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Sidney Leng



Articles by Sidney Leng

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

7 days ago

[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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Shipping containers becomes new buzz word as coronavirus leaves industry struggling to meet demand

10 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Until recently, it was not that common to use the word container within the shipping industry, with concerns more focused on the bigger picture of vessels and capacity.The coronavirus and its impact on the global supply chains, though, has changed that, and amid surging demand and record freight rates, it is a trend that industry insiders expect to extend into the second half of the new year.Since last summer, container freight rates have been rising mainly due to sustained demand, particularly…

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China’s birth rate push trumps gender equality, with women hit with ‘parenthood penalty’

12 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s ongoing battle to boost its population is having a knock-on effect on its efforts to ensure gender equality in the workplace, with female applicants increasingly being told they are unsuitable for roles for “unsubstantiated” reasons, including because the role required overtime work, business trips, driving or even moving books.“These excuses are so unsubstantiated. Overtime and business trips have nothing to do with gender. It’s up to your abilities and tolerance. It can not persuade…

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China’s coal-price indices stop revealing surging prices as demand soars and inventories ‘fall below warning line’

17 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]All four of China’s major coal-price indices have stopped being updated after a concurrence of factors sent the price of coal surging in recent weeks – signalling that the government has stepped in to cool the overheated coal market.The factors said to be responsible for the soaring prices include China’s booming post-coronavirus industrial recovery, the annual sharp uptick in demand for coal to provide heat during the cold winter months, and an ongoing crackdown on illegal mines. Other factors…

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China’s new microlending curbs do not address underlying issue of household debt and borrowing, analysts say

21 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]New rules intended to rein in China’s booming microlending market may force a number of online platforms out of business, but analysts say it will do little to curb rising household debt, nor completely stop young people from borrowing.The nation’s banking and insurance regulator seems well aware of this, to the point that it was compelled this week to issue a risk alert – imploring consumers not to fall into the trap of “uncontrolled and blind consumption” amid excessive lending from online…

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China strikes triumphal note over economic recovery as it looks to cut reliance on US technology

December 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]An economic planning meeting involving China’s top leadership ended on an unusually triumphalist note about the country’s recovery from Covid-19 as Beijing set out a series of policies to boost-self reliance amid its ongoing tensions with the US.The statement released on Friday night at the end of the Central Economic Work Conference led with the message that China was the only major economy to post positive growth, saying it could “satisfy the people, catch the world’s attention and make…

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How China’s ‘dibao’ social safety net is being used to silence dissent, according to one researcher

December 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The role of China’s social safety net programme, known as dibao, has shifted over time from providing support to the poor and vulnerable to being used partly as a tool to repress dissent, according to research from a US-based social scientist.The minimum living standard guarantee is China’s sole social security programme targeted at reducing income inequality. The scheme provides unconditional cash transfers and benefits to recipients whose income falls under a threshold set by local…

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China trades rainwater for first time, but analysts say unstable trading system is far from being market-driven

December 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China traded rainwater for the first time on a state-run exchange this week – taking a small step toward reallocating water resources to solve its water crisis – but analysts say the country’s water-trading system still has a long way to go.China’s deepening water-shortage crisis has been exacerbated by pollution and inefficient water management. With 80 per cent of its water resources concentrated in the south, at least a dozen northern provinces – including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei economic…

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Taiwan’s 2020 economic growth looks to outpace mainland China’s for first time in decades

December 11, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Taiwan’s economic growth rate may exceed that of mainland China for the first time in nearly 30 years, according to official estimates and those from economists.The Taiwanese government revised up its annual growth estimate to 2.5 per cent at the end of last month. Although the mainland government has not announced a growth target for this year, economists have said it could be around 2 per cent, in light of a relatively quick recovery from the coronavirus this year.If confirmed when the…

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China-Australia relations: iron ore price surges amid strong demand and souring ties

December 9, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Strong demand from steel plants and growing concerns over a worsening relationship between China and Australia have helped send the price of iron ore to an eight-year high and forced Chinese regulators to step in to curb speculation.According to a price index from the China Iron and Steel Association, the price of iron ore, which is a key raw material in steelmaking, has risen to the highest level since March 2013. It has surged 50 per cent since the beginning of this year.As the bulk of China…

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China’s army of upcoming college graduates brace to compete for jobs with a familiar rival – the class of 2020’s unhired alumni

December 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]With yet another record number of university and college graduates expected to enter the workforce next year, China’s young adults could very well find themselves in the most difficult environment ever to land jobs.The Ministry of Education this week put that estimated total at 9.09 million Chinese – an increase of about 350,000 graduates from this year’s record high of 8.74 million.The coronavirus compounded their struggles this year with widespread disruptions. In the spring, lockdowns across…

