Elaine Chan

Elaine Chan

Elaine is a contributor to Inkstone. She is a reporter focusing on China business and finance for the South China Morning Post.

China can make 20 million masks per day. That’s not enough
China is experiencing a severe shortage of facial masks used to contain the spread of coronavirus, as surging demand has emptied shelves across the country and led to shortages from Tokyo to Toronto. The supply gap has been muddied by rampant panic buying, reports of government rationing and soaring prices. Even hospitals are appealing for donations, highlighting a worrying shortage amid an outbreak that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency. The disease, which has killed at least 560 people and infected more than 27,000 in China, is spread primarily through droplets from coughs and sneezes and contact with infected surfaces, though researchers say it cou
Can Beijing afford to lose Hong Kong?
As Beijing has whipped up the vitriol against Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters and exerted pressure on companies to act against “offenders,” it has also instituted a plan to elevate neighboring Shenzhen into a model city that it hopes will lead the nation into its next level of development. Beijing’s conflicting narratives for the two cities that share a border may fuel speculation that if Hong Kong does not soon toe the line, it runs the risk of being replaced by Shenzhen as the financial heart of the Greater Bay Area. But in reality, it would be a tall order for Shenzhen to pull even as a financial center, let alone overtake Hong Kong. Unlike Shenzhen, an emerging global technology h
A crop-eating pest is threatening China’s food supply
A rapidly spreading pest is threatening to further ravage China’s domestic food security within the next two months. The fall armyworm, which grows up to be a moth, has already affected farms in southern China, and could hit the country’s crop-growing heartlands in the north and northeast as temperatures rise. It increases the risks to crop production, at a time when trade tariffs are restricting China’s ability to purchase American agriculture products as replacements. To compound matters, China’s food supply was already under pressure after it was forced to slaughter millions of pigs with African swine fever affecting all 31 autonomous regions and provinces within just nine months, trimmin
China’s rust belt is struggling to regain life
For more than a century, coal was the center of life for the residents of Fushun, 30 miles from the Liaoning provincial capital of Shenyang, earning the city the nickname “capital of coal.” But with viable reserves exhausted and a lack of technology and money to safely operate deeper underground, its mines have been closing down one by one over the past two decades, leading to the neglect and eventual abandonment of the neighborhoods around them in northeastern China Of Fushun’s four main mines, Shengli was the first to shut, followed by the Longfeng mine. Last year, the city’s coal production fell to 5.83 million tons, a fraction of what was produced in its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. I
Can China fulfill its semiconductor dream?
For years, China’s dependence on foreign oil was its Achilles’ heel. But now the country’s weakness lies in semiconductors – the tiny chips that act as the “brains” of everything from smartphones to the most sophisticated supercomputers and driverless cars. China’s huge manufacturing industry makes it the world’s biggest consumer of chips – but only 16% of them are made at home. Last year, the country spent $260 billion on chip imports: much more than the $162 billion that went on crude oil, a commodity that once seen as a source of strategic frailty for China because of its dependence on foreign supplies. Now that sense of frailty has been transferred to the chip industry, spurring renewed