BEIJING (Reuters) - China's massive export engine sputtered for the second year in a row in 2016, with shipments falling in the face of persistently weak global demand and officials voicing fears of a trade war with the United States that is clouding the outlook for 2017.
In one week, China's leaders will see if President-elect Donald Trump makes good on a campaign pledge to brand Beijing a currency manipulator on his first day in office, and starts to follow up on a threat to slap high tariffs on Chinese goods.
Even if the Trump administration takes no concrete action immediately, analysts say the spectre of deteriorating U.S.-China trade and political ties is likely to weigh on the confidence of exporters and investors worldwide.
The world's largest trading nation posted gloomy data on Friday, with 2016 exports falling 7.7 percent and imports down 5.5 percent. The export drop was the second annual decline in a row and the worst since the depths of the global crisis in 2009.
It will be tough for foreign trade to improve this year, especially if the inauguration of Trump and other major political changes limit the growth of China's exports due to greater protectionist measures, the country's customs agency said on Friday.
"The trend of anti-globalisation is becoming increasingly evident, and China is the biggest victim of this trend," customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters.
"We will pay close attention to foreign trade policy after Trump is inaugurated president,” Huang said. Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
China's trade surplus with the United States was $366 billion in 2015, according to U.S. customs data, which Trump could seize on in a bid to bring Beijing to the negotiating table to press for concessions, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a recent research note.
A sustained trade surplus of more than $20 billion against the United States is one of three criteria used by the U.S. Treasury to designate another country as a currency manipulator.
China is likely to point out that its own data showed the surplus fell to $250.79 billion in 2016 from $260.91 billion in 2015, but that may get short shrift in Washington.
"Our worry is that Trump’s stance towards China’s trade could bring about long-term structural weakness in China’s exports," economists at ANZ said in a note.
"Trump’s trade policy will likely motivate U.S. businesses to move their manufacturing facilities away from China, although the latter’s efforts in promoting high-end manufacturing may offset part of the loss."
On Wednesday, China may have set off a warning shot to the Trump administration. Beijing announced even higher anti-dumping duties on imports of certain animal feed from the United States than it proposed last year.
"Instead of caving in and trying to prepare voluntary export restraints like Japan did with their auto exports back in the 1980s, we believe China would start by strongly protesting against the labelling with the IMF, but not to initiate more aggressive retaliation ... immediately," the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report said.
"That said, even a 'war of words' could weaken investor confidence not only in the U.S. and China, but globally."
CHINA'S DECEMBER EXPORTS FALL
China's December exports fell by a more-than-expected 6.1 percent on-year, while imports beat forecasts slightly, growing 3.1 percent on its strong demand for commodities which has helped buoy global resources prices.
An unexpected 0.1 percent rise in shipments in November, while scant, had raised hopes that China was catching up to an export improvement being seen in some other Asian economies.
China reported a trade surplus of $40.82 billion for December, versus November's $44.61 billion.
While the export picture has been grim all year, with shipments rising in only two months out of 12, import trends have been more encouraging of late, pointing to a pick-up in domestic demand as companies brought in more raw materials from iron ore to copper to help feed a construction boom.
China imported record amounts of crude oil, iron ore, copper and soybeans in 2016, plus large volumes of coal used for heating and in steelmaking.
"Trade protectionism is on the rise but China is relying more on domestic demand," said Wen Bin, an economist at Minsheng Bank in Beijing.
Prolonged weakness in exports has forced China's government to rely on higher spending and massive bank lending to boost the economy, at the risk of adding to a huge pile of debt which some analysts warn is nearing danger levels.
Data next Friday is expected to almost certainly show that 2016 economic growth hit Beijing's target of 6.5-7 percent thanks to that flurry of stimulus.
But signs are mounting that the red-hot property market may have peaked, meaning China may have less appetite this year for imports of building-related materials.
"It is hard to see what could drive a more substantial recovery in Chinese trade," Julian Evans-Pritchard, China Economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.
"Further upside to economic activity, both in China and abroad, is probably now limited given declines in trend growth. Instead, the risks to trade lie to the downside...," he said, saying the chance of a damaging China-U.S. trade spat has risen since Trump's appointment of hardliners to lead trade policy.
A decline in China's trade surplus in 2016, to just under $510 billion from $594 billion in 2015, may also reduce authorities' ability to offset capital outflow pressures, which have helped drive its yuan currency to more than eight-year lows, ANZ economists said.
(Reporting by Lusha Zhang, Elias Glenn, Sue-Lin Wong and Kevin Yao; Writing by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Kim Coghill)
SHANGHAI/TAIPEI (Reuters) - State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would take "take revenge" if he reneged on the one-China policy, only hours after Taiwan's president made a controversial stopover in Houston.
China is confident to have reached an economic growth of 6.7 percent in 2016, within a targeted range set earlier in the year, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said on Sunday.
China's economy expanded at a steady 6.7 percent in the first three quarters last year, and Zhu said he was confident the growth rate would have reached the same level or more in the fourth quarter of 2016. Zhu's remarks were made at a forum held by Tsinghua University in Beijing.
China, which had been aiming for a 6.5-7 percent economic growth for 2016, boosted government spending, saw a housing rally and record high levels of bank lending last year, which, however, also led to an explosive increase in debt.
Many analysts believe growth was lower than official data suggests, but acknowledge that the construction boom significantly underpinned the economy.
