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A New Great Game.

A New Great Game.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif praised Xi Jinping Thursday at the 2014 Boao forum for his “visionary concept” of the New Silk Road, revitalizing discussion on the topic. In a session titled ‘Reviving the Silk Road – A dialogue with Asian Leaders’ he stated that the increased trade and economic relations will bring prosperity to the region.

 

In the modern world, it’s access to markets and communications links that define the development of a country. China, realizing the importance of infrastructure, combined with its need for growth, embarked on an epic building boom in the early 21st century. The importance of having comprehensive road, rail, mass transit and port networks cannot be underestimated. The utilization of such has allowed the Chinese economy to prosper and grow.

 

 

Looking at the next stage of its development trajectory, it has identified Central Asia as playing a key role in its development along the New Silk Road: it was no coincidence one of President Xi Jinping’s first trips abroad was to the region, securing energy deals and pledges of increased security and economic cooperation. China is already the largest trading partner of four out of the five former Soviet Republics (the exception being Uzbekistan), and a main source of foreign investment. Trade between the region and China stands at around USD 46 billion and is set to expand.

 

The Silk Road Economic belt, as described by President Xi, will aim to provide much needed and integrated infrastructure along new road and rail links that are currently under construction. These arteries will carry fiber optic cables and pipelines across the region creating new towns, manufacturing hubs and transportation crossroads. The development of these sectors will help Central Asian countries move away from their dependence on trade in natural resources to more balanced economies based on trade, manufacturing and services.

 

 

This past September, President Xi Jinping embarked on a 10-day tour of Central Asia, leading to a list of agreements signed which will at least double Chinese investment in the region. Existing Chinese investments in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are estimated at about US$30 billion, while the value of the new contracts will contribute an additional US$51 billion in Chinese investment.

 

Regarding its investment in Central Asia, China has 3 stated aims:

 

Provide a dependable and stable energy supply route, diversifying its energy sources.

Create a means for cost effective transportation of goods and services to Central Asia and finally Europe.

The development of Kashgar in Xinjiang into the transport, services and financial center of Central Asia

 

Other domestic advantages for China would include further securing an export market in this region and preserving stability between its western neighbors.

 

Central Asian Energy resources

 

Central to these plans is a shift in focus from China`s eastern coastal regions to the underdeveloped west and in particular the Xinjiang region where Beijing hopes increased economic development and prosperity will help mollify the grievances of the native Uyghur population.

 

 

Current major Silk Road Economic belt projects under way or under discussions are:

 

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, due for completion this year. The project is designed to facilitate shipping of cargo between Asia and Europe, and will connect the railway networks of Central Asia, the Caucasus and China with those of Azerbaijan and Europe. The BTK railway will have an international impact, expected to transport 1.5 million passengers and 3 million tons of freight per year.

 

Galkynysh Gas field in Turkmenistan. Work has started on the world’s  second largest gas field that will more than double the country’s gas exports to China via the world’s longest pipeline. Due to come online in 2016 with development by CNPC Chuanqing Drilling Engineering Company.

 

Iran-China Natural gas pipeline, via Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, allowing the latter two to reduce their reliance upon Uzbekistan.

 

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) paid $5 billion for a share of Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oil field project in September, giving it an approximately 8% stake in the project.

 

This New Silk Road will take careful planning and Realpolitik on Beijing’s part as well as favorable support from its Central Asian neighbors. It has yet to been seen if the economic incentives offered will reinforce political integration amongst historically competitive and volatile nations that feel little allegiance to one another. Security in these nations will play a key as well a China’s desire to preserve stability and security in XinJiang: Uzbekistan’s upcoming elections might provide a clue as to the feasibility of these grand plans and ISAF’s withdrawal from Afghanistan will have the China strategists increasing their efforts to engage with the country. Meanwhile China’s continuing development of the Maritime Silk Road, increasing security for China’s shipping lanes through the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, places it in an increasingly dominant position throughout South Asia, meeting the needs of its population.

 

China`s Investments in Overseas ports

 

Pragmatism rules when the Bears are out

Pragmatism rules when the Bears are out

It remains to be seen if 2014 really will be the year in which the Chinese authorities grapple with the country`s freewheeling financial system. The government`s current policy of kicking the can down the road means ever-larger piles of credit, slowing growth and the rising risk of financial crisis.


Some market participants thought the potential default at the end of January of a CNY 3 billion product sold by China Credit Trust would be the epiphany, in which investors learned the painful lesson of the risks involved in blindly ploughing funds into the shadow banking system. There were those who thought the collapse of a major institution might trigger a systemic reaction, forcing the government to take drastic action.

 

 


It turned out to be neither. The trust company, the bank which marketed the product, the local government and investors reached agreement where the principal and at least some of the product`s final-year interest payments were paid out. Moral hazard continues to rule the financial system.


This isn`t the first bullet the authorities have dodged. The actors in China`s financial system – the local government officials, regulators, issuers and lenders – are complicit in avoiding failure, even as lending has boomed. Chinese bank assets have more than doubled since the end of 2009 to CNY148 trillion (US$24.3 trillion), nearly three times last year's GDP. By comparison, U.S. commercial bank assets are just over $14 trillion, even though its economy is more than a third larger than China`s.


