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Sidney Leng



Articles by Sidney Leng

Is China’s population a cause for concern?

May 22, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]What is China’s population?China’s overall population continued to grow in 2020, rising to 1.412 billion at the end of the year from 1.4 billion a year earlier.Beijing began releasing the results of its seventh national population census on in early May 2021, and the results showed the number of new births fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).The once-a-decade census was conducted in late 2020, but the data release ended up being…

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China’s rust belt population plummeted in last decade, exacerbating regional economic divide

May 13, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is the sixth in a series of stories about China’s once-a-decade census, which was conducted in 2020. The world’s most populous nation released its national demographic data on Tuesday, and the figures will have far-reaching social policy and economic implications.The exodus of people from China’s central region and north-eastern rust belt accelerated over the past decade, creating greater challenges for the government to boost the economies of the two areas, according to data from the 2020…

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China’s census takers ‘coaxed’ citizens to submit personal information with prizes, and the coronavirus pandemic helped

May 10, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is the second in a series of stories about China’s once-a-decade census, conducted in 2020. The world’s most populous nation will release its national demographic data on Tuesday, and the figures will have far-reaching social policy and economic implications.Late last year, Liu Xi left her advertising job in Beijing to take care of her sick father in their hometown, a village in eastern Jiangsu province. Little did she know that she would end up being recruited to help with what is perhaps…

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China population census delay may be due to coronavirus impact on migrant workers, demographer says

May 7, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the travel patterns of migrant workers – making it more difficult to count them – may have played a key role in Beijing’s decision to delay the release of its once-a-decade population census, according to a veteran demographer who has closely studied China’s previous census practises.The postponement of China’s 2020 census data release – first from early April to late April, and then to an indefinite date in the future – has raised suspicions in some…

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China population: coronavirus pandemic fuels decline in migrant labourers amid fears about ageing workforce

May 3, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s vast workforce of migrant labourers is shrinking and getting older, mirroring a broader trend that is raising fears about a demographic crisis in the world’s second largest economy.For the first time since 2008, the number of migrant workers in China fell last year, dropping 5.17 million from 2019 to 285 million, according to survey data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).The fall was largely attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, which severely disrupted the economy early in…

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China says population grew last year, refuting Financial Times report of first decline in nearly 60 years

April 29, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s population continued to grow last year, authorities said on Thursday, refuting an earlier media report that suggested it could fall for the first time in nearly 60 years.The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a short statement that China’s population kept growing in 2020, and detailed data would be released in the upcoming seventh population census results.China’s population continued to grow in 2020, and specific data will be released in the seventh national census…

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Container shortages, delays beset shipping industry as ‘ripple effect’ of Suez Canal blockage continues

April 22, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Delays caused by last month’s Suez Canal blockage are forcing shipping carriers to skip port calls and prioritise returning empty containers to Asia, disrupting business in both Europe and Asia, according to industry insiders.More than three weeks after the skyscraper-sized Ever Given was freed from the Suez Canal, a critical global trade corridor, ports on major shipping routes are grappling with a backlog of vessels as sea freight traffic ramps up after disruptions caused by the coronavirus…

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China facing economic crisis as population peak nears, PBOC adviser says

April 18, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s population is set to peak in just four years’ time and the milestone will be marked by a significant downturn in consumer demand, an adviser to the central bank has warned.“When the total population enters negative growth [after 2025], there will be a shortage of demand,” Cai Fang, a member of the monetary policy committee of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), was quoted as saying in a report by Shanghai Securities News on Friday.“We need to pay attention to the impact of demographics…

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China’s job market improves a year after coronavirus shock, but young people still face ‘pressure’

April 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s job market has improved steadily since the height of the coronavirus pandemic early in 2020, but it is still struggling with a shortage of labour and a high number of unemployed graduates.In the first quarter of the year, China’s official surveyed unemployment rate stood at 5.4 per cent, down 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier when the outbreak first began, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.It will take some time to resolve the employment problem of young…

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China population: birth control policies should be scrapped to retain economic edge over US, says central bank

April 15, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China should immediately liberalise its birth policies or face a scenario in which it has a lower share of workers and higher burden of elderly care than the United States by 2050, China’s central bank has said.In an unusually direct and frank tone, four researchers from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said the country should not interfere with people’s ability to have children or it will be too late to reverse the economic impact of a declining population. Since 2016, Chinese couples have…

