China Press Review – March 31, 2020

Press review

China’s numbers fail to hide World Bank gloom
Big business in China appears to be back in business. But it might be short-lived.
On Tuesday, the National Bureau of Statistics released data showing that factory activity unexpectedly bounced back in March from record lows after being crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.  “The virus [is causing] an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt and could increase poverty across the region,” Aaditya Mattoo, the World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement with the report adding: “Developing economies in [the region], recovering from trade tensions and struggling with Covid-19, now face the prospect of a global financial shock and recession.”

World Bank warns China’s growth could screech to a halt
The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout could cause China’s growth to come to a virtual standstill and drive 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty, the World Bank warned Monday.

Coronavirus: China should drop 2020 GDP target as pandemic stokes uncertainty, says central bank adviser
Central bank adviser Ma Jun says China should not set an economic growth target this year due to damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic  Even GDP growth of between 4-5 per cent will be difficult as the pandemic spreads in the US and Europe, Ma says

China 2020 GDP to slow to 3.3%, lowest since 1976: survey
1Q likely shrank 3.7% as coronavirus drags down world’s second-largest economy

COVID-19 crash: How China’s economy may offer a glimpse of the future
China’s business and economic activity slowed dramatically as the novel COVID-19 coronavirus spread.  It’s thought the effects on the country’s economy could foreshadow what the rest of the world can expect. The UN has estimated global economic losses could reach up to $2 trillion

Coronavirus: China’s March PMI steadies, but economy not out of the woods yet
Despite PMI data showing a return to growth in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, China’s economic activity is still far from normal    Headwinds include the threat of global recession, a second wave of coronavirus infections and a property slump, analysts warn

A post-coronavirus US will want a weaker dollar, whether the world likes it or not
Consider the scale of government borrowing that is required for the US to pay for a US$2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. The higher interest rates go, the greater the debt servicing costs. The White House won’t want to see that

Donald Trump can win the 2020 presidential elections if he gets the world economy back on track
The American people need to have faith that their president has their interests at heart and that the economy will spring back     Trump must carry out policy for the long haul, and this means ending the unnecessary trade war with China

For the US and China, the coronavirus pandemic could be a game changer
Coronavirus disruptions are shaping domestic political currents while the world’s assessment of their Covid-19 efforts could have lasting soft power ramifications   Crucially, the race is on for economic recovery. Which economy bounces back faster from the coronavirus knock will affect the longer-term outcome of their power game

US and China set aside coronavirus differences and pledge to work together
Last week’s conversation between the leaders of the two countries has been followed up with a promise of cooperation from health officials  Call between China’s health minister and his US counterpart is their first telephone exchange since January

US Chinese who sent coronavirus aid to China rally for American hospitals
University alumni in both countries among those leading the effort to get medical supplies to health workers in New York and Chicago   Two months ago they were doing the same for China’s Hubei province where the outbreak was first reported

Asia markets mostly gain on expansion in Chinese manufacturing, global stimulus to deal with coronavirus carnage
Hang Seng Index ends brutal quarter with 1.8 per cent daily gain Most Asia markets advanced Tuesday, as investors weighed a surprise expansion in Chinese manufacturing and global stimulus steps against the mounting human and economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 52 in March, above the 50 threshold that signifies expansion, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected activity to contract, with a consensus for 45 on the index.

Shanghai overtakes Hong Kong as world’s top IPO destination but mega deals waiting in wings will shake up full-year rankings
Shanghai world’s top IPO market as Hong Kong falls to sixth place in first quarter  JD Logistics, WeDoctor and China Bohai Bank among Hong Kong IPO candidates for later in year

She connects: behind the camera at Taobao Live
China has the largest livestreaming industry in the world. It is estimated that more than 526 million viewers this year will tune into livestreaming, not only for entertainment but also to shop and socialize.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the medium has been used in ever-more-creative ways as millions stay indoors to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease. Musicians have used livestreaming to hold online concerts, nightclubs have organized online raves and even Shanghai Fashion Week has moved its entire autumn-winter event online via video streaming.

