News roundup: New disruption from WeChat: Launch of mini apps
The chief engineer behind WeChat, the mobile phone app from Tencent that does everything from messaging to payments, has announced the launch of mini apps — apps that work within WeChat, allowing users to forgo downloading apps from Apple or Android providers. The move is expected to disrupt the mobile app ecosystem in China, allowing developers and brands to develop software that will work on any phone that uses WeChat and giving Tencent another powerful reach into mobile phone users’ digital lives.
Various news and opinion pieces published over the weekend and today continue to highlight the potential for China to assume global leadership if president-elect Trump fulfills some of his campaign promises: Bloomberg says that “China has pounced after Donald Trump’s election win to claim the mantle of the world’s champion for free trade and against climate change.” The Financial Times has a similar take in a story titled “China maneuvers to fill U.S. free-trade role,” while the Sydney Morning Herald sees Xi Jinping’s speech at last Friday’s APEC summit meeting in Peru as “the moment the U.S. gave the world to China.” The New York Times weighs in with an opinion piece titled “A retreat from TPP would empower China,” and the South China Morning Post says that “Donald Trump’s pledge to end trade deals has led to countries that signed up to them looking to Beijing to take up the mantle from Washington.”
Quartz notes that Xi Jinping was embracing “a new, powerful role” at the same time that Trump was tweeting about being offended by the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live and the Broadway musical Hamilton. Meanwhile, the Chinese state-run Global Times asks “Can China overtake U.S. to lead the world?” but concludes that such a scenario is still “beyond imagination.”
Finally, on SupChina today we also publish a Q&A with Terry Townshend, the creator of Birding Beijing. His latest project tracks cuckoo birds from their summer home in Beijing on their transcontinental migration south, all the way to Africa.
Other China stories to watch are linked below.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
- U.S. regulators move to stop Chinese takeover of German tech firm Aixtron / WSJ
Sources said the U.S. committee that recommended a halt to the deal may have been most concerned about Aixtron’s new semiconductor technology falling into Chinese hands.
- China’s shrinking workforce affects economic transition, expert says / Caixin
According to demographer Zeng Xiangquan, the head of the China Institute for Employment Research at Renmin University, the country’s pool of workers will fall to 906 million this year as a downward trend continues. This will result in higher labor costs and the potential for Chinese companies to turn to less-expensive Southeast Asian countries for production.
- China’s Anbang may buy $2.3 billion in Japanese property from Blackstone / Reuters
The property deal would be the largest for Japan since the global financial crisis and would represent Chinese insurance conglomerate Anbang’s first venture into Japanese real estate.
- Chevy to sell American pickup trucks in China — before Trump makes it impossible / Fortune
“General Motors hasn’t marketed these trucks before because it wanted to be seen as a responsible green company by the Chinese government, and selling gas-guzzling pickup trucks didn’t fit that image.”
- How chili sauce spices up one of China’s best economies / Bloomberg
The popularity of the “Lao Gan Ma” brand helps to fuel the economy of Guizhou Province, which grew by 10.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2016.
- Opinion: Zhao Lingmin on the roots of Chinese elite support for Trump / Andrew Batson’s Blog
“In China’s imperfect market system, many elites come from rough backgrounds. Furthermore, decades of revolutionary ideology have made the whole society valorize coarseness, slovenliness and lack of hygiene. This makes many people see Trump’s vulgarity and inconsistency as amusing, straightforward and honest.”
- With support of China’s Xi, Philippine leader to ban fishing in disputed lagoon / Reuters
“Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte will issue an executive order declaring part of the disputed Scarborough Shoal a marine sanctuary off-limits to all fishermen, a move his office said was supported by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.” See also: Philippines to declare marine sanctuary in South China Sea / NYT
- China is no longer ruining their livelihoods, but these Filipino fishermen aren’t entirely grateful / L.A. Times
After Chinese vessels lifted their blockade on Philippine fishing activity around Scarborough Shoal, initial excitement gave way to other concerns: “Nothing that the Chinese and Filipino presidents had discussed about the shoal was binding,” the Los Angeles Times states. “The blockade could be reimposed at any time. And no one was compensating the fishermen for all that they had lost.”
- Taiwan sees exchange with China’s leader at APEC as positive / Reuters
Ties between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since President Tsai Ing-wen’s election in June and official communications have been severed, but Taiwan’s envoy James Soong and Xi Jinping had a “friendly” exchange during the APEC meeting in Peru, according to Taiwanese media.
- China turns blind eye to mainland supporters of ethnic Chinese rebels fighting in Myanmar / SCMP
“Beijing has denied any role in the neighboring state’s escalating ethnic conflicts, but the armed group’s high-profile activities online appear to reflect a tolerant attitude from Beijing toward the rebels, who share cultural, historical and linguistic roots with China.”
- Villager’s execution in China ignites uproar over inequality of justice / NYT
The outcry over the execution of the farmer Jia Jinglong, who killed a village chief in retaliation for the demolition of his home, has seen “people across the country publicly assailing inequities in the justice system and asking why high-level officials often escape the death penalty.”
SOCIETY, MEDIA AND CULTURE:
- Opinion: Will China lead on climate change as green technology booms? / The Conversation
“The incoming Trump administration’s stated intentions on global warming are terrible. But, they are not necessarily fatal, at least not yet,” writes Channing Arndt. “And China has far greater incentives to stay the course on its emissions commitments than is often recognized.”
- China’s migrants still living on the margins in big cities despite promise of reform / SCMP
Domestic migrants in big Chinese cities have to share public loos, buy their own drinking water and burn coal to keep warm. The authorities are rolling out a campaign to drive them out of the capital.
- Writing China: Madeleine Thien, ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ / WSJ
The author discusses the experiences, travels and research that influenced her novel, a multigenerational tale through Western music centered on events at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music during the Cultural Revolution.
- 3 black Americans see China as their land of opportunity / Washington Post
Douglass Fearon left a banking career to become an entertainer, Mekael Turner switched from computer programming to acting, and Shane Olff chose China to pursue his passion for table tennis.
- Do these village homes have the best view in China? / CNN
A sleepy village in the shadow of the Great Wall has been transformed over the past two decades through architectural projects designed to encourage tourism.
- Chinese robot smashes booth and injures man at Shenzhen hi-tech fair / What’s on Weibo
The incident involving the children’s educational robot drew much amusement on Chinese social media. “Maybe Little Chubby was just unhappy about being a made-in-China robot,” wrote one netizen.
- Anhui alligator killers receive suspended sentences / China Daily
“Three men in Wuhu, a city in East China’s Anhui Province, have been handed suspended prison sentences for killing a Yangtze alligator. The reptile was one of 92 alligators raised on a farm that escaped when heavy floods hit the area in July.”