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News from China
Cities offering treats to limit New Year trips
19th January 2021

 The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 109 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 93 locally transmitted and 16 arriving from outside the mainland, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

 
Of the locally transmitted cases, 54 were reported in Hebei Province, 30 in Jilin, seven in Heilongjiang, and two in Beijing.
 
Tough new controls in the city of Gongzhuling in northern Jilin Province, which has a population of about 1 million, brings the total number of people under lockdown to more than 29 million.
 
Daily increases in infections remain a fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but officials are concerned infections could spread during the Lunar New Year holiday in less than a month.
 
Despite restrictions, the China Railway Corporation expects about 296 million passenger trips during the Lunar New Year break, compared with 410 million in 2019.
 
Many cities are giving incentives for migrant workers not to travel. The manufacturing hub of Yiwu on the east coast, offers subsidies, including rent reductions, to encourage workers to stay put. Tianjin, home to 15 million people, said employees would get a one-off payment of 300 yuan (US$46.20) if they stay in the city.
 
Cainiao, the delivery arm of Alibaba, is offering more than 200 million yuan in subsidies so “people move less, goods move more” during the holiday.
 
Source: SHanghai Daily, January 19, 2021
China's GDP expands 2.3% year on year in 2020
18th January 2021

 China's gross domestic product expanded 2.3 percent year on year in 2020, exceeding the 100-trillion-yuan (US$15.42 trillion) threshold to 101.5986 trillion yuan, official data showed on Monday.

 
The pace was faster than the 0.7-percent increase in the first three quarters, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
 
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the country's GDP expanded 6.5 percent year on year, faster than the 4.9-percent growth in the third quarter, the data showed.
 
The country's economic operation has recovered steadily with employment and people's well-being effectively guaranteed, the NBS said, adding that the major tasks of economic and social development have been completed better than expected.
 
To soften the impact of the COVID-19 shock, the government has rolled out a raft of measures, including more fiscal spending, tax relief, and cuts in lending rates and banks' reserve requirements to stabilize growth and employment.
 
As the epidemic has been largely brought under control domestically, factories and schools have reopened and tourist sites across the country have resumed their usual hustle and bustle.
 
China's job market remained stable in 2020, with the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas standing at 5.6 percent, below the government's annual target of around 6 percent, the data showed.
 
Value-added industrial output surged 7.1 percent year on year in Q4, accelerating by 1.3 percentage points from Q3 last year, NBS data showed. For the whole year, the indicator went up 2.8 percent year on year.
 
The fixed-asset investment saw a steady recovery, climbing 2.9 percent year on year in 2020, with investment in high-tech industries, health care and education surging faster than average.
 
Affected by the epidemic, retail sales of consumer goods fell 3.9 percent year on year in 2020. The indicator rebounded notably in recent months, rising 4.6 percent year on year in Q4, 3.7 percentage points higher than that in Q3.
 
Although the data have beat expectations, the NBS cautioned that there are still multiple uncertainties from changing epidemic situations and the external environment, assuring that the country would take further measures to consolidate epidemic control and economic development results.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 18, 2020
China's central bank injects liquidity into market
15th January 2021

 China's central bank pumped cash into the financial system through open market operations Friday to maintain liquidity in the market.

 
A total of 500 billion yuan (about 77.36 billion U.S. dollars) was injected into the market via medium-term lending facility (MLF), according to the People's Bank of China, the central bank.
 
The funds will mature in one year at an interest rate of 2.95 percent.
 
Meanwhile, the central bank injected 2 billion yuan into the market through seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.2 percent.
 
The move was intended to maintain stable liquidity in the banking system, the central bank said.
 
The MLF tool was introduced in 2014 to help commercial and policy banks maintain liquidity by allowing them to borrow from the central bank using securities as collateral.
 
A reverse repo is a process in which the central bank purchases securities from commercial banks through bidding, with an agreement to sell them back in the future.
 
China's central bank has pledged to make its prudent monetary policy more targeted and flexible to adapt better to the needs of high-quality development and put more focus on the efficiency of financial services to support the real economy.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 15, 2021
Students tap into campus plants to create unique perfumes
14th January 2021

 A group of students from East China University of Science and Technology has created 12 unique varieties of perfume featuring the fragrance of plants on their campus.

 
The team consists of students from the university’s school of chemistry and molecular engineering, and they created the perfumes after taking a course taught by Professor Wang Limin.
 
Wang, a lover of traditional Chinese culture and art, has been teaching a course called “Art and Chemistry,” which is open to all students, guiding them to explore the chemistry behind art.
 
In his classes, the Chinese stringed instrument erhu, calligraphy, blue and white porcelain, picture story books and the fairy tale of 12 floral gods are connected to chemistry. Among them, the content of floral gods, aroma culture and chemistry impressed the team the most.
 
“We wanted to use our expertise to innovate, as our university has been encouraging us to do so,” said Tang Zhicong, a second-year master's degree student and a member of the team. “It was a challenge as we not only decided to develop the perfumes, but also to endow them with artistic inspiration.”
 
According to Tang, they used cedar, wintersweet, magnolia, cherry blossom, camphor, rose, gardenia, lotus, grass, osmanthus, mandarin orange and camellia for the primary scents of their products, and gave them colorful names like “Ni Feng,” which means against the wind, “Ao Xue,” or fearless of snow, “Yu Li,” gracefully erect, “Xiao Chun,” laugh in spring, and “Tan Qiu,” explore autumn.
 
On the packages, they not only printed names of the perfume products, but also hand-painted patterns of the plants and words describing the month they represent and scenery of the university.
 
Ni Feng represents January and features cedar and sabina chinensis that can be found on the university's campus.
 
“It shows the tough spirit of our students and faculty facing up to challenges,” said Tang.
 
Tang said they worked hard to select plants on campus that are both iconic and suitable for making perfume. They checked archives, walked around campus and talked to teachers and students to design the products and packages.
 
“Many teachers and students love the wisteria in front of the Youyi Canteen on the Xuhui Campus, which attracts people to take photos when it blooms every year,” said Tang. “But when making the perfume, we found its aroma was too subtle so we had to nix it.”
 
To transfer their ideas into real products, they studied spices, conducted experiments and interned with perfume companies.
 
The team now has patents for their creations and is seeking partnerships with companies and starting their own businesses.
 
“I feel proud to be able to combine my expertise with the aesthetic enjoyment of life,” said Yang Qingying, another team member. “The sense of achievement and happiness is beyond words. To have taken part in the whole process of research, innovation and production to create the lovely perfumes is totally unique.”
 
In addition to perfumes, the team has developed a kind of hand disinfectant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The disinfectant won top prize in the Shanghai session of the "Challenge Cup" Entrepreneurship Competition for Chinese college students last summer.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 14, 2021

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