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  1. Xi Jinping signals intent to remain in power by revealing politburo with no successor https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/25/xi-jinping-signals-intent-power-successor-politburo-china China’s president unveils his all-male cabinet, but crucially no member is young enough to take the reins from Xi at the end of his second term Xi Jinping has kicked off his second term as leader of the world’s second largest economy, vowing to spearhead the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and signalling his intent to tower over Chinese politics for decades to come. At just before noon on Wednesday, Xi unveiled the new line-up of China’s top ruling council – the Communist party’s politburo standing committee – leading six besuited comrades out into a blaze of camera flashes in the Great Hall of the People. “Here, on behalf of the newly elected central leadership, I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all other members of the party for the trust they have placed in us. We will work diligently to meet our duty, fulfil our mission and be worthy of their trust,” Xi said in a 21-minute address that marks the formal start of his second term. Crucially, the all-male group contained no potential successor, since none of its five new members – all aged between 60 and 67 – is young enough to take the reins from Xi after the end of his second term, in 2022, and to then rule for the customary decade. Such is the secrecy that cloaks Chinese politics that the identities of the standing committee’s incoming members were known only as Xi escorted them out onto a scarlet-carpeted stage. Joining Xi and premier Li Keqiang on the elite committee are: Li Zhanshu, 67, Han Zheng, 63, Zhao Leji, 60, Wang Yang, 62 and Wang Huning, 62. “I still can’t get over the fact how the world’s second largest economy, which is declaring this new role of global leadership, is nearly as opaque as the North Korean political system,” said Jude Blanchette, an expert in Chinese politics from New York’s Conference Board research group. “I just find that absolutely striking and in a way almost unacceptable for a system that wants to play such a fundamental role in guiding and shaping the 21st century.” China’s propaganda apparatus has touted this week’s political show as an example of openness and transparency. However, a number of major western news organisations whose coverage of Xi’s rule has irked Beijing were excluded from Wednesday’s event without explanation including the BBC, the Financial Times, the Economist, the New York Times and the Guardian. In his address, Xi outlined his vision for what he called China’s “new era”, an era in which an emboldened and purified Communist party would play an even more prominent role in returning the country to its former glories. “It is my conviction that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will become a reality,” he said, urging his party to become “the backbone of our nation.” “We should never entertain the idea of taking a breather or halting our steps. Instead, we must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party’s fabric, make great efforts to foster a healthy political environment of integrity and generate waves of positive energy throughout our party which can build into a mighty nationwide force driving China’s development and progress.” Xi also pledged “a resolute push” to eradicate poverty, to “open China still wider to the world” and hinted at the more assertive and muscular role Beijing is expected to seek on the world stage in the years ahead. “With confidence and pride the Chinese people will be steadfast in upholding our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said. The unveiling of China’s new ruling council came one day after the end of the 19th party congress, a week-long political summit at which Xi established himself as the country’s most dominant leader since its revolutionary founder Mao Zedong. On Tuesday, Xi’s eponymous political philosophy was enshrined in the party’s constitution alongside those of Mao and Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic opening to the world. Experts say that momentous and highly symbolic achievement puts Xi in a virtually unassailable position at the pinnacle of the 89 million member organisation. Having failed to anoint a successor, he is now likely to be calling the shots in Chinese politics well into the 2030s. With Xi now entering his second, although perhaps no longer final five-year term, thoughts are turning to what the next stage of the Xi era might hold. Supporters claim that having used a ferocious anti-corruption campaign to purge rivals and consolidate his grip over the party during his first five-year term, Xi will now turn his mind to comprehensive reforms of China’s economy. “I think the real reform just began,” said Wang Wen, a pro-establishment scholar from a thinktank linked to Renmin University. Wang argued that Xi would enter his second term with “much more authority” and a greater ability to implement his blueprint for China. Such optimism was echoed in China’s party-run media on Wednesday as cadres lined up to heap praise on their all-powerful leader. “We firmly believe that if people all over the country roll up their sleeves under the guidance of Xi’s Thought … we will move steadily into the future with the irresistible force of a high-speed train,” Chen Meifang, a Shanghai railway official, was quoted astelling the Beijing Daily. However, such hopefulness is widely disputed. Blanchette said he expected to see a “super-sized version” of Xi’s first-term policies in his second stint, as China’s leader pursued what he saw as his “program of Chinese greatness”. That would mean accelerating efforts to build a modern, battle-ready military that could begin to push the United States further and further out of what China saw as its Pacific backyard; an increasingly assertive foreign policy in regions such as the South and East China seas; and continued efforts to promote a hi-tech economic revolution by championing huge companies that were either controlled or heavily aligned with the state. It would also mean that the Communist party – and the Communist party only – would continue to lay down the law, in all aspects of Chinese society. In an editorial celebrating the start of Xi’s “new era” on Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, argued: “History has shown and will continue to show that without the leadership of the Chinese Communist party, the idea of national rejuvenation is a fantasy.” “We should hunker in for a long winter of tight political control,” Blanchette predicted. We should hunker in for a long winter of tight political control Jude Blanchette Elizabeth Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said she saw this week’s congress “as affirmation of the direction in which Xi has already been moving the party as opposed to a point at which now we are going to see the real Xi Jinping and his real reforms emerge”. She added: “I think what we are going to see is an intensification along the same lines.” Economy balked at the suggestion that Xi – whose first term has witnessed an unusually fierce crackdown on party opponents and human rights – might suddenly emerge as a political reformer. “I don’t think a crypto-liberal would do what he has been doing over the past five years. I don’t think a crypto-liberal lets Liu Xiaobo die in jail, and the arrests and the intensification of the attacks on the [human rights] lawyers. That is not a crypto-liberal,” she said. Blanchette said Xi had shown a remarkable “mastery of the political system” in China during his first term in power: “The second question though is does that mean he has an omniscience or an omnipotence to deal with all the significant challenges that China is facing? “There is a huge list of challenges that Xi Jinping has to deal with,” he added, pointing to a gradually slowing economy, a looming debt crisis and the possibility of a nuclear conflagration on its doorstep. “He now has the power to do it. But how he deals with these challenges will be one of the most important indicators of whether or not he is able to stay on for the term that he feels he deserves.” Additional reporting by Wang Zhen. What 'Xi Jinping Thought' Stands For https://www.forbes.com/sites/salvatorebabones/2017/10/22/what-does-xi-jinping-thought-mean-and-how-does-it-compare-to-america-first/#2bfee5ab3262 Xi Jinping is universally regarded as China's most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, and perhaps since Mao Zedong. Both Deng and Mao left their marks in the charter of the Communist Party of China, and the rumor is that Xi will be their first successor to do the same. Mao's "mass line" and Deng's "seeking truth from facts" have become official tenets of Communist Party dogma. Xi's "socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era" may soon join these august concepts as official truth. But just what does "Xi Jinping Thought" really consist of? To answer that question, it helps to compare Xi's governing principles to those of the four preceding "paramount leaders" of China's Communist Party. Xi versus Mao Xi Jinping is most often compared to Mao Zedong, China's revolutionary leader, red emperor and communist theologian. Mao's political maxims were collected in the Little Red Book once read by leftist college students and Latin American guerillas. Mao Zedong thought is not all that bad, if you happen to be planning a people's revolution to overthrow your government. Unlike Lenin and most European Marxists, Mao taught that revolutions had to come from below. And unlike most revolutionaries, he still fought to overthrow the government even when he was the government. The infamous Cultural Revolution that rocked Chinese society from 1966-1976 was the result. Xi is no revolutionary, and he is certainly no Mao. Xi'sChinese Dream is a "moderately prosperous society," not a communist utopia. Xi does talk a lot about "national rejuvenation," but that's really just a way to avoid using the Western word for what he really means: renaissance. Xi's Chinese renaissance is all about China's space program, high speed rail network and high technology parks. But a real Chinese renaissance requires the reversal of China's long-term brain drain to the United States and other English-speaking countries. The problem? Most Chinese scientists are unwilling to give up their tenured positions overseas to take a chance on a permanent return to China. Barring a reversal of epic proportions, in 2021 Xi will preside over the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party. That will be as good a time as any to finally lay Mao Zedong Thought to rest for good. If Xi has his way, they may just take the opportunity to bury Mao along with it. He's been waiting long enough. Xi versus Deng Soon after the death of Mao, his long-time frenemy Deng Xiaoping put paid to the Cultural Revolution and started China on the path to opening and reform that it has followed for the last 40 years. Famous for saying that it was OK for some people to get rich before others, Deng was repeatedly condemned by Mao as a "capitalist roader" -- which, as soon as Mao died, is exactly what he turned out to be. To facilitate his economic reform agenda, Deng urged that China should "keep a low profile" in international affairs, biding its time while building its strength. Xi'sstrive for achievement strategy couldn't be more different. In his landmark Communist Party Congress speech, Xi pledged that China would have a "world class" military by 2050, in line with his policy of relentless maritime expansion in the South China Sea. Xi has departed radically from Deng's advice on foreign policy, but what Xi shares with Deng is a staunchly conservative preference for order over chaos. Deng ruthlessly suppressed the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in order to preserve the rule of the Communist Party. Xi has much more subtly turned the screws on political dissent using the more discriminating but perhaps more effective tools of online surveillanceand selective imprisonment. As the ever-quotable Deng said himself, "it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice." Xi versus Jiang Deng Xiaoing's successor Jiang Zemin is perhaps best remembered for the fact that everything done under his leadership was done "with Chinese characteristics." Deng may have coined the phrase "socialism with Chinese characteristics" to justify his introduction of the market into China's planned economy, but under Jiangthe phrase became a standing joke. Jiang Zemin codified these Chinese characteristics into the "Three Represents": the idea that in addition to the poor, the Communist Party of China would also represent China's business and cultural elites. Under Xi, this has evolved into the Two Represents, and if China's new rich get their way it may soon degenerate back into a novel kind of One Represent. Xi versus Hu Hu Jintao's major contribution to the intellectual life of the Communist Party was to bring Confucius back into the fold. Long prescribed under Mao as the reactionary idol of the pre-revolutionary patriarchy, today Confucius is back in China, with no small thanks to Hu, who rehabilitated Confucian thought, reopened Confucian temples, and chartered the Confucius Institutes to become China's cultural ambassadors to the world. Hu's trademark slogan was the "harmonious society" -- i.e., trust the government and don't complain and everyone can live in harmony. No word on what thenotoriously cranky sage, who got himself successively kicked out of ten different countries for criticizing their poor leadership, might have thought of this. Hu later extended the harmonious society to the harmonious world (i.e., trust China and don't complain and the world can live in harmony). With his One Belt, One Road expansionism and South China Sea island building, Xi seems keen to continue Hu's expansive foreign policy program, only with even less emphasis on the "harmonious" part of the equation. "Party First" Xi Jinping Thought, in a nutshell, seems to boil down to something resembling "America First, with Chinese Characteristics." By all accounts, Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump got along surprisingly well at their first meeting in April, perhaps because at a level deeper than mere speech they spoke the same language. If Xi's political philosophy isn't exactly China First, it is something close to it but at the same time distinctively Chinese: something like "Party First." And putting the interests of the Communist Party first is one thing he shares with all of his predecessors. Like Deng, Xi is a pragmatist who will stay on the capitalist road so long as it leads to much greater wealth than any other. Like Jiang, he is very happy to lead a ruling party dominated by his country's business elite. Like his immediate predecessor Hu, he is crafty enough to use patriotism and ethnic pride as tools to keep ordinary Chinese (if not necessarily China's minority groups) on his side. And like Mao, Xi seems to be ruthless enough to succeed in making his own Chinese Dream a reality. As long as he continues to put the Party first, Xi is likely to maintain his grip on power -- and the Party's loyalty. And as long as the Party puts Xi first, he is likely to have no cause to complain. Xi Jinping Thought may not sell as many books as Mao's did, but come 2021 it will be Xi who sets the course for the next 100 years of the Communist Party of China.
