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Pearl Liu

Articles by Pearl Liu

Real estate moguls with a Greece-size debt problem look for hints of relief, even as China’s legislature tries to wean industry off its loans

3 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In the second part of a series looking at China’s forthcoming legislative meetings, known as the Two Sessions, we look at how China’s real estate developers, among the biggest debtors in the country, are looking for hints of relief as 15 of them sit through the proceedings that begin next week. The first part of the series is here.China’s property developers, who replaced managers of decrepit state-owned factories as the nation’s largest debtors, will be in the hot seat when they show up next…

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China Fortune Land’s US$813 million of missed debt payments sparks fears of further defaults under Beijing’s ‘three red lines’ for property developers

23 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Concerns about rising defaults in China’s property sector grew as a major developer became the first casualty of strict deleveraging rules recently introduced by the government, missing debt payments.China Fortune Land Development, ranked 43rd by sales nationally last year, said it had overdue loans of 5.26 billion yuan (US$813.37 million) because of a liquidity shortage. Fitch Ratings downgraded the developer on Wednesday to reflect the “extremely high risk” of buying its debt.The Beijing…

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Four of China’s biggest cities scramble to knock a real estate bull run off its pace amid fear of risk and bubbling debt

28 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Local authorities of four major Chinese cities have erected barriers over the past week to prevent an unprecedented flood of cheap money unleashed by the central bank from buoying prices in the 17.4 trillion yuan (US$2.7 trillion) housing market.Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, kicked off the market-cooling policies last Friday with some of the most draconian policies to limit the amount of money homebuyers can borrow for buying real estate. That was followed within days by housing…

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China’s first carmaker FAW joins the rush to ditch petrol guzzlers in a 30 billion yuan venture with Audi to produce electric cars

January 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s very first carmaker is entering the fray to assemble electric cars, as it joins the shift towards electrification in the world’s largest automotive industry, where one in every five vehicles will be powered by electricity by 2025.FAW Group, founded in 1953 to spearhead Mao Zedong’s industrialisation, will team up with its German partner Audi to build a 30 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion) plant in the Jilin provincial capital of Changchun in north-eastern China. FAW, which already makes…

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China braces for another record year of bond defaults as cash-starved developers breach central bank’s red lines for borrowings

January 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s corporate defaults may set a record this year when a trio of the central bank’s debt limits kick in this month, as they crimp the ability by borrowers to use loans to repay their outstanding debt.One in five of China’s biggest real estate developers including China Evergrande Group will be barred from borrowing any more money from banks according to the three red lines on debt drawn by the People’s Bank of China, the state-owned Economic Information Daily said.The red lines are…

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Chinese millennials’ craze for toys spawns multimillion-dollar industry in blind boxes, drawing calls to curb speculation

January 1, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When C.C. Sun first heard in 2019 about so-called blind box toys, collectible figures in mystery packaging, the 32-year-old engineer from Tianjin mocked her colleague for playing with children’s stuff.Fast forward to last June. When Sun saw Harry Potter figures were on the offer, the big fan of the magical world created by J.K. Rowling did not hesitate to pay 59 yuan (US$9) each, and got a palm-sized figurine of Professor McGonagall.The toe-dip ended up costing her more than 2,000 yuan within a…

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Without love life and family trappings, China’s singles become consumption engine in economy

December 26, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Angela Wang has no qualms when it comes to splurging on her two cats. Being single and financially-independent, she has spent some 50,000 yuan (US$7,650) on her exotic shorthair and a British blue over the past two years, treating them to food and toys on most days, and haircuts and spa visits on occasional weekends.“My pets are my family here,” said the 31-year-old marketing manager with a fashion retailing company, who moved to Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province four years ago after…

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Speculators zoom in on Shenzhen to flip new homes for quick profit, raising warning of ‘grey rhino’ risks and regulators’ ire

December 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shenzhen, the crucible of China’s economic reforms and the nation’s technology hub, is seeing a buying frenzy in residential property, as a government-imposed price cap created arbitrage opportunities for speculators to make quick profits.At CR Land’s CR City project in Nanshan district, the average price capped at 130,000 yuan (US$19,760) per square metre was 28 per cent cheaper than the neighbourhood’s prevailing market price . That attracted more than 10,000 bidders, helping the state-owned…

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Cost of buying a bigger home is putting Chinese couples off having a second child, survey finds

November 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Buying a bigger home to raise more children is so expensive that parents in China are deciding against having a second baby, undermining government efforts to boost the population, according to a new survey.More than a third of respondents in the survey by Research said they are against having a second child, with nearly half of those citing the heavy economic burden as their major concern.“Buying a home is just too expensive and we cannot afford a bigger one for having a second child,”…

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Zhuhai, second richest city in mainland Greater Bay Area after Shenzhen, touts upbeat economic growth to attract talent

November 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Zhuhai may be the smallest of the nine cities in Guangdong province within the Greater Bay Area, but the mainland Chinese city that sits on the Pearl River Delta estuary punches well above its weight.Zhuhai’s per capita gross domestic product of 175,500 yuan (US$26,800) last year was the second highest after Shenzhen among its mainland bay area peers. According to the Zhuhai government website, it ranked first in the Top 10 Livable Cities in China in 2019 with a score of 90.13.There’s a reason…

