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News from China
Economic Watch: Outlook bright and stable as China spends big
19th February 2016

China's slowdown may have spawned pessimism around the world, with predictions of a new round of "China doom and gloom," but the real picture in China's shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants and job market is anything but downbeat. There are few at home who foresee anything but sound, stable growth in 2016.

STEADY AS SHE GOES
Creating jobs and keeping the job market healthy is a top government priority.
The National Development and Reform Commission's Zhao Chenxin told reporters Wednesday that the economy will maintain a medium-to-high growth this year, a solid base for a steady job market.
He said large-scale unemployment is not an expected byproduct of economic restructuring, thanks to sound economic fundamentals and new growth engines. The registered unemployment rate in China's cities was 4.05 percent at the end of 2015, and China created 13.12 million new jobs for urban residents last year, both bettering official targets.
Meanwhile, consumer and producer price indices released Thursday also showed encouraging signs of stability in the economy.
China's consumer prices rose for a third consecutive month in January thanks to rising food prices, signaling easing of deflationary pressure.
 
SPEND, SPEND, SPEND
During the recent Lunar New Year holiday, a mini-boom demonstrated how little pessimism is evident in the real economy, with plenty of spending on presents, entertainment, tourism and travel. Statistics by the Ministry of Commerce showed that from Feb. 7 to 13, revenue of retailers and restaurants in China hit 754 billion yuan (116 billion U.S. dollars), up 11.2 percent on the comparable period last year.
From Feb. 8 to 13, Chinese cinemas took 3 billion yuan, up 67 percent. The first day of the Lunar New Year was China's best day ever at the box-office, with cinemas raking in a record 660 million yuan from 19 million moviegoers.
According to China UnionPay, source of almost all bank card transactions on the Chinese mainland, the number of people buying dinner with cards rose by six percent, with each dinner costing around 585 yuan.
According to the National Tourism Administration, tourism revenue during the Lunar New Year holiday was 13.8 billion yuan, up 14.2 percent from last year. Around 6 million people travelled abroad.
"Consumption in China... has shown remarkable resilience despite cyclical weakness and asset price volatility," said China International Capital Corporation (CICC) in a report.
In 2015, consumption generated roughly two thirds of GDP, up from just over a half in 2014.
CICC expects the growth of consumption to be relatively resilient with household incomes continuing to expand in the near term.
 
ON WITH REFORM!
Reform and innovation remain the anointed choices of the government to lead the economy down a sustainable, long-term path. Companies can expect government support as they upgrade their technology, products and business models and reduce their debt. A wide range of measures for emerging businesses include financial support, business parks and less red-tape.
These efforts have already paid off. An undeniable wave of innovation and entrepreneurship has swept the nation. The number of newly-registered enterprises hit 4.4 million in 2015, up 21.6 percent.
Of course, the picture is not entirely rosy. There is certainly no shortage of difficulties and challenges ahead, most notably severe structural overcapacity.
"For the government, how to manage a soft landing and find new sources of growth via structural reform and counter-cyclical economic policy is a challenging task," said Zhu Haibin, J.P. Morgan China chief economist, in a note.
Zhu expects growth to come from technological innovation, industrial upgrades, economic openness and expanded urbanization that will inevitably result from land and household registration reform.
 
Source: Xinhua
China commerce ministry denies massive capital outflow
18th February 2016

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Wednesday denied speculation of capital outflows from the country.

"The fundamentals of Chinese economy and market remain sound, and there is no foundation for the yuan to keep depreciating, hence no drastic capital outflows," MOC spokesperson Shen Danyang told a press conference.
 
The remark was in response to claims of a capital flight, which cited rising imports from Hong Kong in January as fresh evidence of a hidden money exit through trade channels as the yuan weakens.
 
In January, mainland imports from Hong Kong more than doubled. Shen attributed the rise to a low comparison base last year and mainland efforts to expand imports, warning against drawing easy conclusions without detailed analysis and factual support.
 
Concerns about capital outflows have been on the rise as the economy slows and the central bank revamped the foreign exchange mechanism last year.
 
Authorities have cited China's current account surplus and foreign exchange reserves as solid support for the balance of international payments.
 
Source: Xinhua
News Analysis: Chinese manufacturing adapts to changing times
17th February 2016

In China's southern manufacturing hub Dongguan, a shoe factory is shutting down and laying off 1,900 employees.

A subsidiary of Stella International Holdings, the factory is one of the most important production and processing bases for brands like Nike, Prada and ECCO.
 
"With demand shrinking and wages rising, we had no choice but to shut down," said Zhong Weijie, a human resource manager of Stella International Holdings. "The capacity will move to Southeast Asia."
 
But it is not all doom and gloom.
 
An hour's drive from Dongguan in Shenzhen, smartphone maker Huawei announced sales revenue of 60.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, and predicted 81.8 billion U.S. dollars this year. Huawei is now the world's third biggest smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple, and rapidly expanding.
 
These two stories are a snapshot of what's happening in Chinese factories: traditional manufactures battle overcapacity, while new industries blossom.
 
Huawei has achieved its success through continual innovation. Every year, 10 percent of revenue is plowed back into R&D. Almost half of its employees engage in R&D in some way or another.
 
The shift of manufacturing pattern is seen in China's exports. Processing, labor-intensive and using little technology, is being replaced by general trade, which involves domestic products and technology. General trade now accounts for 58.4 percent exports.
 
In May 2015, China rolled out the "Made in China 2025" plan to shift away from low-end manufacturing to more value-added production. Local governments have offered tax incentives to high-tech companies and guided private funds into innovative projects.
 
As tech-intensive production becomes lucrative, traditional manufactures are adapting.
 
"It's true that fields with overcapacity problems have operational difficulties, but by improving energy efficiency, we also see many opportunities," said Yin Jianan, chairman of Shanxi Blower Machinery Company.
 
Opportunities also lie in international cooperation. By establishing factories overseas, many Chinese manufacturers have found ways to digest excess capacity with lower labor-costs abroad.
 
Overseas mergers by Chinese firms increased by 40 percent in 2015, most of which led by private manufacturers buying out foreign businesses tech advantages of valuable brands, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
 
"We believe the trend will continue," said Liu Yanlai, a partner with PwC, "China-led multinationals are going onto the world stage."
 
Just as China relied on manufacturing to rise in the past, the sector is still a pillar industry. Chinese manufacturing is not fading, it's just changing.
 
Source: Xinhua
China FDI growth steady despite slowing economy
16th February 2016

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Chinese mainland continued to grow steadily in January despite slowing overall growth in the world's second largest economy.

FDI, which excludes investment in the financial sector, rose 3.2 percent year on year to 14.07 billion U.S. dollars last month, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Monday.
 
Investment in the country's burgeoning service sector accounted for 67.6 percent of total inflow during the period.
 
FDI in the high-tech service industry more than doubled to 7.2 billion yuan (1.1 billion U.S. dollars).
 
Investment from the United States, the European Union and Japan rose the most, up 463.6 percent, 30.9 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively.
 
China's economy grew by 6.9 percent year on year in 2015, its lowest annual expansion in a quarter of a century.
 
Source: Xinhua

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