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The Viewi

Daily analysis of the major talking points in the worlds of business and investing with a focus on implications for doing both in mainland China and its key financing hub - Hong Kong.

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  • China’s inter-regional rivalries and US inter-party politics are colliding in the fight for global electric vehicle dominance, pushing the world towards a future of walled camps engaged in escalating mercantilism while putting our common destiny at risk
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Prices in Singapore’s public housing system are under growing scrutiny as million-dollar sales make headlines and raise fears over affordability. Those sales are outliers, though, amid the government’s efforts to keep speculative demand to a minimum.

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Cooperation among the Global South has enabled developing economies to help each other through knowledge and technology transfers. Using this approach to address the digital infrastructure gap and build a highly skilled workforce can keep emerging countries from falling further behind.

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As Chinese multinational firms expand their presence internationally, they can reshape global production networks towards the Global South and accelerate the transition to a green economy, helping build a more sustainable future for all.

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The crisis in China’s property market is severe enough for the government to show willingness to tackle the backlog of uncompleted pre-sold projects. While this is cheering news for many, uncertainty over the timing, scale and source of the funding remains.

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Given the prosperity and world-leading innovations of so-called emerging economies, from China and India to South Korea and Qatar, the ‘developing’ label is outmoded, outdated and patronising.

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The focus is on retooling current approaches when what debt-burdened countries need is an economic re-engineering to produce more lucrative goods and innovative ways to pay down debt using commodities.

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Complaints of Chinese overcapacity and dumping may be useful in justifying US, EU subsidies and trade barriers but China’s success is really due to its innovation and scale.

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Despite US fears about an overcapacity in Chinese green teach, China’s market share of solar modules and electric vehicles is smaller than that of other competitors. “Cooperative competition” between manufacturers can help both countries synergize their green industry transitions.

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While some Asian property markets have seen sharp declines in prices and transactions, borrowing costs are not the only factor at play in the region. The supply-demand imbalance, for one, is just as important, if not more so.

The speed of India’s rise in consumerism is outpacing China’s as the gap between the two countries’ markets continues to narrow. If it wants to maintain its lead as the world’s top market, China must broaden its focus to include rural areas and cater to often-overlooked consumer bases.

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While Asia’s property markets have no shortage of stories, some of the most consequential are also among the most overlooked by investors. The strength of Seoul’s office market, more affordable luxury residential property and Japanese investment in Australian property all merit greater attention.

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As global supply chains are reshaped, countries such as Vietnam and Mexico are becoming attractive manufacturing hubs. Chinese-backed factories in the US might face resistance, but the job growth and knowledge transfer they bring will benefit the American economy.

As Asia looks to the future, the continued growth of green jobs in the energy transition will be a cornerstone for building a more prosperous, resilient and sustainable regional economy which outpaces the progress seen in developed countries.

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As major investors displacing the traditional Western powers, China and the GCC are precipitating a reconfiguration away from the North-South flow of development resources.

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Hong Kong’s move to scrap long-standing cooling measures in February was a breath of fresh air at a time when other markets are turning inward. The city deserves credit for adopting a contentious policy while Canada, Singapore, Australia and others are making life harder for foreign homebuyers.

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The US, Europe and Japan will not gladly sacrifice their IMF quotas to give China and others more voting rights. But a failure to reform the organisation will worsen rifts and weaken its ability to deal with looming global crises.

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While the US is mired in infrastructural challenges and market inertia, China offers a supportive EV ecosystem and a multimodal transport system in which EVs can thrive.

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Planning restrictions are constraining supply in all sectors of Australia’s residential property market, driving up prices and rents, but the lack of a clear way forward on student housing threatens to hold back the potential of a sector that is increasingly important to the Australian economy.

Office markets in Asia are performing well and the shift to hybrid working has had less of an impact, yet investment in the sector has fallen sharply. Asia’s office markets need a stronger narrative, one that differentiates the sector more clearly from its counterparts in the US and Europe.

Beijing has shown no urgency at its NPC meeting to reboot or stimulate its economy in a way that would support its target, dashing the hopes of its neighbours worried about the drag from an economic giant fighting decline.

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The end of more than a decade of cooling measures for Hong Kong’s property market is welcome and has sparked a surge in new home sales. These changes must be put in proper context, though, as several other factors will be more consequential in setting the property sector’s course.

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Efforts to keep Chinese electric vehicles out of the US will only hurt American consumers and manufacturers in the long run. Instead, the Biden administration should welcome Chinese carmakers into the US to improve innovation and competitiveness.

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The surge in Japan’s stock market looks out of place and unsustainable in an economy with a shrinking population and falling real wages. Chinese investors shifting money to Japan in the hope of catching the wave should be wary of being left behind when this bubble pops – possibly this year.

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Deteriorating affordability has left many Australians struggling in the housing market, but foreign buyers’ interest remains strong. Record migration, China’s housing crisis, Australia’s stability and Asian private wealth’s influence are driving the surge.

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To better understand the current conditions driving record stock prices across the globe, investors would do well to learn the lessons of history and look back at the situation in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Hong Kong has made a modest contribution to the global climate fight by developing two simple tools SMEs can use to track their carbon emissions. The city has the potential to be a leader in the new corporate governance system in the climate change era.

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Given the bleak domestic and external backdrop, the strong performance of China’s commercial real estate investment market is remarkable. It shows that a solid domestic investor base, a sharper repricing of property values and policy support for key sectors can make a difference.

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