China Coronavirus Updates: Latest Developments and Business Advisory

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(This article will be updated continuously. It was last updated on June 5, 2020.)

Latest COVID-19 updates

  • Meanwhile, we have continued reports on China Briefing on Beijing’s policy measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19 induced economic stress. This includes the extension of preferential policies relaxing tax and fees and social insurance payments to the end of 2020. Read our roundups from the Two Sessions here: Tax and Fee Cuts Announced in China’s 2020 Work Report: Two Sessions Roundup and Tracking China’s Preferential Policies Released Since the 2020 Two Sessions.
  • In response to China’s relaxation of travel restrictions, the US Transport Department said that it would allow Chinese carriers to operate “the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours… to restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers.”
    As reported in state newspaper Global Times, China had launched its ‘Five One’ policy at the end of March as the global COVID-19 outbreak worsened, “allowing one airline to serve one country, from one Chinese city to one foreign city, with no more than one flight a week.”
  • More information of China’s international flight restrictions:
    a) According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) Thursday announcement (posted on its website), foreign carriers barred from China due to the earlier restriction will be allowed to resume operating 1 flight per week into China starting June 8. Airlines will be limited to flying routes they are already licensed to fly and can choose from a list of Chinese cities provided by the CAAC.
    b) If a flight has 5 passengers testing positive for COVID-19, the airline must suspend the flight for a week. If 10 passengers in a flight have tested positive, the airline must suspend the flight for 4 weeks. If there are zero passengers testing positive for three consecutive weeks, then the airline can add one more flight for a week.
    c) The suspended flights cannot operate on other air routes. Airlines cannot resume weekly flight plans before the end of their suspension period.
    d) The announcement came a day after the US said it would be banning all Chinese airlines from June 16 due to their unwillingness to allow the resumption of US airlines flying into China.
  • June 5 – China’s National Health Commission reported 5 newly confirmed case over the last 24 hours, all of which were imported (4 cases in Shanghai and 1 case in Sichuan); no new deaths. The country recorded 3 new cases of asymptomatic infections; there are now 297 cases of asymptomatic infections under medical observation.
  • China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has said that qualifying foreign air carriers that are currently barred from operating flights to the country will be allowed once-per-week flights “into a city of their choosing,” from June 8.
  • As we reported earlier, China has been in talks with some countries to establish fast track procedures to allow limited travel by business and technical personnel. China has now set rules for essential business travel between Singapore and China, with effect from June 8. Thus, China has now established fast track agreements with Germany, France, South Korea, UK, Japan, and Singapore. (We wrote about the special visa applications to travel to China here.)
  • June 4 – China’s National Health Commission reported 1 newly confirmed case over the last 24 hours, (imported case in Guangdong); no new deaths. The country recorded 4 new cases of asymptomatic infections; there are 326 cases of asymptomatic infections (43 cases were imported) under medical observation.
  • According to a US Department of Transportation order, dated June 3, the Trump administration will bar Chinese passenger airlines from flights to the country starting June 16 due to Beijing’s failure to allow US airlines resuming service to China. Meanwhile, Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern have been able to operate direct passenger flights to the US (at reduced frequencies) during this time. If the US ban goes into effect, the Chinese carriers affected include Air China, China Eastern, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines Holding as well as their subsidiaries.
  • June 3 – China’s National Health Commission reported 1 newly confirmed (imported) case in the last 24 hours, (in Guangdong); no new deaths. 4 new asymptomatic infections have been recorded and 357 cases of asymptomatic infection (40 cases were imported) are under medical observation currently.
  • Wuhan, where the COVID-19 outbreak first emerged, has found no new cases after testing nearly 11 million residents. However, 300 asymptomatic carriers have been identified, according to city officials as reported by Reuters. “…the asymptomatic carriers had been found not to be infectious, with no traces of virus detected on items used by the 300 people, such as masks, toothbrushes and phones, or on door handles and elevator buttons they touched. The cost of the city-wide testing effort was about 900 million yuan ($126 million)”. Testing in Wuhan began after a cluster of fresh cases emerged in early May leaving local authorities fearful of a second wave; the campaign ended June 1. The epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, has so far accounted for a majority of coronavirus infections and COVID-19 related fatalities in China.
