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News from China
Shanghai new home sales increase 32%
24th May 2016

 SALES of new homes by floor area in Shanghai in the seven days through Sunday rose 32 percent week on week to 241,000 square meters, said a study released yesterday.

The total, which excluded government-subsidized housing, was the first above 200,000 square meters for three weeks, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd said.

“On one hand, the abundant supply of new homes over the past few weeks helped fuel buyers’ momentum while on the other, the recent land buying frenzy served as a strong stimulus,” said Lu Wenxi, a research manager at Shanghai Centaline, adding that he expects demand to remain high until the end of the month.

The mean selling price in the period fell 4.8 percent from the previous week to 34,493 yuan (US$5,260) per square meter, the company said.

According to a separate report by Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co, two projects in Nanqiao, Fengxian District, occupied the first and fourth spots on the best-seller list for the week, with sales of 165 and 61 units, respectively.

On May 11, a developer from Fujian Province acquired a residential parcel in Nanqiao for an average gross floor area price of 22,625 yuan per square meter, representing a premium of 126 percent from the asking price.

The supply of new homes in the period fell 22 percent week on week to 206,000 square meters, according to the Centaline report.

Source: Shanghai Daily, May 24, 2016
China sets growth target for manufacturing
19th May 2016

 CHINA has set a target to achieve 7 percent annual growth for its manufacturing industry during the 2016-18 period, the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday.

A statement jointly issued by the planning agency and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said also that a goal of 15 percent annual growth has been set for technology investment over the period.

The expansion is necessary to ensure the implementation of 10 major industrial projects in the digital, automation, clean-tech and advanced service industries, the statement said.

The projects will require financial and policy support from the government, research institutions and industry associations, it said.

The growth targets are expected to be achieved through the application of computerized systems within the country’s manufacturing sector, and increased investment in the Internet of Things and cloud-computing services, the statement said.

Source: Shanghai Daily, May 19, 2016
Chinese companies expanding in Thailand
18th May 2016

 VERYWHERE you look on Thailand’s Amata industrial estate in Rayong you see signs in Chinese. It’s a similar story just along the coast in the tourist resort of Pattaya, where Mandarin is increasingly visible alongside English and Russian.

