Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

China Press Review – January 21, 2022

China’s economy poised to grow around 5.5% in 2022
China will be able to achieve economic growth of around 5.5 per cent in 2022, an adviser to the government’s Cabinet said on Friday, making a rosier prediction than markets expect as recent data have pointed to slowing momentum. The world’s second-largest economy cooled over the course of last year and faces multiple headwinds as a property downturn hurts investment and China’s efforts to contain local cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19 weigh on consumption. That has prompted policymakers to roll out an array of support measures, including Friday’s cut by the central bank in the rate on standing lending facility (SLF) loans by 10 basis points, a day after it cut benchmark lending rate

China better placed to prevent, defuse risks of external shocks ahead of Fed rate cut, forex regulator says
The US Federal Reserve is widely expected to start hiking interest rates as early as March   During the previous round of US Federal Reserve tightening in 2018, China’s currency depreciated sharply.

Zero-Covid strategy threatens Hong Kong’s growth prospects for 2022
Having its border with mainland China reopened is crucial for increasing economic activity in Hong Kong

China’s challenges amid COVID-19 and great power competition
The COVID-19 pandemic and major power competition tested China in 2021. A review of the trends of 2021 reveals the opportunities and challenges ahead.   COVID-19 continues to have a big impact on China’s economy. China controlled the pandemic, which helped its rapid economic recovery as it outperformed other major economies in 2020. But in 2021, new waves of infection sent shock waves from economically underdeveloped regions — including Inner Mongolia and Gansu — to the country’s economic centres like Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang. China adheres to a zero-COVID-19 policy of eliminating the virus and public opinion opposes the so-called ‘living with the virus’ model followed by Western countries.

China-U.S. Rivalry Is Forging New Trade Routes, Standard Chartered’s Vinals Says
The standoff between the U.S. and China is boosting the superpowers’ economic ties with other countries, according to Jose Vinals, the chairman of Standard Chartered Plc.   “The bilateral tensions in global trade between the United States and China have led to more trade between the United States and other emerging markets and between China and other emerging markets,” Vinals said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday.

China’s Economy In The Year Of The Tiger

For China, the year ahead holds special political and economic significance. From the Winter Olympics in February to the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th national congress, slated for the fourth quarter, “the world,” as President Xi Jinping has noted, “is turning its eyes to China.” That means China’s financial, environmental and economic policy aspirations, which have been complicated by the pandemic, will be closely scrutinized. Here’s what we see when we look in the eye of the tiger.

Russia proposes ban on use and mining of cryptocurrencies, points to steps taken in China
The central bank of Russia, the third-largest bitcoin mining market, cited risks to financial stability as a reason to ban cryptocurrencies    It pointed to measures taken in other countries like China, where all cryptocurrency transactions and mining activity are banned

Alibaba, NetEase drag Hong Kong stocks from two-month high as Nasdaq peers enter correction phase
Hang Seng Index trims gain for the week to 1.6 per cent as Alibaba, NetEase slip while their Nasdaq peers enter a correction phase   Stocks in Hong Kong have gained a cumulative US$105 billion in market value this week on China easing bets before today’s pullback

Jack Ma’s Ant Group implicated in corruption scandal by Chinese media
China’s state broadcaster has implicated Jack Ma’s Ant Group in a corruption scandal, ratcheting up pressure on the billionaire following a crackdown that has wiped billions of dollars from his internet empire.   A documentary on state-run China Central Television alleged that private companies made “unreasonably high payments” to the brother of the former Communist party head of Hangzhou, an eastern city that is home to Ant Group’s headquarters, in return for government policy incentives and support with buying real estate.  According to public records and two sources close to the deals, a unit of Ant Group bought two plots of land at a discount in Hangzhou in 2019 after taking stakes in two mobile payment businesses owned by the party secretary’s younger brother that were named in the documentary.  While the documentary did not name Jack Ma’s company, the Ant unit was the only external corporate investor in one of these businesses, according to the public records, and was among three corporate investors in the second.

