Posts tagged ‘Hong Kong’

06/10/2016

Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

At a time of Brexit and talk of a wall between the United States and Mexico, it seems the Chinese are embracing international engagement.

They think their country’s power is rising, that their living standards will keep improving, that corruption is being cleaned up and that air pollution should be fixed even if it means slowing down economic growth.

These are the views which have emerged from a broad survey from Washington-based the Pew Research Center.

Elsewhere there is fear and uncertainty. Here optimism trumps all.

When asked about economic globalisation, 60% of people said it is a good thing and only 23% think it is bad for China.

While some China watchers are warning that this country’s mounting local government debt could mean that a hard landing is on the way, Chinese people don’t appear to share this pessimism.

Nearly 90% of respondents amongst this group of 3,154, interviewed face-to-face in China earlier this year, think that the state of their country’s economy is either “very good” or “somewhat good”.

GETTY IMAGES – Chinese people seem to remain optimistic

Looking into the future things will apparently get even better: 76% of people think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 70% said their personal financial situation will improve and eight out of 10 people believe that their children will have a better standard of living than they do.

Bread and butter issues

It’s not that people are without concerns.

“Corrupt officials” is at the top of the table when it comes to people’s worries (83% said this was a “very big” or “moderately big” problem) and yet here too we see optimism.

Some 64% of them said that President Xi Jinping‘s massive anti-corruption drive would improve the situation over the next five years.

Running down the concern list, an alarmingly high number of people see income inequality and the safety of food and medicine as “very big” problems.

This should give the Chinese Communist Party pause for concern.

If you enjoy monopoly power on the basis that you are delivering “socialism with Chinese characteristics” then a small group of ultra-rich driving around in their sports cars and showing off their wealth while most struggle to pay the rent is surely at odds with your central message.

Then, if ordinary Chinese people can’t even trust the food and medicine they are giving their children, the possibility for social unrest over bread and butter issues is looming large.

The environment also emerges as a massive challenge with water and air pollution at the front of people’s minds.

Air pollution is so bad in China that half of those polled said their country should fight air pollution harder even if it means sacrificing economic growth.

GETTY IMAGES – Emissions from coal-powered industries, cars and heating systems generate the smog

Only 24% saw air deterioration as a necessary price to pay.

When it comes to the war of ideas in the top echelons of power here, those ministers in favour of tougher environmental protection measures could do worse than table this research.

A “major threat” to China?

The South China Sea and other geo-strategic tensions offer some of the most bleak opinions.

Nearly six out of 10 people think that territorial pressures with neighbours could lead to military conflict; 77% say their way of life needs to be protected from “foreign influence” (up by 13 percentage points since 2002) and only 22% say China should help other nations.

Regarding relations with rival superpower the United States people views are complex and, at times, seemingly contradictory.

Around half of Chinese respondents rated the US favourably but more than half think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power.

About 45% said that US power and influence poses a “major threat” to China. In fact the US came in at number one as the top international threat to the country.

GETTY IMAGES – More than half of Chinese people think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power

It’s interesting that some would see the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” as a greater threat than say jihadist extremist groups just across the western border promoting bloody conflict in China’s vast Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Either way, whatever the perceived threat, China is seen as becoming ever more important and with ever more power at its disposal.Information is being controlled here ever more tightly – whether it is coming from the traditional media or sources online – so some analysts will see these views as the inevitable result of messages being delivered to the Chinese people by their government.

This may the be case but, in a world where politicians in various countries are accused of exploiting people’s fear and insecurity, could it be that a quarter of the globe’s population are going around with a smile on their dial because every day they look out the window and to them it just gets better and better?

Source: Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

25/08/2016

Iran keen to join China in rival to Panama Canal | Business | The Times & The Sunday Times

Iran has expressed interest in joining forces with a Chinese company that plans to build a $50 billion canal across Nicaragua that links the Atlantic and Pacific and rivals the Panama Canal.Mohammed Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said that business leaders who went with him to the Central American state this week had discussed teaming up with HKND, a private Hong Kong company that has broken ground on the project but made little progress in the past two years.

Iranian involvement in a Chinese-run strategic waterway may raise concerns in the United States, which was instrumental in building the Panama Canal a century ago.

Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s left-wing president, shares Iran’s antipathy towards the US and is favoured for re-election in polls this November.

The project to build the 172-mile waterway has caused controversy at home, where environmentalists say that the route would take supertankers across Lake Nicaragua, bulldoze fragile ecosystems and involve the biggest earth-moving operation in history.

With an estimated 30,000 people likely to be displaced by construction, there have been protests against the canal, although the government insists that more than 80 per cent of the population of the country backs it. Amnesty International has denounced what it called Nicaragua’s “reckless handling” of the project.

