China Eyes Electric Car Dominance – JACK STEWART 04.23.1. 10:00 AM


A General Motors Co. Chevrolet FNR-X crossover concept vehicle stands on display at the Auto Shanghai 2017 vehicle show in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, April 20, 2017.QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

IF YOU’RE CHARGED up for a world of electric cars, consider booking a trip to China. This week, the world’s automakers gathered at the Shanghai Auto Show to reveal their latest wares, pulling the cover of one electric after another.

Audi revealed the E-Tron Sportback concept, a potential Tesla Model X competitor. Volkswagen unveiled the Crozz, part of its post-Dieselgate, all-electric apology tour. Chevrolet, Buick, Renault, Citroen, and Jaguar showed off battery-powered cars. So did the local Chinese players, like Denza, Chery, Lynk & Co, and Nio.

Compare that scene to the ‘bigger is better vibe of this month’s New York International Auto Show, where Dodge showed off the atmosphere-punishing Demon and Volkswagen unveiled its enormous Atlas SUV, which will launch in the US with just one powertrain option: a V6 engine.

Announcing a new car in one place or another is a mostly symbolic choice, but the Shanghai show’s emphasis on zero-emissions indicates an industry-wide shift in focus. Over the past decade, the US—home to Tesla, Chevy (maker of the Volt and Bolt), and a major market for Nissan’s Leaf—has played the electric frontrunner. That’s mostly thanks to regulations that demand automakers produce zero-emission vehicles alongside their profit-generating, gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups.

Now that the Trump Administration is working to shred those environmentally-focused rules, the auto industry seems to be swinging its attention east. “We are convinced China will become the leading market for electromobility,” Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told Reuters at the Shanghai show.

The Government Play

The ups and downs of the nascent electric car industry are largely dictated by government decree. Look to Norway, where nearly 40 percent of cars sold are electric, thanks to favorable tax treatment. Or at Georgia, which saw sales plunge 90 percent when the state scrapped a $5,000 credit for EV buyers in June 2015.

In China, credits and rebates are driving impressive EV sales, and the government has considered dictating that electric and hybrid cars must make up 12 percent of each manufacturer’s sales by 2020. While US policies push for EVs to battle climate change and reduce American dependence on foreign fossil fuels, the Chinese see the technology not just as a way to reduce urban smog, but as a route to prominence.

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China is about to unleash the same policy that blew up the stock market earlier in the year – David Scutt, November 10, 2015


hot air balloon inflating inflationMike Segar/Reuters

Yesterday, as has been the case for much of the past few months, Chinese stocks staged another amazing rally.

Led by brokerage firms, the benchmark Shanghai Composite put close to 2%, extending the indice’s recovery from this year’s low to 28%.

The catalyst for the rally was news over the weekend that China’s stock market regulator, the CRSC, will allow the resumption of IPO listings following a ban put in place amidst the stock market rout in mid-June.

According to analysts at Credit Suisse, the resumption of IPO listings is likely to lead to further gains in Chinese stocks in the period ahead. They suggest it will introduce additional investor funds into the market, particularly as as the returns from an IPO subscription are, on balance, significantly higher than those in the money market and for wealth management products (WMPs).

“Individual investors believe the upcoming IPOs will bring them ‘risk-free’ returns as usual—they will move their money from the money market and WMPs to the equity market to chase better opportunities,” Credit Suisse note.

Risk-free returns, from a market that rose 150% in the year to June before crashing nearly 50% over the next three months?

Credit Suisse explain how the government essentially guarantees substantial investor returns, ensuring herd-like behaviour before and after a new company is listed.

“In 1H 2015, the new stocks were priced at 20-23x P/E, while the ChiNext market was traded above 70x P/E. Therefore, the new stocks generally increased 2.5x in the first 20 trading days,” they note.

“The new stock prices were controlled by regulators at ‘reasonable valuation’ to protect the interests of small retail investors. Therefore, the investors believe the return of buying new stocks is risk-free return, which is sort of guaranteed by the regulator.”

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http://www.businessinsider.com/china-is-about-to-unleash-the-same-policy-that-blew-up-the-stock-market-2015-11

 

Leaders of Taiwan and China hold historic meeting – The Economist Nov 7th 2015


IT WAS a brief encounter—an hour of discussions followed by a low-key dinner—but one of great historical resonance. Not since Mao Zedong’s takeover of China in 1949 had there been any meeting between the leaders of China and the island of Taiwan, to which the defeated government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek fled. At a hotel in Singapore, Xi Jinping, China’s president, and his Taiwanese counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou, clearly revelled in the symbolism, grinning and waving as they shook hands before a mass of cameras gathered in a ballroom. But China’s dream of eventual unification with Taiwan is no closer to fulfilment, and its suspicion of the island’s increasingly separate identity is undiminished.

