Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, was among the first Special Economic Zones set up by the central government in 1980 to test out economic reforms. Over the next 36 years, the city’s GDP grew to 222.6 billion yuan ($32.4 billion), among the top 10 in the province, thanks to a visit by former leader Deng Xiaoping. Sunday was the 20th anniversary of the death of the Chinese statesman, who visited the city in 1992 during his second southern tour to highlight economic reforms. To mark the anniversary, the Global Times visited Zhuhai to look into the aspects of the city’s development. This story is the first in a two-part series.
With artificial intelligence (AI) widely perceived to be a technology that will shape the future of how people live and work, companies in China have been beefing up investment in the sector in recent years. Scientists believe that the odds favor Chinese companies to be able to match their US counterparts in the AI technology race.
Although it has nearly 4,600 stores in the US alone, retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc doesn’t leverage that purchasing power when it buys products to sell on its website. Instead, it purchases products for its stores and its website through separate channels. It is a situation that one large consumer goods supplier called a “nuisance.” But Wal-Mart’s vendors said the situation will soon change as the retailer plans to combine its buying operations for its stores and its website. The strategy aims to make more items available on its website, which continues to offer far fewer items than rival Amazon.com Inc.
The popularity of erciyuan – a Chinese term that refers to an online world of anime, comics, video games and novels – has spread beyond cities to rural China. Erciyuan, which literally translates to “two dimensions,” is projected to become a 500 billion yuan ($72.7 billion) business over the next few years. The industry has caught the attention of major Chinese tech companies such as Tencent and Xiaomi. However, analysts said the domestic erciyuan market remains in an early stage of development and is still influenced by Japanese creations.
For the first time, the residents of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were able to eat seafood imported from Pakistan by container cars through the Khunjerab Pass in January. This successful trial is expected to improve overland trade between China and Pakistan via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which accounts for 2 percent of the overall trade between the two countries. Meanwhile, the Xinjiang government has decided to invest more than 170 billion yuan ($24.72 billion) in a road network between China and Pakistan to improve transportation capability. However, experts noted that there remain challenges to the growth of bilateral trade, such as a lack of infrastructure and insufficient consumer demand in western China.
Following news that Thailand and Malaysia are set to begin talks on the construction of a 1,500-kilometer high-speed railway (HSR) linking Bangkok in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Chinese experts said that Chinese HSRs have more merits than their Japanese competitor – called shinkansen. The Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur railway will be a new addition to the 3,900-kilometer pan-Asia railway network that is already taking shape. Chinese experts said it makes more sense for customers to choose a Chinese solution, as owning two systems will backfire in terms of maintenance.
The competition in China’s mobile payment market is growing tougher with the standardization of China UnionPay’s quick-response code technology in December. The head-to-head digital hongbao wars between the two dominant players WeChat and Alipay during the Spring Festival holidays provides one piece of evidence. Behind the cutthroat turf war, both of the platforms have broader ambitions, including creating tailored financial products based on their collections of big data. In the near future, the industry will also be subject to tighter regulations.
Fireworks were once one of the fastest-growing industries in China, supported by vast domestic demand during the celebration of the Spring Festival holidays and other special occasions such as weddings. But fireworks vendors said the good times are over as more and more local governments have tightened regulations over the use and sale of fireworks during the Spring Festival in an effort to reduce air pollution. In Beijing, fireworks sales during the holidays in 2017 fell 30.3 percent from the previous year. However, the capital city was still plagued by high levels of air pollution during the first day of the lunar new year, when residents traditionally set off fireworks.
China’s online education industry has expanded quickly in recent years as more and more users are attracted by the convenience of learning over the Internet. Online education eliminates the restraints of time and space for users, its proponents say, and helps popularize educational resources. Experts forecast that the domestic online education market has great potential to grow rapidly over the next five years, with vocational education and language teaching enjoying the most popularity. However, online education platforms face challenges, such as how to improve interaction between instructors and students and how to make more tailored teaching materials for students.
After a top-level restructuring at Airbus come the musical chairs and a new logo intended to convey unity as the European giant aims to refocus its management without a return to past infighting.
China’s private equity (PE) industry had an eventful year in 2016. The industry’s regulator tightened the rules for funds, initiating a registration system for PE fund managers. It also required fund managers to pass a national qualification exam to take a job in the industry. The regulations have eliminated many unqualified funds from the market, a change that one fund manager applauded as contributing to the industry’s sound development. However, people in the industry pointed out that holes remain in the regulations. One suggested regulators focus on cracking down on illegal fundraising. Despite fluctuations in fund returns, experts forecast the PE industry will grow quickly in 2017.
It has been less than one week since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the US, and many CEOs of the country’s largest companies are already optimistic that his policies will benefit their bottom lines. Senior executives from Morgan Stanley, Delta Air Lines and other major US corporations said the Trump White House has already sparked a brighter outlook for business. They pointed to promised tax cuts and government spending as two drivers that could boost economic growth during Trump’s term. Of course, not every CEO was overjoyed about the prospects of Trump presidency. Uncertainty about trade and immigration policies could undermine economic growth, depending on how far Trump is willing to go to meet his campaign promises.
China is choking on smog. The problem has reached the point that many residents can no longer ignore it. But with challenges come opportunities as demand grows for products to counter air pollution, such as filtration masks, air purifiers and herbal remedies. Some US and Swedish companies have already grasped the opportunity. Over a five-day period in December 2016, Internet retailer JD.com Inc sold about 15 million US-branded filtration masks. Other companies are also looking to cash in, signaling that competition in China’s anti-pollution market is heating up.
Wang Jianlin started Dalian Wanda Group in 1988, and has since turned it into one of the largest real estate developers in the world. Now, Wang has taken on a new mission to diversify his company’s business to focus on services and expand its reach across the globe. Making money no longer seems enough for China’s richest man. He has a bigger goal: to make Chinese standards the international ones.
The planned closure of US disk drive manufacture Seagate’s factory in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, as well as US tech giant Oracle’s layoff of one of its research groups in China, has put the country’s changing business environment under the spotlight. Taxes, rising labor and leasing costs, as well as uncertainties over US President-elected Donald Trump’s presidency are the major challenges faced by foreign companies working in China, experts noted.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which will end till Sunday, a company executive referred to the ongoing switch from gasoline to electric vehicles as “an irreversible trend.” It’s true that electric vehicle sales have been picking up in many of the biggest auto markets around the world – just not in North America. In the US, registrations for plug-in vehicles fell in 2015 and again in 2016, as low fuel prices aided sales of gas-guzzling vehicles. However, the European and Chinese markets are picking up the slack, with China in particular expected to make a hard push to meet electric vehicle sales goals by the end of the decade.
Japanese beverage maker Asahi Group Holdings reportedly sold its farm and dairy businesses in China due to the country’s underdeveloped cold supply chain. Experts said that China’s cold-chain logistics network in first- and second-tier cities has developed quickly in recent years, but still lags behind that in more developed countries and regions. Still, the industry has great growth potential, and any of its problems can be addressed through improvements in transportation equipment and technology, as well as the creation of industry standards.
Switzerland has been an attractive destination for Chinese tourists in recent years, especially due to their growing interest in winter sports after Beijing won the rights to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, according to a report by the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce. With China’s ski industry expected to grow rapidly over the next five to 10 years, there will be greater demand for trips to ski destinations such as Switzerland. Although terror attacks in Europe in 2016 dampened enthusiasm for traveling to the country, industry representatives are optimistic that it will continue to be a desirable destination.