  2. I think VN, PRC and PHP are all indulging in wishful thinking
  3. Two Chinese nationals were killed when a tour bus, driven by a man with no driving licence, overturned while travelling downhill from Genting Highlands on June 29, reported New Straits Times (NST). The tour bus was carrying 21 people – 18 Chinese tourists and three Malaysians – when the accident occurred at about 10.40am. Pahang Fire and Rescue Department director Wan Mohamad Zaidi Wan Isa told The Star that both male victims suffered head injuries, and their bodies were taken to Bentong Hospital. The department’s deputy director of operations Ismail Abdul Ghani said that the two victims were trapped in the vehicle, while the other passengers managed to exit the vehicle with light injuries, NST reported. Gaming giant Genting Malaysia, which runs an integrated resort in Genting Highlands, said in a statement that the tour bus, which was ferrying Chinese tourists from Yunnan, was owned by a third-party operator. The 32-year-old bus driver was driving without a licence, said the Bentong district police chief, Superintendent Zaiham Mohd Kahar, adding that the man had been issued 27 traffic summonses. The latest accident was a “stark reminder of the persistent road safety issues” facing Malaysia, said Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of the Alliance for a Safe Community. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/two-chinese-tourists-dead-after-tour-bus-overturns-in-genting-highlands
  4. Hooray finally Taiwan will be liberated from the imperialists! Go CCP go! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-02/china-announces-military-drills-encircling-taiwan-from-aug-4-7-l6cc5ljn China Plans Four Days of Military Drills in Areas Encircling Taiwan - Beijing declares provocative show of force after Pelosi lands - Taiwan’s ruling party calls on China to be ‘responsible power’ By Sarah Zheng, 2 August 2022 at 22:29 GMT+7Updated on3 August 2022 at 00:12 GMT+7 China will conduct large-scale military drills and missile tests around Taiwan in a defiant show of force after House speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking US politician to land on the island in a quarter century. Beijing announced six exclusion zones encircling Taiwan to facilitate live-fire military drills from Thursday to Sunday, with some of the areas crossing into the island’s territorial waters. The size and scope of the areas could set the stage for the Chinese military’s most provocative actions near Taiwan in decades. An aircraft carrying US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taipei, Aug. 2. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg Separately, the People’s Liberation Army said exercises could start as soon as Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of military activities around Taiwan while Pelosi was visiting. The operations include “long-range live firing in the Taiwan Strait” and “regular-guided fire testing in the eastern waters” off Taiwan from Tuesday evening, the PLA said. “This action is targeted at the US’s shocking recent major escalation on the Taiwan issue, and serves as a serious warning to Taiwanese independence forces or those seeking independence,” Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement. A map released by the Xinhua news agency in China details areas that will be used for military drills encircling Taiwan from Aug. 4-7. Source: Xinhua. During the military drills, “relevant ships and aircraft should not enter the above sea areas and airspaces during this period,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in a report late Tuesday, which gave coordinates for the exercises. The exercises highlight the risk that Taiwan tensions could exacerbate existing supply chain woes. The Taiwan Strait is the primary route for ships passing from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to points west. Almost half of the global container fleet and 88% of the world’s largest ships by tonnage passed through the waterway this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Taiwan’s defense ministry said 21 Chinese military aircraft entered its air-defense identification zone Tuesday, compared to four the day before. The PLA has stepped up its flights near Taiwan in recent months, and ramps ups the show of force around key events, including visits by US poltiicians. Pelosi became the first US House speaker to visit the island in 25 years when her military aircraft arrived at Songshan Airport shortly before 11 p.m. local time. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and protests diplomatic visits to the democratic island. The planned drills would be the most serious show of force by China around Taiwan since at least 1995, when Beijing test-fired missiles into the sea near the island. That move was part of China’s protests against President Bill Clinton’s decision to let Taiwan’s first democratically elected president, Lee Teng-hui, visit the US. Back then, China also declared exclusion zones around target areas during the tests, disrupting shipping and air traffic. Pelosi plans to hold a joint press briefing with President Tsai Ing-wen at about 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, the Taiwan leader’s office said in a statement. She is expected to depart the island later that day to continue her Asia tour visiting US allies South Korea and Japan. Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party called on China to exercise restraint and stop acts of military and political intimidation. China should “demonstrate the demeanor of a responsible power,” DPP spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-fen said in a statement late Tuesday. “No threatening remarks or provocative actions can reduce even slightly the determination of Taiwan and its international friends to defend democracy and freedom,” she added.
  5. RadX

    Failed designs

    Might as well let this ride for those heavy days and passengers?
  6. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-covid-propaganda/ The U.S. military launched a clandestine program amid the COVID crisis to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation – payback for Beijing’s efforts to blame Washington for the pandemic. One target: the Filipino public. Health experts say the gambit was indefensible and put innocent lives at risk. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus. The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation. Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former U.S. military officials familiar with the Philippines operation. Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centered on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for China is the virus. READ MORE https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-covid-propaganda/
  7. China’s lust for durian is creating fortunes in South-east Asia BEFORE he started a company 15 years ago selling the world’s smelliest fruit, Eric Chan had a well-paying job writing code for satellites and robots. His family and friends were puzzled when he made the career change. The fruit, durian, has long been a cherished part of local cultures in South-east Asia, where it is grown in abundance. A single durian is typically the size of a rugby ball and can emit an odour so powerful that it is banned from most hotels. When Chan began his startup in his native Malaysia, durians were cheap and often sold from the back of trucks. Then China acquired a taste for durian in a very big way. Last year, the value of durian exports from Southeast Asia to China was US$6.7 billion, a twelvefold increase from US$550 million in 2017. China buys virtually all of the world’s exported durians, according to United Nations data. The biggest exporting country by far is Thailand; Malaysia and Vietnam are the other top sellers. Today, businesses are expanding rapidly – one Thai company is planning an initial public offering this year – and some durian farmers have become millionaires. Chan is one of them. Seven years ago, he sold a controlling share of his company, which specialises in producing durian paste for cookies, ice cream and even pizza, for the equivalent of US$4.5 million, nearly 50 times his initial investment. “Everybody has been making good money,” Chan said of the once-poor durian farmers in Raub, a small city 90 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. “They rebuilt their houses from wood to brick. And they can afford to send their children overseas for university.” Farmers in South-east Asian durian orchards say they can’t recall anything like the China craze. The surge in durian exports is a measure of the power of Chinese consumers in the global economy, even though, by other measures, the mainland economy is struggling. When an increasingly wealthy country of 1.4 billion people gets a taste for something, entire regions of Asia are reshaped to meet the demand. In Vietnam, state news media reported last month that farmers were cutting down coffee plants to make room for durian. The acreage of durian orchards in Thailand has doubled over the past decade. In Malaysia, jungles in the hills outside Raub are being razed and terraced to make way for plantations that will cater to China’s lust for the fruit. “I think durian will be the new economic boom for Malaysia,” said Mohamad Sabu, the country’s minister of agriculture. With so much money at stake, the race to plant more trees has spawned tensions. Land disputes have broken out over durian orchards. Some roadside orchards are surrounded by coils of razor wire. “Thieves Will Be Prosecuted,” a sign outside an orchard in Raub said, with a drawing of handcuffs. China is not only a buyer. Chinese investment has flowed into Thailand’s durian packing and logistics business. Already, Chinese interests control around 70 per cent of the durian wholesale and logistics business, according to Aat Pisanwanich, a Thai expert in international trade. Thailand’s own wholesale durian companies could “disappear in the near future,” he said at a news conference in May. Durian is to fruit what truffles are to mushrooms: Pound for pound, the fruit has become one of the most expensive on the planet. Depending on the variety, a single durian can sell for US$10 to hundreds of dollars. But Chinese demand, which has pushed up prices fifteenfold over the past decade, has frustrated Southeast Asian consumers, who see durians morphing from a plentiful fruit growing in the wild and in village orchards to a luxury commodity earmarked for export. Countries are exporting a fruit that is an integral part of their identities and cultures, especially in Malaysia, where it is a unifying national icon among its many ethnic groups. “God gave us a desire for durian,” said Hishamuddin Rais, a Malaysian film director and political activist. Eating an entire durian, which for most people is too rich and filling to do alone, is often a social event in South-east Asia. The act of opening a durian, which requires a very sharp knife or machete, feels festive and brings friends together the way that sharing a bottle of fine wine does in other cultures. Hishamuddin pointed out that a traditional expression declares it a tragedy if a Malay person doesn’t like durian. The fruit is even embedded in the country’s financial lexicon: The Malay word for a windfall is durian runtuh, a term that offers the joyous image of durians collapsing to the ground. The China surge is reshaping the durian supply chain. It’s relatively easy to deliver the fruit in the back of a truck to regional destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Bangkok. But shipping it to Guangzhou, Beijing and beyond, especially when the fruit is ripe and most flavorful, can be perilous. The fruit’s potent smell can resemble a gas leak. One of many examples of durian-incited emergencies was in 2019, when a Boeing 767 passenger jet took off from Vancouver, British