News roundup: Chinese airlines deliver ‘a hammer blow’ to competitors

Business & Technology

Top China news for December 13, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at


Are Chinese airlines “flooding the world” with cheap airfares?

Bloomberg has published an article on cheap Chinese air tickets, which says that “Chinese airlines are flooding the world with some of the lowest long-haul fares ever seen — and delivering a hammer blow to foreign carriers trying to keep up.” All told, Chinese airlines have launched in “75 long-haul markets since 2006, with more than two-thirds of the new routes established in the past two years.” In addition, aside from offering sales on popular long-haul routes, Chinese carriers are adding connections between smaller airports in China and other countries. The Wall Street Journal published a similar story last week titled “Better food, better service,” which says that “trans-Pacific travel, where American carriers were once the most conspicuous, is becoming an increasingly Chinese affair.”

Not all is rosy, however. Also last week, the South China Morning Post predicted that Chinese airline earnings would begin a “descent” next year because of lower yields, higher costs and the weakness of the yuan against the dollar.

Dangerous typos in the Chinese media

Today on SupChina, we publish “When a typo is no laughing matter,” which discusses the consequences for journalists and editors in China when they make typographical errors. Writer David Bandurski is a scholar at the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project, the editor of the project’s website and a documentary filmmaker.

More China stories — with the most essential at the top of each section — are curated below.


  • China on track to hit growth target, but economists flash warning signs / WSJ
    “A flood of money from the central bank for lending followed by high levels of government spending on infrastructure has helped to juice the economy’s performance this year, economists said. But, they added, the burst may have come at the expense of next year.”
  • China retail, factory pickup show continued momentum in economy / Bloomberg
    “The world’s second-largest economy has remained resilient in the final quarter of the year as exports were cushioned by a weaker yuan and factory prices snapped out of their deflationary funk. With the expansion on pace to land smack in the middle of the government’s 6.5-7 percent full-year objective, attention is shifting to curbing excess corporate borrowing and industrial capacity and reining in surging property prices.”
  • China’s private banks struggle to upend state-owned incumbents / Financial Times
    “A batch of Chinese privately owned banks that reformers hoped would direct loans to credit-starved consumers and small businesses have yet to achieve significant scale, denting hopes that they will transform the state-dominated banking system.”
  • China won’t be home to world’s top box office any time soon / SCMP
    “November was the sixth month this year — and the third in a row — that saw mainland box-office sales plunge below the corresponding period last year, despite government efforts to boost slowing growth by relaxing the limit on imported films.”
  • Why would a Chinese insurance giant want to own a gas pipeline? / WSJ
    The sale of a 50 percent stake in a major Sinopec (China Petroleum and Chemical Corp.) project to China Life Insurance and a subsidiary of a state-backed investment platform shows that China’s economic rebalancing “is increasingly proving to be more about spreading risk within the vast network of state-backed enterprises, rather than taking it out altogether,” writes Anjani Trivedi.
  • Trump’s tough trade talk makes U.S. firms fear China retribution / Reuters
    “Four U.S. industry sources who follow China policy closely said they were unsettled by any suggestion of abandoning the ‘one China’ policy, which they said had served the business community well for several decades.”
  • Trump packs trade team with veterans of steel wars with China / Reuters
    “Led by Wilbur Ross, a billionaire steel investor and Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary, Dan DiMicco, the former CEO of steelmaker Nucor Corp., and three veteran steel trade lawyers, the team is expected to help shift the U.S. trade focus more heavily toward enforcement actions aimed at bringing down a chronic U.S. trade deficit, Washington trade experts said.”
  • Opinion: U.S. companies were hurt by trade with China too / Bloomberg
    “No longer can we confidently assume that U.S. companies will innovate to stay ahead of global competition,” writes Noah Smith. “Once again, the China Shock has thrown economists’ comfortable consensus into doubt.”
  • Top 10 best employers in China / China Daily
    A ranking by online jobs platform and Peking University sees internet giant Tencent at the top and four foreign-invested firms among the top 10, including Starbucks and IBM.


  • Opinion: After China’s hubris, it’s Trump’s turn / WSJ
    Andrew Browne writes that Trump “risks succumbing to a similar hubris that overcame China, miscalculating both strategically and economically just as China overreached at a moment of U.S. weakness.” He adds, “The consequences for both countries could be even more destructive.”
  • If Donald Trump pushes on Taiwan, how China could push back / NYT
    Jane Perlez highlights “five ways the Chinese could make life difficult for a Trump administration,” such as retaliating on trade and investment issues or becoming more friendly toward North Korea.
  • Trump, China and a long history of misunderstandings / NPR
    Journalist John Pomfret discusses the “fiction” of the one-China policy and his new book on U.S.-China relations on “All Thing Considered.”
  • Opinion: Too big, too Leninist — a China crisis is a matter of time / Financial Times
    “The Leninist party-state cannot give a solution to the problem of governance. Yet it can offer no solution to the economic problem, either,” writes Martin Wolf. “If a market economy is to be combined with reasonably non-corrupt government, economic agents need legal rights protected by independent courts. But that is precisely what a Leninist party-state cannot provide, since it is, by definition, above the law.”
  • Opinion: How Xi Jinping can avoid becoming a dictator / NYT
    “It may seem far-fetched, but [an electoral presidential] system would grant Mr. Xi the legitimacy and public support he craves to stay in power,” writes Ho Pin. “Without the legitimacy of an election, even a flawed one by Western standards, he would have to step down in 2022 or flagrantly ignore the party rules, and turn himself into a dictator who lives in constant fear of being toppled.”
  • China’s internet censors crack down on news portal over U.S. election coverage / SCMP
    The Cyberspace Administration of Beijing summoned the editor-in-chief of news portal, which is owned by Phoenix TV in Hong Kong, over the violations of Chinese media regulations. They include “‘gathering news information and editing news headlines,’ using journalists before they had been officially accredited by the authorities, and providing an online news service without a proper license from China’s media watchdog.”


  • China to set date to close ivory factories / The Guardian
    “Last year, the world’s largest market for both legal and illegal ivory said it would shut down commercial sales within the country. But it did not set a timeline,” write Karl Mathiesen and Naomi Larsson. “Ivory carving is designated as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ in China. The government wants to make the transition easy on those who make a living carving and selling ivory from existing legal stockpiles.”
  • Attempts to ‘clean up Beijing’ target low-cost migrant homes / Caixin
    Beijing authorities previously pushed migrants toward the outer edges of the Chinese capital, but now they are aiming to reduce the population of those areas by 500,000 by the end of 2017.
  • Shanghai plastic surgery nightmare: Doctor’s sexual abuse scandal exposed on Chinese social media / What’s on Weibo
    “The personal account of a young woman’s horrific plastic surgery experience in Shanghai’s Ninth People’s Hospital has gone viral on Chinese social media,” writes Manya Koetse. “Since the post, many other netizens victimized by the hospital and Dr. Yu Dong have also come forward.”