Chinese-American Elites Lament a Brewing Trade War

It’s not easy to promote closer US-China ties these days. The countries are moving toward a trade war; a US delegation left Beijing Friday reporting little progress on resolving disputes. US executives accuse China of stealing their intellectual property. The US government is imposing ever tighter restrictions on Chinese telecommunications firms.

That made an uncomfortable backdrop for the annual conference of the Committee of 100, a group of influential Chinese-Americans, in Silicon Valley over the weekend. The group billed the event as a “Bridge Between the US and China.” But speakers and attendees lamented deteriorating relations, heaped scorn on the Trump administration, and expressed concern that nativism could lead to discrimination against Chinese-Americans.

“It does not take a very stable genius to understand that the US relationship with China is now under severe stress,” Chas Freeman, a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute, told several hundred guests. In 1972, Freeman was an interpreter for President Nixon during his first visit to China. More than four decades later, Freeman noted the growing hostility between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, even as their nations remain interdependent. “The US and China are each too globalized, too successful, and entangled to divorce,” he said.

Freeman and others said Trump administration policies risk weakening the US or exacerbating tensions between the countries. The tax cut approved by Congress last year will lead the government to issue more debt, much of which will be bought by the Chinese, he said. Blocking Chinese telecom company ZTE from buying US-made components could backfire by encouraging China to buttress its domestic suppliers; those firms could eventually displace US components in other products.

Not all the blame went toward Washington. Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego, said China is engaged in a “massive government-organized and lavishly funded drive to acquire foreign technology to make itself into a high-tech superpower.” After decades of movement toward a market-based economy, Shirk said the Chinese government is increasing its involvement in the economy, and re-emphasizing its socialist ideology. “What’s happening in China is not your normal industrial policy,” Shirk said. “These are efforts to reduce integration with the rest of the global economy.”

Shirk said executives and political leaders in other developed economies share concerns about China’s path. “This is a much broader and deeper concern than just Trump,” she said. Gary Locke, a former US ambassador to China, echoed that sentiment, saying China limits foreign ownership of Chinese businesses, prodding many US firms into uncomfortable joint ventures with Chinese companies that are, or could be, rivals.

Technology executives find the growing tensions unsettling. “As a tech person, I love to think that technology has no boundaries,” said Paul Yeh, who runs a Palo Alto, California venture capital fund that invests in both the US and China. But Yeh said he’s not naive, and thinks the tech industry ultimately will suffer from the hostility. One potential warning sign: Three-fourths of respondents to a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China said foreign businesses are less welcome in China than previously.

Beneath the rhetoric, China has emerged as a legitimate tech power. Locke, the former ambassador, noted that Chinese inventors filed more patents than those from any other nation last year, and the country is home to the world’s fastest supercomputer. China has been particularly aggressive in artificial intelligence, with a national goal to catch the US by 2020. China’s SenseTime, which makes image-analysis software, is now the world’s most valuable AI startup.

Fei-Fei Li, Google’s chief scientist for artificial intelligence and machine learning, offered a more personal perspective on the rivalry between the two countries. Li was born in China and came to the US during high school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics before moving into computer science and ultimately, AI. She noted that the discoveries that revolutionized physics in the early 20th century came from scientists in several countries. “No company or country owned modern physics,” she said, drawing a parallel to artificial intelligence. “We all benefit.”

In some areas, the two countries are so interconnected that it’s hard to distinguish what is American and what is Chinese. Several startups pursuing self-driving technology include people from both countries and technology from both countries, said Jonathan Woetzel, the Asia-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute. “Business is what happens while politicians are talking,” he said.

Rising Tension

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1 Out of Every 6 Retirees in America Is a Millionaire–Here Are 8 Things You Can Do Today to Become One of Them

This is according to a report by online investing company United Income, which analyzed data from multiple sources, including the Federal Reserve Board and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, to find out how retirees are faring now compared to previous generations.

Average wealth for American retirees is $752,000 — which has more than doubled since 1989, the report found. Likewise, the rate of retired millionaires has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Fewer people are retiring in poverty and relying on minimum wage than ever before. The report says “the percentage of retirees living on the minimum wage or less dropped in half over the past 30 years.”

Still, the median wealth for retirees is just over $200,000 — and people are living longer and costs are increasing. Many retirees end up relying on their monthly Social Security retirement benefits, about $1,400 on average. The Social Security Administration says the benefits account for one-third of retirees’ income.

Retiring as a millionaire may seem like a difficult goal to accomplish. However, there are tricks that can help you get over the line so you can enjoy seven digit wealth when you stop working.

Matt Fellowes, the CEO of United Income shared his tips on how to retire a millionaire with Business Insider. Below are the eight best pieces of advice from Fellowes on how to be wealthy when you stop working.

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10 Quotes From The 2 Best Entrepreneurial Minds Alive

Having spent the past 10 years relentlessly studying psychology, self-improvement, and entrepreneurship, there are many people who have inspired and influenced my thinking.

However, over the past 3 years, I’ve come across two thinkers who stick out. Not just in their thinking, but their overall approach to life and business.

Naturally, both of these entrepreneurs are highly aligned, synergistic, and yet very different.

These two entrepreneurs are Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish. Dan is the founder of Strategic Coach, which is considered by many to be the #1 entrepreneurial coaching program in the world. Joe is the founder of Genius Network, GeniusX, and Genius Recovery. Genius Network is considered the #1 entrepreneurial mastermind group in the world. 

DAN SULLIVAN

“Always make your future bigger than your past.”―Dan Sullivan

“Who, not how.”―Dan Sullivan

“As an entrepreneur, you’ve removed yourself from the restrictions and limitations of other people’s systems. Still, it’s amazing how many of us strive to meet others’ expectations and demands – or set up rigid, impossible ideals for ourselves.”―Dan Sullivan

“Over scheduled entrepreneurs can’t transform.”―Dan Sullivan

“For a company to achieve 10x, it doesn’t need you managing – it needs self-managing.”―Dan Sullivan

JOE POLISH

“Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.”―Joe Polish

“Wherever there is anxiety, there is opportunity. Transform bad news into good news, and leverage that with marketing.”―Joe Polish

“Any problem in the world can be solved with the right Genius Network.”―Joe Polish

“Opposite of addiction is connection.”―Joe Polish

“Be willing to destroy anything that isn’t excellent.”―Joe Polish

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GM bets on 3D printers for cheaper and lighter car parts

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co said on Thursday it was working with design software company Autodesk Inc to manufacture new, lightweight 3D-printed parts that could help the automaker meet its goals to add alternative-fuel vehicles to its product lineup.

FILE PHOTO – A Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicle is seen on the assembly line at General Motors Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S., March 19, 2018. Photo taken March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Last year, the company announced ambitious plans to add 20 new electric battery and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023. Chief Executive Mary Barra has made a bold promise to investors that the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.

The ability to print lightweight parts could be a gamechanger for the electric vehicle industry. With consumer concerns over the limited range of electric vehicles a major obstacle to their mass adoption, making them lighter improves fuel efficiency and could help extend that range.

GM executives this week showed off a 3D-printed stainless steel seat bracket developed with Autodesk technology – which uses cloud computing and artificial intelligence-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple permutations of a part design.

Using conventional technology, the part would require eight components and several suppliers. With this new system, the seat bracket consists of one part – which looks like a mix between abstract art and science fiction movie – that is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger.

Other manufacturers such as General Electric Co have also beefed up their use of 3D printers in manufacturing. GM rival automaker Ford Motor Co said last year it was testing lightweight 3D printing for mass production.

GM has used 3D printers for prototyping for years, but Kevin Quinn, the automaker’s director of additive design and manufacturing, said within a year or so GM expects these new 3D-printed parts to appear in high-end, motorsports applications. Within five years, GM hopes to produce thousands or tens of thousands of parts at scale as the technology improves, Quinn said.

“That is our panacea,” Quinn said. “That’s what we want to get to.”

In the long run, Quinn said the 3D printed parts would help reduce tooling costs, cut the amount of material used, the number of suppliers needed for one part and logistics costs.

The 3D-printing based manufacturing industry is working toward mass production and trying to address issues with “repeatability and robustness,” said Bob Yancey, Autodesk’s director of manufacturing.

GM getting into the game “will put tremendous pressure” to make that happen, Yancey said.

Reporting By Nick Carey, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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China's Xiaomi files for mega Hong Kong tech IPO, lifts lid on financials

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Smartphone and connected device maker Xiaomi [IPO-XMGP.HK] filed for a Hong Kong initial public offering on Thursday that could raise $10 billion and become the largest listing by a Chinese technology firm in almost four years.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Xiaomi is seen inside the company’s office in Bengaluru, India January 18, 2018. Picture taken January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File photo

Xiaomi’s IPO, which will be one of the first in Hong Kong under new rules to attract tech firm listings, is a major win for the bourse as competition heats up between Hong Kong, New York and the Chinese mainland.

The listing is expected to raise about $10 billion via the public offering, giving Beijing-based Xiaomi a market value of between $80 billion and $100 billion, people familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Those targets, if achieved, will make it the biggest Chinese tech IPO since Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) raised $21.8 billion in 2014.

Xiaomi’s prospectus gave investors the first detailed look at its financial health ahead of the much-hyped IPO, which could be launched as soon as end-June, according to the people close to the process who requested anonymity as the details were not yet public.

The numbers underscore how Xiaomi has remained resilient even as the global smartphone market has slowed, helped in part by a push overseas into markets like India.

The company said its revenue was 114.62 billion yuan ($18 billion) in 2017, up 67.5 percent against 2016. Operating profit for 2017 was 12.22 billion yuan, up from 3.79 billion yuan a year ago.

It made a net loss of 43.89 billion yuan versus a profit of 491.6 million yuan in 2016, though this was impacted by the fair value changes of convertible redeemable preference shares.

A man walks past a Xiaomi store in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China April 7, 2018. Picture taken April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Alongside smartphones, Xiaomi makes dozens of internet-connected home appliances and gadgets, including scooters, air purifiers and rice cookers, although it derives most of its profits from internet services.

