By Joel Backaler, Author of “China Goes West”
On a recent trip to London, I was shocked at how much evidence of corporate China was all around me. As I rode in a black cab, I remembered that Geely, a Chinese firm that acquired Volvo in 2010, had bought iconic British cab producer Manganese Bronze in 2013. Arriving at Heathrow, I recalled that China’s sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation, owns 10% of the firm that operates the international airport. In line at the gate, I stared at a giant display for a laptop by Lenovo, the Chinese firm that made headlines in 2005 for acquiring IBM’s ThinkPad brand.
In only a few short years, Chinese companies have gone West in a big way. However, many questions remain about what drives Chinese firms to expand beyond the boundaries of the Middle Kingdom, and what the ultimate costs and benefits of their global investments will be.
It is the monetary equivalent of what Chairman Mao called “bombarding the headquarters”. China’s renminbi is rapidly displacing the US dollar as a trading currency not only in Asia and Europe but now also in the US home market.
The value of renminbi payments between the US and the rest of the world rose by 327 per cent in April this year from the same month a year ago (see chart) as more US corporations switched to using the Chinese currency to pay for imports from China, according to data from SWIFT, the international currency settlement firm.
By Jan Dehn, Ashmore
China is in the midst of a storming change. Interest rate liberalisation is coming as China prepares to let the bond market play an ever-greater role in macroeconomic policy.
The export-led growth model of the past few decades is no longer fit for purpose. As the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, China will be more impacted by the unwinding of global imbalances than any other country.
Quite simply, China is adapting to the world of tomorrow, instead of merely languishing in yesterday’s land of denial.
Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment group, has long been blacklisted in the US on suspicion of stealing trade secrets from local companies and posing a wider security threat.
Now the group is under investigation in India, following allegations that it hacked state-run telecoms carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).
China’s competitive advantage is not what it used to be as its development drives up labour costs. Diana Choyleva, head of macroeconomics at Lombard Street Research, discusses with John Authers how the rebalancing of economic power could occur.
If a county’s future wealth and influence can be assessed by its American-educated intellectual elite, then China is well set.
In less than a decade, the number of Chinese studying in the US has quadrupled, from a little over 60,000 in 2004, to almost 240,000 in 2013, a report from the Institution for International Education shows. China now accounts for almost one in every three international students in the US, a historic high for any country.
Are US-listed Chinese stocks back?
Judging by the 42 per cent share price pop enjoyed by 58.com on its first day of trading on Thursday, one would be inclined to think so. Don’t get too carried away though.
Two more Chinese companies are looking to try their luck on Wall Street.
500.com, China’s leading online sports lottery service provider, and Sungy Mobile, a mobile app developer have on Tuesday filed plans with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $150m and $80m respectively via initial public offerings.
It may only be a small deal, but investors couldn’t get enough of it. Forgame, the Chinese online gaming company, soared by a third on its market debut on Thursday, the only new deal this year to see a day-one pop.
At $200m, the IPO is hardly a blockbuster. But it does highlight a key problem – and a big opportunity – for Hong Kong: a lack of good technology stocks.
The door is not exactly being kicked wide open. But after two years of accounting scandals and critical reports from short-sellers, Chinese companies are slowly making their way back to Wall Street again – and it’s not just Alibaba eyeing up New York.
On Monday, Qunar, a popular travel website in China, filed paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $125m in an initial public offering.
The move comes just three days after 58.com, China’s answer to Craigslist, filed to list on the New York Stock Exchange with an offer to sell $150m of ordinary shares in the form of American Depository Shares (ADSs). A day earlier, Montage Technology Group, a Shanghai-based computer chip maker, raised $71m in its public debut.
Make way for another Chinese developer looking to try its luck in the US.
Shanghai Greenland Group, the state-owned company behind what will become China’s third-tallest building, is making its first foray into US real estate with a deal to invest $1bn in a downtown Los Angeles project.
The list just keeps growing.
On Thursday, China MediaExpress, a supplier of television advertising services on buses, became the latest Chinese company to be charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of “fraudulently misleading investors about its financial condition.”
The complaint also names the company’s chief executive officer, Zheng Cheng, and seeks to bar him from serving as an officer or director of any US publicly traded company.
When the 29-year-old former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked top secret information about US surveillance programmes, he might not have expected this – sales of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four have been soaring – in China.
As of Friday, the book’s most popular Chinese translation edition is ranked 36 on Amazon China’s top 100 best-seller list, with a 61 per cent increase in sales over the last 24 hours.
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.
When the White House created a petitioning website in 2011, it surely didn’t count on Barack Obama being asked to invade China, rule on the flavour of tofu and investigate a two-decade old Chinese poisoning case.
But that is exactly what has happened over the past week as Chinese people, motivated variously by a sense of justice, powerlessness or just plain humour, have flooded the White House “We the People” website.