Why China’s biotech sector thrives despite a global recession
Published: Jul 27, 2022
By Gail Dutton
Western nations are working to lessen dependence on China as a supplier for ingredients and goods of all kinds, and China’s economy slowed significantly as a consequence of COVID-19 lockdowns, yet its biopharma sector appears strong.
That’s because biotech is designated as a strategic emerging industry. “China has made a huge push since 2010 to develop biotech companies that can compete at the apex of the world economy,” Thomas Moore, Ph.D., associate professor at the School of Public and International Affairs, University of Cincinnati, told BioSpace.
“In 2015, the Chinese government launched the Made in China 2025 Initiative…to develop key industries to the point where, by 2025, it would not have to rely either on imports of finished products or upon global supply chains in which its companies played a subordinate role in collaborating with major foreign companies,” Moore continued. “Beyond meeting China’s own needs, the additional aim was for these companies to become peer competitors of the large corporate behemoths from other countries that dominate global markets.”
China Ranks Second on the Forbes Global 2000
It has made significant strides. For example, Moore pointed out, “In 2000, China had no pharmaceutical or biotech companies on the Forbes Global 2000list. By 2010 it had one. China had eight by 2019 and 14 by 2021. By way of contrast, the U.S. had 18 companies in 2010, 21 in 2019 and 31 in 2021. Even though it still lags the U.S. by a considerable margin, China has surpassed Japan (which had 10 companies in 2021) and now holds second place (on that list).”
Courtesy of BioSpace
China’s goal of transitioning “Made in China” to “Discovered in China” has become a reality. There are at least 600 biotech science parks (depending on the definition) in China to accelerate the development of novel science. But, the consultancy of Dezan Shira & Associates notes that Chinese biotech firms invest less than 5% of their sales revenue in R&D. American companies, in contrast, devote an average of 20% of their sales revenue this way.
Calling Talent Home
China’s biotech sector benefited significantly from the skills of Western-trained returnees. The country’s Thousand Talents Plan – one of 200 such plans – recruited approximately 60,000 overseas professionals between 2008 and 2016 to return to China to work.
While “building nests to attract phoenixes” is neither illegal nor unethical, the means of recruitment may be, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report “Hunting the Phoenix,” which cited industrial espionage and other unethical practices on the part of the Chinese Communist Party in its recruitment strategies. Consequently, the Thousand Talents Plan was rebrandedin 2018. A researcher at the Technology and National Security program at the Center for a New American Security, writing in FP (Foreign Policy Magazine), estimates that plan costChina between $550 million and $1.1 billion over 10 years.
“The entire Chinese biotech infrastructure, including individual biotech companies themselves, have been the beneficiaries of substantial funding and other kinds of policy and regulatory assistance to help them succeed,” Moore acknowledged. That includes both direct and indirect funding. While “the scale of financial assistance is probably hard to know…this is precisely the kind of multi-faceted assistance that the U.S. government, American companies and other foreign governments and companies, have routinely bemoaned as representing unfair competition. In addition to subsidies, there is an array of regulatory/policy actions governments at the national and local level can use to give preference to home-grown companies.” (Requiring tech transfer or local partners are two historic examples.)
Notably, the companies in China that made the Forbes Global 2000 list are predominantly Chinese-owned. “There are a small number of companies for which there is substantial foreign shareholding. For example, SCPC Pharmaceutical Group was 58% foreign owned (30% of that was American) at the beginning of 2019, and Sinopharm Group and Sino Biopharmaceutical each had more than 40% foreign ownership at the start of 2019,” Moore noted (citing 2019 to avoid the pandemic influence).
US Companies Moving In
Multinational companies remain quite interested in developing operations in China from discovery through commercialization. Siemens Healthineers, Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals are enhancing their operations in China, and Sequoia China is said to have raised a $9 billion fund.
Companies investing in China cite the ability to fulfill unmet needs and tap another source of innovation, both of which support growth. For example, in 2021, Pfizer’s U.S. sales comprised 36% of its total global revenues of $81.3 billion. Those from China comprised 19% of that. Astra Zeneca, with total revenue of $1,186 billion, expects a compoundannual growth rate of 4.5% for the China market, resulting in revenue of $197 billion between 2021 and 2025.
