Links for December 11, 2019

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Chinese image providers Visual China Group and Imaginechina have temporarily suspended their website services after the country’s internet regulator said they had committed violations and ordered them to make rectifications.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said on its website that the two companies had engaged in Internet news information services without obtaining the correct licenses, and collaborated with international news services without conducting security assessments.

The publicly traded company built a $639 million-per-year business on the strength of its vast — sometimes comically vast — catalog of images depicting virtually anything a blogger or advertiser could imagine. The company now does business in more than 150 countries. But in China, there is now a very small, very significant gap in Shutterstock’s offerings. In early September, Shutterstock engineers were given a new goal: The creation of a search blacklist that would wipe from query results images associated with keywords forbidden by the Chinese government. 

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi budget brand Redmi, unveiled its first 5G model on Tuesday, with the goal of bringing affordable handsets to the market now dominated by mid to high-end smartphones.

The K30 5G model, carrying the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor and supporting both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) 5G networks, is priced between 1,999 yuan ($284.1) to 2,899 yuan.

The pricing has surprised many in the industry, being substantially lower than expected.

From the ticket turnstiles at the train station, to getting through customs and even buying a duty-free bottle of wine, facial recognition scanners are everywhere at the city’s newest airfield: the sprawling, starfish-shaped Beijing Daxing International Airport.

The technology, which links a passenger’s face to their passport at check in, will speed up the whole process of moving through the airport.

  • The South Korean firm closed its last smartphone factory in China in October after it had operated at the Jinxinda complex in Huizhou city for almost 30 years.
  • Samsung relocated production to Vietnam and India in response in large part to the US-China trade war.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

China is running up against its own deadline to require its more than 3,000 listed companies to disclose environmental metrics.

Despite a goal to kick off the program next year, there are still no guidelines in place to force companies to make available information on measures for environmental sustainability, social impact and good governance, according to people familiar with the progress of the plan.

Schools and kindergartens on the mainland should fit air purifiers to protect pupils from China’s smog, according to new national guidelines.

The National Health Commission issued a series of air pollution guidelines on Friday as part of a campaign that began last year to cut harmful pollution by 15 per cent and lower the density of airborne PM2.5 pollutants — particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter — by 18 percent by 2020.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which Beijing sees as a 21st-century Silk Road to connect Asia, Africa and Europe. But only half of the announced $62 billion-worth of projects in Pakistan are under way as Islamabad scales back its financial commitments while it implements a $6 billion IMF bailout package.

Beijing is frustrated with the slow pace of the initiative, which is supposed to be a shining example of China’s economically transformative investments, and has put pressure on Islamabad to put the military in charge.

Last month retired lieutenant-general Asim Saleem Bajwa was appointed chairman of a new CPEC authority, reinforcing the military’s grip on the project and insulating it from prime minister Imran Khan’s fractious government.

China on Wednesday urged the United States to earnestly fulfill its special duties on nuclear disarmament and further cut its large nuclear arsenal.

“As the country with the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, the United States should earnestly fulfill its special duties on nuclear disarmament, respond to Russia’s call for extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and further cut its large nuclear arsenal, so as to create conditions for other nuclear countries to join the multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations,” spokeswoman Huá Chūnyíng 华春莹 said at a press briefing.

Resentment of China is growing, especially in the copperbelt region, which generates 70 percent of Zambia’s export earnings…

Government data confirms that China controls 30 percent of Zambia’s external debt, while most of the rest is in the hands of multilateral or commercial creditors, or on the international bond markets.

But according to Joseph Mwenda, editor of independent daily newspaper News Diggers!, “the official figures reflect only part of reality: some loans granted by China haven’t been taken into account, because work on the projects they finance has not yet started”. Moreover, many contracts with foreign operators are thought to have been overbilled. The U.S.-based Brookings Institution estimated in September that loans from China accounted for 65.8 percent of Zambia’s external debt, an African record.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE: