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Sidney Leng



Articles by Sidney Leng

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

2 days ago

[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

11 days ago

[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

16 days ago

[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?

20 days ago

[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

22 days ago

[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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China exporters under pressure from soaring US shipping costs ahead of Christmas as demand outweighs supply

September 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Concerns about the escalating US-China trade conflict and the reductions in available routes earlier in the year due to the coronavirus outbreak have sharply increased the cost of shipping by sea for Chinese exporters, who have been front-loading the export of their goods to the United States in recent months.The cost of sending goods by sea from Shanghai to the west coast of the US, including the Port of Los Angeles, more than doubled to US$3,639 for every 40-foot container (FEU) between May…

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China censors Thomas Piketty’s book that touches on nation’s growing inequality

August 30, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When French economist Thomas Piketty published his acclaimed Capital in the 21st Century in 2013, an in-depth critique of modern capitalism and inequality, it was an immediate hit upon release in China, selling hundreds of thousands of copies.The near 700-page book even won praise from President Xi Jinping, who in a 2015 speech used its meticulously researched findings on surging inequality in the United States and Europe to claim that Marxist political economy was as relevant as ever.But…

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China puts drones and laser tech on restricted export list after US tightens rules

August 29, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Drones and lasers are among the nearly two dozen technologies added to China’s restricted export list in the first major overhaul of the rules in more than a decade.As tensions with the United States grow over trade and tech, China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Friday that 23 areas of innovation – ranging from space materials to 3D printing, encryption and large-scale high-speed wind tunnel design – had been added to the restricted export list.“The main purpose is to regulate technology…

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China’s ‘American Factory’ laid off more than 2,000 jobs worldwide in first half of 2020 due to weak car market

August 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s largest car glassmaker, which featured in the award-winning documentary American Factory, laid off more than 2,000 people globally in the first half of the year due to weak demand caused by the coronavirus.Fuyao Glass Industry Group’s total headcount dropped by 2,267 from a year earlier, its interim report published on Friday showed, representing more than 8 per cent of its 26,000 employees as of the end of last year.The company did not provide a breakdown of where the employees were…

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China’s social security fund is being propped up by local government subsidies, but for how long?

August 24, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When the coronavirus began taking its toll on China’s economy earlier this year, one of Beijing’s key policies to reduce the impact was to exempt firms from contributing to the national social security fund for a few months.But this policy decision has increased the financial burden on already cash-strapped local governments, which have been subsidising the fund for years.Without these local government subsidies, China’s national social security fund would have been operating at a deficit every…

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Coronavirus: China seeks solution to unemployment crisis with flexible jobs

August 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In June, Qiu Xiaogang decided to close his Happy Noodle Shop near an expressway in northern China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region and set up a street food stand to sell grilled meat skewers.It was the second time this year that Qiu had been forced to close his shop. The first was during a coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown. To make ends meet then, he did a short stint at a construction site, moving bricks for about 200 yuan (US$29) a day.After the lockdown ended in May, he returned to his…

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China’s state-owned giants given new order: create global industrial champions

August 11, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In the midst of its escalating economic conflict with the US, China’s largest state-owned enterprises have been given a new directive: work with small and medium-sized firms to build new global champions.In an interview with the state-run Xinhua news agency published on Monday, Hao Peng, chairman and Communist Party secretary of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), said state firms, particularly those owned by the central government, should team up with…

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Chinese consumers grapple with ‘flying pigs and rocketing eggs’ as supply disruptions send food inflation soaring

August 10, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When it comes to buying food for daily meals, Chinese consumers are increasingly being forced to swallow unaffordable prices for two staple products – so-called flying pigs and rocketing eggs.Supply-side problems have sent the price of pork surging this year and driven up egg prices in the past month, with the price trends becoming a fixture of local media reporting in the process.Last month, pork prices rose by 85.7 per cent on-year and expanded 10.3 per cent from June, new data from the…

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China no longer top clothes exporter to US as Vietnam gains market share

August 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Seven months ago, China was still the largest supplier of products for fashion companies in the United States, but its significant advantage over Vietnam has since evaporated because of the coronavirus and the decoupling tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. US apparel imports from China, by value, dropped from almost 30 per cent in 2019 to 20 per cent in the first half of 2020, now on par with Vietnam after the Southeast Asian nation improved its market share from 16 per cent…

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Coronavirus: China’s stranded migrant workers desperate to return home as savings dry up

