Links For Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - SupChina
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Links For Wednesday, March 4, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Zambia signed an $825 million contract with a China Railway Construction Corp. unit to upgrade tracks in the south of the country, the company said.

The project will last eight years and will cover nearly 650 kilometers (404 miles) of lines, China Railway said a statement, without saying how it will be financed. If the government is planning on funding the rehabilitation project through borrowing, it could raise questions about the credibility of measures Zambia announced last month to cut foreign debt.

Dozens of Tesla customers have reportedly filed complaints to a Chinese consumer watchdog after discovering older-generation hardware in their domestically made Model 3 rather than the highly anticipated HW3 self-driving computer.

Tesla has become the latest automaker affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It blamed the hardware “downgrade” to wide shortages in the auto supply chain.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and Russia’s state-owned bank Sberbank are partnering to launch an enterprise cloud services platform in the country, the bank said on Tuesday.

This move is another way for Huawei to gain access to the Russian market with approximately 90 million users as it contends with major hurdles in the U.S…

The strategic partnership is the first “on this scale between Russian and international cloud providers,” according to a Sberbank statement released on Tuesday.

Some big moves in the payments platform space: Ant Financial Group, the owner of China’s Alipay payment platform, has announced it’s taking a minority stake in Swedish payments platform Klarna. Klarna has a strong European presence and a flagship product that lets shoppers buy now and pay later in interest-free installments (typically 14 or 30 days after the purchase).

A development fund for high-tech firms with an initial government funding of 30 billion yuan (about 4.2 billion U.S. dollars) has been approved in northern China’s port city of Tianjin, according to local authorities.

Set up in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, the fund is aimed at wooing firms in new and high-tech industries across the globe to invest in Binhai, according to authorities in the 2,270-sq km new area.

The 9-year-old media group [Womany] has helped galvanize the social conversation on women and gender issues in Taiwan, and now hopes to take its brand across Asia this year…So the past year, Womany has been quietly building and translating content for Hong Kong and Japan, while evaluating opportunities in South Korea and Singapore.

  • Kuaishou vs. Douyin
    Why Kuaishou beats Douyin for e-commerce / WalktheChat
    “Kuaishou’s ecommerce conversion is 5 to 10 times higher compared to Douyin. The monthly sales via the Kuaishou platform in 2019 reached more than 10 billion yuan [$1.44 billion].”

Chinese tech giant Baidu had the highest number of driverless vehicles and registered the most kilometers traveled by autonomous vehicles on Beijing’s test approved roads in 2019, according to a survey [in Chinese].

The Beijing-based company’s 52 autonomous vehicles traveled 754,000 kilometers during road tests in the Chinese capital last year, accounting for about 85% of the total distances driven by self-driving cars owned by 12 licensed firms including Tencent, Didi and Nio.

For years, Google’s self-driving unit Waymo had the lowest disengagement [which suggests the car requires less human intervention] per mile]. But last year, that crown was taken by Apollo, the autonomous driving venture owned by Chinese search engine giant Baidu, according to the latest California DMV autonomous vehicle disengagement report released on Thursday.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month showed two of 126 people evacuated to Frankfurt in Germany on a flight from China’s Hubei province had tested positive for the coronavirus after arrival despite passing symptoms-based screening before boarding the plane.

The German researchers said this suggested that transmission “may occur in persons who have no fever and no signs or only minor signs of infection.”

[M]edical and public health experts have said they are unlikely to detect infected people with [temperature checks].

The boy, Fù Hàorán 付浩然, who has leukemia, is one of many seriously ill people struggling to get urgent, lifesaving treatment as China pours nearly all its resources into the coronavirus epidemic…Chén Xī 陈曦, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the Yale School of Public Health, said he thought it was likely that preventable deaths from strokes, heart attacks and other acute diseases could outnumber the lives saved from treating coronavirus patients.

The preliminary study found that a more aggressive strain of the new coronavirus associated with the outbreak in Wuhan accounted for about 70% of analyzed cases, while 30% were linked to a less aggressive type… The researchers, from Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cautioned that their analysis examined a limited range of data, and said follow-up studies of larger data sets are needed to better understand the virus’s evolution.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Chinese antivirus firm Qihoo 360 said CIA hackers have spent more than a decade breaking into the Chinese airline industry and other targets, a blunt allegation of American espionage from a Beijing-based firm… The United States — like China and other world powers — rarely comments when accused of cyberespionage.

There has, however, long been evidence in the public domain — released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, in the U.S. case, or by U.S. prosecutors and private cybersecurity firms, in China’s case — that both countries hack their opponents.

  • Chinese ships near disputed islands
    Chinese search-and-rescue vessel moves to Fiery Cross Reef / Radio Free Asia
    “A Chinese rescue ship has started operating in and around Fiery Cross Reef [永暑礁 yǒngshǔ jiāo], a land feature disputed between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam in the South China Sea, Radio Free Asia has learned… The reason for sending the Nan Hai Jiu 115 to Fiery Cross Reef at this time is unclear.”
    Chinese vessels likely to stay near Pag-asa Island, says Esperon / Rappler (Philippines)
    “China will likely continue ‘occupying space’ in the West Philippine Sea by deploying what appear to be fishing vessels near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island [中业岛 zhōngyè dǎo], National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said on Tuesday, March 3.”
  • “There are both national security issues and economic issues for the U.S. being too dependent on Chinese production for decades, including the risk of a crisis that stops or slows down China production, like the coronavirus, and the risk of [intellectual property] theft and U.S. goods suffering from counterfeit production once they begin producing in China,” Ferry said.
  • “Some non-economic figures are advocating the decoupling, which is not realistic. On the one hand, the U.S. and China are highly integrated with each other as a global supply chain has been formed. On the other hand, it is essential to cooperate as technology is constantly advancing,” Vice-Premier Liú Hè 刘鹤 said.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

[T]he sex workers put into the custody and education system were often poorly educated women. In promoting the system, China’s Ministry of Public Security touted its focus on teaching those involved in the sex trade legal knowledge, moral character, and useful skills. Attempting to provide people a better life is a noble goal, but such efforts were hamstrung by poor management practices, unprofessional staff, and limited funding.

But the number of female inmates in custody and education centers was significantly higher than the number of male inmates, suggesting that women were given harsher sentences than men.

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