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Thread: Chinese Tycoons, CEOs & Tuhao

  1. #61
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    Wang Sicong under scrutiny again

    More on Wang Sicong

    Billionaire's son is the latest target of China's social credit system
    A failure to pay his debts within the given time will see Wang Sicong join the ranks of “discredited” people.
    A look inside China's social credit system
    JUNE 4, 201907:51
    Nov. 13, 2019, 1:35 AM PST
    By Dawn Liu

    BEIJING, China — A high-profile Chinese businessman is on the brink of becoming a social outcast and being banned from his lavish spending habits by the courts if he doesn't pay back $21.5 million debt, even though he is the son a well-known real estate tycoon.

    Wang Sicong, the son of the billionaire owner of AMC Theaters, Wang Jianlin, was last week listed in the national database of the Supreme Court of China of debtors and defaulters with outstanding debt. A failure to pay within the given time will see him join the ranks of “discredited” people.

    China is experimenting with a score-based social credit system which is designed to create a society of trust and sincerity by rewarding good behavior and punishing the dishonesty. Once someone is discredited, they could face a harsh penalty and a lifelong stain on their character.

    Huang Weijun, a former discredited man who owed $86,000 to a company, had to endure many limitations.

    “I only had the option of taking a bus to travel from another city to my city, which took more than 20 hours,” Huang said. “My private property was frozen and I wasn’t allowed to sell my house or make investments, before I paid the debt.”


    Image: Businessman Wang Sicong in Shanghai, China.Businessman Wang Sicong in Shanghai, China.VCG / Getty file

    Wang is still one step away from being discredited but is already banned from taking flights, staying at five-star hotels, going to golf clubs, visiting nightclubs, or taking vacations, by order of the court.

    Wang has been known for flaunting his wealth on social media. He has used social media to post pictures of his extravagant sports cars and expensive meals and to show that he'd spent $36,000 on a few Apple watches for his pet dog.

    Wang’s predicament stemmed from a financial dispute, caused by the bankruptcy of his online game live streaming company Panda TV earlier this year, which landed him a lawsuit.

    In October, Wang was banned from high-level spending and the fund of his private equity firm Prometheus Capital was frozen by two courts in Shanghai.

    As China’s most famous and outspoken “second generation” rich person, Wang has around 44 million fans on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. But for the past six months, he hasn’t posted any content.

    “When he is restricted on high consumption, some of his partners might need to consider if he is financially capable and those who owe money to him might delay the payment,” Hunan-based lawyer Liu Jingcheng said. “It is very bad for his business.”

    “If Wang can’t solve this issue, his dad should able to solve this,” Liu said, “But his dad didn’t do so, which might suggest there is some capital issue in his family.”

    On Monday, Wang issued a statement through his team on the website of Prometheus Capital.

    “Mr. Wang also has many other investments and his other achievements should not be neglected due to his one failure,” the statement reads, “Currently he is doing everything he can to cope with the situation and has already come up with a solution. We are fully capable of solving our problems.”

    Dawn Liu
    Dawn Liu is a researcher for NBC News based in Beijing.

    Leou Chen contributed.
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  2. #62
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    Meng Wanzhou

    Huawei CEO says his daughter should be proud she became a 'bargaining chip' in the trade war
    By Kristie Lu Stout and Yuli Yang, CNN Business
    Updated 7:47 AM ET, Sun December 1, 2019

    Shenzhen (CNN Business)Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, has been called the face of the US-China trade war.

    But to Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, she is the daughter he praises for her year of "suffering."
    "She should be proud to have been caught in this situation. In the fight between the two nations, she became a bargaining chip," Ren said in an interview with CNN Business on Tuesday.
    Meng was detained in Canada at the request of US authorities one year ago on Sunday. She remains under house arrest in Vancouver and is awaiting a hearing on her possible extradition to the United States. She and Huawei face a number of charges — including bank fraud, trade secrets theft and skirting US sanctions on Iran — in US federal courts.
    Meng and Huawei deny the charges.
    Huawei, the world's biggest telecommunications maker and a leading smartphone brand, has become a flashpoint in the trade war. Washington says Huawei poses a national security risk and engages in business that runs counter to US foreign policy interests. The company denies those allegations.
    But the United States has been ratcheting up the pressure. Earlier this year, Huawei was placed on a US trade blacklist. The restriction bars American firms such as Google (GOOGL), Intel (INTC) and Micron (MICR) from doing business with Huawei unless they obtain a US government license to do so. Some US firms, such as Microsoft, received limited licenses last week.
    Ren is now fighting to ensure the company's survival. He has often compared Huawei to a bullet-ridden plane and employees to mechanics working frantically to patch the holes. At the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, there are black and white posters plastered on walls showing a World War II-era aircraft shot through with bullets, but still flying — a reminder to staff of what's at stake.


    Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, leaves her Vancouver home to appear in British Columbia Supreme Court on September 23, 2019.

    Meng, Ren said, is also suffering and will be stronger for it.
    "The experience of hardship and suffering is good for Meng and her growth. Under the grand backdrop of the ... trade war, she is like a small ant being caught between the collision of two giant powers," Ren said.
    Meng spends her time painting and studying, and her mom and husband fly to Canada regularly to stay with her, according to Ren.
    The 75-year-old executive said the ordeal has brought him closer to his daughter. There's no routine, but he says they chat more than they did before, and he sometimes sends her funny stories he finds online.
    "In the past, Meng Wanzhou might not give me a single call in a whole year. She wouldn't ask how I was, or even send me a text message," Ren said. "Now, our relationship has become much closer."
    Days after Meng's arrest in Vancouver, diplomatic relations between China and Canada soured. China arrested two Canadian citizens — former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
    Beijing has charged them with espionage and denies that their arrests are related to Meng's case.
    Ren said he doesn't know the details of Kovrig and Spavor's arrests, adding that he is in no position to comment on the situation.
    Kovrig has yet to see his lawyer or family, according to the International Crisis Group, his employer. Spavor's current status could not be determined.
    Meng will officially challenge her extradition to the United States next January.
    As for her future at Huawei, one thing is certain: She won't be getting a promotion.
    "Hardships like this one will have a major impact on a person's grit and character. However, when she returns to Huawei, it doesn't mean that she'll be given greater responsibilities," said Ren.
    As CFO, she can handle financial matters, but she is ill equipped to take on other aspects of the business because she doesn't have a background in technology and doesn't have what it takes to lead, according to Ren.
    "If the company is led by someone without strategic acumen, the company will gradually lose its competitive edge. That's why when Meng comes back, she'll continue to do what she has been doing all along," he said.
    — Sherisse Pham contributed to this report.
    It's a strange feather to put in one's cap, but I get it.
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  3. #63
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    ttt 4 2020

