China's civil aviation sector posted strong passenger growth despite a decline in cargo transportation in January this year, official data showed Monday.
Air passenger trips in January increased 17.6 percent year on year to 43.9 million, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The pace was faster than the 11.8-percent growth registered for the whole year of 2016.
Passenger trips made on domestic routes rose 17.4 percent year on year to 38.96 million in January, while those made on international routes surged 19.1 percent to 4.97 million.
In January, air cargo and mail freight topped 565,000 tonnes in January, decreasing 3.8 percent year on year, affected by waning domestic cargo and mail business.
Domestic air cargo and mail freight declined 5.6 percent in January year on year to 409,000 tonnes, while international cargo and mail freight increased 0.9 percent in January to 156,000 tonnes.
Unilever is preparing a 6 billion pound ($7.44 billion) sale of some of its food brands, British newspapers reported on Saturday.
The Anglo-Dutch company is planning to sell Flora margarine and Stork butter brands, the Sunday Times said.
The Sunday Telegraph, which also cited a figure of 6 billion pounds, quoted sources as saying private equity firms Bain Capital, CVC and Clayton Dubilier and Rice have started working on offers for these businesses. Unilever did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The maker of Knorr soups, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream rebuffed a surprise $143 billion takeover offer from Kraft Heinz last month, stating that the group "sees no merit, either financial or strategic, for Unilever's shareholders."
The company has launched a business review to consider returning cash to shareholders, making medium-sized acquisitions and more aggressive cost cuts, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. In a report released in January, Unilever stated that its food business sector sustained its return to growth, driven by the packs with easy-out technology and organic variants.
Ofo bikes around Chaoyang Park in Beijing.
Until fairly recently, bicycle production had been considered a sunset industry, but a nationwide resurgence caused by the popularity of shared bikes has given it a second lease of life.
Li Dewu, the manager of a bike production company based in Shenzhen says he never expected such a spike in demand.
Last year the downturn in demand had Li worried about his business, but an order for thousands of shared bikes just before the Chinese New Year turned things around. Li described the major deal as a second madness in his twenty year career that made him both excited and yet also a little nervous.
Hu Zefeng, who runs a cycle production company in Shenzhen, also had a busy few months with deals for over 1.5 million bikes received in total. "We have employed about 500 new workers and added 7 more assembly lines from Shenzhen to Tianjin." Hu said.
The demand for bike parts and accessories has also seen a boost. Du Kaishan, manager of a bike saddle provider said: "my factory is over loaded now, with hundreds of thousands saddles having to be made in a single deal every month."
The ubiquitous shared bikes are causing a stir in China. Companies such as Ofo and Mobike have over 10 million registered users and distribute cycles to every corner of cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
According to statistics from the China Cycle Association, over 2 million shared bikes have been placed in more than 30 cities in China since 2016.
The expansion in the shared bike market has, however, been accompanied by a rise in the price of cycles. Producers have raised their prices by 5 percent on average, according to The Paper.
A manager at a cycle assembly factory in Suzhou said the high demand for shared bikes had resulted in a shortage of cycle supplies, which influences the cost of the end product.
An industry insider said another element triggering pricier bikes is the rising price of steel and rubber, the raw materials used to make cycle frames and tires. Some types of steel have seen a 35 percent increase in prices over the last year, rubber nearly 70 percent.
Most of the cycle producers though said that they would continue with the original price of each bike or perhaps raise it a little for regular clients. Ofo, Mobike and new business entrant Bluegogo have all denied that the cost of their cycles has gone up.
World Consumer Rights Day has arrived, and China plans to enhance its crackdown on capital market fraud.
The country's top securities regulator, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), announced last Friday that it would impose the maximum penalty on office service provider China Nine Top and AnShan Heavy Duty Mining Machinery for severe violations of information disclosure rules.
China Nine Top is reported to have inflated its revenue and bank deposits while covering up an assets gap in order to restructure with the listed company AnShan Heavy Duty Mining Machinery.
Besides exposing companies faking assets to get listed, securities watchdogs have punished other capital market counterfeit practices such as inflating financial performance to avoid delisting, and fraudulent initial public offerings using fake documents.
In order to stay on the stock market, a property developer close to being delisted due to poor financial performance turned a profit from a loss in 2016 by selling part of its equity at an over-valued price in the fourth quarter, according to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
There will be enhanced supervision over year-end asset selling, and restructuring to crack down upon profit manipulation, according to the stock exchange.
In February, the CSRC announced 20 representative illegal stock market cases of 2016, including the high-profile case of Dandong Xintai Electric, the first company to be forced to delist from the Chinese stock market due to IPO disclosure cheating.