Geely targets 10% jump in global sales, driven by electric vehicles
Volvo parent reports record sales of 2.2m units in 2021  Many of Geely Auto’s new-energy vehicles went to Cao Cao Mobility, a ride-hailing service offered by the Geely group. The fleet operates in 62 cities and serves more than 100 million people, Geely said in the Jan. 14 announcement.  Unit sales for Geely high-end brand Volvo Cars rose 5% to 690,000, lifted by new-energy vehicles. Geely’s British brand, Lotus Cars, saw a 24% surge in sales. Malaysian automaker Proton Cars, of which Geely is a 49.9% owner, recorded a 4.5% rise.    Polestar, Geely’s answer to Tesla, sold nearly 30,000 vehicles last year. The luxury brand is busy bolstering overseas sales, chiefly in Europe and the Middle East, with plans to begin production in the U.S., according to Geely. Polestar targets sales of 290,000 autos by 2025.

EV Maker’s Next Headache: Rare Battery Chemicals Made in China
Last year was the year of electric vehicles. Global sales could reach record highs and boost battery demand. Currently, too many good things are causing problems. There is a shortage of many major battery materials, including but not limited to treated lithium itself, and prices are skyrocketing.    In addition to the geopolitical risks of global automakers, the supply chain is concentrated in China, a country that has decided to become the world’s EV capital.

It’s time for climate competition with China
Brussels and Beijing are entering a new phase in their climate relations. Gone are the days when the EU and China were only climate partners. Now Brussels would be well-served to compete and spur China on when it comes to climate protection.

China rolls out policies to promote green consumption in sectors ranging from food and clothing to transport and renewable energy
The policy was jointly published by seven government agencies including the National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Commerce   The plan seeks to stimulate green consumption while curbing waste and unreasonable consumption

China’s state-owned oil giant PetroChina ‘cooperating’ with investigation into unit punished for ‘irregular trading’
PetroChina unit ‘has always been actively cooperating with the investigation’, according to a filing to Hong Kong stock exchange    Its subsidiary, PetroChina Fuel Oil, was involved in irregular reselling of crude totalling 179.5 million tonnes to 115 local refineries

China Issues New Rules Regulating Internet Giants And Platform Economy
Chinese regulatory authorities have proposed new policies to further regulate the country’s Internet giants and platform economy.   Nine ministries and commissions including the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Administration of Supervision, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology jointly issued a document on Wednesday.  “Several Opinions on Promoting the Standardized, Healthy and Sustainable Development of the Platform Economy” provides guidance on issues such as anti-monopoly and anti-competition law enforcement, data and algorithm security, platform interconnection, and the gig economy. The document takes a positive tone in supporting platform companies including Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, who have received harsh punishments and fines during the past year on anti-competition and anti-monopoly grounds. The new proposal clearly states Beijing’s support for platform technology innovation, while encouraging business model innovation and improving globalization.

ByteDance Disbands Strategic Investment Unit Due To Regulatory Pressure
Chinese Internet giant ByteDance has disbanded its strategic investment department due to pressure from regulators on Tuesday, according to people with knowledge of the matter.   Five executives including Zhao Pengyuan, the former head of ByteDance’s strategic investment department, were transferred to the president’s office with new responsibilities in charge of the company’s overall strategy.   Other staff of the unit were transferred to different business lines within the company, while some were laid off.

TikTok owner ByteDance said to post slower revenue growth in 2021 amid China’s tech crackdown
Privately held ByteDance was reported to have increased its revenue by 70 per cent to US$58 billion last year    It marks a drop-off in performance for the world’s most valuable tech unicorn after posting a 111 per cent revenue growth to US$34.3 billion in 2020

Shanghai offers chip incentives
The Shanghai municipal government is offering a number of large incentives to attract companies and talent along the semiconductor supply chain, as part of the country’s plan to speed up domestic chip industry progress, reports the South China Morning Post. According to a government policy document published on Wednesday, the Shanghai government will subsidize up to 30% of investment—up to a total of RMB 100 million ($15 million)—in semiconductor materials and equipment projects in the city.  It will also subsidize 30% of investment in chip software projects, such as electronic design automation (EDA) tools, up to the ceiling of RMB 100 million. The same 30% subsidy policy also applies to tape-out—where semiconductors are tested for flaws before they are sent for mass manufacturing—for chips with nodes less than 28-nanometres.