    ‘Completely normal’ man who chopped Chinese millionaire Yuan Gang into 108 pieces found guilty of manslaughter in Vancouver
    Zhao Li had faced a murder charge but judge said it had not been proven that he intended to kill Yuan when he shot him
    Killer said he dismembered Yuan ‘like a bear’, following a fatal argument in which Yuan said he wanted to marry Zhao’s TV star daughter
    Ian Young in Vancouver
    Published: 9:55am, 8 Jan, 2020


    Chinese businessman Yuan Gang lived a playboy's lifestyle before his 2015 murder. Photo: BC Supreme Court

    A man who killed a Chinese millionaire then chopped him into 108 pieces in his Vancouver mansion has been found not guilty of the businessman’s murder, after a judge ruled that the intent to kill had not been proved.
    British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes instead found Zhao Li, 59, guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, as well as interfering with human remains.
    Outside the court on Tuesday, Zhao’s lawyer Ian Donaldson praised the ruling and said his client was a “completely normal” man, whose actions on May 2, 2015, were considered “unthinkable” by those who knew him.
    Zhao, an experienced hunter, did not dispute having shot dead Yuan Gang, 42, with a rifle in the driveway of his home, nor that he then cut Yuan’s body into 108 pieces in the garage, putting the remains in plastic bags. Yuan and Zhao both lived in the home, with Zhao’s wife Li Xioming, who is Yuan’s cousin.


    Florence Zhao is the star of the reality show Ultra Rich Asian Girls. Photo: HBIC TV

    But Zhao’s lawyers said he was provoked when Yuan told Zhao that he wanted to marry Zhao’s daughter, Florence Zhao, then a 26-year-old reality TV performer who starred in the show Ultra Rich Asian Girls and regarded Yuan as her uncle. She was already married to another man at the time.
    He’s a completely normal, sensible and well-adjusted human being. Until this day [of the killing]
    Zhao Li’s lawyer Ian Donaldson
    An argument spiralled into a deadly confrontation in which Zhao struck Yuan with a hammer, fracturing his skull, then shot him twice in the driveway of the house, with the fatal shot delivered from near point-blank range, Schultes said.
    Zhao, who stands about 155cm tall, said he was afraid of the much bigger Yuan, and his lawyers depicted him as a timid and non-confrontational man.
    After neighbours heard the shots, police were called and a special operations team surrounded the home in the elite British Properties neighbourhood, while Zhao set about butchering Yuan’s remains with a power saw and a knife.
    “He was dealing with it as he would have dealt with an animal carcass,” said Schultes as he read his verdict.
    However, Zhao’s gruesome actions after the killing had “no probative value” in determining whether Zhao was guilty of second-degree murder, or manslaughter, Schultes ruled.


    Yuan Gang in an undated file photo from social media. Photo: Weibo

    Other relatives of Yuan have depicted the killing as the culmination of a financial dispute between Yuan and Zhao.
    Donaldson said outside court that the verdict was a “fortunate outcome” for Zhao but one which the defence had pursued.
    “It will take him a while to process it … he’s a thoughtful man,” said Donaldson of his client. “The evidence didn’t support murder.”
    Zhao was a man of “previously unblemished character”, Donaldson said.
    He was dealing with it as he would have dealt with an animal carcass
    Mr Justice Terence Schultes describing Zhao Li’s dismemberment of Yuan Gang
    “He’s a completely normal, sensible and well-adjusted human being,” the lawyer said. “Until this day [of the killing]. Non-violent. Non-anything. That kind of report came to us from all sorts of different people. Completely non-violent: one of the witnesses said that this was the last thing in the world he would ever expect to hear concerning Mr Zhao.”


    A 2015 courtroom sketch of Zhao Li. Illustration: Reuters

    The case has riveted Vancouver’s Chinese community with its lurid details of Yuan’s killing and his private affairs.
    In addition to the British Properties home, Yuan also owned a 10-bedroom mansion in expensive Shaughnessy, as well as a private island, luxury cars and a multimillion-dollar yacht.
    Shaughnessy hosts a high concentration of Chinese wealth.
    Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, who is fighting a US bid for her extradition from Canada to face fraud charges related to her company’s alleged breaching of US sanctions, currently resides in the neighbourhood. Meng’s mansion there is valued at about C$16 million (US$12.3 million).
    Li Zhao charged with dismembering corpse in multimillion-dollar mansion
    6 May 2015

    Florence Zhao flaunted the trappings of Yuan’s wealth on Ultra Rich Asian Girls, a show which depicted the gaudy lifestyles of a group of apparently rich young Chinese immigrants in Vancouver. Yuan’s Rolls-Royce, his Pym Island hideaway and the mansion where he would later be killed were all featured in the show as part of “Flo-Z’s” family fortune.
    Worth C$8 million as recently as last year, the British Properties house is now valued at C$4.2 million.


