March, 2008

Beijing’s new airport is impressive

The new Beijing Capital International Airport opened on March 26th and it is impressive. From outside, the airport evokes the buildings of the Forbidden City and a classic Chinese color scheme. Parts of the airport have large red columns with a yellow roof and other parts have the reverse. When inside the airport, however, the color is more subtle.

One way to go on the defensive

There’s one industry that is a defensive investment in volatile markets: electricity. Huaneng Power (HNP or 902.HK) is the largest independent power producer (IPP) in China with a heavy presence along the wealthier eastern seaboard. The company just reported 2007 full year earnings of HK$6.8 billion, or EPS of HK$0.56 a share (for the Hong-Kong listed shares).

Why are pizzas so good in Beijing?

If you are hankering for Western food in Beijing, it is hard to go wrong with a pizza at the nearest Pizza Hut or Papa John’s. In fact, pizzas in Beijing are not just good, they’re delicious. Of course, in a country where average GDP/capita is around US$2,000 per year, a US$10-15 meal isn’t cheap. So, customers expect good food at pizza restaurants.

Where mainland Chinese tourists might visit in Taiwan

With Ma Ying-Jeou’s presidential win, Taiwan is likely to gradually open its doors to more and more tourists from mainland China. Where will these tourists go? Here are a couple of the top attractions in Taiwan:

Better Taiwan-China relations ahead

On March 22nd, Taiwan held presidential elections and the Kuomintang (KMT) party candidate, Ma Ying-Jeou, won with 58% of total votes against 42% for his opponent, Frank Hsieh. The winning margin, totaling over 2 million votes, was higher than expected although the KMT party was expected to win.

China raises required reserve ratio again

Yesterday, after trading ended, the People's Bank of China announced another increase in banks' required reserve ratio. The amount of reserves that banks must set aside was increased by 0.5% to 15.5%. This is another step in China's fight against inflation. The move is not a surprise and, going forward, it will be interesting to see whether China also raises interest rates.

Thousands of caves at the Longmen Grottoes

If you like caves, and especially cave art or Buddhist art, the Longmen Grottoes are not to be missed. The Grottoes were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and, along with the Mugao Caves and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the most famous cave sculpture sites in China.

National People’s Congress: mega-ministry plan unveiled

Yesterday, China unveiled its plan for revamping the country’s State Council, equivalent to a cabinet. The total number of cabinet agencies, which includes ministries and commissions, will shrink to 27, from 28. In addition, five new mega-ministries will take seats on the State Council, eliminating or subsuming some predecessor organizations.

Another strong inflation reading, but mostly in food

China yesterday reported that in February consumer prices rose 8.7%, year over year, up from the already high 7.1% rise in January. It appears that the focus on inflation at this year's National People's Congress meeting is well justified.

National People’s Congress: focus is on fighting inflation

Premier Wen Jia-Bao, according to convention, opened the National People’s Congress with his annual work report. With his report, it is clear that China is still very focused on containing inflation and preventing overheating of the economy.