How Does China View NFTs and What Are its Market Prospects?
NFTs or non-fungible tokens are a new type of digital asset that is steadily gaining popularity and dominating online media conversations around the world. In this article, we look at the status of NFTs in China. While Chinese regulators do not object to NFTs as a concept, authorities do not appear as enthusiastic over its financial use. China is also opposed to any technology function engaged in the domain of cryptocurrency.  NFT was probably the most popular word in 2021, and this phenomenon continues into 2022. Global search interest for ‘NFT’ surpassed ‘Crypto’ for the first time in 2022, Google Trends data reveals, reflecting the fact that it has now entered mainstream consciousness. China has not been left out. In China, NFT are referred to as ‘digital collectibles’ rather than ‘tokens’ since the Chinese government is opposed to cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is protected by cryptography, making counterfeiting and double-spending practically impossible. However, cryptocurrencies are notorious for their unpredictable values, which encourages speculation, and may create new avenues for money laundering and capital outflows. As a result, China has cracked down on cryptocurrencies since 2020.  Nevertheless, Alibaba and Tencent, two of China’s leading technology corporations, are investing heavily in the NFTs market, despite its close links to crypto in Western markets. This shows that Chinese public interest in the NFT market is growing, and the Chinese government does not intend to hinder this – so long as NFT technology does not facilitate cryptocurrency transactions.

Trade boom with China makes Africa one of world’s strongest performers
Rising commodity prices helped an all-time high of US$254 billion in year of recovery after pandemic controls hit global markets   The performance is also fuelled by increasing Chinese imports of African agricultural product

China is set to lead emerging market equities out of the doldrums amid Covid-19 headwinds
China is revving up its engines of growth by relaxing interest rates and releasing fiscal stimulus while the US and Europe tighten policies and rates to fight inflation   But near-term risks remain, especially from Covid-19, so solid improvements may not be seen until the next quarter

Changes to corporate investing rules could diminish China’s resilient venture landscape
Since the Ant
 Group IPO was canceled by central authorities, China’s government has been on a regulatory tear. You know the broad outlines: After a lengthy period of growth, capital investment and aggressive business practices, China’s central government spent much of 2021 reining in its technology sector. While some of the actions were reasonable from an antitrust perspective, many of the changes to the country’s tech sector appeared more punitive toward entities viewed as too powerful.   The for-profit edtech sector got hit. Didi was effectively executed after it had the audacity to go public in the United States. Video game time for kids was cutgaming titles left unapprovedalgorithms put under the microscope, and more. The business climate for building tech companies under the new “Common Prosperity” push in the country appeared to take a dramatic turn for the worse.

China gives Taiwan’s Globalwafers OK to buy German peer
Chip wafer maker aims to challenge leading Japan rivals with acquisition  Taiwan’s Globalwafers, the world’s third-largest maker of semiconductor wafers, said on Friday that it had received China’s approval to acquire German peer Siltronic, a major step in the company’s bid to expand its market share and challenge leading Japanese players.  Globalwafers said that it has now obtained merger control clearance for the deal to acquire Siltronic, the world’s No. 4 wafer maker, from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation.

