Chinese resorts are quietly setting up baccarat tables in Hainan, and Macau may have reason to be nervous

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 1 hour 2 min ago
They’re not quite casinos, but they’re pretty close – and they could be coming to China sooner than some expected. On the tropical island of Hainan, at least five Chinese-owned resorts are laying the groundwork for so-called entertainment bars, where players put down real money on games but receive their winnings in the form of points that can be redeemed in local shops, restaurants and hotels, according to people with direct knowledge of the plans. The resorts’ owners...

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘planning a third meeting’ with Xi Jinping

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:30
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to visit China as early as Tuesday to brief President Xi Jinping on his Singapore summit with US President Donald Trump and discuss a future negotiating strategy, Japanese publication Nikkei reported. Citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter, the report said Kim is expected to fly into Beijing. Security preparations are already under way, it said. It would mark Kim’s third meeting with Xi after a secret first trip to Beijing in late...

At least one person dead after a ferry with 80 passengers sinks in Indonesia’s Lake Toba

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 20:47
At least one person died after a ferry containing around 80 passengers sank in Lake Toba in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Monday, a disaster agency official said. The Sinar Bangun ferry sank in rough weather at around 5.30pm about a mile from the port of Tigaras, while carrying passengers from the lake’s volcanic Samosir Island to the town of Parapat Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPT) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. A woman in Indonesia went to check her corn and was...

Huawei’s open letter slams Aussie flak

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
HUAWEI is fighting back in Australia following reports that authorities could ban it from any involvement in building 5G mobile networks in the country. Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications network equipment and the No. 3 smartphone supplier published an open letter to Australian lawmakers yesterday. “Recent public commentary around China has referenced Huawei and its role in Australia and prompted some observations around security concerns,” Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord and board directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge wrote in the unprecedented letter. “Many of these comments are ill-informed and not based on facts.” In its open letter, Huawei insisted it is “a private company, owned by our employees with no other shareholders.” Huawei said in the letter it operates in 170 countries and abides by national laws and guidelines. Citing 5G investments in Britain, Canada and New Zealand, the company said those governments had taken up its offer to evaluate the company’s technology to make sure it abided by cyber security protocols. Huawei has been virtually shut out from the giant US market because of alleged national security concerns. Australia has in 2012 banned Huawei from supplying its huge National Broadband Network.

Volvo eyes 25% of recycled plastics in new models

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
At least 25 percent of the plastics used in new Volvo car models from 2025 will be from recycled materials, the Chinese-owned company said yesterday in an anti-pollution plan praised by the United Nations.Recycled plastics — such as from fishing nets or old bottles in car dashboards or carpets — would not affect safety or quality, Stuart Templar, director for sustainability at Volvo Cars said. “We think this makes business sense,” said the director for sustainability.Many big companies are designing products that can be recycled after use to limit pollution. Volvo’s plan goes a step further by building ever more recycled materials into its production lines.“Volvo Cars is committed to minimizing its global environmental footprint,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars, which is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, said in a statement.Volvo said it was in talks with plastics producers to achieve its “ambition that from 2025, at least 25 percent of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material.”Volvo sold 570,000 cars last year, with about 5 percent of plastics in its cars currently made from recycled materials.Volvo unveiled a test model of its XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid SUV in Gothenburg, Sweden, that it said looks identical to the existing car except that some of its plastic parts were made from recycled materials.The carpet, for instance, had fibers made from PET plastic bottles, old Volvo car seats were used in sound-absorbing material under the bonnet and fishing nets and ropes were used in the tunnel console — between the passenger and driver seats.The UN welcomed Volvo’s plan. More than eight million tons of plastics end up in the oceans every year, threatening marine life from fish stocks to coral reefs.“As far as we are aware this is a first — an attempt to source waste as a raw material for a new vehicle,” Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi, said.

Arrest of Audi chief linked to ‘dieselgate’

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler was arrested yesterday in connection with parent company Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal, with prosecutors saying they feared he might try to destroy evidence.The dramatic development comes a week after Munich prosecutors raided Stadler’s home, accusing him of fraud and the falsification of documents that allowed diesel vehicles equipped with cheating software to be sold to European customers.Prosecutors in the Bavarian state said the arrest was justified because of the “risk of concealment of evidence.”Audi confirmed the arrest to AFP, declining to give further details.“For Mr Stadler, the presumption of innocence continues to apply,” a spokesman said in a statement.Stadler is the most senior executive yet to be detained in the dieselgate crisis, which started when the Volkswagen group admitted in 2015 to installing so-called “defeat devices” in some 11 million diesels worldwide that made them seem less polluting in lab tests than they actually were on the road.The affected vehicles involved VW’s own-brand cars, but also those made by Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat.VW’s luxury subsidiary Audi has long faced suspicions that its engineers helped create the software used in the scam.Audi’s former head of engine development, Wolfgang Hatz, was taken into custody in Germany in September 2017 and remains behind bars.A manager at VW subsidiary Porsche was also detained in April. He was identified by German media as Joerg Kerner, an engineer in charge of Porsche’s engine division who was working at Audi when the diesel scandal broke.In a separate setback for Audi, German authorities earlier this month ordered the recall of some 60,000 Audi A6 and A7 cars across Europe to remove illegal emissions control software — using a different technique however than the one at the heart of dieselgate.Auto industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the CAR research center called the allegations against Stadler “very serious.”“Audi needs a new start,” he said.Stadler, 55, who joined Audi in 1990 and has been its CEO since 2007, has enjoyed the full backing of VW’s top brass so far.But Dudenhoeffer said VW’s supervisory board may want to reconsider its stance when it met yesterday.“VW supervisory board chairman Wolfgang Porsche has to be careful that he doesn’t ‘burn’ the hand with which he is shielding Stadler.”Stadler’s arrest is the latest blow to the Volkswagen group, which has struggled to shake off the dieselgate crisis and continues to face a litany of investigations at home and abroad.Two former VW chief executives — Martin Winterkorn and his successor Matthias Mueller — have both landed in the sights of German prosecutors.They are suspected of knowing earlier than they have admitted about the cheating, meaning they may have failed in their duty to inform investors in the car giant about the financial risks.

Fall in crude oil output narrows in May

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
China’s crude oil output shed 1.6 percent year on year in May to 15.97 million tons, narrowed from a 2.3-percent drop in April, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.China produced 515,000 tons of crude oil per day last month, down from 517,000 tons for April. The daily crude oil output had stayed at around 515,000 tons for five months in a row, said the bureau.In May, China’s crude oil imports gained 5 percent year on year to 39.05 million tons, the data showed.In the first five months this year, China’s crude oil output fell 2 percent to 78.23 million tons, while the first four months saw crude oil imports shed 2.1 percent, according to the bureau.From January to May, China’s crude oil imports rose 8 percent year on year to 190 million tons, the data showed.International crude oil prices rose in May. At the end of last month, crude oil prices rose to US$76.45 per barrel, from US$75.92 a month ago.

Google injects US$550m cash in

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
GOOGLE said it will invest US$550 million in cash in e-commerce giant to build up its alliance in China’s booming e-commerce landscape. Google will get 27.1 million newly issued Class A ordinary shares as part of the deal, a stake of under 1 percent. As part of a range of strategic initiatives between the two companies, they also plan to carry out joint development of retail solutions in China, Southeast Asia, the US and Europe. “This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world,” said JD Chief Strategy Officer Liao Jianwen. “This marks an important step in the process of modernizing global retail and also opens a new chapter for JD.” By applying JD’s supply chain and logistics expertise and Google’s technology strengths, the two companies aim to upgrade retail infrastructure solutions. “We are excited to partner with and explore new solutions for retail ecosystems around the world to enable helpful, personalized and frictionless shopping experiences that give consumers the power to shop wherever and however they want,” Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said in a statement. Some JD products will also be available through Google Shopping in multiple regions, including the US and Europe. JD said its annual sales event, which is comparable to Alibaba’s Singles Day shopping gala, kicked off on June 1 and reached 127.5 billion yuan (US$20.2 billion) in sales as of 00:10am on Monday. Globalization has been a key strategy as JD also competes with Alibaba back in China. Alibaba has set its footprint in a number of Asian countries and seeks to integrate its logistics infrastructure and other e-commerce capabilities.

Yuan set to play bigger global role in future

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
FOREIGN exchange reserve managers have become more optimistic about the yuan and predict bigger global influence of the Chinese currency in the coming years, a private survey showed. Surveyed institutions upgraded their forecast of the share of the yuan in global forex reserves in 2020 to 8.5 percent from the 6.9-percent prediction made three years ago, due to the currency’s inclusion into the IMF Special Drawing Right basket and China’s steady capital market opening up. Seventy-four percent of respondents selected the yuan when asked which currency has become more attractive than a year ago, the highest among all global currencies and followed by the US dollar and euro. The survey, sponsored by HSBC, covers 79 central banks worldwide that manage a total of US$5.5 trillion of forex reserves, 54 percent of the world’s total. Christian Deseglise, global head of central banks at HSBC, said the survey confirmed the continued momentum of the yuan as the 8.5-percent ratio marks a huge rise from the 1.2-percent reading published by the IMF at the end of 2017. International investors will have a bigger demand for yuan encouraged by the A shares’ inclusion into MSCI index, more cross-border use of the yuan, and the future inclusion of Chinese bonds into global indices, said Helen Wong, HSBC’s chief executive for China.

