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China News Digest, June 23 – Covid, bonds, rare earth magnets

Rare earth minerals are stockpiled at a port in northeast China. File photo by AFP.

Dongguan outbreak spreads

(AF) The Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread to Shenzhen despite Dongguan city being sealed off. According to Guangzhou Daily initial cases were students who ate at a “McDonald’s restaurant”.

Bond numbers from MOF

On Monday (June 21), the Ministry of Finance website announced local government bond issuance and debt balance for May 2021. The data showed that local government bonds issued nationwide totalled 875.3 billion yuan (US$135.1 billion). As of the end of May 2021, the balance of local government debt across the country was 27 trillion yuan ($4.17 trillion).

 

Rare earths now part of Sino-US trade war

The US government says it will launch an investigation into rubidium magnets to assess whether rare earth imports from China pose a security threat to the United States and justify imposing tariffs on imports of rare earths processed in China. As we all know, China is the main country for the production and supply of rare earth resources, and once accounted for more than 90% of global output.

In 2018, 80% of rare earth imports by the US came from China. Therefore, rare earths are also considered a powerful weapon for China to deal with the US’ technological blockade. In recent years, the United States has resumed domestic rare earth mining and implemented various measures to reorganize the rare earth supply chain to overcome its dependence on China’s rare earths.

 

Affordable housing plan

The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development have put out a notice on the ‘Third Batch of Central Budgetary Investment Plans for Affordable Housing Projects in 2021’. Each province will receive different budgets, which will be divided into blocks and issued in the form of investment subsidies to support the reconstruction of old urban  communities, “shanty towns,” and the construction of supporting infrastructure for public rental housing, as well as the construction of affordable rental housing and supporting infrastructure.

 

Top cities for graduate jobs

The website 58.com released an “Employment Report for College Graduates in 2021”. According to a survey of 2021 graduates, the average pre-tax monthly salary of graduates this year is 8,720 yuan ($1,346), and Shanghai was rated the most attractive place to work.

The report showed that salary and personal development were the focus of graduates’ career decisions. In terms of salary, the average pre-tax monthly salary of graduates was 8,720 yuan, as said, but the pre-tax salary level in the IT/communication/electronics/Internet sector was the highest at 10,815 yuan ($1,670) a month, followed by work in the financial sector at 9,833 yuan ($1,518), which was also above the average monthly salary.

According to the report, the top 10 preferred cities for graduates this year were Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Nanjing, Chongqing and Changsha.

 

FDI resilient in Asia

According to a report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on Monday, due to the impact of the epidemic, the total scale of global foreign direct investment (FDI) dropped sharply in 2020. But Asian economies have remained resilient, and FDI that they absorbed bucked the trend and increased by 4% to US$535 billion.

The ‘2021 World Investment Report’ released by UNCTAD showed that in 2020, total global FDI was about $1 trillion, a decrease of 35% from the previous year. It is thought it will take until at least 2022 to return to pre-epidemic levels. At the same time, due to the relatively resilient value chain in the Asian region and the optimistic outlook for economic growth, the region is expected to perform better.

 

Graphene production base being set up

Tangshan Jianhua Group loaded the first batch of graphene equipment from Tangshan in Hebei province and transported it more than 1,000 kilometres. On June 19 and 20, this cargo arrived at Longjiang Carbon Valley International Cooperation Smart Industrial Park in Harbin New District. By the end of this month, all the company’s graphene equipment will have been transported there. It is expected to be put into operation in October, and the first phase of the project will be launched in March next year.

After completion of the park, its annual output value is tipped to reach 10 billion yuan, with profit and taxes exceeding 1 billion yuan, and 2,000 people directly employed and 3,000 indirectly employed.

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Rare earth prices to go through the roof as China tightens supply

Chris Gill

With over 30 years reporting on China, Gill offers a daily digest of what is happening in the PRC.

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