Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Monday, 3 August 2015

It is game of thrones in China as Xiaomi, Huawei fight for top spot

Apple still had a 12.2 per cent market share, but this declined during the quarter. However, China continues to top priority for Apple with revenues more than doubling (112% YoY) during the quarter.

The race for the smartphone throne in China, the world’s largest market for mobile phones, is turning out to be more intriguing than Game of Thrones itself. According to latest figures from research firm Canalys, Xiaomi regained its crown as the largest smart phone vendor with 15.9% market share, but only to find Huawei nipping on its heels with a 15.7% share. But thankfully for both of them, Apple is now in third place followed by Samsung and Vivo.

 “As market consolidation continues in China, one in three smart phones shipped were from Huawei or Xiaomi in Q2 2015,” the report said, adding that Huawei was the fastest growing vendor in the top ten growing 48% sequentially.

 “The China smart phone market continues to mature, remaining stagnant quarter-on-quarter. Competition among major brands has never been so intense. Huawei recorded the highest smart phone shipments in its history without compromising its product margin or profitability. Apple and Samsung have both increased their sales activities in the China market, expanding rapidly in channel coverage through flagship stores and small to medium size phone retailers respectively. Xiaomi is under immense pressure to maintain its top position in the quarters to come,” said Jingwen Wang, Analyst at Canalys. 

Couterpoint research substantiated these findings, while giving Xiaomi a slightly better lead of 0.4 per cent over Huawei. The report attributeed Xiaomi’s performance, after a two quarter dip, to the startup clearing out some older inventory left in the market and the release of new LTE models.

 “Redmi 2 and Mi Note were Xiaomi’s best-selling models during the quarter, global rollout and performance in other key markets such as India is helping Xiaomi to build some scale,” it said. However, the overall China smartphone market declined 2 per cent Year over Year while increasing 4 per cent sequentially, it said. “The weak growth was a result of muted economic environment, smartphone market saturation and lack of product related catalysts,” Counterpoint research said. The research firm said Huawei’s rise was mainly due strong demand for the Honor sub-brand and models such as the latest Ascend Mate and G series. 

Apple still had a 12.2 per cent market share, but this declined during the quarter. However, China continues to top priority for Apple with revenues more than doubling (112% YoY) during the quarter. The country could end up contributing almost US$60 Billion in revenues to the Apple’s total revenues and almost US$15 Billion in Operating income during CY2015. during the same quarter. 

Source Indian Express
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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

China stocks hit four-month lows on panic selling

A floor trader reacts as he checks share prices during morning trading at the Hong Kong Exchanges in Hong Kong, China July 8, 2015.
China stocks tumbled to four-month lows on Wednesday as panicky investors dumped shares across the board, even as the government tried to unveil supportive measures throughout the day session to stop the plunge.

To insulate themselves from the meltdown, more than 500 China-listed firms announced trading halts before the market opened, bringing the total number to around 1,300, almost half of China's roughly 2,800 listed firms.

"I've never seen this kind of slump before. I don't think anyone has," said Du Changchun, analyst at Northeast Securities.

"Liquidity is totally depleted."

The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 6.8 percent, to 3,663.04, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 5.9 percent, to 3,507.19 points.

In an unprecedented sign of desperation, all of China's three futures index products for July delivery slumped by their 10 percent daily limit, meaning investors are extremely bearish on all type of stocks - small, mid, and big cap.

Most blue chips, the target of government's intensified purchases, saw previous session's gains wiped out. Some analysts attributed the sell-off to share suspensions by a huge number of companies.

"Given the suspension of stocks comprising a large part of the onshore markets, there are fewer stocks available to sell for those investors needing to meet their margin call requirements," said John Ford, chief investment officer for Asia Pacific at Fidelity Worldwide Investment.

"This in large part responsible for the current liquidity squeeze."

Stocks fell across the board, with only 83 stocks rising, and 1,439 falling.

Even Shanghai's top blue chip exchange-traded funds, the target of purchases by a stabilization fund set up by Chinese brokerages, and state investor Central Huijin, also fell sharply.

In an unusual manner, various Chinese government agencies published a series of measures throughout the trading session, including urging major shareholders and top executives of listed companies to buy their own shares, and allowing insurers to buy more blue chips. [ID:nB9N0VJ01Y]

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said China's deleveraging and margin calls could be far from over, with no bottom seen until the government becomes buyer of last resort.

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China's parliament publishes draft cybersecurity law

China's parliament has published a draft cybersecurity law that consolidates Beijing's control over data, with potentially significant consequences for internet service providers and multinational firms doing business in the country.

The document, dated Monday but picked up by state media on Wednesday, strengthens user privacy protection from hackers and data resellers but simultaneously elevates the government's powers to access, obtain records and block dissemination of private information deemed illegal under Chinese law.

The law has been under discussion in China for months.

Citing the need "to safeguard national cyberspace sovereignty, security and development," the proposed legislation is a milestone in China's effort to bolster its network against threats to the country's stability.

It will also enable the government to better regulate the flow of information in China.

Earlier in July, China's largely rubber stamp parliament passed a sweeping national security law that tightened government control in politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment.

But cybersecurity has been a particularly irksome area in relations with economic partners like the United States, which sees many recently proposed rules as burdensome or unfair to Silicon Valley firms.