China tells world import stance to continue

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
CHINA has reassured the world that its stance on encouraging imports will not change, a major development strategy that will not only help domestic industrial upgrades but also stimulate global economic growth. Several incentives will be taken to further lift imports, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, decided at an executive meeting last week chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. In response to domestic consumption upgrades and an economic shift to quality, China supports the imports of daily consumer goods, medicine, and equipment for rehabilitation and old-age care, according to the meeting. More measures are in the pipelines to lower tariffs, optimize import customs clearance, and clear up unreasonable management measures and fees. The move represents China’s latest efforts to further open up its economy, as the country embraces the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up drive, the first and foremost factor behind its economic success story. The government has announced multiple new policies to further liberalize domestic sectors and bring in more foreign products since the start of the year. Effective on July 1, the average tariff rate for clothing, shoes and hats, kitchenware, and sports and fitness supplies will be cut from 15.9 percent to 7.1 percent, and that for home appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators from 20.5 percent to 8 percent. The tariff rates for other products including aquatic products, processed food, detergents, cosmetics, and some medicine will also be cut substantially. Import taxes on vehicles and auto parts will also be cut sharply on the same day to upgrade the auto industry. “Our initiative to boost imports demonstrates China’s commitment to a new round of high-standard opening up, to economic restructuring, and to economic transformation and high-quality development,” Li said. China has been striving to reduce tariffs. More than 8,000 types of imported goods now enjoy duty-free policies, based on free trade agreements with 23 countries and regions. Analysts believe the intensive pro-import measures will help China meet increasing domestic demand, achieve balanced trade, and share development dividends with the rest of the world. Widened access for foreign goods will allow Chinese consumers to enjoy more quality products and prompt domestic companies to improve their competitiveness, said Zhang Jianping, researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. Given steady economic expansion, China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest goods trading nation in 2017. China has been the world’s largest exporter and second largest importer of goods for nine consecutive years, and is now the world’s largest importer of energy resources. China contributed 10.2 percent to global imports last year.

Alibaba opens office in Malaysia

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:01
ALIBABA Group’s new Malaysia office, also its first country office in Southeast Asia, started operation yesterday as the Chinese tech giant continues its overseas expansion in the region. Alibaba, having already established the first international eHub under the Electronic World Trade Platform initiative, aims to use the office to better serve the needs of local small and medium enterprises and help the new Malaysian government train more young talents, said Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and executive chairman at the launch ceremony. In an interview before the ceremony, Ma told Xinhua that Alibaba plans to deepen its localization in Malaysia, and in the process it will hire more local people, perhaps more than 1,000 in the future. He said Alibaba’s investment in Malaysia in recent years has reached over US$100 million. Alibaba has been expanding its presence in Malaysia in recent years. Aside from eWTP, Alibaba also established a cloud computing data center, brought its mobile payment service Alipay and has trained thousands of individuals, entrepreneurs and cloud computing professionals. Before the ceremony, Ma met with Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who took power after winning the May 9 election. “We had a good exchange of ideas on a wide range of subjects,” Mahathir said in a twitter post after the meeting. During the meeting, which lasted for about an hour, Mahathir said he welcomes Alibaba to come to Malaysia and train more people in the digital age. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he appreciated Alibaba’s “eagerness to work with the new Federal Government to help spur new investments, create new jobs and economic opportunities for Malaysia.” “We consider this a shining symbol of China-Malaysia friendship that is based on mutual respect and benefits that augurs well for the cooperation on the part of governments, businesses and people from both countries,” Lim added.

US and South Korea to suspend ‘large-scale’ joint military drills, source says

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 17:20
South Korea and the US are expected to announce the suspension of “large-scale” military drills next week, with the provision that they will restart if North Korea fails to keep its promise to denuclearise, a South Korean news agency said on Sunday. Citing an unnamed government source, the Yonhap agency said the suspension was likely to affect only major joint exercises, not more routine military training. US President Donald Trump surprised officials in Seoul and Washington after...

Video games are as addictive as crack cocaine or gambling to some players, warns WHO

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 16:19
The World Health Organisation says some obsessive video gamers may really have an addiction. In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the UN health agency said on Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. But the statement led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatising young people just because they play video games. The WHO said classifying so-called gaming disorder as a separate condition will help governments, families and...

Philippine air strikes target IS-linked militants near Marawi

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 15:07
Philippine military air strikes and ground assaults targeted a group of Islamic State-linked militants in an offensive that reportedly killed five extremists and forced thousands of villagers to flee to safety in the south, officials said on Monday. Army Colonel Romeo Brawner said the offensive on Sunday sparked gun battles between troops and the extremists in Tubaran town in a mountainous region of Lanao del Sur province and the military was verifying reports that at least five militants had...

Injured Cambodian ex-PM Norodom Ranariddh sent to Bangkok hospital after car crash killed wife

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 12:01
A Cambodian prince hurt in a car crash that killed his wife was flown to Bangkok for treatment Monday and is expected to recover, a member of his political party said. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, a former prime minister and half-brother of the current king Norodom Sihamoni, suffered “some broken ribs” and leg injuries, Yim Savy, the secretary general of the Funcinpec party, said. “He was sent to Thailand as a precaution”, Savy said, adding that the 74-year-old was in good...

Seoul says sanctions on North Korea may be eased before denuclearisation

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 10:35
South Korea said on Monday that sanctions against North Korea could be eased once it takes “substantive steps towards denuclearisation”, seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington for such a move. Last week’s Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un produced only a vague statement in which Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”. Amid fears the summit...

Fashion statement: Rohingya refugees revel in the new-found right to wear trousers

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 09:54
In 28 years, Abdul Aziz had never known the pleasure of wearing trousers. Rohingya Muslim men like him were restricted to wearing sarongs, or longyis, in Myanmar. It was an unofficial uniform that identified Muslims as inferior, Rohingya refugees said. Wearing trousers outside cities and towns was restricted by local authorities and Rohingya who did so could be arrested and fined. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after a violent military crackdown in August....

PNG declares emergency after armed mobs torch plane and governor’s house

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 09:49
Papua New Guinea has declared a state of emergency in its rugged Southern Highlands after an armed mob went on the rampage, torching a passenger plane and the local governor’s house. Police said crowds were angered by a court decision to dismiss a petition against provincial governor William Powi’s 2017 election, amid concerns of corruption. They burned down Powi’s home and the local courthouse in the town of Mendi late last week and destroyed an aircraft belonging to the...

Japan angry as South Korea holds war games to defend against ‘island attack’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 09:17
South Korea on Monday began two days of war games to practise defending the disputed Dokdo islands off its east coast – against an unlikely attack by Japan. The drills come just days after US President Donald Trump announced the suspension of long-running US joint exercises with South Korea – aimed at deterring North Korea – calling them expensive and “provocative”. The two-day exercise – tiny compared with the suspended US-South Korea war games – will...

Osaka area hit by powerful earthquake sits above fault that’s been inactive for 10,000 years … and that’s a worry for scientists

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 08:28
Osaka and surrounding areas in western Japan hit by a powerful earthquake on Monday are in a region where experts have long warned of the potential for major seismic activity. The inland earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1, occurred at a depth of around 13 kilometres shortly before 8am, with its epicentre in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture in an area where active faults are concentrated. Takuya Nishimura, an associate professor of geodetics at Kyoto University, said there was...

Hong Kong tour groups safe after child dies in deadly Osaka earthquake that struck during morning rush hour

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 07:40
Hong Kong travel agents are reporting that all their customers in Osaka are safe after a deadly earthquake struck Japan’s second city on Monday during the height of rush hour. A nine-year-old girl was killed when a wall collapsed at her school, an 80-year-old man is also believed to have died, and 200 people have reportedly been injured in the quake, which was measured at 5.3 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Survey. The Japan Meteorological Agency measured the tremor...

Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Malaysia PM Mahathir Mohamad talk tech, jobs and future as China deals come under scrutiny

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 07:36
Alibaba Group’s efforts to undertake an intensive transfer of technology and skills to Malaysia are aligned with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s hopes for the Southeast Asia economy to transit into high-income status quickly, the Chinese conglomerate’s co-founder Jack Ma said on Monday. Ma was speaking to the media after a meeting with Mahathir in Kuala Lumpur – the first by a Chinese entrepreneur since the country’s landmark election of May 9 in which the...

Is this art? Man buried for three days under busy Australian road

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 06:47
An artist has emerged from three days entombed in a steel box under a busy Australian road in a performance billed as a tribute to victims of totalitarian violence. Mike Parr, 73, fasted during his time underground, with oxygen pumped into the 1.7-metre (5.5-foot) by 2.2-metre container to keep him alive as traffic drove on overhead. He had bedding, water, a waste bucket, a sketchpad and pencils for the stunt in Hobart, part of Tasmania state’s annual Dark Mofo festival, which celebrates...

Japan: Several feared dead after earthquake shakes Osaka

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 03:22
A strong earthquake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan on Monday morning, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses. Several people were feared dead, according to Japanese media. A 9-year-old girl died after becoming trapped by a damaged wall in a swimming pool facility in the city of Takatsuki, local authorities said. At least eight people were injured and multiple fire incidents have been reported in the city of Osaka. The quake with a preliminary...

