China business and economy

China business and economy

China’s rapid growth has created wealth for millions and an irresistible pull for companies and nations alike.

Widow of executed hawker awaits the return of China’s street vendors
On May 16, 2009, Xia Junfeng was selling deep-fried skewers out of his illegal street cart in the northeastern city of Shenyang when two officers confiscated his gas cylinder and took the hawker back to their office. What happened next is disputed: Xia said he was beaten by the two, who were members of a para-police force tasked with keeping order in cities, also known as chengguan. But the police said they found no evidence of such abuse. There were no witnesses or surveillance footage to confirm what happened in the room. What is clear is that at some point Xia, then 32 years old, got his hands on a small knife and stabbed the two officers and a driver who entered the room later. The two o
China’s youth had it good. Then the pandemic struck
(This story has been corrected. For details, see the note at the end of the story.) Su Yuxin has always looked forward to graduation. The 21-year-old dreams of making it as a hip-hop music producer. When she landed an internship at a famed music label in Beijing, she was excited to move on from her life in a lesser-known university in southern China. Now, with a pandemic weighing on the global economy, millions of students like Su have bigger things to fret about than being unable to land a dream job out of the gate. Her internship at the music label ended abruptly in February when her employer laid off all interns in response to a new coronavirus that was spreading across the country. “The
Japanese firms say no to leaving China despite Tokyo’s subsidies
The Japanese government is handing out subsidies to companies willing to move their supply chains away from China, but analysts say it will unlikely result in any large-scale exodus. As part of a record stimulus package unveiled amid the coronavirus pandemic and designed to keep the national economy afloat, the Japanese government has earmarked 220 billion yen ($2 billion) for companies that want to move production back to Japan. The diversification program also provides a further 23.5 billion yen ($219.5 million) for firms that want to shift manufacturing to Southeast Asia. But all five Japanese companies contacted by the South China Morning Post said they intended to continue to manufactur
With a poor social safety net, is China prepared to handle a job crisis?
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown tens of millions out of work in China, piling pressure on the country’s patchy social welfare network and creating a major policy challenge for Beijing. While the Chinese government has vowed to handle the sharp rise in unemployment, some economists have warned that the structural changes in the economy that helped absorb waves of unemployed in the past are no longer present to help in the current situation. A failure to revive the services sector and private businesses, which account for the vast majority of jobs, could darken China’s economic future and undermine the Communist Party’s narrative that its model of governance will lead China to a great reju
Migrant workers struggle to find jobs as pandemic hits China’s factories
At a suburb area in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, hundreds of migrant workers were standing, sitting or squatting next to a temporary bus stop, with their bags, suitcases, kitchen items, sewing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners.  They were not fleeing a natural disaster, but a sluggish manufacturing industry that could not offer the jobs they had before the coronavirus pandemic.  Some had arrived in the manufacturing hub in southern China from Hubei province, where lockdowns have been lifted over the past weeks. They had quickly made the decision to leave, as the economic opportunities they had arrived in search of no longer existed. The scramble for labor as China sought
Inside China’s race to sell coronavirus testing kits to the world
As the horror of the coronavirus outbreak in China was unfolding over January’s Lunar New Year holiday, a group of technicians were holed up in a Nanjing facility with a supply of instant noodles, working long hours to develop testing kits for diagnosing the virus. Already at that point, the coronavirus had ripped through the city of Wuhan and was spreading rapidly around China. A handful of diagnostic tests had already been approved by the central government in Beijing, but hundreds of firms in China were still scrambling to develop new ones. “I did not think about applying for approvals in China,” said Zhang Shuwen, founder of Nanjing Liming Bio-products. “The application takes too much ti
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’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
Global trade was breaking down. Then came the coronavirus
The still-evolving coronavirus outbreak has already disrupted trade and economic performance both regionally and globally. Perhaps the most insidious impact of the virus stems from China’s pre-eminent position as a producer of intermediary products that feed into global supply chains. China accounts for almost one-fifth of world manufacturing and Chinese intermediary products are predominant in the electronics, car, machinery and textile sectors. Subtracting Chinese inputs from these supply chains will, in some instances, cause production to grind to a halt, as has been the case for Hyundai Motor in South Korea. In other instances, alternative or workaround solutions will be found but they w