President Xi’s Blockchain Push Triggers Frenzy in China Technology Stocks

Blockchain endorsement: Xi said China will increase investment in blockchain technology after chairing a study session last week on developing the industry, state-owned Xinhua reported.— AP 

  • Shenzhen tech index surges 5.3%, the most in eight months

  • Investors urge companies to develop blockchain businesses

BEIJING: Chinese investors snapped up every blockchain-related stock in sight after President Xi Jinping said Beijing wants to speed up development of the technology.

The gains were widespread yesterday, with Insigma Technology Co and Sinodata Co among more than 60 tech shares surging by the daily limit in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

The excitement coincided with a 26% rally in Bitcoin, and also boosted stocks with more tenuous connections to blockchain, like baby-food producer Beingmate Co and selfie-app developer Meitu Inc.

Xi said China will increase investment in blockchain technology after chairing a study session last week on developing the industry, state-owned Xinhua reported late last Friday.

The market reaction shows how far an endorsement from Xi can go in China, where high-level officials yesterday began their first major policy meeting since early 2018.

“Most of these companies, especially those that are just beginning to state their connection with blockchain today, are trying to take advantage of the hype, ” said Li Shiyu, fund manager at Guangdong Xiaoyu Investment Management Co. “It shows how much excitement can be triggered by something stressed as a priority by the top man himself.”

Xi Jinping comments spark rally in China technology stocks

The Shenzhen Information Technology Index closed 5.3% higher yesterday, its biggest advance in eight months.

Hundsun Technologies Inc, Easysight Supply Chain Management Co, YGSOFT Inc and dozens more companies with officially registered blockchain businesses rose by the 10% limit.

In Hong Kong, traders singled out Meitu due to its plans for an encrypted user-identification system.

The shares surged as much as 30%. Pantronics Holdings Ltd – which earlier this month said it will change its name to “Huobi Technology”, a reference to a digital currency exchange – rallied as much as 67%.

American depositary receipts of Chinese blockchain companies also surged last Friday.

Investors pressured other firms to jump on the blockchain hype, using an online Q&A platform to submit thousands of questions on their plans to use the technology.

“Please proactively make expansion plans in blockchain to jump on state policies – doing so would be the best reward to investors, ” urged one shareholder of development-store operator Hunan Friendship & Apollo Commercial Co. — Bloomberg

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Mega trends EAC must address

THE government is to be congratulated for establishing the new Economic Action Council that will give a better sense of direction and priorities for the nation to overcome the short-term economic challenges, such as rising cost of living, cost of doing business, restoring investor confidence and promoting sustainable economic recovery.

The Council should move with a sense of urgency. Its composition is balanced with a cross-section of representation, including from the orang asli community and consumer associations, which is praiseworthy as it does not just represent business interests. The presence of distinguished economists is also reassuring.

But I propose that the EAC also develops a longer term National Economic Strategy. To move forward, we need to identify the key mega trends that will impact on the nation in the next five to 10 years and then develop a comprehensive and holistic national strategy to address them.

I have identified here 10 strategic shifts or mega trends that need to be addressed.

1. On the international scene, we see a shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, requiring nations to adopt a geo-strategic response. This can be seen from Brexit and the US-China trade war. Geo-economics, including the control over economic assets such as oil and gas, will have a greater impact on international diplomacy. Increasingly, we will see economic and trade diplomacy becoming more important than political diplomacy to maintain global peace, stability and prosperity. We need to be able to step up to this level to analyse and strategise our response to geo-economic and geo-strategic challenges.

2. We also see a shift in the global centre of gravity from West to East with the rise of China and re-emergence of Japan as well as the growth of India and Korea. We need to identify a strategy to succeed in enlarging our presence in these markets and create new opportunities for our entrepreneurs and SMEs in China and Japan.

3. The world is also witnessing a rapid technological shift towards digital disruption and the Fourth Industrial Revolution with growing interest and applications in artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things. Big Data can be a strategic competitive advantage. The impact of drones and driverless vehicles will make a big impact on society. What is our national strategy to deal with these new technological advances? Hopefully, the EAC will also develop a strategic game plan to deal with these challenges and opportunities.

