China media

By Max J. Zenglein, Mercator Institute for China Studies

China’s leaders place high hopes on the vibrancy of the economy’s service sector, but in reality it has not been able to fill the void left by the decline of manufacturing. The inability of services to pick up the slack in turn creates a temptation for the government to delay overdue structural reforms while maintaining a reliance on investment-driven growth. Read more

Liao Min, China Banking Regulatory Commission

Amid increasing concern about risks in China’s banking sector, the latest banking data from Shanghai tells a story of resilience. The region’s non-performing loan (NPL) ration has declined for eight consecutive months to 0.79 per cent at the end of June, much lower than the 1.81 per cent ratio for China’s commercial banks as a whole. Outstanding NPLs shrank by Rmb3.6bn since the beginning of 2016.

Special-mention loans — a classification for loans that might be at risk of becoming NPLs — also decreased in Shanghai, both in volume terms and as a ratio of total loans. Thus, it’s clear that NPL figures aren’t being manipulated by hiding bad loans in the special-mention category.

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By Ronald Cheng, Bingna Guo, Sean Wu, O’Melveny & Myers

Chinese companies are by no means immune from the cyber attacks plaguing firms all over the world. More and more are suffering data breaches, which can result in the leakage of customer information, the denial of service, and the prospect of litigation. In July 2015, the national cyber-security emergency response unit received reports of some 11,800 “cyber incidents”. Xi Jinping, the president, has made cyber security an issue of national security.

Partly in response to such mounting cyber security issues, the Chinese government adopted the National Security Law on July 1, 2015. The law for the first time addressed the concept of cyber security and advocated the prevention and punishment of online crime, but did not specify particular measures or punishments. In addition, the law mandated the “national security review and oversight” of all “internet information technology products and services,” naming a pretty broad swath of industries that could be facing more government scrutiny. Read more

China’s ruling State Council last month released a much-anticipated plan meant to kick the country’s huge state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector into shape. No small amount of kicking is required. Not all but many of China’s 155,000 SOEs are inefficient and often loss-making. Where SOEs do make money, it’s usually because of markets and lending rules rigged by the government in their favor.

Finding a truly good SOE, one that can take on and outcompete private sector rivals in a fair fight is hard. Gong He Chun is one. Customers throng daily to buy its high-quality products, often forming long queues. The employees, unlike at so many SOEs in China, are helpful and enthusiastic and take evident pride in what they are doing. Though local private sector competitors number in their hundreds, Gong He Chun has them all beat. Read more

By Wesley Wu-Yi Koo and Lizhi Liu

Behind China’s impressive economic rise is the biggest human migration in history. By 2013, some 269m rural residents had become migrant workers in cities, offering cheap labour and sustaining urban growth. However, unable to register and settle their family members in the cities, these migrant workers are forced to leave behind children, spouses, and old people in the villages. This has taken a tremendous toll on the rural society.

Today, there are 61m “left-behind children” and 40m “left-behind elderly” in Chinese villages. Some 79 per cent of the left-behind children are under the care of grandparents, who are often uneducated and lack parenting resources and energy. As a result, the academic scores of 88 per cent of these children fall below what would be the passing line in cities. Read more

By 2017,the Asia-Pacific region will have three billion mobile connections. This kind of critical mass is turning digitally native emerging market companies into global powerhouses. China’s Alibaba has one of the biggest valuations in the world, and India’s Reliance Jio Infocomm is launching the largest 4G network in the world.

As online access, digital media consumption and online transactions explode, the opportunities for media and entertainment (M&E) companies seem irresistible. However, the reality is far more complex. Despite the significant potential, M&E companies need to go into emerging markets with their eyes wide open. Read more

It may never rival porcelain or Peking duck in popularity beyond China’s shores, but the “facekini” is being hailed by domestic newspapers as the country’s latest cultural gift to the world.

The recent publication by a New York-based style magazine, CR Fashion Book, of a photo shoot showing models wearing “pool masks” has prompted the Qingdao Evening News to claim the look as a foreign variation on a familiar theme in the north eastern seaside city.

“As soon as this photo shoot was published, the sharp-eyed among our netizens immediately recognised that this was none other than a ‘knock off’ of our Qingdao old woman’s ‘facekini’,” the newspaper saidRead more

China said on Tuesday it will tighten curbs on journalists to prevent the disclosure of state secrets, commercial secrets and “unpublicised information” as the administration of Xi Jinping reinforced controls over information amid outpourings of anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong.

Xinhua, the Chinese official news agency, said that rules published by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television prohibit disclosure of “various information, materials and news products that journalists may deal with during their work, including state secrets, commercial secrets and unpublicised information.”

