Chinese stock indexes rally on Tuesday as State Council meeting pledges strong measures to support capital market

The Chinese stock market rallied on Tuesday after hitting the three-year low, boosted by a State Council meeting vowing to take "stronger, more effective measures" to stabilize the capital market and improve market confidence.

Analysts are generally positive about the prospect of China's stock market, which has become one of the most attractive markets globally in terms of valuation of shares.

The Shanghai Component Index closed up 0.59 percent to 2,770.98 on Tuesday, the Shenzhen Composite Index rose by 1.38 percent to 8,596.28. The tech-heavy ChiNext index went up by 1.24 percent to 1,687.61.

Stocks of many Shanghai State-owned enterprises staged a stellar performance, with companies including Shanghai Phoenix Enterprise (Group) Co, Shanghai Material Trading Co, Capital Securities Co and China Television Media rising by the daily limit.

A meeting of the State Council, the cabinet, held on Monday pledged "stronger, more effective measures" to stabilize the market and improve market confidence.

Efforts will be made to enhance the innovation and coordination of policy tools, consolidate and strengthen the trend of economic recovery, and promote the stable and healthy development of the capital market, according to meeting notes.

According to a report by Bloomberg Tuesday, relevant Chinese authorities are seeking to mobilize about 2 trillion yuan ($278 billion), mainly coming from offshore accounts of state-owned enterprises, as part of a stabilization fund to buy shares onshore through the Hong Kong exchange link.

In Hong Kong market, the Hang Seng Index rose by 3.26 percent to 15,448.54 points as of 2:30 pm Tuesday, regaining the psychological threshold of 15,000.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is closely following Hong Kong equity market fluctuations, and considers the market still operating in an orderly fashion without abnormal phenomenon, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday.

As an international financial hub, Hong Kong SAR remains competitive and attractive. Hong Kong enjoys free capital flows, highly transparent operations and sound supervision system, according to Lee. He said the equity market fluctuations are mainly due to market factors, calling for investors to make decisions by closely following market changes.

The Chinese stock market has become one of the most attractive markets across the world in terms of share valuation. The valuation of A-shares is about half that of US market stocks, Zhu Liang, chief investment officer of AllianceBernstein's office in China, said in a note sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

China is the world's largest foreign trade country and its capital market is a venue that could provide good yields. Currently, investors across the globe are quietly paying attention to A-share market, Zhu said, noting that they are "waiting for wind." In 2024, listed Chinese companies are expected to maintain a good profit growth, with the growth rate of earnings per share (EPS) expected to be around 17 percent, Zhu said.

China’s employment situation expected to remain stable in 2024 amid accelerated industrial upgrading: official

The surveyed urban unemployment rate on average in China stood at 5.2 percent in 2023, down 0.4 percentage points year-on-year, official data showed on Wednesday. An official said that the employment situation will remain stable in 2024 thanks to the economic recovery, accelerated industrial upgrading and other positive factors.

In December, the rate in urban areas was 5.1 percent, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). On Wednesday, the NBS also resumed the release of data on youth unemployment after a four-month suspension.

The surveyed unemployment rate of the population aged 16 to 24 (excluding students) was 14.9 percent in December.

"In 2023, we managed to keep employment stable, with an overall improvement," Kang Yi, head of the NBS, told a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Kang said that 11.8 million urban jobs were added in the first 11 months of last year, up 350,000 year-on-year. Thanks to policies to stabilize employment and expand hiring, the employment of key groups and groups in difficulty was effectively ensured. 

As of the end of November, 32.94 million people had been lifted out of poverty through employment, exceeding the target of 30 million, he said.

The improved employment situation underscored the economic recovery in 2023, as well as the implementation of pro-employment policies. That was especially true of those supporting private enterprises, which create about 80 percent of the country's jobs, Li Chang'an, a professor at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies of the University of International Business and Economics, told Global Times on Wednesday.

A report Chinese job-hunting platform Zhilian Zhaopin sent to the Global Times showed that wages offered to new hires in the fourth quarter rose from the third quarter.

Salaries in such sectors as new-energy vehicles (NEVs) and consumer services rose quickly, driven by booming sales and the consumption rebound.

China still faces employment pressure, with structural problems involving some groups and industries. "However, our employment situation is expected to remain stable thanks to the economic recovery, our accelerated industrial upgrading and other positive factors," Kang said. 