Bears see a crisis approaching.
For the growing number of China bears, the dramatic expansion of the financial system, coupled with its suspiciously low failure rate, is prime evidence of a brewing financial crisis. Government advisors acknowledge that the longer debt is allowed to grow, the greater the risk of a crisis and the greater that crisis could be.

 

 


For a central bank staring down the barrels of a financial crisis, however, the People`s Bank of China doesn`t sound overly concerned. Large chunks of its latest monetary policy report are devoted to explaining the rise of shadow banking, including the kinds of activities pursued by China Trust, and warn of more market volatility to come. Market participants will "need to tolerate reasonable money rate volatility," the PBOC said in the report released last weekend.


The pressure to make profits in the face of regulatory curbs on traditional lending has pushed overstretched banks to borrow short and lend long, making them more sensitive to changes in liquidity availability, the PBOC explained. Meanwhile, the growth of bank assets and "off-balance sheet innovations" are eating up increasing amounts of liquidity, and this explains periodic bouts of tight liquidity despite expanding M2. "The more active the financing activity, the more banking system liquidity is digested, leading to rising liquidity demand," the report said.


Money market rates were driven to record levels last June after the PBOC moved suddenly to cut off the flow of liquidity into the interbank system. Officials said that the goal was to force deleveraging, but the central bank`s sudden, poorly-communicated move sent panic through the system and forced the authorities to back off and make direct liquidity injections. The PBOC may have lost that battle, but the war is ongoing.


Rates Rising.
Market rates have risen, increasing financing costs and opening up fissures in the interbank market which are expected to lead to more and more investment products getting in trouble. The seven-day repo rate – which is a candidate for a market benchmark rate under the government`s financial reform plans – averaged 3.78% during the first half of last year and 4.38% in the second half. The 10-year Ministry of Finance yield has also risen sharply, reflecting a shift into riskier paper amid tighter liquidity conditions.

 

’Moral hazard continues to rule the financial system.‘
Despite its anodyne wording, the PBOC report does indicate once again that the authorities are aware that a badly mismatched system stands an ever-greater risk of getting into trouble. Market participants are braced for a fresh wave of regulatory curbs, particularly in the wake of a State Council notice at the end of last year suggesting that management of the policing of the shadow banking system has now been elevated to the executive body.


The PBOC itself provided few clues about its plans, saying only that it will step up monitoring of financial system risk and "explore market mechanisms to solve local government debt problems.” That will help tackle the existing stock of debt, but doesn`t explain how Beijing is going to deal with the dramatic rise in Chinese financing while delivering the growth needed to create jobs and maintain social stability.


The Communist Party is pledged to a sweeping economic and financial system overhaul, but the PBOC report suggests that it sees little change for now. "The Chinese economy's reliance on debt and investment, the high investment model and the overconcentration of resources in real estate and other sectors mean it is easy for debt levels to increase,” it said, before drawing the underwhelming conclusion that: "The massive local financing-construction model has strengthened in recent years, increasing the potential for risks to the economy's performance."

 

 


Despite signs of a credit splurge in January, market participants are already betting on whether the PBOC will actually ease policy in the first quarter to offset signs of sharp disinflation and slowing economic growth. That doesn`t bode well for attempts to grapple with the risks posed by shadow banking.


Pragmatism Rules
China avoided potential calamity by effectively bailing out China Credit Trust. Supporters of the government`s refusal to allow for defaults would call this approach pragmatic, that the known unknowns of failure warrants caution. Besides, in allowing Lehman to fail, the U.S. Treasury arguably worsened the global financial crisis, they argue.


But not everyone agrees with this approach. In China default has its supporters. A source familiar with discussions at the level of the State Council said he had been hoping that a China Credit Trust default would teach the market a "profound lesson."


But he is in the center, and provincial governments tend to have greater influence because they`re closer to the action. "Local governments don't want their financing costs to get too high because of a default and they're worried about accounting to the central government," he said. China has been kicking cans and dodging bullets for years, to the extent that its banking system is nearly the size of the U.S. and Japan`s combined ($30.68 trillion). The government has made the right noises about cleaning up the financial system, but the China Credit Trust agreement suggests that it is not yet ready for action.

 

Surviving dinner with a China Hand.

Surviving  dinner with a China Hand.

China Hands can be awful bores at the best of times, the China Brain team included. Here’s a quick guide for those of you who come across one at a dinner party, or more likely, propping up the bar of an unwholesome establishment, desperately hoping to engage someone in a deep, philosophical conversation.

 

 

First things first – the basics: Be aware, of course, that if a China Hand is found outside of their comfort zone – for some that is the 6th Ring road of Beijing, for others just China in general - they will undoubtedly be feeling nervous and uncomfortable that they can’t hold court on the Middle Kingdom. If the conversation is ranging from, for instance, the upcoming London mayoral and US elections, to the continuing downfall of Tiger Woods, or even to what baby stroller to purchase for a new arrival, the China Hand will be pretending to listen. He or she may even utter the odd word, but rest assured, the Hand is simply waiting.