"We will continue to expose some influential fraud cases in areas like restructuring and acquisition," said Liu Shiyu, head of the CSRC, late February. "For wrongdoings on the capital markets, we will follow and treat them in a timely and tough manner."
The CSRC imposed 139 administrative punishment decisions last year, 13 as cases of financial fraud.
"Listed companies are profit-seeking, and it seems that they can get more than what they might have to pay for, by cheating, so they make reckless moves to try their luck," said Tian Lihui, a financial professor with Nankai University. "So there should be harsher punishment, and most importantly, improvement of the legal framework of the capital market, such as stricter requirements for information disclosure."
Meanwhile, regulators are also working on improving the delisting mechanism to improve the overall quality of the stock market and regulate backdoor listing.
"The CSRC will require stricter information disclosure to deter financial cheating, urge intermediaries like accounting agencies and stock exchanges to fulfill due responsibility and modify delisting standards," said Jiang Yang, deputy head of the CSRC, last week.
Lincoln, the luxury unit of Ford Motor Co, said on Monday that it plans to build a luxury sport utility vehicle in China in partnership with the Chang'an Automobile Group.
The as-yet unnamed vehicle will be built at a plant in the city of Chongqing. It is scheduled to go on sale in late 2019 only in China, the world's largest auto market, according to Lincoln spokesman Said Deep.
Building in China will help Lincoln meet growing customer demand and enable the company to become more responsive to changing customer preferences, Deep wrote in an email. "As Lincoln grows in China it makes sense to produce this new SUV in China," he added.
Lincoln exports its vehicles from North America to China, and reported sales of 32,558 in 2016, three times more than it sold in 2015.
Ford and its joint venture partners sold a record 1.27 million vehicles in China last year. Lincoln isn't the only US luxury brand taking aim at China. General Motors said its Cadillac volume in China rose 46 percent in 2016 to 116,406 , the first time it passed 100,000 vehicles in China in a single year.
Boeing and Chinese aviation manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd.(COMAC) will start to build a Boeing 737 completion center in eastern China's Zhoushan city at the end of March, scheduled to make its first delivery in 2018.
This is Boeing's first overseas facility as part of its 737 production system, and designed to deliver 100 Boeing 737 planes a year.
In the joint-venture completion center, Boeing's 737 aircraft will be installed with flight entertainment systems and seats. The plant in Zhoushan, 287 km southeast of Shanghai, also provides services such as coating, repair and maintenance of Boeing aircraft.
Boeing and COMAC signed an agreement in October 2016 to set up the Zhoushan plant, which will consist of two parts: the 737 completion center, a joint venture of Boeing and COMAC, and the 737 delivery center owned by Boeing.
Construction of the delivery center will also start at the end of March.
To accommodate aircraft manufacturing in Zhoushan, Putuoshan Airport in the city is undergoing a 750 million yuan (108 million U.S. dollars) expansion to become an international airport.
In addition to supporting Boeing, the aviation base in Zhoushan will also develop an entire industrial chain for aircraft manufacturing, with the capacity of assembling, delivering and modifying 600 aircraft a year by 2025.
Zhoushan is an archipelago and island city in Zhejiang Province, which has the largest fishery in China and boasts strong shipbuilding, tourism and service industries.
A female user of Red (Xiao Hongshu) poses with the company's staff at its anniversary celebration in Shanghai.
About one in every 20 A-share companies is led by female, according to a report by Securities Times released on International Women's Day on Wednesday.
The number of chairwomen in Chinese mainland-listed firms totals 151, accounting for 5 percent of all top posts. Equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, real estate, and automobile are the top five industries with most female business leaders.
About 70 percent of the chairwomen were born in the 60s or 70s, according to the report. Corporate head Hu Jiajia of Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion & Accessories Co and Liu Xiaoqing of Dalian Yi Qiao Sea Cucumber Co, both 30, are the youngest.
Of the 153 A-share firms run by women, 56 are listed on Shanghai Stock Exchange, 45 on Shenzhen small-and-medium enterprise board, and 31 on NASDAQ-styled ChiNext board.
Among the 145 chairwomen who have disclosed their education background, four have doctorate degree and 10 have studied abroad, noted the report.
According to a survey by professional networking site LinkedIn, 44 percent of all senior management roles in companies were held by women last year.
The need to balance family obligations and pressure from society are still believed to be major obstacles for women in the business world.
Beijing beat New York City to become the "Billionaire Capital of the World" for the second year running, according to Hurun Global Rich List released on Tuesday.
The new list ranked 2,257 billionaires, up 69 from last year and a growth of 55 percent or 804 over the last five years.
