Wednesday, October 16, 2019

How Hong Kong fell into China's economic orbit - Shirley Ze Yu

Shirley Ze Yu
Mainland China has been watching the recent events in Hong Kong with astonishment, to say the least. LSE scholar, fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and former Chinese national television (CCTV) news anchor Shirley Ze Yu explains in the South China Morning Post how the former British colony has fallen into China's economic orbit and how - in the long run - it will join the mainland.

Shirley Ze Yu:
The transitory promise to Hong Kong of “one country, two systems” is good for 50 years only, a blink of an eye in historical terms. To take a fatalistic view, all the liberal Hong Kong protesters are fighting for were handed over when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997. 
Hong Kong is under China’s full control. It is virtually impossible to conceive of an alternative future for the city, come 2047, or even 2097, other than a collective future. In 100 years, mainland China and Hong Kong will both have fundamentally transformed themselves. Given that China has transformed at a speed and on a scale beyond the world’s imagination, there is no telling where it will be in a century’s time. 
But one thing is certain: Hong Kong’s destiny lies with China.In 100 years, mainland China and Hong Kong will both have fundamentally transformed themselves. Given that China has transformed at a speed and on a scale beyond the world’s imagination, there is no telling where it will be in a century’s time. 
Much more in the South China Morning Post.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

The threat of decoupling the economies of China and the US - Harry Broadman

Harry Broadman
The US administration is trying to decouple its economy from China's. And while there might be some arguments in favor of that position, the treat of decoupling for the world economy is huge, says international trade expert Harry Broadman in Forbes (here in pdf-format). Down the line, the US and global economies will be worse off, he warns.

Harry Broadman:
There are two putative goals of the current US administration for proactive policy “decoupling” between the U.S. and China. The first is to reorient U.S. firms’ supply chains away from China to U.S. sources, which would have the effect of helping to achieve President Trump’s principal trade policy goal with China: elimination of the bilateral U.S.-China merchandise trade deficit. The second is to prevent China’s further progress in the global race for superiority in innovation and market dominance in advanced technology products and services. 
It is not up for debate that China has both engaged in trade policies that are not WTO-compliant ever since its accession to the WTO in 2001 as well as in the piracy of intellectual property and technology decades before it joined the WTO and still does. Yet, not only will the U.S. goal of forced bilateral decoupling between the two largest economies fail in a marketplace whose structure is now inherently globalized, but the policy tools being waged by the U.S., combined with its go-it-alone approach to try to contain and isolate China both economically and technologically, will not induce the changes Washington seeks from Beijing. 
Indeed, there is an appreciable risk that the outcomes produced by the U.S. strategy of proactive decoupling will serve to only make the U.S. worse off and jeopardize global economic growth. There are far more effective ways to deal with China's conduct and to generate outcomes that will more greatly benefit both the U.S. population and the world community... 
What to do? Let's tell it like it is: China is knowingly in broad violation of the legal WTO commitments it signed in 2001. 
The world community has a fundamental choice before it. If the globe’s second largest economy cannot live up to its WTO commitments, then let’s all be grownups and take collective action and agree that China shall either fundamentally renegotiate its WTO membership or be removed from that system. The result? Beijing will then not get preferential tariff and other favorable treatments that come with WTO accession. 
This is not a pejorative view of China—by any means. Like every nation, the Chinese have the absolute full right to have whatever type of economy they wish. But no country can have its cake and eat it too. Fundamentally, this is a values statement: the goals of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, which he leads, are not those shared by the U.S. and many other nations. 
If on the other hand, we want to close our eyes about China staying in the WTO, then the only other choice is to terminate the WTO all together since it has zero credibility. However, here is where things become dismal. The Trump administration is itself operating outside the WTO. Indeed, the current occupant of the Oval Office seemingly would quite welcome the demise of the WTO. 
Without question, that is an outcome the overwhelming number of the world of nations will deeply regret. As a result, one should be hopeful this would have little chance of occurring. 
The question then is: Who will step up to the plate and spur the collective action the world so deeply needs now?
Much more in Forbes. (here in pdf-format)

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China has fewer wealthy people than ever - Rupert Hoogewerf

Rupert Hoogewerf
For the first time in 21 years the annual Hurun (China) rich list notes fewer wealthy people, says its chairman Rupert Hoogewerf to AFP. "Nearly 40 percent of those in the rich list two years ago has dropped off," he said.

