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Sidney Leng



Articles by Sidney Leng

Coronavirus: nearly half of China’s cinemas in danger of permanently closing due to pandemic

2 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Four in 10 Chinese cinemas are in danger of permanently closing due to the coronavirus outbreak, dealing a heavy blow to the once booming industry, according to a survey by the China Film Association.There were 12,408 cinemas in China at the end of 2019, almost double the number in 2015. A reduction of 40 per cent would mean nearly 5,000 cinemas could go bust as the result of the pandemic.Cinemas have been among the last venues to reopen in China, as lockdown measures are gradually lifted. In…

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China debt: bond problems could still resurface in 2020 after defaults amid coronavirus lower than expected

5 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Problems in China’s corporate bond market could still resurface later in the year after the level of defaults did not surge as high as expected during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak thanks to ample credit and relaxed issuance requirements.The world’s second largest bond market after the United States has recorded 71 default cases so far this year, according to financial database Wind, 26 per cent lower than a year earlier.The value of missed repayments on corporate…

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Coronavirus: China vehicle sales reverse 21-month losing streak as infrastructure spending ramps up

17 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s vehicle sales bottomed out last month, thanks to strong demand for trucks after the government stepped up its plan for infrastructure investment to boost growth this year.Vehicle sales – for both cars and trucks – grew to 2.07 million units in April, up 4.4 per cent from a year before, ending a 21-month streak of falling sales that started in 2018, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).However, vehicle sales in the first four months of the year were still…

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Coronavirus: China voucher scheme to revive retail hits the buffers, sparking debate about cash payments

18 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s policy of handing out billions of yuan in shopping vouchers, instead of offering direct cash payments, is having limited effect in offsetting the economic damage of the coronavirus, research shows.By the end of April, local governments had given out more than 6.5 billion yuan (US$916 million) worth of consumer vouchers, essentially government subsidised coupons or discounts that can be spent at designated venues, according to data from 42 cities collated by the Chinese Academy of Social…

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Coronavirus: China faces historic test as pandemic stokes fears of looming unemployment crisis

21 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is the first in a series of six stories exploring the causes and consequences of the domestic unemployment crisis China may face following the coronavirus pandemic. This story examines the scope of the nation’s looming jobless problem and the challenge it poses to the ruling Communist Party.Years of social progress in China are at risk of being undone as the country grapples with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, a black swan event that has lashed the world’s second biggest…

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Coronavirus: Chinese consumer sentiment still reeling from pandemic, hitting hopes of ‘revenge shopping’

April 27, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A quick consumer rebound in China, or what some describe as “revenge shopping,” is unlikely to happen in the second quarter as more people focus on saving over spending following the coronavirus outbreak, a new survey shows.More than half of Chinese households planned to increase their savings and cut back on spending after the outbreak was contained, while 40 per cent would maintain normal shopping patterns and 9 per cent would buy more, according to the survey of 28,000 people by researchers…

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Coronavirus: China’s rust belt struggles to revive virus-hit economies as brain drain continues

April 23, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s northeastern rust belt provinces are battling an influx of coronavirus cases from across their borders, a problem that is threatening to exacerbate the ongoing exodus of skilled workers to more prosperous parts of the country.This hollowing out of talent in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning threatens to deepen the provinces’ long-standing economic troubles, just as they struggle to recover from the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.Heilongjiang province, which sits in China’s far north…

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Coronavirus: China job listings tumble by 27 per cent in first quarter as economic toll of pandemic mounts

April 16, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The coronavirus outbreak is severely weakening China’s job market, with the number of new positions on offer shrinking by 27 per cent in the first quarter of the year, led by recruitment cuts among exporters and foreign enterprises, a study from China’s Peking University shows.The study, which tracked 23 million new job posts on Chinese recruitment site Zhaopin.com, is a fresh warning about China’s economic future, including its role in the global economy and prospects for young jobseekers amid…

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Coronavirus: could China’s lockdowns to contain Covid-19 be the best choice for every country?

