2023 Calendar Week 34

Posted on August 21, 2023

1.China holds Key Mortgage Rate steady, stoking market concerns amid property crisis

On 21st August, in an unexpected move, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) maintained its five-year loan prime rate (LPR) at 4.2% during the August adjustment, fueling apprehensions about how the nation intends to navigate the current property sector turmoil and bolster homebuyer trust. The five-year LPR serves as a benchmark rate for mortgages.

This comes at a time when major property developers are facing financial challenges. Notably, Country Garden is on the verge of default, and Evergreened recently sought bankruptcy protection in a Manhattan court.

Despite widespread market anticipation for a 15 basis point reduction, especially after the previous week’s cut in the medium-term lending facility (MLF), the PBOC has chosen a more conservative stance. However, the central bank did lower the one-year loan prime rate, a key reference for corporate loans, from 3.55% to 3.45%.

2. China has halted the publication of data on youth unemployment

On 15th August, National Bureau of Statistics announced that starting from August, the release of urban unemployment rates for national youths and other age segments will be temporarily halted. The primary reason for this decision is the continuous evolution and transformation of the socio-economic landscape, necessitating improvements in statistical work and further enhancement and optimization of labor force survey statistics.

For instance, in recent years, the number of students in urban areas amongst China’s youth has been growing. In 2022, urban youth between the ages of 16 and 24 surpassed 96 million, with over 65 million being students. Given that a student’s primary duty is to study, there are differing views on whether those seeking employment before graduation should be included in labor force survey statistics. This topic, along with others such as the redefinition of age ranges for youth in light of their extended educational periods due to rising educational levels, requires further study.

Fu Linghui the spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that the Bureau will delve deep into these matters to enhance the labor force survey statistics and better reflect employment trends.

According to a June survey, China’s economy has rebounded sluggishly after the end of the epidemic’s restrictive measures, leaving a record 21.3% of potential urban workers aged between 16 and 24 jobless.

3. Myanmar’s tourism industry awaits the return of Chinese tourists after “No more Bets”

The Weibo hot search featured the topic ‘Myanmar’s tourism industry awaits the return of Chinese tourists’ on 15th August.

China is the primary country of origin for Myanmar’s tourism industry and plays a significant supporting role. Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism reported that between April of last year and March of this year, 367,400 foreign tourists visited Myanmar, with only 13.15 per cent, or nearly 50,000 being Chinese. It is much less than a fraction of what it was before.

Although the prices of major and popular hotels in Myanmar have been reduced by 60% to attract tourists, Chinese remain unconvinced due to the recent success of the film “No More Bets”.

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Poster of No more bets

Upon its release as an educational film to combat telecom fraud, “No More Bets” quickly became a box office hit. The film tells the story of the hero, programmer Pan Sheng, who appears to be highly intelligent but believes an overseas advertisement for a high salary and quits his current stable job, only to find out that he has been tricked into coming to a telecom fraud park in Myanmar. The female protagonist is Anna, a model with a pretty face and figure, who is also tricked into working as a dealer in the park because she trusts her friends and aspires to achieve financial freedom by dealing cards online. In the park, ignoring the instructions leads to severe torture and abuse such as covering the face with cling film, electric shocks from a baton, ears being torn, legs being broken, being pricked with steel needles and others.

As the film is based on a true story, it helps Chinese people gain greater insight into the current situation in Myanmar’s scam parks. The movie’s publicity claims that “every person who watches the movie, helps in curbing scams”, hence it is unlikely that Myanmar will attract Chinese tourists until the security concerns are addressed.

4. Late Singer Li Wen Exposes ‘The Voice of China’ causing its parent company stock price plummet by half

On August 17th, a recording allegedly featuring the late singer Li Wen was released, where she lamented about the unfair treatment she received while participating in the show “The Voice of China”. In the recording, Li Wen tearfully described her treatment on the show as unfair and disrespectful. Despite her confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer and a leg injury which prevented her from standing for prolonged periods, she claimed to have been treated unjustly by the show’s production team and was nearly forcibly removed from the recording site by staff and security. The leak of this recording has brought significant attention to “The Voice of China”, causing related topics to trend on various online social platforms.

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Li Wen complaining during the show

Following the exposure of this recording, a former contestant of the show revealed that securing a single chair turn (gaining support from one of the four mentors) costs CNY 500,000, and those aiming for the top eight spots need to sign a nine-year contract. Prominent singers, like Han Hong, have also come forward to support Li Wen’s statements.

“The Voice of China” is the flagship variety show IP of Star China Media, but its profitability appears to be waning rapidly. Financial reports indicate that from 2019 to 2021, the revenue generated by “The Voice of China” was CNY 491 million, 325 million, and 252 million respectively. As for the gross profit margin, it was 46.6% in 2019 and dropped to a mere 2.2% by 2021.

As of August 21st, the stock price of Star China Media continued to plummet, reporting a steep decline of over 25% to 71 HKD per share. The total market value is approximately HKD  28.3 billion. Compared to the closing price on August 17th, Star China Media ‘s stock has nearly halved within two days after the news.

Star China Media was established in 2006 and wasn’t really successful until 2011, when key figures Tian Ming, Jin Lei, and Xu Xiangdong joined the company. In 2012, “The Voice of China” became an instant hit. Over the next few years, Star China Media successively launched several other major variety shows like “China’s Got Talent”, “The Masked Singer”, and “This! Is Street Dance”. At its peak, the company was producing dozens of flagship variety shows annually. To diversify its business and reduce reliance on individual shows, in early 2016, Star China Media acquired the advertising operation company Xingkong International and the music IP and artist management company Dream Sound, for 103 million RMB and 2.08 billion RMB, respectively. This strategic move allowed Star China Media to form its own closed-loop business ecosystem. Star China Media would produce shows, cultivate artists through programs like “The Voice of China”, then sign these artists under Dream Sound. These artists would then generate substantial revenue through performances, licensing, and other ventures—a classic “killing multiple birds with one stone” approach. This business model has become one of the focal points of recent criticisms. There have been several whistle blowers claiming that contestants on “The Voice of China”, if they perform well, are approached for potential contracts. Whether or not they sign, and the specific terms of these contracts, could influence the outcome of the competition. As a result, it’s often joked that the most successful contestant on “The Voice of China” isn’t necessarily the champion.

5. China releases 2023 obesity map, over 41% of men across the country are overweight

On August 17th, the report titled “Prevalence of Obesity and Related Complications in China:” was published. It is a Cross-Sectional Real-World Study of 15.8 Million Adults published in the academic journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IF: 5.8), which generated a digital version of “China’s Obesity Map”. Based on China’s BMI (Body Mass Index) classification standards for overweight and obesity, 34.8% of the 15.8 million adult subjects were classified as overweight, and 14.1% were classified as obese.

According to the report data, overweight and obesity are more common in males than females, with 41.1% of the total amount of overweight individuals being male, compared to 27.7% female, and 18.2% of the total number of obese individuals being male, compared to 9.4% being a female.

Regarding different regions, the north has a generally higher proportion of overweight/obese individuals than the south. In terms of overweight population, the top three provinces are Inner Mongolia (37.1%), Shandong (37.1%), and Hebei (36.6%).


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