Big in Australia: Amazon’s Launch Down Under Beats All Expectations

This general view shows deliver trucks outside US retailer Amazon's new 24,000-square-metre centre in Melbourne on November 23, 2017

The world-famous online retail giant has declared its Australian branch opening a big success, with tens of thousands of customers rushing to place their orders on the company website.

Amazon has announced that the opening day of their operations in Australia set a new company record in terms of orders placed.

“We are thankful to Australian customers for making this a landmark day in Amazon history,” Amazon’s country manager in Australia Rocco Braeuniger said, adding that the number of visitors they’ve witnessed exceeded their expectations.

The retailer said that the Amazon Australia website was visited by “tens of thousands of customers” during the first 24 hours after the opening, with the total amount of orders being “higher than for any other launch day.”

Earlier, the Amazon Australia opening elicited a wave of negative feedback on Twitter as customers complained about steep prices.

READ MORE: Amazon Expands Operations to Australia, Sends Ripples Across Twitter

Gerry Harvey, co-founder and chairman of Australian online retailer Harvey Norman, noted however that Amazon is actually capable of undercutting local competition by selling “20 percent below cost.”

(Source: sputniknews)

Fortune Global Forum sends ‘open’ signal

Thousands of business representatives gathered in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, on Wednesday for the annual Fortune Global Forum, with many participants expressing confidence that new steps are being taken to further open China’s market to the world.

President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum, saying the country and its business environment will become more open, with greater transparency and more standardized services.

China welcomes entrepreneurs from all over the world to invest in the country, and share the benefits of China’s economic reforms, Xi’s message stated.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, called for broader global cooperation, telling the forum that China will continue to open its market to the world.

The annual Fortune Global Forum is a major three-day business event. The first Fortune Global Forum was held in 1995.

“China’s further development will be driven by innovation, it has a labor force of 900 million and a million highly educated people with great potential,” said the Vice Premier in his speech. He also noted that the Chinese government has stepped up efforts in building a fair business environment in which both domestic and foreign investors are treated equally.

Wang said qualified foreign companies registered in China will receive equal treatment in government procurement, standards setting and projects related to “Made in China 2025,” the Chinese government’s blueprint to upgrade the manufacturing sector with new technology.

Some foreign organizations have expressed concerns that the manufacturing strategy designed by Beijing might actually hurt the interests of foreign firms. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing warned foreign firms to be cautious of policy tools such as “Made in China 2025,” according to a report it released in March.

Attendees at the three-day Fortune Global Forum heard an answer to the Chamber’s worries. “Chinese officials sent a strong message to the world today that the country will open more sectors of the economy to foreign investors, particularly in terms of upgrading manufacturing,” said Miao Lü, executive secretary-general of the Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization.

“Wang’s speech is a direct response to concerns rising from foreign business groups,” she told the Global Times at the forum.

From January to October, total foreign investment grew 1.9 percent year-on-year to 678.7 billion yuan ($102.6 billion), and manufacturing, high-tech and services have become a major magnet attracting foreign capital, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce in November.

“It’s also a strong signal sent by the central government after the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress. China’s move to gradually open up its market will become a major economic trend over the next few years and foreign investors should fully take this into account,” Miao noted.

Positive outlook

While some foreign investors are still taking a cautious attitude toward China’s openness, others believe the country has already made progress in granting market access to foreign companies.

“China is becoming more and more open,” said Alain Galliano, vice-president in charge of international relations in the French city of Lyon, who has done business in China for 40 years.

Galliano noted that French electric car companies are sure to see greater investment opportunities in China once curbs on foreign investment in the sector are loosened.

“I believe that in China when top government officials say something is going to change, usually something changes. It’s very much a top-down system,” Jay Walker, founder of Priceline, a US commercial website that helps users find discounts, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that 19th CPC National Congress made it clear that an open economy will be a priority.

Source: Global Times



China’s first smart ship delivered

China’s first smart ship was delivered in Shanghai on Dec. 5, reported.

