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He Huifeng

Articles by He Huifeng

Coronavirus: China’s small firms bemoan lack of support as Omicron wave threatens economic recovery

March 31, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Amid a surge of Omicron infections sweeping China, Tang Lin has watched business dry up at her small noodle soup restaurant in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province in southern China. Though the city has reported only three cases of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant since March 1, stringent pandemic controls have hit small businesses hard. Internet cafes, karaoke parlours and bars have been forced to suspend operations, while some eateries in her neighbourhood are making less than…

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Marriage on the rocks in China as women rethink their options and Covid-19 limits take toll

March 20, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The number of marriages in China hit a new low last year, extending a near decade-long decline and casting a shadow over Beijing’s efforts to raise the fertility rate.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Friday that around 7.63 million marriages were registered in 2021, the lowest total since 1986 when records began.

That compared with more than 8.13 million in 2020 and a peak of 13.46 million marriages in 2013.

According to independent analysis, the number of marriages per 1,000 people in…

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Why rich, young Chinese are less likely to spend abroad than older generations

March 17, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Guangdong resident Stephen Yao used to take more than 20 overseas trips a year to buy properties for wealthy Chinese clients in popular tourist destinations like Kyoto, Bangkok, Pattaya and Kuala Lumpur.But the coronavirus pandemic brought an abrupt halt to his business, with his last overseas trip in March 2020. Unable to travel abroad due to border closures, the 46 year old and his middle-aged clients left their overseas properties vacant or rented them at rock bottom prices.Despite few signs…

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China’s urbanisation push could be at a ‘bottleneck’, with slowest migration growth rate in quarter-century

February 28, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s decades-long urbanisation push may have reached a bottleneck, after the movement of rural residents to large cities rose by less than 1 percentage point last year for the first time in 25 years.And the downward trend looks to continue this year, experts say, as various local governments have lowered their economic growth targets, making it difficult to generate enough jobs to further support migrant workers working and living cities.The nation’s urbanisation rate of permanent residents…

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China hits back at ‘irresponsible’ US report labelling it top market for fake and pirated goods

February 19, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has condemned the US’ latest list of “notorious” sellers of counterfeit goods as “irresponsible” and lacking objectivity or solid evidence.This comes after Washington named six online and nine bricks-and-mortar Chinese platforms in its 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy – as violating US trademarks and copyright law.“China does not recognise the conclusion of the report and we sternly oppose the irresponsible actions by the US,” the Ministry of Commerce in…

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China’s small-business owners tighten purse strings, embracing frugality as hardships and uncertainties mount

February 13, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]After running a garment production business in Guangdong province for more than 10 years, Wang Mei packed up her sewing machine this year and headed back to her rural countryside home, taking a job selling industrial ink in Dongguan.Meanwhile, Zhang Liang, the owner of a small logistics firm in Shenzhen, intends to put operations on hold and return to his hometown in Hubei province to work as a truck driver at a quarry.Both Wang and Zhang said they expect coronavirus outbreaks and lockdowns to…

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China’s pet economy booms as more millennials delay marriage and kids for fur babies

February 5, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]He Qi, an English teacher from Guangzhou city, divorced last month. He and his ex-wife split their properties quickly and amicably, but could not escape a big quarrel over their two dearest possessions – the pet dogs.“They are my children and I would be very sad no matter which one left me,” the 36-year-old said.In the end, they decided to take one each.“I think I will get another small dog or cat soon, I don’t want my ‘son’ to feel lonely, and I think my ex-wife will very likely feel the same…

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China’s migrant workers challenging the status quo by chasing their dreams, bucking stereotypes

January 31, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In the past couple of months, a 31-year-old migrant worker has gained notoriety in China for teaching himself English and immersing himself in philosophical studies while doing blue-collar work for more than a decade.When he was not toiling away in garment factories, warehouses and printing houses, Chen Zhi translated a version of American academic Richard Polt’s Heidegger: An Introduction – considered one of the most authoritative explorations of German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s work –…

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China’s industrial automation efforts give hope to struggling industries, but underlying problems persist

January 11, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]At his family’s small rice factory in Hunan, Zhou Di has invested more than 200,000 yuan (US$31,350) over the past three years to arm it with automation, including machines for sorting and packing.“All rice-processing factories I know of have been automated, at least partially. Although my family is located in a rural farming village and with only four people, we’re no exception,” said Zhou, who harvests 100 acres of rice a year, yielding about 100 tonnes of the grain. “My parents are close to…

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Why are China’s Gen Z women rejecting marriage, kids more than their male counterparts?

