Huizhou plans new 100b yuan cluster

Huizhou is building a new industrial park in its Huiyang district that will be generating 100 billion yuan in output within the next 5-8 years, local media reported the city’s government as saying. Clustered on the district’s Sanhe street, it will actually be a collection of buildings and production facilities: Huiyang Xiangling Intelligent Science and Technology Industrial Area, Huaxia-Shunze Information Industry Cluster Area, and Wandong Wisdom Valley Industrial Area.

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‘Smartphone City’ aims high with R&D boost

One of the reasons for Dongguan having enjoyed such a strong economic performance in 2019 (GDP +7%) is because China’s smartphone industry escaped the ire of US President Donald Trump. Or, more particularly, it is why Chang’an Town, home of Vivo and OPPO, had a good year. With smartphones managing to avoid tariffs in the US-China trade war, the town’s GDP broke the 70 billion mark thanks to surging industrial output that reached 266.73 billion yuan. 

More importantly, however, 2019 will be remembered as the year these homegrown tech giants broke ground on large-scale new R&D centers in the town, pushing up fixed-asset investment by 42% to 7.44 billion yuan.

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Zhuhai grows 6.8%, upbeat on services

Zhuhai got a boost last year from the final stages of construction of the Hengqin Railway Station, which is due to open soon, but its economy has also been doing surprisingly well thanks to growth in tech manufacturing and services, latest preliminary data shows.

The city’s leadership announced this week GDP growth of 6.8%, putting Zhuhai tied with Foshan and behind only Dongguan and Shenzhen (+7% each) among the GBA’s fastest-growing cities.

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GBA Briefs: 1/21/2020

AlipayHK in Guangzhou: Hong Kong residents are now able to use their AlipayHK apps to ride the bus in Guangzhou. Subway systems are expected to follow in June. Read more (in Chinese)

HK downgrade: Moody’s has downgraded Hong Kong’s sovereign rating due to “inertia” by the government in handling the protests. Read more on Caixin.

Airports soar: Guangzhou’s Baiyun and Shenzhen’s Bao’an international airports have seen their traffic overtake Hong Kong’s. Read more (in Chinese)

Coronavirus: infections spread in GBA

Two more cities in the Greater Bay Area – Zhongshan and Zhaoqing – have confirmed their first infections of the Wuhan coronavirus, while new cases have cropped up in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau.

A total of 32 cases were confirmed in Guangdong as of Wednesday midnight, according to the Guangdong Health Commission. They include five in Guangzhou, 15 in Shenzhen, four in Zhuhai, two in Shaoguan, two in Zhanjiang, and one each in Foshan, Huizhou, Zhongshan and Zhaoqing. Fifteen are in critical condition, while four have no recorded history of visiting or living in Wuhan, the epicentre of the pneumonia outbreak, which was put under general quarantine today.

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Zhongshan pledges to catch up

As the annual report cards have been read out by each of the GBA’s nine mayors in recent days, it has become clearer that 2019 was much worse for the “little tigers” than for the advanced-manufacturing giants: Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Huizhou have been hit harder by the external trade slowdown than Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan. (Zhuhai has been an exceptional case because of Hengqin’s development.)

They and their bosses, the party secretaries, have now all trooped up to Guangzhou for the provincial gatherings, where they must explain to each other what is going on at home. Some are coy. Others, like Zhongshan’s newly installed Party Secretary, Lai Zehua, have chosen to bravely lay out how bad the situation has become, while pledging to catch up with a bold industrial-upgrading plan in the coming years. 

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Zhuhai mayor speaks out on Line 18

Zhuhai’s Mayor, Yao Yisheng, turned a few heads at the Guangdong provincial congress’ media session yesterday when he called out to Guangzhou’s deputy mayor, saying “I want to connect with you!”

He was not referring to their personal guanxi, of course, but to the stalled plan for Guangzhou’s Line 18 to be extended further southwards once it opens in Nansha later this year. Zhuhai and Zhongshan have been eagerly awaiting news of progress on the line, which has not been forthcoming since around September last year, according to local media.

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GBA Briefs: 1/17/2020

HK to plunge: Office rents in Hong Kong’s Central district could plunge by as much as 40% in the next three years, according to one forecast. Read more on SCMP.

Beijing to tighten: Local governments are going to come under tighter financial control by the central government as the FSDC sets up special units within provincial branches of the PBOC. Read more on Caixin.

Financials to enter: Beijing has opened its financial markets wider in the latest US-China trade agreement. Caixin looks at what this means for US firms.

‘Seismic’ shift in HK: One of Hong Kong CE Carrie Lam’s closest advisers says the recent HK$10bn welfare package represents a “seismic” shift in the administration’s thinking. (We tend to agree, and expect this is just a start.) Read more on SCMP.