4. We also see an eco-sustainability shift with growing concern over climate change. This will drive demand for green technology and clean energy. We have a dynamic Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister. More must respond to support this ministry and its institutions. We need to embrace clean energy faster and more comprehensively.

5. Demographic shift will lead to an ageing society and a hollowing out of the demographic middle where we will have more aged elderly and younger cohorts below 30 but fewer of the middle-aged. It has been estimated that 20% of our population will be above 60 by 2040. Hence, we need new strategies and action plans to deal with the changing demographics.

6. Consumer shift will see the rise of e-commerce as we move from bricks to clicks. The rise of online business and e-commerce will not only impact on retail business but also on traditional banking, education and healthcare with the risk of fintech (financial technology), online learning and distance education, and telemedicine (pic). We need to embrace and adapt to these trends.

7. Globally, we also see a political shift from liberalism to the emergence of the right. The rightward shift led to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and is also partly the cause of Brexit. Is this era the end of liberalism? What can we do to bring people back to the centre? This trend has also led to a consolidation of the Malay right-wing with the strengthening ties between Umno and PAS. While the immediate focus of the EAC is economic, it also needs a strategy to deal with this phenomenon as it will impact on race relations and religious harmony, which are so essential for peace and stability to facilitate business and economic growth.

8. A shift in wealth and income has caused growing inequalities. The income gap between the highest earning population and the bottom 20% has grown. The income gap and inequalities can destabilise peace and stability. New thinking and new strategies need to be adopted to overcome the growing inequalities in our society.

9. Urbanisation shift arising from continued rural-urban migration will also cause urban poverty to rise. Urban poverty is a challenge that must be urgently tackled. The urban poor is a microcosm of Malaysian society as it comprises all ethnic groups. The rising cost of living affecting the urban poor needs to be prioritised.

10. A freedom shift is very evident after the 14th General Election with Malaysians feeling more free. This is good as it will lead to stronger support and protection of human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

I believe the above 10 strategic shifts and key challenges are important priorities the government and the people must work on together.

We should have new policies to address these challenges. In formulating new policies, it is important to focus on the 4Cs – consistency, clarity, certainty and coherence.

The new Malaysia also needs the 3Is – integrity, inclusiveness and innovation. Old problems need new innovative solutions and new problems also need new ideas to resolve.

We should work together to address the above key challenges. We need to come together as a nation seeking national reconciliation and unity.

With a common purpose, we can move forward with renewed determination to build a new Malaysia that is sustainable and not a flash in the pan.

As the government has already established the EAC, I propose that it should also consider establishing a National Strategy Commission to plan future scenarios for the nation as well as effective strategies to overcome them.

A National Strategy Initiative should also be established to carry out in-depth Futures Studies for the country.


Kingsley Strategic Institute | Where Leaders Meet




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Recession? No, not this year 2019


THE influential International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted slower global growth this year on the back of financial volatility and the trade war between the United States and China.

Turkey and Argentina are expected to experience deep recessions this year before recovering next year.

China, apart from fighting the trade war, is also experiencing its slowest quarterly growth since the 1990s, sending ripples across Asia. In the last quarter of 2018, China recorded an economic growth of 6.4%, which is the third consecutive quarter of slowing growth.

This has led to fears of China’s economy going into a hard landing and it possibly being the catalyst to spark global economic turmoil.

After all, it has been more than 10 years since the world witnessed the last recession in 2008 that was caused by a financial crisis in the US. If we are to believe the 10 to 12-year economic turmoil cycle, the next downturn is already due.

However, the economic data so far does not seem to suggest that the world will go into a recession or tailspin this year.

The bigger worry is what would happen next year.

The narrowing spread between the two-year and 10-year US Treasury papers would lead to banks being more selective in their lending. It is already happening in the US.

The impact is likely to be profound next year. When banks are more selective in lending, eventually the economy will grind to a halt.

