Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held a video conference on Wednesday telling senior officials of local governments they have to follow the State Council’s policies so that the economy grows “within an appropriate range” in the second quarter. Difficulties in March and April in particular, Li said, are to a certain extent greater than those experienced in 2020 when China was hit by the initial Covid-19 outbreak. Nearly 100,000 officials are said to have joined the online meeting.
  • The decision to reinforce the ‘zero-Covid’ policy was the “worst mistake” of President Xi Jinping, warned veteran investor George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Coming on top of the real estate crisis, the damage will be so great that it will affect the global economy,” he said. “With the disruption of supply chains, global inflation is liable to turn into global depression.”
  • Airbnb will shut down its listings in China after two years of Covid lockdowns and with “no end in sight” for travel restrictions in many cities, CNN reported. The New York-listed firm won’t suspend operations in the country entirely, with a focus on outbound travellers and global projects.
  • Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong will fly to Fiji on Thursday as she races to stop the signing of more Solomons-style security deals between China and Pacific nations. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit eight Pacific island states in the next 10 days. Reuters said the Chinese will be looking for a region-wide deal with almost a dozen Pacific islands covering policing, security and data communications when Wang hosts a meeting in Fiji next week.
  • BYD is planning to launch a luxury SUV in the first half of 2023 at a retail price of between Rmb800,000 and Rmb1.5 million, reported OFweek, a news portal. That would mark the battery and electric vehicle maker’s first attempt to take a position in a luxury car segment that has been dominated by foreign brands. BYD could cooperate with Huawei to deploy the telecom equipment firm’s Harmony operating system, OFweek said.
  • The leather jacket that Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun: Maverick is set to become popular in Taiwan after the sequel to the 1986 Hollywood classic showed Captain ‘Maverick’ donning a jacket bearing a Taiwanese flag (as well as a Japanese one), Taipei Times reported. Across the Taiwan Strait, however, Chinese media outlets said the jacket’s design added to the likelihood that Top Gun: Maverick won’t be screened in mainland cinemas.
  • 77.7% Percentage of smartphones sold in the first quarter that were 5G, or 53.88 million units. Overall smartphone shipments were down 29.2% in the first three months of the year, according to the China Academy of Information and Telecommunications Technology. China’s 5G phone users have reached 413 million.
  • 825km Length of the new rail link between Hotan in Xinjiang and Ruoqiang in the Mongolian autonomous prefecture of Bayingolin. The line cost Rmb22.1 billion ($3.28 billion) and completes a loop of the Taklamakan Desert in northwestern China.
  • 10.76 million Expected number of college graduates in 2022. The total number of Chinese in the population who have been through higher education has now reached 240 million.
  • 28,608 The number of Tencent employees aged under 30, making up 42% of the internet conglomerate’s workforce.

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