China Press Review – April 23, 2020

Press review

In China’s economic shock, online retail sales are prospering
As China staggers through its worst economic shock in modern history, retail sales have been especially hard hit, dropping 19 percent in the first quarter of 2020.[1] Yet online sales of physical goods have grown by 6 percent during the lockdown imposed to combat the COVID-19 virus outbreak Two factors appear to have brought about this trend. First, China enforced a country-wide lockdown centered in Hubei province, the origin of the outbreak, leaving consumers little choice over how to buy necessities. Second, Chinese private entrepreneurs, both the tech giants and small retailers, have swiftly adapted to ecommerce, and China’s digitally-savvy consumers have been perhaps more ready to adjust than their counterparts in other countries. The shift in consumer behavior could last well beyond the pandemic.

China praises France for ‘independent diplomatic style’ amid coronavirus backlash
Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian that Beijing appreciates the country’s ‘adherence to multilateralism’      China is under mounting criticism over its handling of the virus outbreak, including from the French president

China’s cash-strapped poor seek more debt as coronavirus hits job prospects
The economic pressure of the coronavirus has led to a greater demand for loans, although it’s less clear whether people can actually get them. And if they do, some analysts note risk levels will increase. Given the scale of unmet needs, more economists are calling for a targeted cash payout to poorer households.  If consumption does not recover soon, some analysts expect more struggling small businesses will go under, leading to job losses.

Wuhan’s Lockdown Is Over. Its Economic Pain Is Just Beginning.
Weeks after the city eased its virus-control policies, thousands of businesses remain shuttered. Many may never restart production.

Coronavirus: China’s bank loans intended to help small businesses are actually fanning Shenzhen’s property bubble
Beijing has promised help to small and medium-sized businesses amid the outbreak of Covid-19, with additional liquidity released into the banking system     But the loans are in some cases behind obtained by dummy shell corporations and used illegally for real estate investments

ReiThera, LEUKOCARE and Univercells Announce Pan-European Consortium for the Fast-track Development of a Single-dose Adenovirus-based COVID-19 Vaccine
Italian ReiThera Srl. (Rome), German LEUKOCARE AG (Munich), and Belgian Univercells S.A. (Brussels), today announced a strategic collaboration for the development and large-scale manufacturing of a novel adenoviral vector-based vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine candidate is expected to enter clinical trials during summer 2020 with large-scale vaccine production planned to start soon after. The partners will contribute to the program combining their individual strengths and expertise to accelerate the development of the vaccine. In support of the fight against a long-lasting pandemic outbreak, the three European biotech companies have formed a pan-European consortium to pursue this strategy and develop a single-dose vaccine.

COVID-19 and commercial pharma: Navigating an uneven recovery
To respond best to the changes driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, pharma companies should consider reorienting their commercial models to fit the needs of healthcare providers and patients better

Asia stocks mostly gain as oil prices rise along with hope in world’s battle to defeat the coronavirus
US could reopen its economy by end of August, says a top official    South Korea suffered worst first quarter GDP contraction since great recession

Why is an oil price plunge not being celebrated by China, the world’s biggest crude buyer?
China relies on imports for over 70 per cent of its domestic oil consumption, but lower prices represent a big challenge for its own oil production and investments For a country that is relying on imports for over 70 per cent of its domestic oil consumption, a glut of supply in the global market with a dirt cheap oil price should be a dream come true. However, few bottles of champagne were opened in China when international oil prices dropped to their lowest level in 20 years after US futures fell to minus US$37.63 a barrel earlier this week. On the contrary, the oil market collapse has caused fresh anxiety in the world’s second largest economy. One major state-owned oil company said the low oil price had generated unprecedented risks, while one of China’s four major state-owned banks was under fire for not terminating oil futures contracts in a timely way to avoid huge losses for its customers.

US and EU have been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, but where’s their resolve to crush Covid-19?
Policymakers and epidemiologists disagree over how much infection curves need to flatten before lockdowns are eased    The disagreements are fiercest in the countries worst hit by Covid-19, where the response has become too politicised

Shunned by U.S., Huawei Winning China’s $170 Billion 5G Race
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is emerging as the runaway winner in China’s $170 billion effort to build out its fifth-generation wireless networks, part of a concerted effort by Beijing to seize the lead in a key technology from the U.S. while rebooting a virus-stricken economy.

Facebook seals biggest deal since WhatsApp with Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man
The world’s largest social media company will pay US$5.7 billion for a 10 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, a unit of India’s Reliance Industries     The deal would allow Facebook to step up its expansion in a country that is rapidly embracing online payment and e-commerce finally launches mini programs
Chinese online retailer JD introduced its mini program open platform on Wednesday, joining a list of Chinese tech giants that leverage the technology.   JD’s adoption of mini program is relatively late in the game. The lightweight applications, which offers a diverse range of functions without leaving the main app, are increasingly a key, must-have feature for mainstream apps. JD claims more than 270,000 third-party merchants on its platform.