Total wealth among billionaires increased by 16 percent to $8.0 trillion, equivalent to 10.7 percent of global GDP, and up from 7 percent of global GDP five years ago.
Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, said global wealth is being concentrated in the hands of the billionaires at a rate far exceeding global growth.
New York has the highest concentration of billionaires, with 86, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles on 29 and 23 respectively. The USA is the world's capital for immigrant billionaires. Two-thirds self-made, with one-third inherited. Average age among USA billionaires increased to 66, two higher than the list average.
Bill Gates, 61, is still the richest man in the world, despite only growing 1 percent to $81bn. Warren Buffett, 86, held onto second place, increasing his wealth to $78 billion, up $10 billion after a surge in the Berkshire Hathaway share price.
Jeff Bezos, 53, of Amazon, has broken into the Top 3 for the first time. Mark Zuckerberg, 32, the youngest of the Top 10, shot up to fifth, his highest ranking yet.
Chinese billionaires led the USA for the second year running, with 609 compared with 552, up 41 and 17 respectively. Hoogewerf said "China and the USA have half the billionaires in the world."
The combined net worth of Chinese billionaires is $1.6 trillion, 2.1 percent of the global GDP. Real Estate has generated most billionaires (120), followed by Manufacturing and TMT with 115 and 78 respectively, according to the report.
China is number 1 in the world in terms of generating self-made billionaires akin to "rags to riches" and is home to two-thirds of the world's self-made female billionaires.
Led by Beijing, 5 Chinese cities made the top 10 cities and 7 the Top 20. Average age is 58, six years younger than the list average.
Shenzhen surprised many by adding 16 billionaires to propel it into fourth place, just behind Hong Kong.
A February IPO propelled Wang Wei, 46, of SF Express to third spot, with a five-fold growth in his wealth to $27 billion, just behind Wang Jianlin and Jack Ma. Corporate raider Yao Zhenhua of Baoneng saw the fastest growth on the list, rising almost eight-fold to $15 billion.
Investments overtook tech to become the main source of wealth for American billionaires, with 121 and 112 billionaires respectively, followed by retail with 57. The combined wealth of U.S. billionaires was $2.6 trillion, 3.4 percent of global GDP.
A mobile phone user walks past a logo of China Mobile's 4G service in Qingdao, Shandong province.
The country's three telecom carriers, China Mobile Communications, China United Network Communications Group and China Telecommunications Corp, announced steps to scrap domestic long-distance and roaming charges from October 1, 2017, a move to drive forward industrial transformation and boast the upgrading and adjustment of real economy.
Li Yue, president of China Mobile, the country's largest telecom operator said the domestic roaming charges account for 8 to 10 percent of its total revenue, removal of such fees will have an influence on the company, adding this will encourage China Mobile to improve operation and management efficiency.
China Unicom said it will increase the coverage of broadband access, develop innovative applications, and upgrade products and services in response to the initiative of "increasing broadband access speed and reducing tariff" by the authority.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will push forward the initiative with more effective measures.
"We will strive to remove completely the domestic long-distance and roaming tariffs for mobile users, greatly reduce the tariff for international long-distance call and dedicated internet access price for small- and medium-sized enterprises," said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of industry and information technology.
The ministry will make efforts to regulate the tariff-setting behaviors of enterprises, promote healthy market competition and continue to improve market environment of telecommunications.
China's producer price index (PPI), which measures costs of goods at the factory gate, quickened growth pace year on year in January, fresh evidence of strengthening demand in the world's second-largest economy, official data showed Tuesday.
The PPI rose 6.9 percent year on year in January, an increase on the 5.5 percent registered in December 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
This represented the fifth straight month expansion of the PPI on a year-on-year basis and the highest reading since August 2011.
On a month-on-month basis, the PPI edged up 0.8 percent, with the growth pace narrowing down from the 1.6 percent recorded in December 2016.
NBS senior statistician Sheng Guoqing attributed the monthly PPI gain to factors including the carry-over effect of last year's price changes, spiking prices of metal, fuels, chemicals and other raw materials.
Factors including rebounding domestic demand and reducing outdated capacity helped push up the PPI and the index is likely to remain high in the coming months, according to Wen Bin, a senior researcher at China Minsheng Bank.
The January PPI figure outstripped market expectations, and Chinese policymakers should be alert to inflationary pressure caused by rapid PPI growth, according to Wen.
The PPI figures came alongside the release of the consumer price index, which rose 2.5 percent in January year on year, partially due to holiday effects.
China's used car sales hit a record high in 2016, posting 10.3 percent growth year-on-year, as local authorities have been removing barriers on cross-provincial-border vehicle sales.
Statistics from the China Automobile Dealers Association show that 10.39 million used cars were sold last year. Industry insiders expect yet more to be sold this year.
