Posted inChina, Hong Kong, South Asia, Taiwan, World

The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 4 January 2017

In a bid to get ahead of the ride-hailing companies like Uber, a Chinese startup is giving taxi drivers the chance to earn extra bucks as they take their passengers from point A to point B. And if cash is a problem, fintech comes to the rescue with a QR code to enable mobile payments. As Johan Nylander writes, it is also tough to avoid the hard sell from a cabbie who could earn an extra 2,000 yuan (US$258) per month from Shenzhen-based Gogo Cheba’s [translated as “car bar”] mini convenience store – a 7-Eleven on wheels – selling everything from dried meat to chewing gum.

Politics took a nasty turn in an inland city in the southwestern province of Sichuan, Panzhihua, with a government official opening fire in a cabinet meeting, injuring two leaders of the community before shooting himself dead, writes Benny Kung. The provincial Communist Party mouthpiece Sichuan Daily confirmed on its Weibo account that party secretary Zhang Yan and mayor Li Jianqin of Panzhihua were shot by Chen Zhongshu, the head of the Bureau of Land and Resources in the city’s Convention and Exhibition Center.

Who would have thought a simple condiment once built empires, launched wars and sparked revolutions? Salt was the key commodity underpinning the wealth of nations. Why? Because we can’t survive without it. Asia Times writer Johan Nylander, turns to the books to mine a brief history of Chinese salt, which was once the oldest monopoly on the planet, and discover why it no longer is.

More than 260,000 documents related to Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, will be made available to the public online later this year, writes Liu Hsiu Wen. Wu Mi-cha, Curator of Taiwan’s Academia Historica, said 50,000 documents will be released first on January 5, together with the launch of the new digital archives search system.

Hong Kong-born director Derek Yee Tung-sing channels his connection to the glory days of the wuxia (or martial arts) genre to bring a classic back to the big screen, writes Gillian Yu. Yee starred in the Chor Yuen-directed hit Death Duel back in 1977; now he has returned behind the cameras with a reworking of the tale into Sword Master 3D, tapping into modern filmmaking technology and turning to a new generation of talent, including the emerging mainland star Lin Gengxin and Taiwanese popstar Peter Ho.

Posted inBeijing, China, Shanghai

China Digest for Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Housing markets in Shenzhen, Shanghai cool; Beijing plans supply cap

Housing transactions in Shenzhen and Shanghai declined as China ended 2016, while Beijing looks likely to follow that trend as the capital may reduce supply of residential homes. December transactions in Shenzhen fell about 26% on month to 2,161 deals and the average price fell 0.7% to 54,946 yuan per square meter, or back to the price level around six months ago, reported Tuesday, citing figures from the city’s Urban Planning, Land & Resources, Commission.

Shanghai Securities News said transactions in the city’s new house market fell 44.9% over the New Year holiday from last year to 38,000 square meters, based on data from Centaline Property Agency Ltd.

Meantime, Beijing may cap supply of new commercial residential housing to 20 million square meters in 2017 from 27.9 million last year, according to a report in the Beijing Post.
元旦上海楼市低位起步 成交缩水逾四成

China IPOs to surge to 280 billion yuan in 2017, Deloitte says

Initial Public Offerings in China will accelerate in 2017, reaching as many as 420 listings that could raise as much as 280 billion yuan (US$40 billion), the China Financial Daily reported, citing Deloitte. Estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers were less aggressive at 330 listings to raise 250 billion yuan, but both forecast a far more robust IPO market this year than the 227 listings to raise 150 billion yuan in 2016 on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets.

China’s insurance watchdog bans some products

The Insurance Regulatory Commission banned eight kinds of products from January 1 this year, according to a statement it posted online on Tuesday, reported Caixin the same evening. They include products that insure against an interest not recognised by law, or an event that will definitely occur.

Government approves salt reforms on safety, competition in 31 provinces

Salt industry reforms have been approved in 31 provinces to ensure fair competition, food safety and restrict entrants into the local markets, reported the Shanghai Securities Journal on Tuesday evening, citing the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. China recently ended its 2,000 year old state monopoly on salt.

Bitcoin as proxy for yuan outflow unlikely, say analysts

Speculation that the digital bitcoin currency will become a channel for funnelling yuan funds offshore is unlikely to become a reality because of strict controls at bitcoin exchanges and strict capital controls in China, Caixin reported on Tuesday evening, citing analysts. The price of Bitcoin has soared past US$1000 and the yuan to US dollar rate has been sliding, leading to speculation of using bitcoin to circumvent China’s controls on capital flight.

China plans record 30 space missions in 2017

China plans a record 30 space missions in 2017, including the launch of the cargo shuttle Tiangzhou-1 in the first half of 2017 to dock with the space lab Tiangong-2, Shanghai Security Journal reported Tuesday evening. The Chang’e-5 unmanned lunar mission is expected to launch by the end of 2017, along with a new generation of BeiDou Navigation Satellites.