All posts by Greater Bay Insight

Coronavirus wrap: WHO steps up

The novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCov, has infected 9,692 people in China, surpassing the number of infections during the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. The epidemic has killed 213, up from 171 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.  

The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday. The announcement came as a reverse of last week’s decision not to do so.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Hong Kong has recorded 12 confirmed cases as of Thursday, adding two new cases from a day earlier. According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection, one case is the 37-year-old daughter of a couple arriving in the city from Wuhan on January 22, whose infections have been confirmed a few days earlier. It is believed to be the first human-to-human transmission in the city, as the female patient, who lives and works in Hong Kong, has reportedly stayed with her parents for six days. The other case was a 75-year-old man who had reportedly visited Guangdong and Macau over the past month.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced a series of measures to contain the outbreak, including suspending high-speed train and ferry services that cross the border with the mainland and halving the number of flights to and from the mainland. The government has also banned Hubei residents or visitors having visited Hubei over the past two weeks to enter the city since Monday. People will no longer receive travel permits to visit Hong Kong from the mainland authorities, as requested by the Hong Kong government.

Macau has reported seven confirmed cases as of Thursday. The latest two cases were confirmed on Monday, with no new cases added during the past four days. All of the seven cases were in mild condition, and 20 more people with close contacts or suspected symptoms have been placed under quarantine, according to Macau’s health authorities. There are 184 people from Hubei province staying in the city as of today, with almost half from Wuhan, according to the Macau police.

Neighbouring Guangdong has reported 436 confirmed cases as of Friday noon, adding 43 new infections on Friday alone. This is the third-largest number of infections in the country, following Hubei and the Zhejiang. There have been 112 in Guangzhou, 134 in Shenzhen, 33 in Foshan, 34 in Zhuhai, 18 in Zhongshan, 20 in Huizhou, 16 in Dongguan, six in Zhaoqing and two in Jiangmen. 1,950 people with close contacts with the infected ones are still under medical observation.

To contain further spread of the virus amid increasing cases of human-to-human transmission, provincial authorities have announced to extend the Chinese New Year Holiday for another week to February 9, southcn.com reported.

The outbreak would pose a further threat to Hong Kong’s property market which has been hammered by the ongoing anti-government protests with a 1.7% drop in December, property analysts said.

The coronavirus outbreak is likely to bring down the city’s house prices further by 3% to 5% in the first quarter this year, said Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp Properties, citing the expanding epidemic and negative market sentiments, as quoted by SCMP.

While Thomas Lam, executive director at Knight Frank, expected the number of transactions to slide by up to 35% in the several coming months and prices to drop by up to 10% this year. Among all types of homes, luxury homes as well as nano flats – tiny apartments no larger than a parking space – will come under great pressure, Lam added.

Zhuhai sees new way for SOEs to groom talent

Is a bold new way to recruit and manage talent at state-owned enterprises being experimented with in Zhuhai? It might be, judging by an announcement today by the city government that it will allow “market-oriented recruitment” to play a greater role in the selection of corporate leaders.

Accordiong to local media, Zhuhai envisages “fully implementing the market-oriented recruitment mechanism and incentive restraint mechanism”. By 2022, state-owned assets supervision will “mainly focus” on management of capital – 1.5 trillion yuan worth of local SOE assets, to be precise – rather than human resources. 

Continue reading Zhuhai sees new way for SOEs to groom talent

Jiangmen bullish on economy in 2020

Jiangmen’s leadership, like its counterpart in Foshan, obviously can’t wait for the National Bureau of Statistics to collate its GDP data for 2019. The city put out a report via local media today saying that its economy was expected to have generated more than 300 billion yuan, once the full-year numbers for 2019 are released. 

If confirmed, this would not be something to crow about on its own. The report didn’t say what the growth rate would be. By our reckoning, 300 billion yuan would be only 3% up on 2018, second-slowest among the nine GBA cities in Guangdong.

However, what the report prefers to focus on is investment, which is usually a better indicator of future growth. In this, the city seems more confident, saying that in the first 11 months of 2019, its growth rate of utilized foreign investment ranked first in the region, while high-tech development had boosted industrial investment to fifth-highest in the province, with the number of high-tech enterprises exceeding 1,500 for the first time.

