cream market is highly competitive, with rivals also pursuing strategies of diversification to boost sales.Unilever’s Magnum ice cream brand has created “pop-up stores” in a number of domestic cities in the past few years, offering dozens of toppings not available in packaged ice cream bars sold in supermarkets.For brands like Magnum that do not have their own retail outlets, pop-up stores that conduct business for a short span of weeks offer a new experience for shoppers and give companies an current snapshot of consumer tastes.Ice cream makers are chasing the trend of snacking away from home. In China’s first- and second-tier cities, consumers spend an average per capita US$160 on snacks and non-alcoholic drinks bought outside the home every year, according to a Kantar Wordpanel report last month. One-third of those purchases take place in restaurants or cafe, with 21 percent in convenience stores. Fueling the away-from-home food consumption trend is the proliferation of convenience stores, which doubled in number between 2010 and 2015. They provide a quick, convenient way to purchase snacks and other food items during work breaks or after-office hours. Relying on traditional distribution systems might yield the longest market reach in the short term, but keeping consumers in the long run depends on winning brand loyalty. Marketers need to ensure that their products have the most appealing tastes and eye-catching designs. One example of that strategy is local milk tea chain Heytea, which recently raised 400 million yuan from online lifestyle services platform Meituan Dianping. Headquartered in the southern province of Guangdong, it quickly turned cheese-topped tea and fresh-fruit tea into a multimillion yuan business by adopting new taste combinations that won over younger consumers. Growing from shops with little tea stools and only takeaway drinks, the chain has now evolved into more sophisticated settings that allow consumers to spend more time enjoying the beverages they buy.

Planning begins for premier trade expo

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
Shanghai is undertaking concerted efforts for success as it prepares to host the first China International Import Expo, which is shaping up to be the city’s biggest event since Expo 2010.The event, to be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai from November 5-10, was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping a year ago. He called it “a major policy initiative and commitment to open up the Chinese market.”Preparations include steps to attract global exhibitors and investors, and to improve the city’s business environment.Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang said last week that preparations for the import expo have entered an active stage, where no effort will be spared to make it a successful event. The China International Import Expo Bureau has officially signed agreements with companies wishing to participate in the event. At the most recent signing ceremony on April 28, 25 major companies, including seven from the Fortune Global 500 list, added their names to the expo program.That brought to nearly 1,100 companies the number pledged to participate.“We think the import expo is a good opportunity for us to showcase more of our products to Chinese consumers,” said Zeng Xiwen, vice president of Unilever North Asia.Although Unilever boasts more than 400 brands throughout the world, only about 30 brands have entered the Chinese market, leaving a huge market gap, Zeng said.He also expressed the company’s hope that cosmetics made by Unilever will receive the same treatment as domestic cosmetics in testing procedures.Tesla Motors said it will bring its Model S and Model X, and a new Model 3 to be released soon to the expo.China is the second most important market for Tesla after the US, and is a significant market for all the new energy automobiles, said Zhu Xiaotong, managing director of Tesla China.“The Chinese market sees an annual increase of 30 million motor vehicles, which attracts new energy auto companies, foreign-funded auto companies and also Tesla to come and expand trade and markets,” Zhu said.Unlike cosmetics products, China treats domestic and imported green vehicles equally in regulatory procedures. As of late April, 61 countries had officially confirmed they will participate in the expo, according to Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce.Shanghai will actively offer “multimode and multichannel services” for foreign businesses to enter Chinese markets and to develop the city into a hub for the distribution of imported goods across China and Asia, said Party Secretary Li.Shanghai has set up a one-stop, year-round platform that will feature import exhibits, including those from the six-day expo.Yang Jianrong, chairman of the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai, said the service platform will promote global trade and enable the world’s top products and services to sell their products.“It will strongly push forward the process of trade globalization,” Yang said.Also, the city is strengthening its links with other cities in the Yangtze River Delta region to ensure that the spillover effects from the expo will benefit a wider area, according to Li.

Major sectors to undergo a sprucing up

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
Shanghai is gearing up for the November China International Import Expo by improving services in sectors such as customs, transport, power, sanitation and catering.The city’s transport authority announced last week that it will accelerate construction work on 12 roads on the periphery of the National Exhibition and Convention Center, where the event will be held.The expo will be Shanghai’s biggest event of its kind since the 2010 World Expo. Meanwhile, projects involving 16 other roads and parking lots will be completed by September, local transport commission said. Construction on part of the Outer Ring Road, or S20 Expressway, is underway.Information systems for Metro trains, buses and taxis will also be improved. The efficiency of three Metro lines will be increased along with better management of passengers at key stations. Shuttle bus lines will be added to connect stations and the exhibition center.The traffic order of surrounding areas will be maintained by a crackdown on illegal taxi services.Sun Luming, deputy chief of Shanghai Customs, said the agency is setting up special channels for the expo participants who are bringing exhibit goods to the city.“Security is an important,” Sun said. “Shanghai Customs will set up security plans and install more safety facilities, and improve its emergency network.”The Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration will apply electronic certification and open green channels for Chinese-funded ships sailing under the flags of foreign countries where they are registered. The border inspection authority is opening 113 self-service exit and entry inspection channels at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Additionally, 26 such channels are being established at Wusong River Harbor and Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal.Liu Yunlong, deputy general manager of the State Grid Shanghai Electronic Power Co, said a stable power supply will serve the exhibition area. The company has instructed the expo center to rectify 12 problems found in April. Before expo, the city will complete work on 230 hectares of greenway renovation and 1.6 hectares of new parklands. Twenty-seven scenic spots will be decorated with flowers. The overhead cables of 43 kilometers of roadways connecting the expo center and its environs will be buried underground.More than 600 people have already signed up to be volunteers at expo. More than 1,200 have applied. The list includes expats from Hong Kong, Macau, Britain, France, Germany and Australia. “So far, nearly half of applicants are from universities,” said Chen Liudong, an official with the Shanghai Committee of Chinese Communist Youth League, which is in charge of the volunteer recruitment.Chen said the applicants hail from all walks of life, including education, architecture, transport and commerce.Among the applicants is a 67-year-old man surnamed Li, who wrote to the league saying he and his wife wanted to become volunteers. Li said he had been a volunteer at the 2010 World Expo in the city.

Move over basketball! The e-sport trend is scoring

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
I was somewhat taken aback when I received an iron frying pan as an invitation to 360 Technology’s new smartphone release.But I got the point when I read the words printed on the frying pan — “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.” It’s a line from the popular game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which implied that the company was about to release an e-sports smartphone.Electronic sports, known as e-sports, have entered the virtual battlefield of competitive video games, with influence stretching beyond the millennial fan base. The genre is attracting millions of new fans in China, including women. They are joining the “hardcore players,” mainly teenage males who spend hours a day in front of computer screens.E-sports have entered the scene of diversified games, including mobile titles, powerful smartphones, online broadcasting platforms and emerging professional event organizers.It is attracting new industry players beyond mainstream video game firms and computer gadget vendors. They include phone makers, broadcasting platforms, event organizers and even TV stations, which are all targeting the huge pool of gamers and e-sports audiences and fans. Rising sales of mobile game gadgets and the emergence of professional tournaments offering big prize money are bolstering the trend.“We understand a ‘0.1-second delay’ means ‘death’ in games,” Li Kaixin, president of 360’s mobile business, told the media event unveiling the new flagship model N7. “Therefore, we keep all things fully optimized, including chips, memory, batteries and graphic displays.”Journalists posted photos of the frying pan invitation on social media, evoking positive feedback on social platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. People are talking about it. Even if they don’t play the game, they know a pot is associated with it.Nvidia, the world’s top graphic chip provider, has poured more resources into e-sports matches in China because the country has “world-class” professional players and a booming audience, according to Sun Yan, e-sports manager of Nvidia China.Shanghai aims to establish itself as an “e-sports highland” in China, with supporting policies and blueprints for professional events and spaces. E-sports are regarded as a “new powerhouse” for the local game industry, the Shanghai Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV said last week.The statement was in contrast to previous regulatory comments blaming the industry for turning teenagers and younger children into game addicts.Booming marketRevenue from China’s e-sports market is expected to hit 78.6 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion) this year, up 21 percent from 2017. Match advertising and sponsorship, game broadcasting, professional gadgets and e-commerce services are major contributors, according to researcher China Insights Consultancy.China will have its own “NBA-like” e-sports matches within five to 10 years, according to Xiao Hong, chief executive officer of Shenzhen-listed game firm Perfect World.Perfect World was the organizer of the DOTA 2 Asia Championship held in Shanghai last month.DOTA 2, one of the top multilayer online battle arena games, offered a record US$37.1 million in prize money in 2017, 20 times the amount in 2012, according to the Perfect World.No wonder that I was approached by a scalper to sell my press card for DOTA 2 for 2,000 yuan!Mobile gadgets360 Technology aims to bring “new experience” to mobile game users through the new N7 model. It features bezel-less screen, sufficient memory and battery life supporting 6.5 hours of play time on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.It also offers system optimization for players, thanks to 360’s experience on system speed-up and the cleansing of unnecessary processes. As a relatively new player in the smartphone industry, 360 is also the country’s biggest online security firm.Smartphone has now become an essential part of the e-sports ecosystem, said Black Shark, a startup smartphone brand boasting investors that include Xiaomi.Black Shark, which features liquid cooling technology for an optimized game experience, can provide a huge volume of data and traffic with the support of Xiaomi, which has an application store with millions of users.In the next stage, Black Shark will be available in off-line outlets of Xiaomi and JD.com, offering players hands-on experience, the company said during an interview in Shanghai.Besides its hardware division, Black Shark has established an online center to offer customized and unique game content through partnerships with top game developers Tencent and NetEase.Meanwhile, Vivo has set up a center with Tencent to do research on games, covering hardware, game experience and e-sports.Smartphone vendors have reasons to invest in e-sports for business diversification as phone sales flatten. In the first quarter, domestic smartphone sales dropped 21 percent, according to researcher Canalys.The mobile e-sports market is expected to soar an average 93 percent a year between 2015 and 2019, one of the most rapidly growing sectors in e-sports, according to China Insights.New businessE-sports are also seen as a growth engine for startups that were founded in the past five years and now boast sizzling market values.Douyu, an online broadcasting platform founded in 2014, attracted more than 521,800 visitors and an online audience of 230 million at its latest carnival held in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, two weeks ago. The company, with the majority of its programs related to games and e-sports, raised about US$630 million in the latest round of investment finance in March by Tencent.During the Wuhan event, Douyu attracted partners covering automotive, telecom and smartphone industries, highlighting the growing reach of e-sports influence. Founded in 2015, Shanghai-based VSPN now operates 70 percent of e-sports events nationwide, including King Pro League, which is held every spring and autumn on a popular multiplayer online battle area (MOBA) game developed by Tencent.In the spring King Pro League event last year, viewing volumes hit 2.68 billion, almost a fivefold increase from a year earlier. For the whole of 2017, online viewing reached 10.3 billion.Besides young male players, 40 percent of the audience were women, VSPN told Shanghai Daily.In the future, e-sports events in China will become more professional, diversified and commercialized, and will be more popular than traditional sports, predicted VSPN President Teng Linji.King Pro League is already being regarded as the National Basketball Association of the e-sports sector.Cities around the country, including Shanghai, are looking to cash in on the trend, with blueprints for theme parks and e-sports venues. Some universities are even rolling out gaming degrees, according to media reports.Traditional firms are also heavily involved in the sector.Oriental Pearl, a state-owned media group, plans to increase its investment in e-sports. It is pushing the “fast-forward button” by integrating media channels and the game business, including setting up a 13-hectare e-sports park in Shanghai.

Shanghai points to successes in further opening

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
SEVERAL foreign companies have benefited from Shanghai’s endeavors in further opening its financial industry after China called for more efforts to boost opening-up, Shanghai Financial Service Office said yesterday. Willis Insurance Brokers Co, for instance, obtained approval from the Shanghai insurance regulator for expanding its business scope right after the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission allowed on April 27 more functions of its lower-ranked bureaus, making Willis the first insurance brokerage in China to get such an approval from a city bureau. On May 2, ICBC-AXA Life Co was given the consent to establish an asset-management company — China’s first after furthering opening up its insurance industry. Shanghai-based Bright Food Group signed an investment agreement on April 28 with a French bank to jointly set up a consumer finance company. After its official establishment, it will become China’s first consumer finance firm involving investors from developed countries. Allianz has decided to set up a wholly invested insurance firm in Shanghai, and is making related preparations thanks to the relaxed share caps for a foreign financial company. “Shanghai has been a pioneer in China’s reforms of the financial industry,” said the Shanghai Financial Service Office. “We will continue to innovate in further opening up banking, securities and insurance industries to make Shanghai a global financial center.” According to the office, Shanghai will make greater efforts, such as supporting foreign banks to set up both branches and sub-branches in the city, and encouraging domestic commercial banks to establish asset-management companies in Shanghai with foreign investors, with no cap for shares held by their partners. Also, Shanghai will allow foreign securities, fund and futures firms to conduct businesses of brokerage and consultancy in the city, and expand the business scope for insurers while allowing foreign-controlled life insurance companies. Shanghai will also help foreign innovative firms to launch depository receipts, expand the function of foreign exchange accounts, and launch the Shanghai-London stock connect within this year, according to the financial service office. The city will also open the market for clearance of bank cards by allowing the entrance of non-banking payment companies into it, and relax the rules for foreign financial companies in doing credit rating. “Shanghai will continue to optimize the business environment for the financial industry, and let China’s newly announced policies in reform and opening-up benefit foreign companies as soon as possible,” the Shanghai Financial Service Office said. A call for extra efforts to reform and open up across various markets was made during the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April. China has rolled out a set of measures to open its financial sector wider to the world, following plans disclosed by authorities at the Boao Forum. As part of the country’s broader opening-up push, China will encourage foreign investors to enter its trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money brokerage and consumer finance sectors, a move that will take effect before the end of this year.

Talks to get trains moving

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
TGV high speed trains are seen outside the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris in this file photo. Unions at French rail operator SNCF will hold a companywide vote this week on the government’s contested overhaul for the heavily indebted group, aimed at proving that support for a long-running strike remains strong despite signs it is tapering off. Laurent Brun, head of the rail branch at the hard-line CGT union, said the weeklong talks would start today, when unions have vowed to step up their protest with a “day without trains.”

Volkswagen new CEO may know of scandal

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 18:01
New Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess, so far widely seen as untarnished by the firm’s “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal, may have known about the trickery earlier than previously thought, according to a media report yesterday.Oliver Schmidt, a former VW manager jailed in the US over dieselgate, told the FBI he had briefed Diess and other executives about the cheating and the potential financial consequences almost one month before the group’s public admission in September 2015, newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) reported.A presentation shown at that August 25 meeting and obtained by BamS used the legal term “defeat device” — shorthand for a physical or software system that makes a vehicle appear less polluting under test conditions compared with real on-road driving.VW’s admission on September 18, 2015 that it had fitted 11 million vehicles worldwide with the devices has so far cost it more than 25 billion euros (US$30 billion) in buybacks, fines and compensation, and the company remains mired in legal woes at home and abroad.His presence at the briefing could mean Diess, who only joined the firm from BMW in July 2015, was more fully up to speed on the scandal than he has so far acknowledged.Investors who lost money as VW stock plunged after the scandal broke see the question of whether executives failed to inform markets of potential financial harm to the company in a timely fashion as a key angle of legal attack.German prosecutors are probing ex-CEO Matthias Mueller over such allegations.Following the August 25 briefing, Diess was active in the firm’s response to “dieselgate” and regularly spoke with lawyers about it.

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