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International News

Here’s why Ant Group is about to shatter IPO records


China classical music festival features Wuhan musicians


Pandemic widens learning gap in education-obsessed S. Korea


Pandemic, politics lead to closure of storied Hong Kong bar


Huge crowd joins LGBT march in Taiwan, where COVID is at bay


Japan uses high-tech experiments to fill baseball stadium


Sri Lanka closes harbors after 609 people test positive


India’s festive season spawns fears of renewed virus surge


Protesters in Thailand carry on despite police warning


From The Asian Reporter, V30, #12 (November 2, 2020), page 2.

China’s BYD, Japan’s Hino announce electric truck venture

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese electric car brand BYD Auto and Japanese truck maker Hino Motors say they are jointly setting up a company to develop battery-powered trucks and busses. The venture is one of a series of tie-ups between Chinese and foreign automakers to share the multibillion-dollar costs of electric development. Beijing has spent heavily to promote the technology but is winding down subsidies. BYD Auto Industry Co., a unit of battery producer BYD Ltd., and Hino Motors Ltd. said each would supply 50% of the investment for the company, due to be launched next year, but gave no other financial details. Vehicles will be sold under the Hino brand starting in the first half of the 2020s, the companies said. They said details of vehicle sizes and where they would be sold still were being decided.

Cathay Pacific to cut 8,500 jobs, shutter regional airline

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways says it intends to cut 8,500 jobs and shut a regional airline as it grapples with the plunge in air travel due to the pandemic. About 5,300 employees based in Hong Kong and another 600 elsewhere will likely lose their jobs, and 2,600 unfilled positions will be cut. The cuts are about 24% of the company’s workforce, Cathay Pacific said in a statement. "The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the group to survive," Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang said in a statement. The company said it would also shut down Cathay Dragon, its regional airline unit. It will seek regulatory approval for most of the routes to be operated by Cathay Pacific and its budget airlines subsidiary HK Express. The restructuring is aimed at reducing Cathay Pacific’s cash burn to 500 million Hong Kong dollars ($64.5 million) a month, from about 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($193.5 million) to 2 billion Hong Kong ($258 million) dollars a month currently, the company said. The plan will cost about 2.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($283.8 million), it said. Executive pay cuts will continue throughout 2021 and there will be no pay increments for 2021 nor bonuses for this year for all Hong Kong employees, Cathay Pacific said. Ground staff will be offered a voluntary leave plan in the first half of next year. In a news conference, Cathay Pacific Airways chairman Patrick Healy estimated that passenger levels will only return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

Chinese drugmaker setting up vaccine production lines

BEIJING (AP) — A state-owned Chinese drugmaker is setting up production lines to supply 1 billion doses of two possible coronavirus vaccines that are being tested on 50,000 people in 10 countries, the company chairman said. Testing by SinoPharm Group is "in the last kilometer of a long march," chairman Liu Jingzhen said at a news conference. He gave no indication when results are expected. China’s fledgling drug industry is part of a global race to produce a vaccine and has four candidates in the final stages of testing. Health experts say, however, that even if China succeeds, stringent certification rules in the United States, Europe, and Japan might mean its vaccine can be distributed only in other developing countries. SinoPharm is testing two vaccines in countries including Egypt, Argentina, Jordan, and Peru, Liu said. Both are inactivated, meaning they use a non-infectious version of the coronavirus. According to Liu, production lines for vaccines are being set up in Beijing and Wuhan, the city in central China where the outbreak began in December. "The production capacity will reach 1 billion doses next year, ensuring sufficient safety," Liu said. Chinese-developed vaccines have been tested on 60,000 people with "only slight adverse effects," said Tian Baoguo, an official of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Thousands of people in China including healthcare workers and others deemed to be at risk have been given the experimental vaccines. Three city governments have announced plans to inoculate members of the public who need it.

Thailand admits foreign tourists for the first time in 7 months

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s tourist industry last month took a modest step toward reviving its coronavirus-battered fortunes by welcoming 39 visitors who flew in from Shanghai, the first such arrivals since regular travellers were banned seven months ago. The visitors who arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport are pioneers in a "Special Tourist Visa" program devised by Thai authorities to restore step by step a sector of the economy that welcomed almost 40 million foreign visitors last year and by some estimates accounts for more than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Bringing in tourists from China was a natural choice. Thailand was one of the top overseas destinations for Chinese tourists in 2019, when they accounted for by far the largest number of visitors to Thailand by nationality. Just as crucial is China’s ability to keep new coronavirus infections in check, a sharp contrast to most other parts of the globe that send visitors to Thailand. That doesn’t mean the visitors can freely traipse around the country. The Special Tourist Visa has stringent requirements. Under the plan, which was first approved by the Thai cabinet in September, foreign tourists who commit to a stay of at least 30 days are issued 90-day visas that can be renewed twice. After arriving, they have to stay in government-approved quarantine at a hotel or hospital for 14 days and show confirmation that they have made arrangements for long-term accommodations. They must also have special insurance policies and undergo pre-departure testing for the virus. Foreign tourists also must download an official coronavirus tracking application for use during their stay. A press release issued by the airport quoted one of its operations managers, Kittipong Kittikachorn, as saying that the airport is ready for tourists.