MonitorsPublished on Apr 12, 2016
China Weekly Report | Volume VI; Issue 13

< style="color: #0180b3">FOREIGN AFFAIRS

China, Pakistan Air Forces launch joint training exercise

China's air force on April 9 began joint training exercises with that of Pakistan, China's defense ministry said, as the two nations' militaries strengthen operational ties. The countries call each other "all-weather friends", with ties underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbor, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in Asia. "China's Air Force hopes to widen the scope of cooperation and dialogue with all countries and regions," the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement on its website, adding that the exercise, called "Shaheen V," would run until April 30. In an interview, Pakistan Air Force second-in-command Muhammad Ashfaque Arain said the bulk of the burden was now borne by a fleet of U.S. made F-16 aircraft. He saw the purchase of more F-16s as economically unfeasible, however. Instead, Islamabad plans to invest in a joint fighter built with China, the JF-17.

Source: Reuters, April 9, 2016

China, Sri Lanka keen to push Colombo port project: Chinese diplomat

China and Sri Lanka are both determined to push forward with a stalled port project in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, a senior Chinese diplomat said on April 8 following a meeting between the two country's premiers. Sri Lanka ordered a review of the $1.4 billion Colombo port city project last year, citing irregularities in the award of the contract to state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) by a previous government. Last month, the Sri Lankan government, grappling with a difficult economy, ordered the Chinese firm to resume work on the port city, the island nation's single biggest foreign investment project, that includes apartments, shopping malls and marinas. But CCCC, which had estimated that the shutdown would result in losses of more than $380,000 a day, has sought compensation of $125 million, according to the Sri Lankan government, which has said it can't pay and wants to negotiate. Xiao Qian, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asia department, told reporters following a meeting between Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, "On the Colombo port, both sides agreed to further speed up the overall and comprehensive resumption of work on this project. The announcement to resume the work has been made by the Sri Lankan side but now we will go into further technical details.”

Source: Reuters, April 7, 2016

China's Xinjiang seals Pakistan ties with $2 billion in deals

Companies from China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang signed deals worth about $2 billion with Pakistan last week during a visit to Pakistan by Xinjiang's top official, who sought to cement ties with an important security partner. During a four-day visit to Pakistan, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian met Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, visited Islamabad, Karachi and Gwadar. The $2 billion in agreements covered infrastructure, solar power and logistics, among other projects, signed by companies from Xinjiang with their Pakistan counterparts, the newspaper said, without giving details.

Source: Reuters, April 7, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">POLITICS AND SOCIETY

China was largest market for ‘Panama Papers’ law firm: investigation

Nearly a third of the business of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal, came from its offices in Hong Kong and China, reports say – making the Asian giant its biggest market.Shell companies incorporated through the Hong Kong and China offices of the Panamanian law firm accounted for 29 per cent of its global active companies, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which co-ordinated a year-long investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents.The investigation found that relatives of at least eight current or former members of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling party’s most powerful body, have been implicated in the use of offshore companies.

Source: South China Morning Post, April 7, 2016

China hotel 'assault video' sparks anger and debate

Footage that appears to show a woman being assaulted in a Beijing hotel has sparked a massive debate in China.CCTV footage shows a woman being grabbed and dragged across a hotel corridor, in full view of bystanders.Although the incident is still being investigated, it has prompted millions of posts on social media, which have been viewed over two billion times.China has seen several incidents in recent years where bystanders have refused to help those in need. Beijing police say they are investigating the incident, and the hotel's parent company has apologised.

Source: BBC, April 7, 2016

Baby milk powder scandal: Watchdog admits endorsing safety of suspect infant formula

China’s food safety watchdog has backtracked on its earlier statement endorsing the safety of fake brand-name baby milk powder, saying it did so to hold back public panic.Shanghai police announced a fortnight ago that they had arrested six people for producing and selling 17,000 cans of counterfeit infant formula that were distributed to several provinces across China.The syndicate sold the milk powder under “multiple” brands, but only two names – international brand Abbott and China’s leading Beingmate – were released.Police said the suspects produced the milk powder using cheap infant formula and those with defective packaging.But on Monday, after the news broke, the China Food and Drug Administration said the products seized by police had passed its quality tests and that they met the national standard.

Source: South China Morning Post, April 8, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">ECONOMY

China's forex reserves end falling streak

China's foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly increased in March, ending a falling streak since November, central bank data showed on Thursday. Foreign exchange reserves rose by $10.28 billion the previous month to top $3.21 trillion in March, according to data from the People's Bank of China. Minsheng Securities analysts attributed the increase to a steady yuan exchange rate as the US interest rate hike worries eased while the domestic economy improved. March's data further eased fears of a downward spiral of capital outflows and yuan weakness

Source:China Daily, April 8, 2016

China remains largest market for luxury goods

Luxury market observers say that China, the world's largest market, looks likely to continue to make up for the weaker demand elsewhere. Today, Chinese shoppers account for nearly half of the global luxury market, providing an invaluable demand to brands in every segment. Data from Fortune Character Institute, a Shanghai-based luxury research consultancy, show China's luxury spending in 2015 totaled $16.8 billion, up 9 percent, year on year. Observers find that educated, well-traveled and tech-savvy younger generation shoppers are emerging as the new target market. "The Chinese customer is becoming a lot more global," said Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford, the high-end fashion retailer headquartered in Hong Kong. "There's a real thirst for newness."

Source: China Daily, April 8, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Volvo plans tests of 100 driverless cars in China

 Swedish carmaker Volvo has said it plans to launch a self-driving experiment in China involving up to 100 cars. Local drivers will test cars on public roads in "everyday conditions", according to a company press release. The move was announced at an event in Beijing on 7 April, though details of a start date were not provided. One analyst said he thought China was at the forefront of the development of autonomous cars. Volvo is owned by a Chinese firm, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. According to a report from the Reuters news agency, Volvo is now determining in which city to conduct the trials.

Source: BBC, April 7, 2016

Chinese start-up on track to deliver artificial intelligence-on-a-chip

Mainland Chinese start-up Horizon Robotics, founded by the former head of online search giant Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning, claims it is on pace to bring chips with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) technology to market. “General processors are too slow for AI functions. A dedicated chip will dramatically increase the speed of these functions,” Yu Kai, the founder and chief executive of Horizon Robotics told the South China Morning Post. Founded in Beijing in July, Horizon Robotics is developing chips and software that attempt to mimic how the human brain solves abstract tasks, such as voice and image recognition, that are difficult for regular computer programmes. It also makes sensors for smart devices.Yu said the company’s AI chips will empower future home appliances and cars, for example, to provide fast and intelligent response to user commands even without internet connection.

Source: South China Morning Post, March 6, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">BIBLIOGRAPHY

< style="color: #0180b3">Contributors:

  •  Pratnsahree Basu

  •  Swagata Saha

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