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Sidney Leng



Articles by Sidney Leng

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

2 days ago

[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’

4 days ago

[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

5 days ago

[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

6 days ago

[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

12 days ago

[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

19 days ago

[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

20 days ago

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

January 11, 2021

[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’

January 9, 2021

[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’

January 4, 2021

[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

December 31, 2020

[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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