GBA Briefs: 4/16/2020

HK judge speaks up: Hong Kong’s top judge, Geoffrey Ma, has dismissed suggestions he has experienced interference from Beijing over the city’s judicial independence, including the appointment of judges. His statement came in response to a Reuters news report that cited “people close to” Ma as saying he had been forced to contend with Communist Party officials who believed the rule of law could be used as a tool to preserve one-party rule. SCMP.

Guangdong in rural pull: Guangdong has launched a major push to stimulate consumption in the countryside, offering subsidies for rural residents on a range of consumer goods, including cars, 4K televisions, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, computers, phones, rice cookers and water heaters. Yicai.

Skynet spreads: Since the launch of China’s “Skynet” program in 2015, Guangdong has arrested 1,241 fugitives repatriated from overseas, along with 1.18 billion yuan in assets. Last year saw 506 people returned, including 316 Party members and state officials. SCN.

Canton WeFair: Tencent has been appointed official technology supplier for the upcoming Canton Fair, which will be conducted entirely online in mid-June, after having been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. More than 100,000 Chinese and foreign companies will be able to use WeChat, Tencent Cloud, Tencent Conference, Translator and other products and services. The company will also build an online live broadcast platform, with facilities for exhibitors. SCN.

Tech Commissioners: Guangdong’s Provincial Department of Science and Technology has established a new online platform for matching companies with the tech experts they need in order to transform their businesses. Based on Huazhuan.com, the official portal of the South China Technology Transfer Center, the provincial government will subsidize the cost of the platform’s “commissioners” up to a certain amount. SCN.

Instant rebates: Shenzhen now processes export-tax rebates for companies based in the city on the same working day. It is all done online. SZN.

Farm upgrades: More than 30 of Shenzhen’s leading companies have signed cooperation projects with farms in Guangxi province as part of the city’s poverty-alleviation work. The projects are aimed at building 30-50 new “agricultural bases” deploying new technologies. SZN.

Damn jams: Around 80% of respondents to a survey in Shenzhen say they regularly encounter traffic jams to and from work. SZN.

Trust in change: Foreign firms are about to find it easier to invest in China’s US$3 trillion trust industry as the government will scrap a US$1 billion entry barrier. But buyer beware: around one-third of all trust companies were fined by regulators last year for engaging in “shadow banking” beyond their official remit. Caixin.

Europeans like China: The head of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Jörg Wuttke, says European manufacturers wouldn’t find it easy to move their operations back to their home countries, as they involve a lot of high-tech elements that are difficult to move. Also, supply chain security is not their only concern. The location of future demand and markets is also a key point of consideration. Caixin.

Peg firm: Hong Kong is capable of withstanding any currency attack, even as it digs deeper than ever before into its fiscal reserves to survive the coronavirus crisis and the budget deficit may hit HK$300 billion, according to Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po. SCMP.

Cathay nervous: Cathay Pacific is “exploring all options” to ensure the airline group survives the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Preserving cash and cutting spending were its biggest priorities, the carrier said, as it reported a 90 per cent year-on-year drop in passenger volume for March. SCMP.

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