One Belt, Many Companies: The great bandwagoning

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Companies with names related to the “Belt and Road” strategy are springing up like mushrooms. Many seem to have little to do with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature concept.

Leung Chun-ying is not the only one on the “Belt and Road” bandwagon. There are now more companies registered with Belt and Road-related names than the number of times the chief executive mentioned “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) during his 2016 Policy Address.

In January, High Tide readers were informed that a total of 25 organisations had “One Belt” and “One Road” in their names. A new look at Companies Registry data shows that the figure, including companies with “One Belt One Road”, “Belt and Road” or its Chinese name “一帶一路”, has risen to 95. All companies were set up between 2015 and June 2016, with the exception of eight that were established before 2015 but took on their OBOR names afterward.

The business lines of these companies are not necessarily well aligned with the OBOR idea. Judging from the names of the companies, industries covered include financial services, trade and logistics, tourism, cultural exchange, media, medicine, and elderly healthcare. There are even OBOR companies set up as unions of international lawyers and “alumni”.

A recent report by iCable revealed that many OBOR companies have not commenced operations. One of them is “One Belt One Road Global Initiative Limited”, which has Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference deputy Annie Wu Suk-ching (伍淑清) as its director. Sino Group’s Robert Ng Chee Siong (黃志祥) and his three sons also hold directorate posts at nine such companies.

As the number of companies with OBOR names grows, it remains to be seen how these new arrivals on the company scene will distinguish themselves.