Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • About 100 angry investors stormed the lobby of China Evergrande’s Shenzhen headquarters this week to demand repayment of their investment in financial products. The Hong Kong-listed developer insisted that speculation about an imminent bankruptcy was untrue, although it confessed in a stock market filing that talks on asset disposals, including the sale of its Hong Kong head office, have made no material progress. Two of its units have also failed to discharge obligations for Rmb934 million ($145 million) worth of wealth management products. In a sign that a restructuring is around the corner, Evergrande said it had appointed advisors to “assess the group’s capital structure”. Their contact details were published in the circular for creditors.
  • Citizens in major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen were told a drill simulating an air strike alarm will be carried out on Saturday September 18. The air-raid warning will fill the air across the cities in three-minute intervals in the morning. The test is being carried out to “enhance national defence awareness” and raise the populace’s knowledge about air strikes and aid their preparations for missile attacks. It will only be held in suburban areas and residents can carry on with their usual activities afterwards, the Global Times reported.
  • China’s central government is planning to break up Alipay, the payment gateway operated by Alibaba’s Ant Group, and force the internet firm to spin off a separate app supporting its loan business, the Financial Times has reported. Regulators will also require Ant to turn over the credit data of its customers to a new entity that would be partly state-owned. Ant won’t be the only online lender affected by the new rules, the FT said.
  • In another crackdown on anti-competitive practices, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has ordered internet firms to stop blocking links to content and services on rival platforms. The move has won applause from internet users, who hope to move more freely between the previous ‘walled gardens’ of popular apps such as Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Taobao as well as Bytedance’s Douyin.
  • Senator Marco Rubio and other US politicians have called on President Joe Biden to sack armed forces Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mark Milley after revelations that Milley made two calls to his Chinese counterpart General Li Zuocheng in the closing days of Donald Trump’s presidency to reassure Li that the US wasn’t on a war footing. The calls were first reported in the forthcoming book Peril by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
  • Megvii Technology has been given the green light to proceed with an IPO on Shanghai’s STAR Market. The artificial intelligence unicorn plans to raise as much as Rmb6 billion.
  • $18 billion Losses in market value of Macau’s casino operators on Wednesday, equivalent to a third of their worth, following the announcement of a 45-day consultation period on the gaming industry ahead of the licence renewals process next year. Wynn Macau led the plunge with a 34% decline to a record low, followed by a 28% tumble for Sands China.
  • 20% Decline in China’s home sales by value in August from a year earlier, the biggest fall since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, reported Bloomberg. New-home prices in 70 cities rose 0.16% from July, the slowest pace this year. Prices in the secondary market dropped for the first time since February 2020, down 0.02% from a month earlier.
  • 1.56 trillion minutes Time that Chinese users spent on Ximalaya, a Shanghai-based online audio platform, in 2020. In its Hong Kong IPO prospectus the company said that it had 262 million monthly active users as of June, of which 80% are under the age of 40.
  • Rmb12.1 billion ($1.9 billion) Investment in Big Data centres and associated industries during the first seven months in Guiyang, capital of the southwestern province of Guizhou, according to the municipal government.

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