CHU - China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited

NYSE - Nasdaq Real Time Price. Currency in USD
9.19
-0.11 (-1.18%)
As of 11:30AM EST. Market open.
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous Close9.30
Open9.22
Bid9.19 x 3200
Ask9.20 x 2900
Day's Range9.15 - 9.21
52 Week Range8.45 - 13.66
Volume169,253
Avg. Volume361,001
Market Cap27.851B
Beta (5Y Monthly)1.21
PE Ratio (TTM)28.72
EPS (TTM)0.32
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield0.20 (2.14%)
Ex-Dividend DateMay 13, 2019
1y Target Est13.86
  • Benzinga

    Benzinga Pro's Top 5 Stocks To Watch For Fri., Dec. 27, 2019: NKE, AXE, PT, FLXN, ZLAB

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  • Barrons.com

    China Mobile Dominates the World’s Biggest Market. Its Stock Is Cheap.

    A 5G rollout and more shareholder-friendly policies could make this underappreciated Chinese behemoth a winner

  • Hedge Funds Are Buying China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (CHU)
    Insider Monkey

    Hedge Funds Are Buying China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (CHU)

    Amid an overall bull market, many stocks that smart money investors were collectively bullish on surged through the end of November. Among them, Facebook and Microsoft ranked among the top 3 picks and these stocks gained 54% and 51% respectively. Our research shows that most of the stocks that smart money likes historically generate strong […]

  • China Unicom Attains Multiple Top International Accolades
    PR Newswire

    China Unicom Attains Multiple Top International Accolades

    China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited ("China Unicom" or "the Company") (HKEx: 0762; NYSE: CHU) is pleased to be honored with multiple top international accolades in the year 2019, including:

  • China races U.S. pressure as it launches massive 5G mobile network
    MarketWatch

    China races U.S. pressure as it launches massive 5G mobile network

    China has begun offering cellphone customers superfast 5G service, a technological leap that comes despite U.S. attempts to contain Beijing’s largest telecom company. China Mobile Ltd. (CHL)(CHLKF)(HK:941) , China Telecom Corp. (CHA)(HK:728)and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. (CHU)(CHUFF)(HK:762)are offering plans starting around 128 yuan ($18) a month, going up to roughly $100, with speeds up to 100 times faster than existing 4G services, according to the companies’ promotional materials. Beijing already has some 10,000 operational 5G base stations, and over 100,000 are planned across the country, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

  • Barrons.com

    China’s 5G Networks Go Live Today. It Could Be Bad News for Apple.

    Chinese carriers are aggressively pricing the new service, making Apple’s current lineup of non-5G-capable iPhone less attractive.

