Archive for ‘Shenzhen’

22/04/2019

Huawei says launches ‘world’s first’ 5G communications hardware for autos

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies launched on Monday what it said was the world’s first 5G communications hardware for the automotive industry, in a sign of its growing ambitions to become a key supplier to the sector for self-driving technology.
Huawei said in a statement that the so-called MH5000 module is based on the Balong 5000 5G chip which it launched in January. “Based on this chip, Huawei has developed the world’s first 5G car module with high speed and high quality,” it said.
It launched the module at the Shanghai Autoshow, which began last week and runs until Thursday.
“As an important communication product for future intelligent car transportation, this 5G car module will promote the automotive industry to move towards the 5G era,” Huawei said.
It said the module will aid its plans to start commercializing 5G network technology for the automotive sector in the second half of this year.
Huawei has in recent years been testing technology for intelligent connected cars in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuxi and has signed cooperation deals with a swathe of car makers including FAW, Dongfeng and Changan.
The company, which is also the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, is striving to lead the global race for next-generation 5G networks but has come under increasing scrutiny from Washington which alleges that its equipment could be used for espionage. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Source: Reuters
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15/04/2019

Int’l talent exchange conference opens in Shenzhen

CHINA-SHENZHEN-17TH CIEP (CN)

A foreign job seeker attends a job fair during the 17th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals (CIEP) in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong Province on April 14, 2019. The conference kicked off in Shenzhen on Sunday, attracting about 4,000 agencies and organizations from more than 50 countries and regions, as well as 40,000 government representatives, experts and high talented people. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

SHENZHEN, April 14 (Xinhua) — The 17th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals (CIEP) opened in south China’s tech hub Shenzhen on Sunday.

The two-day event, featuring a series of forums and recruitment fairs, attracted more than 4,000 professional institutions and organizations as well as over 40,000 government officials, experts and high-end talents from more than 50 countries and regions.

Over 1,500 enterprises will provide 30,000 jobs at the recruitment fairs.

A variety of activities were held in Britain, the guest of honor of this year’s CIEP, before the conference’s opening to attract more innovative overseas talent to start their business in China.

Created in 2001, CIEP has become one of China’s top events for international talent exchange.

Source: Xinhua

07/04/2019

China-EU tourism cooperation receives boost, official says

BRUSSELS, April 6 (Xinhua) — China-European Union (EU) relations in tourism get a boost as the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year has scored a success, an official recently said.

During the tourism year, China and the EU held more than 100 promotional activities. It “has been extremely successful,” said Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission (ETC).

There was a 5.1-percent year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals in EU destinations in 2018, and among the top ones in terms of the volume of Chinese arrivals were Britain, Germany and France, according to the latest figures from the ETC and the air travel analysis agency ForwardKeys.

“We continue to see the benefits in 2019,” Santander added. “The growth in Chinese travellers has been solid, and the near future, judging by current bookings, will see the EU continuing to increase its share of this valuable market, not just to traditional destinations, but lesser-known and emerging ones as well.”

Chinese bookings to the EU for the first four months of 2019 are 16.9 percent ahead of where they were at the end of 2017, said the ETC, adding that this compares very favorably to the global trend, which is 9.3 percent ahead.

According to a recent report by China Tourism Academy and China’s online travel agency Ctrip, 70 percent of Chinese tourists in 2018 chose “package tours” when traveling in Europe, due to language, visa, culture and other factors.

Nevertheless, the proportion of independent and customized travel continues to rise. In 2018, the demand for customized European tours booked by the travel website increased by 127 percent over the past year, far higher than the growth rate of the overall market, said the report.

In addition, a number of new routes were launched between China and Europe in 2018, including direct flights from Fuzhou to Moscow, Changsha to London, Jinan to Paris, and Shenzhen to Brussels. In 2018, there were more than 600 flights a week between China and Europe, according to the report.

Ctrip in 2018 forecast that consumption of each tourist in Europe will exceed 25,000 yuan (about 3,721 U.S. dollars) in two years, with the total annual consumption to reach 150 billion yuan (about 22.3 billion dollars).

“Our findings confirm what a concerted effort to boost tourism can achieve. It also appears to have lasting effects, as we can see in the forward booking figures,” said Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys.

China’s domestic travel agencies are also deepening the cooperation with Europe. For example, the SkyScanner, Ctrip’s online travel search platform, set up its first overseas calling service center in Edinburgh in April 2018.

Source: Xinhua

10/03/2019

China’s wealthy families are turning to long holidays abroad as their efforts emigrate overseas are halted

  • Foreign lifestyle experiences are becoming more popular as citizens seek to escape pollution, food and medicine safety worries and authoritarian government controls
  • Citizens encountering more barriers to their dreams of travelling abroad, with severe limits on moving money overseas and restrictions on visiting foreign countries
Thailand, including the likes of Chiang Mai, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand are popular destinations for Chinese families. Photo: Shutteratock
Thailand, including the likes of Chiang Mai, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand are popular destinations for Chinese families. Photo: Shutteratock

Xu Zhangle and her husband and their two children are a typical middle-class couple from Shenzhen, and along with 60 other Chinese families, they are going on an extended holiday to Thailand in July, where they hope to enjoy an immigrant-like life experience.

The family have paid a travel agent around 50,000 yuan (US$7,473) for the stay in Chiang Mai in the mountainous north of the country, including transport, a three-week summer camp for their daughters at a local international school, rent for a serviced apartment and daily expenses.

Zhangle loves Chiang Mai’s relaxed lifestyle and easy atmosphere and wants to live as a local for a month or even longer, instead of having to rush through a short-term holiday.

“It would not be just [tourist] travelling but rather a life away from the mainland.” she said.

Recently, upper middle-class citizens have increased their efforts to safeguard their wealth and achieve more freedom by spending more time abroad.

They have invested considerable amounts of money in overseas properties and applied for long-stay visas, although many of their attempts have ended in failure.

Chinese citizens are encountering more barriers to their dreams of travelling abroad, with severe limits on moving money overseas and restrictions on visiting foreign countries.

Still, growing anxieties about air pollution, food and medicine safety and an increasingly authoritarian political climate are pushing middle class families to look for new ways to circumvent the obstacles so they can live outside China.