None of the key terms used – including state secrets, commercial secrets and unpublicised information – were defined, leaving them open to interpretation by China’s army of censors both within media organisations and in several state bodies charged with regulating information industries. Read more

Plenty of western magazines and newspapers have hit the skids or even gone bust in recent years, victims of declining print advertising revenues in an increasingly internet-oriented world. Think of bankrupt Newsweek magazine, famously sold for $1.

Until recently, Chinese media companies were blissfully isolated from these trends, buoyed by a bullish economy and the relative novelty of consumer-oriented media in a sector long dominated by dowdy state mouthpieces.

No longer. As the Chinese economy slows and the online population expands, media malaise is now moving east. One company grappling with the changes is Modern Media Group, a Hong Kong-listed magazine publisher. Read more

China DailyTo date, the story of China’s growing presence in Africa has been mostly narrated by western media, African newspapers, and a universe of blogs, websites and social media outlets. Often, it is framed in the context of land-grabbing, resource-snatching, neocolonialism and invasion.

So perhaps a different perspective might be provided by China Daily? The state-run paper is launching a weekly Africa edition, and is keen to put its side of the story. Read more

As America votes, Chinese official media and the country’s netizens have offered a wide range of views on events across the Pacific, but one aspect keeps cropping up – the money. Read more

The New York Times just ain’t what it used to be. It’s full of sensationalism, plagiarism and out-and-out fake news. Loyal readers are losing their faith.

Or so goes the verdict from that arbiter of fine journalism: the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Read more

Clad in a blue plaid shirt and speaking with a rural accent, Miao Cuihua trips over her words as she demands unpaid wages, her “blood and sweat money” for toiling on a construction project.

Miao is certainly not the first migrant worker in China to complain about unpaid wages, but her act of protest has probably been seen by more of her fellow citizens than any other salary dispute in history. Read more

A pro-China Taiwanese media tycoon has rejected the conditions that media regulators put on the approval of his $2.4bn bid to takeover one of Taiwan’s leading cable networks.

Amidst concerns that Taiwan’s media was being warped by commercial interests in the mainland, Taipei regulators required that Tsai Eng-men spin off some of his existing news stations. That, he said, wasn’t going to happen. Read more

Chinese state media is hardly a bastion of free speech, but the Communist party mouthpiece has apparently fallen victim to a different form of outside manipulation.

On Wednesday, trading in People’s Daily Online, the recently listed web arm of the official newspaper, was halted. Read more

Cadres and capitalists alike have set aside their respective scruples and bought a slice of the Chinese Communist party’s publicity machine. As Simon Rabinovich reports for the FT, the IPO of the People’s Daily website in Shanghai on Friday raised Rmb1.38bn ($219m) in Shanghai, nearly triple its fundraising target.

Valued at 46 times its 2011 earnings, the company will trade at a multiple that is nearly 5 per cent higher than the industry norm for Chinese media groups and 200 per cent higher than the Chinese stock market average. But it’s not every day investors are offered a combination of new media and old-fashioned state backing. Read more

Since Bo Xilai, the ambitious but controversial Chinese politician, was sacked as Communist party secretary of Chongqing in mid-March, the party has cranked up its propaganda machine to levels not seen in years. One aim is to control the flow of unauthorised information through the Twitter-like microblogs, or weibo, which have become the driver behind China’s news agenda. Will it work? Read more

As promsed back on January 5, beyondbrics is pleased to bring you footage of Warren Buffett singing on Chinese broadcaster CCTV as part of the Chinese new year celebrations.

The 81-year-old so-called sage of Omaha played the ukulele and sang “I’ve been working on the railroad” – perhaps an apt choice given his large investment in US rail in 2009 (a $26.6bn purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe), and China’s huge high-speed rail roll-out. Buffett signed off with the Chinese greeting “Xie, xie”, which means “thank you”. Read more

Investors looking for musical inspiration for 2012 could do worse than tune in to Chinese television later this month. Warren Buffett, widely revered in China for his investment savvy, will sing and play guitar to celebrate China’s upcoming Lunar New Year in a specially recorded performance to be aired online by state television, according to Patti Waldmeir of the FT. Beyondbrics promises to bring you the footage, assuming it is available… Read more

Just at the point where eastern Europe faces a banking crisis, a Hungarian credit downgrade and the possible default of its neighbours, a friendly arm has been extended from China.

East meets east – the cover story of China Daily’s latest weekly magazine - comes across as something of a love letter to eastern Europe. Read more