China Business Digest: Coronavirus Infections Rebound; Study Identifies Promising Antiviral Drug Cocktail
China’s local infection rate ticked up over the weekend as new cases were found in Jilin province and Wuhan, the city where the outbreak began. Travel restrictions have been imposed in a Jilin city where most new cases were found. A study in The Lancet has identified a promising cocktail of three antiviral drugs to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 cases, and the car industry appears to show signs of a recovery.
— By Guo Yingzhe (email@example.com)
** ON THE CORONAVIRUS
China’s local infections rebound over the weekend
The number of new local infections on the Chinese mainland rebounded over the weekend as new cases were found in the northeastern province of Jilin and in Wuhan, the city where the Covid-19 outbreak began.
Wuhan reported six local confirmed cases on Saturday and Sunday, the city’s first cases in more than one month. All of the cases were previously asymptomatic infections. As of Sunday, there were more than 600 asymptomatic infections in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Jilin province reported 14 new local infections (link in Chinese) over the weekend. The rise in infections prompted the local government in the city of Shulan to tighten travel restrictions; Shulan reported (link in Chinese) 11 new cases on Saturday, several of which are members of the same family. The Shulan government pledged (link in Chinese) to trace their close contacts and implement large-scale testing.
Antiviral therapy shows promising results
A study published Friday in The Lancet showed that a cocktail of three antiviral drugs could help shorten the duration of viral shedding and hospital stay in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19.
Widespread Covid-19 testing set to become the new normal in China
Large-scale, efficient testing has been proven key to controlling the spread of the coronavirus, but expanding production capacity to meet massive demand for tests while improving their reliability remains a challenge.
Statistics from Dongxing Securities Co. Ltd. show that medical institutions in China could test a total of 1.66 million people a day, matching basic testing needs as social activities resume. However, access to testing has been uneven across China. (Read the full in-depth story.)
Other virus news
• The Chinese mainland reported (link in Chinese) 17 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, seven of which were imported.
• As of Monday evening Beijing time, global infections have reached over 4.1 million, with over 283,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
• The eyes are a key route by which the novel coronavirus infects humans, a study by the University of Hong Kong has found. (The Straits Times)
Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus
** TOP STORIES OF THE DAY
China’s central bank reiterates “flexible” monetary policy
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) reiterated its pledge to adopt a “more flexible and appropriate” monetary policy and maintain reasonably abundant liquidity, according to its first-quarter monetary policy report (link in Chinese).
The PBOC said it will step up counter-cyclical measures and promote lowering interest rates as the coronavirus pandemic has dragged the global economy into a recession in the short term.
China Mobile names new president
China Mobile Communications Group Co. Ltd., one of China’s “Big Three” state-owned wireless carriers, promoted Dong Xin to president on Monday after the position was vacant for over seven months, according to a company statement (link in Chinese).
Dong, 53, was a vice president and chief accountant before the promotion. He will also serve as deputy chief of the company’s Communist Party group.
China greases Tesla’s wheels, even as California keeps on the brakes
Electric vehicle highflyer Tesla Inc. said it has signed a $564 million loan (link in Chinese) contract with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the country’s largest lender, to expand capacity at its new Shanghai manufacturing plant, contrasting sharply with a higher-profile dust-up with U.S. officials that saw it threaten to leave its home state of California.
China to give local branches of foreign banks access to fund custody licenses
China will probably give local branches of foreign banks access to fund custody licenses, draft revisions to relevant regulations showed Saturday.
Such branches have no independent legal status and are currently barred from entering the sector. Foreign banks can only qualify for such licenses if they set up a local subsidiary. Such a license allows a company to provide custody services for fund products issued by fund firms or other asset managers in China.
HK government proposes nearly $700 million bailout for Ocean Park
The Hong Kong government proposed Monday to provide HK$5.4 billion ($697 million) to keep the city’s iconic amusement park afloat and its 7,500 ocean animals alive.
Without the government bailout, Hong Kong Ocean Park could go out of business by the end of June as the Covid-19 pandemic froze tourism, the park’s chairman said Monday.
** OTHER STORIES MAKING THE HEADLINES
Economy & Finance
• New yuan loans reached 1.7 trillion yuan ($240 billion) in April, up 681.8 billion yuan year-on-year, according to (link in Chinese) the PBOC.
• China International Capital Corp. Ltd. (CICC) will rehire Peng Wensheng as chief economist six years after he left the position, Caixin has learned. Another influential economist, Xu Xiaonian, will also return to CICC.
• ICBC and China Minsheng Banking Corp. Ltd. have suspended clients from opening positions through their natural gas futures trading products since April 28, as American exchange operator giant CME Group Inc. will allow some natural gas futures and options contracts to trade at negative prices starting May 17.
• Pacific Securities Co. Ltd.’s Inner Mongolia branch has been punished (link in Chinese) for its employees’ allegedly illegal fundraising.
Business & Tech
• China’s car sales rose 4.4% year-on-year in April to 2.1 million units, ending a 21-month decline, according to (link in Chinese) the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
• Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has established an alliance with a handful of automakers and ride-hailing service providers to build a 5G-enabled automobile ecosystem.
• Shandong Gold Mining Co. Ltd., a major gold producer in China, announced (link in Chinese) on Friday that it will acquire Canadian gold producer TMAC Resources Inc.
• China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec) completed issuance of overseas bonds worth $3 billion (link in Chinese) on May 7, with a composite interest rate of 2.66%, the lowest rate of any bonds issued by the company.
• Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman and president of Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, managed to sell Gree-branded products worth more than 310 million yuan via her second e-commerce livestream.
• The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to China said that the Covid-19 pandemic would delay some Belt and Road Initiative projects in western Asia, but that the situation is understandable and should not become a political issue.
Politics & Society
• China’s top environment watchdog criticized (link in Chinese) the Chongqing municipal government for illegal construction of ports and ecological damage from real estate development. Chongqing is located along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
Shanghai Disneyland has reopened its doors to visitors after shutting down for almost four months amid the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors can now enter the theme park with pre-booked tickets and QR codes verifying their health status. The number of visitors remains limited to 24,000 per day, about 30% of the park’s normal capacity.
Visitors take a selfie after entering Shanghai Disneyland when it reopened on Monday.
** LOOKING AHEAD
May 12: China’s CPI and PPI data
May 15: China’s investment, industrial output and retail sales data
Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (firstname.lastname@example.org) and editors Yang Ge (email@example.com) and Gavin Cross (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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