  • Some foreign employees who have been unable to return to China due to the ongoing international travel restrictions may wish to receive their Chinese salary in their overseas bank accounts in foreign currency. We explain some of the key HR, tax, and legal considerations here: COVID-19 Travel Ban Series: How to Pay Your Foreign Employees Out of China.
  • June 2 – China’s National Health Commission reported 5 newly confirmed cases today, all of which were imported from abroad (2 cases in Sichuan, 1 in Shanghai, 1 in Guangdong, and 1 in Shaanxi); no new deaths. With the addition of 10 cases of asymptomatic infection, there are now 371 cases of asymptomatic infection (39 imported cases) under medical observation.
  • Caixin Global is reporting that Li Jian, deputy chief of China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) told state media last week that China will not triple the number of regular international flights to 407 a week, starting June 1, as previously planned due to the global outbreak situation. However, the CAAC will shorten the process for approving international chartered flights to 3 working days from up to 7.
    Meanwhile, China has reached agreement with Singapore, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland to establish “green channel” movement to facilitate the return to work / travel of businesspeople, experts, and skilled workers in foreign companies or foreign invested firms. China Briefing has covered the new relaxations in international travel here: China’s Travel Restrictions – Special Visa Applications.
    China closed its borders to international travel, including those with valid work permits, on March 28. Since then, “the maximum number of flights allowed have been capped at 134 a week”, Li told China News, according to Caixin.
  • June 1 – China reported 16 newly diagnosed cases, all imported (11 cases in Sichuan, 3 cases in Inner Mongolia, and 2 cases in Guangdong); no new deaths. 16 new cases of asymptomatic infections (13 cases imported overseas) were recorded; there are 397 cases of asymptomatic infection (34 cases were imported) under medical observation.
  • May 31 – China reported 2 newly confirmed cases on Saturday, both imported cases (in Shandong); no new deaths. 3 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded; 389 cases of asymptomatic infections were under medical observation.
  • The National Development and Reform Commission, National Health Commission, and State Administration of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) jointly released the Plan to develop public health prevention, control and treatment abilities on May 20, 2020. The Plan aims to develop the country’s lab testing capacity, treatment facilities in county-level hospitals, improve the infectious disease treatment network in urban areas, transform and upgrade epidemic treatment bases in each province in case of future outbreaks, among other goals. These policy goals and investment plans are similar to those promoted after the 2002-03 SARS epidemic. However, the stakes will be much higher for China to follow through this time round.
  • More than 9 million residents in Wuhan were tested between May 15 and May 24 (about 90% of its total population). The city’s health commission asked the rest of its residents to get tested by May 26 at one of the city’s 231 remaining testing sites. According to Bloomberg, Wuhan was able to test its residents in such a short span of time by adopting “a batch testing method that enabled health workers to assess as many as 10 samples simultaneously.” A negative combined sample result clears all members of the sampled group. And while you won’t know who in the batch is positive if you get a positive in the sample, it will immediately trigger individual testing and overall enables the rapid screening of different areas, according to Raina MacIntyre, professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. However, as explained by Peng Zhiyong, director of intensive care unit at Wuhan Zhongnan Hospital, the method is only efficient when the infection rate is below 1 percent.
  • May 30 China reported 4 newly confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, all of which were imported cases (2 cases in Shandong, 1 case in Shanghai, and 1 case in Guangdong); no new death cases. 4 additional cases of asymptomatic infections were reported; 396 cases of asymptomatic infection were under medical observation.
  • May 29 – China reported no new confirmed cases, no new deaths, and no new suspected cases. A total of 82,995 confirmed cases have been reported so far. 5 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded and there 409 asymptomatic infections currently under medical observation.
  • May 28 – China reported 2 newly confirmed cases, both of which were imported cases (1 case in Shanghai and 1 case in Fujian); no new deaths. The National Health Commission reported the addition of 23 cases of asymptomatic infections; there are still 413 cases of asymptomatic infections (24 cases imported from abroad) under medical observation.
  • As the Two Sessions comes to a close this week, here is a brief recap from Monday when National People’s Congress (NPC) Chairman Li Zhanshu delivered the NPC’s annual work report.