Under the draft law, internet service providers must store data collected within China on Chinese territory; data stored overseas for business purposes must be government-approved. Network equipment must also be approved under testing standards issued by China's cabinet.

The government also reiterated its longstanding objective of requiring internet users to log in with their real names to services like messaging apps - though such drives have failed in the past.

The parliament said government agencies would issue additional guidelines for network security in "critical industries" such as telecoms, energy, transport, finance, national defence and military matters, government administration and other sensitive fields.

Parliament will take feedback on the proposed legislation until Aug. 5.

Source Reuters
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Thursday, 2 July 2015

U.S. Intelligence Chief Points Finger at China for Data Hack

James Clapper

Large data breach left millions of Social Security numbers exposed

The most senior U.S. intelligence official has openly implicated China in a large hack of U.S. government data.

James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, said Thursday that China was a “leading suspect” in a recent security breach that saw millions of personnel records of Americans stolen from government computers.

Previously, U.S. officials hadn’t named a suspect for the breach, which was disclosed in early June. Clapper mentioned China at an intelligence conference in Washington, D.C. “You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” he said, noting the difficulty of the attack.

Earlier this year Barack Obama signed an executive order that grants the Treasury greater ability to impose sanctions on countries who conduct cyberattacks against the U.S. China has denied involvement in the attack, which may have exposed as many as 18 million Social Security numbers.

Source Time 
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Friday, 12 June 2015

U.S. asks China to end island building, again, seeks more military contact

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated a U.S. call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea, while stressing that the Pentagon remained committed to expanding military contacts with China.

In the meeting with General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China's powerful Central Military Commission, Carter stressed his commitment to developing "a sustained and substantive U.S.-China military-to-military relationship", the Pentagon said.

It said this would be based on a shared desire to deepen cooperation in areas including humanitarian assistance, disaster response, peacekeeping, counter-piracy, as well as "constructive management of differences".

In reiterating U.S. concerns about tensions in the South China Sea, Carter called on China and all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarization of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, the Pentagon statement said.

Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach a consensus by September on a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing the risk of accidents when the two countries' aircraft operate in close proximity, the statement said.

Fan told Carter that China's construction work in the South China Sea was mostly to improve living conditions in order to better protect its sovereignty. He also said China had a right to build on its own territory and deploy forces there, China's Defence Ministry said.

Fan also urged the United States to stop its military activities in the South China Sea.

"The South China Sea issue is only an interlude in Sino-U.S. ties and both sides should look further ahead and pay attention to more important and bigger international and regional issues," it paraphrased Fan as saying.

Fan's visit to the Pentagon was part of a week-long trip to the United States, which will include a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Friday. Earlier this week, Fan visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and U.S. military bases.

Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said on Wednesday that Fan's trip was aimed at preparing the way for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September.

China protested to the United States last month after a U.S. spy plane with a television crew aboard flew close to artificial islands China has been building in the South China Sea.

The need for an understanding on air operations was shown last year when the Pentagon accused a Chinese fighter pilot of conducting a "dangerous intercept" of a U.S. Navy patrol plane by flying a few yards from the U.S. jet and performing acrobatic maneuvers around it.

Source Reuters
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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

China peeved as Hillary Clinton denounces women's detention

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during the 2015 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting award in Washington March 23, 2015.
 China called on other countries on Tuesday to respect its judicial sovereignty after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced as "inexcusable" the detention of five women activists.

China has previously rejected calls from Britain and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to release the women activists, who had planned to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport.

The five young women had made signs and stickers bearing slogans like "stop sexual harassment" and calling for police to arrest molesters, photographs circulated by rights groups showed.

The women - Li Tingting, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong - were detained on the weekend of International Women's Day, March 8, on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a charge that carries a jail sentence of up to five years.

Clinton had tweeted "The detention of women's activists in China must end. This is inexcusable".

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the matter was an internal affair.

"China is a country ruled by law. Relevant departments will handle the relevant case according to law. We hope that public figures in other countries can respect China's judicial sovereignty and independence," Hua told a daily news briefing.

The decision to detain the women comes amid a clampdown on dissent. President Xi Jinping's administration has detained hundreds of activists in the past two years in what some rights groups say is the worst suppression of dissent in two decades.

Clinton, the Democrats' presumed 2016 presidential front-runner, has been a long-time critic of China's human rights record. In 2012, she led a tense week of negotiations with China over the fate of blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who is now living in the United States.
Source Reuters
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Sunday, 5 April 2015

China's Anhui plans $5 billion debt swap through new government scheme: Xinhua

China's Anhui province plans to swap 32.2 billion yuan ($5.22 billion) through Beijing's new debt swap scheme to allow local governments to convert high interest debt to lower interest bonds, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.
Anhui would be amongst the first regions approved to use of the 1 trillion yuan scheme, designed to help ease the massive debt burden on local governments without crippling the broader economy.
Local government debt is estimated at around $3 trillion.
The scheme, announced last month, allows local governments to convert a portion of their maturing high-interest debt into lower interest municipal or provincial bonds.
Anhui will use the funds to repay debt due to mature this year, Xinhua said, citing Anhui officials. It added the debt swap would help lower the government's financing costs.
Local government finances have been strained over the past year as the non-bank financing platforms they have relied upon to plug holes in their budgets have become a target of regulators concerned with surging local government debt.
In December, regulators banned the use of debt with a rating below AAA in short-term repurchase agreements, used by financial institutions to cover temporary funding short-falls. Many local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) have ratings of AA, essentially locking them out of the short-term financing market.
($1 = 6.1930 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Source Reuters

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

China’s pollution crisis inspires smog mask fashion show

How bad has the pollution in China become? Even high-end fashion designers have begun incorporating oxygen masks into their designs.