 AFP:
The number of ultra-wealthy individuals dipped in China this year, a report said Thursday, as the government seeks to rebalance the economy and tackle high levels of toxic debt. 
Those listed as the wealthiest -- with holdings worth at least 2 billion yuan ($281 million) -- fell to 1,819 this year, down from 1,893 last year, according to data compiled by the Hurun Report. 
"This is the first time in 21 years that the Hurun (China) Rich List has shrunk for two consecutive years," said Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf. 
"The only other years the list shrunk, and only very slightly, were in 2008 at the time of the global financial crisis and in 2002 after the tech bubble burst." 
Traditional sectors such as manufacturing and real estate have suffered as companies "caught up in too much debt" have started shedding assets, affecting their founders' net worth, Hoogewerf added. 
"Nearly 40 percent of those in the rich list two years ago has dropped off," he said. "It's part of a very conscious decision by the Chinese government to try and restructure the economy." 
Billionaires who made their money in IT, pharmaceuticals and education were replacing the old guard... 
With a younger generation of entrepreneurs making their way up the rankings, 39-year-old Colin Huang Zheng, of e-commerce site Pinduoduo, became the first self-made entrepreneur born in the 1980s to enter the top 10. 
"Colin Huang has created a world first, making $20 billion since founding Pinduoduo just four years ago," Hoogewerf said. 
"Nobody in the world has ever made that much from a standing start." 
Eleven people born in the 1990s also made the list.
More at AFP.

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Why global companies should fear the trade war - Arthur Kroeber

Arthur Kroeber
US companies make US$544 billion in annual revenue in China, much more than the US exports to China, warns economist Arthur Kroeber at Barrons. Global companies will feel the heat.

Barron's:
Global companies will feel that heat. U.S. companies generate $544 billion in annual revenue in China—more than triple what the U.S. exports to China, according Arthur Kroeber of Gavekal Research. What’s more, with a population of 1.4 billion, China is a major source of growth. As the relationship between China and the U.S. grows more complicated, corporate costs could rise and growth targets might need trimming. Investors might also need to reassess the multiples they are paying for companies counting on expansion in China.
More at Barrons

Arthur Kroeber is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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China's consumers pick pork over iPhones - Victor Shih

Victor Shih
China's consumers are changing because of the trade war and food-driven inflation, says China expert Victor Shih at the Investor Place. They will pick pork over iPhones, he says, with a drastic impact on the stock markets.

The Investor Place:
In an email correspondence, Victor Shih, Ph.D., associate professor of political economy at the University of California, San Diego, wrote: 
"Both the trade war and food-driven inflation likely will crimp Chinese consumers’ discretionary spending.  While the trade war has slowed employment growth and wage growth, the African swine flu has driven up food prices substantially. For the average households, they are trapped between much higher food prices and uncertainties about future income. This will limit their spending on discretionary items." 
Put another way, AAPL stock may be on a winning path right now. But that’s not guaranteed to sustain. As known pressures tighten their stranglehold, the impact will invariably filter down... 
But at the present juncture, China is a major risk factor. As Professor Shih noted, the average Chinese consumer is feeling the heat. Given the choice of buying food to live or buying an iPhone 11, I don’t have to spell out the correct answer. Therefore, anybody who is not a day trader should probably avoid or cash out of AAPL stock.
More at the Investor Place.

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More stories by Victor Shih are here.

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Tech replaces manufacturing and real estate at rich list - Rupert Hoogewerf

Rupert Hoogewerf
China's Hurun rich list is signaling yet another economic shift, says Hurun chairman Rupert Hoogewerf at CNN. This time the rich from tech firms are replacing those from manufacturing and real estate, according to the latest annual rich list.

