US hypocritical in accusing China of tech theft


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The US has no lack of a “criminal record” in terms of technology theft.

 

The US has repeatedly ignored China’s innovative breakthroughs through self-reliance and hard work but accuses China of “stealing” US technology and intellectual property rights. These arguments do not hold water.

These absurd accusations imply that the US must be the absolute leader in technological innovation – only the US is qualified to make major breakthroughs while others should merely follow its lead and import its technology, otherwise they are “stealing.” Such logic is ridiculous.

A country’s technological innovation capability is closely related to its scientific research resources, such as talents, capital, and scientific experimental devices. Leading scientific research resources have determined the US leading position in various science and technology fields. Nonetheless, economies including the EU, China, Japan, Russia and India have also mastered considerable scientific research resources and developed technological innovation capabilities with their own characteristics and advantages.

It is due to such relatively scattered distribution of global research resources that the US can never be an “all-round champion” of technological innovation. It is natural that other countries will catch up with the US in certain fields.

Historically, the US made a great fortune during WWII, and out-competed the Soviet Union in terms of comprehensive national strength during the Cold War. Even so, the US failed to gain absolute dominance over the Soviet Union in technological innovation.

As a major technological innovator keeping pace with the US, the Soviet Union set multiple world records in its golden age. The world’s first nuclear power plant, artificial earth satellite, manned spacecraft, space station and intercontinental missiles were all built by the Soviet Union. As far as weapons and equipment are concerned, both the Soviet Union and the US had something in which they excelled. Even now, Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, surpasses the US in some respects.

The US made its first nuclear power plant, artificial satellite, manned spacecraft, and intercontinental missiles after the Soviet Union’s success. Based on its current logic, should these US cutting-edge technologies be regarded as something stolen from the Soviet Union?

There are more examples. China led the US in the processing power of supercomputers for many years. In June 2018, the US retook the world’s lead thanks to its machine “Summit” which could process 200,000 trillion calculations per second. By following US logic, should we say the US surpassed China by stealing China’s supercomputing technology?

Some have already noted that the US is actually the guilty party that files the suit first. The country has no lack of a “criminal record” in terms of technology theft. In the first decades after its founding, the US tried hard to “steal” advanced industrial technology from the UK to develop its own industries.

During WWII, prior to Germany’s surrender, the US established the Alsos Mission. The team was sent to Germany not to fight, but to capture top German scientists and their technologies ahead of the Soviet Union. It is said that Wernher von Braun, one of the founders of the US space program, was a leading figure in Nazi Germany’s rocket development program.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US took the opportunity to obtain advanced military technology that the Soviet Union had accumulated for years and to lure away many top technical talents.

After that, plenty of US weapons benefited from the Soviet Union’s technology to varying degrees, which saved the US time and money. The US technology theft from the Soviet Union has produced generous returns.

However, the US is not ashamed of such records. Many Hollywood blockbusters have molded American spies conducting such theft into the embodiment of justice, and molded theft into a just act. Perhaps it is precisely because of this that the US is now judging others by itself.

In recent years, China has continued to increase investment in science and technology. In 2018, the country’s research and development funds amounted to nearly 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion), second only to the US. The efforts will naturally pay off.

Nevertheless, the US deliberately turned a blind eye to China’s efforts to promote independent innovation and contain China’s development. The past actions and current absurd logic of the US are being seen through.

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US global economic terrorism


Global financial markets are facing a stark wake-up call that they need to unite to stand against acts of what can only be described as economic terrorism by a country which unilaterally imposes its will on others and pursues its own goals at the cost of the interests of others.

More than a year after US President Donald Trump fired the first tariff salvo at China, he is extending the battlefield around the world. On Friday, his administration announced that it will end special trade treatment for India, removing a status that exempts billions of dollars of the South Asian country’s products from US tariffs. Trump is seriously mulling slapping tariffs on Mexican imports as he believes the country has taken advantage of the US for decades.

Even close allies cannot trust they will be exempt from Trump’s tariff addiction. It was reported that the administration considered imposing tariffs on imports from Australia, but eventually decided against the move amid opposition from his aides, “at least temporarily.”

Obviously, Trump, a businessman-turned president, is aiming his trigger finger regardless of the targets, be they US competitors or allies. Trump grumbles about his country subsidizing the world and weakening US industry and pledges to make America great again. But he doesn’t realize that a great superpower is supposed to provide public goods rather than resorting to coercion for selfish gains. His tactics are nothing short of economic terrorism.

The International Air Transport Association has estimated that the US-China trade war and high fuel prices will wipe $7.5 billion off expected airline profits in 2019. This is just the figure from the airline industry, which is enough to show the disastrous impact the US-initiated economic terrorism has on the globe. Trump may disrupt the global supply chain with the US’ economic clout, but how can a disrupted global supply chain serve the US’ strategic objectives of being a great country?

What is worse, before the US becomes great again as the president wishes, he is actually employing the strategy of blocking other countries to take the lead, as we see in his actions in quashing Huawei’s 5G advancement.

Later this month, leaders from the world’s top economies will meet at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan to discuss key economic issues that plague the world. The conventional views of globalization and its benefits are still shared by most countries, and many countries and regions are continuing to open their economies. They should unite to face the chaos created by the Trump administration and find a way forward, so the process of globalization will not be held hostage by the US’ economic terrorism. – By Zhang Yi
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China aligns with world order by improving it

As a civilization that is thousands of years old, China has
always been integrating into the current international system and
taking responsibility to defend the international order after the world
wars and the international rule of law coming into force. At the same
time, China is dedicated to promoting democratization and legalization
of international relations.

 

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Penang State to study Airbnb woes before legalising operations; Using Airbnb to settle mortgages?


Airbnb, Why the New Logo?

HOW other cities worldwide tackle their Airbnb problems are being studied to see if the home-sharing business could be legalised or regulated in Penang.

The office of the Penang State Exco for Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage (Petach) is studying their policies to tackle the issue of residential home owners who rent out their units as if they were running a hotel or serviced apartment.

Its exco member Yeoh Soon Hin (pic) said the global home-sharing business was quite established in Penang now that when people buy a house or condominium unit, someone might approach them and offer to guide them to sign up with Airbnb and make money from their new property.

He told the assembly that Penang Global Tourism had met with Airbnb’s management team to discuss how to regulate the business.

