• China Insights Weekly
  • Posts
  • China Cures Diabetes 🩺, Lands on the Moon 🌕, and Opens 3.5GW Solar Farm 🌞

China Cures Diabetes 🩺, Lands on the Moon 🌕, and Opens 3.5GW Solar Farm 🌞

China Insights Weekly: Unpacking China’s Economic and Technological Advances

2024-06-09 | subscribe | homepage

Welcome to This Week’s Edition of the China Insights Weekly Newsletter!

We’ve curated the top business and tech insights from China just for you, distilled into a quick 5-minute read.

Your feedback is important to us! Feel free to share your thoughts or requests by replying to this email or commenting online.

Image: ChatGPT

Let’s dive into this week’s top stories! Click on any of the titles below to get the full story.

🚀 Headlines

Activity in China’s manufacturing sector clocked a fourth consecutive month of accelerated growth in May, with particularly strong increases in consumer goods production, a Caixin-sponsored survey focusing on private companies showed. Activity in China’s services sector grew at the fastest pace in 10 months in May, as employment expanded for the first time in four months. The Caixin China General Services Business Activity Index, which tracks industries such as retail and tourism, increased 1.5 points from April to 54 last month. Meanwhile, the official NBS Manufacturing PMI in China that focuses on large state-owned companies declined to 49.5 in May 2024 from 50.4 a month earlier, missing market forecasts of 50.5. It marked the first contraction in factory activity since February. A reading above 50 signals an expansion in activity, while a number below that indicates a contraction.

China’s exports grew more than expected in May, up by 7.6% (link)

Exports rose by 7.6% in May from a year ago in U.S. dollar terms, beating expectations for 6% growth. For the first five months of the year, U.S. dollar-denominated exports rose by 2.7% from a year ago, while imports were up by 2.9%. China’s imports and exports to the U.S. and EU fell during that time. But trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose, with China’s exports to the region up by 4.1% year-on-year in the January to May period, the data showed. China’s exports to Russia fell during that time, while imports from Russia rose by 7.5%. China’s exports of ships nearly doubled in the January to May period from a year ago, while exports of cars and integrated circuits rose by 20% each.

Saudi Arabia joins the central bank digital currency project led by BIS, and China (link)

Saudi Arabia has joined a China-dominated central bank digital currency cross-border trial, in what could be another step towards less of the world's oil trade being done in US dollars. The move, announced by the Bank for International Settlements on Wednesday, will see Saudi's central bank become a "full participant" of Project mBridge, a collaboration launched in 2021 between the central banks of China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a global central bank umbrella organization that oversees the project, also announced that mBridge had reached "minimum viable product" stage, meaning it will move beyond the prototype phase. The mBridge transactions can use the code China's e-yuan is built on.

American Lululemon competitor Vuori eyes China expansion with first Shanghai store (link)

Vuori, the activewear brand from California, has launched its first store in China. The 1,600-square-foot store is located in Shanghai’s Jing’an Kerry Center, a lifestyle-driven shopping mall in downtown Shanghai. Before the opening, Vuori operated a nine-month-long pop-up at Kerry Center to test the retail temperature. Its Tmall store opened in late 2022. The activewear brand plans to open a second store in Shanghai this fall.

China’s tourists to spend nearly USD 1 Trillion on holidays at home in 2024 (link)

Chinese holidaymakers will spend 1.8 trillion yuan ($250 billion) this year on trips internationally — about 10% more than they did in 2019. Chinese tourists embarking on adventures closer to home are also forecast to pump a record 6.79 trillion yuan into the mainland economy this year, also topping the pre-pandemic level. Chinese outspend tourists from all other countries, including Americans. In 2019, Chinese travelers made 170 million trips abroad and spent almost 1.7 trillion yuan overseas — making up 14% of global tourism spending, according to World Travel and Tourism Council data. Spending by domestic holidaymakers is expected to be 11% higher than 2019. The tourism and travel sector broadly supported 80 million tourism and travel jobs this year, about 2% below 2019.