pdf  Global Investment Trend Monitor, No. 40
Global FDI rebounds strongly in 2021, but recovery highly uneven Infrastructure finance up due to stimulus; greenfield projects in industry still weak Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows showed a strong rebound in 2021, up 77% to an estimated $1.65 trillion, from $929 billion in 2020, surpassing their pre-Covid-19 level.   Developed economies saw the biggest rise by far, with FDI reaching an estimated $777 billion in 2021 – three times the exceptionally low level in 2020. In Europe, more than 80% of the increase in flows was due to large swings in conduit economies. Inflows in the United States more than doubled, with the increase entirely accounted for by a surge in cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As).   FDI flows in developing economies increased by 30% to nearly $870 billion, with a growth acceleration in East and South-East Asia (+20%), a recovery to near pre-pandemic levels in Latin America and the Caribbean, and an uptick in West Asia. Inflows in Africa also rose. Most recipients across the continent saw a moderate rise in FDI; the total for the region more than doubled, inflated by a single intra-firm financial transaction in South Africa in the second half of 2021. Of the total increase in global FDI flows in 2021 ($718 billion), more than $500 billion, or almost three quarters, was recorded in developed economies. Developing economies, especially the least developed countries (LDCs) saw more modest recovery growth.

Taiwan Foreign investment falls 18.24%
Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 18.24 percent to US$7.48 billion last year from a year earlier as COVID-19 spread worldwide, the Investment Commission said yesterday. The number of approved applications from foreign investors fell 20.68 percent year-on-year to 2,711, it said.   Foreign investment is mainly in financial services and insurance, wholesale and retail trade, real-estate activities, information and communication technologies (ICT), and electronic parts and components manufacturing, the commission said.

China’s New Economic Expansion Plan Should Boost Luxury
Last August, China’s Ministry of Commerce drafted its Overall Plan for Cultivating International Consumption Center Cities. The strategy calls for the country to create “international consumption centers” across five major Chinese cities: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Chongqing.  These five metropolises will enact “forceful and distinctive measures in this regard with their respective focuses,” relayed the Chinese news outlet, People’s Daily. Additionally, the cities will have special economic zones to boost China’s duty-free economy, further driving growth and consumption.  Meanwhile, at the sixth session of the 15th Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress, the mayor of Shanghai, Gong Zheng, announced that Shanghai plans to expand tax relief.

Evergrande crisis: Chinese developer hiring more legal advisers to tackle debt
China Evergrande Group said it proposes to hire China International Capital Corp and BOCI Asia as financial advisers, and Zhong Lun Law Firm as legal adviser   A group of offshore bondholders warned the company that they would ‘seriously consider enforcement actions’ to protect their interests

Evergrande’s international creditors threaten legal action over ‘opaque’ restructuring process
Evergrande’s international creditors are losing patience.
A group of the company’s overseas bondholders are threatening to take legal action over its “opaque” debt restructuring process, the latest sign of trouble for the embattled Chinese developer.  They said in a statement Thursday they’ve had to “seriously consider enforcement actions” after Evergrande failed to engage substantially with them about reorganizing its operations.  The firm’s “lack of engagement and opaque decision-making to date is contrary to well established international standards in restructuring processes of this magnitude,” the group wrote in its statement. The investors are represented by law firm Kirkland & Ellis and investment bank Moelis & Co.

China GDP: city in eastern Anhui province facing ‘win or die’ situation after economy failed to grow in 2021
Bengbu city had set a gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of 8.5 per cent last year compared to the national goal of ‘around 6 per cent’  But while China posted a full-year growth rate of 8.1 per cent, Bengbu’s economy did not grow last year as all its major indicators missed their targets by a large margin  Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that China will roll out more steps to boost effective demand as the economy faces new downward pressure and increased uncertainties, according to state media.  On Friday, Zhu Guangyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet, said the country will be able to achieve an economic growth of around 5.5 per cent in 2022.
A number of provinces, including Anhui, have already lowered their GDP growth targets for 2022, as well as their expectations for consumption and trade. This is due to increasing pressure from sporadic coronavirus outbreaks, a property market downturn, supply shocks that have driven up the cost of raw materials and tensions with Western nations.  China has been looking to upgrade its industries amid strong competition from Southeast Asian countries, while facing increasing restrictions from the United States amid its push for a greater share of the hi-tech manufacturing sector. This has left regional economies struggling to recover from the impact of the coronavirus, leading to growing divisions between regions. Anhui is part of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone, but its economy has lagged behind its coastal neighbours of Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang.
The province’s per capita GDP was 63,426 yuan (US$9,994) in 2020, 12 per cent lower than the national average, according to a research report by US rating agency Moody’s.In the past decade, Anhui has been moving away from traditional farming towards agro-processing, Moody’s said, as the share of agriculture in its economy declines

