{"issues":[{"id":1683,"name":"Issue 530","date":"Mar 5, 2021","title":"WiC\u2019s new unicorn ranking","tagline":"What are China\u2019s top 50 unicorn firms and who is behind them \u2013 our debut list reveals the answers","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/530.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/530-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48443,"title":"Top 50 China Unicorns Ranking reveals it\u2019s all about tech and the \u2018Big Four\u2019","content":"When US venture capital investor Aileen Lee coined the term \u2018unicorn\u2019 in Silicon Valley in 2013, she could only find 39 companies worthy of this exclusive club of start-ups valued at $1 billion or more. Unicorns are supposed to be rare, hence the name. Yet because of a genuine revolution in internet and tech \u2013 and perhaps an investment bubble inflated by quantitative easing from central banks \u2013 the number of unicorns around the world has moved beyond 500.\r\n\r\nAccording to Lee, each new wave of innovation gives rise to one or more \u2018super unicorns\u2019, or companies that have defined their era. Apple and Microsoft were both founded in the 1970s at the dawn of the personal computer. The boom in internet usage in the 1990s gave birth to Google. And in the 2000s, Facebook thrust itself forward with the rise of social media.\r\n\r\nThese firms are some of the most glamorous faces in corporate America and many such unicorns are also seen as a signal of the strength of their home economies.\r\n\r\nIn 2013 there was not a single unicorn from China in Lee\u2019s group. Today she could identify as many as 200. The current list paints a picture of China\u2019s progress…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Sina-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48435,"title":"Hang Seng Index constituents to hit 100, adding many more Chinese stocks","content":"Investor excitement bubbled over in Hong Kong\u2019s stock market last month with the explosive introduction of Kuaishou, the Chinese short-video app. In the biggest internet IPO since Uber went public two years ago, Kuaishou saw its shares nearly triple on the first day of trading (see WiC527). Yet activity on the Hang Seng Index (HSI), the city\u2019s blue-chip benchmark, has been more subdued over the last 12 months. In response HSI bosses have just announced the biggest shake-up for the index in decades.\r\n\r\nLaunched publicly in 1969, the HSI is the main indicator of performance on the Hong Kong bourse. It sailed past the 30,000-point level in January for the first time since May 2019, buoyed by buying from mainland China. But the HSI has performed poorly relative to the benchmarks of other major exchanges. One of the major complaints is that it isn\u2019t representative enough of the wider bourse: it accounts for about half of Hong Kong\u2019s daily trading and its share of total market capitalisation has fallen from 65% five years ago to just below 56% as of the end of January.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nIn an announcement on Monday the compilers of the index signalled a new direction with a commitment to…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/HKSE-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"8"},{"id":48437,"title":"Li\u2008Shufu gets vocal about how he\u2019ll drive China\u2019s electric car revolution","content":"The old saying that actions speak louder than words is one that Geely would have done well to remember in recent years. The ambitious carmaker has found itself backtracking on two of its biggest promises.\r\n\r\nThe first was made in 2015, when company founder Li Shufu confidently predicted that 90% of the group\u2019s sales would be electric vehicles (EV) by 2020. The reality turned out to be just over 5% of sales, with start-ups like NIO, XPENG and Li Auto grabbing much more of the attention in terms of EV sales growth, newspaper headlines and share price appreciation.\r\n\r\nThis made a second claim from Geely look more ill-advised, when the Asia boss of Geely\u2019s Volvo arm posted a message on WeChat in February last year announcing that \u201canother world auto giant is about to be born\u201d.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nYuan Xiaolin was referring to Geely\u2019s plan to combine Volvo (which it acquired in 2010) with the group\u2019s listed entity in Hong Kong. He predicted that an equity merger of the two companies would create a colossus with a \u201cmarket value that may exceed all Chinese A-share listed auto companies\u201d.\r\n\r\nThat hasn\u2019t come to pass \u2013 on either count. After almost a year\u2019s delay, Geely and Volvo have…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Geely-Orange-w.jpg","category":"Auto Industry","page":"9"},{"id":48440,"title":"Qatar Airways regional boss on navigating Covid and his China strategy","content":"Could better times be on the horizon for the airline industry? After months of misery there was more positive news last week when the International Air Transport Association, the industry body, said that a digital Covid Travel Pass is going to be ready \u201cwithin weeks\u201d.\r\n\r\nThe launch of the app, which verifies whether passengers have had the required tests or vaccines to enter a country, could support an uptick in air travel as vaccination campaigns gather pace.\r\n\r\nQatar Airways is one of the airlines conducting trials of the travel pass. After maintaining a fuller schedule than others during the pandemic, the Middle Eastern carrier also believes it will be in a stronger position to respond to returning demand from passengers.\r\n\r\nWiC talked to Tom Scruby \u2013 the airline\u2019s Vice President Pacific \u2013 for more on how it has navigated the toughest conditions in living memory.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nHow has Qatar Airways coped with the Covid-19 crisis?\r\n\r\nWe are one of the few global carriers that chose not to stop flying during the pandemic, taking a strategic decision when the crisis was at its worst to keep operating to 30 destinations on a schedule of about 150 flights a week.\r\n\r\nIn the early days our focus was on repatriation…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/T-Scruby-w.jpg","category":"Corporate Q&A","page":"11"},{"id":48417,"title":"Suning finds new backers, but dumps soccer club","content":"GOME and Suning were China\u2019s two most powerful retailers back in 2005. Dominating more than 80% of home appliance sales nationwide, their full-blooded rivalry was talked about as \u201cthe Battle of Mei-Su\u201d, drawing comparison with the history of superpower tensions between the United States (Mei) and the Soviet Union.\r\n\r\nSuning later became the industry\u2019s undisputed leader after GOME\u2019s boss Huang Guangyu \u2013 then China\u2019s richest man according to a popular ranking \u2013 was arrested in 2008, eventually receiving a 14-year sentence for crimes including insider trading and bribery.\r\n\r\nRegardless of Huang\u2019s jailing, there was little rest for Suning\u2019s founder and chairman Zhang Jindong. The rise of e-commerce pitted his bricks-and-mortar network against internet platforms operated by the likes of Alibaba and JD.com. He tried to respond with a business model that mixed one of the country\u2019s biggest chains of stores with a growing presence in e-commerce. But its flagship firm Suning.com struggled to get much traction online and it is now a distant fourth with a 5% share or less. In financial trouble, it has already closed more than a quarter of its bricks-and-mortar stores.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nWe reported in January that the Shenzhen-listed firm has been lossmaking for six consecutive years, with the Nanjing-based…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Jianlibao-w.jpg","category":"M&A","page":"13"},{"id":48420,"title":"Hyatt closes its Alila resort in Zhejiang \u2013 but what was the eco-problem?","content":"In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mark Hoplamazian, chief executive of Hyatt Hotels, told the newspaper that he was so burnt out during the pandemic even a carefully cultivated spiritual life couldn\u2019t save him from the stress. \u201cI have to admit to you, I\u2019ve been through a number of really stressful periods that I literally couldn\u2019t actually access that mindful moment I had come to rely on so much,\u201d said Hoplamazian, 57, a regular practitioner of meditation.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s no wonder that Hoplamazian feels anxious. In addition to the pandemic-induced global slowdown in tourism, Hyatt has had a different problem in China. In late February, its boutique hotel brand Alila announced that it was closing down its hotel in Anji in Zhejiang province. Without giving too many details, a brief statement said the venue had ceased operations \u201cdue to local planning adjustments,\u201d although it added that anyone who had reserved a room would be refunded. Alila is now left with only one other Chinese resort in Wuzhen, also in Zhejiang.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nOpened in 2016, the luxury hotel was located in Anji, a quiet little backwater about a two-hour drive from Hangzhou. The resort traded on its close proximity to the lush bamboo…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Alila-w.jpg","category":"Environment","page":"14"},{"id":48423,"title":"Carbon trading goes nationwide from June","content":"Emissions trading schemes rely on a carrot-and-stick approach. Companies that disgorge greenhouse gases in excess of the permits they are assigned need to buy extra in the market. Those with quota to spare can profit from being energy efficient. Recognised by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol as an effective means to combat environmental degradation, the market-based trading mechanism drew its conceptual underpinnings from Nobel laureate Ronald Coase, who argued that negotiation (enabled by well-defined property rights) is a better way to handle undesirable economic byproducts than taxation.\r\n\r\nIn its drive to see China\u2019s carbon emissions peak before 2030 and achieve a net-zero footprint by 2060 (see WiC513), the Chinese government kickstarted a programme last month that will enable Coasean bargaining to take place on a nationwide scale. Ultimately any firm that discharged over 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent) in any year between 2013 and 2019 will be required to join. However, in the inception phase only the thermal power sector will be compelled to participate in the scheme \u2013 although that is still significant as it makes up nearly half of the nation\u2019s carbon discharge and 14% of the world\u2019s total, according to data from the International Energy Agency.…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Smog-w.jpg","category":"Environment","page":"15"},{"id":48426,"title":"Popular new drama pokes fun at China\u2019s e-commerce giants","content":"When it comes to the world\u2019s most famous son-in-law, Jared Kushner, 40, is pretty high up on the list. Despite his political inexperience, the husband of Ivanka Trump became a key adviser to her father\u2019s administration on Middle East policy. Kushner also played a part in spearheading America\u2019s response to the pandemic.\r\n\r\nIn China another son-in-law \u2013 albeit fictional \u2013 has dominated internet chatter. Zhui Xu, whose English title is My Heroic Husband, is the latest success on online streaming platform iQiyi. According to iQiyi\u2019s own heat index \u2013 which it now offers as a way of gauging popularity in place of publishing viewership counts \u2013 the show had a score of 10,000, rendering it the platform\u2019s first mega-hit in 2021. It is only the second series to reach 10,000 in the index, following the hugely popular costume drama Story of Yanxi Palace in 2018.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nZhui Xu tells the tale of the exploits of Ning Yi (played by comedian-actor Guo Qilin), a young man from modern times who travels back to the fictional Wu Dynasty and finds himself about to be married to Su Taner (actress Song Yi), the daughter of a formerly wealthy family of cloth merchants. To help revive the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/sdc-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"17"},{"id":48428,"title":"Marriage numbers fall again in China, worrying officials","content":"Civil marriage ceremonies in China are known for being impersonal, no-frills affairs. But now several provinces have streamlined the process even further with the introduction of self-service terminals.\r\n\r\nThe new machines \u2013 similar to self-service check-ins at airport terminals \u2013 verify the couple\u2019s documents and then upload their information into the marriage registry.\r\n\r\nThe newly weds are then handed a marriage certificate by a loitering official \u2013 which is technically the point at which their union is confirmed. The new devices, introduced in the provinces of Jiangsu and Liaoning, as well as the cities of Nanjing and Dalian, are part of a wider drive to make marriage easier, as fewer Chinese are opting to wed.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s as convenient as buying a train ticket,\u201d the Global Times quoted one marriage official from Jiangsu as saying.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe rollout of the terminals comes as statistics for 2020 show another precipitous drop in the number of Chinese tying the knot.\r\n\r\nAccording to Tsinghua\u2019s Evergrande Research Institute, 12.3% fewer Chinese got married in 2020. Of course, the steepness of the decline is partly due to the pandemic, but it fits within a longer standing trend. The year before, registrations of marriages fell 8.4%, the research institute said, and the number…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Traditional-Wedding-w.jpg","category":"Society","page":"18"},{"id":48432,"title":"Ancient village in flames, after residents depart","content":"For hundreds of years the picturesque village of Wengding nestled on a mountainside in the southwestern province of Yunnan.\r\n\r\nIt was the home of a community of Wa people \u2013 one of 56 ethnic minorities officially recognised by the Chinese government. But on the evening of February 14 a fire burned all but four of the hundred houses to the ground.\r\n\r\nThankfully no one was hurt in the blaze because residents had moved to a new village in 2017 so that their older settlement could function as a tourist attraction.\r\n\r\nThe cause of the fire is still unknown but the media chatter is that it would not have wreaked the same havoc if the residents had still be in their original homes.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen the guardians of a village are separated from it, the village becomes fragile,\u201d one commentator warned the Beijing News, while a local historian told China News Weekly that the Wa communities traditionally kept long tubes of bamboo filled with water to douse incipient fires.\r\n\r\n\u201cWengding didn\u2019t suffer a large-scale fire for more than 400 years because the village had traditional fire-prevention wisdom,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nThe Wa are an ethnic minority found only in Yunnan province and in Myanmar. Wengding is located a few…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/03\/Wengding-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"21"}]},{"id":1460,"name":"China\u2019s Tycoons","date":"","title":"China\u2019s Tycoons","tagline":"Profiles of 150 top business leaders","pdf-link":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2016\/09\/WiC150Tycoons-final.pdf","image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoons-cover_2016.jpg", "articles":[ {"id":67777777, "title":"Profiles of China\u2019s most successful businesspeople and how they succeeded", "content":"One way to evaluate the economic circumstances of a country is to examine its most successful entrepreneurs. This is the third edition of China\u2019s Tycoons, a book which seeks to enlighten readers about the Chinese business elite. In this volume we profile 150 of the nation\u2019s top tycoons – that\u2019s up from the 125 featured in last edition.", "image":"\/images\/no_image.png", "category":"Introduction", "page":"6"}, {"id":70123000, "title":"Himin to Hanergy", "content":"Tycoons include Zhang Yue and Zhu Gongshan", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-1_Zhang-Yue.jpg", "category":"Alternative Energy", "page":"13"}, {"id":70123001, "title":"Geely to BYD", "content":"Tycoons include Li Shufu and Cao Dewang", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-2_Li-Shufu.jpg", "category":"Automotive", "page":"16"}, {"id":70123002, "title":"Tiens Group to Golden Meditech", "content":"Tycoons include Li Li and Sun Piaoyang", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-3_Li-li.jpg", "category":"Biotech and Pharmaceutical", "page":"23"}, {"id":70123003, "title":"Li Ning to Bosideng", "content":"Tycoons include Li Ning and Zhou Chengjian", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-4_Li-Ning.jpg", "category":"Clothing", "page":"31"}, {"id":70123004, "title":"Lenovo to Huawei", "content":"Tycoons include Liu Chuanzhi and Lei Jun", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-5_Liu-Chuanzhi.jpg", "category":"Computing and Tech", "page":"39"}, {"id":70123005, "title":"Wahaha to WH Group", "content":"Tycoons include Zong Qinghou and Wan Long", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-6_Zong-Qinghou.jpg", "category":"Food", "page":"51"}, {"id":70123006, "title":"Alibaba to Tencent", "content":"Tycoons include Jack Ma and Ma Huateng", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-7_Jack-Ma.jpg", "category":"Internet", "page":"60"}, {"id":70123007, "title":"Fosun to Anbang", "content":"Tycoons include Guo Guangchang and Wu Xiaohui", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-8_Guo-Guangchang.jpg", "category":"Investment", "page":"83"}, {"id":70123008, "title":"Amer to Shagang", "content":"Tycoons include Shen Wenrong and Huang Zelan", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-9_Shen-Wenrong.jpg", "category":"Natural Resources", "page":"102"}, {"id":70123009, "title":"Wanda to SOHO", "content":"Tycoons include Wang Jianlin and Pan Shiyi", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-10_Wang-Jianlin.jpg", "category":"Property", "page":"114"}, {"id":70123010, "title":"Suning to Sanpower", "content":"Tycoons include Zhang Jindong and Tang Yiu", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-11_Zhang-Jindong.jpg", "category":"Retail", "page":"131"}, {"id":70123011, "title":"Gree to Midea", "content":"Tycoons include Dong Mingzhu and He Xiangjian", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-12_Dong-Mingzhu.jpg", "category":"White Goods", "page":"141"}, {"id":70123012, "title":"Sany to Spring Airlines", "content":"Tycoons include Liang Wengen and Wang Wei", "image":"http:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2011\/04\/tycoon-13_Liang-Wengen.jpg", "category":"Other Industries", "page":"144"} ] },{"id":1681,"name":"Issue 529","date":"Feb 19, 2021","title":"Wang\u2019s world","tagline":"SF Express tycoon inks deal with Robert Kuok\u2019s empire to create a logistics giant with global ambitions","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/529.