January 6, 2022

[unable to retrieve full-text content]For members of Generation Z in China, winning at life does not necessarily involve getting married or having children, no matter how much their parents and the government want them to.It is more about “living for yourself”, according to Janet Song, 25, who works at a pet cafe in Guangzhou and said she does not think the presence of a husband or child could help her be successful.“My two elder female cousins and I are all only children in our respective families. They are both married but now…

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Chinese rust belt city falls victim to squeeze on local government spending

December 26, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The economic slowdown in what was once China’s industrial heartland and a squeeze on local government debt has claimed its latest victim after a former coal-mining city in the northeast was forced to freeze its hiring process.Hegang, once a coal-rich city in northern Heilongjiang, has been battling an economic slowdown and dwindling population in recent years, problems that have, in turn, hit government revenues.China’s ‘corruption problem’ at local levels poses political, economic risksThe…

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China’s hydrogen energy industry accelerates as country races towards carbon neutral goal

December 17, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s hydrogen energy industry is taking off thanks to huge investment over the past five years, as the country pushes towards peaking emissions by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060, industry insiders and experts say.Authorities’ tolerance for trial and error and China’s huge market potential are key factors in its world-leading hydrogen energy development, according to observers.In 2016, key components and materials for hydrogen fuel cell electric cars in China relied on imports,…

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China’s WTO membership reshaped the country and global supply chains, but progress belies a future rife with uncertainty

December 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]From their various vantage points in major trade hubs, three businessmen have had front-row seats to China’s economic ascension since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.And the 20-year journey has been a lucrative one for Li Yixin, a Shanghai-based independent investor in his forties; Liu Kaiming, a Shenzhen-based supply-chain specialist; and Chai Kwong-wah, 72, from Hong Kong.But as the coming years almost certainly look to be filled with more political and economic tensions and…

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China’s crackdown on education, property leave wealthy in crisis mode, and some are looking for an escape route

November 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Wealthy and middle-class Chinese families have long shared a common perception of what constitutes a successful life.At the forefront of those criteria are the ownership of a home – an asset that will continue to appreciate – and the means to provide their children with a better education than most of their peers receive, with an eye on being admitted to a prestigious university.But recently, cracks have appeared in the foundation that underpins those beliefs and goals. The year’s third quarter…

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China population: rural families unwilling, unable to have more children faced with ‘life of inferiority’

November 13, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When Liang Du was born in a remote mountain village in Jiangxi province in 1979, he was the seventh child in the family and the only boy. At the time, the more children – and especially the more sons – a rural family had, the more blessings it was thought they would receive.Fast forward four decades, and the attitude in China about having children has changed drastically.Liang’s nine adult nephews have all left for cities or bigger urban areas, either because of education or marriage, but…

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China population: census results in question after township suddenly reports 31 per cent plunge in permanent residents

October 25, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The veracity of China’s most recent national census is being called into question by the public after a township government in the northeastern province of Jilin slashed its population figure by nearly a third.An official notice released by Pingtai township officials on Tuesday has gone viral online after it revealed a 31.44 per cent reduction in the population of the township’s four local villages, to 1,195 people.In the national census results released in May, the permanent population of…

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China’s Canton Fair wraps up, but exporters lament the lack of foreign buyers

October 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Canton Fair participants said global inflation was the biggest risk for their businesses as they attended the biannual trade event in person for the first time in three exhibitions.The five-day fair – the largest of its kind in China – kicked off last Friday in Guangzhou, but many Chinese exhibitors said they were disappointed at the lack of foreign buyers, with some packing up and leaving early on the last day of the fair on Tuesday.Many exporters taking part in the exhibition, especially…

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China’s education crackdown sparks lawsuits against defunct institutions, while some tutors keep teaching in secret

October 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Many private English teachers who remain in China are keeping a low profile amid China’s ongoing crackdown on off-campus education, and a number of private institutions remain stuck in an operational quagmire – saying they are unable to refund customers or provide back pay to employees and teachers.Several middle-class families from across China, including in provinces such as Guangdong, Sichuan, and Hubei, have filed lawsuits through local courts against a 22-year-old ESL (English as a second…