“Airbnb told us that they are ready to cooperate and register Airbnb units in Penang with the local authority, but we have no laws or policies for this yet,” he said.

Yeoh said in San Francisco, Airbnb operators are limited to renting their homes to a maximum of 90 days a year.

“In Catalonia, Spain, Airbnb operators can be fined up to 30,000 Euros (RM140,000) and the unit owners fined up to 90,000 Euros (RM420,000) if there are complaints.

“In Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is proposing to limit Airbnb units to only allow up to six people each time to rent them and for only up to 90 days a year.

“For strata units, Singapore plans to allow it only if at least 80% of all unit owners in the building give consent.

“Japan enacted a law to allow home-sharing of units for only up to 180 days a year,” he said when replying a question from Daniel Gooi Zi Sen (PH-Pengkalan Kota).

Gooi said he was concerned because despite strong enforcement from Penang Island City Council since 2017 to stop residential property owners from using their units commercially, the Airbnb portal lists thousands of units in Penang.

“We cannot deny property owners from benefitting from their assets, but we also cannot let them continue to operate without paying their dues such as commercial assessment rates or the hotel fee,” he said.

Yeoh said Petach was studying how Airbnb operators are regulated while waiting for the federal government to draft laws on home-sharing.

“We raised the issue and were told that the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry are studying possible laws on this.”

Yeoh said the business was unfair to neighbours, the hotel industry and local authorities.

“They are paying assessments and utility rates for residential units but are using those units commercially while legal hotels that comply with all laws such as safety and traffic provisions pay much more.

“The peace and privacy of their neighbours are being intruded upon,” Yeoh said.

He said his team in Petach was also considering the possibility of recommending that Airbnb operators be charged double or triple the current residential assessment rates that they are paying now after they are legalised.

By arnold loh and r. sekaran at the penang state assembly

 

Should Airbnb be regulated?

MUCH has been said about Airbnb in the news of late. The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang branch has claimed that the emergence of Airbnb and illegal accommodation are among the main causes for Penang hotel occupancy rate to decline.

Another news report indicated that Airbnb operators are required to register with Kuala Lumpur City Hall. At this point in time, it is vital to see the concept of Airbnb. The platform was started to connect people who were looking to rent their homes to those who wanted hotel-free stay accommodation for short periods. The reason for the registration must be for the purpose of regulation by the authorities.

The claim by MAH that the emergence of Airbnb has caused hotel occupancy rates to drop must also be examined.

In terms of cleanliness and hospitality, although hotels do fit the bill, not all hotels are in that category. All hotels must be refurbished and kept clean at all times. It may be a bit too much to ask for luxury bedding or first class service, but cleanliness and pleasant service is not too difficult.

Airbnb hosts are conscious about their guests and the reviews that are given on the website. They go the extra mile, and it is not always accurate to say that Airbnb is cheaper and therefore people choose them over hotels. It is the space, the home away from home concept, and being looked after, the occasional bottle of wine left for guests, the fruit basket, the bottles of fruit juice and mineral water in the fridge — all of these go a long way in wooing guests.

In terms of protection for the hosts and the guests, Airbnb has enough protection in place. It is up to the renter to choose who they want to rent out to. Those who want to rent and those who are renting out their properties have their profiles. Reviews as to the safety of the place and its convenience — all can be seen from the website. It is a very transparent website and no one can complain that they were not aware that there was a danger or that they did not get their money’s worth. There are times that unfortunate Airbnb hosts unwittingly allow roguish guests and their premises are wrecked. The Airbnb hosts too, have a risk to take.

From the reports, it is unclear of the need for Airbnb to be registered or regulated. Hotel operators are required to register as it is a business. Airbnb is a service platform and not a business. For hosts, it is an additional income — especially for the elder population whose children have left, or even for those with university fees to pay, this additional income will be a good supplement. Unlike hotels and motels, Airbnb operators are there on a temporary basis. Sometimes, the owner may get a long-term tenant, and may not want to continue with the Airbnb concept.

Maybe we can take a leaf from countries where Airbnb has been regulated. In Los Angeles, United States, a regulation was passed for short-term rentals (vacation) with an initial cap on rentals for up to 120 days with flexibility to increase that number of days.

In New York, it is illegal to rent out an entire residence for less than 30 days. Short-term rentals are permitted if the homeowner is also staying there throughout the rental period and there are no more than two renters. This would be ideal for an elderly couple who would enjoy the company of young tourists who would in turn enjoy being in a home environment.

In Japan, anyone wanting to list their property on Airbnb will need to register with the local government, who will conduct fire and safety checks on the premises. The new regulations also limit rentals to 180 days per year.

Singapore has prohibited public housing rentals that are under six months, or three months in the case of private housing without the approval of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. In London and Paris, new laws have limited short-term rentals up to 90 days per year, and Liverpool City Council has pushed for national regulations to ensure that landlords register short-term rental properties.

Regulation is of critical importance in shaping the welfare of economies and society. Any form of regulation must work effectively and serve the public interest. Government agencies, in this case, the local councils are responsible for implementing regulatory policies and must be aimed towards protecting the consumer. When imposing such regulations on individuals, such as Airbnb hosts, there must be a goal that will help the government to achieve its purpose. The objective of a government or regulatory body is to ensure better and cheaper services and goods, and to provide a fair competition to any particular industry without encouraging a monopoly. Airbnb may be regulated and the town and city councils may want to draw up guidelines following from the examples cited above.

By GRACE XAVIER

Grace Xavier is research fellow at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya and she can be reached at gracem@um.edu.my

Using Airbnb to settle mortgages

Survey: Hosting helps to repay loans, provide extra income

Video:
https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/07/03/md-the-cost-and-security-issue-of-airbnb/?jwsource=cl

PETALING JAYA: More Malaysians are relying on Airbnb to settle their mortgages given the property overhang that is engulfing the sector.

According to an Airbnb survey of more than 2,000 Malaysian hosts and guests, half of the Airbnb hosts said it had helped them pay for their homes while 40% said Airbnb provided a supplementary income for them to make ends meet.Malaysia is Airbnb’s fastest growing country in South-East Asia for the second consecutive year.

It saw more than 3.25 million guests in Malaysia over the past 12 months ended July 1, which translated to a 73% increase from the previous period.There are more than 53,000 Airbnb listings in the country.

