Links for Wednesday, January 8, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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:

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.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • 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.

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.

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.

  • Determination to develop ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ remains, despite rising tensions in the region.
  • China condemns US ‘military adventurism.’

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’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.

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.

  • 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.
  • [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.

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.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

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.”

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.

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…