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China news digest: Stock market woes, Taikonauts, building boom

Top European astronauts have begun learning Chinese and taking in interest in Chinese culture as they eye cooperation on space discovery.
Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo wave to the media before the Shenzhou-12 mission to build China's space station, at a launch site in Gansu province on June 16, 2021. Reuters /CG Rawlins.

China news digest, Wednesday June 16, 2021


Stock market woes

On Wednesday, the stock indexes in the two cities Shanghai and Shenzhen plunged again. In the afternoon, the lithium battery, non-ferrous metals, and automobile sectors continued to fall. The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 1.07%, the ChiNext Index fell 4.18%, and more than 2,900 stocks in the two markets fell.

Foreign bond holdings top $575 billion

Comprehensive data from China Bond and Shanghai Clearing House show that as of the end of May this year, the scale of China’s yuan bonds held by more than 900 overseas institutions has reached 3.68 trillion yuan (US$575 billion). The net increase in holdings of bonds was 61.5 billion yuan in May, and the cumulative net increase in holdings in the first five months was approximately 423 billion yuan.

Several factors have helped push overseas institutions to boost their holdings of yuan bonds, such as low interest rates offered by US Treasury bonds. With continuous development of the yuan internationalization process, China’s bond market is accelerating its opening up to the outside world. It has not only unified the institutional arrangements for bond market access and fund management, but also adopted a number of policies to speed up the ease of remittance of funds from overseas institutions.


Building boom in China sees 18% growth

From January to May, investment in real estate development nationwide was more than 5.4 trillion yuan, an increase of 18.3% year-on-year; an increase of 17.9% over the January-May period of 2019, and an average increase of 8.6% over the past two years. Residential investment totalled 4.07 trillion yuan, an increase of 20.7%. As happened after the 2008 financial crisis, China plans to build its way out of any potential recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


Rare earth king now a pauper

There was once a “rare earth king” in China, named Jiang Quanlong. He started from scratch and was worth tens of billions of yuan at his peak, but that is all glory from the past. Nowadays, Jiang Quanlong owes hundreds of millions in gambling debts because of his addiction to gambling. Whether the once brilliant rare earth king can or will make a comeback is not known.


First salaries paid in digital yuan

Xiong’an New District in Hebei has become the first to pay wages via the digital yuan – to the builders of forestation projects. The Peoples’ Bank of China, or central bank, is reportedly pleased with “the smooth landing of the country’s first blockchain + digital yuan application scenario.” The digital yuan is becoming a potential new challenger currency, while the PBOC is ironing out any kinks in the transfers of its digital currency.


Gas explosion spurs safety checks

The huge gas explosion in Hubei province has spurred further investigation. Officials say such incidents – and many similar dramas – must be stopped, so as not to mar celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the CCP. There is a general tightening up as the event approaches.


Meet the Taikonauts

On June 16, the China Space Station Mission Command Headquarters held a press conference on the manned space mission at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. Three taikonauts – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo – will travel on the Shenzhou 12 mission. This will be the fourth mission in the key project to build a China Space Station and the first manned mission in the space station phase.


China number one in IVF

On July 25, 1978, the world’s first test-tube baby was born in the UK, and the application and promotion of human-assisted reproductive technology kicked off from that event. Nearly a decade later, on March 10, 1988, the first test-tube baby in mainland China was born in Peking University’s Third Hospital. Statistics show that China currently has more than 200,000 IVF cases each year, making it the world’s biggest country for assisted reproductive technology treatments. China also has no qualms using CRISPR gene editing technology in IVF.


Outbreak news

With recent pandemic clusters breaking out China, plans have emerged for three vaccines [CG1] to be given to people in affected areas.


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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