BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Livestreaming English and math courses to primary school students
VIPKid’s new education brand Dami Wangxiao closes $80 million series A funding / Caixin
Dami Wangxiao, a sub-brand of Chinese online tutoring platform VIPKid, has secured $80 million in its series A funding round led by Tencent and Sequoia Capital, according to a company statement.
Starting as an incubated project nearly two years ago, Dami Wangxiao offers livestreaming of English and math courses to primary school students, with the goal of creating an “immersive” learning experience that makes people feel as if they are attending offline classes.
Trains running on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, a line that stretches 141 kilometers and serves seven stations, are able to provide superfast 5G mobile service even when they go through tunnels or stop at railway stations, state broadcaster CCTV reported Saturday.
“Instant” hot pot meals gain popularity
Young Chinese fall in love with almost instant meals / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
Spicy hot pot dishes that come in self-heating plastic bowls and are ready to eat 15 minutes after being doused with water aren’t just big in China, they are showing how the country’s dining culture has evolved.
The products debuted in 2015, and two years later videos of them went viral on Chinese social networks. As the market quickly expanded, leading hot pot brands began introducing their own instant offerings. The no-fuss meals are now especially popular among young Chinese too busy to cook — despite being more expensive and less “instant” than the microwaveable bento meals sold at convenience stores throughout Asia.
The alternative meat craze: Is Zhenmeat the real deal?
Chinese startup’s plant-based ‘meat’ sizzles like real thing / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
“Zhenmeat started offering ground-pork-style faux meat made of plant-based protein on Friday, targeting China’s growing ranks of health-conscious consumers.”
China’s Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods rival seeks funding in major growth push / CNBC
“One of China’s plant-based meat substitute start-ups Zhenmeat is looking to raise around $2 million of funding this year.”
🎬 Video: Zhenmeat’s Lu on China’s plant-based meat industry, competition with U.S. rivals / Bloomberg
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
First reported death from Wuhan virus
China reports first death from new virus / NYT (porous paywall)
“Forty-one people have been found to have the new virus, a coronavirus, and seven patients are still in severe condition.”
Wuhan pneumonia: Thailand confirms first case of virus outside China / SCMP
Thai authorities on Monday confirmed the first case outside China of a patient infected with the new virus behind the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. The woman, 61, identified as a Chinese tourist from the city in central Hubei Province, has been receiving treatment in a hospital in Nonthaburi near Bangkok since January 8, but is now recovering, according to Bloomberg and Thai media outlets.
Policies for China’s aging population
China rolls out first national standard on senior care / Xinhua
Elderly care organizations should meet requirements on aspects such as fire prevention, hygiene and health, environmental protection, food, medicine, buildings and facilities.
[The new set of mandatory national standards] also requires improving the training of senior caregivers and management of pension organizations such as making emergency response plans.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Beijing blocks human rights group director from entering Hong Kong
Hong Kong denies entry to Human Rights Watch director, group says / NYT (porous paywall)
“Kenneth Roth, executive director of the organization, said immigration officials turned him away at the airport in what some saw as the latest sign of deteriorating freedoms in the city.”
Human Rights Watch leader denied entry to Hong Kong / RTHK
“In a video message he posted on Twitter, Roth said he had never previously had any problem entering Hong Kong, including a trip in April 2018 to release a HRW report on gender discrimination in the mainland job market, but added that it appears this time, Beijing did not want him to hold his press conference here.”
Human Rights Watch responsible for HK chaos: Beijing / RTHK
Beijing on Monday defended barring the head of Human Rights Watch from entering Hong Kong, saying non-governmental organisations were responsible for political unrest in the semi-autonomous city and should “pay the proper price”…
“Plenty of facts and evidence show that the relevant NGO has through various means supported anti-China radicals, encouraged them to engage in extremist, violent and criminal activity, and incited Hong Kong independence separatist activities,” Geng said.
