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Down US$1t, Chinese stocks approach a pivotal level

SHANGHAI, April 19 — In a Chinese stock market infatuated with round numbers, 3,000 has emerged as the latest fixation for investors trying to gauge the government’s commitment to ending a nearly US$1 trillion (RM3.89 trillion) selloff….


China’s rising tech star seen ‘half dead’ after US ban

SHENZHEN, April 18 — ZTE Corp. may have just gone from being a serious contender in the high-stakes world of next-generation networking to — quite possibly — a mobile industry washout. China’s No. 2 telecommunications gear-maker was…


US strike on China’s ZTE another blow for Qualcomm

Qualcomm_20180417162559_reuters

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (April 17): A move by the United States to ban American firms selling components to the Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp will also hit a target closer to home: Qualcomm Inc, a US company that is a major supplier of chips for ZTE’s phones. The US Department of Commerce slapped a seven-year ban on sales to ZTE on Monday for breaking terms of an agreement reached last year after it was caught illegally shipping goods to Iran. Caught in the crossfire is Qualcomm, whose products account for theRead More


Wall Street eyes earnings stabiliser after FAANG stocks wobble

NEW YORK, April 15 — Wall Street is hoping that first-quarter earnings growth and corporate forecasts are strong enough to bring the FAANG group of stocks back into favour and take the spotlight off worries that caused the recent sell-off in the…


Chinese urged to boycott US firms, but Big Mac fans unconvinced

BEIJING: The messages began to pop up on Chinese social media as the trade spat with the United States sizzled, urging people to boycott McDonald's and other American firms to “defend the economic Great Wall”.

US President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods have roused nationalist sentiment in the world's second largest economy, where consumers have a long track record of spurning foreign products when political nerves are frayed.

Appeals to shun the likes of McDonald's, KFC and Apple's iPhone have appeared on the popular WeChat messaging app and the Weibo microblogging website in recent days.

“Compatriots, our motherland is going through a difficult time. We must unite to support our national brands and help defend the economic Great Wall!” read one message being circulated on WeChat. AFP was unable to verify the original source of the message.

On Weibo, a car salesman from northwest China's Gansu province wrote: “The US has fired the first salvo in this trade war. It's everyone's responsibility to boycott American goods!”

The Chinese government has hit back at the US tariffs and vowed to retaliate to any new measures, but President Xi Jinping and Trump delivered conciliatory words this week that raised hope of a negotiated solution.

China's state-run Global Times tabloid has encouraged the government to take a tough stance, with an editorial last week saying China should fight with the same spirit as during the Korean War — one that “fears no sacrifice or loss”.

“Chinese living across the globe have considerable purchasing power. We can cause a lot of damage to the US economy,” wrote one reader in the article's online comment section.

But it may be tough to convince Chinese people to give up American brands that have become ubiquitous in streets and shopping centres across the vast country.

Hit 'delete'

The calls for boycotts certainly didn't ruin the appetite of the lunch crowd at a McDonald's in downtown Beijing this week, just a stone's throw away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I also received these messages, I just delete them,” said diner Wang Zhiyi, who was wolfing down a double cheeseburger with fries and a coke. “These people (who share such messages) just want to cause a ruckus.”

This isn't the first time American products have been targeted by boycotts.

Photos of individuals smashing their iPhones emerged on social media in 2016, purportedly to denounce US support for the Philippines in a territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea. Protesters also shouted slogans in front of a dozen KFC outlets.

But Ben Cavender, an analyst at Shanghai-based China Market Research Group, said he did not expect a boycott to gain much traction this time.

“Despite online slogans, surveys show that service brands that mostly employ Chinese nationals are viewed more positively,” Cavender told AFP.

At the Dunkin' Donuts outlet across the road from the McDonald's, bank employee Gao Junya sat sipping her afternoon coffee with a friend.

“Do you think this donut is a symbol of American overreach and imperialism?” she asked, biting into a gooey Boston Cream. “Small groups on social media are just trying to put up smokescreens.”