 

What is the Hand waiting for you may ask? They are waiting to hear the key words that will allow them to demonstrate their cavernous knowledge of what is of course the most important country in the world at the most important moment (since the last most important moment) in its very, very long history. These words are too numerous to list in full here but obvious examples are of course ‘China’, ‘Beijing’, ‘Communist’ (be careful when discussing Ken Livingstone), and somewhat mysteriously to those not in the know, ‘Hu’, ‘Wen’ and ‘Xi’. By simply avoiding the key words, you may stave off any China Hand’s attempts to wade into the conversation for a little while.

 

Basic deflection will only last so long. At some point, the China Hand may catch you unaware or the conversation may naturally move towards the most populous country in the world, which as you may be aware is soon going to be the biggest economy in the world. The very fact that China is so very important now means that the China Hand’s ability to link China to almost anything is assured.

 

For instance: You: ‘Who do you think will win the London mayoral election?’ China Hand ‘Well I’m not too sure, seeing as I actually live in Beijing, but whoever does win it will be making a beeline straight for the Chinese over there as the City wants to become the global centre for trading the Renminbi”. Or, You: “What do you make of Tiger’s shambolic behavior in the US Masters?” China Hand : “Well I’m not that into golf, but I did hear that in China, they were mystified by his fall from grace, because your success over there is kind of measured by the number of mistresses you have”.

 

At this point, it’s highly likely that you cannot avoid asking the China Hand a bit more about what he or she does in China and this is the point where you have a key decision to make.

 

Option A is you pretend (or not as the case may be) that you know little or nothing about China and are therefore ready to be ‘(re)educated’ by the great sage before you. This is the path of least resistance and will probably lead to around 20 minutes of listening to the China Hand about what life is ‘really like’ in China, no doubt helping you to understand that the Chinese are not going to take over the world quite yet and that yes, the pollution really is as bad as they say. But why would you want to be anywhere else right now as it’s currently the most important place in the world, the opportunities are endless and no, Mandarin really isn’t quite as hard as everyone says it is, blah blah blah.

 

Option A is safe and easy, but let’s be honest, why not spice things up a little? Here again, you have two options, as you can be sure that whatever you do say, the China Hand will disagree with you. Your first option is to say that you think that China’s rise has been overplayed and it’s all going to come crashing down pretty soon. As economic growth slows and social instability rises, the Party will no longer be able to keep control of all the different emotions and desires that exist within a very tightly controlled society. If you throw in the names Gordon Chang and Minxin Pei (or better yet, Pei Minxin as he would be known in China), that will undoubtedly impress. A China Hand would rarely completely agree with their particularly doom laden predictions, which incidentally have been wheeled out again recently after the rumours of a new schism at the heart of the Communist Party. That is unless of course you’re actually having dinner with Mr. Chang or Mr. Pei.

 

Option B is to say that we all might as well just give up now because China is going to take over the world soon anyway. It’s buying up our companies on the cheap, it’s grabbing whole swathes of Africa, its military is expanding at an alarming rate, alongside it’s confidence in diplomatic circles. You could even throw in the fact that it’s going to smash all records of gold medal hauls at the London Olympics with its platoon of 9 year old gymnasts.  This will probably force the China Hand into a slight corner, where he will feel duty bound to point out some of the frailties that still exist within China: continued growth is by no means guaranteed, the US still holds the dominant position by a very long way in terms of military power, innovation and entrepreneurship, and they promised not to do that thing with the 9 year olds again so don’t worry too much.

 

Your final option is what we call the social hand grenade. You turn to the China Hand and tell him or her in no uncertain terms, that you find Brazil a far more interesting, exciting, enticing topic of conversation. The China Hand will look stunned, shocked and perhaps a little bit hurt -- before responding with, “Did you know who Brazil’s largest trading partner is these days?”

 

China’s Economic Transition: Embracing the Market Allocation of Resources.

China’s Economic Transition: Embracing the Market Allocation of Resources.

At an impasse

 

China’s economic challenge at the moment is probably the greatest it has faced since Deng Xiaoping embraced market reform in the early 1980s. Thirty years on, “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” has passed through several stages before arriving at its current plateau in the 2010s. Without a major evolution in the national growth model, the pressures facing the Chinese economy could destabilize the achievements of the past decades.

Until now, China relied upon low-value exports and major investments to grow its economy. This model has resulted in diminishing returns in recent years. Low wages, the key ingredient to its global competitiveness in low-cost manufacturing, are no longer part of the economic equation (on average, wages rose 12% in 2012). Countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, with rock-bottom pay and a rapidly expanding industrial base, will continue to reap the benefit of this increase as foreign companies shift production from China to maximize profits.

