Marquez bounces back after 'nightmare' crash at Thailand MotoGP practice

Spaniard Marc Marquez recovered from a "nightmare" crash to record the sixth fastest lap during an afternoon practice at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, keeping hopes alive for a sixth MotoGP title.

The Honda rider was back in form hours after he tumbled off his bike as he hit a corner in a morning session, prompting a trip to a hospital in Buriram for an MRI.

Declared fit to race Marquez told reporters he was still feeling pain in his back, pelvis and knee after the crash, which rattled the superstar.

"It was a nightmare, around five seconds I couldn't breathe," the 26-year-old said. "It was a big impact."

He added that it was his mistake but new tires and track conditions could have factored in.

Marquez secured his eighth victory of the season at Aragon Motorland in Spain last month, a victory all but ending any lingering hopes Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi still had of lifting the trophy.

He has his eyes on sealing the title in Thailand on Sunday.

It is the second time the Thailand MotoGP has been held at the Chang circuit in Buriram.

Marquez won the inaugural race last year in a thrilling last turn battle with Ducati's Dovizioso, who sits second in the standings.

Buriram is in rural northeastern Thailand and has been transformed into a sporting hub by an extremely rich local bigwig with powerful political connections.

burs-joe/ind

VOLKSWAGEN

  • French regulator: Google must pay French news and publishing firms for using their content
    Business
    Reuters

    French regulator: Google must pay French news and publishing firms for using their content

    France's competition authority issued a ruling on Thursday that Google would have to pay up to French publishing companies and news agencies for re-using their content. The ruling by the French 'Autorite de la Concurrence' body followed an earlier complaint by several unions representing French press publishers regarding Google's practices. "Google's practices caused a serious and immediate harm to the press sector, while the economic situation of publishers and news agencies is otherwise fragile, and while the law aimed on the contrary at improving the conditions of remuneration they derive from content produced by journalists," the watchdog said in a statement.

  • How technology is tackling virus-induced isolation in Norway
    Technology
    AFP News

    How technology is tackling virus-induced isolation in Norway

    "Lots of old people have quite a small social network and if you add weeks of social isolation to that, it's clear that for a lot of them this network becomes even smaller," he said. "I'm more mindful of sending him pictures every day," she says.

  • Japan coronavirus cases pass 5,000 as state of emergency fails to keep people home
    World
    Reuters

    Japan coronavirus cases pass 5,000 as state of emergency fails to keep people home

    The total number of Japanese novel coronavirus infections hit at least 5,002 on Thursday, NHK public broadcaster said, showing no signs of slowing despite a state of emergency being imposed this week on Tokyo and six other areas. The milestone came as the central bank warned the coronavirus pandemic had created an "extremely high" level of uncertainty for the world's third-largest economy, with regional economies facing their worst conditions since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Japanese authorities are hoping to contain the outbreak without imposing a mandatory lockdown that could deal a major blow to an economy already struggling to cope with the virus outbreak.

  • Asian, European equities rise as dealers eye virus peak
    Business
    AFP News

    Asian, European equities rise as dealers eye virus peak

    Equities rose Thursday as traders bought into optimism that the coronavirus crisis could be nearing its apex, while hopes that top oil producers will agree to a massive output cut added to the positive vibe and pushed crude prices up. Both main oil contracts were enjoying healthy gains Thursday.

  • Spain sees coronavirus torment easing, seeks new economic 'pact'
    World
    Reuters

    Spain sees coronavirus torment easing, seeks new economic 'pact'

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  • Drone-maker DJI rubbishes reports of mass layoffs, says it is busy meeting demand amid pandemic
    World
    South China Morning Post

    Drone-maker DJI rubbishes reports of mass layoffs, says it is busy meeting demand amid pandemic