Columbia, with a shipment of durians in the cargo hold. According to a report by Canadian regulators, the pilots and crew “noticed a strong odour throughout the aircraft” soon after takeoff. Fearing a problem with the plane, the pilots strapped on their oxygen masks and told air traffic controllers that they needed to land urgently. Once on the ground, the durian was discovered as the culprit of the foul smell. Malaysia has tried to solve the transport problem by freezing the fruit before shipping. One of the pioneers of the process was Anna Teo, a former flight attendant who noticed on her travels that durian was not available overseas. She quit her airline job and experimented with cryogenic freezing techniques in a rented warehouse, hauling her children to durian farms on weekends. She found that freezing not only mitigated the fruit’s odor but also prolonged its shelf life. Today, in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Teo oversees more than 200 employees at the company she founded, Hernan, which exports frozen durian as well as mochi and other durian products. Thailand, by contrast, has been shipping fresh durian in refrigerated containers for many years. The Thai durian industry is centered in Chanthaburi province, near the border with Cambodia. During peak harvest season, in May and June, heaping piles of durian are everywhere. Around 1,000 shipping containers of durian leave packinghouses throughout Chanthaburi every day, creating durian traffic jams that rival manic Bangkok intersections. Some containers are loaded onto what the Thai media calls the Durian Train, a cargo railway service that connects Thailand and China using tracks that China built for a high-speed rail. Because the demand from China is so great, containers often return to Thailand empty – to be quickly reloaded with more China-bound durian. Jiaoling Pan, CEO of Speed Inter Transport, a company based in Bangkok that uses American-made refrigerated containers to ship durian, said two-thirds of her containers come back empty. At her packinghouse, durians are passed under a laser that etches a serial number onto the skin of each fruit. Retailers in China want the ability to trace any bad fruit back to its orchard. Pan was born in Nanning, in southern China, and went to Thailand for college. She stayed after falling in love with durian, which she had never seen before. She compared her obsession with durian to an addiction. “Actually, just last night at 3 am, I had a durian,” Pan said cheerfully in between calls from Chinese customers seeking empty shipping containers. Around the corner from her business is 888 Platinum Fruits, a company that specializes in durian and is planning to list on the Thai stock exchange this year, a first for the durian industry. Natakrit Eamskul, CEO of 888 Platinum Fruits, offered a measure of the industry’s growth in Chanthaburi: Two decades ago, the province had 10 durian packinghouses; today there are 600. Across Chanthaburi, the signs of durian wealth are everywhere: modern houses and new hospitals. A shopping mall, inaugurated two years ago, hosted a car show in April. “When you’re from another province and you arrive here, you come to realize that durian farmers are very, very rich,” said Abhisit Meechai, a car dealer who on a recent afternoon was selling MG vehicles, the venerable British brand owned by SAIC Motor, a Chinese automaker. “Never judge a book by its cover,” Abhisit said of his customers who are durian farmers. “They come with dirty clothes and dirty hands. But they pay for their cars with cash.” NYTIMES https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/international/chinas-lust-durian-creating-fortunes-south-east-asia
  8. Designed by ChangAn Mazda JV, this model is currently and likely be for the Chinese market only. Sitting on 19-inch aero wheels, the Mazda EZ-6 has a large panoramic glass roof and frameless doors. Reports from China indicate the electric/plug-in hybrid sedan is based on the ChangAn Deepal SL03 but pushed upmarket with a fancier interior. The cabin doesn't appear to have much in common with the Mazda products sold globally, which would explain the Chinese connection. It does seem like a nice place to be in, and that full-length "floating" center console is interesting. The Mazda EZ-6 gets a rear-wheel-drive setup as an electric model. It has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a multi-link rear suspension. The unspecified battery pack is good for 600 Km of range per the China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC). The plug-in hybrid can cover 1,000 Km before running out of gas and battery juice. As for size, it's 4,920 mm long, 1,890 mm wide, and 1,483 mm tall. That makes it slightly bigger than the outgoing 6. Speaking of which, Mazda has already ruled out replacing the 6 we all know with a new generation on the company's RWD platform with inline-six engines. For now, that architecture is exclusively used by four SUVs: CX-60, CX-70, CX-80, and CX-90.
  9. Lala81

    Tik Tok ban

    BBC News - TikTok's UK headquarters in doubt amid US pressure https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53462918 I'm no lover of the ccp. But this is really incredible hypocrisy. This is coming from the two governments who collect massive amounts of data on their own citizens as revealed by Edward Snowden. Reportedly to find terrorists. They would love to tap the entire world except that Apple the main handphone used by most Americans refuse to comply with many of their information requests. And Canada, USA, England are tapping all communication cables on both sides of the Atlantic.... And the silly thing is that you can choose not to use wechat, tiktok or huawei phones...
  10. https://asia.nikkei.com/static/vdata/infographics/china-spends-more-on-controlling-its-1-dot-4bn-people-than-on-defense/ China spends more on controlling its 1.4bn people than on defense Silencing dissent also nips innovation in the bud Aug. 29, 2022 It emerged in the central Chinese province of Henan in June that local authorities had abused an anti-COVID app to contain the movements of more than 1,300 people. Yang, who lives in Shandong Province, is one of them. On the morning of June 13, Yang arrived on a night train at his destination, Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan. As the train approached the station, he could not believe his eyes as his "health code" smartphone app turned red. In China, authorities track the location of citizens. If they are suspected of having come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, their health code apps turn red and they face strict restrictions on their movements. Yang had no recollection of getting close to any infected person. But upon arrival at the station, he got another surprise: Officials told him he must leave Henan, and they took him away. Yang was visiting Henan to withdraw 230,000 yuan ($34,000) from a local bank. In Henan, multiple banks had refused to allow withdrawals since April, sparking a flood of protests by depositors. Local authorities feared that this would be viewed by the central government as a failure if the demonstrations spread. They rushed to cover up the inconvenient truth under the guise of the fight against COVID-19. Demonstrators holds up signs during a protest over the freezing of deposits by some rural-based banks, outside a People's Bank of China building in Zhengzhou, Henan. © Reuters China's zero-COVID policy of containing the virus through strict social controls has sent shock waves around the world. As President Xi Jinping's government pursues its policy of tolerating no infections, local governments across the country are going too far in tightening their stranglehold on ordinary people. On April 14, a video of a scuffle between police and residents of a housing complex protesting against an eviction notice in Shanghai, which was under lockdown, went viral on social media in China. As the residents shouted to police to leave the housing complex, police officers wearing white protective suits moved in en masse to detain them. Screams could be heard. Shanghai was locked down from the end of March, with 25 million residents banned from going out. Some were even forcibly evicted from their homes. Live videos of citizens suffering from food shortages or police behaving violently were posted on social media one after another, leaving authorities scrambling to delete them. A Shanghai sidewalk lies blocked due to discarded cartons believed to have been used for food rations. The street has been impassable since mid-May. © Kyodo But China's leadership under Xi did not waver. In May, it pledged to firmly fight any words and actions that question or reject the country's COVID-control policy and began to further increase its control over the internet. Once a state starts to move strongly in a given direction, it cannot stop easily by itself. According to a U.S.-China joint study published in the journal Nature Medicine, if China eases its zero-COVID policy, it will suffer a devastating blow because the effectiveness of the widely used Chinese-made vaccines is low. The study specifically warned that if China eases the policy, the number of people who show symptoms could rise to 112 million, and 1.6 million people could die in half a year. The Xi government's prestige is at stake. It cannot modify its COVID policy because it cannot let itself depend on vaccines made in Western nations. After taking the helm of the Communist Party as its general secretary in 2012, Xi launched a "zero tolerance" anti-corruption campaign. The move to try to do things perfectly has now spread to everything. The public security bureau of the Shanghai municipal government boasts high achievements. According to the bureau, the arrest rates in 2021 were 96% for burglaries such as sneak thefts and 100% for pickpocketing on subway trains. The bureau installed street cameras in all residential areas and commercial buildings by 2021, expanding the coverage of its surveillance system. The number of robbery cases in 2020 stood at 72, down a whopping 98% from the peak recorded in 2000. It is becoming more likely that the number will decline to zero. Although China is getting close to the ideal of a crime-free society thanks to technology, the price it must pay is by no means small. China's "public safety" spending, which is used to maintain public order and control speech at home, reached $210 billion in 2020. The amount more than doubled in 10 years. China's national defense spending is growing rapidly and closing in on that of the United States. But China's public safety spending was as much as 7% higher than its national defense spending in 2020. That is not all. Pent-up frustration among the public is growing further as the crackdown begins to grow excessive. The village of Wukan in Guangdong Province, once known as "Democracy Village," is now teeming with surveillance cameras. In China, a slang word making fun of police, meaning literally "a falling young man," has trended on social media since late June. It all started when a woman in her 40s and her father got into an argument with a male police officer in Dandong, in northeastern China's Liaoning Province. The woman and her father were stopped by the police officer on their way to a hospital. The officer cited the color of her health code as the reason. An argument broke out between them, and the woman was detained for 10 days on suspicion of obstruction of justice. A mocking video of the police officer, who pretended to have fallen during the confrontation, has gone viral. Public distrust of authorities has deepened due to the zero-COVID policy, and the fruits of people's frustration are being spread on the internet one after another. A vigorous and technologically innovative society can be created only where various opinions are allowed to clash. The more China tries to contain all differing opinions and control