BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
TikTok security flaw
TikTok flaws could have allowed hackers access to user accounts through an SMS / Hindustan Times
This security flaw was discovered by Check Point Research who released a detailed research on how attackers could hack into TikTok accounts. When inside, attackers could delete videos, upload unauthorised videos and make private or hidden videos public on TikTok. It also gave attackers the potential to reveal personal information of TikTok users like their email addresses.
Daimler electric smart car JV with Geely
Daimler wins approvals for China smart venture with Geely / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Daimler AG and Chinese partner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group officially established their joint venture that will make electric Smart cars after winning the required regulatory approvals.
The entity established by the German luxury-car maker and billionaire Li Shufu‘s Geely has received all permits needed to start the business, the companies said in a statement Wednesday. The venture, based in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, has registered capital of 5.4 billion yuan ($778 million) and will be headed by Chief Executive Officer Tong Xiangbei.
Phone upstart Realme sets ambitious 5G sales target
Smartphone-maker Realme aims to double 2019 sales amid 5G push / Caixin
Chinese smartphone-maker Realme aims to ship 50 million phones in 2020, twice the number it sold last year, Reuters reported Tuesday citing a remark made by the company at a launch event for its first 5G-ready handset.
Tencent et al seek massive loan to fund stake in Universal Music Group
Tencent-led buyers seek 1 billion Euro loan for Universal Music deal, report says / Caixin
A consortium led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. is seeking a 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) loan to fund its $3.4 billion purchase of a stake in Universal Music Group, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
Tencent and its partners agreed to buy 10 percent of Universal Music Group from French media company Vivendi SA, in a deal that values the world’s biggest music company at 30 billion euros.
Luckin Coffee to roll out vending machines
Starbucks challenger serves up vending-machines, new fundraising plan / Caixin (paywall)
Starbucks China rival Luckin Coffee Inc. on Wednesday announced a move into vending machines, alongside plans to raise a fresh $800 million to continue fueling its breakneck expansion.
Low passenger demand hits airlines traveling to Hong Kong
United Airlines plans US$90 million write-down against its ‘fully impaired’ Hong Kong routes / SCMP
- Low passenger demand during Hong Kong protests forces move by industry giant.
- Carriers operating in city struggling to cope, with nearly all slashing flights or reducing aircraft size.
China’s biggest broker looks to make changes after staff exodus…
China’s Citic tightens grip on CLSA after mass departures / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Citic Securities Co. is tightening control over its CLSA Ltd. unit, following an exodus of staff and top executives from the Hong Kong brokerage last year amid a clash over corporate culture and bonus levels.
…Also plans to reduce stake in McDonald’s
Citic to sell 22 percent stake in McDonald’s China for $300 million / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Chinese state-owned conglomerate Citic Ltd. is planning to significantly reduce its stake in McDonald’s China Co. more than two years after it bought into the fast-food chain, as rising costs pinch the franchise’s profit.
McDonald’s China said in a statement Wednesday that Citic is looking for buyers for a 22 percent stake, which will bring its share in the chain’s China operations down to 10 percent. The bottom price for the stake is set at 2.17 billion yuan ($312 million) and the bidding process is ongoing, said a disclosure document filed by Citic to the Beijing Equity Exchange.
Four big Chinese transport and infrastructure deals in Colombia
Chinese rail, roads and buses arrive in Colombia / China Dialogue
Last year, Chinese companies finally made headway into Colombia, the Latin American country that has arguably been most sceptical about investment from the region’s second-largest trading partner. There were plenty of headlines in December about the Zijin Mining Group’s purchase [in Spanish] of gold-mining company Continental Gold…
Four business deals stand out:
- the contract to build a long-awaited metro line in the capital Bogotá;
- the bid for a suburban tram line serving the Bogotá metropolitan area;
- the entry of electric bus fleets into Medellín and Cali;
- and the contract for a new highway in the south of the country.
JD.com seeks cheaper capital amid economic slowdown
JD.com to issue $1 billion debt offering / TechNode
JD.com is planning a $1 billion note offering to refinance and fund general operations, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Bird flu in Xinjiang
Bird flu hits swans in China’s Xinjiang region: ministry / Reuters
China’s agriculture ministry said an H5N6 avian flu virus outbreak has been detected in swans in the western region of Xinjiang.
Fifteen out of a group of 150 swans had died from the virus and another 15 were ill in the waterfront of a park and pond in Yining county in Xinjiang, the ministry said in a statement [in Chinese] on Wednesday.
