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Macau ties up with BOC in the Bay

Macau’s government has signed an agreement with the city’s dominant financial institution, Bank of China, to promote a wide range of services and areas of cooperation linked to the Greater Bay Area. This would focus on “Cooperation in people’s livelihood, government and banking coordination, industrial talent cultivation, Sino-Portuguese platform finance and special-characteristic financial development,” reports China Daily Hong Kong.

Under the agreement, Macau residents may use their identity cards as legal documents for opening accounts, applying for bank cards, registering and trading when they use certain services in financial institutions affiliated to BOC within the Bay Area. This would also apply to BOC’s more than 500 branch offices overseas.

Following Macau regulations, BOC will meanwhile build a cross-border “capital pool” for Macau enterprises to make use of in the Bay Area, as well as overseas.

Foshan brings HKUST to Nanhai district

Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology (HKUST) will build a new facility in Foshan’s Nanhai district focused on “smart manufacturing” research and innovation. The university signed an agreement to build the facility together with the district and city governments, reports the Nanfang Daily.

“As a leading manufacturing base in China, Foshan has its traditional strengths,” said Zhu Wei, Mayor of Foshan. “We have a complete manufacturing value chain, but what we have been lacking is the support of technological research and development from institutes of higher learning.”

Zhu added that for Foshan to capture the opportunities of the Greater Bay Area, the city needs to strengthen its research-to-production ties with leading academic institutions to support the development of the emerging industries.

Alibaba put RMB10b into Guangzhou last year

Online behemoth Alibaba put more than RMB10b into Guangzhou last year, investing in no fewer than 44 companies. This is according to Guo Jijun, vice president of Alibaba Group, who was speaking at this week’s 2019 Guangzhou Annual Investment Conference. The Hangzhou-based company paid more than RMB1.1 billion in tax to the city last year, reports the 21st Business Herald.

“Guangzhou has become a very important base for Alibaba,” Guo said. The group has already chosen the city for the headquarters of its mobile internet and industrial internet divisions, and it is the southern base of Alibaba Health. The group plans to further expand in Guangzhou, using the city as a base for its development plans in the region.

Guo said Guangzhou has already shown how important its consumer market is to Alibaba’s current and future growth. During last year’s November 11 “Singles’ Day” shopping festival, the group’s logistics arm, Cainiao, handled more than one billion order packages nationwide, of which about 100 million came from Guangzhou.

Alibaba Cloud has been serving many enterprises in the Guangzhou region, Guo added.  “What we’ve seen is a very pro-active drive of the city,” Guo said. “We believe with the expansion of [this] industrial value chain, the city’s entire economy will benefit.”

StanChart gets going on virtual bank

As one of the first three joint ventures granted a virtual banking license in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered has embarked on a PR effort to raise awareness of what it is doing. The bank’s Hong Kong CEO, Mary Huen Wai-yi, told the 21st Century Business Herald that the virtual bank will focus initially on providing basic deposit and lending services, which would not have minimum-balance requirements, while the process of opening an account would be easier than at a traditional bank.

Standard Chartered won the license in a venture together with Hong Kong Telecom, PCCW and China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip. Huen did not reveal the product brand that will be offered by SC Digital Solutions, but said that it has already recruited around 100 staff from home and abroad.

Huen said the bank will ramp up its pre-opening operations over the next six to nine months. It is building capabilities in risk management, anti-money laundering, identity verification and online account set-up. The goal is to bring banking services into people’s day to day lifestyles – which are increasingly online. For example, if a user needs to book an overseas hotel through Ctrip, they should be able to do currency exchange and buy travel insurance seamlessly with the new bank.

Guangdong puts focus on sustainable development

Guangdong is reviewing a proposal by the National Environmental Protection Supervision Committee to make environmental protection a top priority in the development of the Greater Bay Area. According to Chinese media, the provincial government will now work to compile and implement relevant policies, although the proposal suggests that a “centrally coordinated” body be set up among the 11 GBA cities, including the two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau.

The eco-environment within the Greater Bay Area still has some catch-up work to do compared to other Bay Areas around the world, the proposal pointed out. Here, every US$10,000 of GDP consumes 214.47 cubic meters of water, 30% more than the Tokyo Bay Area. Energy consumption per unit of GDP, meanwhile, is at least twice its peers in Japan and the US.

Moreover, local residents probably don’t need to be reminded that air quality around the GBA falls far behind its global counterparts, with an average annual concentration of PM2.5 roughly three times the international standard. And although great strides have been made in tackling water pollution in recent years, toxic water still accounts for nearly 10% of the GBA’s surface water.