    Shenzhen-based DJI, the world's biggest drone maker, denied online speculation that it planned to lay off 50 per cent of its employees, saying it is very busy with a number of new projects as countries around the world battle the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.“DJI is busy with new projects and will bring huge surprises to global consumers soon,” said DJI spokesman Xie Tiandi in a statement on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo on Thursday. “We don’t have time to deal with absurd and false speculation.”Rumours about DJI firing staff had circulated online and were picked up by several local media.The global economy is being hit by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus, which has kept many people at home, disrupted global supply chains and depressed offline consumption. China’s tech industry was already under pressure due to the US-China tech war before the coronavirus outbreak began.However, amid the health crisis, drones have been used by authorities to enter badly affected areas and automatically spray disinfectant, reducing the risks for emergency personnel. Spain’s military uses DJI agricultural drones in fight against Covid-19DJI posted a recruitment ad on its website last month, looking for researchers, designers, product managers as well as data analysts. DJI’s Xie said fighting the pandemic remains a priority and DJI is providing drone technical support for countries and regions across five continents.Previously, DJI had been caught in the crossfire of deteriorating relations between the US and China, with the US raising questions about data security. DJI’s drones – which account for 75 per cent of the global market – have been banned by the US military since 2017 and the US Interior Department recently grounded its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones for all but emergency purposes.In Spain, one of the countries most badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the military has deployed agricultural drones – including a model made by DJI – to spray disinfectant. DJI drones have also been used to combat the virus in Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.DJI’s China rival XAG, was also identified in a university research study recently as one of the most suitable drone suppliers to carry out community disinfection operations in the UK.Additional reporting by Che Pan.Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A; sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.This article Drone-maker DJI rubbishes reports of mass layoffs, says it is busy meeting demand amid pandemic first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Hong Kong protests: society will judge police officers over Occupy convictions, say top officials, who stop short of apologising
    World
    South China Morning Post

    Hong Kong protests: society will judge police officers over Occupy convictions, say top officials, who stop short of apologising

    Hong Kong’s security minister and police chief have stopped short of apologising for five jailed officers who lost their final appeals after being found guilty of beating a pro-democracy protester during the 2014 Occupy movement, saying society would make its own judgment.On Thursday, security minister John Lee Ka-chiu said the government respected the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling and said police would handle the convicted officers in accordance with existing guidelines.When repeatedly asked if he would apologise for the five, Lee only said: “I believe society would have a judgement on this incident.”Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung, who was standing next to Lee, quickly echoed those words.“We will follow up the five colleagues according to the Police Force Ordinance and Public Service Regulation. As the security minister has said, members of the public will judge,” Tang said.The five officers – Chief Inspector Wong Cho-shing, 52, Senior Inspector Lau Cheuk-ngai, 33, Detective Sergeant Pak Wing-bun, 46, and 35-year-old detective constables Chan Siu-tan and Kwan Ka-ho – made their last attempts to clear their names, arguing they had suffered grave injustices during proceedings that began five years ago. But on Tuesday, the top court turned down their request to lodge a final appeal.The five officers, who have already been released from prison, were among a group of seven officers who stood trial in 2016 and 2017 after being charged with assaulting then Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu in Admiralty, the main venue of the 79-day civil disobedience campaign for greater democracy in 2014.Tsang testified that, after he was arrested and carried to an electricity substation near the government headquarters, officers kicked and punched him, and beat him with batons.All seven were found guilty at the District Court and were jailed for two years in 2017. After an appeal, Constable Lau Hing-pui, 42, and Detective Constable Wong Wai-ho, 40, were acquitted last year.The remaining five were sent back to jail, but their terms were reduced to between 15 and 18 months.According to the Police Force Ordinance, officers stop receiving any pay or allowance on the day of conviction, unless the police chief grants a special approval.The fate of an officer in the rank of inspector or above, would be decided by the city’s leader, who can order the person concerned to be dismissed without retirement benefits, compulsorily retired with full, reduced or without retirement benefits. A more lenient punishment could be demotion.For officers with lower rankings, the police chief decides their fate.When the group was convicted three years ago, then police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung said he felt heartache and sadness at seeing his peers involved in a criminal case, and having to bear such consequences when they were exercising their duty.He asked the public to understand the tremendous pressure shouldered by the force’s men and women during the 2014 unrest.This article Hong Kong protests: society will judge police officers over Occupy convictions, say top officials, who stop short of apologising first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Coronavirus, April 7: Trending questions worldwide on Google Search
    US
    AFP Relax

    Coronavirus, April 7: Trending questions worldwide on Google Search

    When are stimulus checks getting deposited? According to distribution plans recently obtained by The Washington Post, the IRS will begin electronically administering the coronavirus-induced stimulus checks in the US on Thursday, April 9; however, the agency plans state that paper checks will begin being mailed out to those most in need on April 24. How is Boris Johnson doing?

