Links for December 12, 2019

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Japanese retailer Muji has been ordered to pay 626,000 yuan ($89,000) and issue a public apology to a Chinese company after losing its appeal against an earlier court ruling on a trademark infringement…

When Muji entered the mainland China market in 2005, it registered its international brand name “MUJI” — in block letters — and took out a local trademark — represented by four Chinese characters 无印良品 wúyìn liángpǐn or “no brand, quality goods” — to cover most, but not all, of its goods.

However, Chinese company Hainan Nanhua had registered the Wuyinliangpin trademark for certain woven fabric products, including bed covers and towels, in 2001. It later transferred the rights to the name to Beijing Cottonfield Textile Corp.

Shared workspace specialist Ucommune has filed to raise about $100 million in a New York IPO, launching the plan into a weak market that has seen similar listings slashed due to poor investor sentiment.

Reflecting that sentiment, Chinese financial services software maker OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. submitted an updated prospectus cutting the fundraising target for its own New York Stock Exchange listing by half on Wednesday, the same day Ucommune filed its initial public offering prospectus.

Citigroup and Credit Suisse have dropped out of the U.S. initial public offering (IPO) of Chinese shared workspace provider Ucommune, balking at its desired valuation, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle maker EHang Holdings Ltd. cut the size of its planned U.S. listing by more than half, setting a target of $46.4 million.

Chinese news aggregator Qutoutiao lashed out at what it called a “groundless” report by U.S. investigating and due-diligence firm Wolfpack Research…

On Tuesday, U.S.-based Wolfpack Research, which was launched earlier this year by activist short-seller Dan David, issued a report claiming that 74 percent of Qutoutiao’s 2018 revenues were fake and 78 percent of its current cash balance is nonexistent. The report also likened the news app to spyware with “an absurd amount of access to and control over its users’ private data.”

  • Chinese companies such as Bitmain and MicroBT are among the world’s biggest manufacturers of bitcoin mining gear.
  • The most significant cryptocurrency mining hubs are in China’s Yunnan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Sichuan provinces, says CoinShares.
  • China’s Kaluga Queen spawned business that now produces more than a third of the world’s caviar.
  • French importer says his customers overcame reluctance to buy Chinese and there are more to be persuaded. 
  • The world’s biggest car market is expected to drop by 2 percent next year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
  • China’s car sales fell by 9.1 percent in the first 11 months of 2019, having slid 3 percent last year in the first sales contraction since the 1990s.

China’s companies racked up some towering bills as they expanded, and the world’s investors and lenders rushed to offer them even more money.

Now the bills are coming due, and a growing number of Chinese companies can’t pay up, in a sign that the world’s No. 2 economy is feeling the stress from its worst slowdown in nearly three decades.

Two high-profile companies — a giant government-run trading firm and a conglomerate backed by China’s most distinguished university — are the latest to join a long list of Chinese businesses that have run short of cash when it was time to pay back their debts. Chinese corporate borrowers have defaulted on nearly $20 billion in loans this year.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

According to documents obtained by Aktuálně.cz, a PR agency hired by Home Credit, a company owned by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, has been sought to influence Czech society to the benefit of Communist China. The PR agency created a network of experts, journalists, and politicians, some of whom need not necessarily have known what they were involved in…

Whereas Czech counter-intelligence (BIS) considers the expansion of Chinese influence in the Czech Republic to be one of the greatest security threats, Home Credit, which belongs to Petr Kellner, has paid to the PR agency for almost 2,000 hours of work to help those members of the Czech mass media who stand up for the Chinese régime and, conversely, to attack those who are critical of this undemocratic state.  

Hong Kong’s police watchdog snubbed a request by a panel of international experts to comment on a preliminary investigation report on the force’s handling of months of anti-government protests, the Post has learned.

Chinese President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 will visit Macau next week to announce a raft of new policies aimed at diversifying the city’s casino-dependent economy into a financial center, according to over a dozen interviews with officials and corporate executives.

The move is seen by officials and executives in Macau as a reward for having avoided the anti-government protests that have gripped nearby Hong Kong over the past six months.

The policies include the establishment of a yuan-denominated stock exchange and the acceleration of a renminbi settlement center already in the works, as well as the allocation of land for Macau to develop in neighboring mainland China, they said.

  • Chinese nationals arrested in Malaysia for online scamming
    65 Chinese nationals nabbed in Ipoh raids / Straits Times  
    “More Chinese nationals have been arrested for online scamming, with 65 people nabbed at two locations here. This followed an operation that was held on Monday (Dec 9), where 40 Chinese nationals were arrested.”
  • Shell companies and non-profit groups were set up to invite mainlanders for exchange visits and avoid proper screening, prosecutors say.
  • Some who visited were allegedly officials from government and the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.

Taiwan probes massive visa scams involving Chinese visitors / AFP via France 24

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Y.C. Jao [饶余庆 Ráo Yúqìng] was a respected Chinese correspondent working for the Associated Press in April 1949….

Jao’s passion for journalism led to his death. The new authorities ordered his execution in April 1951. They accused Jao of spying and of counterrevolutionary activities, all owing to his work for AP.

Sixty-eight years later, the AP on Wednesday recognized his sacrifice by installing Jao’s name on its memorial Wall of Honor for journalists who have fallen because of their work for the AP.

Expecting university professors to teach university courses doesn’t seem like too much to ask. So why is it that, at many of China’s top universities, less than one-quarter [in Chinese] of all undergraduate classes are taught by full or associate professors?

Ex-NBA player, Guerschon Yabusele, who is now playing professional basketball in China was fined by the CBA this weekend for not looking at the Chinese flag during the national anthem before the game.