    The Vancouver home where Yuan Gang was shot dead. Photo: SCMP
    A separate Canadian civil case over Yuan’s estate heard accounts of his playboy lifestyle, including that he had more than 100 “girlfriends”. He had at least five children, all by different mothers, none of whom were aware of the others’ existence, the judge in that case found.
    The five children will split Yuan’s estate, worth up to C$21 million, after that judge ruled in February that a woman who said she was his de facto wife had no claim to the estate. A second woman had also claimed to be Yuan’s wife, while Yuan had in fact married a third woman.
    But that marriage amounted to immigration fraud, the judge in the civil case said, allowing Yuan to obtain permanent residency in Canada in 2007. They divorced months later.
    Yuan is said by his family to have made his fortune in real estate investment. But he was implicated in a bribery scandal in China, in which a mainland court said he paid an official in Yunnan province a 1kg gold bar in exchange for coal mining rights. Yuan was never charged in the case and only served as a witness in the prosecution of the official, The Vancouver Sun reported.
    A date for Zhao’s sentencing will be set next week. Manslaughter carries a maximum term of life in prison, but that is very rarely applied; the mandatory minimum sentence ranges from four to seven years.
    Zhao has already spent almost five years behind bars, which will be taken into account.

    Ian Young
    Ian Young is the Post's Vancouver correspondent. A journalist for more than 20 years, he worked for Australian newspapers and the London Evening Standard before arriving in Hong Kong in 1997. There he won or shared awards for excellence in investigative reporting and human rights reporting, and the HK News Awards Scoop of the Year. He moved to Canada with his wife in 2010.
    The new 'normal'
    Gene Ching
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  4. #64
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    Shuang Crossland

    The tycoon behind Kung Fu Tea...



    Meet Shuang Crossland – The Woman Behind Some Of Denver’s Most Popular Asian Restaurants
    KRISTINA VASQUEZ MARCH 12, 2020FOOD + BOOZE
    6 MIN READ

    It’s difficult to find someone who has more passion about creating Asian cuisine restaurants in Denver than Shuang Crossland. She is the woman behind One Concept Restaurant Group — the parent company of Go Fish Sushi, Poké Concept, The Bronze Empire, Kung Fu Tea and Makizushico.


    Photo By Amanda Piela

    Having grown up in Dalian, China, Crossland took inspiration from watching her mother and grandmother cook. But having a career in the restaurant world wasn’t her first thought, she was always interested in cosmetology or fashion design. Jokingly, Crossland said none of her friends or family wanted her to do their makeup so she took that as a sign to move on. When Crossland and her family moved to the US and settled in Colorado, she switched her focus to higher education — specifically international business at Metropolitan State University of Denver. While in school she held a few hostess jobs at various Korean restaurants, though it kept her busy, it also slowly pulled her further into the restaurant industry.


    Photo By Kori Hazel

    Though Crossland didn’t finish school, it was the server role she landed at Go Fish Sushi that led to her future path. Her inner battle of wanting to improve and reinvent various aspects of the restaurant led to a partnership offer with Go Fish Sushi’s owner and thus became her new passion. After taking the reins at Go Fish, her next restaurant project came to her unexpectedly but at the perfect time.

    After seeing how well Crossland had been running Go Fish Sushi, owners of The Bronze Empire reached out to her asking if she would like to assume ownership of their hot pot restaurant. Crossland recognized the potential that Bronze Empire had but, unfortunately at the time, it was only really visited by the Chinese community in Colorado. Rather than taking full ownership of Bronze Empire, Crossland decided to share ownership with the original owners and help them make it more successful.

    “[Bronze Empire] was an easy decision, because Chinese hot pot is what I grew up eating. Each restaurant is different from the other so they are free to adapt to each concept. The concept I was going for at Bronze Empire is a newer version of hot pot, ” Crossland said.

    At the time there were only a few hot pot restaurants in the area and Crossland noticed with Denver’s growing population there would be a unique niche for this cuisine if it was marketed correctly. And with that, The Bronze Empire became her first booming restaurant after Go Fish Sushi.


    Photo Courtesy of Poké Concept

    After each restaurant concept becomes self-sufficient, Crossland is quick to move on to her next endeavor. With inspiration from a trip to Hawaii, Crossland decided it was time to open a traditional Hawaiian poké restaurant — Poké Concept. With various locations locked in for Poké Concept and other concepts in the pipeline, Crossland formed the unified banner, One Concept Restaurant Group (OCRG).

    OCRG is set up with Shuang Crossland and her partner who mainly deals with back of house operations along with three directors. Restaurant ideas like OCRG’s newest, Makizushico in Littleton come from a creative collection between the team. Once the construction, themes, locations and chef roles are fulfilled — OCRG looks for qualified managers to run the day to day operations for each restaurant. Usually, Crossland looks to her team at Go Fish, The Bronze Empire or Poké Concept for opportunities to promote from within.

    READ: A Brand New Sushi Spot Opened In Littleton With Unique Hot And Cool Tapas


    Photo Courtesy of Juneau Wong— Makizushico

    While a majority of the restaurants under OCRG are unique to Denver, one of their concepts is originally from New York. Crossland opened her own Kung Fu Tea franchise in 2017 with her twin sister Lian — who just so happens to be a real estate agent, which comes in handy when Crossland is searching for concept locations. After selling out at the first Denver location opening, Kung Fu Tea has become a very lucrative concept for OCRG. In fact, Kung Fu Tea is set to open a Stapleton location sometime in April 2020.

    Despite this recent rapid growth, none of Crossland’s business ventures are done on a whim — some of her conceptions have been floating around for years before any of them come to fruition. It’s Crossland’s serious business mindset that makes her successful in this industry — while her fun and caring side shows her team that all her efforts are dedicated to them.

    “I’ve worked with bad companies before where they didn’t value their employees and it really showed. I’m forever dedicated to my team because there is no way I could do anything by myself, I need them just as much as they need me,” said Crossland.

    “She gives everyone the ability to show her what you can do. She has such an eagerness to teach and help others succeed just as much as her,” said OCRG director, Antonio Gudino.

