Archive for March, 2019


Construction of 2,240-MW hydropower station underway in upper Yangtze

LHASA, March 30 (Xinhua) — Construction started Saturday on the main structure of a 2,240-MW hydropower station on the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze River.

A cofferdam was built upstream of the construction site on Saturday in preparation for further building work.

The Yebatan Hydropower Station is located at the junction of Baiyu County in southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Konjo County in Tibet Autonomous Region.

It will be the largest hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River upon completion.

With a total installed capacity of 2,240 MW, the power station will be able to generate about 10.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The project is undertaken by China Huadian Corp., with a total investment of about 33.4 billion yuan (about 5 billion U.S. dollars).

Wei Yongxin, of Huadian Jinsha River Upstream Hydropower Development Co., Ltd., said the station’s first generating unit is expected to start operation in 2025.

The power station is expected to replace 3.99 million tonnes of coal and reduce 7.37 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year after it is put into operation, said Jia Zhongqi, another Huadian official.

To protect the fragile ecosystem along the upper reaches of the Jinsha River, more than 1.5 billion yuan will be invested in environmental protection projects such as fish ladders and fish breeding stations during the construction of the power station, Jia added.

Source: Xinhua


Many Chinese cities turn off lights in global relay of “Earth Hour”

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) — At 8:30 pm Beijing Time sharp, lights on major landmarks as well as in households were turned off in several cities across China in commemoration of “Earth Hour”.

“Earth Hour” is a global initiative first launched by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2007 and soon became a popular movement worldwide.

From 8:30 to 9:30 pm on every last Saturday of March, individuals, communities, enterprises and government departments around the globe are encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour, with the purpose of inspiring reflections and actions regarding environmental issues.

All over China, lights were out on emblematic landmarks including Beijing’s Olympic Towers, The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, Wuhan’s historic Yellow Crane Tower as well as Yinli Plaza in Shenzhen.

The event aims to alert people of the loss of the world’s biodiversity and the urgency to protect the integrity of the ecosystem, Jean-Paul Paddack, WWF’s Global Initiatives Director told Xinhua in an exclusive interview before the lights went out at the Olympic Tower in Beijing.

In China, the state strategy of building an ecological civilization has made tremendous progresses, he said.

China has been leading the way in the global efforts in finding a development model for man and nature to live in harmony, he said, stating the importance of China’s leading role expected in the United Nations Biodiversity Conference to be held in Beijing next year.

In recent years, China has been intensifying measures to tackle environmental issues, pushing for the transformation and upgrading of its industries such as new energies, Zhang Qian, vice executive chair of China NGO Network for International Exchanges, co-organizer of Earth Hour in the country.

Besides themed exhibitions and galleries, Earth Hour in China has engaged a wider public through interactive campaigns.

In Wuhan, rock musicians joined the event by unplugging their electric guitars and using Chinese traditional instrument Zheng at a music festival.

In Shanghai, tourist cruises on the Huangpu River and 20 skyscrapers on both banks went dark.

“We hope that the Earth Hour can go beyond the 60 minutes, for everyone to make personal effort in turning the eco-consicous actions into a habit, and the habit a culture,” said Lu Lunyan, vice executive director of WWF China.

The participation scale of the Chinese public online and offline has set a new record this year, according to the organizers.

Source: Xinhua


2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism kicks off


China’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang addresses the opening ceremony of the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism in Wellington, New Zealand, on March 30, 2019. The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was launched here Saturday with an aim to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two countries. (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

WELLINGTON, March 30 (Xinhua) — The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was launched here Saturday with an aim to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

An official ceremony was held at Wellington’s Te Papa Tongawera, Museum of New Zealand, and attended by high-level officials and hundreds of representatives from the tourism industry in both countries.

China’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang read the welcoming message by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for the opening ceremony.

“Tourism is an important area of our cooperation and a driving force for our peoples’ mutual understanding and friendly ties. Chinese tourists are attracted by scenic beauty and cultural diversity of New Zealand, and visitors from New Zealand marvel at China’s natural wonders and rich heritage as an ancient civilization,” Li said in the message.