  • China Offers 5G Discounts in Race to Scale Biggest Network
    Bloomberg

    China Offers 5G Discounts in Race to Scale Biggest Network

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.China’s phone carriers offered discounts to subscribers after switching on the world’s largest 5G network Thursday, seeking to spur growth for an ultra-fast wireless system that’s key to technology supremacy. The country’s three wireless operators need to attract users to help pay for infrastructure they’ve spent more than $43 billion on in this year alone. While the technology is essential for developing industrial applications expected to drive a new digital economy, its faster speeds and lower lag times may be less compelling for consumers than previous upgrades.On the launch day of fifth-generation services in Beijing’s financial district, stores were quiet as carriers said they expect more users to sign up online.On the Twitter-like Weibo, “5G launching in 50 cities” and “5G package prices” were among the top-20 trending topics. But some Chinese consumers are balking at the high prices for handsets and service plans.“I don’t have money to buy a 5G phone, or to pay for a plan,” said Weibo user Yuanyao. “Too expensive. I can’t afford it,” said another named XBACK-No fear.Smartphone SupremacyWhile carriers look to lure more users to pay up for faster services, China’s handset makers also stand to benefit from fast uptake.Huawei Technologies Co., which also supplies the biggest slice of 5G network equipment, saw its smartphone market share jump to 42% in the third quarter, up from around 25% a year ago, according to research firm Canalys. It has already introduced several 5G models, as have Chinese brands including ZTE, Xiaomi and Vivo.Luring users to the world’s largest 5G networks may also help Chinese handset makers increase their global market share. Samsung Electronics Co. is the world’s top seller of smartphones, followed by Huawei. and Apple Inc.Huawei has already debuted models that work on the super-fast network in the U.K. and other markets in addition to China. On Wednesday, the Nikkei reported that Apple is telling suppliers that it expects to ship at least 80 million iPhones with 5G wireless modems next year.5G DealsAs of Thursday, China Mobile Ltd. was offering discounts of as much as 30% for users that pre-registered for 5G. Consumers buying 5G handsets from the carrier will get as much as 600 yuan ($85) off and gifts worth 699 yuan, the biggest operator by users said in a statement.China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd., the No. 3 carrier, and No. 2 China Telecom Corp. are also offering similar discounts to pre-registered users, along with other discounts and gifts via online lotteries and through their branches throughout the country.South Korea’s wireless carriers were the first to offer commercial 5G services, with SK Telecom Co. launching its network in April and Samsung already offering a 5G-enabled smartphone. Total 5G subscribers have surpassed 3 million in the country, although consumer reaction has been mixed.The faster network’s coverage was initially incomplete, leaving users to fall back on 4G more than some had expected, especially when using the service indoors.South Korean carriers SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp., have also sought to entice new users to adopt the technology, offering trade-ins and incentives that slash the price of new 5G phones to less than $200 from sticker prices of as much as $1,000. The subsidies have declined as the rollout expanded, said Kim Hee Sup, vice president at SK Telecom.“It’s true that the speed and coverage of 5G didn’t meet consumers’ expectations in early days,” said Kim Hee Sup, a vice president at South Korea’s largest carrier SK Telecom. “Now, the 5G service is rapidly improving as carriers are expanding the roll-out.”T-Mobile US Inc. earlier this week said it will flip on a nationwide 5G service by year end. Still, the carrier doesn’t offer yet offer a 5G compatible device yet and the service will be available only on one band of airwaves they are calling the “foundational layer,” with more layers of spectrum to come.The largest U.S. wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc. launched 5G in April and has promised to have it available in parts of 30 cities this year. Rival AT&T Inc. has 5G in areas of 21 cities and plans to offer 5G nationwide by mid 2020. Sprint Inc., which has limited 5G available in nine cities, has promised a superior 5G network if its $26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile is approved.\--With assistance from Sohee Kim and Scott Moritz.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Shirley Zhao in Hong Kong at xzhao306@bloomberg.net;Gao Yuan in Beijing at ygao199@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombs, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • China Rolls Out World’s Largest 5G Mobile Phone Network
    Bloomberg

    China Rolls Out World’s Largest 5G Mobile Phone Network

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s three state-owned wireless carriers debuted 5G mobile phone services Thursday, a milestone in the country’s push to become a technology power even as it remains locked in a trade war with the U.S.China Mobile Ltd., the country’s largest carrier, unveiled its network in 50 cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, with packages priced as low as 128 yuan ($18) a month. Rivals China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. also introduced their services at comparable rates.The operators had planned to start the networks next year, but accelerated the rollout just as the U.S. dug in on a boycott of China-based 5G equipment supplier and technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. Operators in the U.S. have introduced 5G to parts of some cities, without using Huawei gear, and South Korea debuted its version in April, though China will quickly become the largest provider by virtue of its huge population and investment by the companies.“While some other countries launched 5G services earlier this year, China will have the largest commercial operating 5G network in the world on Friday,” Chris Lane and other analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein. wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. “The scale of its network and the price of its 5G services will have a pivotal impact throughout the supply chain.”How 5G Will Change China (Beyond Faster Video Games): QuickTakeLocal media had initially reported the carriers would make 5G available starting Friday. As of Thursday morning, all three were already offering access to the service.Subscribers in China -- more than 10 million have pre-registered for 5G -- will have access to faster videos and games, more virtual reality applications and improved performance for mobile videoconferencing.China Mobile’s 5G packages for the heaviest users are priced similar to 4G plans that go as high as 588 yuan a month.The largest cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen will get full coverage first. The three operators have projected a combined capital spending of 302 billion yuan this year.Subsidies for Huawei Gear Would Be Banned Under FCC Proposal The scale of deploying 5G infrastructure across China is especially important for Huawei. Dominance in the world’s largest market can blunt the effects of a U.S. campaign against other countries installing Huawei gear, which it accuses of posing a security threat. Despite the U.S. pressure, Huawei said in July that it had signed more than 60 commercial contracts to supply 5G networks around the world, including at least 28 in Europe.(Updates with introductions Thursday in second paragraph)\--With assistance from Gao Yuan.To contact the reporter on this story: Shirley Zhao in Hong Kong at xzhao306@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • China Telecom profit falls on lower investment income
    MarketWatch

    China Telecom profit falls on lower investment income

    Net profit decreased to 18.39 billion yuan ($2.60 billion), as investment income and income from investments in associates fell 50%, China Telecom said.

