Links for January 30, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Tesla has temporarily halted operations in its Shanghai plant at the request of the Chinese government, which is making efforts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus…The factory closure may slightly drag down quarterly profitability, but the impact is limited as the profit contribution from the Shanghai plant remains in the early stage, Kirkhorn said.

Hedge funds including Citadel and Marshall Wace have ramped up their short positions against airlines disrupted by the spread of a deadly coronavirus in China, as carriers cancel flights to the country. 

  • Didi in Mexico
    Didi to launch electric vehicle fleet in Mexico this year / Caixin
    “China’s ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing will put a fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles into operation in Mexico this year as part of its plan to launch more mobility services in the Latin American country where it started operation in April 2018.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is intended to catalyze the economies of countries around the globe.
Yet BRI projects overlap some of the most ecologically fragile places on earth. The multi-trillion-dollar initiative…has its environmental impacts. These include air and water pollution, soil contamination and erosion, habitat and wildlife loss.
For project developers and funders, failure to address these impacts can translate into regulatory and reputational risks. So they need to take mitigation seriously.

Risks confronting developers can include penalties, legal action and backlash from communities causing project delays and even closures. According to a 2018 study, 14 percent of BRI projects in 66 countries have faced some kind of local pushback.

On January 26, China announced a ban on its wild animal trade until the crisis is over. Images of sick, suffering animals in markets, and videos of bats boiling alive in bowls of soup have circulated in media, sparking outrage globally and creating the impression that buying live wild animals for eating is a megascale phenomenon in China…

In reality, to many Chinese, consuming wild animals is a cultural outlier. State-controlled media outlets such as China Daily have published scathing editorials denouncing the practice and calling for a permanent wildlife trade ban. These calls in turn are amplified by thousands of Chinese citizens on state-censored social media networks such as Weibo, indicating that the government seems to be letting the momentum build.

Echoing calls from experts worldwide who have denounced the trade for its damaging impact on biodiversity as well as the spread of disease, Zhōu Jìnfēng 周晋峰, secretary general of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), said the ban failed to address the root cause of the outbreak, which was poor regulation and high levels of illegal trade.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to authorize sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the process of determining the Dalai Lama’s successor, raising pressure as the Tibetan spiritual leader approaches 85.

Under the legislation, Washington would freeze any US assets and ban travel to the United States of Chinese officials found to be involved in “identifying or installing” a government-approved Dalai Lama.

On January 9, in his annual message to diplomatic envoys accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis voiced concern for the conflicts ravaging parts of the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus, and Ukraine, as well as for the increasing number of political crises gripping Latin America. However, not a single word was offered about the situation in Hong Kong (Vatican News, Vatican State Website, January 9)…

The pontiff has so far said nothing about the crisis in the city, much to the chagrin of many local Catholics. It seems that the Vatican has no intention of supporting the anti-government movement in Hong Kong, as such a move would hinder its attempts to improve relations with the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

A teenager in Vancouver, Canada, on Tuesday posted a TikTok video of a boy wearing a breathing mask and hoodie in a school lunch room and coughing into trash cans in a hallway. The person behind the video is shown dialing 9-1-1, though it’s unclear if he actually does so. Then, a screenshot of a news article appears: “First presumptive case of coronavirus confirmed in B.C.”…

The video has gone, well, viral, with 4.1 million views, 817,000 likes, and 5,100 comments on TikTok. It is also bogus.

  • In Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam, businesses have posted signs saying that mainland Chinese customers are not welcome.
  • At a sushi restaurant in the neighborhood that once housed the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, where about 90 percent of the customers are Chinese, Yaeko Suenaga, 70, a server, said she understood why some stores might want to reject visitors from China.