Hi everyone. I’m Stephanie LI.
Coming up on today’s program.
China has downgraded Covid management level and will end quarantine requirement for inbound travelers from Jan.8;
China updates 2021 GDP growth to 8.4%.
Here’s what you need to know about China in the past 24 hours
China will drop quarantine requirements for all passengers arriving from outside of the country’s borders starting on January 8, 2023, its top health authority announced Monday, in a major step toward opening up the country’s borders that have been largely shut for the last three years.
Travelers entering China from abroad will no longer need to apply for a Health Code from China’s embassies overseas, but they will still need to have a negative nucleic acid test result within 48 hours before departure, the health authority said. Upon arrival, travelers also don’t need to get tested.
The country will also scrap all other restrictive Covid measures for travelers, including quarantines for positive patients and contact tracing.
Authorities said the new policy is part of a new way China plans to manage Covid. China downgraded Covid management to a less-strict “Class B disease”, and will also call Covid an “infection” instead of “pneumonia.” The change is “more in line with the current characteristics and danger level of this disease,” the National Health Commission said in a late night statement.
The NHC also vowed to resume outbound tourism for Chinese citizens in an orderly manner, depending on the international Covid situation and the capacity of various domestic services.
Data from travel platform Qunar.com showed that search volume for international air tickets increased by 7 times within 15 minutes after the new policies were unveiled, while booking for international flights surged by five times within one hour, and most of flights will depart in mid-January to early February of 2023, with popular destinations being Thailand, Japan and South Korea. The search volume for overseas tour groups during the 2023 Spring Festival holidays jumped by six times, according to anther online platform Ctrip.
The booking volume of international hotels has gradually increased since December. Among them, Macau, Hong Kong, and overseas countries with visa-free policies are the first choice for domestic tourists, according to data from Qunar.com. The booking for Philippines hotels has more than doubled.
The demand for inbound flight ticket also spikes. The Alibaba-backed booking site Fliggy said Tuesday searches for inbound flight tickets reached its highest level in nearly three years.
China's GDP increased 8.4 percent to 114.92 trillion yuan in 2021, according to the updated data of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday. The bureau has recently carried out the final verification of last year's GDP data and updated the number, which is up by 556.7 billion yuan compared with the preliminary number released in January, the bureau said on Tuesday.
Profits of China's major industrial firms declined 3.6 percent year on year in the first 11 months of the year, data from the NBS showed Tuesday. Industrial firms saw their combined profits reach about 7.72 trillion yuan in the period, the NBS said. "In November, industrial production slowed down, and the pressure on business operations increased due to factors such as the resurgence of the epidemic and the weak demand, but the profit structure continued to improve," said senior NBS statistician Zhu Hong. A total of 20 out of 41 major industries saw growth in profits in the period, up from 19 in the first 10 months.
Moving on to regional highlights
Beijing plans to distribute Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment drug Paxlovid to community health centres in a bid to help treatment of key populations as the city's peak caseload approaches, media reported Monday. Paxlovid will be distributed to all community health centres, and community doctors will guide Covid patients to take the anti-viral treatment after taking a training session, said a document from the Beijing Municipal Health Commission. Staff at a local community health center in Beijing said they can accept reservation for the anti-viral drug, which is possibly priced at 2300 yuan a box and partly covered by the national health insurance.
A total of 5.98 million tons of cotton were produced nationwide in China in 2022, up 4.3 percent over the previous year, among which over 90 percent was produced in Xinjiang, official data showed on Monday. Xinjiang's cotton output increased 5.1 percent year-on-year to 5.39 million tons this year. It accounts for 90.2 percent of the nation's total output, up 0.7 percentage points over the last year.
Chinese tech company Baidu Inc announced on Monday that a major expansion of its commercialized fully driverless robotaxi service in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, with an aim to build the world's largest fully driverless ride-hailing service area in 2023. Baidu is tripling the size of its operation area, increasing the number of robotaxis in service and expanding operating time to include key evening hours in Wuhan. It also plans to put an additional 200 fully driverless robotaxis into operation across the country next year.
Next on industry and company news
China National Knowledge Infrastructure(CNKI) has said it will thoroughly reform its practices, after the database was slapped with a 87.6 million yuan fine, or 5 percent of its annual income in 2021, by the State Administration for Market Regulation for anti-trust behavior yesterday. CNKI laid out 15 ways yesterday in which it will overhaul its services, including slashing prices, protecting authors’ rights and relinquishing a monopoly on certain publications. It will cut charges for access to its database by more than 30 percent over the next three years.
Chinese online influencer Li Ziqi and Hangzhou Weinian, a multi-channel network(MCN), reached a settlement under mediation, said Weinian on Tuesday. According to a corporate information platform, Liu Tongming stepped down as a senior executive of the Sichuan Ziqi company, and the equity of this company also changed. Previously, Weinian held 51 percent of the firm’s shares and Li held 49 percent, and now Li holds 99 percent while Weinian only holds one percent.
Switching gears to financial news
Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has become the first privately owned company in the country to be given the greenlight by regulators to issue an infrastructure Real Estate Investment Trust backed by its own logistics warehouses that will trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The REIT will issue 500 million shares priced between 3.24 and 3.73 yuan, the Shanghai bourse said today. The underlying assets are three logistics parks located in Wuhan in central Hubei province, Langfang in northern Hebei province and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing.
Chinese yuan has surpassed the euro in the foreign exchange settlement of Russian SMEs, according to Russia's PSB on Monday. The yuan overtook the euro with the proportion of 31 percent versus 28 percent, a situation that has also been confirmed by other large Russian banks, according to the PSB's survey.
Wrapping up with a quick look at the stock market
Chinese stocks further advanced on Tuesday after the country announced to scrap quarantine requirements for international arrivals. The benchmark Shanghai Composite gained almost 1 percent, while the Shenzhen Component rose 1.16 percent.
Biz Word of the Day
Paxlovid, a Pfizer-developed drug with active ingredients nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, is used to treat adults with mild and moderate Covid-19 and high-risk factors that progress to severe illness. It can reduce the risk of hospitalization and mortality by 89 percent. Paxlovid was officially included in the ninth version of China’s diagnosis and treatment protocol for Covid-19 in March.
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Editor: LI Yanxia
Host: Stephanie LI
Writer: Stephanie LI
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Produced by 21st Century Business Herald Dept. of Overseas News.
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