Kang said that China's incremental economic growth this year will likely outpace that of last year, providing strong support for expanding employment. Also, the number of people leaving the labor force this year will outnumber those who are entering, providing more opportunities for job-seekers.

"The growth of the consumption sector will continue to be a major force creating jobs this year," Kang said, and policies to stabilize employment will also continue to produce effects.

Li called for more efforts to strengthen vocational training, optimize recruitment services and ensure the stable employment of key groups. "More policies should be announced to support sectors that could create more jobs for young people - for example, rural revitalization, Chinese companies 'going global' and digital transformation," Li said.

A Shenzhen-based fresh graduate named Wang Xinyun told the Global Times on Wednesday that there are still many opportunities in sectors that quickly recovered from the pandemic, and young people should find a job first and then continue to improve their competitiveness.

Wang works at a tourism agency in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, and said she hopes to ride on the wave of booming tourism to carve out a niche in the field.

US escalates Red Sea tensions, while China voices fairness

The Red Sea, once a bustling waterway that attracted a large number of cargo ships from around the world, is now in turmoil. Amid all the intricacy and complexity, China has raised a fair voice.

In the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed grave concern over the escalating tensions in the Red Sea. He called for an end to the harassment of civilian vessels in the Red Sea, while noting that the UN Security Council has never authorized any country to use force against Yemen. Wang called for refraining from taking any actions that will "add fuel to the fire" in the Red Sea and raise the overall security risks in the region.

China's fairness lies in not taking sides or showing bias. This is in stark contrast to how Western countries touch upon on the Gaza war, in which they tend to overwhelmingly blame Hamas without mentioning the reasons behind Hamas' attacks. China, on the other hand, does not support the Houthis' use of violence to disrupt the trade route in the Red Sea, but it also disagrees with the US-led biased approach and double standards in the hostilities between Israel and Palestine, as well as the use of violence to counter violence.

Wang said the UN Security Council has never authorized any country to use force against Yemen. To be straightforward, the Western alliance's attack in the region is unauthorized and illegal. 

Houthis'attacks in the Red Sea is a protest against Israel's actions in the Gaza war, which actually has caused widespread opposition from the international community, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times. 

When the Houthis vowed to attack ships in the Red Sea that are linked to Israel, how did the US respond to that? Escalation. The US first launched a multinational coalition against the Yemeni militants. After seeing the effectiveness of the operation was unsatisfactory, the US and UK militaries launched strikes against Houthi targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The missions failed to stop Houthis from attacking shipping, and now Houthis are targeting US ships. A Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile struck a US-owned and operated cargo ship on Monday. What's the point of that escalation?

This retaliation and counter-retaliation are snowballing in the Red Sea. It is now evident that the US and the UK have underestimated the military capabilities of the Houthi militants. Experts believe that the US will find it difficult to contain the Houthis, and that the Red Sea crisis won't be resolved any time soon. 

Against this backdrop, media outlets from various countries have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Maritime ships are signaling their Chinese identity in the Red Sea to avoid being targeted by the Houthis.

This is a reflection of China's soft power. "The Houthi militants have no interest in attacking Chinese ships. The reason is simple - China makes fair remarks and takes fair actions concerning Middle East affairs. China does not have any special interests in the region and cares only about regional peace, security, and stability," Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

China has played a constructive role in fostering peace in the Middle East. The Chinese-mediated detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia has driven a "wave of reconciliation" in the Middle East. The Arab League decided to re-admit Syria after shunning it for 12 years. Turkey and Egypt realized full normalization of relations, ending nearly a decade of diplomatic hostility.

After the Gaza conflict broke out, Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun visited a number of Middle East countries calling for ceasefire and creation of conditions for the resumption of the peace process. China has also joined in the co-sponsorship of the draft UN Security Council resolution aimed at removing bottlenecks to humanitarian access and alleviating the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. 

In contrast, US' comprehensive and overt support for Israel has directly led to the prolongation and escalation of the war. It is also due to the obstruction by the US that the UN Security Council has repeatedly postponed the draft resolution aimed at bringing in some form of ceasefire. The biggest difference between China and the US in Middle East affairs is that China is a responsible major power, and its responsible actions have been recognized by all parties, Shen said.

As Wang mentioned in Egypt, the priority now is to stop the conflict as soon as possible to prevent it from further escalation or even getting out of control.

If Washington and London genuinely want an end of the crisis in the Red Sea, the only way out is to end the Gaza crisis, withdraw what should be withdrawn, end wrong support, and apply pressure where it's needed. 