The proposal calls for the development of a “world-class quality” eco-environment within the GBA.

 

Guangzhou’s mega flower garden

Guangzhou is to build a mega flower garden that will rival the Netherlands’ Keukenhof or Canada’s Butchart Gardens. Scheduled for construction this month, the proposed garden at the southern foothill of Baiyun Mountain, near Luhu Park, has a reserved area of 151 hectares. The first phase of the garden occupies 200 acres and is slated for opening before the October Golden Week holidays this year. The garden will also include China’s largest “skywalk” through the trees, where you can take in the views of Yuexiu Mountain, Huaguo Mountain and Baiyun Mountain. Three metro stations have also been planned for the garden area to allow easy access.

Dongguan’s smart manufacturing DNA

Here’s another interesting feature story about Dongguan, which appeared in the Guangzhou Daily.

Dongguan Mayor Han Yafei said at last month’s China Development Forum that one out of every four mobile phones in the world is made in Dongguan. Only few months ago, it was still only one in five.

The opening of the Nansha Bridge and the announcement of the manufacturing industry’s tax rate reduced to 13% from 16% have given the manufacturing industry along the Pearl River Delta a new boost and Dongguan seems to be poised to reap the benefits, according to the report.

Currently, Dongguan is the centre of an enviable supply chain of smart phone manufacturing, from design concepts to component manufacturing to overall unit production. The city has 73 communications technology enterprises. The mobile phone output of Huawei, OPPO and Vivo are China’s top three and, together with Apple and Samsung, the world’s top five.

At the city’s harborside new district, OPPO recently secured a 800,000 square meter parcel for RMB517 million. The company plans to invest RMB5 billion in the next four years to build another smart manufacturing center there.

In the same area sits China’s flagship state-owned chipmaker, Tsinghua Unigroup, with a 2000-acre industrial park that took in over RMB100 billion of investment, the largest in Dongguan’s history.

All of this could be said goes back to 1995, when the world’s then-leading phone-maker, Nokia, picked the city as its manufacturing base. It was soon followed by Samsung. Both companies formed an upstream and downstream supply chain in the area.

Also in the same year, Chinese entrepreneur Duan Yongping, a widely regarded business leader, was attracted to found BBK Electronics. The company produced cells phones, VCD players, DVD players, TVs and computers, which later morphed into some of China’s leading IT manufacturing enterprises, of which OPPO and VIVO are the best-known.

In 2011, both OPPO and VIVO entered the smartphone manufacturing industry. Today, there are about 1,000 downstream and upstream enterprises in the area supporting these two major phone-makers.

No, China did not announce those scary new visa rules

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That’s Shenzhen has clarified an April’s Fool’s prank, stating that immigration rules have been put in place that “will affect the majority of expats.” The fake article stipulates that foreigners working in China will need to attend “mandatory culture classes” and language classes, while marriage visas are said to “require a social media review.” Education visas, meanwhile, are said to require that tests “be given out on a weekly basis and will require a weekly in-person trip to the immigration office.”

That’s Shenzhen says a check on China Daily and Xinhua did not yield any news of recent visa changes for foreigners. In fact, most of the recent news regarding Chinese visas has been focused on how the country is making it easier for foreign professionals to obtain work and residence permits.

Tencent plans $5b dollar bond sale

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Shenzhen-based Tencent is planning to raise about US$5 billion in US dollar-denominated bonds this week, reports Reuters.

The deal could be Asia’s largest so far this year, Refinitiv data shows. Chinese property developer Evergrande, also Shenzhen-based, sold $2.8 billion in bonds in January, currently the biggest issue.

Tencent said in an exchange filing on Monday it had increased its Global Medium Term Note Programme limit to $20 billion from $10 billion and that it planned to conduct an “international offering”, without specifying any size. The tech giant has a US$6 billion offshore issuance quota from China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Reuters cites an unnamed source as saying.

Gay dating app Grindr hits snag with U.S. regulators

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It may not be well known that Shenzhen-listed Kunlun Tech is the Chinese owner of U.S. gay dating app Grindr. The Beijing-based company is talking with the US agency that overseas cross-border acquisitions for national security risks, after an earlier report said the agency could be aiming to force a divestiture, reports Caixin Global.

Kunlun Tech made headlines when it purchased the popular Grindr in two stages in 2016 and 2017 for a combined total of about US$250 million. It said at the time the move was aimed at diversifying beyond its roots as a game operator into social media.

A forced sale of Grindr would mark one of the first such cases for CFIUS involving an internet asset. It would also mark one of the first times an increasingly security-conscious White House used CFIUS to undo a deal that was already consummated.