This trend exacerbates the problem of China’s already-excessive industrial capacity. Private companies and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have long had easy access to credit from China’s state-owned banks. China’s population is notoriously thrifty, a characteristic that has stymied the kind of domestic consumption growth the nation sorely needs. Instead, the banks have played the essential distributive role in the economy, using the population’s saving accounts to provide cheap credit to Chinese companies, in particular the SOEs, who have been under little pressure to use this capital effectively.

 

Financial reform in the works

 

            Fortunately, the news from the Third Party Plenum in mid-November was mostly positive. Plenums in China happen on an annual basis as part of the five-year Party Congress, and the third one is often policy-focused – indeed, the market-based economic shift initiated in 1978 was similarly announced at a Third Party Plenum.

            Contemporary China may indeed be at a decision point that is in some ways as important as the one 35 years ago. Good, then, that the result of November’s plenum was a strong affirmation of market-led development. The single most talked-about sentence in the summit’s main document is that the market should play a “decisive function in resource allocation,” a deliberate rhetorical upgrade from the status quo, which declared that the market had a “basic” role in directing resources. From The Economist to Avery Goldstein, a professor at the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania, those whose job it is to read the semantic tea-leaves in Chinese government communiqués insist that this is a significant symbol of policy evolution. Pieter Bottelier, a professor of China Studies at Johns Hopkins, even characterized the plan as “the most ambitious reform [...] I’ve ever seen.”

            Aside from finance, other aspects of the reform include the dismantling of the labour-camp penal system, the end of the one-child policy, reform of the hukou system that defines the population’s right to live in the city, and the establishment of an elite council to execute these reforms.  

            Such a dramatic announcement of reform required Xi to amass significant political capital. To that extent, at least in the short term, “political reform” is off the table. On the contrary, Xi has increased surveillance and repression–the surveillance apparatus now costs nearly as much as the entire military budget ($111 billion USD versus $114 billion). But, notes Goldstein, further market reform may lead to political opening down the road – just not right away.

            That may be for the best. It would no doubt be practically impossible for Xi to unleash economic reform on this scale while simultaneously throwing the hegemony of the Party into jeopardy. As for the SOEs, the administration is almost certainly attempting to address the problems created by cheap credit and its economic effects (excess industrial capacity and a bloated real-estate market) by insisting on the market distribution of resources. Here Xi is admirably taking on state-owned companies that are controlled by family members of the highest-ranking government officials. With the publishing of the post-plenum document, he seems to be announcing his dominance over this gilded class to both China and the world.

 

Charting the way forward

 

Replacing China’s investment-powered growth engine with a vibrant domestic consumer market will require a cultural change if Chinese people are to part with their wages, of which they currently save about one-third. In contrast, profligate Americans manage to save only between two and three percent of their annual income.

 

 

Various government policies, including  its anti-corruption measures, which has reduced conspicuous consumption among China’s 60 million party members, and the spread of automobile limits to more cities, a measure intended to reduce China’s choking urban pollution, will also continue to exert downward pressure in various sectors.

These issues demand a strident government response. For one thing, China’s deposit savings rates, usually between three and four percent, are much higher than in most developing East Asian countries. Lowering this would encourage Chinese people to leave less money sitting in the bank. Continued de-incentivizing of real estate investment is a must: property prices have increased nearly 10% year-over-year. Thankfully, the administration’s plethora of mechanisms designed to cool the housing market, seem to be taking effect, as November 2013 showed a slowdown in property inflation compared to the rest of the year.

 

The hackneyed adage about “crisis” and “opportunity” being the same character in Chinese, a mainstay in Western motivational speeches, has an undeniable relevance at this historical juncture. China seems more confident and powerful than ever, while the world’s financial markets fret about grave structural problems and images of smog-choked cities shock the rest of the world. The concerns won’t cease until China sees itself past the current challenge into an economy that is driven chiefly by consumers rather than cheap government credit and ever-increasing industrial output. In this process, there is the potential to forge a nation that is more sustainable economically, socially, and environmentally. To fail to capitalize on this opportunity would be grave for an administration that has set out its stall to achieve a historical transformation.

 

China`s changing ambitions in Africa.

China`s changing ambitions in Africa.

Whilst Africa as a continent continues to grow at a modest pace, 6.6% GDP growth in 2012 (4.8% and 5.3% are forecast for 2013/14), the fact remains that this growth is not high enough to alleviate poverty and move countries up the Human Development Index (HDI). Growth alone has proved to have little impact on poverty reduction. Whilst resource rich African countries continue to benefit from relatively high commodity prices, this represents a short-term positive. It`s infrastructure, power production and intra-African trade (via locally manufactured goods) that will push countries up the HDI on a durable and sustainable growth path and this is where China could prove to be the making of the continent.

 

 

 

Whilst China-African relations have been shaped in the past by China securing the supply of resources and financing the infrastructure to obtain them, the future will be a far more expansive relationship, involving both the state sectors and private entrepreneurs selling to Africa’s consumers, and not just outsourcing production there. To facilitate this, China currently deploys some 150 commercial attaches throughout the continent..