    The NPC will prioritize the drafting of 10 new laws – Yangtze River Protection Law, Rural Revitalization Promotion Law, Futures Law, Hainan Free Trade Port Law, Social Assistance Law, Veterans Protection Law, Biosecurity Law, Personal Information Protection Law, Data Security Law, and the Export Control Law.
    In addition, the NPC will seek to amend 15 laws – Patent Law, Wildlife Protection Law, Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, Emergency Response Law, Vocational Education Law, Administrative Penalties Law, People’s Armed Police Law, Anti-Money Laundering Law, People’s Bank of China Law, Commercial Bank Law, Insurance Law, Organic Law of National People’s Congress and Rules of Procedure, Electoral Law, and the National Flag Law.
    To give some perspective – the NPC only sought to draft or amend 14 laws last year. They are aiming for 25 this year.
  • If in previous years China was using its national power to drive the realization of 5G, and the private sector worried about the commercial use and profit model of 5G – the outbreak of COVID-19 has dramatically changed prospects in a matter of months. Besides driving a major chunk of the workforce online, the outbreak has witnessed the mass adoption of 5G applications, particularly in the public health sector, as well as accelerated the integration of 5G with existing and emerging technologies. Read our latest coverage here: COVID-19 Catalyzes Commercial Use of 5G in China.
  • May 27 – China reported 1 newly confirmed case, involving a person who traveled from overseas (in Shanghai) and no new deaths on Wednesday. 28 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded and 404 cases of asymptomatic infections are under medical observation now.
  • May 26 – China reported 7 newly diagnosed cases today – all imported cases (5 cases in Inner Mongolia, 1 case in Shanghai, and 1 case in Fujian); no new deaths. A total of 82,992 confirmed cases have been reported so far. There were 29 new cases of asymptomatic infections and 403 cases of asymptomatic infections are currently under medical observation.
  • China’s top leaders have convened for the annual Two Sessions meetings since Thursday, following over two months of delays due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This year the Two Sessions takes on added importance, as investors wait to see what the government will announce to revitalize China’s economy out of a coronavirus-induced crisis. China Briefing briefly summarizes the key announcements unveiled by China’s leaders at the ongoing Two Sessions meetings here: China’s Two Sessions 2020: What Have We Learnt So Far.
  • May 25 – On Monday, China’s National Health Commission reported a fresh cluster of imported cases. Over the last 24 hours, the country recorded: 11 newly confirmed cases, imported from abroad (10 cases in Inner Mongolia and 1 case in Sichuan); no new deaths; 40 new cases of asymptomatic infections (2 cases imported overseas) and 396 cases of asymptomatic infection under medical observation.
  • May 24 – On Sunday, China reported 3 newly confirmed cases over the last 24 hours, including 2 imported cases (1 in Shanghai and 1 in Guangdong) and 1 local case (in Jilin); no new deaths. There were 36 new cases of asymptomatic infections and 371 cases of asymptomatic infections are under medical observation.
  • May 23 – China reported no new cases or deaths in the last 24 hours in its Saturday update. There were 28 new cases of asymptomatic infections and 370 cases of asymptomatic infections are under medical observation.
  • China will not be setting an annual GDP target this year, according to Premier Li Keqiang at the National People’s Congress (NPC), which began today. This will be the first time China is not putting out the economic goal since 1990. China will “give priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards,” Li said during his opening address. Beijing has set a target of “creating 9 million new urban jobs, compared to 11 million last year, and a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 6 percent, compared to 5.5 percent last year”, as reported by SCMP.
    Li told the NPC: China’s fiscal deficit is expected to go over 3.6 percent of the GDP this year, showing a deficit increase of RMB 1 trillion (US$140 billion) over last year. RMB 1 trillion of government bonds will be issued for the purpose of COVID-19 control. Corporate fees/ taxes will be cut by RMB 2.5 trillion. Bloomberg is reporting that small and medium-sized businesses will be able to “delay their interest and principal payments to the end of March 2021, from an original deadline of June 30”. Further, local governments are expected to rein in expenditure and channel their ‘surplus, idle, and carryover funds’ to proper use. Beijing will work with the US to implement phase one of the trade deal and will work to advance free trade agreement talks with Japan and South Korea.
