George Chen

Winners and losers as Hong Kong rents scale new heights

By George Chen
October 27, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

When you walk around Hong Kong’s Central commercial and business district these days, you may notice a number of stores are holding “removal sales”, which means they can no longer remain in the same location. The reason? In most cases, just blame soaring rents.

Designed in New York, made in Dongguan

By George Chen
October 24, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

It could be the perfect story to show how China Inc and its American partner can work together for a win-win result, but Chinese consumers are having second thoughts on this.

One country, two problems

By George Chen
May 23, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

There’s a new problem with the “one country, two systems” policy for Hong Kong and mainland China — the appreciation of the yuan can ease inflation in mainland China but not in Hong Kong.

The dilemma between pay rise and inflation

By George Chen
May 4, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

First, we were worried about inflation in mainland China. Now it seems Hong Kong’s inflation situation in coming months looks no better. I blame the worsening problem partly on the city’s first-ever minimum wage law, effective May 1.

Income gap matters

By George Chen
April 12, 2011

PaulsonBy George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

We’ve been talking about accelerating inflation for some time, and it has resulted in another tough issue for the government to address — with much care — the growing income gap between rich and poor.

From noodles to gasoline, inflation is not just an issue in China

By George Chen
April 8, 2011

noodlesBy George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

These days I’m increasingly convinced that inflation is not just a China issue but a global problem and one that is becoming worse.

Where China traders meet

By George Chen
April 4, 2011

IPOBy George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

My readers on Reuters.com know me as a columnist who regularly writes about China and I also run a Chinese-language column, Mr. Shangkong, about Shanghai where I was born and Hong Kong where I call home now, on Reuters.com.cn, the China portal.

The next 48 hours

By George Chen
March 29, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

What might you do in the next 48 hours in China? A number of things — how about rushing to nearby supermarkets to stock up on soap and shampoo if you are a price-sensitive consumer?

Post-earthquake concept stocks

By George Chen
March 24, 2011

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

Have you had breakfast or lunch yet? In Hong Kong, I’m guessing few people are choosing sushi these days.

Dairy and property: How Japan’s crisis is affecting China

By George Chen
March 17, 2011
Chinese moms While the rest of the world is trying to help Japan deal with the aftermath of its earthquake and tsunami, some parents in China and Hong Kong are on a single-minded quest to buy up as much made-in-Japan baby formula as they can. On my way to work on Monday morning, I saw a long queue of anxious-looking people in front of a grocery store. Over the following three days, the queue got longer and longer and more and more anxious. They were all after the same thing – baby formula from Japan. This is simply because some Chinese parents believe their babies are accustomed to drinking Japanese milk and they are concerned that radiation may affect the quality of exports from Japan in coming months Hong Kong media reported that retail prices for some Japanese baby formula have risen more than 30 percent this week. At present, the market price is about HK$250 (US$32) for a standard container and some retailers are reportedly limiting purchases to six per person to avoid angering latecomers. In this case, parents called on relatives, even elderly grandparents, to join the queue on their behalf (which works if you have many relatives and friends who are willing to help). Of course, Hong Kong parents are not alone in this concern. A fast-growing number of parents in mainland China are on a similar quest and they don’t mind paying HK$2,000 (US$256) for a round-trip ticket from major mainland cities to Hong Kong to buy made-in-Japan products. People in Hong Kong, may soon face a bigger disappointment as a result of Japan’s earthquake – the possibility of property prices rising even further and faster. Local property agents say they have noticed some landlords want to increase rents, especially in downtown areas such as Admiralty and the Mid-levels, which are within minutes of Hong Kong’s Central financial and business district, where many international banks have their regional headquarters. Global financial firms including Blackstone, BNP Paribas and Royal Bank of Scotland are relocating foreign staff, especially senior executives, from Tokyo to neighboring bases to avoid the possibility of radiation exposure. These executive typically head to Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, with most apparently happier to choose Hong Kong, if not Singapore. Rents in Hong Kong are already a social problem, making the city one of the most expensive places in the world in which to live. The government has been trying to cool prices since late last year. With more rich but timorous bankers being relocating to Hong Kong from Tokyo and so far no indication of when they might return to Japan, the outlook for the property market in Hong Kong looks bullish. I’m not saying this isn’t a positive  trend, but given what is happening to the lives of ordinary people in Hong Kong and China, the crisis in Japan is becoming a crisis for Asia, if not the rest of the world. If the nuclear crisis cannot be contained and people lose confidence in crisis management and post-crisis protection, a chain reaction may be seen in many areas beyond dairy and property prices.

Japan