Links for Wednesday, January 29, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Morgan Stanley said on Wednesday that assuming the coronavirus peaks in February and March, global economic growth could be hit by 0.15 to 0.3 percentage point during the first quarter.

Assuming the same time scale, the bank said China’s GDP growth could be cut by 0.5 to 1 percentage point during the quarter.

No China fintech segment has fallen faster and harder than peer-to-peer lending. Not even cryptocurrency, which Beijing all but outlawed, has been crippled like P2P lending. The reason is simple: The scam-ridden P2P lending segment robbed hundreds of thousands of retail investors of their life savings. Some distraught victims even committed suicide. There were massive Ponzi schemes.

A troubled electric-vehicle upstart trying to take on Tesla Inc. is clinging to a supplier Elon Musk clashed with dramatically in 2016.

NIO Inc. has partnered for the past three years with Mobileye, the developer of advanced driver-assistance systems Intel Corp. acquired in 2017 for $15 billion. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, had a falling-out with the supplier over the electric-car maker’s use of Mobileye technology for its Autopilot system.

The Chinese company now is working with Mobileye to enhance NIO Pilot — which already has automatic emergency braking, lane changing and other features. The new version will incorporate technology the companies designed for a fully autonomous system, including lidar sensors.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

The Mekong River and its tributaries snake across six countries, from China down into mainland Southeast Asia. Experts worry that the river’s last days “as a healthy ecosystem” are here, an entirely manmade crisis caused by excessive damming and climate change.

The Nam Ou is one of the most important tributaries. Most of it will be dominated by seven Chinese-built cascading dams when they are up and running in the next few years. Villages have been razed to make way for the project, erasing traditional ways of life.

When the Nam Ou 2 dam and others farther upstream started operating, they changed the flow of the river, caused huge losses in unique fish species and led to the displacement of thousands of people. Experts warn that the damage will intensify once the second phase of the cascade, which includes the Nam Ou 1, 3 and 4 dams, is complete by the end of this year.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

…The Handelsblatt report cited a confidential foreign ministry document that intelligence shared by U.S. officials represented a “smoking gun” that meant Chinese companies were unsafe partners for building next-generation 5G mobile networks.
“At the end of 2019, intelligence was passed to us by the U.S., according to which Huawei is proven to have been cooperating with China’s security authorities,” the newspaper cited the document as saying.

The German foreign ministry said it did not comment on internal documents as a matter of policy.

Huawei… denied a newspaper report on Wednesday which said the German government was in possession of evidence that it had cooperated with Chinese intelligence.

“Huawei Technologies has never, and will never, do anything to compromise the security of networks and data of its customers,” the Chinese company said in response to the report in the Handelsblatt business daily.

“The Handelsblatt article repeats old, unfounded allegations without providing any concrete evidence whatsoever.”

The European Union told its members on Wednesday that they should limit so-called high-risk 5G vendors, a category that includes the Chinese tech giant Huawei, but stopped short of recommending a ban on the firm, despite a lengthy and aggressive campaign by the Trump administration.

The recommendations are as far as the European Union can go in dictating policy to its member nations, whose governments will have the final word on whether and how they want to let Huawei help build their next generation of wireless telecommunications networks.

Britain has a chance to relook at its decision to allow Huawei into its 5G phone network in the future, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, declared as he flew to London for a two-day visit to the UK.

The senior member of Donald Trump’s administration told reporters that the US believed that deploying Huawei created “real risk”, but added that the White House would have to study the UK’s implementation plans, first announced on Tuesday.

  • Coronavirus originating in Wuhan has sent agriculture commodity prices tumbling and led to extended shutdown of Chinese factories and markets.
  • Many analysts, already sceptical about China’s ability to buy US$200 billion of US goods in next two years, say impact of virus could cause further problems.

The next supply and demand update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture could feature some drastic adjustments if it is to fully incorporate China’s lofty agricultural commitments as outlined in the Phase 1 trade deal.

The deal, signed Jan. 15, states that China’s purchases of U.S. agricultural goods will be at least $12.5 billion above the 2017 baseline, which is about $24 billion, and sales are to rise at least $19.5 billion above that baseline in 2021.

Traders have been very skeptical over the feasibility, especially since the record value of U.S. farm goods to China was $29 billion in 2013, when commodity prices were substantially higher than today. The caveats of “buying under market conditions” and “not disrupting other suppliers” have made the entire scenario nearly impossible to imagine.

A government trade minister held a one-on-one meeting with a facial recognition firm accused of enabling the Chinese government’s campaign of persecution against Uighur Muslims, the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have established.

Graham Stuart, a minister at the Department for International Trade (DIT), met representatives from SenseTime, a Hong Kong-based surveillance technology firm, on 11 June last year to discuss the use of artificial intelligence and data in higher education.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Interview with writer Charles Yu
    The multiple dimensions of Charles Yu / The Ringer
    An interview with novelist and TV writer Charles Yu on his new book, Interior Chinatown, and Asian representation in Hollywood.