1 China to rein in outward investment (Rob Davies in The Guardian) Beijing has signalled plans to curb Chinese firms’ investment in foreign assets, after revealing that companies from China are on course to spend 1.12 trillion yuan (£130bn) on everything from British football clubs to a Hollywood film producer in 2016.
Companies from China ramped up their spending on overseas assets during the year, as a weakening domestic economy saw investors turn their attention overseas. A diverse array of targets included the maker of Godzilla, Aston Villa Football Club and the pub in which former prime minister David Cameron and Chinese premier Xi Jinping once shared a pint.
The spending spree boosted non-financial overseas investment 55% in the first 11 months of 2016, putting Chinese companies on course to spend £130bn this year, compared with £86bn in 2015, said commerce minister Gao Hucheng.
While foreign investment has soared, the amount of money flowing into the country is set to remain broadly flat at £92bn. This means the difference between investments abroad and those coming into China has reached an unprecedented £39bn.
The widening gap has triggered concerns about capital flight, where investors send their money out of the country rather than investing it to spur domestic growth. Gao signalled that Beijing would move to address the investment gap by reining in Chinese firms’ overseas spending and making it easier for firms from abroad to access the Chinese economy.
He said the government would “promote the healthy and orderly development of outbound investment and cooperation in 2017”. In November it was reported that China was preparing a clampdown on non-Chinese mergers and acquisitions.
2 Digital data will be king in 2017 (Necip Ozyucel in Khaleej Times) There is no question that the amount of digital data has increased drastically. More and more companies are migrating infrastructure and applications to the cloud.
Growing penetration of the Internet, particularly in emerging economies, and the digitisation of several industries have been instrumental in increasing the amount of data being generated online. The amount of digital data continues to rise from 10 zettabytes of digital data to 50 zettabytes of data. In 2020, one million new devices are expected to come online every hour.
The digitisation of things, heightened individual mobility and collaboration continue to accelerate data increase. Thus, big data will continue to be a necessary asset for companies in all sectors in the coming year: from data algorithms to data entry, bringing transformative change in the IT landscape.
2016 has also been a big year for virtual reality, with the emergence of various mixed reality technologies such as Microsoft HoloLens. Augmented reality machines and apps are starting to see massive popularity, bringing millions of users together for a shared physical and digital hybrid experience. Holograms are also being utilised increasingly in the education sector for learning and teaching, making virtual reality a viable consumer product.
The pace of technological change is not expected to slow down in the coming year and the tech sector must continue to innovate and achieve seamless integration between products and platforms. Continued attention to efficiency, privacy and security will remain essential components in the adoption of new tools and services across industries, come 2017.
3 Cheetah numbers decline (San Francisco Chronicle) Amid population declines for many wildlife species in Africa, conservationists are sounding alarm bells for the cheetah, the fastest animal on land.
An estimated 7,100 cheetahs remain in the wild across Africa and in a small area of Iran, and human encroachment has pushed the wide-ranging predator out of 91 percent of its historic habitat, according to a study.
Consequently, the cheetah should be defined as “endangered” instead of the less serious “vulnerable” on an official watch list of threatened species worldwide, the study said. About 77 percent of cheetah habitats fall outside wildlife reserves and other protected areas, the study said, requiring outreach to governments and villages to promote tolerance for a carnivore that sometimes hunts livestock.
Besides habitat loss, cheetahs face attacks from villagers, loss of antelope and other prey that are killed by people for their meat, an illegal trade in cheetah cubs, the trafficking of cheetah skins and the threat of getting hit by speeding vehicles.
A cheetah has been recorded running at a speed of 29 meters (95 feet) per second. The species may move more slowly while hunting and it can only maintain top speeds for a few hundred meters.
The cheetah population in Zimbabwe declined from an estimated 1,500 in 1999 to between 150 and 170, according to a survey conducted between 2013 and 2015 by a group called Cheetah Conservation Project Zimbabwe. Cheetah experts note that Angola is developing a plan to protect cheetahs and African wild dogs.