Links for January 16, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for January 16, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China’s securities watchdog has approved an application from chipmaker Rockchip to list on the Shanghai bourse, as the company taps the capital markets following an unsuccessful attempt to go public three years ago.

Founded in 2001, Rockchip failed to list on Shenzhen’s ChiNext board in 2017 for “critical sales stagnation and asset decline,” according to China Money Network.

Huawei has enjoined British developers to participate in the construction of its own app ecosystem as part of the embattled Chinese tech firm’s global efforts to mitigate the effects of its U.S. trade blacklisting [which] effectively stops Huawei from running Google-developed apps on its smartphones.

That has prompted the Chinese company to court developers worldwide capable of building a replacement system. At a developers’ conference held Wednesday in London, Huawei unveiled a £20 million ($26 million) incentive plan to encourage British and Irish developers to integrate their apps into Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), an alternative to Google Mobile Services, according to state broadcaster CCTV [in Chinese].

New bank lending in China hit a record of 16.81 trillion yuan ($2.44 trillion) in 2019 as the central bank eased policy to support the world’s second-largest economy hobbled by weak global demand and the Sino-U.S. trade war.

The central bank has cut borrowing costs to shore up business activity and more monetary easing and fiscal stimulus is expected this year to spur growth, analysts say.

Tencent’s instant-messaging app WeChat is testing a new feature that allows public bloggers to add paywalls to their posts, the company said Wednesday.

Qualified bloggers can charge readers up to 208 yuan ($30) for each article, and WeChat will charge the bloggers a technical service fee.

WeChat, the most popular social media app in China with 1.15 billion monthly active users as of September, said the feature aims to motivate original content publishers to produce more posts with higher quality.

Xiamen Airlines Co. has operated only Boeing Co. aircraft since it started out in the 1980s. Now the Chinese carrier is turning to rival Airbus SE, inviting bids from leasing companies to supply 10 A321neo jets.

Xiamen Airlines, majority owned by state-run China Southern Airlines Co., is planning for deliveries from the second half of next year to 2023, it said in a statement. The company has been in talks with Airbus as China and the U.S. waged a trade dispute and Boeing lunged into crisis with the global grounding of its 737 Max following two fatal crashes.

Kerry Muzzey, an American composer whose music has been featured on shows such as Glee and So You Think You Can Dance, recently fought an uphill battle with China Central Television (CCTV) over the network’s alleged use of his music, which he discovered by using Content ID, a tool that detects digital copyright infringement — a battle he’s now documented on Twitter

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Smog-prone regions near Beijing and Shanghai posted big improvements in air quality in late 2019, but pollution in other parts of China worsened as dirty industries were relocated rather than shut down, researchers said on Thursday.

China’s Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 launched a “war on pollution” in 2014, but its main focus has been on clearing the skies in the…Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze river delta regions…

[There were double-digit increases in average PM2.5 readings “in the final quarter of 2019 in provinces like Heilongjiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong.”]

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel has staunchly defended Berlin’s close relationship with Beijing. She says she would “advise against regarding China as a threat simply because it is economically successful.”

“As was the case in Germany, [China’s] rise is largely based on hard work, creativity and technical skills,” she says. Of course there is a need to “ensure that trade relations are fair.” China’s economic strength and geopolitical ambitions mean it is a rival to the US and Europe. But the question is: “Do we in Germany and Europe want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains…because of this economic competition?” She adds: “In my opinion, complete isolation from China cannot be the answer.”

[On Huawei:] Germany should tighten its security requirements towards all telecoms providers and diversify suppliers “so that we never make ourselves dependent on one firm” in 5G. But “I think it is wrong to simply exclude someone per se,” she says.

China on Thursday said there was a need to find “new solutions” to the widening trade deficit with India after latest statistics from the Chinese customs revealed that the deficit accounted for more than 60 percent of bilateral trade in 2019.

India’s trade deficit with China was 391.7 billion yuan ($56.8 billion) in 2019, an official from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) said earlier this week, adding that it was important that the two countries strengthen cooperation.

The top Chinese intelligence agency is embroiled in a German inquiry into a former ambassador of the European Union accused of spying for China.

Police raided nine addresses in Berlin and Brussels, as well as the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria on Wednesday, targeting the former ambassador, who was not named, and two other people.

The University of Missouri will cancel its contract with the Confucius Institute, a relationship that has been targeted by U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, because of expensive new requirements  [that a state-certified Mandarin teacher is present in every classroom with Confucius Institute staff] in language classes offered by Columbia Public Schools.

The contract will end in August, six months before it was otherwise scheduled to end, according to a news release issued Wednesday by MU.

As tensions between the United States and Iran persist after the American killing of a top Iranian general this month, the two countries are waging a heated battle in an unlikely forum: the Chinese internet.

The embassies of the United States and Iran in Beijing have published a series of barbed posts in recent days on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, attacking each other in Chinese and in plain view of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users.

The United States Embassy has accused Iran of “leaving bloodstains everywhere.” The Iranian Embassy has denounced the January 3 killing of the general, Qassim Suleimani, and vowed to seek the end of “America’s evil forces in western Asia”…

Chinese news outlets have covered the skirmish breathlessly, describing Weibo as the “new battlefield” between the two countries. A hashtag referring to the “Weibo fight” had been viewed more than 1.5 million times as of Thursday.

China’s big-money push to build ports, rail lines and telecommunications networks around the world — and increase Beijing’s political sway in the process — seemed to be running out of gas just a year ago.

Now the program, called the Belt and Road Initiative, has come roaring back. Western officials and companies, for their part, are renewing their warnings that China’s gains in business and political clout could come at their expense.

Chinese companies signed Belt and Road contracts worth nearly $128 billion in the first 11 months of last year, according to China’s Commerce Ministry, a 41 percent increase over the same period in 2018…

The rush of new Belt and Road contracts follows a public pullback by Chinese officials in 2018 after projects in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and elsewhere were criticized by local officials and others as bloated and costly. China argues that since then, it has fine-tuned practices to trim waste.

European companies have been largely excluded from President Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 Belt and Road Initiative due to the dominant role of China’s state-owned enterprises and opaque bidding processes, the European Chamber said, raising questions about the country’s commitment to opening the program to the world.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

From 2015 to 2018, Li and Xu [a gay couple who met in Shanghai] made four transpacific trips [from China to the U.S.] as part of their gestational surrogacy processes. They traveled nearly 50,000 miles, spent more than $200,000, and went through countless days of distress, all to fulfill the dream of having their own family.

An increasing number of Chinese gay men, like Li and Xu, are traveling thousands of miles and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue a dream that is impossible at home. Like Li and Xu, many of them refer to their surrogacy process as their “journey.”

There are more than 10 million people living with autism in China [in Chinese]… Around 8 million of them are adolescents and adults.

Though adults with autism often have difficulties communicating with others, the majority share the same desire to socialize and form intimate relationships as neurotypical peers. Many, however, struggle to find long-term companionship…

In China, life for people with autism can be even more complicated, due to the nation’s comparatively smaller social safety net. While multiple programs exist to support children with autism — especially in areas such as inclusive education — services for adults are often lacking…

Families are largely left to care for adults with autism by themselves, and they are often reluctant to support their autistic relatives’ love lives — fearing the extra burden of care a romantic relationship might bring.

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