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/529-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48353,"title":"How SF Express is going global via its offer for Robert Kuok\u2019s Kerry Logistics","content":"Throughout Chinese history emperors surrounded their heirs with the most trustworthy of court officials in a bid to ensure the longevity of their dynasty.\r\n\r\nAt 97, Robert Kuok is probably the oldest businessman of his generation yet to fully retire. And last week, the Malaysian Chinese tycoon\u2019s Kerry Group agreed a deal that brings together the most acquisitive logistics firms in both China and Southeast Asia. In doing so, Kuok\u2019s youngest son Kuok Khoon Hua will join hands with Wang Wei of SF Express, a self-made billionaire. Should the partnership work out, the pair of ambitious 40-somethings will co-steer a flagship firm that plans to ride on China\u2019s massive marketplace in online shopping, as well as tapping into the next generation of intra-Asian trade.\r\n\r\nWhat is the deal?\r\n\r\nSF Holdings, which operates under the brand SF Express, has offered to buy a 51.8% stake in Kerry Logistics Network (KLN) for HK$17.6 billion ($2.28 billion). Under the terms of the deal, SF Holdings will take a majority stake in KLN, although Wang Wei, 49, insisted it was \u201cnot an acquisition by SF but a collaboration\u201d after more than three years of negotiating with Kuok Khoon Hua, KLN\u2019s chairman.\r\n\r\n\u201cPerhaps they [Kerry Group] needed the time…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/SF-Express-w.jpg","category":"Logistics, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48356,"title":"Presidential phone call signals reset in relations","content":"The telephone call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping on February 10 was a long time coming. Biden had received a congratulatory message from China\u2019s president after winning election to the White House in November but there had been no direct contact between the two men. Indeed, Xi hadn\u2019t spoken with a sitting US president since March last year, amid a difficult period in diplomatic relations.\r\n\r\nBiden held back in making personal contact with Xi until last week (he spoke to more than a dozen heads of state before calling Beijing). And in Washington\u2019s assessment of the conversation between the two men, he then talked tough, raising \u201cfundamental concerns\u201d over China\u2019s \u201ccoercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang and increasingly assertive actions\u201d, including towards Taiwan.\r\n\r\nThe Chinese take on the call highlighted other areas of the conversation in which Xi warned that the two nations risked disaster if they couldn\u2019t find ways to cooperate. He also made clear that he wouldn\u2019t accept any interference from outsiders in Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Taiwan, Xinhua reported.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nYet as sections of China\u2019s media noted, the discussion was a step forward from the dialogue (or lack of) with the Trump…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Ren-Zhengfei-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"6"},{"id":48359,"title":"Tit-for-tat bans on CGTN and BBC as Sino-UK relations worsen","content":"China Global Television News or, CGTN, began broadcasting in the UK in 2002 under the name CCTV-9. In its application for a British licence the Chinese channel claimed to be an editorially-independent state broadcaster, similar to the BBC or the France Televisions Group.\r\n\r\nBut on February 4, following a series of complaints, British media regulator Ofcom revoked the channel\u2019s broadcast licence after concluding that CGTN \u201cis an organ of the Chinese Communist Party and therefore a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature\u201d.\r\n\r\nSuch entities are banned in the UK under the Broadcasting Act of 1990.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nNeedless to say, the Chinese government was extremely unhappy. Exactly a week after the CGTN licence had been withdrawn, China\u2019s National Radio and Television Administration revoked the limited licence of BBC World News in China, accusing it of harming China\u2019s national interests and undermining national unity \u2013 a reference to reporting on Covid-19 and human rights abuses in the western region of Xinjiang.\r\n\r\nNeither ban is going to impact on a large number of viewers. In China, BBC World News was only available in four- and five-star hotels, or residential compounds housing non-nationals. And even in those secluded environments, screens would typically black out…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/BBC-w.jpg","category":"China and the World","page":"7"},{"id":48362,"title":"Tesla dressed down after customer complaints","content":"What a difference two years can make. At the beginning of 2019, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered Elon Musk a green card after the Tesla founder said how much he loved coming to China.\r\nThis year his company has been issued with a yellow card instead (to use football terminology). Earlier this month, the State Administration for Market Regulation publicly announced that Tesla had been called in to discuss an accelerating number of customer complaints. An impressive list of regulators \u2013 including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Fire Services Bureau \u2013 also took part in the dressing-down meeting (known in China as a yuetan).\r\nTesla emerged from the session suitably chastened, on Sina Weibo at least, saying that it \u201csincerely accepts the government\u2019s guidance\u201d and will \u201cconduct a deep reflection of the company\u2019s shortcomings\u201d.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\nHowever, the domestic media was unimpressed, noting that Tesla had switched off the comments section on its weibo account. A number of state-owned publications also quickly honed in on recent customer relations missteps. These included the US firm apologising to State Grid after wrongly blaming a power surge for one owner\u2019s problems charging a Tesla car in Nanchang. Then there was the Model 3 that…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Elon-Musk-w.jpg","category":"Auto Industry","page":"8"},{"id":48365,"title":"Is the nation falling behind in race to vaccinate?","content":"China\u2019s response to the Covid-19 crisis has provoked different reactions. The initial handling of the outbreak is still viewed critically by many, although subsequent efforts to ship crucial supplies to other nations for their own fight against the virus have been seen in a more positive light.\r\n\r\nBut what about its campaign to inoculate its own people against Covid-19, which is now coming in for greater scrutiny too?\r\n\r\nAround 41.5 million shots had been jabbed into Chinese arms by February \u2013 according to the local health authorities \u2013 more than any nation except the United States. Yet that meant a per capita vaccination rate only a little above three per 100 people, as against nearly 13 in the US (and 30 in Israel). The government has also delayed a target to inoculate 50 million people against the virus by two months, after failing to reach the threshold by Chinese New Year as initially planned.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nMissing targets like these is more of a surprise for a country with a track record in mobilising resources in national-level campaigns. It also jars for a government that has run some of the most successful track-and-trace programmes against Covid and shown a readiness to be ruthless in implementing…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Sinopharm-w.jpg","category":"Healthcare","page":"9"},{"id":48369,"title":"Will Greenland\u2019s project face the wrecking ball?","content":"In 2016, Fan Bingbing appeared in a TV commercial for a luxury residential project in Shandong\u2019s coastal city Qingdao. Reportedly the starlet was one of the buyers of the villas there. \u201cIt\u2019s so close to the ocean. You can dip your toes in the water right in front of the door,\u201d she gushed at the time .\r\n\r\nThe problem was the development was so close to the shoreline that environmentalists complained it was breaking marine protection laws. The local government was forced to knock down 40 ultra-luxury homes that were worth about Rmb2.5 billion ($390 million).\r\n\r\nLast week, developer Greenland discovered its ambitious property project near Shanghai could be next for demolition.\r\n\r\nThe development sits on the eastern coast of Chongming, a 1,225 square-kilometre island adjacent to the Yangtze River estuary.\r\n\r\nChongming is one of China\u2019s biggest islands. It is accessible via the Yangtze River Tunnel Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the country. In recent years, the island has become an important ecological resource and home to two large wetland parks.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nKnown as Greenland Long Island, the now controversial project began about six years ago. It stretches about 10 kilometres along the Yangtze River, and covers a total area of 15 square kilometres.\r\n\r\nIt…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Chongming-Island-w.jpg","category":"Property","page":"10"},{"id":48372,"title":"Why China\u2019s first credit tech IPO\u2008was pulled","content":"As public relations disasters go it doesn\u2019t get much worse than being sanctioned for the very attribute your company is supposed to excel at. That is what\u2019s happening to VZoom CreditTech, whose IPO in Shanghai has just been pulled by financial regulators.\r\n\r\nThe fintech\u2019s raison d\u2019etre is providing banks with the technology that enables them to sieve through loan applications from small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is supposed to weed out blacklisted and high-risk borrowers. But VZoom clearly never expected this categorisation to be attached to its own major shareholder Sun Haotian.\r\n\r\nHaving just approved VZoom\u2019s listing application in December,the Shanghai Stock Exchange said this month it had pulled the fintech firm\u2019s Rmb259 million ($40 million) IPO as Sun is being investigated on suspicion of graft and bribery.\r\n\r\nJudicial authorities are also looking into major violations of information disclosure laws, as well as other illegal acts by Sun related to areas of national and public security, CBN newspaper reported.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nHad its offering gone ahead as planned, VZoom would have become the first credit technology player to list on Shanghai\u2019s tech-driven STAR Market.\r\n\r\nThe company itself says that it continues to operate as normal as Sun isn\u2019t involved with its day-to-day operations, even though his…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Guo-Shuqing-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"11"},{"id":48374,"title":"China\u2019s biggest tooth-brace brand is set for a listing in Hong Kong","content":"Zia Chishti has no training in orthodontics. And yet he came up with a teeth-straightening idea that has sidelined methods relying on brackets and wires. Known as Invisalign, Chishti\u2019s stroke of genius uses 3D printing and a series of clear \u2018trays\u2019 that patients swap out every two weeks to correct crooked teeth and overbiting. Dentists questioned the former banker\u2019s credentials when he launched his new product. But Invisalign was commercialised in 1999 and Align Technology, which owns the trademark, went public on Nasdaq four years later.\r\n\r\nHowever, Align has struggled to maintain its once-leading position in China\u2019s \u2018invisible braces\u2019 market. Since 2018 the California-based company has hit a speed bump in its second largest market, seeing sales growth slow to 26% in 2019 from an average of 102% between 2013 and 2017. The reason: Angelalign, a fast-follower brand based in Shanghai that has been offering similar treatments at much lower prices since 2006. Last year it finally overtook Align as the largest player by chomping 41.3% of the Chinese market, according to China Insights Consultancy.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBraces work by putting pressure on the teeth that pushes them in the preferred direction. As the process takes effect, the bone in the jaw changes to…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Smile-w.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"12"},{"id":48378,"title":"Can Phoenix TV rebound from its P2P woes?","content":"When the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV was rebranded into CGTN in 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged in his congratulatory message that the country\u2019s media outlets \u201ctell China\u2019s stories well\u201d.\r\n\r\nThat phrase has been a recurring slogan in the state media ever since as it sets out on its \u2018soft power\u2019 mission. It is no easy task. CGTN, for one, has just been banned in the UK for breaching impartiality rules (see page 7).\r\n\r\nBefore CGTN, Phoenix Satellite TV was the pioneer in raising China\u2019s voice overseas. Founded in 1996, it attracted strategic investment from Rupert Murdoch and its news channel was dubbed the \u201cChinese CNN\u201d. Yet in recent years, like many of the more established broadcasters, Phoenix suffered declines in income as advertisers moved their spending to new platforms online.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nIts attempts to reposition its business became more apparent in early 2018 when the Hong Kong-listed firm changed its holding company name from Phoenix Satellite TV to Phoenix Media Investment. At the time the TV firm was also betting that its name-recognition among Chinese audiences would support a sideline in peer-to-peer lending, making itself an \u2018information medium\u2019 for matching up individual lenders and borrowers. The attempt at business diversification proved…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Phoenix-TV2-w.jpg","category":"Media & Gaming","page":"13"},{"id":48381,"title":"Chinese box office sets new records over the new year holiday period","content":"While cinemas in the United States are gathering cobwebs, China\u2019s movie industry has celebrated a much busier Chinese New Year. Last Friday \u2013 the first day of the national holiday and traditionally the best day at the box office each year \u2013 saw as much as Rmb1.7 billion ($260 million) in ticket sales, compared with Rmb1.4 billion in 2019 (most cinemas were closed in China during last year\u2019s holiday period because of the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown measures).\r\n\r\nAs many as 34 million people made the trip to movie theatres, breaking the record of 32.6 million in 2018.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe best performing film was originally scheduled to be released last Chinese New Year. Detective Chinatown 3, directed by Chen Sicheng, earned over Rmb2.6 billion in its first weekend, beating Avengers: Endgame's record of $357 million in April 2019. The action-comedy follows actors Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran (who were also the leads in the previous two instalments) as the buddy-duo travels to Tokyo to solve a crime. Scores for the film on Douban, a review site, were middling and they began to drop in the days after its debut. But other critics reckoned that this kind of slapstick comedy was exactly what people…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Yang-Mi-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"14"},{"id":48388,"title":"A Henan broadcaster steals the spotlight from CCTV\u2019s Spring Festival Gala","content":"The late British historian Arnold Toynbee once said that if he were ever given the chance to travel back in time the period he would choose to visit would be that of the Tang Dynasty (which lasted from 618 to 907).\r\n\r\nCharacterised by prosperity, geopolitical strength and a tremendous blossoming of the arts and sciences, the era is widely viewed as the golden age of Chinese civilisation \u2013 and one that many Chinese still take pride in today.\r\n\r\nSo imagine the response to a dance that resurrects that glorious time? This year, to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Henan Satellite TV delivered exactly such a production, captivating millions of viewers across China.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nTitled The Night Banquet in Tang Palace, the five-minute performance portrayed a group of court ladies travelling to the imperial palace in Luoyang (in the west of Henan and historically one of the two capitals of the Tang Dynasty) to stage a musical entertainment.\r\n\r\nAdapted from The Tang Terracotta, an award-winning piece of choreography by Chen Lin of the Zhengzhou Song and Dance Theatre, the performance was supercharged by augmented reality technology that dramatised the backdrops and at one point even made the ladies look as if they were pottery figurines walking…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Tang-Palace-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"16"}]},{"id":1679,"name":"Issue 528","date":"Feb 12, 2021","title":"Bearing a heavy burden","tagline":"The Year of the Ox begins tomorrow, after a truly terrible Year of the Rat. What can we expect from the year ahead?","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/528.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/528-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48266,"title":"After a tumultuous Year of the Rat, does the Ox promise calmer times?","content":"Week in China ran its first review of the feng shui fortunes for the Chinese New Year ahead exactly 12 years ago, beginning with the Year of the Ox in 2009.\r\n\r\nAt the time, we wrote that Ox Years (which welcome people born in 1949, 1961, 1973 or any 12 years before or after) are typically calmer periods in the Chinese zodiac, and certainly more subdued than their predecessor, the Year of the Rat, which is often associated with natural disasters and economic crises.\r\n\r\nLooking back, the Year of the Rat that has just ended was much in line with our bleak predictions 12 months ago, marked as it was by the coronavirus pandemic and shrinking economies.\r\n\r\nThere are hints of similarities between the previous cycle and this one: the last Year of the Ox was 2009, when the-newly elected US President Barack Obama, who also happens to be born under the Ox zodiac sign, passed a massive economic stimulus package to revive the country\u2019s economy after the global financial crisis.\r\n\r\nThis time round it is his former VP and newly inaugurated 46th President Joe Biden who is pushing through a much bigger relief package to help the US get back on its feet…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Red-ox-w.jpg","category":"Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48269,"title":"The \u2018three red lines\u2019 bring more pain for high-debt property developers","content":"A sea change in how China\u2019s real estate giants get access to capital is reverberating across the property sector. Bond investors are watching closely for signs of stress from the heaviest borrowers.