From China to Central Asia, a regional security bloc’s long, slow march towards an alternative world order

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 02:45
While the world was captivated this week by the globetrotting show of US President Donald Trump, another summit just days earlier suggested what an alternative world order might look like. Various heads of state from member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) met in the Chinese city of Qingdao for the bloc’s annual heads of state meeting. The SCO’s activities have been limited in the decade and a half since it was formed but this year’s summit had some...

China sounds out Japan and South Korea for another summit about North Korea this year, sources say

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 02:27
China has sounded out Japan and South Korea to hold a trilateral summit again in December in Beijing, hoping to further ramp up cooperation to denuclearise North Korea, diplomatic sources said Sunday. With the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea having met for a summit in Tokyo just last month, it would be unusual for a trilateral meeting at this level to be held again in the same year. China, a key economic benefactor of North Korea, appears to be pushing for a successive summit with its...

‘My people can’t compete’: as China’s influence grows in Pacific, so does local resentment and international worry

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 01:52
In the gritty, steamy streets of Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, signs of China’s push into the Pacific island nation are inescapable. A Chinese worker stencils a logo for China Railway Group outside the new national courthouse it’s building; China Harbor Engineering Group labourers tar roads under the searing midday sun. Little by little they are taking slices of our businesses. My people feel we can’t compete Martyn Namorong, anti-China campaigner in Papua New...

Physical indicators give glimpse of positive changes in economy

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 18:01
WHILE China’s May economic data suggested overall economic resilience, a glimpse into the physical indicators may provide more details of the changes taking place in the economic picture. Growth in energy consumption, freight traffic, and producer prices all picked up last month. China’s industrial electricity use increased 10.8 percent from a year ago, picking up from the April level of 7.3 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. “This reflects stronger industrial production activities,” said Wen Jianwu, head of NBS’s department of industrial statistics. Meanwhile, freight volume increased 8.5 percent year on year last month. Railway freight in particular jumped 11.8 percent, 10.4 percent higher than the growth in April. Last month also saw stronger demand for industrial products, which pushed up the producer price index, a measure of industrial product inflation, by 4.1 percent year on year, the highest growth in four months. At Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd, a heavy machinery manufacturer, the working hours of heavy equipment including mixing stations, pumping trucks, and hoisting equipment was on the rise. In the first five months of this year, Sany’s cranes worked 13.9 percent longer compared with the same period in 2017 as expansion in manufacturing investment has kept machines busy. This was in line with official investment figures. NBS data showed that fixed-asset investment in manufacturing climbed 5.2 percent in the first five months, up from 4.8 percent for January-April. Continued expansion in manufacturing investment provides evidence of China’s restructuring progress. Amid efforts to drive innovation, the output of China’s high-tech and equipment manufacturing sectors substantially outpaced last month’s industrial average, with production of new energy vehicles, integrated circuits, and robots up 56.7 percent, 17.2 percent, and 35.1 percent, respectively. For the service sector, China’s Index of Services Production went up 8.1 percent last month, with modern emerging service industries such as the Internet contributing up to 56.8 percent to the service sector growth, according to the NBS. In another sign of booming new businesses, electricity consumed by the software and information technology industry jumped 66.05 percent year on year in the January-May period, while that of the Internet service industry rose 63.26 percent. NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong said at a press conference earlier last week that the supply side structural reform had prompted robust emerging sectors and sustained growth in the broader economy.

American firms assess tariff impact

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 18:01
COMPANIES and trade groups in the US have expressed concern over how the escalating trade spat between the world’s two biggest economies could affect operations. Beijing retaliated immediately to tariffs on tens of billions in Chinese imports imposed by US President Donald Trump on Friday. US trade groups stepped up their criticism, while some large companies such as Boeing said they were beginning to evaluate the tariffs’ possible effects. Boeing garnered about 12.8 percent of its 2017 revenues from China and is frequently seen as among the more vulnerable US multinationals to a full-on trade war. US automakers, which have targeted China as a key growth market, are also slated to be hit by the bruising tariffs. American auto giant Ford has sold 338,386 cars thus far in China in 2018, about one-third the number in the US, and had welcomed a Chinese plan to lower tariffs on auto imports.

Marijuana use tops paint thinner abuse in Japan for the first time

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 15:53
An estimated 1.3 million Japanese people aged 15 to 64 have used marijuana, surpassing for the first time the number of those who have abused inhalants such as paint thinner, a survey by a national institute showed on Sunday. The National Centre of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo’s Kodaira estimated there are 1,331,765 habitual and non-habitual marijuana users, an increase of around 380,000 from the previous survey, based on population ratios and other factors, while the survey showed...

Admit it: Trump’s Singapore date with Kim made us all safer

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:45
Let’s give credit where it’s due. Last Monday’s sit-down in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un probably nudged the Doomsday Clock just a few minutes further away from the apocalypse. And as much as Trump-haters may be loath to admit it, anything that staves off the risk of nuclear war, even temporarily, is a really good thing. Consider that less than six months ago, Trump and Kim were trading playground taunts and boasting...

Aussie supermarket relents to allow mass nude photo on car park

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 11:11
A US artist known for his large-scale nude photo shoots said he is relieved that Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has changed its mind and will now let him use one of its rooftop car parks for his next project. Spencer Tunick is travelling to Australia in July where he will take part in Melbourne’s Provocare Festival of the Arts. He had been commissioned by the festival to do a piece within the precinct of Chapel Street, a main street known for upmarket fashion shops and...

Cambodian prince’s wife dies in head-on road crash

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:49
Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh was injured and his wife killed in a two-vehicle collision that left five others also injured on Sunday morning in the resort city of Sihanoukville, a police official said. Sihanoukville police chief Chuon Narin said Ranariddh’s sport utility vehicle collided head-on with an SUV taxi carrying five people around 9am. The prince, who heads the royalist FUNCINPEC party, and his wife, Ouk Phalla, who were on their way to see supporters in Sihanoukville, were...

Thai king takes control of US$30 billion royal fortune after ascending the throne in 2016

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 05:09
The official agency that had managed the vast wealth of Thailand’s royal family has announced that its assets have formally been turned over to King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who assumed the throne after the death of his father in 2016. An undated announcement seen on Saturday on the website of the Crown Property Bureau says that assets it has been administering will be put in the same category as the monarch’s personal assets and managed together at his...

As Oli comes calling, what does Nepal want from China?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:45
As Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli embarks on a visit to Beijing, a meeting that starts on June 19, his successful resetting of ties with India is likely to give him the elbow room he needs to rev up relations with China, which were once on the upswing but have slackened of late. Oli’s China visit comes a couple of months after his trip to New Delhi and a highly successful return trip by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month that put fraying India-Nepal...

After Trump-Kim summit, South Koreans are left wondering: ‘Are we better off than we were a week ago?’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 03:30
South Koreans of a certain generation remember a hit children’s animation from 1978, featuring as its hero a Tarzan-like boy who battles an army of North Korean soldiers, depicted as packs of rabid wolves. By the end of the anti-communist movie, through the courageous feat of the protagonist Ttoli, the corpulent villain Red Marshal, who engorges himself while exploiting his own impoverished people, is unmasked and shown for his true self. As it turns out, the villain – unmistakably...

Kim Jong-un’s Air China summit charter is proof Beijing is wind beneath his wings

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 03:30
A picture is worth a thousand words. The proverb sprang to mind when the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, smiling and dressed in a Mao-style suit, stepped off the red-carpeted stairs of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet with the difficult-to-miss markings of Air China and its Phoenix logo. The visual that Kim flew on the Chinese special jet to Singapore for the historic summit with the US President Donald Trump is a subtle but apt reminder of China’s influences in the rapidly changing geopolitical...

From Vietnam, without love: the child brides of China

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 02:30
It was 8pm on a scorching summer night when Tien, a quiet, timid teenager, left her home in a coastal province of central Vietnam, supposedly to spend the night at her cousin’s. Or at least, that is what the 16-year-old had told her family. In fact, she planned to leave the village to escape the pressure on her to get married. Hoping her cousin would help her find a job, she slipped out the door. It was nearly two years before she would return, by then having endured horrors beyond the...

Canadian man accused of advising black market website Silk Road creator extradited to US from Thailand

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 00:15
A Canadian man accused by US authorities of acting as a senior adviser to the jailed creator of the underground Silk Road website was extradited to the United States from Thailand on Friday, federal prosecutors said. In a newly unsealed indictment, prosecutors charged Roger Thomas Clark with crimes including narcotics trafficking, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Clark was arrested in Thailand in 2015 at the request of US authorities. Prosecutors have said Clark was...

A woman went to check her corn and was swallowed by a python

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 22:33
For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python. Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to The Jakarta Post. The field was about a half mile from her house, surrounded by cliffs, caves and a certain number of reticulated pythons, the longest snakes in the world. The snakes normally feed on smaller mammals. Attacks on humans are supposed to be as rare as winning the lottery and...

Why North Korea is set to become the next big thing for investors

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 16:58
Will North Korea become the next big thing for investors now that the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un summit has ended with handshakes and a “walkabout” (rather than a walkout) by the two leaders? The question is not premature, even if denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is some way off. The general verdict on the Singapore summit is that there is still a long way to go before we can say Trump’s “art of the deal” has paid off. But the economic and financial...

Killing of Pakistani Taliban chief ‘significant’, prime minister says

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 15:32
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk described the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah in a US drone strike in Afghanistan as a “significant development in the fight against terrorism”. Mulk made the comment in a telephone conversation on Friday night with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and thanked him for sharing information about Fazlullah’s killing, said a Pakistan government statement. The call was made by Ghani, who tweeted that Fazlullah...

