Caixin
May 14, 2020 08:38 PM
CHINA BUSINESS DIGEST

China Business Digest: Foreigners Working in China May Soon Be Able to Return; Trump Pressures Government Pension Fund to Shun China

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says the coronavirus may be with us permanently and the situation in Africa is worrying. Embattled Leshi backed by bankrupt fugitive tycoon Jia Yueting is being delisted after a one-year trading halt. And China has handed out 19 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) worth of shopping vouchers since April

— By Lu Yutong (yutonglu@caixin.com) and Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

** ON THE CORONAVIRUS

WHO warns of infection surge in Africa

Without effective disease control measures, the Covid-19 pandemic may affect 29 million to 44 million people in Africa in 2020 and claim as many as 190,000 lives, the World Health Organization warned.

As of Wednesday, African countries have reported nearly 70,000 cases, covering all 54 countries in the continent. Infections jumped 37% in one week.

WHO says coronavirus may be here to stay

The WHO said the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 may never go away and could become endemic in some communities, similar to the virus which causes HIV/AIDS, Reuters reported.

It will take “massive efforts” for the world to cope with the disease even with the development of a working vaccine, said WHO emergencies program head Mike Ryan. He pointed out that working vaccines have failed to eradicate many illnesses around the world.

Gilead licenses remdesivir production to pharmacies in India and Pakistan

Gilead Sciences Inc. announced deals with five generic drug manufacturers in India and Pakistan to make and supply 127 mostly low- and middle-income countries with its experimental coronavirus treatment. Under the terms of the deals, the companies will not be required to pay Gilead royalties until the WHO declares the pandemic over.

Chinese mainland reports three new local cases

China reported three new cases of coronavirus in its northeast region on Wednesday, with two in Liaoning and one in Jilin province, according to the National Health Commission.

A cluster of cases in the Jilin city of Shulan was reported earlier this week and the city was placed under lockdown.

As of Thursday noon, global coronavirus cases had eclipsed 4.3 million, the death toll approaching 300,000 worldwide.

Students tested as Beijing goes back to school

More than 200 school students in Beijing who had high temperatures on the first day back at school this week were tested for Covid-19, but none were found to have the disease, a spokesman for Beijing Municipal Education Commission said Wednesday (link in Chinese).

It’s unclear what impact the coming hot weather will have on the virus, or if it will increase the difficulty of virus prevention efforts by making outdoor mask-wearing uncomfortable.

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Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus

** TOP STORIES OF THE DAY

American pension program shuns investment tracking Chinese stocks

An American government retirement fund deferred a three-year-old plan to invest in an index that includes Chinese stocks. The move came after President Donald Trump and some lawmakers pressured the retirement savings fund not to invest in Chinese equities.

Embattled Leshi is being removed from Shenzhen stock market

The Shenzhen Stock Exchange is removing the stock of scandal-ridden Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp., an arm of LeEco backed by embattled businessman Jia Yueting. The delisting came after a one-year suspension of the stock as the company failed to improve its financials as required.

Expert says consumption subsidies cannot be a long-term policy

Hu Xiaoming, CEO of Alibaba-affiliated Ant Financial Services Group, said in a Thursday meeting that 28 Chinese provincial-level regions have distributed a combined 19 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) worth of coupons since April. According to Alipay data, 90% of the vouchers went to small to midsize businesses.

But Chen Wen, deputy director of an economic research center at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, noted that voucher handouts are not a viable policy in the long term as they limit consumer choices and distort normal market competition.

China preparing to allow foreign employees to return

A Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said (link in Chinese) on Thursday that the country is seeking to set up “fast track” entry with some countries to allow foreign employees return to work, but did not clarify which countries it is in touch with and how enterprises should apply for entry approval.

Baidu pledges 500 million yuan in handouts to livestreamers

Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc. pledged to provide 500 million yuan for content creators to promote its livestreaming business, the company’s executive vice president Shen Dou said on Wednesday.

The short video business in China is dominated by Tencent-backed Kuaishou Technology Co. Ltd. and Bytedance’s Douyin.

China’s increasing demand for soybean boosts Brazil’s exports

Brazil’s soybean exports are expected to reach 84 million metric tons from for the 12 months to September this year, up nearly 10 million metric tons from the prior period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a Tuesday report.

It came as China, the largest buyer of Brazilian soybeans, boosted its imports of the hog feed as live pig stocks recovered after African swine fever.

Property group Tahoe suspends acquisitions citing regulatory issues

Fujian-based property group Tahoe Group Co. Ltd. announced on Wednesday night that it will suspend its full acquisition of insurance firm Tahoe Life Insurance Co. Ltd., half a month after its previous announcement.

The suspension was triggered by the group’s own debt troubles, which threatened to frustrate approval from Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority.

Dingest stock

** OTHER STORIES MAKING THE HEADLINES

Finance & Economy

• U.S. co-working space chain WeWork is dumping about one-fifth of its Hong Kong locations as small businesses failed to rent its offerings, the South China Morning Post reported.

The office-sharing giant signed 10-year leases with local landlords in 2018 and 2019. It’s unclear whether the landlords will seek compensation from WeWork for breach of lease.

Business & Tech

• Chinese video-sharing platform Kuaishou is suing its domestic archrival Douyin, known overseas as TikTok, for “interfering” with search results on a third-party app store. The move is the latest example of fierce competition between the two players in the country’s booming short video market.

• After a shop in the central province of Hunan promoted a milk formula alternative as a medically sound alternative for children allergic to milk and a number of babies, the country’s State Administration for Market Regulation warned that such beverages are unsuitable for such purposes.

** AND FINALLY

Businesses invent magic word to disappear coronavirus woes

In the wake of Covid-19, some companies are putting a new spin on their financial results, Financial Times reported. They’re using a new metric, “Ebitdac,” which refers to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization … and coronavirus.

The term was used in the financial report of a German manufacturing group Schenck Process, which added back 5.4 million euros ($5.8 million) that it said it would have made if its business had been unaffected by coronavirus. Other companies are reportedly using similar rubrics. “When you’re looking at coronavirus, these revenues will never come back; it is literally a fiction,” Sabrina Fox, executive adviser at the European Leveraged Finance Association, told the Financial Times.

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Photo: Company website

**LOOKING AHEAD

Economic data

May 15: China’s investment, industrial output and retail sales data

Latest quarterly results

May 13: Tencent

May 15: JD.com

May 18: Baidu, iQiyi and Bilibili

May 19: Weibo, Sina

May 20: Xiaomi, Lenovo

May 22: Alibaba

 

Contact reporter Lu Yutong (yutonglu@caixin.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)

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China Business Digest: Hong Kong’s Streak of No Local Infections Ends; Draft Rules Target Trillions of Dollars of State Financial Assets

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