China welcomes more Swiss companies to invest in the country: Chinese Premier

China will open its door wider and wider to the outside world, welcoming more Swiss companies to invest in the country, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Sunday.

Li made the remarks on a special train from Zurich to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, during which he engaged in a candid exchange with President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Li noted that Swiss enterprises have deeply participated in China's reform and opening-up process in the past 40-odd years, contributing to the economic and social development of China while achieving substantial benefits for themselves.

Switzerland not only boasts beautiful natural landscapes but also has good ecological environment, leading innovation capability and high-quality "Made in Switzerland" products, he said.

At present, China is advancing the Chinese modernization in an all-round way with high-quality development, Li noted, adding that China is ready to enhance exchanges and mutual learning and understanding with Switzerland.

Amherd welcomed Li at the start of his official visit to Switzerland, adding  that many Swiss companies have achieved good performance in their investment and development in China and are willing to further deepen their presence in the Chinese market.

The two sides also exchanged views on scientific research and technological innovation, green development, cultural tourism, winter sports, among others, and agreed to promote cooperation in those fields.

China emphasizes Taiwan question, South China Sea issue in resumed defense policy coordination talks with US

China and the US resumed the previously suspended defense policy coordination talks with a meeting this week, in which the Chinese side stressed its positions on the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue, as well as maritime and air security issues.

Although differences remain and cannot be resolved anytime soon, such talks can lower the risks of misjudgments which will prevent escalating accidents into conflicts, experts said on Wednesday. 

The 17th China-US Defense Policy Coordination Talks was held in Washington from Monday to Tuesday, China's Ministry of National Defense (MOD) said in a press release on Wednesday.

It marks the first meeting of the Defense Policy Coordination Talks since the annual talks were suspended after then-US house speaker Nancy Pelosi provocatively visited the island of Taiwan in August 2022, observers said.

The Chinese side said that China is ready to develop healthy and stable military ties with the US side on the basis of equality and respect, and work together to implement the important consensus related to military affairs reached by the two heads of state during their meeting in San Francisco in 2023, the MOD press release reads.

Zhuo Hua, an international affairs expert at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the latest meeting is a reflection of smooth progress in China and the US' gradual resumption of military exchanges.

The defense policy coordination talks came after senior officials of the two militaries' joint staff departments had a virtual meeting in December 2023. It is an indication that other military communication channels, including Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings, telephone conversations between theater commanders and meetings between defense ministers could also resume soon, marking the complete resumption of the two militaries' exchanges at all levels, Zhuo said.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that direct communication between the two countries' militaries are conducive to preventing misjudgments, which could cause unpredictable conflicts and frictions that bring tremendous harm not only to the two countries, but also to peace and stability in the region.

As long as the US aims to maintain its global hegemony, it is unrealistic to expect the US to make fundamental changes, and China needs to maintain high vigilance in safeguarding its own national security, Song said.

This means it is vital that the two militaries manage differences and defuse crises should they arise, Song said.

In the meeting, the Chinese side urged the US side to take seriously China's concerns and take more actions that are conducive to the development of the two countries' military relations, according to the MOD press release.

The Chinese side stressed that China will not make any concessions or compromises on the Taiwan question, and demanded that the US side abide by the one-China principle, implement relevant commitments, stop arming the island of Taiwan, and not support "Taiwan independence."

The Chinese side urged the US side to reduce military deployments and provocations in the South China Sea, and stop supporting infringing, provocative actions by a certain country. 

The US side should fully recognize the root cause of maritime and air security issues, strictly discipline its frontline troops, and stop sensationalizing and hyping relevant issues, the Chinese side said.

The Chinese side also elaborated China's stern positions and major concerns on issues concerning China's core interests and international hotspot issues.

According to a readout on the talks published by the US Department of Defense, the US side highlighted the importance of maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication "in order to prevent competition from veering into conflict."

While the US side reiterated the US' commitment to its one-China policy and reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, it also claimed that the US will "continue to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows," and accused China of repeatedly harassing Philippine vessels in the South China Sea.

Analysts said that China repeatedly made its core interests and red lines clear in communicating with the US, and the US will have to understand that if it insists on making provocations in those aspects, China will have to take resolute measures to resolve the questions.

A Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that the remarks from the Chinese side and the US side show that there are still many differences, which is normal given that the military serves politics, and as long as the US is determined to strategically contain China, military exchanges between the two countries will only have limited effects. This is to avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment as much as possible, and prevent potential accidents and their escalation into conflicts, analysts said.

China-US military relations still face uncertainties, and there might be frictions from time to time, but the two major countries must shoulder their responsibilities in managing differences to safeguard peace and stability, the expert said.

Chinese authorities summon three express courier companies for talks

Chinese authorities on Thursday summoned three express courier companies, including YTO Express (Logistics) Co and Yunda Holding Co in Shanghai and Beijing-based JD Logistics, for administrative talks, which are suspected of providing consignment of firecrackers that breach government rules.

According to the official WeChat account of the State Post Bureau (SPB), the enterprises subject to inspection were suspected of posing serious security threats to both individuals and the public by delivering parcels of fireworks and firecrackers inappropriately.

In addition, some employees were found to be lacking in workplace discipline and safety awareness when collecting, receiving and inspecting the parcels.

The companies were required to fully and faithfully put the safety of the delivery process as  their first priority, uphold and act on the principle of seeking development in a safe manner, and putting the interests of the people above all else.

In the face of concerns over air pollution and out of other safety concerns, firework bans have been imposed by many local governments in China, and holiday fireworks activities have therefore been strictly restricted before the New Year’s Eve in 2023, according to thePaper.com.

The authorities include Department of Market Supervision & Inspection of the State Post Bureau (SPB), the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) and relevant department of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

Why Pentagon has trouble taming its wild V-22 Osprey

The US military has grounded its entire fleet of Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft after a deadly crash off Japan last week. Sputnik spoke to veteran Russian combat aircraft pilot Vladimir Popov to get a better sense of the problems associated with the fledgling technology, and why the US refuses to just close the Osprey program down.

A US Air Force Special Operations CV-22B Osprey flying from Yokota Air Base in Tokyo to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Okinawa went down over the East China Sea on November 29, killing all eight airmen onboard.

The crash was at least the 40th accident involving an Osprey since the aircraft's introduction into service with the US military in 2007, with crashes killing at least 53 US service members to date.

The Osprey program is the realization of an idea going back over a century ago of a tiltrotor, also known as a convertiplane - an aircraft with the ability to take off and land vertically using helicopter-style rotors attached to its wings, and which can adjust them during flight to a something closer to an airplane turboprop engine-style configuration. This dramatically increases the convertiplane's speed characteristics relative to those of an ordinary helicopter (up to doubling them).

The United States, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Britain were the first countries to begin experimenting with tiltrotor designs, with each country building prototypes from the 1930s into the early post-war period before concluding the technology was too revolutionary to be implemented effectively using equipment and materials that existed at the time.

The USSR began work on a modern-day iteration of the convertiplane in the 1970s with the Mil Mi-30 Vintoplan (lit. 'Rotorplane') project, which featured an airplane-style fuselage design and characteristics allowing it to carry up to 32 people or up to five tons of cargo. The project, envisioned as a prospective replacement for the Soviet and Russian rugged Mi-8 workhorse series fleet of helicopters, was abandoned in the mid-1990s due to lack of funding after the USSR's collapse.
The Osprey project, designed by Bell and Boeing in the 1980s and first flown in March 1989, entered mass production in 2007, and has since been introduced into service with the US Marines Corps, Air Force, Navy, and Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force. The aircraft can carry up to 24 combat troops or nine tons of cargo. The V-22 is the only convertiplane to be mass produced by any nation, with over 400 built to date.

But as often happens with complex, innovative engineering designs, the glory of having the first fully operational, mass-produced convertiplane is also a heavy burden to bear, with the United States military not only reveling in the Osprey's advantages, but suffering from its flaws, with the V-22 suffering dozens of crashes and at least 16 hull losses to date.

Last week's crash in the East China Sea was the fourth fatal incident involving a V-22 in less than two years, and follows the August 2023 Marine MV-22B crash on Melville Island, Australia during an exercise, killing three service members, the June 2022 crash of a Marine MV-22B in California, killing five troops, and an MV-22B crash in Beiarn, Norway in March 2022, which killed another four Marines.

Investigations into the latest incidents have pointed to technical problems (including a drive system failure caused by a malfunctioning gearbox in the case of the June 2022 incident in California), and pilot error in the case of the March 2022 crash in Norway.

