By Tongyu Zhang
In June 2015, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the Notice on Removing Restriction on Foreign Equity Ratios in Online Data Processing and Transaction Processing Business (Operating e-commerce), which allows foreign investors to hold up to 100 percent equity in an e-commerce company. However, it was not until one year later that the first wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE), Heiwado (China) Co., Ltd, a Japanese company, obtained an operational internet content provider (ICP) license from the MIIT. While the Chinese government provides considerable policy support to the e-commerce sector, the specific definition of e-commerce is vague and can lead to a series of problems in practice. For instance, relevant authorities hold a more reluctant attitude towards e-commerce for services than towards commodities transactions.
By Giulia Daverio
According to a 2016 study by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), China’s health foods market is worth more than US$144.2 billion. As of June 2016, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) had approved a total of 16,573 health food products, of which 15,822 were domestic and 751 were imported.
Due to its impressive growth and to the numerous food scandals which have played a key role in driving consumers towards imported products, this market presents enormous opportunities for foreign businesses. There are several factors, both social and economic, contributing to the industry’s rise:
By Zolzaya Erdenebileg
According to a notice released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), all mobile application (“app”) stores in the country are required to register with the government. Effective since January 16, 2017, the notice cites the dangers of illegal information, user rights violation, and security risks that can be spread through mobile apps. By requiring app stores to register, the notice clarifies that legal responsibility for app and app store content lie with the app store. This latest attempt by the Chinese government to increase regulatory control over the mobile information and services underscore the growing importance of the industry.
China is gaining center stage in the so-called process of ‘appification’, where webpages are translated onto mobile operating systems for ease of access and use on smartphones. In other words, the mobile app is becoming the main user interface, and in the process, changing the ways in which people consume and businesses sell.
By Harry Handley
In 2010, China introduced the National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020) to improve Chinese education standards to match international levels. To do so, the government further opened the higher education sector to foreign investment, allowing foreign universities to enter the higher education sector through joint ventures with local partners. Seven years down the line, the increased support, both financial and regulatory, has led to an influx of Sino-foreign joint education programs and institutions.
Enrollment in universities has increased from 15 percent to 40 percent in the last ten years, and is expected to increase by a further 50 percent by the end of the decade. In 2016, 450,000 of those enrolled in higher education studied at one of the increasing number of Sino-foreign joint institutions around China, such as the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), a joint venture between the UK’s University of Nottingham and Zhejiang’s Wanli Education Group. In recent years, there has been a shift in how Chinese students perceive these joint institutions. Originally, they were seen as an easy route to studying abroad in the West, but now some have earned strong academic reputations in their own rights.
By Tongyu Zhang
The Chinese government recently published a series of official measures to boost the development of the country’s culture and entertainment industry, including the Opinions on Promoting the Upgrade of Cultural and Entertainment Industry and the Film Industry Promotion Law (effective on March 1, 2017). China has seen rapid growth in the culture and entertainment industry in recent years, owing to government support as well as a growing middle class consumer base. According to a recent report on the Entertainment & Media (E&M) industry by PwC, China’s E&M market has increased by 50 percent since 2010 and is forecast to rise at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8 percent over the next five years. The internet advertising, film, and video game segments will be the main intra-industry dynamics that will drive growth, with a projected CAGR from 2015 to 2020 of 13.9 percent, 18.9 percent, and 7.4 percent, respectively. However, as the Chinese government aims to use the cultural sector as a ‘soft power’ tool, such political intentions will inevitably lead to a certain extent of sensitivity for foreign participation in China’s culture and entertainment industry.
By Weining Hu
On April 8, 2016, Chinese authorities released an updated “positive list” for goods imported through cross border e-commerce (CBEC). Pet food, specifically dog food and cat food, are included on the list for the first time. This new regulatory update presents a substantial e-commerce opportunity for foreign pet food companies, as pet food can now be imported more easily via one of China’s 13 free trade zones or sold directly on business-to-consumer (B2C) or consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.com. However, uncertainties and risks accompany these new opportunities, as new integrated tax policies for CBEC and the pre-existing “negative list” exert impacts on foreign investment.
By Jake Liddle
In recent years, China has increased its focus and efforts towards combating the high levels of environmental pollution in the country, the result of its accelerated economic growth. In 2012, China declared war on pollution, and put aside RMB 3.7 trillion for the battle, with over half of the funds reserved for water pollution. The 13th Five Year Plan targets this issue, and in 2015, the government published the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, aiming to halt heavily polluting sectors from contaminating water sources.
However, China’s most recent environmental report remains negative, suggesting that 61.5 percent of groundwater and 28.8 percent of key rivers were classed as ‘not suitable for human contact’. The contamination is largely caused by industrial and agricultural industries, and the resulting pollution has permeated the earth down to the water table. The report found that usable and safe water is scarce, and over half of China’s cities suffer from water shortages, especially in the arid northern regions. While China has 20 percent of the world’s population, it only possesses seven percent of the world’s water resources. What’s more, these water resources are not reliable and are distributed unevenly among provinces and administrative regions.
For China to reverse the state of its severe water pollution, high-grade wastewater treatment technologies are in great demand.
By Daniel Schaefer
Drones are a young and multifaceted industry that have only recently begun to show their true potential. Particularly in China, drones are now being used to change the business landscape and alter how companies conduct their operations in a wide variety of commercial sectors, from agriculture to mining to cinematography.
China is leading the rise of the drone industry, with five out of the world’s top 11 venture capital-funded drone companies residing in the country. Foreign companies are already beginning to participate in the Middle Kingdom’s drone market – in August 2015, Intel invested US$60 million in Chinese drone manufacturer Yuneec. Although the regulatory environment is still developing and can be restrictive for certain usages, growth in the industry shows no signs of abating.