Axis REIT Managers Bhd investment head and former Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents president Siva Shanker said many of the Airbnb hosts were investors and speculators who purchased the properties during the upturn, with the intention of selling them at a higher price.

“However, when the property market started to make a turn for the worse, many of these speculators found it difficult to sell or rent out their units but at the same time they needed income to service their loans,” he told StarBiz.

Siva said many of the buyers and investors had bought the units on the advice of some people with questionable skills and credentials.

“Many of the people, who claimed to be experts, gave false assurances that the properties could be sold at a premium of up to 40% within a couple of years, or that they would be able to get high rental yields.

“This is essentially a get rich quick scheme and many people believed in them. But then the market crashed and many of the buyers are saddled with a property that they can’t sell or rent out.”

Siva said many of the so-called “advisers” had rebranded themselves as Airbnb consultants when the property market slumped.

Airbnb is an online booking platform that allows people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.

PPC International managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam said the concept of Airbnb needs to be regulated.

“It’s never been regulated in the past, especially in terms of taxes. How do you determine things such as cost and security?”

Siva concurred that proper regulation need to be put in place to for Airbnb operators.

“You don’t know who’s going into your apartment. Every other day, your occupants are changing.

“They could be illegal immigrants, running criminal activities, being a nuisance and disturbing the neighbours.

“How is the unit considered ‘gated and guarded’ when the owner is the one that opens the door to these strangers?”

With no proper regulation in place, Siva said the value of the apartment will deteriorate.

“The owner is running it like a hotel, except he doesn’t have the upkeep skills of a hotelier. Within a year, the apartment will look run down. By then, new properties will be up in the market and new owners will be looking to rent them out.

“The owner of the run down apartment is going to have difficulties finding tenants, but he still needs to fulfil his monthly mortgage. Eventually, it becomes a vicious cycle. To stop this, we need to educate the public and get rid of the self-proclaimed property gurus.”

Another concern is the Airbnb having a huge impact on the local hotel industry.

According to Impiana Hotels Bhd executive director Azrin Kamaluddin, hotels that havemore than four stars will face limited to no impact from the rising popularity of Airbnb.

“The hotels offer distinct product differentiation as they provide experience and service to guests.

“What Airbnb does is offer accommodation as a commodity.

“I believe that owners of four and five star serviced residences that do not lease back their units to operators as well as hotels that are three stars and below would be disrupted by Airbnb.

“It is imperative for hotels that have three stars and below to reinvent themselves to stand out from the competition posed by Airbnb,” he said.

On the potential launch of Airbnb Luxe, Azrin said it would not have an impact on four to five-star hotels, given the relatively small volume and higher price tag of US$1,000 per night.

Siders concurred that Airbnb would only have an adverse impact on budget hotels.

“The four-star and five-star hotels offer different types of services and amenities.”

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Spotlight on virtual banking licenses


Bank Negara’s plan to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

 
BANK Negara’s announcement this week which
stated that it is looking to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

The announcement comes at the same time as Hong Kong’s move to issue three licences of this type to a combination of companies partnering finance firms, namely Standard Chartered, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd and online insurance company ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co.

Five more of such licences in the city are being processed.

In Malaysia, the announcement by Bank Negara is significant also because the central bank has not issued any new banking licences for many years now.

That said, both Hong Kong and Malaysia’s move to encourage pure online banking ventures is very much in line with the fact that fintech innovations are slowly but surely seeping into the daily lives of people globally, providing cheaper and more easily accessible financial services.

The idea of virtual banks – which theoretically means a bank without any physical branches whatsoever – however, is not entirely new.

In fact, many countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted it.

Some have failed, others continue to operate, taking deposits and giving out loans much like traditional banking outfits.

Closer to home, India, China, South Korea and Japan have ventured into this model.

Japan, for instance, went for the zero branch strategy as far back as the 1990s with the setting up of Japan Net Bank.

There have been other Internet banks there since then such as Seven Bank which has been providing financial services via ATMs across 7-Eleven convenience shops in Japan since the early 2000s.

In South Korea, the then-chair of the Financial Services Commission, Yim Jong-yong gave initial approval for the setting up of the country’s first two virtual banks back in 2015.

K Bank was its first, starting operations in April 2017 followed a few months later by kakaobank, which started with some W300 billion (about RM1.077bil) in start-up capital.

To be sure, virtual banks, which primarily target the retail segment including the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have existed even before the concept of fintech – which is basically using technology to provide improved financial services – gained prominence over the last few years.

The rise of fintech in recent times can be attributed to consumers becoming increasingly tech-savvy and more demanding when it comes to convenience on-the-go.

It also stems from the fact that there are millions of individuals who are unbanked or underbanked but who now have access to the Internet.

In China alone, mobile payments run in trillions of yuan.

It is perhaps this increasing savviness that is contributing to regulators the world over wanting to push for more virtual banks and easing guidelines to fit the concept in.

It is noteworthy that within the Asean region, Malaysia is among the first to attempt this virtual bank model.

Timo, Vietnam’s first bank sans any traditional branch, was officially launched in 2016 while nearest neighbour Singapore currently does not have any banks purely of this nature.Even so, Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus has said that the central bank is currently working towards releasing licensing guidelines for such operations only by the end of this year.

She has stressed that discussions with the few parties interested in setting up virtual banks in Malaysia are still at the preliminary stage.

Still, that’s not stopped industry people from raising questions, many of which are valid.

For starters, notwithstanding theoretical definitions, what will be the exact definition of a local virtual bank ?

 What are the rules?

“Who can apply to operate such banks and will these guys be subject to the same rules that apply to traditional banks such as those involving capital requirements and such?” asks one senior banker attached to a regional bank.

While the jury is still out on rules that will apply in Malaysia should the idea materialise, a broad idea on this can be gleaned from the guidelines that have been set out by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

According to the HKMA, firstly, a “virtual bank is defined as a bank which primarily delivers retail banking services through the Internet or other forms of electronic channels instead of physical branches”.

HKMA’s guidelines include rules such as virtual banks having to play an active role in promoting financial inclusion when offering their banking services.

“While virtual banks are not expected to maintain physical branches, they should endeavour to take care of the needs of their target customers, be they individuals or SMEs,” it says, adding that virtual banks should not impose any minimum account balance requirement or low-balance fees on their customers.

