WORLD NEWS AS REPORTED III

Truce village or European capital? Possible Trump-Kim summit venues

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 41 min 32 sec ago
US President Donald Trump says that five locations are under consideration for his expected meeting with Kim Jong-un, the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea. But he gave no clues as to what they might be, and speculation is rife as to the possibilities – with many contenders suggested. Here are some of the options: Panmunjom – The truce village in the demilitarised zone that divides the two Koreas will host a summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week. It...

What will happen to the Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s, and why does it matter?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 3 hours 40 min ago
The recent whirlwind of diplomacy over North Korea has sparked hopes in Japan of a breakthrough in the painful decades-long issue of citizens kidnapped by Pyongyang. US President Donald Trump pledged after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to work “very, very hard” to “try and bring these folks back.” Trump also met relatives of the abductees during his last visit to Tokyo, the emotional high point of his trip as grieving families clutched pictures of...

Trump-Abe summit: US could bail on meeting with North Korea’s Kim while Japan fails to avoid tariffs

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 4 hours 22 min ago
President Donald Trump pledged to go through with a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un but said he could still pull out if he feels it’s “not going to be fruitful”. Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, amid stormy negotiations on US-Japan trade where both expressed opposition to China’s steel overproduction and alleged intellectual property theft, Trump said CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim had “got along really well”...

Alibaba backs free trade with smart digital hub in Thailand

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 4 hours 29 min ago
Alibaba’s plans for a new digital free-trade zone in Thailand signal it will press on in championing global free trade despite the looming threat of a US-China trade war, the Chinese e-commerce giant’s founder Jack Ma said on Thursday. Speaking in Bangkok at a signing ceremony for the new Alibaba-led “smart digital hub” in Thailand – the second such initiative in Southeast Asia – Ma once again warned all parties to step back from the precipice of an all-out...

South Korean leader Moon says peace treaty with the North ‘must be pursued’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 6 hours 21 min ago
A peace treaty to formally end the Korean war “must be pursued”, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday, ahead of a summit next week with Kim Jong-un, leader of the nuclear-armed North. “The armistice that has dragged on for 65 years must come to an end,” Moon told media company representatives at the presidential Blue House, adding: “The signing of a peace treaty must be pursued after an end to the war is declared.” The 1950-53 Korean war ended in...

North Korean leader Kim’s wife gets a status boost as country’s new ‘first lady’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 7 hours 46 min ago
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has given his young, stylish wife the title of first lady in what analysts say is a major boost to her status ahead of back-to-back summits with South Korea and the United States. Ri Sol-ju has often accompanied Kim to official events but made her first solo public appearance last weekend at a ballet performance by a visiting Chinese troupe. The North’s state media reported the outing, referring to her as the “respected first lady” – the...

Google Home can understand Singaporean English, but does it know Singlish?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 8 hours 12 min ago
By Jonathan Loh Finally, the Google Home and Home Mini have officially landed in Singapore, priced at S$189 (US$144.38) and S$79 respectively on the Google Store. Singaporeans will be glad to know that Google Home and Home Mini devices sold here are fitted with the tech giant’s “Singaporean English” voice command support, which was first introduced in November last year. According to Google, this means that made-in-Singapore terms such as “kopitiam”, Paya Lebar and...

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s days may be numbered as popularity dips and political rivals circle

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 8 hours 24 min ago
Rivals are jockeying to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the embattled Japanese leader struggles with sinking support, but so far none have offered detailed policy alternatives to his “strong defence, strong economy” platform. Battered by scandals involving suspected cronyism, Abe’s ratings have slid near or below 30 per cent, dampening his chances of gaining a third three-year term as Liberal Democratic Party leader in a September vote, and sparking talk he might step...

South Korea’s government embraces insects to feed on mounds of food waste

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 8 hours 54 min ago
By Ko Dong-hwan The South Korean government has embraced a rare yet effective, eco-friendly method of disposing of food waste, vowing to expand infrastructure for “ptecticus tenebrifer,” a flying insect that feeds on waste when in a larva state. The Rural Development Administration set up new policies to introduce technological and legal bases for breeding the insects’ larvae, the arm of the Ministry of Environment. So far the policies’ absence has limited the government...

‘Lesbianism’ diagnosis bewilders New Zealand woman

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 10 hours 33 min ago
By Melissa Nightingale A woman in the New Zealand capital of Wellington is bemused after discovering her doctor had listed “lesbianism” as a diagnosed condition in her medical records. Charlotte, who is in a relationship with another woman, has laughed off the diagnosis, saying she is not the type of person to “get up in arms” about such things. “I’ve never heard the term ‘lesbianism’ used before,” she said. “If I were sensitive about...

Scene set at Joint Security Area as hopes rise for North and South Korea to strike reconciliatory note

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 10 hours 51 min ago
The building that sits at the fortified border between the two Koreas is undergoing renovation for a landmark summit that may pave the way for an end to their hostility. It remains unknown how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will travel to the Peace House – on the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area (JSA), in the border village of Panmunjom – for the talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but officials are making preparations for him to walk across the border, which...

US, Japan ‘aligned’ on Chinese steel, intellectual property rights

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 11 hours 19 min ago
China’s steel overproduction and alleged intellectual property theft were discussed at the just concluded US-Japan summit, though bilateral trade and North Korea’s nuclear threat dominated the agenda, Washington’s envoy in Tokyo said on Thursday. Joint concerns about these issues showed the strengthening “alignment” between US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ambassador William Hagerty said. “I think the role of China is on...

One third of Great Barrier Reef corals killed in marine heatwave in 2016

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 12 hours 11 min ago
High water temperatures off the east Australian coast in 2016 bleached and “cooked” large sections of the Great Barrier Reef, according to a new scientific study released on Thursday. The study, published in the journal Nature, showed 29 per cent of the almost 4,000 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef lost at least two-thirds of their corals over a nine-month period, affecting their ability to support diverse ecosystems. “When corals bleach from a heatwave, they can...

‘Regrettable and mortifying’: Japanese mayor vows to overhaul men-only rule in sumo wrestling

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 13 hours 59 min ago
A female mayor at the centre of a fierce debate over allowing women into the sumo ring vowed on Thursday never to back down as she prepared to lodge a formal protest. “I won’t give up this time around … I’m determined to make a petition every six months,” Tomoko Nakagawa said before taking her case to the sumo authorities in Tokyo. “I want them never to leave this issue vague. I want the association to hear this voice clearly and start a debate on a review...

Three former US soldiers convicted of contract killing in Philippines were paid US$35,000 each by international crime boss

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 15 hours 2 min ago
A former US Army sniper and two other former American soldiers were convicted Wednesday in the contract killing of a real estate agent in the Philippines for an international crime boss who thought the woman had cheated him on a land deal. Joseph Hunter, a one-time sergeant from Kentucky with a Special Forces background, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell were found guilty of murder-for-hire and other charges. All three had denied they planned the 2012 execution-style hit – a case that...

Watch Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe’s speech following their two-day meeting on live stream

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 19 hours 9 min ago
US President Donald Trump is to give a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, following two days of discussions at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump began his speech by giving his condolences to the family of former first lady Barbara Bush, and reiterating the righteousness of US and ally air strikes on Syria. He then promised a “bright path” for North Korea when it achieves “verifiable” and “irreversible”...

Service platform launched to support China’s import expo

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI has set up a one-stop trading service platform to support its hosting of the China International Import Expo in November. The city yesterday launched the one-stop year-round exhibition and transaction platform, and announced the establishment of Shanghai International Import Trading Services Co. This move puts the action plan of the last 200 days’ preparation for the expo into practice. It is also a measure to help to magnify both the driving and the spillover effect of the import expo. The city’s commission of commerce built the platform in line with the expo’s implementation plan approved by the central leadership. Furthermore, the launch of the one-stop platform marks the basic formation of a normal professional service mode for the expo, which has three functions — exhibiting, promoting transactions, and offering professional import services. The platform will demonstrate not only the exhibits of the six-day expo, which opens on November 5, but import exhibits from all the year-round exhibition platforms. The first batch of year-round platforms, totaling 30, was launched on April 11. Leading firms in logistics, exhibition, e-commerce, finance and consulting sectors have been gathered on the platform to offer professional services to participants of the expo. Shanghai International Import Trading Services is a joint venture co-funded by the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai and the Donghao Lansheng Group, a major state-owned enterprise in the modern service industry. The service company is set up mainly to take charge of the design, construction and operation of the one-stop service platform. The platform will use smart methods to provide professional services, including online demonstration, matchmaking, transactions and payment. Information sharing will be enhanced to promote the matching of supply and demand, supporting global products, services and technologies to enter the Chinese market. “The platform will exhibit the world’s latest products, most advanced technology and featured products, make matches for exhibitors and purchasers, enhance their communication, and promote the transaction,” said Wang Qiang, chairman of Donghao Lansheng. Yang Jianrong, chairman of the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai, said the service platform is there to promote global trade and gather the world’s top brands, products and services to enable companies from all countries to sell their products throughout the world via the platform. It will strongly push forward the process of trade globalization, Yang added. Shanghai’s Party Secretary Li Qiang said at the mobilization meeting on Tuesday that the city will actively offer “multi-mode and multi-channel services” for foreign businesses to enter Chinese markets and develop the city into a hub to distribute imported goods across China and Asia.

IMF: Central banks urged to tighten monetary policy gradually

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
THE International Monetary Fund urged central banks yesterday to take a gradual and transparent approach to tightening monetary policy, warning that unexpected moves could shock the global economy. The IMF cautioned that investors and financial markets expect a steady approach to monetary tightening based on the belief inflation will remain relatively tame. But the IMF pointed to some fragilities in global finance after a lengthy period of easy money policies and low interest rates, including a flood of high-risk bonds, record-high debt levels and lofty prices for risky assets. If conditions change abruptly that could even derail the economic recovery, the IMF warned. “Financial vulnerabilities, which have accumulated during years of extremely low rates and volatility, could make the road ahead bumpy and could put growth at risk,” the IMF said in its Global Financial Stability Report, a twice-annual analysis. For example, a sudden acceleration of inflation in the United States could lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly than currently expected. Tobias Adrian, director for the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, acknowledged that uncertainty about inflation is currently “very low,” but warned that markets could have an outsized reaction to any spike. Other factors also could hit markets, including US-China trade tensions, which the IMF flagged as one of the most concerning risks to the global recovery in a separate report released on Tuesday. Adrian said talk of a US-China trade war had not so far significantly affected financial conditions, even as jitters sent global share prices lower. “In recent weeks, discussions around trade have increased investor uncertainty and as a result financial conditions have tightened somewhat, but remain easy,” he said. “What we are flagging is that at some point markets see shocks in inflation that raise inflation uncertainty and when that happens” rates could rise quickly and financial conditions would tighten, he said. Emerging markets would be especially vulnerable to “spillovers” if that happens, the report cautioned. “Gradual and well-telegraphed” moves by advanced economy central banks have so far been favorable for emerging economies, but financial flows could fall by “at least one-quarter” if central banks mishandle the transition, the fund said. The analysis is the latest to tackle the myriad policy-making challenges as the world moves towards ending a long period of low interest rates and monetary stimulus enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. The US Federal Reserve has undertaken a series of interest rate hikes over the last two and a half years.

