Links for March 6, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for March 6, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China’s desire to support its financial markets in the wake of the virus outbreak may have moved the needle too far the other way…

While a stable equity market and the lowest sovereign bond yields since 2002 are good news for companies trying to raise money, critics caution that the exuberance triggered by such measures could be dangerous. Taking market-support policies too far may encourage the whirlwind trading that fueled massive bubbles in 2015 and 2007.

High leverage in the stock market is one notable sign, as well as surging daily turnover. There’s also been a rush to buy mutual funds, pour money into shiny new ETFs or buy higher-yielding convertible bonds. Perhaps most telling: a gauge of small cap stocks, where speculative trading is rife, has surged more than 20% since its low last month.

China’s piglet prices surged to a record as farms snap up already-tight supplies to rebuild hog herds that were destroyed by African swine fever last year.

Average national piglet prices surged to 126 yuan ($18.11) per kilogram on Thursday, according to Shanghai JC Intelligence. That means a 17-kilogram piglet, the typical weight for the animal when they’re sold, would cost more than $300, up from about $97 in 2017, before swine fever broke out in China.

Even as home sales in China have dried up because of the coronavirus epidemic, international bond investors are keeping faith with major real-estate groups.

The resilience of Chinese property debt contrasts with a steep decline in business, as developers have been forced to close sales centers across the country, and with a slide in property shares signaling that the sector’s earnings are likely to suffer.

Not a lot of app makers respond to criticism by calling their users lazy. But it’s perfectly on-brand for [Alibaba’s] DingTalk: it was designed to appeal to managers, instead of the employees who actually use it. DingTalk promotes unhealthy — and inefficient — work-life balance by tempting bosses to monitor employees 24 hours a day and to invade their off-duty time.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a loan to China for Euro 89.10 million (U.S.$100 million equivalent) to improve rural water supply and sanitation services in Sichuan Province through a public private partnership.

“This project will support improved water supply and sanitation services for more than 200,000 residents in rural areas in Sichuan,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank Country Director for China. “It will contribute to domestic and global public goods by protecting the environment through reduced discharge of untreated wastewater into the tributaries of the Yangtze River. The project also promotes a more transparent service and financing model through a public-private-partnership…”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The Uyghur workers are afraid or unable to interact with anyone in this town, north of Qingdao, beyond the most superficial of transactions at the stalls or in local stores, vendors say. But the catalyst for their arrival here is well understood.

“Everyone knows they didn’t come here of their own free will. They were brought here,” said one fruit-seller as she set up her stall. “The Uighurs had to come because they didn’t have an option. The government sent them here,” another vendor told The Washington Post.

“For the Chinese state, the goal is to ‘sinicize’ the Uighurs; for local governments, private brokers and factories, they get a sum of money per head in these labor transfers,” Xu said.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Chinese pop idol Xiào Zhàn 肖战 was embroiled in a controversy over the weekend that rocked Gen Zers all across China’s internet….

While China’s idol economy remains a lucrative territory for international brands, this incident has revealed its dark side, and an intensified culture of cyberviolence, irrational fandom, and digital censorship are all risk factors that brands now have to face in this increasingly volatile market.

  • Contemporary dance
    Memento mori / Neocha
    “The desire to preserve her grandfather’s memory led [Lǐ Kěhuá 李可华] to create Tomb, a performance meditating on time, memory, and the brevity of life.”  
  • Time magazine celebrates female physicist
    Chien-Shiung Wu: 100 Women of the Year / Time
    “When the weapons were used in 1945 and the war was won, names like Fermi and Oppenheimer would be recalled best. But without the physicist [Chien-Shiung Wu 吳健雄    
    Wú Jiànxióng], the [Manhattan] project might have failed, perhaps prolonging World War II into 1946 and beyond.”
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