Asian countries urged to work together to fight US tariffs

Asian countries should work together to integrate and strengthen their industrial chains, which have been hit by the US government’s tariff moves against China, experts told the Global Times on Sunday.

“China and many other Asian countries are in the same industrial chain, and therefore they have the same need to fight against trade protectionism. They should make full use of their advantages and build up the current industrial chain to make it stronger,” Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Upstream companies in countries and regions like Southeast Asia and South Korea provide raw materials and components for export to downstream firms in China, where the components are assembled for export to other countries like the US.

The US’ scheduled tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products took effect at 12:01 pm (Beijing Time) Friday. In response, China’s additional tariffs on some US imports took effect at 12:01 am (Beijing Time) Friday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Global impact

According to Bai, the US government’s move to increase tariffs on Chinese products will cause problems for upstream global suppliers to China.

Asian countries will be particularly affected. A report by Vietnam Briefing in April noted that as Vietnam’s products are part of China’s value chain, the trade tension between the US and China will have a big effect on countries like Vietnam.

Economies like South Korea will be “badly hit” if the US continues to intensify its trade dispute with China, because these countries are big exporters of “intermediate goods” to China, where they are made into finished products that are then shipped to final destinations like the US, a CNBC report noted on Thursday.

Such intermediate goods include semiconductor chips and screens, which are manufactured separately in different Asian locations, according to the CNBC report.

According to Bai, downstream companies in the US or in other overseas markets will also be influenced, as Chinese products are inexpensive and not easily replaceable.

But, on the other hand, it won’t be difficult for Chinese companies to find replacements for US goods, Bai said.

He cited the example of soybeans. China imports about 35 percent of its soybeans from the US, Bai said.

However, amid the increased tariffs, China can find supplies from countries like Russia and Ukraine instead, he noted.

At the same time, commodity prices might surge as countries look for alternative markets.

A CNBC report in March noted Chinese importers are paying record harvest-time premiums for Brazilian soybeans as the importers need to secure alternative supplies amid the trade tension with the US.

Cong Yi, an economics professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said that in the longer term, it will be impossible for the US to break off completely from the Chinese market.

“Actually, what the US wants is to force China to offer more concessions and give them more privileges in business. They want to grab more of the domestic market,” Cong told the Global Times on Sunday.

Source: Global Times

Cambodia’s economic growth attracts more Chinese capital

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital

Cambodia’s economy has developed rapidly over recent years, which in turn has attracted more Chinese real estate enterprises and house buyers, thepaper.cn reported on July 6.

Cambodia, as a war-torn country of 20 years, was once regarded as one of Asia’s least developed countries, but is now becoming a hotbed for Chinese investors.

“Many Chinese people have bought houses here in the last year,” said a Chinese man with the assumed name Zhang Guangsheng, who has lived in Cambodia for 13 years.

A World Bank report says that Cambodia’s GDP maintained an annual growth of 7.6 percent between 1994 and 2015, topping all ASEAN countries. With a population of only 15 million, it has grown to be one of the strongest and most stable countries in the world in regards to economic growth.

Cambodia’s economic rise is closely related to China’s economic growth and assistance.

For many years, China has been offering free aid and concessional loans to Cambodia. It invested $1.3 billion to help Cambodia build 2,301 kilometers of roads, and helped the country with infrastructure construction including bridges, irrigation systems, power transmission facilities and dams.

As an important country along the Belt and Road Initiative, an increasing number of Chinese investors are putting their money into Cambodia, injecting new impetus into the country’s economy.

As of 2017, 3,052 real estate projects were under construction in Cambodia, with a total construction area of 10 million square meters and an investment of $6.4 billion, according to a report released by Cambodia’s land planning and construction department.

The report also reveals that China has become the largest investor in Cambodia’s real estate industry, with over 200 Chinese enterprises involved in the country’s industry.

An employee at a Chinese real estate development enterprise in Cambodia noted that about 70-80 percent of house buyers in Cambodia are Chinese, among which most are from China’s first-tier and coastal cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The stabilizing political situation, good investment opportunities and favorable policy in Cambodia are all believed to contribute to Cambodia’s attractiveness to Chinese investors.

For example, the country’s development has outpaced that of other ASEAN countries including Singapore and Thailand. The percentage of people aged below 34 accounts for over 70 percent of its total population, with an unemployment rate of only 0.55 percent.