  • May 22 – China reported 4 newly diagnosed cases, including 2 imported cases (in Sichuan) and 2 local cases (both in Jilin) over the last 24 hours. A total of 82,971 confirmed cases have been reported so far. 35 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded and 365 cases of asymptomatic infections are currently under medical observation.
  • China’s most important political gathering, the Two Sessions (Lianghui), begins today after a 2-month delay. Top policy advisers to the Communist Party, the CPPCC or Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferencewill meet today (about 2,200 representatives from social groups, economic, political, professional, business, and other organizations), following which, the annual gathering of the parliamentary body, the National People’s Congress (2,957 deputies, majority of whom are elected from the provinces, autonomous regions,  municipalities directly controlled by the central government, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao), starts tomorrow.
    This year’s Two Sessions has been shortened to 7 days (May 21-27). Premier Li Keqiang will present his economic goals for the year. China is facing its worst economic challenge in decades due to the pandemic besides the ongoing global slowdown and deteriorating relations with the US.
  • Yesterday, the central city of Wuhan – epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – announced new rules prohibiting the consumption, hunting, and breeding of wild animals, including protected species of terrestrial animals, those that exist in the wild or are bred, and rare and endangered aquatic animals. The new rules will be in effect for 5 years. See here for the official announcement (in Chinese).
    The development follows a temporary ban introduced in January on the wildlife trade in China. On February 24, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature body, issued a decision to totally ban the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife as food, which would fast-track legal efforts on implementing a permanent ban on the trade. Subsequently, different regional governments, like the province of Guangdong, have proposed their own regulation on wildlife protection.
    China’s wildlife industry has a lot of regulatory grey areas, and is key to its traditional medicine industry besides food for consumption. Given the nature of the pandemic, and its role in the global economy, China will be keen to project itself in a positive light in terms of how it has handled post-outbreak management and what it will do to mitigate future risks.
  • May 21 – China reported 2 newly confirmed cases, including 1 imported case (in Guangdong) and 1 local case (in Shanghai); there were no new deaths. A total of 82,967 confirmed cases have so far been recorded, according to the National Health Commission. The commission also reported 31 new cases of asymptomatic infections in the last 24 hours; 375 cases of asymptomatic infections are currently under medical observation.
  • May 20 – China reported 5 newly confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, including 1 imported case (Inner Mongolia) and 4 local cases (all in Jilin); no new deaths. 16 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded and 368 cases of asymptomatic infection are currently under medical observation.
  • The state news media China Daily reported yesterday that the northeastern city of Shulan, Jilin province was “the latest pandemic hotspot in the country”. It is now under a ‘Wuhan-style lockdown‘ and hundreds have reportedly been placed in medical quarantine.
    Today, the neighboring city of Jiaohe also introduced protective measures given its proximity to such a high-risk area.
    Provinces along northeast China that border Russia and North Korea are now battling fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 and Beijing is keen to contain and eliminate the spread of infection before it leads to fresh local transmission.
    Moreover, the Two Sessions meeting, the annual general assembly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, will begin this week, on May 22 and Beijing is highly motivated to ensure there is no cause for concern. Over 5,000 delegates are expected to gather in the capital. Meanwhile, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top policy advisory body, will start its annual session on May 21.
  • May 19 – China’s National Health Commission reported 6 newly confirmed cases, including 3 imported cases in Inner Mongolia and 3 local cases (2 cases in Jilin and 1 case in Hubei) in the last 24 hours; no new deaths.
    17 new cases of asymptomatic infections were reported and 389 cases of asymptomatic infection (29 cases imported from abroad) are still under medical observation.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries worldwide, including China, have implemented travel restriction policies that have prevented the return of foreign nationals to the workforce. As a result, there will be significant changes to the residence days for the tax year 2020 for many expats who work in China. We discuss the new individual income tax (IIT) liabilities here: How to Determine Your Foreign Employees’ IIT Liability in China: COVID-19 Travel Ban Series.
  • May 18 – Tracking the data from 00.00 to 24:00 on May 17, China’s National Health Commission reported  7 newly confirmed cases, including 4 imported cases (4 cases in the province of Inner Mongolia) and 3 local cases (2 cases in Jilin province and 1 case in Shanghai); no new deaths. 18 cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded and 448 cases of asymptomatic infection are under medical observation.