    As for creating successful restaurant experiences, Crossland is always looking at Denver’s demographic to see what each community wants from OCRG. As much as Crossland is working towards future restaurant ideas, she is always grateful for the connections made at some of her longest-running restaurants like Go Fish Sushi.


    Photos By Kori Hazel

    “I enjoy being able to see children grow up as they visit my restaurants over the years. There’s this father and daughter that have been coming to Go Fish since I was just a server. I remember when she was so little, all she could eat was two or three pieces from a California roll and now she’s a teenager eating raw sushi. It’s so awesome to get to see families really grow up,” said Crossland.

    It’s experiences like this that drive her to create more restaurant concepts for families all over Colorado. While Crossland has the desire to take some of the brands global like Poké Concept, she still very much wants to remain local.

    With a couple new restaurant concepts in the pipeline for 2020, OCRG hopes to change the face of Asian cuisine in Denver. The word is that their newest ventures will be unlike any they’ve done before.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  5. #65
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    Jimmy Lai

    WORLD
    Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested, top aide says
    The democracy activist was detained under a new national security law that punishes what China considers subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces.



    Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai in a July interview.Vincent Yu / AP
    Aug. 9, 2020, 6:35 PM PDT / Updated Aug. 9, 2020, 6:39 PM PDT
    By Reuters

    HONG KONG — Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.

    Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.

    The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

    Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.

    "Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time," Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai's media company Next Digital , which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.

    Police did not immediately comment.

    Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.

    In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.
    This does not bode well...

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  6. #66
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    Ren Zhiqiang


    Chinese tycoon who criticized Xi Jinping's handling of coronavirus jailed for 18 years

    By Steven Jiang, CNN Business

    Updated 9:43 AM ET, Tue September 22, 2020
    Chinese billionaire sentenced to 18 years on corruption charges

    Ren Zhiqiang, a retired real-estate tycoon with close ties to senior Chinese officials, disappeared in March after he allegedly penned a scathing essay that month criticizing Xi's response to the coronavirus epidemic. He was later charged with corruption-related offenses.


    Ren Zhiqiang, a former real estate tycoon and outspoken government critic.
    On Tuesday, a court in Beijing found Ren guilty on multiple charges, including embezzling some $16.3 million (110.6 million yuan) in public funds, accepting bribes, and abuse of power that caused losses totaling $17.2 million (116.7 million yuan) for the state-owned property company that he once headed.
    Judges sentenced him to 18 years in prison and imposed a fine of $620,000 (4.2 million yuan). The court said he "voluntarily confessed all of his crimes" and "was willing to accept the court's verdict after all of his illegal gains were recovered."
    China's court system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers, and corruption charges are often used to go after Communist Party insiders who fall afoul of the leadership.
    Ren's conviction and heavy sentence appears designed to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite that any public criticism or defiance of Xi will not be tolerated, as Beijing continues to deal with the fallout of the pandemic and faces intense international pressure from Washington and others.
    'The Cannon'
    Born into the Communist Party's ruling elite, the 69-year-old Ren had often been outspoken on Chinese politics, far more than is usually allowed in the authoritarian state.
    His forthrightness earned him the nickname "The Cannon" on Chinese social media.
    In the essay published in March, widely attributed to Ren, the author lashed out at the party's crackdown on press freedom and intolerance of dissent. While the essay did not mention Xi by name, it obliquely referred to the country's top leader as a power-hungry "clown."
    "I saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his 'new clothes,' but a clown who stripped off his clothes and insisted on continuing being an emperor," Ren allegedly wrote of Xi's address to 170,000 officials across the country at a mass video conference on epidemic control measures on February 23.
    The essay went on to accuse the Communist Party of putting its own interests above the safety of the Chinese people, to secure its rule.
    "Without a media representing the interests of the people by publishing the actual facts, the people's lives are being ravaged by both the virus and the major illness of the system," Ren allegedly wrote.
    Soon after the essay was published online, Ren disappeared, and relatives feared he had been detained. Authorities confirmed Ren was being investigated on corruption related charges in early April, and expelled the longtime member from the Communist Party in July, paving the way for his criminal prosecution.
    This is not the first time Ren ran afoul of the Chinese leadership for speaking his mind.
    In 2016, he was disciplined after questioning on social media Xi's demands that Chinese state media must stay absolutely loyal to the party. He was put on a year's probation for his party membership and his wildly popular account on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, was shuttered.
    This time, however, there appears to be no second chance for Ren. If he serves his full sentence, he will be in his late 80s by the time he is released.
    CNN's James Griffiths, Nectar Gan and Ben Westcott contributed reporting.
    99% conviction rate.
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  7. #67
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    Jimmy Lai

    DECEMBER 10, 20208:32 PM UPDATED 5 HOURS AGO
    Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under national security law
    By Reuters Staff

    3 MIN READ

    HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, 73, has been charged under the city’s national security law on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces, his Apple Daily newspaper reported on Friday, citing a police source.



    Lai, an ardent critic of Beijing, would be the highest profile person charged under the sweeping new law imposed on the Chinese-ruled city in June.

    He was due to appear in court on Saturday, according to Apple Daily, a popular tabloid known for its feisty and critical coverage of China and Hong Kong.

    The security law, which punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail, has been condemned by the West and human rights groups as a tool to crush dissent in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city.

    Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing say it is vital to plug gaping holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the global financial hub over the last year.

    “The goal is to hold Jimmy Lai, and shut Jimmy Lai up,” Mark Simon, an associate of Lai, told Reuters.

    Hong Kong police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The publishing tycoon is one of the financial hub’s most prominent democracy activists, while his Next Media group is considered one of the key remaining bastions of media freedoms in Hong Kong.

    Tensions between China and the United States have escalated in recent weeks as Washington accuses Beijing of using the security law to trample wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

    Authorities have intensified a crackdown on opposition forces in the city, dismissing lawmakers from the legislature, conducting widespread arrests and jailing high-profile democracy activists such as Joshua Wong.

