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The paper queen's gambit: China's Nine Dragons bets on Southeast Asia

Leading manufacturer builds $4.6bn plant to overcome supply restrictions

A paper factory in Vietnam. Nine Dragons has stepped up investment in Vietnam and Malaysia to counter the impact of China's ban on wastepaper.   © Reuters

DONGGUAN, China/TOKYO -- When China announced it would stop importing foreign waste -- including a crucial component in the production of cardboard -- Cheung Yan, the co-founder and chairwoman of the country's largest paper manufacturer, faced a government-imposed check on her thriving business that could stunt growth.

Now, three years later, Cheung, known in China as the "paper queen," and her Hong Kong-listed Nine Dragons Paper Holdings have announced plans to build a 30.2 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) factory close to Vietnam, part of a raft of investments that has extended into the Southeast Asian country, as well as Malaysia, to counter the impact of China's ban on wastepaper, the raw material for paper products.

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