Officials had given only a few days’ notice of the unexpected meeting, which took place on the sidelines of Mr Xi’s long-planned state visit to Singapore. Careful choreography aimed to ensure that both statesmen would be seen as equals. The two emerged into the flash bulbs together, but from opposite sides of the room. They had agreed to refer to each other using only the honorific “Mr”, forgoing titles such as “president”, which would risk conveying legitimacy. And both delegations have reportedly agreed to split the bill for dinner, and for the use of the hotel’s conference rooms.

The seeds of the meeting were some very immediate concerns. Ties between the two countries have warmed immensely during Mr Ma’s premiership. But term limits require him to step down at elections in January, when polls suggest the presidency (and perhaps the legislature) will fall to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose members lean towards independence and are suspicious of China’s overtures. Mr Ma is presumably not foolish enough to think that kudos from the landmark meeting will give his party, the Kuomintang (KMT), a better chance of holding power. He may instead be thinking of his own political legacy, given that growing domestic opposition to recent cross-strait trade deals has left his and his party’s popularity in tatters. For the KMT, the resonance of the meeting goes back to 1945 when it ruled all of China. In August that year Chiang met Mao for the last time before full-scale civil war erupted. The discussions between Mr Ma and Mr Xi were the first between the two parties’ leaders since then.

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http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21678115-display-amity-points-tougher-times-ahead-leaders-taiwan-and-china-hold-historic-meeting

 

Rank Has Its Privileges – By Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder November/December 2015 Issue


How International Ratings Dumb Down Global Governance

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at Nov 7, 2015 4.39

When the Berlin-based group Transparency International released its annual ranking of international corruption levels in December 2014, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a blistering statement. Chinese authorities were upset that their country had sunk from 80th to 100th place on the watchdog’s influential Corruption Perceptions Index, even though Beijing was pursuing a high-profile anticorruption campaign. “As a fairly influential international organization,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “Transparency International should seriously examine the objectiveness and impartiality of its Corruption Perceptions Index.”

This wasn’t the first time Beijing had dismissed the results of an international ranking. A year earlier, it had called for the elimination of the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business Index, in which China had similarly underperformed, citing what Chinese officials described as flawed methodologies and assumptions.

China’s anger reveals just how powerful such ratings have become. Today’s ratings, produced by nongovernmental organizations and international agencies alike, score governments on nearly every aspect of a state: democracy, corruption, environmental degradation, friendliness to business, the likelihood of state collapse, the security of nuclear materials, and much more. The ratings’ customers are equally diverse. Government officials and activists refer to these indexes as measures of state performance, and international organizations and domestic bureauc­racies use them as comparative benchmarks. Scholars and analysts use them to compare countries, and journalists routinely cite them as authoritative in their stories.

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https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-10-20/rank-has-its-privileges

As China’s Economy Slows, Consumers Pick Up Some of the Slack – By LAURIE BURKITT Nov. 3, 2015 3:12 p.m. ET


Apple, Nike, Starbucks and others gain by tapping country’s growing upper middle class

 

BEIJING—China’s economic slowdown has pummeled global suppliers of raw materials and industrial equipment, but business has remained surprisingly brisk for companies that cater to the country’s growing upper-middle class.

Indeed, Chinese consumers appear to be weathering the slowdown better than the economy’s traditional growth engines like manufacturing and construction, which are sputtering. At least for now, they have redrawn the line between winners and losers.

Among the winners are sportswear maker Nike Inc., coffee-store chain StarbucksCorp. , clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB and gadget giant Apple Inc. Behind their success are people like 24-year-old Jiang Yang, a technology officer at a state-run factory in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang, who recently bought a new rose-gold Apple iPhone. Not only have Mr. Jiang and his affluent young peers been a bright spot in China’s economy, but many economist think they hold the key to its long-term growth.

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/as-chinas-economy-slows-consumers-pick-up-some-of-the-slack-1446581526

 

FCC, Justice Department investigate covert Chinese radio network – BY JOHN SHIFFMAN AND KOH GUI QING


The headquarters of China Radio International (CRI) is seen in Beijing August 24, 2011. Picture taken August 24, 2011. To match Special Report CHINA-RADIO/ REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

The headquarters of China Radio International (CRI) is seen in Beijing August 24, 2011. Picture taken August 24, 2011.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, officials said.

