Chinese carmaker ditches Trumpchi model name to avoid Trump link

Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC) is changing its brand name Trumpchi to avoid potential link to US President Donald Trump as it plans to tap the US market next year.

Trumpchi, which sold its first model on the Chinese market on December 12, 2010, has no connection with the US president, according to GAC.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the automobile group wants to be the first Chinese carmaker to enter the US market, and Trumpchi is expected to be one of its most prosperous brands.

However, it was decided to ditch the “Trump” name because it is too politically charged for its US venture, the report said.

Earlier this year, the GAC Motor Design Director Zhang Fan told Reuters: “We saw people were laughing at this and took pictures looking only at this detail, and also put on Facebook or other websites.”

In the case of Trumpchi, however, the name appears simply to be a translation spin-off from its Chinese name which is Chuanqi, which is a play on the word “legendary” and loosely translates as “spreading good fortune.”

After receiving negative feedback, the company decided to change it, said Yu Jun, a senior manager of the group.

The company is still working on a new name, Yu added.

Chongqing’s new gold rush

People in Tanghe Township of Jiangjin District in southwest China’s Chongqing are keen on digging out distinctive stones (a new jade type) with high selenium content, Chongqing Morning Post reported on Jan. 15.

The distinctive rock was authenticated as jade by China’s National Gemstone Testing Center and its selenium content was tested to be as high as 0.021 percent. A 1 kilogram piece found by a villager was sold at the high price of 4,000 yuan ($622).

The authority proposed to promote the jade in 2017, because reserves of precious jade types such as Hetian have been decreasing in recent years, Chen Lu, an employee at the local gem and jade industry association introduced.

Chen suggested that the new jade type first get an official name on the basis of national standards and local features to make it an industrial bright spot of the city.

Most importantly, the city should promote the artistic value of the jade. For example, the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing has set up a jade carving major, indicating the growing importance of the jade carving industry, said Chen.

Hu Lan, vice director at the local tourism administration, noted that the new jade type still needs to be explored and promoted, as its reserves, distribution range, and market value are still unknown.\


China’s retail sales expected to surpass that of U.S. this year

China’s retail sales are expected to surpass sales in the United States for the first time in 2018 due to innovation and transformation of China’s retail enterprises, says China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), according to official microblog of China News on Jan. 16.

The growth is another definitive marker of China’s rise to economic superpower status, the Washington Post recently reported.

The U.S. media reports retail sales in China are on track to hit just over $5.8 trillion this year, according to Mizuho, a Japanese bank. It’s a stunning rise from a decade ago, when retail sales in China were only a quarter of those in the United States.

MOFCOM says the development of China’s retail sector is mainly attributed to innovation and transformation of China’s retail enterprises. For example, the retail sector is actively developing online and offline sales.

Statistics released by China Internet Network Information Center show that as of December 2016, 45.3 percent of Chinese enterprises have sold their products online, up 12.7 percent compared to 2015.

In addition, brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce businesses are seeking cooperation.

For example, Chinese online giant Alibaba has attracted department store chain Intime Retail and major retailer Bailian to sell their products on its e-commerce platform. Chinese e-commerce giant also joined hands with Walmart and Yonghui superstores to boost their sales volume.

Also, Chinese retailers are developing unmanned shops. Taking Suning as an example, the Chinese online shopping platform launched five unmanned shops in China, which apply facial recognition technology to payment services and offer customers an intelligent shopping experience based on their consumption habits.

Xiang Jiangxu, president of Suning Technology Research Institute, noted that owing to China’s huge consumer group and favorable policies and regulations, the achievements of applied innovation are being rapidly promoted in China.

By contrast, American retailer enterprises are facing depression.

Data by Fung Global Retail & Technology shows that U.S. retailers have closed the doors on 6,985 retail shops by 2017.

Sears disclosed that it will shut down about 100 department stores this year, and U.S. retail giant Macy’s announced it will close 78 of its shops and cut the number of its employees in response to the pressure caused by rising online sales and the reduced number of shoppers at physical stores.

Media center for China’s Xiongan New Area inaugurated

Wang Dongfeng (left) and Yang Zhenwu attend the inauguration ceremony.