Among the options, there is growing demand for sojourns abroad of a month or more, to enjoy a foreign lifestyle for a brief period to make up for the fact that their emigration dreams may have stalled.

“I think this is becoming a trend. Chinese middle-class families are facing increasing difficulties to emigrate and own homes overseas. On the other hand, they still yearn for more freedom, for a better quality of life than what is found in first-tier cities in China.

They are eager to seek alternatives to give themselves and their children a global lifestyle,” said Cai Mingdong, founder of Zhejiang Newway, an online tour and education operator in Ningbo, south of Shanghai.

“First, the availability of multiple-entry tourist visas and the sharp drop in air ticket prices have made it convenient and practical to stay abroad for from a few weeks to up to three months each year.”

Blacklist labels millions of Chinese citizens and businesses untrustworthy

Now, many well-to-do Chinese middle class families can get a tourist visa for five or even 10 years that allows them to stay in a number of countries — including the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other Asian countries — for up to six months at a time.

“In 2011, a round-trip air ticket from Shanghai to New Zealand cost 14,000 yuan (US$2,000), but now is about 4,000 (US$598),” added Cai.

This opens up the possibility for many middle-class families who are not eligible to emigrate, to live abroad for short periods of time.

Many wealthy Chinese middle class families can get a tourist visa for five or even 10 years that allows them to stay in several countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other Asian countries, for up to six months at a time. Photo: AP
Many wealthy Chinese middle class families can get a tourist visa for five or even 10 years that allows them to stay in several countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other Asian countries, for up to six months at a time. Photo: AP

Chinese tourists made more than 140 million trips outside the country in 2018, a 13.5 per cent increase from the previous year, spending an estimated US$120 billion, according to the China Tourism Academy, an official research institute under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“In [the Thai cities of] Bangkok and Chiang Mai, there are more and more Chinese who stay there to experience the local lifestyle, which is different from theirs in China. The life there is very different from that in China,” said Owen Zhu, who now lives in the Bangkok condo he bought last year.

“The freedom, culture and community are diversified. The quality of air, food and services are much higher than in first-tier cities in China, but the prices are more affordable.

“In Bangkok, in many international apartment complexes where foreigners live, the monthly rent for a one-bedroom [apartment] is about 2,000 (US$298) to 3,000 yuan.”

China’s richest regions are also home to the most blacklisted firms
A one-bedroom apartment in Shenzhen in southern China is twice as expensive, with rents continuing to rise rapidly.

There are global goods, and it is easy to socialise with different people from around the world,” Zhu added

“Many Chinese people around me, really, come to Thailand to live for a while and go back to China, but then come back again after a few months.”

Both Cai and Zhu said they discovered the new phenomenon among China’s middle class and decided it was a business opportunity.

Growing anxieties about air pollution, food and medicine safety and an increasingly authoritarian political climate are pushing middle class families to look for new ways to circumvent the obstacles so they can live outside China. Photo: AP
Growing anxieties about air pollution, food and medicine safety and an increasingly authoritarian political climate are pushing middle class families to look for new ways to circumvent the obstacles so they can live outside China. Photo: AP

Zhu is in the process of registering a company in Bangkok and plans to build an online platform to service the needs of Chinese citizens living abroad who do not own property or have immigration status, especially members of the LGBT community.

Cai said dozens of Chinese families in the Yangtze River Delta had paid him to send their children to schools in New Zealand or Europe for around three or four weeks in the middle of the school year, while the parents rent villas in the area, with New Zealand and Toronto in Canada among the most popular destinations.

Last year, Zheng Feng, a single mother and freelance writer from Beijing, rented a small villa in Australia for a month for them, a friend and their children to escape Beijing’s pollution and experience life overseas.

“To be honest, I don’t have enough money to invest in a property or a green card in Australia. But it’s very affordable for me and my son to pay about 30,000 yuan (US$4,484) to live abroad for one or two months.” Zheng said.

China says 2018 growth was worth more than Australia’s whole GDP

Zheng will join the Xu family in Chiang Mai later this year and she is also planning a similar trip to England next year.

Zheng’s friend, Alice Yu, invested in an American EB-5 investor visa a few years ago, and plans to make one or two month-long trips abroad each year until her family is finally able to move to the United States.

Demand for the EB-5 investor visa in China seems to be waning given heightened uncertainty about the future of the programme and US immigration law in general under US President Donald Trump.

Approval for the visa can now take up to 10 years, resulting in a huge backlog that has further dampened interest and led to a significant dip in investment inflows into the US from foreign individuals.

A one-bedroom apartment in Bangkok can cost around bout 2,000 (US$298) to 3,000 yuan a month. Photo: AFP
A one-bedroom apartment in Bangkok can cost around bout 2,000 (US$298) to 3,000 yuan a month. Photo: AFP

“Maybe it will soon become standard for a real Chinese middle-class family to have the time and money to enjoy a long stay at a countryside villa overseas,” said Yu.

“Regardless of whether we can get a long-term visa for the United States, I want my children grow up in a global lifestyle and with more freedom than just growing up on the mainland. So do all wealthy and middle class Chinese families, I think.”

Karen Gao’s son started studying at an international school in Chiang Mai in June, at the cost of about 70,000 yuan (US$10,462) a year, after she quit her job as a public relations manager in Shenzhen and moved to Thailand on a tourist visa.

For better or worse? China’s complicated employment explained

“A few months each year for good air, good food and no censorship and internet control, but cheaper living costs compared to Beijing, it sounds like a really good deal to go,” said Gao, who has now been offered a guardian visa to accompany her son, who has already been given a student visa.

“In Shenzhen, I wasn’t able to get him into school because I had no [local] residence permit.

“It would be the best choice for us because we feel so uncertain and worried about investing and living in the mainland.”

Last year, Gao, like thousands of other private investors mostly middle class people living in first-tier cities, suffered significant losses when their investments in hotels and inns in Dali, Yunnan province, were demolished amid the local government’s campaign to curb pollution and improve the environment around Lake Erhai.

“We were robbed by the officials without proper compensation,” Gao said.

