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News from China
Chinese yuan strengthens to new high against USD
1st February 2018

 The central parity rate of the Chinese currency, the renminbi or the yuan, advanced to a new high against the US dollar Thursday on persistent weakening of the US dollar.

The Chinese yuan strengthened 294 basis points to 6.3045 against the US dollar Thursday, the strongest level since August 11, 2015, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.
The first month of 2018 saw the yuan's onshore exchange rate strengthen by 3.38 percent against the US dollar, the biggest monthly gain since 1994.
The reading was also more than half of the 6.72-percent gain for all of 2017, the sharpest annual appreciation in nine years.
The dollar index, a gauge that measures the US currency's strength against six other major currencies, has declined over 5 percent since December last year.
The tapering of monetary accommodation at major central banks and the expectation of rate hikes abroad are behind the weak dollar, according to Shenwan Hongyuan Securities.
Sound economic fundamentals, improved corporate profits and increased global use of the currency also support the yuan's value, said Liang Hong, chief economist of the China International Capital Corporation (CICC).
China's economy expanded 6.9 percent last year, picking up for the first time in seven years and well above the government's annual target of around 6.5 percent.
The International Monetary Fund has raised its forecast for China's economic growth in 2018, expecting China's GDP growth to stand at 6.6 percent this year, up from the 6.5-percent prediction made last October.
In China's spot foreign exchange market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 2 percent from the central parity rate each trading day.
The central parity rate of the yuan against the US dollar is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each business day.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 1, 2018
China's manufacturing activity expands slower in January
31st January 2018

 China's manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in January, official data showed Wednesday.

The country's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 51.3 this month, decelerating from 51.6 in December, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The manufacturing PMI has stayed above the boom-bust line for 18 straight months.
Despite the slowdown, the index was the same with that of a year ago, suggesting the sector remained steady, NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said.
Sub-indices for production and new orders went down slightly to 53.5 and 52.6, respectively, while sub-indices on raw material stock, employees and suppliers' delivery time were still lower than 50.  
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 31, 2017
Pharma, tech giants team up to build digital ecosystem
30th January 2018

 Shanghai fund company employee Cathy Wang said she and several friends searched the net for a private clinic in Hong Kong to make reservations to get Gardasil 9 shots against a common virus that can cause cervical cancer. 

