Links for Monday, February 3, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

The battle to contain the Chinese coronavirus threatens to cut off U.S. companies from parts and materials they need to produce iPhones, automobiles and appliances and drugs to treat medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure and malaria.

Some of the United States’ best-known manufacturers such as General Electric, Caterpillar and the Big Three automakers, along with many smaller American businesses, depend on what is made in Chinese factories.

China has announced a slew of measures to ensure ample liquidity and reduce lending rates to companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak that has prompted fears of a further slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

A number of policy tools, including open market operations and the standing lending facility, will be used to ensure liquidity in financial markets and prevent volatility in the money markets, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a joint notice with other regulators and ministries on Saturday.

Chinese mutual aid platforms including Tencent-backed Waterdrop Inc., Ant Financial’s Xianghubao, and Qihoo 360’s 360 Huzhu have all extended their coverage to include coronavirus.

Delta said it will suspend flights between the United States and China starting on Sunday until at least April 30, according to a press release.

That’s four days earlier than it had initially planned. Delta’s last China-bound flight leaves on Saturday, February 1 and its last returning flight from China to the United States leaves on Sunday…

American Airlines, which canceled all flights to mainland China starting Friday, confirmed Saturday that it had also scrubbed flights to Hong Kong through Monday.

  • Trip.com widens travel cancellation fee waiver program / TechNode
    “Chinese online travel platform Trip.com, is extending a free cancellation policy for people traveling in or to China until Feb. 29 for those affected by the current coronavirus outbreak, it said on Sunday.”

Hong Kong confirmed Monday it plunged into recession in 2019, suffering its first annual contraction in a decade as the city buckled under the twin pressures of the U.S.-China trade war and months of furious pro-democracy protests…

Last year was the worst for Hong Kong’s growth since 2009, when the financial hub was hit hard by the global financial crash…

Official figures released on Monday showed Hong Kong’s gross domestic product shrank 1.2 percent on-year for 2019.

Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has signed a two-year battery supply agreement with Tesla, which is accelerating its localization in China.

The battery supply pact, effective from July 2020 to June 2022, will allow Tesla to decide its battery purchase volume based on its own needs, CATL said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Monday.

  • Feature film streaming in a time of quarantines
    Chinese movies debut on streaming services amid outbreak / TechNode
    “Two Chinese films [“Enter the Fat Dragon” and “Lost in Russia”] that were set to open during the week-long Spring Festival holiday instead premiered online on streaming platforms amid an outbreak of a deadly coronavirus in the country.”  

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Studies published in recent days say the new virus appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu and on par with the similar pathogen behind an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002 and 2003. The new virus’ mortality rate, however, is far below that of SARS.

…Am I at risk of catching the new coronavirus from a package I receive from China?

Almost certainly no, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC concludes in its Q&A.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • Pro-independence advocate William Lai [赖清德 Lài Qīngdé ] is expected to attend a prayer breakfast, raising possibility of meeting with the U.S. president.
  • Visit is most high-profile call in US from Taiwanese politician in decades.

In a trip that will probably enrage Beijing, Lai Ching-te flew to the US on Sunday night to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, his office said on Monday. The annual political event is attended by business and political elites and features an address by the U.S. president. Although the breakfast is not controlled by the U.S. state department, permission from the Trump administration would have been required for Mr Lai to attend.

Under the system, Taiwanese residents will have to present their national health insurance (NHI) cards to buy face masks at more than 6,000 NHI contracted drugstores or pharmacies…

The policy, set to begin February 6, will allow each person to buy two masks a week at a price of NT$5 [$0.17] per mask, and once an individual makes a purchase, it will be recorded to prevent the same person from buying other masks the same week.

For Chinese people, who traditionally believe in yin and yang, the notion that rivals can cooperate isn’t a contradiction in terms. It seems to be a problem for America, however. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals have expressed dismay that China hasn’t become more like the United States, or at least more democratic. But did China ever pledge to become like the United States? And so what if it hasn’t become that? Competitive coexistence is still possible.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Misinformation about the virus has become so pervasive that Malaysia’s health minister warns it’s a ‘more critical’ issue than the disease itself.
  • But who should take charge of combating rumors that are so far off the mark they could be fatal — governments or the social media giants?

A scary new virus from China has spread around the world. So has rising anti-Chinese sentiment, calls for a full travel ban on Chinese visitors and indignities for Chinese and other Asians.

Restaurants in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam have refused to accept Chinese customers. Indonesians marched near a hotel and called on Chinese guests there to leave. French and Australian newspapers face criticism for racist headlines. Chinese and other Asians in Europe, the United States, Asia and the Pacific complain of racism.

The Apple stores were among the busiest places still open in Beijing after the coronavirus outbreak, though employees forbade customers to try the watches or AirPods…

Now the stores have closed, along with theaters, museums, cinemas, temples, barbers, hair salons, karaoke bars, and most other shops and restaurants. The Forbidden City has shut down “until further notice,” as has a popular section of the Great Wall in the breezy, wintry hills to the northeast, far from urban congestion.