Source: SCMP

06/03/2019

Huawei: The story of a controversial company

The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa is a shiny spaceship-like structure that glistens in the afternoon sun.

With its accompanying skyscraper, it stands out in the Ethiopian capital.

Greetings in Mandarin welcome visitors as they enter the lifts, and the plastic palm trees bear the logos of the China Development Bank.

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

 

Everywhere, there are small indications that the building was made possible through Chinese financial aid.

In 2006, Beijing pledged $200m to build the headquarters. Completed in 2012, everything was custom-built by the Chinese – including a state-of-the-art computer system.

For several years, the building stood as a proud testament to ever-closer ties between China and Africa. Trade has rocketed over the past two decades, growing by about 20% a year, according to international consultancy McKinsey. China is Africa’s largest economic partner.

But in January 2018, French newspaper Le Monde Afrique dropped a bombshell.

It reported that the AU’s computer system had been compromised.

The newspaper, citing multiple sources, said that for five years, between the hours of midnight and 0200, data from the AU’s servers was transferred more than 8,000km away – to servers in Shanghai.

This had allegedly continued for 1,825 days in a row.

Le Monde Afrique reported that it had come to light in 2017, when a conscientious scientist working for the AU recorded an unusually high amount of computer activity on its servers during hours when the offices would have been deserted.

It was also reported that microphones and listening devices had been discovered in the walls and desks of the building, following a sweep for bugs.

The reaction was swift.

Both AU and Chinese officials publicly condemned the report as false and sensationalist – an attempt by the Western media to damage relations between a more assertive China and an increasingly independent Africa.

But Le Monde Afrique said that AU officials had privately expressed concerns about just how dependent they were on Chinese aid – and what the consequences of that could be.

In the midst of all of this, one fact remained largely unreported.

The main supplier of information and communication technology systems to the AU headquarters was China’s best-known telecoms equipment company – Huawei.

The company says it had “nothing” to do with any alleged breach.

Huawei “served as the key ICT provider inside the AU’s headquarters”, said Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a review of the alleged incident.

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

“This doesn’t mean the company was complicit in any theft of data. But… it’s hard to see how – given Huawei’s role in providing equipment and key ICT services to the AU building and specifically to the AU’s data centre – the company could have remained completely unaware of the apparent theft of large amounts of data, every day, for five years.”

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei’s telecoms network equipment was ever used by the Chinese government – or anyone else – to gain access to the data of their customers.

Indeed, no-one has ever gone on record to confirm that the AU system was compromised in the first place.

But these reports played into years of suspicions about Huawei – that a large Chinese company might find itself unduly influenced by the Chinese government.

Ren and the rise of Huawei

“When I first started out 30 years ago… we didn’t really have any telephones. The only phones we had were those hand-cranked phones that you see in old World War II films. We were pretty undeveloped then.”

Huawei’s founder and chairman Ren Zhengfei is reminiscing to the BBC about the origins of the world’s second-biggest smartphone firm, while sitting in the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen – a symbol of the success that he’s worked his whole lifetime for.

A long marbled staircase, covered in plush red carpet, greets you as you first walk in.

At the top of the stairs, a giant painting depicts a traditional Chinese New Year scene.

Inside Huawei's Shenzhen HQ

Inside Huawei’s Shenzhen HQ

A few kilometres away in Dongguan, Huawei’s latest campus is even more eye-catching.

The site – designed to accommodate the company’s 25,000 R&D staff – comprises 12 “villages”, each of which recreates the architecture of a different European city, among them Paris, Bologna and Granada.

It’s as if Silicon Valley had been re-imagined by Walt Disney. Long corridors of Roman pillars and picturesque French cafes adorn the campus, with a train connecting the different areas, running through manicured gardens and past an artificial lake.

It’s a world away from the environment that Mr Ren found himself in when he first started the company in 1987. “I founded Huawei when China began to implement its reform and opening up policy,” he says. “At that time, China was shifting from a planned economy to a market economy. Not only people like myself, but even the most senior government officials, did not have the vaguest idea of what a market economy was. It seemed it was hard to survive.”

Ren was born in 1944 in Southern China – a tumultuous, chaotic place, one of the poorest regions in an already destitute country.

For a long time, hardship was all he ever knew.

He was from a family of seven children. “They were very poor,” says David De Cremer, who has co-written a book on Ren and Huawei.

“I think hardship is something that you can see throughout his life, and which he keeps emphasising himself.”

To escape that life of poverty and drudgery, Ren did what many young Chinese men of that era did. He joined the army.

Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army, 1972

Soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army, 1972

“I was a very low-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army,” he says. “I served in an ordinary construction project, not a field unit. At the time, I was a technician of a company in the military, and then I became an engineer.”

He left the military in 1983 when China began to downsize its forces, and went into the electronics business.

By his own admission, he wasn’t a great businessman at first.

“I was someone who had been in the military all my life at the time, used to doing what I was told,” he says. “Suddenly, I began to work in a market economy. I was at a total loss. So I too suffered losses, I too was deceived, and I was cheated.”

But he was quick to learn, and was a keen student of Western business practices and European history.

“I did research on what exactly a market economy was all about,” he says. “I read books on laws, including those about European and US laws. At that time, there were very few books on Chinese laws, and I had to read those on European and US laws.”

Five years later, he founded Huawei – the name can be translated as “splendid achievement” or “China is able” – to sell simple telecoms equipment to the rural Chinese market. Within a few years, Huawei was developing and producing the equipment itself.

Sometime in the early 90s, Huawei won a government contract to provide telecoms equipment for the People’s Liberation Army.

By 1995, the company was generating sales of around US$220,000, mainly from selling to the rural market.

The following year Huawei was given the status of a Chinese “national champion”. In practice, this meant the government closed the market to foreign competition.

At a time when China’s economy was growing by an average of 10% per year, this was no small advantage. But it was only when Huawei started to expand overseas in 2000, that it really saw its sales soar.

In 2002, Huawei made US$552m from its international market sales. By 2005 its international market contracts exceeded its domestic business for the first time.

Ren’s early days in business instilled in him a desire to protect his company from the whims and fancies of the stock market. Huawei is privately held and employee-owned. This gave Ren the power to plough more money back into research and development. Each year, Huawei spends US$20bn on R&D – one of the biggest such budgets in the world.