Although the sector's growth did not keep up with surging new car sales, which saw a 13.7 percent growth rate in 2016, it was the first double-digit growth in used car sales for the past several years, said Luo Lei, the association's deputy secretary-general.
"The hard-won achievement was mainly a result of local governments gradually opening their markets to used cars from other regions," said Luo.
The State Council, China's cabinet released an eight-article guideline in March 2016, instructing local governments to lift any limitations on the flow of used vehicles between provinces by the end of May. China has 172 million cars, but local bans have curbed the free flow of used cars, resulting in insufficient supply. However, the policy has not worked out, according to Luo. He said the association's monitoring shows that while seven provinces, including Sichuan and Heilongjiang, have fully removed the barriers, many others have failed to do so.
Luo said those seven provinces saw double-digit growth in their used car sectors, which was significantly higher than that recorded in the provinces that did not remove the limitations.
Industry insiders say local authorities have failed to lift the ban because used cars usually have higher emissions and contribute less to the local economy than new cars. Luo said more regions will catch up now that the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have issued orders to implement the State Council's guideline. He expects sales this year to hit a new high as a result.
"Used car transactions accounted for 5.8 percent of China's total car sales last year. As local authorities remove their bans, it may return to the normal level of 7.3 percent, which will be 12.5 million vehicles," Luo said.
Xiao Zhengsan, secretary-general of CADA, calls for more attention to be given to the sector's development, saying used cars will contribute to China's automotive market's growth.
"China has become the world's largest auto market, but if its growth is driven by stimulus policies, it is not healthy," said Xiao.
According to Xiao, used cars and car finance will prove to be two critical and healthy market forces. "I will say, if we fail to do a good job in used cars, then it is impossible for us to do a job in terms of new cars sales. In one or two years you will see if I am correct," he said.
In developed markets such as the United States, used car sales are usually more than double those of new cars, while in China, they represent less than 40 percent of new car sales.
China will improve its logistics network to reduce costs for wholesalers and retailers.
The government will reduce the ratio of the retail and wholesale sectors' overall logistics costs on total GDP to 7 percent by 2020, according to a plan released by the Ministry of Commerce and other ministries.
High logistics costs hold back enterprises' growth. The ratio of China's total logistics spending on total GDP stood at 14.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2016, much higher than the average 8-to-9 percent level in developed economies.
China will expand its commercial logistics network and improve efficiency through IT application.
The government will also establish several national and regional commercial logistics hubs and invest more in infrastructure development.
Titans clash over mobile payments
The competition in China's mobile payment market is growing tougher with the standardization of China UnionPay's quick-response code technology in December. The head-to-head digital hongbao wars between the two dominant players WeChat and Alipay during the Spring Festival holidays provides one piece of evidence. Behind the cutthroat turf war, both of the platforms have broader ambitions, including creating tailored financial products based on their collections of big data. In the near future, the industry will also be subject to tighter regulations.
It was not so long ago that the red envelopes, or hongbao, that people handed out during the Spring Festival holidays were actual red envelopes.
But over the last few years, many of the red envelopes stuffed with cash have existed only virtually on online payment platforms.
During this year's Spring Festival, a record of 46 billion electronic hongbao were sent and received via Chinese mobile social platform WeChat, which is operated by Tencent Technology Co, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday. The figure was up 43 percent year-on-year.
Internet giants such as Tencent have promoted the use of virtual hongbao to expand their stakes in China's fast-growing mobile payment market, as local shoppers are now using their smartphones to pay for everything from taxi fares to medical expenses.
In 2016, China's third-party payment market is estimated to reach 20.3 trillion yuan ($2.96 trillion), up 45 percent from 2015, according to research firm Enfodesk. It projected that the market will grow by more than 20 percent annually to 33 trillion yuan by 2018.
The huge market base has lured a number of companies, making the turf war for China's mobile payment market more cutthroat.
Early market entrants including WeChat and Alipay, which are run by Tencent and Alibaba respectively, have developed swipe-and-go payment systems based on quick-response (QR) codes. The two companies, which together control more than 70 percent of the market, have strived to secure their predominant position by spending heavily on discounts.
As a result, the use of credit cards has declined, rattling the country's bank card association.
On December 12, 2016, China UnionPay announced its own standards for QR code payments. The move was followed by promotional campaigns involving more than 20,000 stores from December to February, a peak time for shopping.
It is not the first time that China UnionPay stepped up efforts to tap the mobile payment market. In December 2015, the bank card association rolled out its near-field communication (NFC)-based Quick Pass mobile payment tool, which enables consumers to make payments by tapping their smartphones against payment terminals.