Japan approves economic plan to allow more foreign workers

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 12:46
Japan’s cabinet on Friday adopted an economic plan that would allow more foreign workers as the rapidly ageing country tries to make up for its declining workforce. Under the plan, visa requirements would be relaxed in sectors facing severe labour shortages such as nursing, agriculture, construction and transport – new categories it would start accepting in addition to highly-skilled professionals. The workers would only be allowed to stay in the country for up to five years as...

Vietnam launches probe into American detained for ‘public disorder’ during protests over proposed land deal with China

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 09:00
Vietnam police have launched a formal criminal investigation into an American man who was among dozens arrested last week during rare protests that erupted across the authoritarian state. American citizen William Anh Nguyen, 32, was detained in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday during a massive rally protesting a government proposal to grant lengthy land leases in new special economic zones. Many protesters expressed fear the land would be handed to China, and thousands gathered in several cities...

Australia rules out moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in line with US and Donald Trump

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 08:40
Australia will not be following Donald Trump’s lead and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Julie Bishop has said, despite strong support from the party’s base. The Liberal Party’s youth arm had called on the government to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s legislative capital, and to suspend all aid to Palestine “until it terminates its ‘Martyr’s fund”. The motion, which is non-binding, was carried in a vote 43 to 31, but the foreign...

Donald Trump hails successful summit with Kim but North Korean cyberattacks went unaddressed

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 07:22
Among the subjects President Donald Trump apparently didn’t discuss with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore – the regime’s human rights abuses, its exports of missile technology and its mistreatment of US prisoners – there’s one more: its long record of dangerous cyberattacks against sensitive targets in the US and allied nations. Experts warn that the country’s hacking skills have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous in recent years....

If Korean Chaebol were scandalous before Trump-Kim summit …

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 05:32
As the Korean Air scandal burns through almost every member of the company’s controlling family, the prospect of reforming South Korea’s chaebol – large, family-owned business conglomerates – looks less promising than ever, particularly after the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in Singapore. The Korea Immigration Service this week subjected Lee Myung-hee, the wife of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho, to 13 hours of questioning...

With China no longer aboard, Mahathir opens new chapter in Saga of the Malaysian People’s Car

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 04:30
Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has raised the possibility of a new national car project, putting behind him the mixed fortunes of his previous initiative, Proton, launched over three decades ago. “We need to go back to the idea of a national car,” he announced at the 24th Nikkei Conference in Tokyo on his first foreign trip since his election last month. “Our ambition is to start another national car, perhaps with some help from our partners...

Grapes of wrath: dark clouds for Australian winemakers as China ties sour

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 04:18
Set in the rolling green hills outside the Queensland capital of Brisbane, Sirromet Winery has placed big bets on China. Exports of its Australian vintage now make up 30 per cent of its total sales, double what it was five years ago. Such is its popularity that Sirromet is now visited regularly by tourists from mainland China, necessitating the need for dedicated Mandarin speaking guides. “The Chinese really buy into the quality of the product and the fact it’s natural and grown in...

Japan’s concerns aside, North Korean media says abductions issue is ‘already settled’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 21:44
North Korea’s official Pyongyang Broadcasting Station said on Friday that the issue of the North’s past abductions of Japanese nationals has “already been settled”, according to the Tokyo-based Radio Press news agency. It is the first time for North Korean media to reiterate the government’s official line since the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held earlier this week in Singapore. It also comes as Japanese Prime...

Trump says North Korea stand-off ‘largely solved’ after he gave Kim his telephone number

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 19:33
US President Donald Trump declared Washington’s nuclear stand-off with North Korea “largely solved” on Friday, after he gave young autocrat Kim Jong-un his telephone number and cancelled US “war games”. Hailing the success of this week’s summit in Singapore, Trump told reporters in Washington that he is now in direct contact with Kim and that their “good relationship” had ended the risk of conflict. The results of the Singapore meeting, at which...

Trump-Kim statement isn’t vague – it’s just flexible enough to work

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:01
The great tragedy of the “limited war” on the Korean peninsula that snuffed out 2 million civilian lives in the early 1950s was that it ultimately resolved very little: the status quo was restored, and a tenuous armistice held the peace thereafter. That is until earlier this week. On June 12 in Singapore, US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un paved a pathway which, if faithfully trod upon, will durably close this painful chapter in Asia’s modern history and set...

Asia in 3 minutes: Japan finds dead man walking, Australians dress to repress

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 13:59
Viral photo of bird with beak bound by plastic ring leads to its rescue A bird that had its beak sealed shut by a plastic ring, captivating social media with its plight, has been rescued in India. A photo of the male black-necked stork spread on bird forums and gained international attention. A birder named Manoj Nair took the photo in a wetland in Gurgaon, a suburb of New Delhi. After the image was posted online, birders and wildlife officials mounted a frantic search for the bird, which was...

Vibrators to Hindu twitter trolls, Indian film star Swara Bhasker not afraid of shaking things up

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 12:03
An Indian actress who introduced the vibrator to Hindi cinema has become the latest target for the country’s notorious Twitter trolls. And she is loving it. Swara Bhasker’s own bio on Twitter describes her as “an armchair activist, Twitter warrior, troll destroyer, right-wing baiter, liberal hysteric”. The candour is admirable – and the bio is accurate. Consider a recent instance involving her latest film, Veere di Wedding. Though it is a commercial movie with star...

Will New Zealand become ‘less attractive’ when it starts taxing tourists?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 11:43
Tourists to New Zealand are to be charged a special tax, under new government plans announced on Friday to deal with the growing influx of holidaymakers from overseas. Visitor numbers have surged by nearly a third in the past three years to 3.8 million in the 12 months to April – almost as big as the country’s population. “This rapid growth has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure,” tourism minister Kelvin Davis said. “Many...

Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan is back with new blockbuster

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 10:50
Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan’s first film since his conviction for killing endangered wildlife opened across India Friday, with analysts predicting box office success for his latest Eid blockbuster. It has become a tradition in the Hindi film industry for Khan, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, to star in the big release on the Muslim holiday of Eid to mark the end of Ramadan, which begins on Saturday in India. Action film Race 3 is Khan’s fifth straight Eid release and...

Aussie students ‘investigated’ after dressing in KKK costumes and blackface for party

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 10:18
Five Australian university students who dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan and one who dressed in blackface as a “cotton-picking” slave for a “politically incorrect” themed party will be investigated after the vice chancellor condemned their actions. The men, from Charles Sturt University, posted pictures of themselves on social media on Thursday night at an end-of-term party at the Black Swan Hotel in Wagga Wagga. One photo posted to Instagram and since deleted was...

Millions of speed pills and 300kg crystal meth seized in Northern Thailand

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 08:15
About 9 million methamphetamine pills and 300 kilogrammes of crystal meth have been seized and a key drug suspect arrested in Thailand’s Chiang Dao district. Suspected dealer Panatkit Soponphumipanya was arrested in the border area of Ban Pa Bong Ngam in tambon Mueang Na on Monday.  The drugs were in his possession. Seventeen-year-old caught in Thailand with drugs worth US$3.12m His arrest was announced on Friday at a news conference by Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of...

Red kiwifruit about two years away from commercial introduction

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 07:16
By Andrea Fox The world is waiting for a good red kiwifruit, says Zespri, and the New Zealand exporter hopes to deliver in a couple of years. Fieldays visitors to the Zespri site can sample the attractive red fruit, but it’s taking time to fine tune its commercial introduction so the fruit is viable from orchard right through to consumer markets, chief executive Dan Mathieson says. “It’s an exceptional piece of fruit with strong consumer attraction, but we’re still...

Propaganda or common courtesy? White House defends Donald Trump saluting North Korean general

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 05:24
The White House on Thursday defended President Donald Trump’s decision to return a military salute to a North Korean three-star general. “It’s a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes, that you return that,” presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters two days after Trump returned from his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. North Korean state media released video from the visit of Trump reaching out to shake...

‘Those are literally the North Korean and Chinese talking points’: why Trump’s decision to halt military exercises with South Korea makes allies nervous

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 03:14
US President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend major US military exercises in South Korea could weaken allied defences, depending on the length and scope of the hiatus. But the potential for diplomatic damage seems even greater. The US, South Korea and Japan were making a public display of solidarity on Thursday over the outcome of Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. But analysts and former officials with experience in US-Asia policy were shaken by Trump’s...

Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to South Korea supports ‘a pause’ in joint military exercises

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 23:35
US President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to South Korea expressed his support Thursday for Trump’s pledge to stop military exercises in the area, a concession some US lawmakers worried could weaken Washington’s alliance with Seoul against Pyongyang. Harry Harris, a retired admiral and former commander of US Forces in the Pacific, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the US should halt major military drills with South Korea in exchange for concrete steps...

PBOC vows to support Shanghai’s development

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
YI Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, yesterday said the central bank will support Shanghai as it opens up and reforms the financial sector. Speaking at the Lujiazui Forum, Yi said the central bank has watched Shanghai’s development toward becoming an international financial center and would help the city in achieving that target. The central bank will promote the internalization of yuan by offering support to Shanghai in its trial of innovative products for cross-border business and enhancing the currency’s power in commodity pricing and settlement. The regulator will steadily push forward the convertibility of capital account and support Shanghai’s implementation of foreign exchange reforms. Yi said the bank will help the city in building a sound financial market with better services. Shanghai, as a financial hub, has played an important role in boosting China’s stock, bond and money markets, Yi said, adding that the city enjoys great advantages in providing settlement, banking card payment and rating agency services.

