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China to Mass Produce Industrial Robots

stepped-future

SHENYANG (Xinhua) — China’s first industrial robot production line is expected to start operation in the northeastern city of Shenyang this month.

“China became the world’s largest industrial robot market in 2013 with 37,000 industrial robots sold in the country, accounting for 20 percent of the global market.”

SIASUN Robot and Automation Co. Ltd. will be the first to jump start China’s industrial robot production with an annual capacity of 5,000. Their facilities will produce robots applied in welding, hauling, assembling, stacking, grinding and polishing, according to Qu Daokui, the company’s CEO.

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“Rising labor costs and aging population have prompted the application of industrial robots in China”

He said the production line is undergoing tests and the exact date of operation is yet to be announced. The application of robots has expanded from the high-end industries such as automobile and electronics manufacturing to traditional industries, including metal processing, bathroom hardware, food and drinks, said Qu, who is also director general of China Robot Industry Alliance. Read the rest of this entry »

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FONG FLASHBACK: ‘Prettier, Tastier Jell-O': Fragrant, Foral Osmanthus Jelly

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fong-flashBACKOne of the many things I love about being in HK is the discovery of novel flavors. Like osmanthus! Its fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers (native to east Asia) are often dried and gently folded into florally nuanced desserts like osmanthus jelly, which also often contains wolfberries (goji berries – so it must be healthy!) and usually serves as a finishing touch after a belly-swelling dim sum session. Think of it as a refined, prettier, tastier Jell-O…(read more)

THE FONG REPORT

pundit from another planet

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Democracy Movement Losing Mojo

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A police officer looks out over a highway in Hong Kong’s Central district on Sept. 1. Hong Kong activist group Occupy Central says some of its support is weakening.  Bloomberg News

HONG KONG—Chester Yung and Isabella Steger report: A co-founder of the activist group at the center of threats to paralyze Hong Kong’s business district with anti-Beijing protests adopted a somber tone on Tuesday, saying its goal of securing a representative voting system in the city was “close to failure.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure.”

– Chan Kin-man, one of Occupy Central’s co-founders

Chan Kin-man said some of its support is waning after Beijing’s decision on Sunday that effectively allows China to determine who can govern Hong Kong. The group had led a pro-democracy charge demanding popular input on candidates in Hong Kong’s next elections.

“Many people in Hong Kong are being pragmatic…We need to sustain our civil society.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure,” said Mr. Chan. He said he only expects a few thousand people, below the number originally expected, to join planned sit-in protests.

Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Museum Boom


Journalists Ordered to Learn ‘Marxist News Values’, Uphold Principles of Communist Party

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Journalists, Teachers and Students Told to Back Party obamao-vert

No, no, it’s not about the Obama administration, or White House reporters and network news divisions, though it’s understandable to think so.

This is about China and Hong Kong.

For China Digital Times posts this:

As part of the Xi administration’s ongoing restriction of press freedom in mainland China and Hong Kong, the All China Journalists’ Association has ordered journalists to learn “Marxist news values” and uphold the principles of the ruling Communist Party. Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reports:

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The guidelines by the All China Journalists’ Association, published by state news agency Xinhua, are aimed at both traditional and online media and are another sign of Xi’s politically conservative agenda.Marx-TV

The association said journalists “must learn to master Marxist news values”.

“Let us hold high the banner of socialist core values,” the report said, using the party’s term for orthodox beliefs.

[...] Early this year, Chinese journalists also had to pass a new ideology exam to keep their press cards. They were required to do a minimum 18 hours of training on topics including Marxist news values and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. [Source]

The appointment of Lin Zhibo, an editor at the People’s Daily, as dean of Lanzhou University’s journalism school reflects the increasingly active role that the Party is playing in the training of journalists. Damon Yi and Amy Qin at The New York Times report:

Mr. Lin’s appointment has thrown the spotlight on recent efforts by local offices of the Communist Party Propaganda Department to use personnel appointments as a way to forge partnerships with journalism schools and to assert greater ideological control over the training of future opinion shapers.