Xinjiang reeducation camps
Do coercive reeducation technologies actually work? / LA Review of Books
Darren Byler tells the story of a Hui Muslim woman who was found guilty of “cyber pre-crimes” and “reeducated,” unsuccessfully. Instead, it only deepened her distrust of other people and the government:
The surveillance system did not change her fundamental sense of reality, or “wash clean their brain” as government documents describe the system goals. While it did make her adapt her behavior, this change was slight compared to the experiences of millions of Uyghurs and Kazakhs who did not possess her relative ethno-racial and class privilege. As a Han-passing, college-educated speaker of Chinese, she was able to navigate the system in ways that are not available to millions of Uyghurs and Kazakhs. She said one of the deepest effects of the system was that she no longer felt as though she could trust other people nor could she rely on government to protect her.
China says Zimbabwe sanctions have “no basis in international law”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi backs call to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe / SCMP
“[The] U.S. and EU have placed sanctions on senior Zimbabwean officials and businesses but Wang says they have no basis in international law.”
Other news from Africa:
Why Wang Yi’s boring, uneventful tour of Africa was so important / The China-Africa Project
Eric Olander writes:
Regardless of why Wáng Yì 王毅 went to the countries he did, the key thing to remember here is that he was there. He was present. He showed up. And that matters…a lot. He didn’t just go to the big countries that tend to dominate the continent’s diplomacy, he went off the beaten path to a place like Bujumbura where most readers of this newsletter (including me) probably can’t find on a map without Google’s help.
Four Chinese nationals abducted in Gabon pirate attack rescued: consulate / CGTN
Four Chinese nationals kidnapped last month off the coast of Gabon have been released and are now reportedly back home in China, according to the Chinese consulate in Lagos. Piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea, where the Chinese were taken captive, increased significantly in 2019.
China keeps Kenya, Djibouti guessing on Security Council seat / Daily Nation (Kenya)
China is wavering on its earlier commitment to back Kenya’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. Nairobi is competing for the spot against Djibouti and Beijing’s keeping everyone guessing as to who it will back. Chinese officials blamed a “translation error” for last month’s announcement that Beijing would support Kenya for the seat.
Who knew? You can “guarantee ethnic unity” with a law
Tibet government first in China to legislate ethnic unity guarantee / Global Times
“The government of Southwest China’s Tibet legislated to guarantee ethnic unity for the first time at the ongoing 3rd Session of the 11th People’s Congress of Tibet on Saturday, reflecting the significant role of ethnic unity in the region’s economic and social development, said experts.”
See also this Global Times piece from 2019: Prisons promote ethnic unity.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Is popular Chinese music just “pale imitations of other countries’ genres”?
Why does China have 1.4 billion people and no good bands? / Foreign Policy (porous paywall)
This essay by Lauren Teixiera has generated some controversy on the internet:
There’s no such thing as a distinctive Chinese national sound that mixes tradition and modernity in the same way Mongolians do — at least none that has become a serious commercial player. Instead, China has been left churning out a stream of pale imitations of other countries’ genres.
Chinese reactions to The Farewell
Chinese audiences debate Chinese-ness of ‘The Farewell’ / Sixth Tone
The Chinese reviews for “The Farewell” have been largely positive, with the film earning a respectable 7.3 out of 10 on Douban and 8.5 out of 10 on ticketing platform Maoyan…
The U.S. production has copped its share of negative reviews from Chinese audiences, too. Many online critics have said the film feels too American, relies heavily on cultural tropes and stereotypes, and “others,” or exotifies, the weighty issues it attempts to address.
Small rally of support for victim of alleged rape by ecommerce titan
Two dozen rally to support University of Minnesota undergrad who alleges she was raped by Chinese billionaire / Star Tribute
“A group of about 25 Chinese university students and young professionals from around the country gathered in Minneapolis on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with the student who has sued billionaire Richard Liu [刘强东 Liú Qiángdōng] following an alleged sexual assault in 2018.”