Posts tagged ‘Investment’

20/08/2016

The Chinese admiral who spread Islam across Southeast Asia | South China Morning Post

Near my childhood home in Kunming (昆明), Yunnan (雲南) province, is a park dedicated to its most famous son: Admiral Zheng He.

Our teacher would take us to pay tribute to the great eunuch of the Ming dynasty, recounting his legendary seven expeditions that brought glory to the motherland.

The marble bust of Zheng He shows the face of a typical Chinese, with a square chin, brushy eyebrows and a flat nose. My father joked it more resembled comrade Lei Feng than the admiral. Not until years later did I realise how true this was.

A statue of Zheng He in Nanjing, where his armada was built. File photo

The statue was erected in 1979 – a year after Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) launched his open-door policy. Zheng, barely mentioned during the Cultural Revolution, was plucked from obscurity and hailed as a national hero who embodied China’s open spirit. A park near his ancestral home was dedicated to him. The same craftsmen who churned out revolutionary statues were employed to build his.

In real life, Zheng probably looked very different. My school textbook mentioned only that he was a Hui minority (Muslim Chinese). In fact, the admiral was a descendent of a powerful Persian family. Records discovered in 1913 trace his lineage to Sayyid Ajall, who was sent by Kublai Khan to conquer Yunnan and became its first governor. In 2014, Chinese scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai put the theory to test. They examined DNA samples collected from descendents of the admiral’s close kin and found they originated from Persia, modern-day Iran. In addition to Zheng He, most senior officers of the storied Ming armada were also Muslims.

Beijing follows the route well travelled by Admiral Zheng He in its belt and road initiative

Over the past decades, researchers have concluded Zhang and his armada were the key force behind Islam’s spread in Southeast Asia. The Arabs established settlements in Southeast Asia from the eighth century. But Islam did not become dominant there until the 15th century – around the time Admiral Zheng began to sail in the South China Sea. Historians found evidence of Zheng’s missionary work in documents discovered in Semarang, Indonesia, by Dutch officials in 1925. This prompted Indonesian religious leader Hamka to write in 1961: “The development of Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia is intimately related to a Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He.

”A crowning moment of Zheng’s expedition was converting the King of Malacca, Parameswara, to Islam shortly after he paid homage to the Yongle Emperor in Beijing in 1411. The conversion played a crucial role in the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia, according to Professor Xiao Xian of Yunnan University.

A replica of a ship used by Ming Dynasty eunuch explorer Zheng He, in Nanjing. Photo: Reuters

Xiao was one of the scholars who presented research work on Zheng He at an international symposium in 2005. They painted a vivid picture of the Ming armada, which had all the elements of a multinational enterprise.

The 300 ships – many twice as big as the largest European vessels of the time – were constructed in dry docks in Nanjing ( 南京 ), Jiangsu ( 江蘇 ) province. Building materials were sourced from across the Ming Empire. The 27,000-strong crew included Han Chinese, Muslim Hui, Arabs, Persians, and peoples from Central and East Asia. The lingua franca was Persian or Sogdian – a language used for centuries by merchants of the ancient Silk Road, according to Professor Liu Yingsheng of Nanjing University.

Size was not the only difference between Zheng’s fleet and that of Christopher Columbus 70 years later. The Europeans aboard the Santa Maria were exclusively Catholic – the Ming fleet was culturally and religiously diverse. Zheng was a Muslim but he was fluent in the teachings of Confucius, Buddhism and classic Chinese philosophy. The fleet included many Buddhist missionaries. Many regard his expeditions as the high-water mark of Chinese civilization. The Ming armada’s true greatness lay not in its size or sophistication but in its diversity and tolerance.

A statue of famed Chinese navigator Zheng He overlooks the city of Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Photo: AFP

After the Yongle Emperor’s death, the Ming court lost its global vision. Power was in the hands of the Confucius gentry-class, who jealously guarded against other schools of thoughts. China became increasingly introspective and insulated. The court stopped further expeditions and banned seafaring. The Chinese civilization gradually lost its vigour and started a long decline.

Today as the new “Silk Road” and “soft power” become China’s new catchphrases, it is important to remember what makes the Chinese civilization unique in the first place. Its greatest strength lies in its people’s amazing ability to absorb, adopt and assimilate different cultures.

Buddhism, which originated in India, flourished in China. The Zen school – a hybrid of Indian Buddhism and Chinese Taoism – spread to East Asia by monks in the Tang dynasty and became mainstream. Islam arrived from Central Asia and the Middle East during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. It took root in western China before spreading to Southeast Asia with Zhang’s fleet. We should remember that until 100 years ago, China was not a nation state in the Westphalian sense. Narrow-minded nationalism and xenophobia are the exception rather than the norm of the world’s oldest surviving civilization.