  • Young doctors brave overwhelming coronavirus crisis
    Health
    Reuters

    Young doctors brave overwhelming coronavirus crisis

    "We feel like doctors a century ago when we didn't have antibiotics," said Vigil, who works in intensive care at Madrid's overloaded October 12 Hospital. On top of their core medical work, the doctors are conduits to worried families, both for daily telephone updates or to pass on personal items: bags, a phone charger, whatever they need.

  • Under-used Swiss hospitals hint at hidden toll of coronavirus
    Health
    Reuters

    Under-used Swiss hospitals hint at hidden toll of coronavirus

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  • Cardinal Pell's acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown
    World
    Reuters

    Cardinal Pell's acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown

    A thick line of black tape obscures Cardinal George Pell's name on a board lauding ordained alumni of St Patrick's College in the Australian town of Ballarat as coloured ribbons flutter on doors and mailboxes. The high school in Pell's home town has no immediate plans to remove the tape despite the former Vatican treasurer's acquittal this week of the sexual assault of two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s. The High Court's decision to overturn a lower court's ruling and clear 78-year-old Pell, releasing him from jail after serving just over a year of a six-year sentence, has stirred painful memories for child sex abuse survivors in Ballarat.

  • Hong Kong mask ban legal when aimed at unauthorised protests, Court of Appeal rules in partially overturning lower court verdict
    World
    South China Morning Post

    Hong Kong mask ban legal when aimed at unauthorised protests, Court of Appeal rules in partially overturning lower court verdict

    A Hong Kong appeal court on Thursday overturned part of an earlier ruling that found the government’s controversial ban on masks unconstitutional, declaring the measure imposed at the height of the civil unrest last year valid.But the Court of Appeal ruled that while it was constitutional for the government to ban the wearing of masks at unauthorised assemblies, the same would not be true for legal demonstrations. Language in the ban granting police the authority to physically remove masks was also unconstitutional, it added.The three appeal court justices also found the government had the power invoke the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance to legislate the ban, overturning the lower court’s ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional even if a state of “public danger” in the city was cited.Speaking outside the court, veteran activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, one of those who had initially challenged the ban, said he was determined to take the case to the Court of Final Appeal for clarification on how precisely “public danger” was defined in the 98-year-old ordinance.“I’m quite disappointed with the judgment,” Leung said. “The definition of ‘public danger’ is too wide, it will allow the chief executive to abuse his or her power in order to avoid ordinary people from exercising their basic rights such as freedom of assembly or freedom of speech.”But Leung confessed his bid will hinge on whether the government’s Legal Aid Department would fund his case. Hong Kong mask ban lifted: court refuses request to suspend earlier rulingPro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, meanwhile, an adviser to Beijing as a member of the Basic Law Committee, welcomed the decision in regard to the chief executive’s authority to issue emergency regulations.“It affirms the discretionary power of the executive under the advice of the Executive Council. This is a very important power inherent for the chief executive,” Leung said, adding the regulation could be invoked without the legislature’s scrutiny in the future.On the particulars of the mask ban, Leung said Hong Kong “still face certain threats” after explosives were found.“After all the hiccups, I will leave it to government to decide whether to accept it [or appeal strictures on when and where it can be used],” Leung said.Chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s embattled administration put the ban in place on October 5, following months of civil unrest that kicked off in June with the introduction of an extradition bill that would have opened the door to sending suspects to mainland China.Although the bill was withdrawn in September, the movement had by then morphed from peaceful marches into citywide anti-government protests that routinely resulted in vandalism and violent confrontations with police.The mask ban was introduced by invoking the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) to prevent violent protesters from hiding their identities, saying the unrest amounted to a “public danger”.But the move, which banned face coverings at not just illegal assemblies but also lawful ones, sparked fears of declining civil liberties, and prompted activists and pro-democracy lawmakers to lodge judicial challenges. Government starts appeal against decision to declare mask ban unconstitutionalThe government has since been placed in an awkward position as it continues to seek legal backing for the ban, even as the Covid-19 pandemic has made masks ubiquitous in Hong Kong and prompted medical professionals to call for making them mandatory.Some legal experts had called for the government to scrap the ban regardless of the ruling to avoid confusion, and suggested it would be perfectly fine for people to wear masks during the present global health crisis even if the appeal court sided with the government.Since the ban was put in place, a police spokesman said 682 people had been arrested for wearing masks, with 61 being prosecuted.Challenges filed first by Leung, then a group of 24 opposition lawmakers, argued the move hurt freedom of expression and assembly, and that the ERO, which gave the government the power to pass subsidiary legislations without Legislative Council scrutiny, was inappropriate. What happens if Hong Kong court upholds mask ban amid coronavirus pandemic?In November, the High Court ruled both the ban and this particular use of the ERO were unconstitutional, saying the “near blanket prohibition” on face coverings along with a lack of limits on the force’s authority to randomly stop mask wearers were not “reasonably necessary”.The decision infuriated Beijing and prompted the present appeal from the Department of Justice.At the time, Zang Tiewei, spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the top national legislative body, said the power to declare a local law incompatible with the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, rested with no authority but the NPCSC.The government appealed the court ruling in January as coronavirus cases began to flare up in mainland China.This article Hong Kong mask ban legal when aimed at unauthorised protests, Court of Appeal rules in partially overturning lower court verdict first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Polish healthcare workers in Germany face Easter away from families
    World
    AFP News

