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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.

Guangzhou Pass to spread to GBA cities

Guangzhou’s multi-functional electronic pass for public transport services will spread to other cities in the Greater Bay Area, including Hong Kong and Macau, over the next three years.

A Guangzhou Public Transport spokesperson told local media that with the development of the Greater Bay Area, the “Yang Cheng Tong” system will be upgraded with cutting-edge technology to better serve its 89 million users. It is already used in 21 cities across Guangdong.

Watch the video clip (in Chinese).

SZ, HK push forward cross-boundary park

A major policymaking conference wrapped up in Shenzhen yesterday at which leaders from Hong Kong and Shenzhen declared their intention to “enhance cooperation in science and innovation” by using their “joint resources in the Greater Bay Area.”

A news conference held by Shenzhen Mayor Chen Rugui and Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung also gave further details about the ambitious Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Science Park, a project jointly developed by the two cities in the Lok Ma Chau Loop area. The project will focus on boosting joint capabilities in research and development, intellectual property, trade, financing and law.

“The development of the Loop area is in the overall planning and preparatory period, and the city government is applying to the central government to pilot new financial and tax incentives that could benefit Hong Kong and expatriate employees working in the area,” said Chen.

According to Chen, Shenzhen has initiated infrastructure planning for the Loop area. The plan includes reconstruction of Huanggang into a “super checkpoint” with six times the present capacity.

Beijing backs HK for lead in aviation

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) says Hong Kong is a “very important location” for both the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area. Moreover, it is “fully behind Hong Kong taking a leading role as an air hub to help advance China’s ambitious global trade and infrastructure strategy,” the SCMP reported.

According to the SCMP, the CAAC’s deputy administrator, Dong Zhiyi, made the comment at the Aviation Silk Road International Conference currently taking place in Hong Kong. It follows an announcement yesterday by the Hong Kong International Airport’s chief, at the same conference, that HKIA aims to nearly double the number of remote check-in and bag-drop facilities in mainland cities to 29 over the next six years, to capture a greater share of cross-border air travel.

Hong Kong’s Finance Secretary, Paul Chan, was also in cheerleading mode for the city at the conference, saying that Hong Kong aims to keep its edge as a global aviation hub with its three-runway airport expansion project and through the “aerotropolis” initiative linking adjacent cities. Former Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, meanwhile, called for “more pilots and more routes” from the HKIA.

Such suggestions must have been music to the ears of Cathay Pacific Airways, which offered its own suggestions at the conference, including the need for relaxed boundary controls to allow the best use of existing infrastructure and to open up more airspace for civil aviation.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the airline was the subject of a glowing endorsement by the SCMP yesterday in an editorial, titled, “Hopes of Hong Kong also ride with Cathay Pacific”.

Hengqin gets State Council blessing

The State Council’s approval for the Hengqin New Area to become an “International Leisure and Tourism Center” has been in the works for some time, so the announcement yesterday came as little surprise to anyone who has been following its development. Nevertheless, the endorsement from Beijing has shone a spotlight on this big island opposite Macau, where cranes are hard at work on a massive new development that will capture global attention very soon.

At the end of this year, the Hengqin Railway Station opens. It will be similar to the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, with immigration facilities for both the mainland and Macau housed in the same building. It will also be a similar size, with the capacity to handle 80m visitors a year (Macau received 35m last year). The opening will likely be the spark that ignites a frenzy of media attention for this island, one of three special economic zones in Guangdong (together with Guangzhou’s Nansha and Shenzhen’s Qianhai).

No date has been set for the station to open, but it is widely assumed to be on or near the December 20 anniversary celebrations for Macau, marking two decades since the SAR’s return to Chinese sovereignty. President Xi Jinping is expected to attend that event. We would not be surprised if he pops across to Hengqin for the new station’s opening as well. Hengqin is a project close to his heart, as he launched it while still Vice President back in 2011 with the “Guangdong-Macao Cooperation Framework Agreement”. Hengqin was also the first stop on his whirlwind visit to Guangdong in October last year.

Readers might realise that we know a thing or two about Hengqin. In fact, we are preparing a 30-page report on the subject that will be available soon. Anyone interested in knowing more, please email us and we will keep you updated.

GBA ‘Talent Card’ proposed

Hong Weimin, Hong Kong affairs liaison officer with the Qianhai Administration Bureau, has a novel idea: Immigration departments in the Greater Bay Area should issue a Bay Area Card, with which individuals can more easily cross boundaries within the Greater Bay Area.

Not everyone would qualify for the card, however. “We need global talent to work in the Greater Bay Area, so the Bay Area Cards will facilitate people-to-people exchanges in the area,” he was quoted at an event on Sunday as saying by Shenzhen Daily.

Hong added that Shenzhen lags behind Hong Kong in attracting a global skilled workforce. He suggested Shenzhen take Silicon Valley as the benchmark and put more effort into attracting talent.

Shenzhen Cyberspace Lab aims high with AI

The Shenzhen Cyberspace Laboratory has teamed up with the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen to build three large-scale projects focused on AI. According to the laboratory, the first, “Cloud Brain” will build a nationwide distributed artificial intelligence infrastructure; the second, “Target Range” will focus on cyber-security; the third, Cloud Net, is a network emulation platform.

One of four approved by Guangdong provincial authorities, the lab opened in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District last year. One of its goals is to promote the establishment of an international center for scientific and technological innovation in the Greater Bay Area.

Zhuhai startup gets Intel Capital funding

Intel Capital has announced new investments totalling US$117 million in 14 technology startups, including Zhuhai EEasy Technology Co, according to an official release and reported by DealStreetAsia.

EEasy Technology Co. Ltd is an AI system-on-chip (SoC) design house and total solution provider. Its offerings include AI acceleration; image and graphic processing; video encoding and decoding; and mixed-signal ULSI design capabilities.

Each year, Intel Capital puts US$300 million to US$500 million into innovative companies across a wide range of emerging technologies.

Another Chinese company, Shanghai-based Cloudpick Limited, a smart retail technology provider, also won this year’s Intel funding. The 12 remaining startups are mostly from the US, with one from Israel, and represent communications, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.