Gardasil 9, put out by MSD, isn’t yet available on the mainland, but the Gardasil 4 vaccine is. 
Sammi Zheng, a Beijing office worker in her early 30s, learned about the latter vaccine from online postings and chose to get an inoculation at a local community health clinic. 
“I decided to get the inoculation after reading about the disease and the vac-cine, but I wanted to save myself the trouble of traveling to Hong Kong,” she said.
 “I decided to get the inoculation after reading about the disease and the vac-cine, but I wanted to save myself the trouble of traveling to Hong Kong,” she said. 
The modern generation of young people, who rely on digital devices for so many aspects of their daily lives, is plumbing the Internet for medical information amid widespread concern about health. 
A survey of 1,400 patients last year by Kantar Health and the online medical community found respondents were spending about a quarter of their online time searching for information on disease and healthcare on medical sites, WeChat postings and pharmaceutical platforms. 
But is the information always accurate and reliable? 
Pharmaceutical companies and Internet service providers are seeking to ensure that the information they provide is accurate. They have also developed systems to track drugs sold online to make sure they are genuine. 
Since last year, MSD China has distributed its Gardasil 4 human papillomavirus vaccine, also known as HPV, through mainland distributor Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. 
Earlier this month, it entered into a partnership with AliHealth to target women between the ages of 20 and 45 to provide them information on cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine. 
“Amid a rising online population in China, we want to use the most efficient channel to help consumers get a better understanding of disease and health risks,” MSD China President Joseph Romanelli said in an interview with Shanghai Daily earlier this month. “We hope to work closer with partners adept in digital technologies to help build an ecosystem that will ultimately help both physicians and patients.” 
Digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry has come at a slower pace than development in industries such as finance, he added. 
Easy reach 
Other multinational drug companies are tapping into the convenience of smartphone applications and the user bases of Internet providers such as Alibaba. 
Bayer is using digital channels to pro-mote its self-care concepts and perhaps sales of its products. The Germany-based company wants to combine its resources with platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall Global flagship store to integrate with Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce ecosystem and merchandising capabilities. 
China Biological Tech Co Vice President Wu Yonglin said his company is teaming up with Alibaba’s AliHealth to explore new models to make healthcare information more accessible to consumers under the “Health China 2030” plan. 
Online appointments for inoculations of selected adult vaccines are already available for residents in more than 1,000 community health centers in 100 cities in China, using the resources of a link with AliHealth. 
“It’s a big trend for pharma companies to adopt digital ways of dispersing information on health and disease management,” said Yang Hongfei, co-founder of Hangzhou Firestone Technology Co, which provides healthcare and pharmaceutical industry data to governments and businesses. 
Digital channels also offer new ways for patients to manage their chronic disease when they are not seeing doctors or going to hospitals. 
The collection of user behavioral data remains a sticky issue, Yang said. It’s still too early to determine how the data may improve operational efficiency. 
Ensuring that consumers get objective, fair healthcare information is a core issue for involved players, he added. 
Wang Wenjing, deputy secretary-general of the China International Exchange and Promotion Association for Medical and Healthcare, said disease management and public health awareness would be greatly improved if Internet companies and the pharma industry collaborate. 
Lin Jixiang, president of the Beicai Community Health Service Center in Pudong, said that such relationships help community hospital doctors ensure that patients take appropriate dos-ages of medicine and that the public receives proper advice on lifestyle and diet factors that may have an impact on health. 
Jin Xiaodong, head of Sanofi China’s cardiovascular business unit, said using the AliHealth platform enables his company to implement initiatives that affect patients and physicians in efficient, more accessible ways. 
An AliHealth official told Shanghai Daily that patient education and health-care information has been built upon the company’s medicine-tracking technology. Digital channels also allow services more tailor-made to patient needs. 
Digital health management is still in its formative stages at AliHealth, amid hopes that more players will be drawn into the mix. 
As another Internet giant, Tencent is pursuing digital healthcare initiatives mostly aimed at medical institutions and healthcare service providers. Its artificial intelligence program is helping nearly 100 hospitals in medical imaging and screening for certain types of early-stage cancer. 
In late December, Tencent launched its own medical-information platform, called Tencent Yidian, through its popular social networking application WeChat. The initiative provides authoritative health-related information to users. 
Zhang Meng, Tencent vice president and head of the medical-information center, told a media interview in late December that the company is not initially seeking profit from the platform. The emphasis is first and foremost high-quality content, he said. 
China’s largest search engine Baidu has curbed lucrative healthcare adverts and paid search results following regulatory orders after a scandal in mid 2016 and the company also shut down its mobile healthcare business Baidu Doctor to merge with its artificial intelligence operations in early 2017. It has also shifted its focus toward leveraging artificial intelligence to help with doctors’ recommendations and treatment options. 
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 30, 2018
SK challenges US tariffs at WTO
26th January 2018

 South Korea has hit back rapidly at US tariffs on washing machines and solar panels, filing challenges and demands for compensation at the World Trade Organization.

The WTO published the South Korean complaints yesterday, two days after US President Donald Trump signed the steep tariffs into law. He billed the move as a way to protect American jobs but the solar industry said it would lead to thousands of layoffs and raise consumer prices.
The 30 percent tariff on solar panels was among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the Trump administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda aimed at helping US manufacturers, but which has alarmed Asian trading partners that produce lower cost goods.
South Korea challenged the US tariffs under the WTO’s Safeguard Agreement, leaving open the possibility of a full trade dispute later.
The agreement gives the US 30 days to settle the matter, after which South Korea has a 60-day window to impose trade sanctions, if the US measures break WTO rules. It was not clear if the United States could challenge that assumption.
Seoul is already seeking WTO trade sanctions to retaliate for Washington’s failure to comply with an earlier WTO ruling.
On Wednesday US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross brushed off the threat of South Korea going to the WTO.
“The fact that they may get a favorable decision (at the WTO) doesn’ mean that it’s a correct decision,” he said. “But in any event there’s been no decision yet so it’s a little bit too early to assume that the safeguards will be knocked out.”
No country has ever negotiated a settlement under the WTO safeguard rules, and it was not clear if they could provide a quicker result than a full dispute, which could take three years or more, giving US manufacturers a long period of protection from competition by their South Korean rivals.
Under WTO rules, a country can impose safeguards — temporary emergency tariffs — to shield its domestic industry from an sudden, unforeseen and damaging surge in imports.
Ricardo Melndez-Ortiz, head of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, said the solar tariffs would fail to boost US solar manufacturing and would destroy US jobs while impeding the fight against climate change.
“These tariffs are insufficient to really generate enough stimulus to create the manufacturing capacity that they are trying to stimulate,” he said.
“It’s just going to slow down the production of sustainable energy and solar in the US, in a big way.”
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 26, 2018

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