“Last year, around 600,000 visits were exchanged between the two countries. China remains the second largest overseas tourist market of New Zealand,” Li said.

“The China-New Zealand Year of Tourism presents an opportunity for our two countries to enhance tourism cooperation through people-to-people contact. More people-to-people contact between China and New Zealand will increase our mutual knowledge and awareness, which are central to more popular support for our bilateral relations and cooperation,” the Chinese premier said.

New Zealand Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis read the welcoming message by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the opening ceremony.

Ardern said “Tourism is a crucial strand in our bilateral relationship, and is a particularly important driver of economic growth. There was an 8.8 percent increase in Chinese holidaymakers to New Zealand from 2017 to 2018, and China is New Zealand’s second-largest tourism market. The number of New Zealanders visiting China has also reached a new high.”

“The recent Christchurch terrorist attacks brought into sharp relief the importance of building interactions and understanding across peoples, cultures and borders. Initiatives during the Year of Tourism reflect China and New Zealand’s shared commitment to doing just that,” Ardern said.

Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wu Xi said “New Zealand is a natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to New Zealand in 2017, the two sides signed Belt and Road cooperation documents. The connection between facilities and people’s hearts is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Wu said “Sino-New Zealand’s Belt and Road cooperation will not only help to enhance New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure, but also further strengthen New Zealand’s advantage as an ideal tourist destination for Chinese tourists and attract more Chinese tourists.”

Richard Davies, manager of tourism policy at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said the Year of Tourism gives New Zealand an opportunity to showcase the things that makes it a world class destination.

Tourism New Zealand General Manager — New Zealand & Government Relations, Rebecca Ingram said “Tourism New Zealand’s focus is on ensuring New Zealand remains a desirable destination and top of mind as an option for Chinese travelers.”

“China is New Zealand’s most valuable visitor market. With the highest daily spend of all our visitors and a highly seasonal profile, our Chinese visitors help to spread the benefits of tourism throughout the year.”

During the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, New Zealand’s tourism sector and beyond is encouraged to think about what they can do to get their China business ready.

Source: Xinhua


How a Chinese firm is using artificial intelligence to zero in on liver cancer

  • Genetron Health has developed a technique that detects the disease earlier than other methods
Liver cancer is generally difficult to detect in its early stages. Photo: Handout
Liver cancer is generally difficult to detect in its early stages. Photo: Handout

A Chinese genomics firm says it has found a way to detect liver cancer linked to hepatitis B months before it can be picked up by other methods.

The conclusion was based on a study by Genetron Health and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Cancer Hospital using a method called HCCscreen, which applies artificial intelligence to look for tumour-related mutations in DNA in blood.

The researchers found that the new method could pick up early signs of the cancer in people who had tested negative based on traditional alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and ultrasound examinations.

Genetron Health chief executive Wang Sizhen said early detection was important because it significantly increased the chances of survival.
“The study is a breakthrough in genomics technology and it’s likely to help hepatitis B virus carriers, whose risk of liver cancer is much higher,” Wang said.
The researchers first used AI technology to identify biomarkers common in known cases of a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC.
The team then developed the HCCscreen technique to look for those markers and used it on 331 people with hepatitis B who had tested negative for liver cancer in AFP and ultrasound exams.
Genetron Health chief executive Wang Sizhen says early detection is important because it significantly increases the chances of survival. Photo: SCMP
Genetron Health chief executive Wang Sizhen says early detection is important because it significantly increases the chances of survival. Photo: SCMP

Twenty-four people tested positive with HCCscreen and were tracked over eight months, with four eventually being diagnosed with early-stage liver cancer.

four patients had surgery to remove the tumours and the other 20 in the positive group had a second HCCscreen test, with mixed results. Wang said all participants in the group of 20 would continue to be monitored.

“This is the first large-scale prospective study on early diagnosis [of liver cancer],” he said.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month.

There are about 93 million people with hepatitis B in China and carriers of the virus have a much higher risk of developing liver cancer.

China’s race to test ‘mutation-free’ gene-editing technology on cancer patients

Liver cancer is generally difficult to detect in its early stages, and twice-yearly ultrasounds and AFP tests for the disease are recommended for high-risk groups such as people with hepatitis B virus infections, or cirrhosis – scarring of liver tissue.

