Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

28/01/2015

China plans to set 2015 growth target at ‘around 7 percent’ – sources | Reuters

China plans to cut its growth target to around 7 percent in 2015, its lowest goal in 11 years, sources said, as policymakers try to manage slowing growth, job creation and pursuing reforms intended to make the economy more driven by market forces.

The growth target, which is set to be announced by Premier Li Keqiang at the annual parliament session in March, was endorsed by top party leaders and policymakers at a closed-door Central Economic Conference in December, said a number of people with knowledge of the outcome of meeting who spoke to Reuters.

The target, which is in line with market expectations, has not been previously reported.

“This year’s economic growth target will be around 7 percent, but the 7 percent should be the bottom line,” said one of the sources, an influential economist who advises the government.

via Exclusive: China plans to set 2015 growth target at ‘around 7 percent’ – sources | Reuters.

24/01/2015

China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek

Few Chinese leaders are as revered as Deng Xiaoping. His late-1970s modernization drive led to an unrivaled run of high-speed growth. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has big reform ambitions of his own, often evokes the memory of the paramount leader, who died in 1997. In 2012, shortly before he assumed the top government job, Xi signaled his own liberalization agenda by retracing Deng’s famous tour in 1992 of southern Guangdong province to promote economic reform. Last August, in a speech marking the 110th anniversary of the revolutionary leader’s birth, Xi, like his predecessors, recycled Deng-era slogans such as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Is China Coming Down to Earth?

Deng’s legacy as the architect of Chinese modernity rides on a record of 10 percent average annual growth from 1980 through 2012. Xi oversees an economy that’s decelerating and that grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest performance since 1990, when it grew 3.8 percent. The International Monetary Fund predicts that Chinese expansion will steadily decline to 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2016, when archrival India is expected to eclipse China at 6.5 percent. All of which raises a question unthinkable a few years ago: Is the China growth miracle winding down for good?

China’s transformation from an agrarian backwater to a $9.2 trillion economy with globally competitive companies, including Xiaomi, Huawei, Baosteel, and Alibaba, has been remarkable. And plenty of countries would be thrilled with 6 percent growth. Yet China is also home to income inequality on par with that of Nigeria and Mexico, a rapidly aging populace, and a world-class environmental crisis. Years of politically driven investment with diminishing returns have led to too much debt and industrial overcapacity, as well as ghost cities with unfinished hotels and absurd ambitions. (You can soon visit Tianjin’s replica of Manhattan, provided you like your replica cities free of actual humans.) Loose credit conditions contributed to an unsustainable six-month, 63 percent stock price increase, prompting regulatory authorities on Jan. 19 to order the nation’s three biggest brokerages to stop adding new margin-trading accounts. The Shanghai Composite index tumbled 7.7 percent on Jan. 19, the biggest one-day drop since the financial crisis in 2008.

The total debt of the world’s No. 2 economy is roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of GDP

China’s investment spending binge is packing less of a punch than it used to, according to the World Bank. From 1991 to 2011, it took $3.60 of investment to generate $1 of GDP growth. At the end of 2012 it required $5.40. Meanwhile, the country’s total debt—government, corporate, and household—is now roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of total gross domestic product. “We’ve got the biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen, and credit is continuing to grow [about] twice as fast” as the Chinese economy, says credit analyst Charlene Chu, a partner with Autonomous Research Asia in Hong Kong. Chinese officialdom is keenly aware of the problem. The growth model that delivered productivity spurts in the late 1990s—powered by reforms of state-owned enterprises and new technology brought in by foreign investors after the country’s admission into the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s—has lost its edge. As early as 2007, China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao described his economy to the National People’s Congress as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.”

Michael Pettis, a finance professor at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, says the Chinese experience has much in common with Brazil in the 1960s, the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and Japan in the 1980s. All resorted to what economists call the financial repression of households to accelerate development. Family savings were channeled primarily into bank accounts with regulated and below-market deposit rates. Banks then recycled the capital into low-interest loans for businesses to build factories at home and to export abroad.

When it works, and it did stupendously for China, the economy hits the fast lane and incomes grow so fast that consumers don’t mind getting low returns on their savings—or being ruled by an unaccountable one-party state. Unfortunately, research by Pettis shows, “every investment-led growth miracle in the last 100 years has broken down.”

Xi and Premier Li Keqiang are trying to avoid that fate by guiding China onto a more sustainable path that would bolster the role of consumer spending (about 34 percent of GDP, vs. 68 percent in the U.S. in 2013, the World Bank reports) and shift the economy to a more services-oriented model. They say they’ve mapped out more than 300 reforms that over time will reduce state intervention in the economy and energy price controls that favor manufacturers; the changes will also improve the social safety net and encourage market-driven deposit rates to get Chinese families saving less and spending more.

via China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek.

