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News from China
Asia expected to see 0% growth in 2020: IMF
16th April 2020

 Growth in Asia is expected to stall at zero percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lowest growth since the 1960s, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

"This is a crisis like no other. It is worse than the Global Financial Crisis, and Asia is not immune," Chang Yong Rhee, director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department, said at a virtual press conference Wednesday night.
The region's growth prospect for 2020 is the worst in almost 60 years, including during the Global Financial Crisis (4.7 percent) and the Asian Financial Crisis (1.3 percent), Rhee said.
"That said, Asia still looks to fare better than other regions in terms of activity," he noted. According to the IMF's new World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the global economy is on track to contract "sharply" by 3 percent in 2020.
The latest WEO report showed that advanced economies will contract significantly by 6.1 percent in 2020, and emerging market and developing economies, which typically have growth levels well above advanced economies, will shrink by 1 percent.
Despite overall negative growth, the IMF projects 1-percent growth for emerging and developing Asia. China and India will both see moderate growth this year, with a rate of 1.2 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
"Prospects for 2021, while highly uncertain, are for strong growth," Rhee told reporters. "If containment measures work, and with substantial policy stimulus to reduce 'scarring,' growth in Asia is expected to rebound strongly — more so than during the Global Financial Crisis."
Rhee noted the region is experiencing different stages of the pandemic. "China's economy is beginning to get back to work, other economies are imposing tighter lockdowns, and some are experiencing a second wave of virus infections," Rhee said.
"Much depends on the spread of the virus and on how policies respond," he said, while stressing that "there is no room for complacency."
The IMF official noted that the multilateral lender is in continuous contact with the authorities in the region to offer advice and assistance, saying that more than 15 countries from across the region have expressed interest in its two emergency financing instruments.
At the virtual press conference, Rhee also conveyed IMF's thanks to Japan and China for their "generous contribution" to the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief to the poorest countries.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 16, 2020
China steps up to boost economy, employment
15th April 2020

 China will take solid steps to implement supportive measures for enterprises to help them through challenges, and boost employment for college graduates, according to an executive meeting of the State Council.

The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, noted that the country has rolled out a series of policies and measures to benefit enterprises since the beginning of the year to support epidemic control, burden-easing for firms and work resumption.
Solid implementation of the policies should be guaranteed, said the meeting, including a series of tax cuts which would ease the burden for firms by 1.6 trillion yuan (US$227.25 billion), and 1.29 trillion yuan of local government special bond quotas which the country has assigned ahead of schedule.
China has offered 3.55 trillion yuan of low-cost capital to financial institutions via reserve requirement ratio cuts, re-lending and re-discount quotas, according to the meeting.
Multiple steps should be taken to further enhance the implementation of positive fiscal policies, increase financial support for the real economy and small- and medium-sized firms, and ease the cost pressure for firms of the manufacturing and service industries, the meeting noted.
The meeting also decided to take effective measures to boost employment for college graduates, whose job outlook looks grim due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
To promote the development of new business models and flexible employment, steps will be taken to strengthen guaranteed loans for start-ups and advance mass entrepreneurship and innovation.
Employment services should be enhanced, with special support policies introduced to facilitate the employment of graduates in Hubei Province, the region hardest hit by the epidemic, according to the meeting.
The renovation of old urban residential areas forms an important measure to improve people’s livelihood and expand domestic demand, the meeting noted.
China has planned to renovate over 39,000 old urban residential communities nationwide this year, which was estimated to benefit about 7 million households, aiming to improve public services such as elderly care, child care and medical care in communities.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 15, 2020
China's exports down 3.5%, imports up 2.4% in March
14th April 2020

 China's foreign trade showed signs of stabilizing in March with export and import both beating bearish market expectations, official data showed on Tuesday.

Exports dipped 3.5 percent year on year in yuan terms last month while imports climbed 2.4 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
In March, foreign trade of goods totaled 2.45 trillion yuan (US$$348 billion), down 0.8 percent year on year, compared with a decline of 9.5 percent during the January-February period, the GAC said.
In the first quarter, foreign trade of goods fell 6.4 percent year on year to 6.57 trillion yuan.
Exports dropped 11.4 percent to 3.33 trillion yuan while imports dipped 0.7 percent to 3.24 trillion yuan during the first three months, resulting in a trade surplus of 98.33 billion yuan, down 80.6 percent year on year, customs data showed.
China has rolled out a string of policies to help foreign trade firms resume operation amid further containment of COVID-19, the GAC noted.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 14, 2020
Wuhan in all-out efforts to cure elderly COVID-19 patients
13th April 2020

 China's Wuhan will strengthen medical treatment for severely ill and elderly COVID-19 patients, the latest signal from the city hard hit by the novel coronavirus but now in a steady recovery.

Jiao Yahui, an official with the National Health Commission, said Saturday that patients at the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals, built from scratch to help the then-overloaded local hospitals treat severely ill COVID-19 patients, will be transferred to four large hospitals in Wuhan by April 15.
"We hope to secure the patients the most effective treatment by placing them at the four hospitals with high-quality medical resources in the city," Jiao said, adding that the treatment of the severe and critical cases remained difficult.
The official also said elderly patients, who made up the vast majority of the severe and critical cases, have been placed in "better hospitals," while demanding residential communities care for those who could not be attended to by their families after being discharged from hospital.
"Those aged above 65 and usually with underlying diseases must be treated in hospitals with better resources," said Jiao. "It is more difficult to treat the elderly and it requires greater input of medical resources. However, all patients regardless of wealth and age are important to us."
The announcement was made after Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, saw its number of COVID-19 patients in severe and critical condition, most of whom are located in Wuhan, drop to 93 on Saturday from a peak of more than 10,000 in February.
The overall cure rate of COVID-19 in Wuhan has been improved to 94 percent, with that of patients aged above 80 nearing 70 percent. The cure rate of patients in severe condition exceeded 89 percent, according to the latest official figures.
"This is a hard-won achievement," Jiao said, pointing to the fact that the total number of COVID-19 patients aged above 80 exceeded 3,000 in Wuhan, and around 40 percent of them had been in severe condition.
It was announced Saturday that seven of the eight centenarian COVID-19 patients in Wuhan had been discharged from hospitals after recovery, with the oldest aged 108.
Meanwhile, medical experts continued to stress the difficulty in the treatment of the severely ill and elderly COVID-19 patients.
"Over 90 percent of the old-age patients have underlying diseases and some of those in severe condition had been hospitalized for 50 to 60 days," said Jiao.
Du Bin, ICU director of Peking Union Medical College Hospital and member of a national medical team sent to Wuhan, said elderly COVID-19 patients generally have cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and lung diseases, as well as compromised organ functions, thus requiring organ support therapies.
Yuan Yufeng, vice president of Wuhan Leishenshan Hospital, said most of the severe patients in Wuhan hospitals have turned negative in nucleic acid testing, which means the anti-virus treatment is no longer the focus.
"Their main problems include severe organ damage caused by the disease, thus requiring advanced life support, and pre-existing health problems such as cerebral infarction, coronary disease and diabetes, which keep them in hospitals. Many of them are elderly patients and their treatment remains difficult," he said.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan previously demanded targeted treatment and better nursing for severe COVID-19 patients and the "utmost efforts" to improve their cure rate. She also ordered medical teams from other parts of China to retain high-level intensive care groups in Hubei.
"Every life deserves respect," she said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 13, 2020

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