“Publicly listed companies have to pay a lot of attention to their balance sheets,” he says. “They can’t invest too much, otherwise profits will drop and so will their share prices. At Huawei, we fight for our ideals. We know that if we fertilise our ‘soil’ it will become more bountiful. That’s how we’ve managed to pull ahead and succeed.”

One story from the early days of the company tells how Ren was cooking for his staff (he loves to cook, or so the story goes). Suddenly he rushed out of the kitchen and announced to the room: “Huawei will be a top three player in the global communications market 20 years from now!”

And that’s exactly what happened. In fact, those ambitions were surpassed.

Today, Huawei is the world’s biggest seller of network telecommunications equipment.

From aspiring to be a company like Apple, it now sells more smartphones than Apple.

But shadows have continued to loom over Huawei’s international success.

Ren and Huawei’s links to the Chinese Communist Party have raised suspicions that the company owes its meteoric rise to its powerful political connections in China. The US has accused Huawei of being a tool of the Chinese government.

It’s an accusation which Ren denies. “Please don’t think that Huawei has become what it is today because we have special connections,” he says. “Even 100% state-owned companies have failed. Do good connections mean you will succeed then? Huawei’s success is still very much due to our hard work.”

The case against

It was 1 December 2018. US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping were dining on grilled sirloin followed by caramel rolled pancakes at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

They had a lot to discuss. The US and China were in the middle of a trade war – imposing tariffs on each other’s goods – and growth forecasts for both countries had recently been cut as a result. This was adding to the fear of a slowing global economy.

In the event, the two leaders agreed a truce in the trade war, with Donald Trump tweeting that “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!”

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

But thousands of kilometres north in Canada, an arrest was taking place that would throw doubt on this rapprochement.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and Ren Zhengfei’s eldest daughter, had been detained by Canadian officials while transferring between flights at Vancouver airport.

The arrest had come at the request of the US, who accused her of breaking sanctions against Iran.

“When she was detained, as her father, my heart broke,” says Ren, visibly emotional. “How could I watch my child suffer like this? But what happened, has happened. We can only depend on the law to solve this problem.”

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Huawei’s problems were just beginning. Nearly two months later, the US Department of Justice filed two indictments against Huawei and Ms Meng.

Under the first indictment, Huawei and Ms Meng were charged with misleading banks and the US government about their business in Iran.

The second indictment – against Huawei – involved criminal charges including obstruction of justice and the attempted theft of trade secrets.

Both Huawei and Ms Meng deny the charges.

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

The charge of stealing trade secrets centres on a robotic tool – developed by T-Mobile – known as Tappy.

According to legal documents, Huawei had tried to buy Tappy, a device which mimicked human fingers by tapping mobile phone screens rapidly to test responsiveness.

T-Mobile was in partnership with Huawei at the time, but it rebuffed the Chinese firm’s offers, fearing it would use the technology to make phones for T-Mobile’s competitors.

It’s alleged that one of Huawei’s US employees then smuggled Tappy’s robotic arm into his satchel so that he could send its details to colleagues in China.

After the alleged theft was discovered, the Huawei employee claimed that the arm had mistakenly fallen into his bag.

Huawei claimed that the employee had been acting alone, and the case was settled out of court in 2014. But the latest case is built on email trails between managers in China and the company’s US employees, linking Huawei management to the alleged theft.

The indictment also details evidence of a bonus scheme from 2013, offering Huawei employees financial rewards for stealing confidential information from competitors.

Huawei has denied any such scheme exists.

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

This is not the first time that Huawei has been accused of stealing trade secrets. Over the years companies like Cisco, Nortel and Motorola have all pointed the finger at the Chinese firm.

But US fears about Huawei are about much more than industrial espionage. For more than a decade, the US government has seen the company as little more than an arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

These concerns have been brought to the fore with the advent of “fifth generation” or 5G mobile internet, which promises download speeds 10 or 20 times faster than at present, and much greater connectivity between devices.

As the world’s biggest telecoms infrastructure provider, Huawei is one of the companies best placed to build new 5G networks. But the US has warned its intelligence partners that awarding contracts to Huawei would be tantamount to allowing the Chinese spy on them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently cautioned against Huawei, saying, “If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The UK, Germany and Canada are reviewing whether Huawei’s products pose a security threat.

Australia went a step further last year, and banned equipment suppliers “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”.

Huawei was not mentioned by name, but Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says the company posed a national security risk because of its government links.

She cites an article in Chinese law that makes it impossible for any company to refuse to help the Chinese Communist Party in intelligence gathering.

“Admittedly, what is missing from this debate is the smoking gun,” she says.

“For the average person who has a Huawei smartphone it’s not a big deal. But if you’re a Western government that has key national security to protect – why would you allow this access to a company that is in the political system that China is in?”

For his part, Ren says that Huawei’s resources have never and would never be used to spy for the Chinese government.

“The Chinese government has clearly said that it won’t ask companies to install backdoors,” he says. A “backdoor” is a term used to describe a secret entry point in software or a computer system that gives access to the person or entity who installed it to the inner workings of the system.

“Huawei will not do it either,” he continues. “Our sales revenues are now hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not going to risk the disgust of our country and our customers all over the world because of something like that. We will lose all our business. I’m not going to take that risk.”

Xi’s China

Zhou Daiqi is Huawei’s chief ethics and compliance officer.

He’s been with the company for nearly 25 years, in a number of different positions – chief engineer, director of the hardware department, head of the research centre in Xi’an, according to his biography on the company’s website. He is also understood to combine his high-ranking executive duties with another role – party secretary of Huawei’s Communist Party committee.

All companies in China are required by law to have a Communist Party committee.

Zhou Daiqi's profile on Huawei's website

Zhou Daiqi’s profile on Huawei’s website

The official line is that they exist to ensure that employees uphold the country’s moral and social values. Representatives of the committee are also often tasked with helping workers with financial problems.

But critics of China’s one-party system argue that they allow the state to exert control on corporate China. And they say the level of this control has increased in recent years.

