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Nov 8, 2013
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Suntech casts shadow over China capital raisings

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By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Suntech has gone from solar panel maker to financial black hole. The stricken company is fighting with creditors who want to see it liquidated after it defaulted on interest payments in March. Proposals to sell assets and take Chinese government cash seem unlikely to help investors avoid huge losses. For investors it’s a lesson in what happens when things really go wrong with Chinese companies.

Nov 7, 2013
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China’s Singles’ Day shows market power of one

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s retail sector is about to be plunged into collective madness. On Nov. 11, online shoppers are likely to snap up over $4 billion of goods when prices halve in celebration of “Singles’ Day”. Billed as a celebration of unmarried people, the event is actually a cue for massive online discounting. Consumers benefit, but the best deal goes to Alibaba, which reinforces the dominance of its Tmall and Taobao online marketplaces while leaving sellers to do the heavy lifting.

Nov 5, 2013
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China enters era of enlightened numerology

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By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China has revealed the symbolic number that drives its economic policy: 7.2 percent. That’s the minimum growth rate Premier Li Keqiang says is needed to ensure a stable job market. Fetishising numbers sounds unhealthy for a country raised on central planning, but for China it may be a useful indication of how leaders will balance reform with stability.

Oct 31, 2013
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China’s banks languish in valuation twilight zone

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

What if investors valued China’s big lenders the same way they do global banks? By one measure, lenders like ICBC and Bank of China would be worth twice what they are today. Instead, the country’s banks languish in a valuation twilight zone. It’s a sign of the deep scepticism facing China’s financial sector.

Oct 30, 2013
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Three questions to ask of China’s ‘third plenum’

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Is reform a watchword for China’s new leaders, or just a cliché? The mysterious leadership conclave beginning on Nov. 9, known as the “third plenum”, should give a clue. A similar meeting in 1978 kicked off China’s opening up to foreign trade; at another in 1993 the socialist market economy was born. A senior Communist Party official said on Oct. 27 that this time round, under party chief Xi Jinping, there would be “unprecedented” economic and social reforms. For China-watchers, this raises three questions.

Oct 29, 2013
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Mud sticks for China’s warring heavy industries

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In China, the stodgy world of construction equipment has become a hotbed of fraud accusations, espionage and attempted kidnapping. It shows what happens when fierce competition comes without clear rules.

Oct 24, 2013
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China bank IPO shows rewards of financial alchemy

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By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Financial innovation is paying off for Bank of Chongqing, a small Chinese lender preparing for a $2 billion stock market listing in Hong Kong. What sets the bank apart isn’t its enviable 32 percent return on equity, but its copious use of what might be China’s most baffling securities.

Oct 22, 2013
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Alibaba creative governance should come at a cost

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

New York and Hong Kong differ on shareholder democracy. Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, has received approval from U.S. stock exchanges to let a partnership of senior executives nominate most of its directors. Hong Kong rebuffed the idea on principle. Investors in a future initial public offering must now decide what that principle is worth.

Oct 18, 2013
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Lenovo-BlackBerry bid could squish under pressure

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By John Foley and Ethan Bilby

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Lenovo is wading into the BlackBerry jam. The Chinese technology group has gained access to the books of the Canadian smartphone seller, which is already considering a $4.7 billion approach from shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings. If it chose to bid, Lenovo would have to do better than the current offer of $9 per share, and overcome more obstacles.

Oct 15, 2013
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Britain can gain from China’s empire builders

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By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Britain once had nothing to offer China but silver and opium. Now it has holidays, banks and building sites. George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and London’s mayor Boris Johnson are using visits to Beijing to say just how welcoming the UK is likely to be. It’s a triumph of openness, and provided the UK chooses its partners carefully and the Chinese are tactful, both sides will benefit.