Augmented-reality unicorn Magic Leap cuts half of jobs in major restructuring affecting 1,000 employees
Magic Leap is planning to wind down its consumer business to focus on its enterprise products, say people familiar with the matter    The augmented-reality start-up has raised more than US$2 billion from high-profile investors including Alphabet and Alibaba

Chinese EV start-up Byton furloughs staff, cuts pay as pandemic casts doubt on first car delivery
More than 200 workers are affected by the temporary work stoppage at Byton’s research and development base in Santa Clara, California     Byton’s senior management will collectively take an 80 per cent pay cut and invest in the company’s series C round of fundraising

Forgot to switch off the bedroom lights? You could do so while driving in China, with SAIC Volkswagen, tie-up
SAIC Volkswagen’s Passat cars and other models produced this year will come with’s smart home services built in     Users will be able to control their home appliances through voice commands or the cars’ touch screens

A Chinese firm made a memory chip that can compete with Samsung. What’s next?
A company founded in 2016 wants to take on Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron and Intel. In a milestone for China’s semiconductor industry, Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC) announced last week that it has developed a 128-layer NAND flash memory chip (128L) in-house. The company expects mass production to start sometime between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, a spokesperson for YMTC told TechNode. The Wuhan-based firm hit this milestone while fighting to continue production during the lockdown of its home city.

Why global switch to renewable hydropower may be the answer to limiting climate change
Sarawak, Malaysian state on Southeast Asian island of Borneo, targets renewable energy from its abundant water supplies   State-owned power company Sarawak Energy’s focus on hydropower comes as it targets three of UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Coronavirus latest: Malaysia extends partial lockdown, Merkel calls for international cooperation on vaccine
More than half of Europe’s Covid-19 deaths have been in nursing homes, says the WHO  Singapore reports more than 1,000 new cases for fourth consecutive day; Vietnam relaxes virus restrictions

China to roll out large-scale coronavirus testing as country gets back to work
Antibody and Covid-19 tests to be done on ‘key populations’ to stamp out new outbreaks   Local governments told to take preventive action for May “golden week” holidays

Coronavirus science latest updates: vaccines, treatments, reinfection and research
We highlight our latest coverage on the race to develop a vaccine, possible treatments, and more   Potential coronavirus mutations, how droplets travel and attempts to ‘flatten the curve’ are among the recent developments

Coronavirus: China is getting back on its feet, but who forgot to tell Beijing?
Strict social distancing and quarantine measures remain in force in the nation’s capital, where fears of a second wave of imported infections remain high   On Saturday, Beijing’s Chaoyang district was identified on an official app as the country’s only Covid-19 ‘high-risk zone’

Coronavirus study points to vast number of cases under the radar in China
Researchers in Hong Kong find that Covid-19 definitions make big differences to the pandemic’s bigger picture   Mainland China might have had four times as many infections as official total if broader criteria used, team says

Coronavirus: China should avoid Singapore’s situation as schools go back, top expert says
Zhong Nanshan tells education officials not to close campuses again if there are isolated cases of Covid-19 and to ‘be vigilant’ about protecting students     He says the city state eased disease control and prevention efforts ‘too much and too quickly’ and had to reintroduce tough measures

One million Indonesian migrants in Malaysia lack food under lockdown, says Nahdlatul Ulama
The Malaysian chapter of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation has received numerous calls for help from migrant workers unable to buy food or pay rent    Muslim Indonesian workers are facing a double whammy of financial ruin and a ban by President Joko Widodo on travel to return to mark Hari Raya Idul-Fitri next month

Indonesia to ban air, sea travel to early June: officials
– Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic and international air and sea travel, with some exceptions, starting Friday to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus, Transport Ministry officials said on Thursday. The ban on air travel will be in place until June 1, said Novie Riyanto Rahardjo, Transport Ministry’s director general of aviation. The ban on travel by sea will run until June 8, sea transportation director general Agus Purnomo said

New Disease Test Uses Your Phone to Tell You If You’re Sick
Chinese researchers have developed a portable test kit that can tell you if you have a certain genetic condition or bacterial infection within hours.

Study finds 3 out of 4 coronavirus test kits from China have 90% accuracy
The study was based on samples from infected patients in Denmark, but it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet

Medical experts have a plan to prevent next epidemic – it’s called ‘One Health’
Health groups have already learned lessons from previous outbreaks involving animals    But approach requires more collaboration between disciplines and across governments

Coronavirus apps must keep Big Brother at bay, EU privacy chiefs warn
EU data protection authorities generally support the use of apps to track and contain the spread of the coronavirus     New guidelines published this week warn that the apps must not be used to ‘control, stigmatise or repress individuals’

Redesigning Robocop for a Pandemic
The head of a robotics company explains how his firm repurposed its line of “patrol robots” for disease prevention, and what the outbreak means for the industry as a whole.

Missing Chinese citizen journalist Li Zehua back online after ‘quarantine’ in coronavirus epicentre
Li posts video of moment police entered a flat where he was staying in Wuhan  But fate of two other video bloggers, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin, still not known

Xi Jinping sends corruption warning on trip to China’s northwest
Xi tours area of luxury villa scandal two years ago, delivering message on political loyalty, observer says   Chinese president urges officials to press on to meet poverty alleviation targets despite coronavirus-induced downturn

Malaysia urges peaceful resolution to South China Sea stand-off with Beijing
The Haiyang Dizhi 8, accompanied by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel, last week entered Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and began a survey    The area is near waters claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia and China, which claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea

‘Foreign trash’ Covid-19 comic underlines racism against foreigners in China
A comic attacking foreigners who don’t comply with Chinese rules of hygiene to check the coronavirus circulated briefly on Chinese social media. The comic comes at the time that China assists countries hit by the Covid-19 virus with mouth caps, ventilators and medical assistance.

Alain Gillard
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