Only one person is believed to have been infected by the deadly pneumonia-like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus in the Chinese city of Shanghai, but the fast-growing business center is being badly affected by the scare.
Officials in the city, labelled the poster child for China's economic development, have stood by dumbfounded as events that had been months in the making -- from a Funds World seminar to the London Bullion Market Association's annual conference -- have been postponed or cancelled.
The Rolling Stones also put off their maiden gig in China because of SARS, dealing a huge blow to the image of China's financial hub, a city of 16 million which likens itself to New York or Paris.
SARS, which has killed about 90 people worldwide and infected about 2,500, originated in southern China's Guangdong province late last year.
But it appears to have spread faster to nearby Hong Kong and then to other nations than elsewhere in China.
"China has become synonymous with SARS after the recent reports, and for someone unfamiliar with the differences between Shanghai or Guangdong, they will lump us together," said one city official.
Until Wednesday, Shanghai had consistently denied harbouring any SARS cases. Though the city government announced on Friday it has discovered just one SARS case so far, many city residents say they find that hard to believe because of the thriving commercial metropolis' close business links with Hong Kong and Taiwan.
"We're all worried about that. We don't know the numbers, all I know is that we're not getting any information," said a foreign medical doctor coordinating prevention measures with several foreign consulates.
"We are trying, ourselves, to sort this mess out."
Shanghai leans heavily on foreign investment to maintain its record of double-digit annual growth. It is trying valiantly to distance itself from Guangdong -- where 42 have died and cases now number more than 1,100.
"They're worried about scaring off foreign investment," said an executive at a Shanghai-based multinational, who stressed it was "business as usual" for the company's offices and plants.
The stakes are high for China's booming commercial center.
Shanghai recorded a 59 percent year-on-year rise in contracted overseas investment in the first three months of this year to US$3.393 billion, according to Xinhua news agency.
Morgan Stanley economist Andy Xie has cut his 2003 growth forecast for China by 0.5 percentage points to 6.5 percent, citing a regional SARS health scare.
"China must take emergency measures to restore investor trust. If it is mishandled, the SARS crisis could hurt China's economy for a long time," he wrote on April 2.
Despite official reassurances that the disease was not of worrying proportions in Shanghai, some aren't taking chances.
Shanghai's Singapore International School will be closed till April 11. The Shanghai American School closed on Thursday and is expected to reopen on Monday after a student was hospitalised with pneumonia, it said on its Web site at www.saschina.org.
"We can't deny we're having this problem," said another government official. "If people are worried about coming to China, we have to respect their wishes. It's their choice. We admit our prevention system is not comprehensive enough."
‘BULLISH YEAR AHEAD’: The contract chipmaker set a growth target of up to 29 percent, as it expects to outperform its peers in the semiconductor industry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to boost this year’s capital expenditure budget by about 46 percent to exceed US$44 billion, citing strong customer demand for advanced technologies used in high-performance computing (HPC) and 5G-related applications, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said yesterday. The plan marks a record spending for TSMC after the chipmaker budgeted US$30 billion for capacity expansions at home and overseas fabs last year. TSMC is planning to allocate about 80 percent of this year’s capital spending for advanced chip capacity expansion including 2-nanometer, 3-nanometer, 5-nanometer and 7-nanometer technologies. The chipmaker reiterated that it is on
EMERGING TECH: The semiconductor equipment industry has had unprecedented growth, with increased spending in six of the past seven years, the CEO of SEMI said Global fab equipment spending at front-end facilities is expected to grow at an annual pace of 10 percent this year to a record of more than US$98 billion, with South Korea taking the lead, followed by Taiwan, SEMI said in a quarterly report yesterday. That means that world fab equipment spending is to grow for a third straight year, following a 39 percent jump last year and 17 percent growth in 2020, the global semiconductor trade association said in a statement. The industry previously had three consecutive years of growth from 2016 to 2018, more than 20 years after logging a three-year
Electric scooter maker Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) this year expects its number of electric battery swapping stations to outstrip the number of gas stations in the nation following seven years of deployment, a sign that electric two-wheelers are gaining traction. As of the end of last year, Gogoro had built 2,215 GoStations nationwide, mostly in urban areas, up from 1,937 in 2020. The number of gas stations operated by CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) was 2,487. “By the end of this year, we are very confident that the number of battery swapping stations will surpass the number of gas stations
TENSE WAIT: While China is close to approving the deal, Germany might be worried that GlobalWafers is headquartered in Taiwan, the firm’s chairwoman said GlobalWafers Co (環球晶圓) is close to clearing an important regulatory hurdle in its US$5.3 billion acquisition of German silicon wafer manufacturer Siltronic AG, people familiar with the matter said. The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has said that it is largely comfortable with the antitrust remedies proposed by the companies and could make a formal decision shortly, the people said, asking not to be identified as they were discussing confidential information. The deal still requires approval from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, and those discussions are ongoing, the people said. GlobalWafers shares were up as