“[President] Xi Jinping is exerting greater control over the business community in China,” says Elliott Zaagman, who regularly advises Chinese companies on their PR strategy. “As these companies gain power and influence overseas, the party doesn’t want to lose control over them.”

Ren, however, argues that the role of Huawei’s Communist Party committee is far less important than many in the West believe.

“[It] serves only to educate its employees,” he says. “It is not involved in any business decisions.”

In China, most chief executives are Communist Party members.

Every year, they dutifully turn up to the National People’s Congress along with local and national party chiefs, officials and chief executives.

It’s where the big economic decisions are voted on – although no proposal is put forward which hasn’t already been agreed upon.

Still, big CEOs come to show their commitment to the party, and to contribute to working papers that are meant to help the government understand the concerns of the business community.

Being a member of the party is very much a networking opportunity – in the way one would join a business association.

Elliott Zaagman argues that this is a system that demands loyalty.

“There is no separation from the party and the state,” he says.

“The system in China encourages the lack of transparency in companies like Huawei.”

The worry is that these close links mean that if the Communist Party asked a company to do something, they would have no choice but to comply.

And if that company is one that is involved in sensitive global telecoms infrastructure projects, it’s easy to see why Western observers would be worried.

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei is in any way under the orders of the Chinese government, or that Beijing has any plans to dictate business plans and strategy at Huawei – particularly when it comes to spying.

But the way in which the Chinese Communist Party has robustly defended Huawei has raised questions about how independent the company is of its influence.

For example, Beijing stated that Ms Meng’s detention was a rights abuse .

And while her extradition case to the US was moving forward, China detained two Canadian citizens and accused them of stealing state secrets. Critics say the detentions are linked to Ms Meng’s arrest.

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada's embassy in Beijing

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada’s embassy in Beijing

While not commenting on the arrest of the Canadians, Ren says China’s defence of Huawei is understandable.

“It is the Chinese government’s duty to protect its people,” he says. “If the US attempts to gain competitive edge by undermining China’s most outstanding hi-tech talent, then it is understandable if the Chinese government, in turn, protects its hi-tech companies.”

Over the past few years, there have been signs of a bigger push by the government to get private companies, and in particular tech firms, to cooperate with party rules – even when they are firmly resistant.

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing’s troubles are an example of the struggles Chinese firms face when they try to uphold their independence in the face of government pressure.

Chinese attitudes to data collection and data privacy are different to those in the West – many people don’t care if businesses have access to their data, arguing that it adds to the convenience of life and work.

Government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside of China assume it to be

Samm Sacks, CSIS

So it wasn’t unusual when, after the murders of two of its passengers by Didi drivers, regulators used the scandal to force Didi to share more corporate data with the government. But Didi resisted – citing customer privacy. Under Chinese law, it had no choice but to comply.

When it did, it handed over “three boxes of data printed on paper, including 95 hard copies for authorities to review”.

According to Samm Sacks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the case demonstrates that “government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside China assume it to be”.

She says this indicates that there appears to be “a kind of tug of war between the government and companies over data”.

How this plays out will determine how Chinese companies are viewed by foreign governments when they do business overseas.

Companies like Huawei have grown up in a system where to survive and thrive they needed strong links to the Chinese government – there was and is no other choice. But these links could harm their reputation abroad.

“It’s two different systems,” says Zaagman. “Think of it like an electrical outlet. China’s plug doesn’t fit in to the outlets we have in the West.”

What’s at stake

“Basically you want to connect to everything that can be connected.”

Zhu Peiying, head of Huawei’s 5G wireless labs, is showing off devices that can connect to the new technology. From a smart toothbrush that collects data about how well you brush your teeth, to a smart cup that reminds you when you should drink some water, this is a world where everything you can think of is being measured and analysed.

At its most sophisticated, everything in entire cities would be connected – driverless cars, the temperature of buildings, the speed of public transport – the list is endless.

Huawei is thought to be a year ahead of its competitors in terms of its technological expertise and what it can offer customers, according to industry sources.

It’s also thought that the company can offer prices that are about 10% cheaper than its competitors, although critics claim this is because of state support.

Ren dismisses this, saying that Huawei doesn’t receive government subsidies.

He says the real reason behind the US resistance to Huawei is its superior technology.

“There’s no way the US can crush us,” he says. “The world needs Huawei because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily we could just scale things down a bit.”

Many analysts say that Huawei’s exclusion from US networks could actually cause the US to fall behind in its 5G capabilities.

“It would mean we wouldn’t be able to participate in any blended network [using Huawei] in Europe or Asia,” says Samm Sacks of CSIS. “That would put us at a significant disadvantage.”

What this would mean in reality is a world of two internets – or what analysts are calling a “digital iron curtain” – dividing the world into parts that do business with Chinese companies like Huawei, and those that don’t.

Because of US pressure on its allies, Huawei has been on an aggressive public relations campaign to win over customers and government stakeholders.

In recent days, Vodafone’s boss Nick Read called on the US to share any evidence it has about Huawei, while Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, said in a tweet that he had met with Huawei’s rotating CEO to discuss the importance of being open and transparent, as they explored ways of working together.

But suspicions about Huawei remain.

One security firm reports a sharp rise in inquiries by Asian government clients about Huawei.

“Some have asked us how much they should worry about whether Huawei is really a liability,” says an analyst who consults to Asian governments, on condition of anonymity.

Ren is sanguine about such concerns.

“For countries who believe in them [suspicions about Huawei] we will hold off,” he says. “For countries who feel Huawei is trustworthy, we may move a little faster. The world is so big. We can’t walk across every corner of it.”

But this is about more than just one company or one CEO and his family.

Increasingly, this is perceived as a battle between two world orders, and which one is the future.

In the early days of China opening up, US presidents like George HW Bush espoused the merits of engagement.

“No nation on Earth has discovered a way to import the world’s goods and services while stopping foreign ideas at the border,” he said in a 1991 speech. “Just as the democratic idea has transformed nations on every continent, so, too, change will inevitably come to China.”

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing - he encouraged economic engagement with China

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing – he encouraged economic engagement with China

Previous US administrations believed that economic engagement in China would lead to China following a freer, more “liberal” path.

