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News from China
VW and partners to inject US$12b to produce NEVs
17th November 2017

 Volkswagen will invest more than 10 billion euros (US$12 billion) along with its partners in China to build new energy vehicles in the country, the company said yesterday.

Volkswagen is also forming a new joint venture with state-owned JAC Motors to make electric vehicles, with an aim to get the first electric car to market by next year, the company said in a press release on the eve of the Guangzhou Auto Show.
The move comes as China has put in place a series of carrots and sticks to compel carmakers to produce more fuel efficient and eventually petrol-free cars.
Volkswagen has been a laggard in the area so far, selling just a few hundred “green” cars among sales of four million vehicles in China last year.
The investment and partnership will help the German manufacturer reach its goal of introducing dozens of new energy models and delivering 1.5 million new energy vehicles in the country by 2025.
“China is leading the way to the final breakthrough in the adoption of e-mobility and Volkswagen Group China is determined to be at the forefront,” said Jochem Heizmann, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group China.
China will implement a complex quota system in 2019 requiring automakers to produce a minimum number of electric cars.
China originally wanted to start enforcing the rule in 2018, but it delayed it by a year after Germany and some foreign firms raised concerns.
For electric car buyers, China has introduced subsidies and in some cities like Beijing, where getting a valid license plate is near impossible, authorities have allocated thousands of plates for electric cars.
China has plans to phase out petrol vehicles entirely, though it has yet to set a date for the ban.
Volkswagen now faces one of the biggest challenges for electric carmakers — batteries — and it said it was looking for partners to ramp up battery production capacity for its vehicles.
Other foreign automakers are also stepping up efforts to produce green cars in China.
US-based Ford sees that 70 percent of all Ford cars available in China will have electric options by 2025. Last week it unveiled a US$756 million investment with its Chinese joint venture to make e-cars.
Volvo plans to introduce its first 100-percent electric car in China in 2019.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 17, 2017
Global banks laud removal on cap
16th November 2017

 NTERNATIONAL banks that have for years been pressing for more access to Chinese capital markets are lauding new regulations that remove caps on foreign ownership of domestic commercial banks, asset management companies, securities firms, fund managers and life insurers.

Zhu Guangyao, vice finance minister, opened the investment door wider in an announcement last week.
Currently, a single foreign investor cannot own more than 20 percent of a bank or an asset manager, and total foreign ownership cannot exceed 25 percent.
Caps on shareholdings in securities firms, fund managers and life insurers will also be lifted to allow foreign investors to take majority stakes — and eventually full ownership.
The deregulation was hailed as a “remarkable milestone” by the financial research team at UBS Securities. It was a sentiment echoed throughout foreign corridors.
A total of 39 foreign banks have been locally incorporated in China by the end of 2016, with over 1,000 joint ventures, according to data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission. Collectively, their exposure to the country totaled a record high of US$1.89 trillion during the first half, latest data from rating agency Fitch show.
Easing of restrictions on their operations has been incremental since China promised to open up its financial markets gradually upon its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Many foreign players have complained that excessive regulation has choked their efforts to gain any significant toehold in the world’s second-largest economy.
In frustration, some foreign banks have actually cut their footprint in China as a result. In January, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, one of Australia’s biggest banks, joined a slew of lenders to sell its 20 percent stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank.
Euphoria over the latest announcement comes as no surprise.
“HSBC welcomes the changes,” said Peter Wong, deputy chairman and chief executive of the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp. “Further foreign participation will help China’s financial markets become more global, supporting greater internationalization of the yuan.”
In June, HSBC became the first foreign lender in China allowed to hold a maximum 51 percent of a securities joint venture, according to media reports.
“We welcome this milestone policy change, which we believe will bring further investment to China and create new business momentum for the financial services industry,” a spokesperson for Morgan Stanley said.
James Gorman, global chief executive of the US investment banking giant, said the bank will “seize the chance” to increase its stake in a local joint venture, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
Earlier this year, the bank increased its share in Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities, a joint venture with a local broker, to 49 percent from 33 percent.
JP Morgan Chase & Co, another global leader in financial services, said that it “welcomes any decision” made by the Chinese government that further liberalizes the financial sector. The bank said it will continue to “evaluate viable options” to strengthen its position in China.
Last year, JP Morgan sold its minority stake in a joint venture to its Chinese partner, First Capital Securities Co Ltd. At the time, it cited lack of control over the venture’s operations and the limited contribution it made to group revenue.
Citi China said “a more detailed roadmap” of liberalization would help foreign financial institutions “be better prepared” and it “looks forward to more open markets” to better support their clients, following the recent announcement.
Singapore’s OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank, which are expanding their presence in the world’s second largest economy, also lauded the latest deregulation in financial services.
Darren Tan, chief financial officer at OCBC Bank, said continued liberalization of China’s financial services sector is “positive.” The Singaporean lender now owns 20 percent of the Bank of Ningbo, a city commercial bank and the maximum allowed before the policy change.
UOB (China) said it believes the latest policy shift will “encourage foreign banks to strengthen their investment” in China and “create more opportunities for growth.”
However, industry observers urged caution amid all the euphoria.
“These measures point to a further opening up of China’s financial sector,” wrote Nomura chief economist Zhao Yang in a report. “However, their impact will be only marginal in the short run and may take time to kick in more significantly.”
A research note from UBS Securities said foreign banks may now reassess the value of nationally licensed joint-stock banks or regional banks of superior quality and niche markets.
“With the ownership cap removed, smaller banks with geographical and niche market advantages may draw interest from foreign investors,” it said. “We believe the new policy will benefit listed insurance companies and securities firms more than banks.”
This is echoed by the opening of Manulife Investment (Shanghai) Limited Company today, the first foreign financial institution that has received the investment company wholly foreign-owned enterprises license.
“To us, China is a market of high significance,” said Michael Dommermuth, executive vice president, head of wealth and asset management, Asia, Manulife. The Toronto-headquartered multinational insurance company is betting big on the fast-growing asset management market in China.
Moody’s Investors Service said that China’s decision to allow foreign majority ownership of financial companies is “credit positive.”
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 16, 2017
Nepal scraps mega power deal with Chinese firm
15th November 2017