Amazon expands global dominance

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
AMAZON is expanding its dominance globally by giving overseas customers access to more than 45 million items via its app. The online powerhouse also said yesterday that it’s teaming with rival Best Buy on new Fire TV Edition smart TVs. Amazon.com Inc’s “International Shopping” will be available through a mobile browser or app and goods will be shipped globally from the United States. There are five languages to choose from and Amazon is accepting 25 currencies. Customers can also choose from different shipping options and delivery speeds. Amazon operates largely in North America, Western Europe, parts of Asia, and Australia. The app allows people living outside of regions where Amazon operates to order goods. Amazon said that its “International Shopping” feature will show prices, shipping costs, and import duty estimates, which can be substantial. Amazon will coordinate with courier services for customs clearance on behalf of the customer. Amazon’s partnership with Best Buy brings the new Fire TV Edition smart TVs to consumers in the US and Canada. Best Buy will roll out more than 10 4K and HD Fire TV Edition models from Insignia and Toshiba. Customers in the US can buy the device starting this summer.

World Bank fund unveils 1st bond issue

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
THE World Bank fund dedicated to helping the world’s poorest countries on Tuesday announced it has raised US$1.5 billion in its first-ever global bond issue, which enjoyed huge demand from investors. The International Development Association issued a five-year AAA-rated bond which had nearly five times more demand than the amount initially offered for sale, the World Bank said in a statement. “Today’s bond issue will allow IDA to tap into the power of capital markets to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges and help millions lift themselves out of poverty,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. Over 40 percent of the bonds went to central banks, while a quarter went to banks and another quarter to pension funds. The funds will be used to finance sustainable development projects. IDA, which provides very low cost funding to the poorest countries, previously relied on regular government contributions for its work. But in 2016 shareholders agreed to turn to investors to raise funds against its huge US$158 billion in capital. “While it is a new bond issuer, IDA is an established institution, with an almost 60-year track record as the leading source of development finance and expertise for some of the fastest growing economies in the world,” Kim said.

China to boost e-commerce with Thailand

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
CHINA offered US$1.7 million from the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund to Thailand yesterday to boost cross-border economy and trade, business exchange and e-commerce. Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lu Jian and Permanent Secretary of the Thai Ministry of Commerce Nuntawan Sakuntanaga signed the cooperation agreement on LMC Special Fund projects yesterday. China initiated the LMC Special Fund during the first LMC Leaders’ meeting in Sanya in Hainan Province in March 2016 to support small and medium-sized cooperation projects put forward by the six Lancang-Mekong countries. The six Lancang-Mekong countries are China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Lu said during the signing ceremony that “our six countries have worked together in the past two years to turn the idea of LMC into reality, bringing benefits to our six countries and the region.”

QE2 docks as a hotel in Dubai

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
Visitors take photos of the Queen Elizabeth II luxury cruise liner, also known as the QE2, docked at Port Rashid in Dubai. After sailing the Atlantic for nearly four decades, the 294-meter cruise liner has been turned into a 13-deck luxury hotel moored permanently at Mina Rashid in Dubai. The ship — christened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 — partly opened yesterday as a hotel with rates ranging from US$163 to US$6,807 per night, a spokeswoman said. When it officially opens in October, visitors will be able to choose from 13 restaurants and bars planned for the vessel.

Stable month for China house prices

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
HOUSING prices remained largely stable in major Chinese cities in March amid tough government purchase restrictions. Data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that in the country’s four first-tier cities, Shenzhen recorded a 0.1 percent decline in new home price from a month earlier. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou prices climbed 0.1 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.2 percent respectively. In February, all four first-tier cities recorded price falls between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent from January. On a year-on-year basis, new home prices in the first-tier cities declined 0.6 percent last month, while prices of pre-owned houses in these cities went down 0.1 percent. “Housing prices were generally stable as market controls have continued to take effect,” said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at the bureau, which tracks property prices in 70 Chinese cities. “Nationwide, differentiated measures to regulate the residential property market continued to be implemented, showing consistency and continuity in government policies.” Seven of the 15 “hottest” cities with regard to the property market, including both first and second-tier cities, saw declines of 0.1 to 0.4 percent in new home prices from February. Prices in Tianjin and Hefei were flat, and the rest recorded minor increases of 0.1 to 0.2 percent. On an annual basis, new home prices in nine of the 15 cities shed between 0.3 percent and 2.3 percent, and the remainder recorded rises of 0.1 to 1.2 percent. Among the 70 cities, new home prices in 10 of them fell month on month, a decrease of six from February. In the pre-occupied housing market, seven cities posted price declines, a drop of eight from February. “Notably more cities around the country witnessed monthly price growth in both new and existing housing markets in March,” Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency wrote in a report. “That was partially because of some seasonal factors as the domestic housing market finally started to pick up some strength amid improving momentum among buyers following the Spring Festival holiday in February.” The data came after the statistics bureau released on Tuesday that China’s investment in property development expanded 10.4 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2018, accelerating from an increase of 7 percent registered in 2017. Total investment in the real estate sector stood at 2.13 trillion yuan (US$340 billion) in the first quarter. “The double-digit growth beat market expectations,” said Xia Dan, senior researcher of the Bank of Communications, noting that the construction of rental housing and affordable housing partly contributed to the growth. During previous years, rocketing housing prices, especially in major cities, had fueled concerns about asset bubbles. To curb speculation, local governments passed or expanded their restrictions on house purchases and increased minimum down payments required for mortgages. In addition, China is moving faster to implement a long-term mechanism for property regulation that ensures supply through multiple sources, provides housing support through multiple channels, and encourages both housing purchases and rentals. This year’s government work report reiterated that “houses are for living in, not speculation.” The report added: “We will support people in buying homes for personal use, and develop the housing rental market and shared ownership housing.” So far, 51 state-owned home renting companies have been set up in 12 pilot cities, where government-led rental management and service platforms were established. For 2018, the government pledged to maintain stability and consistency of property regulatory policies and accelerate establishing the long-term mechanism for real estate regulation. “China will not waver in its efforts to implement property market regulation, and will maintain continuity and stability of policies in 2018,” said Wang Menghui, minister of housing and urban-rural development.

Fewer restrictions for foreign investors

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
CHINA will substantially reduce restrictions on foreign investors to further open up the economy. An official with the nation’s top economic planner said yesterday that a new negative list on foreign investment will impose a much smaller number of restrictions. At the same time, measures will be unveiled to open up in fields such as finance, automobiles, energy, resources, infrastructure, transport, commercial circulation and professional services. Yan Pengcheng, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said the list will also increase the predictability of policies by giving timetables and grace periods for opening-up measures to be taken in the years ahead. On Tuesday, the NDRC announced that the new negative list will be published as early as possible in the first half of this year. China started to pilot a negative list approach in the Shanghai free trade zone in 2013. All sectors are open to foreign investors except for those outlined in the negative list. Foreign and domestic companies will be given equal treatment in the implementation of the Made in China 2025 strategy and other areas, including government purchase and technology programs, Yan said. The Made in China 2025 strategy is a plan to upgrade the country’s manufacturing sector. Authorities will boost efficiency of services for foreign firms in terms of business establishment, construction permission and cross-border trade, Yan added. With regard to trade frictions with the United States, there has been a limited but controllable impact on the Chinese economy, he said. “China has prepared multilevel response plans and backup policies for the US-initiated trade frictions.” Supply-side structural reform and new growth momentum have laid a solid foundation to prepare China for the external impact, Yan said, citing a reassuring performance of China’s economy in the first quarter. The economy demonstrated its resilience by delivering a solid start to the year with GDP growing 6.8 percent year on year. “China, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, has a huge domestic market, and even if the east goes dark, the west still shines,” he said. “We are confident and capable of sustaining the stable development of our economy.” While certain sectors of Chinese exports will be affected, consumers and related manufacturers in the US will pay the price of American protectionist policies, Yan added. “We hope to work together with other countries to create a more favorable environment for globalization and cross-border investment.”

Latest J7 goes into mass output

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
The latest J7 series Jiefang truck is seen at Chinese automaker FAW Group in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province, yesterday. The Jiefang J7 truck was rolled off the assembly line in Changchun yesterday, officially going into the mass production phase.

Shanghai GDP roars by expanding 6.8% in Q1

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI’S economy got off to a solid start this year when it grew at a steady 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018. The city’s gross domestic product expanded 6.8 percent year on year to 786.34 billion yuan (US$125.06 billion) — flat from the same quarter last year, according to the Shanghai Statistics Bureau. The services sector took up 70.3 percent of the total GDP, contributing 552.78 billion yuan — up 7 percent year on year. The value-added industrial output rose 6 percent to 836.09 billion yuan in January to March from a year earlier. Of the city’s six key industrial sectors, the output of automobile manufacturing rose 11.6 percent and that of biomedical producers gained 16.1 percent. The output of complete equipment manufacturing and electronic information product manufacturing also rose. The production of high-quality steel manufacturing and petrochemical and fine chemicals sectors, however, fell from the same three-month period last year. The industrial added value of strategic emerging industries in Shanghai grew 8.2 percent to 243.16 billion yuan, up 1.7 percentage points from January-March last year. Shanghai’s foreign trade from January to March grew 5.9 percent from a year earlier to 793.93 billion yuan, according to data from Shanghai Customs. Imports were up 8.5 percent to 483.47 billion yuan while exports rose 2 percent from the first quarter of last year to 310.46 billion yuan. The total contract value of Shanghai’s foreign direct investment amounted to US$10.54 billion in January to March, with the number of contracts up 1.6 times from the same quarter a year ago to 984. Fixed-asset investment rose 7.7 percent annually, 0.4 percentage points faster than the whole of 2017. State-owned enterprises’ FAI rose 0.6 percent to 32.12 billion yuan, while non-SOEs’ investment surged 10 percent. Infrastructure FAI jumped 15.1 percent and that in real estate development grew 4.6 percent to 90.94 billion yuan. The Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 1.8 percent in the first quarter year on year. Prices in services gained 0.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017 amid a consumption upgrade and rapid expansion in consumer demand for services.

