July 16, 2020 / 10:04 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-China says coronavirus risk to state-owned firms abroad is under control

(Adds background, details)

BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) - China’s state assets regulator said on Thursday the risk posed by the novel coronavirus to central government-owned firms abroad is under control and a small number of employees who have contracted COVID-19 are seeking treatment.

“There have been a few clusters of COVID cases but they have been properly dealt with and all of the affected workers have recovered ... a small number of patients, who have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, are actively seeking treatment,” Peng Huagang, a spokesman for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), told reporters.

China’s centrally owned firms, of which there are about 100, have projects in more than 180 countries, with the number of their employees abroad topping 1.18 million, of which 280,000 are Chinese, Peng said.

China’s overseas construction projects had been affected by the coronavirus, Peng said, but centrally owed firms would press on with participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of transport and energy projects.

The regulator would advise firms on minimising coronavirus risks and step up supervision of investment in the property and finance sectors, Peng said.

Official data showed on Thursday that total net profits for centrally owned enterprises plunged 37.7% from a year earlier during the first six months of 2020, highlighting the damage from the coronavirus.

Profits rose 5% in June as China’s economy recovered from a record contraction. (Reporting by Stella Qiu and Gabriel Crossley Editing by Robert Birsel)

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