everything, the more it will also grow apart from the rest of the world. When the public reaction to this finally comes, "Great China" will find itself diminished. Patriotic reign blowing up in Hong Kong Government squeezes public opinion polls In April, yet another person who has supported Hong Kong's democracy left the city. On a flight bound for the U.K., Chung Kim-wah, a former assistant professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said in a Facebook post, "In the current Hong Kong, there is no room for sincere words, only lies." Chung had been summoned by police three times in connection with the polling organization where he worked, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute. He wrote on Facebook, "Hong Kong may no longer be a place to live without intimidation." The HKPORI was inaugurated with a research department at the University of Hong Kong as its parent. It has conducted highly reliable surveys that many Hong Kong researchers refer to. But its surveys have also sometimes reflected public opinion that China finds inconvenient. Since the Hong Kong national security law came into effect in the summer of 2020, pro-democracy media outlets, labor unions and other organizations have been forced to disband one after another. The institute is now rumored to be the next target. The Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, once a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party, has been forced to shut down. © Reuters The HKPORI conducted a survey ahead of the 2021 election for the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's lawmaking body. The survey asked Hong Kong people a multiple-choice question on how they would vote in the election. But the choice of "casting a blank vote" was criticized as "manipulating public opinion and destroying the electoral system." The institute's surveys about the zero-COVID policy and Russia's invasion of Ukraine were also seen as problems. Chinese government-affiliated media concluded that those surveys "lack a scientific basis" and that the institute "is suspected to be colluding with foreign forces." The environment surrounding opinion polls is becoming harsh. According to Tetsuro Kobayashi, an associate professor at City University of Hong Kong, some pollees do not answer political questions honestly, while some researchers refrain from asking sensitive questions. "Basic information such as the support rate for pro-democracy forces has become difficult to see, leading to [Hong Kong's] civil society shrinking," Kobayashi said. When lashing out at the institute, pro-China forces in Hong Kong frequently cite surveys by other organizations such as the Bauhinia Institute and OrangeNews. These surveys show completely different results from the HKPORI's surveys and Hong Kong citizens' actual feelings. For example, a survey by the HKPORI showed that only 32% of people in Hong Kong supported the zero-COVID policy, while as many as 57% were in favor of living with the virus. But a Bauhinia Institute survey said that 68% of people in Hong Kong supported the zero-COVID policy, while only 24% were in favor of living with the virus. It also said that as many as 76% replied that the national security law would not affect freedoms and rights in Hong Kong. Details on the Bauhinia Institute, which was established in 2016 by pro-China forces, are shrouded in mystery. An expert familiar with opinion polls said: "It seems to be conducting surveys using social networking sites popular with those born in China, such as WeChat. As sampling is unbalanced, decent researchers are not taking them seriously." Nikkei asked the Bauhinia Institute about its survey methods and relations with China. It did not answer directly, commenting only that it "serves Hong Kong and the state, unites patriots and supports the implementation of a better one country, two systems [formula] in Hong Kong. On July 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong for the first time in five years and implored "patriots governing Hong Kong" to be principled. © Reuters Xi recently made a trip to Hong Kong for the first time in five years, timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary on July 1 of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. In a speech, Xi called for the thorough implementation of the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong." He regards opinions differing from those of the Chinese leadership as impediments to policy implementation and shows no signs of a letup in the exclusion of pro-democracy forces. A government-affiliated Hong Kong newspaper published the results of a survey showing that as a result of Xi's speech, 77% of local citizens had deepened their confidence in the "one country, two systems" formula. China's propaganda campaign is becoming increasingly fierce. Robert Chung, the HKPORI's president and chief executive officer, pointed out that the question now is how to assess the direction of Hong Kong's society under the banner of science and democracy. Opinion polls are facing a new challenge, he added. If an authoritarian government continues to crack down on opposition forces, only voices supporting it come to be heard, and when the people finally vent their pent-up frustrations, it happens suddenly. This phenomenon is widely known. Hong Kong's "patriotic governance" seems to be incurring great risks as it attacks opinion polls, which are a "social thermometer," and closes its eyes to public opinion.
  11. Expect more China EV brand to hit our shore in the next 2 years, as the big wave have just started. Ultimately, only the fittest will survive on our tiny island (since we have a fixed quota for new car registration each month/year). Another point to ponder: Is PA changing their game plan (betting heavily on Chinese EVs) with the declining market share of Audi? Chinese EV brand Xpeng to be launched in Singapore by second half of 2024 Xpeng, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) brand backed by German carmaker Volkswagen, will be launched in Singapore by the second half of 2024. Sources with close knowledge of the negotiations said the EV maker appointed Premium Automobiles as its distributor recently. This will be the second Chinese EV brand that Premium is representing, after Zeekr from Geely. The first Xpeng model to retail in Singapore is expected to be the G6, a sport utility vehicle that is about the same size as the Tesla Model Y. This is likely to include a single motor version capable of covering 580km on a single charge. Premium Automobiles did not respond to queries on Xpeng when approached for comment. The dealership, which is also the retail partner of German car brand Audi, would say only that Zeekr remains on track to be launched here by the third quarter of 2024. The Straits Times has also contacted Xpeng for comment. Xpeng’s impending foray into Singapore comes as the EV adoption rate here rises. In 2023, EVs made up 18.1 per cent of total car registrations, up from 11.7 per cent in 2022 and 3.8 per cent in 2021. The Chinese brand is regarded by industry experts as among the strongest contenders against Tesla, although it delivered just 141,600 units in 2023 – a fraction of the 1.08 million units managed by the American EV brand. It sells left-hand drive models in China, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. On March 11, the South China Morning Post reported that Xpeng plans to launch right-hand drive models in the second half of 2024 as part of its global expansion strategy. Volkswagen holds a 5 per cent stake in the company from Guangzhou, China, and the companies are working to develop two VW-branded models for the Chinese market. Automotive consultant Say Kwee Neng said Xpeng is one of three Chinese EV brands – the other two being Nio and Li Auto – that are well regarded for their products’ technology, design and level of sophistication. “There is a lot of hype behind these three brands, but ultimately, it will be down to the representative in Singapore to bring in the right model mix and be relevant. We have already seen how BYD has broken down walls to make Chinese EVs desirable to consumers here,” Mr Say added. Chinese EV brand BYD was the fourth-biggest selling brand in Singapore in 2023, outselling the likes of Nissan (fifth), Hyundai (seventh) and Tesla (ninth). Xpeng joins at least five other Chinese brands that are slated to enter the Singapore market, including GAC Aion, which will be launched in April by Vincar. Their addition will more than double the number of Chinese car brands from the four in 2023 – BYD, MG, Maxus and Ora. Mr Say believes that Chinese EV brands are hastening their move into Singapore to build up global credibility as they try to break into European markets. Automotive analysts expect EV sales in China to grow at a slower pace in 2024, even as domestic EV brands and Tesla have been cutting prices to boost demand. This slowdown in demand is pushing Chinese EV brands to look abroad for sales, some industry insiders believe. The other Chinese EV brands slated to launch here are Smart, which Cycle & Carriage will roll out in the first half of 2024; Chery, which is represented by Vertex Automobile; Seres, which is imported by Hong Seh; and Neta, which Vincar has the rights to distribute.
  12. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Transportation/Indonesia-presents-China-made-high-speed-train-cars?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20221004123000&seq_num=5&si=44594 Indonesia presents China-made high-speed train cars Railway to connect Jakarta with Bandung; operations to start in June 2023 A total of 12 sets of eight-car trains, approximately 200 meters in length each, will be delivered in the future. KOYA JIBIKI, Nikkei staff writerOctober 3, 2022 21:48 JST JAKARTA -- Indonesia has presented in public the cars of the country's first high-speed train connecting the capital Jakarta with Bandung, a major city in West Java, with commercial operations expected to start in June 2023. The cars, presented to the media on Saturday, were manufactured by a company under China's state-owned train manufacturer CRRC. The covers on the cars were not removed throughout the event. The cars arrived at the port of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta in early September. A total of 12 sets of eight-car trains, approximately 200 meters in length each, will be delivered in the future, including those for inspection According to Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), an Indonesia-China joint venture for the high-speed rail project, the cars consist of VIP seats, first- and second-class seats, and a dining car. With a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour, the new railway connects Jakarta and Bandung, a distance of about 142 km apart, in as little as 35 minutes, compared to 3.5 hours by the existing railway. There is a plan for Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Chinese President Xi Jinping to take a ride together for a test operation of the new railway in November. Xi is scheduled to attend the Group of Twenty (G-20) Summit in Bali the same month, which Indonesia will chair. Initially, Japan was considered a strong contender to win the order for Indonesia's high-speed railway project. However, Widodo adopted the Chinese proposal on condition that China would not require Indonesia to bear any financial burden. Nevertheless, the completion of the project has been pushed back from the original target of 2018 due to delays in land expropriation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Construction is approximately 90% complete, and the railway is expected to open in June 2023. The total construction cost exceeds the initial estimate of $5.5 billion. In October 2021, the Indonesian government reversed its previous plan and decided to invest government funds. The parliament is scrutinizing the amount of money needed.
