Links for January 9, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for January 9, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Nomura Holdings Inc. are taking extra office space in China with both increasing headcount in the nation as it opens its $45 trillion financial industry [in Chinese] to more competition.

New York-headquartered JPMorgan boosted its space in Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest skyscraper, to 20,000 square meters (215,300 square feet) from 15,000 square meters, according to people familiar with the matter. Nomura, Japan’s biggest brokerage, nearly doubled the size of its lease to around 5,000 square meters.

China issued draft rules to tighten oversight of its financial leasing sector, which has total assets of more than 4 trillion yuan ($577.16 billion), in its latest effort to curb financial risks.

The country had 10,900 leasing firms as of the end of June last year, but 72 percent were shell companies or had halted their business, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

Chinese students at 11 higher education institutions, including the Seoul-based colleges Dongguk University and Chung-Ang University, can now use [WeChat Pay] on a central website used by overseas students in South Korea to pay schooling fees, according to a report [in Chinese] published Wednesday on Tencent’s news portal.  

  • Amendments to China’s Anti-monopoly Law, which are under public review this month, include increasing penalties and obliging police to assist with investigations.
  • China has been accused, particularly by the United States, of not protecting the interests of overseas firms while favouring state-owned enterprises.
  • Marcos Pontes, minister for science, technology, innovation and communications, says he will not veto any firm, and final decision will be based purely on merit.
  • Despite proximity between Bolsonaro and Trump administrations, Brazil is also seeking cooperation with China in hi-tech sectors.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton on Wednesday introduced a bill that would prevent the United States from sharing intelligence with countries that allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies to operate 5G network technology within their borders.

China has suspended its plan to implement a nationwide gasoline blend containing 10 percent ethanol this year, three sources briefed on the matter said, following a sharp decline in the country’s corn stocks and limited production capacity of the biofuel.

The reversal is a heavy blow to domestic producers that have built new plants, as well as biofuel exporters, including the United States and Brazil, which were looking to benefit from growing Chinese demand. China was expected to increase imports of U.S. ethanol after the recent announcement of Phase 1 of a trade agreement. 

Two security flaws at Chinese medical device operators put over 24 million patient records at risk in October. These medical data leaks reveal how cybersecurity practices and regulations lag behind as China’s healthtech industry plows ahead…

Sichuan Lianhao Technologies, a provider of internet of things medical solutions, left 24 million records exposed in the first leak. These included not only medical records, but also data that could directly identify patients and doctors, such as names, ID numbers, phone numbers, and medical information.

In a second leak, the medical department at China’s leading Tsinghua University left details of approximately 60,000 patients exposed. The data included data of birth, height, age. The server did not include identifiable information such as names and ID numbers.

  • China’s rising costs, tricky regulations and increasingly unstable geopolitical situation are forcing more manufacturers to move production elsewhere.
  • First and second wave of leavers underway, with more to follow, despite the prospect of a minor U.S.-China trade truce.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Greenpeace East Asia and the North China Electric Power University have released their first-ever renewable energy ranking of China’s tech giants. Data center operator Chindata took the top spot, with a score of 80 out of 100. Alibaba received a score of 60, edging out Tencent, GDS and Baidu, which scored 52, 48 and 46, respectively…

Key findings:

  • More than half of companies analyzed have begun to actively procure renewable energy on a limited scale.
  • 80 percent of companies analyzed have not publicly disclosed electricity consumption or greenhouse gas emissions data.
  • Chindata and Alibaba received the highest overall scores due to their progress on renewable energy procurement.
  • On December 27 Chindata became the first China-based data center operator to set a target for 100 percent renewable energy use [in Chinese].

A preliminary investigation into viral pneumonia illnesses sickening dozens of people in and around China has identified the possible cause as a new type of coronavirus, state media said Thursday…

As of Sunday, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said 59 people in the central Chinese city were being treated for the respiratory illness. Seven were in critical condition, while the rest were stable.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The Swedish Defence Research Agency…recently published the first comprehensive audit of Chinese corporate acquisitions in Sweden. The list of identified acquisitions is dominated by industrial, electronics, biotech and automotive companies.