 

Africa represents about half of the 25 fastest growing economies of the world, meaning rapidly accelerating consumption of made in China products: everything from low cost textiles to up-stream advanced technologies are suitable for African markets and the rapidly growing middle classes. Private investment is simultaneously taking advantage of the wage cost differential and adding value to products on African soil, if not carrying out the full manufacturing process there. On a recent visit to Ethiopia, the landscape I encountered transported me back to Guangdong with its neat lines of machining factories.

 

   

 

Surprisingly China currently lies in 6th place behind the UK, India, USA, UAE and France in terms of greenfield investment, however the ambition is there to increase this dramatically. Chinese FDI is currently re-focusing on the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, and current Chinese governmental subsidies are now aimed at developing industrial parks, to both enhance manufacturing capacity as well as facilitate technology and skill transfer. In return African Nations will increasingly be expected to support China`s policies in international forums. China increased its share of total African exports from 3.2% in 2000 to 13% in 2011, whilst investment has gone from US$100 million to more than US$12 billion in the same period.

 

Potential stumbling blocks that must be addressed now by the new Government are: environmental concerns, worker safety, compliance with local labor law and corporate social responsibility. Currently Chinese businesses on the continent often rely on imported Chinese labor, offer limited job training or opportunities for Africans to rise beyond unskilled work and continue to have image problems among the local populace.  China is not unaware of such issues and is actively addressing its image problem in Africa with vigorous soft power initiatives: 5,000 fully paid scholarships to Chinese Universities, technical training for over 30,000 Africans, the launch of the very slick CCTV Africa as well as numerous local grants for infrastructure projects. China is fast addressing its image in order to reverse hostility towards deeper economic engagement.

 

China, not only has the supply chain in place, the FDI, the political will, but also a multitude of both smaller and state run companies well placed to provide the skills, technology and materials needed to realize Africa’s structural transformation: the reallocation of economic resources from activities with low productivity – such as small farming and informal trading – to more productive ones – such as manufacturing, will ultimately define the rate of development of the African Continent as China’s demand for African raw materials  grows at a slower pace each year.

 

 

 

 

Human development in Africa

Very high and high human development

Algeria, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Seychelles, Tunisia.

 

Medium human development

Botswana, Cape Verde, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon,

Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland.

 

Low human development

Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo, Demireps. Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe,

Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Source UNDP 2013

Thought Leadership more...

Litigating effectively: When in China, do as the Chinese do?

Litigating effectively: When in China, do as the Chinese do?

Date: 2014-04-02

Whenever a Western company loses a business dispute, it usually accepts the ruling of the court and pays up (assuming appeal is no longer possible). Chinese businessmen tend to hold a different view: it ain’t over until it’s over.

                 

When entering into a transaction with a Chinese counterpart, enforcement of the agreement should already be taken into account during negotiations. A (foreign) bank guarantee or escrow is of course a good solution, but this is often a non-starter for the Chinese side.

The Evolution of the 2nd & 3rd Tier Cities in China.

The Evolution of the 2nd & 3rd Tier Cities in China.

Date: 2014-01-06

There are 35 regional cities in China which account for approximately 16 percent of China’s population and 36 percent of China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The majority of regional cities are located on the east coast, particularly in the economically advanced regions of the Bohai Rim, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, and a number of inter-connected ‘city clusters’. The remaining cities are more widely distributed through the country. Each one of these 35 featured cities offers foreign companies particular opportunities, as well as challenges, in a wide range of sectors. These regional cities are considered as the 2nd and 3rd tier cities of China. In general they have a population of more than 5 million people, have a provincial GDP of at least RMB 250 million and the key characteristics are rapid economic growth, lower input costs, large and developing consumer and industrial markets, strong local government support and policy momentum for regional economic development.

Finding faster growth. I eat therefore I am.

Finding faster growth. I eat therefore I am.

Date: 2013-12-16

As millions of Chinese emerge from poverty they use newly disposable incomes to define themselves through food. If they are to take advantage, brands must first understand why.

 

23 million members of the Chinese population will have money to spend on indulging themselves for the first time this year. By 2020, it’s likely that over 160 million more will be able to do the same.
 
 
New research from TNS proves that the vast majority of these newly disposable incomes will be spent on eating and drinking, enjoying new types and new quantities of food and beverages. For brands and manufacturers in these categories, no greater opportunity exists on earth

 

Repatriation Strategies – How can a SME get their profits out of China?

Repatriation Strategies – How can a SME get their profits out of China?

Date: 2013-12-09

In today’s environment, with China as an increasing consumer market, many companies have a respectable part of the total value chain in China. Quite often this results in having money “trapped’ in China. Through the appropriate business model, foreign investors can create solutions and structures to remit cash back to the shareholder or any other related company.

Profit repatriation is a delicate subject under China’s foreign direct investment regime. Various regulatory, formality and tax factors surrounding the issue make it worthwhile for investors to define carefully their repatriation strategies, so as to entail tax and profit outcome that they should be legally entitled to. These strategies may not necessarily be complex or costly, while their effects could be substantial.

