May 04, 2020 07:39 PM

China Business Digest: Gilead’s Covid-19 Drug Gets Temporary Approval; Hong Kong’s Recession Deepens



Chinese tourists are playing catch-up after months of being forced to stay at home, with tens of millions taking to the road during the five-day Labor Day holiday. Meanwhile, another Chinese city ramps up virus testing to support reopening. China’s central bank chief estimates the country’s GDP may get back to growing at full potential in the second half of the year, while Hong Kong reports its worst quarterly results.

— By Timmy Shen ( and Han Wei (


Northeastern China’s Shenyang became the latest Chinese city to expand Covid-19 testing as the country steps up efforts to return to normal. Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, is allowing more institutions to conduct nucleic acid tests and requiring people exposed to higher infection risks or working for public services to be tested.

Study finds children less susceptible

A study published Wednesday in the journal Science found the chance of children from newborns up to 14 years old contracting the coronavirus is about one-third that of people aged 15 to 64.

China exports more preventative medical supplies

China exported 71.2 billion yuan ($10.1 billion) worth of medical supplies in March and April, according to the General Administration of Customs (link in Chinese). That included 27.8 billion face masks, 130 million protective suits and 73.4 million Covid-19 test kits.

Remdesivir gets temporary approval in U.S. to treat Covid-19 patients

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir an emergency use authorization (EUA) to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19, the drugmaker said Friday. The temporary authorization allows the drug to be used in both five-day and 10-day treatment regimes.

Remdesivir remains an “investigational drug” that has not received FDA approval, the company said. The EUA only allows for its emergency use in treating Covid-19.

Other virus news

• The Chinese mainland reported three new Covid-19 cases (link in Chinese) on Sunday, all imported.

• As of Monday evening Beijing time, global infections had surpassed 3.5 million, including over 247,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

• South Korea on Sunday announced that it will end its months-long social distancing guideline and move to what it called an “everyday life quarantine” policy from Wednesday, according to the country’s government-funded Yonhap News Agency.

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Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus


Hong Kong suffers its worst quarter as recession deepens

Hong Kong’s economy contracted 8.9% in the first quarter from a year ago, its worst quarterly decline on record. It was the third straight quarterly contraction for Hong Kong, which suffered the first annual shrinkage in a decade last year.

Top financial committee targets trading risks, financial fraud

The Financial Stability and Development Committee, a cabinet-level body that oversees the various agencies supervising the financial sector, vowed to strengthen risk controls on investment products linked to international commodities and pledged “zero tolerance” for financial fraud.

Caixin new economy index edges up

The Mastercard Caixin BBD New Economy Index came in at 32.1 in April (link in Chinese) as technology and labor input rose, indicating that new economy industries accounted for 32.1% of China’s overall economic input activities for the month. The reading was up from 31.2 in March.

China’s tourism recovering

Chinese tourists made 85 million domestic trips (link in Chinese) and spent 35.1 billion yuan during the first three days of the five-day Labor Day holiday that runs through Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

China’s rebound from the Covid-19 outbreak has been better than expected, and economic growth will continue to gradually improve to “more or less the potential growth rate” in the second half of the year, Yi Gang, China’s central bank governor, said at a recent online roundtable organized by Caixin.


• Blackstone Group Inc.’s talks about a potential investment in Chinese property developer Soho China Ltd. have stalled, Bloomberg reported.

Apple Inc. recorded $9.5 billion in net sales in China in the three months through March 28, down 7.5% year-on-year, the company’s latest financial report showed.

• BYD Co. Ltd., best known as a new energy carmaker backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has temporarily shifted gears, finding profits by making and exporting face masks, with daily mask output surpassing 20 million as of April 17.

• The China Film Administration, which decides what films get released in China, estimated the country’s box office will lose over 30 billion yuan this year.

• Hydrogen fuel cell producer Beijing SinoHytec Co. Ltd. is set to be listed on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-like STAR Market. The company aims to raise up to 1.2 billion yuan.

Global smartphone shipments tumbled 11.7% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to industry data tracking firm IDC. Of the world’s five leading brands, the top three — Samsung, Huawei and Apple — saw sales drop 18.9%, 17.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

• Spending on robots, drones and related services in China is likely to exceed $121 billion in 2024, accounting for 44% of the global total, an IDC report predicts.

• Chinese authorities on Thursday announced a pilot program for publicly traded real estate investment trusts, widely known as REITs, to provide new funding for infrastructure.


Chinese fruit lovers are not giving up their durians amid the pandemic. In March, an army of Chinese middlemen visited growers of the pungent fruit in Thailand to get their orders in before the country shut down its airports. (Nikkei Asian Review)


Chinese buyers visited Thai durian farmers in March, when the fruit was still raw, to ensure a supply despite the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Nikkei Asian Review


May 7: Caixin China services PMI

May 7: China import and export data


Contact reporter Timmy Shen ( and editors Yang Ge ( and Michael Bellart (

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China Business Digest: Gilead’s Remdesivir Produces Conflicting Results; China, South Korea Agree on ‘Fast-Track’ Entry for Business Travelers

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