China economy stable as reform sustains growth

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S economy enjoyed steady growth in May, largely due to solid industrial output and investment in the manufacturing sector. The industrial output rose 6.8 percent year on year last month, 0.3 percentage points faster than the growth a year ago but 0.2 percentage points slower than a month earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed yesterday. For the January-May period, industrial output grew 6.9 percent, flat from that in the first four months of the year. The fundamentals of industrial production continued to improve and emerging industries were developing rapidly, said Jiang Yuan, industrial statistician at the bureau. In terms of sectors, 36 of the 41 major sectors in industry maintained the growth momentum. Among them, electronics, pharmaceuticals, special equipment, computers, tobacco and fuel gas all posted double-digit growth. Output of the equipment manufacturing industry and the high-technology industry advanced 9.4 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively, last month. The two sectors also grew 9.3 percent and 12 percent, respectively, for the January-May period. “The robust growth in emerging industries indicates the accelerated transferring of economic momentums with the deepening of the supply-side structural reforms,” said Mao Shengyong, spokesman for the statistics bureau. “In services industries, the modern service sector posted stronger development,” Mao added. Mao also stressed that consumer demand continued to escalate, with investment in manufacturing growing at a faster pace. The total retail sales of social consumer goods rose 8.5 percent year on year to 3.04 trillion yuan (US$475 billion) in May, 0.9 percentage points slower than April. But among them, goods related to consumer upgrading sustained rapid growth. Retail sales of communication equipment, cosmetics and petroleum rose 12.2 percent, 10.3 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The country’s fixed-asset investment expanded 6.1 percent year on year in the first five months, down from 7 percent for the January-April period. “The biggest drag on FAI here is infrastructure investment,” said Betty Wang, senior China economist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. But Wang sees it as a relatively easy sector for the government to inject stimulus. “Local governments are more restrained by the crackdown on debt, but if there is a very large downside risk to the economy, the government is fully capable of propping it up again,” she said. In May, the job market remained steady, with the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas at 4.8 percent, down 0.1 percentage points from April and 0.1 percentage points lower than a year earlier. The urban surveyed unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 4.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

Fed hikes rates in shift from previous policies

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
THE Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday, a move that was widely expected but still marked a milestone in the US central bank’s shift from policies used to battle the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession. In raising its benchmark overnight lending rate a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent, the Fed dropped its pledge to keep rates low enough to stimulate the economy “for some time” and signaled it would tolerate inflation above its 2 percent target at least through 2020. “The economy is doing very well,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a press conference after the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee released its unanimous policy statement after the end of a two-day meeting. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them. Unemployment and inflation are low ... The overall outlook for growth remains favorable.” He added that continued steady rate increases would nurture the expansion, as the Fed approaches a sort of sweet spot with its employment and inflation goals largely met, the economy withstanding higher borrowing costs and no sign of a spike in inflation. The ongoing economic expansion coupled with solid job growth has pushed the Fed to raise rates seven times since late 2015, rendering the language of its previous policy statements outdated. Policy-makers’ fresh economic projections, also issued on Wednesday, indicated a slightly faster pace of rate increases in the coming months, with two additional hikes expected by the end of this year, compared to one previously. They see another three rate increases next year, a pace unchanged from their projections in March. “The Fed’s path of gradual rate hikes and slow (balance) sheet reduction seems well established at this point. The trajectory of US inflation or the broader US economy would likely need to change materially for the FOMC to deviate from that path,” said Aaron Anderson, senior vice president of research at Fisher Investments. Powell also announced the Fed would start holding news conferences after every policy meeting next year, which means a total of eight in 2019. The Fed chief currently holds four such events each year. Fed policy-makers projected gross domestic product would grow 2.8 percent this year, slightly above previously forecast, and dip to 2.4 percent next year, while inflation is seen at 2.1 percent this year and remaining there through 2020. That’s a welcome change from recent years when Fed policy-makers fretted about an inflation rate well below target. The jobless rate, now at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, is set to fall to 3.6 percent this year, compared to the 3.8 percent the Fed projected in March. “The labor market has continued to strengthen ... economic activity has been rising at a solid rate,” the Fed said in its statement. “Household spending has picked up while business fixed investment has continued to grow strongly.”

China’s new home sales increase faster

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
New home sales in China rose more quickly in the first five months of this year, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed.About 4.13 trillion yuan (US$644.7 billion) worth of new homes, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, were sold between January and May around the country, a year-on-year rise of 12.8 percent, the bureau said in a statement posted on its website. The growth rate picked up from the 9.5 percent expansion of the first four months.The area of new homes sold in the first five months climbed 2.3 percent from the same period a year earlier to 490.66 million square meters, accelerating from the 0.4 percent gain in the first four months, the bureau said.“The faster growth rates in both value and volume were partly contributed to by improved sales performances in some third- and fourth-tier cities where rein-in policies are not so tight,” said Zhao Baogen, an analyst at Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co. “In the meantime, the recent ‘talent wars’ launched by local governments in several major second-tier cities also caused some fluctuations in the housing market.”The inventory of new homes shrank again. Newly-built homes available for sale as of the end of May fell 23.1 percent from the same time a year ago to around 280.56 million square meters, the bureau’s data showed. That compared to 285.22 million square meters registered as of the end of April.Investment in residential property development, which took up 70.1 percent of total real estate investment in the first five months, jumped 14.2 percent year on year to around 2.9 trillion yuan, the same pace as that of the first four months, according to the bureau.

PBOC injects funds via reverse repos at flat rates

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S central bank continued to inject liquidity into the financial system via open market operations, with rates flat despite an interest rate hike in the US. The People’s Bank of China pumped 150 billion yuan (US$23.5 billion) into the market through reverse repos, with 80 billion yuan of contracts maturing, a net injection of 70 billion yuan. The PBOC conducted 70 billion yuan of seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.55 percent, 50 billion yuan of 14-day reverse repos at 2.7 percent, and 30 billion yuan of 28-day operations at 2.85 percent. All rates were flat from previous operations. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, its second rate hike this year and the seventh since late 2015. Yesterday’s operations followed net injections of 30 billion yuan on Tuesday and 70 billion yuan on Wednesday. A reverse repo is a process by which the central bank bids and buys securities from commercial banks, with an agreement to sell them back in the future. Analysts believe the moves were made to stabilize market hopes as liquidity demand could rise.

Asian nations key to future smart cities

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA and other Asian countries will play a major role in shaping the smart cities of the future thanks to high adoption of smartphones and digital services, a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute showed. The study, which evaluates technology infrastructure, the applications introduced, and public adoption across 50 major cities, showed that although activity and innovation have been picking up in recent years, there’s still huge potential and room for improvement for even the most digitally advanced cities. The study predicted that better use of data and technology could shave 15 to 30 minutes off average daily commuting times and cut emergency response times by up to 17 minutes. The world’s most developed cities still lead in terms of construction of underlying information technology infrastructure, such as fast communications networks and open data portals for government agencies to better share data with the public. “With its young population of digital natives and big urban problems to solve, China and the whole of the Asia region will play a big role in shaping the future of smart cities,” said Katrina Lu, a partner in McKinsey & Company and the office manager of McKinsey in Shanghai. By gauging how urban residents feel about technologies being deployed around them, the study also found that responses were surprisingly lukewarm in European and some other high-income cities, which is in contrast to high levels of awareness and usage in Chinese cities. “Integrating smart technology into infrastructure helps users and service providers make better decisions and reduce inefficiencies, and ultimately helps the public get the services they want, when and how they want them,” said Jonathan Woetzel, a senior partner in McKinsey’s Shanghai office and a director of the McKinsey Global Institute. The study also suggested that in some cases, building a public platform where companies, nonprofits, and partnerships form an ecosystem would be a wise move. “Adding more players from the private field to join smart city construction is a positive, since it increases adoption,” said Jeongmin Seong, senior fellow of McKinsey Global Institute.

Fast growth of FDI due to high-tech sectors

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S foreign direct investment rose in May from a year earlier and also from January to May, with capital channeled into high technology industries. FDI into the Chinese mainland grew 7.6 percent year on year to 58.81 billion yuan (US$9.2 billion) last month, and the number of newly set up foreign companies soared 106.5 percent annually to 5,024, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed yesterday. In the first five months of this year, the total number of newly-founded enterprises funded by foreign investors jumped by 97.6 percent to 24,026 from the same period last year, and foreign funds that were actually used gained 1.3 percent from a year earlier to 345.59 billion yuan. Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, attributed the rapid growth of FDI to the high-tech manufacturing sector. The actual use of foreign investment in the manufacturing industry added 12.3 percent year on year from January to May, accounting for 29.1 percent in the total FDI amount, Gao said, adding that the proportion of the high technology industry was 20.5 percent. “As for the FDI in high-tech manufacturing, the sector posted a hefty increase of 61.9 percent in actual use of foreign investment in the first five months from the same period last year,” Gao said. The pharmaceutical manufacturing, electronic and telecommunication equipment making and the medical instrument making industry showed year-on-year FDI growth of 12.3 percent, 56.4 percent and 442.3 percent respectively, the data showed. Around 37.24 billion yuan were actually invested in high-tech services during the five months, according to the ministry. In terms of the major sources of FDI, investments from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the US, the UK and China’s Macau all grew significantly, Gao pointed out. “FDI from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 38.9 percent, and investment from countries along the Belt and Road was up 38.8 percent in the first five months from the same period of last year,” Gao added. Foreign investment in China’s central regions jumped 40.1 percent year on year to 24.19 billion yuan and the western regions lured 22.77 billion yuan, up 11.9 percent, according to the ministry. China’s outbound direct investment in the five-month period rose 38.5 percent to US$47.89 billion — the robust growth in ODI for seven straight months. In the first five months, ODI went into leasing and business services, manufacturing, mining, and wholesale and retail. Investment by Chinese enterprises along the Belt and Road countries in the five-month period rose 8.2 percent from the same period last year to US$5.93 billion, the ministry said.