But in China, most HCC cases were detected at advanced stage, the authors of the study wrote.

According to the National Cancer Centre, 466,000 people were diagnosed with liver cancer and 422,000 died from the disease in China in 2015.

Wang said the company aimed to commercialise the technology but even then it would take time to ensure it was affordable.

“[High-risk] people need to have regular screening. This is important for public health but the technology must be affordable enough to be widespread,” Wang said. “The ultimate goal of this study is to develop a product that people in China can afford.”

Source: SCMP


UK fashion brands battle for China’s growing market

Caroline Hu collection at the BoF China Prize at Shanghai Fashion Week 2019Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionModels wear designs by Caroline Hu, winner of the Business of Fashion (BoF) China Prize 2019 held during Shanghai Fashion Week

Over the next week Shanghai Fashion Week will fill the city with models, designers and buyers. The show is becoming a key route into China but the lucrative market remains difficult to navigate.

London-based fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic says she admires the adventurous spirit of her Chinese customers.

They’re experimental with a taste for clothes that are “vibrant and sculptural yet feminine”, she adds.

“The Chinese market really resonates with those parts of my DNA.”

For the first time Ms Ilincic is taking part in Shanghai Fashion Week, joining a wave of other foreign brands in search of exposure and crucial business contacts.

Observers say Shanghai Fashion Week, which runs until 3 April, buzzes with young talent and commercial potential.

Models at Shanghai Fashion WeekImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDesigner Qiu Shuting (right) dresses a model in her Shuting Qiu collection at the BoF China prize in Shanghai

Launched in 2003, it’s not one of the top four shows – London, Paris, New York and Milan – but its importance has grown alongside China’s economic rise.

“In Asia, there’s an emerging market where lots of the money is spent on Shanghai,” says Tianwei Zhang of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) .

Many will skip Tokyo’s fashion week in favour of Shanghai “because there’s more money here”, he adds.

Last year, a report by consultancy Bain showed that Chinese spending accounted for one-third of the global luxury market – itself worth 260bn euros ($292bn; £223bn). In 2018, the country’s luxury goods market posted its second straight year of 20% growth, Bain said.

Western brands have long eyed the potential of China’s growing middle class, seeking to find their way into the lucrative – but sheltered – market. Securing business partners and buyers is crucial.

Model at Shanghai Fashion WeekImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionA McKinsey-BoF report said China will overtake the US as the world’s largest fashion market in 2019

The British Fashion Council (BFC) is one group helping UK designers make inroads in China – from finding a space, to negotiating contracts or licensing arrangements.

BFC chief executive Caroline Rush says that while businesses can do it alone “the norm is to go in with a Chinese partner”. The group is in Shanghai this week to build its network.

It wants to plug into independent retailers across China that reach their customers through social platforms like WeChat and Weibo, and often sell through those channels directly.

“We’re also looking at partners that can help them open retail stores and the big e-commerce players that can help them in terms of mass distribution,” Ms Rush says.

The BFC is hosting a trade showcase with Roksanda Ilincic and Peter Pilotto in Shanghai, two brands Ms Rush describes as part of London’s “new guard”.

Editor in chief of Vogue China Angelica Cheung and Chinese fashion investor Wendy YuImage copyrightBRITISH FASHION COUNCIL
Image captionVogue China editor in chief Angelica Cheung with fashion investor and chief executive of Yu Holdings Wendy Yu at Shanghai Fashion Week

From buyers to fashion writers, industry figures routinely say Chinese consumers are drawn to the “creativity” of British design.

Among them is Yvonne Gan, chief executive of The Balancing, a chain of Shanghai boutiques, which sell top names including Britain’s Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham and Anya Hindmarch.

Ms Gan says 40% of total investment in the latest collections was spent on British brands. Chinese labels accounted for just 5%: “Local design is not as creative as British designers [and] also quality is not comparable.”

Still, British firms are competing in a crowded market, trying to please the Chinese consumer – and not all of them get it right.

high-profile stumble from Dolce & Gabbana over an ad campaign widely seen as offensive led to a severe backlash in China with several retailers pulling the firm’s products.

