BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Coronavirus to hit economy
China braced for economic hit from coronavirus / FT (paywall)
“China’s leaders are bracing for a blow to first-quarter economic growth as the deadly coronavirus weighs on consumption, travel and manufacturing, with the lunar new year break extended until next week.”
China’s markets are likely to stay shut on extended break / Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance
“Trading will resume Feb. 3, the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges said. Shanghai authorities separately advised that companies shouldn’t start work until at least Feb. 9.”
Dow drops over 450 points on coronavirus fears / WSJ (paywall)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its fifth consecutive daily decline, dropping 453.93 points, or 1.6%. The S&P 500 also declined 1.6%, its first drop of more than 1% since October.
- Macau tourist arrivals from China plunge 80 percent in blow for casinos / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
The number of mainland Chinese visitors to Macau fell 80 percent on Sunday, the third day of the holiday, compared with the equivalent day during last year’s Lunar New Year break, according to the city’s tourism office. For the first three days of the holiday, arrivals were down 66 percent, the data show.
That’s a blow for an economy which is reliant on the gambling industry, and comes after casinos suffered their worst year since 2015.
China’s hand in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry
Chinese imports from Nigeria rose by 70 percent in 2019 – envoy / The Nation Online (Nigeria)
Nigerian exports to China surged by 70 percent last year, according to Ambassador Zhōu Píngjiàn 周平剑. While the ambassador seemed pleased with the numbers, he didn’t mention what specifically accounted for the dramatic rise. Most likely those figures got a boost from the significant increase in Nigerian oil exports to China that went up quite a bit last year. In related news, Nigeria is in the final stages to close a $2.5 billion financing deal with Chinese lenders to build the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline, according to Petroleum Economist. Once the loan agreement is done, construction is expected to begin as soon as February on the new domestic pipeline that aims to facilitate up to 10,000mw of new power capacity.
TikTok censors Uyghur speech
Xinjiang’s TikTok wipes away evidence of Uyghur persecution / Coda Story
As summarized by scholar Adrian Zenz on Twitter: “A report finds that the domestic Chinese equivalent of TikTok, Douyin, systematically censors posts with Uyghur script, Uyghur language, and footage that deviates from Beijing’s portrayals of the region. Footage now closely mirrors the propaganda mandate.”
Targeting TikTok’s privacy alone misses a much larger point / Quartz (porous paywall)
As TikTok’s popularity has exploded worldwide, we’ve also found ourselves contemplating some big questions.
For one, users and governments alike are concerned that the app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is susceptible to Beijing’s censorship. This perception may be an internal concern as well, given recent news that the company is seeking a new CEO to run TikTok from the US, leading some to speculate it’s an attempt to distance the platform from the Chinese government.
Huawei and the UK after Brexit
Should the U.K. ban Huawei? / Prospect Magazine
Safety in EU numbers is not available to the UK and Boris Johnson will encounter some harsh realities: Britain is going it alone as the world’s biggest and second biggest economies are fighting for supremacy. If he decides for Huawei, the US could downgrade security cooperation and trade talks could sour. If he decides against Huawei, China will find equally creative ways to demonstrate its displeasure. There are no easy choices here.
The UK’s intelligence services have been giving contradictory signals: some officials warn that Huawei is bound to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party now or in the future, and the Party’s interests are not aligned with those of the UK. Others share the misgivings about China and do not consider Huawei a trusted supplier, but disagree over how to translate those security concerns into the technological choices the UK has to make.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
U.S. on the hunt for Chinese counterfeits
U.S. cracks down on counterfeits in a warning shot to China / NYT (porous paywall)
“The Trump administration is moving swiftly to ensure that China is keeping its promises to protect American intellectual property, ratcheting up searches for counterfeit goods at ports and increasing pressure on e-commerce companies like Amazon to halt online sales of Chinese knockoffs.”
Op-ed: U.S. must counter Chinese model of rule
The responsibility to counter china’s ambitions falls to us / Atlantic (porous paywall)
U.S. Republican senator Ben Sasse writes:
The challenge that China presents is not simply political, or economic, or military — it is, at the extreme, civilizational. China is advancing a new model of rule, a new model of how human beings can and ought to live together. That model is not only different from ours; it could be fatal to it. We need to recognize this, and square up to it.