In terms of ownership, the HKMA says that because virtual banks will mostly be focused on retail businesses covering a large pool of such clients, “they are expected to operate in the form of a locally-incorporated bank, in line with the established policy of requiring banks that operate significant retail businesses to be locally-incorporated entities”.

It also says that it is generally its policy “that a party which has more than 50% of the share capital of a bank incorporated in Hong Kong should be a bank or a financial institution in good standing and supervised by a recognised authority in Hong Kong or elsewhere”.

While the guidelines cover a lot more, it is worthwhile pointing out that the HKMA is of the view that “virtual banks will be subject to the same set of supervisory requirements applicable to conventional banks”, with some of the rules being changed in line with technological requirements.

It adds that in terms of capital requirement, “virtual banks must maintain adequate capital commensurating with the nature of their operations and the banking risks they are undertaking”.


Noticeable absence of tech players

Interestingly, in the first round of licences given out by the HKMA, there was a noticeable absence of major Chinese tech companies like Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Ant Financial, which many would have thought make obvious choices given their experience in carving out game-changing fintech-centric services especially in their home country of China.

“Mobile payment services offered by the likes of WeChat and Alipay are possible with Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent behind the entire ecosystem, the fact that they were not included raised some eyebrows,” says one Hong Kong-based banking analyst.

In the same vein, Hong Kong has been criticised for not being proactive enough when it comes to encouraging financial start-ups and being overly protective of conventional banks as evident in its fintech sandbox programme of 2016, which was reportedly introduced to help traditional financial institutions try out new technology instead of supporting fresh start-ups.

“Still, a start is better than no start and we are looking forward to when these virtual banks start operating in nine months’ time,” says the analyst.

He adds that as long as security is not an issue, he hopes that virtual banks will be able to provide what traditional banks are “still not good at”, namely personalised customer service and cheaper services.

While it is early days yet in Malaysia, the general feedback is that virtual banks will be good, specifically for consumers who will have more choices.

But this will come at the expense of increased competition within the banking sector.

Analysts in Hong Kong have predicted that about 10% of revenue belonging to traditional banks there will be “at risk” over the next ten years because of the setting up of virtual banks.

Whether or not it will be the same for Malaysian banks remains to be seen.

A lot of this will depend on the guidelines that the central bank plans to set out in the months to come.

By Yvonne Tan The Star

Breaking ground with new banking concept

Backed by Ma: MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Alibaba affiliate
company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender. (Photo: AFP)

(The Star Online/ANN) – DURING the height of the fintech revolution that’s been taking place over the last few years, one prominent banker in Malaysia made an interesting comment during a private dinner.

The banker said that while he welcomes fintech companies into the market, he wasn’t really afraid of losing any significant business to them. What he really feared, if anything, were the technology giants turning on a banking facility for the millions of users they have on their platforms.

“This Facebook Bank, Google Bank or Whatsapp Financial Group,” he quipped in half jest.

The logic is simple: with those platforms even then having had the myriad users globally, they are able to tap that user group to offer financial services.

But banking remains a highly regulated space. Not every technology company will be able to fulfill those criteria or even have such intentions.

Still, there are a number of virtual banks that have sprung up globally.

Here are some of the more notable ones in this part of the region.

China: WeBank

WeBank is China’s first private digital-only bank, launched in early 2015.

It is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings – China’s biggest messaging and social networking company, which is also the operator of WeChat

Besides Tencent, its other backers include investment firms Baiyeyuan and Liye Group.

According to its website, WeBank provides consumer banking services through digital channels, as well as microcredits and other loan products.

The Internet-only lender had turned in a profit one year into operation thanks to surging demand for microloans among blue-collar workers and small entrepreneurs.

In 2017, WeBank made a net profit of 1.4 billion yuan or US$209mil, while its return on equity came in at 19.2%.

Its total lending in that year was nearly twice that of closest rival MyBank for the same period.

A recent stake sale of the bank values the company at US$21bil, making it one of the world’s largest “unicorn” companies.

Banking Tech recently reported that the lender is now eyeing an Australian expansion to compete with payments company Alipay, which is its largest rival.

MyBank

MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender.

Not unlike WeBank, it has a focus on consumer and small and medium-sized enterprises, a sector underserved by traditional banks in China.

It uses credit data from the e-commerce giant’s AliPay product to conduct analysis for loans.

By circumventing human involvement, the bank said it was able to deliver loans to borrowers faster and up to 1,000 times less than it would cost brick-and-mortar banks to do so.

Like WeBank, it turned profitable one year into operations due to its less capital-intensive model.

Ant Financial is reportedly looking to go public in the near future.

India: Digibank

Singapore’s banking giant DBS Bank launched Digibank in April 2016 – a move that has enabled it to penetrate the Indian retail banking market.

Breaking away from conventional banking norms with their onerous form-filling and cumbersome processes, Digibank incorporates a host of ground-breaking technology, from artificial intelligence to biometrics.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta expects the mobile-only bank to break even in three to four years, which according to him is not such a bad deal as compared to the traditional branch model, which needs 15 to 20 years to break even.

Digibank has over 1.5 million customers and it is handling them with 60 people rather than the 400-500 staff members it would normally need under the traditional model. Its cost-to-income ratio is in the low 30s.

Following its Indian venture, DBS went on to launch a similar mobile-led bank in Indonesia where the government expects the country’s digital economy to reach US$130bil or about 12% of its gross domestic product in 2020.

Other Singaporean lenders have also jumped on the bandwagon. United Overseas Bank (UOB) said it would launch “digital banks” for its five key markets in Asean, starting in Thailand. It aims to have three to five million customers in the next five years

Elsewhere, OCBC is also reportedly pursuing a similar idea in Indonesia.

Japan

Established in 2008, Jibun Bank reached profitability in less than five years. The outfit is a joint venture between Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and local mobile network operator, KDDI.

The story goes that instead of competing with each other, the two organisations decided it would make more sense creating a “separate bank” that complement their goals.

The Asian Banker in a case study on Jibun Bank noted that in its first year, the lender had accumulated over 500,000 new customers. By 2015, Jibun Bank’s asset volume surpassed that of Japan’s oldest Internet bank, Japan Net Bank. Asian Banker also noted that the lender’s deposit volume has grown to a size that is comparable to that of a mid-tier regional bank – all of this without the help of a branch footprint.