Both investigations come in response to a Reuters report published on Monday that revealed the existence of the covert radio network, which broadcasts in more than a dozen American cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco. (reut.rs/1Wrflt4)

“Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The California firm is owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai. Reuters reported Monday that Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc, is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International (CRI).

The FCC doesn’t restrict content on U.S. radio stations, except for rules covering indecency, political advertising and children’s programming.

But under U.S. law, the FCC prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. Foreign individuals, governments and corporations are permitted to hold up to 20 percent ownership directly in a station and up to 25 percent in the U.S. parent corporation of a station.

G&E does not own any U.S. stations, but it leases two 50,000-watt stations: WCRW in Washington for more than $720,000 a year, and WNWR in Philadelphia for more than $600,000 a year.

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/02/us-china-radio-fcc-idUSKCN0SR2AI20151102

 

South China Sea: Beijing ‘not frightened to fight a war’ after US move – Tom Phillips in Beijing Wednesday 28 October 2015 03.16 EDT


Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at Oct 28, 2015 2.26

China is not afraid of fighting a war against the United States in the South China Sea, a state-run newspaper with links to the Communist party has claimed.

Twenty-four hours after Washington challenged Beijing’s territorial claims in the region by deploying a warship to waters around the disputed Spratly archipelago, the notoriously nationalistic Global Times accused the Pentagon of provoking China.

“In [the] face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst,” the newspaper argued in an editorial on Wednesday.

“This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.”

The People’s Liberation Army Daily, China’s leading military newspaper, used a front-page editorial to accuse the US of sowing chaos in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Cast-iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved,” the newspaper said, according to Reuters.

Competing claims in the South China Sea.

Tuesday’s manoeuvre, which saw the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sail close to artificial Chinese islands, came after Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping failed to find common ground over the issue during recent talks at the White House.

US defence secretary Ash Carter warned that further “freedom of navigation” operations in the region were planned. “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” he told a congressional hearing.

US defence secretary Ash Carter acknowledges that a US ship did enter disputed waters 

China reacted to Tuesday’s long-anticipated mission by hurling a barrage of accusations at Washington.

“The United States has been very irresponsible,” defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

“We will take any measures necessary to safeguard our security.”

 

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/28/china-not-frightened-fight-war-south-china-sea-uss-lassen

One uranium mine in Niger says a lot about China’s huge nuclear-power ambitions – Armin Rosen Oct 24 2015


Niger

Armin Rosen/Business Insider Where’s the uranium? The highway between Agadez and Abalak.

The odds of finding much of anything seem slim in northern Niger’s unnerving expanses of hazy white desert.

The land is so vast, so untethered from any obvious landmarks that when straying just a few hundred feet off of the inconsistently paved road between Abalak and Agadez, it’s hard to shake the fear that the driver won’t be able to find the highway again.

Even with plenty of water, gas, and daylight on hand, there’s a general feeling of being marooned.

In the post-World War II years, huge amounts of cheap electricity were needed to fuel the breakneck growth of Western economies.

At the same time, nuclear weapons became the ultimate embodiment of national power and prestige.

So the discovery of uranium in Niger in 1957 was a much-needed economic boon for a country that still ranks 187th on the Human Development Index.

And the ambitions of the nuclear powers in Niger are still playing out today as Niger’s remote and inhospitable northern desert environment contains the world’s fifth-largest recoverable uranium reserves, some 7% of the global total.

The ore must be extracted and then milled into yellowcake in distant pockets of the Saharan wastes, where it’s then sent on a multi-day truck convoy to the port of Cotonou, in Benin, some 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) away.

NigerGoogle Maps

With degraded roads and unpredictable passenger air service, it’s hard to physically access the country’s two major mines, which are outside of a town called Arlit, about a five-hour drive north from Agadez and a more than 20-hour, 1,300-kilometer (807-mile) drive from Niamey, the capital.

Those mines are operated by Areva, a nuclear-energy-services company that is 70% owned by France, the colonial power that ruled Niger between the 1890s and 1960.

Those two mines have been in operation since the late 1960s and are collectively the largest employer in the country other than the Nigerien government.

On their own, the mines account for nearly one-third of Niger’s exports. Nigerien uranium is thought to provide for approximately one-third of France’s domestic consumer electricity needs.

Both of the mines are nearing the end of their operational lifespan — one is expected to only last another 10 to 15 years.

