Links for Friday, February 21, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

  • Ping An Insurance’s Jessica Tan tells CNBC how the company’s technology expertise has given it an edge amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
  • However, she added that “What we see about the impact in virus, particularly in the first half, will definitely impact the economy.”
  • Tan’s comments came a day after Ping An posted earnings that missed expectations despite a more than 39% surge in its 2019 net profit.

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is gradually resuming production at a key complex in the central city of Zhengzhou that was closed because of the new coronavirus outbreak…

More than 6,600 workers from less-affected areas of Henan are allowed to restart work without quarantine, while those from more-impacted places are subject to a 14-day quarantine at home before working.

As consumers dine at home, by choice or not, the country’s restaurants are struggling while grocers are finding themselves short of staff in the face of a spike in demand. Some companies have decided to team up to tackle this issue, with out-of-work catering staff being reallocated to supermarkets…

According to Caixin’s calculations, nearly 10,000 employees from a dozens of catering companies have been temporarily transferred this month.

Offering discounts to shift unsold homes is nothing new in China’s real-estate industry. But property giant China Evergrande Group’s announcement this week that it would slash prices on new apartments in 613 developments underscores the depth of the crisis that’s engulfed the industry as the coronavirus epidemic has brought large swathes of the economy to a halt.

For the last three weeks, developers across the country have seen home transactions slump to virtually zero.

Listed Chinese companies are queuing up to issue shares and have already announced plans to raise more than $10 billion in the past week after fundraising rules were relaxed to help ease cash strains caused by the coronavirus.

More than 50 companies, including Bank of Ningbo and battery maker Yinghe Technology, have published as of Thursday fresh or revised plans to raise as much as 73 billion yuan ($10.4 billion) through private placements, according to Reuters calculations.

The new rules allow companies to sell shares worth up to 30% of their share capital via private placements compared with 20% previously. The number of investors allowed to participate in such placements was lifted to 35 from 10.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Even in major cities like Wuhan, few hospitals have negative pressure rooms, and over the past month desperate staff [in Chinese] have had to cobble together makeshift infectious disease clinics with temporary ventilation equipment or by shutting off their central heating systems and opening windows in sick wards in the middle of winter.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

We cannot accept the forced assimilation that the Chinese government exercises on the Uyghurs… People are detained for their beliefs, children are separated from their parents, and the Chinese government monitors all areas of life. Under these circumstances, a humane life can no longer take place.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday urged Bulgaria to refrain from repatriating ethnic Uyghurs seeking asylum back to China, saying that doing so would put them at risk of persecution and constitute violations of its obligations as a member of the European Union.

Huawei Technologies has asked the U.S. government to release a long list of documents related to the extradition case against chief financial officer Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟, according to a letter filed by the company’s U.S. lawyers to the Court for the Eastern District of New York.

But by attacking a U.S. media company instead of the State Department, China subtly and inaccurately conveys to Chinese citizens — the most important target of Beijing’s messages — that the U.S. government controls American media.

  • Op-ed: Jimmy Lai blasts the Communist Party
    China’s facade of stability / WSJ (paywall)
    Independent publisher and nemesis of the Party Jimmy Lai writes:

There exists today no vaccine for the coronavirus now engulfing China. That is a challenge for President Xi Jinping as he struggles to contain it. But the spread of the coronavirus has revealed a truth that poses a much greater risk to Mr. Xi: There is no cure for Chinese communism except the collapse of the party.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

A video featuring a pregnant nurse treating patients in a hospital in the virus epicenter of Wuhan has sparked a backlash across China.

The video by state media outlet CCTV was meant to portray nine-month pregnant Zhào Yú 赵瑜 as a hero.

But instead social media users criticized the hospital for allowing a heavily pregnant nurse to work in a highly contagious environment.

One user said the woman was being used as a “propaganda tool.”