Meanwhile, Burberry drew some criticism for missing the mark over its latest Chinese New Year campaign.

Other British brands have struggled to gain traction in China. Marks & Spencer left the market in 2017, New Look withdrew last year and Topshop has had troubles with local partners.

Yoyo Liu, Roksanda Ilincic, Yvonne Ching, Mia KongImage copyrightBRITISH FASHION COUNCIL
Image captionYoyo Liu, with designer Roksanda Ilincic, Yvonne Ching, Mia Kong at Shanghai Fashion Week

Irene Yu, senior director of merchandising at Chinese accessories retailer Pedder Group says Chinese consumers are “very fashion savvy”.

“They are sophisticated, well-travelled and demanding in quality and newness.”

Pricing is also a concern. While wealth is rising, hefty import taxes drive the cost of Western luxury labels beyond the reach of many.

“British fashion designers are still at a slightly higher price point,” WWD’s Mr Zhang says.

He says while spending power is rising, Chinese consumers are not yet as willing to spend on designer clothes as they are on shoes and accessories.

Global luxury spending breakdown

The competitive threat from local talent is also mounting.

There are big names like Angel Chen and Shushu/Tong, along with emerging designers like Caroline Hu and 8on8, all set to gain plenty of attention in Shanghai.

“There are more and more upcoming Chinese designers taking the international stage,” says Pedder Group’s Ms Yu. “They give a fresh perspective.”

Source: The BBC


China plant explosion kills seven; second blast in Jiangsu province this month

BEIJING (Reuters) – A plant explosion in China’s Jiangsu province has killed seven people, state media reported on Sunday, 10 days after a blast at a pesticide plant killed 78 people in the province and triggered a nationwide safety inspection campaign.

Sunday’s blast involved a container of scrap metal that caught fire in a metal-molding plant in a bonded area in the city of Kunshan, state news agency Xinhua said.

The cause of the blast which killed seven people and injured five others was under investigation, Xinhua said.

The plant is owned by Kunshan Waffer Technology Corp Ltd., a Taiwan-based manufacturer of magnesium alloy injection molding products and aluminium alloy die castings.

Kunshan, about 70 km (43 miles) west of Shanghai, is home to more than 1,000 technology companies and manufacturers, including many Taiwanese firms.

The incident follows a deadly blast on March 21 at a chemical park in the city of Yancheng, also in Jiangsu province, that killed 78 people and focused attention on safety at small chemical firms.

China last week launched a month-long, nationwide inspection campaign into hazardous chemicals, mines, transportation and fire safety, saying authorities needed to absorb lessons from the Yancheng disaster.

China has clamped down on scrap metal imports as part of an environmental campaign against “foreign garbage”, tightening supply sources for metal producers, as it aims to cut solid waste imports by the end of 2020.

The country has a history of major work safety accidents which often trigger inspection campaigns aimed at rooting out violations and punishing officials for cutting corners or shirking their supervisory duties.

Source: Reuters


Xi, Macron agree to forge more solid, stable, vibrant China-France partnership


Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

PARIS, March 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday agreed to carry forward the high-level ties between the two countries and forge a more solid, stable and vibrant China-France comprehensive strategic partnership on a new starting point in history.

The consensus was reached during the talks between Xi and Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Xi said that great changes have taken place in the international situation, but the China-France relations have always kept developing on a high level and in a sound and stable way.

He said that since President Macron took office, the bilateral ties have reached a new high in just less than two years, with many new outcomes achieved.

This year is of special commemorative significance, as it marks the 55th anniversary of China-France diplomatic ties, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Work-Study Movement in France, and also the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Xi said.

“Knowing the past can help people judge today and move on better,” he said.

The world is undergoing major changes rarely seen in a century, and humanity stands at a crossroads, and for China, France and Europe, they also come to a critical stage of development, the Chinese president said.

“China is willing to work with France to inherit the past and create the future, enable our close and enduring comprehensive strategic partnership to continue leading the way, and make more historic contributions to building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity,” Xi said.