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China’s Li Keqiang acknowledges slowing economic growth, but says Beijing has the ‘tools’ to cope with headwinds

October 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has “adequate tools” to tackle the economic challenges facing the country, including the nation’s current power crisis and high commodity prices, Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday.Though economic growth has slowed in the third quarter due to a number of factors, the government was confident China could meet its growth target of “above 6 per cent” for 2021, Li said at the opening of the Canton Fair in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou.“We have adequate tools in our toolbox to…

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China manufacturing town is again buzzing after being crippled by Samsung’s departure in 2019

October 5, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Li Dong is busy these days decorating his new barbecue restaurant in a northern Pearl River Delta community that is rumbling back to life two years after Samsung closed its smartphone factory that had operated there for almost three decades.The South Korean electronics giant’s decision to relocate its complex to Vietnam in October 2019 devastated the Jinxinda community in Guangdong province’s Huizhou city. It was also Samsung’s last smartphone factory in China.Nearby businesses – from shops to…

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China’s Xinjiang gets money, talent from ‘pairing assistance’, but is the controversial programme helping?

October 5, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is the second in a series of stories looking at China’s Xinjiang province and how the far-western region is coping economically under a series of US sanctions over alleged human rights violations and the widespread use of forced labour.In spite of Xinjiang‘s vast natural beauty, a common impression of the region held by many Chinese concerns the poverty of its residents, which is often the focus of official state media reports.The idyllic setting – including snow-capped mountains, lush…

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China’s Guangdong slashes foreign investment barriers amid challenges from coronavirus pandemic, US tensions

September 29, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s southern Guangdong province, the nation’s biggest manufacturing hub, has loosened foreign investment barriers to attract more multinational companies, echoing Beijing’s message that the country remains open for business despite pandemic disruptions, rising concern over protectionism and ongoing tensions with the United States.At the first Conference on Multinational Corporations Investment this week, the Guangdong government said it had relaxed the total assets requirement for foreign…

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Coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring Fujian province force Canton Fair to be cut to just 5 days

September 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s largest trade fair has been cut to just five days from 15 days following the recent coronavirus outbreaks in southern China.The biannual Canton Fair in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which has been held since 1957, will resume in person activities from October 15 after holding the past three events online, but outbreaks in the neighbouring southeastern province of Fujian have forced organisers to cut the number of days, the State Council confirmed on Monday.A limited number of China…

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Common prosperity in China: rich or poor, people have questions about Beijing’s attempt to spread the wealth

September 11, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Across China, the phrase “common prosperity” has become a major talking point spanning every demographic, from the rich and political elite to rural farmers and factory workers. Their concerns are vastly different, but many of their questions are quite similar.“What does it mean?” “Will it work?” “How might it affect me?” Uncertainty abounds, and concerns are rife.Steve Xie and Huang Weijie are private business owners who live more than 1,000km (620 miles) apart, in Zhejiang and Guangdong…

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Coronavirus shipping delays force China’s small manufacturers to cancel orders as inventories pile up

September 8, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Small and medium-sized Chinese export manufacturers are rejecting orders and scaling back production to avoid mounting inventory and cash flow problems caused by extended shipping times.Disruptions to shipping – both sea and air – as a result of increased pandemic control measures, including lockdowns, are stretching out payment terms for Chinese factories.Cash is being tied up in inventory that cannot be shipped quickly, forcing people like Betty Chen, who runs garment factories and wholesale…

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China shuts Japanese-themed complex after just 2 weeks over online backlash, ‘sensitive’ date concerns

September 3, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A Japanese-themed cultural and residential project in the city of Dalian in northeast China has been closed after just two weeks, with suggestions it is related to a sensitive date in history prior to the second Sino-Japanese war.Videos and images have emerged on social media in China of the Tang Little Kyoto project being closed as of Thursday following instructions from local authorities.It recreates a Kyoto-style townscape and had proved popular among domestic tourists who are unable to…

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China’s new Gen Z jobs reflect changing views on life and society, from pet morticians to ancient Chinese stylists

August 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The evolution of China’s economy and its job market has created new opportunities for young Chinese workers, many of whom are keen on avoiding the heavy pressure and dreary conditions that are often associated with traditional private-sector jobs.And these new occupations are a telling sign of the changes in China’s economy, with an increasing focus on domestic culture. The trend also serves as a commentary on young people’s contemporary views on life and society.Take Bai Ling, for example. She…

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