20/01/2015

China raises wages for govt workers at least 31 percent – document | Reuters

(Reuters) – China has raised the wages of government workers by at least 31 percent, according to a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday, as part of efforts to combat corruption and lift the spending power of millions as the country seeks to increase consumption.

The basic salaries of some civil servants would be almost tripled, according to the document distributed to China’s cabinet and dated Jan. 12. It said the increases would be effective from Oct. 1, 2014.

The change is part of a broad effort by Beijing to reform the compensation levels of government workers to improve efficiency, reduce graft and hold officials more accountable for their own performance.

Executives at some Chinese state-owned companies, notorious for their inefficiency, suffered pay cuts this month.

“The pay hike indicates Beijing’s goal of improving the quality of life for the average Chinese,” Nomura economists said in a note. They said it was the first wage rise in eight years for central government workers.

via China raises wages for govt workers at least 31 percent – document | Reuters.

19/12/2014

Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post

The former deputy chief of China’s Beijing Zoo – who claimed his 8 million yuan (about HK$10 million) fortune was earned from part-time jobs, including working as a taxi driver – was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Beijing court this morning.

Xiao Shaoxiang was jailed for life today after being found guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”. Photo: Xinhua

The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court found Xiao Shaoxiang guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”.

All his personal property would be confiscated, the Beijing-based newspaper, Mirror, reported on its official mainland microblogging Weibo website.

Prosecutors said six million yuan in cash, paintings and gold bullion from unknown sources were found in Xiao’s apartment – a cache worth a total of 8 million yuan, the court said during his trial in August.

He was charged with accepting bribes totalling more than 140 million yuan.

Xiao, 59, had denied all the charges during the trial.

He had defended himself by claiming that he had earned the money from moonlighting as an unlicensed cab driver after work at the zoo from 1991 to 1994.

via Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post.

25/11/2014

# Chinese overseas acquisitions / investments – 25 November 2014

#          “China’s outbound direct investment is for the first time set to exceed investment into the country, highlighting the ongoing shift of global economic influence to the east.” – FT.com, 22 Oct, 2014 – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/28f6b8d4-59cd-11e4-9787-00144feab7de.html#axzz3JzPW4Z3o

#          “Chinese enterprises completed a record 176 mergers and acquisitions (M&A) overseas in the first nine months of 2014, up 31 percent year-on-year, according to a report released by accounting firm PwC on Monday.

Among them, private enterprises completed 120 M&A transactions, more than doubling the number carried out by state-owned enterprises and making them the major force in the M&A market, according to the report.” – China Daily, 22 Oct 2014 – http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2014-10/27/content_18809601.htm

#          “The theme of outbound China M&A has changed. State-owned enterprises are no longer the only buyers going overseas, private companies in industries like consumer and technology have started doing high-profile acquisitions on the global stage in recent years,” said Stephen Gore, Asian-Pacific head of mergers and acquisitions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.” – WSJ, 21 Sept, 2014 – http://online.wsj.com/articles/chinese-overseas-buying-increasingly-shifts-to-private-from-state-1411335001

#          There are five kinds of Chinese overseas investments (or at least JVs) – which are not mutually exclusive – in rough order of priority:

  • Natural resources: oil and gas serving a growing need:
    • Chesapeake Energy – Sinopec(July 2013)
    • Wolfcamp shale exploration – stake by Sinochem (Jan 2013)
    • Pre-August 2012:
      • Oil and gas: (Sinopec, CNOOC and PetroChina have all been very active in several continents, including North America – Nexen, Canada),
      • coal, steel, minerals (incl Australia’s Sundance),
      • arable land (parts of Africa and South America).
  • Infrastructure and other tangibles which are ‘safer’ than holdings of US or Euro bonds and provides relatively predictable yields; they often also provide technology transfer at no additional cost:
    • Salov – Bright Foods( Oct 2014)
    • Tnuva – Bright Foods( May 2014)
    • AMC Entertainment cinemas – Wanda(Sept 2012)
    • Weetabix – Bright Foods(May 2012)
    • Smithfield Foods – Shuanghui Foods (May 2013)
    • Pre-August 2012:
      • manufacturing plants (Putzmeister),
      • oil refineries (INEOS’ Grangemouth (Scotland) and Lavéra (France),
      • utilities (Redes Energeticas Nacionais, Energias de Portugal, Thames Water; Brazilian electricity grid, Northumbrian Water), office blocks (Canary Wharf, London),
      • housing in the US;
      • construction – Spanish construction company; all sorts in parts of Africa and the Caribbean (sports stadium, holiday resorts, roads, ports, etc).
  • Technology: esp new and innovative building for the future:
    • Motorola – Lenova (Jan 2014)
    • Pre-August 2012:
  • Brands: especially luxury brands which reduces the outflow of currency and increases the inflow as the population gains affluence and demand for luxury goods continue to expand:
    • Waldorf Astoria – Anbang Insurance(June 2014)
    • Corum watches – Wanda (April 2014)
    • Pre-August 2012:
      • yachts (Ferretti),
      • high fashion (Cerruti, Sonia Rykiel),
      • essentials (Putzmeister);
      • soccer (Inter Milan).
  • Financial houses, esp owners/managers of funds (BlackRock) – which are not as ‘safe’ as resources and tangibles, but much safer that Euro and $ bonds.