  13. DIY holiday to China recently, with the family. Broadly, this was what we did: Day 0 - Depart Singapore to Hangzhou (Scoot Airlines), Arr. Hangzhou 2135hrs Day 1 - Hangzhou, got a driver, tour the city, including West Lake and Ling Yin Temple Day 2 - Depart from Hangzhou to Wu Zhen (water town), and then transfer to Shanghai Courtyard Marriot near Disneyland Day 3 - Shanghai Disneyland! (One full day) Day 4 - Transfer to Shanghai Marriott City Center, Walk to the Bund Day 5 - Private day tour to SuZhou Day 6 - Shanghai Free & Easy Day 7 - Home sweet Home - Shanghai to Singapore on Singapore Airlines Allow me to share in this thread my holiday. We would fly from Singapore to Hangzhou, and we were trying out ScootBiz in Scoot Airlines for the first time. Scoot is a wholly own subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, and it is their low-cost arm. When Scoot was first launched, we flew with them to Sydney! That was way back in 2012. Since then, we have flown on Scoot a few times (including Hong Kong), but this is our first time in ScootBiz. ScootBiz is Scoot Business Class? What is ScootBiz? Well, it is NOT the typical Business Class of a full service airline. It is more akin to Premium Economy. What attracted us were the seats - full learther with at least 38" of legroom, 22" of width and 6" of recline, with adjustable headrests and legrests. You also get complimentary meal and drink, but that was less important. Scoot flies from Terminal 2. Check-Lines moved quickly. You had to do self-service check in first, before dropping off your bags. That's the new trend, self-service. I didn't see any special check-in line for ScootBiz passengers, so we joined the same queue. SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 2 After clearing immigration, we headed to the SATS Premier Lounge to chill out for a while and get some food. Note that ScootBiz does not provide lounge access with the normal ticket. We used our Priority Pass cards to gain entry. Here is the entrance of the SATS Premier Lounge, which was opposite the SilverKris lounge at T2. Video of Lounge Experience A video of our lounge experience. This lounge was voted Asia-Pac lounge of the year, for Priority Pass. For a Priority Pass lounge, it is decent. In fact, a good number of airlines use this contract lounge for their Business Class passengers too. Here are YouTube video links so lounge reviews of SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 1and SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 3. Below is the video of SATS Premier Terminal 2. The Lounge in Terminal 2 won the Asia Pacific Lounge of the Year Awards 2017 for Priority Pass. Our credit cards provided us with Priority Pass access to Lounges, which is very nice. We could bring the entire family in, using my card and my wife's card. FLIGHT EXPERIENCE SCOOTBIZ - FlyScoot Singapore to Hangzhou Flight Number TR 188 Dep: 1635hrs, Arr: 21:35 Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport No time zone changes We had wanted to visit Hangzhou and Shanghai. So it was great that Scoot has a direct flight. Scoot currently operates the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. This was our plane at the gate, its nickname was 'Bo Jio'. The 7:30 minute video below details our experience on board ScootBiz, showing you the seats and the meals. Enjoy! Food wise, ScootBiz ticket comes with food and drink. For the food package, you have to order in advance (online, when you book). I didn't realise that there were different types of meals. The most 'value-for-money' would be the Premium Meal selection, sample below. This meal comes with 2 deluxe sides and a drink. But there was no Nasi Lemak here. I selected Nasi Lemak and that was packaged with a lower value meal (no ice-cream). So, hot tip, if you want a full meal with Ice-Cream, pick from the Premium Selections! Waiting for Luggage - Scoot Crew luggage came out first Landing into Hangzhou was smooth and we got to the gates quickly. The immigration clearance was fast. What took some time was the baggage. See the video below, for pretty much the entire aircraft passengers waiting at the luggage carousel. Funny thing - the cabin crew luggage came out first! After we collected our bags, the Customs officials made all passengers put every bag through an X-ray machine, i.e. 100% check. That caused a line to form, but the overall process was orderly and didn't take too long. The video also shows snippets of the taxi ride, and the room service we had. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Hangzhou City Center, and we ordered room service for supper, as we were tired and hungry. Room Service - All the Food in the Photo for 177RMB plus 3 drinks (including beer) That concludes Day 0 - flight to Hangzhou. Day 1 - Hangzhou Today, we would hire a driver to bring us around to see the sights of Hangzhou. But before that, let me show you the narrow beds in our hotel room. Our room came with two twin beds, but when we booked on the Holiday Inn IHG website, it room clearly stated two double beds. Oh well. For the fun of it, I got two "models" to show you the breadth of the twin bed, for laughs! Breakfast The day started with a good breakfast at the Holiday Inn Buffet. Our room rate came with breakfast for two adults. The buffet supervisor allowed my two kids to eat for free. Video below shows the good food we had. Breakfast area wasn't too crowded, which was nice. Journey to West Lake (Xi Hu) Our driver picked us up from the lobby, as per the arranged time. Our ride was in a very comfortable MPV. There were many skyscrapers in Hangzhou. It looked to be a developed city. There was construction outside our hotel - driver told us that they were building new metro/underground lines. Driver's 7 Year Old Kid Studies All Day Glad that we could speak some Mandarin, and that allowed us to have interesting conversations with our driver. We did not book a guide, only driver. But as you can see and hear from the video below, our driver was more than happy to tell us about China, and his family and other interesting nuggets of life in China! West Lake, Hangzhou First stop, the famous West Lake 西湖! West Lake (Chinese: 西湖; pinyin: Xī Hú) is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, China. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. Map of the West Lake in Hangzhou, China Leifeng Pagoda West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, described as having "influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries"and reflecting "an idealized fusion between humans and nature". (Source wiki) Below is the video of our very calm boat ride. Again, glad that we could understand some Mandarin. The boatman was most enthusiastic in telling us about Chinese culture and history. Made for some good story-telling. The scenic boat (or human powered sampan) ride took 40 minutes and cost 150 RMB. The boat can take a max of 6 pax, but I think 4 is ideal. Any more may be a bit of a squeeze. A picture of another boat going past. See that the boat is very low and we are very close to the water. You could play with the water, if you wished. Don't fall in! (Not sure if there were life jackets, maybe under the seat). After an calming boat ride, we took a walk around the waterfront. Even though we only paid for a driver, his service was excellent. He took pains to bring us around the waterfront. He brought us to see some squirrels, and then a slow walk back to the vehicle. I noticed all the electric buses and carts. Saving the environment! Even the Police Car was an electric one. Looks like the Chinese authorities were very serious in ensuring clean and fresh air around their famous Lake. Next stop was Ling Yin temple. Will continue in the next post.
  14. Can buy from Taobao.. Wonder which local authority to approve if someone were to bring in to Singapore, LTA or CAAS? https://www.msn.com/en-xl/travel/other/chinese-flying-taxi-maker-ehang-sells-autonomous-passenger-drone-for-us-332000-on-taobao-as-nation-s-low-altitude-economy-takes-off/ar-BB1k9Kkg Chinese flying taxi maker EHang sells autonomous passenger drone for US$332,000 on Taobao as nation’s low-altitude economy takes off EHang's EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle will be available in overseas markets at a suggested price of US$410,000 from April 1 The EH216-S, which was first announced in February 2018, has reportedly completed over 42,000 successful test flights in more than 14 countries Chinese flying taxi maker EHang is selling its EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle on Alibaba Group Holding's Taobao marketplace, weeks before the Nasdaq-listed company makes the autonomous passenger-carrying aircraft available in overseas markets. Based in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, EHang has put its EH216-S for sale at a unit price of 2.39 million yuan (US$332,000) on e-commerce giant Alibaba's primary domestic retail platform. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. In February, EHang announced that the EH216-S would be sold at a suggested retail price of US$410,000 outside the mainland from April 1. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The ambitious domestic and international marketing campaigns show EHang's confidence in generating strong market demand, months after its self-developed EH216-S became the world's first recipient of a Type Certificate and Standard Airworthiness Certificate for pilotless eVTOLs. Those certifications were issued last October and December, respectively, by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). "This significant achievement has had a profound impact on our business, as it has sparked a surge in demand for our remarkable EH216-S," EHang founder, chairman and chief executive Hu Huazhi said last Friday, when the company released its latest financial results. "The market response has been overwhelmingly positive, leading to strong quarterly and yearly revenue growth." EHang reported fourth-quarter revenue of 56.6 million yuan, a 260.9 per cent jump from 15.7 million yuan in the same period in 2022, on the back of an increase in orders for its EH216-series products. Total 2023 revenue reached 117.4 million yuan, up 165 per cent from 44.3 million yuan the previous year. Sales and deliveries of the company's EH216-series products totalled 52 units last year, compared with 21 in 2022. Multiple EH216-S aircraft built by EHang are seen parked at a vertiport - an area that supports the landing and take-off of these types of passenger vehicles - in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province. Photo: Handout© Provided by South China Morning Post After completing aircraft certification, EHang conducted EH216-S production under the supervision of CAAC representatives at the company's factory in Yunfu, a city in Guangdong. The firm began deliveries of certified aircraft to customers in the December quarter. EHang did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company's shares were up 4.71 per cent to US$16.23 in pre-market trading on Tuesday. The EH216-S, which was first announced in February 2018, has reportedly completed over 42,000 successful test flights in more than 14 countries. The two-passenger aircraft has a top speed of 130-kilometres per hour, a cruising speed of 100km/h and a maximum altitude of 3,000 metres. It has a range of 30km and a flight time of 25 minutes. It is built with 16 propellers, recharges its batteries in 120 minutes and provides a maximum payload of 220 kilograms. The luggage boot can accommodate an 18-inch suitcase to satisfy general commuting and short-distance travel requirements. EHang's EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle is seen on display at the 2023 Indonesia International Motor Show held in Jakarta on February 23, 2023. Photo: Shutterstock The autonomous flight capabilities, fully electric propulsion, comprehensive redundancy safety features, and intelligent command-and-control systems of the EH216-S make it an ideal solution for various urban air mobility (UAM) applications, including air taxi services, aerial tourism, airport shuttles and cross-island transport, according to EHang. The company earlier this month forged a UAM cooperation pact with the municipal government of Wuxi, a city in eastern Jiangsu province, covering an order of 100 EH216-S units. Last October, EHang entered into a strategic cooperation deal with the municipal government of Hefei, a city in eastern Anhui province, for joint development of a low-altitude economy ecosystem, with US$100 million in extended support that can be used to facilitate a minimum order of 100 EH216-series products. The low-altitude economy, which is expected to be driven by the wide adoption of aircraft like eVTOLs and pilotless aerial vehicles, was identified as one of the national strategic emerging industries during the Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing in December. About 20 provinces across the country have prioritised the development of the low-altitude economy this year, according to EHang. That is expected to contribute between 3 trillion yuan and 5 trillion yuan to China's economy by 2025, according to a white paper published last year by the International Digital Economy Academy in Shenzhen. More Articles from SCMP
  15. Got these pics from a friend. Share with the rest here. Regards,
  16. So I just read these two articles consecutively. Very reassuring lol. One wrong move, and there goes the whole of China all over again. ST: Despite official figures, Wuhan continues to find new asymptomatic coronavirus cases daily https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/despite-official-figures-wuhan-continues-to-find-new-asymptomatic-coronavirus-cases?utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=STFB&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR2zuDoEfkCBbQWkN5vNLkOy_G0SmzFAiEaWILxFA7G44OexYRFN2uE_a38#Echobox=1585025147 CNA: COVID-19: China to lift travel curbs on Hubei province, including Wuhan https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/china-coovid19-coronavirus-lift-travel-curbs-hubei-wuhan-12570658?cid=FBcna Here's the two articles: ST: Despite official figures, Wuhan continues to find new asymptomatic coronavirus cases daily BEIJING (CAIXIN GLOBAL) - Despite official figures reporting few to no new domestic Covid-19 cases on the Chinese mainland in recent days, authorities continue to detect more infections, with those in the city at the heart of the country's outbreak often amounting to more than a dozen a day, Caixin has learned. According to a member of the infectious disease prevention and control team in Wuhan, every day the city continues to record "several or more than a dozen asymptomatic infected individuals", which are people that have tested positive for Covid-19, but do not feel ill and are excluded from published numbers. As of Sunday (March 22), Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, had four consecutive days of zero new "confirmed cases." The person, who asked not to be named, said that these asymptomatic people are found by tracing the contacts of others who are infected and by screening quarantine workers who are at high risk of infection, as opposed to en masse testing. "It's not possible at the moment to tell if transmission has stopped," the person said. As reported new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 have dwindled, China has moved to send home the teams of medical personnel it brought in from across the country to assist hospital workers in Hubei. Between March 17 and 20, some 12,000 medical personnel departed the province. But the infectious disease prevention and control team has stayed behind, after Hubei's provincial Covid-19 task force on Friday ordered it to remain until central authorities say otherwise, Caixin has learned. According to a person at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, this team of specialists was kept in Hubei because the central government continues to feel unease about the situation in the area, in part because of the presence of asymptomatic individuals. Since February, the Covid-19 prevention and control policies issued by the National Health Commission (NHC) have stipulated that asymptomatic infected individuals are not considered "confirmed cases" and that their numbers should not be released. However, given numerous studies suggesting that this group is infectious, the NHC has required that, once detected, they be subject to a 14-day quarantine and lab testing, recategorising them as "confirmed" cases only in the event they develop symptoms. Caixin previously obtained data that showed Northeast China's Heilongjiang province had 480 "confirmed cases" on Feb 25, but had also discovered 104 asymptomatic infected individuals that it left off the public tally. A March 6 preprint - a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed - by Chinese and American researchers suggested that asymptomatic cases and those with mild symptoms could account for at least 59 per cent of Covid-19 infections, potentially undetected and fuelling its spread. Considering Wuhan is the epicentre of China's epidemic, "there's still a lot that needs to be investigated and traced", the infectious disease prevention and control team member said. CNA: COVID-19: China to lift travel curbs on Hubei province, including Wuhan BEIJING: China's central Hubei province, where the deadly coronavirus first emerged late last year, is to lift travel curbs after two months under lockdown, local officials said on Tuesday (Mar 24). Healthy residents will be allowed to leave the province from midnight Tuesday. Travel restrictions for leaving Wuhan will be lifted on Apr 8, and people will be able to leave on the basis of using a health code The announcement as China reported 78 new cases of the deadly coronavirus on Tuesday, with the vast majority brought in from overseas as fears rise of a second wave of infections. The first new case in nearly a week was also reported in Wuhan - the epicentre where the virus emerged last year - along with three other local infections elsewhere in the country. Seven more people died, the National Health Commission said, all in Wuhan. There have now been more than 81,000 cases in China, and the death toll has reached 3,277. As the country tries to control imported cases, there are signs of normality beginning to return to Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province. Travel and work restrictions in the province have been gradually eased and Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to Wuhan earlier this month. Wuhan residents considered healthy can now move around the city and take public transport if they show identification, and they can also go back to work if they have a permit from their employer.