Value-Added Tax (VAT) Reform in China

Value-Added Tax (VAT) Reform in China

Date: 2013-11-20

For many years, China has operated a dual system of indirect taxes, with VAT applicable to the domestic purchase and sale of goods as well as the importation of goods, typically at a rate of 17%. By contrast, most services have been subject to Business Tax (BT) at rates of either 3% or 5%. These reforms are taking place because BT is an inefficient turnover tax. It effectively taxes each stage of a supply chain, irrespective of the profit or “value-added” by each business in that supply chain. By contrast, VAT is a tax collected by businesses, but effectively borne by the end consumer.

Taxpayers should actively communicate with customers and suppliers and re-evaluate their business models, including but not limited to pricing, invoice issuance, previous arrangements for the purpose of avoiding repeated BT tax levy etc., to effectively reduce their VAT liabilities and optimize the cost savings benefits. Most importantly companies should meet with their direct tax officers to discuss the tax liabilities imposed upon them for various “services” in order to have a full understanding of the new VAT principles.

 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) - Best Practices in China.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) - Best Practices in China.

Date: 2013-09-03

"If you can make it, they can fake it!” – A common phrase used in China. Intellectual property (IP) protection is one of the major concerns that western companies have while deciding whether to collaborate with Chinese companies or even enter the China market. The IP protection history in China is very short. For centuries, the Chinese people had not had any sense of protecting their own inventions or respecting the inventions of others. Not until 1984, when the Chinese government established its first patent law. The Chinese government has realized that creating a positive IP protection environment is not only important to protect the rights of foreign companies collaborating with their Chinese partners, but also critical to foster a creative environment for technology advancement of Chinese companies.

There are numerous internal and business policies that companies can undertake to reduce the exposure of IP misuse in the first place, including internal IP control; non-disclosure of trade secrets and know-how; careful selection and monitoring of business partners in China, including distributors and licensees; or avoidance of business partners. Although this may make market penetration more difficult, it will protect a company’s vital assets from being exploited. It is advisable for companies to seek advice on IP issues before entering the market.

 

Analysis of the competition strategy for MVNOs

Analysis of the competition strategy for MVNOs

Date: 2013-08-23

In May 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the Notice for the Launch of the MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) Pilot Program in China, allowing private enterprises to enter into the MVNO business. In a short period of time, we will start seeing MVNOs operating in China's telecom market.  Which types of enterprises have advantages in the MVNO area? When different types of enterprises enter the MNVO market, should they adopt different strategies? What are the potential opportunities and threats in the MVNO market?

Next Step

Resources

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013, Xinhua.

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013, Xinhua.

China is often at pains to show what it believes is the hypocrisy of the “Land of the Free” dictating to other cultures and countries American values and rights. China’s white paper lays out the reality of America in 2013: a rise in violent crimes, pervasive state surveillance on its Citizens, prison chain gangs, the widening wealth gap in the population, rising racial tensions and of course the every prevalent rise of gun ownership.  Whilst the paper is a reaction to recent criticism, it pinpoints glaring contradictions in American attitudes towards China.

 

 

Feb. 28th 2014 (Xinhua) -- The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China: "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013".

 

The full text of the report is available here as a PDF or the original web page from Xinhua: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-02/28/c_133150579.htm

 

Foreword to the report.

 

The State Department of the United States, which posed as "the world judge of human rights," made arbitrary attacks and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in almost 200 countries and regions again in its just-released Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. However, the U.S. carefully concealed and avoided mentioning its own human rights problems. In fact, there were still serious human rights problems in the U.S in 2013, with the situation in many fields even deteriorating.

-- In 2013, 137 people died in 30 mass killings, which caused four or more deaths each, in the U.S.. A shooting rampage in the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C. left 12 people dead.

 

-- The U.S. engaged in a tapping program, code-named PRISM, exercising long-term and vast surveillance both at home and abroad. The program is a blatant violation of international law and seriously infringes on human rights.

 

-- The use of solitary confinement is prevalent in the U.S.. About 80,000 U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement in the country. Some have even been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years.

 

-- The U.S. still faces grave employment situation with its unemployment rate remained high. Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families have topped 21 percent. The homeless population in the U.S. kept swelling and it had climbed 16 percent from 2011 to 2013.

 

-- There are a large amount of child laborers in the agricultural sector in the U.S. and their physical and mental health was seriously harmed.

 

-- Frequent drone strikes by the U.S. in countries including Pakistan and Yemen have caused heavy civilian casualties. The U.S. has carried out 376 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, causing deaths of up to 926 civilians.

 

-- The U.S. remains a country which has not ratified or participated in a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

 

The 100 most valuable Chinese brands in 2014.

The 100 most valuable Chinese brands in 2014.

During the year of China`s Economic & Social rebalancing, this report examines brand building in China. Whils the list is still dominated by SOE`s in the first 50, the next half show an interesting prominence of private companies where Chinese entrepreneurs have been developing market-driven companies and valuable brands accross many product and service categories which will only increase in value as reblancing unleashes competition.