Xiaomi's car factory is hiring a large number of workers with monthly salaries between RMB 8,000 to RMB 10,000 ($1,380) plus a bonus amounting to one month's salary at the end of the year. Because of the delivery pressure, workers at the Xiaomi EV factory are required to work longer hours, 10-11 hours a day. Workers are expected to cover two shifts and work six days a week. On a 10-hour per day, 6-day a week work schedule workers will earn between USD 4.25 (RMB 30.8) to 5.3 USD (RMB 38.5) an hour. The Xiaomi EV factory would start double-shift production in June and would deliver at least 10,000 units that month. The Xiaomi SU7 EV has gained unprecedented acceptance since its launch, and customers who order the SU7 currently have to wait at least 30 weeks for delivery.

Secondhand NEVs gain favor among China’s younger generation (link)

According to the China Automobile Dealers Association, in March 2024, a total of 91,500 used NEVs were traded nationwide, a 41.4% increase from February and a 63.5% increase year-on-year. Data from Guazi, a secondhand car platform, shows that young people are increasingly becoming the main buyers of pre-owned NEVs. Cost-effectiveness, return on investment, and the desire to experience new things are factors driving this acceptance and adoption. In April 2024, used NEVs not only had lower retention rates but also suffered a 10% higher price drop than gasoline cars in the first year of ownership. From January to April, the average retention rates of used NEVs for one, two, and three years of ownership are 60%, 51%, and 43%, respectively, equivalent to a 50% price drop in two years.

China turns on the world’s biggest solar farm in the western desert (link)

The world’s largest solar farm, in the desert in northwestern Xinjiang, is now connected to China’s grid. The 3.5-gigawatt (GW), 33,000-acre solar farm is outside Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. The world’s largest solar farm in Xinjiang is part of China’s megabase project, a plan to install 455 GW of wind and solar. The megabase projects are sited in sparsely populated, resource-rich areas and send their generated energy to major urban centers, such as on China’s eastern seaboard. China now boasts the three largest solar farms in the world by capacity. The Ningxia Tenggeli and Golmud Wutumeiren solar farms, each with a capacity of around 3 GW, are already online.

🎁 Bonus Stories

China has become the first country to collect samples from the far side of the moon, hopefully providing scientists with new insights into the history and formation of our natural satellite. On June 1, a grab-and-go mission named Chang’e-6 touched down in the Apollo crater, which sits inside the much larger South Pole–Aitken basin, the biggest meteor impact site in the solar system.

The mission involves a complicated collaboration between four different spacecraft modules — an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a reentry vehicle. After establishing a stable orbit, the lander detached from the main spacecraft and descended using an autonomous visual obstacle avoidance system to pick a safe landing spot. Once on the surface, a drill and robotic arm collected samples and loaded them into the ascender which blasted back up into orbit. After successfully rendezvousing with the orbiter, the spacecraft will now return to Earth, where a reentry module will safely deliver the samples to a landing site in Inner Mongolia, a region in northern China on June 25.

In 2028, Chang’e-8 will deliver several pieces of equipment designed to support a longer-term human presence on the moon. These include a device that will use solar power to melt lunar soil and fashion it into components and a miniature terrestrial ecosystem of plants and microbes that will test the possibility of producing food and oxygen on the lunar surface.

World’s first diabetes cure with cell therapy achieved in China (link)

In a groundbreaking medical achievement, a team of Chinese scientists and clinicians have cured a patient of diabetes using cell therapy for the first time. In July 2021, the patient underwent the cell transplant. Just 11 weeks after the procedure, the patient’s need for external insulin was eliminated. Within a year of the treatment, the patient also no longer required oral medications to control blood sugar levels. The team, led by Yin Hao, a leading researcher at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital, used and programmed the patient’s own peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These were transformed into “seed cells” and reconstituted pancreatic islet tissue in an artificial environment. This breakthrough is another advancement in the field of regenerative medicine, which leverages the body’s own regenerative capabilities to treat illness.

Love China Insights? Subscribe and share with your friends!

Did you like the content? Check out last week's China Insights post for more top stories.

You can also find us on LinkedIn here. Hope to see you again next week!

Interested in starting a newsletter yourself? Check out Beehiiv!

Join the conversation

or to participate.