But the NFC-based technology was not as popular as QR codes.
"That's probably why UnionPay developed its own QR code last year," said Li Yi, a research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Li was not optimistic that commercial banks would be able to break in. "WeChat and Alipay have a lock on the huge market thanks to an early entrance," he told the Global Times on Monday.
But UnionPay still stands a chance in the mobile payment market because its technology is safer and more trustworthy, Li noted.
An employee from a commercial bank, who preferred not to be identified, agreed. "UnionPay also has an advantage in large payment transactions because WeChat and Alipay are more frequently used in payment of small amount," the bank employee told the Global Times on Monday.
For example, the two digital wallets account for around 80 percent of the mobile payment market which are under 5,000 yuan, according to the employee.
However, Liu Dingding, an independent Internet industry analyst, pointed out that the cooperation between UnionPay and commercial banks is crucial to the bank card association's goal of getting to the top.
Currently, UnionPay and the commercial banks have a "strange bedfellows" relationship, Liu said.
"UnionPay is looking to promote QR code with banks, but the logistics behind major banks' moves are different - they seek to expand the user base of their own mobile applications so that they can engage with clients directly, which means banks may also cooperate with WeChat and Alipay if UnionPay's promotion has not achieved their desired result," Liu told the Global Times on Sunday.
To date, the battles in the mobile payment market between the two tech giants, Alibaba and Tencent, have also intensified.
Head-to-head against WeChat's hongbao-grabbing activities during the Spring Festival, Alipay continued last year's collection of five good fortune games with the introduction of augmented reality technology. Participants can split a 200 million yuan prize by scanning the street-side "fu" signs, or the Chinese character of fortune, that are ubiquitous during the holidays.
To attract users, the two digital wallets are also locked in a competition for offline payment points for businesses such as restaurants, supermarkets and department stores. Therefore, both platforms turned to third-party services providers who specialize in "offline promotion" and merchants services for potential offline business growth.
For example, WeChat announced in April a plan to attract third-party services providers with more than 300 million yuan in investments. Alipay also plans to provide 1 billion yuan in rewards to third-party services providers over the next three years.
But behind the tit-for-tat competition, both Alipay and WeChat have broader ambitions.
One is the collection of big data related to transactions, which enable those platforms to invent and tailor financial services such as marketing strategies, investment and loans to their clients, Liu said.
Tencent has been struggling with how to generate revenues based on its huge consumer bases. In an interview with Caixin magazine in January, Huang Li, director of WeChat Payment, refused to elaborate on the business blueprint for the platform, only noting that the company is considering a strategy "as a whole."
In the near future, the country's third-party payment market will face greater regulatory control.
In January, the People's Bank of China (PBC) announced a new regulation that requires third-party payment companies to deposit clients reserve funds in bank accounts that do not generate interest. The new rules are intended to ensure institutions do not put the money into "risky" financial services. It is expected to takes effect in April.
An Alibaba spokesperson refused to comment on the policy's effect on its business. He said that the company "welcomes the policy and will actively impose it."
According to a report published by research firm TrendForce, following the policy implementation, major domestic payment providers, including Alibaba and Tencent, will suffer a blow, as the policy prevents them from using the funds to generate interest income or grow their business.
But Li disagreed. "Large-scale firms do not rely on interest from client funds. So the new measures will only hurt small third-payment firms."
Yet the policy is likely to tip the scales in UnionPay's favor, Li noted.
Shanghai's trade volume hit a record in December, which helped the city post better growth in annual trade than the national figure, Shanghai Customs data showed.
Imports through Shanghai were a record 186.81 billion yuan ($27.3 billion) in December, lifting the monthly trade value over 300 billion yuan for the first time to 306.03 billion yuan, customs said.
For 2016, the city's imports and exports totaled 2.87 trillion yuan, up 2.7 percent from a year ago. The rise reversed a 2.1 percent decline in 2015.
The city's imports rose 5.2 percent to 1.66 trillion yuan last year, faster than the national gain of 0.6 percent.
Exports dipped 0.5 percent to 1.21 trillion yuan, but the drop was smaller than the national decline of 1.5 percent.
Trade with the US, Europe and Japan rose 2.3 percent to 1.4 trillion yuan last year, accounting for 47.7 percent of the city's total foreign trade.
The city's trade with the 22 markets having free trade agreements with China rose 5.4 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan.
Shanghai's exports of integrated circuits rose 8.5 percent, medical devices gained 3.8 percent, and solar battery grew 1.5 percent, customs said.
Foreign trade through the free trade zone rose 5.9 percent to 783.68 billion yuan last year, accounting for 27.3 percent of the city's total trade volume.