    Polish healthcare workers in Germany face Easter away from families

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  • Supreme Court order for free coronavirus testing may hinder fight, say business leaders, health experts
    World
    Reuters

    Supreme Court order for free coronavirus testing may hinder fight, say business leaders, health experts

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  • Asia virus latest: Australia raids cruise ship; Taiwan demands WHO apology
    World
    AFP News

    Asia virus latest: Australia raids cruise ship; Taiwan demands WHO apology

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  • U.S. Senate tells members to avoid Zoom over data security concerns: FT
    Business
    Reuters

    U.S. Senate tells members to avoid Zoom over data security concerns: FT

    Senators have been asked to find an alternative platform to use for remote working, the Financial Times reported citing a person who had seen the warning, adding that the Senate had stopped short of officially banning Zoom Video Communications Inc's service. The use of Zoom has soared after political parties, corporate offices, schools, organizations and millions across the world started working from home after lockdowns were enforced to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Taiwan and Germany had already put restrictions on Zoom's use, while Elon Musk's SpaceX has banned the app over security concerns.

  • Virus claims record dead but Trump sees light at end of tunnel
    World
    AFP News

    Virus claims record dead but Trump sees light at end of tunnel

    The coronavirus pandemic notched up another round of record death tolls in the United States and Europe, dousing the optimism of US President Donald Trump who insisted there was light at the end of the tunnel. There was also a record death toll of 938 over 24 hours in Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a third night in intensive care, his condition said to be "improving." Spain and Italy are still seeing hundreds of deaths per day despite tentative signs the disease may have peaked.

  • Pakistan shoots down Indian drone as Kashmir tensions rise
    World
    AFP News

    Pakistan shoots down Indian drone as Kashmir tensions rise

    Pakistan's army said Thursday it had shot down a small Indian surveillance drone in Kashmir, as tensions rose over continued cross-border shelling in the disputed territory. "This blatant act was aggressively responded to by Pakistan Army troops shooting down Indian quadcopter," the statement read. An Indian army spokesman said the drone "is not ours".

  • Italy may relax some coronavirus measures by end of April - Conte
    World
    Reuters

    Italy may relax some coronavirus measures by end of April - Conte

    Italy may start gradually lifting some restrictions in place to contain the new coronavirus by the end of April, provided the spread of the disease continues to slow, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the BBC on Thursday. Conte warned, however, that Italy could not lower its guard and restrictions would only be eased gradually. There were 542 deaths from COVID-19 in Italy on Wednesday, lower than the 604 the day before, taking the total death toll to 17,669.

  • UN Security Council to meet on coronavirus pandemic
    World
    AFP News

    UN Security Council to meet on coronavirus pandemic

    After weeks of disagreement -- especially between the United States and China -- the UN Security Council will meet Thursday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic for the first time. Led by Germany, nine of the council's 10 non-permanent members requested the closed-door meeting -- a video conference to maintain social distancing -- last week, fed up with the body's inaction over the unprecedented global crisis. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to focus on efforts to fight the pandemic, peacekeeping missions and fostering unity between the non-permanent members and the five permanent ones.