\r\n\r\nLast October we reported how shareholders in Evergrande\u2013 a heavily leveraged developer from Guangdong \u2013 were spooked by social media speculation about a letter sent to the provincial government warning of a default unless it was given approvals for one of its units to launch an IPO (see WiC513).\r\n\r\nEvergrande denied the letter had ever existed but the news fed fevered speculation about the company\u2019s future until it did a deal with a group of key creditors, buying some more time to reduce its debts further this year (see WiC518).\r\n\r\nLast month it was investors in Greenland, a property heavyweight backed by the Shanghai government, getting the jitters, after real estate agents in the city of Harbin put a notice in newspapers calling for payment of overdue advertising fees.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe money in question was peanuts \u2013 just Rmb3.92 million compared with Greenland\u2019s Rmb65 billion ($10 billion) market value last week \u2013 but the story sparked fresh fears about its finances, amid a sector struggling with the \u2018three red lines\u2019 of borrowing rules…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/CFLD-w.jpg","category":"Property","page":"7"},{"id":48272,"title":"The changing face of China\u2019s retail investors","content":"Stock trading is no longer purely the preserve of the wealthy and well connected. That is one of the more powerful messages to emerge from the David-versus-Goliath struggle between retail investors and hedge funds over GameStop and other heavily shorted stocks in the last few weeks.\r\n\r\nThe argument is that stock trading apps and social media are democratising finance, whether Wall Street likes it or not. Retail investors are storming the castle walls of more seasoned investors. The very identity of Robinhood \u2013 the trading app favoured by the new breed of traders \u2013 adds to the sense of rebellion against the status quo.\r\n\r\nIn China the rules of the game have been changing as well. Retail investors have long bemoaned their lowly status in the A-share market, describing themselves as \u2018dim sum for the financial crocodiles\u2019 \u2013 references to how they are often swallowed up by in-the-know insiders and professional asset managers. Smaller share traders want a change of status. But instead of taking the battle to the institutional players by ganging up on share-buying sprees, many of them are pulling back from trading individual stocks and buying into professionally managed funds.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nAccording to CCTV, the state television channel, nearly half of…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Investor-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"9"},{"id":48277,"title":"Alibaba\u2019s new bond issue comes with ESG tranche","content":"\u201cThe outbreak of the epidemic has made us understand more about the relationship between humans and nature,\u201d explained Tencent founder, Pony Ma in mid-January. Few would disagree, including the World Health Organisation, as it continues its detective work into the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan.\r\n\r\nMa posted his comments on WeChat as part of a broader announcement championing Tencent\u2019s commitment to speeding up its \u201ccarbon neutrality plan\u201d. It hasn\u2019t laid out specific targets but says it will outline a roadmap for its carbon reduction programme this year.\r\n\r\nAll three of the BAT troika (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) are starting to ramp up their ESG (environment, social and governance) credentials. Yet while they are often applauded for their world-beating technology, they very clearly lag the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) in their ESG activities. The BAT is only just starting to discuss its carbon footprint. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and aims to be carbon free by 2030.\r\n\r\nMicrosoft has gone one better. After reaching its carbon neutral target in 2014, it plans to be carbon negative by 2030. Amazon has set a slightly later carbon neutral target of 2040 but it is well on its way to hitting its 100%…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Alibaba-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"10"},{"id":48280,"title":"Bytedance and Meituan enter robot race","content":"Robots were first conceived as an idea just over a century ago, not by scientists but courtesy of the Czech playwright Karel Capek. In his 1920 drama Rossum\u2019s Universal Robots, Capek conjured up a world where \u201cworkers who lack nothing but a soul\u201d are created to take up chores that humans dread.\r\n\r\nHelpful initially, the robots turn rebellious, unleashing a ferocious uprising that ends up killing all but one of the humans on Earth.\r\n\r\nThe trope of framing these machines as not-to-be-trusted continues into the present day. Such fears haven\u2019t deterred forward-looking enterprises from ploughing investment into the booming field of robotics, however. Companies as different as Bytedance, which operates short-video app TikTok (known locally as Douyin) and Meituan, an on-demand services platform, are two of the frontrunners trying to stake early claims through frenetic dealmaking. The two internet giants crossed paths last month when they both joined a financing round for a robotics start-up of a little less than a year-old. A subsidiary of Infore, a Shunde-based conglomerate, the company is positioning itself as a platform-based solution provider for robo applications in urban governance, intelligent manufacturing and emergency situations.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nDespite the rather vague description of the company\u2019s business focus, Infore Robotics has…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Robots-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"11"},{"id":48283,"title":"Chinese wind power revives as investor favourite","content":"China\u2019s windpower sector had a surge in the final quarter of 2020, notching up more new additions in December (47 gigawatts) than in 2018 and 2019 combined, according to Wood Mackenzie, the global energy consultancy.\r\n\r\nA record 72GW of new wind capacity was reported last year in total, with renewable energy back at the top of the domestic policy agenda, following two major speeches by President Xi Jinping.\r\n\r\nLast September Xi said that China would be carbon neutral by 2060 and in December he told the UN Climate Ambition Summit that China plans to triple its renewables capacity to 1,200GW by 2030.\r\n\r\nThe Chinese also added about 48GW of solar, the most since 2017, and about 13GW of hydropower.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nIn WiC526 we reported on how similar momentum has been propelling solar power stocks back to new highs. Shares of wind power firms are in full sail after a long period stuck at lower valuations too. Industry leaders like wind farm operator Longyuan Power averaged just 0.7 times price-to-book for about three years. This prompted a swathe of state-backed players to delist from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, including China Power New Energy Development, Huaneng Renewables and Huadian Fuxin.\r\n\r\nLongyuan\u2019s shares have more than tripled since…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Wind-Turbines-w.jpg","category":"Energy & Resources","page":"12"},{"id":48286,"title":"Work begins on a public-private high-speed line","content":"It goes without saying that 2020 was a miserable time for the travel industry. That includes China, which was one of the few countries to get its economy moving again in the second half of the year.\r\n\r\nThere was a pick-up in domestic tourism over the Golden Week break last October (see WiC514). But sentiment is still very subdued as we head into the Chinese New Year holiday this week. Railway stations typically teeming with travellers have been reporting passenger flows of about a quarter of normal levels.\r\n\r\nThe same sense of malaise is being felt on China\u2019s bullet trains, including the operator of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway (BSHSR), the country\u2019s most profitable line. It has reported that net profits will show a decline of more than two-thirds over 2020, not what investors anticipated last January when they signed up for China\u2019s largest IPO of the year (excluding secondary listings).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBSHSR raised Rmb30.67 billion ($4.4 billion) but the pandemic derailed secondary market trading soon after its debut on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. After climbing to an early high of Rmb7.78 in February last year, the stock slid to Rmb5.16 this month, just above its Rmb4.88 IPO price.\r\n\r\nIs there any light at the end…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Beijing-West-Railway-Station-w.jpg","category":"Rail & Infrastructure","page":"13"},{"id":48290,"title":"New audio app Clubhouse banned within a few days of arriving in China","content":"Remember Google Plus? The search giant debuted its own social network in 2011 and promoted it for years before quietly giving up in 2019. When it launched the service, membership was invitation-only. Initial interest was intense, with people asking their friends on Facebook and Twitter for access. Some invitations were even sold on eBay.\r\n\r\nA decade later and the invite-only audio app Clubhouse is hoping it could be the next big thing in tech. It is marketing itself with an exclusivity angle as well, making clear that the app isn\u2019t going to be made available to everyone. That piqued the interest of plenty of people in China. \u201cDo you have a Clubhouse invite code?\u201d was a question doing the rounds on social media.\r\n\r\nSince launching on iPhone in April 2020, Clubhouse has built a strong following among tech investors. It raised $100 million in its last funding round, pushing the start-up\u2019s valuation to $1 billion. The app has focused on voice, allowing real-time discussion in chatrooms. Audiences can participate by raising their hands to speak, with the host opening up access to the in-chat microphone.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nClubhouse is said to have about five million users. But it was Elon Musk that made it more…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Clubhouse-w.jpg","category":"Society","page":"14"},{"id":48294,"title":"New plan to shake up Chinese school kids","content":"China\u2019s 200 million school children could be in for some changes in the coming months, after the release of two controversial new documents by the Ministry of Education.\r\n\r\nFor a start, school kids will be discouraged from bringing their mobiles phones to class. Some schools will ban smartphones completely.\r\n\r\nSecondly, male students could see an increase in the number of physical education classes as part of a new programme \u201cPreventing the Feminisation of Male Adolescents\u201d.\r\n\r\nThe plans have generated a huge amount of debate online with many taking the view that both proposals are impractical and outmoded.\r\n\r\nThe first document on \u201ccultivating masculinity in male students\u201d was drafted in response to concerns in some quarters that Chinese boys are becoming \u201cweak, timid and inferior\u201d.\r\n\r\nOne proponent of this argument, a delegate to the CPPCC, the advisory body to the Chinese parliament, has warned that a shortage of male teachers and the predominance of \u201cpretty boy\u201d stars in the entertainment world could \u201cjeopardise the survival and development of the Chinese nation\u201d.\r\n\r\nIn response the Ministry of Education has said it \u201cwill intensify efforts to improve the quality of physical education and moderately improve the teaching methods to focus on cultivating male students' masculinity\u201d.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThere is some overlap with…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Chinese-students-w.jpg","category":"Society","page":"15"},{"id":48297,"title":"China\u2019s Beckham?","content":"David Beckham is the third most capped English football player of all time. Yet despite showing some early promise in the sport, none of his sons look like repeating his feat. Romeo, the middle son, still harbours hopes of a professional career but the boys have made more of a splash being photographed for trashy magazines. Over in China, is Li Sirong having a Beckham-esque experience?\r\n\r\nWho is Li Sirong?\r\n\r\nHe\u2019s the son of retired footballer Li Ming, who was often referred to locally as \u201cChina\u2019s David Beckham\u201d. Li junior has just become a social media sensation after signing a professional contract with Dutch side ADO Den Haag. But much of the excitement is down to his looks, rather than his soccer skills, it seems.\r\n\r\nMany readers may not have heard of Li Ming senior, who was a superstar in his time in China. Before retiring in 2005, the midfielder won the top-flight football league title eight times (with Dalian Wanda and Dalian Shide) and he was a key member of the Chinese national team (which wasn\u2019t very successful in international campaigns, admittedly).\r\n\r\nIf Li senior had played in the current era, when fans follow their idols slavishly on social media, he would have…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Li-Sirong-w.jpg","category":"Red Star","page":"16"},{"id":48300,"title":"Profiteers seize on Guangzhou divorce delays","content":"Ticket touts in Western countries make most of their money around pop concerts and sporting events. In China they trade in more essential things, like train tickets and hospital appointments. Scalpers in Guangdong province have just added a new service: a chance for couples to finalise their divorces.\r\n\r\nThe offer emerged after the Civil Affairs Bureau in the southern city of Guangzhou introduced an online booking system for couples wanting to sign their divorce papers. The platform only issues 330 new appointments a day, which means that demand is seriously outstripping supply. For Rmb600 scalpers have been offering to grab appointments as soon as they are released at midnight each night. Even then, the best they can manage is appointments about a month in advance, however.\r\n\r\nA report in the Xiaoxiang Morning News says that the bottleneck has been deliberately designed to slow down the rise in divorces. The Guangzhou authorities deny the allegation, claiming the number of appointments should be sufficient, based on historic demand. But the changes to the online system come as the government tries to bring down the divorce rate. It has also introduced a 30-day \u201ccooling off\u201d period during which either party can withdraw the application for…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Marriage-Bureau-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"17"}]},{"id":1678,"name":"Issue 527","date":"Feb 5, 2021","title":"The hottest IPO in town","tagline":"Chinese short-video app sets new records as demand soars for its Hong Kong listing","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/527.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/527-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48211,"title":"Short-video star Kuaishou sets new records with Hong Kong IPO","content":"Founded in 2005, YouTube started out with the motto \u201cbroadcast yourself\u201d. Its upload-first, question-later approach made it into an internet sensation. Millions of users flocked to the platform to express themselves. Google forked out $1.65 billion to acquire the start-up just a year later.\r\n\r\nFifteen years on and YouTube has grown into the world\u2019s biggest video platform. Hundreds of hours of content are uploaded to it every minute and it has become a magnet for advertising spending.\r\n\r\nNonetheless it has faced two recurring questions. First, no one knows if it is profitable, as Google doesn\u2019t break out the financial data of its video unit. And second, longer-term fans wonder if YouTube is starting to look like some of the older broadcasters that it set out to challenge. More disaffected YouTubers complain about the increase in advertising. They also suspect that YouTube\u2019s algorithms have been skewed towards mainstream storylines and that the platform is filtering out content that doesn\u2019t conform.\r\n\r\nChinese short-video platform Kuaishou was started by a former Google employee and it had a remarkably similar \u201cbroadcast yourself\u201d philosophy. The 10 year-old company\u2019s astonishing growth reached a climax this week when it became Hong Kong\u2019s hottest ever IPO. But interestingly Kuaishou faces a…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Kuaishou-app-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48214,"title":"Bytedance leaps at chance to take over Spring Festival Gala sponsorship","content":"How much do public relations crises cost? It depends on the gaffe, of course. But a PR disaster for Pinduoduo this year (see WiC524) has seen it lose the chance to take centre-stage on mainland China\u2019s most-watched television show.\r\n\r\nAfter two employee deaths and a viral video that sparked scrutiny of its intense working culture last month, Pinduoduo was booted off this year\u2019s Spring Festival Gala on state television, where it was planning to sponsor a vast exchange of virtual \u2018red packets\u2019 \u2013 known as hongbao \u2013 containing cash gifts.\r\n\r\nIt is a significant setback: six years ago sponsoring the same initiative catapulted Tencent\u2019s WeChat Pay into the forefront of the country\u2019s digital payments market. As many as 200 million people, eager to get a chance at a cash gift during the four-hour countdown to the Chinese Lunar New Year, linked their bank cards to the instant messaging platform (literally) overnight. That supercharged WeChat Pay\u2019s customer base, closing the gap substantially on leader Alipay (which had taken eight years to build its user base). Jack Ma later compared the overnight shift that the campaign induced in the e-payments balance of power to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nPinduoduo\u2019s loss is another\u2019s gain,…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Tiktok-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"7"},{"id":48217,"title":"IBM research unit quits China","content":"It\u2019s known as Big Blue but in recent years IBM has been better known for singing the blues after disappointing financial results. After a string of attempts at reinvention on the global stage, the company is trying to fight back again with a further reorganisation based around cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI).\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s not the story that is making headlines in China, however. Instead the domestic media is reporting that IBM has just shut its research institute there, one of 12 it has worldwide. The closure is being described as the end of an era not just for IBM but as another signal of a wider tech \u2018Cold War\u2019, after Yahoo closed its research unit in 2015, followed by Oracle in 2019.