Jan 07

China Watch Blog has learnt that the US Senate has approved Janet Yellen’s nomination to head the US Federal Reserve by a vote of 56 to 26, something which comes as no surprise as the financial industry was abuzz with this news since last year. She’s the first woman to lead the US central bank in its century-long history.

Ms Yellen has long focused on fighting unemployment and backed the Federal Reserve’s recent efforts to spur the economy with low interest rates and huge bond purchases.

She will begin her four-year term on February 1, replacing Ben Bernanke, who’s held the job for eight years. Janet Yellen has been Fed vice chair since 2010.

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Sep 11

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s national statistics bureau is sick of being lied to, and it’s not going to take it anymore.

On Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics posted a statement on its website saying Luliang County in Yunnan Province had hugely inflated its industrial output figures and fixed-asset investment.

According to the statement, after a spot check of 25 industrial firms in the county, the bureau found that the local government had submitted data showing the companies’ output for the first six months of the year was 2.74 billion yuan (US$0.44 billion), 2.5 times larger than its actual size. A check of the 2012 numbers of 28 firms found that the 6.34 billion yuan worth of output the county reported for the year was 2.2 times larger than reality. And a survey of 13 investment projects found that of the 210 million yuan worth of completed investment reported by the local government, only 20 million yuan was real.

It’s the second time in recent months that the agency has outed a county government for having fudged the numbers. In June, it publicized the transgressions of Henglan, a town in Guangdong Province, which inflated 2012 output by four times the actual figure.

The problem is clearly more widely spread than two locations. After launching a review into how it collects data from companies around the country — a process that involves companies submitting information online — the bureau found that a number of local governments were circumventing what was supposed to be an independent process.

“Some governments compile fake corporate data themselves, some ask companies to submit fake data, some fill in the data on behalf of the companies,” bureau chief Ma Jiantang said in a statement in late June. “This sort of behavior…prejudices efforts to raise the authenticity of statistics.”

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Aug 27

China Watch Blog has learnt that Chinese geologists confirmed today that they have discovered a large gold deposit with estimated reserves of 21 metric tons in south China’s Guangdong Province.

It is the third such gold deposit in the province and has a potential value worth billions of yuan, sources with the Guangdong Geological Bureau said.

The deposit is located in western Guangdong and its main body measures about 800 meters long, sources said.

In addition to the gold, the deposit also has reserves of silver of about 26 metric tons, according to the bureau.

Two other gold deposits, each with reserves of over 20 tons, were found in Guangdong in the 1980s and 1990s.

Guangdong is one of China’s major gold producers. As of 2010, there were five gold mining companies in the province, with annual investment in the gold market of up to 100 billion yuan (US$16.13 billion).

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Aug 13

China Watch Blog has learnt that a survey by New York-based magazine Conde Nast Traveler has ranked Guangzhou and Shenzhen among the world’s top 20 most unfriendly cities.

Guangzhou

Shenzhen

How many respondents have been to Guangzhou and Shenzhen?

Condé Nast Traveler released the lists of the friendliest and unfriendliest cities in the world recently. According to its website, a total of 46,476 respondents were surveyed.

The People’s Daily reported that China’s Guangzhou is considered the 11th unfriendliest city while Shenzhen is the 14th on the list.

So what were exactly asked in this not-very-scientific survey to determine these embarrassing results for Guangdong Province? The survey didn’t introduce how many respondents have been to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and how many respondents regard Guangzhou and Shenzhen as the unfriendliest cities in the world. All respondents are Americans, in other words, this list is the unfriendliest cities in American tourists’ mind.

In addition, a statement on the website said “unfriendliest” is hard to define and said the criteria for unfriendliest cities could be subjective.

Two Chinese cities on the unfriendly list because they are “busy and extremely crowded”

The Condé Nast Traveler–Truth in Travel published the list of The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World on its website despite of the absence of detailed and objective data. 20 cities, including Chinese cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen were given a subjective evaluation—unfriendly according to its data source: Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey compiled by Irene Schneider.

Newark, New Jersey, U.S. is put on the list for negative experiences with the local crowd and one reader’s comment– “ran into a lot of rude people there.”

Moscow, the capital of Russia made the unfriendly Top 20 because some found it an “intimidating and hostile place.” One reader called it a “rather dull place to visit” and claimed that the people are not too friendly.”

As for Guangzhou, a major city in south China, the website cites readers’ comments that “not as tourist-friendly as Beijing, Hong Kong, or Shanghai,” and that may be because it’s a better fit for business travelers. Readers say the “not nice” city is best for “work only” because it is “busy and extremely crowded.”