A third mine, at Imouraren, is currently under development and has reserves enough to become one of the most productive uranium sites in the world.

But plans to begin large-scale mining at Imouraren are now on hold because of the worldwide plunge in uranium prices that followed the Fukushima incident and the resulting shutdown of Japan’s 43 commercial nuclear reactors.

 

 

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http://www.businessinsider.com/niger-uranium-mine-and-nuclear-china-2015-10

China Economic Growth Falls Below 7% for First Time Since 2009 – By MARK MAGNIER Updated Oct. 18, 2015 11:17 p.m. ET


Figure adds to worries about global economic outlook

Workers passed by a Beijing construction site Thursday.

Workers passed by a Beijing construction site Thursday. Photo: Reuters

BEIJING—China’s once-world-beating economy sputtered further in the third quarter, decelerating to its slowest pace since the global financial crisis and adding to concerns about the world economic outlook.

The 6.9% growth rate for the third quarter, announced on Monday, clouds China’s prospects for reaching the official targeted growth rate of about 7% for the year. It also renews pressure on Beijing to enact more pro-growth measures

“Overall it’s pretty disappointing,” said Société Générale CIB economist Klaus Baader, who expects fourth-quarter growth of 6.8%. “Investment continued to slow pretty sharply despite efforts by the government to support the economy. It doesn’t seem to be sufficient.”

The better-than-expected result—a Wall Street Journal survey of 13 economists forecast a median 6.8% gain—is likely to renew debate over the accuracy of China’s growth statistics. Other economic data released on Monday showed disappointing results in investment and industrial production. Earlier this month, China pledged to start following a stricter global standard in calculating its data.

Even in slowdown, China continues to grow at a pace that other major economies envy. China’s economy is nearly twice the size it was just six years ago, meaning at lower growth rates it remains a major engine for global consumption and production.

Speaking at an event to promote entrepreneurism in Beijing on Monday, Premier Li Keqiang said “even though it was 6.9%, it is still a growth rate of around 7%.” He said employment had improved and that innovation was helping the country restructure its economy.

Still, the deceleration has been faster than expected by the Chinese leadership, which at times has fumbled as it tries to restructure the economy to rely more on consumer spending and services. That effort, which economists say is key to nurturing long-term growth, is making headway. But Beijing’s appetite for overhauls appears to be slowing as it moves to shore up the economy near term.

A major challenge is demand, both at home and for exports. Xiang Yili, general manager of Wenzhou Topteam International Trade Co., which exports stationery products, said sales at the closely held company fell 10% in the third quarter year to year and will probably do the same in the fourth quarter. The company, based in China’s Zhejiang province, has bought more automation equipment to cut costs but the outlook remains difficult, she said.

“I think it could take two or three years for things to really improve,” Ms. Xiang said.

Economists expect the central bank will cut interests rates at least once and further reduce banks’ required reserves before the end of the year. Past efforts, including five interest-rate cuts and several rounds of reductions to the reserve level since November, have failed to reboot growth.

Despite the slowdown, Chinese leaders haven’t backed away from the 2015 annual growth target of about 7%. The push to reach the annual benchmark has renewed attention on the quality of Chinese statistics, adding to long-standing questions over Beijing’s methodology and whether the results are subject to political pressure.

Government Is the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat – By Tom Risen Oct. 2, 2015 | 3:54 p.m. EDT


Government workers see their own agencies as a bigger cybersecurity threat than hackers from China or Russia, according to a new survey.Federal IT workers are more concerned about employees who don't properly protect government networks than they are of foreign hackers, a new study revealed.

Federal IT workers are more concerned about employees who don’t properly protect government networks than they are of foreign hackers, a new study revealed.

The Obama administration has worked to boost the networks of the federal government, which have endured a string of data breaches in recent years, including the massive theft of information on an estimated 21.5 million federal employees or job applicants from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management. The hack is thought to have originated in China, but the biggest threat is in Washington, D.C., according to a new survey of federal IT workers sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

The biggest threat to federal cybersecurity is “the negligent insider” at an agency who fails to take enough precautions while using or protecting government networks, according to 44 percent of federal workers responding to the survey. Only 30 percent of respondents stated that nation-state hackers were the primary threat, according to the survey. Hacks known as “zero-day attacks,” so-called because they have never been used publicly, and mistakes by third-party government contractors each tallied 36 percent as the primary threat among respondents.

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http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/10/02/surveys-government-is-the-biggest-cybersecurity-threat?int=a01109