Yet, there is growing acknowledgment that allowing any country to dominate the supply of raw ingredients, technologies, or manufacturing is hazardous. As U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said July 19, speaking at LG Science Park in South Korea, “These recent shocks to the global economy have refocused global attention on the importance of economic resilience and addressing supply chain vulnerabilities. Working with allies and partners through ‘friend-shoring’ is an important element of strengthening economic resilience while sustaining the dynamism and productivity growth that comes with economic integration.” In her remarks, she called out China, for its “unfair trade practices” and attempts to “use their market positions in raw materials, technology or products to exercise geopolitical leverage or disrupt markets and trading activities.”
Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.K.’s MI5 jointly issued more strongly-worded warnings, noting long-term economic threats from China. FBI Director Christopher Wray called China “the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security” and said it was “set on stealing your technology…(this is) an even more serious threat to western businesses than even many sophisticated business people realized.”
Lance Minor, principal and life sciences national co-leader at BDO, dismissed the concern, saying, “It doesn’t sound like there’s anything particularly new. They’re just reiterating the cybersecurity IP concerns that are shared by companies all around the world. Cyberthreats don’t require a Chinese passport, so I don’t know that companies really factor that in.”
Referring to manufacturing in China, he recalled that companies reassessed their presence in China a decade ago when costs escalated, but ultimately chose to stay. Now, Minor said, “There doesn’t seem to be much shifting of current business in China for biotech…and from the public health point of view, there are significant unmet medical needs in China.”
In this specific predicament, U.S. officials have to choose a strategy to deliver the aid without the perception of benefiting Hamas, a group the U.S. and Israel both classify as a terrorist organization.
When aiding people in war zones, you can’t just send money, a development strategy called “cash transfers” that has become increasingly popular due to its efficiency. Sending money can boost the supply of locally produced goods and services and help people on the ground pay for what they need most. But injecting cash into an economy so completely cut off from the world would only stoke inflation.
So the aid must consist of goods that have to be brought into Gaza, and services provided by people working as part of an aid mission. Humanitarian aid can include food and water; health, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services; and tents and other materials for shelter and settlement.
Due to the closure of the border with Israel, aid can arrive in Gaza only via the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, will likely turn to its longtime partner on the ground, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, to serve as supply depots and distribute goods. That agency, originally founded in 1949 as a temporary measure until a two-state solution could be found, serves in effect as a parallel yet unelected government for Palestinian refugees.
USAID will likely want to tap into UNRWA’s network of 284 schools – many of which are now transformed into humanitarian shelters housing two-thirds of the estimated 1 million people displaced by Israeli airstrikes – and 22 hospitals to expedite distribution.
Since Biden took office, total yearly U.S. assistance for the Palestinian territories has totaled around $150 million, restored from just $8 million in 2020 under the Trump administration. During the Obama administration, however, the U.S. was providing more aid to the territories than it is now, with $1 billion disbursed in the 2013 fiscal year.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a U.N. organization. It’s not run by Hamas, unlike, for instance, the Gaza Ministry of Health. However, Hamas has frequently undermined UNRWA’s efforts and diverted international aid for military purposes.
Humanitarian aid professionals regularly have to contend with these trade-offs when deciding to what extent they can work with governments and local authorities that commit violent acts. They need to do so in exchange for the access required to help civilians under their control.
Similarly, Biden has had to make concessions to Israel while brokering for the freedom to send humanitarian aid to Gaza. For example, he has assured Israel that if any of the aid is diverted by Hamas, the operation will cease.
This promise may have been politically necessary. But if Biden already believes Hamas to be uncaring about civilian welfare, he may not expect the group to refrain from taking what they can.
Security best practices
What can be done to protect the security of humanitarian aid operations that take place in the midst of dangerous conflicts?
Under International Humanitarian Law, local authorities have the primary responsibility for ensuring the delivery of aid – even when they aren’t carrying out that task. To increase the chances that the local authorities will not attack them, aid groups can give “humanitarian notification” and voluntarily alert the local government as to where they will be operating.
Under the current agreement between the U.S., Israel and Egypt, the convoy will raise the U.N. flag. International inspectors will make sure no weapons are on board the vehicles before crossing over from Arish, Egypt, to Rafah, a city located on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.
The aid convoy will likely cross without militarized security. This puts it at some danger of diversion once inside Gaza. But whether the aid convoy is attacked, seized or left alone, the Biden administration will have demonstrated its willingness to attempt a humanitarian relief operation. In this sense, a relatively small first convoy bearing water, medical supplies and food, among other items, serves as a test balloon for a sustained operation to follow soon after.
In that case, the presence of U.S. armed forces might provoke attacks on Gaza-bound aid convoys by Hamas and Islamic jihad fighters that otherwise would not have occurred. Combined with the mobilization of two U.S. Navy carrier groups in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, I’d be concerned that such a move might also stoke regional anger. It would undermine the Biden administration’s attempts to cool the situation.