China’s retired population reaches over 190 million, spurring elderly online demands in the digital era
On 20 January, Song Jian, deputy director of the Population and Development Research Centre of the Renmin University of China, commented that China is expected to lose its demographic dividend soon. According to the latest census released in 2021, people aged 60 and above in China has reached over 260 million, and those aged 65 and above account for 13.5% of the entire population, higher than the world’s average level of 9.3%. China’s population is ageing faster than the rest of the world, and it does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. By 2050, the population of retirement age is estimated to climb up to 39%. The demographic dividend is disappearing; the two generations that once contributed to that advantage are now getting old. For business owners, that implies a growing elderly consumer base and enormous rising demands, particularly in the virtual world.According to the China Internet Network Information Centre’s latest report, people aged 50 and above account for 28% of China’s 1.01 billion online users in 2021, up by 5.2% compared to the previous year. The report also shows that 86.39% of Chinese elderly users use entertainment applications in 2021 – a significant rise from 16.38% in 2017 – to watch videos (90%) and read articles and e-books (80%). Another report released by the Paper indicates that around 100,000 elderly users spend over 10 hours a day on Qu Toutiao, a popular content aggregator app. Gaming is also gaining popularity amongst Chinese older people – 4.6% of the 554 million Chinese video game players are over 55 years old. A 62-year-old player even became a social influencer with over 1.15 million fans on Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok) for playing Honour of Kings, a mobile game similar to League of Legends.

Lithuanian exports nearly obliterated from China market amid Taiwan row
Chinese customs data gives first glimpse of the scale of unofficial blockade, with 91.4 per cent drop in shipments from the Baltic state in December    Beijing denies an official embargo, telling EU sources local businesses will not buy goods from countries that ‘attack China’s sovereignty’

Analysis-German big business piles pressure on Lithuania in China row
Lithuania is under pressure from German companies to back down in a dispute with China to end a blockade of the Baltic state, as European trade officials struggle to defuse the row, people familiar with the matter said.   China has pressed multinationals to sever ties with Lithuania or face exclusion from its market, an unusually harsh move that has dragged companies into a political dispute and placed Beijing on a collision course with the European Union.

Unrest in Kazakhstan Only Solidifies China-Russia Ties
Ultimately, China and Russia also look at Central Asia as a testing ground for the construction of a post-liberal world order.  Both seek orders of exclusion in their immediate neighborhood, wherein Central Asia is obviously included. Ideally for Russia, a dominant position in the region could be exploited as it indeed was in under Romanov and Soviet rule.  However, cognizant of its diminished power, Moscow understands that exclusively managing the region would be impossible. Countering every move by other large powers would also be impractical and likely unfeasible in the context of today’s highly interconnected world. Hence, Russia has come to the realization that instead of trying to keep China at bay, it would be more efficient to actually build a condominium-style leadership over Central Asia. A critical element to this new order is the exclusion of the collective West as best exemplified by Washington’s failure to attain Central Asian states’ agreement to renew its military presence in the region following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.  The emerging Central Asian order is similar to what Russia is trying to build elsewhere. In the Caspian Sea, Moscow now increasingly relies on Iran; in the South Caucasus Moscow on both Iran and Turkey, introducing a system where the presence of non-regional powers is limited if not altogether removed. Similarly, China pursues a closed order in the South China sea.  Thus, China has remained content in general with how the turmoil in Kazakhstan was contained. Discontent between Moscow and Beijing exists, but since the motivation for cooperation is even greater, China and Russia seem poised to successfully manage their great power ties.

