BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Diversifying soybean sources away from Trumpland
China makes it easier to import soybean through northern border / Reuters via SCMP
“China has eased customs regulations on imports of soybean through some northern border checkpoints, the commerce ministry said, a move that could smooth the way for shipments from neighbours such as Kazakhstan, Russia and perhaps Ukraine.”
Ambitious space launch plans for 2020
中国航天科技集团有限公司召开2020年型号工作会议 / SpaceChina
Headline translation: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation holds 2020 model work conference.
As summarized by Andrew Jones, a reporter for SpaceNews:
China’s main space contractor has announced it aims to launch 40+ times in 2020. CASC launched 66 satellites on 27 launchers in 2019 (out of a total of 34 Chinese launches). Commercial launch companies will thus add to China’s overall launches this year.
Major missions will include: Mars orbiter & rover (Jul/Aug); Chang’e-5 lunar sample return; test launches of Long March 7A (GTO), Long March 8 (VTVL), Long March 5B (LEO); completion of Beidou constellation; Apstar-6D (DFH-4E platform); LEO internet comms sats.
JD Health hits unicorn status
JD’s healthcare unit takes second spot in new global unicorns at a $7b valuation / Tech in Asia
“Spun off from JD.com in May, JD Health completed its latest funding round of US$1 billion in November that valued the startup at roughly US$7 billion, joining the so-called unicorn club that includes private firms with valuations greater than US$1 billion.”
Autonomous cars with human passengers in Beijing
Baidu’s driverless cars can now carry passengers in Beijing / Caixin
“Chinese search giant Baidu has secured licenses to test self-driving cars carrying human passengers on designated roads in Beijing, making it one of the first companies to be able to do so in the Chinese capital.”
China Sinochem to start $4.6 billion Quanzhou petchem complex mid-2020: sources / Reuters
“China Sinochem Group is expected to start up a new crude processing unit and a petrochemical complex in southeastern China around mid-2020, marking the state firm’s first foray into making petrochemicals.”
Meitu still trying to monetize
Beauty-app maker Meitu says it lost less money in 2019 / Caixin (paywall)
“Meitu expects to lose between 190 million yuan ($27 million) and 196 million yuan for the year ending December, down 77.3% to 76.6%, the Hong Kong-listed company said in a note this week. It reported a loss of 879 million yuan in 2018.”
Selling local debt to raise cash
China Muni bond sales start sooner than ever as growth slows / Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance
“Authorities in Sichuan and Henan provinces offered a combined 87.6 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) of so-called special bonds on Thursday in the earliest such issuance since nationwide sales began in 2015.”
TikTok banned by U.S. army
US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok over security worries / CNN
“The Army has joined the Navy in barring the use of the app on government-owned phones, following bipartisan calls from lawmakers for regulators and the intelligence community to determine whether the Chinese-owned app presents a threat to national security and could be used to collect American citizens’ personal data.”
Box office growth
China’s box office revenue grew 5.4% in 2019, bolstered by domestic films / Caixin
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan
Chinese officials investigate cause of pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan / Reuters
“Chinese health authorities said they are investigating 27 cases of viral pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, after rumors on social media suggested the outbreak could be linked to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).”
For more, see a Twitter thread by Sixth Tone editor David Paulk, and a piece in the Hong Kong Free Press on a women who visited Wuhan and tested negative for SARS.
New HPV vaccine approved, but will it reduce medical tourism?
China approves production of first domestic HPV vaccine / Sixth Tone
“The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) said that Cecolin, a vaccine against human papillomavirus, will help prevent infections with HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 80% of cervical cancer cases.”
The problem with China’s medical tourism boom / Sixth Tone
“Millions of anxious women have traveled to Hong Kong…over the past three years for the express purpose of getting the latest 9-valent HPV vaccine.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Taiwan election and Tsai Ing-wen’s expected victory
The fall and rise of Tsai Ing-wen / Nikkei Asian Review
As the writer of this article, Chris Horton, summarizes on Twitter:
“Tsai deserves credit, but many of the main factors that have boosted the likelihood of her re-election (and DPP retaining LY) have been gifts from others: Xi’s threats, Trump’s trade war, Lam’s (mis)handling of HK, Han’s [Tsai’s opponent, Han Kuo-yu 韩国瑜 Hán Guóyú] gaffes, KMT’s pro-China party list.”
The Taiwan presidential election is scheduled for January 11.
U.S.-China techno-trade war
China views Donald Trump’s America with growing distrust and scorn / Economist (porous paywall)
Some Chinese voices say their country has not lost interest in an offer China made to Mr Trump’s predecessors, involving a “new model of great-power relations”: code for carving the world into spheres of geopolitical influence, and an end to American carping about China’s ways. Others stress China’s right to help write the rules of globalization. That would be reasonable, were it not that China’s aim is to make the world safe for techno-authoritarian state capitalism. Chinese officials want to avoid confronting America for now. But few silverbacks gracefully retire. Increasingly, America is seen as an obstacle to China’s rise. That means trouble looms.
Candidate Bloomberg and China
Bloomberg’s business in China has grown. That could create unprecedented entanglements if he is elected president. / Washington Post
If Bloomberg is elected president, he would immediately have to deal with the same Chinese officials he worked with closely as the chief executive of his business — but in his new role he would be embroiled in the trade war and face questions about how to deal with China’s human rights violations and its handling of pro-democracy protesters.
Helicopter crash tragedy in Taiwan
Taiwan’s top military official and 7 others die in helicopter crash / NYT (porous paywall)
“Eight people including the chief of Taiwan’s armed forces were killed Thursday after the military helicopter carrying them crashed on a mountainside during a routine trip, Taiwan’s military said…The Black Hawk helicopter was carrying 13 people, including Shen Yi-ming, an air force general who served as the chief of general staff of Taiwan’s armed forces.”
Censorship request denied in Norway
Chinese skiers want book removed from Meråker library / Norway Today
“Leaders of a delegation of skiers from China wanted a controversial Chinese book at the library in Meråker removed but the library has strongly rejected such a request…‘We have freedom of speech in Norway so that was completely out of the question,’ said library manager Anne Marken.”
South China Sea tensions: Indonesia
Indonesia issues protest to Beijing over Chinese vessel trespassing in Natuna / The Jakarta Post
Indonesia has filed a protest to Beijing for alleged territorial violation by a Chinese coastguard vessel around the disputed Natuna waters, saying the ship has trespassed into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Chinese vessel was also suspected of having illegally fished in the waters.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Domestic violence and social media
Silent no more: How China’s domestic abuse victims spoke out / Sixth Tone
Full of links and information on this neglected subject, this article says that “despite China’s introduction of landmark anti-domestic violence legislation, progress on the issue remains slow.”
Ideas of feminine beauty
Exploring the many faces of beauty in modern China / Sixth Tone
After graduating in 2009, [Luō Yáng 罗洋] moved to Beijing to begin a career as a photographer, and she began to hone the aesthetic for which the “Girls” project would become known”…
“I’m drawn to women who are judged to be less than perfect by mainstream values,” says Luo. “Maybe they’ve been through something bad, or they’re vulnerable, but you can see they go about their lives so honestly and bravely. It’s interesting to feel this kind of energy.”
Lucky Air passenger who threw ‘good luck’ coins at plane ordered to pay airline US$17,200 / SCMP
“A 28-year-old man in southeast China was ordered to pay 120,000 yuan (US$17,200) in damages to budget carrier Lucky Air for throwing coins at a plane in the hope of a safe journey last year.”