Sidney Leng

Sidney Leng

Reporter, China Economy

Sidney Leng is a contributor to Inkstone. He covers the Chinese economy for the South China Morning Post.

Location
Hong Kong
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
China news, economics
Avengers can’t save China’s box office from Beijing’s tightening grip
Tougher regulations and a lackluster performance by imported films saw China’s box office revenues grow last year at the slowest rate in over a decade, according to official data. The world’s fastest-growing film market generated box office revenues of $9.2 billion in 2019, up 5.4% from a year earlier. But it was the second consecutive year that China’s box office growth slowed. Revenue from Chinese films expanded by 8.7% in 2019. Revenue from overseas produced films, however, rose only by 0.1%.  Of the overseas produced films, only Avengers: Endgame and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw appeared on China’s top 10 list for 2019. Hollywood blockbusters now contribute only around a th
Avengers can’t save China’s box office from Beijing’s tightening grip
China is struggling to break reliance on old economy
As China battles a trade war-fuelled economic slowdown, one of its main growth engines – the “new economy” – is stalling. The “new economy” has never been officially defined, but it is a concept loosely applied to a wide range of industries, from artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing to fintech and web-based tourism. Beijing had hoped these industries would propel China from a traditional economy powered by unsustainable infrastructure investment and low-end manufacturing to a modern services-based economy. New research suggests this is not happening. Compared to 2014, the share of Chinese companies concentrated in the new economy has fallen.  Those companies that are in the ne
China is struggling to break reliance on old economy
One of China’s most expensive cities is focusing on public housing
As weekly protests have continued to rock Hong Kong, the city’s authorities have pinned down one thing more than any other as the economic cause of the unrest: unaffordable housing. Across the border from the semi-autonomous city, the southern tech hub of Shenzhen in mainland China is trying to avoid its neighbor’s woes. Hong Kong has the world's most unaffordable property prices. Shenzhen is eschewing Hong Kong's housing model in favor of a system that focuses on affordable public housing. As part of its latest housing reform, the municipal government this week published a rule setting a benchmark land price across the city and stipulating that land sold for subsidized housing should be pri
One of China’s most expensive cities is focusing on public housing
Why are Chinese suddenly buying more instant noodles?
The sharp recovery of instant noodle sales in China has reinforced debate over a controversial economic topic: are consumers downgrading their consumption due to fears about the outlook? The answer is important because the Chinese government is counting on consumer spending to help support the economy amid the trade war with the United States. If consumers hold back on their spending, it could mean growth may slow faster than expected. Consumption of instant noodles in mainland China and Hong Kong started falling after 2014, partly because cheap takeaway meals became cheaper thanks to heavy subsidies from food delivery start-ups.  However, instant noodle sales last year rose back to more tha
Why are Chinese suddenly buying more instant noodles?
Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream, and the nightmare of a ‘triple threat’
The gigantic bazaar in Baigou, Hebei province has 216 escalators. There, shoppers can browse more than 10,000 stores and, for the cost of a movie ticket, buy a handbag that looks like a Louis Vuitton or Gucci original. The bazaar, officially known as the Hedao International Trade Center for Cases and Bags, symbolizes the northern Chinese town’s dream of finding a place in the global trading landscape. Around two hours south of Beijing, Baigou’s effort to put itself on the map has come a long way. According to the town’s local history archive, the collective commune system in rural China imposed in the 1950s wiped out traditional trading, resulting in famine and catastrophe. The daily grain r
Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream, and the nightmare of a ‘triple threat’
Chinese are buying fewer and fewer cars
Auto sales in the world’s most populous country fell for 13 months since last July. They are expected to keep falling. The slowing sales of vehicles in the world’s largest auto market is not just bad news for automakers worldwide. It is also a sign that the US-China trade war and a slowing economy are weighing on Chinese consumers. “There are a series of reasons for stalled sales: tighter terms for vehicle financing, the increased popularity of ride-sharing and a heightened environmental sensibility,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist from the financial services firm Northern Trust. “But a more tenuous economic outlook is also at play. No matter the country, households don’t extend thems
Chinese are buying fewer and fewer cars
Why China sent empty cargo containers by railway to Europe
Widespread waste and fraud associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been revealed after the country’s state railway group admitted that a significant amount of cargo containers shuttling between China and Europe were empty. The admission by the state-run China Railway, the sole operator of the lines, followed an investigation by the Chinese Business Journal, which found that in one extreme case only one of 41 containers on a particular train actually carried goods. The belt and road plan, masterminded by President Xi Jinping, is the central government’s initiative to link economies into a China-centred trading network to grow global trade. This led to many local governments rushi
Why China sent empty cargo containers by railway to Europe
China’s GDP growth slows to record low
China’s economic growth has slowed to the lowest pace on record, as the protracted trade war with the United States continued to haunt the world’s second-largest economy. The country’s GDP grew by 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019 compared with the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.  It’s the weakest growth since Beijing first started publishing quarterly data in 1992. Even during the global financial crisis in 2009, China’s quarterly GDP growth did not dip below 6.4%.  Following three decades of unbridled growth, China’s economic slowdown is being closely watched globally. There are worries that a sharp drop in economic growth could hurt China's trade
China’s GDP growth slows to record low
Officials faked economic data and tried covering their tracks
Officials in a central Chinese city have been found to have gone to extraordinary lengths to fake economic data and try to cover their tracks. The National Bureau of Statistics said that the city, Guanghan, told census staff to create a system that required towns and industrial estates to provide data “matched” to a predetermined target for overall gross domestic product. Bad data obscures the real picture of the health of the economy and could mislead policymakers and investors alike, sometimes to disastrous effect. Guanghan (population 600,000) is no big town, but it provides a useful case study of why and how economic numbers could be fudged in China. In 2018, Guanghan reported that its e
Officials faked economic data and tried covering their tracks
Someone is winning the trade war, and it’s not the US (or China)
Vietnam has gained most from the shift in supply chains triggered by a nearly year-long trade war between China and the United States, according to a report by Japanese investment bank Nomura. The bank studied trade data for the world’s 50 biggest economies, spanning from the first quarter of 2018 to the first three months of 2019, to gauge the extent of trade diversions – the redirection of goods to avoid paying duties. Trade diversions by importers from the US and China have resulted in a boost to Vietnam’s economy of almost 8%. The majority of Vietnam’s gains came from additional imports of goods covered by US tariffs on China, mainly electronic apparatus for telephones, furniture, and au
Someone is winning the trade war, and it’s not the US (or China)