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News from China
Audi eyes increased Chinese e-car sales
18th January 2017

 AUDI will sell more electric car models in China and develop automated driving there, it said yesterday, deepening ties with local partner FAW Group to counter challengers Mercedes-Benz and BMW in its top market.

 
Volkswagen’s luxury division and other carmakers are under pressure to sell greener cars in China as the world’s biggest auto market tightens emissions rules and discourages the use of fossil-fueled cars in major cities to fight pollution.
 
Audi and FAW have agreed to produce five more electric car models in China over the next five years. Audi also plans to build the A6L e-tron plug-in hybrid in China this year and import the Q7 e-tron model to the country.
 
Future electric models will include purely battery-powered cars with a range of over 500 kilometers, Audi said. The brand now only imports the A3 e-tron to China, destination of almost a third of its record 1.87 million deliveries in 2016.
 
“We are starting the next phase of our joint growth path in China,” Audi sales chief Dietmar Voggenreiter said. “More than ever, our partnership is focusing on profitable, sustainable growth.”
 
An early entrant to China, Audi remains the best-selling premium car brand there, though it is losing ground to Mercedes-Benz.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 18, 2017
Shanghai online finance firms go inland
17th January 2017

 SHANGHAI-BASED online finance service providers are expanding into inner and western parts of China as their economic development boosts demand for Big Data, online payments and other cyber finance services.

 
Four provincial areas — Henan, Sichuan, Hubei and Guangxi — are among the top-10 regions by trade volume, a sector once dominated by coastal regions, said Shanghai-based online lender PPDai.
 
Populous Henan and Sichuan had rapid growth in both user base and trade volume, said Zhang Jun, chief executive of PPDai.
 
Meanwhile, Peking University said the gap between online finance and digital economy, and between coastal regions such as Shanghai and areas in west China such as Chengdu, Guiyang and Tibet will narrow this year.
 
Shanghai-based ChinaPnR has signed a partnership agreement with Guizhou Bank recently on digital payment and value-added finance services.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 17, 2017
Rare earth firm sees profit fall
16th January 2017

 CHINA Northern Rare Earth (Group) High-tech Co Ltd, the country’s largest rare earth miner and producer, expected its net profits to plunge in 2016 as demand sagged, prices faltered while production costs rose.

 
Net profits may plunge by up to 90 percent from a year earlier to 325.72 million yuan (US$47.21 million) in 2016, the company said on Saturday in a report filed to Shanghai Stock Exchange.
 
Earnings per share would be 0.09 yuan, flat with that in 2015.
 
The company attributed the profit decline to higher production costs and falling prices of rare earth products amid weak demand. Unfair competition exacerbated the situation, it said.
 
Share prices of the company fell 1.15 percent to 12.07 yuan on Friday.
 
As the world’s largest supplier of the minerals, China’s exports rose 34.2 percent year on year in 2016 in terms of volume, but export value declined 2.7 percent during the period, according to customs data.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 16, 2017
China's central bank starts checks on Bitcoin exchanges
12th January 2017

 

 
CHINA’S central bank yesterday launched spot checks on leading Bitcoin exchanges in Beijing and Shanghai, pulling the price of the cryptocurrency down over 12 percent against the US dollar.
 
The People’s Bank of China said its probe of Bitcoin exchanges BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin was to look into possible rule violations, including market manipulation, money laundering and unauthorized financing. It did not say if any violations had been found.
 
Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts to monitor capital outflows and relieve pressure on the yuan.
 
While the yuan lost more than 6.5 percent against the dollar last year, its worst performance since 1994, the Bitcoin price has soared to near-record highs.
 
That, and the relative anonymity the digital currency affords, has prompted some to believe Bitcoin has become an attractive option for tech-savvy Chinese to hedge against the yuan and skirt around rules limiting how much foreign exchange individuals can buy each year.
 
The PBOC, whose officers visited the offices of OKCoin and Huobi yesterday, said in a statement: “Spot checks were focused on how the exchanges implement policies including forex management and anti-money laundering.”
 
Separately in Shanghai, the PBOC said it visited BTCC, noting its checks “focused on whether the firm was operating out of its business scope, whether it was launching unauthorized financing, payment, forex business or other related businesses, whether it was involved in market manipulation, anti-money laundering or (carried) fund security risks.”
 
On the Europe-based Bitstamp exchange, the price of Bitcoin fell as much as 12.5 percent to a three-week low of US$800.
 
On China’s Huobi exchange, the price slid more than 16 percent to 5,313 yuan (US$766), putting the yuan/Bitcoin rate at a discount to the rate on dollar-based exchanges.
 
Normally, Bitcoin trades at a premium in China, with a lack of trading fees encouraging volumes and boosting demand.
 
“Selling is being driven by China. The fear is that ... this investigation could lead to, worse-case scenario, funds being withheld from them (Chinese investors) or one of the exchanges being found to have acted improperly,” said Charles Hayter, CEO of digital currency analytics firm Cryptocompare.
 
“This is a ratcheting up of the rhetoric from the Chinese authorities — instead of ‘we’re watching’ you, it’s now ‘we’re investigating’ you,” he said.
 
According to his analysis, Hayter said trading between the yuan and Bitcoin accounted for around 98 percent of the total market in the past six months.
 
“The long-term implications of this are positive as more rigor in the Chinese market only matures and brings respectability to the industry — but in the short term this could effect volumes which have been one of the key drivers of the recent rally,” Hayter added.
 
Bobby Lee, CEO of Shanghai-based BTCC, confirmed the PBOC visit, but said he believed the firm was not out of line.
 
“We’re definitely vigilant. We think we are in compliance with all the current rules and regulations of running a Bitcoin exchange in China,” he said.
 
“I wouldn’t call it an investigation. I think they are working closely with us to learn more about our business model and the Bitcoin exchange industry. We had a very fruitful meeting today,” Lee said.
 
A Huobi executive, who declined to be named, confirmed the PBOC visited its office yesterday, but declined to provide details. A spokeswoman for OKCoin said its platform was operating normally, and the exchange was working with the authorities.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 12, 2016

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