 

07/11/2014

Myopia: Losing focus | The Economist

SPARKLY, spotted or Hello Kitty: every colour, theme, shape and size of frame is available at Eyeglass City in Beijing, a four-storey mall crammed only with spectacle shops. Within half an hour a pair of prescription eyeglasses is ready. That is impressive, but then the number of Chinese wearing glasses is rising. Most new adoptees are children.

In 1970 fewer than a third of 16- to 18-year-olds were deemed to be short-sighted (meaning that distant objects are blurred). Now nearly four-fifths are, and even more in some urban areas. A fifth of these have “high” myopia, that is, anything beyond 16 centimetres (just over six inches) is unclear. The fastest increase is among primaryschoolchildren, over 40% of whom are short-sighted, double the rate in 2000. That compares with less than 10% of this age group in America or Germany.

The incidence of myopia is high across East Asia, afflicting 80-90% of urban 18-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The problem is social rather than genetic. A 2012 study of 15,000 children in the Beijing area found that poor sight was significantly associated with more time spent studying, reading or using electronic devices—along with less time spent outdoors. These habits were more frequently found in higher-income families, says Guo Yin of Beijing Tongren Hospital, that is, those more likely to make their children study intensively. Across East Asia worsening eyesight has taken place alongside a rise in incomes and educational standards.

The biggest factor in short-sightedness is a lack of time spent outdoors. Exposure to daylight helps the retina to release a chemical that slows down an increase in the eye’s axial length, which is what most often causes myopia. A combination of not being outdoors and doing lots of work focusing up close (like writing characters or reading) worsens the problem. But if a child has enough time in the open, they can study all they like and their eyesight should not suffer, says Ian Morgan of Australian National University.

Yet China and many other East Asian countries do not prize time outdoors. At the age of six, children in China and Australia have similar rates of myopia. Once they start school, Chinese children spend about an hour a day outside, compared with three or four hours for Australian ones. Schoolchildren in China are often made to take a nap after lunch rather than play outside; they then go home to do far more homework than anywhere outside East Asia. The older children in China are, the more they stay indoors—and not because of the country’s notorious pollution.

via Myopia: Losing focus | The Economist.

07/11/2014

China vs. India? It’s India by a Nose, Roubini Says – Businessweek

Nouriel Roubini is an India optimist. The country may have spent years lagging behind fast-growing Asian neighbors, such as China, but the NYU professor and chairman of Roubini Global Economics sees a role switch ahead, he told Bloomberg Television today.

Nouriel Roubini: Indian Tortoise Will Soon Pass Chinese Hare

Economic growth in China, weighed down by an aging population and an obsolete investment-driven economic model, is going to fall to 6.5 percent next year and will drop below 6 percent in 2016, “while in India, with the right reforms, it could go to 7 percent,” he said. “So for the first time ever the tortoise becomes the hare and the hare becomes the tortoise.”

China’s leaders know the problems they face, according to Roubini, who is visiting Hong Kong for a Barclays-sponsored conference, but so far they have been reluctant to follow through on promises to address them. “The Chinese understand their growth model is unsustainable—too much fixed investment, not enough consumption,” Roubini said.

via China vs. India? It’s India by a Nose, Roubini Says – Businessweek.

29/10/2014

Suspect Export-Import Numbers Undermine China’s Economic Data – Businessweek

The numbers don’t match. In September, China exported $37.6 billion to Hong Kong, according to government data compiled by Bloomberg. For the same month, Hong Kong’s government  says imports from the mainland amounted to only $24.1 billion. That’s this year’s biggest gap between Chinese and Hong Kong figures.

The Kwai Tsing Container Terminals in Hong Kong on April 28

Where did all those billions of dollars go? Julian Evans-Pritchard, Capital Economics’ China economist, called the results “very suspicious,” especially since the discrepancies are largely related to the trade of precious metals and stones. “It seems the Chinese customs are basically overvaluing these gems [and] these precious metals,” he told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. Meanwhile, “Hong Kong customs are valuing them more accurately.”