 South Korea: K-bank and Kakao Bank

The two South Korea’s online-only banks have signed up new customers by the millions since beginning operations in 2017.

Kakao Bank is run by mobile messaging Kakao and Korea Investment Holdings, while K-bank is operated by telco KT.

The authorities there are hoping that K-bank and Kakao Bank would spur growth in a banking industry that has stagnated amid rising credit costs, narrowing interest margins and heavy regulation.

The Financial Times in an October 2017 report wrote that about 300,000 new accounts were opened with Kakao Bank in the 24 hours following its launch in late July. This figure was more than what traditional banks in South Korea got in a year through online channels. And as at end-September that year, it had already garnered 3.9 million users.

The news agency said that Kako Bank users can wire money abroad for just a tenth of typical commission fees.

Its peer K-bank, meanwhile, attracted over half a million users in the few months following its April 2017 launch.

In contrast, international banks operating traditional branch networks in the country were looking at downsizing their branches.

Early this year, Shinhan Financial Group inked a deal with mobile app maker Viva Republica to set up an Internet-only bank, making it the third player in the game.

by gurmeet kaur The Star

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Trump’s tariffs won’t restore U.S. jobs



The sewing lines at Bernhard Furniture Company which where skilled craft
jobs are growing without the help of tariffs, and company officials

Related image

Trump’s tariffs won’t restore U.S. furniture jobs :
https://www.reuters.tv/v/PvWi/2018/09/27/trump-s-tariffs-won-t-restore-u-s-furniture-jobs

In a town where a 30-feet tall chair is the chief landmark, and which is synonymous with a U.S. furniture industry decimated over the years by imports from China, many greet the possibility of tariffs on Chinese goods with a shrug.

No wonder. Of three once bustling Thomasville furniture plants in the city limits, one is being demolished and cleared for parkland, another may become the site of a new police station, and a third is being converted into apartments.

President Donald Trump is threatening to levy tariffs of up to 25 percent on $500 billion of goods imported from China each year, including roughly $20 billion of furniture, as a way to bring back hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost to China and other low-cost competitors.

Yet, the transformation of U.S. industries since China’s emergence as the world’s low-cost producer almost two decades ago means many no longer directly compete with Chinese imports, so tariffs may not translate so easily into more U.S. jobs.

At family-owned Bernhardt Furniture in Lenoir, some 90 miles west of Thomasville, executives say it would take about $30 million in capital investment – some 10 percent of annual sales – to resurrect standard wood furniture lines now mainly made in countries like China and Vietnam.

That is too much to commit based on a policy that a future administration could reverse.

“The theory is you turn (imports) off, the jobs come back. That’s not really true… The buildings don’t exist. The people don’t exist. The machinery does not exist,” to make the sorts of furniture that now gets imported, said Alex Bernhardt Jr., chief executive and the company founder’s great grandson.

What the company needs now, executives say, is the open markets and steady economy that have allowed it to grow its workforce from below 800 at the end of the 2007-2009 recession to almost 1,500 today – partly on the basis of exports to China.

DIFFERENT COMPANY

That growth has been largely driven by demand for more customized, higher end furniture. In expanding, the 129-year-old company has been hiring not only factory workers, but also designers, marketing experts and other professionals.

In all, it is a different firm from what it was three decades ago when it first began dividing product lines between the United States and Asia.

Economists say the same is true across much of U.S. manufacturing. To invest and hire more workers, executives would need certainty, for example, that consumers would prefer U.S.-made products at a potentially higher price. They would need confidence that tariffs would last beyond the Trump administration and that production could not be shifted to other more cost-competitive countries.

Even then, there may be little incentive to go back to old product lines for industries that have changed dramatically because of globalization.

Across the Rust Belt and the former factory towns of the south, the transformation is apparent. In Buffalo, an old steel mill is now a solar panel factory, and a retail goods manufacturer now houses an office and restaurant park. Near Dayton, Ohio, a shuttered GM plant has reopened as a Chinese-owned auto glass company. Abandoned factories throughout North Carolina have landed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of “brownfield” sites that need cleanup.

Some companies are considering moving production from China as a result of the tariffs, but the jobs are unlikely to head home.

Illinois-based CCTY Bearing, for example, said it planned to move U.S.-bound production from Zhenjiang, China, to a new plant near Mumbai in India to keep labor costs down.

JLab Audio’s China-made Bluetooth products are not being taxed yet, but its chief executive Win Cramer had been scouting for suppliers in Vietnam and Mexico.

“I would love to build products onshore, but consumers have proven time and time again that “Made in America” isn’t as valuable a statement as it once was,” Cramer said. “They make decisions based on the cost.”

The price of, say, its Bluetooth earbud would jump from $20 to as much as $50 if it was made in the United States, Cramer said, far more than what tariffs would add to the cost of imports.

To be sure, early reactions suggest that foreign companies that make U.S.-bound goods in China may move some of that production to the United States. Still, countries such as Vietnam may ultimately benefit the most from Trump’s tariffs.

Japanese construction and mining equipment maker Komatsu Ltd < 6301.T > has said it has already shifted some of its production of parts for U.S.-built excavators from China. Part of that production moved to the United States, but some also went to Mexico and Japan.

In South Korea, LG Electronics <066570 .ks=””> and its rival Samsung Electronics <005930 .ks=””> are considering moving parts of U.S.-bound refrigerator and air conditioner production to Mexico, Vietnam or back home, but not to the United States, according to company sources and local media.

STEADY RECOVERY

The responses to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum show how such steps create both winners and losers.

Producers such as U.S. Steel and Century Aluminum have said they will add at least several hundred jobs as a result of the higher prices they can charge.

Mid-Continental Nail, however, laid off 130 workers because of those higher steel prices, and furniture parts maker Leggett & Platt has warned that rising metal prices would prompt it to shift production abroad.

So far, Washington has imposed duties on $250 billion of Chinese imports and Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on all Chinese goods.

Many economists project new tariffs would on balance either slow down hiring or cause job losses in a manufacturing sector where employment has grown by 10 percent over the past eight years without special protection.

(Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Q1AFUW)

The furniture industry, among the hardest hit by Chinese imports, has added 43,000 jobs since its employment hit a low of 350,000 in 2011, helped by the recovering housing market and strong consumer demand.