In many cases, their operations match the key technology areas highlighted in China’s plans for industrial development. By and large, policymakers and pundits have been unaware of the deals identified in FOI’s report, which now features prominently in an intensifying debate about the Chinese party-state’s activities in Sweden…

 In response to the study, Sweden’s main business daily Dagens Industri concluded [in Swedish] that “something has to be done in order to protect democracies’ control over their own economies.”   

 

With its inclusion in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, [Cambodian port] Sihanoukville now finds itself firmly in Beijing’s embrace, one that is facilitated by Xi and China’s growing role as benefactor of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. It is an embrace that looks likely to tighten.

Last summer, Beijing announced that a new consulate would be opened in the city, and The Wall Street Journal reported [paywall] that the two countries had signed a deal to allow Chinese vessels access to the nearby Ream naval base. In mid-October, China’s ambassador to Cambodia, Wáng Wéntiān 王文天, helped establish a Chinese chamber of commerce office in Sihanoukville…

Many Cambodians I spoke with voiced concerns about Sihanoukville turning into a de facto Chinese colony, and the consensus was that they were being treated like second-class citizens in their own homeland.

The Chinese vessels at the center of a spat between Beijing and Jakarta over illegal fishing activity have left waters around the Natuna Islands, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s armed forces…

China and Indonesia on Wednesday appeared to have offered olive branches amid the maritime dispute, with both sides referring to each other as “friends” and saying the dispute would not affect Chinese investment in the Southeast Asian nation.

A Chinese province of 80 million people has claimed that only 17 residents from six families remain in poverty, sparking intense debate about the veracity of official anti-poverty statistics.

The coastal province of Jiangsu is the first to declare a near elimination of absolute poverty — which is defined in China as per capita net income of 2,300 yuan ($331) in 2011 prices — as part of President Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 drive to wipe it out and build China into a comprehensive well-off society by 2020.

China has yet to publish official statistics for all of 2019, but the government has said the number of people in poverty was cut to 16.6 million at the end of 2018 and an additional 10 million were lifted out of poverty last year.

  • The greatest bilateral crisis in decades, Doklam erupted amid escalating competition between the two giants in Asia and the Himalayan belt, more assertive Indian policy on the “Tibet issue,” an increasing security dilemma partly fueled by closer U.S.-India relations, and the advancement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South Asia, as well as tensions over the two sides’ territorial dispute.
  • While the last year has seen this momentum slow, with tensions over issues such as Kashmir and growing disillusionment with the “Wuhan spirit,” China and India have not given up on their improved post-Wuhan relationship, aware that the alternative is the costly and dangerous deterioration of relations.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Iconic images of China
    Henri Cartier-Bresson: China breaking free of its past – in pictures / Guardian
    “In November 1948, the great photographer went to shoot ‘the last days of Beijing’. He returned to China in 1958 to capture the results of the Maoist revolution.” Photos from those trips are the subject of a new exhibition in Paris, and you can see a selection at the Guardian link above.

A new advert from the Chinese e-commerce website Tmall that includes two same-sex couples has won widespread praise and been hailed as a small but significant win by China’s LGBT community.

  • On boarded-up buildings and in public spaces, illustrations and designs depict heavily armed police officers facing off against black-clad protestors with yellow hardhats, umbrellas, and gas masks.
  • Artists disseminate this work anonymously from all over the world on the encrypted messaging app Telegram — the same method organizers use to plot demonstrations, which are decentralized and leaderless.

OP-EDS AND RANTS:

There are justified concerns in some countries about a rise in xenophobia and “reds under the bed” targeting of anyone who is ethnically Chinese. The world must guard against such racism, not least because it would be deeply perverse to punish the very people who have moved to western democracies to get away from a repressive system.

But ignoring China’s bullying behaviour would be an equally egregious form of racism towards ethnically Chinese compatriots since they are the primary targets of Beijing’s intimidation and overseas influence operations.

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