But that is the likely scenario next year, assuming there is no fresh impetus to spur global growth.

At the moment, there is a significant amount of asset price depression due to slowing demand. The reason is generally because of the slower growth in China and the trade war.

China has fuelled demand for almost everything in the last few years. Companies and individuals from China drove up the prices of everything – from property and valuations of companies to commodities.

China itself is experiencing a slowing economy and the government has restricted the outflow of funds. Its overall debt is estimated at 300% of gross domestic product and banks are reluctant to lend to private companies for fear of defaults.

China’s manufacturing sector has slowed down because of the trade war. Companies are not prepared to expand because they fear the tariffs imposed by the US.

Nevertheless, the world’s second-largest economy is still growing, albeit at a slower pace. A growth rate of 6.4% per quarter is still commendable, although it is far from the 12% quarterly economic growth it recorded in 2011-2012.

The US, which is the world’s largest economy, is also facing slower growth this year. The Federal Reserve has predicted a slower economic growth of 2.3% in 2019 compared to the 3.1% the country recorded last year.

The ongoing US government shutdown is not going to make things easy.

As for Europe, the European Central Bank (ECB) has warned of a slowdown this year. The warning came just six weeks after the ECB eased off on its bond-buying programme that was designed to reflate the economy.

Business sentiments on Germany, which is a barometer of what happens to the rest of Europe, is at the lowest.

As for Malaysia, the country is going through an economic transition of sorts following the change in government. Government spending has traditionally been the driver of the domestic economy when global growth slows.

The new government has cut back on spending, which is a necessary evil, considering that many of the projects awarded previously were inflated. Generally, the cost of most projects is to be shaved by at least 10% – and some by up to 50%.

However, the projects with revised costs have not got off the ground yet and contractors have not been paid their dues. For instance, contractors in the LRT 3 project had complained of not getting payments for work done a year ago.

Fortunately, a new contract for the LRT 3 has been signed. Hopefully, the contractors will be paid their dues speedily and work recommences on the ground fast.

The volatile oil prices are not helping improve revenue for the government.

Domestic demand is still growing, although people complain of their income levels not growing. This is because companies as a whole are also not doing as well as in previous years.

Nevertheless, even the most pessimistic of economist is looking at Malaysia chalking up a growth rate of more than 4.5% this year, which is respectable. The official forecast is 4.9%.

One of the reasons for the optimism is that they feel government revenue is expected to be much higher than expected, giving it the flexibility to push spending if the global economic scenario takes a turn for the worse.

According to the Treasury report for 2019, federal government revenue is to come in at about RM261bil, which is 10.7% higher than in 2018.

The amount is likely to be much higher, allowing the government the option to put more money in the hands of the people. It also allows the government to reduce corporate taxes, a move that would draw in investments.

Malaysia has a new government in place. What investors are looking for are signs of where all the extra revenue earned will go. They are also looking for the next growth catalyst.

The trade war and financial volatility is causing structural shifts in the global economy. It is impacting China, the US and Europe.

Eventually, the global crunch will come, but it is not likely to happen this year.

By m. shanmugam


China demands U.S. to drop Huawei exec’s extradition as the latter don’t have law on their side

Huawei CFO has strong arguments in extradition case: Canadian diplomat

 FM urges Canada to make right choice 

China urged Canada to “make the right choice” on Thursday, after Canada’s ambassador to China John McCallum reportedly said the Huawei executive arrested in Vancouver at the request of the US has a strong case to fight extradition.

“Any one with normal judgment can see the nature of the incident, and we hope the Canadian side makes the right choice and not to ‘pull someone’s chestnuts out of the fire,'” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Thursday.

Hua’s remark comes after McCallum told reporters earlier this week that Huawei’s chief finance officer Meng Wanzhou has a “strong case” to fight an extradition request.

“I think she has quite good arguments on her side,” said McCallum, CNN reported.

“One, political involvement by comments from US President Donald Trump in her case. Two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case; and three, there’s the issue of Iran sanctions which are involved in her case, and Canada did not sign on to these sanctions.”

