News roundup

  • Vanke has applied to regulators to sell bonds that would allow one of China’s biggest developer by sales to raise up to Rmb28 billion ($3.9 billion) next year, CBN newspaper has reported. Bank of Communications has also agreed to provide a Rmb100 billion credit line to Vanke as lenders start to resume financial support to property firms in healthier financial condition.
  • Assets at foreign banks in China have increased by 30% since 2017, Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, told the 2022 Financial Street Forum. The assets of foreign insurance companies have expanded by nearly 120% in the same period, Guo added, saying that the opening up of the financial markets to international firms is still a major policy objective.
  • Disney’s Avatar: the Way of Water is set to be released in China on December 16. The long-awaited sequel is one of the few Hollywood blockbusters to be approved for release this year in the Chinese market. The Wall Street Journal also reported that seven of Disney’s Marvel films have failed to get similar approvals in China. That’s led to speculation that the decision to screen the Avatar sequel could be connected to a minor improvement in the political mood after the meeting earlier this month in Bali between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, the US president.
  • Chinese cinema operators are still struggling commercially because of the reduced flow of releases and in situations where cities continue to impose social distancing controls as part of the zero-Covid policy (see page 7). Some operators have instead been offering “resting services” for people who want to have a nap over their lunch hour, CBN reported. Only 289 movies were released this year, compared with 495 in the same period in 2021, as studios wait for better release windows in the hope of a relaxation in Covid policies.
  • There have been violent clashes at the factory of Apple’s main contractor Foxconn in Zhengzhou. Citing video footage that is being shared online, hundreds of workers could be seen throwing bricks at riot police, the South China Morning Post reported. Another video showed workers destroying Covid testing kiosks. In a statement, the Taiwanese firm confirmed there had been protests at the factory as “some new hires” complained about work allowances. It is the latest bad news about labour disruption at the key Apple factory because of zero-Covid policies.
  • At least 38 people were killed in a fire at an industrial trading firm in Henan’s Anyang city. Investigators said the deadly blaze was caused by sparks from welding work, that ignited cotton material stored in a warehouse. Four people have been detained by investigators following the fatal accident.
  • 480,000 Population growth in China last year, taking the total population to 1.41 billion, although 13 provinces and municipalities saw population declines, including Jiangsu, Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin. The birth rate was 7.52 per 1,000 people, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1949.
  • Rmb6 billion Net income at JD.com in the last quarter, ending in September. This was on sales of Rmb243.5 billion ($34 billion), up 11% on the same period last year. The results from China’s second biggest online retailer are indicative that shoppers are spending despite the economy slowing. The figures do not include the contribution from the Singles’ Day shopping bonanza held on November 11.
  • 1.5 million square metres Combined area of 11 plots of land that China Evergrande has surrendered in the city of Wuhan, having failed to develop them. Wuhan’s Planning and Natural Resources Bureau announced that the real estate had been taken back with no compensation paid to Evergrande. The heavily indebted developer paid Rmb5.6 billion for the land in 2018 and said it would be developing an area called Evergrande Technology Tourism City.
  • 98% Percentage of taxable goods that can be imported into China (from January) with zero tariffs from 10 impoverished countries, including Afghanistan and Benin.

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