Industry officials say skilled upholsterers and other workers are hard to find, echoing the Federal Reserve’s concern about the impact of worker shortages on the U.S. economy.

In Thomasville, few expect that tariffs will bring furniture manufacturing back to its heyday, nor does the community need it, says city manager Kelly Craver, whose parents worked in the furniture and textile industries.

Since the recession, Thomasville has become a residential hub for growing nearby cities such as Greensboro and Charlotte. It also has its own mix of manufacturing and white collar jobs.

Mohawk Industries recently expanded its Thomasville laminate flooring facility while the Old Dominion Freight Line transportation firm and the fast-growing Cook Out burger chain have corporate headquarters there.

“We, for the very first time in this city’s existence, are going to have a diversified economy,” Craver said.

By Howard Schneider, Reuters

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Coming recession in 2020? Possibly earlier


Negative rates: Pedestrians walking past the Bank of Japan (BoJ) headquarters in Tokyo. BoJ’s goal remains
at keeping real interest rates as negative as possible, as long as the economy performs. — Bloomberg

IT’S mid-term review time as the US yield curve begins to flatten.

This curve tracks the relationship between interest rates of US government debt obligations. Normally the yield curve is rising, with long-term bonds having yields higher than short-term obligations.

But occasionally the curve inverts, with long bonds yielding less than short Treasury bills – a historical predictor of future recessions and bear markets in stocks. Recently, the curve has become noticeably flatter, with short rates rising and longer yields remaining stagnant. This has led many analysts to think that the yield curve will soon invert.

But that does not mean a recession is imminent. Just returned from an extended visit back to Harvard. Touched base with my mentors and professors at both extremes of the economic spectrum. They are all split on what this flattening really means. In the event it does invert (the gap today being below 0.3%), recession has almost always (over the past 50 years) followed within a year or so. But few see a recession soon on the horizon.

The first half has come and gone. The ongoing transition to more normal conditions continue in the context of a robust US economy; continued progress in the orderly normalisation of US monetary policy; and re-awakened sensitivities to geopolitical and protectionist risks.

There will be higher interest rates, some inflation concerns and trade tariffs coming-on in the context of markets more readily accepting two to three more rate hikes by the Fed in 2018. The prospect of a global trade war makes everyone very cautious.

Once we start down the road of tariff increases and threats of more to come, the dangers of retaliatory miscalculations are real and very scary. Still even an inverted yield curve should not be on top of our worry list under today’s accommodative monetary conditions.

Synchronised pick-up

The world economy benefitted from four drivers of higher growth: the healing process in Europe, re-bound from slowdowns in Brazil, India and Russia; soft landing in China; and pro-growth measures in US.

To persist, Europe needs to do much more. Also, there is hope that recent tariff tensions would eventually lead to fairer and still-free trade which recognises the inter-dependent nature of global supply chains, and show greater willingness to protect intellectual property rights, modernize trade arrangements and reduce non-tariff barriers. Yes, more rate hikes from the Fed are still on the cards. But the same by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of Japan (BOJ) demand trickier manoeuvring.

This is an area that warrants close monitoring since volatility will likely persist. At least for now, fears of Japan-like deflation in US and Europe are effectively gone. But OECD is worried global growth is not yet self-sustaining. It’s strength in 2018 is largely due to monetary and fiscal policy support – and lacking in rising productivity gains and sweeping structural reforms. In Europe, the “clock is ticking”; without reforms, more populist uprisings will appear as the upswing ages and then fades. US inflation is not only returning to the Fed’s 2% target, but also likely to exceed it. In Europe, consumer prices were last still lower than a year ago – below the ECB’s target of just below 2%. Fear of the spectre of deflation has led BOJ to remain cautious about tapering its monetary easing program. Will just have to wait and see.

IMF warns that the world’s US$164 trillion debt pile (at 225% of GDP) is bigger than at the height of the financial crisis a decade ago. One-half was accounted for by US, Japan and China. What’s needed is for US fiscal policy to be recalibrated to bring down the government debt to GDP ratio (80%) and for China to deleverage its US$ 2.6 trillion private debt. There is no sign either is being done which runs the risk of triggering yet another financial crisis.

Growth will falter

Growth in US can slow considerably when the boosts from last year’s tax-cuts in US fades in 2019 and 2020. IMF now warns that US will grow at about one-half the 3% annual pace forecast by the White House over the next 5 years, reflecting the effects of growing massive fiscal deficit and continuing trade imbalance. For US, sluggish productivity remains a key determinant. In 2Q18, GDP picked-up to rise 4.1% (2.2% in 1Q18) the fastest pace in nearly four years, reflecting broad-based momentum.

But worker productivity advanced 1.3% from a year earlier, consistent with the sluggish 1.2% average annual rate in 2007-2017, well below the better than 2% annual average since WWII. Spending by consumers, businesses and government as well as surging exports all appeared solid in 2Q18. The expansion enters its 10th year this month, building on what is already the second longest expansion on record. Faster growth which has helped to drive the unemployment rate to its lowest level in 18 years, fueled quick corporate profit growth.

Median estimates place GDP growth at 2.8% in 2018, 2.4% in 2019 and 1.8% over the long run. But everyone has growth slowing next year because of falling business and consumer sentiment, reflecting trade disputes with China and many US allies, and uncertainty whether rising business investment is sustainable.

The big concern is the economy overheating – already, it is bumping up against capacity constraints as labour markets tighten. Still, the consensus is that the next downturn will not arrive until 2020. Most economists expect 3% inflation over the next year. What worries me most is the deteriorating global political and strategic environment.

Not so much the economic outlook directly. The world is changing too much, too fast.

So much so, the geopolitical situation is getting worse – open warfare between Israel and Iran, the disgraceful state of Palestine, and uncertainties surrounding Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, and lack of leadership in Europe. Trade barriers are causing much anxiety. It is as though what’s put in place since WWII isn’t worth a damn anymore.


Europe and Japan

Latest indications from the Brookings-FT Index for Global Economic Recovery (Tiger) show global growth has peaked and momentum has started to fade. Indeed, financial markets are already reflecting mounting vulnerabilities. With weak economic data in 1H’18, Europe and Japan have since cooled. In late 2017, eurozone was still growing at 3.5%: Germany at 4%, France 3%, Italy 2% and Spain 3.5%. But activity slackened to only 1.2% in early April; even Germany recorded a sharp dip – down to only 1%, reflecting waning monetary easing effects and supply-side constraints. The outlook is for a strong above trend upswing for the rest of the year. OECD now expects GDP growth in 2018 to be 2.2% (2.6% in 2017) and in 2019, 2.1%.

