BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
TikTok to launch U.S. ‘transparency center’ as U.S. senators seek restrictions
TikTok to open U.S. ‘transparency center’ to address security concerns / Caixin
The ByteDance-owned social media app has announced plans to launch a content moderation transparency center in its Los Angeles office in a renewed effort to earn the trust of users and policymakers.
The new facility, which will open in early May, will give external experts a panoramic view of TikTok’s daily operations, including how its employees apply TikTok’s guidelines to review content uploaded onto its platform, and how concerns of users and creators are processed, the company said in a Wednesday statement.
- Chinese-owned TikTok launches U.S. ‘transparency center’ to counter criticism / WSJ (paywall)
- U.S. senators seek to ban federal employees from using TikTok on their phones / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
“Two Republican senators on Thursday introduced a bill aimed at banning federal employees from using Chinese social media app TikTok on their government-issued phones, amid growing national security concerns around the collection and sharing of data on U.S. users with China’s government.”
Hubei rolls out stimulus measures
China’s Hubei Province unveils measures to support virus-hit economy / Reuters
China’s Hubei Province, the center of a coronavirus pandemic, has unveiled a raft of measures to support local economic growth, the provincial government said on Thursday.
Hubei will actively expand its special bond issuance this year and aim for issuance of 30 billion yuan ($4.29 billion) in corporate bonds, the government said in a statement.
- Drug supply chain appears intact
China’s drug manufacturers are getting back to work / NPR
So far, the serious supply disruptions many have feared haven’t come to pass. Many facilities are back online after production interruptions related to the coronavirus response. Others say they were far enough from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan to continue working immediately after the extended Chinese New Year break.
- Foot traffic returns to China’s luxury store
Luxury shoppers in China emerge from quarantine to buy again / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Store traffic in China is creeping back up after falling as much as 80% at the virus outbreak’s peak there earlier this winter, hammering sales of brands ranging from Burberry Group Plc to Kering SA’s Gucci. The recovery could accelerate in the coming weeks, fueled by so-called “revenge spending” sprees.
- China’s largest trade fair to go ahead
China to push ahead with Canton Fair despite pandemic threat / SCMP
- China will push ahead with its largest trade fair despite the outbreak of the new coronavirus, says Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强.
- The Canton Fair will be an important part of Beijing’s efforts to ‘stabilize’ the global economy, Li says.
Lockdowns see drop in auto insurance claimsSilver lining for some: Virus shutdown boosts China non-life insurers / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
“There’s certainly a decline in auto insurance claims and the settlement ratio due to less traffic and activity amid the virus outbreak.”
Silver dollar silver lining for tech companies
How COVID-19 sparked a silver tech revolution in China / Sixth Tone
[I]nternet companies have reported a surge in business from elderly users since the outbreak began…
China has around 250 million people [in Chinese] over 60, and this figure is expected to surpass 480 million by the middle of the century. In Shanghai, over one-third [in Chinese] of residents are aged over 60.
- Companies in crisis
China airline passenger numbers fall 84.5% / BBC
“The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it will provide subsidies to Chinese airlines and give additional funding for international flights.”
- Halting China’s economy was hard. Restarting it is harder / NYT (porous paywall)
Even when workers come back, Chinese businesses may find overseas demand slumping for their exports because of worsening coronavirus epidemics in other countries.
Experts warn that Beijing needs to watch for fake restarts: companies that switch on factories to get government subsidies but that produce little or nothing because they lack workers or supplies.
2019 was a good year for Pinduoduo
Pinduoduo annual buyers grew by 40% to 585 million in 2019 / China Internet Watch
“Pinduoduo annual active buyers grew by 40% and exceeded 585 million in 2019 with an average spending of $247.1, up 53%.”
Driverless delivery firm raises $29 million amid outbreak
Delivery robot firm Neolix closes RMB 200 million Series A+ / TechNode
“Driverless delivery startup Neolix has raised nearly 200 million yuan ($28.7 million) in Series A+ funding to mass-produce its self-driving vehicles.”
Money-losing cancer drug maker eyes Hong Kong listing
Biopharma startup eyes Hong Kong listing as markets tank / Caixin
“Money-losing biotech drug maker InnoCare Pharma Ltd. plans to raise up to HK$2.24 billion ($288 million) through a Hong Kong listing, betting investors will buy into its story as global markets go through one of their worst periods in more than a decade.”
Tencent approved for third Nintendo games
Tencent gets green light to publish two Nintendo Switch games in China / Reuters
“China gave tech giant Tencent Holdings the green light on Thursday to publish Nintendo Switch games Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, taking the number of games licensed for the console in the world’s biggest game market to three.”
Fundraising by issuing bonds now easier for Chinese companies
Registration-based bond issuance rule eases corporate financing / Xinhua
“Since the country implemented the new [registration-based bond issuance] rule on March 1, replacing the old approval-based system, 23 companies have registered at stock exchanges, which are expected to raise 191 billion yuan (about $27.44 billion).”
U.S. chicken exporters resume business as usual
U.S. chicken flows to China as ports return, tariffs waived / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
COVID-19 research updates
Coronavirus can live in patients for five weeks after contagion / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Patients with the new coronavirus keep the pathogen in their respiratory tract for as long as 37 days, a new study found, suggesting they could remain infectious for many weeks.”
Chinese studies link quarantines with coronavirus mutations that may make it more ‘insidious’ / SCMP
“Clinical researchers in Wuhan…say that locking down millions of people may have caused mutations in the genetic make-up of the coronavirus that resulted in milder symptoms of the pneumonia-like illness, or no initial symptoms at all in the early stage of infection.”