  • Should You Avoid China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (CHU) Like Hedge Funds Did?
    Insider Monkey

    Should You Avoid China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (CHU) Like Hedge Funds Did?

    Before we spend countless hours researching a company, we like to analyze what insiders, hedge funds and billionaire investors think of the stock first. This is a necessary first step in our investment process because our research has shown that the elite investors' consensus returns have been exceptional. In the following paragraphs, we find out […]

  • BlackBerry Establishes Advanced Technology Development Labs
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  • Senators want FCC to review Chinese telecom approvals to operate in U.S.
    Reuters

    Senators want FCC to review Chinese telecom approvals to operate in U.S.

    Two U.S. senators on Monday asked the FCC and national security agencies to review whether two Chinese state-owned telecom companies should be allowed to operate in the United States, at a time of heightened concern about possible Chinese spying. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, asked Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai to review approvals in the early 2000s that allow China Telecom and China Unicom to operate in the United States.

  • Reuters

    UPDATE 2-Senators want FCC to review Chinese telecom approvals to operate in U.S.

    Two U.S. senators on Monday asked the FCC and national security agencies to review whether two Chinese state-owned telecom companies should be allowed to operate in the United States, at a time of heightened concern about possible Chinese spying. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, asked Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai to review approvals in the early 2000s that allow China Telecom and China Unicom to operate in the United States.

  • Telecom Stock Roundup: Qualcomm Plans Low-Priced 5G Chips, CenturyLink's Deal & More
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    While Qualcomm (QCOM) is planning to develop cheap 5G chipsets for the masses, CenturyLink (CTL) aims to strengthen its position in the content delivery network with the acquisition of Steamroot.

  • China Telecom Collaborates With China Unicom for 5G Network
    Zacks

    China Telecom Collaborates With China Unicom for 5G Network

    The "co-build, co-share" framework agreement between China Telecom (CHA) and China Unicom (CHU) is likely to foster a congenial environment for faster deployment of 5G networks through apportioned infrastructure investments.

  • China Telecom, Unicom will team up to build 5G network
    Reuters

    China Telecom, Unicom will team up to build 5G network

    China Telecom said last month it was ready to join rivals to build network for 5G, the fifth generation cellular network technology that promises to support new features such as autonomous driving. China is the world's biggest smartphone market and tie-ups between major operators there could lessen overall infrastructure spending, potentially affecting telecoms gear makers such as Huawei that are banking on the gradual rollout of 5G services. Countries like South Korea and the United States have already started 5G services, and China is rushing to join the race.

  • 3 Things Every iQiyi Investor Should Know
    Motley Fool

    3 Things Every iQiyi Investor Should Know

    Management for China's streaming video leader shared a few gems on the company's Q2 conference call.

  • China telcos weigh sharing 5G network to cut costs, potentially hurting Huawei
    Reuters

    China telcos weigh sharing 5G network to cut costs, potentially hurting Huawei

    China Telecom said on Thursday it is ready to build a 5G mobile network with its rivals in order to reduce costs, a proposal that is likely to cut multi-billion dollar equipment orders for vendors such as Huawei Technologies. China's big three state telcos are racing to roll out 5G services in more than 50 cities this year, following countries like South Korea and the United States which have already started the service that promises to support new technologies such as autonomous driving. While the gradual rollout of 5G services globally is a boon to telecoms gear makers, tie-ups by mobile operators in China, the world's biggest smartphone market, to build the network together threaten to cut the size of the overall 5G infrastructure spending.

  • 4 Hang Seng Index Shares Set to be Hurt by the RMB’s Depreciation
    Motley Fool

    4 Hang Seng Index Shares Set to be Hurt by the RMB’s Depreciation

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  • GlobeNewswire

    FingerMotion Provides Supplemental Corporate Update

    FingerMotion, Inc. (OTC QB: FNGR), a US FinTech company with mobile payment and recharge platform operations in China, today provided a supplemental corporate update in a letter from its CEO Martin Shen to its shareholders. The China Unicom (CHU) deal was an extremely positive step for our company. The partnership agreement between FingerMotion and China Unicom allows FingerMotion to have direct access to users for their top-up fulfillment, and also allows FingerMotion to sell any and all mobile phone products available from China Unicom through the China Unicom brand portals.  China Unicom will remain responsible for all inventory and fulfilment costs of physical products, meaning FingerMotion will have very limited capital costs in handing all revenues coming through the portals.