[...] An earlier iteration of the Propaganda Department and journalism school joint model, or buxiao gongjian in Chinese, is the “Fudan Model,” which dates back to 2001 when Fudan University in Shanghai restructured its journalism school in close cooperation with the local propaganda authorities. Read the rest of this entry »


Pro-Democracy Update: Back to the Drawing Board for Hong Kong Election Reform?

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.  Associated Press

Pro-democracy lawmakers display placards against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, during a briefing session in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2014. Associated Press

WSJ’s Jeffrey Ng reports:  Beijing’s plans to allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader—albeit only from among prescreened candidates and effectively denying an open vote—will need approval of two-thirds of the city’s 70-member strong legislature.

What happens if the reform package gets voted down?

By constituting a bloc of more than a third, the city’s 27 pro-democratic legislators hold the veto on any such plans. On Monday, these legislators voiced their disapproval by interrupting a speech by a senior Chinese official, chanting slogans while holding up banners condemning China’s decision as “shameful,” before storming out of a briefing session on political reform. Read the rest of this entry »


Global Panic of August 2014’s Hong Kong Pepper Spray Extravaganza

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Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung is dragged away by security guards as he protests against Li Fei, deputy general secretary of the National People’s Congress standing committee. Reuters

“The police started using pepper spray on us without any warning. We are here to protest in a peaceful manner.”

– Kit, a social worker and activist

HONG KONG—Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Monday said police used pepper spray against demonstrators outside a news conference given by a top Chinese official on Beijing‘s decision on how the city should elect its leader.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner.”

– From Beijing’s ruling Sunday

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, gave a briefing at the AsiaWorld-Expo, near Hong Kong’s airport, to explain the decision to chaotic scenes of protests both inside and outside the venue.

Outside, a 21-year-old social worker identifying himself only as Kit said he and four others in his group of activist were pepper-sprayed by police. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Hopes Crushed

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China's legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, on Aug. 31. Associated Press

Protesters wave their mobile phones during a rally, after China’s legislature has ruled out open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s leader, on Aug. 31.    –  Associated Press

From this weekend’s WSJ opinion pages:

The people of Hong Kong can plead or protest for democracy all they want, but they can only hold a sham election for Chief Executive in 2017. That was the ruling of 20140831 HK 05China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on Sunday.

“The threat to Hong Kong’s capitalism comes not from democracy, but from the cronyism and erosion of the rule of law that are infiltrating from the mainland.”

Moderates on both sides of the political spectrum in Hong Kong had urged compromise. They proposed nomination procedures that would satisfy Beijing’s concerns while still allowing the free election that China promised in 1997 when it made the city a self-governing special administrative region for 50 years.

“The tragedy for both Hong Kong and China is that the conflict is unnecessary.”

Beijing not only rejected these ideas, it seems they were never seriously considered. The Communist Party insists on absolute veto power over the choice of candidates. The result will be more frustration in Hong Kong.

“The city is manifestly ready for democracy, which would give Beijing fewer headaches rather than more.”

Since the handover from British rule, the city has suffered under mediocre leaders weakened by their lack of a popular mandate. This has angered parts of the population, particularly the young, and some are promising acts of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Fong Flashback: Extra-Golden, Puckered, Crunchy-Topped Paradise

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…Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside…(read more)


A Sea of Phones Illuminating Tamar Park, Connecting the Executive and Legislative Hearts of Hong Kong


[PHOTOS] EXCLUSIVE: Images From the Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Rally

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The Chinese central government today announced regulations that would gut Hong Kong’s evolution to real democratic election of the city’s chief executive.  In essence, Beijing imposed rules that would ensure that only it’s hand-picked candidates would be allowed to run for the city’s top government post. I attended the beginning of the rally in the park in front of the city’s main government offices today.  Here are some pictures:

[Also check out the live stream chronicling the protests. Follow the twitter feed for Hong Kong's main pro-democracy activist group here.]

