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Lydia Guo

Lydia Guo is senior Hong Kong correspondent for China Business News

It’s time to forget the central bank’s encouraging words for China’s burgeoning online finance industry and get ready for tough regulation.

The People’s Bank of China last week concluded consultations with big banks on a draft policy that would put a tight cap on transactions made through online third-party payment accounts, according to various Chinese media reports

A Chinese corporate bond was heading on Tuesday for default, potentially puncturing some of the optimism that has galvanised a booming $12tn corporate debt market.

Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co.,Ltd, a Chinese maker of solar cells, announced late on Tuesday that it will not be able to repay the Rmb 89.8m interest on a Rmb1bn bond issued on March 7th 2012. 

China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) has started with an interesting focus on online funds.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, and two other central bank officials were cornered by Chinese journalists on the second day of the NPC after some delegates from the financial sector urged stricter supervision of the online funds. 

China’s traditional banking sector is leading a counter-attack against the runaway success of online funds launched by internet companies such as Alibaba.

The China Banking Association, with 362 member banks, says deposits made in the funds should not be regulated in the same way as deposits by financial institutions, as at present, but as regular deposits, Chinese media have reported

In a country of rapid growth, high-speed trains and fickle tastes, Esprit, the German fashion firm, is centering its Chinese turnaround strategy on the simple concept of speed.

Taking a leaf out Zara’s book, Esprit is trying to shorten the time needed to move fashion from the design phase to clothes shops from 9 to 11 months to 3 to 4 months. 

China’s crackdown on prostitution may have a broader impact on the country’s economy, just like the anti-corruption campaign did last year, according to one economist.

The Ministry of Public Security has launched a national crackdown on prostitution after a high-profile raid in the southern city of Dongguan on February 9 – the so-called the “sex city” of China. State broadcaster CCTV ran two reports to expose the city’s prostitution industry and kicked off the national campaign. 

China’s anti-corruption campaign hit hard last year: sales of Maotai liquor are down, luxury sales are on the slide, and the number of high-end clubs and restaurants shrank. Everything, it seems – except Macau’s casinos.

With the start of the Year of the Horse, a new influx of mainland gamblers will rush into the former Portuguese colony, now the only legal place to gamble in China. The turnaround from a year ago is remarkable. 

Still depositing your money in the bank? In China, you would be laughed at by your friends, who are either buying wealth management products or rushing into the online currency funds offered by the three internet giants – Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

In response, the “big five” national banks – Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications – have had to raise savers rates to the upper limit set by the central bank in an attempt to keep their depositors’ money. 

Imagine you are bidding for an item on eBay, and the lowest bid wins while the highest bid loses. Impossible? That is what is happening in the world of Chinese initial public offerings. 

China’s IPO season has officially reopened. Five companies said on Tuesday they had received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission to issue new shares, bringing China’s longest ever IPO drought to an end. 

Smog isn’t new in China – but 2013 was an especially bad year for the thick stuff. Beijing may get the headlines, but smog has affected 104 cities of 20 provinces in China, from Shanghai to Chengdu and even Sanya, so-called China’s Hawaii.

As a result, Chinese are getting their wallets out. Around Rmb870m ($142m) has been spent in facial masks, air purifiers and other anti-smog appliances so far this year, according to a ‘smog bill’ released by Taobao, China’s biggest online shopping platform. The real number will be even bigger as that’s only one online sales figure. 

The end of a year-long freeze on stock market listings in China might sound look good news for investors but for several reasons Chinese stocks fell on Monday, the first day of trading since the weekend announcement, with the ChiNext Composite index – representing China’s answer to the Nasdaq exchange – plunging 8.26 per cent, its biggest single day decline in its four-year history. 

These days in China, it seems, no matter what business a company is in, its priority is: get into banking. To name a few: Tencent, operator of instant messenger QQ and WeChat; Suning, an electrical appliance retailer; Midea and Gree, electrical appliance manufacturers; Hongdou and Baoxiniao, textile brands; New Hope Group and Yurun Group, a feed manufacturer and pork processing company – all have filed statements or been the subject of reports that they were in the process of obtaining a banking license, according to the People’s Daily. 

58.com may be frequently dubbed China’s answer to Craigslist, the pioneering US classified site. But its founder isn’t keen on the comparison. He has a bigger ambition: to be like Alibaba.

Jinbo Yao, founder and chief executive of 58.com, tells beyondbrics that he was initially inspired by Craigslist to found the company in 2005: “But we are different in terms of our business model. We hope 58.com will become a company like Alibaba, to connect merchants and users in the area of daily life services.” 

China’s reform plan released after the Communist Party’s Third Plenum has been hailed as ambitious and bold. It certainly has far more in it than just the one-child policy reform and abolishment of labour camps. Here is beyondbrics’ summary of the plan, grouped by category.