  • Taiwan demands apology from WHO chief over virus 'slander'
    World
    AFP News

    Taiwan demands apology from WHO chief over virus 'slander'

    Taiwan demanded an apology from the World Health Organization chief on Thursday after he accused the island's government of leading personal attacks against him and his agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity to fight the disease on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump criticised the global health body and threatened to cut its funding. Tedros largely avoided mentioning Trump by name but he did single out the government in Taipei, which has been frozen out of the WHO after political pressure from Beijing.

  • HNA Group’s West Air unit gets breathing space to complete stake sale as creditors defer put option on bonds amid travelling slump
    Business
    South China Morning Post

    HNA Group’s West Air unit gets breathing space to complete stake sale as creditors defer put option on bonds amid travelling slump

    West Air, a Chinese budget carrier owned by the HNA Group, has persuaded some creditors to postpone receiving their bond payments, getting much-needed breathing space as its indebted parent company struggles for financial survival amid a national lockdown that has grounded all but a handful of weekly flights.The carrier, operating 35 aircraft from its base in Chongqing in central China, persuaded bondholders to withdraw 292 million yuan (US$41.3 million) of put options, according to West Air’s statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, where the bonds are traded. The 13-year old carrier eventually paid 235.9 million yuan of bonds on April 7, according to the statement.The deferment is a relief for West Air’s parent HNA, one of China’s biggest global asset acquirers to emerge in the past two decades. China’s largest private-sector aviation conglomerate, HNA is under de facto state ward by the local authorities of Hainan province to trim its debt burden, as the government tries to prevent its financial collapse from hurting the broader banking system while the nation’s economic growth slows to its slowest pace in four decades.HNA agreed in December to sell its stake in West Air for an undisclosed price to Chongqing Yufu Assets Management Group, a state-owned company based in the megacity and a minority partner in the budget carrier, giving Yufu at least 70 per cent of the airline. The deal, when completed, would give the municipal authority of Chongqing, with a population of 31 million, its first hometown carrier.HNA’s sale to Yufu is a crucial step for the Chongqing municipality to help repay West Air’s debt, said a financial source familiar with the plan, declining to be named. West Air did not respond to requests for comment by South China Morning Post.West Air is not the sole unit facing financial problems at HNA. Hainan Airlines, China’s biggest private carrier and the HNA Group’s flagship, has called a meeting of bondholders on Friday to delay payments on 750 million yuan worth of 270-day, 4.35 per cent notes that mature on April 17.The airlines’ struggles to repay debt reflect the wider financial woes faced by China’s aviation industry, as the coronavirus pandemic has forced regulators to ground flights to deter air travel. The no-fly order has hit the industry hard, leading to 24.6 billion yuan in losses in February alone, of which 21 billion yuan was a direct loss by the country’s carriers, according to data by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).Worldwide airlines stand to lose a collective US$252 billion in passenger revenue in 2020, making it the biggest annual slump in civil aviation history, according to a forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global industry guild.West Air had 12.42 billion yuan in assets as of June 2019, little changed from a year earlier, while liabilities fell 1.5 per cent to 7.4 billion yuan, according to Wind’s data. Its debt-to-asset ratio fell by 1 percentage point to 59.58 per cent, while gross profit margin climbed 0.2 percentage point to 11.5 per cent.China Chengxin International Credit Rating (CCXI) at the end of March lowered its ratings for West Air to AA- from AA.Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A; sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.More from South China Morning Post: * Creditors seize HNA unit’s assets in Singapore, China and US after CWT missed payment deadline on US$179 million of loans * Hainan-based companies are bouncing as HNA deal, tourism measures signal stronger policy support amid Covid-19 crisis * HK Express deal exposes Chinese conglomerate HNA Group’s key assets as debt repayment pressure mounts * HNA Group reshuffles managers as it unwinds its asset acquisition spree after co-founder’s death * HNA Group’s fate hangs in the balance as coronavirus lockdowns scupper the Chinese asset buyer’s debt workout planThis article HNA Group’s West Air unit gets breathing space to complete stake sale as creditors defer put option on bonds amid travelling slump first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • India's poor hit hardest by virus lockdown
    World
    AFP News

    India's poor hit hardest by virus lockdown

    With his rickshaw sitting idle outside his one-room shack, Sailesh Kumar is one of the hundreds of millions of poor Indians hit the hardest by the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown. Like an estimated 100 million others, Kumar is a migrant worker. Before India's 21-day lockdown began on March 25, the 38-year-old earned -- on a good day -- the equivalent of $4 a day cycling his rickshaw, while his wife cooked and cleaned as a domestic worker.