Source: The Chinese admiral who spread Islam across Southeast Asia | South China Morning Post

Advertisements
23/06/2016

Foreign Direct Investment Into India Jumps 26%, U.N. Says – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s fast-growing economy attracted $44 billion in foreign direct investment in 2015, making it the 10th largest destination globally for such investment last year, according to United Nations figures released this week.

That represents a 26% increase in foreign investment in India over the year before, according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, which published the data in its latest World Investment Report. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has touted the growing stream of overseas money entering India as a signal accomplishment of his two years in office.

The latest U.N. figures suggest in particular that the Modi government’s efforts to encourage more global companies to “Make in India” are reaping some success. Foreign investments worth $28.7 billion in so-called “greenfield” manufacturing projects, or those that start from scratch, were announced in India last year—more than double the $11 billion in investments that were announced in 2014. Electronics manufacturing saw an especially big boost, with $13.5 billion invested in such projects in 2015, compared with $1.1 billion the year before.

The Modi administration has made changes to keep the money coming. Last year it began allowing foreigners to own larger stakes in Indian companies in insurance, construction, mining, manufacturing and others. This week the government announced increases in foreign-investment limits in defense, retail, civil aviation, pharmaceuticals and grocery businesses. The changes, the official press release declared, make India “the most open economy in the world” for foreign direct investment.

Some experts doubt the latest rule changes will cause more money to flood in right away, though, given the degree to which Indian regulations remain vague and regulatory decision-making remains opaque.

India has risen steadily as a host of overseas investment since 2000, when the entirety of foreigners’ stakes in the economy was valued at $16 billion. The same figure last year was $282 billion.

In terms of yearly inflows, the country still ranks far behind mainland China, which lured $136 billion in foreign direct investment in 2015; Hong Kong, which attracted $175 billion; and Singapore, $65 billion. The U.S. was 2015’s top host of investment from abroad: $380 billion of it flowed into the world’s largest economy last year.

Among executives surveyed by the UNCTAD, 19% picked India as the most promising host country for investment over the next few years. Nearly half picked the U.S.; 21% chose China. But world-wide, the U.N. body expects foreign investment flows to dip by 10% to 15% this year. Its surveys indicate that multinational companies are skittish about volatile exchange rates, geopolitical uncertainty and mounting debt in developing countries.

Source: Foreign Direct Investment Into India Jumps 26%, U.N. Says – India Real Time – WSJ

24/08/2015

Are the Best Days Over for China Tech Startups? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Over the past year, China has seen a boom in its startup scene, thanks to plenty of capital flowing into the sector.

But some investors and entrepreneurs say that could be changing as Beijing struggles to restore confidence in its economy and faltering stock market.

In Shenzhen, hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors gathered on Sunday at an event called Big Salad, where local startups talked about their business ideas, including high-tech underwear and affordable smart glasses. Everyone was full of enthusiasm and the mood was upbeat throughout, but some of them were also bracing for tougher times.

“Raising new money is difficult now,” said Mosso Lau, vice president of Shenzhen-based Firebird Institution, which runs funds that invest in early-stage startups while also serving as an incubator that helps startups develop their business ideas.

Firebird set up its last investment fund two years ago by collecting 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) from local businesses and wealthy individuals. It invested that money in tech startups such as mobile apps for food delivery and massage services.

As Firebird is now preparing to set up a new fund for next year, Mr. Lau expects it will be a lot harder to collect money this time, because potential investors have been hit by the recent stock market turmoil. “From last year until this June, there was so much money in venture investment. It was unusual,” he said.

Last year, venture-capital investments in China’s tech sector more than doubled to $6 billion from $2.8 billion in 2013, according to Hong Kong-based AVCJ Research, with both foreign and domestic funds putting in more money than the prior year. Total early-stage funding for Chinese tech startups surged to nearly $2 billion last year from $313 million in 2012 as deals increased to 299 from 172, according to AVCJ.

In January, when Jerry Dai founded a startup in Shenzhen that operates a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter, there was nothing but optimism.

Entrepreneurs around him who had already raised capital told Mr. Dai that fundraising for his new venture wouldn’t be a problem because angel investors — individuals or funds that provide capital for early-stage startups before formal investment rounds — were financing just about any business idea.

But now, just as his startup is trying to find an angel investor, things are looking tougher.

“There are still many angel investors, but they are getting more selective,” he said. “Some investors think there is a bubble in China that may break in one or two years.”

