Also in this week’s issue

News roundup

  • American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group set out from Singapore on Monday and headed towards the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Strategic Probing Initiative. China has been building up its aerial strength in the region and warned of taking “strong measures” if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored Beijing’s opposition and visited Taiwan next month. US officials, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that fighter jets and ships were likely to be used to provide protection for Pelosi’s flight to the self-ruling island should she insist on the travel plan.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with his US counterpart Joe Biden on the phone at the request of the latter on Thursday evening, Xinhua reported, adding that the two leaders had a “candid communication and exchange” on China-US relations and issues of mutual interest (Taiwan came up). A statement published by the White House, which is merely 150 words, suggests the call was a part of the Biden administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communications between the two countries. Both have tasked their teams to follow up on the conversation, in particularly to address climate change and health security, the White House said.
  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called on China and the European Union to strengthen cooperation. He made the remarks in an internet address on Wednesday after inaugurating the opening of the Peljesac Bridge which connects Croatia's mainland with its southernmost region. The 2.4-kilometre infrastructure project was co-funded by the EU and built by a consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corp.
  • China will set up a Rmb300 billion ($44 billion) real estate fund to bankroll the purchases of unfinished residential projects and complete their construction, before leasing them to individuals as part of the central government’s drive to boost rental housing, Reuters reported. Homebuyers in more than 100 projects have recently threatened to stop mortgage payment to banks if the condos they purchased cannot be delivered on time.
  • Country Garden said on Wednesday it is planning to raise HK$2.8 billion ($360 million) by selling new shares. The placement will be priced at HK$3.25 per share, a 13% discount to its Tuesday closing price. Meanwhile, CK Asset, an investment and property unit of Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, confirmed that it’s one of the bidders for China Evergrande’s Hong Kong headquarters, which is reportedly valued at HK$9 billion.
  • Alibaba, currently maintaining a secondary listing in Hong Kong, is seeking to change its listing status on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to “primary”. Following the change, expected to be effective before the end of 2022, Alibaba’s stocks will be eligible to be included in Stock Connect schemes and attract capital from mainland Chinese investors, Ming Pao newspaper reported.
  • Rmb7,480 Hiring bonus (the equivalent of $1,108) being paid by agencies to workers who join Foxconn in Shenzhen, as the contract manufacturer gears up for peak production season of Apple’s new iPhone 14. A recruiter told the South China Morning Post that roughly 2,000 candidates had been through the recruitment process each day, which has been made more challenging by the Covid-19 situation and travel restrictions. Foxconn asked all candidates to take Covid tests daily during the hiring process and checked their locations to ensure they were not in any high risk areas, Foxconn told SCMP.
  • 75.2% Approval rating for China’s quick decisionmaking in approving infrastructure investments in Africa, according to a survey of among 1,000 policymakers from 25 African countries released last week by the Inter Region Economic Network, a Kenya-based think tank. By contrast the EU scored 55.8% for its speed of response in greenlighting infrastructure projects in Africa in the same survey.
  • 20 million The number of people who retire each year in China.
  • 1.425 million Number of 5G base stations built by China by the end of 2021, 60% of the global total.

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