 Nepal has cancelled an agreement with a Chinese company to build the largest hydroelectric plant in the impoverished landlocked country, which suffers from chronic energy shortages.

The project, agreed in June, would have nearly doubled Nepal’s current hydropower production and cost an estimated US$2.5 billion.
But the finance ministry recommended it be scrapped, saying it had been awarded without an open and transparent bidding process, according to letters seen by AFP yesterday.
“The cabinet has terminated the irregular and impulsive Budhi Gandaki hydro electric project agreement with Gezhouba Group,” Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa tweeted Monday following a cabinet meeting.
The government signed an agreement with the China Gezhouba Group Corporation in June to build the long-mooted 1,200 megawatt Budhi-Gandaki hydroelectric plant.
A Nepal representative for CGGC said they were surprised by the government’s decision.
“We had done quite a lot of work for the project... such decision is bound to alarm not just us but any investor. There is fear among other foreign companies as well,” Om Bandhu Karki, public relations manager for CGGC in Nepal, said.
Water-rich Nepal has a mountain river system that could make it an energy-producing powerhouse, but instead it imports much of its electricity from neighboring India.
Experts say it could be generating 83,000 megawatts, but its total installed generation capacity currently stands at less than two percent of that.
Demand for electricity has long outstripped supply in Nepal due to chronic under-investment and inefficiencies in the power network.
The result has been crippling for domestic industry and deterred foreign investment.
CGGC is currently building three smaller hydropower plants in Nepal and has completed another one.
Nepal’s government is also currently building a 750 megawatt plant.
Meanwhile, construction of two India-backed projects is expected to begin next year after years of delays.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 15, 2017
China leads the world’s fastest supercomputers
14th November 2017

 ONCE again, China dominated a new list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, not only taking the top two seats, but also pulling ahead of the United States in the sheer number of systems being used.

According to a biannual ranking of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, called the Top500 published yesterday, China’s Sunway TaihuLight maintains the lead as the No. 1 system for the fourth time, with a performance of 93.01 petaflops.
China’s Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, is still the No. 2 system at 33.86 petaflops. Intel chip-based Tianhe-2 had topped the list for three years until it was displaced in November 2015 by TaihuLight, which was built entirely using processors designed and made in China.
Switzerland’s Piz Daint, which is also the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, is No. 3. A new system in Japan, called Gyoukou, is No. 4, pushing Titan, the top US system, to No. 5.
“For the second time in a row there is no system from the US under the Top 3,” Top500 said in a statement.
And that’s not all. The 50th edition of Top500 ranking also shows that China has overtaken the US in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 144. Just six months ago, the US. led with 169 systems, and China with 159.
“It is the largest number of supercomputers China has ever claimed on the TOP500 ranking, with the US presence shrinking to its lowest level since the list’s inception 25 years ago,” Top500 said.
“China now clearly shows a substantially larger number of installations than the United States.”
China has also overtaken the US in aggregate performance as well, claiming 35.3 percent of the TOP500 flops, with the US at second place with 29.8 percent.
When it comes to companies making these systems, US-based Hewlett-Packard Enterprise leads in the number of installed supercomputers at 123, which represents nearly a quarter of all TOP500 systems.
China’s Lenovo followed HPE with 81 systems, down from 88 systems on the June list, and another Chinese company called Inspur jumped to the third position with 56 systems, up from sixth place and 20 systems only six month ago.
Liu Jun, Inspur’s high performance computing general manager, said China and its research institutes and companies have invested a lot in supporting HPC research, development and innovation.
“So China has improved greatly in its HPC competitiveness and performance,” he said. “In addition, the United States and Europe may have a more prolonged update cycle for their supercomputers.”
Liu cautioned that China’s overtaking of the US in the total number of ranked systems didn’t make too much sense.
“We should be soberly aware that core technologies of the mainstream products on the HPC market, such as CPU and GPU, are now still being dominated and controlled by US companies,” Liu said.
“China still lags far behind when compared with the US and Europe and requires continuous efforts for further development,” Liu said.
Experts also predicted that Summit, a system now being developed by the US Department of Energy, could dethrone China’s TaihuLight next year, with an expected performance of 200 petaflops.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 14, 2017

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