China Press Review – June 8, 2020

Press review

China’s exports drop in May as coronavirus pandemic hits overseas demand
China’s exports fell by 3.3 per cent in May, down from a surprise return to growth in April but a smaller drop than analysts expected  May imports fell even more sharply in May, contracting by 16.7 per cent from a year earlier, deteriorating from the drop of 14.2 per cent the month before. The two-month decline in imports was due in part to sharply lower oil prices, but also indicated continued weakness in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s overall trade surplus surged to US$62.93 billion in May – from US$45.34 billion in April – and its highest level in at least 30 years, as imports dropped much faster than exports.

China’s May foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly rise to US$3.102 trillion
World’s largest forex reserve adds US$10.233 billion despite economists predicting a US$10.459 billion fall    Value of China’s gold reserves rises to US$108.29 billion at end of May, from US$106.67 billion a month earlier

Coronavirus: China needs GDP growth of about 3 per cent in 2020 to meet job goals, analysts say
Beijing wants to keep the urban unemployment rate steady at about 6 per cent while creating 9 million jobs this year    The central government will need to ensure economic growth of about 3 per cent and steady an economy badly damaged by the coronavirus, analysts say

Coronavirus and trade war pushing China to focus on fixing economy rather than leading world order
Scant mention of Belt and Road Initiative and abandoning of annual GDP target indicates managing internal affairs dominates leaders’ attention    Decisions taken during the National People’s Congress meeting suggest the Communist Party is putting emphasis on providing jobs and social stability

Nothing much has changed in our investment plans: Liege Airport
Ever since the Covid-19 crisis began, air cargo has been a vital partner in delivering much-needed medicines, medical equipment, and in keeping global supply chains functioning for the most time-sensitive materials. In April 2020, the World Food Programme chose nine airports across the world to take part in a special humanitarian air bridge to transport medical and humanitarian relief to over 120 countries starting early May. Belgium’s cargo airport at Liege made the cut for this critical mission thus becoming the European hub for the World Food Programme’s initiative. So what does it take to put a dedicated cargo airport on the global map of the air cargo world and how is it positioning itself as a key air trade lane for cross border ecommerce from China to Europe? “The entire cargo community at Liege was willing to go for this because we see it not only as recognition for the airport but it also works into the value of the airport”

China’s state-owned firms remain barrier to EU investment deal
Two sides are due to hold a further round of talks this month as the end-of-year deadline moves closer    Progress had previously stalled as Beijing prioritised trade talks with US, and the Covid-19 pandemic has also slowed progress

Could US sanctions over Hong Kong national security law worsen China’s US dollar shortage?
Analysts say the proposed national security law for Hong Kong could mark the beginning of a process cutting China’s access to US dollars      China recorded a current account deficit in the first quarter of 2020, meaning it was a net exporter of US dollars

How Tech Can — and Can’t — Rebuild the Post-Pandemic World
Seven experts talk about the role of technology in the days to come.

Harvey Nichols owner Dickson Concepts warns of long, gloomy days ahead for Hong Kong’s retail industry as sales are crushed by Covid-19
Licensee of brands including Tod’s and Roger Vivier expects the retail industry’s recovery from Covid-19 to be long and painful      The company said it is facing the most challenging consumer environment it’s ever seen in Hong Kong after the pandemic stopped mainland Chinese coming to the city

Is Western Luxury Ready For China’s C2M Model?
Many say China’s C2M model will be its latest e-commerce driver. But is luxury ready to let go of old design models and embrace consumer preferences? The fashion industry has traditionally been a descending, authoritative system where brands dictate what consumers want to purchase by continually refreshing their designs. This concept that design should come before demand has rarely been challenged. But one recent trend disrupting

Why Consumers Break Up With Luxury Brands
Consumers buy luxury brands because they fall in love with them, but if brands break their trust, they will commit to never buy that brand again. Photo: MISBHV. Composite: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.
Consider this situation, which most of you have experienced. You buy something, and after a while, you realize there’s a defect. You go back to the store because you want to return it, but the staff politely declines. They may even suggest that you did something wrong. Sound familiar? It’s an issue that can happen in any product category. Sure, it’s annoying when it happens with a cheap product, but you move past it quickly. It simply isn’t worth worrying about an inexpensive item. But when it comes to luxury, it’s a different story. We bought the brand because of the extreme value it had created for us. It was a dream come true. The moment we made the purchase, we felt special. We proudly carried the shopping bag, showed it off to our best friends, and using it made  us feel like a princess or prince. It made our hearts beat faster. We fell in love.