\r\n\r\nThe IBM closure is especially symbolic, given how long the company has been active in China. Indeed, its history there is a microcosm of wider Sino-US relations. In 1928, Otto Braitmayer, one of the original employees from the Tabulating Machine Company that morphed into IBM, set sail to China with a view to growing its business there. IBM formally set up shop a few years later in 1936, only to close down after the People\u2019s Republic of China was…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/IBM-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"9"},{"id":48220,"title":"Decent results from Alibaba even in tough times","content":"Call it the kind of crisis that most companies would kill for. Alibaba released its fourth quarter results on Tuesday, following weeks of rumours that its relationship with the Chinese government has soured spectacularly. But so what? Sales were up more than a third and profits surged ahead even faster.\r\n\r\nAlibaba\u2019s stock price has fallen sharply over the same period, shaped by uncertainty around Ant Group, the fintech offshoot in which it holds a third of the shares. Jack Ma, Alibaba\u2019s founder and former boss, triggered the tempest with a public rebuke of the country\u2019s antiquated banking system in October. His remarks led to the last-minute cancellation of Ant\u2019s IPO, reputedly on the instructions of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Since then the government has launched a review of the fintech sector that threatens to bring treatment of the digital players more into line with that of the traditional banks.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nMa spent the period in political purdah before re-emerging briefly at a livestreamed conference late last month. But the business he built has shown little sign of retreat, reporting a 37% jump in sales for the quarter ending in December, compared to a year earlier.\r\n\r\nAlibaba ploughed ahead during the early months of…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Alibaba-HQ-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"10"},{"id":48223,"title":"HNA Group flies into a turbulent financial reality","content":"\u201cFor over a hundred years, when did the Chinese have the power to decide anything?\u201d Chen Feng asked an audience at Harvard five years ago (see WiC346). \u201cNow, finally, I have the opportunity to decide.\u201d\r\n\r\nAs the founder of HNA Group, Chen was then leading the charge on a frantic round of investment in hotels, airlines and airports around the world. The goal was to bulk up in global travel, building on the foundations of HNA\u2019s original business: Hainan Airlines.\r\n\r\nThat dream has died a final death over the last few days, after a lengthy investigation by a government-appointed team into HNA\u2019s finances. The repercussions are now being felt across the HNA empire as creditors force the issue by asking the courts to begin bankruptcy proceedings against the parent firm in Hainan. That has triggered similar action at more than 50 of its units, the domestic press reports.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThree of the first to break cover were listed affiliates Hainan Airlines Holding, HNA Infrastructure Investment Group and CCOOP Group, which have acknowledged financial irregularities to shareholders. The reports are that at least Rmb61.5 billion ($9.6 billion) was embezzled by (unidentified) \u201cshareholders and other parties\u201d, while another Rmb46.5 billion in loans was improperly guaranteed to…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Chen-Feng-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Aviation","page":"11"},{"id":48226,"title":"E-cigarette maker proves big hit with investors","content":"China\u2019s relationship with tobacco is long and conflicted. The country boasts the world\u2019s largest number of smokers (at least 300 million, or similar to the US population) and their habit puts huge pressure on the healthcare system. Yet the conventional tobacco industry, which is wholly state-owned, delivers enormous income to the government. In 2019, it contributed Rmb1.2 trillion ($185.64 billion) in taxes, 20 times more than internet behemoth Alibaba Group.\r\n\r\nBut with over a million people dying every year from tobacco-related diseases, the government is starting to embrace e-cigarettes as a less lethal alternative to old-school smoking.\r\n\r\nThe Chinese are already the world\u2019s biggest smokers of e-cigarettes, with 10 million vapers, and the trend has turned some of the entrepreneurs in the sector into billionaires. In January, Relx Technologies, the country\u2019s largest e-cigarette maker, launched a $1.4 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO turned Relx\u2019s founder Wang Ying, 39, into an overnight billionaire. The millennial entrepreneur \u2013 who goes by the English name of Kate \u2013 holds nearly 19.88% of the company\u2019s shares and now boasts an estimated net worth of $9 billion, rendering her one of China\u2019s richest women (the leader in this respect is…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Kate-Wang-w.jpg","category":"Tobacco","page":"12"},{"id":48229,"title":"Simone Song discusses her fund and its focus on biotech breakthroughs","content":"Last year was a bumper one for biotech IPOs: 81 companies raised $13.5 billion, says SVB Leerink, a US bank with a focus on healthcare and life sciences. The bulk of the funding went to developers of new cancer drugs, which made up 52% of the deal flow and 64% of the capital raised. To learn more about the economics behind next-generation therapeutic investments, WiC sat down with Simone Song, founder of Hong Kong-based healthcare venture capital firm ORI Capital. Since launching her first healthcare investment vehicle in 2015, Song has had two blockbuster exits through trade sales and is backing another firm that listed on Nasdaq. Her second fund, doubling the size of its predecessor to $400 million, reached its first close early last month.\r\n\r\nWhat inspired you to start ORI Capital?\r\n\r\nThere was both a long-term inspiration and short-term trigger. The long-term inspiration came from my parents. My father is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and he has spent his entire life on biotech research to combat cancer. He\u2019s 94 years-old now and he\u2019s still doing it, working every day at the biotech company he owns. In fact, he is China\u2019s first scientist-turned-biotech entrepreneur, being very accomplished…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Simone-Song-w.jpg","category":"Investor Q&A","page":"13"},{"id":48233,"title":"Why the only show in town for some Chinese celebrities is reality TV","content":"How difficult is it for divorced women to find love in China? If Hunan Satellite TV\u2019s latest reality series is anything to go by, it is no walk in the park.\r\n\r\nIn mid-January, the network debuted a new show called A Journey For Love. It follows five starlets \u2013 all divorced \u2013 as they look for a second chance at love. Many of the women are well-known. One is Bai Bing, 34, who made her name in the 2010 TV series The Myth but left the limelight after a shotgun wedding to Hong Kong model Ding Yi (it is unclear when the two officially divorced). Another is Huang Yi, 43, who got her start in the 2003 series My Fair Princess III. She is better known for a bitter divorce from her second husband Huang Yiqing. The two finally parted in 2014, although the custody battle for their child lasted much longer.\r\n\r\nHunan Satellite TV, playing the matchmaker, now wants to help these women find love again by putting them together with \u201chighly qualified\u201d suitors.\r\n\r\nNaturally, there is a gimmick: couples aren\u2019t allowed to see each other on their first date (an approach borrowed perhaps from the Netflix hit Love is Blind).\r\n\r\nAfter the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Bai-Bing-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"17"},{"id":48236,"title":"A government-commissioned drama is a surprise hit","content":"When did government propaganda become so enjoyable? That\u2019s what many Chinese are saying after watching Min\u2019ning Town \u2013 a government-commissioned TV series about bringing people out of poverty in Ningxia province.\r\n\r\nThe 23-episode drama, called Shan Hai Qing, or \u2018Mountain Sea Love\u2019, in Chinese, is based on the true story of Min\u2019ning \u2013 a \u2018new\u2019 town on the edge of the Gobi desert.\r\n\r\nMin\u2019ning county was created in 1996 with the help of the then deputy head of the Fujian Provincial Party Committee, none other than Xi Jinping.\r\n\r\nThe man who would go on to become Chinese president is said to have selected the location of the town as part of a scheme in which a wealthier eastern province (in his case, Fujian) would be twinned with a poorer western region, to speed up development.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBecause of Xi\u2019s personal contribution to Min\u2019ning\u2019s creation, there was every chance the series would be turgid hagiography. Indeed, many viewers stayed away at first, suspecting it of being sleep-inducing propaganda.\r\n\r\nBut Min\u2019ning Town belongs to a newer wave of government messaging which is higher-budget and more nuanced. Its clever storytelling also makes it stand out, despite being one of 100 pieces of specially commissioned material to celebrate the centenary…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/02\/Yao-Chen-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"19"}]},{"id":1677,"name":"Issue 526","date":"Jan 29, 2021","title":"Football crazy","tagline":"Tycoon Zhang Jindong and his son Steven Zhang (above left) \u2013 their soccer investments in China and Italy have highlighted Suning\u2019s financial difficulties","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/526.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/526-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48135,"title":"Why Suning\u2019s financial woes are a worry for Inter Milan fans (among others)","content":"The best football managers keep their players hungry for success. But sometimes team bosses in China can take this philosophy \u2013 perfected by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United \u2013 a little too literally. Sixteen years ago Shenzhen Jianlibao won the inaugural Chinese Super League (CSL). The team was described in the local media as champions on \u201can empty stomach\u201d because it was owed several months of wages when it clinched the title. \u201cI could not have asked for any more from my players,\u201d their manager sobbed after the final match.\r\n\r\nThe club\u2019s owner Jianlibao, a power drink producer, was on the verge of financial meltdown. Its founder was mired in controversy over the control of state-owned assets and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in jail (see WiC414). But more recently, the financial health of the CSL\u2019s newly-crowned champions has also come into question. Again, the team\u2019s owners are in the spotlight, stoking intense interest from investors and football fans in China \u2013 and in Italy too\u2026\r\n\r\nHail the CSL champions\r\n\r\nOn November 12 last year, Jiangsu Suning (also referred to as Suning FC) beat reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the last match of the season, clinching the CSL…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Jiangsu-Suning-w.jpg","category":"Sport, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48139,"title":"Tencent stock hits record on WeChat anniversary","content":"On Monday Tencent\u2019s shares raced up another 10%, hitting a record high of HK$766.5 in Hong Kong. The rise pushed Tencent\u2019s market capitalisation close to $949 billion, which is knocking on the door of the $1 trillion club inhabitated by Saudi Aramco, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft.\r\n\r\nThe surge in the shares has made Zhang Xiaolong, the man credited with creating WeChat, into the fourth richest \u2018white-collar worker\u2019 in China (a little behind his boss Martin Lau, president of Tencent).\r\n\r\nZhang is believed to have amassed a fortune of Rmb14 billion ($2.16 billion) during his tenure at the Shenzhen-based internet giant.\r\n\r\nWeChat, which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, has cemented its reputation as China\u2019s dominant social media app. It boasts over 1.1 billion daily users, 780 million of whom use Moments, a social media function similar to Facebook\u2019s Timeline. A study from China Internet Watch has suggested that users spend an average of 77 minutes a day on the app too.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn the past 10 years, WeChat has grown from a simple mobile messaging software to a national super app. Whether it is the sending of \u2018red envelopes\u2019 during the Chinese New Year or the way we make payments electronically, WeChat has become…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Zhang-Xiaolong-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"7"},{"id":48155,"title":"Investment pours into China\u2019s EV\u2008sector at an accelerating pace","content":"Companies in China have been urging their employees not to travel during the Chinese New Year for fear of spreading Covid-19 (see WiC524). One firm has a greater need than most to encourage its staff to stay put: Contemporary Amperex Technologies (CATL).\r\n\r\nThe world\u2019s biggest battery cell manufacturer is having a hard time growing production quickly enough to meet new demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Under pressure to meet targets, CATL has been trying to keep employees in place over the holiday period, financial news portal JRJ.com reports. It has also announced a Rmb39 billion ($6 billion) plan to boost battery output by 130 GWh at three plants in Fujian, Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces. That comes on top of an even bigger slug of extra output planned through the construction of another six factories (five in China and one in Germany).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nDemand for batteries is building in markets like the US, which lag behind the rest of the world on manufacturing capacity. Other parts of the supply chain are running into bottlenecks as well, with carmakers including Daimler, Honda, Renault and General Motors all warning that they are heading for production cuts because they don\u2019t have enough of the semiconductor chips needed…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Tesla-w.jpg","category":"Auto Industry","page":"8"},{"id":48142,"title":"Ma relearns the old maxim \u2018don\u2019t fight city hall\u2019","content":"In much of the Western world, The House That Jack Built is best known as a horror film depicting a serial killer who ends up falling into an abyss. In China, it\u2019s the name of a book chronicling the rise of the country\u2019s most famous entrepreneur, Jack Ma.\r\n\r\nHowever, in recent weeks it felt as if the film\u2019s chasm denouement was strangely apt for Alibaba\u2019s founder, who not only disappeared from public view but also came under governmental scrutiny \u2013 threatening his huge online empire and particularly its fintech arm, Ant Group.\r\n\r\nThe abrupt cancellation of Ant\u2019s record-breaking $37 billion IPO only a few days before it was due to begin trading in early November was certainly a horror show for bankers and investors alike.\r\n\r\nMa may have skirted the abyss, making his first public appearance last week since a speech in which he criticised the Chinese banking system last October and then largely disappeared from view.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, the People\u2019s Bank of China (PBoC) has released new antitrust regulations that make a number of things about the future of online payments clearer, but also leave plenty of unanswered questions about the prospects for China\u2019s largest private-sector players.\r\n\r\nFirstly, China is grappling with the same regulatory…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Jack-Ma-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"11"},{"id":48165,"title":"Death sentence looms as details emerge of official\u2019s colossal graft","content":"At a press conference by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) five years ago, a reporter from Singapore\u2019s Lianhe Zaobao asked an unexpected question: was it an unwritten rule that corrupt officials wouldn\u2019t be sentenced to death, no matter how serious their crimes?\r\n\r\nA senior official from the CCDI, the anti-corruption watchdog, came up with a standard answer: the Chinese judiciary is responsible for deciding on sentencing, according to the law.\r\n\r\nNevertheless the question hinted at an inconvenient truth. Even if there were an unspoken rule on avoiding the death sentence, it couldn\u2019t be acknowledged for fear of stoking public anger at the protection it afforded corrupt bureaucrats.\r\n\r\nHowever, nearly a decade ago two vice-mayors in Suzhou and Hangzhou were in fact sentenced to death for taking bribes when vetting real estate projects. At the time the State Council was in full flow on a campaign to crack down on malpractice in the property market. The bureaucrats were executed in 2011 \u2013 a rare instance of the death penalty being meted out for corruption.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nTwo year later the gears stepped up when Chinese leader Xi Jinping launched his sweeping anti-graft campaign. Tens of thousands of cadres have since been disciplined…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Lai-Xaiomin-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"12"},{"id":48145,"title":"Industry expert Tim\u2008Huxley discusses impact of Covid-19 on global shipping","content":"Almost a year ago we spoke to Tim Huxley \u2013 the founder of Mandarin Shipping and a long-time WiC reader \u2013 about the devastating effect that Covid-19 was having on the maritime industry in the early days of the pandemic (see WiC483). Much has changed since then so we met again with the Hong Kong-based expert to talk about the current conditions in the shipping sector.\r\n\r\nSo how has China\u2019s relatively rapid economic rebound from Covid influenced chartering rates; what impact are Sino-Australian trade tensions having; and how are shipowners coping with rotating their crews at a time of ever-stricter quarantines?\r\n\r\nHave Sino-Australian tensions been a major factor for dry bulk shippers?\r\n\r\nThe major impact for bulkcarriers has been on the coal trade, with no significant impact on the crucial iron ore trade. As of last week there were 19 capesize bulkers and 47 panamaxes waiting to discharge Australian coal in China, about 7.5 million deadweight. That\u2019s down from the previous week when there were another nine ships waiting. They\u2019ve now headed off to markets like Malaysia and Vietnam to unload.\r\n\r\nThe average waiting time to unload coal in China has been close to six months. Prices of Australian coal have also dropped significantly,…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Tim_Huxley-w.jpg","category":"Corporate Q&A","page":"13"},{"id":48148,"title":"Solar stocks in surge on carbon-neutral plan","content":"The electric vehicle (EV) sector is grabbing many of the headlines at the moment but there\u2019s another industry that\u2019s made a spectacular comeback over the past year. Solar stocks are sizzling \u2013 so much so that there are fears that some investors could get burned.\r\n\r\nSolar power has been a turbulent choice for investors, particularly during phases of overcapacity, but the survivors have been rewarded by steep gains over the past year.