BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Coronavirus expected to hit Asian tourism, commerce hard
Bali to Bangkok: China virus threatens disaster for tourist hotspots / Reuters
The colorful dances of Bali’s annual Kintamani Festival have fallen victim to coronavirus — and travel restrictions to halt its spread could prove costly for other places that rely on Chinese tourists.
Promoted by the Indonesian island as a draw for Chinese holidaymakers, the February 8 festival to celebrate the marriage of an ancient king of Bali to a Chinese princess has been called off in anticipation of a collapse in visitor numbers.
In other Asian destinations, too, fear of the virus is accompanied by worries that business is about to disappear…
Thailand, the top destination for China’s holidaymakers, forecast that Chinese tourist numbers would fall by as much as 2 million this year from 11 million in 2019.
Tourism has become a much more important prop to Japan’s growth over the last decade, and Chinese tourists are the biggest-spenders. That’s why China’s decision Saturday to start blocking outbound tour groups to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus has some Japan economists concerned.
If the much higher visitor numbers now tumble at the same pace as they did during the SARS outbreak of around three months, Japanese growth could be cut by 0.2 percentage point, according to economist Shuji Tonouchi at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley. Should the crisis drag on for a full year, it could shave 0.45 percentage point from Japan’s expansion, estimates Nomura Research Institute economist Takahide Kiuchi.
- Shave about 1 percentage point off China’s 2020 growth rate? / Dexter Roberts’ Trade War newsletter
The Wall Street Journal appears to be first out of the block to look at the economic impact with this interesting article from January 26. Key point: back during the SARS virus of 2003, China’s economy was hit hard, even though then the economy was even more investment-driven, and most consumption came via purchases by the state and its companies. This time the impact will be worse, with an economy much more dependent on individual’s consumption, where the virus’ spread will surely inhibit buying, even if some purchasing can still happen online.
Chinese firms need to improve transparency in Myanmar
Chinese companies investing in Myanmar have ‘a lot of work to do’ to convince public / SCMP
- Transparency must be improved and deep concerns addressed, says former presidential adviser Aung Tun Thet.
- A raft of infrastructure deals have just been signed, including for a strategically important deep-sea port project.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Opinion: China, not America, will decide fate of the planet / FT (paywall)
“But its coal addiction and authoritarian system mean it will struggle to take a global lead,” writes Gideon Rachman.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Trump accused of granting personal favors to Xi
Bolton was concerned that Trump did favors for autocratic leaders, book says / NYT (porous paywall)
John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton…
Mr. Bolton wrote in the manuscript that Mr. Barr singled out Mr. Trump’s conversations with Mr. Xi about the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, which agreed in 2017 to plead guilty and pay heavy fines for violating American sanctions on doing business with North Korea, Iran and other countries. A year later, Mr. Trump lifted the sanctions over objections from his own advisers and Republican lawmakers.
Danish newspaper in trouble for insensitive virus cartoon
Chinese embassy wants Danish paper to apologize for coronavirus cartoon / Reuters
‘Without any sympathy and empathy’: China furious at Danish newspaper over image of flag with coronavirus / RT (Russia)
The Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen has demanded an apology from Danish newspaper Jyllands-posten for publishing a Chinese flag with the coronavirus on it.
The image by Niels Bo Bojesen featured the Chinese flag with the yellow stars replaced with pictures of the novel coronavirus. The newspaper published the cartoon in their ‘Today’s Cartoon’ section with a disclaimer saying that the cartoon represented the artist’s personal interpretation, which may differ from the position of the paper.
Despite this, the Chinese Embassy in Denmark called on Jyllands-posten and Bojesen to immediately apologize to the Chinese people.
China’s military industrial complex
China is estimated to be the world’s second largest arms maker after U.S. / SCMP
- Country has also reduced reliance on foreign weapons and military technology as its own industry expands, according to new research.
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute puts total sales by Chinese arms firms at $70 billion to $80 billion in 2017.
Is Vietnam considering lawfare against China?
Vietnam’s legal warfare against China: Prospects and challenges / Center for Strategic and International Studies
Richard Javad Heydarian writes:
Ahead of its much-anticipated chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, and amid a months-long naval showdown in the South China Sea, Vietnam has hinted at the possibility of legal warfare against China. Vietnamese deputy foreign minister Le Hoai Trung openly warned in early November that diplomacy isn’t the only tool at Hanoi’s disposal…
Based on the Philippines’ experience in its arbitration case against China, lawfare seems a risky yet potentially viable option for Vietnam. Beijing proved willing to employ numerous economic levers to punish Manila for filing that case in 2013; Vietnam, which is much more dependent on trade with China, could face significantly greater economic damage if it filed a case. But the payoff could be worth the risk.
Video: Troubles on the Belt and Road in Pakistan
From 101 East Al Jazeera on Twitter: “China, you came here without our consent, supported our enemies… Balochistan will be a graveyard for your expansionist motives.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Second-tier China / LA Review of Books: China Channel
A photo essay from the “urban peripheries” of Changsha by U.S. photographer Rian Dundon.
Interview with Another Year director
A billion homes: Chinese dinner table talk tells universal story / Sixth Tone
There are only 13 scenes in “Another Year,” a three-hour long documentary, and all of them feature the same long, static shots of the same family doing the same, everyday activity: eating a meal.
It’s a bold visual experiment by director Zhū Shēngzè 朱聲仄, a 32-year-old Chicago-based documentary filmmaker. Given no context, the audience is plunged into the life of one Chinese family through their dinnertime discussions that range from whether to buy new chopsticks to how to deal with Grandma’s stroke.
The effect is that of feeling part of the family’s joys and frustrations about the mundane, and seeing how, over the film’s 14-month timespan, small changes can have big repercussions.
Li Ziqi profile — China’s farming influencer
Country life: The young female farmer who is now a top influencer in China / Guardian
Since she began posting rustic-chic videos of her life in rural Sichuan province in 2016, Lǐ Zǐqī 李子柒, 29, has become one of China’s biggest social media stars. She has 22 million followers on the microblogging site Weibo, 34 million on Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) and another 8.3 million on YouTube…
Taking pets for holiday photos is an emerging fad in China / Sixth Tone
“Chinese people’s growing fondness for pets has led to an entire industry around the health and well-being of their fluffy companions.”