Huawei reports ‘solid business’ as smartphones drive group sales to US$121 billion, although ‘complicated’ external situation clouds outlook
Net profit increased 5.7 per cent to 62.7 billion yuan for the year while the company said it invested 15.3 per cent of revenue in R&D   Huawei’s annual revenue growth last year was slightly lower than the 19.5 per cent recorded in 2018

Pinduoduo raises US$1.1 billion in private placement to fund new services such as live-streaming
Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo has raised US$1.1 billion in a private share placement that could fund its expansion despite current market volatility, the company announced on Tuesday.

Bytedance may now be worth $100 billion
TikTok owner Bytedance could now be worth up to $100 billion based on recent prices for the Chinese company’s shares on secondary markets, according to the Financial Times.The new price tag for the Beijing-based tech startup is around one-third higher than its latest known valuation of $75 billion from 2018.

Ant Financial has set up a small business credit rating firm
Ant Financial, Alibaba’s fintech arm, has set up a corporate credit rating company for small and micro enterprises.

Coronavirus deals much swifter blow to Asian stocks than past crises
Record low valuations give cash-rich companies an advantage, some analysts say

Chinese Tesla challenger Evergrande Health says profit will recover with new electric cars on the way, as losses triple in 2019
The loss-making electric-car arm of developer China Evergrande, which also builds hospitals, says things will get better with the launch of new models soon    ‘Without mass production and delivery, we see little income. But it is just temporary,’ says Pan Darong, the company’s chief financial officer

Should Cancelled Fashion Weeks Follow China’s Digital Pivot?
European fashion weeks are challenged to quickly adopt digital strategies Anticipating the continued and devastating effects of COVID-19, fashion committees globally announced a cancellation in the upcoming men’s fashion weeks in Paris and London. Milan’s men’s fashion week has been postponed until September and will merge with women’s Ready-to-Wear. Furthermore, the federations indicated plans to explore digital alternatives to these events.   In China, some netizens on Weibo called this a “once-in-a-lifetime overturn of the industry,” while others grieved the absence of their favorite Chinese celebrities and models from the events. Despite a general disappointment, many were supportive of the safety-conscious decision. The global pandemic has hitherto impacted numerous schedules including the Met Gala and other runway shows, a mass disruption of the fashion industry unprecedented in modern fashion history.

Asia’s Air Transport Industry Collapses
When they come back, the devil will take the hindmost   As Asian governments ramp up movement restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout their respective countries, one particular international industry looks to be on the brink of a catastrophic collapse. After 11 straight years of healthy profits, the whole air transport industry has gone into almost total shutdown.

Moving Your China Factory – A Chance to Clean House
moving your factory in ChinaMoving your China factory is a big job. I would also like to add that it is a great chance to clean house, and I do not mean unloading junk. . It is a great chance too get rid of doubtful or mediocre hires. However, you also may not succeed in finding certain talent in the next place without great recruiting.

Coronavirus: Chinese ventilator makers working ‘around the clock’ amid global shortage
Hospitals worldwide need ventilators to treat seriously ill Covid-19 patients, and they’re turning to China to supply them  But getting hold of the key components from Europe and the US is a challenge, and manufacturers are stretched to capacity

Coronavirus: social distancing could save millions of lives, study says
Researchers from Imperial College in London say that without steps such as social distancing Covid-19 could have killed 40 million people this year   Study warns governments will have to make ‘challenging decisions’ but limiting social contacts could halve the death toll

Developing world at major risk from pandemic
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called the $2 billion requested to help fight Covid-19 ‘a drop in the ocean’

EuropeEU-ChinaIn China, the time ‘after’ COVID-19 is beginning – but fear remains
For weeks, China has hardly reported any new cases of coronavirus infections. The economy is showing signs of recovery, but the fear of a “second wave” remains

China to include symptom-free coronavirus carriers in national figures
The national health commission said it would start to include asymptomatic cases in its Covid-19 statistics in move to address public concern    Classified government data has suggested that silent carriers could make up around a third of cases

Coronavirus epidemic ‘far from over’ in Asia: WHO official
The coronavirus epidemic is “far from over” in the Asia-Pacific region, and current measures to curb the spread of the virus are buying time for countries to prepare for large-scale community transmissions, a WHO official said on Tuesday.

