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China Aero Space Weekly News Round Up Episode 18 25th 31st Jan 2021

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Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/Space News Roundup! Without further ado, the news update from the week of 25 - 31 January.

1) News of Geely’s satellite constellation (and Qingdao Shanghe Aerospace Technology)
According to media reports, the Qingdao SCO Demonstration Zone officially kicked off the Qingdao Aerospace Science & Tech New Industry Project, which is a huge construction project over a land area of over 20,000 m2 and will host the Qingdao Shanghe Aerospace Technology Company.

Qingdao Shanghe Aerospace Technology was founded on August 31 2020, and is 100% owned by Geespace, a subsidiary of Geely Group based in Zhejiang and that has invested massively in satellite manufacturing, including an AIT center in Taizhou city. Qingdao Shanghe Aerospace Technology was registered with an initial capital of 100 million RMB. This seems like a sign of Geely's determination regarding its comms/satnav constellation project in LEO, announced in 2020. While Geely's satellite manufacturing plans have been moving forward rapidly, there had been quite few updates on the constellation project itself.


2) Carbon fiber cryogenic tank for liquid oxygen (CALT)
Last week we saw CALT publish on its WeChat Official Account that it had successfully manufactured a diameter carbon composite cryogenic tank for liquid oxygen. This is first in China for a tank with such a large diameter.

CALT’s article mentioned a decrease in mass of 30% compared to previous aluminium alloy tanks ( vs ). The academy also believes that cost can be reduced by 25% compared to previous tank models, and that manufacturing speed would increase compared to metal-based tanks. There will no doubt be further testing to ensure the technology is mature before integrating a Long March rocket.


3) Article from MacroPolo about Rising Stars in China’s Political Hierarchy
Great piece from MacroPolo this week about the rising stars in the Communist Party apparatus. Noteworthy for the space sector is the fact that several former CASC/CASIC/CNSA high-level people have gone into politics.

The article mentions Yuan Jiajun, a former VP of CASC who had completed his PhD at Beihang, worked on Lunar and Mars missions, and is now the Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province, one of China’s wealthiest.

Also highlighted is Xu Dazhe, a former high-level manager at CASIC and the CNSA who has since become Governor, and now Party Secretary, of Hunan Province in central China. Xu has used his position in Hunan to try to bring more space industry activity to the province, with mixed results. Changsha is home to a few space companies (Spacetube, Spacety, etc.), and CASC has a presence there. The area is also home to more general heavy industry, including industrial giant Sany. Changsha played host to the China Space Day conference in 2019, an event at which Xu was a speaker.


4) HNA Group enters bankruptcy restructuring
HNA Group is a large privately-owned conglomerate based in Haikou (Hainan province), and until very recently, a Fortune 500 company. Its core activities are historically in aviation through its subsidiary HNA Aviation, which in turn handles over 14 airlines, including China’s fourth largest airline Hainan Airlines. It also has multiple activities in the tourism business, the food industry, real estate, finance and entertainment.

HNA Group came under government scrutiny in 2017, and crumbling under the massive amount of debt it had created, began selling many of its assets. At the climax of the shopping spree in 2017, HNA Group was reported to have accumulated 1 trillion RMB of assets, 500 billion RMB of debt, and have ramifications in more than 2300 companies. A working group was set up within the company to solve its debt problems in February 2020, and when it failed to do so, this led to the bankruptcy restructuring this week.

It’s hard to say how things will go for HNA Group further down the road. 2020 has not been kind to the company, with the coronavirus stifling the aviation business for a good half year domestically, and international flights still being very limited. Yet HNA Group is such a key company to Hainan province, in both economic and employment terms, that it is hard to see the local government letting the situation reach liquidation. It is likely the company will continue to exist with new shareholders, the sale of many remaining assets, and a refocus of the group on a number of core activities.


This has been another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/Space News Roundup. If you’ve made it this far, we thank you for your kind attention, and look forward to seeing you next time!

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