Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • A team of experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally arrived in Wuhan on Thursday. Once the 10-member delegation complete their 14-day quarantine, they will be joined by specialists from China to conduct an investigation aimed at tracing the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan in December 2019.
  • The US has banned imports of cotton products and tomatoes from Xinjiang over “forced labour concerns”, its government announced. The Chinese authorities have long denied the allegations of labour camps, describing the programme as vocational training provided to combat the spread of Islamic extremism.
  • China’s trade surplus rose to a record $78.2 billion last month, above the previous high of $75.4 billion in November. Overcoming trade and political tensions with the US, exports grew 18.1% on a year earlier. It was the seventh consecutive month of export growth. Over 2020 as a whole, total imports and exports of goods expanded 1.9% from the previous year, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • The Shanghai Composite Index closed above the 3,600-point threshold for the first time in five years. The key index has climbed more than 15% over the past 12 months. Trading volumes continue to pick up, with turnover at the Shanghai bourse topping Rmb1 trillion for the eight consecutive sessions as of Wednesday, according to market data provider Wind.
  • PayPal is now the first third-party payment platform operating in China under 100% foreign ownership. Chinese media outlets reported this week that the US firm has acquired the remaining 30% stake in Gopay that it didn’t already own. Other details of the deal were not immediately known. Alibaba’s Alipay and its archrival Tencent’s WeChat Pay control more than 90% of the mobile payments market in China.
  • Artificial intelligence firm Megvii Technology plans to go public on Shanghai’s STAR Market, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on Thursday, as the Beijing-based unicorn began pre-IPO tutoring from its listing sponsors. Megvii filed for a Hong Kong IPO in August 2019 but the plan lapsed after the facial recognition player was blacklisted by the US government. Other AI unicorns including SenseTime, Titu and Cloud Walk are also working on a STAR debut, newspaper CBN reports.
  • Washington has stepped back from banning US investment in Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Known by the acronym BAT, the Chinese internet trio have built long-standing relationships with American investors. The Wall Street Journal reported that the plan was scrapped after intervention from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Nevertheless, the outgoing Trump administration still added another nine Chinese firms (including Xiaomi) to its investor blacklist on Thursday.
  • 1 million Number of Switch consoles shipped in China since its launch at the end of 2019, exceeding the combined sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One in the same period. That means the Japanese firm – partnering with Tencent – has become China’s largest console device maker, says Niko Partners, a consultancy.
  • Rmb4.2 billion Commitments to a biomedicine fund run by the private equity arm of CICC at its second closing, topping up on the Rmb1.6 billion raised in the fund’s first closing last February. Launched in late 2019, the Hong Kong-based vehicle has invested in over 20 start-ups, of which several are preparing for an IPO. Jacobio Pharmaceuticals, which went public in Hong Kong last month is one of its portfolio firms.
  • 6,500 fuel cell systems Potential annual capacity of a new production plant set to be built by Hyundai Motor Group in Guangdong, Reuters reports. Construction of the South Korean firm’s first fuel cell system facility outside its home market will begin in March, with completion aimed for the second half of 2022.

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