Taiwan's average unemployment rate in 2016 stood at 3.92 percent, up 0.14 percentage points from 2015, the island's statistics authority revealed Monday.
On average, 460,000 people were out of work in 2016, increasing 20,000 from the previous year, with about 70,000 unemployed for a long period of time, the authority said. The total workforce in Taiwan reached 11.72 million last year.
The highest unemployment rate was observed among those who had a junior college education or higher at 4.23 percent in 2016. In terms of age, the unemployment rate among young people ages 15 to 24 reached as high as 12.12 percent, it said.
In December, the unemployment rate was 3.79 percent, both down 0.08 percentage points compared with November and the same period in 2015.
The registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities stood at 4.02 percent at the end of 2016, down from 4.04 percent three months earlier.
China created 13.14 million new jobs for urban residents last year, exceeding the official target, Lu Aihong, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a press conference on Monday.
The government has pledged to keep the whole-year registered unemployment rate below 4.5 percent and create at least 10 million jobs in 2016.
Baidu has hired former Microsoft executive and artificial intelligence expert Lu Qi as president and chief operating officer to help the Chinese search engine tap emerging technologies.
The heads of Baidu's technology, financial services and search units will all report to Lu as Baidu aims for a strong management team to drive the next phase of growth, the company said yesterday.
"To achieve our goals, especially in artificial intelligence, which is a key strategic focus for the next decade, we will need to continue attracting the best global talent," Baidu Chairman and founder Robin Li said in a statement.
Lu's appointment, with immediate effect, came a day after Baidu opened an augmented reality lab and followed an announcement in September of a US$200 million venture fund for emerging technologies.
German automaker Volkswagen plans to provide more than 400,000 new energy cars for the Chinese market by 2020, according to Professor Jochem Heizmann, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, Monday.
According to the plan, the number will increase to 1.5 million by 2025.
The company announced earlier that it would introduce 15 models of new energy vehicles in China in the next three or four years, to address the environmental protection needs of the Chinese market, as well as 10 models worldwide in the next decade.
New energy vehicles sales of the company are expected to reach 2 million to 3 million in 2025, 20 to 25 percent of its total sales.
China is Volkswagen's largest market. Volkswagen Group China and its two joint ventures delivered 3.98 million automobiles to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in 2016, up 12.2 percent year on year.
With this year's "Chunyun," the name given for the travel rush around Spring Festival, starting from Jan 13, some parcel deliverymen have returned to their hometowns to celebrate China's most important family holiday.
Courier companies, including SF Express, YTO Express and TTK Express, though have claimed that delivery and pickup will be normal during the Spring Festival holiday in response to the "No rest for the whole year" policy of the State Post Bureau.
However, due to the shortage of employees, some service stations will stop parcel pickup.
A deliveryman of YTO Express Beijing said that from Jan 15 parcels sent to other provinces will not be picked up, while Jan 20 is the deadline for parcels dispatched to be collected in the same city.
An employee of TTK Express said that parcel pickup will stop one week before the Spring Festival, china.org.cn reported.
Spring Festival, which falls on Jan 28 this year, is China's most important family holiday, with hundreds of millions heading for their hometowns to reunite with relatives and friends. It is expected to leave online shopping sites short-handed due to the exodus of workers.
Domestic express delivery services are getting a business boost from the explosive growth of e-commerce.
China's burgeoning courier service sector is predicted to generate 500 billion yuan ($72 billion) in business revenue this year, said Ma Junsheng, head of State Post Bureau. More than 40 billion express parcels will be sent in 2017, he added.
Baofeng Group Co Ltd, a Beijing-based internet entertainment and video company, announced on Thursday that it has established Baofeng New Culture Co Ltd to expand its business in culture, tourism and virtual reality, or VR.
Baofeng New culture will focus on intellectual property, or IP, investment, project incubation and operations in the fields of culture and tourism.
Working with Chongqing municipal government, the company will launch a 200-million-yuan ($29 million) fund, which will be invested in digital industry, VR content and innovation, VR experience centers and related projects.
Feng Xin, chief executive officer of Baofeng Group, said he took a rosy view of future integration between VR and the culture industry.
"In the wave of high-tech, the cultural upgrading will create richer forms of cultural tourism. And VR will play a key role in the development of cultural tourism," Feng said.
The new company will integrate artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data, cloud computing and other technologies to develop local cultural and historical IP.
Connecting tourists, brand owners and local tourist sites, the company aims to build a cultural geographic digital system. And the online platforms' experiences will boost offline consumption.
In 2016, the VR industry is moving forward rapidly; tech giants, including Google, Facebook, HTC, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi all cultivated VR hardware.