Mr. Dai said he expects the process of securing funds to take longer than it would have several months ago.

“Last year was crazy. There was so much money in China,” said Heatherm Huang, a cofounder of MailTime, which makes emails easier to use on smartphones. Even though his startup is based in San Francisco, it raised much of its early funds from Chinese investors. “In some ways, things are going back to normal now.”

via Are the Best Days Over for China Tech Startups? – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

26/05/2015

The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage ofsocial media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching.

AFP/Getty

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage of social media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching. AFP/Getty

This Solo: Mr. Modi needed only a few minutes watching a Taiko drum performance during his visit to Japan before he grabbed the sticks and proved he could bash it out with the best of them.

via The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ.

07/05/2015

After Fresh Investment, Chinese Drone Maker DJI Valued at About $8 Billion – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co. secured a $75 million investment this week that values the company at roughly $8 billion, according to people familiar with the situation, propelling the firm into an exclusive club of startups and signaling Silicon Valley’s high hopes for the commercial promise of flying robots. As the WSJ’s Jack Nicas and Douglas Macmillan report:

Venture-capital firm Accel Partners said its $75 million investment in SZ DJI Technology is one of its largest ever.

“We think [the drone sector] is still an early market, but one that we think is a new global technology category,” said Sameer Gandhi, who led the investment for Accel, based in Palo Alto, Calif. “This is the company we believe is going to be the leader in that category.”

The Accel deal flows out of broader DJI fundraising talks reported last month by The Wall Street Journal that could ultimately value the drone maker at around $10 billion. Those talks continue with other potential investors, according to one of the people familiar with the situation.

DJI says venture firm Sequoia Capital already is an investor.

DJI, based in Shenzhen, China, has quickly become the world’s top consumer drone maker by revenue, expecting to exceed $1 billion in sales this year, compared with $130 million in 2013, according to people familiar with its finances.

via After Fresh Investment, Chinese Drone Maker DJI Valued at About $8 Billion – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

25/02/2015

India to embark on rail investment splurge thanks to cheap oil | Reuters

India’s decrepit state-run train services stand to receive at least a 25 percent boost in investment to over $9 billion, funded solely by falling fuel costs, according to officials familiar with a railway budget set to be unveiled on Thursday.

A worker cleans a railway track at a railway station in Kolkata October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

The world’s fourth largest rail network could get even more if Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes it a priority, as China did during its rapid economic growth over the past two decades.

There are high hopes that his nine-month-old government will plough money into investment in infrastructure needed to haul the economy out of a rut when it presents its first annual federal budget on Saturday.

The separate rail budget – a relic of the country’s British colonial past – could show how far Modi’s India is prepared to drive investment in a vital transport sector.

“The fall in diesel prices and a pick-up in freight earnings have given us a golden chance to raise investments,” said one government official.

Falling oil prices have saved billions of dollars in subsidy spending across the economy, but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is under pressure to prevent the fiscal deficit from busting a target of 3.6 percent of gross domestic product.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, according to the officials, has factored in savings from

via India to embark on rail investment splurge thanks to cheap oil | Reuters.

21/01/2015

China’s “new normal” of investment brings new opportunity for win-win – Xinhua | English.news.cn

For the first time in its history, China has become a net capital exporter with outbound direct investment outnumbering foreign direct investment in 2014, presenting new opportunities for win-win cooperation with the rest of the world.

China's "new normal" of investment brings new opportunity for win-win

At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) scheduled for Jan. 21-24 in Davos, Switzerland, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will expound on the Chinese economy‘s “new normal.”

Chinese investors channeled capital into 6,128 overseas firms in 156 countries and regions in 2014, with outbound investment reaching 102.89 billion U.S. dollars, up 14.1 percent from a year earlier, according to a press conference by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Wednesday.

Growth was much faster than the 1.7 percent gain recorded in foreign direct investment, which was 119.6 billion dollars. This is the first time the two-way nominal capital flows have been near a balance.

“If the Chinese firms’ investment through third parties were included, the total ODI volume would reach about 140 billion dollars, which means China is already a net outbound investor,” said Shen Danyang, spokesman with MOC.

Chinese investors are investing in real estate, businesses and other assets overseas while growth at home is slowing. The country registered the slowest expansion pace in 2014 in 24 years, according to the GDP data released Tuesday.

The slowdown comes at a vulnerable time for the world economy — the eurozone is still at risk of another recession, the Abenomics has failed to drag Japan out of the mire, and investors are pulling out of emerging market funds.