What might be seen as dramatic flourish on some runways has become a stylish though nonetheless troubling reminder that Beijing's air pollution has become accepted by many as a normal part of daily life in the country.

Presented by designer QIAODAN Yin Peng during Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week, which ended on Sunday, the sports wear line accents its already futuristic looks with a wide array of breathing masks that match the clothing.

But this is no mere "weird trend" from another country, during this month's 34th Beijing International Marathon a number of runners could be seen wearing protective masks to maintain their breathing during the smog-plagued race.

In fact, the pollution in Beijing has become so embarrassingly oppressive that officials are reportedly scrambling to put extra anti-pollution measures in place ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit set to kick off in the city later this week.

It's unclear whether or not the masks on the models actually work, but at least two masks sported the 3M logo often seen on working oxygen masks. So while these post-apocalyptic looks may seem odd at first glance, in Beijing, these styles could represent the very real future of local fashion.

You can check out all the smog-fighting fashions in the gallery below.

Source Mashable

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

LG Electronics seeks fresh smartphone start in China with G3 launch

A sales assistant uses his mobile phone in front of mock LG electronics smart phones displayed at a store in Seoul July 22, 2014.

LG Electronics Inc will on Monday begin selling its latest flagship smartphone in China, a market where it has struggled to make a dent and that has become increasingly tough for makers of high-end handsets other than Apple Inc.
Eager to capitalize on strong early reception for its G3, the company on Friday said it will sell the device through online shopping site, China's second-biggest e-commerce company by market share, at 3,999 yuan ($650).
While that is cheaper than its 899,800 won ($869) launch price at home in South Korea in late May, it is more than twice as expensive as feature-rich phones offered by local players led by Xiaomi Inc that have battered the likes of global No.1 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in China.
LG ranked fifth in global smartphone sales in the second quarter, according to IDC, but does not crack top 10 lists in China, the world's biggest smartphone market.
It could struggle to pick up meaningful early market share as it won't have local carriers pushing the device. Apple, by comparison, inked a long-awaited distribution tie-up in December with China Mobile, the world's biggest carrier.
An LG spokeswoman said the firm opted to go only with JD.Com for now to cut distribution costs, noting that non-carrier vendors account for more than half of handset sales in China.
The G3 has won praise as a major improvement on its predecessor. Sporting a high-resolution 5.5-inch screen and features like laser focus for the camera, LG has said reception for the device has been better than anticipated.
Tom Kang, an analyst with Counterpoint in Seoul, said the new LG phone's high quality display, which has nearly twice the resolution as that of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5, will be an attraction for Chinese buyers, but the absence of carrier subsidies and distribution will be a challenge.
"No one really orders a BMW over the internet even though there's a price discount. You want to go into the shop, touch it, feel it," he said.
Upstart Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi usurped Samsung to became the No.1 China player during the second quarter, according to Canalys. Samsung and Apple Inc were the only foreign firms to rank in the top 10 in the period, as local brands increasingly pack on features but cost less.
LG's handset division turned a quarterly profit in April-June for the first time in a year after shipping a record 14.5 million smartphones, and the company is counting on the G3 to keep the momentum going.
LG has said it aims to ship more than 10 million units of the G3, without setting a target date, and analysts expect the company to hit that with relative ease. Several predicted LG will ship 3 million G3s in the third quarter.
Still, those numbers are small compared with the 108.5 million smartphones that Canalys says shipped in China in the second quarter. And with Apple expected to unveil its larger-screen iPhone 6 and Samsung likely to launch its next flagship Note device in September, LG faces an uphill challenge.
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China refutes claim of government ban on Apple purchases

A staff of a China Mobile shop (R) explains a function of the iPhone 5s to a customer in Beijing January 17, 2014.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) products such as laptops and tablets are not banned from Chinese government procurement lists, according to the country's chief procurement center, refuting a report claiming Apple was blacklisted on national security concerns. According to a Bloomberg News report published on Wednesday, 10 Apple products, including MacBook laptops and iPad tablets, were taken off a government list of approved hardware due to security concerns. The Central Government Procurement Centre, as well as the finance ministry and Apple, said the company never applied to be on the list in the first place. The list that created the confusion this week involves energy-saving products, and is just one of a multitude of government procurement lists in China. Apple has never been on that list, the company said in emailed comments on Friday, declining to give more details. "Even though Apple has the certification for energy-saving products... it has never provided the necessary verification material and agreements according to the regulations," said a Finance Ministry fax sent to Reuters on Thursday evening, a statement closely mirrored by the Central Government Procurement Centre in their own announcement on Friday. The government can still purchase Apple products, even if they are not on the energy-saving list, according to the Central Government Procurement Centre website. This week, many of the products mentioned were available for purchase on the website, except for a brief period late Thursday when sales were temporarily halted for a monthly price adjustment. Multiple suppliers, who declined to be identified because they did not want to damage their business with the government, told Reuters that the price adjustments were routine. They said they did not believe the stoppages were due to national security concerns based on their conversations with the central procurement agency. "They didn't say once that it had anything to do with national security," said an employee at a Beijing-based government supplier. The government website resumed selling Apple products including laptops as of Friday afternoon. The most popular model was bought 23 times between Thursday and Friday. "Every month we have one price adjustment to make sure the prices are aligned with market prices," said a person familiar with the procurement process, who attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding. "We'll stop purchases and then restart after they're aligned." The uncertainty and speculation surrounding Apple's procurement status reflects the heightened anxiety among foreign technology firms in China amid what they perceive as a multi-pronged, official campaign to curb their business. Chinese regulators recently launched an anti-monopoly probe into Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O). That came after China said in May it would ban Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system citing security concerns. The central procurement agency also recently delisted foreign anti-virus software vendors Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) and Kaspersky Lab due to security concerns, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Mutual suspicions between China and the United States over hacking have escalated over the past year following revelations by Edward Snowden that U.S. intelligence planted "backdoor" surveillance tools on U.S.-made hardware. The U.S. Justice Department, meanwhile, indicted five Chinese military officers in May on counts of extensive industrial espionage.
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China detains man for spreading panic on WeChat: state media

