China, Philippines agree to upgrade ties, jointly build Belt and Road

Date Nov 21 2018 09:35:36 Source:Xinhua

China and the Philippines agreed on Tuesday to upgrade their ties to comprehensive strategic cooperation and jointly advance the Belt and Road construction.

The decision was made at a meeting between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte.

The two leaders reached important consensus on building bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect, sincerity, equality and mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation.

Xi told Duterte that he is delighted to visit the Philippines and is touched by the Philippine people's warm welcome, especially the kids' cheerful smiles.

Calling China and the Philippines "close neighbors with exchanges going back a thousand years," Xi said good-neighborliness, friendship and win-win cooperation are the only correct choice for the two countries.

The Chinese president said he has had in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern with Duterte in their six meetings over the past two years and consolidated consensus and friendship.

With joint efforts, the two sides have had fruitful cooperation in various fields and ushered in a new chapter in China-Philippines relations, benefiting both peoples and contributing to regional peace and stability, Xi said.

China is willing to carry forward its traditional friendship with the Philippines and deepen the cooperation, so that the two countries can forever make good neighbors, good friends and good partners and share the prosperity, he said.

The upgrade of bilateral relations meets the need of their development and the expectation of both peoples, Xi said, calling on the two sides to enhance strategic guidance on bilateral relations by the two heads of state, promote exchanges on all levels and consolidate strategic mutual trust.

China supports the Philippines in choosing a development path that suits its own national conditions, he said, adding that the two countries should deepen their cooperation on three pillar fields, namely security, development and culture.

China also firmly supports the Philippines' fight against drugs and terrorism, will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to the Philippines to implement more public livelihood projects including poverty reduction, and expand exchanges and cooperation on education, culture and tourism, Xi said.

The Chinese president said the Philippines is an important partner in jointly building the Belt and Road and urged both sides to deepen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines' development plans, and boost cooperation in fields such as infrastructural construction, telecommunications and agriculture.

Noting that China and the Philippines share extensive common interests on the South China Sea, Xi said the two countries can continue to manage differences through friendly consultations, promote practical cooperation on the sea and make due contribution to regional peace and stability and the welfare of the peoples.

Xi said China supports the Philippines' role as the country coordinator for the China-Association of ASEAN dialogue relations and the China-Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) cooperation.

China is willing to work together with the Philippines to upgrade China-ASEAN relations and the East Asia cooperation, he said, adding that China and the Philippines, both emerging economies in Asia, should increase coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs.

Extending a warm welcome to Xi, Duterte noted it was the first state visit to his country by a Chinese head of state in 13 years.

The visit, a milestone of historic significance in the Philippines-China relations, will open a new chapter in their cooperation, he said.

He said the Philippine side congratulates the Chinese side on the achievements it has made in its 40 years' reform and development, adding that he believes the Chinese people are sure to realize their Two Centenary Goals.

The Philippine side is ready to deepen the relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation with China on the basis of mutual respect, mutual understanding and sovereign equality, strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture, defense, health, drug control, improvement of livelihood, infrastructure construction and energy, as well as expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges in education and human resources.

The Philippine side agrees that countries in the region should jointly safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea, and stands ready to actively promote the development of relations between ASEAN and China, he said.

China has stood on the right side of history in dealing with international affairs, Duterte said, adding that the Philippine side is ready to carry out closer communication and coordination with China within multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations.

Prior to their talks, Duterte held a welcome ceremony in Xi's honor at the presidential palace featuring a 21-gun salute and traditional dances.

The Philippines is the last stop of Xi's three-country Asia-Pacific tour. He has visited Papua New Guinea, where he also attended the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting, and Brunei.

British business booming in China

Date Nov 20 2018 14:56:40 Source:China Daily

China will become an ever more important trade and investment partner for the United Kingdom as the latter prepares to leave the European Union, and the UK is looking forward to the Chinese market continuing to open up, especially in the service sector, said Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to China.