There have been doubts about the financial health of Wang Jing, the Hong Kong tycoon behind the canal, and whether he might be backed by the Chinese government, which has massively invested across Latin America and Africa in the past decade.

Mr Wang is understood to have lost more than 80 per cent of his $10 billion fortune as a result of the volatility in the Chinese stock market. The project managers say that it is an international initiative not dependent on the vagaries of the Chinese share prices. After the groundbreaking ceremony in December 2014, the project appeared to have been put on hold, prompting speculation that it had run out of steam.

However, Mr Wang’s HKND group said this year that work on the Pacific terminal and wharf would begin this month, with work on the canal scheduled to start at the end of the year.

Mr Zarif, whose country recently had years of crippling US sanctions lifted, is on a tour of Latin America that began on Monday in Cuba, which has renewed diplomatic ties with the US but has yet to have its own half-century of sanctions lifted.Nicaragua was Mr Zarif’s second stop with an entourage of 120 Iranian business leaders and state economists, and he was scheduled to head on to Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.

Source: Iran keen to join China in rival to Panama Canal | Business | The Times & The Sunday Times

24/08/2016

The perils of peace in China’s commodity industries | The Economist

WHEN the number of strikes plummets, something significant is usually going on. Strikes in China’s mining, iron and steel industries have fallen from more than 40 in January to four a month or fewer between May and August, according to China Labour Bulletin, an NGO based in Hong Kong. The explanation seems to be that China is backtracking on plans for the restructuring of state-owned firms in these sectors.

In February the government announced that it would redeploy 1.8m people, or 15% of the workforce, in the bloated and debt-laden coal, iron and steel industries. Just after that, a huge strike over unpaid wages by coal miners in the north-east dramatised the risks of trying to force through massive lay-offs and plant closures. So local officials have dragged their feet. According to the national planning authority, in the first seven months of the year provincial governments achieved only 38% of their full year’s targets for coal production cuts.

Fear of unrest is not the only explanation. Commodity prices have rebounded slightly this year, so local authorities are playing a game of chicken, keeping mines and factories open and hoping the neighbours will close theirs, so they themselves will be the ones to gain from higher prices. China itself is not benefiting.

Source: The perils of peace in China’s commodity industries | The Economist

01/08/2016

Didi, Uber said to merge in China in $35 billion deal | Reuters

Ride-hailing firm Uber is to merge its China operations with bigger rival Didi Chuxing, and hold a one-fifth stake in the new business, in a $35 billion deal to end bruising competition between the two, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A deal between the two – which have been spending heavily to gain market share and battling fiercely for passengers – could be announced as early as Monday, said the source, who declined to be identified because the deal is not yet public.

The new entity combines Didi’s most recent valuation of $28 billion and Uber China’s $7 billion valuation for the $35 billion market capitalization. Uber China investors will have a 20 percent stake in the new company, the source said.Uber did not offer any immediate comment. Didi could not be reached for comment.

“It makes huge sense, Uber faces an uphill task in China especially since Didi is multiple times larger by transaction value and city coverage,” said Hong Kong-based Richard Ji, co-founder of All-Stars Investment Ltd, which manages about $900 million and owns Didi stock.

“This will lead to favorable outcomes for both companies. The biggest benefit is cost savings, they no longer have to give out subsidies to drivers and passengers. It will give pricing power as the new entity will become the dominant player. That means profitability will come sooner than later,” he added.

Source: Didi, Uber said to merge in China in $35 billion deal | Reuters

25/07/2016

China Unveils ‘World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese media said the AG600 giant aircraft, which rolled off a production line in Zhuhai in southern China on Saturday, will be used for marine rescue missions and forest fire fighting.

Source: Video: China Unveils ‘World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

24/06/2016

Unwanted model | The Economist

MARCHING by the thousands this week in stifling heat through their small coastal village, residents of Wukan carried Chinese flags and shouted out slogans in support of the Communist Party. That was just to protect themselves from retribution by the riot police, who watched them closely but did not intervene. Their real message was in other chants: “Give us back our land!” and “Free Secretary Lin!”

The secretary in question was their village chief, Lin Zulian, whom they elected in 2012 in what was widely hailed at the time as a breakthrough for grassroots democracy. Mr Lin had led Wukan in a months-long rebellion against local authorities. Villagers kicked out party officials and police from their offices in protest against the alleged seizure of some of Wukan’s land by corrupt officials who had lined their pockets with the proceeds of selling it. Police responded by blockading the village, turning it into a cause célèbre—including in some of the feistier of China’s heavily censored media. In the end the government backed down: it allowed Wukan to hold unusually free elections and it promised to sort out the land dispute. The “Wukan model” became Chinese reformists’ shorthand for what they hoped would be a new way of defusing unrest.

