Asia Pacific (APAC), Global Politics

Cross-strait News Daily Round-up for Dec. 12

Taiwan’s 4G subscribers will exceed 10 million in 2015: IDC

Market researcher International Data Corp (IDC) said on Dec. 11 that the total amount of the 4G subscribers in Taiwan will top 10 million next year, as telecoms’ flat rates and strong sales of new smartphones, such as the iPhone 6.

IDC originally projected that there could be one million 4G users by the end of 2014 but the actual figures could hit 3.3 million.

“Over the past seven months, the uptake of 4G in Taiwan has been stunning. The growth has greatly surpassed our expectations,” said Andy Ye (葉振南), IDC analyst.

During the first year for 4G operations, Ye said, Taiwan’s 4G penetration rate surged to 11.2%, which was a faster adoption rate than Hong Kong’s 6.7% and Korea’s 2.3% in the early stages of 4G deployment.

The analyst also attributed Taiwan’s rapid uptake to telecoms offering flat rates for unlimited Internet access to grab market share. Also, sufficient and various mobile devices for the 4G system also gave a boost to the business, he said.

Taiwan is the first country in the world to deliver 4G services on the 700MHz bandwidth, he said.

More and more people use their handheld devices to shop online, an auction website that was established by PC Home Online and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), said on Dec. 11 that its transaction volume increased by 15% year-on-year because of the increasing use of handheld devices.

“More than 75% of buyers browse our page by handheld devices and 45% of them make purchases through smartphones or tablets,” said Vicky Tseng (曾薰儀), chief operating officer for Ruten.

Quoting a recent survey, Tseng said that Ruten’s pageviews via mobile devices surged 87% from last quarter, while the number of unique visitors rose 77% quarterly.

Echoing Ruten’s remarks, International Data Corp (IDC) said that the growth in smartphone and tablet use in the Asia-Pacific region showed that an era of mobile commerce is emerging. The report said that China’s Singles’ Day sales on Nov. 11 saw more than 40% of all transactions completed on mobile devices. For 2015, more than 50% of consumer transactions will be carried out via handheld devices, the report said.

TRI raises Taiwan’s GDP growth forecast

The Taiwan Research Institute (TRI) raised its forecast for the nation’s 2014 GDP growth and expected the pace to gain modestly next year as the global economy enters an era of great moderation.

TRI, a Taipei-based think tank, elevated its projection for GDP growth to 3.36% this year, from 3.1% estimated in June.

Wu Tsai-yi (吳再益), president for TRI, said that U.S. economy’s recovering is favorable for Taiwan’s exports, which was also one of the reasons for the nation’s GDP growth.

Wu said that the GDP growth might rise to 3.43% next year. He said that Taiwan used to outperform the world economy in terms of GDP growth, but the gap has tapered off in recent years, as Taiwanese firms increasingly lose their competitive edge and the government fails to provide substantial assistance.

People’s Bank of China pushes banks to lend more

People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank, has increased the nation’s annual new loan target to US$1.62 trillion, from previous local media estimates for the figure.

An anonymous source said that Chinese banks have disbursed US$109.7 billion of loans between January and October so they will have to quicken their pace before the end of this year, if the central bank has indeed raised the target.

The amount of new loans issued by Chinese banks fell by more than a third in October.

Uncertainty for the future Hong Kong electoral reforms

The prospects for compromise over the future of Hong Kong’s electoral system remained unclear after the clearing of Occupy Central’s base camp from Admiralty district, with protesters and government officials’ demands still essentially at odds.

Officials signaled some willingness to negotiate on the makeup of the nominating committee that would vet candidates for chief executive in Hong Kong’s first election in 2017.  But both student protestors and pro-democracy lawmakers said that they will reject any proposal that requires candidates to be approved by a Beijing-controlled nominating committee.

Twelve Chinese IPOs unexpectedly approved

A total of 12 initial public offerings (IPOs) were unexpectedly approved by China’s securities regulator on Dec. 11.

The IPO approvals include budget carrier Spring Airline’s US$234 million listing, and medium-sized Chinese brokerage Guosen.

The regulator’s decision could dampen the surge in China’s stock markets, as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has spiked over 30% in the last two weeks amid speculation the central bank will further ease monetary policy.

Billions of dollars have flowed into the market, giving the regulator space to accelerate the pace of IPO approval without over-diluting valuations of existing shares.