Huangpu sweetens regional HQ policies

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI’S Huangpu District launches preferential policies including generous subsidies to encourage foreign businesses to set up regional headquarters there. Foreign companies, especially trading firms and research and development centers from abroad, who set up offices in the downtown district can receive subsidies for housing and other expenses, the district government said yesterday. The district government yesterday chose five foreign firms, which set up regional bases in Huangpu, to be part of the scheme. They include popular clothing brands H&M from Sweden and Puma from Germany as well as French cosmetics giant Sephora. These companies can receive 300,000 yuan (US$47,758) in subsidies for each franchise they open across China. To enhance the attractiveness of the district, Huangpu also promised to offer simplified administrative procedures and set up efficient one-stop services to cater to the foreign companies. Huangpu aims to revive its former glory as the birthplace of China’s early industries and main focal point of foreign investments, said Gao Yun, Party secretary and director of the district. Foreign banks and companies once set up offices on the Bund and in other areas within the district in the early 19th century. Huangpu has drawn 2,500 foreign companies which invested US$20 billion in the district. Forty-two multinational firms have set up regional headquarters in Huangpu, the district government said.

Epson sees new tech as catalysts

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
INDUSTRIAL robot, digital printing, new-technology projector and wearable glasses will become new growth catalysts for Epson in China, the Japan-based firm said yesterday. The Japanese company showcased wearable glasses with augmented reality technology for industrial users, digital printers and robotic arms for use by watch and electronics manufacture at the Epson Innovation Day yesterday. Epson achieved rapid growth in new business, such as robotics which surged 85 percent year on year and high-end projector which jumped 56 percent, in China. The surging middle-class, high requirement for green and sustained development and smart manufacturing have all created unique market opportunities for Epson, which debuted in the Chinese market 20 years ago, said Akihiro Fukaishi, president of Epson China.

Intelligence is key for Lenovo

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
GLOBAL personal computer giant Lenovo Group eyes selling new-type smart devices worth US$1 billion in the new financial year. Lenovo will make “intelligence” its new brand label as the company keeps connecting their products with data, services and users, Yang Yuanqing, the company’s chairman and CEO, said at the “Lenovo FY2018 China Kickoff” on Tuesday. The company expects more progress to be made in PC, mobile services, data centers and artificial intelligence in the new financial year. Software and other services revenues are expected to reach US$2 billion this year, while the market penetration rate of Lenovo’s PC value-added services could gain 1 percentage point. Meanwhile, Lenovo hopes that revenue of its super-scale data center business will reach US$1.5 billion and that clients of its vertical industry intelligent solutions will increase by more than three times.

PBOC’s ratio cut propels China’s stocks

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S stocks rallied yesterday, with the Nasdaq-style ChiNext index posting the strongest gains, as they were buoyed by the central bank’s latest move to cut reserve requirement ratio for commercial lenders. The Shanghai Composite Index, the country’s major benchmark, rose 0.8 percent to close at 3,091.40 yesterday. The Shenzhen Component Index added 0.92 percent to close at 10,491.15 points while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext enterprise board surged 2.16 percent to finish at 18,22.26, lifted by the robust performance of domestic chip companies. Shares of SGCircuits, a Shenzhen-based technology company, jumped by the 10 percent daily limit to end at 46.48 yuan (US$7.39). Shenzhen-headquartered Nationz Technologies, a provider of secure integrated circuits and services in Internet identification authentication, closed at 9.46 yuan per share. The People’s Bank of China announced late Tuesday a 100 basis points cut in the amount of cash that most commercial lenders must hold with the central bank as reserves. Market sentiment rose after the unexpected move which was set to inject 400 billion yuan in new liquidity to the market, according to industry observers. Gu Yongtao, a strategist at Cinda Securities, said the PBOC’s decision will ease liquidity pressure in the capital markets.

US tariffs upon China are unfair, untenable

SHANGHAI DAILY - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:01
US President Donald Trump has since his election campaign been criticizing China for what he said were Beijing’s “unfair trade practices,” and the recent build-up to what could become a China-US trade war suggests the president is determined to act. However, a breakdown of facts will show that Washington’s excuses for escalating its trade tensions with China do not hold water. Before explaining how the algorithms by which the United States has come to the conclusion that its trade deficit with China amounts to over US$375 billion are apparently questionable, let’s see just how casual Trump’s decision, as of now, to impose tariffs on a total of US$150 billion worth of Chinese goods is. “China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States. Our relationship with China has been a very good one, and we look forward to seeing what ideas they come back with. We must act soon!” Trump wrote in a March 7 tweet. Reports suggesting the number was severely inflated by the Trump administration itself came shortly after the president fired off the tweet. The Wall Street Journal reported on March 8 that the administration requested that China shave US$100 billion off the deficit, citing sources familiar with the matter as saying the request was made by US officials to their Chinese interlocutors a week before. If a lack of intra-administration communication was not the reason for the obvious discrepancy between Trump and administration officials’ assertions, then it seems we can rightly assume that the proposed tally of tariffs was nothing but to add the math up. Now come the algorithms. The United States calculates trade deficits and surpluses based on where a product is finished instead of on value added, a method that renders its unilaterally-concluded China deficit number unconvincing. In an opinion piece published on April 2 on the Foreign Affairs magazine’s website, Philip Levy wrote: “Since China is the latest stage in the (global value) chain, a finished product can appear to have come from China, even if Chinese value-added is relatively small.” Levy, who tried in his article to justify US acceptance of China’s accession into the World Trade Organization in 2001 as one and the only right decision, pinpointed the exact symptom of Washington’s ill-devised calculations. Indeed, a lot of products with the “made in China” labels oftentimes turn out to be assembled in China using imported parts. Take Apple’s electronic devices for example. According to statistics dating back as early as 2010, 58.5 percent of iPhone’s profits went to the Apple company, whereas China’s labor cost only constituted 1.8 percent of inputs. While profits gained by Apple from the iPad slipped to 30 percent in the same year, the percentage of China’s labor cost stood at 2 percent, pretty much the same as that of the iPhone and still in stark contrast with Apple’s gains. It is crystal clear that it is the American company — and subsequently the US economy — that has harvested most of the profits, not the Chinese assemblers. Yet, the Apple products, along with many other Chinese-finished commodities, are considered by the Trump administration to be items by which Beijing has taken advantage of Washington. Cliche of national security Moreover, the structure of China-US trade matters as well. China sells mainly daily necessities to the United States that usually have low profit margins, while the United States sells things like aircraft and automobiles to China, ones that undeniably have more added values. Trump is so vehemently concerned about bilateral trade balance. If he decides to abandon the cliche of national security concerns and sell high-end equipment to China, he would have overturned the deficit “conundrum” with a flip of the hand. In fact, Beijing, judging from both the complementary nature of the bilateral trade structure and a win-win point of view, has on multiple occasions urged Washington to loosen its grip on exports that the latter worries comprise “sensitive technologies.” Unfortunately, though, China’s efforts have so far been to no avail. Last but not least, as far as the decline of the US manufacturing sector is concerned, there is little the United States can righteously complain about China. During his presidential campaign, Trump spared no effort to blame China for harming the US manufacturing sector. Although bringing home American manufacturers was a key pledge in Trump’s protectionist “Make America Strong Again” slogan, statistics once again suggests that the loss of US manufacturing jobs is more of a domestic issue than something caused by such external reasons as the China factor. In the same Foreign Affairs article, Levy said the share of manufacturing employment in total US nonfarm payrolls — the primary indicator used to assess US job creation — fell from 12 percent in December 2001 to 8.5 percent in December 2017. He called the decline, which came in the wake of China’s accession into the WTO, “a drop of just over 29 percent ... that actually represents a slowing of a preexisting trend.” Levy said the share of labor in US manufacturing fell by more than 33 percent between 1985 and 2001, the 16 years leading up to China’s WTO membership. That backed up his conclusion that China, if anything, had actually played a much lesser role in the downward trend. Turning the calendar back by a further 16-year time, the author said “we can see the same trend in the United States: a 31 percent drop from an initial 25.9 percent in 1969.” “That occurred during a period in which China was largely isolated from the global economy and it therefore cannot be held responsible,” Levy said.

Angry protesters confront Indian Prime Minister Modi in London over spate of sexual violence and brutal rapes

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 15:54
Hundreds of noisy protesters greeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrived in London on Wednesday, demonstrating over a rising tide of sexual violence at home including two particularly brutal rapes. Holding placards reading “Modi go home” and “we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed,” they gathered outside Downing Street and parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May. Sexual violence against women is a highly...

Philippines' Duterte says he ordered investigation of Australian nun

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:04
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he ordered the investigation into a 71-year-old Australian nun for “disorderly conduct”, justifying it as a legal move against “undesirable” foreigners. Sister Patricia Fox, a coordinator of a Philippine congregation of Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion, was taken from her house this week and detained at the immigration bureau in Manila for almost 24 hours. She was released on Tuesday pending further...

Top Japan finance official quits to clear his name after harassment claims surface in local magazine

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:08
The top bureaucrat at Japan’s finance minister quit on Wednesday following allegations he sexually harassed female reporters, saying he wanted to clear his name. Junichi Fukuda has denied a magazine report he harassed several women, but calls for him to step aside have grown in recent days. Finance Minister Taro Aso announced the resignation late on Wednesday, saying Fukuda told him he wanted to “clear his name”. “I thought it would be difficult to fulfil my job...

Donald Trump and Japan PM Shinzo Abe talk trade and North Korea at Florida resort

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:12
Seeking to reassure Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of their close alliance ahead of planned talks with North Korea, the Trump administration has signalled it was open to considering exempting Japan from new steel and aluminium tariffs that Abe opposes. Hosting Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, US President Donald Trump said the tariffs could be a topic during the visit, which comes as Trump prepares for a historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Trump also gave Abe a...

‘I want my life back’: victims of Japan’s long-running sterilisation programme demand justice

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:59
Junko Iizuka remembers clearly the day she was taken to a hospital as a teenager and forcibly sterilised under a Japanese government programme. Her foster mother gave her a rice ball as they stood by a river, and then took her without explanation to a doctor. Sometime afterwards, Iizuka, who requested a pseudonym to describe her experience, woke up in a hospital bed with a huge vertical scar across her stomach. Iizuka, now in her seventies, is one of thousands of men and women forcibly...

