News roundup

  • John Kerry, the former US Secretary of State is visiting China from April 14 to 17 as a special envoy for American President Joe Biden, China’s foreign ministry said. Kerry will hold talks in Shanghai with Xie Zhenhua, the country’s special envoy for climate change. Separately, the South China Morning Post reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Earth Day virtual summit hosted by Biden next week. It is not clear whether Xi and Biden will hold online talks.
  • China has expressed “grave concern” about the Japanese plan to discharge over a million tonnes of radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the nearby sea. The US State Department put out a statement in support of Japan’s decision and Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Japan on Twitter “for its transparent efforts” in disposing of the contaminated water. Beijing called on Washington to respond “according to the facts” rather than be swayed by “the country that would make the move”.
  • China sent 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Monday, the largest drill of its type this year. A total of 239 Chinese military aircraft have flown into airspace claimed by Taiwan this year, the Taipei Times noted, with such flights occurring almost every day this month.
  • The State Council has urged local governments to clean up their LGFVs (local government financing vehicles ­– see WiC48 for our first mention of these entities in early 2010), demanding that failing platforms should restructure or be allowed to go bankrupt. LGFVs had more than Rmb30 trillion ($4.6 trillion) in interest-bearing debt as of the end of 2018, equating to 34% of the Chinese economy.
  • Zhejiang Geely, the parent firm of Volvo Cars and Hong Kong-listed automaker Geely, is in talks to sponsor a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that could raise $300 million in a Nasdaq listing, the Wall Street Journal reported. Geely won approval to go public in Shanghai’s STAR Market in September last year but the A-share listing plan now seems to have stalled. In February the group also called off a merger between Volvo and its Hong Kong-listed unit.
  • Huawei is already working on a 6G rollout in China, with rotating chairman Xu Zhijun promising to commercialise its 6G technology by 2030. Huawei will soon publish a whitepaper on 6G, which is expected to be 50 times faster than 5G in data transmission, allowing for another new generation of consumer and industrial applications.
  • 18.3% China’s growth in gross domestic product in the first quarter from a year earlier, a record, led by strong pick up in industrial output and exports. Domestic consumption is also gathering pace, with retail sales jumping 34% year-on-year in March.
  • $520.6 billion Foreign investment into China last year, up 81% from 2019, said the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. Foreign direct investment rose 14% while the securities market saw net inflows of $254.7 billion, representing a 73% year-on-year increase.
  • 10,000-tonne Weight of Taiwan’s first amphibious warship, which can be used to land troops on vulnerable islets and bolster supply lines. The Yu Shan is named after the island’s tallest mountain. The home-built ship is expected to enter service next year.
  • Rmb1.1 billion ($168 million) SF Holdings’ estimate of its net loss in the first quarter. The delivery firm blamed the red ink on a slowdown in its corporate delivery services, which accounted for nearly 40% of its turnover, due to the widespread adoption of digital invoices.

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