 

 

Comparing the brand equity of Chinese brands and foreign brands in China. Chinese brands have caught up. They lag in only one crucial aspect: meaningful differentiation. That’s the missing piece for Chinese brands; it’s a critical element for the brands ranked 51 to 100 to move into the upper tier of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Chinese ranking. For the full PDF report, please click here.

China`s largest State Owned Enterprises & web links

China`s largest State Owned Enterprises & web links

China has over 100,000 State Owned Enterprises (SOE`s), mostly controlled at a local government level. The list below comprises the largest 117 supervised by SASAC. These are some of China`s largest and most influential companies, powering and supplying the headline growth rates not to mention the vtal role they play in povding Social Security for ther employees. The success or failures of this group will define the current re-balancing of the Chinese economy.   

           

 

1 China National Nuclear Corporation
2 China Nuclear Engineering Group Corporation
3 China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
4 China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation
5 Aviation Industry Corporation of China
6 China State Shipbuilding Corporation
7 China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation
8 China North Industries Group Corporation
9 China South Industries Group Corporation
10 China Electronics Technology Group Corporation
11 China National Petroleum Corporation
12 China Petrochemical Corporation
13 China National Offshore Oil Corporation
14 State Grid Corporation of China
15 China Southern Power Grid Co., Ltd.
16 China Huaneng Group
17 China Datang Corporation
18 China Huadian Corporation
19 China Guodian Corporation
20 China Power Investment Corporation
21 China Three Gorges Corporation
22 Shenhua Group Corporation Limited
23 China Telecommunications Corporation
24 China United Network Communications Group Co., Ltd.
25 China Mobile Communications Corporation
26 China Electronics Corporation
27 China FAW Group Corporation
28 Dongfeng Motor Corporation
29 China First Heavy Industries
30 China National Erzhong Group Co.
31 Harbin Electric Corporation
32 Dongfang Electric Corporation
33 Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation
34 Baosteel Group Corporation
35 Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corporation
36 Aluminum Corporation of China
37 China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company
38 China Shipping (Group) Company
39 China National Aviation Holding Company
40 China Eastern Air Holding Company
41 China Southern Air Holding Company
42 Sinochem Group
43 COFCO Limited
44 China Minmetals Corporation
45 China General Technology (Group) Holding, Limited
46 China State Construction Engineering Corporation
47 China Grain Reserves Corporation
48 State Development & Investment Corp.
49 China Merchants Group
50 China Resources
51 China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation [China Travel Service (Holdings) Hong Kong Limited]
52 State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation Ltd.
53 Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd.
54 China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group
55 China International Engineering Consulting Corporation
56 China Huafu Trade & Development Group Corp.
57 China Chengtong Holdings Group Ltd.
58 China National Coal Group Corp.
59 China Coal Technology & Engineering Group Corp.
60 China National Machinery Industry Corporation
61 China Academy of Machinery Science & Technology
62 Sinosteel Corporation
63 China Metallurgical Group Corporation
64 China Iron & Steel Research Institute Group
65 China National Chemical Corporation
66 China National Chemical Engineering Group Corporation
67 Sinolight Corporation
68 China National Arts & Crafts (Group) Corporation
69 China National Salt Industry Corporation
70 Huacheng Investment & Management Co., Ltd.
71 China Hengtian Group Co., Ltd.
72 China National Materials Group Corporation Ltd.
73 China National Building Materials Group Corporation
74 China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co., Ltd.
75 General Research Institute for Nonferrous Metals
76 Beijing General Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy
77 China International Intellectech Corporation
78 China Academy of Building Research
79 China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry (Group) Corporation
80 China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Limited
81 China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation
82 China Railway Group Limited
83 China Railway Construction Corporation Limited
84 China Communications Construction Company Limited
85 Potevio Company Limited
86 China Academy of Telecommunication and Technology
87 China National Agricultural Development Group Co., Ltd.
88 Chinatex Corporation
89 Sinotrans & CSC Holdings Co., Ltd.
90 China National Silk Import & Export Corporation
91 China Forestry Group Corporation
92 China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation
93 CITS Group Corporation
94 China Poly Group Corporation
95 Zhuhai ZhenRong Company
96 China Architecture Design & Research Group
97 China Metallurgical Geology Bureau
98 China National Administration of Coal Geology
99 Xinxing Cathay International Group Co., Ltd.
100 China Travelsky Holding Company
101 China National Aviation Fuel Group Corporation
102 China Aviation Supplies Holding Company
103 Power Construction Corporation of China
104 China Energy Engineering Group Co., Ltd
105 China National Gold Group Corporation
106 China National Cotton Reserves Corporation
107 China Printing (Group) Corporation
108 China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation Ltd.
109 China Hualu Group Co., Ltd.
110 Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell Co., Ltd.
111 IRICO Group Corporation
112 Wuhan Research Institute of Post and Telecommunications
113 OCT Group
114 Nam Kwong (Group) Company Limited
115 China XD Group
116 China Railway Materials Commercial Corp.
117 China Reform Holdings Corporation Ltd.