India: 21 killed in horror road crash on way to wedding

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 09:39
At least 21 revellers were killed en route to a wedding when their truck flew off a bridge, police said Wednesday, the latest horrific crash on India’s accident-prone roads. The truck, carrying more than 40 passengers, smashed through a protective railing in central Madhya Pradesh state late Tuesday and plunged nearly 20 metres to a dry riverbed below. Police in Sidhi district said 21 people were injured, most of them critically, in the accident some 560 kilometres (350 miles) from the...

Indonesia arrests home-brew booze kingpin after dozens die

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:31
Police have arrested the main suspect in a spate of bootleg alcohol poisonings thought to have killed dozens across Indonesia, authorities said Wednesday, with the booze kingpin facing life behind bars if he is convicted. Samsudin Simbolon was caught early Wednesday on a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, ending a nationwide search for a man whose bootleg operation allegedly killed as many as 50 people in neighbouring West Java. “We will fly him to Jakarta tonight and then to Bandung,...

Stolen car in New Zealand driven by 13-year-old found with eight more children inside

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 07:32
A stolen car being driven by a 13-year-old also had eight other children inside when it was stopped by New Zealand police in the early hours of this morning. About 12.30am local time police received a complaint about the theft of a motor vehicle from a Paraparaumu Beach address. An hour later, the vehicle, a small Suzuki Swift, was found travelling south on Manly St, Paraparaumu. Police tried to stop the vehicle, however the driver tried to get away before stopping a short time later. On...

Thailand wants tourists to help it fight human trafficking

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 06:29
At Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi airport, a video repeats scenes of tourists visiting Thailand’s sunny beaches and its vibrant nightlife, but at the end comes a warning. “Human trafficking and slavery are against the law in Thailand. Perpetrators will be severely punished,” it says, followed by a hotline number for people to report cases. From airports to shopping malls, Thailand is ramping up a campaign targeting tourists in its latest effort to keep the country free from...

Air Busan flight attendant ridicules passengers’ hairstyles as broccoli

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 06:19
By Kang Aa-young A flight attendant of Air Busan, a low-cost carrier in South Korea, apologised Tuesday for disrespectful comments and photos posted by one of its flight attendants on Instagram. The flight attendant, on a Busan-Jeju flight on Saturday, took photos of the passengers from behind and posted them with comments such as “looking all the same” and “broccoli farm.” It was an obvious reference to the hairstyle of the middle-aged married women or “ajumma...

Singapore and Indonesia researchers uncover at least 12 new deep sea species off Java

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 05:35
By Neo Chai Chin Scientists from Singapore and Indonesia have found at least 12 species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs that are new to science in the deep sea off western and southern Java. The South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018), the first such expedition jointly organised by both countries, also yielded more than 40 species that are new records for Indonesia. The figures may be the tip of the iceberg as the researchers now go through the 12,000...

CIA chief Pompeo met Kim Jong-un during secret visit to North Korea over Easter weekend

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 02:33
CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a top-secret visit to North Korea over Easter weekend as an envoy for President Donald Trump to meet with that country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, according to two people with direct knowledge of the trip. The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emmisaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme,...

More pressure needed on Myanmar to take back Rohingya, says Bangladeshi PM

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 21:31
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday more international pressure was needed on Myanmar to take back Muslim Rohingya refugees. “The international community needs to put more pressure on Myanmar so that they take back their own people and ensure their security,” she told an audience in London. “Myanmar says they are ready to take back the Rohingya, but they are not taking the initiative.” UN officials say nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled into...

Japan, US, and South Korea eye denuclearisation of North Korea by 2020

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 20:54
A plan being floated among Japan, the United States and South Korea is aimed at the complete denuclearisation of North Korea by the summer of 2020, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday, in a rejection of Pyongyang’s “phased, synchronised” approach in exchange for benefits. The three countries are seeking an early end to Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles after past attempts allowed North Korea incremental incentives to halt its nuclear programme and...

Foreign auto shareholding limits to be phased out

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA will phase out shareholding limits for foreign investors in the automobile industry as part of its efforts to further expand opening-up. The National Development and Reform Commission yesterday announced specific timeline and measures. According to the plan, the sector will ease all restrictions through a five-year transition period starting this year. In 2018, China will ease restrictions on stakes foreign automakers can own in joint ventures concerning new-energy and special-purpose vehicles. In 2020, the country will relax foreign ownership limits in joint ventures that produce commercial vehicles. In 2022, China will relax foreign ownership restrictions in joint car ventures as well as scrapping rules that limit foreign automakers to no more than two joint ventures with Chinese partners. Currently, foreign carmakers can own up to 50 percent in joint ventures with local partners. “Through the opening-up of the manufacturing industry, we hope Chinese and foreign companies can achieve development in a fair competition environment. We encourage Chinese and foreign firms to carry out more extensive and diverse cooperation in the field of capital, technology, management and talent training,” the commission said. President Xi Jinping said at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference this month that China will launch a number of landmark measures this year to significantly broaden its market access and accelerate the opening-up process. “On manufacturing, China has basically opened up this sector with a small number of exceptions on automobiles, ships and aircraft. Now these industries are also in a position to open up,” Xi said. “We will ease as soon as possible foreign equity restrictions in these industries, automobile in particular.” The commission said the opening-up of the manufacturing sector “will stimulate market vitality and encourage innovation, as well as gather resources at home and abroad.” The commission also said yesterday that China will phase out shareholding limits for foreign investors in shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing from this year. “The limits will be lifted on shipbuilding processes including design, manufacturing and repair, and on production of airplanes, including trunk and regional airliners, general-purpose airplanes, helicopters, drones and aerostats.”

Steady growth despite trade tension

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S economy recorded steady growth in the first quarter this year, demonstrating its resilience amid escalating trade tensions with the United States. First-quarter gross domestic product rose 6.8 percent year on year to 19.87 trillion yuan (US$3.2 trillion), unchanged from the growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, National Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday. “The economy is off to a good start,” statistics bureau spokesman Xing Zhihong said, noting that the quarterly performance laid a good foundation for sustained, healthy growth for the whole year. The GDP growth rate has stayed within the range of 6.7 percent to 6.9 percent for 11 consecutive quarters, with the jobless rate and inflation remaining stable, Xing said. The solid first-quarter performance extended the economic strength of last year, when China’s GDP logged 6.9 percent growth, picking up the pace for the first time in seven years. The bureau, meanwhile, released the monthly survey-based urban unemployment rate for the first time. The unemployment rate was 5 percent, 5 percent and 5.1 percent in January, February and March respectively, all in the target range of below 5.5 percent for this year. Nomura said the “bright spot” was retail sales, whose growth accelerated to 10.1 percent in March from 9.7 percent over January-February. “This is a good sign that growth is rebalancing from investment to consumption,” Nomura said. “Indeed, underneath the very stable GDP growth over the past five quarters has been a continued rapid rebalancing, from old economy industrial sectors and investment toward new economy sectors like tech and services, as well as consumption.” The transition was part of China’s bid to steer its economy toward high-quality development rather than growth based on inefficient investment, low-end exports and polluting factories. Services accounted for 56.6 percent of the economy and 61.6 percent of its growth in the first quarter, the bureau said. Meanwhile, new businesses and industries continued to grow fast, and the industrial sector steadily upgraded toward medium and high-end production, according to Xing. The structural shift of China’s economy is also key to its effort to cope with pressure from rising protectionism, a threat highlighted by the spokesman. The biggest difficulty facing China’s economy “is uncertainty in the international environment,” he said. China is “fully capable” of handling trade tensions with the US, citing the country’s increasingly domestic-led growth, growing innovative edge, and ample room for development and policy control, Xing added. “The economy has plenty of resilience, potential and leeway. The Sino-US trade frictions cannot stump the Chinese economy, nor can they change its sound momentum of sustained and healthy growth,” he told reporters. As an upgrading market in China increases demand for high-quality products, domestic sales can partially offset the adverse impact of external factors, said Wang Changlin, an economist at the National Development and Reform Commission. Domestic demand contributed 105.7 percent of China’s economic growth on average annually from 2008 to 2017, Xing said. While drawing attention to a narrowing trade surplus, Xing said the country is opening up further. China earlier this month unveiled a number of landmark measures to be taken this year to significantly broaden market access, from significantly lowering import tariffs for vehicles to opening up the financial sector. In the first quarter, industrial output rose 6.8 percent year on year, with the growth unchanged from a year earlier and 0.4 percentage points lower than in January-February. January-March fixed-asset investment growth slowed to 7.5 percent, below 7.9 percent in January-February. Xing attributed the moderation of some indicators to seasonal factors as the Spring Festival came later this year than previous years and affected production. “Looking ahead, the favorable conditions and factors to support high-quality development are increasing, and the economy will continue to maintain stable development with a positive outlook,” he said. Zhang Zhanbin, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Governance said China will fulfill its goal of achieving GDP growth of around 6.5 percent this year. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said China’s economic momentum remains solid in the first three months. “On a year on year basis, China’s GDP increased 6.8 percent, on par with the fourth quarter of 2017. This will provide a cushion to a likely moderation in GDP growth in the second half of this year amid the country’s intensive reform efforts,” said Betty Wang, senior China economist of ANZ.

Anti-dumping measures take effect today

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S Ministry of Commerce announced yesterday that it will impose provisional anti-dumping measures on grain sorghum imported from the United States. A preliminary ruling by the ministry found that US companies had dumped grain sorghum on the Chinese market, and such imports had caused substantial damage to the domestic industry. Starting today, importers of the product will be required to pay deposits with Chinese customs calculated based on a rate of 178.6 percent. Data from the ministry showed US sorghum exports to China surged from 317,000 tons in 2013 to 4.76 million tons in 2017, while export prices have slumped 31 percent during the period, which led to a fall in domestic prices that hurt local industries. Wang Hejun, head of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, said the decision is in accordance with Chinese laws and WTO rules, and is aimed at correcting unfair practices to maintain a heathy trade order. “China has always opposed abuses of trade remedy measures,” Wang said, adding China is willing to expand cooperation with the US to reduce trade disagreements. Also yesterday, China’s Foreign Ministry said if the US continues to jeopardize multilateralism and free trade, China will take measures to protect them. During talks with China in the past few days, Japan and India both expressed their support for the multilateral trading system and global free trade regime with the World Trade Organization at the core, the ministry said.

