with Luisa Tam
Tsang means business, but he's a party pooper
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah may know a thing or two about economics, but not a lot about hosting a good 'party'.
Tsang is to lead a high-level business delegation to Vladivostok and Heilongjiang between May 16 and 22. The purpose of the trip is to promote Hong Kong as an international financial centre, bilateral trade as well as sussing out business opportunities.
Tsang had initially secured quite a number of real estate tycoons to join his party, but since he announced measures to stabilise the property market last week, we hear many of them might drop out or send their junior guys.
Developers are concerned that the new measures, branded as the ultimate weapon against unscrupulous property sales, will greatly reduce their profits.
To show that he means business, Tsang even warned that legislation would be considered if these measures failed to achieve the desired results. Boy, he is one tough leader, but not a good host-to-be.
An insider told Lai See: 'Why would anyone want to go to a party knowing he or she is not welcome by the host? It's not a nice feeling to feel unwanted and maybe that's how they want him to feel now.'
Lai See agrees the tycoons have reason to feel angry and bitter.
Still, we believe there is at least one good reason not to spit the dummy and join Tsang on the trip: to avoid voting in the by-elections on May 16.
Woman to watch
Still on the subject of cooling Hong Kong's red-hot housing market, we hear Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is behind all the anti-property-speculation initiatives.
People in the industry are said to fear that she is the ultimate lethal weapon with a mandate to freeze the market, and usher in a property ice age.
Bank earns 'green' credits
Agriculture Bank of China has been honoured as 'the new low-carbon bank in China 2010' at the recent Low Carbon Economy forum co-organised by the China Association of Science and Technology Industry Parks, the Financial Times and other organisations.
According to the organisers, the bank has been proactive in fostering the exercise of a low-carbon financial development strategy.
A series of environment-friendly, energy-saving and emission reduction measures advocating the concept of 'a low-carbon economy' and 'green credit' have been devised and put in place by the bank.
Taking environmental protection compliance as a qualification for extending loans, the bank is said to have strictly inspected environmental data of corporate borrowers. Last year, it rejected 83 loan applications on environmental protection grounds and at the same time supported 1,803 energy-saving and environmental protection projects.
Its mission is to build itself into a modern universal bank with a sustainable development outlook.
The bank does make running an environment-friendly and sustainable business model in China sound as easy as abc. But, to sceptics like us, it sounds like an awful lot of hot air.
A good walk for kids
Once called the 'green opium' and banned because it was considered a decadent distraction for capitalists, golf is now catching on with mainland parents who see it as a way for their kids to get rich. Stories are emerging of some families forking out 300,000 yuan (HK$341,000) a year for lessons for their children in the hope of them becoming the next Tiger Woods ... but perhaps with the family values of Phil Mickelson.
There has been an explosion of interest in the sport and although the mainland only has about 500 courses, compared to 18,000 in the United States, walking to the fairways after school sure beats extra maths lessons.
VW's China drive
A clear indication of the way Volkswagen is heading with the mainland market comes from speculation about who will be the next China boss of the European car giant.
VW's China chief Winfried Vahland, who brought home a US$1 billion profit last year after reversing losses and a slumping market share, is due to leave in September to look after the Czech Skoda division after five years on the mainland.
His successor is tipped to be Karl-Thomas Neumann, who only last year was appointed as group chief officer for the electric traction business - VW was one of the first carmakers to set up such a division - in charge of the development of electric vehicles.
With Volkswagen announcing yesterday it will build two new plants in China as part of a US$2.2 billion expansion plan, the company has no intention of giving up the title as the country's biggest overseas maker of passenger cars.