Chinese authorities have detained someone for the first time for spreading panic on mobile messaging app WeChat, state media said on Friday, hours after China imposed new rules on instant messaging tools.

The move is part of a broader state crackdown on spreading rumors and obscene material online, as well as attempts to rein in political commentary from media that has not been sanctioned by the state.
The man was taken into custody on Thursday after writing on WeChat that three people carrying explosives had been shot dead by police outside a hospital in the eastern province of Jiangsu, said a newspaper subsidiary of the official Xinhua news agency.

Police investigated the claim and found that it was untrue, the report said, adding that the man had confessed that he had spread the information to try and gain attention and boost his online business as an e-commerce merchant.

It was not immediately clear what sanctions he might face.

WeChat is a hugely popular mobile messaging app run by Tencent Holdings Ltd, which has already had dozens of widely read accounts run by outspoken columnists shut down in recent months as part of the state's Internet clampdown.

On Thursday, China imposed new regulations on instant messaging service providers and accounts that can send out mass messages to their followers, often used by media and companies. These require public accounts wishing to publish or reprint political news to seek prior approval.
WeChat was seen by users as a relatively safe refuge from government censorship compared to more public platforms such as Twitter-like microblogs, including Weibo Corp's Weibo.
Unlike Weibo, WeChat is primarily used to send messages to other individuals or small groups rather than large audiences.
But the rise of WeChat, which had nearly 400 million monthly active users by the end of March, has drawn government scrutiny, and with it greater regulation.
According to the rules announced on Thursday, public account users must sign an agreement when they register, promising "to comply with the law, the socialist system, the national interest, citizens' legal rights, public order, social moral customs, and authenticity of information".
In a commentary published on Friday, Xinhua said this was "a necessary step for a clean and healthy Internet".
"Instant messaging services have also been used by some people to spread content related to violence, terrorism, pornography and fraud," said Xinhua, adding that the new rules would "enhance the flow of content that people really need".
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U.S. call for South China Sea 'freeze' gets cool response from China

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh (R) shake hands during the ASEAN-CHINA Ministerial Meeting at the Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) in Naypyitaw, August 9, 2014.

A U.S. proposal for a freeze on provocative acts in the South China Sea got a cool response from China and some Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, an apparent setback to Washington's efforts to rein in China's assertive actions. To China's annoyance, the United States is using a regional meeting in Myanmar this weekend to step up its engagement in the maritime tension by calling for a moratorium on actions such as China's planting of a giant oil rig in Vietnamese waters in May. Its ally the Philippines has also called for a freeze as part of a three-step plan to ease tension in the resource-rich sea, through which passes $5 trillion of trade a year. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, on Saturday for the ASEAN Regional Forum, joining foreign ministers and other top diplomats from China, Russia, Japan, India, Australia, the European Union and Southeast Asia among others. "The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime security of critical sea, lands and ports," Kerry said in opening comments. "We need to work together to manage tensions in the South China Sea and to manage them peacefully, and also to manage them on the basis of international law.” But Le Luong Minh, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the U.S. proposal was not discussed by ASEAN ministers because there was already a mechanism in place to curtail sensitive action such as land reclamation and building on disputed islands. CHINA SAYS SITUATION STABLE The top ASEAN diplomat said it was up to ASEAN to work with China to reduce tension by improving compliance with a 2002 agreement, as they also work to conclude a binding Code of Conduct for maritime actions. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea. "It is up to ASEAN to encourage China to achieve a serious and effective implementation of this commitment, rather than ASEAN asking whether it should support or not support the (U.S.) proposal," he said. Most claimants have flouted the 2002 guidelines, leading to rising tension in the South China Sea between four ASEAN claimant nations and China, which claims 90 percent of the waters. The rancour has split ASEAN, with several states including some of the claimants reluctant to antagonize Asia's economic giant. China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and has already dismissed the proposal for a freeze. China accuses the United States of emboldening claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam with its military "pivot" back to Asia. "Currently the situation in the South China Sea is stable on the whole. There has not been any problem regarding navigation in the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters. "Someone has been exaggerating or playing up the so-called tensions in the South China Sea. We don’t agree with such a practice." Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario also appeared to tone down his proposal for a freeze or moratorium on activities causing tension in the South China Sea, calling instead for a "cessation" in remarks to reporters on Friday. A senior U.S. official said the change in language was not significant. "Maybe they just want to differentiate their proposal from our proposal." ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spying case heightens China-Canada tensions, reflects split in Ottawa