    Lai was denied bail earlier this month following his arrest on a separate charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily, an anti-government tabloid.

    He was arrested in August when about 200 police officers swooped on his offices. Hong Kong police later said they had arrested nine men and one woman for suspected offences including “collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, conspiracy to defraud” and others.

    The tycoon had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he has met officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

    Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Greg Torode in HONG KONG; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Sam Holmes, Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry
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  8. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Hi, Geneching.

    I always noticed that you are so informative and I'm very proud of you for being so informative. Keep up your good work! Thank you for this as well

  9. #69
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    great read


    ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF JONATHAN LAWRENCE
    Film
    What it’s Like Directing a Vanity Film for a Chinese Billionaire
    "Empires of the Deep" was supposed to be "Transformers meets Shakespeare." But $100 million and a string of Hollywood directors couldn't save it.
    CS
    By Chris Shearer
    January 13, 2021, 8:47pm

    “You’re nobody. You’ve done nothing. Why would I hire you?”

    Jon Jiang wouldn’t even look at Jonathan Lawrence as he fired off short bursts of Mandarin for his assistant to translate. It was strange that these men were sharing a table in a Los Angeles restaurant. Jiang, a few years shy of 40, had founded a real estate empire that had grown with China’s middle class and made him a billionaire. Lawrence, an American on the wrong side of 40, had directed short films and music videos, and his last gig was unpaid.

    But the two men shared a love of Hollywood cinema. Since seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark as a teenager, Lawrence’s hero had been Steven Spielberg and he often wore an Indiana Jones-style fedora. Jiang too claimed to have watched over 4,000 films, and believed he could use his vast wealth to make Chinese epics in the vein of Spielberg, George Lucas or Peter Jackson. They were meeting because Jiang was considering hiring Lawrance to direct his debut screenwriting effort: a CGI-driven underwater epic called Empires of the Deep. But the men just weren’t connecting. Jiang was being standoffish, rude.

    “You don’t have to hire me,” Lawrence replied finally.

    Later, after the meeting, Lawrence handed the script to his assistant to make a few notes as a favour to his producer buddy, Mark Byers, who had set up the meeting. His assistant called the script “horrific and completely disjointed”. And that was the last Lawrance heard from Jiang for nearly two years, until he got another email from Byers. It wasn’t a long email, but it set Lawrence on a strange and frustrating journey that would ultimately consume a year of his life.

    “Would you like to direct this movie in China?”


    This is the story of how indie film director Jonathan Lawrence came to direct what was in 2007 billed as the most expensive Chinese film of all time. According to Jon Jiang, Empires of the Deep had a budget of US $100 million and a plot that was just as inflated.

    Set underwater in Ancient Greece, the film chronicled an epic war between mermaids and demons. Using a mixture of American and Chinese cast, and shooting in China, Jiang’s vision was to make “Transformers meets Shakespeare”—but from Lawrence’s telling the production was more like Apocalypse Now meets The Room. And in the end, no one saw the final product.

    In the two years since his first meeting with Jiang, Lawrence had heard a few rumours about the project. The French director known as Pitoff, best known for 2004’s Catwoman, was hired to direct, but Lawrence’s producer buddy said Pitoff and Jiang had been butting heads and little was achieved. Pitoff had apparently left the production for a short holiday and never returned. Now Jiang wanted Lawrence.

    “I was probably still a little bit hurt by how rudely I felt I’d been treated,” Lawrence says, “but I said ‘sure, I’ll direct a movie in China. Make a little money, have a little fun’.”

    The offer had come so suddenly that Lawrence was still reading the latest version of the script—which at this stage had been rewritten by multiple hands—on the plane to China. It certainly seemed as though it had been written via committee; it read to Lawrence as a convoluted, disjointed mess.

    “But I did see potential,” he admits. “I did see that this could be a really fun movie if it would lighten up and stop taking itself so seriously.”

    Lawrence got to work rewriting it yet again. The assistant director told him “this is in complete disarray. Nothing is ready and they want to shoot immediately”—supposedly because they knew winter was on the way. But Lawrence saw this as an opportunity. This could be his big break. The script could be more cohesive, and the CGI department was working on some great models of the giant monsters that would do battle on screen.

    He was taken to a warehouse filled with props so he could pick out what weapons and wardrobe he wanted for the main cast—many of whom hadn’t even been hired yet.


    “They took to me to this giant warehouse full of amazing sculptures and finely-crafted wardrobe and props and set pieces, and I was like ‘this is great!’ Then someone said ‘oh there’s nothing here, this has all been rejected by Jiang. We’re going to the next warehouse’.”

    Jiang’s touch was everywhere, and his vision was not to be altered. When Lawrence made suggestions, Jiang would reply via his interpreter “Pitoff said the same thing. I have no need for the ways of Hollywood, but I want to conquer Hollywood”.

    “At some point he permitted me to rewrite the first act, and he said ‘ok, this is actually really good’. And then he proceeded to cut all the heart out of what I had written,” Lawrence says.

    “He was like ‘ok, get to the action’, and I said ‘well the action isn’t important unless you care about the people that are in peril. I’m trying to build up that care first’. But no no, he wanted to get to the action.

    “He kept talking about Transformers: ‘this is going to be big like Transformers’. He said it was a cross between Transformers and Shakespeare. I was trying to wrap my head around that and said ‘I think you’re going to alienate one of those audiences’.”


    As the main cast began to arrive in China, it was clear things weren’t shaping up like in a Hollywood production. The script was still a mess, and sets and props had been scrapped and rebuilt. A very experienced cinematographer walked off the production, telling Lawrence “this is a train wreck, I’m not going to do this”. But Lawrence, after weeks of feeling out Jiang, was starting to feel like he had a little more pull on the production.

    “Initially I was feeling pretty good once we got on set,” he says. “The first thing we shot went quite well. Then we went to another set, and it was like, ‘this is harder’.”