  • Will the 5G Revolution Bring Upside to Nokia Stock?
    InvestorPlace

    Will the 5G Revolution Bring Upside to Nokia Stock?

    Nokia (NYSE:NOK) stock saw a brief pop last month thanks to an earnings beat … but can that move in NOK stock last much longer?Source: Shutterstock The release of second-quarter financials on July 25 boosted shares from $5.18 per share up to $5.60 per share. However, since then, Nokia stock has fallen back to about $5.40 share.Increased demand for 5G technology helped improve sales 7% year-over-year. But the company continues to post net losses due to restructuring and impairment charges. With a turnaround still in progress, is NOK worth a buy today?InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsWhile the company has positive catalysts in the works, Nokia has missed the mark many times in the past. Let's take a closer look, and see if there is additional upside for Nokia stock. NOK Earnings: A Deeper LookThe company's financials are clouded by goodwill impairment and amortization charges. This is primarily related to the company's 2016 merger with Alcatel-Lucent. There are also restructuring charges related to their cost savings plan. With this in mind, let's take a look at the company's adjusted earnings. Adjusted (non-IFRS) operating profits exclude these charges. This provides a clearer picture of Nokia's operating performance. Non-IFRS operating profits were up 35% year-over-year. Adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) of 0.05 euros were up 67% from the prior year's quarter. * 7 Winning High-Yield Dividend Stocks With Payouts Over 5% With annual cost savings of $700 million euros anticipated by 2020, the company has runway to improve operating margins. In terms of organic growth, the 5G revolution provides plenty of gas to grow revenues. Nokia's full-year outlook projects adjusted EPS of 0.25-0.29 euros. The company anticipates additional earnings growth in 2020, with projected adjusted EPS of 0.37-0.42 euros/share for next year.As InvestorPlace contributor James Brumley pointed out last month, Nokia has been landing 5G contracts left and right. NOK has signed over 42 end users, including China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and Sprint (NYSE:S). But the company still needs to execute. This presents a material risk for NOK stock. The company has set up high expectations. If they fail to deliver, new opportunities could dry up, sending NOK shares lower.There are additional risks to consider. As 5G reaches critical mass, competition will likely heat up. The U.S.-China trade war could accelerate, negatively impacting Nokia's business in both countries. But what does this mean for investors entering Nokia stock today? Can they enter the stock at a discount, or will they have to pay a premium? Let's take a look at the valuation of NOK stock, and see how it stacks up to peers. Nokia's ValuationNOK stock currently trades at a trailing twelve month Enterprise Value/EBITDA (EV/EBITDA) ratio of 10.1. This is a slight discount to competitors such as Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), which trades at an EV/EBITDA ratio of 13.8. Nokia stock also trades at a discount other telecom equipment manufacturers. LM Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), for example, trades at an EV/EBITDA ratio of 11.6; Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) trades at an EV/EBITDA ratio of 16.7.It is important to note that NOK has lower EBITDA margins. The company's EBITDA margins are 11.4%, which pales in comparison to both Cisco and Motorola Solutions. Cisco has EBITDA margins of 30.8%. Motorola Solutions has EBITDA margins of 26.2%. However, the company's operating margins are in line with LM Ericsson, which has an EBITDA margin of 9.8%.But is this discount warranted?Nokia has dropped the ball many times in the past. This under-performance has burned contrarian investors trying to call a bottom. Is the 5G revolution Nokia's "this time it's different" moment? The company faces many risks in executing the 5G rollout. But much of this negative sentiment is priced into shares, as seen by the discount to peers. This means investors could see tremendous upside if the company's 5G sales meet expectations.Nokia stock presents a high risk/high return opportunity for investors. But does this make the stock a screaming buy? While the company's future prospects are not set in stone, the positive catalysts in play make this opportunity a strong buy for long-term investors. * 7 Stocks the Insiders Are Buying on Sale Bottom Line on NOK StockNokia releases third-quarter earnings in late October. This gives investors several months to enter a position in NOK stock before additional information makes the bull case (or bear case) for shares. NOK trades at a discount to peers. If they can execute 5G successfully, the company's fortunes could materially improve. This would be a shot in the arm for Nokia stock.As it stands now, what's the play with NOK?In the short-term, investors may be not see upside. Shares will likely trade sideways, pending new developments on the 5G front. However, long-term, Nokia may be the right contrarian play in the telecom space. For investors looking for speculative opportunities in large-cap stocks, Nokia stock may just be a buy.As of this writing, Thomas Neil did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Internet Stocks Getting Hammered * 6 Big Growth ETFs to Buy For the Second Half of 2019 * 5 Cheap Stocks to Buy Now That the Fed Cut Rates The post Will the 5G Revolution Bring Upside to Nokia Stock? appeared first on InvestorPlace.