Canada's Kevin Garratt (2nd R), his wife Julia Dawn Garatt (2nd L) and his children Peter and Hannah, pose for a family picture in Dandong, in this undated handout provided to Reuters by Kevin's son Simeon Garatt.
China's decision to investigate two Canadians for suspected spying highlights a sharp and unexpected deterioration in bilateral ties just months ahead of a trip by Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Beijing. The detention of the couple, long-time residents in China who ran a coffee shop on the border with North Korea, could also make life tougher for the small group of Canadian government ministers who favor closer economic links with Beijing. Chinese authorities are investigating the couple - Kevin Garratt and his wife Julia Dawn Garratt - for suspected theft of military and intelligence information and for threatening national security. The detention came less than a week after Canada accused Chinese hackers of breaking into a key computer network, the first time it has ever singled out China for such a security breach. Beijing dismissed the allegations as "irresponsible." The two incidents look set to overshadow a visit by Harper to Beijing in November for a regional summit which could include a first meeting with China's President Xi Jinping. Since taking power in early 2006, Canada's right-leaning Conservatives have adopted an inconsistent policy on China, reflecting splits between pro-business members and social conservatives who are suspicious of Beijing. "There is a deep division within caucus and within cabinet on how to respond ... there is a clear battle," said Paul Evans, a professor at the University of British Columbia and one of Canada's leading experts on China. Evans said attempts by the cabinet to agree on a China strategy had failed in recent years. An official in Harper's office declined to comment, saying merely that "we have a frank and mature dialogue on a variety of levels with the Chinese". Social conservatives are influential in the Western oil-rich province of Alberta, which attracts around 80 percent of total Chinese energy investment. The unofficial leader is Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who party officials say is very cautious about getting too close to China. Government sources say Kenney is opposed inside cabinet by members such as Foreign Minister John Baird and Trade Minister Ed Fast, who favor more investment by China to boost a flagging Canadian economy. "Some ministers are for, some are against, while the majority are wary," one veteran Conservative told Reuters. "Certainly no one is going to stand up right now and talk about the need for closer ties with China." CHILLY IMPACT Harper last visited China in February 2012 and vowed to do all he could to boost exports of Canadian crude while calling for more Chinese investment in Canada. Yet when the Chinese did make a move a few months later - state-owned CNOOC Ltd bid for energy firm Nexen, based in Alberta - it appeared to catch Canada off-guard. Amid rare scenes of open discord among Conservatives over the wisdom of the deal, Harper approved it in December 2012 but slapped restrictions on how much of the Canadian energy sector that Chinese state-owned enterprises could buy. Spokespeople for Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird declined to comment on any aspect of the case against the Canadian couple. The Garratts' eldest son, Simeon, told Reuters that Canadian embassy officials are in contact with his brother, Peter, in Dandong. Canadian officials say plans are being made for Harper to tour major cities in China in November. "This (spying) incident is undoubtedly going to have a chilling effect on Mr Harper's meetings with the Chinese authorities," said Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who served two tours in China. The decision to allow the Nexen deal to go ahead was a clear defeat for Kenney, who is one of the favorites to eventually replace Harper. "It's now getting caught up in electoral politics, potential succession politics in the Conservative Party," said Evans. The next federal election is due in October 2015. Harper kept his distance from China for years, citing its human rights record, but under pressure from business started to make an effort to improve ties. Government officials say China is an obvious source for some of the C$650 billion ($590 billion) investment in the natural resources patch that Ottawa says will be needed over the next decade or so. And yet the split inside Harper's Conservatives is also reflected among Canadians in general.

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China to punish Audi, Chrysler for anti-monopoly behavior

The national flag of China flutters behind a fence of the headquarters of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing, in this picture taken July 12, 2013.
China said it will punish foreign car makers Audi and Chrysler as well as some 10 Japanese spare-part makers for violating the country's anti-monopoly law. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), responsible for enforcing rules against anti-competitive pricing, said on Wednesday that it had found Fiat SpA's (FIA.MI) Chrysler in Shanghai and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE)'s Audi in Hubei to be engaging in monopolistic behavior. The government has also completed investigations into 12 Japanese auto-parts makers and will mete out punishment to those found to be breaking the anti-monopoly law, Li Pumin, spokesman of the NDRC, said at a press conference in Beijing. The NDRC did not identify the spare-part makers and did not say how many of them would be punished. China is intensifying efforts to bring companies into compliance with an anti-monopoly law enacted in 2008, having in recent years taken aim at industries as varied as milk powder and jewelry. In recent months, regulators have ramped up probes in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to electronics. A number of multinational companies including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co (MJN.N) and Danone SA (DANO.PA) have been slapped with substantial fines following similar investigations in the past. In the latest anti-trust blitz, foreign companies that have been targeted include U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), which officials labeled as monopolistic last month and is widely expected to get a heavy fine. Last week, investigators stormed Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) offices in four Chinese cities as part of an ongoing probe. The NDRC said on Wednesday that it was also conducting an investigation into Daimler's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz. Last week, the Jiangsu division of the NDRC conducted investigations into Mercedes-Benz dealers in five cities.
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Thursday, 3 July 2014