Crayfish industry brings new life to Qianjiang in central China

Workers peel crayfish at a factory in Qianjiang, central China’s Hubei province, May 23, 2018. These workers come to the city in April before the peak crayfish-eating season begins and leave by August when the season ends.

Crayfish, primarily enjoyed in summer, have created an industry chain in Qianjiang City, central China’s Hubei province.

41-year-old Su Lijun works in the industry. With 1,500 workers peeling crayfish for him, the factory branch that Su manages can easily produce 12 tons of crayfish meat per day, while company wide, the maximum production can reach 300 tons every day.

According to an annual report on China’s crayfish industry development, the total crayfish yield in Qianjiang was 70,413 tons in 2017, the 3rd largest in the country.

Crayfish were first discovered in Qianjiang in 1988. During the years that followed, the crustacean was only served up on local dinner tables. It wasn’t until 2001 that farmers started to catch and sell the crayfish at markets.

Farmer Ma Yulin collects crayfish in his rice fields, May 24, 2018.

Qianjiang now breeds crayfish in rice fields, these fields providing crayfish with enough water to grow while they, in turn, help crop ecology by loosening the soil, eating the grass and providing fertilizer.

This new mode allows farmers to produce two batches of crayfish every year, compared with one previously. By 2017, Qianjiang had 640,000 mu, or 43,000 hectares, of land to breed crayfish, of which 93 percent is for the combined cultivation of crayfish and rice.

Photo shows a crayfish sculpture in Qianjiang, central China’s Hubei province, May 23, 2018

Ma Yulin, 64, says he earns over 100,000 yuan during the four month crayfish season by selling his stock to factories. He goes out to the fields to collect his crayfish at 1 a.m. and takes them to local factories at 6 a.m.

Now, Qianjiang is home to 13 crayfish companies that can process a combined sum of 300,000 tons of crayfish in a single year.

The crayfish festival has also boosted crayfish consumption. It’s been reported that the city received 150 million yuan in investment to build itself into a tourism base. Now, the city has more than 2,000 crayfish restaurants that can accommodate up to 20,000 hungry diners every day.

Diners enjoy themselves in Qianjiang, central China’s Hubei province, May 24, 2018

Trade protectionism is harming U.S. manufacturing

Trade protectionism is harming the U.S. manufacturing industry, as some enterprises have decided or are planning to transfer parts of their businesses out of the states in order to avoid possible impacts the protectionist trade policy may incur.

117-year-old U.S. motorcycle company Harley-Davidson recently announced plans to move part of its motorcycle production out of the states.

On July 3, U.S. president Donald Trump said the U.S. is the best place to do business, adding that he is working on introducing other motorcycle companies to his country, without disclosing how.

Harley-Davidson is not the only U.S. company attempting to avoid the protectionist trade policy. Mid Continent Nail Corp has also said it may have to suspend its operations or move them to Mexico if the Trump Administration fails to offer tariff exemptions on steel products.

Mid Continent Nail Corp is reported to have already laid off 10 percent of its staff because it couldn’t afford the additional costs incurred when importing raw materials from its mother company in Mexico.

Trade protectionism leads to rising tariffs on raw materials that companies in the U.S. need for production, increasing costs and therefore making U.S. products less competitive domestically.

Also, because of the increasing tariffs, countries affected by trade protectionism will have to substantially raise prices of U.S. products in their own market, which will consequently reduce competitiveness of American goods on an international scale.

Instead of protecting enterprises, trade protectionism has become an obstacle that damages America’s business environment. It has forced U.S. companies to move their businesses out of the country, which will cause workers to lose their jobs.

According to European media, the Harley Davidson case is a warning to the outdated trade protectionism of the U.S.

The trade war, unilaterally started by the Trump Administration, is a lose-lose battle. In the 1930s, the U.S. government started a trade war by implementing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Due to the trade war, the import volume of the country fell by more than 60 percent, and the unemployment rate almost quadrupled.

Washington cannot contain China’s growth through a trade war

Why does the administration of Donald Trump engage in a trade confrontation with China? So far, there is no complete explanation. Some believe he wants more votes. Others think he really wants to address the US trade deficit issue with China. Some contend that containing China’s technological progress is his real purpose and that is why the list of tariffs  targets Chinese industries such as aerospace, telecoms and artificial intelligence.

The US has trade conflicts not only with China. It is determined to rewrite world trade rules on its own. Its trade war with Europe may also escalate.