  17. TIANJIN, China: Singapore and China on Thursday (Dec 7) announced that they will establish a 30-day mutual visa exemption agreement between both countries, amid a post-pandemic improvement in flight connectivity. The proposal was announced during the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting – the highest-level annual bilateral forum between both countries – held at the Hilton Tianjin Eco-City hotel with a range of agreements set to be signed. This is the first JCBC meeting to be co-chaired by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang. At the start of the meeting, Mr Ding noted how the number of Chinese students studying in Singapore has exceeded 40,000, basically recovering to pre-pandemic levels. He added that the visa-free arrangement would “provide greater convenience for people-to-people exchanges”. Mr Wong said Singapore hopes to even go beyond pre-pandemic levels in terms of direct flight connectivity. “This will be supported also by a mutual 30-day visa-free arrangement between our two countries, which will enable more people-to-people exchanges, thereby fortifying the bedrock of our bilateral relations," he added. Both sides are working out the operational details, with the aim of implementing the scheme in early 2024, the Singapore Prime Minister's Office said in a media release. Chinese citizens currently require a visa to enter Singapore. Singaporeans holding ordinary passports can enter China without a visa for 15 days if they are travelling for business, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends, and in transit. China resumed this arrangement in July, more than three years after it was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This came on the heels of an upgrade in Singapore-China relations to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership”, after Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in March during an official visit. The JCBC reviews the substantive collaboration between Singapore and China and charts the direction of cooperation. Mr Wong, who is on a four-day official visit to Beijing and Tianjin, said during a bilateral meeting on Wednesday that he was looking forward to signing more than 20 memoranda of understanding and agreements at the JCBC meeting. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/singapore-china-30-day-mutual-visa-free-arrangement-3971566
  18. 20 single-deck electric buses each from BYD and ST Engineering Land Systems 10 single-deck and 10 double-deck electric buses from Yutong The buses will progressively arrive in Singapore from next year, with the final batch delivered in 2020 Source: The Straits Times
  19. Hi Guys , planning to make a short trip to China Qingdao or Yunnan like 5 days 4 night with family . As this is my first trip to China , can you help to advise on the itinery and also any recommendation of private tours , thanks in advance
  20. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/The-Big-Story/Road-to-nowhere-China-s-Belt-and-Road-Initiative-at-tipping-point?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20220810190000&seq_num=2&si=44594 Road to nowhere: China’s Belt and Road Initiative at Tipping Point Pakistan, Sri Lanka debt crises threaten Beijing's regional influence By Adnan Aamir, Marwaan Macan-Markar, Shaun Turton and Cissy Zhou,AUGUST 10, 2022 The drive to Pakistan’s port of Gwadar takes seven and a half hours from Karachi via the Makran coastal highway. Much of the 600-km route is deserted, with no restaurants, restrooms or even fuel stations. On a recent journey, around 200 vehicles in total could be counted during the entire drive. Arriving in the city on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, Chinese and Pakistani flags are ubiquitous, and Chinese-financed construction projects loom, but the city is spookily devoid of economic activity. Near the seafront, broad avenues are curiously empty of vehicles. Inside the city center, the roads are narrow, congested and covered with foul smelling drain water, with few multistory buildings aside from the Chinese-built port compound. It is hard to visualize Gwadar as the launch pad of a new global paradigm, but that is what Beijing would have the world believe. Nine years ago it was plucked out of obscurity -- a backwater in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region -- and presented as China’s commercial window onto the Indian Ocean, a hub for regional integration under the Belt and Road Initiative, which was to harness the juggernaut of the Chinese economy to the goal of Asian economic development. The BRI is an audacious program of lending, aid and infrastructure contracts totaling over $880 billion, according to the American Enterprise Institute. The initiative, which includes pledges to 149 countries, aims to promote Chinese-led regional integration -- and sew economic dependence on Beijing. First announced in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as the “Silk Road,” the BRI was fleshed out in April 2015 with the announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), stretching from Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang. The CPEC showcased the China-Pakistan “all-weather friendship” with $46 billion in pledged funds that has since grown to $50 billion. It was to be the backbone of the now renamed Belt and Road Initiative. When the CPEC agreements were signed, Pakistan’s government called Gwadar “the economic future of Pakistan,” an alternative to Dubai that would turn around the country’s economic fortunes. The government also claimed that Gwadar’s gross domestic product would increase from an estimated $430 million in 2017 to $30 billion by 2050, and produce 1.2 million jobs for a population that currently stands at 90,000. But today, with just a couple of months until the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing, the CPEC is on the verge of crisis, as is the BRI itself. Many headline projects have either failed to get off the ground or produced mixed to poor results. This week, Nikkei Asia begins a three-part series, a comprehensive effort to take stock of the BRI nearly a decade after it began. Today, the project’s initial optimism has been replaced by disappointment over mismanagement, debt crises and corruption that have left many projects unfinished or incapable of fulfilling their promised potential. Nikkei Asia journalists have traveled to focal points of BRI investment over the last decade – from Gwadar to Sihanoukville and Colombo to Kuala Lumpur. Their reporting illustrates the already mature legacy of China’s far-reaching efforts to increase its global influence. Unmet promises The lack of discernible economic activity in Gwadar underlines a tough reality: Nearly eight years after China announced a breathtaking list of development projects in the city -- a new airport, the Gwadar Free Zone, a 300-megawatt coal power plant and a water desalination plant -- none of these have been completed and what investment there has done little to create growth or an economy. Instead, stringent security measures strangle the local fishing industry, which once accounted for 70% of the local economy. The same security measures also sharply curtailed lucrative informal trading with nearby Iran. Despite these security concerns, however, the city continues to import electricity from its neighbor, which regularly shuts down the supply under different pretexts of maintenance. A 300-MW power plant was to be built in Gwadar but so far the work has not started. The power shortage is arguably the biggest stumbling block for any meaningful development there. Adding to this is a chronic water shortage that creates unrest every summer as the government trucks in water for residents. There is a small desalination plant, but it is run only for the benefit of the Chinese workers. Seen through a strategic lens, Gwadar is of seismic importance to China as a window into the Indian Ocean. Western experts have said they believe it could eventually become a Chinese naval base, something both countries heatedly deny. But this top-down logic of the Gwadar project has clearly neglected the bottom -- increasingly dissatisfied locals. The port is derelict owing to power cuts and other shortages. Protests broke out in December over fishing rights, and at least one major Chinese investor has reportedly exited. Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center in Washington, says Gwadar is a victim of outsized expectations. “There was an assumption that new infusions of Chinese capital and technology would magically develop Gwadar into a world-class port, even though previous efforts to achieve similar goals had fallen far short,” he said. Grand strategy When it launched the BRI in 2013, Beijing’s main motivations were domestic, according to Gong Chen, founder of Beijing-based think tank Anbound, who advised the central government about BRI in the early days. Chen told Nikkei that, when the concept was first presented to policymakers, its primary drivers were China's severely aging population, the difficulty of recruiting workers in the Pearl River Delta, China's desire to expand its market scale and an overhang of excess capacity in many economic sectors. But the BRI could not help but be seen as the beginning of a new Chinese-led geopolitical order in Asia, just as the Marshall Plan heralded the arrival of the U.S.-led Atlantic project in Europe. Now it is an open question whether the BRI is a net economic benefit -- or even, in many cases, a liability for its chief recipients. Part of the problem is that, while BRI investment is portrayed as aid, it is most often not. The initiative is intended to make money for Chinese banks and infrastructure companies -- funded mainly by loans and energy supply agreements that in many cases have outrun their recipients’ ability to pay. Millions of Pakistanis, for example, are subject to electricity blackouts every day due to a dispute over fees from Chinese coal-fired power stations. In Sri Lanka, another focal point of the BRI, Chinese loans triggered an infrastructure boom but also a debt overhang that arguably helped push the country into its first debt default in May and drove former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from power. Many Sri Lankans resent what they see as China’s role in using its largesse to prop up a corrupt elite around Rajapaksa. They are demanding an end to the corruption and mismanagement that has left millions of people facing acute shortages of food, fuel and medicine. In Cambodia, while Beijing-backed loans have flowed to infrastructure like roads, bridges and power plants, a shadow stream of speculative investment from private Chinese investors has poured in and driven unsustainable development that has displaced communities. A large amount of the investment surrounded an online gambling industry that was later banned by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who acknowledged the sector’s ties to criminality. Meanwhile in China, the state banks that are lending to the BRI are increasingly troubled by bad debts. $52 billion worth of loans from Chinese institutions had to be renegotiated in 2020 and 2021. According to data collected by Rhodium Group, a New York-based economic research company, the total value of loans from Chinese institutions that had to be renegotiated in 2020 and 2021 rose by $36 billion from the previous two years, surging to $52 billion. That may be just the tip of a submerged iceberg of debt. Research published last year by AidData, an international development research lab based at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, suggested scores of BRI countries together might have $385 billion in “hidden debts” or undisclosed liabilities that governments might be obliged to pay. Chen of think tank Anbound says recipient countries are refusing to repay debt and that this is "the most worrying” challenge facing the grand undertaking. “Widespread debt evasion and avoidance would have a significant impact on China's financial stability,” he said, “and we are concerned that some