BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
China unexpectedly cuts reverse repo rate by most in five years to support virus-hit economy / Reuters
“China’s central bank unexpectedly cut the rate on reverse repurchase agreements by 20 basis points [to 2.20% from 2.40%] on Monday, the largest in nearly five years, as authorities ramped up steps to relieve pressure on an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Sinopec saw big profits in 2019, but expects demand to fall in 2020
Sinopec records net profit 57.5 billion yuan in 2019 / PRNewswire
Oil and gas giant Sinopec has released its 2019 results:
In accordance with IFRS, the Company’s turnover and other operating revenues reached 2.97 trillion yuan, up 2.6% year-on-year at a historic high; Operating profit increased 4.8% year-on-year; Profit attributable to equity shareholders of the Company was 57.5 billion yuan [approximately $8 billion].
Sinopec expects lower 2020 refining runs as coronavirus hits demand / Reuters
“Asia’s top refiner China Petroleum Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, expects its full-year 2020 refining runs will be lower than in 2019 because of a contraction in Chinese fuel demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.”
Volkswagen expects to see 1 million in March sales
China sales seen picking up after coronavirus blow: Volkswagen / Reuters
“Volkswagen expects vehicle sales in China, the world’s largest car market, to quadruple in March [from 250,000 in February to up to 1 million in March], it said, pointing to a recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Economic recovery will be sluggish
As Wuhan reopens, China revs engine to move past coronavirus. But it’s stuck in second gear. / Washington Post (porous paywall)
“But winning the war [against COVID-19] is proving to be a tougher proposition. That involves not only preventing a second wave of coronavirus infections but also restarting the economy. It’s becoming increasingly clear that officials cannot achieve both things at once.”
Chinese shoppers can go out again. Online buys show they won’t / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s consumers are shopping online again. But their purchases signal they plan to stay indoors for the foreseeable future, dashing hopes for a spending recovery as the nation contemplates its post-virus world.
Lunch boxes saw 120 times more searches in the last 30 days as the virus pushes people to prepare their own food even after returning to the office, according to March 26 data from Index.1688 [in Chinese], which collects information from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s shopping sites…
Yoga mats and hula hoops for home exercise also climbed in demand, a bad sign for gyms waiting for the return of patrons.
Shipping industry faces second demand hit
China’s ports brace for second hit as virus spread wipes out exports / Reuters
“China’s ports and shipping firms are bracing for a second wave of supply chain disruptions that may be deeper and more prolonged than during the country’s coronavirus lockdown as the global spread of the virus chokes off international demand.”
Alibaba eyes Meituan’s turf
Meituan faces challenge from Alipay on its home turf / TechNode
Alibaba never lost sight of its goal to build an empire spanning all ecommerce sectors. The subsidy-fueled food delivery war between Meituan and Alibaba-backed Ele.me has only recently leveled off. Alibaba has reinvigorated its bet by expanding its offensive to the broader local lifestyle services market, with popular payment app Alipay at the center.
Electric vehicle startups see exodus of Western talent
Chinese electric car startups hemorrhaging Silicon Valley talent / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
A Silicon Valley hiring spree among Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers appears to have come to an end, as a number of executives employed to lead the startups’ U.S. development are quitting.
Most Chinese electric car newcomers have adopted a development approach based on research in the U.S. and testing in China. But the ongoing talent exodus may signal the model’s failure.
Huawei could have a rocky 2020
Huawei’s home safety net looks less sturdy / Breakingviews (paywall)
“Earnings at the telecoms equipment giant hit $9 billion in 2019, although growth slowed as U.S. curbs whacked overseas handset sales. That has forced a refocus on China. Unfortunately local carriers are spending less than hoped on 5G, and smartphone rivals like Xiaomi look tough.”
$100 million investment in online cosmetics company
China’s venture capitalists start making deals, amid signs of recovery / The Information (paywall)
Perfect Diary, a four-year-old online makeup retailer selling items like brightly hued lip gloss and eyeliner, has been thriving [despite COVID-19].
No wonder, then, that earlier this month, Tiger Global Management led Chinese private equity firms Hopu Management Investments and Boyu Capital in a $100 million investment in the startup.
