Monthly Archives: March 2011

Watch out for Chinese Internet IPOs

Remember Dangdang and Youku? Both companies (respectively the “Amazon” and “Youtube” of China) succesfully went public in the US last December.

They seem to have opened the door for a number of other Chinese Internet companies IPOs - 15-20 Chinese companies are rumoured to have US IPO plans in 2011. Among them you can find Qihoo 360 and NetQin Mobile: both companies offer software security.

The latter may also exemplify what the future generation of Chinese technology companies may look like: headquartered in Beijing and funded by Western venture capital firms, most of its employees are involved in R&D between their Hong Kong, Beijing and Silicon Valley offices. Last but not least, the firm can count on a strong partnership with the world’s largest telecom operator (China Mobile) to take its market segment by storm.

Nuclear winter?

Will one of consequence of the Fukushima accident be a freeze of China’s nuclear program?

Right now it is hard to say as there has been some going back and forth in Beijing t. The plan was to have around 70 reactors up and running by 2020 and also to start working on some indigenous technology.

So far the government has ordered integrity checks at existing plants and halted approvals of new nuclear-power plants. But it seems that there will be no moratorium on the 25 reactors under construction. Not surprisingly, Weibo blocked searches of the Chinese characters for “nuclear leak”.

So, does China (and the rest of the world) have the means to go “green“? What may have seemed a silly question one week ago will for sure make for interesting debates.

Green star over China

Premier Wen Jiabao announced some very ambitious goals for 2015 regarding energy efficiency and carbon emissions last week-end, including an increase in the proportion of non-fossil fuels to 11.4% (from the current 8.3%) and a reduction by 30% of water used per unit of industrial growth.

So, why is one of the countries that de-railed the Copenhagen Summit moving ahead on the green agenda with so much enthusiasm? This has to do in part with the fact the Chinese leaders have since long grasped the importance of sustainable growth but had other priorities in mind and less discontent to deal with at the domestic level.

Will the Chinese leadership manage to keep its promises. While the country tends to have so far a very good track record in achieving official goals, the real issue with sustainable growth is less of putting a lot of money to build something – pouring funds into infrastructure remains relatively easy when your economy is booming – than creating the right institutional environment in which the stakeholders and incentives are aligned. Whether China has reached such institutional maturity remains to be seen but then 2015 is still  a few years away!

Crowd control

Remember the words of China Mobile’s CEO at the 2008 Davos World Economic Forim?

We know where you are is now taking an additional dimension with we know where you go…. The Beijing Municipal government – which must have been following developments in the Arab world with a keen interest – has launched the Information Platform of Real-time Citizen Movement, a project that aims to watch over the capital’s entire population around the clock (by monitoring mobile phones) so as to reduce traffic congestion.

Anybody having had to sit in a Beijing traffic jam must be welcoming the use of ICT to ease the flow of humans in cars. Whether the gathering in front of Wangfujin’s McDonald falls within the definition of a traffic jam is another question.