Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • The Chinese authorities have locked down Anyang, home to 5.5 million, after two cases of the Omicron variant were reported. The cities of Xi’an and Yuzhou have been through a similar process as the government battles to contain Covid-19 ahead of the Winter Olympics early next month. The National Health Commission reported 124 new locally transmitted cases, of which 76 were discovered in Henan province, where Anyang is situated.
  • Washington has criticised Beijing’s decision to block a growing number of passenger flights from the US. China this week ordered the suspension of six more incoming flights after a surge in passengers testing positive for Covid-19. Up to 70 route cancellations have been mandated this year, Reuters reported.
  • The State Council has rolled out a new plan to encourage the development of the digital economy in the 14th Five-Year Plan period. Digital industries such as artificial intelligence and 6G will account for 10% of the Chinese economy by 2025, up from 7.8% last year, the Chinese cabinet said.
  • Tencent is nearing a deal to acquire virtual reality handset maker Black Shark in an investment that could further the internet giant’s metaverse ambitions. A company controlled by Xiaomi invested Rmb11 million ($1.72 million) for a 22% stake in Black Shark in 2018, 36Kr reported.
  • Shimao Group says it is in talks with multiple investors about the sale of property projects to repay debts, although the real estate firm denied it is facing a liquidity crisis. China Credit Trust said last week that Shimao had defaulted on a trust product. R&F, another Hong Kong-listed developer, narrowly escaped default after creditors agreed to a six-month extension of repayment on a $750 million note due this week.
  • Marking its 35th anniversary in the Chinese market, KFC has teamed up with local toy firm Pop Mart to offer ‘blind boxes’ of limited edition figurines with its meals. However, the marketing move backfired when the China Consumers Association accused the fast-food giant from Kentucky of encouraging people to buy wasteful amounts of fried chicken. Some customers were spending more than Rmb10,000 ($1,571) in a single visit to buy for more than 100 boxes of chicken, just to get a full set of the figurines.
  • Rmb4 trillion Industrial output of Suzhou in 2021. Information technology, equipment manufacturing, biomedicine and advanced materials made up Rmb3.8 trillion ($595.9 billion) of the Jiangsu city’s industrial output, signalling a shift up the value chain, claims China Daily.
  • 10.76 million Number of college students expected to graduate this year, a record increase of 1.67 million.
  • Rmb300 billion Inflows of foreign investment into China’s A-share equity markets this year, according to an estimate by a top international fund manager.
  • Rmb2 trillion The size of a “Childbirth Fund” that prominent economist Ren Zeping (see WiC551) is proposing. The idea is to encourage 50 million additional births over the next decade to counter China’s expected population decline.

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