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US-China relations: Premier Li tells American firms there is room for cooperation, despite frosty diplomatic ties

April 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has assured American multinationals at two separate high-level meetings there are opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, despite the frosty bilateral relationship between Washington and Beijing.At a virtual meeting on Tuesday with senior executives from more than 20 US firms including Boeing, Honeywell, Qualcomm, General Motors, Pfizer, Abbott, Corning and General Electric, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discussed the investment environment and the US-China relationship, according…

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China’s high pork prices are dropping, but African swine fever still poses a threat to supply

April 8, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Although pork prices in China have reached their lowest point in more than a year and a half, stabilising the nation’s pork supply remains a challenge amid risks of a possible second wave of the devastating African swine fever, analysts say. The wholesale price of pork, a staple food among Chinese households, has fallen for nine straight weeks, touching 33 yuan (US$5) per kilogram this week, which was close to the level in August 2019, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and…

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China’s expat tax reform could see more than a third of American firms leave Shanghai, AmCham says

April 1, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]More than a third of multinational firms in Shanghai are considering moving all or part of their operation out of China or to another Chinese city when tax exemptions on allowances for foreign employees expire next year, a survey released by a US business lobby group on Thursday showed.At the end of 2018, Beijing said tax breaks for expat allowances, including those available for language training, housing, and children’s education would be phased out at the beginning of 2022 after a three-year…

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China container maker reaping rewards as Suez Canal blockage adds to global shortage, demand set for record high

March 31, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Worsened by the recent Suez Canal blockage, global demand for containers could hit a historic high this year, further pushing up costs of shipping, according to the world’s largest container manufacturer.During the coronavirus pandemic, the price of a 20-foot standard dry storage container (TEU) more than doubled from a year earlier to above US$3,500, and it is not expected to fall much for the rest of year, as demand for the containers and the cost of the raw materials needed to build them…

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Want a job in China? US$7,700 VVVVVIP service still leaves applicants out of pocket, out of work

March 20, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In an increasingly competitive job market, many Chinese graduates have turned to career advisory firms for help. Yet the coronavirus pandemic has made this fast growing industry a hotbed for complaints and controversies.George Zhao returned to Shanghai in September 2019 after studying in Britain. He was anxious about finding a job as it was almost the end of peak autumn hiring season. To boost his chances, he paid 36,000 yuan (US$5,500) to UniCareer, one of China’s leading career coaching…

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Coronavirus eroded China’s middle class, but India has fared much worse, new findings reveal

March 18, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]While the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has taken a hefty toll on the world’s two most populous nations, India’s middle class has been hit much harder than China’s, according to findings by the Pew Research Centre.And a year into the pandemic, the scale of the world’s middle class living on US$10 to US$20 a day looks to have dropped by 54 million people, while the number of poor people subsisting on US$2 or less has increased by about 131 million, the Washington-based think…

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China population: Beijing hoping for ‘appropriate’ 2021 fertility level as demographic challenges mount

March 5, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s perceived vague call for an “appropriate” fertility level this year is viewed as the best the government could say while it awaits the preliminary results from the population census in April with the country facing a growing demographic challenge.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday said that China would “work to achieve an appropriate” fertility level while delivering the government work report at the National People’s Congress in Beijing.Li also confirmed China would gradually extend…

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China population: plan to lift birth restrictions in the northeast panned for not tackling economic roots of crisis

February 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A proposal to ease birth restrictions in China’s struggling northeast rust belt has been ridiculed online, with numerous residents criticising the government for its uninspired response to the region’s demographic crisis.The northeast provinces of Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin can experiment with lifting restrictions after more research is done to ascertain the impact on the local economy, the National Health Commission said in a statement from last August that was released on Wednesday.The…

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China, India able to absorb share of record coronavirus-induced global debt levels with ‘growth credibility’

February 18, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Developing economies with strong growth potential like India and China should not panic too much just yet amid rising debt levels after a new report showed the coronavirus pandemic pushed global borrowings to a new high last year after many governments turned to stimulus to stop the associated economic fallout.Global debt surged to US$281 trillion last year, leading the overall debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to rise by 35 percentage points to 355 per cent, which was much higher than…

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US-China relations: forced labour to keep pressure on Chinese textile firms as American firms cut orders

February 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The trend of US companies reducing their exposure to China’s textile and clothing suppliers has become a shift that is unlikely to reverse under the Biden administration, with Washington remaining committed to combating forced labour issues, according to trade data and an industry expert.

