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News from China
Border city selected as ruble-yuan pilot zone
10th August 2015

 SUIFENHE in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has been selected as a pilot zone in which both the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan will be legal tender.

Jin Mei, deputy secretary-general of the monetary policy committee of the People’s Bank of China made the announcement at the opening ceremony of a trade exposition in the city on Saturday.
The circulation of the ruble in the border city is a result of the “benign development” in settling bilateral trade with yuan and ruble instead of the US dollar, Jin said.
Suifenhe is a major hub for Heilongjiang’s trade with Russia. Last year, it accounted for 80 percent of the province’s exports to Russia and reported foreign trade of US$7.6 billion.
The ruble is already widely used in Suifenhe. City officials said legalizing its use will promote bilateral economic cooperation and boost tourism.
China and Russia signed a currency swap agreement last year as a foundation for financial cooperation. Cross-border yuan-denominated trade between the two countries in the January-June period rose 112 percent year on year to 8.2 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), Jin said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 10, 2015
Brokerages temporarily suspend short selling
6th August 2015

 FIVE Chinese brokerages yesterday suspended their short selling services, a day after the securities regulator announced tighter rules on such trades in the latest bid to shore up the stock market.

The country’s top-three brokerages: CITIC Securities, Guosen Securities and Huatai Securities all said they would halt their services temporarily. Smaller peers Great Wall Securities and Qilu Securities soon followed suit.
“We’re temporarily halting short selling from today in order to comply with urgent changes in exchange rules and control business risks,” CITIC said in a statement to its clients.
The Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges said in separate statements on Monday night that new rules, effective immediately, banned traders from borrowing and repaying stocks on the same day.
In short selling, investors borrow shares from brokerages and then sells them, betting that the price drops so they can be bought back at a lower price.
However, under the new rules, short sellers will be unable to complete trades on the same day, which makes the proposition more risky.
The rule change was designed to “prevent some investors from using same-day short selling to amplify abnormal fluctuations in stock prices and affect market stability,” the Shenzhen Stock Exchange said in a statement on its website.
The move is the latest by the government to bolster the stock market, after the key Shanghai Composite Index fell 30 percent from its mid-June peak.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission said earlier that it was looking for evidence of “malicious short selling” and had suspended 34 stock accounts for suspected trading irregularities.
China’s online trade soars 59%
4th August 2015

 DESPITE an anemic economy, China’s e-commerce trade soared last year thanks to an improved Internet infrastructure and an increase in cellphone users.

The transaction value of Chinese shopping websites rose 59 percent year on year to 16.4 trillion yuan (US$2.6 trillion), according to figures released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Third-party platforms, like China’s largest shopping website, accounted for about 44 percent of the total, with self-operated stores taking the remainder, the bureau said.

The country’s 20 biggest online websites saw aggregate transactions totaling 6.2 trillion yuan, making up about 90 percent of all third-party platforms.

Chinese businesses have turned to the Internet to offload stocked goods in a bid to cut costs and increase profits against economic headwinds, while price-sensitive consumers appreciate online shopping for its convenience and a variety of choices.

Sun Qingguo, an official from the bureau, said the booming Internet, especially the pervasive mobile network, created an intimate bond between buyers and shopping websites and provided ample space for the development of e-commerce. China had the world’s largest 4G network and 361 million online shoppers at the end of last year.

Stellar growth in e-commerce also lifted online payment and logistics companies, Sun said.

China overtook the United States to top the world in terms of the business volume in express delivery in 2014.

Surging e-commerce will generate fresh consumption demand, prompt a new investment wave and encourage innovation, Sun said.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 4, 2015
Small businesses thriving in the countryside
3rd August 2015

 STARTUPS are appearing all over China’s countryside as the government encourages rural entrepreneurship with a spate of favorable policies.

Last week, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security publicized employment figures of 500 villages it supervised in 10 provinces. According to the ministry, about 13,000 rural laborers started their own businesses in the first half of this year, up 3.1 percent year on year.

In provinces with large numbers of migrant laborers, the number was even higher, with the southwestern Guizhou Province having recorded some 72,000 laborers who became their own bosses in the first half, a year-on-year increase of 58 percent.

