BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Economic growth likely to drop below 5 percent amid shutdown
China seen slowing to 4.5 percent in 1Q in severe, short virus outbreak / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s economy may grow just 4.5 percent this quarter, down from 6 percent in the prior three months, if the coronavirus inflicts a severe yet temporary impact on output, according to Bloomberg Economics.
Such a slowdown would be 1.4 percentage points beneath the forecast made before the outbreak of the virus which is now threatening to hurt demand and supply chains in China and beyond, economists Chang Shu, Jamie Rush and Tom Orlik wrote in the report, which was published on Thursday.
- At least two-thirds of China economy to stay shut next week / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
More than a dozen Chinese provinces announced an extension of the current Lunar New Year holiday by more than a week as the nation attempts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands.
Fourteen provinces and cities have said businesses need not start operations until at least the second week of February. They accounted for almost 69 percent of China’s gross domestic product in 2019, according to Bloomberg calculations.
All the key eastern manufacturing provinces have extended the holiday.
- China targets the coronavirus, and farmers pay a price / NYT (porous paywall)
China’s giant and tireless business machine came to a sudden halt last week… Big companies like Apple, General Motors, Ikea and Starbucks are closing operations, changing the way they do business or preparing for financial hits.
They won’t be the businesses hit the hardest. Those would be China’s entrepreneurs — the farmers, shopkeepers, noodle stand owners and millions of others who delivered China out of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and turned it into an economic powerhouse.
Advice for employers
Coronavirus and what China employers should be doing (and not doing) now / China Law Blog
A plethora of new employment rules are being issued for Chinese employers on how to deal with the coronavirus shutdown. Grace Yang advises:
Our general advice is that employers should provide their employees their normal pay during China’s extended holiday/time off period, at least until further government notice. We are also advising China employers not to ask their employees to use their accrued vacation time or take unpaid leave… In any event, employers during this troubled time need to think twice before making any potentially adverse employer decisions.
Xiaomi biggest smartphone brand in India
Xiaomi still top dog in Indian smartphone market in fourth quarter 2019 / Caixin
Xiaomi’s dominant status in the Indian smartphone market seems unshakable.
The Chinese electronics giant continued to lead the Indian market in the fourth quarter of 2019, with its smartphone shipments there rising to 11.2 million units, giving the company a 29 percent market share, according to a report by research firm Canalys.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Facebook cracks down on fake posts about virus
Facebook to ban posts about fake coronavirus cures / WSJ (paywall)
“Facebook Inc. said it would take the rare step of removing false claims about cures and prevention methods for the coronavirus, in an effort to crack down on misinformation related to the global outbreak.”
Hongkongers criticize coronavirus response
Hong Kong protesters refocus ire on city’s handling of coronavirus crisis / WSJ (paywall)
It took three days for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to change her mind and don a surgical mask in public, marking a shift in the government’s policies on containing a deadly virus outbreak that has refocused protesters.
Since the coronavirus landed in Hong Kong in early January, protesters have increasingly sought to focus on the government’s management of the crisis.
Why are social media users talking about ‘Chernobyl’?
Xi Jinping wants to be both feared and loved by China’s people / Economist (paywall)
If censors in communist-led regimes are good for anything, it is spurring creativity. With a new coronavirus stalking China, netizens have been heaping praise on “Chernobyl,” an American-made television drama about the Soviet Union’s worst nuclear disaster. Their aim is to sneak discussion of the outbreak onto China’s tightly policed internet. In less hectic times censors would swiftly stamp out such impertinence. For the parallels with the reactor explosion in 1986, and the official cover-up that followed, are painful for China’s Communist Party bosses, whose system of government was cribbed from Soviet designs. But pointed comparisons keep popping up on China’s social media.
Bail set for Harvard scientist with suspected China ties
U.S.$1 million bail set for Harvard professor Charles Lieber, who was charged with hiding China ties / SCMP
- Chemistry department chair is accused of lying about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Plan, which targets overseas scientists and researchers.
- He allegedly agreed to do research, write articles and apply for patents on behalf of Chinese school for U.S.$50,000 per month and U.S.$150,000 in living expenses.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Canadian profiteers benefit from donation drive
The dentist, the donor, the dude in the van: Canadian coronavirus profiteers run rampant as Vancouver donates thousands of N95 medical masks to Wuhan / SCMP
- A network of donors in Canada is sending much-needed N95 face masks and other medical supplies to the Chinese epicenter of the outbreak.
- But local stores have sold out, as private resellers reap big profits from concerns about the outbreak.
My travels through a China in lockdown / FT (paywall)
“FT correspondent Yuan Yang charts the impact of the coronavirus on friends, family and daily life.”
Will Shanghai’s new art project succeed?
What West Bund’s Pompidou partnership means for China’s art scene / Sixth Tone
On Nov. 5, 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron attended the grand opening of the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project in Shanghai, a collaboration between the famous Paris museum and the West Bund Group, a Shanghai-based state-owned enterprise better known for its land development and infrastructure projects than its artistic ventures.
The partnership opened with a bang…
Moving past the initial fanfare, however, the long-term prospects of both the West Bund Museum and its partnership with Pompidou remain difficult to rate. Despite the latter’s desires, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement that would establish a permanent French curatorial presence at the new institution. This is unfortunate, because past examples of collaboration between Chinese commercial entities and international museums suggest West Bund’s lack of experienced local staff could potentially create a significant hurdle for sustaining the opening’s magic.
The rise of a streetwear influencer
Why Big Monster holds the key to Chinese Gen-Z sneaker fans / Jing Daily
Guō Yànbó (郭彦博), known as “Big Monster” to his 13.2 million Douyin fans, saved two months for his first pair of Air Force 1 White sneakers in high school. He grew up in Changchun, a sprawling city in China’s northern Jilin Province that’s famous for its skiing and ice sculptures, and studied Civil Engineering at college before transitioning to a full-time content maker.
Chinese mother in admissions scandal seeks plea deal
U.S. college admissions scam: Chinese mum Xiaoning Sui to plead guilty to securing son’s UCLA spot through US$100,000 bribe / SCMP
- Sui has been detained in Spain since September, unlike 33 other parents involved in scandal, who were allowed to post bond and remain out of custody.
- As part of plea deal, prosecutors and lawyers propose that she spend no additional time in jail after extradition to US.