The WTO provides the framework for free trade. China has fulfilled the pledge it made when joining this institution. China’s foreign trade has been supervised by WTO rules and disputes were settled in accordance with the rules.

After China became the world’s second largest economy, opening itself wider is the dominant principle for further development. China has been preparing measures to further open up the country since last year, which were announced at this year’s Boao Forum for Asia in April. China has issued measures to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, broaden market access and cut tariffs. On June 28, China unveiled a shortened negative list for foreign investments, reducing the constraints of foreign investments in China.

China and the US have conducted three rounds of negotiations over trade. China has promised to buy more products from the US. These products are what China needs and the US is willing to sell, mainly agricultural products and energy. In one of his tweets in May, the US President said, “Under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our Great American Farmers practically as much as our Farmers can produce.”

China does not want to get involved in a trade war. Discrepancies over trade can be gradually resolved. But if the Trump government wants to contain China’s high-tech development and marginalize its promising high-tech industry, it will be quite another case.

It is China’s right to develop its high-tech industries, including aerospace, telecommunications and artificial intelligence. It does not make sense that China cannot set foot in these fields just because the US is in the lead or believes that if Beijing ever achieves any results, they would all be “stolen” from Washington. This is a severe distortion of the spirit of intellectual property.

The US made tremendous contributions to the development of science and technology. But it has only been at the forefront of technological innovation over the past century. The entire human civilization has already had a history of thousands of years, during which China also made outstanding achievements in promoting global scientific and technological progress. There is no way for the US to arrogantly believe that the whole world’s modernization is taken from the US.

The US is the world’s biggest power in the aerospace industry. But Americans must not forget that it was the former Soviet Union which successfully launched the world’s first artificial satellite. The first astronaut also came from the Soviet Union. Can we say US space technologies were stolen from the Soviet Union?

If Washington wants to maintain its status as the most technologically advanced country in the world, it must keep leading the globe’s technological innovation and come up with more achievements. Washington does not have the right to ask Beijing not to develop something and it is impossible for China to listen to its command.

If the US is determined to escalate conflicts with China, then so be it. Perhaps the Trump administration can only clear its mind after a fight.

Source: Global Times

Growth of Chinese students studying in U.S. falls for 7th consecutive year

The growth of Chinese students studying in the U.S. has been decreasing for seven consecutive years, said a recent report issued by a U.S. organization.

The report said that the number of F-1 (for academic purposes) and M-1 (for nonacademic or vocational purposes) international students was down by 0.5 percent during the 2017-2018 school year when compared with the year before.

A total of 377,070 Chinese students are currently studying in the U.S., making China the largest source of international students to the country. Though this number is still expanding, the growth has been falling for the last seven years, the report noted.

Shi Qi, an employee of a Chinese overseas education agency, told People’s Daily Overseas Edition that U.S. education is gradually losing its charm in China. She compared it to a running train, saying it’s impossible to stop immediately, but the speed is gradually slowing down.

According to a survey conducted by The Times and foreign exchange company FairFX, the U.S. was the second most expensive destination for overseas study in 2017, with an average annual cost of $35,705.

U.S. News & World Report said that the top 50 U.S. private universities saw an average 3.6 percent rise in tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year. The increase even hit 4 percent in some of the top institutions.

Lin Jia, a Chinese student who’s currently applying to South Korean universities, said that she once considered applying to U.S. schools, but finally opted for another country due to such high expenses. She explained, “The general spending in South Korea is around 200,000 yuan ($30,147) each year, which wouldn’t be nearly enough in the U.S.”

According to the latest applicant survey report, issued by leading global higher education company Quacquarelli Symonds, the U.S. is still the first choice for Chinese students when it comes to overseas study. However, more and more Chinese students are turning to other countries due to U.S. policies such as mobility restrictions and immigration control.

Shi said that with China’s improved national power and international influence over the past four decades, more and more students and parents are beginning to see overseas study as a rational option, and to study abroad is no longer seen as western-worship.

“The current generation of students preparing for overseas studies grew up with more freedom and independence, so they are more responsible when making plans for overseas study,” Shi added.

Chinese video app banned in Indonesia for inappropriate content

Chinese short video-sharing platform Tik Tok (also known as Douyin in China) was banned in Indonesia on July 3.

