China business news digest

Internet users throw their support behind SOE reform, and the military and government avoid property scrutiny.

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Your daily digest of the biggest business news in China, translated and summarized every day.

Chinese housing market recovers modestly

House prices in 100 Chinese cities have posted a 0.21 per cent increase after eight months of continuous decline, according to a survey by China Index Academy.

The data shows 44 cities posted price increases while 56 cities experienced declines during the first month of this year. The average price per square metre was 18,999 yuan in ten major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, up 0.59 per cent from the previous month.

However, the average price per square metre fell 3.09 per cent in the 100 cities surveyed by the China Index Academy.

(Sina Finance)        

A quarter of listed property developers are in the red

11 out of 47 property developers listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen have posted losses for the first time, according to data compiled by Choice, a financial information company.

According to the data, one property developer posted a loss for the second time in a row and ten developers’ profits dropped during 2014.

There are 140 property developers listed on Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

(Caijing)

A quarter of Chinese provinces join $10,000 per capita club

Eight Chinese provinces and municipalities have a per capita income of $10,000 or over, crossing a major threshold in terms of wage increases.

Guangdong, one of the most prosperous provinces on China’s eastern coast, grew 7.8 per cent and its per capita GDP surpassed US$10,000 for the first time in history. Fujian province’s per capita GDP also crossed that threshold for the first time.

Shanghai became the first Chinese city to have per capita income of US$10,000 in 2008. However, a senior government economist has warned about the wide disparity in national income despite the fact that some provinces are in the process of obtaining developed status.  

(Sina Finance)

Electricity use forecast to grow by 6% in 2015

Demand for electricity is set to rebound in 2015, with total electricity use expected to expand by about 6 per cent on last year to 5.89 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh), according to data released by State Grid.

Following more than 10 years of rapid expansion, the annual pace at which electricity use expanded slowed considerably in 2014, dropping to 3.8 per cent.

In other news, sources say that two of China's largest coal producers have reached an agreement with power producers in annual coal price negotiations.

(China National Radio)

Online comments reveal support for SOE reform

Internet users are devoting their attention to SOE reform and technological innovation, according to the China Youth Daily's 'online public opinion monitoring office' analysis of over 1.8 million online comments over the first 28 days of January 2015.

Over 90 per cent of the comments were posted to Weibo.

Close to a third of internet users expressed support for SOE reform, according to a report in yesterday's China Youth Daily.

The report also said that over 40 per cent of internet users said that separating out the role over government and business was key to reforming state-owned companies.

The report also said that while close to a third of internet users that SOEs do have a certain ability to innovate, they think that the strong innovative capacity of some state-backed firms is a result of government support. 

(China Youth Daily)

Military and Central Government organs to get special treatment on new property register

The military and central government organs will not be required to list their assets in a planned nationwide property-registration system that is set to begin operation in March, according to a report in today's China Business Journal.

The report says that assets of the military and central government will receive "special treatment" and must be registered in accordance with special rules.

China issued draft rules that would regulate the establishment of a nationwide property-registration system in August last year. The rules are on track to come into effect on March 1, 2015.

The government hopes that the property-registration system will help them track homeownership, fight corruption and eventually make it easier to rollout a property tax nationwide.

The establishment of some kind of property registry has long been a stated goal of the central government but the plan has been delayed many times in the face of obstruction from local governments and other vested interests.

(China Business Journal)

Southern Weekend apologises for 'incorrect' reporting of Anbang Insurance ownership

China’s Southern Weekend newspaper has apologised for a report on January 29 which speculated that one of China’s most prominent princelings, Chen Xiaolu, was the de facto owner of Anbang Insurance.

In a one sentence explanation, the paper apologises to the company and its owners its incorrect reporting.

The liberal newspaper had reported that Chen Xiaolu, son of Marshal Chen Yi, one of the ten founding marshals of the People’s Republic, owned more than 51 per cent of Anbang Insurance through three private companies he has shares in.

Mr Chen denied the reports last week to Caixin saying he owned no shares of Anbang saying he only served as a consultant to the company. Mr Chen said he had been a business partner of Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui for 15 years, but did not intervene in company operations.

The reports and subsequent denial and apology follow news that the previously obscure insurance company had increased its stake in Minsheng Bank late last year. The president of Minsheng Bank resigned last week amid media reports he is under investigation by anti-corruption authorities.

Anbang became Minsheng's largest shareholder in December through a series of share purchases on the secondary market. 

The insurance company rose to prominence internationally last year when it bought the iconic Waldorf Astoria for US$1.95bn in what was the largest-ever U.S. real estate purchase by a Chinese buyer. 

(Southern Weekend)