Kathrin Hille

Kathrin Hille is the FT Moscow Bureau Chief. Previously, she was an FT correspondent in Beijing, Taipei correspondent and world news editor at Financial Times Deutschland.

Wang with Ortega

Since Nicaragua decided this month to allow a little-known Chinese-backed company to cut the country in two with a new waterway rivalling the Panama Canal, curiosity has been building.

Who is Wang Jing , the man behind the US$40bn project? So far, the public only knows that Wang chairs HKND, the newly-registered group that received the 50-year concession, and that he is also chief executive of Xinwei, a telecom equipment maker in Beijing. Read more

When Wang Jianlin, head of China’s property conglomerate Wanda Group, confirmed a deal Wednesday to acquire the UK’s prized yacht maker Sunseeker, it was probably read by many as evidence of China Inc.’s hunger to snap up targets around the world.

But all is not well with outbound M&A by Chinese companies. The buyers may be keen but the targets are not so happy, according to a survey by MSL China, a subsidiary of Publicis, published on Wednesday.

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When Barack Obama and Xi Jinping meet at the Annenberg Estate two weeks from now, the focus will be on how the American and Chinese presidents (pictured during a meeting in February 2012) can build a personal relationship able to bridge the many differences between the world’s two largest economies.

That may be a challenge. Politicians in both nations often struggle to hide their mutual dislike. Just now, Chinese netizens are working themselves up over Joe Biden’s dissing of their country in a recent speech. Read more

When the head of a $35bn company makes his first-ever media appearance, you would expect a big splash. But that couldn’t be further from the intentions of Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, the world’s second-largest network equipment vendor.

After hiding from the media for more than 25 years, Ren tested the waters with a media appearance that would not have an immediate global impact. He therefore chose to meet with four local reporters in Wellington, New Zealand, on Thursday. Read more

ZTE marked its 15th anniversary in the handset market on Thursday, but the man heading up that section of the business was not in a celebratory mood.

China’s second-largest telecom equipment maker should consider spinning off its devices arm lest it become a casualty of the state-controlled group’s staid ways and financial struggles, according to He Shiyou, head of the company’s handset unit (pictured). Read more

China’s new leadership has been making a lot of noise about cracking down on corruption. Now it seems that the military, where things are particularly bad, will start feeling the heat too. From May 1, all military vehicles will get new license plates, Colonel Geng Yansheng, defence ministry spokesman, said Thursday.

New plates would allow the authorities to crack down on the private use of military cars, the misuse of military plates and the abuse of privileges enjoyed by military officers in general. If it works, the move would certainly be popular among long-suffering civilians. Read more

Just like Christmas in the West, Lunar New Year is a big shopping feast in China. In the race for consumers’ attention, 360buy, the country’s biggest online retailer, has come up with a marketing coup that targets the affluent and the cost-conscious at the same time.

In a special smartphone sales campaign headlined “a thousand reasons to buy a new phone”, the website uses a collage of different consumer products to describe one day in the lives of two very different characters – the man-about-town and the loser. Read more

The escalating row over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has already deeply hurt economic ties between Japan and China. As military and political tensions have risen, Japanese automakers have seen China sales plummet, business at Japanese restaurants and Japanese-owned department stores in China has suffered and travel in both directions is down.

But at least one group is trying to benefit from the dispute: Chinese fireworks makers, who are peddling colourful explosives on an anti-Japanese theme. Read more

While Chinese filmmakers, bloggers and government officials are pondering how a low-budget comedy dismissed by many as senseless hullabaloo could end up as the country’s best-ever grossing movie, the film itself is on its way into US cinemas.

‘Lost in Thailand’ will start showing on Friday in 29 theatres of AMC, the second-largest cinema company in America. Read more

When a US Congressional committee branded Huawei, one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, a threat to the country’s national security last month, one of the reasons cited was that the Chinese company has a Communist party branch.

On Friday, Communist party officials set out to cure the congressmen from their misguided fears. Party cells in a private company are a force for good, according to Wang Jingqing, deputy head of the organisation department, something like the party’s human resources office. Read more

The story of Baidu has long been slightly boring, as market share, revenues and profits of China’s largest online search engine company never went other than up, up, up.

But this may be changing. As Baidu, which is listed on Nasdaq, is set to report third-quarter earnings after US market close next Monday, investors are bracing for news on how deep exactly the company’s latest competition has been cutting into its business. Read more

When the Chinese author Mo Yan won the Nobel prize for literature last week, controversy broke out almost immediately among his countrymen.

While official media praised the Nobel committee’s decision and many Chinese broke into patriotic cheers, many critics of the ruling Communist party rejected the decision because Mo Yan, a party member and deputy head of the official Chinese Writers’ Association, has been seen as toeing the party line. Read more

Huawei has not yet digested the last US public relations crisis as the next challenge is hitting.

Just ten days after a US Congress report called the Chinese telecom gear maker – and its smaller Chinese peer ZTE – security risks and proposed barring them even more strictly from the US market, Reuters reports another probe. Read more

It has been almost a decade since Huawei, China’s largest telecom equipment maker, had its big run-in with Cisco. In 2003, the US technology group accused the Chinese challenger, which was fast making inroads in the global market for networking infrastructure equipment, of stealing trade secrets. The two firms later settled the case, and Huawei has since grown to rival Ericsson for the top spot in the network equipment business.

But now, Huawei is mounting a fresh attack on old rival Cisco – out of a hotpot chain. Read more

When Microsoft’s top China executive talks about his host country, he is very diplomatic. “Germany has problems, China has opportunities,” Ralph Haupter, who took over as chief executive of Microsoft Greater China earlier this year after running the software company’s marketing in Germany, told reporters on Thursday.

But ‘opportunity’ is something a euphemism. In a country where there is a vibrant trade in pirated Microsoft software, it’s no easy task for Microsoft to make money. Read more