  • May 17 – On Sunday, China reported 5 newly confirmed cases, including 2 imported cases (1 in Tianjin and 1 in Guangdong) and 3 local cases (in Jilin); no new deaths. 12 new cases of asymptomatic infection were recorded and 515 asymptomatic infections were under medical observation. See here for official bulletin.
  • As of May 16, Wuhan, the central Chinese city also known as the original epicenter of COVID-19, announced that its local health authorities had conducted 222,675 nucleic acid tests, double the number from the previous day, according to reporting from The Guardian. Wuhan had recorded a fresh cluster of cases last weekend and is determined to track any asymptomatic infections; the city had lifted its months-long lockdown on April 8.
  • May 16 – On Saturday, China reported 8 newly diagnosed cases, including 6 imported cases (5 cases in Shanghai and 1 in Hainan) and 2 local cases (both in Jilin); no new deaths. 13 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded; 561 cases of asymptomatic infection were still under medical observation. Official bulletin in Chinese here.
  • China is adopting multiple strategies to rebound from its economic pause due to the COVID-19 lockdowns earlier in the year. New infrastructure investments and retail growth are key goals in this regard, both to boost economic activity and facilitate consumption in a changed world. In our latest article on China Briefing, we cover China’s announcement of 46 new cross-border e-commerce zones and explain why that may interest foreign investors and traders, online retailers, and logistics firms. Read it here: 46 New Cross-Border E-Commerce Zones Unveiled by China.
  • The National Health Commission reported 4 newly confirmed cases, all of which were local cases in the northeastern province Jilin where a cluster broke out this past weekend. 11 new cases of asymptomatic infections (2 imported cases) were recorded in the last 24 hours; 619 cases of asymptomatic infections are under medical observation. China has reported a total of 82,933 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths since the first infections were recorded late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
  • May 15 – China marks one month with no COVID-19 fatalities; the last reported death by the National Health Commission was on April 14.
  • Local media in Hong Kong are reporting that authorities will conduct testing of hundreds of families after a 66-year-old with no recent travel history tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, followed by her five-year-old granddaughter on Wednesday. The 1,051st confirmed case is the old woman’s husband, aged 62 years, who was previous asymptomatic and had initially been sent to a quarantine center. Prior to this new cluster, Hong Kong had not reported any local transmission for 23 days.
  • Testing has begun in Wuhan. The capital of Hubei province, the city is known to have recorded the first cases of COVID-19. After a clear stretch with no new cases since early April, Wuhan reported a small outbreak (cluster of 6 cases) over the last weekend. Consequently, local authorities aim to test all 11 million residents.
  • May 14 – China reported 3 newly confirmed cases in today’s official bulletin, all of which were local cases (2 cases in Liaoning and 1 case in Jilin); no new deaths. 12 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded (1 case imported overseas); 712 cases of asymptomatic infection are under medical observation (36 cases were imported from abroad).
  • May 13 – China reported cases of local transmission today with 7 newly diagnosed cases, of which 6 were local cases (all in Jilin) and 1 was imported (official bulletin here). 8 new cases of asymptomatic infections were reported and 750 asymptomatic cases are under medical observation. A total of 82,926 confirmed cases have been reported thus far.
    Meanwhile, local media is reporting that all 11 million residents will be tested in Wuhan, which reported a fresh new cluster of cases this past weekend, and is the original epicenter of the pandemic.
  • More Hong Kong enterprises with cross-border operations in mainland China are now eligible to apply for an exemption from the usual compulsory quarantine requirements. Previously, this was restricted to essential industries, such as medical and food supply. There are clear qualification criteria set by the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department, responsible for the application process. The expanded quarantine exemption will expire June 7, 2020. To learn more, read our article here: Quarantine Exemptions Expanded, Extended for Hong Kong Enterprises with Cross-Border Operations.
  • In its official bulletin for May 12, the National Health Commission reported that there was 1 newly confirmed case recorded in the last 24 hours (imported) and no new deaths. There are 15 new cases of asymptomatic infections and 760 asymptomatic infections are under medical observation.
  • China reported no new cases of local transmission on Tuesday, after a double-digit spike over 2 consecutive days.