[Flashpoint Hong Kong: China rules out democracy for the former British territory - Noah Rothman, Hot Air]

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(My apologies for the poor photography — my Hong Kong cell phone has a decidedly inferior camera, and the rally really only got under way after dark.)

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Police presence was heavy in the city during the day, with large foot patrols moving around.  Interestingly, although Hong Kong’s police usually carry revolvers (.380s – I asked), most cops I saw today had empty holsters on their belts. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing: China Legislature Rules No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader

Civil Human Rights Front Gather For July 1st Marches

Occupy Central has threatened to shut down the city’s financial district with a massive sit-in if Beijing doesn’t allow completely open elections for chief executive

Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.

Left: Jimmy Lai, Chairman and Founder of Next Media (Reuters)

The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half

of votes from a special nominating body before going before voters. Hong Kong democracy activists have held massive protests demanding that Chinese leaders let the city’s voters choose their chief executive from an open list of candidates.

Activists have also decried the nominating committee held up by Beijing as beholden to Chinese leaders and were mobilizing to stage massive protests against the decision.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” the Standing Committee said in their decision. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Showdown: China Warns Against ‘Foreign Meddling’

Hong Kong Democracy Showdown

Protesters are taken away by police officers after hundreds of protesters staged a peaceful sit-ins overnight on a street in the financial district in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s simmering summer of discontent gets even hotter on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 when Beijing is expected to recommend restricting the first direct elections for the Chinese-controlled financial hub’s leader, stepping up chances of a showdown with democracy groups. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BEIJING (AP) — China warned against foreign meddling in Hong Kong’s politics Saturday ahead of an expected announcement to recommend highly contentious restrictions on the first direct elections for the leader of the Chinese-controlled financial hub.hk-protest

An article in the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily said that some in the former British colony were colluding with outside forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s governance.

“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” said the article.

[Also see - Hong Kong Tensions Rise as Beijing Critic's Home Raided - WSJ]

“This can absolutely not be permitted,” it said, citing an unidentified official in the Foreign Ministry‘s department for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan affairs. Read the rest of this entry »


The Most Secretive Place on Earth: Inside North Korea with Will Ripley

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

“I asked our government minders if they’d be willing to show us what life is really like for regular people in North Korea.”

Pyongyang (CNN) – Will Ripley: It is exceedingly rare for Western journalists to be allowed inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) — commonly known as North Korea. It is even less common for an American reporter to visit this reclusive nation, home to nearly 25 million people who are essentially isolated from the rest of the world.

“They said they’d ask their superiors and get back to us.”

Yet here I am, an American member of a CNN crew, reporting from Pyongyang about the latest high profile sporting event to sweep this city since a bizarre basketball tournament earlier this year.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Even though decades of isolation and crippling sanctions have left North Korea struggling economically and lagging far behind much of the developed world in terms of technology and infrastructure — the nation is nearly unrivaled in its ability to mobilize tens of thousands of citizens to put on a spectacular show.

You probably remember when American NBA star Dennis Rodman organized a basketball tournament in Pyongyang.

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Rodman was widely criticized in the United States for befriending the DPRK’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whose authoritarian regime has been accused by a United Nations panel of widespread human rights abuses, charges that North Korea strongly denies.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1--15. We're told the most popular is 7.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1–15. We’re told the most popular is 7.

‘Sports diplomacy’

Outside press were not invited to cover Rodman’s trip. This time, CNN is among a handful of news organizations granted rare access to Pyongyang to cover the International Pro Wrestling Festival.