China reacts after ZTE hit again in the US

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S Ministry of Commerce yesterday urged the United States to create a fair, just and stable legal and policy environment for Chinese companies. This came after the US Department of Commerce announced “activation of denial of export privileges” against leading Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp for alleged violations of the Export Administration Regulations. China “will closely track the case and is ready to take necessary measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce. ZTE has extensive trade and investment cooperation with hundreds of American companies, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the US, the spokesman said. “China has consistently asked Chinese companies to comply with the laws and policies of host countries and manage their businesses in line with laws and regulations.” The US on Monday banned American firms from selling parts and software to ZTE for seven years. “At present, the company is assessing the full range of potential implications that this event has on the company and is communicating with relevant parties proactively in order to respond accordingly,” ZTE said. ZTE, whose Hong Kong and Shenzhen shares were suspended from trading yesterday, has set up a crisis management group in response to the ban, according to a ZTE source. In March last year, ZTE reached settlements with US authorities over American export controls and sanctions charges. The ZTE agreed to pay a criminal and civil penalty of about US$892 million and an additional penalty of US$300 million that will be suspended during a seven-year probationary period to deter future violations. At that time, the US Department of Commerce recommended ZTE be removed from the Entity List under the Export Administration Regulations. But it will be subject to ZTE’s compliance with the settlements during the seven-year probation period. In a statement on Monday, the Department of Commerce claimed that the Shenzhen-based company made false statements regarding supervision of its staff and senior management. With this claim, the Department of Commerce decided to suspend the export privileges of ZTE for a period of seven years until March 13, 2025. This decision suggests that ZTE could be unable to import high-tech components from the US in these years. ZTE has 14 offices and six research centers in the United States and supported nearly 130,000 high-tech jobs in the country. ZTE is China’s No. 2 telecom equipment maker after Huawei Technologies Co, the No. 4 seller of smartphones in the US, and was worth some US$20 billion as of Monday’s close. In 2017, ZTE derived 59 percent of revenue from its network business and 32 percent from its consumer business.

US bank taps experience as vital quality

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
JP Morgan is banking on experience and diversity of thought as a vital quality in its potential employees as the US bank seeks to tap China’s continuing liberalization of its financial sector. The investment bank targets a 63 percent rise in the number of students to be recruited for roles located in China this year, compared with that of 2014 when it first launched a China-based analyst program for campus recruits. The US lender yesterday launched its first careers pop-up campaign called All Minds Wanted to encourage students from all disciplines, not just finance and business, to join the bank at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, which attracted over 200 students. The event enables students to interact with the bank’s executives in a less formal environment to encourage a more relaxed interaction between the parties. The bank draws, on average, around 30,000 applications for its graduate and internship positions in Asia Pacific. It employs 1,000 students as full-time analysts and interns each year. In the past year the bank saw 39 percent of its campus recruits coming from a background outside of finance, accounting and business in Asia Pacific excluding India. In China, 28 percent of campus recruits in 2017 were from majors such as mathematics, human resources, public affairs, energy management, English literature, and psychology.

Lenders must use cash from ratio cut to repay loans to PBOC

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S central bank said yesterday that it will reduce the amount of cash that most commercial banks must hold as reserves, but will require them to use that freed-up liquidity to pay back loans obtained via its medium-term lending facility. Whatever funds the banks have left, after paying back their MLF loans, they should use to provide loans to small companies, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement. The PBOC’s unexpected decision to cut reserve requirement ratios came after official data earlier yesterday showed China’s economy grew a faster-than-expected 6.8 percent in the first quarter. RRRs — currently at 17 percent for large institutions and 15 percent for smaller banks — will be cut by 100 basis points, the PBOC said. The cut will be made on April 25 and will apply to most banks, with the exception of policy lenders such as China Development Bank. On that day, banks with MLF loans that have not reached maturity are to use the liquidity released by the RRR cut to repay borrowed MLF funds to the PBOC. The amount of cash freed up by the RRR cut will be slightly higher than the amount of MLF loans to be repaid, according to the PBOC. Based on first-quarter data, the MLF loans due to be repaid on the day will be about 900 billion yuan (US$143 billion). There will be 400 billion yuan in excess of funds released, and most of that cash will go to city-based commercial banks and rural commercial banks, the PBOC said. The PBOC said it would maintain a prudent and neutral monetary policy. The PBOC’s last RRR adjustment was on January 25 when most banks saw at least a 50 bps cut to their RRRs as long as the lenders granted more loans to smaller firms and rural communities. That adjustment was flagged months in advance in late September. In a Reuters poll this month, the PBOC was forecast to cut RRRs for all banks by only 50 bps in the fourth quarter of 2018. Analysts had expected two extra 25 bps cuts to follow, bringing the rate down to 16 percent. Despite the economy’s solid first-quarter performance, analysts still expect it to lose momentum in coming quarters as authorities force local governments to scale back infrastructure projects to contain their debt and as property sales cool due to strict controls on purchases to fight speculation. A full-blown trade war with the United States could also impact billions of dollars in trade. Net exports overall were already a drag on growth in the first quarter after giving an added boost to the economy last year, highlighting the need for sustained strength in domestic demand if significant new US tariffs are imposed. “Rising Sino-US trade tensions are clouding the outlook for China’s exports,” said Xu Gao, a Beijing-based economist at Everbright Securities. “China needs domestic demand to hold up in the face of increasing uncertainties in external demand, so it needs the micro-management of monetary policies to make sure the real economy is stable.” The PBOC said it required financial institutions to mainly use newly released funds from the reserve cut to provide loans to small and micro companies and to lower funding costs for lenders, and that this would be included as a requirement in its quarterly Macro-Prudential Assessment for banks. The PBOC said it still needed to maintain relatively high RRRs for banks to fend off financial risks. But the liquidity freed by the RRR cut is expected to reduce the cost of funds for banks so that they can step up lending to support the economy. The interest rate that the PBOC pays banks for depositing their reserves at the central bank is 1.62 percent, but the interest rate the lenders pay for MLF loans from the PBOC is 3.3 percent. “I think it shows a clear trend of policy relaxation because the interest rate of this year’s MLF is 3.3 percent, but the banks are only receiving 1.62 percent for their reserves at the central bank,” said Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank. “This has greatly reduced the debt costs of banks. So under the context of deleveraging, the policy mix has become low interest rate-plus-strengthened supervision.” Banks included in the cut include large commercial banks, joint-stock commercial banks, city commercial banks, non-county-level rural commercial banks and foreign banks. Yang Yewei, analyst at Southwest Securities, said while it was the first time the PBOC was cutting RRRs to get banks to pay back MLF loans, it may not be the last. “Since increasing funding for small firms has been included in the MPA assessment, and considering that the MPA assessment is quarterly, we suspect such measures may be implemented quarterly,” Yang said.

Huawei gains 5G product certification

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
CHINESE information and communications technology solutions provider Huawei has obtained the world’s first CE type examination certificate for 5G products. The certification indicates that Huawei’s 5G products have won official approval for commercial use in Europe. It also “represents a significant step towards realizing large-scale commercial 5G deployment,” the company said in a statement. CE marking is compulsory for products imported to and sold within the European Economic Area. It is regarded as a stamp of approval for entering the European market. Huawei started research on 5G products in 2009, and has invested at least US$600 million in related research. It has built 11 5G research centers across the world. Huawei’s net profit surged 28 percent to 47.5 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion) last year. Its sales increased by 16 percent from 2016 to 604 billion yuan.

IMF upbeat on economies of emerging Asia

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
THE IMF said yesterday it remains upbeat about the economic prospects of emerging Asia, labeling the region “the most important engine of global growth” despite concerns over trade disputes and mounting debt. The International Monetary Fund’s latest quarterly World Economic Outlook forecasts global growth of 3.9 percent this year as the world economy hums along and nations retain supportive fiscal policies. The fastest-paced expansion will remain concentrated in Asia, it predicts, where the buoyant economies of China, India and a host of Southeast Asian nations will perform well above the global average. The IMF left unchanged from January its growth estimate for China of 6.6 percent for 2018 and 6.4 percent in 2019. The country’s own 2018 target is around 6.5 percent. China reported yesterday that its economy had grown 6.8 percent in the first quarter, maintaining the same pace as the fourth quarter last year. India is widely expected to be the next global growth juggernaut. The IMF foresees the nation’s economy surging by 7.4 percent this year and 7.8 percent in 2019, also flat from its previous outlook in January. The two Asian giants have seen their economic prospects brighten amid strong global demand for their exports and as their massive populations start spending, according to the IMF. Southeast Asia’s booming economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will collectively maintain growth above five percent this year and next, the IMF said. “Emerging Asia, which is forecast to continue growing at about 6.5 percent during 2018-19, remains the most important engine of global growth,” the IMF wrote. Global trade jumped 4.9 percent last year, the IMF estimated, with China’s exporters being among the largest beneficiaries. Their prospects are less certain amid US President Donald Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on up to US$150 billion worth of Chinese goods as part of his “America First” agenda. “Growing trade tensions and risks of a shift toward protectionist policies, and geopolitical strains” are among the greatest concerns, the IMF said. “An increase in tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers could harm market sentiment, disrupt global supply chains, and slow the spread of new technologies, reducing global productivity and investment,” the IMF said. Ballooning debt in both India and China has been a top concern for the IMF in recent years. Last year the IMF said China’s credit growth was on a “dangerous trajectory.” In India spiralling bad debt forced the government to recapitalize state-owned banks to the tune of US$32 billion in October to help them clean up their books. Chinese policymakers have delayed cutting debt, instead allowing for “stable and rational debt rises” this year to maintain growth. The IMF said officials were “eroding valuable policy space” but applauded regulators’ efforts to rein in the riskiest portion of its lending known as shadow banking. “Nevertheless, total credit growth remains high,” the IMF wrote. In India public banks are saddled with bad loans, making it hard for them to continue to fund the economy.

New home sales grow by double-digits

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
NEW home sales in China continued to grow by double digits, although at a slower rate, in the first quarter, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. About 2.16 trillion yuan (US$343.7 billion) worth of new homes, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, were sold between January and March, a year-on-year increase of 11.4 percent, the bureau said in a statement posted on its website. The growth was below the 15.7 percent expansion in the first two months. The area of new homes sold in the three-month period climbed 2.5 percent from the same quarter a year earlier to 261.1 million square meters, up from the 2.3 percent rise for the first two months, according to the bureau’s data. “As March is the traditional month when property sales start to recover as well as an important time to boost quarterly performance by real estate developers, buying sentiment continued to improve across the country,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co. “In particular, third and fourth-tier cities generally outperformed their larger counterparts which continue implement tightening policies to curb speculation.” The inventory of new homes for sale as of the end of March fell 25.4 percent from the same month a year ago to 291.67 million square meters, the bureau said. Investment in housing development, which took up 69.1 percent of total real estate investment in the first quarter, rose 13.5 percent year on year to 1.47 trillion yuan, up 1 percentage point from the first two months.

