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News from China
Worries over Chinese economy rushed, exaggerated
5th April 2016

 The little bit of calm that has returned recently shows that the concerns outsiders had about the Chinese economy had been somewhat rushed and exaggerated, a senior economist said.

 
The signs of recovery in the financial markets including prices of commodities such as iron ore and oil suggest that the Chinese economy was not so bad as to have to experience a hard landing, Sun Bae Kim, professor at the Business School of National University of Singapore and former chief Asia economist at Goldman Sachs Asia, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
 
"I am very positive (about the Chinese economy) for the medium term," but the road ahead is challenging, he said.
 
The economist said it is understandable that China set its growth target this year at between 6.5 percent and 7 percent as it indicates a recognition that it is better to tackle certain problems sooner than later.
 
"It is important in the broader context that you are willing to accommodate a slower growth over the next several years in order to set the stage for the restructuring to allow a higher growth in medium term," he said.
 
China's economy grew 6.9 percent last year, its slowest in over two decades but still one of the fastest growth rates in the world.
 
Kim said China needs to tackle challenges including a buildup of debt in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and excessive capacity in certain industries, and the poor profitability of some firms.
 
The important question is not the specific growth targets China sets for a particular year, but whether China can basically maintain a certain growth level while tackling some structural issues, Kim said.
 
"If China undertakes some of the reforms, I think China could easily grow 6 percent to 7 percent in the medium term," he said.
 
"While you are doing this structural reform, it's most likely growth will be slower, though it is not necessarily so," he added.
 
Chinese policymakers have said they have ample policy room to ensure that economic growth remains stable within an appropriate range. Meanwhile, China has been encouraging the growth of new technologies and businesses to pursue more innovation-driven economic growth.
 
Kim said these are important as it means the economic growth will be underpinned by productivity increase and more sustainable.
 
He said it is necessary for China to further reform the financial system and state-owned enterprises so that the allocation of resources will favor more productive sectors and companies. Deregulation could potentially lead to productivity increase in many sectors, too. China also needs to shift to growth driven by consumption and services.
 
The economist said that it is a delicate balancing act for China to push for reforms while maintaining financial and economic stability and that it is necessary to enhance communication with the market.
 
"I am quite in an agreement with China's big picture plan," he said, referring to China's financial sector reforms.
 
Kim said that the policy direction of pursuing a more flexible and international yuan, the Chinese currency, is very sensible and desirable, but that it is necessary to take into account some short-term constraints.
 
The economist also highlighted China's status as the world's largest trader and its connection with virtually all major economies.
 
"What happens in China at home is everybody's business," he said.
 
Kim said that China's efforts to enhance regional connectivity, like the Belt and Road Initiative, with a focus on infrastructure construction, could boost regional growth.
 
"It offers new commercial opportunities," he said.
Source: Xinhua
China-U.S. economic relationship "much more balanced" than 15 years ago -- U.S. expert
4th April 2016

The China-U.S. economic relationship is "much more balanced" today than 15 years ago, as Chinese markets and investments become increasing important for U.S. economic growth going forward, Geoffrey Garrett, dean at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said Saturday.

 
"I think we're also in a transition, that's an incredibly important transition, to a new normal in U.S.-China relations," Garrett said at the opening ceremony of the two-day Penn Warton China Summit held here with the theme of "China's New Normal," a term often referring to China's transition to slower growth but with higher quality.
 
Garrett said that current U.S. debates on the economic relations with China focus on the American trade deficit with China and U.S. government debt held by China, which are "the old U.S.-China economic relationship" about 15 years ago and are certainly "out of date."
 
In his view, the economic relationship between the world's two largest economies today is "actually much more balanced" than it's been in the past.
 
On the one hand, the emergence of over 500 million middle class consumers in China "has been and will be so important" to the growth of American economy going forward, he argued.
 
"The new reality of China for the United States is that it's a place where American multinational firms make products that are increasingly sold into the Chinese market," he said, citing the example of China as both the fastest growing and largest market for mobile phones of the U.S. tech giant Apple, the icon of the American economy in the 21st century.
 
General Motors, the U.S. automaker and the icon of U.S. economy in the 20th century, also sells more trucks and cars in China today than it does in the United States, said Garrett, a distinguished political economist who was appointed dean of the Wharton School in 2014.
 
"That's good for those American firms. I hope it's also good for Chinese consumers to get access to the best products from the United States," he said.
 
On the other hand, Chinese investments will also be an increasingly important factor in the American economy as more investments will flow from China to the United States, following the Chinese currency renminbi (RMB)'s large appreciation against the U.S. dollar.
 
The RMB has risen around 30 percent in nominal terms against the U.S. dollar since 2005, which led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to declare that the RMB was no longer undervalued, said the dean.
 
"We have seen that before," he added, noting that the appreciation of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar in the mid-1980s was followed by the rise of Japanese investments into the United States.
 
Garrett said Americans didn't accept Japanese investments overnight, but now they view Japanese investments as normal. For example, the Japanese auto giant Toyota has participated in the races of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), which was the home to only American-brand cars.
 
According to the Japanese experience, Garrett estimated there will be globally giant Chinese automobile companies in 25 years and they will compete in the NASCAR.
 
Despite frictions between the United States and China, Garrett said the two sides have been committed to "more engagement" since former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger paid a highly confidential visit to China in 1971, which paved the way for the normalization of U.S.-China relations.
 
"Engagement, I think, is the key to the U.S.-China relationship as is to keep prosperity and stability around the world," he said, adding that the Wharton School is certainly trying to play a part in that.
 
"Engagement between our two countries is the single most important thing we can all do," he said, noting that Penn Wharton China center, opened in Beijing last year, is a visible indicator of the Wharton School' s commitment to have strong relations with China.
 
These people-to-people exchanges between the two countries will add up and contribute to better China-U.S. relations, which will benefit China, the United States and the world, he noted.
Source: Xinhua
Didi expels Shenzhen drivers
1st April 2016

 Chinese ride-hailing service Didi has expelled an undisclosed number of drivers in the southern city of Shenzhen who were found to have a history of drug use, mental illness or have significant criminal records.

 
Didi's action follows a statement issued by Shenzhen transport commission on Tuesday, noting that five ride-hailing platforms had the lax screening processes for drivers.
 
An initial inspection by Shenzhen's public security department showed that among Shenzhen's app drivers, 1,425 had a history of drug use, 1,661 had significant criminal records, and one driver was mentally ill and caused traffic troubles.
 
Didi provided personal information on all its drivers to Shenzhen police. After consideration, a list of problematic drivers was sent to the company.
 
Didi has also asked for police background checks on drivers in other cities to rule out those who might be a risk to the safety of passengers.
 
Source: Xinhua
China to expand financial support to boost consumption
31st March 2016

The central bank and the banking regulator on Wednesday issued guidelines outlining measures that could spur consumption in promising fields such as health care.

 
Financial institutions were encouraged to set up more "consumer finance" firms, which lend money to consumers, according to the guidelines by the People's Bank of China and China Banking Regulatory Commission.
 
China first began to offer consumers credit in 2010 with a pilot program involving four financial agencies, including Bank of China Consumer Finance Co. Ltd. and Bank of Beijing Consumer Finance Co. Ltd.
 
Consumer credit firms were encouraged to offer more services for fields including health care, information and green consumption.
 
Financial institutions were given the authority to set their own down payment requirements for consumers wanting to buy new energy autos and second-hand cars, as long as the deposits met the minimum payment rates of 15 and 30 percent.
 
The guidelines also urged financial institutions to formulate new mechanisms to guard against risks in the dynamic credit market, such as defaulting debtors.
Source: Xinhua

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