Energy consumption management, seaway optimization, and system maintenance will all be achieved through automatic operation of the ship.

Great Intelligence, the smart vessel, is developed and built by China State Shipbuilding Corp. It is 179 meters long, 32 meters wide, and has a capacity of 38,800 metric tons.

According to Sun Wei, deputy general manager of China State Shipbuilding Corp, the ship is the world’s first smart ship that has been accredited by Lloyd’s Register and China Classification Society.

“The ship is different from ordinary commercial vessels,” said Fang Quan, deputy director of Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute. It can automatically manage energy consumption, optimize shipping lines, and control systems and devices, Fang said, adding that these tasks used to be manual.

The ship of the future will operate autonomously, Fang noted.

After put into use, the ship will transport coal and salt between China, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Starbucks rolls out world’s largest roastery in Shanghai

The first Starbucks Reserve Roastery outside the United States opened in Shanghai on December 6, with the help from Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group, Shanghai-based news site reported.

The two-story, 30,000-square-foot roastery will be the company’s second roastery after Seattle, with the aim of creating a real-time, in-store, and online customer experience.

The roastery is powered by Alibaba’s mobile Taobao app and the company’s augmented reality (AR) technology.

The technology allows customers to see a special webpage offering them a detailed map of both floors, menus of the different kinds of coffee, and the process of coffee making, in their smart phones.

Schultz Howard, executive chairman of Starbucks, said at an opening ceremony on Tuesday that his company will team up with Alibaba for more technology cooperation.

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, who was also present at the ceremony, said his group will expand cooperation with Starbucks in the future.

He said Starbucks has introduced coffee to China, a tea-drinking country, and let so many people fall in love with coffee. “Personally, I’m not a fan of coffee, but I like Starbucks,” he said.

China is Starbucks’ fastest-growing market, according to the company. Starbucks currently has 3,000 stores in 136 cities, and 600 in Shanghai alone.

Panda-themed elements light up Xi’an-Chengdu high-speed trains

Panda stickers and panda dolls are seen everywhere on the Xi’an-Chengdu high-speed trains, which begin operation on Dec. 6.

The 658-km Xi’an-Chengdu line is China’s first rail route to run through the Qinling Mountains, which are the natural boundary between north and south China, and the natural habitats of giant pandas.

“My hometown is also the home of giant pandas, and I feel delighted to see pictures of the cute animal,” said a passenger from Foping County, better known by a giant panda nature reserve in southern Shaanxi province.

The panda population in Foping has been on the rise in recent years.

Li Yudan, deputy director of Xi’an Railway Bureau, disclosed that in the future, some high-speed trains running on the line will be named after famous scenic spots and panda habitats, in a bid to promote tourism.

With a designed speed of 250 kilometers per hour, the line will slash the travel time between Xi’an and Chengdu from about seven hours to about four.

High-tech giants move to Guangdong

A growing number of top global companies in the high-tech, advanced manufacturing and new-energy sectors have unveiled investment projects in South China’s Guangdong Province this year, a move that experts attribute to the local government’s stimulus policies and an improving business environment.

This trend will help create a complete advanced industrial chain and further promote the region’s industrial upgrading, experts said. But they also said that a lack of international talent and the potential influence of the US tax cut may slow down the region’s structural adjustment.

In 2017, a total of 47 Fortune Global 500 companies have launched projects in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, with total registered capital of 38.2 billion yuan ($5.78 billion), according to the calculations of the Global Times.

In March, construction of the world’s largest 8k-resolution panel factory, with an investment of 61 billion yuan, was begun in Guangzhou by Taiwan-based electronic contractor Foxconn Technology, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The project is the largest overseas investment in Guangzhou since China’s reform and opening-up began in 1978, the statement said.

Also, a 350,000-square-meter biopharmaceutical project, funded by multinational conglomerate General Electric, is now under construction in Guangzhou, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Tuesday.

In the first three quarters, foreign direct investment (FDI) into Guangdong surged 13.6 percent year-on-year to $16.96 billion, the highest in the country, according to data from the Guangdong Bureau of Statistics.