Research lab to be think tank

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI Pudong Software Park opened a research lab yesterday, cooperating with information security, FinTech, cloud and storage and artificial intelligence companies, the park said. The research lab will act as a think tank for firms in the park on policy, talent and brand development, said Zhang Sulong, general manager of the park, adding that it can also offer a technology communications platform. Top executives from SAP, Huada Semiconductor and Qiniu are invited to become members of the new lab. Qiniu is focusing on cloud and storage and plans to create an AI industry alliance in partnership with the park, said Lu Guihua, the firms’ co-founder and president. A digital classroom, with virtual reality and AI, will be also built in the park. Software and information service has become “important catalysts” for Shanghai to transform and innovate its economy.

Fair seeks viability for 55 projects

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
THE sixth China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair will select 55 latest technological projects for commercialization and gather potential investors to meet developers, the organizer said yesterday. Some of the projects comprise robots, intelligent and connected cars, artificial intelligence, big data and Internet of Things. They also include flowers that can glow at night developed by Hungary-based Morgan Star Group, and laser radar used in unmanned driving by Shanghai-based Slamtec Co. “The fair functions not only as an exhibition but aims to attract as many of the latest technologies worldwide,” Sun Yong, project manager for the fair, said. The selected projects will be targeted for commercialization and the fair, which will be held from tomorrow to Saturday, aims to provide a platform for the developers to meet potential investors, according to Sun.

Tie-up to lift rural areas

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
ALIBABA Group said yesterday it will invest 4.5 billion yuan (US$716 million) in Huitongda Network Co, a rural e-commerce subsidiary of Jiangsu Five Star Appliances Co, to drive sustainable development of rural areas. The two parties will collaborate on supply chain, logistics and technology to upgrade e-commerce infrastructure in the rural areas. Huitongda has been serving rural customers in financial services, supply chain management and sales support. The company has about 80,000 franchised stores in rural areas serving 200 million people. Alibaba now hosts about one million rural e-commerce entrepreneurs and annual sales of agricultural products on its platform exceed 100 billion yuan. Connecting rural products with Internet shoppers has been one of Alibaba's key strategies and last year, it created a 10 billion yuan poverty relief fund on education, rural health care, empowering women and environmental protection.

The green ambitions of Hainan island grow

SHANGHAI DAILY - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 18:01
UNDER the betel trees of Beireng Village in China’s tropical island of Hainan, Wang Qiuxiang’s coffee stall always does brisk business, even if her menu is more expensive than those of some boutique coffee shops in the city. Wang, 46, learned to make coffee from her father, who learned the trade from his parents. Wang’s grandparents migrated to Singapore and ran a snack bar. Every morning, the couple made coffee with beans they had grown and roasted themselves for workers at a nearby rubber plantation. After quitting a job at a four-star hotel in Qionghai City, Hainan Province, where she worked for 17 years, Wang returned to Beireng, her hometown, to start a coffee business in 2014. At the time, the local government was cleaning up the village and planning to develop tourism. “Piles of garbage and sewage used to be everywhere in the village. Villagers themselves were leaving. Why would any tourist want to come?” Wang said. Now, with its idyllic setting and well-preserved old buildings, the village of 162 residents receives thousands of tourists each day. It was recognized as one of the most beautiful and livable villages by the housing and urban-rural development ministry in 2016. “We cherish our clean water and green hills. We clearly know that they can make money and bring us better lives,” said villager Lin Zonghao. Beireng is a model of Hainan’s increasing environmental awareness in supporting local health and economic development. The province’s natural environment is already the best in the country. Air quality in the provincial capital of Haikou has ranked first among 74 major cities for five consecutive years and the province’s forest coverage has grown by 65 percent during the past three decades to its current 32.04 million mu (2.14 million hectares), according to statistics from the local environmental protection department and forestry department. A pilot zone The Communist Party of China Central Committee has decided to support the province, which was founded 30 years ago, to build a national ecological development pilot zone, with the country’s strictest ecological and environmental protection mechanism and a modern regulation mechanism. “The good environment is the biggest asset for Hainan. The foundation for green development is preservation of the environment,” said Professor Ge Chengjun with Hainan University. Since 2013, the provincial environmental protection department has issued dozens of regulations, including a rule establishing a red line for protected coastal areas covering more than 19,800 square kilometers. To balance environmental protection and development, the local government has stopped assessing the economic performances of 12 cities and counties in terms of GDP and fixed asset investment starting this year. Across the island, the province is prioritizing the development of 12 environment-friendly industries, such as tourism, internet, agriculture, and health care. A software park in Chengmai County has attracted about 2,500 companies, including heavyweights Tencent, Baidu, and Huawei. In addition, Hainan plans to have all its vehicles run on new energy by 2030 to cut emissions. With about 1.18 million vehicles, the province plans to introduce 5,600 new energy vehicles into the market and build more than 10,000 recharging posts this year. Since Sansha City was established in 2012 to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea, the city government has intensified measures to improve the environment of the islands. Last year, the city began piloting an “island chief” scheme in Qilianyu Islands to control pollutant discharge, protect sea turtles and restore the environment on the islands. Thanks to the efforts of the island chiefs and reef protectors, more than 170 sea turtle nests were spotted during breeding season in 2017, compared with some 50 recorded in 2014. Despite the progress, Hainan still faces challenges, such as water pollution and environmental damage caused by real estate development. Earlier this month, the provincial government issued a three-year work plan to eliminate filthy bodies of water in cities by 2020. The government also aims to raise the proportion of villages with sewage treatment facilities to 30 percent and will shut down or relocate some large farms by the end of this year. Hainan is working to reduce its reliance on the lucrative real estate industry, as home buyers across the country have been flooding into the tropical island. Starting in late September, Qiongzhong, Baisha, Baoting counties and Wuzhishan City in central Hainan stopped approving construction of new property projects to be sold to buyers from outside the province in order to protect the environment. “Hainan cannot be a ‘processing plant’ for real estate. We cannot build as many houses as buyers outside Hainan want,” Liu Cigui, Party chief of Hainan, told reporters during the annual national legislative session in March.

South and North Korea ‘may announce an end to their 68-year-long war next week’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 17:54
South and North Korea are discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict that has existed between the two countries since 1950, the South Korean Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified South Korean official. At next week’s summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two neighbours may release a joint statement saying they will seek to ease military tension and to end confrontation, according to the...

Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe to talk at Mar-a-Lago about North Korea, China  

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 17:47
US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek common ground on how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear challenge on Tuesday amid fears in Tokyo that Trump might be prone to make too many concessions. Abe is expected to arrive at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, for two days of talks dominated by North Korea but also expected to cover trade, relations with China and other issues. Both leaders could use a successful summit to give...

Indonesian court orders release of US$250 million luxury yacht linked to 1MDB scandal

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 15:36
A luxury yacht linked to allegations that US$4.5 billion was looted from Malaysia’s state investment fund 1MDB must be returned to its wealthy owner, an Indonesian court ruled on Tuesday, citing missteps by police in seizing the vessel. The decision comes about six weeks after Indonesian authorities, acting on a request from the FBI, seized the Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity, reportedly worth some US$250 million, which was moored off the Indonesian tourist island of Bali. Its three...

Malaysian shaman who tried to find missing plane MH370 with coconuts and a ‘magic’ carpet to contest election

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 12:47
A Malaysian shaman who drew widespread ridicule by trying to locate flight MH370 using coconuts and a “magic” carpet announced Tuesday he will run in elections next month. Ibrahim Mat Zin – known by his nickname “Raja Bomoh”, which translates as “King of Shamans” – will contest a parliamentary seat in northern Perak state as an independent candidate. After Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in 2014 with 239 people aboard, Ibrahim launched...

Vietnam and Indonesia vow to settle fishing violations in South China Sea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 11:54
Vietnam and Indonesia have pledged to work together to resolve fishing violations in the South China Sea as the two countries seek to boost their bilateral trade. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, speaking to reporters on Tuesday at a joint briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart, said the two countries would strengthen their partnership, cooperating particularly on fishing and other maritime issues. “In maritime and fishing cooperation, we agreed on how to conclude the ongoing...

Japan minister says sorry as 6,600 police join manhunt for fugitive thief

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:51
A Japanese minister apologised on Tuesday over the escape of a “model” inmate who fled an open prison more than a week ago, as the number of police hunting him passed 6,000. About 6,600 police officers are now engaged in a fruitless manhunt for 27-year-old Tatsuma Hirao, who was serving time for multiple thefts, according to officials. The case is making headline news in Japan with television channels picking over the manhunt in minute detail. Hirao gave guards the slip on April 8,...

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to have driverless bus shuttle service running campuswide by 2019

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:35
By Low Youjin By the end of next year, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore will have an autonomous shuttle service serving the entire campus. The fully automated Group Rapid Transit (GRT) will operate a minibus service route that connects the halls of residences with the main academic areas, and it is targeted to serve 200 to 300 passengers daily. The shuttle service, which is on trial for the moment, is expected to be tested further in phases from the last quarter of this...

‘We will not go back to Russia’: ‘Sex coaches’ arrested in Thailand request US help in exchange for Trump secrets

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:18
A Belarusian model and Russian “sex coach” pleaded for US help as they arrived for a court hearing in Thailand on Tuesday, in a case that has grabbed widespread attention after the model claimed to have revelations about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen name Nastya Rybka, and self-styled sex guru Alexander Kirillov have been detained since they and eight other foreigners were arrested in February by Thai police who raided...

Philippines to deploy hundreds of riot police to Boracay to keep tourists away during six-month closure

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:17
The Philippines is set to deploy hundreds of riot police to top holiday island Boracay to keep travellers out and head off potential protests ahead of its six-month closure to tourists, the government said Tuesday. President Rodrigo Duterte has branded the tiny central island and its world-famous white-sand beach a “cesspool”. He has ordered visitors be kept away from April 26 so facilities to treat raw sewage can be set up and illegal structures torn down. On Tuesday, authorities...

Singapore tutor guilty of helping Chinese students cheat in exams using Apple FaceTime and wireless earpieces

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:02
A Singaporean private tutor has been convicted over an elaborate scheme to help Chinese secondary school students cheat in an exam using mobile phones and wireless devices, prosecutors said Tuesday. Tan Jia Yan, 32, pleaded guilty on Monday to her part in the plot in which answers to O-Level exams were relayed to at least six students via mobile phones concealed under their clothing and connected wirelessly to skin-coloured earpieces, they said. Tan, who will be sentenced next month, faces a...

