Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • The People’s Bank of China cut its benchmark lending rate again on Thursday, slashing the one-year loan prime rate by 10 basis points to 3.7%. Earlier this week the Chinese central bank said it would ready more policy tools to maintain a stable money supply until downward pressure on the economy is reduced.
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping has warned other governments not to raise interest rates too aggressively themselves. “If major economies slam on the brakes or take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers”, he told a virtual session of the 2022 World Economic Forum. Analysts expect the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates three times this year – the tightening cycle could begin as early as March.
  • According to a poll on Sina Weibo, more than 65% of 20,000 surveyed Chinese internet users believe that Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of US game developer Activision Blizzard will make online gaming more exciting. It also means more competition for Tencent, Sina Finance said, as the deal will make Microsoft the third biggest player behind Tencent and Sony. The planned takeover will require the approval of Chinese antitrust regulators as well, Sina Finance noted.
  • The market value of Macau’s top casino operators jumped as much as 15% on Monday, Reuters reported, on news that the world’s leading gambling hub will retain limits for its casino licences to six holders. However, the duration of the licences will be halved to 10 years. with no more than three years of extension. The existing licences of the six incumbents are set to expire by June this year.
  • CATL has launched its first battery swap service Evogo. The battery maker will trial run the service in 10 cities for an electric vehicle produced by FAW Group. The Shenzhen-listed firm has joined other Chinese firms including carmaker NIO and State Power Investment Corp in launching a battery swap service. A more flexible model could pose a serious threat to the more conventional recharging arrangements adopted by the likes of Tesla.
  • China has advised Japan that it is considering a ceremony in September to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of relations between the two nations, Kyodo News reported. Citing diplomats, Kyodo said the move underlines Beijing’s focus on repairing bilateral relations, with senior Chinese officials expected to attend in person. The event – to be held in China – could still be moved online should the pandemic worsen, the news agency added.
  • 8.1% China’s full year GDP growth, which came in over a government target of “above 6%” for 2021. Fourth quarter growth was 4%, which was down from 4.9% in the third quarter.
  • 30% Rise in Chinese exports in 2021 to $3.36 trillion, with China’s trade surplus reaching a record of $676 billion, up 26% on the year. “The data highlighted China’s dominance of global trade during the coronavirus era,” the Financial Times commented.
  • 10.62 million Number of babies born in China in 2021, an 11.5% drop from 2020. Mainland China’s population was 1.4126 billion, increasing by less than half a million when the death rate is taken into account. Natural population growth dropped to 0.34 per thousand, the first time that rate has dropped below 1 per thousand, pointing to a rapid aging of the population.
  • 24 Number of Chinese cities last year whose GDP exceeded Rmb1 trillion ($157 billion). Last year Dongguan in Guangdong province became the latest city to reach that milestone, according to the China Daily. Beijing also became the first Chinese city to reach Rmb4 trillion.

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