There’s no denying China has made remarkable strides in the past 40 years. The economy grew by an annual average of 10% for three decades, helping to lift 800 million people out of poverty. It is now the second-largest economy in the world, only surpassed by the US.

Some estimates put China’s economy ahead of America’s by 2030.

It achieved this while maintaining one-party rule and the supremacy of the Communist Party.

But its success has raised concerns that it is only possible with a huge amount of government control over the country’s companies. The fear is that control could be used to achieve the Communist Party’s goals – which are at this point unclear.

“It’s a double-edged sword for China,” says Danielle Cave. “[Because of its laws] the Chinese Communist Party has made it virtually impossible for Chinese companies to expand without attracting understandable and legitimate suspicion.”

Added to this, China has become more authoritarian under Xi Jinping’s rule.

President Xi Jinping 

President Xi Jinping 

“Xi is systematically undermining virtually every feature that made China so distinct and helped it work so well in the past,” writes Jonathan Tepperman, editor in chief of Foreign Policy.

“His efforts may boost his own power and prestige in the short term and reduce some forms of corruption. On balance, however, Xi’s campaign will have disastrous long-term consequences for his country and the world.”

But Ren dismisses this, insisting that China is more open than ever before.

“If this meeting took place 30 years ago,” he says of our interview, “it would have been very dangerous for me. Today, I can be straightforward when answering difficult questions. This shows that China has a more open political environment.”

Still, Ren is hopeful of the direction China will take in the future.

“China has more or less tried to close itself off from the outside world for 5,000 years,” he says. “Yet we had found ourselves poor, lagging behind other nations. It was only in the past 30 years since Deng Xiaoping opened China’s doors to the world that China has become more prosperous. Therefore, China must continue to move forward on the path of reform and opening-up.”

In one of Huawei’s vast campus sites across Shenzen, lies a man-made lake. Swimming in these serene waters are two black swans.

There is a story that Ren put the birds here to remind employees of “black swan” events – unpredictable and catastrophic financial eventualities that are impossible to prepare for. He dismisses this as an urban myth, but it’s hard not to read something into it.

For Huawei, and Ren, these are highly uncertain times with no way of telling what lies ahead.

Source: The BBC

03/03/2019

Across China: From imitation to creation, Chinese village paints new life

SHENZHEN, March 2 (Xinhua) — Zhao Xiaoyong was once called “China’s Van Gogh,” as the farmer turned oil painter made over 100,000 replicas of Van Gogh’s work over the past 20 years.

However, he never saw a single authentic piece of the Dutch post-impressionist painter until 2014 when he finally saved enough for a trip to the Netherlands.

The trip inspired him to think over his business and create his own works. “The masterpieces that I saw at the European museums made me realize that I have to develop my own style.”

Zhao is from Dafen, a village known for oil paintings in southern China’s Shenzhen City. Home to 1,200 studios and 8,000 painters, the village produces millions of replicas of Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso that are sold at home and abroad. According to statistics, 80 percent of oil paintings exported from China come from Dafen.

While the market demand for replicas is shrinking, Zhao and other painters in the village are creating their own art styles and attracting tourists.

Neighboring Hong Kong, Shenzhen is one of China’s first special economic zones for the country’s reform and opening drive. The painting industry started in Dafen Village in 1989 when Hong Kong purchasers sought to establish an oil painting base nearby.

Zhao, who quit his job at a craft factory, started learning how to paint from scratch in 1996. He imitated Van Gogh’s works via a painting album, including “sunflowers” and “almond blossoms.”

He sold his first works in 1999 when an American buyer ordered 20 paintings. More orders later came from abroad, prompting Zhao to recruit apprentices.

“My wife and my younger brothers are all my students,” he said with a smile. “I was even called ‘China’s Van Gogh’ in a documentary.”

Zhao and his team worked from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. painting eight pieces per person every day at most. Prices for the replicas ranged from 200 yuan (30 U.S. dollars) to 3,000 yuan per piece, depending on the size.

In 2008, when the economic recession hit most parts of the world, a drastic reduction of foreign orders forced Zhao to explore the domestic market. Profits kept shrinking after 2012 due to consumers’ diversifying tastes and rising costs.

Since then, many painters in the village have given up making replicas and turned to innovation and creation.

Chen Qiuzhi, who used to paint copies of masterpieces like Zhao, has worked hard to develop his own style, combining Chinese calligraphy with painting. To support him, his wife sold two apartments and had an art center built.

The center, located at the far end of Dafen village, covers an exhibition area of over 3,000 square meters and has become a landmark of Dafen. Some 100 calligraphy works are exhibited at the center with other craftwork.

Ten years of hard work has won him fame, with his works popular in the auction market. Now, one piece of his calligraphy is worth tens of thousands of yuan, almost 100 times the value of replicas he painted in the past. The art center also draws visitors.

“Only by creation can one’s works be remembered,” said Chen.

Today, Dafen has gathered nearly 300 art creators. In 2017, the annual output value of Dafen reached 4.15 billion yuan, among which the original works have accounted for 20 to 30 percent.

From imitation to creation, Dafen Village has been making the transition from a low-end oil painting workshop cluster to an art center, said Liu Yajing, director of the village’s oil painting office.

She said an oil painting museum, a performance theater, a training center and a hotel are being built to develop the village into a tourist resort featuring oil painting production, trade, training and exhibition.

Compared with his Van Gogh replicas, painter Zhao finds his own works hard to sell. But he believes that he will finally be recognized someday in the future.

“Imitation leads me nowhere. I will continue to concentrate on creation for the market and also for my dream as a real artist,” Zhao said.

Source: Xinhua

22/02/2019

China’s social credit system report shows that richest provinces are home to the most dodgy firms

  • Firms in Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces top the list of new additions to blacklist in 2018
  • Bogus advertising, illegal activities in property industry, substandard health care products and P2P lending fraud are typical cases

Social credit system: China’s richest regions are also home to the most blacklisted firms

22 Feb 2019

A real property agent checks a property advertising board in Beijing. According to a report by the Chinese government, property brokerages are among the country’s least scrupulous group of firms. Photo: Agence France-Presse

A real property agent checks a property advertising board in Beijing. According to a report by the Chinese government, property brokerages are among the country’s least scrupulous group of firms. Photo: Agence France-Presse

China’s wealthiest regions also have the largest number of untrustworthy businesses, according to the government’s social credit system, which rates citizens and companies based on their behaviour.