Alliance seeks to help Shanghai startups

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI’S first artificial intelligence and Internet plus service alliance was launched in Hongqiao yesterday to serve both local high-tech startups and residential communities. The alliance aims to cluster resources of AI, Internet firms and research institutes in the Hongqiao area to help incubate scientific research into products and services for residents, the Changning District government said at the 2018 global AI and business summit. The alliance will help apply Internet, Big Data and AI technologies to community management to improve living standards, said Chen Ying, Party secretary of Huayang Subdistrict of Changning, where many Internet and high-tech companies are based. Deep Blue Technology, a Changning-based high-tech startup, will use robots in a trial operation to deliver parcels and takeout food in university campuses instead of the traditional way of delivery. An intelligent shopping mall and wet market as well as unmanned mobile stores will be developed based on AI technology, according to the subdistrict. Internet firms such as Ctrip, Meituan, Fresh Hema, Spring Travel and Suning are members of the alliance together with AI companies such as Westwell, Wisdom Info and Deep Blue that are concentrated near Zhongshan Park, the Changning government said. Major research institutes including Innovation Cooperation Center (Bangkok) and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences have also joined the alliance. Meanwhile, an AI competition, or 2018 AI-Win, held by the local government also started this week. The event seeks global AI talent to compete in robotics, machine-human interface, smart driving and medical innovation. The final will take place in August, with an award ceremony to be held in September. Shanghai’s AI industry output totaled 70 billion yuan (US$11.1 billion), said Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

Room to cooperate on business

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
CHINA and France have huge opportunities to cooperate on business and investment by tapping Chinese consumption upgrade and the Belt and Road Initiative, investors said yesterday. Bpifrance, the state-owned French investment bank, is keen to explore investment prospects in artificial intelligence, robotics and clean tech industries. It’s also optimistic about opportunities for “booming new middle-class” consumers in China and seeks more cooperation on BRI, Simon Robert, Bpifrance’s manager, said yesterday in Shanghai. In January, Bpifrance, Cathay Capital and the China Development Bank announced to launch a new fund of 1.2 billion euros (US$1.4 billion) that will invest mainly in medium-size businesses in France and China. Shanghai-based Shopal Inc, which secured US$15 million investment from Cathay Capital, aims to offer Chinese consumers maternal and child products, cosmetics and health care. Through its online platform and business cooperation with mid-cap French and overseas brands, Shopal will meet the demand for better life and health among Chinese consumers, said Guo Lu, founder of Shopal. Shopal also said it will work with Bpifrance to import more French brands into the domestic market. French startup Ledger, another Cathay-invested company, displayed its latest portable Bitcoin wallet at CES Asia, Asia’s biggest consumer electronics show, in Shanghai.

Computer vision tech set to thrive

SHANGHAI DAILY - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:01
VSLAM, a key computer vision technology featuring artificial intelligence, is set to see explosive growth this year as it will be increasingly used in VR/AR devices and home robotics, Shanghai Daily learned during the ongoing CES Asia, China’s biggest consumer electronics show. VSLAM, or visual simultaneous localization and mapping, uses positioning and mapping technologies and AI algorithms to construct and update a map in unknown environments while simultaneously locating and tracking the position. Worldwide spending on virtual reality and augmented reality is forecast to grow 71.6 percent annually on average over the 2017-2022 period, said US-based researcher IDC. Computer vision contributes the most revenue — 60 percent — to AI applications, against 30 percent for voice and under 10 percent for translation, said John Lin, president and CEO of Xvisio Technology, a Shanghai and Silicon Valley based startup which offers VSLAM technology and solutions for VR/AR and robotics firms. In 2017, Xvisio secured of 16.5 million yuan (US$2.6 million) in a financing round with leading investor CASSTAR, an investment subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is preparing for another round of financing of 25 million yuan to 30 million yuan, Lin said during an exclusive interview. Another startup taking part at CES Asia, SanKoBot, expects large-scale production of home robotics powered by VSLAM. Utilizing computer vision and AI technologies, robots create 3D visual landmarks, recognize key objects and create 3D map of the indoor environment, Amanda Hou, co-founder of SanKobot, told Shanghai Daily.

Major military exercises ‘suspended indefinitely’ on Korean peninsula, says US official

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:57
Large military drills between the United States and South Korea have been “suspended indefinitely,” a senior US official told AFP on Thursday. “Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula,” the official said, two days after President Donald Trump said the US would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul. It comes after US President Donald Trump announced after his summit with Kim Jong-un on Tuesday that he would...

Thai government steps up efforts to crack down on fake news

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:47
By Gregory Morrissey Thai authorities are stepping up a crackdown on false and misleading information targetting the government which is spreading quickly via social media platforms. Concerns about “fake news” were heightened after a London-based Facebook user posted on the KonthaiUK Facebook site a photo and a message suggesting corruption in the government’s satellite project. Computer crime warrant in Thailand out for London-based Facebook user ‘KhonthaiUk’ for...

Will Japan win the race to produce crucial 3D mapping for driverless cars?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:41
Technology companies are racing to develop ultra precise digital maps that can guide self-driving cars within inches of where they should be – a hurdle the industry needs to clear if it hopes to deliver on its promise of widespread use of driverless vehicles. Japan’s government is backing a three-dimensional mapping system developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation that includes a wealth of details such as trees and pedestrians. It promises to be off by no more than 25cm (9.8...

Images of Australian army flying Nazi flag in Afghanistan sparks outrage from PM as ‘utterly unacceptable’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:19
An Australian army vehicle flew a Nazi swastika flag during an operation in Afghanistan, the prime minister confirmed on Thursday in an act he called “completely and utterly unacceptable”. National broadcaster ABC published a leaked photo of the 2007 incident and cited a defence source as saying it was more a “twisted joke” than evidence of genuine neo-Nazism. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said displaying a Nazi flag was “absolutely wrong”. “...

Japan power firm TEPCO mulls scrapping Fukushima No.2 nuclear plant

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:49
The utility responsible for meltdowns at a nuclear power plant in northeast Japan seven years ago said Thursday for the first time publicly that it might decommission another plant in Fukushima that narrowly escaped the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) said it was considering dismantling four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ni, or No. 2, plant, which has not been restarted since the 2011 disaster. The Fukushima Dai-ichi, or No. 1, plant was heavily damaged in a March 11, 2011...

IKEA may face mandatory regular closures in South Korea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:49
By Yoon Ja-young Large-scale specialty stores such as IKEA and Daiso may be subject to mandatory regular closings every two weeks in South Korea as the nation’s government is set to study the validity of such a regulation. According to the Korea Small Business Institute, it will begin research on the appropriateness of the regulation on large-scale specialty stores this month. It will examine whether they are hurting small shops and whether the regular closures are necessary, at the...

Outrage spreads on social media over man freed after frenzied knife attack on Pakistani student

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:28
A Pakistani law student has emerged as a women’s rights crusader after she was stabbed 23 times in a busy street only to see her alleged attacker walk free, igniting outrage across the deeply patriarchal country. Khadija Siddiqui, 23, survived the frenzied attack in broad daylight outside her sister’s school on a busy thoroughfare in the teeming eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, in May 2016. Her sister was also injured as she tried to defend her, and the...

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes back against North Korean sanctions-relief claims

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:17
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Kim Jong-un will not receive sanctions relief until after his complete disarmament, pushing back against North Korean suggestions that penalties will soon start being relaxed. Pompeo – sharing a podium in Seoul on Thursday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts – was asked about North Korean claims that US President Donald Trump had committed to a “step-by-step” process and “expressed his intention” to lift...

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party wins in a landslide after Trump-Kim summit

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:07
South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) won a landslide victory on Wednesday in local elections held the day after a historic summit between the United States and North Korea. The triumph in the first election since President Moon Jae-in took office just over a year ago is widely seen as a boon to the country’s leader, who helped bring together the cold war foes for an unprecedented meeting after the two sides traded threats of annihilation. Moon’s DP party won 13 of the 17...

Indian chess champ quits competition over Iran headscarf rule

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 08:07
An Indian chess champion has withdrawn from an international competition in Iran, saying a rule requiring her to wear a headscarf would violate her human rights. Soumya Swaminathan ranks fifth in India and was preparing to compete with the national team in the Asian Chess Championship in Bangladesh. However, when the competition was moved to Iran, the 29-year-old withdrew from the contest and took to Facebook to spell out why. “Under the present circumstances, the only way for me to...