On U.N.-approved missions, aid delivery may be secured by third-party peacekeepers – meaning, in this case, personnel who are neither Israeli nor Palestinian – with the U.N. Security Council’s blessing. In this case, tragically, it’s unlikely that such a resolution could conceivably pass such a vote, much less quickly enough to make a difference.
Topher L. McDougal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
Credit: 2023 Barbarewicz et al.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
BUFFALO, NY- October 20, 2023 – A new research perspective was published in Oncoscience (Volume 10) on October 4, 2023, entitled, “Diagnosis and management of postoperative wound infections in the head and neck region.”
In everyday clinical practice at a department for oral and maxillofacial surgery, a large number of surgical procedures in the head and neck region take place under both outpatient and inpatient conditions. The basis of every surgical intervention is the patient’s consent to the respective procedure. Particular attention is drawn to the general and operation-specific risks.
Particularly in the case of soft tissue procedures in the facial region, bleeding, secondary bleeding, scarring and infection of the surgical area are among the most common complications/risks, depending on the respective procedure. In their new perspective, researchers Filip Barbarewicz, Kai-Olaf Henkel and Florian Dudde from Army Hospital Hamburg in Germany discuss the diagnosis and management of postoperative infections in the head and neck region.
“In order to minimize the wound infections/surgical site infections, aseptic operating conditions with maximum sterility are required.”
Furthermore, depending on the extent of the surgical procedure and the patient‘s previous illnesses, peri- and/or postoperative antibiotics should be considered in order to avoid postoperative surgical site infection. Abscesses, cellulitis, phlegmone and (depending on the location of the procedure) empyema are among the most common postoperative infections in the respective surgical area. The main pathogens of these infections are staphylococci, although mixed (germ) patterns are also possible.
“Risk factors for the development of a postoperative surgical site infection include, in particular, increased age, smoking, multiple comorbidities and/or systemic diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus type II) as well as congenital and/ or acquired immune deficiency [10, 11].”
Continue reading the paper: DOI:https://doi.org/10.18632/oncoscience.589
Correspondence to: Florian Dudde
Keywords: surgical site infection, head and neck surgery
Oncoscience is a peer-reviewed, open-access, traditional journal covering the rapidly growing field of cancer research, especially emergent topics not currently covered by other journals. This journal has a special mission: Freeing oncology from publication cost. It is free for the readers and the authors.
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G77 Nations, China, Push Back On U.S. "Loss And Damage" Climate Fund In Days Leading Up To UN Summit
As was the case in primary school with bringing in presents, make sure you bring enough for the rest of the class, otherwise people get ornery...
This age old rule looks like it could be rearing its head in the days leading up to the UN COP 28 climate summit, set to take place in the United Arab Emirates in about six weeks.
At the prior UN COP 27, which took place in Egypt last year, the U.S. pushed an idea for a new World Bank "loss and damage" climate slush fund to help poor countries with climate change. But the G77 nations plus China, including many developing countries, are pushing back on the idea, according to a new report from the Financial Times.
The goal was to arrange how the fund would operate and where the money would come from for the "particularly vulnerable" nations who would have access to it prior to the upcoming summit in UAE.
But as FT notes, Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, the Cuban chair of the G77 plus China group, has said that talks about these details were instead "deadlocked" over issues of - you guessed it - where the money is going and the governance of the fund.
The U.S.'s proposal for the fund to be governed by the World Bank has been rejected by the G77 after "extensive" discussions, the report says. Cuesta has said that the nations seek to have the fund managed elsewhere, but that the U.S. wasn't open to such arrangements.
Cuesta said: “We have been confronted with an elephant in the room, and that elephant is the US. We have been faced with a very closed position that it is [the World Bank] or nothing.”
Christina Chan, a senior adviser to US climate envoy John Kerry, responded: “We have been working diligently at every turn to address concerns, problem-solve, and find landing zones.” She said the U.S. has been "clear and consistent" in their messaging on the need for the fund.
Cuesta contends that the World Bank, known for lending to less affluent nations, lacks a "climate culture" and often delays decision-making, hindering quick responses to climate emergencies like Pakistan's recent severe flooding.
The G77 coalition voiced concerns about the World Bank's legal framework potentially limiting the fund's ability to accept diverse funding sources like philanthropic donations or to access capital markets.
With just days left before the UN COP 28 summit, the World Bank insists that combating climate change is integral to its mission and vows to collaborate on structuring the fund.