  • May 12 – Reuters is reporting that Wuhan (Hubei province), the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will be arranging for city-wide nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days. The city recorded its highest number of new infections since March 11 with 5 new cases confirmed over the past weekend. Every district in the city must submit their area’s testing plan by Tuesday, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.
    Wuhan has a population of about 11 million people and its 76-day lockdown was lifted on April 8. 6 cases had been reported on Sunday and Monday at a residential compound in Dongxihu district.
  • We provide the most updated coverage detailing China’s provincial quarantine policies for inbound travelers and other travel restrictions and monitoring here – China’s Travel Restrictions due to COVID-19: An Explainer.
  • Fearing a new portent wave of coronavirus cases in China’s northeast, one city in Jilin province – the city of Shulan – has been reclassified as high-risk. The total newly confirmed cases in Jilin (since May 8) is now reached 15.
    Reuters has reported that a cluster of new cases were confirmed in Shulan on Saturday (all of them family members of one person who tested positive as well as people they came into contact with). The city of Shulan has now implemented a lockdown of residential compounds, banned non-essential transport, and closed its schools, according to the Jilin government.
  • International media have observed that Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, has recorded its highest number of infections since March 11 with its 5 new cases over the weekend. Also problematic are the new confirmed and/or asymptomatic cases being recorded in China’s border provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia.
  • Chinese state media is reporting that Disneyland Shanghai, the biggest of Disney’s three resorts in Asia, has reopened today. It is the first of the Disney theme parks to reopen after COVID-19 forced shutdowns worldwide. There will be restrictions on the footfall in the Shanghai theme park, and the children’s playgrounds and indoor theaters will remain shut.
    Monday’s tickets for Shanghai Disneyland was restricted to one-third of its normal daily capacity of 80,000 visitors and was sold out Friday for RMB 399 (US$56) each, as per the company.
  • On Monday, May 11, China reported reported 14 newly diagnosed cases, of which 12 were local cases (11 in Jilin and 1 in Hubei), and 2 were overseas Imported cases (in Shanghai); no new deaths. Additionally, China recorded 20 cases of asymptomatic infections (1 case imported from overseas). A total of 82,901 confirmed cases have so far been reported in the country.  See the official update in Chinese here.
  • In its Sunday briefing, the health commission reported a sudden spike in new cases. 17 newly diagnosed cases were recorded over Saturday, of which 10 were local cases (5 cases in Hubei, 3 cases in Jilin, and 1 case each in Liaoning and Heilongjiang) and 7 cases were imported from abroad (both in Inner Mongolia). In addition, there were 12 cases of asymptomatic infections. No new deaths were reported during the weekend. See the official update in Chinese here.
  • May 9-11 – China’s National Health Commission reported 1 newly confirmed case and 15 new local cases of asymptomatic infections on Saturday morning (May 9). See daily bulletin in Chinese here.
  • No locally transmitted infections have been recorded for over 18 days in Hong Kong. South China Morning Post is reporting that 4 new infections were detected in Hong Kong this week, “all involving residents returning from Pakistan. They are now in 14 days’ compulsory quarantine at an isolation center on Chun Yeung Estate in Fo Tan.”
    Social distancing rules have been eased starting Friday:
    1) Fitness centers, gaming arcades, mahjong parlors, amusement and massage centers, beauty salons, and cinemas can reopen if they follow the government’s mandatory instructions and observe health and safety precautions.
    2) Hong Kong will not allow nightclubs, saunas, party rooms, and karaoke lounges to reopen just yet, opting for a cautious staggered opening of public entertainment venues and preventing large or crowded gatherings.
    3) A plan for schools reopening has also been announced.
  • May 8 – China has reported 1 newly confirmed case today, a local case in Jilin province; no new deaths. 16 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded; 854 asymptomatic cases are under medical observation currently. A total of 82,886 confirmed cases and 6 suspected cases have been reported as per the latest tally. See here for the daily official bulletin in Chinese.
  • See our most updated table detailing China’s provincial quarantine policies for inbound travelers here – China’s Travel Restrictions due to COVID-19: An Explainer.