The Chinese president proposed that in order to develop the relations between China and France in a sound way, the two countries should have political mutual trust, practical cooperation and friendly sentiments between the two peoples.

“Under the new situation, the two sides should do much better in those three aspects, and continue to explore the way for major countries to get along with each other, which should feature independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes,” Xi said.

“In politics, we should not only build a strong ‘dam’ of mutual trust, but also a ‘lighthouse’ of ideal,” he said.

He suggested that the two countries deepen communication and exchanges in an all-round way and on various levels, fully leverage the roles of all institutional dialogues, and increase the exchanges between governments, legislative bodies, political parties and armed forces.

The two sides should insist on respecting and accommodating each other’s core interests and major concerns, pursue harmony in diversity, and seek common ground while reserving differences, Xi said.

He urged the two countries to strengthen cooperation under the United Nations (UN), the Group of 20 and other multilateral frameworks, push for the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, take practical action to safeguard multilateral trading regime and uphold the basic norms governing international relations as underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

On practical cooperation between China and France, Xi said the two countries should not only explore the “source of flowing water” in market, but also facilitate the “river channels” in policies.

The two sides should deepen cooperation in nuclear energy, aviation, aerospace and other traditional sectors, and expedite cooperation in emerging areas including scientific and technological innovation, agriculture, finance and elderly care, Xi said.

President Macron has on many occasions expressed the willingness of carrying out practical cooperation with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which China appreciates, Xi said, adding that the two sides need to earnestly implement the BRI-related demonstration projects in third-party markets.

He asked the two countries to provide more support and convenience for bilateral trade and investment.

Noting that China has newly approved its foreign investment law, Xi pledged that the country will continue to greatly relax market access, optimize business environment, strengthen intellectual property rights protection, and create a new pattern of high-level opening-up.

“We welcome more French businesses to invest and develop in China, and in the meantime, we hope the French side offers fair, open and non-discrimination treatment for Chinese businesses to invest in France,” Xi said.

On people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Xi called for enhancing both intergovernmental cooperation and non-governmental contacts.

The two countries should fully use the China-France high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism, and promote cooperation in culture, tourism, language, youths and at local level, he said.

Xi also asked the two countries to well organize the commemorative activities on the 55th anniversary of China-France diplomatic ties and the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Work-Study Movement in France, and to host a culture and tourism year in each other’s country in 2021.

Calling China and the European Union (EU) two major forces, markets and civilizations of today’s world, Xi said China attaches importance to Europe’s strategic status and role, and has always regarded deepening China-EU relations as a diplomatic priority.

China supports France in continuing to play a leading role in the process of Europe’s uniting for self-improvement, and hopes France exerts a more positive influence in pushing forward China-EU ties, Xi said.

The Chinese president also urged both sides to accelerate the negotiations on a China-EU investment treaty, and initiate a joint feasibility study on the China-EU free trade agreement at an early date.

Macron said since France and China forged diplomatic relations 55 years ago, the two sides have always respected each other, which allowed them to conduct extensive and productive cooperation.

Noting that the keynote of France-China comprehensive strategic partnership is cooperation, the French president extended his country’s congratulations to the People’s Republic of China for its huge achievements since its founding 70 years ago, and said that France is committed to being China’s reliable and assured strategic partner, and is willing to join efforts with China to build a balanced, stable, safe and prosperous world.

France has full confidence in the future of France-China relations, Macron said, pledging to boost cooperation with China in such fields as aviation, aerospace, nuclear energy, agriculture, finance, scientific research, automobile manufacturing and elderly care, and to align France’s Industry of the Future initiative with Made in China 2025.

France stands ready to actively participate in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the second China International Import Expo (CIIE), Macron said, adding that his country supports vigorously promoting bilateral exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, sports, tourism, military and defense affairs.

Speaking highly of China’s important leading role in tackling climate change and multilateral affairs such as peacekeeping, Macron stressed that France deems protectionism unacceptable.

France and China have a lot of common ground in international affairs and have maintained close communication and coordination, he said.

France and China, as well as the EU and China, can work together in advancing more global agenda, improving global governance system, and protecting multilateralism and free trade, he added.

