China's airline industry is starting to take off again. Photo: Xinhua

China’s airline industry showed signs of recovery in May, with the decline in key indicators significantly narrowing from a month ago, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Airlines flew a total of 25.83 million passengers last month, down 52.6% year on year. The decline narrowed 15.9 percentage points from April, said CAAC spokesperson Xiong Jie.

Air cargo volume fell 12% year on year to 549,000 tonnes, compared with a 19.5% decrease registered in April.

The punctuality rate of Chinese airlines reached 94.8% in May, Xiong added.

China has been boosting the opening-up of the air transport industry. The CAAC on Tuesday unveiled a plan to trial the Seventh Freedom of the Air in the Hainan Free Trade Port to implement one aspect of a broader master plan, which was made public on June 1, to build the southern island province into a high-level free trade port.

The Seventh Freedom allows a carrier to operate flights between two foreign countries without the need to touch down in the airline’s home country.

The trial of the Seventh Freedom in Hainan means that some international routes in Hainan are now open to the operation of foreign airlines. The number of Hainan’s international routes reached 103 in 2020, up from five in 2003, according to the CAAC.

Mobile phone shipments

Mobile phone shipments in China reached 33.8 million units in May, down 11.8% from a year ago, according to a report published by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

From January to May, domestic mobile phone shipments totaled 124 million units, a year-on-year drop of 18 %.

In terms of new models, 32 were released in May, down 22% compared with a year earlier, while 169 were launched over the past five months, a decline of 18.8% year-on-year.

China’s 5G mobile phone shipments stood at 15.64 million units in May, accounting for 46.3% of total shipments in the market. During the same time, 16 new 5G models were released, half of the total new models in May.

In the first five months, China had 46.08 million units of 5G mobile phone shipments and 81 new 5G models.

Domestic brands take the lion’s share in China’s mobile phone market shipments, reaching 91.7% in May and 90% in the first five months.

Smartphone shipments in China registered 32.66 million units in May, down 10.4% yearly. Over the past five months, the country’s smartphone shipments reached 121 million, a decrease of 16% year-on-year.

Trust funds’ risk assets

Chinese trust funds’ assets deemed to carry a degree of risk have more than doubled in the past year to 643.1 billion yuan (US$91 billion) due to the economic turmoil caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, reported.

China’s investment trust sector had 1,626 risk projects in the first quarter, a jump of almost 62% from the same period last year and an increase of 5.1% from the previous quarter, said the China Trustee Association.

The pandemic brought increased risks to the trust fund sector in the period and regulators stepped up their risk investigation efforts, said Jian Yongjun, a special researcher at the association. However, the scale of risk is expected to stabilize this year, which means the overall hazard to the sector can be controlled, he added.

The trust industry’s financial indicators are expected to come under greater pressure in the third and fourth quarters, a member of a Beijing-based trust company told Yicai Global. It may be difficult for some projects to recover their investment, he added.

Sixty-eight Chinese trust companies had 21.33 trillion yuan in assets under management as of the end of the first quarter, a dip of 1.28% from the fourth quarter of last year. Yet profit was down 10.2% to 16.61 billion yuan and the asset risk ratio was up 0.35% to 3.02% from the end of last year.

The story was written by Huang Wanyi and Liu Licong and first published at It was translated by Nadeem Xu.

Xu Yuenai

Xu Yuenai is a Beijing-based columnist specializing in international relations.