As China’s economy slows, its investors are looking abroad for growth and Thailand, home to one of the world’s largest ethnic Chinese minorities and a gateway to Southeast Asia’s 600 million consumers, is a hot investment destination in everything from industry to condos.
“Thailand is the first stop for Chinese tourists and investors,” said Xu Gen Luo, who runs the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone, 200 kilometers southeast of Bangkok. Dozens of Chinese-owned solar, rubber and manufacturing plants have opened there since 2012.
“Thailand’s investment environment, especially its investment promotion policies, are among the best worldwide,” he said, adding that labor costs are higher in China.
Since a May 2014 coup, Thailand and China have drawn closer diplomatically and militarily as the ruling generals seek to counterbalance the country’s cooling ties with Washington.
Chinese investors have found a warm welcome in an economy that has seen investment crimped by a decade of political turmoil, and where the junta has struggled to revive exports and domestic demand in the two years since seizing power.
Investment pledges from China jumped fivefold in the first quarter to 5.7 billion baht (US$163 million) from just 1.1 billion baht a year earlier, giving China the third-largest investment slate during the period as Chinese firms raced to meet a tax break deadline and US investors held back.
That was still some way behind Japan, which pledged 15.6 billion baht. Japan has long been Thailand’s largest investor, with several large car plants accounting for much of the money.
Chinese investment is growing strongly, however, partly due to Beijing’s policy of encouraging manufacturers to shift production abroad to deal with industrial overcapacity at home.
“What we’ve seen so far in Chinese investment into Thailand is small compared to what’s coming,” said Joe Horn-Phathanothai, chief executive of Strategy613, a strategic adviser focused on Chinese and Thai corporate investments.
“Hand-in-hand with the slowdown in China we’ll see an increase in the number of deals the Chinese do abroad.”
Movie draws crowds
Last year, China was the fourth-biggest foreign investor in Thailand, behind Japan, the United States and Singapore.
Tourist numbers have also jumped, helped by the success in China of the 2012 comedy “Lost in Thailand.”
About 7.9 million Chinese visited the “Land of Smiles” last year, up 71 percent from 2014, when unrest in Bangkok that preceded the coup scared tourists away, and Thailand expects more this year.
There has been no slowdown in the number of tourists due to the economic deceleration in China, helped by the growth of budget airlines.
Thailand is expecting a record 33 million tourists this year, with China providing the bulk of the increase from the record set last year of just below 30 million.
Xu expects the number of Chinese firms at his park — jointly developed by China’s Holley Group and Thai industrial estate developer Amata Corp — to increase to about 100 this year, from 75 currently, and to 500 in the next five years.
In March, China’s Trina Solar, the world’s No. 1 solar panel maker, opened a manufacturing facility there.
Moving to Thailand can also help companies in industries such as solar and chemicals sidestep anti-dumping measures, industry experts said.
“China is facing trade barriers from many countries, particularly on solar, so many Chinese firms are coming to invest in Thailand,” said Visnu Limwibul, chairman of a Thai electronics and telecommunications industry group.
State-owned Gang Yan Diamond Tools (Thailand), which makes precision manufacturing blades, followed Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to rebuild ancient Silk Road trade links with Asia and Europe and set up in Thailand in 2014.
“When we first came, we were concerned about the political situation and social instability. We are still concerned now,” said Chairman Zhao Gang.
China and Thailand are discussing cooperation on the Thai section of a rail project under the Belt and Road plan that would eventually connect Kunming in southwest China with Singapore, but have to date failed to agree on terms.
Real estate investment is also on the rise.
Bundit Sirithunyhong runs the Suttangrak Group, which has joined with Chinese firms to develop projects worth 5 billion baht to sell as time-shares to Chinese buyers.
“They’re not just investing in real estate, but starting to use Thailand as a base for business in Southeast Asia,” he said.
“Here they can stay and work ... It’s a step further in business expansion.”
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 18, 2016
April indicators damage hopes of China’s economic recovery
16th May 2016

 THE rates of growth of China’s industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment all slowed in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said, dimming hopes raised by the March data and adding to signs of a still murky economic outlook.

Factory output rose 6 percent year-on-year in April, down from 6.8 percent in March and below market expectations of about 6.5 percent according to a Reuters poll.

Industrial production accounted for 40.5 percent of China’s GDP in 2015, making it one of the leading indicators of economic growth.

The bureau attributed the slower growth to weak foreign demand, declining production of high energy-consumption industries, and a correction from seasonal factors in March.

But growth of high-tech manufacturing output and consumer-oriented products accelerated, said NBS researcher Jiang Yuan.

Retail sales grew 10.1 percent year on year in April, slowing from 10.5 percent in March. Similarly, fixed-asset investment growth eased to 10.5 percent in the January-April period, missing market estimates of 10.9 percent and down from the first quarter’s 10.7 percent.

The NBS attributed the slower retail sales to weakness in the new car market, and the easier investment in manufacturing and infrastructure under pressure of overcapacity and weak demand.

The data were in line with an array of economic indicators pointing to ongoing but fragile growth momentum.

Consumer inflation remained at 2.3 percent for the third consecutive month in April, but factory prices fell for the 50th consecutive month.

Exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 4.1 percent year on year, slower than the 18 percent increase in March, while the Purchasing Managers’ Index fell 0.1 points month on month to 50.1.

Monthly new yuan loans also dropped almost 60 percent month on month to 555.6 billion yuan (US$85.2 billion) in April.

“The April data mark a return to the normal,” said Zhou Hao, an economist with Commerzbank.

“The economic situation is still under control of policy-makers, and the negative reading is just a correction to the over-positive sentiment in March,” he said.

Speculation about whether the government will rein in its stimulus measures rose after the People’s Daily published an interview with an “authoritative source” last week, saying the slow economic growth will last for years and warning that too much reliance on debt to boost the economy could lead to a financial crisis or recession.

Source: Shanghai Daily, May 16, 2016

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