Chinese tycoons, keen to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s ambition to turn China into a soccer superpower, have invested more than $2 billion in European football clubs since the start of last year, reports Ben Bland in the Financial Times. Among the European teams in which Chinese groups have acquired or invested: Italy’s AC Milan and Inter Milan, England’s Manchester City and Aston Villa, Spain’s Atletico Madrid and Espanol. Many of these investments may pay off. But the article stresses that there is a big difference between the “first division” acquirers such as Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group or Fosun International, which have deep pockets and well-developed sports marketing and media strategies, and “second division” investors, for whom there are unlikely to be many synergies. It will be interesting to see if Xi and the Party can will China into global dominance in this sport, which received relatively little state support before Xi came to power. The mixed results achieved by China’s state-led sports machine at the Rio summer Olympic games suggest global victory in soccer could prove a tricky goal.
Here’s what else we’re reading this weekend…. Continue reading “China as soccer superpower?”
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal rehearses some facts that have been reported elsewhere (including in this essay on its own Op Ed page). But the key points of the article hold such important implications for China that they are worth considering carefully:
- In 2013, China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
- In 2015, Chinese manufacturers bought 67,000 robots, about a quarter of global robot sales.
- China’s demand for industrial robots is projected to more than double to 150,000 robots per year by 2018.
- In May, Chinese home-appliance maker Midea Group launched a $5 billion takeover bid for Kuka, Germany’s most innovative engineering firm, and now owns about 86% of the company.
There’s a big debate raging among experts now about how artificial intelligence and advanced robotics — trends that, thanks to a big branding push by Klaus Schwab and the good folks at the World Economic Forum this January is now often referred to as “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” or “Industry 4.0” — will affect China. Will China, the “world’s factory,” be blindsided from these technologies? Or will it benefit from them?
Continue reading “Will the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” put China Inc out of business?”