Looking forward, Jiangmen seems to be focused on establishing trans-regional state-owned enterprises with other cities. This will be one to watch in 2020. 

Judicial case seminar examines three systems

A groundbreaking legal seminar was held in Guangzhou this week, wherein judges and lawyers from the Greater Bay Area’s three jurisdictions of Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong conducted mock trials of a cross-border trademark protection case. Each followed their own litigation procedures, which allowed the participants to compare the differences.

It was a major event, judging by the commentary that followed in local media. Pei Xianding, a full-time member of the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People’s Court, said that the seminar had “helped to promote judicial exchanges and mutual learning”. Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary, Teresa Cheng, said that using the same case as the basis for discussion and study in a simulated court mode would help to “accelerate the construction of a business environment grounded in the rule of law in the Greater Bay Area”.

Judicial exchanges between the three jurisdictions have been ramping up. Key recent agreements have included those covering mutual recognition of qualifications, as well as guidelines on cross-border mediation. 

Read more (in Chinese)

China’s new antitrust law a template for HK, Macau?

Caixin has a good story about the new draft antitrust law released last week in Beijing, which has much sharper teeth and is clearly aimed at the country’s digital conglomerates. 

Carrying penalties of between 1% and 10% of a company’s previous year’s revenues, or as much as 50 million yuan for those not yet generating revenues, the new law carries a heavy stick. 

Continue reading China’s new antitrust law a template for HK, Macau?

08/01 GBA Briefs

GBA Association opens in HK: The Greater Bay Area Federation of Industry and Commerce, an organization dedicated to fostering the industrial and business cooperation in the region, opened its new headquarters in Hong Kong on Tuesday. It will organize a series of networking events, and help GBA companies raise money in Hong Kong. Read more (in Chinese)

Megvii IPO: Megvii, the Chinese facial recognition startup blacklisted by the US, resumed its $500 million IPO plan in Hong Kong as the city’s bourse cleared its application, after the process was postponed in November. Read more on Reuters.

Realme ambitious: Realme, a Shenzhen-based smartphone manufacturer spinning off from the smartphone giant Oppo, aims to double the number of handsets it ships in 2020 to 50 million, after it saw rampant expansion in India in 2019. Read more on Reuters.

Virus grows: Thirty patients in Hong Kong were in hospital isolation with symptoms of fever and respiratory infection or pneumonia, with a third education institution reporting a suspected case on Tuesday night, all after visiting Wuhan. Read more on SCMP.

Dongguan raises bar on talent incentives

Dongguan has adopted an aggressive policy to attract and retain qualified “talents”, chief of which is a housing policy that provides free rental accommodation of up to eight years in a 200 sqm apartment. “Super Talents” are entitled to a housing subsidy of up to 2.5 million yuan or a rental subsidy of up to 5,000 yuan per month for 3 years. “Basic Talents,” get incentives, too, such as subsidies on public rental housing or preferential rents.

Local media reported that the new regulation is focused on Songshan Lake, Binhai Bay, and the Neutron Science City, among other sites. It goes hand-in-hand with construction planning, requiring the ratio of new land supply for projects, and urban renewal projects, to set aside not less than 10% of housing for talents.

The plan also allows various kinds of qualified talents to enjoy the same treatment in purchasing commercial housing as Dongguan registered residents (i.e., those with a local hukou).

Dongguan aims to attract HK services

Hong Kong companies have been the mainstay of Dongguan’s development in the Reform and Opening era, but mostly in manufacturing. Dongguan wants to upgrade the relationship to one that is focused on services, and it has begun construction of a new “Hong Kong Center” to achieve that.

Pushing this is the Dongguan Foreign Enterprise Association, which will work with the city government to develop the center, located in its main central business district. It will cost 4 billion yuan and cover an area of 145,000 sqm, with three commercial buildings. 

It’s not like Hong Kong services companies don’t know where Dongguan is, of course. In 2018, Dongguan received 3,308 delegations representing Hong Kong enterprises, while it sent 254 delegations to Hong Kong. These covered trade, education, accounting, finance, medical, environmental protection, and legal services, among other. 

Read more (in Chinese)