hina’s credit growth surged unexpectedly to a record pace in January, strengthening production in the real econo
my and easing overall downward pressure, People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, said on Friday.
Bank lending in domestic currency increased by 3.23 trillion yuan ($476.8 billion) last month, the fastest single-month growth
since the figure was first tracked in 1992. It increased by 2.9 trillion yuan in January 2018, the bank said.
Total social financing, a broader measure comprising all money the real economy receives from the fi
nancial sector, including off-balance-sheet financing activities, rose by 4.64 trillion yuan in Ja
nuary, which was also the fastest monthly growth ever, according to the central bank.
The month’s rapid credit growth was a result of a series of precauti
onary measures to ease the negative effects of slowing domestic demand and external h
eadwinds, according to Sun Guofeng, head of the bank’s monetary policy department, at a news conference.
The monetary authority has rolled out a series of policies in recent mont
hs to ensure adequate liquidity in the financial sector and accelerated loan issuance to co
mpanies. The measures include a new lending facility, called the targeted medium-term lending facility, which was in
troduced in December to encourage commercial banks to increase lending to small and private firms.
The central bank further cut the required reserve ratio for financial institutions by 1 percentage point in January and inj
ected another 800 billion yuan of capital into the market. That followed four reserve ratio cuts last year.
Supported by the liquidity, the average interest rate in financial mark
ets had already declined by January, which actually provided much cheaper funding t
o commercial banks and borrowers in the corporate sector, Sun said.
Accompanied by the credit boost, growth of the broad money sup
ply, or M2, accelerated in January to 8.4 percent from 8.1 percent at the end of December, t
he central bank said. Government bond issuance, meanwhile, has also picked up since the start of this year.
There has been a new unexpected twist in the case of Gui Minhai, and this time, the Swedish Ambassador to China Anna Lindstedt is involved.
Gui Minhai was born in China and later became a naturalized Swedish citizen. He was a Hong Kong-based bookseller be
fore being sued in the Chinese mainland in 2015. That lawsuit strained relations between China and Sweden.
His daughter, Angela Gui, has recently detailed a bizarre account of her visit to Stockholm, which has
embarrassed the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Angela Gui, who grew up in Sweden, now live
s in Britain where she is studying for a PhD in history at university. She gave her account in a media interview last we
ek and made an announcement Wednesday on her blog. Gui said that Ambassador Lindstedt contacted her in mid-January, inviting her to go to Sto
ckholm to meet two Chinese businessmen, who Lindstedt trusted, to discuss a new approach to her father’s case.
Angela Gui said she went to Stockholm in late January where she met two Chinese businessmen in the presence of Lindstedt. In
her statement, she said that the two businessmen asked her to stop all media engagements and public comment in exch
ange for her father’s release or commutation. According to Gui, Lindstedt supported the plan and said t
hat if not, the relationship between Sweden and China would otherwise be further undermined.
Angela Gui said that after the meeting, she called the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for confirm
ation. “They told me they hadn’t had the slightest idea this whole affair was taking place. They hadn’t even been informed the amb
assador was in the country,” she wrote. In her account of what happened, she not only gave details of the meeting,
but also described how she was feeling threatened and how the whole arrangement seemed suspicious.
Whether it is filial piety to the elderly or rewarding children or themselves, trading volu
me has kept growing. Spending on entertainment and travel also grew fast,” said Chen Han, a data analyst at China UnionPay.
Consumption has become the biggest driver for the economy, contributing 76.2 percent of the co
untry’s economic growth last year, up 18.6 percentage points over the previous year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
“Judging from major economic indicators, domestic demand has become a decisive force of China’s economic gro
wth,” said Wang Bin, deputy director-general of the ministry’s department of market operation and consumption promotion.
Several factors will support steady consumer spending growth in China. Residential inco
me has been increasing fast and deeper pockets facilitate more spending. The second China Int
ernational Import Expo in Shanghai will also offer more access to global products, Wang said.
Wang Jun, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, exp
ects more favorable policies to further boost domestic shopping this year as nationwide tax cuts continue.
During the Spring Festival holiday, burning calories has become a new trend from an internet catchphrase, chinanews.com has reported.
In many parts of China, sports have risen in popularity, as people enjoy working out by putting their
bodies in motion, reducing the physical burden of eating and drinking while staying healthier at the same time.
Fangfang, 24, from Taizhou, Zhejiang province, ran her first 5 kilometers of the Year of the Pig on Monday, as jogging to work makes her feel full of energy.
Dozens of winter swimmers from Yuhuan, Zhejiang, gathered at the beach behind Kanmen and rushed into to the sea against the cold wind to enjoy s
wimming. “We coastal people start the new year with our unique sport,” winter swimming enthusiast Chen Zhongfang said.
In preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, games on snow and ice are drawing more interest. In snow and ic
e parks in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, a number of experiential projects have been set up, such
as a snow football field, ice bumper cars, curling, ice gyro and a snow circle. Thousands of citizens take part in such activities every day.