For eurozone, the window for reforms is closing – ranging from the implementation of dual currencies for its members to putting European Parliament in charge of economic policy, including the euro-budget. Japanese GDP shrank 0.1% in 1Q18 despite a rise in capital investment. Household spending unexpectedly fell. Still, recovery is expected to be driven by a weak yen brought about by monetary stimulus (BoJ has been buying assets at US$740 billion a year to drive down long-term interest rates). But underlying inflation is stuck at 0.5%. BoJ’s goal remains at keeping real interest rates (after inflation) as negative as possible, as long as the economy performs. OECD forecasts growth in Japan to be 1.2% in 2018 (1.7% in 2017); the same in 2019.

China and BRICS

Many emerging markets (EMs) are still enjoying momentum from 2017, but there is growing concern about rising debt and vulnerabilities to capital flight as interest rates in US rise. For those recently emerged from recession, viz. Russia, Brazil and South Africa, their urge to return to strong levels of activity remains sluggish.

China and India have fewer concerns for their immediate outlook. Still, they need to reform their economies to help raise living standards to catch up. The main challenges will be to execute particular reforms – not just to the financial system but also to SOEs and local governments, including getting rid of corruption.

China’s GDP rose 6.7% in 2Q’18, the slowest pace since 2016. Retail sales held up rather well as did exports. Still, measures to curb rampant borrowing are biting – investments in infrastructure and manufacturing by SOEs and local governments have since slackened. These efforts, in the midst of headwinds from abroad (especially protectionist tariffs), have led to downgrades in growth for the rest of the year. IMF now forecasts GDP growth in China to average 6.5% in 2018 (6.8% in 2017) and about the same in 2019.

Recent depreciation of China’s currency, the yuan, exposes crucial vulnerabilities within the world’s second-largest economy as it faces escalating trade tensions with the US. The currency posted its biggest ever monthly fall against US$ in June (3.4%) and has since lost more ground. This slide marks a departure for the currency often regarded as an anchor of stability for Asia and other EMs.

As Beijing assesses the options, it finds itself between a rock and a hard place because (i) People’s Bank of China (PBoC) intervention means selling its US dollar stash of reserves – which stood at US$3.11 trillion in June; (ii) it could instead raise domestic interest rates, thereby making the currency more attractive which might help to shore up the yuan. But it also risks weakening an already slowing Chinese economy just as the trans-Pacific trade war starts to bite; and (iii) it could impose stricter controls on China’s capital account which will likely spook overseas funds that have rushed into China’s domestic bond and equity markets this year at an unprecedented rate.

However, to internationalise the yuan, China has to keep fund flows relatively unencumbered. The PBoC has sensibly pledged to keep the RMB “generally stable.” In July, China implemented a mix of tax cuts and greater infrastructure spending citing growing uncertainties, as it ramps up efforts to stimulate demand to counteract a weakening economy.

As for India, I wrote extensively on what’s happening there (my July 2018 column: “India: Chugging Along but Needs More Firepower” refers).

What then are we to do

As I see it, China and China-India centred Asia is now the heart of the world economy. Their steady growth has been a source of stability in an otherwise unsteady world.

Of late, developments in China received more scrutiny than usual because of the context: Chinese stock market has since fallen into bear territory, and a growing trade dispute with the world’s largest economy, US. Despite China’s astonishingly sustained expansion, the economy is widely considered vulnerable because growth in output has been underwritten by an even faster increase in debt.

The nation’s gross debt – both public and private – is now estimated at over 250% of GDP. The worry is not just the volume of debt but its quality. China’s domestic policies encourage high savings.

Those savings, held in banks, have been funneled to companies, especially SOEs. The credit quality of the loans is hard to assess but is likely to be uneven. China has since begun to slowly tighten the credit taps, with even tighter rules on shadow banking and more scrutiny for both local government financing and public-private investment projects.

At the same time, a sharp increase in the number of defaults by corporate issuers has revived anxieties about Chinese debt. In my view, it is the tighter credit conditions and defaults, rather than worries about a trade war, that best explain the recent 22% decline in the Shanghai Composite index from its January highs.

Tightening credit policy is also a compelling explanation for the weak macro-economics. Credit growth fell, and growth in fixed investment followed. This appears to be having some effect on consumer sentiment as well.

No doubt, Trump’s tariffs on US$50bil of Chinese imports (and threatens US$200bil more) will have a direct (but unlikely to be catastrophic) impact on growth. But China is now an investment-led rather than an export-led economy.

Still, it is the knock-on effects that are most feared. If the escalation of hostilities leads to a reduction in foreign direct investment in China, the long-term impact could be significant. True, China may be facing a delicate moment economically.

But given China’s deepening role in the world economy, any pain that the US manages to inflict on it would be quickly shared with the US and the broader world – at a moment when Europe’s economy is slowing, and many EMs looking unstable.

On the whole, China’s economy will remain strong and resilient. Whatever happens, I think this won’t change the Chinese situation much.


By Lin See-yan – what are we to do?

Former banker Tan Sri Lin See-Yan is the author of The Global Economy in  Turbulent Times (Wiley, 2015) and Turbulence in Trying Times (Pearson, 2017). Feedback is most welcome.

 

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Looking East policy with a twist to China ?


 

Japan may have led Malaysia’s Look East policy of yore, but the stakes are heavily tipped in China’s favour now as the leader of the new world order.

PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) has announced that Malaysia is renewing, or to be more precise, upgrading the Look East policy he adopted as a foreign policy 30 years ago.

It was unveiled after he came to power in 1981 and now, as the premier for the second time, he has picked up the pieces of his past and repackaged it.

His inclination to Japan then was understandable since the country was the rising star of Asia.

Although Look East included South Korea and Taiwan, it basically meant Japan.

There were sound reasons to why Dr Mahathir wanted Malaysia to emulate some of the East Asian characteristics, both economically and ethically.

I think any Malaysian who has visited Japan can vouch for the people’s work ethic, honesty, orderliness, politeness, punctuality, cleanliness, precision, dedication to excellence, innovation and good manners.

