No. 49 | 01.05.2021

Chinese Sinopharm vaccine quality inspection, 2020 [Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei]

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Dear reader,

Last week, Mikaela Nhondo Erskog – from our editorial collective – participated in the Black Myths Podcast and addressed myths of China’s “colonization” of Africa. Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the conversation.

Due to the extended International Workers’ Day holiday in China (1-5 May), we will not be publishing News on China, nor Africa Weekly, next week. We will be back on the 14th and 15th.

—Dongsheng editorial collective


US pharmaceutical firms oppose overriding patents for mRNA vaccines, fearing Russia and China may develop new treatments

Under national and international pressure, White House considers temporary waiver of IP rights – backed by 60 countries – but Big Pharma warns that Russia and China could develop other vaccines and cancer and heart treatments 

Financial Times, 25.04.2021

China shifts from oil to minerals, investing US $5.6 billion (2019) in Democratic Republic of Congo, world’s leading cobalt producer

Beijing pledged US $28 million write-off of loans (US $2.7 billion, 2000-19) and pandemic financial relief (US $17 million) to DRC, where Chinese mining activities are deemed minor compared with “giants of Western countries”

National Politics

Government announces medical insurance reform, covering over 300 million urban workers, to better protect elderly and vulnerable groups

2% of workers’ salary remains in personal funds (around $130 billion in 2019, 40% of total), while employers’ contributions (4-10% of salary) will go entirely to large community funds for public use, addressing healthcare demands

Sixth Tone, 23.04.2021
Caixin Global, 21.09.2020

Regulators issue new rules for live-streaming e-commerce industry (US $154 billion), scrutinizing fake products, falsified sales figures and fraudulent behaviors

Starting May 25, live streamers will be required to authenticate their identities and meet age requirement (>16); platforms will need to hire moderators to ensure safety of content 


Foreign direct investment in China (US $46.38 billion) surges 39.9% year-on-year in Q1, with 10,263 new enterprises

Investment grew in the less developed Western Region (+91%), services (+51.5%) totalling US $36.6 billion and high tech (+32.1%); ASEAN is largest investor (+60%) and China narrows list of restricted industries to 33 (-17.5%)

Chinese IPOs raised a record US $11 billion on US stock markets, surging 440% this year, despite delisting threat

Though NYSE delisted three state-run telecoms and Washington’s law to delist companies refusing audits, Chinese companies still drawn to US capital markets, offering higher valuations and price-to-earnings ratio (100x for US-listed Chinese firms) versus domestic market (19x)

Financial Times, 26.04.2021

Category Icons

Agriculture and Environment

Chinese internet giants consume huge amounts of energy (161 billion kWh), still overwhelmingly coal-based (91-97%)

Sector led by Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and Huawei (80% of the market) is expected to increase energy consumption by ⅔ by 2023 – equivalent to Australia’s electricity use – and push towards carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by 2030

Increased meat demand generates record imports of soybeans and corn (100 and 11.3 million tons, respectively), threatening Chinese food security

Ministry of Agriculture recommends diversification of animal feed (with rice, sorghum, canola, etc.) and development of domestic breeds (95% of the pigs are of foreign origin); China depends largely on US and Europe

People’s Life and Culture

Chinese take five-day holiday for International Workers’ Day, first declared a national day by the newly-formed PRC in 1949

On 1 May 1950, 200,000 workers, peasants, soldiers and students celebrated May Day with Czech, North Korean, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish and Indonesian delegates in Beijing

That’s Mag, 29.04.2021
China Pictorial, 25.04.2017

Turning weekends to workdays to compensate for extended days off, China’s evolving holiday system receives mixed public opinion

Government “borrowed” Saturdays and Sundays to create new holidays (including Labor Day) but intense pressure on travel infrastructure remain; 80% of online poll (2021) and government survey (2013) were unsatisfied with holiday system (11 days off annually)

1 May 1950 workers’ parade celebrated after PRC’s founding, Beijing [People’s Pictorial]