April 15, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s unprecedented and, at the time, controversial decision to lockdown the city of Wuhan at the end of January was quickly rolled out across the country, turning cites into ghost towns as businesses not deemed essential to daily life were closed.The mandatory closures of restaurants, pubs, bookstores, hairdressers, and nail shops across a city at short notice proved successful in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, and last week, the lockdown was removed, with many other cities across…

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Coronavirus: container traffic at China’s top eight ports plunges in early April as pandemic hits overseas orders

April 15, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Container traffic at China’s biggest ports fell for two weeks in a row in early April after a drop in overseas orders hit the nation’s exports, according to the China Ports and Harbours Association.For the week starting April 6, the number of freight containers handled by China’s eight largest container ports in Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Tianjin, Xiamen and Dalian dropped by five per cent from a year earlier, the association said in its weekly update released on Wednesday…

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Coronavirus: China’s textile exporters brace for pain amid wave of cancelled overseas orders

April 9, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The most frequent query that Jeremy Maclaurin has received from Chinese textile and apparel makers in recent days is: when are our next orders coming in?MacLaurin runs China Textile Traders, which helps brands source from the southern Chinese manufacturing hub Guangdong province, as well as from other Asian countries like Vietnam.Normally at this time of the year, brands are looking for new product samples to use for the winter season, he said.But the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the…

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Coronavirus: nearly half a million Chinese companies close in first quarter as pandemic batters economy

April 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]More than 460,000 Chinese firms closed permanently in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the world’s second largest economy, with more than half of them having operated for under three years, corporate registration data shows.The closures comprised of businesses whose operating licenses had been revoked, as well as those who had terminated operations themselves, and included 26,000 in the export sector, according to Tianyancha, a commercial database that compiles public…

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Coronavirus: China small business confidence edges up, but still weak as pandemic impact lingers

March 27, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Business confidence among small and medium-sized enterprises in China improved modestly in March, but remained gloomy overall as the removal of lockdowns and travel restrictions led to only a marginal rebound in sales and investment.The business conditions index developed by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), which surveys small and medium-sized firms in the private sector, rose to 41.3 in March after falling to 37.3 last month, the lowest level since the index was launched in…

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China’s relaxed land rules could speed up urbanisation, offer economic boost amid coronavirus

March 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has made a small but significant tweak in its rigid land management system that could accelerate urbanisation, especially in large cities and affluent coastal areas, that could spur urban development in a bid to keep growth on track amid theAnd while the overall benefits from the change will be largely long term, with significant stress already placed on China’s economy amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it could allow local authorities more flexibility if Beijing opts to turn to…

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Coronavirus: China’s income inequality could expand in 2020 as outbreak rattles world’s No 2 economy

March 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]For years, China has been trying to reduce the gap between rich and poor, but those efforts could be undermined by the coronavirus outbreak that has shaken the world’s second largest economy.About a third of Chinese households earning annual incomes of between 10,000 yuan (US$1,426) and 30,000 yuan expect their earnings to drop significantly this year, compared to 11 per cent of high-income households taking home more than 200,000 yuan (US$28,500) per year, according to a February survey…

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China’s coronavirus response slowed by bureaucracy, unstable funding as government never empowered lower level officials

March 8, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The 2002 outbreak of Sars provided the first real test of China’s decades-old Soviet style public health system, but despite some improvement made in the aftermath, the country’s disease control and prevention system has again been proven to be too weak to be effective against the deadlier coronavirus epidemic 18 years later.Since severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), China’s spending on health has grown 10 times, with thousands of local centres for disease control and prevention…

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Coronavirus: China’s huge migrant worker population bearing the brunt of economic shutdown

March 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Lily Zhu, a migrant worker from the southern province of Hunan, who works as a sales manager at a high-end Beijing restaurant, does not expect to be paid at all in February, March or April.Her employer, like most restaurants in the Chinese capital, remains closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.“I have been waiting for my employer to call me back to work in Beijing, but the latest notice was that payment of my basic salary for February had been ‘postponed’,” she said from her hometown. “My…

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Coronavirus: China’s key ports handled 20 per cent fewer containers in February

March 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s top eight ports, including Shenzhen and Shanghai, reported a nearly 20 per cent drop in container traffic in February from a year earlier, according to the latest weekly statistics complied by the China Ports and Harbours Association.The association, an industry group under the Ministry of Transport, said the ports, which also include Ningbo, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Xiamen, Dalian and Qingdao, confirmed container traffic at the eight ports also dropped 19.8 per cent last month from a year…

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Covid-19 likely to slash US$185 billion off China’s economy in January, February, says ex-IMF official

February 22, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The deadly coronavirus outbreak may have cost China more than 1.3 trillion yuan (US$185 billion) in the first two months of the year because of huge dips in consumer spending and tourism, according to a former senior executive with the International Monetary Fund.Zhu Min, who was deputy managing director of the IMF from 2011 to 2016, said during an online presentation on Saturday that the Covid-19 epidemic was likely to have cost the tourism industry about 900 billion yuan in January and…

