Nov 27, 2019 10:01 AM

CX Daily: Signs of a Coming Plague Outbreak Go as Far Back as August

Daniel Zhang, center, applauds during Alibaba's listing ceremony in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg
Daniel Zhang, center, applauds during Alibaba's listing ceremony in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg


Alibaba closes up 6.6% in Hong Kong debut, boosting city's ambitions

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. closed up 6.6% in its Hong Kong debut, signaling strong investor interest for the Chinese e-commerce giant, as well as providing a boost for the Asian city that has been plagued with anti-government protests for months.

Chairman Daniel Zhang, lieutenants wearing Alibaba lapel pins and Hong Kong dignitaries were on hand to strike the opening gong Tuesday at a celebration of the city’s biggest stock listing this year. The company presented a Chinese-style painting to the exchange — a souvenir to go with the showy coming-out party.

The Chinese e-commerce giant’s shares rose to as much as HK$189.50 ($24.20), versus a HK$176 issuance price. At the end of the day, the stock closed at HK$187.60, giving it a market valuation of more than HK$4 trillion. Asia’s most valuable corporation raised about $11 billion in the financial hub’s largest issuance of stock since 2010, signaling confidence in Hong Kong’s future even as pro-democracy protests rock the city.



The North Bund and the Pudong Lujiazui Financial District across the Huangpu River in Shanghai, Nov. 13, 2018. Photo: Bloomberg

Financial risk /

More than 13% of China’s banks are highly risky, central bank says

China’s banking sector is showing signs of strain, with more than 13% of 4,379 lenders now considered “high risk” by the central bank.

The high risk category contains 586 banks and financing institutions, most of which are smaller rural enterprises, the PBOC said in its 2019 China Financial Stability Report, published late Monday. A first review last year found about 10% were deemed high risk, though that calculation didn’t include many consumer finance firms. No banks were named in the report.

Trade war /

China, U.S. hold phone call in sign of progress on phase one deal

China and the U.S. “reached consensus on properly resolving relevant issues” and agreed to stay in contact on the remaining points for a phase one trade deal during a phone call Tuesday morning Beijing time, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed core concerns, according to the statement, which didn’t provide further details. It followed a phone conversation earlier this month that the ministry called “constructive.” The U.S. Trade Representative’s office confirmed Tuesday’s discussion took place but declined to comment on the contents.

Real estate /

Banks in Shenzhen halt mortgage lending

Even as China loosens credit to bolster slowing economic growth, it is continuing to tighten control over the real estate sector. Shenzhen branches of two of the “big four” state-owned commercial banks halted mortgage lending to homebuyers in mid-November, we've learned.

Since Nov. 18, China Construction Bank stopped granting any new mortgage loans in Shenzhen, a senior real estate industry participant told us. The Bank of China has taken a similar move. In Shenzhen, China Construction Bank is usually considered a bellwether for other banks, a person from the Shenzhen branch of a joint-stock bank told us. He said his bank is also considering suspending mortgage loans.

Quick hits /

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Rat holes are a common sight along a road in Inner Mongolia. Photo: Ding Gang/Caixin

In depth /

North China region scrambles to prevent plague’s spread after scare in Beijing

Inner Mongolia authorities are scrambling to prevent the further spread of pneumonic plague, including by establishing a “firewall” for those leaving the region, after reports earlier this month of two pneumonic cases and a bubonic plague case originating in the region sparked panic, according to region’s emergency management authority.

Emergency measures also include bolstering epidemic early warning systems, medical screenings and outbound traffic inspections, according to a plague prevention plan released by the Inner Mongolia autonomous region’s emergency leading group. Documents we obtained show there were early warnings of a “fierce” plague epidemic in rodents, starting as early as in mid-August in the Sonid Left Banner region, where the couple contracted pneumoic plague.

Check out our investigation.

Environment /

Climate experts raise alarm on China’s coal power plans

Chinese environmental experts have warned that the country’s planned expansion of coal power projects risks hindering global efforts to fight climate change even as the nation remains on track to meet its own short-term emissions pledges.

The assessment followed last week’s publication of two reports savaging countries’ continued reliance on fossil fuels and questioning China’s credentials as a green leader. On Thursday, researchers published a report showing that growth in China’s coal-fired power capacity more than offsets reductions made elsewhere in the world. The report also said that China’s proposed coal power expansion through 2035 means that its coal power capacity alone could “far exceed” the total capacity allotted to the entire world under the Paris Agreement.

Nuclear /

China’s latest ‘artificial sun’ fusion reactor will power on in 2020

Construction of a fusion reactor, or “artificial sun,” based in Chengdu, Sichuan province in southwestern China, is going smoothly, and it should be operational in 2020, state news agency Xinhua reported. The facility houses an HL-2M tokamak machine, according to the report, which uses an approach to fusion called “magnetic confinement,” considered a more promising method of generating thermonuclear fusion power.

Unlike nuclear fission, or the splitting of atomic nuclei as is widely used to create electricity in nuclear generators, fusion—the combination of nuclei to achieve the same purpose—is still an experimental science. The process imitates the sun, whose internal reactions transform lighter elements into heavier ones while releasing energy.

5G /

Chinese companies have filed one-third of global 5G patent applications, official figures say

Of the worldwide applications for 5G-related standard essential patents, 34% come from Chinese companies, the government-run People’s Daily newspaper reported Sunday, citing statistics from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology.

Standard essential patents refer to those that are indispensable for the implementation of a standardized technology. Any company that owns standard essential patents can request royalty payments from the entities that implement them. According to the report, Chinese companies filed 13,000 5G-related patent applications as of March, 20% of which were filed by embattled tech giant Huawei.

Quick hits /

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Paytm raises $1 billion at $16 billion valuation

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