 

Dalian Wanda Group

Dalian Wanda Group
Dalian Wanda Group was founded in 1988 and operates in four major segments: commercial property, luxury hotels, culture & tourism, and department stores. The company has 300 billion yuan ($48 billion) in total assets, and 141.7 billion yuan ($22.7 billion) in annual revenue. As of 2013 2013, the group had in its portfolio 85 Wanda Plazas, 51 five-star and super five-star hotels, 1,247 movie screens, 75 department stores and 81 karaoke centers.
 
 
Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin has emerged as the second wealthiest person in Greater China with a fortune of 150 billion yuan ($24.5 billion), according to the 2014 Hurun Global Rich List.
 
For the future, Wang has predicted that Wanda will have hotels in eight to ten cities across the world within the next decade. Wanda also intends to take its first tentative steps in India with a JV with Indian tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group to set up a  strategic long-term partnership.
 
A time line:
 
1989: Dalian Wanda Group established.
1993: Became China’s first cross-regional developer.
2000: Wanda started building Changchun Wanda Plaza, its first commercial property project afrer deciding to also develop                              Commercia property. The plaza also formed a strategic partnership with the Wal-Mart.
2004: Wanda developed its first third-generation Wanda Plaza, the Ningbo Zhengzhou Wanda Plaza, which is Wanda's first                            HOPSCA project.
2005: Wanda combined its commercial and residential property business into one company – Wanda Commercial Properties                      Co Ltd
2006: Wanda Group became the No. 1 commercial property developer in China.
2007: Wanda Department Store inaugurated.
2008: Group headquarters were moved from Dalian to Beijing CBD Wanda Plaza.
2010: Guangzhou Baiyun Wanda Plaza opens
2011: Chu River & Han Street opens. The 50-billion-yuan funded Chu River & Han Street project of Wuhan Central Cultural                              District Phase I became operational. The project combines various functions, including tourism, business, commerce                          and residence, into one complex. Covering 18 square kilometers and with a total construction area of 3.4 million sq
2012: Wanda established the first luxury hotel management company in China - Wanda Hotel and Resorts Co Ltd.
           Wanda Group acquired the entire stake of the world’s second biggest cinema chain AMC and inherited its debt with $2.6                      billion. It is the largest acquisition made by a private Chinese company in the US and also the biggest overseas M&A in                        China.
           Establishes: Beijing Wanda Culture Industry Group. China’s largest cultural enterprise with a registered capital of 5                                billion yuan. Its total assets is 31 billion yuan ($5 billion) and total revenue is 20.8 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) in 2012. The                        group operates in 10 arenas, including cinemas, film production, film industry parks, performing arts, film technology                            entertainment,  theme parks, karaoke venues, publications & media, art collecting, and cultural tourism
2013: Wanda acquires a majority shareholding in UK luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker with GBP320 million and will                                  develop a real estate project in Central London, which will include a five-star luxury hotel, with a total investment value of                        GBP 700 million.
 

McKinsey & Co predict: What could happen in China in 2014?

McKinsey & Co predict: What could happen in China in 2014?

The year ahead could see companies focus on driving productivity, CIOs becoming a hot commodity, shopping malls going bankrupt, and European soccer clubs finally investing in Chinese ones. McKinsey director Gordon Orr makes his annual predictions. Please click here to open the report. 

 

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Past Polls more...

Are you willing to change your lifestyle to reduce your environmental footprint?

Respondents:13

Yes:69%No:8%Yes, but to the extent that comfort & convenience of my life is not sacrificed:23%

Do you believe Beijing would benefit from having the Central Government moved away to a purpose built centre outside the city limits?

Respondents:54

Yes:63%No:20%Interesting Idea!:17%

Which city in China will enjoy the highest GDP growth in 2013?

Respondents:129

Chengdu:38%Chongqing:23%Tianjing:14%Shenzhen:11%Hangzhou:14%

If China were to reach the levels of Individual consumption of the West, do you believe the World could support that?

Respondents:86

No:71%Yes:29%

Which of the following Chinese Auto brands would you consider purchasing?

Respondents:68

Geely:12%BYD:21%Great Wall:32%Cherry:1%None of these:34%

What do you see as being the most pressing Social issue China faces over the next decade?

Respondents:61

Education:23%Healthcare:30%Housing:7%Retirement:41%

Is China currently an investment opportunity or heading for crisis?

Respondents:107

Opportunity:88%Crash:12%

How many gold medals will China win in the Olympics?

Respondents:25

45+:16%40-45:24%35-40:48%-35 :12%

Where will the Shanghai Composite be at the end of 2012?

Respondents:14

more than 2,200:50%more than 2,500:21%more than 2,700:29%

How many Chinese companies will be in the Fortune 500 by 2015?

Respondents:14

more than 50:57%more than 100:21%more than 150:21%

What do you think China's GDP growth will be in 2012?

Respondents:5

less than 5%:20%less than 10%:60%more than 10%:20%

Do you think China's handover of power will run smoothly?

Respondents:9

Yes:89%No:11%Maybe:0%

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