Wuhan virus outbreak sparks concern across Asia
Specter of possible new virus emerging from central China raises alarms across Asia / Washington Post (porous paywall)
“Officials in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines said in recent days they will begin setting up quarantine zones or scanning passengers.”
Chinese worker who visited Wuhan quarantined as South Korea reports first possible case of mystery pneumonia virus / SCMP
“The 36-year-old woman, who works for a firm in Seoul, was diagnosed with pneumonia after returning from business trips in China.”
New virus discovered by Chinese scientists investigating pneumonia outbreak / WSJ (paywall)
“The novel coronavirus was genetically sequenced from a sample from one patient and subsequently found in some of the others affected in the city of Wuhan, people familiar with the findings said.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
U.S.-China techno-trade war
China’s Vice-Premier Liú Hè 刘鹤 shifts focus to domestic financial issues as trade war deal nears / SCMP
- The China Financial Stability and Development Committee has met an unprecedented number of times over the past 40 days.
- The meetings come amid a growing number of bond defaults and regional bank failures, and ahead of a phase one trade deal with US.
China, U.S. shouldn’t rush phase one deal / Global Times
“It is imperative for both sides to get the deal done right, rather than in a rush.”
Red states: Trump Country’s love affair with Chinese investment / Nikkei Asian Review (paywall)
“The U.S. president’s heartlands turn to China to revive flagging industries.”
CES 2020 kickoff highlights the decoupling of U.S. and China’s tech / Fortune
The world’s biggest consumer technology trade show kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas amid an escalating tech cold war between the U.S. and China.
While new generation tech that has been the focus of China’s innovation efforts — like artificial intelligence and 5G — will be at the forefront of CES 2020, major Chinese tech players like Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com are absent from the first major global tech event of the decade.
- U.S. pork producers didn’t bring home the bacon in 2019 / WSJ (paywall)
Canada murder trial ends in acquittal
Chinese immigrant evades murder verdict in killing of wealthy relative in Canada / NYT (porous paywall)
The lurid court testimony riveted Canada: A Chinese immigrant shot dead his brash, womanizing, millionaire relative at his $8 million hillside mansion in Vancouver, and then chopped up the body into 108 pieces before taking a long nap.
In an unexpected ruling on Tuesday, Justice Terence Schultes at the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Zhào Lì 赵利, now 59, who was a business partner of the victim, Yuàn Gāng 苑刚, was not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and of “interfering with human remains.”
Justice Schultes said that while he did not find Mr. Zhao’s testimony to be “truthful,” he had been left with reasonable doubt over whether Mr. Zhao intended to kill Mr. Yuan. Intention to kill beyond a reasonable doubt is the prerequisite for a murder verdict in Canada.
- ‘Normal’ man who dismembered China millionaire cleared of murder in Canada / SCMP
Beijing’s unchanged commitment to Iran
China’s commitment to Iran ‘unchanged,’ Beijing envoy assures Tehran / SCMP
- Determination to develop ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ remains, despite rising tensions in the region.
- China condemns US ‘military adventurism.’
- China calls for restraint after Iran retaliates against U.S. forces / Reuters
Taiwan election looking good for Tsai Ing-wen
China looms over Taiwan’s election, giving a boost to the incumbent / NYT (porous paywall)
China’s hostility and the protests in Hong Kong have reversed the political fortunes of President Tsai Ing-wen [蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén], raising alarms in Beijing…
For Beijing, a second four-year term for Ms. Tsai would amount to a repudiation of the pressure tactics that it has wielded against Taiwan ever since she took power in 2016. As a policy failure, it would echo the overwhelming victory scored by the democratic opposition in Hong Kong’s district elections in November.
It’s easy to look at Taiwan’s presidential election in terms of its relationship with China. In reality, the contest is less about its neighbor than ever before. The economy is front and center for voters, and the data look good for incumbent Tsai Ing-wen.
- Taiwan economy a weak spot for incumbent Tsai Ing-wen in upcoming election / AFP via Hong Kong Free Press
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen looks set to secure a second term in elections this weekend, but her Achilles heel is an economy that China has squeezed relentlessly in an effort to assert its control over the island’s future.
Despite Beijing’s pressure campaign, Tsai can boast a solid economic record, with the lowest unemployment for decades and strong export growth.
But her main challenger has gained traction by insisting Tsai’s dismal relations with China bode badly for the island’s longer-term prosperity.