\r\n\r\nSolar cell manufacturer Longi has seen its Shanghai-listed shares quadruple and it is currently trading at 40.5 times forward EV\/Ebitda, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Solar storage manufacturer Sungrow has done even better, up 9.5 times over the past year and trading at 72 times EV\/Ebitda. Another strong performer is polysilicon materials supplier Tianjian Zhonghuan, whose shares have doubled to 63.5 times EV\/Ebitda.\r\n\r\nThese ratios are high but the sector could still be in the early stages of a bull run if the previous frenzy is anything to go by. Back in 2014, Sungrow peaked at 187 times EV\/Ebitda, while Longi hit 92 times.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nJiemian.com has taken note, describing the solar stocks as transforming from \u201cugly ducklings to white swans\u201d. Of course, no one wants to see a swan of the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Solar-Cells-w.jpg","category":"Energy & Resources","page":"15"},{"id":48158,"title":"\u2018Everything app\u2019 Meituan buys stake in hotel chain Dossen International","content":"When Vivion Group, a real estate company controlled by Israeli tycoon Amir Dayan, first tapped the debt market in 2019, investors were attracted by the prime assets it owned. Over half of its portfolio was branded hotels in the UK, including the Sanderson and St Martins Lane hotels in London\u2019s West End, and the Hilton, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn chains across the country. But when Covid-19 hit, so was the value of these properties. Vivion\u2019s bonds became the most-shorted European credit this week, with 16% of holders looking to profit from declines in prices.\r\n\r\nHotel assets in China are being valued much more positively. The collapse of international travel has led to a boom in domestic holidays. Guest accommodation have become sought-after assets, especially for longer-term investors looking to buy the dips. One of them is the \u2018everything app\u2019 Meituan, which is reported to be in talks to acquire a 20% stake in Dossen International Group, a Guangzhou-based boutique hospitality chain, for Rmb1 billion ($154 million).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nEstablished in 2006, Dossen is currently the sixth-largest domestic hotel group in China, with over 155,000 rooms, according to data from the China Hotel Association. Owning 15 hotel brands, mainly middling players with presences in…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Hotel-w.jpg","category":"China Tourist","page":"16"},{"id":48151,"title":"Two celebrity pregnancies set China buzzing with contrasting reactions","content":"On the TV show Scandal, Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, an immaculately dressed crisis management expert in Washington, D.C. The spin doctor helps powerful politicians to contain scandals and manage crises \u2013 including the drama\u2019s fictional president of the United States (who also happens to be her secret lover).\r\n\r\nBut even Pope would have had trouble saving Chinese actress Zheng Shuang\u2019s career after last week\u2019s media firestorm.\r\n\r\nIn mid-January, Zheng\u2019s ex-boyfriend, 30 year-old TV producer Zhang Heng, took to weibo to explain why he hadn\u2019t been in China for well over a year. He said it was not for any nefarious reason (i.e. avoiding Chinese creditors) but instead as a consequence of his taking \u201ccare of and protecting two young and innocent lives\u201d in the US. He attached to this widely-viewed social media post a picture of a family house in which he is seen carrying one child and holding the hand of another.\r\n\r\nHe later revealed that the toddlers pictured were his own children. Photos of birth certificates posted online showed the names of Zheng and Zhang as the biological parents: a boy born in December 2019 in Colorado and a girl in January 2020 in Nevada. It soon emerged that the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Zhang-Heng-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment, Society","page":"17"},{"id":48162,"title":"Suzhou granny joins OAP lawbreakers in China","content":"In the HBO smash-hit series Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen is known as \u2018Mother of Dragons\u2019 for her feat of raising a trio of the fire-breathing beasts.\r\n\r\nBut to bump into the \u2018Grandmother of Dragons\u2019, you\u2019ll have to go to China, however.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s because a 76 year-old granny from the city of Suzhou has gained a legion of fans after she was spotted driving home from work on a motorised plastic dragon.\r\n\r\nThe video of Mrs Hou nipping through the empty streets of Suzhou on a cold winter\u2019s night has attracted much mirth \u2013 and over three million views on social media.\r\n\r\nThe story goes that Hou was working late in her job at a Suzhou amusement park when she learned that a family member was unable to pick her up at the end of her shift.\r\n\r\nHer knee was hurting because of the cold weather, so Hou decided that the best thing to do was to borrow one of the park\u2019s dragon-shaped motorised vehicles for the journey home. Police were bemused when they saw the old-age pensioner (OAP) riding on the pink-and-white dragon \u2013 not least because she was making it go pretty fast.\r\n\r\nThey soon caught up with her and gave her a dressing…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Emilia-Clarke-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"19"}]},{"id":1676,"name":"Issue 525","date":"Jan 22, 2021","title":"Gone... but not forgotten","tagline":"With the departure of President Donald Trump from the White House, is it a case of\u2018good riddance\u2019from the standpoint of Beijing?","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/525.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/525-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":48039,"title":"As Trump\u2019s presidency ends, his impact on Sino-US relations will be lasting","content":"Losing contestants on The Apprentice, the reality series that helped to catapult Donald Trump into the race for the White House, were booted off the show straight after being fired. As outgoing president, Trump has lingered longer, protesting for a couple of months against the decision to show him the door.\r\n\r\nOn Wednesday he finally departed, following a pre-recorded closing video address to the American people. On his list of achievements he cited an uncompromising stance towards Beijing and how he had \u201crallied the nations of the world to stand up to China like never before\u201d. Certainly there was a whirlwind of activity last year, with more than 200 public actions related to China across at least 10 US government departments, in what was described as a \u201cwhole of government\u201d approach.\r\n\r\nUndeniably Trump has had a huge impact on Washington\u2019s relationship with Beijing, although not always in the way that he intended. He departed from the White House this week \u2013 with CNN repeatedly describing him as \u201cdisgraced\u201d and the \u201cworst US president in history\u201d \u2013 but taking a step back, what has the former reality TV star actually achieved vis-\u00e0-vis China?\r\n\r\nTariffs and trade war: no victory in sight\r\n\r\nAs a presidential candidate,…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Trump-w.jpg","category":"China and the World, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":48044,"title":"Li Ning takes control of UK shoemaker Clarks","content":"The fashion industry is filled with comeback stories. Mom jeans, tie-dye clothes and bum bags (or fanny packs, in US parlance) have all made a return over the years.\r\n\r\nAnd just when investors were ready to write off Li Ning, the eponymous sportswear brand founded by the gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast, the label has re-emerged as hip once again.\r\n\r\nA few years back its market value had dropped to below HK$10 billion ($1.28 billion) but this week it was trading at nearly HK$130 billion. Some of its sports shoes have become collectors\u2019 items and the brand even showcased its trendier looks via an eight-minute video runway show broadcast at a socially-distanced Paris Fashion Week last year.\r\n\r\nThe turnaround wasn\u2019t without a great deal of stress and hard work. After three consecutive years of losses, the company, backed by private equity group TPG Capital and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, restructured its business, cleared out inventory built up by third-party distributors and closed thousands of underperforming retail outlets. To appeal to young consumers, it also updated its designs to incorporate more streetwear.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nLi Ning now wants to replicate the success of its own revamp with Clarks, the aging UK shoe brand that has faded from…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Clarks-w-scaled.jpg","category":"M&A","page":"8"},{"id":48047,"title":"What do semiconductors and pig farming have in common?","content":"Talk of the need for self-sufficiency in China\u2019s economy has centred on semiconductors, where an embargo on sales of key components from American vendors has squeezed Chinese firms in desperate need of supply.\r\n\r\nBut what about the scarcity of another commodity that worries China\u2019s leaders: a shortage of pork?\r\n\r\nAt the annual gathering of the Rural Work Conference in Beijing last month, Xi Jinping highlighted the effort that was needed to \u201cturn the tables\u201d in China\u2019s seed industry to improve the nation\u2019s food security (see WiC514). However, that directive has also prompted a response from officials and entrepreneurs in another part of the farming world, with self-sufficiency in pig-breeding now being added to the mix.\r\n\r\nPork prices are important as a major contributor towards Chinese consumer inflation. A devastating outbreak of African swine fever in 2018-19 pushed prices up dramatically \u2013 by decimating the domestic herd. Last November prices then fell after a partial recovery in pig numbers, heralding unexpected deflation in consumer prices as a whole. But they rebounded the following month as wholesalers stocked up in advance of the Chinese New Year, a busy holiday season.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nChina is the world\u2019s largest consumer of pork and it accounts for half of global pork…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Pigs-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Agriculture","page":"9"},{"id":48050,"title":"Two IPOs that underscore China\u2019s \u2018consumption upgrade\u2019 trend continues","content":"The debate about whether Chinese consumers are upgrading or downgrading their lifestyles is a never-ending one (see WiC515). The nearly 4% contraction in consumer spending last year, for example, is widely cited as evidence that the government\u2019s plan to shift its economic engine to domestic consumption is not that straightforward. Opposing views, however, point towards the ever improving quality of goods and services that the Chinese are demanding as signs that their march toward sophistication is inexorable. In fact, consumers\u2019 demand for a better lifestyle is so strong that it is spawning two domestic initial public offerings.\r\n\r\nThe first is by portable massage equipment maker Breo, which is seeking to raise Rmb500 million ($77.3 million) through a flotation on Shanghai\u2019s STAR Market. The company has been recording steady growth since its establishment in Shenzhen in 2000. Its net profit tripled between 2017 and 2020 to Rmb63 million on the back of a quintupling in revenue that reached Rmb820 million last year.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBreo\u2019s growth is partly driven by its partnership with Alibaba. By leveraging the artificial intelligence technology developed by the internet giant, Breo managed to improve its flagship product, a portable eye massager. The latest versions can be controlled by speech \u2013…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Breo-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"10"},{"id":48053,"title":"Fitness firms limber up in online workout boom","content":"Peloton is one of an elite group of companies that has profited from the pandemic. Fuelled by demand from exercise buffs looking for safer alternatives to the gym, the US-based maker of spin bikes (the New York Times reports even Joe Biden has one) found itself in profit last year for the first time since it was launched in 2012. The turnaround came courtesy of sales of its workout equipment, plus a membership scheme that streams fitness sessions to Peloton\u2019s networked workout tools.\r\n\r\nJohn Foley, its CEO, thinks the home workout trend will survive the end of the pandemic and he\u2019s predicting that Peloton can grow its paying subscriber base to 100 million from three million currently. That heady forecast has helped the Nasdaq-listed firm quintuple its market value to $46 billion over the past 12 months.\r\n\r\nBeijing Calories Technology is sometimes touted as Peloton\u2019s Chinese twin, although its business model isn\u2019t identical. Starting out in 2014 as a fitness-focused social media platform called Keep, it has morphed into the largest provider of on-demand workout classes in China. Like Peloton, its valuation has been on steroids since the onset of the coronavirus.\r\n\r\nIn its latest financing round \u2013 which closed in early January…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Keep-w.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"11"},{"id":48058,"title":"Locals unimpressed by McDonald\u2019s \u2018China burger\u2019","content":"Despite its reputation for standardising its menu across a limited range of its most popular choices, McDonald\u2019s has sometimes experimented with new offerings in many of its markets aound the world.\r\n\r\nMany of these new options have been failures. One of the biggest was the 2002 release of McAfrika in Norway. The slice of beef, cheese and salad, all served up in a pitta-style sandwich, was supposedly based on an African recipe. However, the snack\u2019s launch saw McDonald\u2019s blasted as grossly insensitive by Scandinavian consumers, at a time when millions of people were facing famine in southern Africa at the time.\r\n\r\nThe American fast food heavyweight has just added another failure to its new-launch list: this time in the fickle Chinese food market.\r\n\r\nThe chain recently unveiled its interpretation of roujiamo (\u8089\u5939\u998d). The three characters in the dish\u2019s Chinese name literally mean \u2018meat stuffed in bread\u2019 and the centuries-old meal is sometimes described as China\u2019s closest culinary offering to a burger. The classic street snack is said to have originated in Shaanxi province but it is now a national favourite.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nMcDonald\u2019s advertising of the \u201cMcroujiamo\u201d makes the meal look satisfying enough, with a flatbread bun stuffed with shredded meat and Chinese pickles, akin to…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Roujiamo-Combined-w.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"12"},{"id":48061,"title":"An introduction to the brands driving China\u2019s \u2018meal replacement\u2019 vogue","content":"To impart the impression that leafy greens packed in cute, see-through bottles could keep consumers in shape, a Chinese food start-up called Sweetie Salad hired a hundred bare-chested Greek-looking foreigners in 2017.\r\n\r\nSporting Spartan warrior costumes (think of the movie 300), the phalanx paraded through Beijing\u2019s Sanlitun district, showing off their six-packs and biceps.\r\n\r\nHowever, police then stepped in to stop the publicity stunt and some of the \u2018Spartans\u2019 were arrested. Sweetie Salad got tremendous publicity but its food turned out to be a fad and the company closed in 2019.\r\n\r\nBut the shutting down of Sweetie Salad does not make the case that the Chinese aren\u2019t interested in developing healthy eating habits.\r\n\r\nQuite the contrary: demand for more wholesome food has been growing from Chinese consumers, fuelled by changes in urban lifestyle and a new generation of shoppers more interested in health and their body image.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nEschewing nosh-ups, they go for refreshments that are nutritious, high-fibre and low-calorie. Best of all, the new products save them from the chores of cooking.\r\n\r\nA case in point would be the ready-to-drink milkshake called Dikakong or Smart Calories, which was launched by snack giant Pepsi last June (see WiC501). Each bottle is said to be able to keep…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Wonderlab-w.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"13"},{"id":48064,"title":"A 30 year-old book forecasts American decline","content":"A month after it was announced that Wang Huning would become one of the seven most senior officials in the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017, we reported how his out-of-print books were selling at sky-high prices as collectors\u2019 items (see WiC387).\r\n\r\nThe cost of getting one of Wang\u2019s works moved higher this month, with America against America, written 30 years ago, getting praise as a forewarning of the civil strife disfiguring US towns and cities.\r\n\r\nAfter protesters stormed Capitol Hill in Washington at the start of January, photos on Chinese social media highlighted how a copy of the 1991 publication was on sale on a Chinese rare books marketplace for Rmb18,000 ($2,750).\r\n\r\nOf course, it wouldn\u2019t command such a premium price if its author didn\u2019t have the job of China\u2019s chief ideologue. Wang\u2019s ranking in the Politburo Standing Committee makes him China\u2019s fifth-most senior leader too.\r\n\r\nWiC managed to get hold of a copy of the book a few years ago. As the title suggests, much of Wang\u2019s focus is on the contradictory aspects of American society. As a figurative example, he mentions \u2018People's Park\u2019 in Berkeley California, which he describes as filled with homeless people, living in miserable conditions. In more…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Wang-Huning-w.jpg","category":"Media & Gaming","page":"15"},{"id":48067,"title":"The very different lives led by the daughters of Huawei\u2019s founder","content":"Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou hasn\u2019t set foot in China since 2018. Instead the daughter of Huawei boss Ren Zhengfei remains holed up in Vancouver, under house arrest as she fights against an extradition request from the US.\r\n\r\nBack in China, Meng\u2019s half-sister Annabel Yao (the two adopted their respective mother\u2019s surname), is stepping out in the world. Yao announced with great fanfare on her weibo account last week that she has signed with management company Beijing TH Entertainment to become one of its singing stars. The announcement was timed to coincide with the Huawei heiress\u2019s 23rd birthday.