Alibaba’s C2M Strategy Helps Manufacturers Digitize Amid Covid-19
When many of China’s brick-and-mortar factories found their production and sales channels disrupted during the Covid-19 crisis, digitization of their operations through Alibaba Group’s tools and platforms became a new lifeline for survival.    Now, even as the country emerges from the pandemic, the strategy of going online is becoming increasingly important for factories to thrive in the 21st century.

Shanghai’s logistics industry revels in chaotic boom as rates soar, ‘dreads’ the arrival of coronavirus vaccine
Pandemic has upset the industry fundamentals, pushing some air freight rates up fourfold this year   Industry executives say the decline in volume of masks, hospital equipment and medical devices will be replaced by other goods as the world returns to normal

US scraps plan to ban Chinese airline flights, allows just two round trips weekly
The dispute between Washington and Beijing over air travel limits is just one of many points of tension in the bilateral relationship    US-China air routes are among the most lucrative in the world, but the airline industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic

Brave New World: The Chinese know how to play a long game
Few more years and China might not be dependent on US anymore

China completes world’s first renewables-only transmission line
China has completed work on a $3.2bn electricity transmission line that will carry only renewable energy, the first of its kind in the world.

Embattled Chinese carmakers reported recovery in sales in May, but not out of Covid-19 woods yet
Geely Automobile Holdings says its sales jumped 20 per cent from a year ago   Rebound buoyed by release of pent-up demand, rather than a turnaround: analyst

A ‘million mile’ battery from China could power your electric car
China’s CATL is ready to produce a battery that lasts 16 years and 2 million kilometres
This battery is set to go into Model 3 cars produced at Tesla’s massive factory near Shanghai

How Donald Trump’s efforts to readmit Russia to G7 could backfire and drive Moscow closer to Beijing
US’s President’s olive branch was seen as effort to drive a wedge between China and Russia, but observers say it may prove counterproductive    Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule has seen relations with China warm and even the lure of seeing sanctions lifted may not be enough to reverse the trend

China Suspends Debt Repayments for 77 Developing Countries Battling Covid-19
China has suspended debt repayments for 77 developing countries and regions as part of the G-20 debt relief initiative to help impoverished countries weather economic difficulties amid the coronavirus pandemic, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Sunday.

There will be no dramatic Covid-19 economic collapse – or rapid recovery, the history of pandemics suggests
The staggering results of a new IMF study suggest Covid-19 could leave a generation or more with economic stagnation, depressed interest rates and low asset returns    The good news is that low borrowing costs is associated with higher real wages and make it easier for governments to finance stimulus measures

Economic distancing from China and the world would carry heavy costs
Economic distancing from China or self-isolation will both deepen the economic crisis and prolong the path towards recovery. It will not make supply chains more resilient. It would also represent a geopolitical catastrophe for both sides, reducing China’s stake in an open global order, creating enmity where none need exist. Instead of accentuating differences and retreating from openness, the lessons of past crises point to a need to realise the common interest in immunising the global economy from prolonged stagnation and depression.

Coronavirus: Belgian shepherd dogs trained to sniff out coronavirus score top marks in armpit odour tests
Eight Malinois achieve 83 to 100 per cent success rate in experiments by French researchers    Dogs’ diagnoses even lead to two ‘healthy’ subjects being retested and found positive for the pathogen

Taiwan is sharing its expertise around the world, despite Beijing’s efforts to keep it quiet
Under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, Taipei has held workshops on everything from cybersecurity to women’s empowerment   Knowledge-sharing platform was set up with the United States in 2015 and joined by Japan last year

China denies coronavirus cover-up and insists relations with rest of world have not been damaged
Beijing publishes lengthy document defending its ‘transparency’ and ‘openness’ after reports World Health Organisation officials were frustrated by delays in releasing information    Foreign vice-minister says relations with most countries have improved but a ‘very few’ have ‘smeared’ China and forced it to defend itself

Hong Kong relaxes quarantine rules for largest listed firms such as Tencent and Alibaba
14-day quarantine rule has been relaxed for executives of 480 of the largest companies listed in Hong Kong    Travellers to mainland China will still be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement

China’s elderly caught in clash between culture and care
Families must shoulder the bulk of care for older members, a burden that is only expected to increase as the country ages   Even if they do choose nursing homes, the quality of care is not necessarily up to par

Coronavirus outbreak: US sues Chinese firm over half a million ‘fake’ N95 masks
Importer paid more than US$1 million for products    Justice Department says Guangdong-based King Year Packaging and Printing falsely claimed masks met N95 standard

Hong Kong’s tycoons catch the privatisation bug as they pick up assets at rock-bottom prices amid stock market’s slump
Controlling shareholders have initiated five take-private transactions valued at US$8.76 billion in Hong Kong since the start of February, Refinitiv’s data says     Total take-private deals jumped to a 12-month high of US$6.2 billion in February

Movement restrictions are not stopping Hong Kong travel agencies from preparing for the return of tourism
Relaxation of quarantine measures would trigger revival of tourism in Hong Kong, said Jebsen Holiday’s Lily Agonoy    Tour operators are offering early bird packages and other deals ahead of a possible lifting of cross-border travel restrictions

Inside China Tech: Privacy vs urgency in Covid-19 contact tracing
Smartphones now have the power to streamline contact tracing, but governments are using this to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways    China’s start-up ecosystem is rising up the ranks, while several tech firms launched new initiatives to help street stalls and small businesses this week

Coronavirus gave China the opportunity to make controversial policy moves, experts say
Health crisis has been a ‘catalyst for existing trends, accelerating … the deterioration of Hong Kong’s autonomy’, US academic says on Beijing’s plans for a national security law for the city    Beijing took the decision despite risking ‘further alienating the general public in Hong Kong and the rest of the world’, former US deputy assistant secretary of state says

China’s national security law poses existential threat to Hong Kong’s universities and academic freedom
China’s tendency to use the vaguest, broadest terms in drafting its laws means research on several issues could become off-limits    Legislation will have chilling effect on overseas academics’ interest in and ability to pursue research collaboration with peers in Hong Kong

What do Trump’s base, China’s National People’s Congress and Hong Kong’s protest movement have in common? A human tendency towards bias
Conflicts over race issues in the US and a national security law in Hong Kong are no less distressing for proving what we know – that humans are hard-wired to be biased   Bias has chance of surviving in a multilateral world of information sharing, cooperation and compromise

How hard can Donald Trump hit Hong Kong over the national security law? Not very
Even if the US levies a 25 per cent tariff on Hong Kong’s exports, that would affect only 0.1 per cent of GDP     Imposing sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials is easier said than done

Coronavirus pandemic shows global consequences of China’s local censorship rules
China’s heavily regulated social media platforms have been removing and banning references to the Covid-19 pandemic    Censorship trackers say impeding the flow of information may have hampered the global response

‘Either way, an anti-China hawk wins’: Why Beijing does not expect Joe Biden victory to change relationship with US
Former vice-president ‘has never been a China-friendly guy and China knows it’, according to one observer    Victory for Democrat candidate in November may pose different challenges to Beijing but both him and Donald Trump are seen as critics in China

China, India must not allow nationalist fervour to inflame border conflict, observers say
Some officials in New Delhi think they can take advantage of the tensions between Beijing and Washington, Chinese academic says    China’s growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean has pushed Delhi to strengthen its ties with the US, Indian expert says

India and China agree to ‘peacefully resolve’ border tensions
India and China have agreed to peacefully settle their border tensions in the Himalayas through diplomatic and military channels, New Delhi said on Sunday.  Thousands of soldiers from both sides have been locked in a standoff in the remote region of Ladakh. Analysts have said that India does not have the economic and military strength to follow the U.S. and adopt an anti-China stance.

Philippines’ move to keep US military pact reveals shift in South China Sea calculations
The decision comes as Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the sea fuels anxieties in the region and Manila grapples with the coronavirus crisis    Experts say the move would likely be viewed with relief by other claimants and could offer the US a chance to reset its strategic ties with the Philippines

Why downgrading English to boost China’s cultural confidence is a bad idea
National People’s Congress delegates have questioned the prominence of English at press conferences and in schools in China   But at a time when Covid-19 is aggravating anti-Chinese sentiment, China should stay open to cultural exchange

Alain Gillard
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