  • GlobeNewswire

    FingerMotion Provides Corporate Update

    FingerMotion, Inc. (OTC QB: FNGR), a US fintech company with mobile payment and recharge platform operations in China, today provided a corporate update in a letter from its CEO Martin Shen to its shareholders.

  • Tempting as It May Be, Nokia Stock Isn’t Going Anywhere
    InvestorPlace

    Tempting as It May Be, Nokia Stock Isn’t Going Anywhere

    Ever since Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched its now-iconic iPhone, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has been in crisis mode. Of course, what has consistently dragged on the company is that it has never really left that mode. Nokia stock peaked around the $40 level in 2007. Today, you can pick up shares for a little over $5. Source: Shutterstock Of course, with such a low price point, this attracts contrarian buyers. After all, we're talking about Nokia stock, not some nameless, faceless upstart tooling around in the pink sheets. True, the Nokia brand isn't anywhere near as relevant as it once was. However, the Finnish telecom firm very much has clout.This is evident through the company's many wheeling and dealings. Recently, NOK announced that China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) selected Nokia's solution for the Chinese telecom's 4G and 5G networks . Significantly, China Unicom has a very ambitious target to deliver 5G wireless connectivity within this year.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips * 9 Retail Stocks Goldman Sachs Says Are Ready to Rip Plus, Nokia stock benefits from geopolitical tailwinds. Earlier this year, I wrote that our own telecom giant AT&T (NYSE:T) has "critical value beyond the print."Primarily, what underlines the U.S.-China trade war is the two sides' rush to dominate next-generation technologies. Thus, companies like AT&T represent more than just capitalistic concerns; rather, they facilitate the pathway for these technologies to advance American interests.Second, the trade war has temporarily erased Huawei - the largest supplier of mobile network technology - from the picture. That gives an obvious opportunity for NOK, and by logical deduction, Nokia stock.And as our own James Brumley pointed out, Nokia has struck with multiple awarded contracts. But is that enough for NOK stock? NOK Stock and the FundamentalsAdmittedly, when I saw Brumley's contribution towards Nokia stock, I only read the headlines. But it was enough of a catchy one that I decided to look at the price chart before reading what my colleague had to say.Again, at $5, NOK stock is a very tempting mistress. Not only is it still a relatively well-known brand, but it's also levered to an extremely viable business. Everyone that's anyone is racing for 5G dominance. Moreover, 5G has serious geopolitical and even military implications.Such an environment suggests that the next-gen telecom network will provide robust revenue channels. That's especially true for Nokia if it can claim first-to-market advantages in specific regions or technical subsegments.And to Brumley's argument, Nokia is securing contracts with big names, such as China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) and BT Group (NYSE:BT). Obviously, these are big tailwinds for NOK stock.But what isn't so appealing is trading sentiment. Specifically, Nokia has no discernible correlation with revenue trends. For instance, from the first quarter of 2013 through Q1 2019, Nokia shares and revenue had a correlation coefficient of -20%. Between Q1 2016 through Q1 2019, the correlation inversely strengthened to 34%. However, this is still not a statistically significant relationship. Click to EnlargeWhy does this matter? Because you really want your core investments to make rational sense. In other words, if Nokia's management says they're on a recovery path, I don't expect NOK stock to jump just on that alone. However, if Nokia proved its point through sales increases, I expect shares to steadily tick higher.Longer-term, that hasn't happened. For example, in Q4 2015, Nokia rang up only $3.95 billion in sales. Three years later, the company delivered revenue of $7.84 billion. Still, shares dropped on average from $6.31 to $5.57. Nokia Stock Is an Interpretive ArtworkIn my last article about NOK stock, I suggested that it was nothing more than a short-term trade. Largely, I feel the same way because of the lack of rationality in the market.However, I concede that this lack of rationality also presents an opportunity. To quote Brumley, Nokia "has gotten little to no credit for its newly-won contracts, as investors struggle to get past the company's disappointing first-quarter results."Perhaps the reason why Nokia stock has little correlation with the fundamentals is that most folks simply don't recognize the opportunity. Therefore, if you take the risk now, you potentially have a front-row seat to a massive recovery.But it could also mean that the markets have reason to doubt Nokia. Brumley even conceded that Q2 2019 numbers may not look great.And let's remind ourselves why Q1 figures were so disappointing: Nokia failed to supply 5G telecom equipment in time. Stated differently, if you buy Nokia stock, you're doing so on technical potential, not on proven fundamentals.As of this writing, Josh Enomoto is long T stock. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Dependable Dividend Stocks to Buy * 10 Stocks Driving the Market to All-Time Highs (And Why) * 7 Short Squeeze Stocks With Big Upside Potential The post Tempting as It May Be, Nokia Stock Isn't Going Anywhere appeared first on InvestorPlace.