Investigators are yet to offer details on what may have caused the November 29 CV-22B crash off Japan, although eyewitnesses have reported fire coming from one of the aircraft's engines and the Osprey reportedly flying upside down before an explosion spewed wreckage into the surrounding water.

Sunk Costs

Speaking to Sputnik about last week's Osprey crash, and asked why the US military continues to use the convertiplanes despite their crash-prone nature, Honored Military Pilot of Russia Vladimir Popov explained that it likely has to do with the resources the Pentagon has expended on the project.

"The fact is that financial resources have already been invested into the aircraft's creation and implementation," the retired Air Force Major-General with decades of service under his belt told Sputnik.

"Most likely, the engineers, designers, technologists and everyone who took part in the Osprey's development decided that its reliability can be assured, and that it can be improved in the course of operations," Popov said.

"They are likely hoping to get an effective machine, but everything remains in the stages of development and refinement. For now, of course, such an aircraft cannot really be used anywhere, since doing so means losses of personnel and money down the drain. The idea is good, but the implementation, not so much," the veteran pilot explained.

The problem with convertiplane technology at its current stage lies with the components allowing the aircraft to switch from vertical to horizontal flight mode, Popov said. "This node is 'charged' with a great deal of energy, because large loads hang on it. It may not be able to process the transition quite correctly" at times, resulting in accidents.

"Tiltrotors have been flying for a very long time, and they have a short service life. Thus, it's too early to say that it has already reached the peak of its operational maturity. What needs to be done is to clarify what went wrong in each specific case, and to approach the issue carefully and get to the bottom of it. What's also needed is to improve working with personnel, to conduct additional tests, and change the training of the pilot and crew members. The US may continue to operate Ospreys, but they need to think long and hard about how to do so without making sacrifices. Sometimes it's enough to replace only one bolt and everything will work as it should," Popov stressed.

Last week's accident may have been the result of any number of factors, from pilot error and equipment failure to errors in the mathematical calculations by the Osprey's onboard computer, Popov believes.

That said, the veteran pilot is convinced that tiltrotor technology has good prospects for the future, given its status as what is effectively a hybrid airplane/helicopter design that can accelerate to speeds of up over 550 km per hour, far above the roughly 300 km per hour achieved by modern helicopters, which have now maxed out as far as further improvements in speed characteristics go.

COVID-19 infections in China at low epidemic level, no unknown viruses have been found: China CDC

COVID-19 infections in China are at a low epidemic level and no unknown viruses or bacteria have been found during the monitoring of respiratory pathogens in China, according to Chinese health authorities on Sunday.

BA.2.86 and its subvariants, including JN.1 variant, have become the dominant variants in some countries, yet, their public health risk in China is low given their low proportion, Chang Zhaorui, a research fellow from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) told a press briefing on Sunday.

The proportion of BA.2.86 variant strains in the reported sequences in China is very low, but the proportion among imported cases has increased rapidly since November, and the growth trend has gradually converged with that of the world, Chang noted, 

Since the first imported case of BA.2.86 variant strain was reported on August 31, a total of 160 sequences of BA.2.86 and its subbranches have been reported in China, including 148 imported case sequences and 12 local case sequences, but no severe or critical cases have been found, the research fellow from the China CDC noted.

According to a statement published by National Disease Control and Prevention Administration on Friday, the possibility of the JN.1 variant, a branch variant of BA.2.86, becoming a dominant strain in the country cannot be ruled out due to the subsequent impact of international strains and imported cases.

On November 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) adjusted BA.2.86 from a variant requiring global surveillance to a variant requiring attention, evaluating the risk of clinical severe infection as low and the overall assessment of public health risk as low.

Experts reached by the Global Times said infectious diseases are common throughout the world. New variants of the novel coronavirus can appear in the future at any time and people should get used to their existence. More attention should be paid to overlapping infections of influenza and other respiratory diseases. 

In the past months, China has been experiencing a spike in respiratory disease. 

Mi Feng, a spokesperson from National Health Commission, said on Sunday's press briefing that hospital visits for respiratory diseases across China have shown a downward trend. 

Mi said that local medical institutes have been doing their part to ease pressure on major hospitals, accounting for 44 percent of total fever and outpatient visits.

The spokesperson called for the continued strengthening of surveillance and overall situation analysis for respiratory diseases and the allocation of medical resources to cope with the spike.

According to latest weekly report by the China CDC, the positive rate of influenza virus in the southern and northern provinces of China slowed down between December 4 and 10, and some provinces showed a downward trend.