Malaysians in Japan feel safe – they rarely get cheated despite being tourists, which is more than can be said for many countries.

Personally, Japan remains my No. 1 holiday destination. Like Dr Mahathir, I have the highest admiration for the Japanese. They are certainly exemplary, and that is indisputable.

Dr Mahathir has continued to have high regard for the Japanese and history seems to be repeating itself.

His Look East Policy shocked and confused the Malaysian foreign ministry, with many officials viewing it as undefined and vague.

The Ministry being left in the dark about the Prime Minister’s move led to it being unaware of how to implement the policy.

Fast forward to 2018. It’s likely that his new batch of ministers were also caught off guard with the revival of the Look East policy, more so when the Foreign Minister has yet to be installed.

Without doubt, Japan is an important partner to Malaysia because we have more than six decades’ ties with the country.

In 2016, Japan ranked Malaysia as its fourth-largest trading partner with bilateral trade standing at RM120bil.The strong trade and investment relations between the nations are also underpinned by the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

The latest Malaysia-Japan collaboration includes the Bukit Bintang City Centre project, which has managed to attract the leading real estate group in the Land of the Rising Sun, Mitsui Fudisan Co Ltd, to invest in what will be the mega project’s RM1.6bil retail mall.

But Dr Mahathir’s choice of his first foreign visit to Japan as PM has raised many eyebrows. Perhaps it was just the coincidental timing of the annual Nikkei Conference, which he attends without fail.

I was told that his office had informed the Chinese Embassy here, as a matter of courtesy, to avoid reading into the matter, given the long, bitter rivalry between the two nations.

Dr Mahathir was also visiting Japan after a series of announcements, calling for the review, if not cancellation or postponement, of several mega Chinese-driven projects in Malaysia.

The method of repayments with China, involving huge amounts of money, has, of course, been called into question and condemned. One critic even described the terms as “strange.”

It’s apparent the situation is delicate now, and we need to tread carefully because we are dealing with a global leader.


Powerful alliance

The PM admitted that his government was “dealing with a very powerful country. As such, matters affecting both parties will require friendly discussions”.

Former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin also said that Malaysia will carefully handle business contracts with China made by the previous administration.

In an interview with The Star, Daim admitted that the economic superpower is a friend to Malaysia.

“China is very important to us,” the Council of Eminent Persons spokesman said.

“We enjoy very close relations, but unfortunately, under the previous administration, a lot of China contracts are tainted, difficult to understand and the terms are one-sided,” said Daim.

There is plenty at stake here. The world has also changed, and Malaysia needs to be mindful of its diplomatic move. These are sensitive times, and to the Chinese, the issue of “face” is an important one.

Whether we like it or not, the whole world is looking towards China because this is where the fundamental building blocks of a future global digital economic model is being curated and built.

Japan’s economy, on the other hand, has been in regression over the last two decades, and open data is easily available to prove this point. Just google it.

That aside, China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner in Asean, especially after Malaysia-China bilateral transactions rose as much as 28% to RM139.2bil in 2017’s first half.

The Chinese government has been very positive with bilateral relations with Malaysia over the years, and this great foundation is what we must build on. It doesn’t matter who the Malaysian Prime Minister is now.

With Ali Baba and Tencent coming to Malaysia, SMEs – which comprise more than 95% of Malaysian business entities – exporting to China will be a huge foreign trade opportunity.

Of all the Asean nations, Malaysia has the largest pool of businessmen who speak the relevant Chinese dialects and understand the culture. But it’s not just the Malaysian Chinese businessmen who stand to benefit, but other races too.

Let’s not forget that China will be under steady stewardship for the coming decade since Xi Jinping has strengthened his position as the premier. And with Dr Mahathir rightfully announcing that Malaysia will be a neutral country, this will mean a stable foreign policy which is crucial for the rules of engagement.

The same can’t be said of Japan, though, as it has a history of turbulent domestic politics, with frequent changes in leadership.

Truth be told, China has outperformed Japan. The republic has become a model of socio-economic reform that connects, not only the past with the present, but more importantly, can rewrite the history of human development into our common future.

The One Belt, One Road initiative is the future. It was also reported that China has overtaken Japan in global patent applications filed in 2017 and is closing in on the United States, the long-standing leader, the World Intellectual Property Organization said in a report.

With 48,882 filings, up 13.4% from a year earlier, Chinese entities came closer to their American counterparts, which filed 56,624 applications. Japanese applicants ranked third with 48,208 demands for patents, up 6.6% from a year ago, the report, released Wednesday, revealed. According to the Geneva-based institution, China will likely overtake the US as the world’s largest patent applicant within three years.

“This rapid rise in Chinese use of the international patent system shows that innovators there are increasingly looking outward, seeking to spread their original ideas into new markets as the Chinese economy continues its rapid transformation,” WIPO director-general Francis Gurry said.

The overall filings in 2017 were 243,500, up 4.5% from a year earlier.

Data indicates that China and Japan were key drivers of the surge in applications.

“This is part of a larger shift in the geography of innovation, with half of all international patent applications now originating in East Asia,” Gurry reportedly said.

Two Chinese firms topped the list, led by Huawei Technologies Co with 4,024 patent applications and ZTE Corp with 2,965 submissions. Intel Corp of the United States is placed third with 2,637 filings, followed by Mitsubishi Electric Corp with 2,521.

China has also declared its ambition to equal the US in its AI capability by 2020 and to be number one in the world by 2030.

If there is a single country to take a cue from, then it can only be China. Look at its growth since 1957, 1967, 1987, 1997 and 2017, and see the strides it has made in the shortest time. Remember, China was once poor and backwards. Many Malaysian Chinese used to send money back to their families in China, especially in 1950s and 1960s, and even 1970s. But look where the country is now.

Malaysia is in pole position to take advantage since our neighbour Singapore has always been perceived to be too US-centric. It will be a waste if we let politics get in the way, as no one can dispute that China now plays a respected and vital role.

Anyone can tell that China will reshape the new world order. It is the new Middle Kingdom and is the country to look to.

And Dr Mahathir should pick up on this because at the end of his trip to Japan, the press bombarded him with the predictable and nagging question – when will he be visiting China?

By Wong Chun Wai On The Beat

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

 
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