China urges U.S. to be more objective ahead of key meeting

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 5, 2014.
China and the United States need to "plant more flowers, not thorns" in their relationship and Washington needs to have a more objective view about China, state media on Thursday quoted President Xi Jinping as saying ahead of a key meeting. Xi, speaking to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ahead of next week's China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, said he hoped both countries could use such gatherings to keep "injecting positive energy" into the relationship. "The two sides should expand common interests, deepen cooperation, plant more flowers, not thorns, clear the interference and avoid suspicion and confrontation," Xi was quoted as saying by the official China Daily. China would stick to the path of peaceful development and shoulder its international duties, Xi added. "We hope the U.S. will objectively view China's basic national conditions as well as its domestic and foreign policies," he said. China and the United States, as the world's two largest economies, have close trade and business ties and work together on important international issues like North Korea. But they also have deep differences, over everything from human rights to the value of the Chinese currency. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who will attend the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, said on Tuesday the yuan's value was a "very big issue" for the United States and that the currency needed to appreciate more. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is also attending, and will likely have to address Chinese concerns over what Beijing views as Washington's support for Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines over their territorial disputes with China. China's increasingly assertive tone in the disputed East and South China Seas, as well as its rising military expenditure, have rattled nerves in the region and in Washington.
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Monday, 30 June 2014

Global bank profits hit $920 billion as Chinese lenders boom

A Bank of China branch is seen under construction in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, January 15, 2014.
China's top banks accounted for almost one-third of a record $920 billion of profits made by the world's top 1000 banks last year, showing their rise in power since the financial crisis, a survey showed on Monday. China's banks made $292 billion in aggregate pretax profit last year, or 32 percent of the industry's global earnings, according to The Banker magazine's annual rankings of the profits and capital strength of the world's biggest 1,000 banks. Last year's global profits were up 23 percent from the previous year to their highest ever level, led by profits of $55 billion at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (601398.SS). China Construction Bank (601939.SS), Agriculture Bank of China (601288.SS) and Bank of China (601988.SS) filled the top four positions. Banks in the United States made aggregate profits of $183 billion, or 20 percent of the global tally, led by Wells Fargo's (WFC.N) earnings of $32 billion. Banks in the eurozone contributed just 3 percent to the global profit pool, down from 25 percent before the 2008 financial crisis, the study showed. Italian banks lost $35 billion in aggregate last year, the worst performance by any country. Banks in Japan made $64 billion of profit last year, or 7 percent of the global total, followed by banks in Canada, France and Australia ($39 billion in each country), Brazil ($26 billion) and Britain ($22 billion), The Banker said. The magazine said ICBC kept its position as the world's strongest bank, based on how much capital they hold - which reflects their ability to lend on a large scale and endure shocks. China Construction Bank jumped to second from fifth in the rankings of strength and was followed by JPMorgan (JPM.N), Bank of America (BAC.N) and HSBC (HSBA.L). ICBC, which took the top position last year for the first time, was one of four Chinese banks in the latest top 10. Wells Fargo has this year jumped to become the world's biggest bank by market value, after a surge in its share price on the back of sustained earnings growth. Its market value is $275 billion, about $75 billion more than ICBC. The Banker said African banks made the highest returns on capital last year of 24 percent - double the average in the rest of the world and six times the average return of 4 percent at European lenders.

(Reuters) - 
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Sunday, 29 June 2014