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Chinese cryptocurrency scam ringleaders jailed in US$2.25 billion Ponzi scheme involving PlusToken platform

December 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A Chinese court has sentenced ringleaders of a multinational cryptocurrency-based pyramid scheme to up to 11 years in prison after they defrauded investors out of 14.8 billion yuan (US$2.25 billion) worth of cryptocurrencies, according to court documents from the eastern province of Jiangsu.PlusToken, a platform set up by Chen Bo in early 2018, used decentralised ledger technology known as blockchain to attract millions of people who were required to pay their membership fee in cryptocurrencies…

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China must boost education quality ‘to avoid middle income trap’, rising inequality

November 24, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China must improve enrolment and the quality of high school education, particularly in rural areas, if it is to transition to a high-income country, researchers say.

Beijing has set its sights on growing gross national income per capita from US$10,410 in 2019, to at least US$12,536 by the end of 2025, the bar for becoming a high-income country according to World Bank standards.

But with only a low proportion of China’s labour force having attended high school, it will face a steep challenge…

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China’s semiconductor dream takes a hit as local authority takes over ‘nightmare’ Wuhan factory

November 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A cash-strapped Chinese semiconductor factory described by its former chief executive as a “nightmare” has been taken over by the Wuhan government in a setback for China’s pursuit of chip autonomy.According to the latest corporate registration records compiled by Chinese data site Tianyancha, Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (HSMC) has been taken over by the municipal government in the central Chinese province of Hubei.This follows months of delays in the construction of its…

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China-Europe rail trade imbalance growing due coronavirus, demand for PPE

November 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The coronavirus may have pushed China’s freight shipments to Europe via rail to record highs, but far fewer trains have returned with European products, according to data from China’s state railway operator and external analysts.By early November, China Railway Express, a key rail project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, had operated a record number of more than 11,000 trains across Eurasia compared to 8,225 in the whole of 2019.In the first half of the year, it operated 5,122 trains, up…

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China birth rate: Beijing vows to be ‘inclusive’, will stop punishing people for having too many babies

November 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China is inching closer to abandoning its decades-long policy of birth restrictions, as its slowing fertility rate and rapidly greying population threaten long-term growth prospects, analysts and researchers say.The phrase “family planning” has been dropped from China’s 14th five-year plan and its 2035 vision, according to details of the policy blueprint released by the ruling Communist Party this week. Instead, China will “improve birth policy” to make it more “inclusive”.The omission sends a…

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Coronavirus impact on global trade prompts ship firms to cut back on new vessels

November 4, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shipping companies are spending less on new vessels this year amid a gloomy long-term outlook for global trade, but they are revelling in soaring freight rates, according to industry insiders and analysts.Last month, new ship orders as a percentage of the global fleet fell to 7.1 per cent, the lowest level since 1989, according to shipping consultancy Clarksons Research.Orders have slumped across the board, including for tankers, containers and bulk carriers, showing weak confidence among…

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China’s GDP to grow by at least 5.5 per cent annually in next five years, former Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan says

November 3, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s average annual economic growth could be at least 5.5 per cent in the next five years and consistently expand at 5 per cent through 2035, Huang Qifan, a former mayor of Chongqing, said in a speech on Tuesday.Huang, who retired from his mayoral position in 2016 and is now a government researcher, made the comments in an online webinar during the Credit Suisse China Investment Conference, painting a rosy picture of the world’s second biggest economy under Beijing’s new “dual circulation”…

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Coronavirus a stress test for China’s economy, Xi Jinping ‘told Communist Party insiders in April’

October 31, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The coronavirus pandemic was a stress test for the Chinese economy, exposing risks to the industrial supply chain, Chinese President Xi Jinping told senior Communist Party advisers as he briefed them for the first time in early April on his “dual circulation” plan to boost domestic consumption.“This pandemic is a stress test under real combat conditions,” Xi said in a speech on April 10, two days after Beijing lifted the lockdown in the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first…

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China, Russia seek to curb use of US dollar in Eurasian trade bloc deals to minimise risks

October 28, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]By creating its own monetary and financial system, an economic and trade bloc backed by Russia is looking to reduce its reliance on the US dollar and euro for internal trading and in deals with China.The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a counterpart to the European Union, has five member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – and ensures the free flow of goods and economic cooperation among them, but it does not have a single currency like the 19 of the 27 EU states do…

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China’s coronavirus recovery gathers steam, but young jobseekers face being left behind