Research finds huge impact of interventions on spread of COVID-19 / Guardian
Sophisticated modeling of the outbreak suggests that China had 114,325 cases by the end of February 2020, a figure that would have been 67 times higher without interventions such as early detection, isolation of the infected, and travel restrictions.
But if the interventions could have been brought in a week earlier, 66% fewer people would have been infected, the analysis found. The same measures brought in three weeks earlier could have reduced cases by 95%.
New African swine fever case in Sichuan
China finds new African swine fever case in pigs transported to Sichuan Province / Reuters
“China’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday Sichuan province had detected a new African swine fever case in pigs illegally transported from other provinces.”
Medical waste woes continue
Coronavirus leaves China with mountains of medical waste / SCMP
“More than 20 cities across mainland China have been overloaded with medical waste, with Wuhan, the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak, producing up to six times more medical waste than usual, authorities said.”
Pollution-spewing diesel trucks targeted
China’s road freight problem and its solutions / China Dialogue
Shifting freight off China’s roads could be key to tackling air pollution in the 14th Five Year Plan period (2021-25), according to an annual report [in Chinese] by the environment ministry.
Motorised vehicles have become a key driver of pollution; a single diesel truck creates as much pollution in China as 200 private cars. Diesel-powered goods vehicles are in fact responsible for 60% of the nitrogen oxides and 85% of the particulate matter pollution released on China’s roads, despite making up only 8% of all vehicles. These vehicles are thus a central target for pollution control measures.
Tiny dinosaur fossil
World’s tiniest dinosaur discovered by Chinese-led research team / Sixth Tone
Scientists discovered a skull preserved in amber that may belong to a bird-like dinosaur that lived 99 million years ago. Despite its fierce-looking face, the creature is estimated to be smaller than any known species of bird.
An international research team led by Chinese paleontologist Xíng Lìdá 邢立达determined that, based on its bone structure and long beak, the animal is a previously unknown ancient bird species, which are considered dinosaurs. They named it Oculudentavis khaungraae — meaning “eye-teeth bird” — and described the fossil in a paper published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China-EU summit postponed
China’s March summit with the EU set to be postponed because of coronavirus, sources say / SCMP
A summit planned for the end of the month in Beijing between China and the European Union is set to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, two EU officials and two diplomats said.
Rural and agricultural policies in 2020
Rural China’s impossible policy trinity / East Asia Forum
A look at the contradictions in the annual rural policy guideline released by the Party known as “No 1 Central Document” (in Chinese), as befitting the CPC’s agrarian roots.
Hong Kong government adopts Beijing rhetoric and warns against ‘foreign interference’
Hong Kong gov’t warns against ‘foreign interference’ after U.S. report details human rights concerns / Hong Kong Free Press
The Hong Kong government warned foreign administrations on Thursday not to interfere in its internal affairs after an annual U.S. human rights report cited police brutality, arbitrary arrests and restrictions on freedom of expression in the city.
The 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, issued by the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday, said that the Hong Kong government has resisted widespread calls for a special inquiry into accusations of police brutality that took place during the recent pro-democracy protests.
U.S. Huawei meeting postponed again
U.S. again postpones high-level meeting on Huawei and China: sources / Reuters
“Trump administration officials have postponed for a second time a critical meeting originally set for Wednesday to discuss potential new U.S. restrictions on sales of technology to Huawei and China, people familiar with the matter said.”
Pork delivery in a rubbish truck
Wuhan sacks officials after pork deliveries are tipped into street from back of rubbish truck / SCMP
Two officials in the Chinese city of Wuhan were sacked and another was under investigation after government staff used a rubbish truck to ship a consignment of pork for human consumption, local authorities said.
China rejects report it fired laser at U.S. Navy plane / AP
Peter Dutton of the U.S. Naval War College comments: “China responds to report it fired laser at U.S. Navy plane 1) He did not deny the PLAN fired the laser 2) He essentially described it as a defensive act in response to U.S. provocation 3) Cold War at Sea returns.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Netizens turn to Klingon to evade censors
Netizens are using Klingon, emojis, and Morse Code to evade censors / RADII China
Chinese social media feeds are suddenly being filled with articles written solely in QR codes, in Klingon, and in dots and dashes. Netizens’ complicated cat and mouse game with China’s nebulous censorship systems has seen platforms inundated with content using increasingly obscure languages and codes in an attempt to spread information that is swiftly being deleted.
Stressed millennials resort to old superstitions
Just for luck: How does young China view classic superstition? / RADII China
On Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, phone case makers claim to “make evil spirits retreat,” “give luck,” or “make one rich.” The discussion topic lured the interest of over 4.5 million netizens at the time, some going as far as to vehemently testify that certain phone cases are interlinked with feng shui — which, one 2015 article claims, is “not superstition,” but rather a reminder to “pay attention to the health of one’s wealth.”
- All links above in Chinese.
Downsides of online education
Education denied / The World of Chinese
[A] middle school student in Dengzhou, Henan Province, was reported to have attempted suicide by overdosing on medicine after failing to attend live streaming classes delivered by her schoolteachers — her family could only afford one smartphone and had given it to the girl’s sister to access her own online class. In Luoning county, also in Henan, a student was forced to do her homework on a desk outside the village committee office in freezing temperatures because the internet signal was too poor at home…
On Weibo, the hashtag “Children who can’t get online classes (上不了网课的孩子们)” has gained more than 24 million views. Even teachers are struggling with slow internet speeds in some areas: A Shenzhen-based teacher stuck in a village in Hubei Province, where travel is heavily restricted, has been forced to live stream her classes from the roof of her family home because the internet signal is stronger there.