    The several hundred fully-costumed extras that Lawrence had been promised never eventuated, so he had to make do with, at most, about 30. The locations were cold and wet, and the actors didn’t have trailers to warm up in. On one set the cages of chickens that were being used for background scenery were left unattended, so every morning there would be dead chickens that stunk out the set.

    Then there was the problem of communicating with the Chinese crew. Lawrence had been assigned an assistant to translate, but he only found out towards the end of his tenure that she was only fully translating about half of the time. She was worried about offending Jiang and being fired, Lawrence says.

    The culture on set was different too. In Hollywood everyone would keep quiet between takes, but on the Empires set the noise rose tremendously as soon as Lawrence yelled cut, slowing down takes.

    “At some point I just screamed at the top of my lungs to shut the **** up, you know? And everybody stopped, looked at me, and then went right back to talking,” Lawrence says.

    Throughout all of this, Jiang would be making contradictory choices or riding roughshod over Lawrence’s direction.

    “I had already recommended several times that we could shoot a lot of this on a stage, a 20-foot by 20-foot stage of sand with a green screen. But Jiang said ‘nope nope, gotta shoot location because Peter Jackson said you gotta shoot location’.”
    continued next post
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    continued from previous post

    follow the link above for the vid below
    Watch this video to see the giant wall constructed after a translation issue.

    For a pivotal battle scene they’d found a beautiful stretch of coastline marred only by a beach resort off to one side. Lawrence had joked that they could just build a wall to hide it, and both he and the assistant director had laughed. But the humour didn’t translate.

    “When we finally came to shoot at the location I saw this giant wall being built, and I was like ‘oh, I was kidding’.” So they had to comp in a background after all.

    The script was still a mess too. Jiang wouldn’t budge on most things, and ignored Lawrence’s suggestions.

    “At one point about halfway through I said to my interpreter ‘tell him this is the worst ****ing script I’ve ever read’,” Lawrence recalls. “He didn’t seem offended, and without missing a beat he said ‘well who are you? You don’t have any credits on IMDB as a writer.’ And I said ‘neither do you!’

    “Looking back after all these years I probably should have listened to my assistant director who said ‘stop caring about this. Just get the shots. Stop trying to make it something it’s never going to be. Just realise this is what Jiang wants, and he’s going to get what he wants one way or the other, so stop caring and just go out and make pretty shots’.

    “I really couldn’t take that at the time,” Lawrence continues. “I couldn’t deal with that. I was really looking at this like, ‘hey I can see how fun this could be. A big fun movie’. He kept trying to make Shakespeare, but that’s not what it was. I should have somehow stopped caring, or cared just enough to get the shots, collect the paycheque and go home.”


    Collecting those paycheques weren’t even that easy. Actors constantly complained about being paid late, and when a group of Russian extras said they hadn’t been paid Jiang’s people sent police to their hotel to check visas as an intimidation tactic. Even Lawrence’s payments were sometimes late, so he threatened to walk off the production if the money wasn’t transferred immediately. One day the crew arrived at the studio to find they’d been locked out because someone had forgot to the pay the bill.

    By Lawrence’s own estimation, the claimed $100m budget was probably just Jiang talking up the production. He estimates that in reality it was more like $30m.

    “That’s a generous estimate,” he says. “But in many respects, there was money spent.”

    Such trying conditions also impacted the American cast, who many of the Chinese crew along with Jiang thought were being soft. After a day’s shooting inside a wet, cold cave—another of Jiang’s ‘shoot on location’ musts—actor Irena Violette walked off set. Whether she quit or was fired depends on who you ask, but the spat between Violette and Jiang’s people escalated until Jiang’s people said they wouldn’t return Violette’s passport—or her boyfriend’s passport—until she paid them back her fee.

    Lawrence spoke with the couple and together they hatched a plan. They had to get to the American embassy so they could get temporary travel documents, so in order to help them escape the hotel Lawrence called a full production meeting while they slipped out a window.

    Lawrence also had a trusted Chinese crew member write the couple a note explaining the situation to the police, who would hopefully help them get to the embassy. For the next few days following the couple’s flight, Lawrence secretly emptied the plates of food left at their door to maintain the illusion that they were still bunkered down in their room.

    A few days later they let him know they’d made it to the embassy, and were on their way out of China.

    “At that point my mind was just turning to the movie about the movie,” Lawrence says. “‘This movie may never be made, but the movie about the movie has to get made’. To me everything just kind of became a cinematic experience.”


    But Lawrence’s passion had been waning for a while. After five months of trials and tribulations on set, he’d had enough.

    He was due on another production back in the States, and Jiang’s people asked if he would stay on. When Lawrence gave them the figure it would take, Jiang called it highway robbery. So Lawrence thanked Jiang for the chance to work on his film, said his goodbyes, and left. He had mixed feelings about leaving the film incomplete, but it was time.

    “Had they scrounged up the money I was asking for I would have stayed another couple of months and tried,” he says. “But I think it’s probably best that it worked out the way it did, because I was so soured I don’t think I was much benefit to the production.”

    Another director followed after Lawrence, and then another. Lawrence kept abreast of what was happening on the production through the actors he had befriended. He heard about the new directors struggling with Jiang’s vision, heard about the legal troubles holding up the film’s release.

    Then, in 2012, these “godawful” trailers started coming out, and it looked like Empires of the Deep would finally see the light of day. It seemed in a perpetual state of being six months from being released—but that was almost a decade ago. Today, Lawrence thinks we’ll never see Empires on the screen, even though there is apparently a final cut.

    “I think there’s so much embarrassment and shame involved in this production that I don’t think the authorities that are in charge of cinema there will ever let it out,” he says. “I think there’s too much embarrassment and humiliation from this entire production.”

    In the years since, Lawrence’s opinions of Jiang and the production have softened, and he says he recognises he could have done things differently.

