China trade: rebound continues as imports surge 38.1 per cent in March, exports up 30.6 per cent
Exports grew by 30.6 per cent in March compared to a year earlier, partly skewed by low base from 2020. Imports grew by 38.1 per cent in March from a year earlier to US$227.34 billion, well above expectations of 24.5 per cent growth “Taken together, the trade surplus narrowed to US$13.8 billion, its lowest since the pandemic hit last year. But trade surplus remained large after adjusting for seasonality, edging down from US$58 billion to $US49 billion.” China customs spokesman Li Kuiwen said that rising commodity prices, driven by monetary easing conducted by the US and other major economies, had helped to push up China’s imports in the first quarter. “Overall speaking, there are many positive factors but external challenges have not diminished. Foreign trade still has a long way to go to ensure steady growth,” he said.
Exports shielded China’s economy in 2020, but they won’t drive as much growth this year
The country’s customs agency said Tuesday that in dollar terms, exports rose 30.6% in March from a year ago, missing expectations for growth of 35.5%. Looking ahead to the next three months, customs spokesperson Li Kuiwen told reporters that last year’s high base poses challenges for trade in the second quarter. China’s early emergence from the pandemic and stimulus overseas have driven purchases of products made by Chinese factories, two factors that will fade away later this year, said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie.
China’s trade surges as global economy recovers
“China’s strong export growth in March shows demand from overseas continues to support the economy. Details, though, reveal emerging weakness in what’s been a mainstay during the COVID crisis — exports of stay-at-home related products.”
China semiconductor imports surge to all-time high in March amid global chip shortage
China imported a record 58.9 billion semiconductor units in March, worth US$35.9 billion That boosted the country’s total first-quarter chip imports to 155.6 billion units, valued at US$93.6 billion
China digital currency: Shanghai, Hainan among regions added to e-yuan trials
Six more regions, including Shanghai and Hainan, have been added to China’s digital currency pilot programme China has been a forerunner in developing a central bank digital currency, with cross-border testing also under way
Competition With China Can Save the Planet
Pressure, Not Partnership, Will Spur Progress on Climate Change The implications for Chinese firms would be more severe. To remain competitive, Chinese industrial players would be incentivized to invest in new energy sources and cleaner, greener manufacturing processes. This would, in turn, push China toward a less carbon-intensive economic model. At that point, the United States and its allies would already have a mechanism in place to make sure that Beijing remained committed to decarbonization—the ability to increase carbon tax rates to counter Chinese backsliding. And for its part, China would be far less able to weaponize climate change negotiations at the expense of the global commons. Climate competition will allow the United States to win twice, thwarting both Chinese coercion and potentially irreversible ecological damage. Negotiating proactively with China cannot curtail climate change; Beijing would impose unacceptable costs while failing to deliver on its end of any bargain. Only a united climate coalition has the potential to bring China to the table for productive negotiations, rather than the extractive ones it currently pursues. And only the bottom line—not moral exhortations—will convince China to mend its ways and seriously cut its emissions
China’s leader Xi Jinping likely to take part in Joe Biden’s Earth Day climate summit
Ahead of the virtual talks, US climate envoy John Kerry is expected to travel to Shanghai to meet Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua Climate change is an area where the two powers have said they could work together amid deepening tensions
US climate envoy John Kerry to travel to China for talks
Kerry’s visit, less than a month after Biden administration officials sat down with Chinese officials for a tense meeting in Alaska, puts the climate crisis at the top of the Biden administration’s foreign policy priority list as they also commit to competing with China and challenging them on human rights.
China is the number one carbon emitter globally and climate experts say that the only way to tackle the environmental crisis is with China on board. Kerry’s meetings in Shanghai will be the first time a Biden administration official visits China.
Japan approves release of Fukushima plant water into sea
Tepco to discharge treated water in two years as China and South Korea blast plan
China warns of action over Japan’s decision to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the sea
Beijing among several of Japan’s neighbours expressing concern and regret about Tokyo’s announcement it will release contaminated water in two years Greenpeace Japan says radionuclides discharged into the sea may damage the DNA of humans and other organisms
Chinese regulators order platform businesses to rectify any monopolistic acts
China’s top market regulator, cyberspace administration & state tax administration summon major platform companines to a meeting, ordering them to rectify any monopolistic acts within a month, such as asking merchants to “choose one from two platforms”.