Echoing McCallum, Huang Feng, director of Beijing Normal University’s Institute for International Criminal Law, noted that the US extradition request has no merit as it does not follow the basic extradition principle of double criminality.

Double criminality states that a suspect could be extradited only if similar laws one breaks exist in the extraditing country. However, Canada has no such sanctions, said Huang.

Analysts stressed that even if the US files an extradition request at the last minute, it does not mean Meng would be extradited to the US, noting that every side has to weight their choice.

Such a request has to be reviewed and approved by Canada’s judicial department and local court, and though Canada’s judicial departments are unlikely to refuse the extradition, Huawei’s legal teams could exhaust every means of judicial remedy in Canada to stop the extradition.

The US government alleges that Meng helped Huawei dodge US sanctions on Iran and has indicated it will file a formal extradition request by the January 30 deadline, CNN reported Thursday.

Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University’s Center for American Studies, told the Global Times that if Canada does agree to extradite Meng to the US in the worst scenario, bilateral ties will face unprecedented challenges.

The extradition will cause “downgraded diplomatic relations” between China and Canada, Wu said.

It will set a precedent of enterprises facing the harshest legal punishment for alleged misconduct they are charged of in a foreign country, said Wu.

US enterprises may face similar consequences in China, he said.

The current status of China-Canada relations does have a huge impact on bilateral exchanges and cooperation, but China is not responsible for that, Hua said.

The Canadian side has to take China’s concerns seriously and correct its mistakes to change the situation, she said.

US extradition mirrors Iran sanctions: just don’t have law on their side’ on Huawei case 

The US request to extradite Huaiwei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou goes against international law and mirrors its unilateral sanctions on Iran, which is opposed by the international community, Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The US extradition request mirrors US sanctions on Iran. However, as everyone knows, Huawei has repeatedly stated its compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of the countries in which it operates, said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hua noted that China opposes unilateral US sanctions against Iran outside the UN Security Council framework. The sanctions are not in conformity with international law and have met with international opposition, including US ally Canada,she said.

Hua’s comments came after the US Justice Department said on Tuesday it would continue to pursue the extradition of Meng and would meet all deadlines set by the US-Canada Extradition Treaty, Reuters reported, citing a statement released by US Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi.

Huang Feng, director of Beijing Normal University’s Institute for International Criminal Law, told the Global Times this accusation is farfetched because she was allegedly accused of bank fraud at HSBC, a UK-based banking giant, not a US one, and Meng’s activities were outside the US.

Canada’s Department of Justice said an individual can be extradited if the alleged activity in question is recognized as a criminal in both countries.

Huang said that the extradition request cannot be passed by Canada unless the US offers solid evidence to prove that Meng violated the laws of Canada and the US.

The US action goes against international law and is unjustified, said Hua, noting that it is part of the country’s political agenda to bully Chinese hi-tech firms and contain China’s rightful development.

Huang also noted he found it strange that the Canadian ambassador announced the US request before the US formally send its extradition request. “Normally, none would publish relevant information unless it’s formalized. So it seems like Canada is bluffing.”

Ren Zhengfei, Meng’s father and Huawei founder, said in an interview with foreign media on January 15, “I trust that the legal systems of Canada and the United States are open, just, and fair, and will reach a just conclusion,” Ren said, according to a transcript Huawei released to media.

Meng case to further complicate China-Canada-US ties

Editor’s Note:

The US has reportedly said to formally seek extradition of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. Since Meng was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver, the deadline for the US to file a formal extradition request is 30 January, 60 days after the arrest. What is the implication of Washington’s move? How will it influence China-US-Canada relations? Global Times sought the opinion of two experts on the issue.

Li Haidong, professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University

US President Donald Trump has been deeply troubled by the government shutdown and the Russiagate investigation

As the deadline nears, Washington may be too busy coping with the shutdown chaos to consider Meng’s case and make the formal extradition request. Ottawa is urging Washington to take the action.