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Coronavirus: world’s largest market reopens its doors to ‘foreign friends’, promising ‘Yiwu will be normal soon’

February 21, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The world’s largest trading centre for daily consumer goods in China’s eastern manufacturing hub finally reopened its doors this week after the coronavirus outbreak, with officials reaching out to “foreign friends” that “Yiwu will be normal soon” as local governments attempt to gradually resume economic activity.Yiwu International Trade market reopened on Tuesday, three days earlier than originally planned, largely because there have been no new confirmed cases in the Zhejiang city for around a…

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Coronavirus: China’s east coast provinces offer chartered transport, rewards to get rural migrants back to work

February 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Provincial governments in China’s east coast manufacturing hubs have begun arranging buses, trains and flights to bring migrant workers back to factories as the country desperately tries to restart production halted by the coronavirus outbreak.Local authorities have been urged by President Xi Jinping to kick-start economic activity after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, but many businesses are finding one key component missing – workers.At least two thirds of China’s nearly 300 million…

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Coronavirus: China’s private bookstores struggling to survive as sales drop 90 per cent, stores remain closed

February 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]During a one-hour live stream, two members of staff circled around the children’s section of an empty bookstore in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, flipping through illustrated books for dozens of online viewers.At one point, the female member of staff who was holding the camera picked up Forever Young, a picture book by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and said: “I love this book, and I highly recommend it. Fellow watchers, if you are interested, I can add you to our readers’ group…

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Coronavirus: China’s fear of mass job losses looms large as Covid-19 takes toll on economy

February 13, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As more people return to work across China following extended holidays or work from home arrangements to combat the coronavirus outbreak, some are now worried the resulting economic slowdown will result in job losses.The coronavirus, which causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19, had led to the death of over 1,300 people in China, while infecting around 60,000. It has wrecked havoc on economic activities across the country, with firms faced with tough decision whether to reduce…

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China cancels January trade data release, will combine with February

February 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s customs agency said on Friday it would not release trade data for January, but would instead combine it with import and export figures for February.The Customs Administration of China said it would release data for January and February at the same time, bringing it in line with the way other major indicators are published.The National Bureau of Statistics publishes fixed-asset investment, consumption and industrial production for the first two months of the year together to remove…

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Coronavirus: tales of economic woe spread on Chinese social media as workers, small businesses suffer

February 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Tales of economic misery among Chinese workers and small businesses caused by the coronavirus outbreak are spreading rapidly on social media, raising questions about the outlook that no one can answer.While many can hang on for now with no income or revenue by relying on savings, their problems will become unmanageable in a few months if the virus outbreak is not brought under control and economic conditions return to near normal.An extended lack of income among workers, especially those with…

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Coronavirus: over 70 per cent of Chinese businesses will have returned to work by next week, survey shows

February 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Over 70 per cent of businesses in China will have resumed operations by the start of next week despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey by Chinese recruitment site Zhaopin.com.More than 54 per cent of the 1,644 companies surveyed had already resumed operations after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, with a further 18.9 set to return on Monday, the survey said.But nearly one in five companies in China, or 18 per cent, have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the outbreak and…

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China’s unemployment risks surge as service providers bear the brunt of coronavirus outbreak

January 31, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The fear of job loss has been added to growing concern about contracting the deadly coronavirus for many mainland Chinese, as the outbreak has forced numerous small businesses in the thriving service sector to close indefinitely.The virus, which has killed at least 213 people across China and been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, has prompted authorities to close venues ranging from shopping malls to fitness centres and karaoke clubs to prevent its spread.The…

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China’s birth rate falls to near 60-year low, with 2019 producing fewest babies since 1961

January 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The number of newborn babies in China sunk to a near six-decade low last year, reinforcing worries about the cost of a lower birth rate on the economy and the country’s ability to support its rapidly ageing population in the year ahead.Chinese mothers gave birth to 14.65 million babies last year, down from 15.23 million in 2018, according to data from National Bureau of Statistics released on Friday. Last year’s figure was the lowest since 1961.China’s overall population continued to grow,…

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China phase one deal with US will allow chance for domestic reform, despite short-term sting

January 16, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s phase one trade deal with the United States could generate short-term pain for the economy, but help it in the long run by creating a stable trading environment and introducing competition to its increasingly rigid state-led development model, officials and analysts said.The long-awaited trade deal, which requires that China significantly boost purchases of US products and improve intellectual property protection, put the brakes on an 18-month trade war that has disrupted global supply…

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