"I think it will be even more important after Brexit that the UK remains open and engaged globally. We have already built, in the last three years, a golden era, a stronger trading relationship, with China. And I think we can continue to attract Chinese investment to the UK and continue to work with China in opening up the economy," Woodward said at the award ceremony of the 10th British Business Awards held in Beijing on Nov 15.

Over the last ten years, the Chinese economy has tripled in size and UK-China trade has doubled from EUR32 billion ($40.7 billion) in 2008 to EUR67 billion in 2017, which now makes China the UK's third-largest trading partner, according to Woodward.

"The reform and openingup creates huge opportunities for China's international trading partners and the UK benefits deeply from that," she said.

Cooperation in the manufacturing and automobiles sectors has been very strong, and the UK is looking forward to China continuing to open up its services sector, the ambassador added.

"The UK economy is very strong in financial services, legal services, education, tourism services, etc. As China opens up, that will really help UK-China trade and investment to grow even further," she said.

The ambassador's speech aligned with the goal of the annual British Business Awards - encouraging British companies to participate more deeply in China's development and in promoting Sino-UK cooperation.

The awards event was founded in 2008 to showcase the successes of British businesses in China and Chinese businesses in the UK, as organized by the British Chamber of Commerce in China.

As the country is celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, the event's organizing committee set up a new category called 40 Years of Reform Award to celebrate companies that have played a role in that period.

The winner, jet engine maker Rolls-Royce, said that during its 50 years in the country, it has powered about half of China's wide-body airplane fleet since the Vickers Viscount aircraft in 1963.

Julian McCormack, director of Rolls-Royce China, said the Chinese market overtook the United Kingdom last year to become the company's second-largest market, contributing 12 percent of its global revenue.

During the first China International Import Expo, held earlier this month in Shanghai, Rolls-Royce signed an engine and long-term maintenance service agreement with China Eastern Airlines. The deal involves the airline's 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, with a total contract value of over $1.45 billion.

"Reform and opening-up has connected China to the world in an unimaginable way," McCormack said.

The company faces very few restrictions as a foreign engine manufacturer and has been free to cooperate with commercial partners in China for a long time, according to him.

McCormack said he came to China in the 1990s to study in Hunan province, and there were very few roads at that time.

"In order to go to the capital, it took four hours. But for today, it takes 20 minutes."

Yang Xiaoping, president of BP China, a nominee for the 40 Years of Reform Award, said that since the company entered the Chinese market in 1973, it has participated in and witnessed the achievements of reform and opening-up.

The company helped to build the first liquefied natural gas station in China in 2004, and now provides 36 percent of Guangdong province's natural gas, with business in all energy sectors expanding, she said.

According to Yang, in the past, foreign companies could only independently run 30 gas stations, but now there is no such limitation. As a result, the company plans to build another 1,000 gas stations in the next five years.

"The business environment is improving, which helps us to expand our business in China."

NomNom, a 2-year-old British food service startup, won Entrepreneur of the Year, for providing 1 million canteen meals every month for factory workers, school children and office employees. The company's clients include Apple, Foxconn and Google.

"What China has done over the past 40 years is phenomenal. They have done marvelously in growing their country, industrial revolution, and building bridges between China and the rest of the world," said Richard Craggs, founder and CEO of NomNom. "It should be respected what China is doing."

The event received 250 applications this year. These nominees were narrowed down into 44 finalists, and then separated into nine categories covering areas such as sustainability, innovation and inspiring women.

Nation adopts measures to lift real economy

Date Nov 20 2018 14:47:37 Source:China Daily

China will select 10 centrally-administered State-owned enterprises as the second batch of pilot State-owned capital investment and operating companies to optimize capital use via diversified forms of operation, the country's top regulator for State assets said on Monday.

The government will encourage them to establish independent financial companies and apply for financial licenses to better serve the real economy by using their own capital, said Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

"SOEs of this kind must focus on their main business to prevent risks and standardize their financial operations, while arbitrage moves are strictly prohibited," said Xiao. "They will deploy more resources into key industries, research areas and regions to boost China's development capabilities."