  • China has reported 2 newly confirmed cases over the last 24 hours, both of which were imported cases (1 in Shanghai and 1 in Guangdong); no new deaths. Also, 6 new cases of asymptomatic infections (no overseas imports) were reported; there are 880 cases of asymptomatic infections (81 cases imported overseas) under medical observation. See official bulletin in Chinese here.
  • May 7 – Starting May 7, all regions across China will be categorized as ‘low’ risk level, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV. Linkou county in Heilongjiang’s Mudanjiang city, is the last zone to adjust its risk level from ‘medium’ to ‘low.’ China remains focused on “return to work, return to production, return to business and return to market”.
  • To counter investor concerns and make doing business in China more competitive, Beijing is focusing on developing its Western Regions – Chongqing Municipality, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan, Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang, as well as regions and cities in other provinces, such as Xiangxi, Enshi, Yanbian, and Ganzhou.
    Starting January 1, 2021, enterprises will pay a lower CIT rate of 15 percent – if they make investments in encouraged industries in China’s western regions from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2030. This includes foreign invested companies. (China’s standard corporate income tax rate is 25 percent. In comparison, CIT in Vietnam is 20 percent.) To learn more, read our latest article here: China Introduces 15% Profits Tax to Qualifying Investors in its Western Regions. We have provided a complimentary English language, PDF copy of the Catalogue of Industries Encouraged to Develop in the Western Region here: Catalogue of Industries Encouraged to Develop in the Western Region.
  • The Chinese government recently introduced measures to support the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry – electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles – which was hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. The measures include the extension of tax exemptions as well as the continuation of subsidies, although the subsidy amounts have reduced. Read more: Incentives for China’s New Energy Vehicles Industry.
  • May 6 – China reported 2 newly confirmed cases, both of which were imported cases (in Shaanxi); no new deaths. A total of 82,883 confirmed cases have thus far been reported. As of Wednesday morning, 20 new cases of asymptomatic infections (3 cases imported overseas) were reported; there are 903 cases of asymptomatic infection (88 cases imported) under medical observation. See official bulletin in Chinese here.
  • The Subsidy Scheme for Encouraging Early Deployment of the fifth-generation mobile technology (5G) is open for applications until November 30 on a first come, first served basis.
    Under the Scheme, the Hong Kong government will subsidize 50 percent of the actual cost directly relevant to the deployment of 5G technology in an approved project, subject to a cap of HK$500,000 (approx. US$64,482). The Scheme is open for application from May 5, 2020 to November 30, 2020 or until the total amount of subsidy under the scheme is exhausted (whichever is earlier). Around 100 qualified projects will be subsidized. See here for details.
  • The Hong Kong government has announced a new scheme that provides a HK$100,000 (approx. US$12,896) one-off subsidy to licensed billiard establishments, public bowling alleys, and skating rinks. This opened for applications today, May 5. Holders of a valid Places of Amusement Licence issued under the Places of Amusement Regulation on March 28, 2020 will be eligible to apply. The last date for applications is May 30, 2020.
    Applications for The Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme, under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, will also start from May 5, according to the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department.
  • Hong Kong is easing restrictions on restaurants: up to 8 people can be allowed to a table, up from 4 earlier. 7 types of businesses can reopen, including game parlors and fitness centers but must implement health and safety guidelines, such as provision of hand sanitizers and temperature checks. There will still be restrictions on group gatherings for another 14 days from Thursday, May 7. Lam also signaled that schools may soon be allowed to reopen.
    Hong Kong had closed its borders around a week since detecting its first case and immediately began observing social distancing, the memories of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak still clear in public minds. In fact, community efforts and people’s compliance with health and safety guidelines have been key to Hong Kong’s fight to contain the epidemic spread.
    Moreover, despite recording zero cases as early as April 20, Hong Kong extended restrictions in fears that any relaxation would set in a complacency that could result in a fresh wave of cases as seen in many countries. This has, however, meant a 3-month period of working from home, business closures, and suspension of services, resulting in the worst economic contraction at 8.9 percent since records began in 1974. Nevertheless, the stable public health situation in Hong Kong today offers a solid foundation upon which it can build a relatively quick economic recovery, unlike the case in many Western economies that continue to observe spikes in infections and deaths. Meanwhile, public health authorities in Hong Kong are keen to complete two incubation periods – 28 days – with zero infections, before declaring an end to local transmission.
