Mon, Jan 01, 2018 - Page 15 News List

China manufacturing activity slows

AFP, BEIJING

A traditional pavilion is shrouded in smog in Beijing’s Houhai area on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

China’s manufacturing activity edged down last month, but largely maintained its momentum despite increased curbs on heavy industry aimed at taming the country’s chronic air pollution, official data showed yesterday.

The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a gauge of factory conditions, stood at 51.6 last month, compared with 51.8 in November, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

Anything above 50 is considered growth, while a figure below that number indicates a contraction. The number was in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

China has curbed activity in heavy industries in the country’s northeast in an effort to reduce surplus capacity and the heavy smog that typically blankets the region during the late autumn and winter months.

In the face of public discontent over chronic pollution, the world’s second-largest economy has signaled that it is willing to tolerate a slowdown in economic growth in exchange for an improved environment.

However, the move to cut back on heavily polluting industries, such as steel, has so far not had a major effect on the country’s manufacturing sector.

“2017 has been a year of stabilization for the Chinese economy, after a recovery in 2016,” Bloomberg News quoted Gavekal Dragonomics (龍洲經訊) economist Chen Long (陳龍) as saying.

The annual average PMI reading for last year was 51.6, the NBS said.

Meanwhile, China has tightened rules on how much cash cardholders can withdraw overseas in a bid to clamp down on money laundering, “terrorist financing” and tax evasion, authorities said on Saturday.

The annual limit is to be set at 100,000 yuan (US$15,369) per person from today — no matter how many cards a person has.

Currently, there is an annual ATM cap of 100,000 yuan for each separate card, but there is nothing to stop users from withdrawing many times this amount using multiple cards.

The new rules would “prevent law breakers from withdrawing a large amount of cash with different cards from different banks,” China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange said. Anyone exceeding the limit would be barred from withdrawing cash overseas for the remainder of the year and the following year.

The move comes as China has struggled with capital flight and tightened capital controls last year to stem the outflow of money.

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