CNN:
China's wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of tech entrepreneurs, although some pharmaceutical moguls and pig farmers are breaking into the ranks of the super rich
There were fewer millionaires and billionaires on the Hurun Report's rich list for a second year in a row, but their average wealth increased as China's shift towards the digital economy saw manufacturing and construction tycoons drop off the bottom. There has been a "changing of the guard" among China's wealthiest people over the years, said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report's chairman, commenting on the list that was published Thursday. 
"Tech entrepreneurs are replacing those from the traditional powerhouses of manufacturing and real estate," Hoogewerf said. "Wealth is concentrating into the hands of those who are able to adapt to the digital economy," he added. 
Alibaba (BABA) founder Jack Ma held onto his title of China's richest man with a net worth of $39 billion, with Pony Ma of Tencent (TCEHY) rising one spot to take second place with $37 billion.
More on CNN.

Rupert Hoogewerf is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request list.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Violence at Hong Kong protests needs to be condemned - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
Business analyst Shaun Rein asks Hong Kong protest leader Joshua Wong to condemn the violence at the protest. That went obvious too far for Joshua Wong, we noted at a forum of The Economist.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Investing in China is too risky right now - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
Business analyst Shaun Rein has always been a China-bull, but even he is now advising to put China investments on hold, he tells in the Press Democrat, after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was the latest to get into hot air.

 Press Democrat:
With the politically charged trade war with the United States grinding on and the Chinese economy cooling off, the latest NBA controversy was a reminder that many foreign executives say the country of 400 million middle-class consumers is more a minefield than a gold mine. 
“The political risk is so high right now it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in China. If you’re not already here, you have to think three, four, five times harder about whether it’s worth coming,” said Shaun Rein, the Shanghai-based founder of the China Market Research Group who has advised clients such as Apple, Samsung, Fidelity Investments and luxury group Richemont. 
Rein, an author known in China for his pro-Beijing views and support for hard-line President Xi Jinping, said the political atmosphere had become so charged that even he is advising companies to leave. “It’s killing my business, frankly,” he said, “but you can’t put all your eggs in this basket anymore.”
More in the Press Democrat. Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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US dollar is heading for a crisis - Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers
The trade war between China and the US is taking another casualty, says super-investor Jim Rogers: the US dollar. He will no longer bet on the US currency, as a downturn is nearing fast in a few years' time, he tells according to News Max. Although for gamblers, buying US dollars for the short run might be an opportunity. In the long run he will switch to China's renminbi or gold.

News Max:
International investor Jim Rogers reportedly says “doomed” dollar fundamentals are “horrible,” but he’s buying it to prepare for the U.S. currency’s last-gasp rally. 
“People would think the U.S. dollar is a safe haven, it’s not. The fundamentals are horrible,” the chairman of Rogers Holdings told Real Vision in a recent interview. “Nobody in his right mind would buy the U.S. dollar, but I own a lot…because I’m not in my right mind. I’m assuming that the rest of the world is not in its mind either and they’re all going to buy it,” said Rogers. 
He predicts the dollar will eventually get overpriced and turn into a bubble, and then the veteran investor, who founded the Quantum Fund with billionaire George Soros in the 1970s, will sell, MarketWatch explained. 
“I’m not very good at market timing but I would expect it to be in the next period of turmoil, which will be coming in the next two or three years,” he said. 
He doesn’t hold out much hope for the American economy because while he claims the U.S. is “the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world,” countries such as China, Russia and Brazil are seeking an alternate international currency.
More in News Max. Jim Rogers is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Monday, October 07, 2019

Bytedance: beyond Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent - Ashley Dudarenok

Ashley Dudarenok
Marketing expert Ashley Dudarenok dives into the fast-changing landscape of China's internet, especially Bytedance. The relative newcomer has become an established player next to the old trinity of Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT). She looks at some of Bytedance's major operations: Jinri Toutiao and Douyin, and Bytebance international expansion for Asia Times.

