BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
China’s markets drop amid virus concerns
China markets under strain before holiday amid virus uncertainty / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Panic coursed through the world’s second-largest equity market as investors sold stocks on concern a deadly virus will worsen over China’s week-long trading break.
TikTok seeks new CEO
ByteDance is seeking a new CEO for its TikTok business / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Chinese internet giant ByteDance Inc. is seeking a new chief executive officer for its TikTok business, a hugely popular video app that American politicians have targeted as a potential security threat.
The company has interviewed candidates in recent months for the CEO role, which would be based in the U.S.…while current TikTok chief Alex Zhu would continue to manage the majority of product and engineering out of China.
“Homegrown” programming language not homegrown
Chinese coding language ‘Mulan’ found to be Python fork / TechNode
News of a research fellow who was suspended from a prestigious Chinese university on Sunday became a top trending topic on social media after he admitted the “homegrown” programming language he created, Mulan, was a Python fork.
The race for digital currency
Six countries form digital currency group to compete with China / TechNode
The central banks for Canada, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the EU, and the UK have created a working group to explore central bank digital currency (CBDC) applications, entering a race with China, which recently ramped up it own efforts after five years of research…
The recent acceleration may threaten China’s aspirations to be the first country to roll out digital fiat currency, or digital currency electronic payment (DCEP).
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Lifestyle largely to blame for high myopia rates
Hope for myopes — over 70 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds in China are short-sighted / Economist
The affliction’s spread in China is partly related to genes. Myopia is more common among East Asians than among white people. A study in 2016 found that just 19 percent of white 17-year-olds in Britain were short-sighted. But lifestyle plays a big role. A report by the World Health Organisation says the genetic contribution is “considered small”. To the extent that genes are involved, they “may determine susceptibility to environmental factors”. These are often a lack of outdoor activity and excessive “near work”, ie, too much time staring at close objects. The combination of an exam-crazed culture with the rapid spread of smartphones and computer-game technology explains much of China’s problem.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Hong Kong protests updates
‘A little break’: Hong Kong protesters mull tactics as intensity fades / AFP via Hong Kong Free Press
A sharp dip in the frequency and ferocity of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests has raised questions over the future of the leaderless movement, rattled by a spike in arrests and increasingly aggressive police tactics…
Protests are still commonplace. In early December and on New Year’s Day, hundreds of thousands took to the streets for peaceful marches.
And clashes still also occur.
On the weekend police fired tear gas at tens of thousands gathered in a park after masked protesters assaulted a group of plainclothes officers.
But there are now far fewer pitched battles compared with October and November.
China locks up 90-year-old man in Xinjiang
Ninety-year-old Uyghur imam confirmed detained in Xinjiang but condition unknown / Radio Free Asia
The elderly Uyghur imam of a mosque in Atush city has been confirmed detained by authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) for “religious extremism,” according to his U.S.-based niece, who said she has been unable to verify whether he is alive or dead.
Earlier this month, Maryam Muhammad recorded video testimony as part of a Uyghur archival project based in Norway in which she said she had learned that her nonagenarian uncle Abidin Ayup, who served for more than 30 years as the imam of the Qayraq Mosque in the XUAR’s Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Region capital, had been detained in “early 2017.”
E.U. ambassador spy case
The man at the center of Brussels spy probe / Politico
For better or worse, the spy affair roiling Brussels has given Gerhard Sabathil the limelight he always craved.
A flamboyant former EU ambassador with a fondness for plaid bow ties and a taste for the finer things in life, Sabathil is the man German authorities suspect was at the center of a clandestine Chinese operation aimed at delivering European secrets to Beijing.
Whistleblower fishermen missing
Fishers who exposed Chinese hunt for Scarborough clams go missing / ABS-CBN
Authorities on Tuesday flew over the West Philippine Sea in search of seven missing fishermen, two of whom were among those who raised the alarm on China’s alleged mass pillaging of giant clams in the resource-rich waterway last year.
The crew of fishing boat Narem2 had been missing since January 13, after they sent a radio message saying they would head home in fear of rough waves, said boat owner Kristine Macaraeg.
Two members of the Narem2 crew in April 2019 accompanied ABS-CBN News to Scarborough Shoal, where wooden trawlers bearing the Chinese flag extracted giant clams while the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly drove Filipino fishermen away.
PLA prepared for collision with U.S. Navy — video
U.S. Navy footage of warships’ near collision in South China Sea / SCMP
- New footage of a 2018 encounter between a Chinese and U.S. warship has been released to the Post following a freedom of information request.
- Experts say it appears to show the Chinese PLA crew preparing for a collision.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Unconventional beauty / NeoCha
A pictorial essay on the unconventional beauty of artist Zhāng Zǐpiāo’s 张子飘 paintings. Eugene Lee writes:
Zhang is among four Chinese artists recognized by 2019’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia. Like many of her millennial peers, she expresses an individualism born out of a booming economy at home and a global perspective gained from studying abroad. Artists of her generation are at the forefront of China’s flourishing art scene, and a newfound freedom has enabled them to pursue topics of personal fascination. For Zhang, these have been beauty in the social media age and, more recently, power dynamics in relationships.
Cat cafes out, raccoon cafes in
Breakfast with raccoons: The rise of China’s exotic pet cafés / Sixth Tone
Raccoon Coffee is one of a new wave of animal cafés opening across China that have ditched cats and dogs in favor of more exotic creatures, including alpacas, hedgehogs, and lizards. The businesses are proving hugely popular, but they are also facing increasing scrutiny over animal welfare concerns and potential disruption as China fights the spread of the novel coronavirus.
U.K. TV host called out for racism
TV host Piers Morgan panned for mocking Chinese language on-air / Sixth Tone
British TV presenter Piers Morgan is under fire for mocking the Chinese language during a live broadcast.
During a Tuesday segment of the daily news program “Good Morning Britain” about a member of the British royal family being featured in a commercial for a Chinese dairy company, Morgan mimicked the Chinese narrator’s speech, saying “ching chang chong milk”…