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Study Shows Overtime is Common in China

China’s National Business Daily reported that a study that the China Social Science Publishing House and the Inner Mongolia University issued on December 10 showed that it was quite common in 2017 for Chinese workers to work overtime (net working hours greater than 8 hours a day), with an overtime rate of 42.2 percent. Working overtime is particularly serious among low-income, low-education, and manufacturing workers. The overtime rate among manufacturing workers can be as high as 58.8 percent. The study was based on an analysis of the time utilization information from 12,471 households (30,591 household members) in 29 provinces in China, not including Xinjiang and Tibet.

According to the analysis of urban traffic data, Huawei topped Chinese companies with an average daily overtime of 3.96 hours per person.

Many Chinese are still working even though they are on vacation. The traveler bloggers website (www.mafengwo.cn) released The “Chinese White-collar Workers Travel Research Report 2017,” which showed that 88 percent of white-collar workers need to handle work even during travel. Ten percent of respondents said they would like to take a low-key vacation and never tell their colleagues. Forty-six percent of people would proceed cautiously, sharing the vacation information only with close colleagues.

Source: Central News Agency, December 11, 2018
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201812110215.aspx

Deutsche Welle: Cemetery Prices in China Are Higher Than the Price of Housing

On December 3, Deutsche Welle reported that, not only are housing prices in China’s metropolises rising rapidly, but cemetery plots have become increasingly expensive and scarce. The price of a cemetery plot has soared due to the lack of land. This is true not only in Beijing, but also in many other coastal cities in China. Whether it is Shanghai, Shenzhen, or Hong Kong, cemeteries are becoming fewer and fewer. The article stated that in the capital, Beijing, there are only enough available cemetery plots to last for six years. Hong Kong residents have to wait in line to purchase a cemetery plot. In cities like Beijing or Shanghai, the cost per square meter is over 100,000 yuan (US$14,526) which is higher than the price of housing and it is impossible for an average working class family to afford. The Chinese government hopes to achieve nearly a 100 percent cremation rate, but so far not everyone has responded positively to the government’s call because it is against people’s traditional beliefs in Chinese culture.

Source: Deutsche Welle, December 3, 2018
https://www.dw.com/zh/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E5%A2%93%E5%9C%B0%E7%B4%A7%E7%BC%BA-%E6%AD%BB%E4%BA%BA%E5%92%8C%E6%B4%BB%E4%BA%BA%E4%BA%89%E5%9C%B0/a-46554056

China’s Ambition to Dominate the World’s Lithium Market

China’s Tianqi Lithium acquired a 23.77 percent stake in Chilean lithium giant Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (SQM) for US$4.0 billion. China is therefore one step closer to having a monopoly position in the lithium mining market. This rare metal has the reputation of being the “oil of the 21st century” because it is indispensable for the batteries that charge virtually every electronic product, computers, cell phones, and electric cars.

SQM is the world’s largest lithium producer, accounting for nearly a quarter of all global production. Tianqi Lithium also has shares in Australia’s Albemarle Corp., the world’s second-largest lithium producer. If added to the production of Tianqi Lithium itself, the Chinese company would control 70 percent of the global market for this precious metal.

For China, it is important to control such an important raw material around the world. Liu Ying, a researcher at the Chongyang Financial Research Institute of Renmin University of China, believes that the demand for lithium in the future can only grow. The world will gradually abandon oil and switch to new energy sources, mainly electricity. Nothing has been found to replace the lithium which is necessary for the production of storage batteries. A monopoly of the lithium market would have a very attractive future.

Sputnik News, December 6, 2018
http://sputniknews.cn/opinion/201812061027037125/

Lianhe Zaobao: China Had to Buy U.S. Pork to Fight Swine Fever

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that China has been importing a massive amount of U.S. pork although China is charging punishing tariffs on pork originated from the United States. Highly infectious swine plague is sweeping across China, putting heavy damage on the pork market and industry in China. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, very recently, Chinese entities placed the largest order for U.S. pork since the beginning of the trade war. The active purchasing moves gave the observers the impression that the Chinese pork market is seeing a significant shortage. This may actually ease the tension between China and the U.S. that the trade war introduced. China is currently charging a 62 percent tariff against U.S. pork. For the week of November 22, purchases of 9,384 tons of 2019 U.S. pork originated from China. This represents a 72 percent share of all U.S. pork export deals during that week. U.S. pork futures increased by four percent.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, November 30, 2018
https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/china/story20181130-912069

Xinhua: Real Estate Developers Financed over 100 Billion Yuan in November

As real estate sales have gradually slowed down, China’s real estate developers have been faced with an increased demand for financing due to people’s heavy upfront investments, interest payments, and the slow return of cash flow. Since the government loosened up the financing policy, there has been an increase in real estate financing activities. According to statistics from the Central Plains Real Estate Research Center, in November (as of November 28), a number of real estate companies across the country were approved for large-scale financing with the total financing amount exceeding 100 billion yuan (US$14 billion). Meanwhile the defaults on debt payments this year has hit a record high. In November, 150 billion yuan in debt was due, which was the second largest amount in 2018. It is expected that the debt repayment will be even larger in December.

Source: Xinhua, November 30, 2018
http://www.xinhuanet.com/house/2018-11-30/c_1123787448.htm

A Tough Job Market for Chinese College Graduates

According to Chinese media, the coming winter is also a winter for the job market in mainland China. Second-tier cities and small and medium-sized enterprises are the places seeing the most cuts in new job opportunities.

Phoenix reported at the end of October that China’s Huawei issued internal documents indicating that the company would halt generic job hiring, except for talent in critical areas and special recruitment of professionals with excellent work experience. Subsequently, tech giants such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, and JD.com were also rumored to have suspended or reduced recruitment of fresh graduates.

More than 8.2 million college students are graduating in China, a new historic record.

Both seasonal factors and economic factors are behind the tough job market. Sectors such as trade, furniture and home appliances, and construction engineering have fewer job openings than expected.

Small and medium-sized enterprises and private enterprises with less than 500 employees are the main entities responsible for the reduction in the number of job postings. Weaker demand, lower economic growth, and an increase in financing costs have aggravated the operational difficulties of these companies.

The profitability of large companies is also trending downward. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the annual growth rate of total profits of large enterprises in October was only 3.6 percent; it is the fourth consecutive month of decline.

Source: Central News Agency, November 27, 2018
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201811270173.aspx