Ashley Dudarenok:
ByteDance has ambitious expansion plans outside China. Founder and CEO Zhang Yiming announced at the company's sixth year-end gala in March 2018 that the company wants to become a global content creation and communication platform and that they will focus on globalization this year. 
ByteDance recently attracted notice in the West after acquiring Musical.ly, the mobile app that's very popular among young people in the US Topbuzz, the English version of Toutiao was also launched in North and South America three years ago to expand its global presence. The rising giant also bought France-based media aggregation service News Republic in 2017 and invested in Indian news app Dailyhunt in 2016. 
Outside of news aggregation, ByteDance also wants to increase its market share in video platforms and mobile entertainment apps. It acquired US video creation app Flipagram in early 2017. Then in November 2017, it invested $50 million in Live.me, a successful mobile streaming app that's focused on the US market. 
By rolling out its own products and acquiring others, ByteDance has successfully amplified its global presence to grab market share in Japan, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Yet the brand itself is not as well-known as the top three – BAT – locally or overseas. Many people have only heard of their apps and can't connect them to their parent company. As a result, in April 2018, Toutiao confirmed that they will use 'ByteDance' from now on as the brand name for external communication and marketing. This is an obvious signal that ByteDance is gearing up for branding and firmly establishing its image as an industry leader in China's tech scene and beyond.
More at Asia Times.

Ashley Dudarenok is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Friday, October 04, 2019

Why Tuesday's crowd was different - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Journalist Ian Johnson attended China's National Day celebrations in Beijing and noted - apart from the military parade and obligatory propaganda, the crowd was different from earlier celebrations. "Tuesday’s crowd was different. It was made up of university professors, scientists, administrators, bureaucrats and people who had made some sort of contribution to the state. They weren’t props but excited participants who expected to remember this day," he writes in the New York Times.

Ian Johnson:
Attending China’s National Day celebrations over the years has been a bit like listening to different takes of a song, with the composer honing the themes and jettisoning the raw bits until the piece sounds just right. 
That’s how I felt at Tuesday’s celebrations on Tiananmen Square, held to observe the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. I’ve attended two other ceremonies like this before — for the 35th anniversary in 1984 and the 50th in 1999 — and I knew the basic drill: There would be a big military parade followed by floats celebrating the government’s accomplishments. 
But this show felt bigger and brassier than either of those, as if the composer had decided to use every instrument in the orchestra and cast subtlety aside. It was slick and sleek, but also overpowering and at times bombastic. 
When I received my invitation, government officials told me that I was lucky to attend because it was such a great honor. I nodded politely but only really understood what they meant when I arrived at Tiananmen Square on Tuesday at 6 a.m. We media types were just a few hundred in a sea of loyal members of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), and for many of them it must have felt like one of the biggest events of their lives.
It would be easy to write these people off as extras. And 20 years ago, the last time I was at such an event, the people in attendance were mainly highly trained performers who held aloft placards that spelled out different messages, North Korea–style. But Tuesday’s crowd was different. It was made up of university professors, scientists, administrators, bureaucrats and people who had made some sort of contribution to the state. They weren’t props but excited participants who expected to remember this day.
More in The New York Times.

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Delisting Chinese companies bad for US - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
The threat to delist Chinese companies from US stock exchanges has shocked observers, even though it is not yet clear whether the White House is moving forward. Financial analyst Sara Hsu warns the reputation of US financial institutions might be at stake. And also: her latest viewpoint on what the consumers might feel from the ongoing trade war.

Sara Hsu is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Thursday, October 03, 2019

Is Xi's rule under threat? Not for now - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
China not only has been doing very well over the past decades, but any systematic opposition is lacking, even not triggered off by the Hong Kong protests. Although it does not mean president Xi Jinping is having no problems, says political analyst Ian Johnson to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Sydney Morning Herald:
To be sure, Hong Kong's protests aren't exactly an existential threat to Xi and his cohort. The 70th anniversary of the people's republic means China's single-party government has lasted a year longer than the Soviet Union - and it shows no sign of cracking yet. 
The rise of "a true opposition movement would take a systemic crisis - say, a real economic meltdown or a climate-induced catastrophe - that doesn't yet seem likely," Beijing-based journalist Ian Johnson noted. "And so, superficially at least, the Communist Party seems to go from strength to strength, relying on China's capable civil service to make sure the high-speed trains run on time, the highways hum with new cars and the aircraft carriers get built."
But there's a tension burrowed inside this seeming stability, Johnson concluded: "It is precisely this return to prosperity that has given people the opportunity to contemplate a century-old question: what exactly holds their country together other than brute force?"
More at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Starbucks picks Beijing over Hong Kong - Shaun Rein

Shaun Rein
Starbucks found itself in hot water as the protesters turned against Maxim, the major franchise holder of the coffee outlet in Hong Kong. When it has to choose between Hong Kong and Beijing, Starbucks will pick China's central government, says business analyst Shaun Rein according to Fortune.