Japan holds bargaining chip with Xi
Japan’s once-a-decade mind games with China over top leader visit / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
In a long-awaited move, current Chinese President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平…will come to Japan this April in his first official visit since taking office. (He has been to Osaka for the Group of 20 summit).
The treatment of Xi on this trip has emerged as Tokyo’s biggest diplomatic bargaining chip.
The diplomatic wrangling was visible when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Beijing and held talks with Xi this past December. Abe took an unusually strong stance over “sensitive issues” between the two countries.
Abe first urged Xi to address intrusions by official Chinese vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea…
Abe also called for the early return of Japanese nationals detained in China on espionage charges and expressed concerns over the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong as well as human rights issues in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Scholar feared missing
In Japan, fears grow that Chinese academic has been detained on the mainland / SCMP
- Yuán Kèqín 袁克勤, who teaches at the Hokkaido University of Education, has been missing since June when he returned for his mother’s funeral in Changchun.
- His colleagues and students last week submitted a proposal to the Chinese consulate general in Sapporo requesting that he be permitted to return.
Xinjiang propaganda in New Zealand…
China delivers message to its diaspora in NZ / Interest (New Zealand)
The Chinese government has used lunar new year celebrations to remind the Chinese community in New Zealand of the “great success” of its “counter-terrorism and deradicalization” programme in Xinjiang.
The Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand, Wú Xǐ 吴玺, told the mostly Chinese audience gathered at a reception at Te Papa on Tuesday, “The rights and interests of minority ethnic groups, women, children, seniors and the disabled have all become better protected…”
The Chinese embassy, which hosted the event, lined a large section of the Te Papa function room walls with a “picture exhibition” entitled, “Human rights in Xinjiang – development and progress”…
The exhibition wasn’t displayed at Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Auckland last weekend, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff were among the politicians in attendance and engaged in photo opportunities.
Amnesty International accuses Chinese embassy of ‘window-dressing human rights abuses’ / NZ Herald
“Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Community Manager Margaret Taylor said the embassy was ‘window-dressing the grave human rights abuses.’”
…While ordeals continue for former detainees
China’s camps now have survivors, and their ordeals aren’t over / Washington Post (porous paywall)
“The Chinese government is busily spinning lies about its massive “re-education camps” for Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. But as survivors escape China, their firsthand accounts tell the true story — and their terrible ordeals continue.”
Explanation demanded for Peace Corps exit
The Peace Corps cuts and runs / WSJ (paywall)
Author Michael Meyer writes:
Amid fanfare at the White House, the U.S. and China signed an agreement pausing the trade war. The next day, the U.S. quietly terminated its Peace Corps program in China. The news didn’t merit a presidential tweet, or even a Peace Corps press release. An explanation is in order, because the program is one of the greatest diplomatic success stories in the history of both the Peace Corps and U.S.-China relations.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Year of the Rat celebrations
CCTV New Year’s gala 2020 overview: Highlights and must-knows / What’s on Weibo
A comprehensive guide to and an analysis of the accompanying social media commentary from the televised 2020 Spring Festival Gala.
Tribute to medical staff steals the show at Spring Festival Gala / Sixth Tone
- A recitation paying tribute to medical staff battling a deadly novel coronavirus outbreak became the most talk-about performance of Friday’s Spring Festival Gala, China’s biggest television event aired annually on Lunar New Year’s Eve by state broadcaster CCTV.
- About an hour into the gala, six well-known Chinese TV hosts took the stage and performed a five-minute recitation called “Love Is the Bridge,” with each giving a moving tribute to the frontline medical workers working to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The women pioneering China’s wine industry
These are the women leading China’s wine revolution / Washington Post (porous paywall)
Sharp and confident, with a characteristic penetrating gaze, Linda is part of a group of strong-willed, talented female owners, winemakers and managers who are leading China’s wine revolution.
Some of these female pioneers are as young as 26. Others have been in the business for decades, perfecting their skills in historical Bordeaux wineries and partnering with top international brands.
They head some of the best and most successful wine estates of the region, bringing a touch for detail and a quality oriented philosophy that has been instrumental in the industry’s recent boom.