Ill and broke, 59-year-old fugitive wanted in Singapore for armed robbery surrenders after over 20 years

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:51
By Wong Pei Ting A 59-year-old fugitive who had been on the run for an armed robbery for over 20 years finally surrendered this year as he was ill and broke. Foo Siang Thian was sentenced to four years’ jail and a three-year driving ban for robbery and motor vehicle theft. Foo had earlier been repatriated by the Malaysian authorities in 1998, two years after his offence, but managed to flee and returned there that same year. Foo, who had not been charged for his crimes before Wednesday,...

Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-un could meet after North Korean leader says he’s willing

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:31
Japan is working to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-un after the North Korean leader said he was open to talks, local media reported on Thursday. The Sankei newspaper said Kim discussed the possibility during historic talks on Tuesday with US President Donald Trump. “During the summit with Trump, Kim told Trump ‘I can meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’,” the Sankei reported. Japan wants the talks to push the emotive issue of citizens...

‘Drowned’ man returns nearly a year after wrong body is given to his wife in Japan

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:07
Imagine you have cremated your husband’s body, which was found in a river in your city. You enter a period of mourning and then begin to remake your life. Now, imagine 11 months later, your supposedly dead husband walking through your front door. That is what happened to a Japanese woman who in June 2017 was given the body of a man, believed to be her husband, who had been found dead in the Edo River in eastern Toyko. According to local media, the handover occurred after police examined...

CES Asia set to be treasure trove of high-tech wonders

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
ARTIFICIAL intelligence, robot and automotive electronics are the stars of the CES Asia in Shanghai, with several Chinese high-technology companies aiming to leave an indelible impression at the show. Other latest technologies and services including wearables, automotive tech, self-driving cars, home automation and flying drones will also be displayed at the local event of the world’s biggest consumer electronics show. Hisense, one of the top TV vendors in China, has developed AI technologies in its latest models to help viewers use facial recognition technology to identify players taking part in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The technology will instantly display the players’ names and data on TV. Another company taking part at the show is Shenzhen-listed iFlytek, a specialist in voice recognition technology, which has AI incorporated in a range of products like portable translator, voice assistant tool used in cars and speakers in smart home system. Baidu and Alibaba also displayed their latest AI functions connected to smart driving and online shopping. More than 500 exhibitors are attending the three-day show held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. It ends tomorrow.

Software exports surge 9.7%

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S software exports reached US$37.6 billion in 2017, up 9.7 percent year on year, said a report on the digital economy issued by the Ministry of Commerce Tuesday. About half the volume, US$18.9 billion, was through exports to the United States, European Union and Japan, according to the report. China’s software export grew rapidly since 2012 and has gradually moved towards the higher end of the value chain, it said. The report also noted that China still lacks the innovative capabilities in developing basic and development tools software, and warned domestic software companies of growing cost and risks in the industry.

China Life helps seniors

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
CHINA Life Insurance Co Ltd yesterday launched its first product designed for the commercial pension trial program in Shanghai in a move to help citizens in an aging society. China launched a pilot tax-deferred pension insurance project in Shanghai, Fujian Province and Suzhou Industrial Park in Jiangsu Province, in May. The scheme allows individuals to defer tax on part of their income that is used to buy commercial pension insurance until they retire and draw money from the fund. Industry insiders said the launch of the new tax-income deferred pensions is to encourage people to prepare for old age, and promote the balanced development of China’s pension system.

Cainiao, SkyCargo ink MoU

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
CAINIAO Network and Emirates’ SkyCargo said yesterday they signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a digital trade transfer hub at Dubai airport to help cargo transfers in the Middle East. The logistics hub will serve as a connecting point linking Africa, Europe and Asia. The two parties seek to leverage their strengths in cross-border e-commerce trade and airline cargo operation.Under the MoU, Emirates SkyCargo and Cainiao will work closely to manage e-commerce shipments in the Middle East and other neighboring regions through Dubai as the Alibaba Group’s logistics affiliate looks to expand its global logistics infrastructure with Dubai as a hub.

Vivo’s unique tech phone

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
VIVO released its new flagship line using unique technologies such as a pop-up front camera and a no-notch screen. The new Vivo Nex models don’t have a display “notch” which appears on the iPhone X. It also features a pop-up selfie camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor which offers better image display and Hi-Fi music support. The price of the new Nex ranges from 3,898 yuan (US$619) to 4,898 yuan for a high-end model. Vivo also announced new AI partnerships with partners like AutoNavi for maps, Alipay in finance, NetEase in gaming and iFlytek for its voice recognition. It also joined hands with Epic, for game experience optimization using Epic’s Unreal engine.

China’s VR headset market soars 200%

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S virtual reality headset market surged 200 percent in the first quarter of this year driven by strong performance of the standalone headset niche market, a report showed. The worldwide VR headset market grew 16 percent in the first quarter as shipments totaled 650,000 units, according to the report from research company Canalys. The US remains the largest market for overall VR headset shipments with a 31-percent share, while China is closing the gap at 28 percent. The strong Chinese VR headset market growth is driven by the fast growing standalone VR headset segment as China dominates the niche market, taking up 82 percent of global shipments, Standalone VR headsets took up 51 percent of the VR market in China, with 94,000 units shipped in the first three months. The VR industry has developed rapidly in China. Data showed that the country’s VR market soared 164 percent in 2017 to 16 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion). Many local players have increased investment in developing new products to gain a bigger market share. Startup NOLO VR said last month it plans to roll out a mobile VR app platform as part of its efforts to develop a VR industrial ecosystem. “While VR vendors are making it easier for consumers to adopt the technology, the next challenge is to focus on stimulating consumer demand,” said Canalys senior analyst Jason Low.

Automakers promote autonomous driving to tap enormous potential

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
AUTOMOBILE manufacturers are going all out to promote autonomous driving technologies at the 2018 Asia Consumer Electronics Show (CES Asia) to ride on the huge potential of China’s self-driving market. Fifty-six automotive companies exhibited their latest technologies and vehicles yesterday at the CES Asia whose exhibition area is nearly 50 percent bigger than last year. “China has a big market for autonomous driving and the government is promoting its development,” said Ralph Lauxmann, senior vice president of systems & technology, chassis & safety division of German auto-parts supplier Continental. “In the future, personal mobility will be based on a combination of different transport modes, with autonomous vehicles playing a key role in cities,” said Lauxmann, adding that more than 220 cities in China are expected to have a population above 1 million people in 2025. “Asia is the perfect market for the advancements in self-driving technology where major cities will benefit from the gains these technologies bring – removal of human error, fewer accidents and improved mobility,” said John T. Kelley, senior director of international programs and show director of CES Asia. US automaker General Motors introduced its Super Cruise hands-free driving technology on the first day of CES Asia. GM said the technology enables hands-free driving on highways and provides unmatched comfort and convenience for long-distance driving. The technology is expected to be first applied on the automaker’s Cadillac CT6 40T Platinum prestige sedan, which is expected to go on sale in the near future. GM said Super Cruise will be applied on all Cadillac models, with the rollout starting in 2020. After 2020, Super Cruise will be adopted by other GM brands. Continental said it will bring an electrically powered vehicle without a driver, steering wheel or brake pedal to China next year. Driverless vehicles for short-distance travel in cities can effectively reduce the pressure of daily travel, eliminate traffic congestion and cut traffic pollution, the company said. Mercedes-Benz is showing an autonomous concept car called smart vision EQ fortwo. The car will find the user’s location and pick up passengers directly from their chosen location. Baidu is offering visitors to the show test rides of its self-driving vehicles in the event’s outdoor exhibition area.

New rules to benefit NEV sector

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
THE newly-implemented subsidy policy for new energy vehicles will aid the industry’s high-quality development. From Tuesday, vehicles with a driving range below 150km will not get subsidies, vehicles with a 150km to 300km driving range will receive minimal subsidies, and those with over 300km will receive the most, according to the new policy released by the Ministry of Finance. Battery power/weight requirements for getting subsidies have also been raised from 90wh/kg to 105wh/kg. “The new policy featuring enhanced energy density and better battery efficiency will upgrade the industry and boost its high-quality development,” said Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association. Analysts say the new rules will benefit China’s NEVs industry.