Trump is less popular than Xi and Putin
Donald Trump is pulling down America’s reputation around the world, Pew survey finds / SCMP
In the latest Pew survey, Xi’s unfavourable rating was 43 percent and Putin’s 57 percent, but Trump was below both at 64 percent. Pew said in addition to China’s mixed global reputation, Xi is also less well-known abroad than his counterparts.
China’s largest civilian patrol vessel under construction
China starts work on $97 million, 10,700 tonne civilian patrol vessel its biggest ever / SCMP
- Ship commissioned by Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration expected to go to sea in September next year.
- Vessel designed to handle a range of tasks, from emergency operations and law enforcement to search and rescue missions and even tackling pollution.
Without any evidence, Hong Kong government officials claim protesters received ‘overseas training’
Hong Kong protesters have been receiving training from foreign forces, city’s security chief says, while also revealing more than 3,700 phones were seized and broken into / SCMP
- [Hong Kong’s security chief] John Lee [李家超 Lǐ Jiāchāo] said no evidence linked recent seizures of weapons and bombs to overseas terrorist organisations, but suggested some protesters were not acting alone.
- Opposition legislators said making such claims without providing proof was irresponsible.
Hong Kong protesters so well-organized, must have had ‘foreign training’: government / Radio Free Asia
Some HK protesters received training overseas: govt / RTHK
Former Quebec premier advising Huawei
Charest advising Huawei in Meng Wanzhou case and on 5G networks / The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“Former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who is contemplating a run for the Conservative Party leadership, has been acting as a consultant to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in the Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 extradition case and the tech giant’s efforts to participate in Canada’s 5G wireless networks, a source says.”
‘Recant or die’ — Australian spy case
Recant or die: Alleged threat to self-confessed Chinese spy Wang Liqiang / The Age (Australia)
A self-confessed Chinese intelligence operative seeking to defect to Australia was allegedly warned on Christmas Eve that he could be sent back to China and killed unless he publicly retracted his story…
Australian security agencies have now learnt that Mr Wang [王立强 Wáng Lìqiáng] received the first of a series of threats and inducements on Christmas Eve, according to sources with direct knowledge of the events who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mr Wang could not be reached for comment and appears to have gone into hiding. However, the sources said he was told in a series of messages that his family would be spared punishment and his debts would be repaid if he gave a public statement retracting his claims about spying for China. The directives sent to Mr Wang appear to have been co-ordinated by a senior political operative in Taiwan and a businessman in China, according to sources and messages sighted by this masthead.
- Note: Immediately after Wang defected in November 2019, some observers cautioned that he may not be reliable.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
The New Chinese Design
Six contemporary Chinese furniture designers leading the industry / Dezeen
Since the mid-1990s a definable movement in contemporary Chinese furniture design has been growing with a “snowballing momentum,” argue Charlotte and Peter Fiell.
In their recently published book, Contemporary Chinese Furniture Design, the authors introduce the work and ideas of the leading protagonists of what has become known as “New Chinese Design.”
Proposal to extend shared parental leave
上海市妇联：建议产假和配偶陪护假合并，延长至半年夫妻共享 / The Paper
“Shanghai Women’s Federation: Proposal to combine maternity and spousal leave and extend to half a year for couples to share”
From The Paper’s Twitter account: “As Chinese families face various dilemmas concerning the two-child policy, Shanghai Women’s Federation suggests combining maternity and spousal leaves, extending the length to 182 days. Thus couples can decide how to take leaves based on their own situation.”
60 percent of Hongkongers want LGBT+ legal protections
Opposition to LGBT+ legal rights in Hong Kong at historic low – CUHK survey / Hong Kong Free Press
Opposition towards LGBT+ legal rights in Hong Kong is at a historic low, according to a recent survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
The results — released on Tuesday — showed that 60 percent of the respondents said they agreed or very much agreed that there should be legal safeguards against discrimination based on sexual orientation in Hong Kong.
It marked an increase from 56 percent of respondents in a similar survey conducted by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and CUHK in 2016.
Sexism and white-collar exploitation
Founder of Chinese education platform booed for boorish behavior / Sixth Tone
The founder of a Chinese online education platform has come under fire after a viral article Monday accused him and his company of glorifying sexism and overwork.
The article [in Chinese], titled “Why Luō Zhènyǔ 罗振宇 Is Terrible” accuses [the founder of pay-for-knowledge platform Dedao] of calling women whores and defending the much-maligned “996” work schedule (9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week) common at China’s startups and tech companies…