Links for February 6, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Over 70% of businesses in China will have resumed operations by the start of next week despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey by Chinese recruitment site Zhaopin.com.

More than 54% of the 1,644 companies surveyed had already resumed operations after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, with a further 18.9 set to return on Monday, the survey said.

But nearly one in five companies in China, or 18%, have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the outbreak and currently have no plans to resume operations, according to the survey.

Taiwan’s Foxconn aims to gradually restart operations at factories in China next week but it could take one to two weeks from then to resume full production due to the coronavirus outbreak, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Taiwan’s Foxconn, which makes smartphones for global vendors including Apple, has filed requests to reopen factories with Chinese authorities, the source said, adding that a full resumption was not possible until late February due to various travel restrictions imposed to curb the virus.

  • Shenzhen-based Huawei files suit against U.S. telecoms operator Verizon, seeking compensation for alleged infringements of its intellectual property rights.
  • Huawei alleges that its patented technology is being used in Verizon’s technologies and services, including network communications infrastructure.

China’s Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo are joining forces to create a platform for developers outside China to upload apps onto all of their app stores simultaneously, in a move analysts say is meant to challenge the dominance of Google’s Play store.

The four companies are ironing out kinks in what is known as the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). The platform aims to make it easier for developers of games, music, movies and other apps to market their apps in overseas markets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

[China’s National Health Commission has] added respiratory problems to the list of symptoms for suspected cases. It also expanded the classifications for coronavirus patients from three to four, adding a category for “light” cases.

Those in the “light” category and who exhibit mild symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough or breathing issues but no lung infection must be quarantined and treated to curb the spread of the disease, which has spread to more than 20 countries since the virus was first detected in China about a month ago.

Forget face masks and rubber gloves. The best way to avoid the coronavirus is frequent hand washing, according to a medical adviser to the world’s airlines.

The virus cannot survive long on seats or armrests, so physical contact with another person carries the greatest risk of infection on a flight, said Dr David Powell, a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association (Iata). Masks and gloves do a better job of spreading bugs than stopping them, he said.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday that China was seeking to steal U.S. technology by “any means necessary” and the law enforcement agency has about 1,000 investigations open into Chinese technology theft across its 56 regional offices.

Wray told a conference hosted by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank that the economic threat from China was “diverse and multilayered.”

Taiwan is used to being called lots of different names. The World Health Organization (WHO) is giving it some new ones.

In its latest situation report (pdf) about the novel coronavirus, the United Nations agency listed Taiwan as “Taipei and its environs” in a tally of confirmed cases “reported by provinces, regions and cities in China.” Earlier, it had referred to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China,” then “Taipei.” The WHO’s labeling drew a sharp rebuke from Taiwan’s foreign ministry, which is asking for its name to be listed as “Taiwan” and for data about it to be included separate from China. The WHO also earlier misstated the number of cases in Taiwan.

US Senator Marco Rubio and Representative James McGovern have nominated Hong Kong pro-democracy movement for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

The co-chair and chair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China sent the Nobel Peace Prize Committee a nomination letter for the city’s “impressively organized and coherent, yet notably leaderless and flexible” protest movement. The prize, they said, shall honour “millions of people in Hong Kong whose bravery and determination have inspired the world.”

The Trump administration has cited concerns over Beijing’s scientific spying programme as the reason it wants to block a Chinese plan to build an $80m headquarters for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia, amid growing competition for influence in the continent. “It’s a threat to Africa. Africa has vast amounts of genomic data and the Chinese want to build the CDC to eventually steal the data from all the other centres,” an administration official told the Financial Times, referring to five regional Africa CDC hubs, some of which were built by the US. Based in Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon, Kenya and Zambia, they handle high-risk viruses, health crises, research and data collection.

In a remote part of northern Laos, the bamboo forest gives way to cranes. A city is being carved out of jungle: tower blocks cloaked in scaffolding loom over restaurants, karaoke bars and massage parlors. The beating heart of Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (so called because it sits at the point where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand converge) is the casino, a palatial confection featuring faux-Roman statuary and ceilings covered in frescoes. “Laos Vegas” does not cater to Laotians, however. Croupiers accept only Chinese yuan or Thai baht. Street signs are in Chinese and English. The city’s clocks are set to Chinese time, an hour ahead of the rest of Laos.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Now boasting a twice-elected female president, and a female vice president as early as in 2000, Taiwan seems to have arrived as a democracy where women have as much a fair shot as men at any political office.

What has paved the way to ensuring this is a long history of gender quotas for most races, except single-seat contests such as presidential and mayoral races.

More tellingly, in Chinese the quotas are called “female safety net,” requiring that women get at least half of the “at-large” seats in the legislature and one out of every four seats in local council elections.

For Chinese in the publishing industry, the freezing of American books seems anything but accidental. Yujia has three books in limbo, including “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Lu Jia, a fellow Chengdu-based translator, has four of her own awaiting publication. Another of Lu’s finished books, “Win Bigly,” in which the Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams analyzes Donald Trump’s persuasive abilities, was cancelled entirely during the trade war. “Of course, nobody said that that’s the reason,” Lu noted. “But everybody knows that that’s the reason.” Such delays also reflect an over-all crackdown on media that has been carried out under President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平.

When 18-year-old Gan Jian heard last week that China’s Ministry of Education was pushing back the start of the spring semester amid the ongoing novel coronavirus epidemic, he was more worried than relieved…

[W]ith the all-important gaokao just 122 days away, many students, parents, and teachers in the region worry that lost class time now could mean lost points on the exam. On January 27, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, announced [in Chinese] a nationwide extension of the Lunar New Year public holiday from January 30 to February 2. The same day, the education ministry empowered [in Chinese] localities to extend the break further if needed.

  • Online backlash against the eating of wild game
  • Fake news and censorship
  • Virus vigilantism [against fellow citizens]
  • Social media as a practical communication tool
  • Propaganda, pride and patriotism in times of crisis
  • Quarantine boredom: From panic to horror
  • Anger against local authorities and illegal lock-ins
  • Corona panic buying

Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures [金枝玉叶 jīn zhī yùyè] debuted as a series on Netflix on December 31, 2019, following its much loved and well-known predecessor, The Story of Yanxi Palace (延禧攻略 yánxǐ gōnglüè). The Story of Yanxi Palace was the most widely Googled show in 2018, despite Google being blocked in China. Yanxi Palace was originally released on iQiyi, the Chinese equivalent of Netflix, and enjoyed overwhelming success with over 15 billion views during its 5-week run on various streaming services. This overwhelming success at home and abroad later led to cutting criticism from China’s Communist Party, which attacked several period dramas for their portrayal of extravagance. As a result, Yanxi Palace was pulled from several Chinese streaming platforms. While there are several potential reasons for this dramatic shift in attitude, the Chinese government never extensively substantiated their claims and various explanations remain largely speculative.