Song Ding, an expert at the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, hailed the trend as a sign that Guangdong Province has gradually shaken off its previous reputation as being a center of cheap manufacturing for low-end industries.

“In contrast to the scenario several years ago when foreign enterprises set up factories in Guangdong merely to take advantage of the province’s cheap production factors, the newly launched projects mostly feature middle- to high-end industries such as the Internet, new energy and aviation,” Song told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, agreed. He attributed the change to the “more efficient business environment in the province and stimulus policies rolled out by the local government to attract FDI.”

A spokesperson for Foxconn told the Global Times on Tuesday that it only took about 50 days for the company to negotiate with relevant parties and sign the 61 billion yuan project with the local government.

On Monday, the Guangdong provincial government released 10 measures for attracting FDI, specifically aiming to entice Global Fortune 500 and high-tech companies, said the 21st Century Business Herald report.

Industrial upgrade

Bai said that the inflow of the FDI in high-end sectors is in line with the Guangdong government’s plan to make emerging industries such as artificial intelligence and new energy strategic pillars of its economy.

“Guangdong’s economy is transforming from being export-driven to being innovation-based, and the arrival of foreign high-tech companies will accelerate this process and boost Guangdong’s global competitiveness,” Bai said.

Terry Gou, CEO and chairman of Foxconn, was quoted as saying in the statement that the panel factory in Guangzhou is not “merely a panel processing factory.”

The factory will also help encourage hundreds of upstream and downstream electronic suppliers to move their businesses to Guangzhou, creating a new industrial group valued at about 1 trillion yuan, Gou noted.

“Following the flock of enterprises in related industrial chains and value chains into Guangdong, a complete industrial chain in high-end industries will be formed,” Song said.

But experts warned that the lack of international talent may hinder the cultivation of new economic growth engines.

“Most of the talent in Guangdong is from China… there is apparently a lack of diversity in talent compared with Silicon Valley in the US,” Song said.

Besides, the upcoming US tax cut, which will reduce the US corporate tax rate to about 20 percent from the current 35 percent, may also hinder US firms’ willingness to move their plants to Guangdong, and might prefer to operate in the US instead, Bai noted.

Source: Global Times


Hollywood should put more Chinese actors in the spotlight: US producer

China and the US should cooperate to expand each other’s movie market, and Hollywood should put more Chinese actors in the spotlight, in an effort to increase its appeal to Chinese audiences, said Hollywood producer Mitchell Peck, reported on Nov 29.

The US movie maker hopes China and the US can learn more about each other’s culture so that more cooperative agreements will be reached in the movie sector.

China’s burgeoning movie market is very attractive to other countries, especially to those involved in film cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, foreign movie makers agreed during the 4th Silk Road International Film Festival in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhu.

As of November 20th this year, China’s box office has exceeded 50 billion yuan ($7.54 billion), according to an official with the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.

The country’s overseas box office reached 3.825 billion yuan by the end of 2016, up 1.315 billion yuan year on year.

“Today’s movie cooperation is expected to connect China and the Central Europe continent, like the Tea Horse Road did in ancient history,” said Alexei Petrukhin, president of Russian Film Group, adding that entering the Chinese market is the target of his group.

Chinese consumers have more faith in domestically-made goods: survey

A survey of 2,012 Chinese consumers has found that 84.1 percent of them believe the country’s manufacturing sector will have a brighter prospect, China Youth Daily reported on Dec. 5.

Chinese products strike a balance between quality and affordability, said a university student in Beijing. Products including agricultural products, textiles, and ceramics also have good reputation overseas.

More than 80 percent of the surveyed laud the quality of domestically-made products. A university student said she has replaced her foreign smartphone with a homemade one.

“Their software, screens, cameras, and other functions are just as good as foreign brands, and they aren’t as expensive,” the student explained about Chinese-made smartphones.

The survey found that clothing, followed by daily commodities, shoes and hats, bags and suitcases, and other products are most important.