Shenzhen got 33.1 * points in the survey according to the website. Shenzhen didn’t win over Condé Nast Traveler readers because it is a big business city (the Shenzhen Stock Exchange is here). Though some like the shopping and spas and the proximity to Hong Kong, others complained it was “too crowded” and “dirty,” winding up at visiting “only if I have to.”

*Note::Grading is by percentages, with 100 as the maximum grade

Condé Nast Traveler Chinese version: Not aware of the unfriendly list

As the cooperative product between Conde Nast Group and Chinese Women’s Magazine, the Chinese version of Condé Nast Traveler and its Chinese website cntraveler.com.cn haven’t published the unfriendly Top 20 list. The Condé Nast Traveler and website on the Chinese side told South Daily that they did not know what the data source is and how the data is compiled.

Journalists with South Daily tried to confirm data source with Condé Nast Traveler through the e-mail addressed posted on cntraveler.com. However, as of press time, South Daily did not receive any response from the site and the magazine.

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May 11

China Watch Blog reports that Hong Kong’s economy grew 2.8% in real terms year-on-year in the first quarter, Government Economist Helen Chan announces.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, real GDP expanded by 0.2%.

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May 10

China Watch Blog reports that China’s e-commerce economy will grow nearly six times by 2020 as more retailers and vendors tap online shopping to lure consumers.

The e-commerce economy – including online transactions and the e-commerce related service industry and information technology infrastructure – will reach 43.8 trillion yuan (US$7.1 trillion), with the majority made up of enterprise transactions of 33 trillion yuan, according to a Shanghai Daily report.

The value of online retail sales, from individual and enterprise sellers, may reach a combined 10 trillion yuan by 2020, Alibaba Group Research Center said in a report yesterday.

Though e-commerce retail only accounted for 6 percent of China’s overall economy in 2012, the figure is seen to reach 16 percent by 2020 due to its huge growth potential as vendors move to the virtual world to lure shoppers, the report said.

Last year, Alibaba Group’s retail arm Taobao and Tmall recorded more than 1 trillion yuan of sales, 10 times their transaction size in 2008.

China is set to become the world’s largest online market whose size may exceed US$420 billion and rise to US$650 billion annually by 2020, McKinsey&Co said in a report in March this year.

China is home to the world’s largest Internet user base of over 560 million and a younger generation of consumers who shop by clicking their mouse.

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Apr 22

China Watch Blog reports that Qantas and the NSW Government have announced a new $30 million partnership to promote Sydney and regional NSW to the world.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce signed the three-year agreement at Qantas’ facilities at Sydney Airport, marking the largest tourism and major events marketing partnership in the State’s history.

Qantas

Premier O’Farrell said the deal involved Qantas matching the NSW Government dollar for dollar to attract more international visitors particularly from the United States, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, China, South-East Asia, Japan and New Zealand.

“Nothing says Australia more than the unmistakeable red tail with the flying kangaroo and the home of Qantas is right here in Sydney,” O’Farrell said.

“This partnership with Qantas is the cornerstone of our strategy to increase tourism to NSW, providing a boost to our economy and helping to create more jobs.

“We will be aggressively targeting big spending leisure and business travellers from overseas which will be a boon for our hotels, restaurants and retail sector.

“This will build on our standing as the nation’s leader for international visitation and expenditure and the preferred destination for key emerging markets.

“We understand the importance of tourism to the State’s economy – that’s why we’re building a new convention and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour and investing in partnerships like this with iconic brands like Qantas.”

Joyce said the time was right to elevate the partnership between Qantas and Destination NSW to a higher level.

“Qantas is Australia’s national airline, flying from Sydney to every continent on earth and to every corner of Australia,” Joyce said.

“Sydney is the gateway to Australia with more than 50 per cent of all international visitors to Australia arriving at Sydney Airport so it’s fitting this is the largest partnership we have ever entered into with a State Government.

“We have seen a fantastic and tangible response to work we have done with Destination NSW in the past and we think working more closely will result in more people visiting NSW and flying Qantas.”

The partnership – which sees both the NSW Government and Qantas invest $15 million each over the three years – will include international advertising and marketing campaigns, marketing activities around major events and joint public relations activities. There will be a strong focus on digital
platforms including online and social media.

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Apr 18

China Watch Blog has learnt that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its outlook for the world economy this year, predicting that government spending cuts will slow US growth and keep the euro currency alliance in recession.

The Shanghai Daily reported that the global lending body cut its forecast for global growth to 3.3 percent this year, down from its forecast in January of 3.5 percent. It didn’t alter its prediction of 4 percent global growth in 2014.