He said that provincial-level SOEs can also conduct similar activities to further expand their operational scope in order to gain more growth momentum.

The pilot companies must be solely State-owned and can be set up either via restructuring or new registration, according to guidelines on promoting the pilot reform of State capital investment and operation companies released in July.

State capital investment companies will make investments in line with national strategies and to increase their industrial competitiveness while State capital operation firms will mainly be tasked with enhancing returns and operational efficiency, said Meng Jianmin, SASAC's vice-chairman.

Eager to improve the optimal distribution of State-owned capital and further compete with other global giants, SASAC released the first batch of 10 pilot State-owned capital investment and operating companies in 2016.

The first two pilot central SOEs, China Chengtong Holdings Group and China Reform Holdings Corp, with established State-owned funds, are responsible for financing SOEs' structural adjustments, as well as their transformation and upgrading.

The pilot programs for the other SOEs, such as COFCO and China Poly Group Corp, mainly focus on management and regulatory reform. Capital and asset operation will be distinct in the pilot SOEs, and the future trend of reform will be toward "small headquarters, big industry".

Zhu Bixin, president of China Chengtong, said the group's next move is to carry out market-oriented equity management and operation, including actively making use of SOEs' stock transactions in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and introduce overseas capital into SOE reform.

The government will further deepen SOE reforms by clearly separating the rights of ownership and operation in all pilot programs. Their decision-making power should be based on capital and the market, instead of government branches, said Xu Hongcai, assistant minister of finance.

The SOEs must be aware that these new platforms do not exist either to increase debt or simply put capital into the financial market, said Xu, pointing out that competently managing their capital and reducing debt were also key for them to remain competitive.

SASAC said it would continue to enhance the authority of management boards, the professional manager system, differentiated pay allocation reform and mixed ownership reform to inject more vitality and anti-risk capacity into SOEs.

China currently has 96 central SOEs, down from 196 in 2003, as the central government has restructured them to improve their efficiency and competitiveness.

China to ease tax burdens for private enterprises

Date Nov 20 2018 11:05:12 Source:Xinhua

China will take solid steps to relieve the tax burdens for private enterprises to support better development of private businesses.

The burden of taxes and fees on private enterprises will be further eased, according to a guideline recently released by the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) on supporting the private sector.

The guideline outlined 26 detailed measures to facilitate the development of private businesses, including advancing substantial tax cuts, especially the reduction of value-added taxes, working on tax exemptions for micro and small firms as well as technology startups, and promoting the reduction of nominal rates for social security contributions.

Measures will also be taken to address the difficulty and high costs of financing for private firms, simplify tax payment procedures and level the playing field for private businesses.

"China's taxation authority has always treated private enterprises equal," said Huang Yun, a senior SAT official.

Huang said micro and small firms enjoyed 143.7 billion yuan (20.7 billion U.S. dollars) of tax exemptions in the first three quarters, rising 41.3 percent year on year.

The private sector plays an important role in the Chinese economy, contributing more than 50 percent of tax revenue, 60 percent of GDP, 70 percent of technological innovation, 80 percent of urban employment and 90 percent of new jobs and new firms.

Chinese commercial lenders' bad loan ratio slightly up in Q3

Date Nov 20 2018 11:01:09 Source:Xinhua

China's commercial banks saw a higher non-performing loan ratio at the end of Q3, data from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission showed Monday.

The non-performing loan ratio of commercial banks stood at 1.87 percent, 0.01 percentage points higher than the end of Q2.

Outstanding bad loans from commercial banks amounted to 2.03 trillion yuan (292.4 billion U.S. dollars) by the end of Q3, 75.1 billion yuan more than that of Q2.

By the end of Q3, Chinese commercial banks held 264 trillion yuan in assets, up 7 percent year on year, the regulator said.

Meanwhile, commercial lenders' liabilities rose 6.6 percent year on year to reach 243 trillion yuan as of the end of Q3.

China continued to take a tough line on market violations in Q3 to maintain stable market order and prevent risks.