  • China’s Most Advanced Big Brother Experiment Is a Bureaucratic Mess
    Bloomberg

    China’s Most Advanced Big Brother Experiment Is a Bureaucratic Mess

    (Bloomberg) -- The city of Suzhou, known as “the Venice of the East” for its web of intricate waterways, captured the imagination of Marco Polo when he journeyed through China more than seven centuries ago.Today it’s drawing attention for another grand project: a sprawling network of databases designed to track the behavior of China’s population. Sitting next to Shanghai with an economy larger than Finland’s, Suzhou was one of a dozen places chosen in 2018 by President Xi Jinping’s government to run a social-credit trial, which can reward or punish citizens for their behavior.The system, dubbed “Osmanthus” after the fragrant flower the city uses as an emblem, collects data on nearly two dozen metrics, including marital status, education level and social-security payments. Authorities have given it national awards even as Western politicians like U.S. Vice President Mike Pence lambaste social credit as ushering in an Orwellian dystopia that could serve as a model for authoritarian regimes around the globe. But dozens of interviews with the people most affected by the system paint a nuanced picture of the technology in its early stages. Few of the entrepreneurs, volunteers, public servants and other Suzhou residents surveyed said they had even heard of Osmanthus, which is supposed to help shape laws, regulations and standards across China by 2020.China’s Radical Plan to Judge Each Citizen’s Behavior: QuickTakeSuzhou’s experience raises questions about the dozens of similar scoring projects that local cities are now rolling out. If residents are unaware of a system designed to change their behavior for the better, then what’s the point of having it? And if it’s struggling to take off in a city lauded by authorities, what are the chances it can be implemented effectively across the nation anytime soon?“China has an interest in overstating its capacity to collect and analyze data, like they overstate their capacity to monitor with surveillance cameras and facial recognition,” said Jeremy Daum, a senior fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School. “They want people to believe that misconduct will get caught.”A three-story brown and white building near the city center is the public face of Suzhou’s social-credit system. Here individuals can ask questions about their scores.On a recent Monday afternoon, the building was largely empty. Two staff shuffled papers and typed at computers, while six seats reserved for visitors were vacant. One woman who entered was lost and asked for directions. The lone self-service machine, emblazoned with logos for Osmanthus and state-owned telecoms company China Unicom, was unplugged.A female official in jeans and a t-shirt, who only gave her family name Xi, said about 10 people come in each day. Most are small-business owners who want to verify that they’ve been removed from a financial credit blacklist after paying off a debt. She said she’s hardly ever seen anyone come in to check their social-credit score.Proponents of the system says it hews closely to the financial scores pioneered by William Fair and Earl Isaac in the U.S. in the mid-1950s. Today, FICO scores form the basis of the vast majority of loans made to individuals in the U.S. — with occasional debates over how they’re formulated and whether consumers have enough access to them.“People could end up living in fear, worrying that they are being watched all the time.”But China’s social-credit scores arguably go a step further by using the country’s vast surveillance network — public CCTV cameras, payment systems and more — to monitor citizens. While good behavior — such as volunteering, paying bills on time or avoiding fines for littering — is supposed to be rewarded with financial perks, bad behavior can abruptly leave residents without access to financing and public services.Osmanthus collects data on individuals from around 20 government departments, including social security and civil affairs, according to the local administration. Citizens start out with a neutral 100 points and can build them up to a maximum of 200 through good behavior. Like many other provinces trialing the system, Suzhou hasn’t yet introduced rules to define bad behavior, or the number of points that can be deducted.But perks for good behavior also are unclear. Lu Wenting, a Suzhou resident who says she does about 24 hours of volunteer work each week, said that she had never heard of Osmanthus, even though it’s supposed to grant public transport benefits to those with high scores. She found out her own score was a healthy “123” after Bloomberg reporters helped her look it up on the WeChat app run by Tencent Holdings Ltd.About one in eight of the 13 million people monitored in Suzhou had a score above 100 as of last August, according to local media reports. Only 4,731 were below 100, and all were so-called defaulters who hadn’t paid back loans or had failed to obey court rulings. That leaves more than 11 million people with scores at the baseline.Still, the idea of punishment is already sparking worries. A citizen in Yiwu, a city in neighboring Zhejiang province that is also running a trial, said he was denied a bank loan because a traffic cop deducted three points from his score for failing to give way to pedestrians crossing a street. Residents with a score of at least 100 points qualify for “civilization loans” with favorable interest rates.