Its relatively cheap handsets pose a rising challenge to market leaders Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

Xiaomi doubled its shipments in 2017 to become the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker, according to Counterpoint Research, defying a global slowdown in smartphone sales.

It is also making a big push outside China’s borders, with 28 percent of its sales derived from overseas markets last year, up from 6.1 percent in 2015.

Yet margins on its smartphones are razor-thin. Xiaomi posted a gross profit margin of just 8.8 percent for its smartphone business in 2017 compared to 60 percent for its internet services business.

According to some analyst estimates, Apple’s flagship iPhone X and iPhone 8 have gross margins of around 60 percent.

The company makes the lion’s share of its profit – 60 percent – from internet services, including gaming and advertising linked to its homegrown user interface, MIUI, which had 190 million monthly active users as of March 2018.

DUAL-CLASS SHARES

Xiaomi’s listing plans come as the company and its investors look to capitalize on a bull run for the Hong Kong market, which has seen the benchmark Hang Seng Index rise about 27 percent over the past year.

Armed with the new rules allowing the listing of companies with dual-class structures, Hong Kong is eyeing several tech listings that are expected in the coming two years from Chinese firms with a combined market cap of $500 billion.

Xiaomi said in its IPO application the company would have a weighted voting rights (WVR) structure, or dual-class shares. The WVR give greater power to founding shareholders even with minority shareholding.

The structure would allow the company to benefit from the “continuing vision and leadership” of the dual-class share beneficiaries, who would control the company for its “long-term prospects and strategy”, it said.

Dual-class shares have been a contentious topic in Hong Kong since the city’s strict adherence to a one-share-one-vote principle cost it the float of Alibaba, which instead listed in New York.

Xiaomi is also likely to be among the first Chinese tech firms seeking a secondary listing in its home market, using the planned China depositary receipts route, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

CLSA, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc are sponsoring Xiaomi’s IPO.

($1 = 6.3610 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing, Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing Stephen Coates

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Qualcomm's patent deals aim to ease Apple, regulator tensions, executive says

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc has broadened its use of a lower-cost licensing model for the next generation of mobile data networks, a move that could help in contentious talks with two customers including iPhone maker Apple Inc, the wireless tech company’s patent licensing chief said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The patent business traditionally has supplied much of Qualcomm’s profit but has also spurred conflict with Apple, Samsung Electronics Ltd and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd as well as regulators in China, South Korea and the United States.

New deals could lower the licensing rate that Qualcomm receives while making the business more dependable if regulators view the terms favourably and two major customers – Apple and a company widely believed to be Huawei – resolve their disputes and resume paying Qualcomm.

“It’s a good context for dealing with the two licensee issues we have now,” Alex Rogers, the head of Qualcomm’s licensing division, told Reuters in an interview, naming Apple but leaving Huawei unnamed as is the company’s policy when a dispute hasn’t become public through a court proceeding.

Rogers did not comment directly on the likelihood of resolving either customer dispute. Apple and Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Qualcomm sells chips for mobile phones but has a second, much older business licensing technology for wireless networks. The licensing business has generated global controversy and resulted in billions of dollars in regulatory fines, some of which remain on appeal.

Handset makers can licence one of two sets of Qualcomm patents: The full suite that costs makers about 5 percent of the cost of a handset or a smaller set of so-called “standard essential patents” for 3.25 percent, which includes only the patents needed for gear to work on mobile data networks.

In the past, most of Qualcomm’s customers licensed both sets of patents to avoid lawsuits. But Qualcomm has been defusing tensions by making it easier for customers to licence just the smaller, lower-cost set of standard patents and by adding patents for the next generation 5G wireless network to the suite at no additional cost.

That essentially extends a 2015 settlement with China’s chief antitrust regulator. Qualcomm began to licence only its standard patents for 3G and 4G networks to Chinese handset makers for a rate of 3.25 percent. More than 100 device makers have signed on for such deals.

“We have not lowered the rate. What we’re doing is including more technology, more (intellectual property) in the offering without increasing the price,” Rogers added.

Qualcomm also announced last week that it would assess its patent fees against only the first $400 (£291) of a phone’s net selling price. Rogers said the previous price cap was $500, a figure that was well known among industry insiders but that Qualcomm did not make public.

“What we’re doing here is creating a foundation for stability going forward,” Rogers said, describing Qualcomm’s 5G licensing moves as “regulator friendly”.

The question now is whether more handset makers will opt for Qualcomm’s lower-cost standard patents rather than its pricier full portfolio.

“What we perceive here is there will be more of a mix than there was in the past of companies opting for (standard essential patents) only,” Rogers said. “How much more, depends on each individual company.”

While Qualcomm has made no public disclosures about the status of talks with the two major customers in licence disputes, the company’s approach to licensing patents for upcoming 5G networks will look different than its initial approaches for 3G and 4G networks of years past.

“Both of those issues (disputes) are essentially now being handled within the framework of the current programme we’re offering,” Rogers said.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Peter Henderson and Cynthia Osterman

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