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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Property prices barely moved in China in December 2016 as cooling measures in the overheated housing market took grip, writes Steve Wang. On average, tier-one cities saw prices at a standstill in December, compared with a 0.1% month-on-month gain during the previous month. Lower-tiered cities saw gains halved from November, with a 0.2% and 0.4% increase for tier two and tier three cities in December, respectively.

A day after China’s President Xi Jinping gave his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos championing globalization, the East Wind was due in London, bearing not only low-cost trinkets but the Chinese government’s high hopes for its New Silk Roads project. After a 12,000km journey from Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, Richard Cook reports that the 34-wagon train carries more than just goods.

And the American Chamber of Commerce in China released a report, showing that more than 80% of its members say foreign companies are less welcome than in the past and most of them saying they have little confidence in China’s vows to open its markets. The survey is published hours after Beijing unveiled proposals to reduce restrictions on foreign investment in China. China will lower restrictions on foreign investment in banking, securities, investment management, futures, insurance, credit ratings and accounting, the State Council said on its website.

On a lighter note, the Indian city of Rajasthan will host the 10th anniversary of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, which starts on Thursday. Victoria Burrows reports that since its debut, the festival has hosted 1,300 speakers and welcomed nearly 1.2 million book lovers, and it has become the world’s largest free, unticketed event of its kind. Eka Kurniawan, the first native Indonesian to be nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, Lebanese-American statistician and writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Irish film-maker Neil Jordan are among the guests.

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China Digest for Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Liaoning governor admits fiscal data overstated

Liaoning’s government overstated its income between 2011 and 2014, Governor Chen Qiufa admitted at a meeting of the northeastern province’s legislature on Tuesday, People’s Daily reported. Fake revenue numbers accounted for one-fifth of total government income during the period, the official Communist Party mouthpiece said, without saying where the information came from.

Easing IPOs to benefit overall market: Xinhua

Speeding up the IPO process will improve the quality of equity markets, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday evening, after investors blamed the policy for driving share prices lower. Too long a queue to IPO could make some listed shares that would otherwise be of little value targets for so-called backdoor listings, Xinhua cited China Science & Merchants Investment Management Group CEO Qian Xiangshuang as saying.

US$4.4b ‘engine town’ planned for Guiyang

China Communications Construction will invest 30 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) to build a new town in central Guizhou province with the aim of jumpstarting an aviation-engine industry that could be worth 100 billion yuan, China News reported on Tuesday. The “engine town” is a collaboration between the military in the provincial capital of Guiyang and the private sector, it said.

Citic McDonald’s tie-up with Beijing Capital Agri

Citic will invest more than 2 billion yuan in Beijing Capital Agribusiness Group, an operator of McDonald’s outlets in Beijing and Guangzhou, in an agreement that will see both state-owned companies jointly run the fast-food franchise in China, Caixin reported on Tuesday evening. Citic will hold 16.7% of BJCAG after the first phase of the deal, it said.

Unicom first telco to trial centralized IT system

China Unicom on Tuesday began rolling out the nation’s first centralized telecommunications IT platform in Guangdong, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, Caixin reported. The new platform, a collaboration with Alibaba Cloud, will cover the whole country in six months, it said.

Pollution warnings under tighter control

China Meteorological Administration said its provincial units will no longer issue individual pollution reports in a move it said aims to prevent confusion caused by contradictory releases, Caixin said on Tuesday evening. The agency is also seeking to coordinate pollution reports with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the report said.