They have been disappointed. Villagers did not get their land back, or the money some wanted in lieu of it. Mr Lin, who won another landslide victory in elections two years ago, announced plans on June 18th to launch a new campaign for the return of the land. That was clearly too much for the local government: Mr Lin was promptly arrested on charges of corruption. Angry residents took to the streets again.

Villagers in China often stage protests over land rights; local authorities usually deal with them either with force, or by promising concessions and then rounding up the ringleaders. Restoring calm to Wukan will be tougher. Because of its fame, journalists have poured in, especially from nearby Hong Kong. Local officials may be reluctant to resort to the usual thuggish tactics in front of such an audience.

In an effort to undermine support for Mr Lin, the government has tried blackening his name. On June 21st officials released a video showing him confessing to bribe-taking. But that merely stoked the villagers’ anger. His wife, Yang Zhen, says she is certain the confession was coerced. His halting delivery in substandard Mandarin, she believes, was his way of letting villagers know this. “They are trying to deceive everyone, but no one believes it,” she says. Dozens of furious villagers went to a local school where nervous officials had barricaded themselves behind metal doors and barred windows; they kicked the doors and shouted abuse. As The Economist went to press, Wukan was preparing to embark on its sixth consecutive day of protest.

Many residents say they have lost all faith in the local government, and that only the central authorities in Beijing will be able to find a fair solution. “They took our land. My father and grandfather farmed it, and now I have nothing. No work and no other path forward,” says a 39-year-old villager. “We have a black government, all corrupt. They cannot trick us again with more talk of the ‘Wukan model’. We need our land back,” he fumes.

But the central government will be reluctant to cave in to the protesters’ demands. “Handling the Wukan problem well means much to the rest of China,” said Global Times, a pro-party paper in Beijing. But it warned that if the “drastic actions” of Wukan’s villagers were copied by others, China would “see mess and disturbance” at the grassroots. In a country where many seethe with grievances similar to Wukan’s, officials do not want the village to become a model for revolt.

Source: Unwanted model | The Economist

09/06/2016

India plans expanded missile export drive, with China on its mind | Reuters

India has stepped up efforts to sell an advanced cruise missile system to Vietnam and has at least 15 more markets in its sights, a push experts say reflects concerns in New Delhi about China’s growing military assertiveness.

Selling the supersonic BrahMos missile, made by an Indo-Russian joint venture, would mark a shift for the world’s biggest arms importer, as India seeks to send weapons the other way in order to shore up partners’ defenses and boost revenues.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered BrahMos Aerospace, which produces the missiles, to accelerate sales to a list of five countries topped by Vietnam, according to a government note viewed by Reuters and previously unreported.

The others are Indonesia, South Africa, Chile and Brazil.The Philippines is at the top of a second list of 11 nations including Malaysia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates, countries which had “expressed interest but need further discussions and analysis”, the undated note added.

A source familiar with the matter would only say the note was issued earlier this year.New Delhi had been sitting on a 2011 request from Hanoi for the BrahMos for fear of angering China, which sees the weapon, reputed to be the world’s fastest cruise missile with a top speed of up to three times the speed of sound, as destabilizing.

Indonesia and the Philippines had also asked for the BrahMos, which has a range of 290 km and can be fired from land, sea and submarine. An air-launched version is under testing.

Source: India plans expanded missile export drive, with China on its mind | Reuters

26/04/2016

As China’s Economy Slows, Unrest Among Veterans Rises – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Over lunch in a Beijing backstreet, four Chinese veterans raised glasses to toast their reunion with fiery “baijiu” liquor.

PLA veterans stage a sit-down protest outside government offices in Hubei province on May 4, 2015.

They’d not drunk together since they were in the same army unit, fighting skirmishes with Vietnamese forces in the aftermath of a 1979 border war.

Now in their 50s, they’d come here shortly before an annual parliament meeting in March to fight a different kind of battle – to demand the welfare support that they say was promised to them, and millions of other veterans, on leaving the armed forces years ago.

The four veterans, all from the southern province of Hunan, are an example of the problem facing President Xi Jinping as he prepares to lay off 300,000 out of 2.3 million troops in the biggest restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, since the 1950s.

China already has at least six million PLA veterans on state welfare, thousands of whom have staged well-organized protests in recent years over what they see as insufficient government support. Traditionally the government has offered subsidies to former soldiers and reserved slots for them at state-run companies, though many veterans say officials don’t follow through or that the perks aren’t enough to make ends meet.

Now, with an economic slowdown threatening to cause millions of state sector layoffs, prominent military figures have warned that veterans’ protests could escalate if the government can’t provide jobs or sufficient welfare support for the 300,000 being laid off.

One of the largest veterans’ protests was in June last year when several thousand, mostly veterans of China’s war with Vietnam, wearing uniforms and medals, protested outside offices of the Central Military Commission, which commands the armed forces and is headed by Mr. Xi.