A government-run think tank said earlier this month that China's economic growth could slow to 6.5 percent in 2017 from about 6.7 percent in 2016.
Zhu also said the global economy would face some uncertainty this year amid worries about U.S. policy changes after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
During his campaign, Trump threatened to declare Beijing a currency manipulator and levy a 45 percent punitive tax on all Chinese goods to reduce a massive U.S. trade deficit with China.
(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Alexandra Harney; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
Qian Hongyan, also known as 'basketball girl', lost her legs in a car accident in 2000.
Qian started a new life.
The girl from the southern province of Yunnan had attracted the attention of the Chinese public since in 2005, when she was photographed walking with the help of a basketball.
Aided by the Ministry of Public Security, Qian was later fitted with with a pair of prostheses at the China Rehabilitation Center in Beijing.
In 2007, after being inspired by the 7th National Para Games of China, she decided to engage in swimming.
Because of her disability, Qian was forced to rely on the upper part of his body to move in the water. She is able to swim to 3000-4000 meters in two hours. In addition, she trains hard every day.
However, Qian, likes to do things independently. Despite workouts occupy an important part of her day, she likes to watch movies on weekends.
In 2009 she became a national champion in the Chinese National Paralympics Swimming Competition. In 2015, Qian won another gold medal in the 100m breaststroke final in the Yunnan Provincial Paralympic Games.
The girl said she hopes to get a stable income for 2017, and plans to dedicate herself to training and competitions.
Qian chatting with her coach.
Many Chinese netizens, described her as a mermaid that moves gracefully in the water.
Photo: Daily Mail, People's Daily Online, Reuters, Getty Images, iFeng via Nuova vita per Qian Hongyan
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China plans cuts in major sources of air pollution including sulphur dioxide and will promote more public transport in large cities, the government said late on Thursday, as the country's north grapples with a lingering smog crisis.
China will plough 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020 in an investment that will, it's projects, create a massive 13 million jobs in the sector.
After weeks of choking beneath scummy skies ... China could breathe a sigh of relief on Thursday.
Renewable energy in China
The National Energy Administration saying it'll pour an eye-popping 361 billion dollars into renewable energy by 2020.
A clear sign of Beijing's shift away from dirty coal power as it ramps up its war on pollution.
Northern China and Beijing in particular faces a significant air quality issue. Levels of pollution and toxic smog are high, and China clearly wants to shift away from an over-reliance on dirty coal power generation to cleaner technologies.
Beijing says solar power will get the lion's share of the money - with a whopping 145 billion dollars.
Some 100 billion will also be set aside for windfarms, 70 billion to hydro. While tidal and geothermal projects will get the rest. The massive investment set to be a major employer - against the backdrop of widespread job cuts in heavy industry.
Despite the big numbers, clean energy will still only account for just 15 percent of consumption by 2020. An indication of the sheer size of China and the challenge it faces.
BEIJING (Reuters) - A group of Chinese warships led by its sole aircraft carrier is testing weapons and equipment in exercises this week in the South China Sea that are going to plan, China's foreign ministry said Wednesday.
Exercises by the ships, in particular the aircraft carrier Liaoning, since last month have unnerved China's neighbours, especially at a time of heightened strain with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, and given long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China says the Soviet-built Liaoning and the other ships conduct routine exercises that comply with international law.
"The Liaoning aircraft carrier group in the South China Sea is carrying out scientific research and training, in accordance with plans," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.
"The purpose is to test the performance of weapons and equipment," he said.
The People's Liberation Army Navy said on its official microblog this week that the aircraft carrier conducted drills in the South China Sea with its fighter jets and helicopters.
U.S. warships have also been conducting what they call "freedom of navigation" patrols through the South China Sea over the past year as concern grows about Chinese construction of air strips and docks on disputed reefs and islands.
The group of warships sailed through waters south of Japan and then rounded east and south of Taiwan late last month on their way to the south China province of Hainan.
Taiwan's defence minister warned at the time that "the threat of our enemies is growing day by day".
Taiwan media have reported that the Liaoning could sail north up the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the narrow body of water separating Taiwan and China, on its way to its home port of Qingdao.
Taiwan's defence ministry said the talk about the timing and northward route of the Liaoning was speculation, and it would make preparations based on the situation and "maintain its grasp of the movements" of the ship.
Business relations between mainland China and Taiwan have grown significantly over the past decade but tension has increased since the island elected a president from an independence-leaning party last year.
China distrusts President Tsai Ing-wen and has stepped up pressure on her following a protocol-breaking phone call between her and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump last month.
Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for the island's formal independence, a red line for the mainland, which has never renounced the use of force to bring what it deems a renegade province under its control.
Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in Taipei)
Chinese state media People's Daily just published a hilarious and obscene word puzzle to mark the beginning of the New Year.
People's Daily is the largest newspaper group in China. It's an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party and maintains a multilingual internet presence.
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) January 1, 2017
A group of people tried to commit suicide by ingesting pesticide in the Beijing subway.
According to Epoch Times, on 26th December morning, a group of 8 people was scammed by a financial institution (Tianjin Stock Exchange) that caused huge losses. For this reason, in two separate actions at a 10-minute distance from each other, on two different trains, they staged this protest ingesting pesticide to get the attention of the authorities. Five women and three men were hospitalized with one in serious condition.
According to Epoch Times sharing images and video of the incident is prohibited on Chinese social networks.