According to industry consultancy iResearch Consulting Group, China's VR market revenues are expected to top 5.6 billion yuan last year, and will reach 55 billion yuan by 2020.
In 2016, Baofeng Group's revenue in the VR sector reached around 20 million yuan, Feng said at the end of December.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, the manufacturer of Apple Inc's iPhones, posted its first annual revenue decline since 1991, as it wrestled with a saturating global smartphone market.
The Taiwan-based firm said on Tuesday it recorded NT$4.36 trillion ($137 billion) in revenue in 2016, down 2.81 percent from a year earlier, after its biggest client Apple saw slowing iPhones sales.
Founded in 1974 by business tycoon Terry Gou, Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, is the world's largest contract manufacturer of consumer electronics. Apple accounts for half of its business.
James Yan, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said smartphone vendors and their supply chain partners are under big pressure as the global smartphone market slows down.
"Hon Hai's heavy reliance on Apple makes it extremely vulnerable to a single client's sales performance," Yan said.
Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn Technology Group.
In 2016, the global smartphone market was expected to grow by 0.6 percent year-on-year, far lower than the 10.4 percent growth rate in 2015, research firm International Data Corp estimated.
Hon Hai's decline came after Apple reported in October its first annual revenue dip since 2001. The US tech giant finds it increasingly hard to resonate with consumers in China, the world's largest smartphone arena where local players Huawei Technologies Co and Oppo Electronics Corp are gaining ground.
Nicole Peng, research director at Shanghai-based consultancy Canalys, said although Chinese brands such as Huawei and Oppo have also turned to Hon Hai to assemble smartphones, they only account for a small slice of the latter's business.
"There is an urgent need for Hon Hai to diversify its revenue sources. We expect shipments of iPhones to decline by 13 percent in 2016," Peng said.
Although Apple will see a stronger sales momentum this year, with a shipment of 211.7 million units of iPhones, it will still be far less than the 231.5 million units in 2015, Canalys forecast.
But Xiang Ligang, a smartphone expert and CEO of the telecoms industry website cctime.com, noticed a bright spot in Hon Hai's financial report.
"In the quarter ended in December, sales were up 9.76 percent year-on-year, signaling big demand for the iPhone 7 Plus," Xiang said.
"It is too early to predict how Hon Hai and Apple will perform in 2017, because this year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and Apple may unveil a cutting-edge product to revive its sales," he added.
China created over 13 million new jobs in urban areas in 2016 as part of an effort to stabilize the slowing economy. The country has seen over 1.2 million jobs created for three consecutive years, from 2014 to 2016, according to Economic Information Daily.
Despite the economic slowdown, the Chinese government has managed to keep a low urban registered unemployment rate, partially through employment services and support for college graduates, as well as for workers laid off from industries with excess capacity.
About 5.11 million workers in urban areas were re-employed from January to November 2016, or 102.2 percent of the goal set for the year. What's more, 1.54 million people categorized as difficult to employ found jobs, accounting for 128.3 percent of the annual target, according to reports.
Employment will remain a top priority in the next year due to lingering pressures. Experts believe 130 million new jobs will be created in 2017, as the industrial structure will be optimized and the economy stabilized. Reports indicate that approximately 25 million new jobs will be created during each year of the 13th Five-Year Plan period, among which 10 million are set aside for registered workers who have been laid off, 1.5 million are for college graduates and 3 million are for surplus agricultural laborers.
Employment will be the top priority of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS), according to Yin Weimin, MOHRSS minister. A total of 7.95 million college students are expected to graduate in 2017, according to China's Ministry of Education.
Chen Baosheng, the minister of Education, said the numbers of college students who secured employment or started their own businesses after graduation has increased in the last three years. A report by Renmin University showed that 89.8 percent of college students have considered starting their own businesses, and 18.2 percent indicate firm plans to do so. The Ministry of Education called for improved policies that encourage college students to become entrepreneurs.
About 1.8 million jobs in the steel, coal and mining industries may have been lost by cutting overcapacity, which is the biggest employment pressure in five years, according to MOHRSS. The ministry has reportedly issued policies redistributing laborers in more than 20 provinces.
Two of China's online second-hand car trading platforms have announced plans to merge.
Companies clcw.com.cn and kx.cn agreed to work together to promote a customer-to-business model, known as C2B, to tackle the difficulty of individuals selling cars.
Clcw.com.cn has established nine branches across the country and accumulated more than 10,000 car dealers on its platform. Meanwhile, kx.cn has a strong brand influence and regional operation management.
Clcw.com has witnessed rapid growth since it was established in 2015. With 16,000 vehicles sold via its website and app last year, founder Xie Lei said its annual transactions have reached a value of 640 million yuan ($92.4 million).