More rural workers chose to start their own businesses thanks to government policies supporting entrepreneurship, said Zhang Ying, deputy head of the ministry’s department of employment support.

Wang Qiongshi, the head of a laundry facility in his hometown of Haikou, capital of south China’s Hainan Province, was once a migrant worker struggling in neighboring Guangdong Province. Wang said he started his own business a few years ago, which now makes more than 200,000 yuan (US$32,200) a month.

Qin Guohong, who worked in Nanning of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region a few years ago, has launched a pig-selling business in his hometown of Baise, also in Guangxi.

“Registration is easier these days, and the government provides financial support,” said the young man, who has opened 15 chain stores in Baise.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, announced new policies in June to encourage migrant workers, college graduates and discharged soldiers to return to their hometowns and start their own small businesses.

The government has promised easy business registration and will even allow them to participate in rural infrastructure development and public services that are normally reserved for the state.

While countless migrant workers are still struggling to make ends meet in China’s cities, many people are returning to their rural hometowns to start their own businesses.

In Guizhou’s capital Guiyang, a business incubation park was put into operation in the city’s suburbs in April by the provincial government.

The “Dream Factory” park provides free venues, cheap accommodation and startup loans from the provincial government. It has already attracted a dozen entrepreneurs.

Chickens and eggs

Li Shucai, head of a startup team selling agricultural products, was sitting in a cubicle browsing client information when Xinhua reporters visited the park last week. Li said his new company supplies chickens, eggs and other local products to more than 100 companies across the country.

“I have just set up the business, so our budget is tight,” Li said. “But because the factory gives us lots of favorable policies, I feel less pressure.”

Wu Jingxin, an employee with the factory, said that the facility will provide a platform for innovation and a “startup spirit” in the province.

The story is the same in Guangxi, where the government has recently promised to give up to 100,000 yuan for each entrepreneur who meets its criteria.

The preferential policies have created a flow of migrant workers back to their hometowns.

In the central province of Henan, an area with millions of outbound laborers, the proportion of local rural people working outside the province dropped from 43 percent in 2013 to 39 percent last year, whereas the percentage of those working in their home counties and cities rose to 38 percent from 30 percent.

By the end of last year, there were 270 million rural laborers in cities, but it is estimated that about 2 million have returned home. More are predicted to return home in the future, according to the human resources ministry.

“Government support has really had a huge role in the returning trend of migrant workers,” said Zhang Jianjun, an economist with the Party School of the Gansu Provincial Communist Party Committee. “Meanwhile, favorable policies have brought investment as well as projects to China’s rural west.”

Local authorities are also implementing policies to attract skilled workers to return home. In Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, there are now 26 business incubation parks for returning migrant workers, with 76 companies employing more than 9,000 people.

Besides the lure of government support, many migrant workers have grown fed up with their lives adrift.

“Life in big cities is not all it is cracked up to be: the air was bad, transportation was terrible, and it was hard to lead a good life,” said Ma Dawu, who is from northwest China’s Gansu Province.

Many people are motivated to return home by the connections they have.

“At home you have acquaintances, and acquaintances mean business,” said Gao Mingjun, a migrant worker who returned to Dingxi City in Gansu.

Wu Zhaohui, an official in Tongren in Guizhou, said government policies and e-commerce in rural China help to make returning home an attractive idea.

“When you work at home, you have your family members around, which offers a strong support system,” Wu said.

“This is what migrant workers usually don’t have in big cities.”

Despite all the advantages of rural entrepreneurship, the picture is not all rosy. Poor infrastructure and high costs are stumbling blocks.

Tu Wuye, who runs a metalwork company in Guangxi’s Lipu County, said it is difficult to deliver his products because of the bad roads.

“There are no expressways in Lipu, which hampers the development of our company,” Tu said.

Many people also complained of the trouble of hiring talent.

“As a startup, our business is a bit risky in the beginning and our benefits are quite limited,” said a migrant worker who has started an agricultural product processing company in Guangxi.

“So it’s important to think about how to lower the cost and improve benefits.”

Dang Guoying, a rural economy expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is important to improve the rural environment for entrepreneurship in the countryside by enhancing infrastructure.

“The government should also provide more guidance on the market and on business management. Only in this way can we truly cultivate sustainable businesses in rural China,” he said.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 3, 2015

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