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Guangdong’s foreign trade revives

Guangdong’s foreign trade is picking up, albeit slowly. Provincial data show total imports and exports in the first four months of the year at 1.92 trillion yuan, a 9.8% YoY drop, but 2 percentage points better than the number reported at the end of March. By month, the YoY contraction in foreign trade has been steadily improving, from -15% in January-February, to -6% in March, and now -4.9% in April.

Part of the reason for this narrowing has been the pickup in exports of medical equipment, which in April were up 52% YoY, pharmaceuticals, up 67.9%, and masks, which jumped by four times the amount shipped a year ago.

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‘Romantic industry’ takes off

Guangzhou’s Conghua has welcomed the establishment of a series of “romantic industry” projects, which the district government hopes will inject new vitality into the more rural part of the city known for its hot springs.

Perhaps the most intriguing of these for prospective newlyweds is a project calling itself the province’s first “one-stop wedding service demonstration base”. Offering venues for both Chinese and Western wedding ceremonies, including group weddings, the complex has a wide range of on-site services available, including photography and marriage registration. It also has post-wedding services, i.e., for honeymoons, which it refers to as “wedding tourism”.

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GBA Briefs: 5/19/2020

Huawei in ‘survival’ mode: Shenzhen’s Huawei Technologies has said it will “inevitably be impacted” by what it has described as an “arbitrary and pernicious” decision by the US government to further restrict its ability to develop semiconductors using American technologies. However, chairman Guo Ping said at the company’s global analyst summit that, “as the challenges over the past year have helped us develop a thicker skin, we are confident about finding solutions soon” … survival is currently the keyword”, he said. SCMP.

HK testing ramps up: Hong Kong’s public hospitals and laboratories will expand their daily coronavirus testing capacity by more than half within months to detect more silent carriers of the coronavirus. “Actions are in hand to ramp up [public-sector testing capacity] to about 7,000 in the next few months,” a government source said, adding that currently around 4,500 tests could be done. SCMP.

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History exam question inflames Hong Kong again

An uproar is growing in Hong Kong society again over a controversial exam question, which was deleted from high school test papers after intervention by the government last week. Here is a good explainer of the issue (SCMP), which relates to the relationship between China and Japan from 1900 to 1945.  

Yesterday, the deputy head of the Education Bureau said, “On major issues of right and wrong, such as invasions, massacres and ethnic cleansing, we should never lead students in their basic education stage to discuss their positive values.” (SCMP) 

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GBA Briefs: 5/18/2020

Testing surges: As of a week ago (May 11), Guangdong had conducted 10.41 million coronavirus nucleic acid tests. That compares to the UK, which has had 2 million tests done so far, and the US, which was had 9.72 million tests done so far. SCN.

Hamsters proof: Hong Kong scientists conducting research on hamsters have offered the first proof of what many residents have believed all along – that wearing surgical masks can significantly reduce the rate of airborne Covid-19 transmission. SCMP.

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GBA Briefs: 5/15/2020

  • A pilot previously given the all-clear for Covid-19 after his return to Hong Kong from London a month ago has tested preliminary positive for the coronavirus during a trip to a local hospital for surgery. If confirmed, the infection is likely to raise concerns over further transmission of the disease, after the man came into contact with more than a dozen people at Princess Margaret Hospital. SCMP.
  • It will soon become cheaper for mainland residents to buy critical-illness insurance in the Greater Bay Area. This is thanks to the China Actuary Association, which recently released the “Prevalence Rate of Major Disease Experience in the Chinese Life Insurance Industry”. It includes for the first time a “GBA Table” for serious diseases, which is seen as a prerequisite for the launch of GBA-wide critical-illness insurance products. This is the first time in China that a region – the nine Guangdong cities of the GBA – have been able to set their own differentiated pricing for insurance. It is expected to being premiums closer to the levels enjoyed in Hong Kong and Macau and, eventually, result in their cross-border equalization.  SCN.

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GBA Briefs: 5/14/2020

Prices ease: Inflation is gradually subsiding across Guangdong, with the CPI index for April slipping to 4.1%, down from 5.2% in March. Driving this was an easing in food prices, as the effects of last year’s pork shortages began to ameliorate: in April, food prices fell by 2.2%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the previous month. Non-food prices also slowed their rise, falling by 0.2% over March, although it was encouraging to see that inflation in services picked up, by 0.3%. SCN.

Guangdong clear: Guangdong has had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus for 14 straight days. Tests continued to be carried out for asymptomatic cases, with 6.79 million having been done so far at a detection rate of 6.2 per 100,000 population. SCN.

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Guangzhou rated for industrial upgrading

Guangzhou has been recognized by the central government for its efforts to upgrade the city’s industrial structure in 2019, ranking among the top 10 nationwide. The city recorded 103.8 billion yuan of industrial investment last year, up 9.1% YoY. Of this, more than a third (35.42%) was spent on “technological transformation”: 36.8 billion yuan, which shot up 43% from the previous year. 

The investment has clearly had an effect on growth. This is especially in high-tech manufacturing, which saw output jump 21% over the year. It now accounts for more than half (57.2%) of total industrial output in the city. Strategic emerging industries are the ones to watch, though, as smartphones soared by 170%, industrial instruments by 147.5%, and new energy vehicles by 114.7%.

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Guangdong car sales pick up

Guangdong is receiving credit for being the fastest in the country to relax purchase restrictions on vehicles, and the first to introduce promotions for sales. Not surprisingly, it is showing up in improving output figures. Guangzhou Auto led the charge, with sales up 6.1% YoY and 50.5% over March. Here’s how the big guns are looking so far in the recovery period:

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Guangzhou Customs creates biosafety ‘shelters’

Guangzhou Customs has created – and patented – the country’s first “mobile integrated biosafety shelter”. It went into operation at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport on May 6. The shelter, which is built as a collection of pod-like cabins, each shaped like a typical prefab office space, has been established under the “National Key R&D Program” of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The cabins can be added to or subtracted from, like Lego building blocks, for different usage scenarios across a wide range of port types, whether they be at sea, land or airports. They will also be widely used at medical institutions and isolated observation points.

The square cabin is 12 meters long, 3.5 meters wide, and 3 meters high. It is pressurized, and reaches biosafety level 2 (P2) or higher. Customs officers can safely carry out quarantine work such as epidemiological investigation, sample collection, case observation, and rapid testing in the cabin, processing five passengers at a time. SCN.