Spaced-out panda

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Our word of the day is mascot (吉祥物 jíxiáng wù).

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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


2022 Winter Olympics mascots Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon

1. Spaced-out panda is mascot for 2022 Winter Olympics

Xinhua reports:

An animated giant panda named “Bing Dwen Dwen” [冰墩墩 bīng dūndūn] and a red lantern baby called “Shuey Rhon Rhon” [雪容融 xuě róngróng] have been unveiled as the two mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The mascots, revealed on Tuesday night at Beijing’s Shougang Ice Hockey Arena, are strongly associated with the host nation’s culture.

2. Open the pork faucets! 

As swine flu continues to ravage China’s pig farms, and pork prices skyrocket, CNN and Bloomberg (porous paywall) report:

  • The Chinese government will release 10,000 metric tons of pork from the “strategic pork reserve” in an attempt to stop the dramatic rise in the price of China’s favorite meat. 

  • The pork will be auctioned online this week on Thursday. It is frozen meat sourced from the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, Germany, France, and Chile. 

  • Companies will bid for the meat but are restricted to a maximum of 300 tons, according to a statement (in Chinese) from the China Merchandise Reserve Management Center.

3. Boeing’s misplaced China hopes?

“China accounted for nearly 14 percent of Boeing’s total revenue last year, its second-biggest market after the U.S.,” reports Bloomberg (porous paywall). But America’s flagship airplane maker has even bigger ambitions:  

China will need to spend $2.9 trillion on new aircraft and ground services over the next two decades, according to Boeing Co., which continues to pin hopes on the world’s second-largest economy as its trade dispute with the U.S. rolls on.

The estimate, released Tuesday in Boeing’s annual outlook on China’s commercial aviation market, is 7 percent higher than last year’s forecast. Growth will be driven by an expanding middle class and infrastructure improvements, resulting in a need for 8,090 new airplanes over 20 years worth nearly $1.3 trillion…

The projections show how important the Asian country is to Boeing as it faces challenges including the grounding of its 737 Max fleet, a slowing global economy and risk of market-share loss to competitor Airbus SE due to the trade war. 

Boeing might want to temper its optimism: Yesterday, the Nikkei Asian Review reported (porous paywall) that “China’s government is increasing the pressure on domestic airlines to use more jets developed and manufactured in the country, a push that could present a big challenge to Boeing of the U.S. and Airbus.” 

4. Elaine Chao investigated for conflict of interest 

The New York Times reports (porous paywall):

The House Oversight and Reform Committee asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday to turn over documents related to communication with her family’s shipping company as the panel stepped up an investigation into whether any actions taken by Ms. Chao amount to a conflict of interest.

The request by the committee in the Democrat-controlled House relates to actions Ms. Chao has taken that potentially benefited Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company owned by her family. Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government to help build ships that Foremost has purchased from government-owned shipyards there.

The actions by Ms. Chao — including joint public appearances since she became transportation secretary in 2017 with her father, James Chao, who founded the company, and a planned trip to China to meet with government officials there along with her father — have led House investigators to question if she is using her office to try to benefit her family’s financial interests.

5. China sends trade negotiator to D.C. for talks about talks

It’s day 439 of the U.S.-China techno-trade war. Per the South China Morning Post:

China’s vice-minister for finance, Liào Mín 廖岷 , will go to the United States for trade negotiations on Wednesday, state-run news agency Xinhua reported [in Chinese].

Liao will lead a delegation to Washington in preparation for the face-to-face meeting to be held next month between Chinese Vice-Premier Liú Hè 刘鹤, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

A diplomatic observer said Liao would set out China’s agenda for the October talks, including items that were not negotiable, but added that his inclusion meant this week’s talks would have a focus much broader than only trade.

News from other fronts of the techno-trade war:

Small American farms are going under, and being acquired by agriculture conglomerates: “The number of U.S. farms fell by 12,800 to 2.029 million in 2018, the smallest ever, as the trade war pushes more farmers into retirement or bankruptcy,” reports Reuters

Two U.S. senators on Monday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and national security agencies to review whether state-owned China Telecom and China Unico “should be allowed to operate in the United States, at a time of heightened concern about possible Chinese spying,” according to Reuters

A Chinese government employee living in New Jersey was arrested for a visa fraud scheme, reports the New York Times (porous paywall). The Department of Justice press release about it is here

Separately, a couple “who used to work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital [in Columbus, Ohio] is accused of stealing trade secrets from the hospital on its research, identification, and treatment of a range of pediatric conditions, and then setting up their own company in China, marketing and selling the services there for personal financial gain,” reports WSYX. The Department of Justice press release about it is here

6. Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam — public dialogue not a ‘gimmick’

This may be too little, too late — judging from the mood of the protesters in Hong Kong — but Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) insists her dialogue program is serious. Hong Kong Free Press reports:

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that her public dialogue platform will be launched next week, as anti-government protests surpass the 100-day mark.

Ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, she told reporters that dialogue platforms will be launched in three forms, including a version in which residents can take part. Each session will host up to 200 participants, with the first one beginning next week.

The other forms include a dialogue platform whereby citizens will be randomly selected, as well as a section for deeper conversations with different sectors…

“I can assure you that this is not a sort of one-off gimmick-type of function. It is intended to be organized on a sustainable, and perhaps long-term, basis,” she said.

Elsewhere:

Today, “veteran activist Joshua Wong [黄之锋 Huáng Zhīfēng], musician Denise Ho [何韻詩 Hé Yùnshī], academics, and a student union representative appeared before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which has bipartisan leadership,” reports the Washington Post. They called for “tougher U.S. action, including possible sanctions, to counter China’s steady erosion of the territory’s freedoms, as momentum builds in Washington for a more robust response.”

“Almost eight in 10 hotel workers in Hong Kong have been asked to take unpaid leave as tourist arrivals continue to take a hit following three months of anti-government protests, a survey by a union has found,” according to the South China Morning Post. Hotel occupancy rates fell to as low as 30 percent on average for the first half of August.

“Hong Kong Airlines will cut seven percent of passenger flights until the end of the year as the carrier responds to a sharp fall in demand that is deepening its financial problems,” reports the South China Morning Post

“Almost 20 staff from the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, alongside over 70 activists, student leaders and alleged protesters, have been doxxed by a website apparently run by elements opposed to the ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong,” reports the South China Morning Post.  

Spin doctors avoid Hong Kong: “Hong Kong’s government contacted eight public relations firms to try and rebuild the embattled city’s image, but all of them declined the contract,” reports the BBC.

How Hong Kong got a new protest songthe BBC tracks down “Thomas,” composer of the Hong Kong protesters anthem “Glory to Hong Kong.” See also I’ve been waiting for a song like ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ my whole life (porous paywall) by Vivienne Chow in the New York Times. 

Looking back on 100 days of protests. The South China Morning Post has a new multimedia explainer: Hong Kong: 100 days of protests. The BBC has a video: Looking back at 100 days of protests in 100 seconds (watchable without sound). 

—Jeremy Goldkorn


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Monday passed a draft policy that would require all new vehicles registered for ride-hailing services to be fully electric, local state-run publication Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported [in Chinese].

The move comes as several Chinese cities seek to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels in a bid to boost electric-vehicle uptake and cut air pollution. 

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Beijing has warned Taipei that it will lose all of its diplomatic allies if Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen [Cài Yīngwén 蔡英文] is re-elected in 2020.

The ominous message from Xiakedao [in Chinese] — a social media account run by the overseas edition of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily — was part of an article posted on Monday after the Solomon Islands became the sixth country to cut ties with Taipei for Beijing during Tsai’s presidency.

Taiwan accused China on Monday (Sep 16) of trying to influence its presidential and legislative elections after the Solomon Islands cut off ties with Taipei…

A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters Beijing had issued an “urgent order” to secure the Solomon Islands’ allegiance “at any cost” on Sunday night, and called it a move to distract domestic attention from the Hong Kong issue before the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China on October 1.

China plans to deploy an advanced stealth drone for its first home-grown aircraft carrier, which has entered final preparations before its expected commissioning later this year,” according to military sources.The Sharp Sword was one of two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) seen in photos of a weekend rehearsal in Beijing for the upcoming National Day military parade on October 1. 


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China’s young professionals prefer staying in, to the nightlife industry’s dismay

Due to rising living costs and mounting pressure at work, more young professionals in China are preferring to stay in at night, according to a survey released earlier this month. In an effort to boost local nightlife industries, several Chinese provinces and cities have rolled out policies aimed at making going out more convenient and appealing, but apparently to little effect.


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Middle Earth, episode 19: From Broadway to Beijing: Western Theater in the Middle Kingdom

Lured by a potentially large and lucrative market, major theater productions are increasingly making the jump from the bright lights of Broadway or the West End to the less familiar but no less lively avenues of the Bund or the Second Ring Road