China drives home message that golf courses are not the fairway to heaven

Broken pieces of glass protrude from a wall to keep out trespassers at an illegal golf course which was demolished and turned into a cornfield in the suburbs of Beijing, June 16, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
(Reuters) - All that remains of the long fairways and manicured greens at the 18-hole golf course on the outskirts of Beijing are bits of rubble and mounds of mud. In March, Chinese authorities sent in workers to dig up the course and tear down the clubhouse. Two others across China were also demolished while another was turned into an eco-friendly park and a fifth converted into a tea plantation, suggesting the government could finally be cracking down on developers who have long ignored a 2004 ban on building new golf courses. The government, which announced the demolitions last month, said its actions served as a warning and an attempt to educate "would-be" violators. A few weeks later, the national auditor joined in, publicly shaming two big state-run enterprises for building golf courses. "It's a stepped-up campaign for sure," said one Chinese developer, whose company built a course after the ban and who spoke on the condition that neither his name, his firm nor the course be identified. Nevertheless, developers interviewed by Reuters expressed little concern, saying golf courses were in demand by local authorities who wanted the revenue from selling land while attracting well-heeled visitors to their regions. The ban was imposed to protect China's shrinking land and water resources in a country home to a fifth of the world's population but which has just 7 percent of its water. The only place exempt is the southern resort island of Hainan. Developers had built 639 golf courses across China up to the end of last year, tripling the total since 2004, according to the website of Forward Management Group, a company based in the southern city of Shenzhen that offers a range of golf services in China. JUST DON'T CALL IT A GOLF COURSE To skirt the ban, developers and local officials designate land for anything other than a golf course in building applications, developers and lawyers said, calling the projects sports training centers or tourist resorts. Many come complete with high-end villas. Because of the large tracts of land needed for such projects, China's cabinet must give approval, said lawyer Zhu Maoyuan, who has seen disguised applications. "I have never seen developers and local governments use 'golf course' as a project name or for land use purposes when seeking approval," said Zhu, a partner at the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing. Many applications simply get the go ahead from local authorities, said the Chinese developer. The central government has promised to clamp down on illegal golf course construction before but the demolition order against the five mainly little-known developers by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning body, has been the first real sign of enforcement. The NDRC, which urged local authorities to adhere to the rules and punish violators, did not respond to a request for comment. Last week, China's National Audit Office in a wide-ranging report on state firms said China National Tobacco Corp had built one illegal golf course and China Metallurgical Group Corp [CNMET.UL] two courses. They were constructed from 2007-2012. In response, China Tobacco said in a statement it had ordered the closure of the course. China Metallurgical said it had begun the "asset disposal process" and had punished the officials responsible. The crackdown could be more serious now because of China's pollution crisis, developers said. One of the reasons for the 2004 ban was because the high use of fertilizer and pesticide to grow grass for golf courses was causing water pollution. "The way many golf courses are built and managed has a negative impact on the environment," said Ma Jun, a director at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, a non-governmental organization. IN THE ROUGH Golf has come a long way in China since it was banned as a bourgeois excess by late leader Mao Zedong, with many wealthy Chinese seeing it as a way to affirm their status. At the Mission Hills golf course in Shenzhen, joining membership fees can cost up to 2 million yuan ($322,100), according to the club's website. But no one got a chance to tee off at the course in the Chaoyang district of Beijing, which was demolished before it opened. During a recent visit to the 60-hectare (148-acre) site, a villager in his 20s told Reuters how workers wiped out virtually all trace of the course in a few weeks. "Trucks went in and out. They almost destroyed the road in our village," said the man, surnamed Wang, who declined to give his full name. Someone has since planted corn on parts of the muddy land. The NDRC said the course had been built by Lao He Wan Investment Co under the guise of the Delong Agricultural Model Park. Reuters could not find any trace of the company. Local authorities responsible for the district did not respond to requests for comment. Among the other courses demolished, one was built in southwestern Yunnan province by a subsidiary of medium-sized Chinese property developer Agile Property Holdings Ltd, the NDRC said. Agile declined to comment. All five developers were fined. Up to now, building a golf course has been a win-win for developers and local governments. A second Chinese developer said he was invited by a local government in eastern China in the years after the ban to build a golf course to help the region lure wealthy residents. "We got the land cheaply. We made money from selling villas around the golf course and the government got the domestic consumption it wanted," said the developer, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Villas are a key way to make profits, developers added. An executive at a third developer said his firm had constructed a golf course in southern Guangdong province after 2004 and was now planning to build 100 ultra-luxury villas around it. The expected sale price: 70 million yuan ($11.25 million) each. ($1 = 6.22 Chinese yuan)
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China fetes India, Myanmar, says Beijing poses no threat

China's President Xi Jinping (L), Premier Li Keqiang, Myanmar's President Thein Sein (R, front) and India's Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari (C,front) arrive for a conference marking the 60th anniversary of the ''Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence'', known in India as the Panchsheel Treaty, a set of principles to govern relations between states, at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, June 28, 2014.
(Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping feted neighbors India and Myanmar on Saturday, dusting off the 60th anniversary of a now rather obscure agreement signed in the early days of the Cold War to pledge a rising China's commitment to peace. In 1954, China, India and Myanmar signed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, promising mutual non-aggression and non-interference in internal affairs, ideals then incorporated into the Non-Aligned Movement of countries who did not wish to choose between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, China's ties with both India and Myanmar, then known as Burma, soured in the 1960s, as China and India fought a border war and Myanmar's military rulers oversaw torrid anti-Chinese riots, events that mar relations to this day. More recently, China's growing diplomatic and military clout has rattled nerves around the region, especially with Beijing's increasingly strident moves to assert itself in territorial disputes in the East China Sea with Japan and in the South China Sea with countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. Xi, speaking to some 700 people in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, including Myanmar President Thein Sein and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, said China would never try to impose its will no matter how strong it becomes. "China does not subscribe to the notion that a country is bound to seek hegemony when it grows in strength. Hegemony or militarism is not in the genes of the Chinese. China will unswervingly pursue peaceful development because it is good for China, good for Asia and good for the world," Xi said. "The notion of dominating international affairs belongs to a different age, and such attempts are doomed to failure," Xi added, in a speech strong on broad, vague statements about peace though short on detail. "Flexing military muscles only reveals a lack of moral ground or vision, rather than reflecting one's strength. Security can be solid and enduring only if it is based on moral high ground and vision," he said. FRONTIER DEFENSE Yet comments on border defense reported by the official Xinhua news agency late on Friday suggest that Xi will have his work cut out for him in trying to convince Asia that China's intentions are really peaceful. "Talking about frontier defense, one cannot help thinking about China's modern history when the country was so weak and destitute that it was for everyone to bully," Xinhua cited Xi as saying. "Foreign aggressors broke China's land and sea defenses hundreds of times, plunging the Chinese nation into the abysm of calamity," Xi added, calling on people not to forget the "history of humiliation" and strengthen the borders, especially at sea. Still, Xi was warm in his praise for India, whose new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to strengthen India's armed forces and economy, in part to enable him to react more decisively in foreign relations than his predecessor, the mild-mannered Manmohan Singh. "In one of his poems, Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet, wrote that if you think friendship can be won through war, spring will fade away before your eyes," he said, referring to the Bengali Nobel Literature laureate. Xi noted that Myanmar, whose president has irritated China by suspending a major Chinese-invested dam project and seeking closer ties with the United States, was the first country to sign a border agreement with China, in 1960. "The people of India, Myanmar and other Asian countries also cherish the values of love, kindness and peace," he said.
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Saturday, 21 June 2014