The French president also pledged to actively push forward the EU-China cooperative relations, saying his country holds that the EU’s connectivity strategy and the BRI should be docked with each other.

After their talks, the two leaders witnessed the exchange of bilateral cooperation documents including third-party markets cooperation, and met the press together.

Macron held a grand welcome ceremony for Xi at the Arc de Triomphe before the talks.

Xi arrived in Paris from the southern French city of Nice on Monday to continue his trip to the country. Two French fighter jets escorted Xi’s plane as it flew from Nice to Paris.

It is the second state visit by Xi to the European country in five years.

France is the final stop of Xi’s three-nation Europe tour, which has already taken him to Italy and Monaco.

Source: Xinhua


China, Egypt to further enhance defense cooperation


Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (R) meets with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (L) in Cairo, Egypt, March 25, 2019. (Xinhua)

CAIRO, March 25 (Xinhua) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi pledged to further enhance defense cooperation with China during his meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe on Monday.

During the meeting, Sisi recalled the long-standing China-Egypt relation during which the two sides had achieved fruitful results from their cooperation in all fields and highlighted China’s contribution to world peace.

He hailed China’s great achievements in its development, saying that Egypt firmly supports the Belt and Road Initiative and expects to enhance cooperation in the field of infrastructure construction with the Chinese side.

Sisi also expressed his hope that the two sides can further enhance defense cooperation and conduct more cooperation in the fields of counter terrorism, joint military drills, armed forces buildup as well as defense industry.

Noting that the friendship between China and Egypt has a long history, Wei highlighted the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, adding that it has gone deeper and achieved pragmatic results.

Wei said that China appreciates Egypt’s important role in international and regional issues, supports Egypt’s efforts to defend its independence and sovereignty, adding that China is ready to enhance cooperation and work together with Egypt to promote the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve better and faster development of bilateral relations.

Under the leadership of the two heads of state, the military cooperation between China and Egypt has achieved fruitful results. “We are willing to work together with the Egyptian armed forces to implement important consensus between the two leaders and develop a higher level of relations between the two armies,” Wei said.

Wei also met with Egyptian Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki on Sunday.

Source: Xinhua


EU leaders hold out olive branch to Chinese ‘rival’ with hint they are open to Belt and Road Initiative

  • Angela Merkel says Europe is still keen to participate in infrastructure scheme despite concerns about spread of Chinese influence
  • EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker seeks to reassure Chinese leader Xi Jinping that view of China as ‘strategic rival’ is a compliment
Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel and the Paris meeting. Photo: EPA-EFE
Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel and the Paris meeting. Photo: EPA-EFE

European leaders sought to reassure China over trade and cooperation on Tuesday by suggesting they were still open to joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the final leg of his European tour, had invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to the meeting in Paris, where the four stressed their support for multilateralism and the pursuit of cooperation between major powers.

The visit took place amid growing European scepticism about China’s influence and follows a decision by Brussels to brand China a “systemic rival” in a policy paper earlier this month.

The scheme has caused increased concern in the West about the extent to which it will help spread Chinese influence, especially since Italy became the first G7 economy to join the project over the weekend.

But Merkel stressed it was an important project that Europeans still wanted to participate in.

She continued: “We, as Europeans, want to play an active part and that must lead to a certain reciprocity and we are still wrangling over that a bit.

“We are seeing the project as a good visualisation of interaction, interrelation and interdependence.”

Xi also said China’s process of opening up its economy to the world had allowed the country to achieve in the space of 40 years what the Europeans had managed over the course of the industrial revolution.

“We will continue to open up,” he said, “and to make the world a better open economy.”

“The Belt and Road Initiative has enriched the world’s multilateral system, we welcome all countries, including France, to join,” Xi said.

The US has also put increasing pressure on European countries to block the Chinese tech giant Huawei, which it sees as a security threat, from playing a role in European communications networks.

Despite her support for Xi’s stance on multilateralism, Merkel was still keen to express support for America’s role in upholding global order.

“The triangle between EU, China and US is very important. Without the US, we will not be able to have multilateralism. Our relations from the European side are obviously very important,” Merkel said.