countries may try to avoid paying back their debt by utilizing geopolitics and the ideological competition between East and West.” Life in a bubble Power and water shortages in Gwadar have fed local discontent. But perhaps the worst problem associated with the Chinese construction boom is, oddly, joblessness. While the CPEC aimed ambitiously to create 1.2 million jobs, the city of 90,000 has not seen many of these materialize. Indeed, much of the labor for the Chinese-led projects is imported from China. Chinese workers are forbidden from mixing with locals and restricted to a small compound, where everything is imported, and local merchants have not benefited from the new arrivals. “Chinese even bring their tissue papers from China and do not buy anything from the local markets of Gwadar,” said Adam Qadir, a local dealer of automobile oil. “The presence of [the] Chinese is not contributing to the local economy of Gwadar.” Adam Qadir, an automobile oil dealer from Gwadar The local fishing industry, which had accounted for 70% of the economy, has been devastated by Chinese trawlers fishing in the waters off Gwadar and taking their catches to Karachi. Younis Anwar Baloch, general secretary of the Gwadar Fishermen Alliance, told Nikkei Asia that a new highway has blocked the entry of fishermen into the East Bay, making it difficult for local fishermen to get their boats out. They are also prevented by security regulations from fishing near the port. As a result, eight out of 42 fish-processing factories in Gwadar have closed down, according to interviews with fishermen and Bahram Baloch, a local journalist covering economic issues. Tensions over fishing boiled over in November and December after an Islamist religious cleric organized a monthlong sit-in outside the main gate of Gwadar port. Protestors demanded an end to deep sea fish trawling, a reduction in the number of security checkpoints, that local men be allowed to fish near the port and that informal trade with Iran be restarted. The cleric’s protest completely paralyzed port activity in the town, and the government eventually accepted many of his demands. Locals mostly resent the Chinese because of what are seen as excessive security arrangements – and not just in the fishing industry. “We are made to wait for hours due to road closures for security reasons, whenever there is a high-profile visit.” A Gwadar citizen “The government had decided to fence Gwadar with barbed wire for security, and this would have separated people living in different parts of Gwadar,” a resident of Gwadar told Nikkei. Then there are the protests over water. Although the water problem has been resolved this summer, locals say the solution is temporary, with the government relying on nearby dams for water. If it rains less than expected next year, protesters will again be on the streets, locals interviewed by Nikkei say. Moreover, Baloch separatist militants (a 2017 census found the Baloch to represent 56% of the population of Balochistan) recently have mounted many attacks on Chinese interests in the region. As a consequence, Gwadar is considered insecure and thus heavily militarized. To top it off, Gwadar port is not fully functional as it still lacks basic infrastructure such as water and power, which remain at least two years away, locals say. As a result, the movement of cargo is limited. The absence of these services -- not to mention the lack of a railway connecting to the rest of the country -- limits the scope for investment. The attacks by Baloch insurgents have further discouraged investment. Pakistan’s new government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is making a concerted effort to revive the CPEC. Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, who is one of Sharif’s principal advisers on Gwadar, said the government has controlled the security situation to a greater extent and things are moving in the right direction. “[The prime minister] has called meetings in Gwadar and reprimanded officials for the slow pace of work in Gwadar, which will change the things now,” Bhootani told Nikkei. But it might be too late. One apparent casualty is HK Sun Corp., the first Chinese company to set up shop in Gwadar. It handled recycling work at the port. According to a number of locals as well as several news reports, it has left Gwadar due to economic unviability. The Twitter account of the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), denied the news that HK Sun Corp. has wound up operations in Gwadar. Jeremy Garlick, an associate professor of international relations and China studies at Prague University of Economics and Business, believes that the Chinese have realized Gwadar is not viable as a commercial port and not worth developing. “Due to lack of commercial viability and local resistance, the Chinese have been reluctant to invest as much -- or as quickly -- in Gwadar as was expected,” Garlick told Nikkei. However, Garlick says Chinese interest will continue to be driven by strategy. “[Gwadar] port may be of use to [Beijing] in the long run due to its relatively strategic position near the Strait of Hormuz,” he said. “So far the Chinese have no specific use for Gwadar, and it is not used by Chinese military vessels as far as we know.” Garlick added that in the future competition for resources could heat up, and a day might come when Gwadar will serve a purpose as a Chinese base of some kind. “This is why the Chinese are not likely to withdraw [from Gwadar],” Garlick said. Know when to fold ’em BRI projects are also struggling in Cambodia -- one of China’s key allies in Southeast Asia. The coastal city of Sihanoukville starkly highlights the woes of Chinese investment in the country. Official and illicit funds from the giant neighbor to the north have mixed destructively with Phnom Penh’s corrupt ruling elite. On the city’s outskirts sits one of three officially identified “key” Belt and Road projects: the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone. Spanning more than 11 sq. km, it houses more than 170 factories reportedly employing some 30,000 people, largely focused on textiles and apparel, luggage, leather goods, and wood products. Still under development, the joint venture is intended to accommodate up to 300 factories and between 80,000 to 100,000 workers when completed. Power is drawn from nearby China-funded coal plants, and soon another BRI project -- a $2 billion expressway -- will link the area with the capital, Phnom Penh. Sihanoukville demonstrates the extent to which money from China has transformed Cambodia during the past 15 years. China is Cambodia’s largest source of foreign direct investment, and its largest trading partner. Billions of dollars in loans from state banks have been funneled into much-needed roads, bridges, irrigation works, agricultural projects and power plants, with China-bankrolled hydro, coal and solar accounting for 66% of the energy generated in the country. Such infrastructure underpins Cambodia’s most successful industry: its $10 billion apparel and footwear export sector. Cambodia's clothing industry is dominated by Chinese-owned factories that import materials from China, assemble them, then ship finished products, mostly to Europe and the United States. It is not the manufacturing industry, however, that transformed Sihanoukville. Alongside state-backed spending, a parallel flow of loosely regulated private, often illicit, capital has boomed, leading to the uncontrolled and rapid development of areas associated with online gambling and criminal gangs who use trafficked labor to perpetrate international web-based scams. China's gambling companies brought billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of workers to what had historically been a popular seaside travel destination. The ensuing construction boom burst in 2019 when Prime Minister Hun Sen banned online gambling, pointing to the sector’s ties to scams and criminality. Hun Sen’s move was widely seen as the result of pressure from Beijing, which is actively cracking down on illicit capital outflows including those linked to gambling. To this day, more than 1,000 unfinished buildings sprawl throughout Sihanoukville, many abandoned. This collapse was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sites in the city are now hot spots for criminal gangs running online scams, creating an environment where Chinese investors now worry about their security. Researcher Ivan Franceschini, who has studied the transformation of Sihanoukville, says the city’s development highlights the interplay between Chinese state-backed projects and private capital from Chinese investors. “The two categories are not entirely separate: First, state-backed investment in infrastructure has facilitated and encouraged the inflow of private investment; second, some private projects have subcontracted construction to Chinese state-owned companies,” said Franceschini, a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian National University. “However, while these overlaps should not be ignored, it is important not to lose perspective and subsume all Chinese investment in the city, including the shadiest gambling and scamming operations that have made headlines in the past few years, under one single agenda linked to the Chinese party-state.” White elephants Out on the Indian Ocean, the BRI has played another unwanted role. In Sri Lanka, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country in July after demonstrators angry at a deepening economic crisis stormed his official residence. While there were bigger facets to this than the BRI, the events severely damaged the island’s image as a poster child for Chinese investment. Sri Lanka’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport opened to much fanfare in 2013 but has barely been used since. “The World’s Emptiest International Airport,” as it was once dubbed, has other problems: Suren Ratwatte, former chief executive officer of SriLankan Airlines, told Nikkei that the airport was built on a traditional elephant migration route. “The airport has a serious problem with elephants, wild boar, peacocks … all of which can seriously damage an aircraft.” Suren Ratwatte, former executive officer of SriLankan Airlines A financial problem also persists as Sri Lanka struggles to settle the $190 million loan from China Exim Bank for the airport. The loan forms a large chunk of the debt that the country effectively defaulted on in May. Chinese loans triggered an infrastructure boom in Sri Lanka during the final years of the South Asian nation’s nearly 30-year ethnic conflict between the government and Tamil separatist rebels. After the war ended, in May 2009, the debt from China Exim Bank loomed large. Muscular, modern buildings rose out of a remote landscape along the island’s southern coast, with thick, shrub forests where wild elephants, boar and monkeys roamed. There was little mystery to why Chinese money was transforming this rural outpost -- it was the home turf of then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had emerged as the country’s most popular politician on the back of winning the war. These projects included the new airport at Mattala and a new port at Hambantota, both of which have been added to the wider portfolio of China’s debt-funded BRI projects across Sri Lanka. Two Sri Lankan economists who have crunched the numbers estimate that Beijing’s total public and publicly guaranteed (PPG) debt through the China Exim Bank and China Development Bank between 2001 and 2021 to be close to $9.95 billion, with debt service repayments of $4.5 billion in the same period. BRI projects are now under increased scrutiny after Sri Lanka declared itself officially bankrupt in July. That month, the island failed for the first time to service a foreign debt, paying $78.13 million in interest for a $1.25 billion international sovereign bond. By then, the $81 billion economy was saddled with a staggering $51 billion in outstanding external debt. Sri Lankan defenders of the BRI dismiss the view of Chinese debt sinking the island’s economy as barbs