“People from lower levels of society could break rules without knowing and find their scores lowered and get shut out of more and more opportunities,” said Chen Shicai, a resident in Suzhou, expressing worries that social credit could worsen inequality in a country that already grapples with huge wealth divisions.One problem is how to integrate social credit into existing legal systems to ensure there are checks and balances to prevent abuse. China’s use of technology and informants among the Uighur minority groups in the far western province of Xinjiang suggest that the programs could become more oppressive as they develop.“I worry that regulations may become too specific, such as parking in the wrong spot,” said Su Su, an insurance saleswoman in Suzhou. “People could end up living in fear, worrying that they are being watched all the time.” Five provinces or municipalities — Shanghai, Zhejiang, Hebei, Hubei and Shaanxi — have established local credit regulations, but there are no national rules. Zhejiang and Shanghai placed clear restrictions on data collection that exclude personal information on religious beliefs, genetics, fingerprints, blood types and medical history.“While most of the trials are leaning towards encouraging people with convenience and perks, local authorities need to exercise caution when it comes to punishment," said Han Jiaping, director of the Credit Research Institute affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce. “Government at all levels shouldn’t over-punish and infringe people’s privacy and legitimate rights.”Another wrinkle is that many residents see more value in competing systems. At the 105-year-old Suzhou Library, citizens with high Osmanthus scores are supposed to be able to get longer book loan periods. But library staff said most people checked out books using their Zhima Credit number, a private credit score from Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial. Few people even ask about their Osmanthus score.“It’s more like a vanity project,” said Diao Yun, a Suzhou resident who works for a private company. “There’s no promotion of the system in the city — no billboards, no ads or public campaign as far as I see. It’s distant from people’s daily lives.”Cities and officials looking to build and implement a social-credit system face a bewildering array of official guidelines and documents from the State Council and other central and regional government bodies. Those rules relate to everything from assessing creditworthiness to punishing cultural performances on the internet that have a “heinous” social impact.In Suzhou, the main roadblock to promoting the system is inter-department squabbling over data sharing and who will pay for perks, according to a report in the state-owned Suzhou Daily. The paper said only 30 of the 70 departments are sending data directly to the platform, with others worried about transferring information without a legal requirement.“People could end up living in fear, worrying that they are being watched all the time.”Those teething problems mean that many residents in Suzhou are unaware of the system. None of the staff questioned in the subway, parks and museum knew anything about the scoring system or alleged perks, such as priority non-emergency service at hospitals.Another problem is at the national level. Xi and his team are engaged in an escalating trade war with the Trump administration that threatens to further hurt growth as companies get caught in the line of fire.It’s not a priority among China’s top leaders to push through a nationwide social-credit scoring system now even if Suzhou and other localities can set up workable models, said Zhang Jian, an associate government professor at Peking University.“President Xi and his government have been caught up ‘fire fighting’ internal and external pressures since last year,” Zhang said. “I doubt the party leaders are willing to expend the time, energy and political capital to roll out the plan.”  To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netSharon Chen in Singapore at schen462@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net, Brendan ScottAdam MajendieAlice TruongFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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