Jiangsu, the country’s second largest provincial economy – 9.26 trillion yuan (US$1.37 trillion) – accounted for 16.7 per cent of the discredited businesses that were added to the national blacklist last year, more than any other region.

According to a report compiled by the National Public Credit Information Centre that is backed by China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, Guangdong is next in line.

Guangdong is China’s most prosperous province, Guangdong, but is also home to 12.77 per cent of the total 3.59 million blacklisted firms. The southern province had a gross domestic product of 9.73 trillion yuan last year.

In third spot was Zhejiang, the prosperous province just south of Shanghai, while the capital city of Beijing was ranked fifth. These places together contributed slightly more than 30 per cent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

By naming and shaming the millions of Chinese businesses and individuals on the annual blacklist, Beijing hopes to boost “trustworthiness” in Chinese society. Under the system, each of its 1.4 billion citizens is expected to receive a personal trustworthiness score.

“In more developed coastal provinces, businesses have long operated in the grey area between emerging China and established Hong Kong,” said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai-based financial advisory firm.

Silvers said the situation evoked the Chinese saying: “Heaven is high and the Emperor is far away”, which alludes to local officials’ tendency to disregard central government’s directives.

While it was previously not such a faux pas to engage in “untrustworthy” behaviour in attaining economic development, things are now different.

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“The ability to cut corners in search of profit isn’t as prized in China’s modern economy, and many of those old traits can now lead companies to be added to Beijing’s blacklist,” Silvers said.

Among the firms named in the hall of shame is Chuangyue Energy Group, from northwest Xinjiang, which topped the list of new cases involving at least 500 million yuan in fraudulent activity.

Chuangyue and its legal representative Qin Yong were reprimanded by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2016 for failing to disclose transactions on time. The transaction involved changes to the shareholding structure of a listed firm in which Chuangyue held interest in, state media reported.

Also on the list was property developer Zhonghong Holding, which was delisted from the Shenzhen exchange late-last year after its shares fell below the par value of 1 yuan for 20 consecutive days.

Zhonghong had posted massive losses, failed to repay loans and halted development projects during 2018.

A typical area of fraud cited in the report was bogus advertising, with the biggest number of discredited companies located Shanghai, China’s most commercial city.

Property brokerage was a hotbed industry for fraudsters. The report named and shamed two agents in Wuhan, An Yi Real Estate Brokerage and Hong Run De Real Estate Brokerage, which Chinese netizens described as “black brokers”.

In one case, Hong Run De subdivided one flat to lease without the owner’s knowledge and consent. To terminate the contract, the owner had to pay “compensation” of 30,000 yuan before they could reclaim the flat.

Other dodgy sectors were health care product makers and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms.

Quanjian Group, a maker of herbal medicines, was accused of making false marketing claims about the benefits of a product that a four-year-old cancer patient drank.

Health care companies are among the worst performing in China, according to a report on the country’s social credit index. Photo: Agence France-Presse
Health care companies are among the worst performing in China, according to a report on the country’s social credit index. Photo: Agence France-Presse

Changsheng Bio-Technology, the major Chinese manufacturer of rabies vaccines, was fined US$1.3 billion in October after it was found to have fabricated records.

A total of 1,282 P2P operators, more than half located in Zhejiang, Guangdong and Shanghai, were placed on the blacklist because they could not repay investors, or were involved in illegal fundraising.

While more individuals and companies were added to the blacklist, others were also removed – 2.17 million. Those removed had paid taxes owed or fines imposed.

Source: SCMP

20/02/2019

China to deepen reforms of agriculture sector to boost rural areas

  • Policy statement outlines broad goals including plan to revive domestic soybean production
A farmer picks tea leaves in Mianxian county, Shaanxi province. Beijing’s policy document reiterated a strategy to improve income levels and living standards in China’s countryside. Photo: Xinhua
A farmer picks tea leaves in Mianxian county, Shaanxi province. Beijing’s policy document reiterated a strategy to improve income levels and living standards in China’s countryside. Photo: Xinhua
China will deepen reforms of its agriculture sector to promote its rural economy, the government said in its first policy statement of 2019, as it seeks to bolster growth and offset trade challenges.

Beijing’s statement, released late on Tuesday, comes after the world’s second-largest economy saw its weakest growth in 28 years in 2018 and remains entangled in a trade war with Washington.

“Under the complicated situation of increasing downward pressure on the economy and profound changes in the external environment, it is of special importance to do a good job in agriculture and rural areas,” the government said in the document issued by the State Council and published by official news agency Xinhua.

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Known as the “No 1 document”, this year’s policy reiterated a rural rejuvenation strategy first laid out in 2017 to improve income levels and living standards in China’s countryside.

It also highlighted a plan to boost domestic soybean production but did not offer further details.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits a farm in northeastern Heilongjiang province during an inspection tour in September. Photo: Xinhua via AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits a farm in northeastern Heilongjiang province during an inspection tour in September. Photo: Xinhua via AP

Industry analysts said on Wednesday they were eagerly awaiting further details to assess the impact of the plan, which had already been flagged by Agriculture Minister Han Changfu earlier this month.

China has been overhauling its crop structure in recent years, reducing support for corn after stocks ballooned, and seeking to promote more planting of oilseeds that it mostly imports.

That goal has become increasingly important since a trade war with the United States, which led China to slap tariffs on soybean imports, tightening domestic supplies.

Han has previously urged authorities in China’s northeast to support soybean production through subsidies and called for rotating of soybeans with other crops including corn and wheat.

Beijing also aims to support the production of rapeseed in the Yangtze River Basin, according to the document.

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As in previous years, it also called for stable grain production, but also an increase in imports of agriculture products where there are shortages in the domestic market.

“The focus now is on retaining production capacity, in the form of high quality farmland, and using the international market to make up production shortfalls,” said Even Rogers Pay, an agriculture analyst at China Policy, a Beijing-based consultancy.

The reference to imports is positive for trade partners like the United States, said Cherry Zhang, analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence, who said it raised the likelihood that China will buy more US agriculture products.

