On June 16, 2017, Oriental Daily, a Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong published an article titled, “Wu Xiaohui Is Finally under Investigation; Who Is the Anti-Corruption Sword Pursuing?” Wu Xiaohui, chairman of the Anbang Insurance Group in China, is the grandson-in-law of Deng Xiaoping, the second-generation top leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). When Anbang was established, in the early stages, its original shareholders were state-owned enterprises in Shanghai including SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation). All of these enterprises are related to the families of Jiang Zemin, the former top CCP leader after Deng Xiaoping.
Wu Xiaohui became wealthy very quickly due to support from these state-owned enterprises. When Anbang did not make much money, those state-owned enterprises stayed with Anbang; but when Anbang entered the rapid development and profit cycle, the state-owned enterprises withdrew from Anbang. They took a low premium and stopped enjoying the big dividends as Anbang grew.
Many state-owned enterprises play a role as stepping stones for the elite families. State-owned enterprises set up a platform first, if the platform makes money, the state-owned enterprises will find an excuse to withdraw and will transfer their interest to the elites or their agents; if the platform loses money, the losses belong to the nation, and it has nothing to do with the elites.
Oriental Daily suggested that, when the authorities were investigating Anbang, it looked better to investigate all of the similar companies together.
In addition, it is questionable why Anbang has gone crazy making acquisitions overseas. Where did the funds for these mergers and acquisitions come from? Why did Anbang go overseas to make acquisitions? With the arrival of the big data period, if the cash cannot be circulated, the elites’ cash may soon turn into waste paper. However, the amount is so large that an ordinary company simply cannot accommodate it, so they use an insurance company to circulate the cash. Overseas acquisitions provide a good opportunity for the elites to get money out of China. By laundering money, they turn black or grey money into white money through acquisitions. When Anbang purchased the Waldorf Astoria and other well-known hotels, some people suspected that this was money laundering.
Source: Oriental Daily, June 16, 2017
Reuters Chinese recently reported that, based on data that the China General Administration of Customs just released, China’s imports from North Korea in May were valued at US$123.8 million. This was a 31 percent decline, year-over-year. The lowest import level from North Korea was in April, reaching US$99.3 million. March was the second lowest. The custom’s data showed that China’s halt to the importation of North Korean coal in February significantly limited North Korea’s capability of obtaining enough hard currency. The same data also showed China’s exports to North Korean totaled at US$319.8 million in May, which was a two-digit percentage increase, year-over-year. Also, the May export level was higher than April’s.
Source: Reuters Chinese, June 23, 2017
Xinhua recently reported that the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security revealed that, based on its January to May statistics, the national pension fund saw a deficit in some regions. In Northeastern China, where most of the old industrial bases are located, the pension fund income is lagging behind its expenditures. Northeastern China has a much bigger retirement population, with fewer people paying into the pension accounts. The Ministry’s statistics also showed a significant imbalance among regions. This is a reflection of uneven economic development trends. The data demonstrated a clear structural difference between Eastern China and Midwestern China. Eastern China contributed a much bigger surplus to the overall pension fund. In order to ensure a healthy balance in the fund, the Ministry is planning to extend participation to all citizens, increase the government’s contribution to the fund, expand the scope of the market in which the pension fund can invest, and include company contributions as an income source for the fund.
Source: Xinhua, June 23, 2017
Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented on the suggestion that French President Macron made to give the European Union more power. The additional power is intended to allow the EU to be able to restrict China’s investments in Europe, especially in some of the critical industries. Geng recognized that China did pay attention to Macron’s suggestion. He further said that many countries in the world, European countries included, are emphasizing fighting against all kinds of protectionism under the current atmosphere of the anti-globalization mindset. He confirmed that China did encourage its investors to develop opportunities in Europe while requiring them to obey local laws and rules. China also hopes that Europe can provide the Chinese investors with a fair, just, and favorable investment environment.
Source: Sina, June 23, 2017
According to an article that Radio Free Asia published, Hong Kong University released the results of a recent survey reporting that the percentage of Hong Kong youths who acknowledged their identity as “Chinese” was only 3.1 percent, the lowest number in history. At the same time, the percentage of those who identify themselves as “Hong Kongese” was 65 percent, 3 percent higher than in the previous survey. The article quoted an interview with a few residents in Hong Kong. They felt that the political milieu and the livelihood in Hong Kong have worsened since its return to the mainland 20 years ago and that Beijing has never kept its promises. One professor from Hong Kong University said that Beijing constantly interferes with Hong Kong policy. Meanwhile Hong Kong youths are not happy with the uncivilized behavior that the tourists from the mainland display while they shop in Hong Kong or tour in foreign countries. The Hong Kong government didn’t bother to understand the dissatisfaction from the Hong Kong youths whose wish to have Hong Kong be independent continues to rise but is being suppressed.
Hong Kong University has conducted the survey once every two years since 1997. The “Chinese Citizen Identity” result was growing in the first 10 years from 1997 to 2006 but dropped sharply starting in 2008 and fell below 10 percent in 2012, two years before the “Occupy Central” movement took place.
Source: Radio Free Asia, June 21, 2017
Duowei News reported that the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television recently issued a notice to shut down audio-visual programs on websites including Sina Weibo (microblog) and iFeng because they “air programs that are against national policy on audio-visual political programs and their programs spread negative comments.” This is considered as escalation of further control of the online environment, especially self-media. The article defines self-media as blogs, microblogs, Wechat, and forums. Microblogs will take a big hit because of the policy and it may get more and more difficult for political topics that are discussed on these media to pass inspection in the future. The article said that it is very possible that other types of media might be impacted in the future as well.
Source: Duowei News, June 24, 2017