\r\n\r\nTH Entertainment, which represents celebrities like Chen Feiyu (the son of esteemed filmmaker Chen Kaige) and the singer Tan Weiwei, stirred the PR pot with the release of a 17-minute documentary, called \u2018Extraordinary Princess\u2019, that follows Yao\u2019s road to stardom. The following day Great Wall Motors announced that it had hired Yao as its latest spokesperson for its SUV brand WEY. And on Monday, she dropped her first single BackFire (a risky title, you would think). Lyrics include: \u201cThe story is broken\/ and rules are rewritten\/not following the rules\/ that is my style.\u201d\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nRen\u2019s younger daughter enjoys the limelight much more than her hard-charging father, who…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Annabel-Yao-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"16"},{"id":48071,"title":"Soccer clubs ordered to drop company owners\u2019 names","content":"A decade ago, the property developer Evergrande spent Rmb100 million ($15.4 million) on the takeover of a football club in Guangzhou that had been disgraced by a match-rigging scandal (see WiC100).\r\n\r\nThe rationale for making the investment was simple. Evergrande saw a chance to remake the club in its own image, boosting its own profile nationally. Its tycoon boss Xu Jiayin was gambling that the team would win promotion back to the Chinese Super League (CSL) and his company\u2019s name would be lit up across TV broadcasts, football shows and newscasts.\r\n\r\nEvergrande wasn\u2019t the first company to latch onto the struggling Guangzhou team. Over the years the naming rights had switched between Baiyun (a Chinese medicine firm), Apollo (a power drink) and Geely (a carmaker), to name but a few. Yet none of the above had pulled off major successes on the pitch. That changed when Xu began to spend big on better players (see WiC68), including international stars, who were paid unprecedented salaries. Starting in 2011, Guangzhou Evergrande went on to win the CSL for seven consecutive seasons, assisting its Guangdong-based owner in turning his company into a nationally-known name.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nSuch was the club\u2019s success that internet major Alibaba invested Rmb1.2 billion…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Guangzhou-Evergrande-w.jpg","category":"Society","page":"18"},{"id":48073,"title":"\u2018Edgy\u2019 television ad backfires on cleanser brand","content":"Hallmarks of beauty in much of Chinese society typically include V-shaped jaws, double eyelids and pale white skin.\r\n\r\nAnother sign of the times is the thousands of make-up tutorials that are posted to the Chinese internet, claiming to show how cosmetics can transform ordinary faces to ones that correspond to the highest standards of celebrity-beauty.\r\n\r\nThe \u2018how-to\u2019 videos are good news for firms that sell make-up remover too. The more cosmetics that are sold, the more wipes that are needed to remove the products.\r\n\r\nBut make-up-wipe producer Purcotton\u2019s recent efforts to profit from the phenomenon have backfired spectacularly, sparking outrage from its key demographic: women.\r\n\r\nThe Shenzhen-based company\u2019s mistake was to conflate the issue of make-up removal with violence against women \u2013 a subject of growing public debate in recent years.\r\n\r\nIn the controversial advertisement, a pretty young woman is filmed walking down a dimly-lit street with a sinister-looking man a few metres behind.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nAs she realises that the would-be attacker is gaining on her, the woman reaches into her handbag and pulls out a pack of Purcotton wipes. As he tries to grab her, she quickly scrubs a towelette across her face. At once she is transformed into a plain, toothy woman with a wide…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Purcotton-ad-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"19"}]},{"id":1675,"name":"Issue 524","date":"Jan 15, 2021","title":"Noodle wars","tagline":"How a fast-growing Chinese instant noodle firm is shaking up the Taiwanese duopoly that has long dominated this vast snack food market","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/524.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/524-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":47984,"title":"Covid-19 and changes in the market boosts Hebei noodle giant Jinmailang","content":"China\u2019s instant noodle market, the world\u2019s biggest, has been dominated for decades by Master Kong and Uni-President.\r\n\r\nBoth are from Taiwan but that doesn\u2019t mean that competition between them is friendly. Rivalry between the two has been intense, including allegations from each that the other was spreading falsehoods about their connections to Japanese entities in a bid to fan boycotts by Chinese consumers during times of geopolitical tensions (see WiC171).\r\n\r\nBut the long-standing duopoly is under serious threat. An imminent IPO by fast-growing domestic rival Jinmailang is setting the stage for a new round of competition, turning the noodle market into a three-horse race.\r\n\r\nInstant noodles are still hugely popular in China?\r\n\r\nMaster Kong is one of the oldest brands in the market. The company started out as a cooking oil manufacturer in Taiwan in the 1960s. In the early 1990s Wei Ing-chou, one of the brothers in the family-run business, was flying frequently across the Taiwan Strait to look for new opportunities in mainland China. He stumbled across an idea during one of his train trips. Eating a cup noodle he had brought with him from Taiwan, Wei found himself surrounded by passengers intrigued by the smell. An idea was born that went…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Master-Kong-2-w-scaled.jpg","category":"China Consumer, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":47987,"title":"Beijing can\u2019t wait to see the back of Mike Pompeo","content":"In the view of many Chinese diplomats, Henry Kissinger is the statesman that contributed most to Sino-US relations. Considered \u201can old friend of the Chinese people\u201d, the former US secretary of state has met every Chinese leader from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping personally. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of his first visit to China, which paved the way for a normalisation of diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing.\r\n\r\nIn contrast to the respect shown for the 97 year-old Kissinger, the Chinese government cannot wait to see the back of Mike Pompeo, secretary of state in the Trump administration. In a sign of how much the bilateral relationship has deteriorated, Pompeo was excoriated as the \u201cworst\u201d of Kissinger\u2019s successors by state news agency Xinhua this week, which slammed him as \u201conly interested in stoking unwarranted confrontations\u201d. The Global Times, a fiercely patriotic tabloid, was even more derisive about America\u2019s top diplomat. \u201cWe can ignore clowns like Pompeo,\u201d it wrote, celebrating his imminent departure from office.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe rebukes have picked up in tempo since Pompeo announced what Beijing regards as an unacceptable departure from the so-called \u2018One-China Policy\u2019 (a cornerstone of US-China relations that Kissinger helped to forge half a century…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Pompeo-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Cross Strait","page":"7"},{"id":47991,"title":"Baidu and Geely join forces to accelerate EVs","content":"What might an Apple Car look like? Would it be as revolutionary for its sector as the iPhone proved for the telecoms world? Car industry commentators have anticipated a prototype from the world\u2019s most admired brand for at least six years, only to learn that the project, titled \u2018Titan\u2019, has been mired in setbacks and uncertainty. But might that be changing? Last week South Korea\u2019s Hyundai Motor confirmed that it was in talks with Apple to build a new range of self-driving electric cars. The partnership, should it fully materialise, could see 100,000 next-generation electric vehicles (EVs) made at a Kia factory in Georgia as early as 2024.\r\n\r\nTesla (whose shares have already climbed by another 20% this year at time of writing) will be watching closely. But perhaps it had an eye on another challenger this week when Baidu, China\u2019s largest search engine and a major investor in autonomous driving technology, announced a deal with Geely Automobile, China\u2019s leading privately-held carmaker, to make self-driving EVs, initially focusing on passenger cars.\r\n\r\nThe venture, in which Baidu will hold a majority stake, is seen as a more promising one due to the complementary strengths of the duo. Baidu will bring its Apollo self-driving…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Robin-Li-w.jpg","category":"Auto Industry","page":"8"},{"id":47994,"title":"Chinese New Year plans hit by travel bans","content":"A month ago China was gearing up for a relatively normal Lunar New Year celebration. Restaurants and shops were taking on extra staff in preparation for the holiday surge and transport companies were bracing themselves for the usual annual migratory crush.\r\n\r\nThe exodus would have been a glowing endorsement of China\u2019s containment of Covid-19 infections \u2013 hundreds of millions of people on the move to reunite with their families potentially offered a striking contrast to how Christmas was subject to restrictions on merrymaking in many other nations.\r\n\r\nYet plans for a typical Spring Festival have been torpedoed in many provinces as well as the capital city of Beijing, after a series of sudden and sizeable virus outbreaks.\r\n\r\nTwenty-five provinces and autonomous regions in China are introducing restrictions discouraging people from travelling over the break, with 14 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen, imposing similar rules.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nPredictions for just how many people will still journey to their home towns are varied but the NDRC \u00ad\u2013 China\u2019s top state planning agency \u2013 is forecasting that the number of travellers will be \u201csignificantly lower than normal\u201d and that road and rail networks networks should be prepared for closure if the outbreaks worsen.\r\n\r\n\u201cPut epidemic prevention and control…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Train-Station-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Economy","page":"9"},{"id":47997,"title":"Another staff death puts pressure on Pinduoduo","content":"Pinduoduo started out as \u201cthe poor man\u2019s Alibaba\u201d, thanks to its founder\u2019s promise of cheaper shopping for people who make bulk purchases online, ordering directly from factories (see WiC404 for our first mention of Pinduoduo and its early business model). Poor no more: the six year-old firm has grown at such a clip since then that its founder Colin Huang overtook Jack Ma as China\u2019s richest internet tycoon last month, according to Bloomberg\u2019s latest wealth ranking.\r\n\r\nBut on a sourer note, Pinduoduo now has a new moniker as the \u201cthe Foxconn of the internet\u201d \u2013 an unflattering title that likens the firm\u2019s demanding working culture with that of China\u2019s biggest factory employer, Taiwan-headquartered Foxconn. Foxconn ran into awful headlines a decade ago after a slew of employee suicides (see WiC61) and did little to improve the situation when its founder Terry Gou likened the managing of his workforce with the challenges of running a zoo.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nWe reported last week how Pinduoduo has been in the firing line too after the sudden death of a young staffer and how it also made matters worse with a careless PR response (see WiC523). The reputational damage deepened this week with the revelation of another tragic…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Pinduoduo-w-1.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"10"},{"id":48000,"title":"Who will head Hong Kong\u2019s bourse \u2013 now more valuable than those in US","content":"In Chinese mythology, dragons symbolise great power. They wield it as the deities of moving water and can generate both floods and typhoons.\r\n\r\nRight now a very large \u2018red\u2019 dragon can be spotted in Hong Kong, thanks to a flood of capital pouring across the border into the territory\u2019s stock market. This week marks the twentieth consecutive week of net inflows through the southbound Stock Connect scheme, which allows investors in China and Hong Kong to buy stocks listed in each other\u2019s bourses.\r\n\r\nFar from easing off, the deluge keeps getting stronger. Monday saw a daily record flow of HK$19.5 billion ($2.5 billion). Last week was also a record: HK$65.5 billion, almost 10% of 2020\u2019s total inflows.\r\n\r\nAll this activity has boosted the share price of the stock market\u2019s op-erator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEx). After a 65% surge in the past 12 months, HKEx was worth $73.4 billion as of this week. Its market capitalisation is higher than all other listed securities markets including America\u2019s CME ($71.68 billion) and ICE ($66.02 billion), which owns 12 international exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).\r\n\r\nSo what\u2019s driven HKEx\u2019s valuation to 41 times consensus forward earnings (according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data)?…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Charles-Li-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"11"},{"id":48003,"title":"Calls for shareholder changes at MGM; Macau gaming great Adelson dies","content":"Sheldon Adelson, the founder of gaming giant Las Vegas Sands, was pretty unimpressed when he first laid eyes on the city that would make him one of the richest men in the world. \u201cProstitution infested, crime infested, triad infested,\u201d he lamented. \u201cEverything that you don\u2019t want a gaming destination to be\u2026 was going on in Macau.\u201d\r\n\r\nYet the gaming tycoon, who died at the age of 87 this week, must still have glimpsed the explosive potential of the former Portuguese colony and he went on to play a crucial role in the city\u2019s emergence as the epicentre of the gambling world.\r\n\r\nSuch was Adelson\u2019s contribution that he merited mention this week from Bloomberg as the man \u201cwho brought casinos to China\u201d. That is a stretch: his achievements stemmed from the spread of his empire into Macau not mainland China itself, where casinos remain illegal. But there\u2019s still no denying that his opening of the Sands Macao in 2004 was a transformational moment for the casino enclave and the millions of Chinese that soon flocked there from across the border in the hope of making their fortunes at their favourite game of chance, baccarat.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nIt was a spectacular success for Adelson as well, with…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Sheldon-Adelson-w.jpg","category":"M&A","page":"13"},{"id":48006,"title":"Why Chinese parents are stressed about schooling","content":"The old (and rather sexist) saying claims that behind every successful man is a woman. But in China, behind every successful child is an even harder working parent.\r\n\r\nFor instance, for those who want to secure their offspring a coveted spot in one of the top six high schools in Beijing, their child has to achieve the following milestones: by age one, parents need to start bilingual teaching in both Chinese and English; in their third year, children are expected to read picture books on their own and memorise a hundred Chinese poems; by age four, they need to be able to paint and start learning music theory and piano so that when they turn nine, they can pass level 10 in piano. Before they turn 10, children are expected to do well in the Olympiad math programme and be proficient in English.\r\n\r\nSuch intensity leaves most other countries in the dust. One of the most widely circulated posts on a parenting discussion group goes like this: \u201cQuestion: my child is four and knows about 1,500 English words. Is that enough? Answer: it should be sufficient if you are in the US, but it\u2019s definitely not enough in China.\u201d\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nIt should come as…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Child-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Education","page":"15"},{"id":48009,"title":"Chinese megastar Zhang Ziyi takes flak for playing a teenage princess","content":"A year or two before her big international break 21 years ago in Lee Ang\u2019s martial arts love story Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Ziyi first caught the attention of famed local director Zhang Yimou, who chose the then 20 year-old drama student for the lead role in the 1999 romantic drama The Road Home.\r\n\r\nThe fresh-faced actress gave such an outstanding performance that she won the Best Actress Award at the Hundred Flowers Awards.\r\n\r\nAt the time, Zhang Yimou warned her to resist going into TV because making movies would help the young actress learn her craft through detailed direction on performance, lighting and cinematography. TV dramas rely more heavily on the performer\u2019s existing acting skills, he said, and their weaknesses are more easily exposed on the smaller screen.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nZhang \u2013 who turns 42 in February \u2013 stuck to the advice, starring in only in films. But last week she made a splash on social media by announcing her debut TV drama: Monarch Industry, which is set for broadcast on Changsha News Network and online streaming site Youku.\r\n\r\nThe 68-episode costume drama, which was mostly filmed in 2018, follows the coming-of-age story of fictional princess Wang Xuan, who gets entangled in a power…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Zhang-Ziyi-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"16"},{"id":48012,"title":"Controversy over a cushion that tracks the work rate of office staff","content":"When a Hangzhou-based tech company distributed \u2018smart-cushions\u2019 to its employees last year, they were introduced as health aids \u2013 gadgets that monitor heart rates, seating positions and fatigue levels.\r\n\r\nIf a person had been sitting at their desk too long, the company said, the cushion would prompt the employee to stand up and walk around, courtesy of an alert on their mobile phone.\r\n\r\nBut a few weeks into the deployment of the new devices, an employee was approached by the human resources team and challenged on why she was stepping away from her desk for half an hour every morning \u2013 information they had gleaned from her smart cushion.\r\n\r\nThe staff member was so incensed that she took to social media to complain, saying that workers had never been informed that they would be monitored in this way.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nFurthermore, the HR department had warned that if the cushions detected employees taking long, unauthorised breaks, their bonuses could be affected.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was naive to think that only the employees would be seeing their data,\u201d the staff member wrote. \u201cNow I feel as if I have been stripped naked. Going to work is like going to jail. Human relations are difficult at the best of times but…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Eleme-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"18"}]},{"id":1674,"name":"Issue 523","date":"Jan 8, 2021","title":"New year, new treaty","tagline":"Was the EU the winner in its long-awaited and long-negotiated investment treaty with China?","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/523.