China Business Digest: Top Legislature to Discuss Security Legislation for Hong Kong; China’s CanSino to Develop Second Vaccine With Canadian Partner
The coronavirus pandemic crosses a grim milestone as the number of worldwide infections passes 5 million. A Chinese vaccine maker is betting on a second inoculation in a Canada deal. Meanwhile, national lawmakers are set to review controversial legislation concerning security in Hong Kong. U.S.-listed Chinese stocks sag on Wall Street after the U.S. Senate passes a bill to tackle nontransparency in publicly listed companies like scandal-plagued Luckin.
— By Lu Yutong (email@example.com), Mo Yelin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Han Wei (email@example.com)
** ON THE CORONAVIRUS
Chinese vaccine maker partners with Canadian firm to develop a second shot
CanSino Biologics Inc., a Chinese vaccine developer, will work with Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems Inc. to jointly develop a potential inoculation for Covid-19. Separately, the Chinese company launched human testing of its own vaccine in China, which is among five Chinese candidates to reach that stage.
The new deal will add to CanSino’s chances of delivering an effective shot. Under the partnership, CanSino will conduct testing of Precision’s experimental vaccine and has the right to commercialize it in Asia excluding Japan, according to a joint press release Wednesday.
China reports two new infections
On Wednesday, the Chinese mainland reported (link in Chinese) two new coronavirus infections, with one locally transmitted case in Shanghai and an imported one in southern Guangdong province, according to the National Health Commission.
The country added 31 new asymptomatic patients on the same day.
Globally, the infection rate has surpassed the grim milestone of 5 million. The latest number of global infections was 5,014,943 as of 6 p.m. Thursday evening Beijing time, with death toll at more than 328,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
U.S. says late applications delayed charter flights for stranded Chinese students
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation told Caixin (link in Chinese) that the delay of two chartered flights to bring stranded Chinese students back home in May was caused by the late submission of applications by airlines.
Two people at the airlines familiar with the evacuation plan told Caixin the mission was scheduled by China’s Civil Aviation Administration, and airlines were only carrying out orders.
Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus
** TOP STORIES OF THE DAY
National legislature to review security law concerning Hong Kong
China’s top legislators will review and discuss draft security laws for Hong Kong as they gather for the annual meeting starting Friday, a spokesman for the National People's Congress said. Details of the draft legation will be revealed late Friday.
Political advisor calls for support to cruise business
China should provide financing and tax support to the country’s cruise operators to help the industry recover from pandemic damage, said Hu Keyi, chief engineer of Jiangnan Shipyard Group Co. Ltd., at the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Since late January, China has suspended all cruise services due to the Covid-19 outbreak, affecting 260 trips departing from Chinese ports. The industry faces billions of yuan of losses.
U.S. Senate passes bill that could delist Chinese companies
The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that could lead to Chinese companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. being barred from listing on U.S. stock exchanges amid increasingly tense relations between the world’s two largest economies, Bloomberg reported.
The bill would require companies to certify that they are not under the control of a foreign government. If a company can’t show that it is not under such control, or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board isn’t able to audit the company for three consecutive years to determine that it is not under the control of a foreign government, the company’s securities would be banned from the exchanges.
Luckin stock tanks as investors dump shares before delisting
Luckin Coffee Inc.’s battered stock plunged 36% Wednesday after being suspended since tumbling more than 80% in early April in the wake of an accounting fraud scandal. U.S.-listed Chinese stocks also fell more broadly on Luckin’s retreat and growing signs that the U.S. will move more aggressively to monitor such companies to avoid similar fraud.
China opposes economic decoupling
China is an important player in the global supply chain, Guo Weimin, deputy director of China’s State Council Information Office, said (link in Chinese) at a press conference Wednesday to kick off the delayed annual meeting of the nation’s top legislature. Guo also advocated for multilateralism and development of free trade and investment.
Moguls pitch to policymakers
The Two Sessions has become an opportunity for Chinese businesspeople to grab headlines by making suggestions about policy directions for the country’s government to consider.
As China’s most important annual political event kicks into higher gear, among the first batch of moguls in the spotlight Thursday was Lei Jun, founder and CEO of smartphone-maker Xiaomi. The key phrase in Lei’s proposal was “satellite internet.” He said China should ramp up the development of the technology (link in Chinese), in which satellites are used to provide internet access to earthbound devices, using its trademark “top-down” approach.
Zhang Jindong, the chairman of online retail giant Suning, proposed (link in Chinese) increasing the use of electric cars in logistics. Chen Hong, the chairman at carmaker SAIC Motors, proposed China allow self-driving car testing (link in Chinese) to be conducted on highways.
** OTHER STORIES MAKING THE HEADLINES
• Internet technology company Bytedance Ltd. acquired China’s biggest online medical information sharing platform Baikemy.com. Yan Shou, top manager of Bytedance’s gaming business, will be in charge of the platform’s operation.
• Xiaomi’s revenue rose 13.6% in the first quarter from a year earlier to 49.7 billion yuan ($7 billion), though its profit plunged 32.3% to 2.16 billion yuan, according to its latest quarterly report. The company predicted it could have a tougher second quarter as more of its key markets will be affected by Covid-19.
• Zhao Ming, the executive in charge of Huawei’s smartphone brand Honor, said on Wednesday the Chinese smartphone market has not seen robust growth (link in Chinese) in the current quarter.
• China Mobile entered an agreement with state-owned cable TV operator China Broadcasting Network (CBN) regarding 5G network construction and sharing.
• A total of 21 real estate agents in the Chinese capital have been put under investigation (link in Chinese) for alleged misconduct including hiking up property prices in certain school districts.
• Alibaba Group Holding announced on Wednesday that it will invest 10 billion yuan in the development of artificial intelligence-enabled smart speakers.
• Nestle announced it will build its first plant-based food factory in China.
** And Finally
As China kicked off its most important annual political event, Beijing residents were given a little help to get through the period from the country’s shared bike companies. Amid the annual political meetings’ deleterious effects on the flow of traffic in the Chinese capital, residents will be able to hop on a shared bike for free during rush hours.
People ride shared bikes on the streets of Beijing on May 20.
** LOOKING AHEAD
May 22: Annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Alibaba results
May 25: Meituan results, Memorial Day in the U.S.
Contact reporters Lu Yutong (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mo Yelin (email@example.com) and editors Yang Ge (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Joshua Dummer (email@example.com)
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