Kaixin is the first online platform to adopt a C2B model to facilitate the selling of used cars from individuals to used-car dealers. With nine years of development, Kaixin became an industry giant and claims 8.8 percent of the used car dealing market in Shanghai.
"C2B can help customers sell cars at a reasonable price. It is the only model that suits China's actual conditions and caters to Chinese car-buyers' need," Xie said.
Xie said the newly-merged company will establish four operation centers nationwide, and more than 300 offline stores that provide related services in finance, insurance and ancillary products selling.
The company aims to reach a turnover of 12 billion yuan with 200,000 cars sold on its platform in 2017.
China's services sector expanded at the quickest pace in 17 months in December as new orders increased rapidly in a further sign that the economy was stabilizing, a private survey showed yesterday.
The Caixin General Services Purchasing Managers' Index edged up to 53.4 last month from 53.1 in November, according to the survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media.
It was the highest reading since July 2015 as demand in the sector picked up.
A sub index showed growth in new work at services companies quickened to a 17-month record, according to the survey.
The fast growth in the services sector echoed an increase in manufacturing activities as the Caixin General Manufacturing PMI, released on Wednesday, rose to a four-year high of 51.9 points.
"Manufacturing and services both expanded in December, showing that recovery in the economy continued," said Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group. "The Chinese economy performed better in the fourth quarter than in the previous three quarters" adding that he was certain the government's full year growth target of between 6.5 and 7 percent will be reached.
In the first three quarters, China's GDP grew 6.7 percent, within the official target of 6.5 to 7 percent. But it was 0.2 percentage points lower than the annual growth in 2015.
Services made up 58.5 percent of GDP growth, up 3.4 percentage points from a year earlier.
The Caixin PMIs, slanted toward private and export-oriented companies, indicated the private sector expanded in December and outperformed China's official PMI.
China's official PMI, released on Sunday by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing and focusing on state-owned manufacturers, dipped to 51.4 in December from November's 51.7. But PMI stayed in the expansion zone for the fifth straight month with the reading above 50.
In the services sector, the official non-manufacturing PMI dipped to 54.5 from November's 54.7 points.
China's burgeoning courier service sector is predicted to generate 500 billion yuan (72 billion U.S. dollars) in business revenue this year, a postal official said Thursday.
Over 40 billion express parcels will be sent in 2017, said Ma Junsheng, head of State Post Bureau (SPB).
In 2016, 31.3 billion parcels were sent, and the service created over 200,000 jobs, data from SPB showed.
The sector collected 400 billion yuan of business revenue last year, compared to just shy of 30 billion yuan in 2006, Ma said, calling the sector a "dark horse" of the economy.
China's courier market has grown from a handful of small businesses into a vibrant market contested by industry heavyweights, expanding 50 percent annually over the past six years, he said.
Leading delivery service provider ZTO Express became an NYSE-listed company in October 2016, the biggest U.S. IPO by a Chinese company after e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The debut came after the domestic listing of Yto Express, while competitors including SF Express, STO Express and Yunda Express expect to follow suit this year in a rush to buy more land, facilities, equipment and trucks.
The couriers' success is replicable and adaptable for the global market, Ma said.
Last year, the country's couriers helped deliver products bought online worth over 4 trillion yuan, or 12.5 percent of total retail sales of consumer goods, he said.
Still, China wants couriers to better serve its manufacturing industry and, to this end, it has launched 322 pilot coordination projects to accommodate an annual industrial output of over 120 billion yuan.
On the agriculture front, courier services have helped expand sales channels for farm products, and facilitated the sale of products worth over 100 billion yuan in 2016 and facilitated an on-going poverty-relief campaign.
The sector is well-positioned for the task, as courier services now cover 80 percent of towns and villages, and the country plans to extend this network by 2020, according to the SPB.
The increasing heft of the sector reflects China's solid progress in re-balancing its economic structure from manufacturing and investment to services and consumption.
Delivery and postal services are leading the growth in the service sector in China, home to the world's fastest growing postal market, Ma said earlier.
The country aims to deliver 50 billion express parcels annually, generating 800 billion yuan in business revenue, by 2020.
China's manufacturing sector continued to expand with the purchasing managers' index hitting a 47-month high in December, a private survey showed Tuesday.
Caixin General China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a private gauge of China's manufacturing activity, came in at 51.9 in December, up from 50.9 in November, according to a survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media Co. Ltd.
This was the index's biggest rise since January 2013, and production grew at the fastest pace in nearly six years thanks to an increase in total new work.
Official manufacturing PMI released on Sunday stood at 51.4 in December, lower than 51.7 in November and staying above the 50-point boom-bust line for the fifth straight month.
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