August 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Zhu Bowen was excited about the possibility of landing an IT job when she travelled to Tokyo in December. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic having completely upended her life, the 24-year-old is out of options and looking to return to China.After graduating from college in the northeast Chinese city of Dalian last year, Zhu took a six-month training course in computer science and then went to Tokyo to receive language training in business Japanese at an IT outsourcing company, which offered IT…

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China’s plan for economic self-reliance to offset rising geopolitical risk ‘requires structural reform’

July 27, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s plan to focus more on its huge domestic market to drive the economy amid rising protectionism and geopolitical risk will achieve little without further reform, economists say.President Xi Jinping has in recent weeks called for greater economic self-reliance, including in a speech to Chinese business leaders and during a trip to the rust-belt province of Jilin, which borders North Korea.Faced with headwinds from the coronavirus pandemic and rising China-US tensions, Xi has said China…

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China’s plan for 2.5-day weekend to aid coronavirus-hit economy met with mixed reactions

July 23, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Plans to introduce 2.5-day weekends across China in a bid to encourage tourism and spending to aid the coronavirus-hit economy have been met with mixed reactions.At least half a dozen provinces have so far encouraged companies to give staff an extended weekend, but only a few cities have responded with detailed plans.China’s retail sales plunged by 11.4 per cent from a year earlier in the first half of the year, while the tourism sector has also been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak as well…

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Could China’s stock market rally, direct subsidies help boost sluggish consumer spending?

July 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]While trade and investment helped China’s economy return to positive growth in the second quarter, weak income expansion and job worries are still holding back households from spending, with no improvement in sight.In the first half of the year, total per capita disposable income dropped 1.3 per cent from a year earlier after adjusting for inflation, while the income loss for urban residents was higher at 2 per cent, according to official data.Breakdowns of income sources showed that net…

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China job market improves marginally in June, dashing hopes of V-shaped rebound even as economy returns to growth

July 16, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s job market, even by official figures, showed only marginal improvement in June with one out of five people in their early 20s being unemployed, despite a sharp second quarter rebound in gross domestic output from a 6.8 per cent contraction in the first three months of the year.The official surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas dropped to 5.7 per cent at the end of June, from a reading of 5.9 per cent at the end of May and a peak of 6.2 per cent at the end of February, according to…

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China’s Chongqing halts release of monthly birth data due to ‘unfair’ foreign media coverage

July 9, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]“Unfair” foreign media coverage has been blamed for one of the only local governments in China that released monthly data on new births halting the practice.The Chinese provincial level municipality of Chongqing, an economic powerhouse in southwestern China which is home to some 30 million residents, suspended the release of the data earlier this year.Official national birth figures are only published annually at the beginning of each year, meaning Chongqing was one of only a handful of local…

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China power firms suspend publication of coal data, frustrating analysis of industrial production

July 8, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The publication of daily coal consumption data from China’s main power companies, which is widely used by economists to gauge industrial output and broad economic activity, has been suspended after the electricity providers stopped reporting their numbers.The decision to stop releasing data for five major power generation groups, which between them supply information from 56 coal-fired power plants, comes as analysts scramble for clues about the speed of China’s economic recovery following the…

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Coronavirus: Chinese consumers less willing to splurge, casting shadow over second quarter rebound

July 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Alex Shi had been eyeing a 400 yuan (US$57) rice cooker online for weeks, but she eventually abandoned the purchase after considering her cash balance for the rest of the year.Shi, who takes freelance jobs in media and communication in Beijing, has felt increasing pressure on her income during the pandemic after some firms slashed their freelance budgets. With many of her projects having uncertain payment dates, she stopped buying big-ticket items, including cellphones and household appliances,…

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Coronavirus: China tweaks graduate employment rate to include students who find ‘work’ as gamers, bloggers

July 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has expanded the definition of “employed” for 8.7 million fresh college graduates to cover those that open online shops, play competitive online games or have blogs, as part of an effort to boost the employment rate amid the coronavirus pandemic.The Ministry of Education ordered universities at the end of June to take note of the new criteria when reporting the employment rate of graduates, according to an official note published by many institutions.The change comes as the world’s second…

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China manufacturers struggling to keep up with surge in global bike demand amid coronavirus fears

July 3, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Fears of taking public transport amid the coronavirus pandemic have led to increased demand for bicycles, and while other products are struggling due to a lack of consumption, the boom has outstripped production capacity in China.In May, China exported 4.6 million bikes, up 11.4 per cent from a year earlier, reversing a decline of 19 per cent in April, according to China customs data.China’s production of bikes in May increased by 44.6 per cent from a year earlier to 4.25 million units,…

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