The China-Hong Kong discrepancy is just one example. Evans-Pritchard points to similar discrepancies regarding Chinese imports from South Korea. “What appears to be happening [is] we have some round-tripping,” he said. Companies may be claiming to import the stones from Korea at a certain price and then export them to Hong Kong at a higher price, pocketing the difference. That helps companies evade Chinese government currency controls at a time when there’s renewed pressure to strengthen the yuan. With such conditions, “it makes a lot of sense” for Chinese companies to borrow money cheaply abroad and find ways to get that money into the country.

The Chinese government is not blind to the problem. China has found almost $10 billion in fraudulent trades nationwide since April of last year ,and companies have “faked, forged, and illegally re-used” documents for exports and imports, Wu Ruilin, a deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s inspection department, told reporters in Beijing in September.

The faked invoices are additional reasons not to take at face value the economic statistics coming from China. “This is definitely another important piece of evidence of over-invoicing exports to Hong Kong to facilitate money inflow into China,” Shen Jiangugan, chief economist at Mizuho Securities Asia, told Bloomberg News. “So we shouldn’t be too optimistic about recent export data from China.”

via Suspect Export-Import Numbers Undermine China’s Economic Data – Businessweek.

22/10/2014

Airbus Helicopters expects China to become biggest market by 2020 | Reuters

Airbus Helicopters, the world’s largest civil helicopter maker, expects China and Hong Kong to become its biggest global market within six years as Beijing starts to lift restrictions on the use of low altitude airspace from 2015.

A general view of an EC145 helicopter being assembled at the Airbus production facility in Donauwoerth, Southern Germany October 9, 2014.    REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

The Airbus Group NV’s (AIR.PA) helicopter division expects to increase its annual sales in China to 150 units by 2020 from around 30-40 helicopters now, its China president Norbert Ducrot told Reuters.

Sales in the United States, the firm’s biggest market, average around 120-150 aircraft per year.

“The China market is very small with a big potential,” Ducrot said in an interview in Beijing. “I am pretty sure around 2020, China will be the first market for Airbus Helicopters.”

“Before (our customers) were mostly state companies, police and fire fighting, but now we can see the emergence of civil private helicopter operators,” he added.

China simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft late last year, but the fledgling market for helicopters and small aircraft has been constrained by the military’s control of low altitude airspace.

A dearth of small airports, maintenance facilities, mechanics and pilots have also hampered the sector’s growth.

Ducrot said he expects demand for helicopters and small aircraft to pick up gradually when China starts to open up its low altitude airspace next year.

As infrastructure improves and the military opens up more airspace by 2020, Ducrot estimates there will be 50,000 helicopters in China over the next 30 years. There are only about 330 helicopters currently in operation in China, including Hong Kong.

via Airbus Helicopters expects China to become biggest market by 2020 | Reuters.

19/10/2014

China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek

China does not have large independent labor unions, yet the world’s second-largest economy has witnessed an increasing number of worker strikes over the past year.

Police guard outside the Yue Yuan shoe factory after workers returned to work in Dongguan, China on April 28 following a two-week strike

According to an Oct. 14 report from the Hong Kong-based watchdog group China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the number of strikes and worker protests in the third quarter of 2014 was double the number of labor actions recorded in the same period last year: From July to September this year, the watchdog group recorded 372 strikes and worker protests across China, compared with 185 incidents over those months last year.

What’s more, the habit of organizing collective action—often through social media—is spreading beyond China’s traditional manufacturing hub of southern Guangdong province. While the number of strikes in Guangdong province has remained roughly the same, unrest has intensified in inland China. In 2013, Guangdong accounted for 35 percent of recorded labor actions vs. 19 percent this year.

Half of all recorded worker strikes and protests arose from disputes over late or unpaid wages—perhaps symptoms of economic troubles hitting manufacturers as well as tightening credit in China, according to CLB.

Also notable is the uptick in strikes led by construction workers, from just four demonstrations last summer to 55 this summer. Amid a slumping housing market, new home prices in August tumbled in 68 of 70 Chinese cities monitored by the government. As the CLB report explains, “Developers are saddled with declining sales, weaker credit availability, and continued pressure from local governments to buy land. In these situations, it is the construction workers who are always the last to be paid.”

China’s only official union is the government-linked All China Federation of Trade Unions, which lacks credibility with most workers. To date, it has only ever formally leant support to one worker strike, according to records reviewed by the liberal American Prospect magazine. Yet Chinese workers are increasingly organizing within their individual workplaces to press for higher wages, timely payments, and social security benefits. So far, these individual strikes have not coalesced into a broader, coordinated movement, which almost certainly would incur a speedy government crackdown.

via China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek.

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