BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
iPhone sales soared in December
Apple’s iPhone sales in China up 18 percent in December: government data / Reuters
“Apple shipped roughly 3.2 million phones in China in December…up from 2.7 million a year earlier.”
Banks ❤️ financial opening
JPMorgan takes more space in China’s tallest skyscraper with growing headcount / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
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.
Government puts out another financial fire
China issues rules to clean up troubled $577 billion financial leasing sector / Reuters
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.
WeChat Pay in South Korea
WeChat Pay targets Chinese students abroad in cross-border service expansion / Caixin
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.
Proposed anti-monopoly law changes ‘inadequate’
China’s updated anti-monopoly law criticized for not doing enough / SCMP
- 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.
Huawei vs. U.S. in Brazil and beyond
Brazil to reject U.S. pressure on Huawei 5G bid, minister says / SCMP
- 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 suspends national rollout of ethanol mandate — sources / Reuters
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.
Medical data security
Chinese tech companies still can’t stop medical data leaks / TechNode
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.
Decline of the Chinese factory
China’s manufacturing exodus set to continue in 2020, despite prospect of trade war deal / SCMP
- 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.
- China manufacturing: “Elvis has left the building” / China Law Blog
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
How green are China’s tech companies?
Greenpeace releases first-ever clean energy scorecard for China’s tech industry / Greenpeace
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…
- 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].
- Greenpeace calls out Alibaba, Tencent in first China ranking / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Chinese report says illnesses may be from new coronavirus / AP
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.
China pneumonia: what we know about the new virus and how you can stop yourself getting sick / SCMP
Wuhan pneumonia: Hong Kong requests for genetic information from mainland China on mystery virus / SCMP
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Taiwan is fighting Beijing influence, but it won’t close the door to mainland Chinese / SupChina
Countries around the world fighting Beijing’s influence have seen upticks in resentment toward Chinese nationals. But, says Nick Aspinwall, Taiwan is doing its best to differentiate between the Chinese government and its people.
‘Taiwan cannot become like Hong Kong’: A fresh challenge to China / WSJ (paywall)
“Ahead of Taiwanese presidential election, resistance to Chinese influence presents another obstacle to Beijing’s unification drive.”
Russia’s disinformation campaign in the U.S. has nothing on China’s efforts in Taiwan / Washington Post
“Taiwan is subjected to more foreign disinformation from China and other governments than any other place, V-Dem, a research institute of Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, found in a study.”
‘Always campaign time’: Why Taiwan’s indigenous people back KMT / Al Jazeera
“Deeply entrenched community service centers give opposition KMT edge in indigenous communities in Saturday elections.”
Did Sweden sell the crown jewels to China?
A survey of acquisitions adds to concerns over China in Sweden / Neican
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.”
Will China’s embrace end up choking Cambodia?
The costs of China’s Belt and Road expansion / Atlantic (porous paywall)
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.
South China Sea spat with Indonesia resolved?
Chinese fishing vessels in spat with Indonesia leave Natunas. Friends again? / SCMP
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.
Dodgy stats and poverty
China province of 80 million claims only 17 people in poverty, sparking debate about official data / SCMP
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.
Beijing reacts to ‘crimes against humanity’ charge
China says U.S. Congress report on China’s human rights neither objective nor credible / Reuters
China’s foreign ministry reacted in the usual manner to the U.S. Congressional report published yesterday (Access paywall) that called for sanctions against Beijing over “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang.
China-India relations in review
2019: Reviewing a passable year in China-India relations / The Diplomat
- 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.
Advertising and LGBT+ representation
Does China’s response to LGBT couples in Tmall advert signal acceptance? / SCMP
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:
Dealing with China’s overseas influence operations
China is taking its ideological fight abroad / FT (paywall)
Jamil Anderlini writes:
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.