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Business

Jack Ma donates one million masks to America
The first shipment of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s donation of 1 million masks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the United States arrived in the US on Monday morning. The supplies, which will be distributed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were purchased in China since its factories have gradually resumed production. The shipment of a second batch will depend on availability, said a spokesman at the Jack Ma Foundation. Ma is the co-founder of Alibaba, which owns Inkstone.  The US is facing a shortage of kits for diagnosing the deadly contagion, which has led to widespread criticism of the federal government for its slowness in preparedness and response.  Publ
China's economy fell off a cliff during coronavirus lockdown
The coronavirus’ impact on China’s economy was made plain in new numbers released on Monday, which showed a collapse across the board. Strict containment efforts, including the full-scale lockdown of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first reported, has led analysts to downgrade their outlook for the Chinese economy, with most now expecting a historic contraction in the first quarter. On Monday, newly released economic data points fell dramatically further than analysts had predicted. For example, retail sales,  a key metric of consumption in the world’s second-largest economy, fell by 20.5%, the first decline on record.  The median forecast of a group of analysts, conducted by Bloomberg
How face masks are reminding the world of China's manufacturing dominance
The Liu family factory has been making diapers and baby products in the Chinese city of Quanzhou for over 10 years. In February, for the first time, it started making face masks, as demand soared spectacularly due to the coronavirus outbreak. The business – which employs 100 people in the southeastern province of Fujian – has added two production lines to make up to 200,000 masks a day. And while the decision was primarily commercial, “encouragement” from the Chinese government – in the form of subsidies, lower taxes, interest-free loans, fast-track approvals for expansion and help to alleviate labor shortages – made the decision an obvious one, said Mr Liu, who preferred only to give his fa
China has one month to stop foreign firms from fleeing, report says
China has less than a month to prevent businesses from leaving the country in droves because of the coronavirus epidemic, according to the latest estimate by government scientists. Labor-intensive and high-tech manufacturing industries could be among the first to leave if Beijing failed to contain the spread of the virus by the end of the month, the experts said in a report published on Monday in the Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Professor Wang Shouyang, chief forecast scientist at the government research body and a co-author of the report, used a mathematical model to predict the impact of the epidemic on the global value chain. The risk of China losing jobs not only existed
China’s economy could shrink for the first time since Mao died
The odds are rising that China will report a sharp deceleration in growth – or even a contraction in the first quarter as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. The outbreak has paralyzed the country’s manufacturing and service sectors, putting Beijing in the difficult position of either forgoing its economic growth goal for 2020 or returning to its old playbook of massive debt-fuelled economic stimulus to support growth. The first available economic indicators showing the extent of the economic damage done by the epidemic have prompted economists to slash their Chinese growth forecasts. Several are even expecting the once-unthinkable scenario in which China’s economy posts a zero growth rate
Frog farmers make appeal to keep their livelihoods from croaking
Frog breeders in southern China have appealed to authorities to allow them to keep rearing the animals despite a national ban on the wildlife trade triggered by the coronavirus epidemic. “The government’s forestry department has banned the trading of all wild animals, including our 11,000 tons of domesticated [East Asian bullfrogs]. Where do we go from here?” wrote a group of breeders from Jiangmen in the southern province of Guangdong. It included the names and phone numbers of more than 100 signatories. “Frog farming is no longer a source of living. The government asked us to try something else. What are we capable of doing?” they said, adding that the industry employed 10,000 people in on
Bad mood, long hours, crying babies: China’s crash course on remote work
For nearly a month, millions of people in China have had no choice but to work from home as authorities have locked down cities and restricted traffic to contain the coronavirus outbreak. It has been a jarring transition in a country where remote work policy is a novelty in many businesses. Mercer, an American human resources consultancy, said about half of the 516 companies it surveyed in China asked their employees to work remotely after restarting operation this month. “For many companies in China, this is the first time they had to experience that, without a remote working policy already in place,” said Renee McGowan, CEO of Mercer Asia. This has resulted in something of a shock experim
Coronavirus has Chinese airlines offering tickets for the price of a latte
There’s never been a worse – or better – time to travel in China. The price of a one-way air ticket from coastal Shanghai to the inland megacity of Chongqing, a three-hour flight, has fallen to as low as the cost of a cup of coffee. Chinese airlines are slashing prices in a bid to boost weak domestic demand amid the coronavirus outbreak. The epidemic has led to the cancellation of around 10,000 flights a day, or around two-thirds of the total number of flights scheduled every day in February, putting huge financial pressure on airlines and airports. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a notice on Tuesday that flights should resume gradually as part of the country’s efforts to
China wants to resume production. The problem? There are no workers
Provincial governments in China’s east coast manufacturing hubs have begun arranging buses, trains and flights to bring migrant workers back to factories as the country desperately tries to restart production halted by the coronavirus outbreak. Local authorities have been urged by President Xi Jinping to kick-start economic activity after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, but many businesses are finding one key component missing – workers. At least two-thirds of China’s nearly 300 million migrant workers had not returned to their jobs as of last Friday, according to estimates from China’s transport ministry.  Passenger traffic has not picked up either, with only 13 million people recorded
Fashion brands no longer see Hong Kong as bridge to 1.4 billion consumers
Make it in Hong Kong and you might just break into China. This unofficial business plan has served international fashion brands well for the last decade. But in a shift that could prove seismic for the city’s fashion industry, brands with little to no presence in Greater China are increasingly bypassing Hong Kong and making Shanghai or Beijing their first port of call. As a city that European and American brands identify with in terms of culture, language and shopping habits, Hong Kong has long benefited from its reputation as a China-light launch pad. Lane Crawford, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, has long been the first stop for foreign designers hoping the crack the China code.  The