October 20, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s accelerated economic rebound in the third quarter has failed to significantly improve job prospects for the country’s young and educated, reflecting a weak link beneath headline growth figures that have been largely engineered by state spending and industrial production.The monthly jobless rate for Chinese aged 20 to 24 with a college education was 4 percentage points higher in September than the same period a year ago, but 2.4 percentage points below August, Liu Aihua, a spokeswoman…

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No paper, no cups: China’s local authorities further tighten their belts as coronavirus, tax cuts weigh heavy

October 15, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Local governments across China have been forced to further tighten their belts this year because of the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with one slashing non-essential items by as much as 60 per cent.Shandong province on China’s eastern coast, one of most populous provinces with more than 100 million residents, confirmed over the weekend that it plans to cut expenditures on non-essential items by up to 60 per cent on top of budget cuts already announced at the beginning of the year…

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China’s population census: what is it, and why is it important?

October 11, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China will begin its seventh population census on November 1, where a huge range of personal and household information, including the age, education, occupation, marital and migration status of people living in the world’s most populous nation will be gathered.Because of the vast number of people surveyed, it will in theory provide the most accurate information on changes to China’s population and be used as a key resource for future planning.How does the census work?The census covers all…

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China ‘golden week’ holiday spending rebounds from coronavirus with daily spending up 4.9 per cent on year

October 9, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A surge in spending over China’s “golden week” holiday has highlighted an encouraging rebound in consumption after the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy early in the year.During this year’s eight-day holiday, which combined National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival, retail and restaurant sales reached 1.6 trillion yuan (US$235.5 billion), with daily sales up 4.9 per cent compared to last year’s seven-day holiday, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce.China UnionPay,…

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China’s Xi urges revival of old rural distribution system to boost economy and enhance ‘ties with rural masses’

September 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]President Xi Jinping has renewed his call for a revival of an old state-run distribution system to boost the rural economy, unite farmers and strengthen the ruling Communist Party’s power base in the countryside.In a note to a conference hosted by the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives – also known as China Co-op, which supported the party’s rule in the countryside during the command-economy era from 1949-78 – Xi urged government officials to revamp the system to help…

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Debt woes of one of China’s top cities highlighted by first-of-its-kind bond default

September 24, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In a rare dispute between provinces over the sale of local government bonds, the finance department of Henan province in central China blacklisted a brokerage firm controlled by the municipality of Tianjin this week after the firm failed to pay in full for the bonds it had bought.The incident is the latest in a series that underscore the rapidly worsening financial situation in Tianjin, one of the four mainland cities that are under direct supervision of the central government.According to…

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Ray Dalio book reveals top negotiator Liu He feared ‘tit-for-tat escalations’ before US-China trade war began

September 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When China’s top trade negotiator, Vice-Premier Liu He, walked into the Oval Office to meet US President Donald Trump in May 2018, he was not concerned so much with the outlook of trade negotiations as he was with the potential for escalating disputes between the world’s two largest economies.That bit of prognostication was one detail from American billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s upcoming book, The Changing World Order, about the rise and fall of past empires. In it, he dedicates a…

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China’s TikTok, Douyin, says it created 36 million jobs in the last year, with lots of live-streamers

September 11, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, says it created 36 million jobs domestically over the year-long period from last August in the video and live-streaming sector – one of the few areas where employment is flourishing in the nation’s challenging post-coronavirus labour market.Among that total, about 20 million are individual content creators and live-streaming hosts, while 8.6 million came from their team members. The rest were from Douyin’s corporate accounts and…

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China’s birth rate problems underlined as Ningbo projects 27 per cent drop in newborns for 2020

September 8, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]One of the most populous cities on China’s east coast predicts that the number of local births will plummet by 27 per cent this year from 2019, further signalling that the country is facing a demographic crisis.Local authorities in Ningbo, where the population of roughly 8.5 million is similar in size to that of New York, said in a recent report that the number of newborns in the city looks to be about 36,000 in 2020. That would mark a steep decline of 27 per cent from last year’s 49,464 births…

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China’s corn-supply concerns grow after three typhoons flatten crops in main northeastern grain region

September 8, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Concerns are mounting over the sufficiency of China’s grain supply after three typhoons hit the country’s main corn-growing region in quick succession over the past two weeks, flattening crops and pushing corn prices to their highest level in five years.The full extent of the storms’ impact on this year’s corn harvest is not yet known, but some analysts say the natural disasters in the northeastern corn region could lead to a drop in output in Heilongjiang and Jilin – two major corn-producing…

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