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Shares of Chinese livestock companies, along with pig and poultry breeders, rose on Wednesday following the release of the policy paper.

The document also outlines plans to accelerate development of a new farm subsidy policy system and further crack down on the smuggling of agriculture products.

Additionally, the government said it plans to strengthen the monitoring and control of African swine fever outbreaks, after more than 100 cases were reported in China since August.

Other plans include continuing to tackle rural pollution and promoting recycling of agricultural waste such as manure and agricultural film.

Source: SCMP

12/02/2019

Chinese shares jump on 1st trading day of Year of Pig

#CHINA-STOCKS (CN)

Investors are seen at a stock exchange in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Feb. 11, 2019, the first trading day of the Year of the Pig. China’s major stock indices ended notably higher Monday as investors greeted the Year of the Pig in China’s lunar calendar with bullish sentiment. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.36 percent higher at 2,653.9 points while the Shenzhen Component Index surged by 3.06 percent to close at 7,919.05 points. (Xinhua/Long Wei)

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China’s major stock indices ended notably higher Monday as investors greeted the Year of the Pig in China’s lunar calendar with bullish sentiment.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.36 percent higher at 2,653.9 points while the Shenzhen Component Index surged by 3.06 percent to close at 7,919.05 points.

Companies in the agricultural sector were among the biggest winners, with Jiangxi Zhengbang Technology, a Shenzhen-listed agro-processing firm, jumping by the daily limit of 10 percent.

Liquor makers saw a strong performance, with the share price of top liquor brand Kweichow Moutai jumping 4.71 percent, bringing the company’s market capitalization to over 911 billion yuan (135 billion U.S. dollars).

Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism Co., Ltd, an investor of Chinese sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth”, surged by the daily limit after the film claimed the winner of the Chinese box office during the week-long Spring Festival holiday.

The film had earned over 1.94 billion yuan (about 288 million U.S. dollars) since its release on Tuesday as of 7:00 p.m. Sunday, according to Maoyan, a professional box office tracker.

The ChiNext Index, China’s NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, gained 3.53 percent to close at 1,316.1 points.

Source: Xinhua

20/01/2019

China’s tech hub Shenzhen misses growth target but leapfrogs Hong Kong into Asia’s top 5, mayor says

  • Gross domestic product up 7.5 per cent in 2018 to US$350 billion, mayor Chen Rugui says
  • But claim city’s economy now among Asia’s biggest may be premature as Hong Kong has yet to show its hand
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2019, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2019, 6:04pm

Shenzhen failed to meet its economic growth target last year due to worse than expected results in key technology sectors but its mayor remains confident it did enough to overtake Hong Kong and join the ranks of the five biggest city economies in Asia for the first time in its history.

The south China boom town has been steadily making ground on Hong Kong in recent years, but its nominal gross domestic product in 2017 fell about US$3.4 billion short of a place among the giants of Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

In 2018, Shenzhen’s GDP increased by 7.5 per cent to about 2.4 trillion yuan (US$352.71 billion), mayor Chen Rugui said at the opening of the annual municipal people’s congress on Friday. Its growth target was 8 per cent.

“The economic size [of Shenzhen] is among Asia’s top five cities,” he said.

Despite Chen’s confidence, Hong Kong’s 2018 figures, which will not be released until next month, are expected to show GDP growth of about 3.2 per cent to HK$2.86 trillion (US$364.6 billion), which would see it edging out its mainland neighbour once again.

The gap between the two cities’ economies is now so small that fluctuations in exchange rates and methods of calculation can sway the result, although both have sought to play down the rivalry.

Early last year, Shenzhen’s statistics agency even issued a clarification of the city’s nominal GDP figure for 2017, confirming it was still smaller than Hong Kong’s.

Shenzhen is known as China’s hi-tech hub and is home to many of the country’s biggest technology names, including Huawei and Tencent.

While its strategic emerging industries – which includes such fields as information technology, biotechnology and new materials – contributed 37 per cent of the 2018 GDP figure, the ratio was down from about 40 per cent in each of the previous two years. The result was also disappointing in terms of Shenzhen’s broader goals, having set itself a target to grow the sector to 42 per cent of GDP by the end of its current five-year plan period in 2020.

The combined GDP growth among strategic emerging industries slowed to 8.5 per cent in 2018, from 13.6 per cent the year before, although the city still managed to attract 3,000 new hi-tech firms, taking the total to about 14,000.

Shenzhen spent about 100 billion yuan, or 4.16 per cent of its GDP, on research and development last year – a slight increase from 4.13 per cent in 2017 – and this is targeted to rise to 4.25 per cent in 2020.

Its foreign trade in 2018 grew by 7 per cent year on year to about 3 trillion yuan – as output from firms with annual revenue of at least 20 million yuan gained 8.8 per cent – while retail sales increased by 2.5 per cent to 616.3 billion yuan.

As China continues to fight a trade war with the United States, Shenzhen, like most other cities and provinces in the world’s most populous nation, has cut its economic growth target for 2019, to 7 per cent. It has also lowered it new jobs target for the year to 80,000, from nearly 109,000 in 2018.

Chen said that the economic downturn had put a huge strain on the city’s growth prospects, while a lack of available talent in the field of research and development was stifling innovation and doing nothing to ease its over-reliance on imports for many core components and equipment.

He said the city remained committed to supporting the development of the Greater Bay Area by speeding up the Qianhai-Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation zone – part of the Guangdong free-trade zone – and the Lau Ma Chau Loop – a new innovation and technology park. It would also support the expansion of the Qianhai Cooperation Zone, he said, but did not elaborate.

Wang Hailong, a deputy to the Shenzhen People’s Congress and boss of a local telecommunication equipment company, said he was not surprised by the slower growth in emerging sectors.

“It’s essential to invest in innovation through research if Shenzhen wants to maintain its remarkable expansion,” he said. “But in the current climate, it’s not easy to attract top global talent.”

Guo Wanda, vice-president of the Shenzhen-based think tank China Development Institute, warned of a possible “hollowing out” of the local economy if the city government failed to support hi-tech companies during this difficult period as they may be lured away.

Source: SCMP

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