Watering down wine

Although many were quick to brush aside nationalist slogans, American wine has taken a hit.

“I've had a couple of corporate clients who've said they'd prefer to switch from a US wine to something else (for official events) in recent weeks because they are conscious of the image they are projecting,” Jim Boyce, a Beijing-based wine consultant, said.

According to the California Wine Institute, China was the fifth biggest importer of wine from the Golden State in 2017.

While China's new 15% tariff on US wine, announced last week, is threatening to make it less price-competitive, the nationalistic fervour could deal an even harder blow, Boyce said.

“The biggest concern is whether this negativity would turn into a long-term sentiment,” he said.

Other countries have felt the pain of running afoul of China.

Beijing hit South Korea with a string of measures against businesses last year after Seoul let the United States install an anti-missile defence system in its territory to defend against North Korean threats. China sees the hardware as a threat to its own security.

French retail giant Carrefour became the target of a string of protest ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics after pro-Tibet activists disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

And Norwegian salmon was left rotting in Chinese warehouses after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, based in Oslo, was awarded to democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo, who died of cancer while still in custody last year. — AFP


Food industry on MyCC’s menu this year

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) will look into escalating food prices this year as Malaysians grapple with rising cost of living.

“We’ll identify the most critical sub-sectors for us to address the cost of living,” MyCC member Dr Saadiah Mohamad told a press conference today after the launch of market review reports on the pharmaceutical and building materials industries.

This will be MyCC’s latest effort to determine anti-competitive behaviour following the completion of its market review study on the pharmaceutical and building materials sectors, which found that there was no conclusive evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by the industry players.

MyCC is also expected to conduct market review study on the transport and services industries by 2020.

MyCC director of enforcement Iskandar Ismail said competition in the building materials industry is mainly shaped by a few characteristics, namely no threat of product substitution, minor differentiation in products, territorial-based operations, vertical integration as a common business strategy and limited entry of new players in the upsteam manufacturing industry.

On recommendations, he said the market needs to assess regularly the steel industry in China; explore incentives and measures that will encourage the steel players to improve efficiency and competitiveness; monitor cement price when the demand is high; and promote the usage of local building materials.

Meanwhile, MyCC head of business & economic division Junaidah Mohd Shazili is urging the strengthening of the local pharmaceutical industry with more exports in a bid to reduce medicine prices to more reasonable levels.

In 2006, RM2.3 billion of pharmaceutical products were imported, accounting for 68% of pharmaceutical sales.

Given the various studies that have shown Malaysian drug prices are high by international standards and significant price variations exist between providers, MyCC opined that there is a need for a coherent price policy that should be part of the National Medicines Policy.

In addition, MyCC can play a vital role in coordinating with other relevant agencies to address issues that interface between competition law, intellectual property law and health regulations.

Currently 14 cases are under probe by MyCC involving various industries including pharmaceutical, services and financial products.


Wall Street rises but pares gains late after report of FBI raid

NEW YORK, April 10 — Wall Street’s major indexes rose yesterday as a softer stance by US policymakers on China tariffs powered a rebound from last week’s selloff, but stocks pared much of their gains late in the session after a report that the…


Wall Street higher as US-China trade war worries ebb

NEW YORK, April 9 — Wall Street rebounded from last week’s trade tariff driven selloff to open higher today, taking comfort in comments from the Trump administration officials who stressed the trade dispute with China could be resolved through…


Xiaomi pushes for smartphone component suppliers to invest in India

MUMBAI, April 9 — China’s Xiaomi said it wants its global smartphone component makers to set up base in India, in what is likely to bring as much as US$2.5 billion (RM9.6 billion) of investment to the South Asian nation while also creating up…


Tech group urges US to recruit allies to take on China, not tariffs

WASHINGTON, April 9 — A trade group representing top technology companies today told US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that it opposes the Trump administration’s focus on tariffs to try to change China’s unfair trade practices. The…