BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Hotel chain to lay off 60% of workforce
Softbank-backed hotel chain Oyo cutting 60% of China staff / TechNode
“Indian hotel chain Oyo is planning to lay off 60% of its workforce in China as it struggles to contend with a number of setbacks, the most recent being the deadly COVID-19 virus which has immobilized the country for weeks.”
Global property market grinds to a halt…
Global property deals stall as virus keeps China money home / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“As the outbreak spreads, snarling travel across the world, real estate markets in the U.S. and other countries that rely on Chinese buyers face a looming crisis as deals languish and potential purchases are delayed indefinitely.”
COVID-19 sends chill through property market / Caixin
Sales for Chinese property developers plunged 38% in February compared with the same month a year earlier, based on the average from a list of the nation’s 100 largest companies compiled by real estate data cruncher CRIC. On a month-to-month basis, February sales plunged by an even higher 44% when compared with January, CRIC said.
…But Chinese share markets appear resilient
Chinese markets are proving resilient to coronavirus turmoil / WSJ (paywall)
“Shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen have been relatively resilient, even though the epidemic has already resulted in serious economic damage in China.”
China returns to work
Satellite pollution data shows China is getting back to work / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Nitrogen dioxide levels rose across China’s industrial heartland, according to the most recent Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service data compiled by Windy.Com. The reddish-brown gas mainly enters the air from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Levels plummeted in February after Chinese authorities locked down communities to contain the virus.
The data confirms anecdotal reports that Chinese workers are slowly heading back to their jobs. The economy was probably running at 60% to 70% capacity last week, according to a Bloomberg Economics report, up from about 50% earlier in February.
- Foxconn’s China production to return to normal this month / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
The world’s largest contract electronics supplier Foxconn said Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak would clip first quarter revenues by up to 15%, but expects a recovery next quarter as production returns to normal…. “The company’s priority now is to carefully resume work rather than aggressively pick up the production pace,” a person familiar with Foxconn’s situation told the Nikkei Asian Review.
JD.com shares surge
JD.com stock jumps on better-than-expected earnings / Caixin
“JD.com’s shares surged more than 12% Monday after the Chinese e-commerce giant reported a 27% increase in fourth-quarter revenue and better-than-expected profit.”
Geely to build satellites
Chinese billionaire starts satellite venture to rival Musk’s SpaceX / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“The Chinese owner of Volvo Cars announced it will become the country’s first private company to build satellites as billionaire Lǐ Shūfú 李书福 follows Elon Musk into space.”
Local government bond binge
As epidemic hurts growth, local governments start early bond binge / Caixin
China’s local governments issued a record amount of debt in the first two months of 2020 as they prepare to step up spending on infrastructure and public health, responding to calls by the country’s leaders to shore up a slowing economy that’s been battered by the coronavirus epidemic.
In the first two months of 2020, provincial-level governments sold 1.2 trillion-yuan ($172 billion) of bonds, 56.4% more than the same period last year, data released (in Chinese) Tuesday by the Ministry of Finance show.
Huawei increases self-reliance
Huawei makes end-run around U.S. ban by turning to its own chips / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
In a sign that the self-reliance is working, Huawei in the fourth quarter sold more than 50,000 of these next-generation base stations that were free of U.S. technology, according to Tim Danks, the U.S.-based Huawei executive responsible for partner relations. That’s only about 8% of the total base stations that Huawei’s sold as of February, but the company is quickly ramping up at its secretive HiSilicon division to make more of these American component-free devices, Danks said.
Huawei testing its own search app in challenge to Google / TechNode
“Huawei is testing a new search app similar to Google for its smartphone ecosystem in a bold new step to further challenge the U.S. search giant on its home turf.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
COVID-19 medical waste
Hubei struggles to handle a mountain of medical waste / Sixth Tone
Before the outbreak began, Wuhan had one dedicated medical waste treatment facility with a processing capacity of 50 tons per day. By January 24, however, the city was producing four times [in Chinese] that amount.
Bags of used equipment piled up in parking lots outside some hospitals in Wuhan due to the backlog at treatment plants and lack of waste transportation vehicles. Nearly 200 tons of additional waste remained inside storage facilities, according to government estimates.
Schools order students to take traditional medicine, then apologize
Schools order children, teachers, parents to take Chinese herbal medicine / Radio Free Asia
Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have been forcing hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to take Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal preparations in a bid to ward off the coronavirus, RFA has learned.
