Links for December 26, 2019

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Police in Shanghai have arrested 103 suspects for alleged involvement in counterfeiting German adhesive brand Loctite, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, as China seeks to increase punishment of violations over intellectual property rights.

The police seized more than 470,000 fake Loctite adhesive products and labels, worth more than 50 million yuan ($7.1 million), in a raid carried out on December 12, according to Xinhua. The Loctite brand is owned by Germany’s Henkel AG.

A little known Chinese electric vehicle startup will likely become the first of its kind to be saved by a government-led buyout. After shelving its plan to invest in struggling EV maker Nio, a county government of China’s eastern city of Huzhou is planning to take over Youxia Motors. Youxia’s chairman, Wei Jun, said in 2017 that the company would be “China’s Tesla,” but the company has yet to deliver a real car after five years of operation.

A downturn across the global auto industry has pushed car makers together, forging alliances to pool technology and resources. Now two major state-owned auto makers in China, the world’s biggest car market, are making such a move under growing pressures in the domestic industry.

SAIC Motor Corp., China’s biggest auto maker by sales, and smaller state-owned car maker Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., also known as GAC, signed an agreement earlier this week to cooperate in areas including developing next-generation technology and expanding overseas, the companies said.

On Wednesday the government of Nantong, near Shanghai and a number of other port cities, said property buyers who have bought new homes at prices much lower than the market average are not allowed to resell their properties for five years.

The operator of the high-speed railway linking Shanghai and Beijing has scaled down the size of its initial public offering (IPO) by 17 percent, without saying why.

But the IPO, which is expected to net almost 30 billion yuan ($4.3 billion), could still become mainland China’s largest new share offering since 2015.

  • Life behind bars for former head of troubled bank
    Rescued Chinese bank’s ex-chair set for life in jail / FT (paywall)
    Jiāng Xǐyùn 姜喜运, former chairman of Hengfeng Bank, was today “sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve — a punishment usually commuted to life in prison after the reprieve — by a court in eastern Shandong Province, where the troubled financial institution is based.” Jiang was convicted of embezzling about $110 million, and “illegal destruction of financial documents.”

Hengfeng was the largest of three regional banks rescued by Beijing authorities this year, with more than 1.4 trillion yuan ($200 billion) in assets. The first to fall, Baoshang Bank in Inner Mongolia, was controlled by Xiào Jiànhuá 肖建华, a billionaire who was abducted from Hong Kong three years ago by Chinese authorities and smuggled back to the mainland. Officials are yet to comment officially on the charges Mr Xiao will face.

Baoshang’s rescue, funded by the central bank, spooked the country’s financial markets because creditors above a certain size will not get all of their money back.

China’s large pig farms are lining up with small, family-based farms in a state-initiated investment of nearly 50 billion yuan ($7.14 billion)to boost hog productions hit hard by a deadly swine disease, the agriculture ministry said.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

China warned earlier this week that a destructive pest that has threatened the country’s grain output is expected to hit more crops across wider areas in 2020, including the key corn-growing region in the northeast.

China will maintain its environmental protection goals and will not ease off on trying to achieve them even as the economy slows, an environment ministry official said on Thursday. The cabinet last year issued a guide for some important anti-pollution targets up to the end of 2020 and there will be no adjustments of them, said [an official from] the general office at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

“It’s like…rowing a boat against the current,” Xu told a media briefing in Beijing.

“We have no other choice but to go forward.”

A unit of China’s State Power Investment Corp. has brought online a 500-megawatt solar farm in the northeastern province of Liaoning, the nation’s biggest subsidy-free solar project.The plant in Chaoyang city began construction in June and was connected to the grid on December 24…

The development belongs to the first batch of clean energy projects to be operated without subsidies in China, which includes 14.8 gigawatts of solar capacity. These projects will compete on their own against traditional coal- and natural gas-fired plants…

There are another two 500-megawatt solar farms being developed in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Jiangsu that will not receive financial support from the government, according to a list [in Chinese[ published by the National Development & Reform Commission and National Energy Administration.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Beijing will keep watch for the impact of a new US defense act on Chinese companies and take all necessary measures to protect their interests, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

It criticised the National Defence Authorization Act, signed by US President Donald Trump last week, as being “full of political biases” against Chinese firms, while the defense ministry also hit out at the legislation.

The $738 billion act includes measures to strengthen Washington’s ties with Taiwan and slow the lifting of sanctions on Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Beijing’s envoy to the EU has warned the bloc against pursuing policies to curb Chinese companies’ access to Europe, saying it would damage its own interests and deter investment.

Zhāng Míng 张明 said plans to clamp down on foreign corporate ownership, trade opportunities and 5G mobile communications technology threatened to trigger a backlash from “suspicious” Chinese entrepreneurs.

China and Pakistan are set to hold joint military exercises in January 2020 in the Arabian Sea. The naval exercises are anticipated to include the participation of a Chinese destroyer, frigate, a supplement ship, and submarine rescue ships, according to China’s Ministry of National Defense.

After arresting 122 Chinese nationals on Monday in the single-biggest arrest of foreigners in Nepal, the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police said on Wednesday that it has recovered passports from only about half of those arrested…

The arrested Chinese nationals may be involved in suspicious activities, including cybercrime, police suspect.

In the operation, the ministry sent police from 13 provincial regions to Cambodia, the Philippines and Laos, and the four sides cooperated to destroy a large number of fraud dens and brought a total of 2,553 telecom fraud suspects back to China.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

The quality of this first vintage of Long Dai, 2017, is impressive. It doesn’t taste like any other luxury Chinese red I’ve tried. Most of them have been big, plush, ripely fruity reds that seem almost sweet. Long Dai, by contrast, is very dry and subtle. It’s refined and restrained, echoing the polished, elegant style of Lafite, though it’s not at the level of a first growth.