Janssen pledges innovation, new models in Shanghai

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
ECHOING Shanghai’s ambitious goal to become a global innovation center, Janssen Pharmaceuticals is pledging to leverage the city’s strong foothold in innovation and will continue to work closely with local start-ups, said Ai Hua Ong, Janssen company group chairman with Asia Pacific. Ai Hua Ong is currently overseeing operations that deliver pharmaceutical innovation in Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and other Asia Pacific models with deep commitment to customers and patients, strategic insights and a global mindset. “Shanghai’s aspiration for a global innovation hub has created a positive environment and ecosystem for innovation, and it has attracted talent in multiple industries to come to Shanghai to drive the convergence across multiple scientific disciplines,” she said in an interview with Shanghai Daily. The Shanghai government has helped to create rich environment and Janssen Pharmaceuticals would continue to seek to drive innovation by leveraging Shanghai as an innovation hub. Historically 50 percent of its medicines have been the result of external collaborations. “We are staying focused on the highest unmet medical need, identify the best science, whether they’re internal or external ones, and leverage the scale and reach of our global development organizations to develop, file and launch innovative medicines globally,” she said. Janssen’s Shanghai Discovery Center, which was set up seven years ago, runs research programs on small molecule drug discovery, target validation, biomarker identification, evaluation and validation, as well as phase 0 clinical trials for hepatitis B, lung cancer, and hematologic malignancies. Ten discovery projects are currently underway, and it aims to deliver one new clinical candidate per year. Janssen Pharmaceuticals has been at the forefront of deploying novel innovation strategies and forward-looking investment models to enable the discovery of game-changing medicines in China. With Johnson & Johnson’s incubator platform, Johnson & Johnson Innovation JLABS, set to open in Shanghai in the first half next year, it also hopes to draw from the booming entrepreneurship and innovation in the science and technology fields to work closer with local stakeholders. The facility will join Janssen’s already strong ecosystem of innovation, and is expected to strengthen its ability to accelerate the development of transformational health care solutions, and it strives to create an environment where scientists as well as digital specialist work under the same roof for the J&J affiliate companies. Janssen has also been very conscious of a diversified working culture, starting with gender diversity and supportive measures for women’s career. “We’ve now expanded gender diversity to more about inclusion at the company, besides our support for women’s career, and we want this to be not only the focus of top management but diversity and inclusion at every level, because we want to build an environment for people with a different background to join.” Janssen first established its operations in China through a manufacturing facility in Xi’an in 1985. They have expanded its presence significantly and today employ more than 2,500 people across its Beijing headquarters, manufacturing site in Xi’an, R&D operations, and expects to launch several innovative medicines in China over the next two years, which covers a range of therapeutic areas with significant unmet need, including treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, HIV and diabetes. Janssen Pharmaceuticals last year said it has reached a collaboration and worldwide licensing agreement with Legend Biotech to develop, manufacture and commercialize LCAR-B38M, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell candidate. “This will be the role model we’ll be looking at for future collaborations and we’ll continue to focus on disease areas with high disease prevalence in the Asia Pacific region such as lung cancer and hepatitis,” Ong said. China is stepping up incentive measures to attract overseas talent as it seeks to become an international center for science and technology innovation. The State Council last year also approved Shanghai’s blueprint for becoming a “global city of excellence” by 2035. Promoting the role of foreign investment and building up Shanghai’s technology and innovation center is also a key step for Shanghai to become a global city of excellence. Janssen said it also welcomes the multiple recent positive steps taken by the Chinese Government to further open its doors to global investment and foster new models of pharmaceutical innovation. “We welcome the steps taken by the Chinese government to ensure patients in China gain early access to innovative medicines, including implementation of a Priority Review Pathway, which shortens the approval time for new treatment,” added Ong.

Female business leaders honored

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
WOMEN can be half the sky in the business world and some foreign companies actually have more women leaders in their China office than their overseas offices, participants said during a forum hosted by Shanghai Daily today. The Women · Reform · Leadership Forum aims to honor outstanding companies and females for their achievement in pursuing gender equality and women’s leadership. Six Women Leadership Outstanding Contribution Awards were given out along with 15 Women Leadership Innovation Awards at the forum. The Women Leadership program is held by the Office of Shanghai Ethical and Cultural Building Committee and Shanghai Women’s Federation in partnership with British Consulate General in Shanghai. Focusing on outstanding female achievements in various industries and fields, the program is designed to empower women’s career and leadership and push forward gender equality in companies. One of the winners is Vivian Xiao, head of integrated communications for China at Signify, who said confidence is crucial for women to be good business leaders. Jean Liu, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at EF Education, said women executives accounted for 60 percent at EF China offices, above the proportion of 50 percent for EF worldwide. “We are doing better in our China office,” Liu said. Bayer, Sephora, Baxter, Eaton, Amway, DSM, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, GM, Dow Chemical are among the winning companies.

Global demand gives domestic firms a lift

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:01
WHEN engineering graduate Chen Liang joined an elevator company nearly 30 years ago, “an elevator was worth almost two apartments in Xujiahui.” Today, people have to pay nearly 10 million yuan (US$1.56 million) for an apartment there while “an elevator sells only around 150,000 yuan,” he said. That’s not because the elevator market has retreated in China, which accounts for around 60 percent of the world’s elevator demand, along with a great export market. “With global elevator sellers rushing into this country, China has become the most competitive market asking for the cheapest price and the highest quality,” said Chen, a manager with German industrial group thyssenkrupp. Worldwide, elevator demand is growing between 5 and 7 percent annually. But in China, sales of elevators surged around 20 percent a year on average between 2002 and 2015, driving all the global giants such as Otis, Schindler, thyssenkrupp, Kone, Mitsubishi and Toshiba to the country, according to a report by, a domestic industrial consultancy. Elevator prices in western countries can be “several-fold higher than those in China,” Chen said. “Partly because they have to pay higher logistics costs as most of the world’s elevators nowadays are produced in China and the competition in these countries is not so furious as in China.” Over the past 40 years, China has become the world’s largest elevator producer and consumer, after having only eight state-owned producers supplying the domestic market in 1978. While the world needs around 900,000 units of elevators every year, “nowadays China can almost meet the whole demand,” said Anson Yang, marketing director for elevator business in China at thyssenkrupp. China produces at least 500,000 units of new elevators every year, said Li Shoulin, president of the China Elevator Association, at a conference. “But they have inventories to sell, which altogether make the country alone able to supply the whole world.” Elevators, said Chen, has shifted from luxury goods into common goods on the back of the China market’s rise. “That to some extent resembles the progress of the car market,” he said. “Bolstered by rapid growth in both demand and production over the past decades, China has helped the world enjoy lower prices of elevators by several rounds of upgrading in technology and management models.” In 1978, only around 17.9 percent of China’s citizens lived in cities. By the end of last year, however, that had risen to over 58 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Elevators are closely linked with urbanization, with city expansion bringing more high buildings with elevators. Bolstering the fact that the elevator market in China grew around 20 percent annually between 2002 and 2015 was that investment in China’s real estate industry soared over 20 percent between 2001 and 2012, according to a report by Beijing-based Zhiyan Consulting group. Chen’s employer, thyssenkrupp, opened a plant in Shanghai’s Songjiang District in 1999. “At that time we set our capacity as 500 units of elevators per year, as we thought that would be enough to supply the Chinese market for years,” he said. Now the production site has grown into the company’s headquarters for the Chinese market, with total capacity being “several-folds higher from the origin.” More capacity, fast speed Meanwhile the company has sped up production and is able to complete an order in two weeks compared to the average of three months at the beginning. “We have to adapt to the Chinese market, which asks the fastest delivery time while a lot of changes could happen in the customers’ request,” Chen said. “Yet you have no choice, because all the global competitors are here, fighting for customers and profit by upgrading technologies and speeding up production.” China’s elevator market began to change around 1980 when the state-owned producers start launching joint-ventures with overseas producers. Swiss-based Schindler came to China first, followed by US-based Otis and Japan’s Mitsubishi. Although starting late, China has upgraded technologies to world standards by working with the global leaders, Chen said. “When a foreign company starts a plant in China, it normally will equip the plant with state-of-the-art technologies,” he said. “That not only benefits the company itself, but pushes local producers to upgrade technologies.” By the end of 2015, China had around 700 elevator makers, alongside 200 component makers and 10,000 maintenance companies, according to the China Elevator Association. Although the domestic companies are still trailing the global giants in technology development and only account for around 30 percent of market share in China, they have pushed the market to be more competitive, bringing down costs and making elevators cheaper, a report by Zhiyan said. China’s elevator sales growth dipped in 2015 when investment in real estate dropped, triggering fears that the heyday of China’s elevator market was over ended, Bloomberg once reported by quoting Otis’s chief executive officer. But looking ahead, “we also see the upgrading in Chinese consumer’s preference, which will further bolster the market’s growth,” said Patrick Xu, previously Nomura’s industrial analyst. “Consumers are becoming pickier, such as asking for more personal space,” he said. “So nowadays a building may install more than one elevator, which helps separate several companies on different floors — thus the number of elevators we buy may not necessarily follow the growth of real estate.” Meanwhile as elevators become “old” after around 10 years’ service, the number of elevators to be replaced or repaired will double the number in 2014, Zhiyan’s report said. “That will become another aspect of the fast growing market in China in the coming future, extending from merely installation growth,” it said.

US aims for North Korean denuclearisation within two-and-a-half years, Mike Pompeo says

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 17:39
The United States hopes to achieve “major disarmament” by North Korea within the next two-and-a-half years, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, speaking in Seoul the day after President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a historic summit. Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday and reached a short agreement that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, but provided no...

Former Maldives president sentenced to 19 months in prison

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 17:17
A Maldives court on Wednesday sentenced a former strongman accused of plotting to overthrow the government to 19 months in prison for failing to cooperate with the police investigation. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago state from 1978 to 2008, is the second former president to be jailed under President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s rule. He was arrested in February on charges of attempting to overthrow the government of Yameen, his half-brother. A court...

Will US-North Korea deal leave Japan, South Korea vulnerable?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 16:29
South Korea and Japan were left confused and concerned about their long-term security after US President Donald Trump said America would no longer take part in “war games” with its East Asian allies and wanted to reduce troop numbers in the region, analysts said. At a briefing immediately after his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, Trump described the joint military drills with South Korea as costly and “provocative”, and said...

US President Trump declares ‘no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea’ as questions mount over deal with Kim Jong-un

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 13:40
President Donald Trump declared on Twitter Wednesday that there was “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”, a bold and questionable claim following his summit with leader Kim Jong-un that produced few guarantees on how and when Pyongyang would disarm. “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” he tweeted. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong-un was an...