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Alibaba’s Tmall to upend China’s real estate industry by using the internet for the entire sales process from viewing to paying

September 29, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s property developers, stymied by a months-long ban on showroom exhibitions and the worst economic growth pace in decades, are girding themselves for a new sales strategy in the age of the coronavirus — online sales.Country Garden Holdings and other major Chinese developers are putting some of their new homes on Tmall Haofang, a new sales channel by the world’s largest e-commerce platform, operated by this newspaper’s owner Alibaba Group Holding. Selected real estate projects sold on the…

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Developer China Vanke moves into pig farming as property fails to bring home the bacon

May 13, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When the going gets tough, China’s property developers have been known to get creative, diversifying into more profitable industries. Evergrande Group, for example, famously jumped into the electric car business two years ago, pledging to take on the likes of Tesla.Now China Vanke, the nation’s third-largest homebuilder, is poised to make an even more unlikely move: into pig farming.According to job vacancies advertised on its website, Vanke is planning to breed 250,000 pigs a year as it aims…

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China looks to real estate investment trusts to tap household savings, while letting the air out of property bubbles

May 2, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s government this week gave its go-ahead for the set up of real estate investment trusts (REIT), opening a channel that lets investors tap the country’s property growth, while limiting their speculation in bricks-and-mortar buildings.The pilot programme, implemented after more than a year of public consultations, will allow China’s mutual funds to issue public REITs that can be bought and sold like stocks on the country’s exchanges, according to an April 30 statement by the National…

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Chinese cinemas ‘on their knees,’ reduced to selling popcorn, wedding packages as Netflix, streaming sites gain viewers

April 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Cinema owners in mainland China are being reduced to selling popcorn without movies, and offering their sites for wedding shoots, while consumers turn to Netflix and other popular streaming services for entertainment during the coronavirus outbreak.Without a blockbuster since the Lunar New Year in late January, analysts expect the number of closures to double this year, after 267 of 12,408 went out of business last year. Wanda Films, which operates 603 cinemas in the country, has warned of deep…

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China Evergrande slashes prices of new flats by a quarter as coronavirus leaves developers struggling with plunging house sales

February 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]One of China’s largest developers will slash the prices of all its new flats by a quarter in what it says is the biggest ever nationwide price cut, as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to derail China’s all-important housing market.China Evergrande, the country’s third biggest builder by value, said it will kick off a one-and-a-half-month campaign offering discounts of up to 25 per cent at all of its projects across the country.The company, chaired by China’s third-richest person, Xu Jiayin,…

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China’s monetary authorities to keep bank credits on tap to help companies survive the business slump caused by the coronavirus outbreak

February 15, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s central bank and financial regulators have offered additional funds to banks, prodding them to help manufacturers and businesses pull through an economy that is being hobbled by the twin burdens of a trade war and the nation’s worst health crisis in nearly two decades.The bank regulator will ensure that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) get access to the 537 billion yuan (US$77 billion) of credit lined up to help them pull through the business slump caused by the coronavirus outbreak,…

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Chinese patriotism is new sales octane as millennials embrace home-grown brands at the expense of foreign icons

February 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In China, nationalism sells.Months of a gruelling trade war with the US and geopolitical spats with Asian neighbours have stoked nationalistic fervour among millennials, who are flexing their spending muscle, splashing out on guo huo, or Made-in-China brands, at the expense of foreign icons.The trend helped propel sales of local companies including cosmetics maker Shanghai Jahwa United Co. and apparel manufacturer Bosideng International Holding, outpacing international brands like MAC and…

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Hong Kong’s retail landlords bet on Christmas cheer in their Shanghai malls as protests crush festive spirit at home

December 25, 2019

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shoppers in Shanghai at this time of year are used to seeing malls decked out for Christmas. But this year the festivities seem bigger and more extravagant than ever before.One of the reasons is that Hong Kong’s retail landlords, faced with moribund sales and the prospect of vandalism at the hands of hardcore protesters, are pinning their hopes on their Shanghai shopping malls to bring them a little Christmas cheer.Amid distinctly muted celebrations at home, they have spent big this year on…

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China’s bricks-and-mortar stores stress the shopping experience, rev up with technology to survive the onslaught of online shopping

November 16, 2019

[unable to retrieve full-text content]For 90 minutes on a Sunday evening, Tracy Ma and her two girl friends experimented a combination of lipsticks, eyeshadows, eyeliners and blushes in a MAC Cosmetics store along Shanghai’s prime shopping belt.

The two-storey outlet is fitted with an augmented reality counter, allowing walk-in customers like the 20-year old office clerk to simulate and display her looks on a large screen, using different shades of make-ups. A deep purple lipstick made her look like a vampire, she said to screams,…

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Shenzhen’s buyers snap up new homes two weekends in a row, defying a government plan to flood China’s Silicon Valley with cheap public abodes

November 5, 2019

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shenzhen’s homebuyers are rushing to snap up newly completed residential property, ignoring a plan by the local authority to flood the market with 1 million cheap public housing flats.Sales of new homes increased for two consecutive weekends, after the city’s government announced an ambitious plan to add a million public homes to the housing supply, capping their prices at 50,000 yuan (US$7,148) per square metre (HK$5,200 per square foot) on October 23.The strong demand for housing underscores…

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