A technician installs 5G equipment at Haikou Meilan International Airport on December 24, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations, accelerate 5G coverage in major cities and advance co-construction and sharing in 2021, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The MIIT will promote the construction and application of 5G networks in an orderly manner next year, Xiao Yaqing, the minister of industry and information technology, said at a working conference on Monday.

It will focus on 10 key industries, form 20 typical industrial application scenarios, carry out industrial 5G network pilot projects and release 5G millimeter-wave frequency plans for some frequency bands, said Xiao.

More efforts will be made to optimize and upgrade the network, increase the number of gigabit network users to more than 200 million, and crack down on infringements of users’ rights and interests by apps.

As of October this year, China launched more than 700,000 5G base stations, with over 180 million terminal connections.

Healthcare security

A total of 119 drugs have been added to the latest national essential drug list for reimbursement after considerable cuts in their prices, the National Healthcare Security Administration said Monday.

The long-expected move will greatly relieve the financial burden of patients with serious conditions ranging from cancer and rare diseases to Covid-19.

These drugs were among the 162 that were included in price negotiations between the administration and their producers earlier this year. Following the price negotiations, which took place in November and December, their prices dropped by nearly 51% on average, Xiong Xianjun, the head of medical services supervision at the administration, said at a news conference.

Some antiviral drugs, including Arbidol and Ribavirin, which can be used for treating Covid-19, are among the drugs that were added to the latest list to further aid Covid-19 control and prevention in China, Xiong said.

This means that all drugs that are recommended by the top health authority to treat Covid-19 have been included in the drug list and are therefore reimbursable for members of the basic medical insurance program.

Following the adjustment, the new list of reimbursable drugs, which takes effect on March 1, now covers 2,800 drugs.

Container throughput

Container throughput at China’s major ports continued to enjoy upward momentum in the middle of December, data from an industrial association showed.

From December 11 to 20, container throughput at China’s eight key ports increased 9.8% year-on-year, with the growth rate at Shanghai, Ningbo and Shenzhen ports exceeding 10%, according to the China Ports and Harbours Association.

Specifically, the container throughput for foreign trade rose 11.9% from a year earlier during the same period, up 7% from that posted in the previous 10 days.

The boom in container throughput for foreign trade came amid the rapid expansion in China’s exports, which jumped 21.1% year-on-year in November in United States dollar terms, the fastest growth since February 2018.

Industrial production also revived with China’s industrial profits increasing by 15.5% year-on-year in November, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Sunday.

Company news

OTT Airlines, a new subsidiary launched by China Eastern Airlines to push China’s homegrown aircraft to more markets, started its first commercial service on Monday with an ARJ21 jet operating between Shanghai and Beijing.

The company will be operating a Chinese-manufactured fleet of aircraft including the ARJ21 regional jet and the C919 narrow-body planes made by state-owned aerospace company Commercial Aircraft Corp of China.

Set up in February, OTT Airlines received the necessary certificates for operating large aircraft on Friday. With a passenger load factor of more than 90%, the ARJ21 aircraft took off at 2.33pm from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport an hour and 50 minutes later.

SIBUR Holding, Russia’s leading petrochemicals company, and China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec), China’s leading energy and chemical company, have closed a deal to set up a joint venture at the Amur Gas Chemical Complex after obtaining all necessary approvals from regulators in both countries.

SIBUR and Sinopec will hold respective interest in the joint venture in the amount of 60% and 40%. Both sides agreed on the main terms and conditions of the potential joint venture early in June.

Set to become the world’s largest basic polymer production facility, Amur GCC will have a capacity of 2.7 million tons per annum, including 2.3 mtpa of polyethylene and 400,000 tons per annum of polypropylene. Amur GCC’s budget is tentatively estimated at between $10 billion and $11 billion. Amur GCC is scheduled to complete construction and commissioning by 2024.

The stories were compiled by Nadeem Xu and KoKo and first published at ATimesCN.com.

Xu Yuenai

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