[Also see: Japan Lawmaker Kanji ‘Antonio’ Inoki Takes Sport Diplomacy to North Korea]

Don’t miss this Pundit Planet Exclusive: Mashup: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-Un]

Retired Japanese wrestling star turned politician Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is organizing the event. In his professional heyday, Inoki fought in a memorable and bizarre 1976 match in Tokyo with boxing great Muhammad Ali. Today, as an aging member of the Japanese parliament, he is once again in the headlines for his latest attempt at what he calls “sports diplomacy” between Japan and North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong

Agents Raid a Prominent Supporter of Local Democracy

The people of Hong Kong want China to honor the democratic promises it made when the city became a special administrative region in 1997, and this fight for freedom deserves more world attention—especially as Beijing‘s counterattack is getting ugly.

Agents from Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) searched the homes of media tycoon Jimmy Lai, his employee Mark Simon and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan on Thursday. The search warrants covered records of Mr. Lai’s donations to Mr. Lee and other pro-democracy politicians. The raid is especially ominous because it suggests that Jimmy-LaiBeijing is compromising the independence of Hong Kong law enforcement.

“Lai’s computers had already been hacked and the details of his gifts splashed across the city’s pro-Beijing media.”

Donations to politicians aren’t regulated in Hong Kong, and Mr. Lai’s computers had already been hacked and the details of his gifts splashed across the city’s pro-Beijing media. Several pro-Beijing figures have publicly complained to the ICAC that the donations should be investigated. But the grounds for following these up are hard to imagine, and the timing is suspicious.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai in 2011. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The leaked donation records show that Mr. Lai is the main source of funding for the pro-democracy camp. His publications are also critical of Beijing and drum up support for protests. He and Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen support the Occupy Central movement, which is pressuring Beijing to allow pro-democracy candidates to run for Chief Executive in 2017. So no surprise that he is government enemy No. 1.

It’s likely that the Occupy Central movement is the real reason for the raids. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Insufficiency of Mutual Trust': Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters to Get Pro Bono Aid

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Protesters stage a sit in on a street in Hong Kong’s financial district on July 2. Reuters

About 30 Hong Kong Lawyers Plan to Offer Free Legal Aid in Case of Arrests

Background: In June, hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers joined a march after China’s cabinet, the State Council, issued a white paper declaring that “loving the country” was a basic political requirement for all Hong Kong administrators, including judges and judicial personnel.

CHESTER YUNG, ISABELLA STEGER and EDWARD NGAI reporting: HONG KONG—Dozens of Hong Kong lawyers are lining up to offer pro bono assistance to pro-democracy protesters, in a move that highlights the legal community’s growing concern over potential infringement on the city’s judicial independence by Beijing.

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A large pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong in July. Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse, Getty Images

“Hong Kong is part of a sovereign country.…There is a constitutional obligation for all institutions in Hong Kong…to safeguard national security.”

–  Wang Zhenmin, dean of the Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing

Also see:

Activist group Occupy Central has threatened protests to paralyze Hong Kong’s main business district if Beijing, in a decision expected to be announced on Sunday, moves to effectively bar any pro-democracy candidates from running for chief executive, the city’s top post, in 2017 elections.

Mr. Wang Zhenmin blamed the uproar over the white paper on “insufficiency of mutual trust” between Hong Kong and China.

A group made up of about 30 mostly local lawyers is prepared to offer free legal assistance to Occupy Central demonstrators in case they are arrested, said Alvin Yeung, organizer of the lawyers’ group. “We want to make sure the protesters’ civil rights are protected,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


THE FONG REPORT: Calling All Dessert Fanatics – Dig Into Hong Kong’s Sweet Spot!!

Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up a great meal at some fantastic restaurant – stuffed, maybe even overstuffed. Feeling the food coma creep in, you sense your brain struggling to maintain consciousness as your body desperately attempts digestion. Seeing you slump slightly in your chair, the waiter walks by with the dessert menu but passes you by, assuming you’re down for the count. IMG_4807

“Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example…Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach.”

Mere moments before he’s out of reach, you eagerly snatch the menu from his confused fingers. There’s ALWAYS room (and energy) for dessert! As my friends (and dentist) can attest, my sweet tooth is relentless.

“Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.”

You know how cows have 4-chamber stomachs? I must have bovine tendencies, since no matter how full I may be, I appear to magically grow a separate stomach chamber just in time for dessert! Are you with me?

Much to my surprise, Hong Kong is brimming with bakeries, pâtisseries, cafés, and cha chaan tengs (Chinese tea restaurants). Sometimes, these are more local shops, serving local desserts. Despite the somewhat negative stereotype that clouds western perceptions about Asian desserts, some of the local sweets here really do hold their own. And there is a fun element of novelty, at least to Chinese-dessert-virgins (you get what I mean).

Justly famous (and incredibly delicious) HK egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery - absolutely craveable!

Justifiably famous, mouthwatering Hong Kong egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery in Wan Chai

Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example – all creamy, custardy, buttery/flaky crust goodness. Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach. Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.

Hong Kong residents are hard-core egg lovers – as proven by yet another famous egg-y sweet, the egg waffle. Humble in appearance, when prepared properly, they are slightly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside – sort of the ‘bubble wrap’ of desserts, with the flavor of vanilla cake. The fun, bulbous shapes make tearing off a golden sphere (or 5, or 10) almost impossible to resist!

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Preparing to chow down on an egg waffle – puffy, crispy, tender sweetness!

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The perennially-busy Lee Keung Kee stall outside the Wan Chai MTR station, serving up some of Hong Kong’s finest egg waffles

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Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside. Try this WAY before your next visit to the cardiologist! Read the rest of this entry »


America Chooses a Navy: Competition with China for the Global Future

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George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”

This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.

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One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Supersonic Submarine? Not Gonna Happen

Originally posted on TIME:

There are a whole lot of things that won’t be happening anytime soon. Pigs flying, for instance; that won’t happen. All of the raindrops becoming lemon drops and gumdrops; that won’t happen either. And despite what you have been reading practically everywhere today, no, China won’t be deploying a submarine capable of moving at 6,100 mph (9,800 k/h) and covering the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes—at least not in anything remotely like the near future.

Let’s begin with the source of the story: engineer Li Fengchen, of the Harbin Institute of Technology, the project’s lead researcher. Mr. Li is surely an impeccably honest man and a very good engineer, but the Chinese government has not always covered itself in glory when it comes to candor and there’s no reason to believe they’d start with a program as sensitive as this.

“The idea that any Chinese research…

View original 431 more words


Who Needs Wall Street? Gambling Companies Bet on Hong Kong Stock Market

 Casino companies are betting on Hong Kong's equity markets to raise funds for expansion. Photo: Grand Emperor Hotel Macau

Casino companies are betting on Hong Kong’s equity markets to raise funds for expansion. Photo: Grand Emperor Hotel Macau

Gambling Firms Aim to Raise Funds for Macau, Overseas Casino Operations

HONG KONG— For WSJKate O’Keeffe & Yvonne Lee report: China’s international financial hub, located a quick ferry ride from the world’s casino capital, has seen a throng of gambling companies rush to its equity markets over the past year.macau-chip-vintage

“The Asia gaming industry should be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the next decade.”

– CLSA analyst Aaron Fischer

Since July 2013, at least six casino and VIP gambling companies have unveiled plans to list in Hong Kong, often through so-called backdoor listings. These companies are either hoping to raise funds to expand abroad or to bolster business at home in Macau at a time when the enclave’s $45 billion gambling market is suffering its first revenue declines in five years.

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Most recently, Nasdaq-listed Iao Kun Group Holdings Co. last month filed a formal listing application to go public “by introduction,” where no new funds are raised, hiring Rothschild (Hong Kong) Ltd. as its sponsor. The company is part of Macau’s junket industry, which brings high-spending gamblers from mainland China to Macau, issues them credit and collects players’ debts in exchange for commissions from casinos. Read the rest of this entry »


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