Tencent, JD and dozens of Chinese tech firms ordered to ‘learn from Alibaba’ as antitrust regulator keeps foot on crackdown pedal
Regulators asked 34 companies including Pinduoduo, JD.com, Kuaishou, Bilibili and Didi to conduct a ‘comprehensive self-inspection’ within a month Regulatory scrutiny is one factor weighing on Chinese technology stocks in the US and Hong Kong
China forces Jack Ma’s Ant Group to restructure
China has forced a sweeping restructure on the Ant Group so the financial technology firm acts more like a bank.
Ant to become financial holding group as central bank forces overhaul
PBOC order reduces risk of breakup of Chinese fintech after postponed IPO Ever since Ant filed for its IPO in August, the company has faced a barrage of rules aimed at curtailing risks in the digital lending sector. Other rules include a limit on use of securitization to fund consumer loans, a cap on loan rates, new capital and license requirements for financial conglomerates and proposals for measures to curb market concentration in digital payments. Ant in a statement said it will set up a personal credit reporting company, which will apply for a personal credit reporting license and strengthen the protection of personal information, to prevent the abuse of data. The company also will bring its consumer lending units under a consumer finance company, it said.
Beijing Takes Another Swipe At Ant Financial
Regulators ordered Ant to rectify unfair competition in its payments business, end a monopoly of information, improve corporate governance, and manage liquidity risks. Moreover, the fintech giant is also obliged to cut the outstanding value of its money-market fund, Yu’ebao. Bloomberg highlights how “there’s little clarity over how investors will now judge the firm.” And we anticipate that the latest trends will enhance uncertainty in the market and hurt public confidence in the Alibaba brand, which will force investors to proceed with caution But the restructuring of Ant will also affect luxury. China’s mobile wallet industry is now dominated by Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay, with data from iResearch showing that, as of June 20, 2020, Alipay held 57 percent of the mobile payments market.
Ant Financial is also winning abroad. Riding the wave of change in the European tourism industry through a deliberate strategy that focuses on high-spending Chinese tourists, Ant Financial has expanded rapidly across Europe. In the long run, luxury brands need Alipay to reach Chinese consumers. And now, with retail collapsing and the luxury sector in dire need of capital and revitalization, that need is even greater with the Old Continent becoming “more Chinese than ever.”
US-China tech war: Beijing gives muted response to newest US initiative to redefine the country’s approach to global competition
Chinese officials have stayed mum on US Strategic Competition Act of 2021, legislation that could signal paradigm shift Analysts say China has adopted measured response but counterpunch could follow
US-China tech war: supercomputer sanctions on China begin to bite as Taiwan’s TSMC said to suspend chip orders
TSMC said to be no longer accepting new orders from Phytium, one of seven Chinese entities involved in supercomputing blacklisted by the US last week The blacklist could hurt China’s supercomputer efforts, but experts say it might not have much impact on military technology, a main concern of the US
When China’s KOLs Become Brands
Many of China’s KOLs have massive channels to amplify their voices. Jing Daily analyzes how four livestreamers are extending their brand.
Biden’s first 100 days win praise but experts wary of China divide
FT-Nikkei webinar weighs Asian impact of US economic and foreign policies Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, suggested Biden and Suga will find plenty of common ground, but also stressed that it is important for Japan to maintain some differences in its approach. While the U.S. is geographically distant, after all, Japan is right next door to China and needs to avoid a real confrontation. Since Trump embarked on his trade war with China, many analysts have likened the tensions between the powers to a new Cold War, dividing the world into two competing ideologies. But Champa Patel, director of the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, said “the Cold War analogy is a false one.” Patel emphasized that China is an “integral part of the world economy” and that “countries in the region are hugely reliant on China.” “What they want to do,” she said, “is to hedge and balance in a way that preserves their economic interests but gives them greater security.”