    “I think in the early days my own frustration contributed to making Jiang sound like an egomaniac, which maybe he was, but he did build this from the ground up. He did pull this together, as unconventional as it was; he did have quite a vision for it, no doubt. So I can’t really fault him for that, or for wanting to have this in a very particular way.

    “I actually respect Jiang for his vision and unrelenting drive to get it done his way. But that was also kind of the demise of the project, because he wouldn’t let much go when it wasn’t working.

    “If I had been a little more ‘go with the flow’ it might have gone a little smoother,” he says. “It might have gone smoother if they were a little more malleable too.”

    Today, Lawrence is still making smalltime films—but he’s happy in the work.

    “At this point in life I am removed from any bitterness or resentment of everything that went wrong, and I’ve made peace with my own shortcomings on the project,” he says.

    “I was a nobody at that time. Probably still am,” he adds after a moment’s pause. “But that’s okay, because I’m still having a good time making movies.”

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  11. #71
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    Zhong > Jack

    MARCH 2, 202112:35 AM UPDATED 4 HOURS AGO
    Jack Ma loses title as China's richest man after coming under Beijing's scrutiny
    By Yingzhi Yang, Brenda Goh

    3 MIN READ


    BEIJING (Reuters) - Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma has lost the title of China’s richest man, a list published on Tuesday showed, as his peers prospered while his empire was put under heavy scrutiny by Chinese regulators.

    Ma and his family had held the top spot for China’s richest in the Hurun Global Rich List in 2020 and 2019 but now trail in fourth place behind bottled water maker Nongfu Spring’s Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s Pony Ma and e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang, the latest list showed.

    His fall out of the top three comes “after China’s regulators reined in Ant Group and Alibaba on anti-trust issues,” the Hurun report said.

    Ma’s recent woes were triggered by an Oct. 24 speech in which he blasted China’s regulatory system, leading to the suspension of his Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO just days before the fintech giant’s public listing.

    Regulators have since tightened anti-trust scrutiny on the country’s tech sector, with Alibaba taking much of the heat; the market regulator launched an official anti-trust probe into Alibaba in December.

    Chinese regulators also began to tighten their grip on the fintech sector and have asked Ant to fold some of its businesses into a financial holding company to be regulated like traditional financial firms.

    Ma, who is not known for shying away from the limelight, then disappeared from the public eye for about three months, triggering frenzied speculation about his whereabouts. He re-emerged in January with a 50-second video appearance.

    China’s current richest man, Zhong, made his first appearance at the top spot with a fortune of 550 billion yuan ($85 billion), largely thanks to the share price performances of Nongfu Spring and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which he also controls.

    Tencent’s Ma saw his wealth swell 70% over the year to 480 billion while Pinduoduo’s Huang’s fortune grew 283% to 450 billion yuan, the list said. In comparison, the wealth of Ma and his family grew 22%, to 360 billion yuan.

    Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, broke into the top five rankings among Chinese billionaires in Hurun’s Global Rich List for the first time, with an estimated personal wealth of $54 billion.

    ($1 = 6.4696 Chinese yuan renminbi)

    Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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  12. #72
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    Wang Jianlin

    Ticking Debt Bomb in China’s $18.1 Trillion Bond Market
    Business
    China Tycoon Who Lost $32 Billion Tries to Salvage an Empire
    By Shirley Zhao, Venus Feng, and Rebecca Choong Wilkins
    March 15, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT Updated on March 16, 2021, 2:31 AM PDT
    Wanda Group’s cinemas, malls hit by pandemic as debt ballooned
    Founder Wang Jianlin’s wealth is now a sliver of its 2015 peak


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    Wang Jianlin used to be Asia’s richest person, busy expanding his Dalian Wanda Group Co. by acquiring trophy assets overseas, all aided by easy credit.

    Now the 66-year-old doesn’t even figure among China’s top 30 richest people, having lost about $32 billion of his personal fortune in less than six years -- the most for any tycoon in that period. As Wang seeks to cut the group’s total debt from 362 billion yuan ($56 billion) and turn his entertainment-to-property empire around, he’s facing skeptical bond investors.

    Braced for a wall of maturing onshore notes peaking this year, some of Wanda’s dollar bonds were among the first to tumble earlier this month, when a broader decline hit the Asian credit market. The selloff, partly triggered by concerns over the looming payments, came as a warning from investors eager to see how Wang will manage to steer his group clear of the debt risks that convulsed peers such as HNA Group Co., China Evergrande Group and Anbang Group Holdings Co.

    “The group’s liquidity is a key consideration for investors,” said Dan Wang, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. A representative for Wanda didn’t respond to requests for comment on the debt risks.

    Wanda’s Wang, who once purchased Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid as part of the binge-buying and aspired to compete with Walt Disney Co., is still shedding some of those assets. The latest came last week, when Wanda gave up control of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., with its stake now representing less than 10% of the world’s largest movie-theater chain. Its chief executive officer said the company would be governed by a wide group of shareholders, and the stock has surged more than 42% in the past three days.

    Despite the disposals following a government crackdown on credit-fueled expansion, Wanda Group’s debt as of June ballooned to the highest since 2017. The pandemic has only added to the woes, dealing a blow to its cinemas, malls, theme parks, hotels and sports events.

    Three Pillars
    Malls and hotels accounted for almost half of Wanda's 2019 revenue


    Source: Wanda Group

    Note: Graphic excludes 7.5 billion yuan in losses from Wanda's other investment activities

    As China stabilizes its economy after containing the virus, the reopening of movie theaters and malls is providing Wang the much-needed time to steady his ship. He’s pressing ahead with a strategy he’s advocated for years, called the “asset-light” model, to reduce leverage.

    That means spending less by cutting back on land purchases. Dalian Wanda Commercial Management Group Co., one of the world’s biggest mall operators that accounts for almost half of the group’s revenue, will stop buying plots starting this year and license its brand to partners instead, the company’s President Xiao Guangrui told mainland media in September.