The Lincang No. 2 High School apologized on Monday after issuing a Feb. 29 letter to parents requiring all students, parents and teachers at the school to take a herbal brew based on a prescription issued by the Lincang TCM Hospital.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Luxury items made in Xinjiang internment camps
Rights Group: Lacoste gloves made in Chinese internment camp / AP via NYT
Gloves made in China for the popular French brand Lacoste appear to have been sewn inside a factory where ethnic minorities face forced ideological and behavioral re-education, according to a U.S.-based labor rights group.
Lacoste, known for its iconic little green crocodile logo, says it halted shipments after learning of labor abuse in its supply chain from Washington, D.C.-based labor rights group Worker Rights Consortium. The group alleges that Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities are being forced to sew the Lacoste-branded gloves.
New evidence of Huawei breaking Iran sanctions
Documents show Huawei role in shipping prohibited U.S. gear to Iran / Reuters via SCMP
China’s Huawei Technologies, which for years has denied violating American trade sanctions on Iran, produced internal company records in 2010 that show it was directly involved in sending prohibited U.S. computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator.
Two Huawei packing lists, dated December 2010, included computer equipment made by Hewlett-Packard and destined for the Iranian carrier, internal Huawei documents reviewed by Reuters show.
Another Huawei document, dated two months later, stated: “Currently the equipment is delivered to Tehran, and waiting for the custom clearance.”
U.S. public opinion of China lower than in 1989 — survey
U.S. public’s opinion of China hits 20-year low, Gallup poll says / SCMP
- Survey finds only a third of U.S. citizens regard China favorably, hitting late-1990s lows and a point below Gallup’s figures after 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
- As U.S. presidential campaigns gear up, Republicans say China is U.S.’ greatest adversary, while Democrats see Russia as biggest threat.
Alleged North Korean bitcoin hack
Two Chinese nationals indicted in alleged North Korean bitcoin hack / WSJ (paywall)
The U.S. indicted and sanctioned two Chinese nationals accused of helping North Korean hackers launder around $100 million in stolen virtual currency, alleging Pyongyang’s hackers are receiving outside help and providing a window into what officials described as an increasingly important revenue stream for the regime’s nuclear weapons program.
European responses to COVID-19
European nations diverge on how to curb virus outbreak / WSJ (paywall)
Countries including Italy, France, Britain and Switzerland have taken an aggressive approach, banning large events and ordering large-scale blanket screenings. Germany, Austria, Spain and most Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, have stressed the need for moderation to limit the impact of the disease—and of the response—on society and the economy.
Competition for influence at the UN intellectual property agency
UN intellectual property agency the latest battleground as China and U.S. vie for influence / SCMP
Beijing and Washington have sparred over the potential election of a Chinese national to head the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo) next week [on March 5 and 6], the latest in their tug-of-war battle for influence at the United Nations… Wáng Bīnyǐng 王彬颖, Beijing’s nominee and current deputy director general of Wipo, is widely seen as the front runner in the election for director general of the organization that promotes intellectual property protections which set global standards for patents, trademarks and copyrights. The five other candidates are from Kazakhstan, Ghana, Colombia, Peru and Singapore.
Ahead of the election, Chinese officials have accused the United States of warning and pressuring other member states not to vote for Wang, while Washington has reportedly sought to promote Singaporean nominee Daren Tang.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Sexist COVID-19 propaganda
Anger over portrayal of women in China coronavirus propaganda / FT (paywall)
China’s propaganda narrative has sought to highlight the importance of women in the fight against the virus, playing up to their traditional roles as carers. Chinese state television ran a recent segment hailing a Wuhan nurse who was still at her post despite being nine months’ pregnant. A local newspaper heaped praise on another medical worker who returned to work just 10 days after a miscarriage.
- Earlier on SupChina: Gansu government’s head-shaving publicity stunt backfires.
Homemade sausage and other cured meats
Our guide to China’s finest cured meats / Goldthread
Chinese cured meats [are] hard to find even in specialty supermarkets due to import restrictions. Some varieties, like Jinhua ham, are entirely banned from export to the States.
But the world of Chinese cured meats is exhilarating. There are so many flavors and regional variants — from sausages flavored with sweet rice wine in Guangdong, to rabbit cured in its own blood in Sichuan.
Shen Yun attendance down
Shen Yun was all about being authentically Chinese. Now that’s a big problem / Quartz
The Falun Gong–connected Shen Yun song-and-dance-and-propaganda show has taken a hit because of the coronavirus. Quartz reports that the organization is taking a new tack to fill seats:
“Performers have not been to China in years, have not had recent direct contact with people from China, and in fact Shen Yun is not even allowed to perform in China,” the press release says. Shen Yun adds its performers are blacklisted and banned from traveling to China as individuals as well.