US-China relations: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to spare China from currency manipulator label
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will opt to not name China as a currency manipulator in her first semi-annual foreign exchange report, according to people familiar with the matter The US designated China as a currency manipulator in mid-2019 only to lift the label five months later as part of the phase one trade deal discussions
Can reshuffle help Beijing position its foreign aid more effectively?
Appointing a career diplomat to lead the agency set up to coordinate the aid system could be the latest attempt to address an image problem Beijing faces ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ tag, scepticism about definition of aid and controversies over whether recipients back it on issues such as Taiwan and Tibet
EU says it won’t pay off Montenegro’s billion-dollar highway debt to China
Balkan nation had begged Brussels to help cover the costs of the project, which has been described as one of the most expensive stretches of road in the world The project has raised concerns about the impact of Chinese investment, but a spokesman for the EU said it does not pay off partners’ loans from third parties The FT reported that with an estimated cost of US$23.8 million per kilometre, the highway is thought to be among the most expensive strips of road in the world, with the first repayments due in July. It has helped increase the public debt rate in Montenegro – which is seeking to join the EU – from 65.9 per cent to an estimated 80 per cent of gross domestic product once the loan is repaid, according to figures cited by the European Parliament.
Face-to-face diplomacy gives China the edge in Southeast Asia
Videoconferences are no substitute for an old-fashioned tete-a-tete
Huawei, HSBC agree on document deal for Meng Wanzhou extradition case
Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei said Monday that it has reached an agreement with HSBC in Hong Kong to obtain documents that its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou hopes will help prevent her extradition to the U.S. Meng, who was detained in Canada in 2018 at the behest of U.S. authorities, has been fighting a legal battle over the last two years as the U.S. seeks to extradite her over allegations of bank fraud and violations of sanctions against Iran.
Priority on dealing with US–Japan alliance perception gap
When Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide becomes the first world leader to be hosted by US President Joe Biden on 16 April, restoring trust in the US–Japan alliance and deepening cooperation will top the agenda. This includes dealing with a still rising China, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, climate change and COVID-19. The greater exchange of information to combat COVID-19 is low hanging fruit. This includes Japan’s use of its supercomputer in AI-based COVID-19 research, the experience of US doctors in treating COVID-19 patients, and the logistics of the Biden administration’s vaccine rollout. Japan and the United States could also lend greater support to multilateral efforts, such as the World Health Organization and EU-driven Access to COVID Tools Accelerator, to help prevent global spread and get the world vaccinated before vaccine-resistant mutations emerge. The Biden–Suga summit provides an important opportunity to get US–Japan cooperation back on track after four years of work just preventing a Trump-induced disaster in alliance relations. But to best deepen cooperation and prevent perception gaps, the two allies need to not shy away from uncomfortable discussions.
Taiwan says PLA flies 25 warplanes into its airspace, the largest incursion yet
Flights came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Beijing against invading Taiwan The mainland in recent months has stepped up its military presence near the island
Covid-19 Observations on China and West
Chinese people worked together with great discipline to wear masks and avoid crowds and keep distance. The people did so well and everyone followed, so the virus could be controlled in about 2 months time.
Geopolitics drives vaccine access in Asia
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines were seen as critical to countering it. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders created the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access facility, or COVAX, to ensure equitable access worldwide. But countries with the means to make or buy vaccines locked up global manufacturing capacity and supplies. This vaccine nationalism generated urgent questions about when low-income countries will get vaccines. In Asia, geopolitics, not equity, are driving vaccine access.
Coronavirus: WHO calls for halt to sale of live wild mammals in food markets to limit disease risk
Attempt to curb future virus spread between wild and farmed animals and humans by urging rules and oversight of markets Wildlife activist says the advice acknowledges much of the world’s population relies on wild animals for dietary protein
What if China’s Birth Rate Keeps Falling?
Demographics aren’t always destiny, but in the likely event China can’t turn around its declining fertility rate, the country needs to prepare for the worst.
China’s Communist Party forcing investors to pull money out of European football
A few years ago, China was aiming to become a major player in world football. International stars were lured to the domestic Super League and investors bought up European clubs. This is all over.
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