The IMF expects the US economy to expand 1.9 percent this year. That’s below its January estimate of 2.1 percent and last year’s US growth of 2.2 percent. Still, the IMF says the US economy is improving and should expand 3 percent in 2014. US job growth has accelerated, the housing market is recovering and banks are more willing to lend.

The IMF predicts that the 17-country eurozone will shrink 0.3 percent in 2013 and grow only 1.1 percent in 2014.

The IMF issued its latest World Economic Outlook yesterday in advance of the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington later this week. Finance ministers from the G20, a group of developed and large developing countries, will also meet.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said last week that the agenda for the meetings will include how to accelerate growth, create jobs and reform banking rules.

The impact of government spending cuts and tax increases in the US and other countries will also likely be a topic of this week’s talks in Washington beginning tomorrow.

Developing countries may raise concerns at the G20 about efforts by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan to stimulate their economies by buying more government bonds and other assets. Those moves can lower the value of the US dollar and yen, which can make US and Japanese exports cheaper overseas. That prospect has raised fears other countries will take similar steps.

The IMF said worries about so-called “currency wars” are “overblown.” The world’s major currencies aren’t excessively undervalued or overvalued, the IMF said in its report.

The developing nations may show the strongest growth over the next two years, according to the IMF forecasts. China may grow 8 percent this year and 8.2 percent in 2014. In its previous forecast, the IMF had predicted 8.1 percent Chinese growth this year and 8.5 percent in 2014.

India may grow 5.7 percent this year and 6.2 percent in 2014, according to the IMF.

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Apr 07

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s small and micro enterprises are still struggling with lackluster business, and most badly need long-term rather than short-term loans, said a report based on a survey released on Saturday at the Boao Forum for Asia.

Of the 1,000 small and micro enterprises surveyed across China, 56.7 percent said their order numbers declined or stayed flat last year compared with 2011, and 57.7 percent said profit dropped or kept flat in 2012. In addition, 49.9 percent complained about an unstable workforce.

One-third of SMEs need medium- and long-term loans to upgrade their equipment or invest in new products, the survey found, yet 63.3 percent of loans they got were short-term, less than a year.

“This stands in conflict with the fact that driven by fiercer competition, 39.3 percent of SMEs have considered improving their product quality, 43.9 percent of SMEs have considered extending their product chain and 27.7 percent have considered upgrading their technology,” said Ba Shusong, a banking expert with the Development Research Center under the State Council, who led the research.

A revelation of the report is that though 66.7 percent of SMEs regard bank loans as a primary financing measure, 62.1 percent of them do not now have them.

Yao Wang, executive president of the Research Institute of the Boao Forum for Asia, said SMEs have little expectation of getting bank loans.

“The survey showed most SMEs don’t have bank loans. They don’t expect to get a loan from big banks. This is pathetic,” Yao said.

In consequence, SMEs sought financing from family members and friends – 24.3 percent of micro enterprises and 7.5 percent of small enterprises. They are much less aware of the multiple new financing methods: 38.8 percent of SMEs, for example, do not know about intangible assets mortgages.

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Jan 27

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s economy will expand at 8.4 percent this year, up from the 7.8-percent growth rate of 2012, a research institute under the country’s top science academy has predicted.

Shanghai’s Yangshan port

China Daily reported that China, the world’s second-largest economy, will see a mild pick-up in 2013 amid sluggish external demand, according to a report released on Saturday by the Center for Forecasting Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Chen Xikang, deputy director of the center’s academic committee, said that difficulties still loom large over China’s recovery process as investment and export take up too big a proportion of the economic structure and consumption still remains weak.

China’s strict property curbs and economic restructuring will also affect the growth rebound, he added.

On a quarterly basis, the growth rate is expected to accelerate in the first and second quarter of 2013, and gradually draw back in the middle of the year before picking up again in the fourth quarter, the report said.

China’s economy recorded 7.8 percent year-on-year growth last year, marking the first time that the annual increase dropped to less than 8 percent since 1999, according to data released on January 18 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“The growth rate did slow last year but still remains at normal levels, which will not change the basic development pattern of China’s economy in the medium-to-long term,” said Zhu Baoliang, a researcher with the State Information Center, a government think-tank.

In breakdown, the value-added in the country’s primary, secondary and tertiary industry will grew at 4.7 percent, 8.9 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, according to the new report.

Consumption and investment will contribute 4.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, to the country’s economic expansion in 2013, it said.

It also predicted that the combined imports and exports volume will grow by 8.5 percent year on year, with imports up 8.6 percent and exports up 8.3 percent from the previous year.

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