Dozens of detainees go on hunger strike at Japan immigration centre after Indian man’s suicide

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 08:13
Dozens of foreigners held at an immigration facility near Tokyo are staging a hunger strike to protest their protracted detention. The hunger strike comes just days after an Indian man at the East Japan Immigration Centre in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, committed suicide. The incident is the latest in a string of deaths in Japanese immigration facilities that have been long criticised for their poor medical services and lengthy detention periods. According to supporters, more than 40 detainees...

Myanmar frees more than 8,000 prisoners in amnesty – but not Reuters pair held for possessing ‘state secrets’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 07:25
Myanmar’s new president said on Tuesday over 8,000 prisoners will be freed in an amnesty, a move the government said would bring about humanitarian support amid the country’s political reforms after decades of military rule. The presidential pardon, signed by newly-elected President Win Myint, said the move was aimed to bring peace as part of celebrations of the Myanmar new year. It did not specify when the amnesty would take place. “To bring peace and pleasure to people...

Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta blasts East Timor’s ‘total failure’ against extreme poverty

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 05:59
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta has waded back into the young country’s politics ahead of parliamentary elections next month, calling the government a total failure in the past decade in crucial areas such as reducing child malnutrition and providing clean water. Ramos-Horta, joint recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for efforts to bring independence and peace to East Timor, is not a candidate in the elections but has declared support for the...

Search for parents after horrific discovery of dead baby girl, flushed down a toilet in India

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 04:29
It was supposed to be a routine call, just a clogged toilet in need of repair. Instead, plumbers at a clinic in the Indian state of Kerala on Friday made a ghastly discovery: a two-day-old baby had been flushed down the toilet, with her placenta still intact. Abdul Rehman, a doctor who runs the clinic, told local reporters that he called for help when the toilet stopped working. The plumbers got to work, uncovering something that looked like a ball. When they tried to pull it out, the head of...

South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee, who was abducted by North Korea’s Kim Jong-il with her ex-husband, dies aged 91

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 19:00
South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee, who once escaped North Korea with her film-director ex-husband Shin Sang-ok after the pair were kidnapped on the orders of Kim Jong-il in 1978, has died aged 91 after an illness, according to local media. Choi was born in Gyeonggi Province in 1926 and made her stage debut in 1942. Five years later she made her screen debut before going on to become one of the country’s biggest film stars in the 1960s. Unfortunately, her celebrity caught the attention of...

BofA’s profit soars 34% in Q1

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
A Bank of America branch in New York seen in this file photo. Bank of America reported a 34 percent rise in first-quarter profit yesterday, topping Wall Street estimates, as the lender gained from higher interest rates and growth in loans and deposits. Revenue rose at three of BofA’s four major businesses. In consumer banking, its biggest business, revenue increased 9 percent as higher interest rates helped BofA charge more for loans while keeping deposit rates low.

US retail sales rebound in March on auto buying

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
US retail sales rebounded in March after three straight monthly declines as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items, suggesting consumer spending was heading into the second quarter with momentum. The Commerce Department said yesterday retail sales added 0.6 percent last month after an unrevised 0.1 percent dip in February. January data was revised to show sales falling 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent drop. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales rising 0.4 percent in March. Retail sales in March increased 4.5 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after being flat in February. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. They were previously reported to have risen 0.1 percent in February. Last month’s pick-up in core retail sales will do little to change hopes of a sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter. The dollar was trading weaker against a basket of currencies. Prices for US Treasuries were marginally lower while US stock index futures rose slightly. Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds. Some also argue that income tax cuts, which came into effect in January, only reflected on most workers’ paychecks in late February. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at a robust 4 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter. Growth estimates for the January-March quarter are running below a 2 percent rate. The economy grew 2.9 percent in the October-December quarter. The government will publish its advance estimate for first-quarter GDP growth later this month. In March, auto sales jumped 2 percent, the largest increase since last September, after declining 1.3 percent in February. Receipts at service stations fell 0.3 percent, reflecting cheaper gasoline. Sales at furniture stores added 0.7 percent while those at electronics and appliance stores hiked 0.5 percent. But sales at building material stores fell 0.6 percent last month.

Aussie wine exports of US$2b hit highest in decade

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
THE value of Australia’s wine exports has hit the highest mark in a decade due to surging demand from China, a report released yesterday found. Wine Australia’s latest Export Report revealed that the value of wine exports from the country rose 16 percent in the 12 months to March 2018 to A$2.65 billion (US$2.06 billion). “Regional Australia continues to benefit from higher exports — we’re not going to get rich selling to ourselves,” Anne Ruston, Australia’s assistant minister for agriculture and water resources, said in a media release yesterday. “It makes sense that we export our wine when the world’s largest market is right on our doorstep.” “These record wine export numbers also have benefits far beyond the cellar door, with important flow-on effects for the towns around our wine regions.” Exports to China rose 51 percent to A$1.04 billion, the first time exports to a single market were above A$1 billion. Ruston credited the signing of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement for the considerable growth. “New market opportunities underpinned by free trade deals secured by the ... government are providing producers the ability to increase their sales and reinvest in their business.” “The government anticipates the value and volume of wine exports to China will only grow as tariffs for Australian wine into China will be entirely removed from January 1 next year.” The Australian government in August 2017 announced the Export and Regional Wine Support Package, a A$50 million initiative aimed at growing the Australian wine sector by showcasing the nation’s wine tourism and driving demand for wine exports.

M&As in ASEAN surge

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINESE mergers and acquisitions in ASEAN countries soared in 2017 despite a slump in overall outbound investment, thanks largely to the Belt and Road initiative, a report said. In 2017, the deal value of Chinese M&As in ASEAN surged 268 percent to US$34.1 billion, representing a quarter of the total value of disclosed Chinese M&As, accounting firm Ernst & Young said in a report. “Taking advantage of its geographic location as a trade hub under the BRI, ASEAN has achieved steady growth in recent years,” said Andrew Choy, EY’s China International Tax Services Leader. China and ASEAN are set to further boost their relationship and expand broader cooperation under the BRI, Choy said. Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient Silk Road trade routes. Singapore has become China’s biggest M&A destination in 2017 as M&A activities by Chinese enterprises surged, mainly in transport, technology, telecommunications and life sciences sectors, according to the report. Malaysia and Indonesia also offer plenty of investment opportunities, the report said.

Non-financial ODI booms

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S non-financial outbound direct investment continued to grow by double digits in the first quarter of the year, official data showed yesterday. Domestic investors made US$25.5 billion of non-financial ODI in 2,023 overseas enterprises in 140 countries and regions during January-March, the Ministry of Commerce said. The figure surged 24.1 percent from the same quarter last year, the ministry said. ODI in countries along the Belt and Road jumped 22.4 percent from one year earlier to US$3.61 billion during the first three months. The structure of outbound investment has been optimized, with the majority of capital going to leasing, mining, manufacturing and IT services, the ministry said on its website. China’s ODI has risen rapidly in recent years. Noting an “irrational tendency” in outbound investment, authorities have set stricter rules and advised companies to make investment decisions more carefully. In a document released in August last year, the State Council said overseas investment in real estate, hotels, cinemas, and entertainment would be limited, while investment in gambling would be banned.

Tie-up to boost O2O sales

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
RETAIL conglomerate China Resources Holdings made another step into the online to offline retail sector by joining hands with e-commerce giant JD.com’s grocery delivery platform JD Daojia. China Resources’ supermarket arm, CR Vanguard, has linked its outlets in Nanjing and Hangzhou with JD Daojia. The tie-up will be gradually extended to as many as 2,000 China Resources’ various retail outlets in over 30 cities nationwide, according to a joint statement issued yesterday. The tie-up came after China Resources’ strategic tie-up with Tencent, which was announced last week. The two parties said their collaboration covers a wide range of areas including smart cities, commercial property management, cloud computing and retailing. Tencent holds about 20 percent in JD.com. JD Daojia works with supermarkets and convenience chain stores such as Walmart, FamilyMart, Yonghui and Lianhua Supermarket, as well as other grocery stores and pharmacies across 370 cities nationwide.

Opening-up to continue

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S central SOEs will continue opening up to increase imports and expand cooperation with other firms, the SOE regulator said yesterday. The central SOEs will form a purchasing team to cooperate on imports and in other fields at the first China International Import Expo slated for November in Shanghai, said Peng Huagang, spokesperson for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

Central SOEs post steady rise in profit in Q1

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S centrally-administered state-owned enterprises posted steady profit growth in the first quarter bolstered by industrial upgrading, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said yesterday. Profits for the SOEs jumped 20.9 percent from a year ago to 377.06 billion yuan (US$60 billion) in the first three months of the year, SASAC said, adding that March’s profits notched a record monthly high of 169.87 billion yuan. The SOEs posted the best performance in 2017 over the past five years, with profits over the period rising 15.2 percent annually to 1.42 trillion yuan, according to SASAC. Peng Huagang, a SASAC spokesman, attributed the profit growth to industrial upgrading and cost management. The centrally-administered industrial SOEs posted a 26.7 percent annual surge in profits to 212.81 billion yuan in the first quarter — 5.8 percentage points above the average rate of central SOEs, Peng said. The central SOEs saw a drop in their asset-liability ratio in the first quarter of this year due to deleveraging efforts. The average asset-liability ratio for central SOEs stood at 65.9 percent by the end of March, down by 0.4 percentage points from the start of this year, according to SASAC. The SOE sector has become a major target in the ongoing deleveraging drive to rein in mounting debt and guard against financial risks. The government will continue to cut leverage and liability among central SOEs, said Peng. More efforts will be made to dispose of non-performing assets and regulate open-book credit and inventory, high-risk businesses, debt investment and risks in other areas like international expansion, Peng pointed out. Central SOEs are urged to expand equity financing via debt-equity swap and promote mixed-ownership and diversified equities, Peng said, adding this financing will be conducted in a market-oriented manner. Meanwhile industrial profits contributed nearly 70 percent to the total profit growth — the largest driver of central SOEs’ performance, he added. Both traditional industrial giants and advanced and emerging manufacturing companies are upgrading. Coal companies added 10 percent in fixed-asset investment compared with the same three-month period last year, while the automobile industry’s FAI surged 46.9 percent annually. Steel makers gained from the continuing supply-side reform, which has cut domestic steel output capacity by 16 million tons. Central steel SOEs’ profits hiked 129.8 percent year on year to 6.9 billion yuan in the first quarter.