COVID-19 sees IT professionals working around the clock
For China’s overworked IT professionals, coronavirus lockdown means longer days / NBC News
“China’s IT industry already had a notorious ‘996’ work culture, in which people work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. But some describe the current working-from-home mode as closer to ‘007’ — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the extra overtime is unpaid.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
State media reports on dangers of wildlife food tourism
Wildlife food neophilia: COVID-19 highlights ‘dark side’ of tourism / CGTN
Food neophiliac tourists, particularly the more adventurous ones with a penchant to try out unique and exotic food, have been a key driver in pushing the demand for wildlife consumption and trade in recent decades.
With the COVID-19 pandemic drawing global attention on this “dark side” of tourism, a new study by a group of researchers from Chinese and Australian universities reiterates that this novelty-seeking behavior may pose health risks as wild and exotic animals can carry deadly viruses that have been found to trigger global health epidemics such as SARS, H1N1, bird flu and COVID-19.
Call to end China’s leopard bone trade
Bitter pill to swallow — China’s flagrant trade in leopard bone products / Environmental Investigation Agency
“EIA research reveals that at least 24 Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been listing leopard bones as an ingredient in their traditional medicines, although there are fewer than 450 wild leopards left in that country.”
The report is also available in Chinese.
Dodgy environmental assessment
Red faces over copycat green report on China dredging project / SCMP
A research institute linked to China’s top scientific body has apologised for “copying and pasting” an environmental impact assessment in a report on a controversial dredging project in the country’s south.
The South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, admitted on its website on Sunday that parts of another report had been “used as a model” for the Shenzhen Bay assessment, resulting in multiple references to Zhanjiang, a city about 500km (310 miles) from Shenzhen.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Work on Xi’s new city resumes
Xiongan New Area work back on fast track as epidemic subsides / Xinhua via Shanghai Daily
A pet project of Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平, Xiongan New Area is a new city being built about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, and intended to relieve some of the strain on Beijing’s resources.
A dispatch from Hong Kong
Locked down / A Procrastination
Antony Dapiran writes:
My fellow Hong Kongers on the flight were in “full gear” for the journey: face masks, eye goggles, plastic rain ponchos, some wearing shower caps in a fetching floral pattern. Combined with the fact that so many were young students, I had the uncanny sense that I was back at the front lines of last year’s protests.
Yunnan mountain fires partially under control
云南禄劝山火已连烧3天，超600人救援 / The Paper
Summary on Twitter:
“On the third day since a mountain fire broke out, the southern and northern edges of the fire area in Luquan, Yunnan are now under control while the NW area is still burning. More than 600 firefighters have joined the rescue team.”
Namibian navy intercepts Chinese fishing vessels
Navy intercepts suspicious fishing vessels / The Namibian
The Namibian navy on Thursday intercepted six Chinese fishing vessels amid claims of illegal activity in Namibian waters.
The Chinese embassy in Namibia on Saturday issued a statement in which it claimed the vessels departed from Equatorial Guinea to China on 15 March but “due to strong offshore waves, the boats chose to sail along a route 17 nautical miles from the Namibian coastline.”
Spokesperson for the works ministry Julius Ngweda told this newspaper yesterday the vessels were not in contravention of any laws, neither was anything illegal discovered on the vessels. He said it is expected the vessels will be released soon.
Taiwan’s mask diplomacy
10 million masks to be donated to U.S., 11 European countries, allies / Focus Taiwan
The 10 million surgical face masks Taiwan pledged to donate to countries seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will be given to the United States, 11 European countries and 15 diplomatic allies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Wednesday.
Two million will be sent to the U.S.; 1 million to 15 allies, while the remaining 7 million masks will be donated to Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, according to a MOFA press release.
No WHO love for Taiwan despite COVID-19
Beijing reiterates one China policy after reports say Beijing considers Taiwan WHO membership / ECNS
Beijing’s Taiwan affairs office said on Wednesday that the question of Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) must be discussed under the one China policy, denying reports saying China is considering Taiwan’s observer status in the World Health Assembly.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
COVID-19 and music for children
Coronavirus could boost the children’s music business in China / Quartz
“The music that we bring is not music that is simple or talks down to kids,” Kanthor says. “This is an entire genre of music that’s totally untapped here.”