Fortune:
For Starbucks, the politicization of their Hong Kong stores comes at an inopportune moment, as they plan further expansion into China in the face of new, homegrown competition. 
The approximately 170 Starbucks outlets in Hong Kong pale in comparison to mainland China, where Starbucks has already opened 4,000 stores in over 160 cities, with plans to reach 6,000 outlets by 2022. And unlike in Hong Kong, Starbucks fully owns its outlets in China. 
Starbucks is increasingly staking its financial future on growth in the Chinese market. 
Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said in 2017 that as the Chinese market expands, the company would become less dependent on U.S. business. “China will become a much more important component of the financial results of Starbucks,” Schultz said
This means that as the protests in Hong Kong forge on, Starbucks’ main concern may be to appease authorities in the Chinese government. Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research, recently told the Financial Times that Starbucks "can’t do anything to alienate Beijing.”
More in Fortune. Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Pigs are the real problem for China's leadership - Victor Shih

Victor Shih
It is not Hong Kong protests or the trade war, China's leaders fear most, but hogs hit by African swine fever and the rising pork prices, says political analyst Victor Shih at Phys.org. An estimated 40 percent of its pigs have been killed already and massive reserves of frozen pork released on the stretched markets.

Phys.org:
And as it wears on, it is not just a problem for farmers, but also for the country's leaders—afraid of social repercussions and spiralling economic costs. 
"Historically, high food inflation has triggered bouts of urban protests," says Victor Shih, the Hi Ho Miu Lam chair professor at University of California San Diego. 
Beijing has implemented several measures to boost the pig population, including subsidies of up to five million yuan ($700,000) for breeders. 
They also announced in September that new large-scale breeding bases were being built in southwest Sichuan province with the capacity to produce two million pigs a year. 
But farmers contacted by AFP—reluctant to be identified—were afraid to raise new herds despite government subsidies, fearing that any trade deal between Beijing and Washington would undercut Chinese producers or that their hogs would be taken away again... 
In a bid to keep a grip on escalating prices, the government auctioned 30,000 tonnes of pork from its strategic meat reserves ahead of the National Day holiday. 
Officials insisted in September that there was sufficient supply and prices would now be stable. 
But given the slowing economy and the trade war, "pork-driven inflation has further limited the government's options", says Shih.
More at Phys.org. Victor Shih is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Drop of yuan caused by US tariffs - Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers
China's currency, the yuan, is on a downward track, not because of government action, but is a market reaction on the US tariffs on Chinese goods, says investment guru Jim Rogers. Washington has to blame itself for the weakening yuan, he tells in the Stocknewsbrief.com.

The Stocknewsbrief:
“If you put billions of dollars (in Chinese goods) under tariffs, don’t you think it would affect the currency?” Rogers told RT. He added that while the People’s Bank of China actually can have a hand in changing the renminbi exchange rate, the recent course of events is explained by basic economic rules. “Anybody who knows any basic economics knows that if you hit a huge economy with lots of tariffs it’s gonna have [an] effect on the currency… It’s the way the market works.” 
The weaker yuan can actually help Beijing to offset the impact of Washington’s tariffs on China’s exports. As its national currency declines, Chinese goods become cheaper to sell abroad. So, the US fears that it would not be able to sell its own goods while there are plenty of cheaper Chinese products on the market thanks to a weaker yuan. “It makes American goods more expensive and therefore more difficult for America to sell goods in the world market,” Rogers explained. 
However, the falling yuan has a downside, according to Rogers, such as an increase in the cost of living and production as everything China imports becomes more expensive.
More in the Stocknewsbrief.com.

Jim Rogers is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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