The media center for China’s Xiongan New Area was officially inaugurated on Jan. 16.

Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, and Yang Zhenwu, president of People’s Daily, attended the inauguration ceremony.

The media center, which is jointly operated by People’s Daily and the administrative committee of Xiongan New Area, started a pilot run last September. Through innovative mechanisms, the center has provided tremendous support for the construction of Xiongan New Area with a variety of news report and authoritative policy interpretations, Yang noted in his speech.

Yang Zhenwu addresses the ceremony.

Yang introduced that People’s Daily and Hebei Province share a close bond with each other, since the initial publication of the newspaper was made in Heibei’s Pingshan County 70 years ago.

Yang said that while standing on a new position of history and facing a new historical mission, People’s Daily will stay true to itself, and spare no effort to help create a better future for Xiongan New Area.

Wang Dongfeng addresses the ceremony.

Wang Dongfeng noted that the establishment of the media center is conducive to spreading Xiongan’s voice to the world and creating a sound public opinion environment for the Xiongan New Area. Hebei is dedicated to building the media center into a first-class media platform with international reputation and influence. The provincial party committee and government will give full-fledge support to the center.

news website and a mobile news app tailored for the Xiongan New Area were also launched at the inauguration ceremony.

Chinese citizens averaged 3.7 trips in 2017

Chinese citizens made an average of 3.7 trips the last year and spent 914 RMB ($142) per trip, said a recent national work conference held by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Statistics show that Chinese citizens made five billion domestic trips in 2017, creating tourism revenue of 4.57 trillion RMB. The number of outbound trips hit 129 million. Over the last three years, tourism accounted for over 14% of China’s final consumption.

According to a report issued by Chinese tour service provider Ctrip, the most frequent travelers averaged 27 trips in 2017.

The report shows that 55% of the tourism consumption was made by female tourists. However, men outspent women, indicating a stricter budgeting of the female tourists.

Tourists born in 1990s were the most lavish group, spending 3,478 RMB on average last year. This figure was respectively 3,078 and 3,325 RMB for the people born in the 1980s and 1970s.

Thailand, Japan, United States, Indonesia, Singapore, Maldives, Vietnam, Australia, Italy, and Russia were ranked the top-10 foreign destinations for Chinese tourists.

Local focus shifting away from GDP

Amid China’s transition toward higher-quality development, local provinces are taking the initiative to “squeeze water” from economic indicators, which experts described as a bold move that could actually help boost regional growth.

At the beginning of 2018, two Chinese provinces admitted to having previously falsified economic data, and said they would have to revise down their 2016 GDP figures.

North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said on January 3 that some of its lower-level government bodies had inflated their 2016 income by a total of 53 billion yuan ($8.17 billion) and industrial output by 290 billion yuan, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

And Binhai New Area, a State-level development zone in North China’s Tianjin, trimmed its GDP figure for 2016 by 33.5 percent. The area had previously claimed that its GDP surpassed 1 trillion yuan in 2016, which would have been a rise of 10.8 percent on a yearly basis, media reports said on Friday.

The two joined Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, the first province to admit in January 2017 that some local fiscal and economic figures between 2011 and 2014 had been falsified.

Also, a total of 10 cities and counties in four provinces, including Southwest China’s Yunnan, Central China’s Hunan, Northeast China’s Jilin and Southwest China’s Chongqing, inflated government revenues by about 1.55 billion yuan in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest data from the National Audit Office.

This shows that “local governments are shifting their focus from speed of growth to quality, and they want to find out the real situation of regional economic development,” said Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics.

Niu Li, director of the Macroeconomic Research Office at the State Information Center, agreed, saying that it is meaningless for local governments to overstate GDP data as China is now seeking high-quality growth. “Genuine economic data can really help boost regional development,” Niu said.

Focus on quality

Cong noted that some local officials have inflated economic figures to make their own political performance seem more impressive.

But such behavior has the effect of adding pressure to regional economic development in the future, as well as concealing some potential risks, experts said.