A month earlier, there was another big veterans’ protest outside a Beijing courthouse. Smaller demonstrations occur frequently in other cities, according to experts who monitor them.

Many other veterans have tried to sue the government or lodge formal petitions, as the four in the restaurant did. Before lunch, they said, they’d submitted one at a nearby building that houses the petitions office of the Central Military Commission.

Officials there took the petition and scanned their identity cards, but gave them neither a receipt nor a reply, they said. “They just told us to go back where we came from,” said one of the four, a 54-year-old former worker in a coal-washing plant. “We got the feeling it was useless to go there.”

Source: As China’s Economy Slows, Unrest Among Veterans Rises – China Real Time Report – WSJ

15/02/2016

Home on the Range, Chinese Style – China Real Time Report – WSJ

It’s a small step in the right direction, driven more by necessity than enlightened policy.

That’s the view from economists on China’s move this year to put forward a range for its economic growth target rather than a single number. The head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, said early this month that the 2016 target is likely to be “6.5% to 7%,” the first time in recent memory that China has used such a band. The target is set to be officially released early next month when China’s parliament convenes.

For decades, Beijing beat its annual growth targets without breaking a sweat. More recently, as growth decelerated faster than expected, it has faced growing difficulty hitting its number, so a range provides more wiggle room.

This follows Beijing’s decision to add an “about” to both its 7.5% target in 2014 and its 7% target last year. The adjective proved handy when the actual growth figures wound up falling short both times.

The risk this year, economists say, is that even a 6.5% to 7% target may be too high, heaping pressure on local officials to artificially stimulate growth in ways that increase debt and blunt reform initiatives.

This is also the year that China sets a growth target for the coming five years that’s expected to be 6.5%, in line with a Communist Party goal of doubling per capita income by 2020 over 2010 levels. This benchmark also may be high, analysts said, given China’s many structural problems and so-far limited appetite for reform.

“If they really stick to the 6.5% target by adopting unsustainable policies, throwing up more credit, they face a bigger problem with debt down the road,” said Fitch Ratings Inc. analyst Andrew Colquhoun. “Many emerging market problems in the past have happened when countries veer off and start to believe their own hype on what growth is possible.”

Source: Home on the Range, Chinese Style – China Real Time Report – WSJ

21/12/2015

Successor to Saab announces $12 billion China electric car deal | Reuters

If this initiative gathers momentum, China will do more for electric cars (and for climate change) than the rest of the world put together!

“The China-focussed consortium that bought bankrupt Swedish automaker Saab – and bet on going all electric – unveiled its first major deal on Thursday, a mammoth $12 billion (8 billion pounds) order for electric cars for a Chinese leasing company.

NEVS electric car

The single order for 250,000 electric vehicles, including 150,000 cars based on the Saab 9-3 sedan, appeared to be all but unprecedented. There were just 665,000 electric cars in the world and 83,000 in China as of the end of 2014, according to the International Energy Agency.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs) said it would swiftly hire hundreds of workers in Sweden to start building cars for Panda New Energy, a Chinese firm it said leases zero-emission vehicles to chauffeur-driven fleets.

Those based on the Saab 9-3 compact sedan will have a new chassis for electric drive, with bodies built and painted in Sweden and sent to China for final assembly. No details were given about the other 100,000 but a company spokesman said they would primarily be built in China.

Nevs bought the assets of the bankrupt 70-year-old Swedish automaker in 2012 with the aim of transforming it into a leading global producer of electric cars. It exited corporate reorganisation procedures in April.

“This is a strategic collaboration for Nevs not only in terms of the numbers of vehicles, but it is also an important step to implement our vision and new business plan,” Nevs Vice Chairman Stefan Tilk said in a statement.

“Cooperating with many chauffeured car service platforms in China, Panda aims to become one of the biggest electric vehicle leasing companies in the world,” Nevs said of its customer.

Nevs, which was created in 2012, has so far sold only a limited number of gasoline-powered cars based on Saab’s latest model. The deal is the first it has signed in line with its plans to go electric.

“It will be a huge challenge to produce that many cars. Their around 800 suppliers will make up a substantial part of that challenge,” said Skovde University business administration professor Mikael Wickelgren.

Nevs is co-owned by a holding company called National Modern Energy Holdings, as well as the Beijing State Research Information Technology Co. (SRIT) and Chinese industrial park Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech industrial Development Area (THT).

Nevs said at the time of the purchase of Saab’s assets that it would convert the Saab 9-3 to electric power, while simultaneously developing an all-new model to produce in Sweden for the European market and in China for the Chinese market.

($1 = 6.4822 Chinese yuan renminbi)”

Source: Successor to Saab announces $12 billion China electric car deal | Reuters

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