  • PM Johnson 'getting better' in intensive care as UK extends overdraft
    World
    Reuters

    PM Johnson 'getting better' in intensive care as UK extends overdraft

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was getting better on Thursday in intensive care where he is battling COVID-19 as his government extended its overdraft facility and reviewed the most stringent shut down in peacetime history. Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas' hospital on Sunday evening with a persistent high temperature and cough and was rushed to intensive care on Monday. "Things are getting better for him," his culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Thursday.

  • Coronavirus: China’s financial stability body led by Liu He steps up meetings amid heightened financial risks
    World
    South China Morning Post

    Coronavirus: China’s financial stability body led by Liu He steps up meetings amid heightened financial risks

    China’s top financial committee headed by Vice-Premier Liu He has held a series of intensive meetings behind closed doors in the past three months as the coronavirus pandemic has roiled global markets and brought the world’s second biggest economy into uncharted waters.The Financial Stability and Development Commission, which Liu leads as top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, held its 25th and most recent meeting on Tuesday, an official statement said this week. The committee last announced its 14th meeting in early January.In other words, the commission, which includes China’s central bank governor Yi Gang, convened 10 meetings in-between at a frequency of nearly one a week. The commission does not publish its meeting agenda beforehand.While none of the gatherings were publicly disclosed, their frequency shows Beijing’s concerns about heightened economic and financial risks facing the country, which could report its first official economic contraction in the first quarter of this year since 1976.At a Politburo Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, Xi said that “downside risks in the world economy have increased while instability and uncertainty have grown significantly”.In particular, Xi said that China must make “ideological and work preparations” to face changes in the external environment “for a relatively long period of time” – a polite way of saying China must be ready for a more unstable and hostile global environment.The recent concentration of commission meetings reflected deep worry over the fate of the economy in policy circles, said Ding Shuang, chief Greater China economist of Standard Chartered Bank. He added China’s financial regulators would need to work out how to apply plans made by the country’s top leaders.“The risk prevention mindset is losing ground to the impulse of credit expansion,” he said.Some may even resort to ‘anywhere but ChinaGe HonglinAt this week’s meeting it was decided that China would seek “more flexible use” of monetary policy and “bigger credit support” for small and private enterprises, according to a statement on the central government website.The commission said it was closely watching development of the pandemic overseas to prevent economic risk spilling over into China.China’s role as a manufacturing hub could be threatened as developed countries encourage “reshoring” of industrial production facilities after the pandemic, Ge Honglin, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body, said in a recent interview with Beijing News.“Some may even resort to ‘anywhere but China’,” said Ge, a former head of China’s state aluminium company.China must do more to lure foreign direct investment and cannot take it for granted that investors will continue to flock to the country, he said.“It’s better to attract overseas capital into China’s real economy, rather than the stock market,” Ge said.The financial commission was established in 2017 to coordinate between China’s central bank and financial regulators, and lead the country’s quest to reduce financial risks.Beijing is scrambling to bring economic activities back to normal after months of damaging lockdowns across the country. On Wednesday, authorities lifted the lockdown on the city of Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A; sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.More from South China Morning Post: * Coronavirus: China to hold its largest trade fair online amid growing signs export slump may worsen * Coronavirus: China foreign exchange reserves drop to 17-month low as market turmoil pushes up US dollar * Coronavirus: China should drop 2020 GDP target as pandemic stokes uncertainty, says central bank adviser * Coronavirus: China to raise fiscal deficit ratio after G20 pledges US$5 trillion economic rescue package * China looks to G20, IMF to boost policy coordination amid coronavirus falloutThis article Coronavirus: China’s financial stability body led by Liu He steps up meetings amid heightened financial risks first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.