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News from China
Xi sends letter congratulating on International Tea Day
21st May 2020

 Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday sent a letter expressing warm congratulations on a series of activities marking the first International Tea Day.

 
Xi stressed that the United Nation's decision to set up the International Tea Day showed the international community's recognition of and emphasis on the value of tea, and the move 
is of great significance to revitalizing the tea industry and carrying forward tea culture.
 
Noting that tea originated in China and became popular in the world, Xi said China, a major producer and consumer of tea, is willing to work with all sides to nurture the sustained and healthy
 development of the global tea industry, deepen cultural exchanges on tea, and allow more people to relish lives accompanied by tea.
 
Tea is one of the three major drinks in the world, produced in more than 60 countries and regions worldwide and enjoyed by over 2 billion people. In December 2019, the United Nations declared May 21 the International Tea Day, in order to commend the economic, social and cultural value of tea and foster the sustainable development of global agriculture.
 
During celebrations for this year's International Tea Day, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs will launch a series of promotional activities online in collaboration with the 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the government of east China's Zhejiang Province.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 21, 2020
Over 90% of SMEs in China resume operation: ministry
20th May 2020

 About 91 percent of China's small and medium-sized enterprises had resumed operation as of Monday after disruptions caused by COVID-19, official data showed.

 
Some 93 percent of SMEs in the manufacturing and construction sectors had resumed work, while around 87 percent of SMEs in the hotel and catering sectors restarted business, said Huang Libin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at a press conference Wednesday.
 
China has rolled out a series of targeted measures to support SMEs, which were among the hardest hit by the epidemic.
 
Policies such as cuts in banks' reserve requirement ratios as well as special relending and rediscount programs have offered low-cost loans of 2.85 trillion yuan (US$400 billion) to firms, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as individual businesses, noted Miao Wei, head of the MIIT.
 
The country will continue to implement policy incentives and step up financial support for SMEs, while helping them to develop expertise in specific fields, Miao said.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 20, 2020
Japan heads for biggest slump since World War II
19th May 2020

 Japan’s economy slipped into recession for the first time in four-and-a-half years in the last quarter, putting the nation on course for its deepest postwar slump as the coronavirus crisis ravages businesses and consumers.

 
Yesterday’s first-quarter GDP data underlined the broadening impact of the outbreak, with exports plunging the most since the devastating March 2011 earthquake as global lockdowns and supply chain disruptions hit shipments of Japanese goods.
 
Analysts warn of an even bleaker picture for the current quarter as consumption crumbled after the government in April requested citizens to stay home and businesses to close, intensifying the challenge for policy-makers battling a once-in-a-century pandemic.
 
“It’s near certainty the economy suffered an even deeper decline in the current quarter,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Research Institute. “Japan has entered a full-blown recession.”
 
The world’s third-largest economy contracted an annualised 3.4 percent in the first quarter, preliminary official gross domestic product data showed, less than a median market forecast of 4.6 percent.
 
The slump came on top of an even steeper 7.3 percent fall in the October-December period, with the consecutive quarters of contraction meeting the technical definition of a recession. Japan last suffered recession in the second half of 2015.
 
The coronavirus has ravaged the global economy as many nations went into strict lockdowns to curb the outbreak that has so far killed over 310,000 people worldwide. The pandemic has been massively disruptive on supply chains and businesses, particularly in trade-reliant nations such as Japan.
 
Exports plunged 6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest fall since April-June 2011.
 
“Exports to China began to fall in February, followed by a wave of slumping shipments to Europe and the United States,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 19, 2020
Wuhan says expanded nucleic acid tests to be free of charge
18th May 2020

 Wuhan will not charge individual testees as the central Chinese city moves to expand its nucleic acid tests to cover all residents who have not been tested for the novel coronavirus.

 
The city's health commission said in a statement that the costs of the tests will be borne by the district and municipal governments, and no personal payment is required.
 
Wuhan last week announced its plan to expand nucleic acid tests in order to better know the number of asymptomatic cases, or people who show no clear symptoms despite carrying the virus.
 
The decision was made as the city, hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, continued to report daily increases of asymptomatic infections, raising public concerns as Wuhan reopens its factories, businesses and schools.
 
The testing will give priority to residential compounds that had previously reported infections, as well as old and densely populated buildings. Children under six are not advised to take the tests.
 
To minimize cross-infection risks, the commission said they will set up open-air testing sites in residential compounds and remind residents to maintain distance when lining up for the tests.
 
Door-to-door sampling can be arranged for those who have trouble visiting the testing sites, it said.
 
Wuhan earlier this month reported six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, ending the zero-increase record it had held since April 4. All of the new infections were previously asymptomatic cases from one old residential compound.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 18, 2020

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