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/523-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":47907,"title":"What is the significance of the newly signed China-EU investment deal?","content":"Dealmakers from the European Union have a reputation for negotiating to the very last minute. And so it proved again on Christmas Eve last month, when a trade and cooperation agreement with the UK was struck as the clock ticked perilously close to a \u2018no-deal\u2019 Brexit.\r\n\r\nAnother major deal was announced six days later, this time for an investment treaty between the EU and China that has been in the making for much longer. The negotiation ran close to a deadline again, with both parties keen to reach terms before the end of the year.\r\n\r\nSo what\u2019s in the treaty and which side got the best of it?\r\n\r\nWhat\u2019s the focus of the deal?\r\n\r\nOn December 30 the European Union and China announced that talks on their Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) had wrapped up and that a new accord will replace 26 existing investment treaties between China and 27 EU member states.\r\n\r\nUrsula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, was delighted, applauding the treaty as providing \u201cunprecedented access\u201d for European investors to the Chinese market. Although the agreement doesn\u2019t extend to trade between the two markets, she described it as a key step towards rebalancing the EU\u2019s economic relationship with China.\r\n\r\nYet…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/EU-China-Flags-w.jpg","category":"Economy, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":47910,"title":"NYSE U-turns over delisting of Chinese telcos","content":"In his book Dealing with China, Hank Paulson described the IPO of China Mobile (then known as China Telecom) in Hong Kong and New York in 1997 as \u201ctransformational\u201d. The former Wall Street bank boss and ex-US Treasury Secretary recalled how the listing served to \u201cbrand\u201d China in global markets, and mark the beginning of wider reforms across state-dominated sectors of the country\u2019s economy. Of course, this would broaden the opportunities for US financial firms too, promising lucrative returns.\r\n\r\nAnd just days after China Mobile\u2019s trading debut, President Jiang Zemin embarked on a nine-day visit to the United States \u2013 the first by a Chinese leader in 12 years \u2013 as Bill Clinton\u2019s \u201cconstructive engagement\u201d strategy kicked into high gear.\r\n\r\nDonald Trump, now in the final days of his own presidency, has shown little inclination to follow the same approach. Since losing to Joe Biden last November, one of his first executive orders as outgoing president was to deter further US investment in 31 Chinese firms, including China Mobile. The move came after the Pentagon claimed these entities were controlled by the Chinese military.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nSince then a number of global index compilers such as MSCI and FTSE Russell have deleted various Chinese firms…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/NYSE-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Telecoms","page":"7"},{"id":47913,"title":"Have the nation\u2019s internet behemoths passed their peak?","content":"At its peak the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was one of the world\u2019s most valuable businesses, owning all the wires and telephones in the United States. Known as \u2018Ma Bell\u2019 the monopoly was broken up into several \u2018baby Bells\u2019 in 1984, following an antitrust crackdown.\r\n\r\nMicrosoft was very nearly broken up too after losing an antitrust lawsuit in 2000 over the bundling of its Internet Explorer web browser with its dominant Windows operating system.\r\n\r\nFast forward to present day China where investors have been looking back at litigations like these with more interest. That\u2019s because Beijing appears to have borrowed a page from US corporate history as its newly empowered antitrust regulators turn their focus to the country\u2019s powerful internet firms.\r\n\r\nFor the past decade, China\u2019s internet giants have been largely allowed to grow their core businesses and diversify into new sectors without too much regulatory hindrance. Economic planners even saw them as a quasi-tool for achieving broader goals. For instance, the booming e-commerce sector was a key factor in helping the economy reorientate away from exports to domestic consumption as the main growth engine.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBut events that began to unfold late last year now have people wondering whether the rise of China\u2019s…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Alibaba-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"8"},{"id":47916,"title":"Anger festers after employee\u2019s death at a top internet firm","content":"Political theorists in the Communist Party of China (CPC) have struggled to produce a satisfying answer to a simple question: \u201cDoes the market have a socialist or capitalist surname?\u201d\r\n\r\nThe query \u2013 which sounds a little awkward in its English translation \u2013 was initially phrased when Deng Xiaoping began to usher in his economic reforms in the late 1970s. The changes soon created splits in the country\u2019s ruling Party but Deng managed to convince other leaders to put the debate aside and focus instead on rebuilding an economy laid low by decades of Maoist doctrine.\r\n\r\nSince then, political thinkers have returned to the question of the complex relationship between China\u2019s free-market instincts and its socialist political philosophy. But this month one of China\u2019s fastest-growing internet companies found itself having to address the unanswered question too.\r\n\r\nThe saga began when a 23 year-old female employee of e-commerce giant Pinduodou collapsed as she was returning home on December 29.\r\n\r\nSurnamed Zhang, she died soon after being hospitalised.\r\n\r\nZhang\u2019s death did not solicit much attention until earlier this week, when one of her friends shared news of it on the social media platform Maimai.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nAccording to the post, Zhang had joined Pinduoduo in July 2019 and worked for the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Pinduoduo-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"10"},{"id":47919,"title":"Detergent maker Blue Moon completes well-timed IPO in Hong Kong","content":"Outgoing American President Donald Trump was lambasted last year after suggesting that Covid-19 could be treated by injections of disinfectant (he later said the remark was made in jest).\r\n\r\nA professor of infectious diseases in Hong Kong also drew widespread local comment last month by flagging the risk that coronavirus was spreading via drainage systems. Responding to his warning, people flushed huge quantities of detergent through their household pipes, resulting in bubbly bathrooms.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nSqueaky-clean homes and heightened personal hygiene are nevertheless an essential part of fending off higher infection rates amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, Blue Moon, a Chinese detergent maker launched its initial public offering with immaculate timing. Following a 37% leap in its share price in less than a fortnight, the company\u2019s market value stood at more than HK$100 billion ($12.9 billion) as of Thursday. That means that its founder and chief executive Luo Qiuping and his wife Pan Dong \u2013 who serves as board chairwoman \u2013 are now one of China\u2019s richest couples, thanks to their 77% combined stake.\r\n\r\nAccording to market research cited in its listing prospectus, Blue Moon has been the leader in China\u2019s liquid laundry and liquid soap market for 11 years in a row…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Blue-Moon-w-scaled.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"11"},{"id":47923,"title":"Why have Chinese cities faced power outages?","content":"Readers who are wondering how they will cope with the new \u2008Covid-19 lockdowns being imposed in a number of countries at the beginning of 2021 might spare a thought for the Indian sailors trapped aboard two merchant ships outside Chinese ports since last summer.\r\n\r\nThe Jag Anand and the Anastacia were carrying Australian coal to the ports of Jingtang and Caofeidian in Hebei province. The Chinese authorities have not allowed either ship to dock and the Indian press says that they have not permitted the crews to be replaced either. So the seamen have been stuck offshore for months.\r\n\r\nAustralia\u2019s Sydney Morning Herald reports that four members of the Anastacia are on suicide watch. Some of the crew has been at sea for 18 months with no shore leave. One of them tells the newspaper that a colleague has \u201cbecome a lunatic person\u2026. [he] sleeps all day and stays awake all night, disturbing other crew members by making crazy noises, banging on the floor, whistling\u201d.\r\n\r\nAccording to Kpler, a data supplier to energy markets, there are a further 50 vessels carrying Australian coal that are stranded in Chinese waters. The Chinese authorities say that the boats are free to depart at any time.…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Miner-w.jpg","category":"Energy & Resources","page":"12"},{"id":47926,"title":"UHV project launches early","content":"Power shortages have hurt Hunan province this winter, but policymakers hope they will become a problem of the past after the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) approved the construction of an ultra-high voltage (UHV) transmission line between it and neighbouring Jiangxi province at the end of December.\r\n\r\nThe Rmb10.47 billion ($1.62 billion) project forms part of a UHV ring in central China. WiC has written previously about China\u2019s efforts to build a mammoth UHV grid that transmits energy from the north (abundant in coal-based power generation potential) and west (the hub of renewables generation) across the country to southern and eastern regions, where most economic activity takes place. With higher voltages of direct current, UHV networks are more efficient at transmitting power and they can carry it from any type of generation, including coal and renewables. But from the outset UHV has been controversial (see WiC108).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe government has encouraged giant firms like State Grid Corp and China Southern Power Grid to become global leaders in the UHV sector. Another new project last month demonstrated the progress, when the world\u2019s seventh largest hydropower plant (Wudongde) began transmitting energy via the world\u2019s first flexible UHV multi-terminal DC transmission line (Kunliulong). The line will…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/UHV-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Energy & Resources","page":"13"},{"id":47929,"title":"Yoozoo poisoning casts shadow on Netflix show","content":"Murder by poisoning dates back many centuries. Deemed an unchivalrous method of assassination, the same technique is still used today \u2013 the killing of Russian agent Sergei Skripal with Novichok in the UK caused a major diplomatic incident in 2018.\r\n\r\nMore recently still, poisoning is said to have been the cause of death of Lin Qi, a 39 year-old tycoon who founded the entertainment publisher Yoozoo, which owns (among other things) the rights to film the acclaimed Chinese sci-fi trilogy The Remembrance of Earth\u2019s Past.\r\n\r\nBetter known as The Three-Body Problem \u00ad\u2013 the title of the first novel in the series (see WiC262) \u00ad\u00ad\u2013 the franchise was in the process of being adapted into an English-language series by streaming giant Netflix when Lin was admitted to a hospital in Shanghai on December 16, two days after the shooting of the local version of the series was completed.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nHe died on Christmas Day and it has been widely reported that the poison may have been administered in aged pu\u2019er tea.\r\n\r\nAccording to TMTPost, a Beijing-based news provider, a murder suspect was arrested soon after Lin became critically ill. Xu Yao, a colleague of Lin\u2019s, was found to have ordered over 100 types of poison from…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Lin-Qi-w.jpg","category":"Media & Gaming","page":"14"},{"id":47933,"title":"Director Guo Jingming\u2019s blockbuster pulled from screens over plagiarism","content":"Few people will shed tears on saying farewell to 2020. But with many parts of the world still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the celebration of the start of a new year was nevertheless subdued. Times Square in New York was eerily empty. Popular places for crowds to watch the fireworks around Sydney\u2019s harbour were off-limits to the public. Hong Kong cancelled its fireworks display completely.\r\n\r\nIn China many chose to ring in 2021 by going to the cinema for a bit of escapism. On New Year\u2019s Day, box office takings reached Rmb600 million ($93 million), up over 100% from a year ago and the highest for that particular day since records began in 2011, according to online ticketing platform Maoyan.\r\n\r\nAmong the bigger winners was the drama A Little Red Flower, a movie that tells the story of two families battling cancer. The film, which has raked in more than Rmb800 million in ticket sales since it opened on New Year\u2019s Eve, stars one of the biggest names in Chinese show business, Yi Yangqianxi, who plays a 20 year-old cancer patient (Yi, a noted KOL with an array of brand endorsements, was originally in the boy band TFBoys).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\n\u201cThe film uses…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Yi-Yangqianxi-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"15"},{"id":47936,"title":"Family pressure prompts rise in \u201ctwo-sided\u201d marriages","content":"Marriage is always a topic that inspires debate in China. It\u2019s not hard to see why: it is a repository of values, a tool of social engineering and a legal contract with major emotional and financial responsibilities.\r\n\r\nRapid social and economic change has seen the institution of marriage and its traditions evolve too \u2013 both organically and as a result of government intervention.\r\n\r\nThe latest example is the so-called \u201ctwo sides\u201d marriage model that has emerged in rural parts of Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.\r\n\r\nUnder this arrangement, couples split their time between both sets of parents \u2013 living a few months with the husband\u2019s, then a few with the wife\u2019s.\r\n\r\nNothing too odd about that, you might think: after all, caring for elderly parents is a responsibility under Chinese law.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBut the approach has sparked debate for several reasons. First it is a deviation from the traditional set- up whereby the woman moves into the man\u2019s family home and, secondly, in a \u201ctwo-sided marriage\u201d, the couple is typically expected to produce two children \u2013 one to carry the husband\u2019s family name and a second as an heir for the wife\u2019s family.\r\n\r\nMany young Chinese have complained about it as another source of pressure on young couples…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Couple-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Society","page":"16"},{"id":47943,"title":"Shaolin Monastery to roll out PhD programmes for overseas students","content":"Twelve years after an application was made for UNESCO status, China\u2019s taijiquan or tai chi \u2013 a type of martial art marked by slow, circular movements and breathing control \u2013 has been granted heritage ranking. It received the honour on December 17, bringing China\u2019s tally of Intangible Cultural Heritage listings to 42, the most worldwide. Shaolin kungfu has been tipped as the next to get UNESCO accreditation. But its founding monastery has plans to achieve wider recognition through other means as well, including degree courses.\r\n\r\nOn December 27 Shaolin Monastery in Songshan, together with Henan University from the same province, announced bachelor, masters and doctorate programmes in kungfu for international students. The effort is part of a collaboration between the two institutions that began in 2012, covering the training of coaches to teach the martial art at the temple\u2019s overseas cultural centres. In 2019 Henan University also founded a kungfu college, the first of its kind in China.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\n\u201cThe collaboration will allow kungfu lovers from more countries to learn and help promote traditional Chinese culture,\u201d said Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the Shaolin Monastery.\r\n\r\nNetizens were soon scorning the project, however. \u201cAcademic study is academic study. Kungfu is kungfu. Why should the latter…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2021\/01\/Shaolin-Monastery-w-scaled.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"18"}]},{"id":1673,"name":"Issue 522","date":"","title":"Ten years of trends","tagline":"We draw comparisons on the Chinese companies that did well for investors between 2010 and 2020 \u2013 and sometimes not so well \u2013 and analyse why","pdf-link":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/522.pdf","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/522-large.jpeg","articles":[{"id":47754,"title":"A select group of companies tell the story of how China\u2019s changed since 2010","content":"Over the first 10 years of the 21st century the Iraq War in 2003 was the second-most read about news item. The death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009 ranked fifth and the election of Barack Obama as US president came sixth. Yet the biggest story of the decade was the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, according to Global Language Monitor, a media research specialist which deploys algorithms to search print media and the internet for trends in word usage.\r\n\r\nThe same theme has stayed in the top position for much of the following 10 years as well, the same company confirmed recently. It seems unlikely to change after a turbulent 2020 that saw the Chinese economy narrow the gap further on its US counterpart, despite the worst trade tensions in recent memory. But it also got WiC thinking about tracing some of the bigger-picture themes inside China and where they might lead next. The stock market is usually said to be a leading indicator of where an economy is heading to next, for instance. So as 2020 draws to a close, WiC has picked out a few contrasting trends, pairing companies that are illustrative of changes in…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Pony-Ma-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Economy, Talking Point","page":"1"},{"id":47758,"title":"Nestl\u00e9 sells Yinlu back to founder Chen Qingshui","content":"Nestl\u00e9 has a presence spanning more than a century in most of the 80 markets around the globe it operates in. But for mainland China, its engagement only started in 1987 with collections of milk from dairy farmers in northeastern Heilongjiang province. That relatively late entry did not stop the country from becoming the Swiss food giant\u2019s second largest market by sales from 2013 onwards, thanks in part to its willingness to localise through mergers that have tappped into China\u2019s shifting consumer tastes. When appropriate it has also made divestments for the same reason.