China angered by French parliament vote accusing it of genocide in Xinjiang
The resolution says Beijing’s treatment of the Uygur population amounts to a ‘crime against humanity’   China dismisses the accusations and accuses the National Assembly of ‘gross’ interference in the country’s internal affairs

Can Bikes Cure China’s Big City Blues?
Over a span of decades, the country’s urban planners designed with cars, buses, and subways in mind. Now that cities are sprawling ever further, is it too late for the bike to make a comeback?

Internet access is key to ending global inequality as the world moves online
Global inequality could worsen in a digital economy as nearly 3 billion people in mostly developing countries still have no access to the internet  To close the digital divide, governments in emerging economies like Asean must invest in education and infrastructure

China’s Lawmakers Take More (Cautious) Steps Against Workplace Sexual Harassment 
Draft revisions to China’s women’s rights law are a step in the right direction, but are likely to have limited impact.  The new enforcement tools in the draft revisions are likely not enough to significantly improve compliance among employers. Litigation and disciplinary action kick in only if employers refuse requests to adopt policies. Why not just wait to get caught, especially if overstretched regulators may never catch you? Women’s rights lawyer Lü Xiaoquan worries that “if violating a law basically means little or even no cost, then even a really good system could just become empty words on paper.”  Raising costs to inaction would improve compliance, whether through administrative penalties or, better yet, by letting survivors sue employers. Many influential voices have called for employers to bear some form of civil liability for sexual harassment, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2008, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in 2014, civil judges in Beijing in 2021, and the Sichuan provincial government in 2007 and 2021. Barriers to sexual harassment lawsuits prevailing in court should be removed. In a recent report, the Yuanzhong Gender Development Center recommended adopting a fairer allocation of the burden of proof and giving more weight to testimony. The above reforms would entail investing more in administrative enforcement, opening employers up to significant liability, and broadly empowering women to enter the courts to defend their rights. Lawmakers would need to be convinced that such moves are not too costly or politically risky – a turn unlikely to occur before the LPWRI revision is completed or for some time to come.

Tokyo, Beijing, And New Tensions Over Taiwan – Analysis
Taiwan,  a perennially sensitive issue between Japan and China, gained increased salience in the run-up to Japanese elections in fall 2021. In separate incidents in late August and early September, a Chinese flotilla sailed through the waters between Taiwan and Japan’s island of Yonaguni and on through the Miyako Strait for what the Chinese media described as a warning to right-wing Japanese and Taiwan secessionists whom they see as colluding to sabotage peace of security in the region. Beijing’s nationalistic Global Times, responding to Deputy Defense Minister Yasuhide Nakayama’s comments that Japan considered Taiwan’s peace and security as its own business, editorialized that Japan is in its worst geopolitical environment since the Meiji Restoration (1868-1889) and termed its posture toward China “morally dirty.” Previously, the paper continued, Japanese officials had steered clear of Taiwan matters, especially those related to national security, but were now openly discussing Taiwan in increasingly provocative rhetoric. What were once high-level Chinese comments on the importance of peace and security became hypotheticals about how Japan might react if the PRC used force against Taiwan.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warns China of ‘fundamental differences’ over human rights
The comments made to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi may signal a change of a approach in the post-Angela Merkel era  Wang urges his German counterpart to avoid ‘megaphone diplomacy’ as he calls on the new government to continue cooperating with Beijing

China and Russia block US bid to sanction North Koreans at UN
Pyongyang has suggested it may resume tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles   The US has already imposed unilateral sanctions over recent launches, but is seeking further penalties at the United Nations

Chinese Rover Finds the Far Side of the Moon Has Sticky Soil
Sixth Tone speaks with a planetary geologist about the recent discovery and more.  t’s the first time a spacecraft has found signs of water on the lunar ground. Previous lunar rovers didn’t have instruments for detecting water, and most of the data we have are collected by probes in orbit or spacecraft flying by the moon. Previously, we knew the moon had water but didn’t know exactly where until Chang’e 5.  Lunar water detection has always been a hot topic among scientists, and we need different technical approaches to verify the finding. When we analyze how much water there is on the moon, we can’t use data from samples from one site and make generalizations of the region, much less the entire moon. Because the water content might vary by region and even by sample, we need a more comprehensive assessment.