    No Alternative
    “Wanda had no real alternative to its new asset-light strategy,” said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at Kaiyuan Capital in Hong Kong, who doesn’t hold any Wanda unit shares or bonds. “The company’s debts were unsustainable.”

    The effect of the pandemic on Wanda has been astounding.

    Movie producer and cinema operator Wanda Film Holding Co. said it may have racked up a record $1 billion in net loss last year. Despite becoming a favorite in the recent Reddit-fueled share rally, AMC warned several times it was near the brink of insolvency and reported its worst-ever annual loss as revenue plunged 77%. Wanda Commercial Management said sales and profit fell nearly 50% in the first nine months of 2020, while Wanda Sports Group Co.’s American depositary receipts were delisted in January after losing more than two-thirds of their value since they began trading in July 2019.


    A closed AMC movie theater in Tucson, Arizona, in June 2020.Photographer: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg
    Even if Wanda’s businesses tide over the global health crisis, there’s no certainty creditors will be kind after the developments at other indebted Chinese conglomerates such as HNA, Evergrande and lately at Suning Appliance Group Co.

    In an offering circular in September, Wanda told investors that the group’s level of indebtedness may “adversely affect” some operations. The conglomerate is also facing tighter credit rules in the real estate sector as Chinese regulators look to curb financial risk.

    Wanda and its units raised about 48.2 billion yuan in local and offshore debt last year, the most since 2016. A part of it was used to pay older obligations as the group needs to refinance or repay about 32 billion yuan of domestic bonds due in 2021.

    While the group’s dollar bonds have almost erased their losses since tumbling earlier this month -- their worst week in almost a year -- credit traders cited concerns over the group’s maturing local bonds and a selloff in some of its onshore notes.

    Wanda Commercial Management’s debt is rated non-investment grade by Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service.

    The Good, Bad and the Offloaded
    Businesses are still bouncing back from lockdowns


    Sources: Filings, Wanda Group, Bloomberg

    In his heyday, Wang -- a former People’s Liberation Army soldier -- jetted around in his Gulfstream G550 private plane, paying top prices for assets including a luxury property in Beverly Hills, Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment and One Nine Elms in London, one of Europe’s tallest residential towers.

    His fortune took a dive as China started to crack down on such expansion and capital outflows. His wealth has shrunk to about $14 billion from a peak of $46 billion in 2015, when he was crowned Asia’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    “Wanda gained surprisingly little from its period of unconstrained investment opportunity,” said Kaiyuan Capital’s Silvers. “The company has since been quicker to shed assets than other conglomerates, but it still has far to go.”

    The asset-light strategy would help generate sustainable recurring rental income for Wanda Commercial Management, the “cash cow” of the group, said Chloe He, corporate-rating director at Fitch. It can also prevent the company from committing heavy capital expenditure and taking on too much debt, she added.

    “This is going to be very helpful for them to deleverage in the future, provided they don’t invest in something else,” He said.


    — With assistance by Emma Dong, Evelyn Yu, Adrian Yim, and Jack Witzig
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  13. #73
    Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to keep rolling.

  14. #74
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    Something crazy is happening with Chinese media right now

    For Americans claiming censorship and media bias, ours is a capitalist economy so it is driven by private enterprise money, not the government. The PRC is communist so it is more likely government. But in all honesty, if I truly understood what was going on, I'd be an international market analyst making big bucks, not a martial arts writer posting on this forum here.

    Wang Zhongjun Steps Down as Chairman of Huayi Tencent Entertainment
    10:09 PM PDT 3/28/2021 by Patrick Brzeski

    China Photos/Getty Images

    The Hong Kong-based holding company has been used by Huayi Brothers, Tencent and other investors to make offshore investments into international films, such as the Russo brothers' 'Cherry' and Roland Emmerich's upcoming 'Moonfall.'
    Chinese movie mogul Wang Zhongjun, co-founder of Huayi Brothers Media, has stepped down as chairman of holding company Huayi Tencent Entertainment.

    Established in 2016, the firm, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has been used by Huayi Brothers, Tencent and its other investors as a vehicle to co-finance international films and buy stakes in companies listed outside China. The joint venture was established when its backers took over a Hong Kong-listed shell company that was formerly a retirement home developer in Hong Kong.

    Huayi Tencent's recent investments include the South Korean sci-fi film Space Sweepers, the Russo brothers' crime drama Cherry and Roland Emmerich's forthcoming sci-fi action film Moonfall. The firm also owns a 31 percent stake in South Korean TV drama producer HB Entertainment.

    Huayi Tencent said in a statement Friday that Wang was resigning "as he needs to devote more time to his other business engagements," and that his exit would be effective March 30.

    Huayi Brothers Media, which Wang founded with his younger brother Wang Zhonglei in the 1990s, was previously the largest stakeholder in Huayi Tencent, but the Beijing-based parent company offloaded 13.17 percent of its shares last November, dropping its stake to just 5 percent. The sales were part of an ongoing retrenchment of the brothers' longstanding entertainment empire, which was battered by bad press following a tax evasion scandal that swept the Chinese industry in 2018. The company got a $100 million lifeline from Jack Ma's Alibaba in 2019, and began to see its fortunes recover last year with the $460 million success of its WWII tentpole The Eight Hundred.

    Wang's exit from the Hong Kong-listed holding firm comes at a time of radically diminished outbound investment by China's major entertainment companies. After a gold rush period five years ago, when Chinese firms were bankrolling everything from Hollywood slates to new U.S. production entities (Huayi co-financed an entire slate at STX Entertainment and bought a sizable stake in the Russos' production venture Agbo), investment ground to halt in 2017 amid official discouragement of such dealmaking by Chinese regulators, and its declined further amid the deteriorating diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing.

    Huayi Tencent's current CEO Yuen Hoi Po, will temporary assume Wang's day-to-day management responsibilities. A new chairman will be elected "as soon as possible," the firm said in a statement. Yuen is currently Huayi Tencent's largest shareholder with a 17.8 percent stake.


    PATRICK BRZESKI

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