\r\n\r\nIts latest move falls into the latter category: Nestl\u00e9 has agreed to offload Yinlu Foods, best known for its peanut milk and canned rice porridge, in a transaction that sees the Xiamen-based company sold back to its founder Chen Qingshui.\r\n\r\nHowever, Nestl\u00e9 will continue to contract Yinlu as the manufacturer of its ready-to-drink coffee brand, a partnership that had previously paved the way for Nestl\u00e9\u2019s initial acquisition of a 60% stake in the family-owned business in 2011 (see WiC110).\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe disposal has been in the works since February when Nestl\u00e9 attributed the tripling of its 2019 restructuring costs to a write-down of Yinlu\u2019s value. According to 36Kr, a local…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Yinlu-w-scaled.jpg","category":"M&A","page":"7"},{"id":47761,"title":"Sizzling Chinese iron ore futures irk regulators","content":"Refer to Iron Man and many will think of the superhero played by Robert Downey Jr in the Marvel movies. But the Chinese press has been speculating that another \u2018Iron Man\u2019 is operating closer to home, hard at work manipulating iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE).\r\n\r\nPrices have shot through the roof since the Chinese economy started to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic. In November, the country\u2019s PMI Index hit 54.9, its highest level in 10 years, as industrial and manufacturing activity picked up pace. And something similar has been happening in the price of iron ore. The quoted price for the DCE\u2019s dominant I2101 futures contract has soared from a low of Rmb511 ($78.18) per tonne in mid-April to Rmb993 last Friday. Prices are now at an all-time high.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nHowever, the surge has also stirred concerns that the futures prices may have lost touch with the realities of physical supply and demand. \u201cIron ore prices have gone up way too fast. There\u2019s hardly ever been a rise like this before,\u201d one trader told the 21CN Herald, with Caixin, another business magazine, also calling on the regulator to intervene in a recent editorial.\r\n\r\nIn large part, this reflects the…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/China-Steel-w-scaled.jpg","category":"Energy & Resources","page":"8"},{"id":47764,"title":"Obama\u2019s new book reveals his interactions with China\u2019s senior leaders","content":"Barack Obama\u2019s memoir A Promised Land begins with his early political career and ends with a Navy SEAL team killing Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. The 700-page account thus represents the first volume of his presidential autobiography. But it also gives an indication of how little China was on his mind during his early years in power. It is not until page 338 that the Chinese get a substantive mention, when Obama points out: \u201cNo nation in history had developed faster or moved more people out of abject poverty.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn fact only three sections of the memoir see the relationship with China come in for more detailed commentary: that relating to the G20 meeting in March 2009; Obama\u2019s Chinese state visit that same year; and the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009.\r\n\r\nObama\u2019s perspective on American policy towards China seems measured, all the more so in a context in which relations have become much more turbulent under the presidency of Donald Trump. But it is the personal interactions with China\u2019s leaders and its people that provide some of the more interesting points, not just on the personalities involved, but also in how Obama interprets their behaviour.\r\n\r\nAhead of meeting his opposite number at…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Promised-Land-w.jpg","category":"China and the World","page":"9"},{"id":47767,"title":"The billionaire who once led Zhejiang University and then went to jail","content":"The Bayh-Dole Act, signed into law in 1980, has been widely hailed as a key contributor to America\u2019s technological leadership in recent decades. By allowing colleges to take ownership of inventions developed under federally-funded research programmes, the legislation ushered in an era where entrepreneurial professors were incentivised to take their inventions off campus and start companies of their own.\r\n\r\nThis single policy is estimated to have bolstered US economic output by $1.3 trillion \u2013 creating 4.3 million jobs and over 11,000 start-ups working on cutting edge technologies, according to a 2017 report by the Association of University Technology Managers.\r\n\r\nIf China were to have an equivalent piece of legislation, it might be triggered by Chu Jian, the scientist who founded Zhejiang Supcon Technology, an automation solutions provider that is said to have developed some of the leading technologies in its field. His dramatic life story \u2013 a renowned academic to prisoner to billionaire \u2013 has fleshed out Beijing\u2019s changing attitude towards intellectual property rights and the importance of protecting them.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nBorn in Haiyan county in Zhejiang in 1963, Chu was a child prodigy who was admitted to Zhejiang University at the age of 15. He was also the first graduate from a doctoral…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Chu-Jian-w.jpg","category":"Chinese Character","page":"13"},{"id":47773,"title":"Lufax looks for profit in new loan landscape","content":"China\u2019s P2P industry, or \u2018peer-to-peer lending\u2019, is no more. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), announced this week that the number of operators had been \u201czeroed out\u201d by mid-November, dropping from more than 5,000 in 2017 and from 29 in June.\r\n\r\nThe Chinese government has eliminated an industry that often looked like a giant Ponzi scheme, precipitating waves of investor losses. Or as one asset manager in Shenzhen described it to Huxiu.com: \u201cP2P matched poor quality assets to inappropriate investors.\u201d\r\n\r\nCoverage of the sector\u2019s demise has been muted in the media, although newspapers have highlighted that at least Rmb800 billion ($122.5 billion) in bad debt is still outstanding. These debts will be even harder to recover because P2P creditors comprise a horde of smaller retail investors rather than a handful of major institutions that know their way around the bankruptcy courts. Caixin magazine also argues that although the financial risks in P2P lending have now been fully exposed, \u201cthe impact on the financial system and the losses suffered by financial investors will not simply disappear now that the sector has been reined in\u201d.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nWhile P2P in its purest form is dead, a small group of lenders is…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Gregory-D.-Gibb-w.jpg","category":"Banking & Finance","page":"15"},{"id":47770,"title":"Industry talk has Alibaba exiting its music streaming business","content":"Jeff Bezos says that to have major successes, a company probably needs to experience a few major setbacks too.\r\n\r\n\u201cAmazon will be experimenting at the right scale for a company of our size if we occasionally have multibillion-dollar failures,\u201d he wrote in the 2019 annual letter to shareholders.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf the size of your failures isn\u2019t growing, you\u2019re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlibaba has experienced something similar in ventures of its own. There have been spectacular successes in a range of businesses. But not everything has gone to plan.\r\n\r\nFor a start, there\u2019s Laiwang, its aborted effort to challenge Tencent\u2019s mobile messaging app WeChat. Shenma Search also faded after failing to take market share from Baidu and Sogou.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe e-commerce giant will likely add Xiami (not to be mistaken with the smartphone maker Xiaomi) to the list of initiatives that haven\u2019t worked out. In late November, a post on weibo claimed that the underperforming music streaming service, which means \u2018small shrimp\u2019 in Chinese, will close down permanently early next year. Alibaba has refused to address the rumour directly, but commentators reckon that it is only a matter of time before the e-commerce giant pulls the plug…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Wang-Hao-w.jpg","category":"Internet & Tech","page":"16"},{"id":47743,"title":"Why elderly Shanghainese love Zhending Chicken more than KFC","content":"Located in the ever-changing metropolis of Shanghai, Zhending Chicken hasn\u2019t updated its menu in 30 years. The chain store has no franchises, no delivery options and closes its doors every night at 7:30pm. Despite being set in its ways \u2013 or perhaps because of it \u2013 Zhending Chicken continues to be the most popular chicken restaurant among Shanghai locals.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe snack shop next to my high school has packed up and left, but Zhending Chicken isn\u2019t going anywhere,\u201d one customer told Huxiu, a portal.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf any visitor to Shanghai asked me what to eat in the city, I would say Zhending Chicken every time,\u201d recommended another.\r\n\r\nThrough the restaurant\u2019s glass kitchen partition, diners can watch chefs serve up plates of its famous \u2018white cut chicken\u2019 in less than a minute. The chef cuts the poached meat into more than 10 pieces, organises the slices onto a plate, places a stem of parsley on top, and the dish is ready to serve. The rest of the menu is all poultry-related: chicken blood soup, chicken porridge, chicken dry noodle, claw, gizzard and more. Diners are welcome to bring their own bottle of wine to wash down the food.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nZhending is flexible in its ordering and pricing.…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Zhending-Chicken-w.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"17"},{"id":47746,"title":"Leading snack firm to IPO","content":"The origins of latiao (\u8fa3\u6761) are said to date back 1998. At the time, a flood swept through Hunan province, which led to a shortage of soybeans and the price for the crop skyrocketed. Several chilli sauce makers switched to gluten and began selling dried noodle with a spicy flavour. It started as a staple food substitute but as the new product\u2019s popularity grew among kids, sugar was added into the mix. And latiao was born.\r\n\r\nSince then, the snack has developed a devoted following among younger consumers in China. Many say the spicy gluten sticks taste like beef tendon and pair well with beer. Henan, with the largest wheat production in the country, has subsequently displaced Hunan as the \u2018capital\u2019 of latiao makers, accounting for over 50% of national production.\r\n\r\nIn late November, the snack was in the headlines again when Henan-based latiao maker Weilong Food applied for a listing in Hong Kong early next year. Positioning itself as the leading snack provider in China, Weilong is reportedly aiming to raise $1 billion from the IPO.\r\n\r\nFounded in 1999 by Liu Weiping, Weilong\u2019s revenue in 2019 exceeded Rmb4.9 billion ($735 million), a 43% increase year-on-year. The company expects sales will grow to…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Latiao-w-scaled.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"18"},{"id":47749,"title":"E-bike maker AIMA can finally go public","content":"In 2009, electric bike company AIMA appointed Jay Chou to be its spokesperson, offering the Taiwanese pop star Rmb30 million ($4.6 million) for a two-year deal. That was money well spent. Still acting as AIMA\u2019s spokesperson, Chou has helped the e-bike maker gain widespread popularity. And AIMA is finally ready for a money-spinning IPO early next year in Shanghai.\r\n\r\nAIMA focuses on making electric two-wheelers, principally e-bikes but also mopeds. It has been trying to go public from as early as 2012 but that plan was cancelled due to a disagreement between shareholders, news website 36Kr noted.\r\n\r\nAnother listing application in 2018 was rejected by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Last year AIMA tried again but the IPO was also derailed by litigation over a patent right.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nOn November 26, AIMA finally obtained the CSRC\u2019s approval to go public. Nevertheless a number of competitors have already raced ahead in the equity market. After listing in Hong\u2008Kong in 2016, main rival Yadea is now worth more than $5.2 billion. Niu Technology, a six year-old start-up, also went public on Nasdaq in 2018.\r\n\r\nAIMA was founded 20 years ago by Zhang Jian. In 1990, he graduated from university and began working at a state-owned enterprise…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/AIMA-w-scaled.jpg","category":"China Consumer","page":"19"},{"id":47776,"title":"New reality TV series revolves around recruiting an intern at a top law firm","content":"In the reality show The Apprentice \u2013 which first aired in 2004 \u2013 contestants competed for a chance to head one of Donald Trump\u2019s companies. The show was a huge ratings winner and has a plausible claim as a key contributor to getting Trump into the White House.\r\n\r\nEquivalent formats don\u2019t have much chance of catapulting their own hosts into similar political office, of course. But a reality show in China about a group of young lawyers competing for a spot at a prestigious law firm has been one of the best-rated TV series since its debut on Tencent Video in mid-November.\r\n\r\nThe Exciting Offer brings together eight young lawyers from the post-1990s generation to battle it out for a full-time position at JunHe, one of the largest law firms in China. Four partners at the firm are assigned to award the final two contestants job offers. Well-known TV show hosts like He Jiong and Sa Beining \u2013 a former host of a programme aired on state television called Legal Report \u2013 watch from the studio and offer commentaries.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe first season last year showed more of a camaraderie than a rivalry between the contestants. The series also offered viewers tips on how…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Junhe-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment, Society","page":"20"},{"id":47779,"title":"Zhang Yimou's new movie fails to strike a chord with young audience","content":"Filmmaker Zhang Yimou titled his latest feature One Second, but it took much longer than that to get the film released. A story based in the Cultural Revolution, it was originally scheduled to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2019. Shortly before the debut, it was shelved for \u201ctechnical reasons,\u201d a euphemism in China for state censorship.\r\n\r\nThe film tells the tale of an escaped prisoner (played by actor Zhang Yi) who is searching for newsreel with fleeting footage of his deceased daughter. Meanwhile, a homeless vagabond (played by newcomer Liu Haocun, pictured) wants to steal the same film reel to make a lampshade (a popular decoration in that period).\r\n\r\nZhang\u2019s labour of love has been a hit with the critics. On Douban, One Second received a score of 7.9 out of 10. But the ratings haven\u2019t helped to boost box office takings. The film picked up just Rmb47.7 million ($7.29 million) in ticket sales over the first two days of its release.\r\n\r\nA lot of the feedback is that the story is simply not relatable for younger audiences. \u201cI don\u2019t plan to watch the film. I feel like my dad and mom would like it more,\u201d one wrote on Douban.\r\n\r\nStill,…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Liu-Haocun-w.jpg","category":"Entertainment","page":"21"},{"id":47782,"title":"How I came to change my perception on the ones growing up in China's most stable era?","content":"As 2020 comes to an end, I have been looking back at a major revelation in this most unusual year. That is my change of view on China\u2019s \u2018Generation Z\u2019 (or Gen Z) \u2013 people born in the 1990s and 2000s.\r\n\r\nI used to share the stereotypical impression of this generation as \u201clittle emperors\u201d: that they were spoiled, soft and individualistic, but lacking in independent thought. However, their response to the Covid-19 crisis has altered this impression significantly. At the height of the pandemic in Wuhan and Hubei, Gen Z stepped up as the backbone in the fight against the virus, either as medical staff or workers in other fields such as construction, logistics and food production.\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve seen reports of young volunteers in action, from delivering medicines to vulnerable communities to visiting abandoned cats and dogs left behind by owners stuck elsewhere during Wuhan\u2019s lockdown. Gen Z was also the leading force in the protest against the local government\u2019s treatment of Li Wenliang, the whistle-blower doctor (and a member of Gen Z) who died of Covid infection on duty. The online campaign on his behalf created such a public outcry that the central government not only rescinded Li\u2019s earlier reprimand but…","image":"\/images\/img_Ask-Mei.jpg","category":"Ask Mei","page":"22"},{"id":47784,"title":"China and Nepal agree on new height for Everest","content":"In China they call it Qomolangma, while the Nepalis refer to it as Sagarmatha. But it was only on Tuesday this week that both Himalayan nations finally agreed on its height: 8,848.86 metres.\r\n\r\nMount Everest \u2013 as it is known in English having been named after the former head of the British-India Survey Office, Sir George Everest \u2014 has been claimed by both nations since the two countries agreed in 1961 on a border demarcated by the mountain\u2019s summit.\r\n\r\nThat means that the northern side of the mountain falls in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and the southern side rises up from Nepal \u2013 formerly a satellite state of India but now an increasingly close ally of the Chinese.\r\n\r\nThe actual height of the mountain had been a sore point for years, with China pushing for the Nepalis to recognise a height 3.7 metres lower than the official Nepali verdict of 8,848 metres.\r\n\r\nMaking matters worse for Nepal was the fact that they didn\u2019t have their own data for the calculation \u2013 their measurement was one calculated by the Survey of India in 1954.\r\n\r\n<<ad>>\r\n\r\nThe new height was measured with GPS and China\u2019s Beidou satellite placement systems, crediting the mountain as 86cm higher than…","image":"https:\/\/www.weekinchina.com\/app\/uploads\/2020\/12\/Everest-w.jpg","category":"And Finally","page":"23"}]}]}