Policymakers and investors were not prepared for a reality that after more than three decades on steroids, the world’s second-largest economy has been transitioned to a “new normal” of slower growth.

The market, crazy about speed and figures, seems to have missed the reality that the Chinese economy is healthier under the “new normal” featuring positive trends of stable growth, an optimized structure, enhanced quality and improved social welfare.

China’s sound economic fundamentals have not changed and the government will maintain macro-policies appropriate, Premier Li said during a meeting with Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF on Tuesday.

The improvement of the quality and efficiency of the Chinese economy and its upgrading will make important contributions to maintaining the stability and healthy development of the world economy and finance, Li said.

The Chinese economy, shifting focus to consumption and investment from polluting heavy industry and manufacturing via complex reforms, will continue to function as a vital ballast for the world economy.

Besides, Beijing aims to create an open capital market by pushing ahead with a broad range of financial reforms to allow more foreign investment and encourage Chinese players to invest abroad. The more transparent and efficient allocation of the Chinese capital will have a positive effect on the global market.

In the process, China has proposed or promoted a host of initiatives and plans, such as the initiatives on the Silk Road Economic Zone, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the BRICS Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

It is fair to say that China’s capital export is creating life blood for the global economy to avoid the risk of declining.

In light of financial difficulty faced by Asia in realizing inter-connectivity and mutual access, China has pledged to contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to setting up a Silk Road Fund to provide financial support for infrastructure construction, resources exploration and industrial cooperation for countries along the “One Belt and One Road.”

It is estimated that in the next decade, China’s outbound investment will total 1,250 billion dollars, giving more impetus to the worlds’ economic growth.

via Spotlight: China’s “new normal” of investment brings new opportunity for win-win – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

25/11/2014

India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek

India plans to more than double the share of renewables in the mix of fuels it consumes, an effort to reduce the dominance of coal.

Renewables such as solar and wind may account for 15 percent of India’s energy supply in the next five years, up from 6 percent currently, said Piyush Goyal, a government minister in charge of power, said at a conference in New Delhi.

“While coal will continue to dominate our energy mix for sometime, we are taking steps to protect the environment,” Goyal said today. “Neither India nor the world has the luxury of time when it comes to protection of the environment.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to speed up clean energy deployment in India as it tries to attract more than $100 billion of investment for the industry in the next four years. At present, coal generates 60 percent electricity in a nation that suffers from chronic blackouts.

The minister reiterated his previously stated view that renewables can’t count on government subsidies for too long. He said the industry should focus on convincing banks to make funding for projects as easily available as loans for cars.

Modi’s administration reintroduced a tax break for the wind industry earlier this year. Goyal said he hopes those will help turbine installers add 8 gigawatts of capacity every year, a level that would make India one of the biggest wind markets in the world.

India plans to require power purchasers and generators to include renewable energy in their suppliers and will penalize those that don’t, he said.

India will host a renewables conference from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17 to encourage growth in the industry.

via India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek.

28/10/2014

Softbank invests $840M in India tech companies – Businessweek

Japanese telecommunications company Softbank Corp. is investing nearly $840 million in two technology companies in India, eyeing what it sees as a lucrative market for growth.

Softbank said Tuesday it is investing $627 million and becoming the biggest shareholder in Snapdeal, the largest digital marketplace in India with 25 million users and 50,000 businesses. It brings together products from thousands of big and small brands.

The Tokyo-based company, which recently acquired Sprint in the U.S., is also investing $210 million in Ola Cabs, which runs the technology to connect consumers with cab drivers in India.

Softbank executives said they were banking on India because it has a large number of Internet users, the online market is not yet saturated and connection speeds are likely to get faster.

via Softbank invests $840M in India tech companies – Businessweek.

26/10/2014

China GDP Growth of Just 4 percent is possible – Businessweek

China reported on Tuesday that its economic growth fell to a five-year low. But one forecaster says that’s just the beginning. This week the Conference Board issued a 75-page white paper predicting that China’s annual growth will dip below 4 percent in the next decade. Its title: The Long Soft Fall in Chinese Growth.

I met on Monday with the report’s authors, David Hoffman and Andrew Polk, and asked why they’re so pessimistic on China. They said it’s a straightforward projection of recent slowdowns in the growth of capital investment, labor productivity, and the quantity and quality of the labor force.

It’s the optimists who need to defend their case, according to Hoffman, because the only way to project continued 7 percent growth for China is to project major output-enhancing economic reforms. “We just don’t think that will happen,” says Hoffman, who manages the Conference Board China Center for Economics and Business in Beijing.

via China GDP Growth of Just 4 percent is possible – Businessweek.