New home sales rebound amid increase in supply

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
NEW home sales rebounded in Shanghai last week amid an increase in supply, pointing to signs of a market recovery. The area of new homes sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, jumped 24.2 percent to about 84,000 square meters during the seven-day period ending on Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday. But the average price of the new homes fell 6.3 percent week on week to 47,255 yuan (US$7,512) per square meter. The city’s remote Songjiang District remained the most sought-after area for the second consecutive week after weekly transactions surged 66.7 percent to 20,000 square meters. It was closely followed by outlying Qingpu District where 10,000 square meters of new homes were sold and Jiading District’s 9,438 square meters. “The local new home market has been gaining strength moderately,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline. “A well-established luxury housing project in downtown Xintiandi area launched more than 42,000 square meters into the market in one batch.” Lakeville, a Shui On Land development, released 118 apartments last week at an average price of between 120,000 yuan and 190,000 yuan per square meter, according to Centaline data. The price range is almost equivalent to that of an earlier batch released in November 2015. The total new supply released to the market surged 50.7 percent week on week to 98,000 square meters last week. Eight of the top 10 best-selling projects sold for above 40,000 yuan per square meter with the most expensive development, located in former Zhabei District, costing around 85,000 yuan per square meter, according to Centaline data. For the second half of April, at least 11 projects with around 4,900 units will be launched for sale citywide, according to a separate report by Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Co.

Event to help commercialize solar tech

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
SHANGHAI will use an international solar power exhibition to help companies commercialize their solar technologies, event organizers said yesterday. The 12th International Photovoltaic Power Generation and Smart Energy Exhibition, which the city will host from May 27 to 30, will have over 1,800 companies from home and abroad participating, the Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association told a media conference. The exhibition, to be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, is larger than last year’s event in the “record high” number of exhibitors, Mi Yue, executive vice-chairman of Shanghai New Energy Industry Association, said. Exhibitors will present their latest solar power technologies for storage, “smart” distribution (power distribution under digital control) and mobile solar power. Around 30 projects, “which should represent the latest solar power technologies and are of great commercial value,” will be selected from the exhibitors and Mi said his association will help raise funds and source customers for these companies to commercialize the technologies. China has installed 10.87 gigawatts of solar power in the first two months, up 220 percent from a year ago. In 2017, 53 gigawatts of solar power have been installed, or over half of the 102 gigawatts installed globally.

E-sport revenue set to climb nearly 22%

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
CHINA’S e-sport market revenue is set to expand 21.5 percent annually amid a huge pool of gamers, rising sales of mobile game gadgets and professional tournaments offering big prize money, said China Insights Consultancy yesterday. The market revenue is expected at 78.6 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion) in 2018, up from 64.7 billion yuan last year, with match advertising and sponsorship, game broadcasting, professional gadgets and e-commerce services being major contributors, said CIC. However, mobile e-Sport market is predicted to soar 93.4 percent annually on average between 2015 and 2019, one of the rapidly growing sectors in e-sport. Smartphone has now become an essential part of the game and e-sport ecosystem, said Peter Wu, founder and chief executive of Black Shark, a startup smartphone brand boasting investors including Xiaomi.

Shanghai shares end 1.5% lower

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:01
Chinese investors react to prices of shares at a brokerage in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, yesterday. Chinese stocks closed lower yesterday, with the key Shanghai Composite Index falling 1.53 percent to 3,110.65 points. The Shenzhen Component Index closed 0.61 percent lower at 10,621.79 points while China’s Nasdaq-style ChiNext Indexv gained 0.77 percent to close at 1,838.71 points.

Philippine maid taken to hospital after Saudi boss ‘made her drink bleach’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 17:02
A Philippine domestic worker has been taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia after her employer allegedly forced her to drink household bleach, Manila’s foreign ministry said on Monday. Domestic worker Agnes Mancilla underwent emergency abdominal surgery after she was taken, unconscious, to a hospital in Saudi’s southwestern Jizan city on April 2, the ministry said. “We are working closely with authorities in Jizan to make sure that justice will be given to Agnes Mancilla,”...

Jailed former South Korean president Park Geun-hye will not appeal 24-year sentence

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:32
South Korea’s disgraced former president Park Geun-hye will not appeal her 24-year prison sentence for corruption, reports said on Monday. Park, 66, who was removed from office over a massive corruption scandal last year, was convicted of multiple criminal charges including bribery and abuse of power at a trial earlier this month. She has boycotted all court hearings since October, claiming unfair treatment. On Monday Park submitted an appeal waiver to the Seoul Central District Court to...

Pakistan’s watchdog condemns human rights record, pointing to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:09
Pakistan’s leading watchdog slammed the nation’s deteriorating human rights record in a report released on Monday, highlighting extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances across the turbulent country. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report noted that deaths linked to terrorism continued to decline in 2017 but warned of an uptick in violence against so-called soft targets. “A study shows more Pakistanis died in incidents described as ‘encounters...

Group of men plead not guilty to gang rape and murder of eight-year-old girl in India,where case has stirred religious tensions

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:06
Eight men accused of raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl pleaded not guilty on Monday to the horrific crime that has sparked revulsion and brought thousands to India’s streets in protest. Four police and a Hindu temple custodian are among those accused of gang raping and killing a Muslim girl from a poor tribe in Jammu and Kashmir state where the highly-charged case has stoked long-simmering religious tensions. The accused men appeared in court in the city of Kathua on Monday for...

Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, just had her status upgraded as North Korea tries to show it has a normal ‘first couple’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 10:00
By Rosie Perper Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been upgraded from “comrade” to “revered first lady” in a potential bid to create a cult of personality around her. State-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Ri attended a ballet performance by the visiting National Ballet of China on Saturday. In the report, Ri was referred to as the “revered first lady,” or “respected first lady,” along with a special...

‘Nothing but a farce’: Bangladesh rejects Myanmar’s claim it has repatriated Rohingya

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:51
Bangladesh on Monday rejected a claim by Myanmar that the Buddhist-majority nation had repatriated the first five among some 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled to the neighbouring country to escape military-led violence against the minority group. A Myanmar government statement said Saturday that five members of a family had returned to western Rakhine state from the border area. It said the family was staying temporarily with relatives in Maungdaw town, the administrative centre close...

BMW driver who refused to pay for Singaporean Caltex attendant’s ‘mistake’ target of an online witch-hunt

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:59
By Jessica Lin Public sentiment can take on a life of its own in the age of social media. One man in Singapore, who allegedly refused to pay for the full cost of petrol mistakenly pumped into the car he was driving, is now facing the heat caused by his actions. According to Facebook user ‎Kelly Yeo, the driver of a BMW Series 5 had claimed that a petrol station attendant had misheard request to pump just S$10 (US$7.62) worth of petrol into the car. As a result, he refused to pay the full S$...

Philippines bars then deports EU party official critical of President Rodrigo Duterte

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 07:59
The Philippines has barred entry to an EU party official critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drugs crackdown, in a move denounced by critics Monday as a gag on dissent. Italian Giacomo Filibeck was detained by border police upon his arrival at Cebu airport Sunday and deported for engaging in “illegal political activities”, his party said. Filibeck, the deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, flew to the Philippines at the invitation of...

Japan’s Unit 731 conducted sickening tests on Chinese. The perpetrators’ identities will now be revealed

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 07:07
The National Archives of Japan has disclosed the names of 3,607 members of the Imperial Japanese Army’s notorious Unit 731 that conducted germ warfare experiments mainly on prisoners in China before and during the second world war, according to a researcher. Katsuo Nishiyama, professor emeritus of Shiga University of Medical Science, told reporters, “It is the first time that almost all the real names of the unit’s members have been unveiled. We will post them on the website...

1000 people and a helicopter with thermal imaging tech join search for missing dog in New Zealand

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 06:52
By Melissa Nightingale Stuck by his leash to a log in the depths of Belmont Regional Park, Benny the Beagle had no idea hundreds of strangers were scouring the bush for him. All the stops were pulled out to find the five-year-old dog after he went missing during a pack walk in Lower Hutt on April 6. Even a helicopter with thermal-imaging technology was sent out to search for the beloved pooch, who was lost in the reserve for nine days, enduring freezing and stormy conditions as a cold snap hit...

Pair of premium Japanese mangoes fetches US$3,725 at auction - and yes they are probably delicious

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 06:23
A pair of premium mangoes from the southwestern Japan prefecture of Miyazaki fetched a record-matching 400,000 yen (US$3,725) at the season’s first auction at a local wholesale market on Monday, maintaining the price tag from the previous year. The high-end mangoes are called “Taiyo no Tamago” (Egg of the Sun) as they have cleared the brand’s qualifications of weighing at least 350 grammes, possessing a high level of sugar and having a bright red colour covering more...

Sister of notorious Korean Air ‘nut rage’ heiress apologises for angry outburst, but denies throwing water at face of advertising manager

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 06:04
Korean Air Lines’ labour unions called for the youngest daughter of its chairman, a sister of the infamous ‘nut rage’ heiress, to step down from management after her alleged abusive behaviour against an advertising agency official caused public outrage. Cho Hyun-min, also known as Emily Cho and a senior vice-president at Korean Air, apologised on Thursday for what she called her “foolish behaviour” after media reports said she threw water at the face of an...

Commonwealth Games boss apologises for dull closing ceremony after fans rush for the exits

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 05:10
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games chief Peter Beattie admitted organisers botched Sunday’s closing ceremony, accepting criticism that long-winded speeches had fans rushing for the exits while athletes were largely excluded from the broadcast. Organising committee chairman Beattie apologised on Monday in the face of a barrage of criticism, saying “we got it wrong”. Closing ceremonies of Olympic and Commonwealth Games are usually much more relaxed than formal openings, focusing on...

Former Japan PM Junichiro Koizumi says embattled leader Shinzo Abe may quit in June as support collapses

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 04:34
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, plagued by suspected cronyism scandals and cover-ups and with his ratings sliding, is likely to step down in June, former leader Junichiro Koizumi was quoted on Monday as telling a weekly magazine. A survey by broadcaster Nippon TV released on Sunday showed Abe’s support had sunk to 26.7 per cent, the lowest since the conservative lawmaker took office in December 2012. An Asahi newspaper poll published on Monday put his rating at 31 per cent. Abe’...

‘I almost died’: abused Filipino women dream that divorce will become legal

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 04:28
Although her husband nearly killed her, Krista Dador cannot get a divorce as the Philippines is one of only two states – along with the Vatican – without a divorce law. The prohibitive cost of an annulment means that Dador, who has received no financial support from her husband since they separated eight years ago, is looking to work as a maid in the Middle East, leaving their two children behind with her mother. “Sometimes I want to end it all,” said the 28-year-old,...

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