However, she also noted that the trade war between the US and CHina was “hitting our German economy” and disturbing the balance.

Source: SCMP


How a Chinese firm fell victim to intellectual property theft

Frank Liu, head of Intco in Shanghai?
Image captionFrank Liu says his company Intco was the victim of intellectual property theft

There was no break in, no hold up. No glass was smashed. But the factory on the outskirts of Shanghai was the scene of a very modern crime. Someone stole a hoard of intellectual property.

“A couple of years ago one of my IT managers copied ten thousand pages of my entire company’s profile,” Frank Liu told me. His company Intco has been around for 25 years.

He told me the stolen download included “our technology information, our customer list, our purchasing and supply information. Everything.”

Intco is a business that makes medical devices, skirting boards and photo frames. I visited its offices at a business park in Shanghai, and a factory that sits either side of a tree-lined road south of the city.

The company recycles polystyrene waste sent to China from all over the world. Then, using heat moulding and imprinting techniques, it turns it into an array of products which end up on the floors of houses in Brazil or Russia, or hanging on walls displaying photos in the US and Britain.

“We actually have the record of how he stole it,” Mr Liu told me. “He just sold it to establish another company, as his investment.”

Mr Liu feels he has no recourse. He told me he went to the police but nothing happened. He said he still intends to pursue it.

His story is increasingly common here, for both local businesses and foreign firms.

Top officials from the US and China will hold their next round of trade talks this week and protecting intellectual property (IP) is a key demand for Washington. They argue American and other foreign companies in China have endured decades of theft and infringement.

Reacting to pressure

China has taken some steps to address the problem. The country only established copyright laws in the 1980s, but things have progressed relatively quickly since then.

China now has specialist IP courts, albeit – like every aspect of the judicial system – subservient to the ruling Communist Party. They are supposed to settle cases within 12 to 18 months.

Their creation was not due solely to outside pressure from foreign firms.

Chinese business figures like Mr Liu have also called for the country’s legal system to better protect the innovators and entrepreneurs who have turned China into much more than the “copycat” economy it was once labelled.

Benjamin Qiu, an IP lawyer with US law firm Loeb & Loeb, told me that the Chinese are now just as litigious as foreign firms.

Foreign firms are just as likely to win a case – a good case, Mr Qiu added – as domestic plaintiffs. In the past few years Lego and New Balance have both won high-profile cases against copycat manufacturers.

There is no doubt that the trade war with the US has sped up the pace of reform in China.

A truck transports a container next to stacked containers at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province on October 12, 2018.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

President Xi Jinping recently led lawmakers, at their annual gathering in Beijing, in approving new rules for foreign investors.

The Foreign Investment Law states that the transfer of technology from foreign investors to any domestic partner must be voluntary. China has always defended this highly contentious practice by insisting it’s part of an agreed commercial arrangement.

The new law also bars government officials from passing on details of foreign investors IP.

A new era?

Now though comes the hard part – enforcement.

Mr Qiu told me the next step is “detailed regulation coming out after this law, and we want to see actual cases in local courts and also from enforcement agencies.”

If that follows, then he thinks “potentially the foreign IP owners will have more to protect [them] in China.”

Both the EU and American Chambers of Commerce welcomed the new law, but both also criticised what they said was ambiguity in the legislation. The Americans also had concerns that it was rushed through without proper consultation.

Many foreign companies have been stung over the years in China. Most have found the lure of the massive market, or what was once rock bottom labour costs, irresistible.

Some though feel the risk is too high.

A fruit industry executive recently told me his firm wanted to buy new conveyor belts for their farms in China, but the European manufacturers said no. They feared their systems would be copied here, and they’d be wiped out.

Mr Liu can’t do that. He is Chinese and wants to stay in China. But he has taken steps to try to prevent another IP theft.

Production line at an Intco factory in Shanghai
Image captionProduction line used to create photo frames at an Intco factory in Shanghai

He is chief executive of the company he founded, but this year he told me he’s changing his title to include head of research and development. Because he can’t trust anyone else with the firms’ commercial secrets.

Protecting original ideas, techniques and information in China – “it’s a human right” he told me.

Source: The BBC

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continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India