China Business Digest: Wuhan Declared Free of Coronavirus; Ex-Leaders Urge G-20 to Act on Covid-19
Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, was declared free of the coronavirus after mass testing covering 10 million people. Former world leaders urged the G-20 to do more to address the pandemic. A Caixin survey shows that the contribution of new economy industries to China’s overall economic inputs declined last month. And Chinese banks are ramping up lending to small and micro businesses.
— By Lu Yutong (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Han Wei (email@example.com)
** ON THE CORONAVIRUS
Wuhan declared safe after blanket virus testing
Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, reported that a massive, city-wide testing blitz covering its entire 10 million residents turned up no new infections. Although 300 asymptomatic cases were recorded during the testing, none of the cases was later confirmed or found to be infectious, officials said. The findings indicated that the virus epicenter has recovered and is returning to normal.
China, U.S. scientists trace novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats
An international group of scientists who are tracing the origins of the novel coronavirus singled out a specific type of bat that may have played a crucial role in the evolution of the deadly virus. Researchers pointed to Rhinolophus — also known as horseshoe bats — after studying genetic sequences of more than 700 coronaviruses found in bats in China. The research was led by Peter Daszak, president of U.S.-based nonprofit organization EcoHealth Alliance, and Shi Zhengli, the renowned Wuhan Institute of Virology bat researcher known as “Bat Woman.”
Chinese mainland reports five new cases
The Chinese mainland reported (link in Chinese) five new coronavirus cases on Monday, all imported. The country added 10 asymptomatic cases to its tally on the same day. Hong Kong saw its second consecutive day of new local cases, with three reported on Monday.
U.S. passes 1.8 million case milestone
The number of U.S. infections passed the grim milestone of 1.8 million as of Tuesday noon Beijing time, with the death toll topping 105,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global infections totaled more than 6.2 million, with fatalities topping 375,000 worldwide.
Over 200 influential figures urge G-20 to do more to fight Covid-19
More than 200 former heads of state, international organization leaders and academics, including former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have signed an open letter calling on the group of major economies to hold an urgent meeting and adopt a $2.5 trillion plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and launch an economic recovery, especially targeting poor and middle-income countries.
Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus
** TOP STORIES OF THE DAY
China vehicle sales show signs of recovery
China’s auto sales may post a second straight monthly increase in May, signaling a possible recovery after a nearly two-year slump, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Tuesday. Wholesale deliveries of cars and commercial vehicles such as light trucks increased about 11.7% to 2.14 million units last month, the association estimated. For the first five months this year, deliveries to dealers fell 23% to 7.9 million units, it said.
Banks triple bond sales to support lending to small businesses
Chinese banks are stepping up efforts to support financing for small and micro businesses in response to policy calls amid ample liquidity in the market. Banks more than tripled bond sales to $38.74 billion in first five months, raising cash for loans to small and micro enterprises.
Another state-backed power company to delist in Hong Kong
Huadian Fuxin Energy Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed unit of state-owned China Huadian Corp., announced a privatization plan that will lead to delisting from the Hong Kong stock market. The renewable energy unit joins several Chinese energy companies to delist in Hong Kong, reflecting concerns over under-valuation, experts said.
China offers favorable tax policy for Hainan province
Beijing released a policy plan for South China’s Hainan province’s free trade port late Monday, including exemptions for import and purchase taxes for some companies and tripling the tax-free purchase limit per person to 100,000 yuan ($14,000) every year.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Hainan will “basically establish a free trade port system by 2025 and become more mature by 2035.”
China gives incentives to local banks to aid small businesses
China’s central bank will give money to local banks that extend loan repayments from small businesses, one of the largest casualties during the coronavirus pandemic.
If a loan repayment is extended, a local bank can apply to the People’s Bank of China for an incentive equivalent to 1% of the loan principal, according to a Monday official statement (link in Chinese).
The statement elaborated on a measure announced last month by Premier Li Keqiang, saying that repayment deadlines for loans to small businesses maturing this year can be extended to as late as the end of March 2021.
Contribution of new economy industries to China’s economic activity declines
The Mastercard Caixin BBD New Economy Index came in at 31.1 in May, indicating new economy industries like advanced equipment manufacturing accounted for 31.1% of China’s overall economic input activities. The reading was down from April’s reading of 32.1 due to a lower inputs across the board.
China establishes ‘green channel’ with Singapore
After exempting certain South Korean business travelers from strict quarantine measures under a “fast-track” agreement between the two countries, China is going to establish a similar “green channel” with Singapore (link in Chinese) this month, according to a joint announcement by the two nations.
Six provincial-level regions in China, including Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong, will be open to Singaporeans traveling for business, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a Monday briefing.
** OTHER STORIES MAKING THE HEADLINES
Finance and Economy
• Macao saw its gambling revenue sink by 93.2% year-on-year to 1.76 billion patacas ($220 million) in May, data from the region’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau showed Monday. The decline in the city’s biggest industry in recent months has had a huge knock-on effect on the city’s economy, with the first quarter GDP figure plunging 48.7% to 56.5 billion patacas.
• Two dozen or more crude oil-laden tankers are queuing off China’s busiest oil ports, as the vessels wait to offload crude for refineries that are quickly ramping up production amid a rapid rebound in fuel demand from China’s reopening factories.
Business and Tech
• Pakistan and India are bracing for the worst locust attack in 27 years, just as they are fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The desert locust has devoured considerable quantities of crops in over 60 Pakistani districts, while India has seen the pests sweeping parts of the country and threatening to damage crops.
• The Chinese capital will grant 20,000 extra new-energy car license plates for the year, according to a draft regulation published by the local transport authorities Monday. The addition will bring Beijing’s total quota to 120,000 this year, including 80,000 set aside for new-energy vehicles.
• Demand for imported vehicles in China has almost recovered to last year’s level, with sales rising to 92,000 in April, narrowing the year-on-year decline to just 1.7% that month, said Wang Cun, of automobile trader Sinomach Automobile Co. Ltd. But the supply of imported autos more than halved in April due to the sweeping coronavirus outbreak, and Wang estimated May would produce similar figures.
• Pop Mart has filed for a Hong Kong listing, aiming to cash in on the latest rage for collectibles. The blind-box toy-maker raked in 451 million yuan last year, nearly quadrupling its profit year-on-year.
• Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed more support for the country’s street hawkers in a bid to boost the fortunes of small businesses, and described the vendor economy as an important source of jobs.
** AND FINALLY
Young people swim together to beat the heat as temperatures gradually rise in South Asia.
** LOOKING AHEAD
June 3: Release of Caixin China services PMI
June 7: Release of China trade data for May
Contact reporter Lu Yutong (firstname.lastname@example.org) and editors Yang Ge (email@example.com) and Joshua Dummer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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