“Data falsification also shows that Chinese provinces face various difficulties during their structural upgrading and transformation from traditional sectors to emerging industries,” Cong said.

Compared with other areas, provinces in northern China, including Liaoning and Inner Mongolia, have experienced slow economic growth in recent years due to an outflow of capital and talent, Liu said.

According to the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the country’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development.

Local governments are expected to comply with the new development model, and to aim at factors like environmental protection instead of just GDP, experts said.

In August 2014, East China’s Fujian Province canceled the GDP-based performance assessment mechanism in 34 cities and counties while focusing more on the growth of the agriculture sector and ecological protection, local news site reported.

South China’s Hainan Province also announced at the end of 2017 that it would abolish the GDP-based evaluation system in 12 cities and counties, according to media reports.

Unified calculation system

The different GDP calculation systems have also affected economic figures, Liu said.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on October 31, 2017 that China will apply a unified GDP calculation system in 2019 to replace the current system in which national GDP and regional data is calculated separately by the NBS and regional offices.

Li Xiaochao, deputy head of the NBS, said that the government is working to unify accounting systems at national and regional levels, which will narrow the gap between national and regional GDP data.

A unified GDP calculation system will help improve the understanding of the regional economy, as well as boosting the central government’s statistical credibility, according to experts.

Cong forecast that China’s GDP for 2017 would be between 6.7 percent and 6.9 percent and that the growth rate will be around 6.5 percent in 2018.

China’s GDP expanded by 6.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2017 and the figure for the whole year is set to be unveiled on Thursday.

Source: Global Times


China’s ice-snow sports industry to hit $155 billion by 2025: white paper

The scale of China’s ice-snow industry is expected to hit 1 trillion yuan ($155.4 billion) by 2025, according to a white paper released by Tencent Sports and other institutions, China News reported on Jan. 15.

The scale is equivalent to one fifth of China’s sports industry, the white paper says.

According to the white paper, the number of ice rinks and skiing venues in China will increase from 200 and 500 in 2015 to 650 and 800 in 2022, respectively.

In addition, the number of China’s ice-and-snow towns featuring rose to 26 in 2017 from only 8 in 2015, and is projected to reach 40 in 2020.

Statistics also show that northern China occupies 72 percent of the country’s skiing venue resources, and the average person spent nearly 6,000 yuan on ice-snow sports.

People aged 1-17 account for 34.08 percent among all participants in the sports, followed by those aged 18-24 and 25-30.

Russia embraces China’s ways of payment

China’s UnionPay cards will be accepted by 90 percent of point-of-sale terminals and automated teller machines in major cities in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, before the 2018 World Cup, according to Shanghai-based UnionPay International.

Russia’s two supermarket chains have announced that they will adopt Alipay as a way to pay at their stores before the Chinese Spring Festival. Before this, Alipay is already connected with the public transportation systems in Moscow, including buses, subways, and even bikes.

The large number of Chinese tourists in Russia and their strong buying power are reasons why Russian banks and merchants are interested to work with UnionPay and Alipay.

According to Russian tourism association World Without Borders, about 900,000 Chinese tourists took advantage of Russia’s visa-free policy to visit the country in 2017, witnessing a year-on-year growth of 18 percent. During the 2018 World Cup, at least 100,000 Chinese are expected to visit Russia.

The growing number of inbound Chinese tourists is expected to create 33 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) of market value for Russia every year, said an official with Russia’s VTB Bank.

Chinese visitors are creating 9 percent of the total sales volume for a shopping mall in Moscow, and 22 percent of the total turnover of another shopping center in St. Petersburg.

So far, 10 banks in Russia have issued 1.3 million UnionPay cards, in a bid to offer more convenience to Russia users to pay overseas.

UnionPay cards entered the Russian market in 2006, and experienced explosive growth in 2014, around the time that China established a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia. In the following three years, the number of cards issued by UnionPay in Russia increased sharply to two million.

In addition, driven by the Belt and Road construction, financial cooperation between China and Russia has been promoted. The use of modern ways to pay has also satisfied the need to safeguard Russia’s financial safety.

According to statistics, at least 50 Belt and Road countries and regions have issued UnionPay cards.