  • According to Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hong Kong stood at 1,041 with 4 fatalities; 900 recovered patients were discharged by the end of Monday, May 4. There was no community transmission cases in more than two weeks. Hong Kong recorded only 15 new cases since April 20.
  • May 5 – China has reported 1 newly confirmed case, which was imported overseas (in Shanghai); no new deaths (see official bulletin in Chinese here). The National Health Commission also reported 15 new cases of asymptomatic infections (no overseas imports). 
  • May 4 – In its Monday bulletin (access in Chinese here), China reported 3 newly confirmed cases, all imported cases (2 cases in Shanghai and 1 case in Shandong); no new deaths.
    13 new cases of asymptomatic infections were recorded; there are 962 asymptomatic infections under medical observation (98 cases imported from abroad).
    A total of 82,880 confirmed cases have so far been reported on the mainland. The death toll remains at 4,633, with no new fatality.
    No coronavirus cases have been recorded in the epicenter, Wuhan (Hubei province), for 28 consecutive days since April 4, the local health commission reported on Saturday.
  • China’s state news agency Xinhua is reporting that the country’s central province of Hubei, where the first COVID-19 cases were reported, will “lower its emergency response from the highest to the second-highest level – starting May 2, after months of strict lockdown.”
  • The National Health Commission reported 12 newly diagnosed cases, of which 6 were imported cases (5 in Shanghai and 1 in Fujian) and 6 were locally transmitted (5 cases in Heilongjiang and 1 case in Inner Mongolia). There were 25 cases of asymptomatic infections and no new deaths reported as of midnight, April 30 (see daily official bulletin in Chinese here). According to state media, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland stood at 82,874, including 1,670 imported cases and 981 asymptomatic patients under medical observation. China’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 4,643 with no new deaths reported for about two weeks now.
  • According to the health commission, as of 24:00, April 30, a total of 1,037 cases were confirmed in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (846 cases discharged, 4 deaths) and 45 cases in the Macau Special Administrative Region (35 cases discharged).
  • May 1 – China begins its five-day Labor Day holiday. The Forbidden City in Beijing has been opened to visitors, starting today, although the visitor limit has been reduced to 5,000. Social distancing norms and health precautions will be observed. Visitors will need to wear masks, show their health codes on their smartphone apps, accept temperature checks, and maintain a one-meter distance from each other.
  • For all coronavirus updates in China between January 27 and April 30, 2020 as well as our related business advisory content, see here.

Managing the impact on your China business

Since March 28, 2020, China has suspended the entry of most foreign nationals, citing the temporary measure as a response to the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) across the world. Due to these new travel restrictions, which so far have presented no expiration date, many foreign nationals who hold a residence permit in China for working purposes are stuck outside of China during this time.

In addition, while most businesses in China have restarted since March – many employers, especially small business owners, remain under big pressure to manage operating costs and maintain cash flow due to the impact of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the now global spread of COVID-19 has necessitated the world’s biggest ever technology experiments in establishing new work arrangements as businesses seek to effectively utilize their employees while also minimizing physical contact and navigating the temporary international travel bans in place.

As companies continue to grapple with the new HR, legal, technology, operational, and tax concerns due to the unprecedented implications of the pandemic, we address how to manage these uncertainties through our rolling coverage of the latest COVID-19 developments and practical advisory on China Briefing. Some of our latest resources are mentioned below for your easy reference:

Now is an ideal time to conduct a health check on your business and its exposure to the outbreak both in China and across the world. Businesses in China should be prepared to revisit their 2020 budgets and downgrade their sales forecasts as the scale of the outbreak will impact local consumption behavior as well as production and supply. Global businesses should also check on the viability of receiving shipments on time and make contingency plans if in doubt.

Finally, it may not all be bad news. There are always winners and losers during difficult times. Well prepared and managed businesses will survive and ultimately gain market share in the longer term. A Q3 or Q4 bounce back is also entirely feasible – and it makes sense to bear in mind the need to cater for that eventuality as well.

Meanwhile, if your business needs advice on operational, tax, legal, HR, or technology solutions, please contact our China offices at china@dezshira.com.


About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com

We also maintain offices assisting foreign investors in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand in addition to our practices in India and Russia and our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative.