Shanghai Daily Business
Updated: 45 min 25 sec ago
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”