Indonesia to ban all foreign arrivals as Vietnam bars gatherings
Both Southeast Asian nations are seeing sharp rises in cases

New coronavirus study reveals increased risks from middle age
First comprehensive study of deaths and hospitalisations in mainland China shows just how much of a factor age is

China Delays College Entrance Exam Due to COVID-19
According to the announcement, this year’s administration of the gaokao— a nine-hour standardized test that evaluates students in Chinese, math, English, and either the sciences or liberal arts — will be held on July 7-8. Given the unique COVID-19 situations in different provinces, local governments in Hubei and Beijing are allowed to propose additional adjustments to their gaokao schedules, the ministry said.

The Coronavirus Is Becoming A Public Relations Disaster For China
The Chinese Community Party predicted early on that the spread of the new SARS coronavirus would prove that its top-down managerial style of government would prove more successful in stopping the spread than the Western democracies

Who controls quarantine data?
During the epidemic, every residential community, grocery store, and office building across the country has become a data collector, ordered to track the information of every person that entered or left to allow for swift ‘close-contact’ tracing, a key measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. With the epidemic appearing to be in its closing stage, questions are being asked: What will become of this data? Who will be responsible if a citizen’s personal information is leaked due to lax data privacy practices? Some citizens are already feeling the implications as phone scams are one on the rise again.

Funeral parlour report fans fears over Wuhan death toll from coronavirus
Magazine quotes truck driver saying he delivered thousands of funeral urns to facilities in the city last week Relatives of deceased only able to collect ashes in last week as centres in the city began clearing backlog It was also widely reported that the official death figure did not account for patients who have died before they were tested for the coronavirus and those who were also suffering from other diseases. Medical personnel interviewed have said that many patients were turned away in the early stages of the outbreak when the hospital system in Wuhan was overwhelmed.

Meituan says Covid-19 effects may linger after upbeat Q4
Impact to the Chinese local services super app from the Covid-19 outbreak will be “significant” because of the heavily offline nature of most of its business units. Like other Chinese tech companies including Alibaba and Tencent, Meituan categorized the Covid-19 hit as “short-term” and expects “long-term” growth as Chinese consumers increasingly shift to online transactions for the service industry.Grocery delivery remained one of the bright spots for Meituan during the outbreak.The Chinese O2O giant is facing intense competition from rival Alibaba which is reshaping its local lifestyle business around its popular payment app Alipay.

Tencent launches ‘buy now, pay later’ credit feature in WeChat
Chinese gaming and social giant Tencent has rolled out “Fen Fu,” an embedded credit feature which allows its 1.1 billion WeChat users to “buy now and pay later.”  Fenfu is Tencent’s foray into microloans, a service which Alipay offers users with its Huabei feature, and with its Baitiao product.

Will the coronavirus shock push the retail sector in the US and Britain to adopt the China model?
Coronavirus-related lockdowns and supply chain disruptions have dealt a severe blow to the retail industry in the US and UK, already grappling with the threat of online shopping The retail sector in Asia – particularly China – is better placed to cope, but also faces challenges related to supply and must anticipate post-crisis demand patterns  European fashion retail industry takes massive hit as coronavirus pandemic spreads While there is intense debate over the duration of  the recession  and its long-term consequences for the global economy, the crisis has already forced many retailers to shut their stores temporarily, giving new impetus to the shift to online shopping. However, even the performance of online sales has varied greatly. While digital purchases of daily essentials, such as food and home hygiene products, have surged, online sales of non-essential items, such as apparel and 
luxury goods , have plummeted. What is more, restrictions on travel have created huge logistical and 
supply bottlenecks , resulting in empty shelves at many supermarkets, amplifying the effects of the crisis and fuelling panic buying.

Mask or no mask: the cultural assumptions at the heart of coronavirus crisis management
Doctors here and in the West are trained in Western medicine, yet disagree on whether masks protect us against Covid-19  Social distancing is the norm in the West, where Asians in masks have been targeted. Are cultural differences at work?

In China, a Glimpse at the Future of Restaurants
As life returns to normal in Beijing, quarantines, temperature checks, and social distancing remain the norm at restaurants

Alain Gillard
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