Chinese police shoot dead 13 attackers in Xinjiang

(Reuters) - Police shot dead 13 attackers in China's restive Xinjiang region after they rammed a car into a police station and detonated explosives, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, in the latest of a series of attacks to worry Beijing.
Xinjiang is the traditional home of Muslim Uighurs who speak a Turkic language, and China has blamed previous attacks on Islamist separatists it says seek to establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.
Three police officers were "lightly wounded" in the attack on Saturday morning, but there were no casualties among the public, the news agency said citing the local government.
"The gangsters drove a vehicle to ram the building of the public security bureau of Yecheng County in southern Xinjiang and set off explosives," it said.
In 2012, seven attackers were shot dead after killing 13 people in a knife attack in Yecheng, also known by its Uighur name of Kargilik, a remote town on the road leading to China's mountainous border with Pakistan.
China has been on edge since a suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.
The rise in violence has prompted a crackdown on violent crime. Authorities in Xinjiang have arrested or tried dozens of suspects in recent weeks for spreading extremist propaganda, possessing banned weapons and other crimes.
China also executed over a dozen people for terrorist attacks in the region earlier this month and three others for an attack on Beijing's central Tiananmen Square.
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years, but exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked unrest, something Beijing denies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said earlier this year that the Kashgar region, which sits in the far west of Xinjiang, is "the front line in anti-terrorism". The Silk Road city of Kashgar has been at the centre of much of the unrest in the region. Yecheng is in the Kashgar prefecture, and is more than 1,500 kilometres southwest of Urumqi.
Chinese leaders have also been directing investment into Xinjiang. President Xi pledged last month to alleviate poverty and improve ethnic unity in the region, the most direct indication yet that China's leaders want to address the causes of violence in the area.
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Thursday, 19 June 2014

China jails anti-corruption activists after high-profile trial

Chinese activist Liu Ping poses for a photograph in Xinyu, Jiangxi province in this undated handout image provided by Liu's daughter Liao Minyue on June 18, 2014.

(Reuters) - Three Chinese activists who campaigned for government officials to disclose their wealth were jailed on Thursday in the culmination of a high-profile trial that underscores Beijing's resolve to clamp down on dissent.

The activists were among more than a dozen detained in recent months for their anti-corruption activism. Rights groups say the crackdown on the group throws into sharp relief the limits of President Xi Jinping's campaign against graft.

Despite a few pilot schemes for low level officials to disclose their assets, any public discussion of the wealth of senior leaders remains strictly off limits.

Graft oils the wheels of China's government and probes into Party elites have revealed billions of dollars in undisclosed assets, often held by trusted friends or family members.

Two of the activists, Liu Ping and Wei Zhongping, were sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison for using a cult to damage law enforcement, gathering a mob to disturb order in public places, and picking quarrels and provoking disputes. "It isn't fair, it isn't just," said Si Weijiang, Liu's lawyer, reached by phone. "The laws can just be bent however (the government) wants in politicized cases." Another activist, Li Sihua, was sentenced to three years in prison, also for picking quarrels and provoking disputes. The sentences were handed down on Thursday by a court in the poor central province of Jiangxi. Court officials could not be reached for comment. Human rights groups condemned the judgment. In a statement, Amnesty International called the charges "preposterous". "Having a small private gathering and holding a banner in a lobby entrance demanding financial transparency from officials should not in any way constitute 'picking quarrels' and 'illegal assembly'," said William Nee, a China researcher for Amnesty, according to the statement. Si said it was up to the activists to decide whether they would appeal, but added he didn't believe an appeal would be successful or have any meaning. "END DICTATORSHIP" The activists, encouraged by Xi's anti-corruption campaign, took photographs of themselves holding banners and placards that read "Strongly urge officials to disclose their assets" and "Xi Jinping, immediately end dictatorship". [ID:nL4N0JI0XX] The photos were widely circulated online. "What was written on the signs is simply a suggestion to the country's new leaders. It's completely within the scope of freedom of expression that's within our country's constitution," Si said. The activists were part of a group called the New Citizens Movement, which advocates for officials to disclose their wealth and favors working within the system to create change. Its well-known founder, Xu Zhiyong, was sentenced in January to four years in prison, sparking criticism from the United States, European Union and rights groups. [ID:nL3N0N30GH] "This is a crazy retaliation, a shameless retaliation, which has no connection with the law, the legal system or rule of law," the New Citizens Movement said in a statement on its website. "This is not just a retaliation against Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua but retaliates against and dishonors the rights of citizens." Prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who had represented members of the New Citizens Movement, was detained last month after he attended a meeting in a private home to commemorate the anniversary of the bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Pu's case is ongoing.
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