leveled with geopolitical motives. “The West and India see China’s lending practices as ‘debt-trap diplomacy,’” said Maya Majueran, director of BRI Sri Lanka, an independent business consultancy. “There is no evidence to prove that China aims to deliberately push poor countries into debt.” Maya Majueran, director of consultancy BRI Sri Lanka A similar controversy once swirled around the $1.5 billion Hambantota port, built with five China Exim Bank loans over two phases. It was as empty as the Mattala Airport during its first seven years, seeing only 170 cargo ships drop anchor, despite straddling one of the busiest shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean. But its economic fortunes changed by 2018, after the Sri Lankan government ditched the national port operator and offered the port on a 99-year-lease in a $1.1 billion public-private partnership deal, giving China Merchants Port Holdings an 85% stake. The China Merchants Port deal became a geopolitical lightning rod, with Western governments, led by the U.S., pointing at the port as an example of a debt-for-equity swap. Hambantota International Port has come to represent China’s “debt diplomacy.” Yet recent revelations by a Sri Lankan parliamentary committee suggest otherwise, indicating that Sri Lanka is still paying off this debt. Last year, the HIP handled 2.3 million metric tons of cargo, a 38% jump from the previous year, according to the port’s records. The weight of Chinese debt, which funded controversial BRI projects, has placed Beijing’s premier lending banks in the crosshairs. Thilina Panduwawala, head of economic research at Frontier Research, a Colombo-based consultancy said domestic political considerations have driven most of this infrastructure growth, and “the country is paying a price for (this) political rush.” Professor Zhu Jianrong, a Chinese political scholar at Tokyo's Toyo Gakuen University, rejected the notion that China went in with the intent of entrapping the country with debt, noting that it was the Sri Lankan government that first approached China for the development. He also pointed to a clause in the contract between the two nations that states that military use of the port is banned. Etsuyo Arai, director of the South Asian Studies Group at JETRO's Institute of Developing Economies, said that while Sri Lanka's large debt to China triggered the current crisis, the biggest chunk of Sri Lanka's repayment obligations were to international sovereign bonds and not to China. "Sri Lanka's woes are more about the country's economic mismanagement rather than because of China," she said. Shrinking to fit Chen of Beijing-based think tank Anbound said China has already started to be more cautious about new BRI projects. If a project is too risky, he said, China’s attitude will immediately tend to be conservative. Chen told Nikkei: “State-owned companies are mentioning less and less about financial expansion along BRI, and what they are mentioning more now is, will you get your money back for this project?” “The primary issue now is stability, not growth.” Chen Gong, founder of Beijing-based think tank Anbound Although the overall development environment around the BRI has worsened, one cannot expect the Chinese government to come out and announce it won't stay the course, Chen told Nikkei. The BRI, after all, has been a top priority for China, he noted. Whether it remains so can only be determined after the 20th Party Congress scheduled for this fall. “It is inevitable that the BRI will be adjusted,” Chen said. “And it may shrink from a strategic vision of economic cooperation across land and sea to a regional multilateral cooperation initiative, or completely abandoned on a gradual basis -- again depending on the top leader's will.”
  21. Trump imposes 25% tariff on Chinese goodshttps://www.bbc.com/news/business-44498484?SThisFB
  22. SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- A former senior executive of Samsung Electronics Co. has been arrested and indicted for stealing the chip giant's trade secrets to build a copycat chip plant in China, prosecutors said Monday. The 65-year-old former executive, whose name is withheld, was charged with violating the industrial technology protection and unfair competition prevention laws, according to the Suwon District Prosecutors Office. He is accused of attempting to build a complete copy of Samsung's semiconductor factory in China after illegally acquiring the company's confidential data, including chip plant basic engineering data (BED) and process layout and design drawings, from August 2018 to 2019. The prosecution also indicted six other people -- one employee of a Samsung Electronics subcontractor and five employees of a Chinese chipmaker established by the former executive -- without detention on charges of colluding in the alleged technology leak. BED is a technology needed to ensure impurities do not exist in semiconductor manufacturing facilities. Process layout contains information on the floor plan and dimension of a chip plant's eight core processes for semiconductor production. Such trade secrets essential for the manufacturing of sub-30-nano DRAM and NAND flash chips are considered national core technologies. According to prosecutors, the former executive had attempted to use the stolen technologies and data to build a copy of Samsung Electronics chip plant just 1.5 kilometers away from the company's chip plant in Xian, western China. But his plan failed to materialize as a Taiwanese company broke its promise to invest 8 trillion won (US$6.2 billion) in the project, they said. Instead, the former executive reportedly received an investment worth 460 billion won from Chinese investors and produced trial products from a chip manufacturing plant built on the basis of Samsung technology in Chengdu last year. His Chinese chip plant is known to have hired about 200 people from Samsung and SK hynix Inc. He allegedly instructed his employees to obtain and use Samsung's semiconductor design data and other trade secrets and they participated in the crime according to his instructions, prosecutors said, estimating Samsung suffered damage of at least 300 billion won due to the technology leaks. https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20230612005100315
  23. WASHINGTON: China will once again start issuing a range of visas to foreigners as of Wednesday (Mar 15), the country's embassy in Washington said, a major easing of travel restrictions in force since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move marks the latest step towards reopening China to the outside world, as Beijing gradually breaks with the strict zero-COVID strategy that defined its pandemic response until a few months ago. In addition to new travel documents being reviewed and approved, visas issued before Mar 28, 2020 that are still valid will once again allow entry to China, said the embassy notice posted on Monday, translated by AFP from Chinese. The updated policy will also allow for the resumption of visa-free travel for those arriving in cruise ships to Shanghai, as well as for certain tourist groups from Hong Kong, Macao and countries within the ASEAN regional grouping, the notice said. China received 65.7 million international visitors in 2019, according to data from the UN World Tourism Organization, before the pandemic led the country to seal itself off from the rest of the world. While most other countries began fully reopening their economies and welcoming international travelers earlier, China only began emerging from its strict COVID-19 containment policies in late 2022, after rare demonstrations against President Xi Jinping's signature zero-COVID strategy broke out across the country. Those protests in late November expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for Xi to resign, turning into the most widespread opposition to communist rule since the 1989 democracy uprising that the military crushed. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/china-lifts-visa-curbs-foreigners-travel-restrictions-covid-19-3344721
  24. The ice cream saga sibeh power leh... BMW Mini Ice Cream Is Only For Foreigners, Stock Price Plummeted: The Loss Is Equivalent To 460 Million Ice Creams! At the Shanghai Auto Show, netizens broke the news that the staff at the BMW Mini booth refused to distribute ice cream to Chinese visitors, claiming that it was gone, but then not only gave ice cream to foreigners, but two girls also thoughtfully taught foreigners how to eat it. This kind of differential treatment caused dissatisfaction on the Internet. BMW officials later apologized, but did not quell the anger. This incident was not only fermented in China, but was even reported abroad. As a result, BMW shares fell 3%.The market value has evaporated by 2.16 billion euros, or about 16.3 billion yuan,It can be said that a box of ice cream caused a murder, and the loss was great. Many people have no idea about this loss, so it’s easy to understand if you switch to the Luneurs ice cream presented by BMW. The price of this store is not cheap, and a box costs 30 to 40 yuan.Some netizens calculated that the market value lost by BMW is enough to buy 460 million Luneurs ice cream, not to mention giving away a circle at the auto show, it is enough for BMW to invite 1/3 of the people in the country to eat ice cream. The store also issued a statement before, denying that the staff belonged to their family. “The Luneurs brand did not participate in any on-site operations of BMW’s Mini brand activities during the Shanghai Auto Show. We are only a supplier of ice cream products. The two people who appeared in the video The staff and their specific services are not our responsibility and have nothing to do with this brand.”
  25. I wonder how the finance department approve the budget for such lucky draw prizes. If the winner is a senior management (say CEO, COO, CFO, etc.), the amount is huge enough to full cash a property, but on the other end of the spectrum, if say a production worker, technician, clerk, etc. wins the prize, the payout is barely enough to buy a car (even in China). Me? The amount is still lesser the cost of current cat A COE, how pathetic is my pay.😭 Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/employee-at-chinese-company-wins-365-days-of-paid-leave-at-annual-dinner Too good to be true? An employee of an unnamed firm in Shenzhen, China, was the envy of a nation when he won a year’s worth of paid leave at his company’s annual dinner on Sunday. The man, who reportedly holds a managerial position in his firm, was seen in a viral video holding a big cheque with the words “365 days of paid leave” emblazoned on it. An administrative employee at the company, identified as Ms Chen, can be heard in the video explaining that the winner had sought to clarify repeatedly if the prize was real. Even the boss was “stunned” someone had won the prize, she said. The company’s annual dinner had not been held for three years due to the pandemic, according to Chinese media, and a lucky draw was held this time round to provide its employees some relief from work stress. Ms Chen added that the company will discuss with the winner if he would prefer to encash or enjoy his paid leave. Local media reported that the man often travels as part of his job responsibilities. Reports of the large prize have raised envy among Chinese netizens, with some inquiring tongue-in-cheek about vacancies at the company. But the unusual nature of the prize left others discussing its practicality. One commenter on Douyin, TikTok’s sister app in China, said: “Dare he accept the prize? After a year, he might return to find someone else in his role.” It was not the first time a Chinese company has offered a year of paid leave as a lucky draw grand prize. In January 2022, a sales employee from another company, also in Shenzhen, similarly struck the jackpot of 365 days of paid leave. The employee ended up converting a portion of his award into cash and also donated part of it to local charities, Chinese media reported.
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