Last year, China’s share in the US apparel market fell to a decade-low of 23 per cent when measured by value, according to data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel under the US Department of Commerce.

In…

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China’s environmental push away from plastics having knock on effects in paper industry, bubble tea shops

February 11, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Over the past few weeks, bubble tea lovers in China have been trying to get used to one thing that many of them were prepared for: paper straws.The roll-out of paper straws at numerous bubble tea shops across China to replace the traditional plastic alternative is down to Beijing’s new policy initiative to reduce environmental pollution by cutting down on the use of plastic products.By the end of last year, single-use plastic straws were banned in all restaurants, while factories must stop…

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China population: tumbling regional birth rates signal scale of country’s ageing crisis

February 2, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Despite the delayed publication of national population data, a slew of local birth statistics in China has hinted at a growing population crisis in the world’s most populous country.Births are steadily falling in China and experts say they will only shrink further, putting pressure on Beijing’s lofty development goals, “unless miraculous achievements” are made in increasing the number of newborns in the future.Annual population and birth figures for 2020 were not released as part of a series of…

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Two-thirds of China’s provinces beat national GDP growth figure in 2020

January 30, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Almost two-thirds of China’s provinces reported faster economic growth for 2020 than the country achieved as a whole, according to official figures released since the start of the year.Of the 31 jurisdictions, 20 saw GDP growth of more than 2.3 per cent for the year, with Tibet and Guizhou topping the chart with 7.8 and 4.5 per cent, respectively.Guangdong province, an economic powerhouse in southern China, matched the national figure, as its gross domestic product rose beyond 11 trillion yuan …

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China GDP: coronavirus helped Chinese economy trim US$1 trillion from gap with US in 2020

January 29, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The gap between the size of the US and Chinese economies shrank by close to US$1 trillion in 2020 after the US posted its worst economic growth figure since the end of World War II.The US economy – the world’s largest – contracted by 3.5 per cent last year from a year earlier, after being upended by the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from the US Department of Commerce published on Thursday. Last year’s economic performance was the worst since 1946, when the economy shrank by 11.6 per…

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‘Your money and your life’: no need to trade off saving lives from coronavirus and economic recovery

January 28, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Economic growth can only be achieved by first stopping deaths from the coronavirus, although China’s success in achieving this last year led to an increase in global inequality, according to a Nobel Prize-winning economist.China posted an economic growth rate of 2.3 per cent last year, and is set to be the only major economy to have achieved that result in a coronavirus-ravaged 2020.At the start of the pandemic, it was suggested that lockdowns to control the spread of the virus would save lives…

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China’s vegetable prices hit record highs ahead of Lunar New Year due to cold winter, coronavirus lockdowns

January 25, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The prices of fresh vegetables on the dinning tables of many Chinese households have been pushed to record highs at the start of the year, driven by an usually cold winter and logistic deadlocks resulting from sporadic coronavirus outbreaks over the last few weeks.Vegetable prices traditionally rise in January and February when the temperature drops and the supply is unable to catch up with increasing demand before the Lunar New Year holiday.But on Monday, a daily wholesale price index of…

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China jobs market still seen as weak, unstable even as unemployment rate returns to pre-coronavirus level

January 20, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]While China’s unemployment picture, like the overall economy, on paper has all but recovered from the impact of the coronavirus, the reality on the ground suggests the job market still remains weak and unstable.As China reported its economy grew by 2.3 per last year and by 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the often criticised official surveyed unemployment rate came in at 5.2 per cent in December. This was the same as at the end of 2019 and a far cry from February’s…

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China’s Xi Jinping talks of ‘common prosperity’ as the rich get richer, with little indication of how it will reduce inequality

January 14, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Beijing’s next major economic target after poverty alleviation could be reducing income inequality, based on officials’ speeches and government documents published over the past few weeks.But how exactly officials plan to do that is the trillion-dollar question.In a speech delivered at the Communist Party’s Central Party School this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the importance of “common prosperity”, saying it is not only an economic issue but also a major political issue…

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