China’s manufacturing sector has progressed rapidly, said Jia Jinjing, an expert from the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Ten years ago, the total value of the manufacturing industry accounted for 60 percent of that of the US. Now the percentage has reached 180 percent. The value produced in China has surpassed the total of the US and Japan combined, Jia said.

In addition, the industry has made noticeable achievements in producing medium- and high-end goods; for instance, in the engineering and construction sectors, the expert added.

Nearly 50 percent said the low level of core competitiveness and intellectual property protection has restricted the globalization of made-in-China goods.

The lack of competitiveness of Chinese products in the global market is due to inadequate research on target customers, some respondents said.

The Chinese products need to be developed and produced with a better sense of brand, copyrights, and cultural connotation, some respondents suggested.

The gap with famous international brands can be narrowed by improving quality and design, promoting brand awareness, and enhancing innovation.

China’s Long March rockets complete 60 commercial launches

China’s Long March rockets have completed 60 commercial launches for both domestic and overseas clients, according to the ongoing 5th China Space Forum in Beijing.

Yu Qi, an official with the China National Space Administration, said that China has formed an integrated solution for launching services, in-orbit delivery, construction of satellite ground stations, satellite applications, project financing, insurance, training, and technology transfers.

The products and services of the country enjoy a high reputation on the global aerospace market, Yu noted.

China’s commercial aerospace market is expected to reach 800 billion ($121 billion) by 2020, according to Hu Zhongmin, head of the international division under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s aerospace industry will embrace more in-depth international cooperation and establish a corridor of space information.

China has already expanded its satellite communication services to 30 countries and regions, basically covering all of the regions along the Maritime Silk Road. In addition, the country is continuously improving the ability of its Beidou Navigation Satellite System, with a plan to cover all Belt and Road countries in 2018.

Palace Museum sweeps Internet by cultural products, self-promotion

A product of the Palace Museum

China’s Palace Museum, also called the Forbidden City, which has a history of nearly 600 years, has unexpectedly become an “online celebrity” on Chinese Internet thanks to its efforts in cultural products and self-promotion.

While some thought that the employees of the Forbidden City only focused on their professions and seldom cared about social responses, the fact is that they also hope to exhibit their research to the public.

According to Shan Jixiang, curator of the Palace Museum, only 30% of the total area of the Forbidden City was open to the public 5 years ago. But in the last year, that figure has expanded to 76%. Now he is planning to open 80% of the palace’s grounds to visitors by 2020.

Over the last few years, the museum has established 495 signposts and 1,400 new chairs have been provided. The palace has removed 11,200 square meters of its temporary buildings and provides cold light sources in the open halls.

In addition, the Palace Museum opened an official online store on e-commerce platform Taobao, selling related products. It also started their self-promotion through new media, publishing articles to promote the culture of the museum. It unexpectedly swept the Internet by its humorous style and interesting content.

A product of the Palace Museum

The museum created over 7,000 kinds of cultural products in 2015, making a sales volume of 700 million RMB ($106 million) in the first half of the year, a figure larger than the total volume a year ago.

In 2016, it once again set a record, offering 8,700 kinds of products and achieving a sales volume of over 1 billion RMB.

At the same time, the Palace Museum has published several mobile apps, one of which saw over 200,000 downloads just two weeks after its release in 2013.

The Palace Museum has come closer to the people, sparing no efforts to promote itself among the public since 2013.

In the last month, a total of 18,529 themed calendars of the museum have been sold online. One buyer commented that buying the annual calendar has become routine for him.

Its self-promotion has achieved great results. In 2012, the museum saw 15 million visitors. Though the daily quota of visitors has been set at 80,000, the total number of tourists still keeps rising. The Palace Museum received 16 million visitors last year.

A product of the Palace Museum

In 2016, the museum reached an agreement with seven countries, including Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Greece, Italy, and Mexico, proposing for a harmonious relationship between humans and nature, humans and humans, as well as the inward world of the people.

However, Zhang Hongwei, director of the Palace Museum Research Institute, has suggested that the management of the museum stay calm amid the surge in popularity in a bid to maintain enough freedom for research.