Extradition is a strict cooperative law enforcement process between two jurisdictions. The US’ filing a request does not mean that Canada must immediately send Meng to the US. Canada has to conduct a judicial review procedure to weigh the request, during which Meng’s appeal will also be taken into account.

At least in the legal sense, if Meng’s appeal is credible and convincing enough, there is a good chance that Ottawa would hesitate to transfer her to Washington.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that Meng’s case is political in the garb of a legal procedure. If law is the only factor to be considered, I believe Meng will win the lawsuit; but when the political factors come into play, there would be increased uncertainty.

Meng’s case is a long-running battle. As long as it is not resolved, it would be tough to iron out China-US-Canada relations.

Washington is unwilling to see any of its allies strengthening relations with Beijing, but China-Canada ties should not be affected by the Meng incident. Canada should abandon its role as a US puppet to sully China’s image. The right thing for Ottawa to do is to immediately correct the mistake.

Chen Hongqiao, researcher at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

Washington tends to make important decisions at the eleventh hour. It is used to taking a wait-and-see approach toward the two or more sides of the game, and then determine what measures to take.

In Meng’s case, the US has its own strategic requirement. It needs to observe the interaction between China and Canada to make up its mind. If China takes a tough stance, the US would act prudently. If Canada requires support, the US will provide it.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the US on January 30 and 31 for the next round of US-China trade negotiations. The US may proceed to file a formal extradition request for Meng just days before Liu’s visit as a leverage to exert pressure on Beijing to pursue its interests in the trade talks. But the US side will not bring it up during the negotiations with Beijing.

According to Reuters, US President Donald Trump stated he would intervene in the Justice Department case against Meng if it is in US national security interest and US-China trade talks. His words signal that before Meng is extradited, he could apply the president’s diplomatic prerogative to intervene. The US has a system of separation of powers and its judiciary branch is independent. If Meng is extradited to the US, it would be difficult for Trump to exercise his influence.

Canada claims to be a country with the rule of law, and will deal with the US request based on laws and will not hand over Meng without careful consideration. In fact, Ottawa has been disappointed with Washington, complaining that the US is competing with China at the expense of Canada. On the surface, Meng’s incident is a legal issue, but politics and diplomacy play an important role.

Prepare for protracted game over Meng

The US Department of Justice confirmed on Tuesday that it will “meet all deadlines” to seek extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, signaling an extraordinarily high probability of the US filing a formal extradition request before January 30.

Washington’s move will undoubtedly further intensify the dispute between the US and China over Meng’s case. China must not bear any illusion and should prepare for more complicated games.

The Chinese government and media should continue to disclose and condemn that Washington and Ottawa have violated the basic legal spirit. Their sophistry must bear diplomatic and public pressure, and not to be left unimpeded in the international arena, as if Huawei did commit serious crimes.

Arresting Meng is obviously part of the US actions to crack down on Huawei. Anyone with a brain can clearly see Washington’s intention to stop rising Chinese high-tech companies in the name of the law.

One thing should be made very clear: If Ottawa successfully assists Washington in the extradition of Meng, Beijing will retaliate against both of them without doubt.

The US’ official request for extradition does not mean an immediate transfer of Meng. The Canadian court will then have a month to hear the US evidence and weigh the request before making judgment. Meng can also defend herself and appeal. This process may last a few months, or even years.

As a private company, Huawei is incapable of confronting the US and Canada’s national system, but it can do its best to prolong the extradition process at most.

There has been a political purpose from the very beginning when news of Meng’s case broke. Since Washington and Ottawa have vowed to declare that this is a 100 percent legal procedure, this political persecution must be strictly tested by their legal system.

Ottawa is stuck in the middle of Washington and Beijing, and involved in the whirlpool of geopolitical disputes. Being a US puppet is not easy. Canada may realize that it bears the blame for its ally. Its emphasis on acting by law is only a self-spiritual support in the current predicament.

Canadian public opinion is sensitive to any evidence of political persecution in this case, which can provide a potential favorable factor for Meng’s defense and appeal.

