China Merging Trainmakers Adds to Pressure on Siemens

By Alex Webb and Clement Tan

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) — China’s plan to merge its two biggest trainmakers may allow the country to win more overseas orders with improved and cheaper offerings, increasing pressure on rivals including Siemens AG, Alstom SA and Bombardier Inc.

China’s State Council has ordered the merger of China Northern Locomotive & Rolling Stock Industry Group Corp. and southern counterpart CSR Group into one company, government officials involved in the transaction said yesterday. The pair are already the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 in rail equipment, each getting more than 90 percent of their sales from China.

“This would create a very strong global competitor,” said Ingo-Martin Schachel, a Frankfurt-based Commerzbank AG analyst who rates Siemens shares hold. “It would heighten the need for consolidation among the western manufacturers.”

The increased competition from China comes at a time when manufacturers such as Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom are facing constrained public spending in their home markets. China is competing aggressively for overseas rail projects, targeting emerging markets such as Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Premier Li Keqiang has touted the country’s rail equipment, engineering and construction companies during overseas trips, signing several deals along the way.

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Movie Stars Swap Limos for Subway in Hong Kong Protest

By Shai Oster and Clement Tan

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s commuters are sharing crowded subway cars with some rarefied company these days: movie stars.

As pro-democracy protests enter their third week, blocking key roads and leaving swathes of the financial center mired in gridlock, action stars, Canto-pop singers and teen heartthrobs are ditching their Lamborghinis and chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces for mass transit.

Soon after students seized the streets Sept. 26 in a campaign for freer elections, Hong Kong’s cell phone-snappers began capturing some of this entertainment capital’s most famous faces among the huddled masses on the Mass Transit Railway, or MTR, the city’s subway.

There — in goatee, baggy sweatpants and low-slung baseball cap — is “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star Chow Yun Fat. There’s television star Jessica Hsuan stepping out of the small screen and through the subway doors. Here’s matinee idol Aaron Kwok — he sings! he dances! his hair! — posting a selfie to commemorate his first subway ride in a decade.

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Pockets of Hong Kong Protesters May Defy Student Leaders

By Clement Tan, Cathy Chan and Jonathan Browning

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — With Hong Kong’s student-led protests dwindling and rally leaders in talks to end their 12-day campaign, a small number of demonstrators are threatening to ignore any call to abandon their posts.

Pro-democracy protesters still on the streets of central Hong Kong increasingly don’t answer to the leaders from various student groups. As people drift back to school and jobs, those who remain pose a challenge to police under pressure to remove blockades and open roadways.

“These people come on their own, they make their own mind up, they don’t respond to anyone’s appeals,” said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong and democracy advocate. “The police understand this very well,” he said, and know the protesters are “unpredictable.”

The resolve of some remaining demonstrators may complicate efforts to bring the standoff to a peaceful end. Any attempt to remove them by force risks backfiring, as police saw when the use of tear gas on Sept. 28 brought thousands more onto the streets. When gangs attacked demonstrators at the Mong Kok and Causeway Bay sites on Oct. 3, the protests swelled anew.

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Made-in-China Drones Beam Hong Kong Protests to Beijing & Beyond

By Brian Bremner and Clement Tan

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s street protests, pepper spray and tear gas have mesmerized TV and Internet audiences worldwide. Beaming them are drones with a “Made in China” tag.

The Apple Daily newspaper captured the breadth of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong using a pair of Phantom 2 drones, made by DJI Innovations, a company based in the Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen, an hour’s train ride from the former British colony. The drones can capture footage no cameraman can get on the ground, giving the world a panoramic view of the protests.

The aerial cinematography has elicited social media commentary critical of China’s efforts to have candidates for Hong Kong chief executive vetted by a committee that protesters contend answers to Chinese leadership. Praised under different circumstances earlier by people including Sequoia Capital Chairman Michael Moritz as a sign of China’s growing prowess in technology, the drones are a symbol of modern media coverage as much as a consternation for those who want to control the media.

“With these drones we now have a bird’s eye view that photographers cannot reach or produce,” said Leo Cheng, Apple Daily’s photography director.

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