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HONG KONG—China is planning a Covid-19 vaccination campaign for the elderly in December and January, part of its effort to be able to ease its zero-Covid policy, public-health officials familiar with the plan said, as outbreaks hit records and protests denouncing rigid pandemic controls spread. China aims to inoculate 90% of people aged 80 and above with at least one shot by the end of January, said the officials, who work at local branches of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and received instructions from Beijing. That rate is currently at 77%, according to government data.
China had three years to prepare for a nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases. While it increased spending to build more hospitals and develop vaccines, funding gradually shifted toward paying for costly Covid-19 restrictions. Investment in expanding medical resources, such as hospital beds, actually slowed during the pandemic, government data shows.
SINGAPORE—China’s central bank moved to backstop growth by boosting lending to households and businesses, as the world’s second-largest economy struggles with its biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began. Economists said the shift in policy will likely have limited impact, as repeated lockdowns, a continuing real estate crunch and fading demand for Chinese exports mean appetite for loans is weak.
Pop singer and actor Kris Wu, who is also known as Wu Yifan, has previously denied the allegations. He is pictured at a music awards ceremony in Toronto in 2018. China sentenced Chinese-born Canadian pop star and actor Kris Wu to 13 years in prison after finding him guilty of rape and one other sex crime, closing the book on one of the most high-profile cases to emerge from the country’s embattled #MeToo movement. A court in the Chinese capital of Beijing said in a statement Friday evening that Mr. Wu, one of the country’s most recognizable celebrities, raped three women who were too intoxicated to resist in late 2020.
SINGAPORE—China’s new Covid-19 cases hit a record high, testing the government’s push to contain the virus with more-targeted virus controls and avoid damaging the economy. Almost 30,000 locally transmitted infections were recorded for Wednesday, surpassing the previous record in April, when Shanghai’s two-month lockdown severely hurt China’s economy and snarled global supply chains. Economists say the risk that China’s “zero-Covid” policy will again force officials to impose sweeping measures is one of the main threats to world growth.
SINGAPORE—Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met his Chinese counterpart for the first time in months, the latest sign of thawing ties between the two countries after a rupture in August following a trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe discussed bilateral ties and security matters on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
SINGAPORE–Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. told staff that it will cut executive salaries to improve employee benefits and ease financial pressure, as tech companies grapple with a weaker economy. Beijing-based JD.com will reduce the compensations of some 2,000 senior managers by 10%-20% from next year, with steeper cuts for higher-level executives, according to a letter Richard Liu , the billionaire founder of the company, sent to staff on Tuesday and seen by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Liu in the letter apologized for cutting their pay and promised to restore it if JD.com could return to fast growth in the coming two years.
SINGAPORE—Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met his Chinese counterpart for the first time in months, the latest sign of thawing ties between the two countries after a rupture in August following a trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe discussed bilateral ties and security matters on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
SINGAPORE—China acknowledged its first deaths related to Covid-19 in about six months as surging cases collide with a government push to ease unpopular and costly pandemic controls. The three victims, all over 87 years old and with pre-existing illnesses, were from Beijing, where infections have more than doubled in the past four days, official data show. China reported around 26,000 locally transmitted new daily cases for Sunday, with cases also surging in other major cities and outbreaks reported in all regions for a sixth consecutive day.
Several of the world’s biggest tech companies are laying off employees. One company bucking the trend so far is TikTok. Amid a retrenchment in Silicon Valley, the Chinese-owned social-media company is in the middle of a three-year hiring push, having committed to add about 3,000 engineers in worldwide locations including the U.S.
SINGAPORE— Volkswagen AG plans to stop manufacturing manual cars at one of its two China joint ventures, as Chinese consumers shift their buying from traditional combustion-engine cars to electric vehicles. The German car maker will end production of such vehicles at its joint venture with Chinese state-owned auto maker SAIC Motor Corp. in August 2024 due to changes in market demand, a Volkswagen spokesman said Friday. The move won’t involve job cuts and affected workers will be reassigned to different production lines, a person familiar with the company said.
SINGAPORE— Activision Blizzard Inc. is halting most online game services in China in January, including “World of Warcraft,” “StarCraft” and “Diablo III,” as it and China’s NetEase Inc. end a 14-year licensing partnership. Blizzard Entertainment Inc., an Activision Blizzard subsidiary, and NetEase failed to reach a deal to renew their licensing agreements, the two companies said Thursday China time. One obstacle to renewing the deal was a disagreement between the two parties over how data of Chinese players are controlled, people familiar with the negotiations said. Data collected by powerful internet companies and how those are handled has become a point of friction between the U.S. and China in recent years.
Tencent has been a large shareholder of Meituan since the latter’s early days. SINGAPORE— Tencent Holdings Ltd. is shedding most of its stake in food-delivery company Meituan as the Chinese social-media and videogame giant moves to cash out from its investments in China’s internet sector. Tencent on Wednesday said it would distribute more than 958 million shares of Meituan, worth roughly $20 billion, as a special dividend to Tencent shareholders. The distribution will leave Tencent with a 1.5% stake in Meituan from 17% currently.
Challenges in the digital-ad sector are driving TikTok to diversify its revenue sources. SINGAPORE—TikTok’s slashing of its advertising-revenue outlook shows the fast-growing short-video app isn’t immune to the ad weakness reported by other social-media companies. TikTok has lowered its target for this year’s advertising revenue to $10 billion from at least $12 billion, Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew told staff in an online meeting that took place in recent weeks, according to the employees who attended the meeting.
Nvidia’s new chip is a response to the Biden administration’s new rules restricting exports of American chip technology to China. HONG KONG— Nvidia Corp. has begun offering an alternative to a high-end chip hit with U.S. export restrictions to customers in China, after the new rules threatened to cost the American company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. Nvidia said the new graphics-processing chip, branded the A800, meets U.S. restrictions on chips that can be exported to China under new rules rolled out last month. The chip went into production in the third quarter, the company said.
BEIJING–U.S. chip equipment suppliers are pulling out staff based at China’s leading memory chip maker and pausing business activities there, according to people familiar with the matter, as they rush to assess the impact of Commerce Department semiconductor export restrictions. State-owned Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. is facing a freeze in support from key suppliers including KLA and Lam Research the people said. The suspensions follow last week’s sweeping curbs imposed by the U.S. on China’s chip sector, ostensibly to prevent American technology from advancing China’s military power, though the impact might reach further into the industry.
Tencent Holdings Ltd. is looking into shedding more of its huge investment portfolio as the Chinese social-media and videogame company tries to fund a series of share buybacks and refocus its growth strategy, people familiar with the matter said. The technology giant, which owns stakes in some of China’s largest internet companies, has recently completed a regular review of its sprawling portfolio and identified its priorities for possible stake sales based on the returns these investments have generated, the people said. Potential disposals could include online real-estate brokerage KE Holdings food-delivery company Meituan and ride-hailing giant Didi Global they added. Tencent is in no rush to execute the divestments, the people said, and it is unclear when they will happen.
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