Many users of the viral Chinese app confirmed the ban to The Beijing News on July 4, saying the application’s content has been inaccessible since Tuesday night.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the organization that issued the ban, has said that Tik Tok contained substantial inappropriate content that might have had an unfavorable influence on children. The head of the ministry noted that the government would lift the ban after Tik Tok removes all illegal content and promises to regulate and maintain clean content.

Tik Tok, together with Muscal.ly, are two overseas versions of the Chinese video app Douyin, that have now entered more than 150 countries and regions. Statistics published by third-party data platform App Annie show that over the last three months, Tik Tok was among the top 20 free apps on Indonesia’s App Store, even making it to number one in the video and recording subcategory. It was also one of the top five apps on Google Play’s free download list.

According to a Tik Tok statement, the app has more than 100 million overseas users, and is especially active in Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. Tik Tok’s operator, Bytedance, told The Beijing News in June that the platform would run on localized operation, conforming to local customs and laws. In addition to artificial reviewing, the platform also integrated automatic content inspection.

However, analyst Tang Xin believes that it’s almost impossible for user-generated-content platforms to take complete control of their content, and risks grow with the number of users and size of platform.

The Beijing News reached out to Bytedance for comment on the ban, but the company had not replied at the time of publication.

US ZTE move viewed with caution: experts

Chinese experts on Wednesday urged caution following a decision by the US to temporarily allow embattled Chinese telecom firm ZTE Corp to restart some businesses in the US, saying that the move might not be significant either for the company or for strained trade relations between China and the US.

However, coming just days before the two countries are scheduled to impose tariffs on each other, the move sent a rare positive signal that there might still be room for negotiations, some experts noted.

The US Department of Commerce, in a statement dated July 2, announced that it would allow ZTE to restart business operations necessary for providing maintenance for its existing networks and customer support for contracts signed before April 15. The US in April barred its companies from supplying key parts for ZTE, after it accused the company of trying to get around US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

“On the surface, this is a positive step. But in reality, this is a tactic from the US to trick China into offering concessions,” said Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Insincerity

The temporary reprieve for ZTE only lasts until August 2 and the Chinese company is still barred from signing new contracts with US suppliers, according to the statement.

“This is an old trick often deployed by [US President Donald] Trump to offer small, temporary promises that can easily be reversed later to get big, long-term benefits from others,” Bai said, pointing to Trump’s decision to temporarily exempt the EU and other allies from steel and aluminum tariffs, only to change his mind later.

“The US is treating others like children, saying ‘I will give you candy, if you listen to me,'” Bai said.

Fu Liang, an independent Chinese telecom industry expert based in Beijing, said that the US move was made in the interests of its citizens who are customers of ZTE rather than fulfilling its promises after ZTE had done “all that it was ordered to do under the settlement between the two sides.”

ZTE recently reached a settlement with the US, under which it agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty and put $400 million in an escrow account, as well as replacing its entire senior management team in exchange for the US lifting the ban.

ZTE has replaced several executives in recent days and has paid the $1 billion penalty, according to media reports.

“The US now needs to make good on its promises under the settlement to lift the ban on ZTE,” Fu told the Global Times, adding that the temporary move “basically means nothing” in terms of helping the company out of its troubles.

However, the US move could represent a positive sign in the wider context of China-US trade tensions, experts noted.

“Under the current circumstances, any forward-looking and positive sign should be seen positively because there is so much pessimism about the China-US relationship right now,” said Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade under the Ministry of Commerce.

Fu also noted that for ZTE, the US move is a positive step. “The future still looks dim for ZTE, but at least there is something positive going on,” he said.

Source: Global Times

 

Baidu autonomous buses roll off production line

Apollong, the world’s first widely produced “Level 4” autonomous bus, has rolled off the production line and is now ready for commercial use, said Robin Li, CEO of Chinese technology giant Baidu, at the company’s developer conference on July 4.

The autonomous bus was jointly developed by Baidu and Chinese bus maker King Long.

According to the president of King Long, Xie Siyu, the bus has been designed with no steering wheel, driver’s seat, gas pedal or brake pedal.

Li believes that the development of auto-pilot vehicles will be driven by software rather than traditional mechanical parts. “Though the number of parts used for Apollong has been reduced, the vehicle’s open codes grew six-fold over the last year,” he said.

The auto-pilot buses will be sent to Beijing, Xiong’an, Shenzhen, Pingtan, Wuhan and Tokyo for commercial services. Baidu also struck a deal with Japan’s SoftBank Group for Apollong buses to be used as shuttle services in the country’s nuclear power stations.