Canada is a legal state under normal circumstances, and especially attaches importance to procedures and evidence. Although disguised as legal procedure, Meng’s case, a case of injustice, is bound to have loopholes. Huawei has already shown its confidence in the upcoming litigation process.

China-US ties may also undergo certain subtle changes at any time which might dilute US political motives for persecuting Meng. We should never abandon such hope.

Meng’s case has set an execrable precedent. Beijing’s reaction will shape the world’s understanding of China’s national strength and will. Beijing must not be furious or cowardly.

We should take corresponding actions step by step in resolute and orderly manner, and show the world that Chinese are with reason and with restraint.

Any countries and forces that persecute Chinese citizens and infringe on China’s interests will pay a heavy price. Global Times

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Resignation reveals political interference

Ottawa is now as sensitive as a frightened bird. A few words by the ambassador should not have posed any impact on court decisions. Nonetheless, judging from the reactions of many politicians and journalists in Canada, McCallum’s remarks are like a dreadful monster.

 Canadian envoy’s apology shows ‘political correctness’ subverts rule of law

Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum admitted on Thursday that he misspoke on the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by suggesting that she had a strong case to fight extradition to the US.

5G competition a new arms race?

It’s hard to accurately understand the potential of 5G technology and its significance nowadays. More imagination should be encouraged. However, referring to 5G competition as an arms race and attaching so much importance to the dominance of the technology is typical American thinking.

Huawei unveils core 5G chipset, secured 30 5G commercial contracts worldwide 

China’s Huawei Technologies launched the world’s first core chip specifically designed for 5G base stations on Thursday in Beijing, securing its leading position for 5G deployments in spite of political pressure.

The Point: Is a Chinese-made subway new victim of espionage hysteria?

Malaysian Securities Commission to weed out virtual scams

SC innovation, digital and strategy executive director Chin Wei Min said those who have identified themselves to the commission can operate up to March 1. “Even if they don’t want to be in this business anymore, whatever they are holding, whether it’s money, crypto assets or digital assets, should be returned to their clients. Otherwise, we will take action.
KUALA LUMPUR: All companies engaging in digital assets will have to make themselves known to the Securities Commission (SC) by Friday, even if they have decided not to carry on once the regulatory framework comes into force.

This includes operators who are not registered with Bank Negara under the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism – digital currencies (sector six) and those operating “underground”.

The SC will reserve the right to take action against those who fail to identify themselves by Friday on grounds of breaching the securities law.

SC innovation, digital and strategy executive director Chin Wei Min said those who have identified themselves to the commission can operate up to March 1.

“Even if they don’t want to be in this business anymore, whatever they are holding, whether it’s money, crypto assets or digital assets, should be returned to their clients. Otherwise, we will take action.

“The reason we also allow people to continue with their withdrawals and sell down is to ensure that there is an orderly market.

“The last thing we want is to cause confusion, and hopefully, there are no untoward fraudulent activities that people will capitalise on in this transition period and take advantage of investors,” he told a media briefing here yesterday.

While the regulation does not affect operators who are not incorporated in Malaysia, the SC can still take action against them under the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 if the products are marketed, sold, or its operations exist in Malaysia.

Operators who identify themselves to the SC must state their intent, whether they want to resume their activities, of which certain obligations have to be met, or whether they want to wind down their business.

The SC will put up a list of operators and companies that have registered and received a letter from the commission for investors to check if their monies are with legitimate sources.

Chin also reiterated that operators are not allowed to accept new investors, list new products or conduct any sales and marketing activities during this period.

A statement by the SC last Thursday said platform operators would not be allowed to accept new investors and are only allowed to facilitate the withdrawal or transfer of client assets with the written instruction of investors.

They are also not allowed to conduct any initial coin offerings (ICOs) without prior authorisation.

Chin called on all ongoing ICOs to cease activities and the monies or digital assets to be returned to investors until the operators apply for authorisation and after they understand the SC requirements.

The guidelines are expected to be released by the end of the first quarter this year.