Security Scanners Across Europe Tied to China Government, Military
At some of the world’s most sensitive spots, authorities have installed security screening devices made by a single Chinese company with deep ties to China’s military and the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party. The World Economic Forum in Davos. Europe’s largest ports. Airports from Amsterdam to Athens. NATO’s borders with Russia. All depend on equipment manufactured by Nuctech, which has quickly become the world’s leading company, by revenue, for cargo and vehicle scanners. Nuctech has been frozen out of the U.S. for years due to national security concerns, but it has made deep inroads across Europe, installing its devices in 26 of 27 EU member states, according to public procurement, government and corporate records reviewed by The Associated Press.

China’s wealth gap laid bare by contrasting lives of two coronavirus carriers in Beijing
Yue, a 44-year-old migrant worker, visited nearly 30 different construction sites across the city, while trying to feed a family of six and search for his missing son  Li, 26, spent her New Year’s Day and the following weekend in high-end shopping malls, luxury stores, a stand-up comedy show and skiing

Births in China are dangerously close to being overtaken by deaths
China’s economy recovered substantially from the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, but its seemingly buoyant growth rate is overshadowed by a challenge that will be hard to fix with monetary or fiscal policy—a rapidly plunging birth rate. China’s Statistics Bureau announced today (Jan. 17) that GDP expanded by 8.1% in 2021 from a year earlier, beating Beijing’s 6% target. This is partly thanks to its strong exports and the low base in 2020, when China had its first quarterly contraction in GDP in decades due to the pandemic. China’s economy in 2021 experienced “continuous and steady recovery…and maintained the leading position in economic growth and epidemic prevention and control in the world, with major indicators reaching the expected targets,” wrote the Statistics Bureau. “However, we must be aware that the external environment is more complicated and uncertain, and the domestic economy is under the triple pressure of demand contraction, supply shock and weakening expectations,” it said. For this year, economists have already flagged risks to the growth rate from omicron outbreaks and China’s return to covid lockdowns, as well as the slowing real estate sector, as seen through real estate giant Evergrande’s woes. But beyond that, it’s China’s declining working age population that will challenge economic growth.

China population: demographic window of opportunity ‘will shut soon’ as births drop, ageing crisis deepens
Mothers in China gave birth to just 10.62 million babies last year, an 11.5 per cent drop from 2020, which contributed to an overall population increase of just 480,000    Last year, China had 267.36 million aged over 60 representing 18.9 per cent of the population, up from 264.02 million a year earlier

Are video games China’s next cultural export?
The rise of MiHoYo’s ‘Genshin Impact’ should make people reconsider the viability of China’s culture factory.

What’s Behind China’s ‘Slanted-Eye’ Outrage & How to Avoid It
From Mercedes-Benz to Made-in-China companies, brands have angered netizens over Chinese marketing with “slanted-eye” looks. But who’s really to blame?  Online consumer boycotts accusing brands of disrespecting Chinese people by showing models with “slanted eyes” are overwhelming social media. From Dior, Mercedes-Benz, and Gucci to Made-in-China companies, international and domestic brands have gotten reprimanded on the subject by nationalist consumers over recent months.  Moving forward, brands will have to confront a hard truth: Chinese consumers are increasingly aware of racial representation issues on the global stage, and they are demanding greater cultural awareness about how they appear to the world.  Last year, Asian model eye shapes caused China’s biggest luxury brand scandals. In November, netizens spotted a photo of a model with small eyes and spooky makeup from a 2012 Dior exhibition and quickly accused the brand of using an Asian stereotype to insult China. The photographer, Chen Man, later apologized for her “immaturity and ignorance” at the time of the shoot, and Dior issued a statement saying they do, in fact, “respect the feelings of the Chinese people.”

Alain Gillard
Information Officer
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