“If you are looking at the ones that are out there currently, the standards of the white paper are of low quality. It is important that this falls under regulated activity.

“We recognise that this is an alternative fundraising avenue. The idea here is to allow us to take out all the scams and fraudulent activities and at the same time, provide a platform for our early stage entrepreneurs to raise money,” said Chin, adding that the SC did not want people to take advantage of this as investors are pumping in money on the other end.

This is a high-risk investment and Chin also hinted that there could be a certain threshold for investors.

The Capital Markets and Services (prescription of securities) (digital currency and digital token) order 2019, which kicked in last Tuesday, will see those operating unauthorised ICOs or digital asset exchanges facing up to a 10-year jail term and up to a RM10mil fine.

The Finance Ministry said it viewed digital assets as well as its underlying blockchain technologies as having the potential to bring about innovation in both old and new industries.

By royce tan The Star

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A whole new world – China luring talents from Malaysia & Singapore with lucrative salary

THE pull of the Chinese entertainment market is so great at the moment, actors from all over – including Malaysia and Singapore – are being drawn there.

There is a lot of money being spent in China, which broadly translates to more working opportunities as well as the potential for higher salaries.

According to London-based analyst IHS Markit, it is the world’s second biggest television market after the United States, as the country spent more than US$10.9bil (RM45bil) on TV programming in 2017.

China is also set to be the world’s largest film market by 2020, with its domestic theatrical revenue estimated to reach more than US$10bil (RM41bil) by then, according to reports.

Malaysia-born actress Tong Bingyu, 35, revealed that her pay for working on a single television drama series in China was the equivalent of a year’s salary in Singapore.

The former Mediacorp star, who used to go by the name Chris Tong and who had quit the Singapore company early last year, had previously claimed that was how much she was paid for her appearance on the upcoming Chinese TV period drama series One Boat One World.

She sounds hesitant when pressed, however. In a telephone interview recently, the 35-yearold says in Mandarin: “It’s true that it is possible to get a lot more money in China. The market there is huge and if you get picked for big projects, you can be well compensated.

“But I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that it’s easy money. Just because you pack up and move to China doesn’t mean you will be rich. It also depends a lot on luck and whom you know.”

Her stroke of luck came four years ago when she met a Chinese producer from popular TV channel Hunan Television through a good friend.

That producer eventually helped set her up for acting gigs in China.

Besides One Boat One World, Tong also snagged a role in the wuxia drama The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber, which is based on Louis Cha’s novel of the same name.

Tong says of the producer: “She gave me so much solid advice. She pointed out very frankly that I’m not that young anymore and that I should diversify.”

Which is why Tong decided to try her hand at producing as well.

Currently, she is busy working as a producer on the Chinese action spy movie Zhi Sheng Si Yu Du Wai (Beyond Life And Death), which boasts a budget of 300mil yuan (RM182mil).

She was roped in after she met famed Hong Kong producer Manfred Wong, who is also behind the film.

Tong, who is managed by her Malaysian husband Kee Kai Loon, 40, says: “It’s stressful because I’m so new to this job, but it has also been very exciting. I’m suddenly asking questions like, ‘How much does this cost? What will it look like?’

“When I was at Mediacorp, I was such a passive person – I just went to work to act.”

The film, which she describes as an explosive actioner in the vein of China’s hit war films Operation Red Sea (2018) and Wolf Warrior (2015), is slated for release later this year.

Coming up, she will also produce a Chinese Web series, for which she declines to reveal the details.

When she was in Singapore, the actress played the lead in Mandarin TV series such as family drama Mightiest Mother-In-Law (2017) and nursing drama The Caregivers (2014).

“I will unlikely get the same star status as an actress in China and that’s OK. The reality is there are so many younger and more beautiful actresses who have been working in China for much longer than I have,” says Tong, who has been based out of Beijing for the past two years.

“I just take every day there as an opportunity to learn new things. Besides, now that I’m doing the producing thing, I realise that I’m loving it. If all goes well, I might be a producer full-time in the future.”

– By Yip Wai Yee, The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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